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Breastfeeding: Mom's Best ChoiceSeptember 7, 2011

Why choose breastfeeding? "You'll hug him to you, intensely aware of his dependence upon you. Of course he will grow, will reach out, and eventually leave you. But not for a while. Give yourself time together; let there be no regrets. Together you'll begin to weave a new cord to replace the one so recently severed. This one will be plaited simply and naturally by your continuing closeness through many unhurried days. Not to be cut, it will form the first link to all human love and understanding." --- the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

Did you know that a newborn's tummy is the size of a marble? That is why mom's first milk called colostrum is low in volume and matches the amount the baby's tummy can hold. It also provides perfect nutrition to the baby because it is very rich in nutrients and antibodies, that is why it is often referred as the liquid gold.

Breastfeeding is a natural occurrence. "Three million germ-killing cells in a teaspoon of breastmilk, this is what a baby can get when he is breastfed," stressed Nona Andaya-Castillo, founder of Breastfeeding Philippines and one of the only three International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) in the country during her recent interview with Dear PhilHealth, the radio program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) aired every Wednesday over DZRH 666 KHz AM.

Why should moms breastfeed their babies? Let us count some of the benefits of breastfeeding

First, colostrum has a laxative effect on the baby, helping him pass his early stools, which aids in the excretion of excess bilirubin and helps prevent jaundice. Breast milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to help baby continue to grow.

It also protects babies. The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illnesses. This protection is unique; infant formula cannot match the chemical makeup of human breast milk.

Breastmilk is easy to digest, especially by premature babies.

Life can be easier for moms, no bottles and nipples to sterilize! Mom and dad can save money. Aside from not buying formula milk and supplies, breastfed babies get sick less often.

The relationship between the mom and the baby is enhanced through physical contact which is important to newborns. It makes them feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Mothers can benefit from this closeness, as well. Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time to bond. The skin-to-skin contact can boost the mother's oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps milk flow and can calm the mother.

But breastfeeding can be very challenging especially in the early days. Some of the problems encountered are engorgement of breast where the breast feels very hard and painful, sore nipples and inverted or flat nipples. According to Castillo, "sore nipples happen because of the improper breastfeeding position."

Most moms also worry about the low supply of milk, thinking they do not have enough milk to feed their babies thus prompting them to give milk formula to their babies. "The more the mother breastfed, the more milk her body produces. It is how nature works," she added.

"Babies do not cry because they are not getting enough milk from their mothers. They love to be cuddled since they are used to the 37 degrees celsius temperature inside the womb," explained Castillo. "When the baby is with his mother, the heartbeat, breathing and temperature are all stable. He is not stressed and he will not cry often," she added.

According to Castillo, hospital personnel should encourage breastfeeding right after birth. In the study that they conducted, women who gave birth in the hospital had less chances of breastfeeding their babies. "I hope PhilHealth may help in the strict implementation of breastfeeding in the hospital nationwide," she said.

Since 2009, PhilHealth already supports breastfeeding. Under the Normal Spontaneous Delivery and Maternity Care Package, counseling for reproductive health, breastfeeding and newborn screening are included in the package. (Pinky G. Aragones)


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