Nutrition council notes decline in breastfeeding mothers
by Carina L. Cayon
Davao City (6 August) -- The National Nutrition Council officer here reported a decline on the number of breastfeeding mothers nationwide, noting that 53.5 percent of mothers practiced immediate breastfeeding in 2008 compared to 2003's 54%.
NNC Regional Coordinator Maria Teresa Ungson in an interview also bared that 34% of mothers had practiced exclusive breastfeeding under six months in 2003, of which same data was noted in 2008 nationwide.
Ungson lamented that this data from the National Demographic and Health Survey of the National Statistics Office implied "no improvement in the breastfeeding practices among mothers."
The World Health Organization defines immediate breastfeeding as "initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life," while exclusive breastfeeding is when "the infant only receives breastmilk without any additional food or drink, not even water."
In the region, Ungson said there may be high percentage of mothers who breastfed after giving birth, but many have difficulties sustaining exclusive breastfeeding until six months.
She attributed the downturn of the number of breastfeeding mothers to "the different lifestyle now and because most mothers today are working."
This is why, Ungson said, complementary feeding was introduced. She defined complementary feeding as "giving foods to infants at six completed months in addition to breastmilk."
She added that complementary feeding "needed to fill the gap between the total nutritional needs of the growing child and the amounts provided by breastmilk."
"While the infants are fed with complementary foods, we still encourage the mothers to continue breastfeeding," Ungson stated.
She said malnutrition commonly starts by the age of one which contributes to the high prevalence of malnutrition under five years old.
"We are trying to educate the public to make complementary food nutritious," Ungson stressed.
She said complementary feeding should be given timely which starts at six completed months, not earlier, not later.
She added that mothers should make their complementary foods nutritionally adequate like the nutrient-dense foods (thick lugaw combined with shredded foods); should be safe; and should be properly fed.
Ungson disclosed that these characteristics of desirable complementary feeding practices were among the necessary inputs on breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices that were presented during the 7th Barangay Nutrition Scholars Summit held on Monday at SM City Davao.
During the summit, she said she has reiterated before the 350 barangay nutrition scholars of Davao City to strengthen the education, information and advocacy campaign on breastfeeding and complementary feeding in their respective communities.
According to Ungson, the BNS together with other health and nutrition workers of the local government units in the region have undergone trainings on infant and young child feeding that aimed at promoting good nutrition.
Ungson further urged the public, particularly the work establishments and industries to support the breastfeeding movement by providing breastfeeding place or center for mothers to feed their child and collect milk at their respective work place which must be comfortable and friendly to mothers.
She bared that malls and some industries have started putting up breastfeeding centers at their work place. She added that there were also some government provincial offices in the region that have provided the centers for their mother-employees. (PIA-XI) [top]