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DOH Aklan tells mothers: Beat economic crisis, practice exclusive breastfeeding

by Venus G. Villanueva

Kalibo, Aklan (24 May) -- The Provincial Health Office (PHO) here is strongly advocating the practice of exclusive breastfeeding to beat the economic crisis.

Cecilia De Lemos, PHO Breasfeeding Coordinator, also said that besides beating the prevailing economic crisis by shunning high-priced infant formula, exclusive breastfeeding has other remarkable advantages.

"Breastmilk is free, accessible, clean and nutritious," De Lemos said.

De Lemos also said the importance of breastfeeding was further emphasized when Typhoon Frank struck Aklan June 2008 and bottle-fed babies faced life-threatening problems.

"There was no clean water. Some parents had no money. And even if they had money, stores were damaged and closed, so they cannot buy infant formula and distilled water to bottle-feed their babies," De Lemos said.

Such problem, according to De Lemos, was not felt by breastfeeding mothers at the time. Breastmilk, she also said, undergoes no spoilage or contamination.

To provide enough milk for the baby, a mother should practice proper breastfeeding position. She must eat nutritious foods to generate milk production. She should also make sure her baby avails of the first milk that comes out of her breast - called colustrom, which serves as the first immunization for the baby.

De Lemos stressed that exclusive breastfeeding, however means the baby should only be fed with breastmilk for the first six months - no water and no vitamins, because breastmilk is a complete food for the baby.

In August when the entire country celebrates Breastfeeding Month, De Lemos said that as Coordinator, she will again conduct the search for a breastfeeding champion, one who practices exclusive breastfeeding.

Just recently, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's policies and programs were cited for increasing the exclusive breastfeeding rate almost four times, ushering a new direction for breastfeeding as an important part of public healthcare and national development.

Dra. Elvira Henares-Esguerra, founding president of Children for Breastfeeding Inc. (CfB) said the President's compassion and political will saved breastfeeding from the brink of extinction, reversing 20 years of frustration among its advocates.

The Chief Executive received a copy of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) promoting the importance of breastfeeding between the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) of the DOST and the CfB.

Esguerra said the MOU further promotes researches in breastfeeding that include the intake of virgin coconut oil for breastfeeding mothers to increase the anti-microbial properties of human breast milk. (PIA) [top]

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