|Taken during Janina's 1st birthday party|
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
On Promoting Breastfeeding
"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (July). For this month, we join the National Nutrition Council - Department of Health in celebrating Nutrition Month with the theme "Isulong ang Breastfeeding - Tama, Sapat at EKsklusibo!" Participants will share their experiences in promoting breastfeeding or their tips on how breastfeeding should be promoted. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."
Honestly, I’m bothered by the fact that in our country, many Filipinos, most especially the marginalized ones, consider formula feeding as some sort of a status symbol. Imagine, most of them hardly have enough to pay for one decent meal in a day, and yet they would rather buy a can of expensive milk instead of making use of something that they can get for FREE. And we aren’t even talking about the benefits of breastmilk as opposed to formula milk.
According to the UNICEF data of 2005-2009 (for some reason, I couldn't find a more recent data), only 34% of the newborns are exclusively breastfed below 6 months. For a population of about over 92Million (for 2009), that is such a small number.
I believe that our government really has to work on educating the masses about this. I am also very much disappointed at the celebrity moms whom I thought were breastfeeding advocates but later ended up endorsing a certain milk brand. Regardless if the milk they endorse is not for newborns, I still feel that they could have used their position of influence over their followers to do something good– like educating them on what’s good for the health of their children and their pockets as well. I’m pretty sure these celebrities can very well afford to give up one endorsement in exchange for heeding one’s social responsibility. What a big loss in opportunity.
One night as I was watching TV, I chanced upon a show of Gladys Reyes where Bianca Araneta-Elizalde was a guest and I admired her for being vocal about her breastfeeding advocacy. Maybe it was just me but I felt a bit of tension between the host and Bianca since the former was an endorser for formula milk for children. If only Bianca had mass appeal, I’m sure a lot of people would be inspired to breastfeed their children as well. Which leads me to thinking, why can’t we encourage these celebrities (especially the ones who have a huge following with the masses) to go public with their choice to breastfeed? I know government cannot afford to give them talent fees as big as the milk manufacturers but if it’s for a good cause, I’m sure some of them would have the conscience to agree. Sure, Lea Salonga, Tintin Bersola and many others have been more vocal. But comparing them to Judy Ann Santos, Claudine Barreto, or even Kris Aquino (had she decided to BF), etc. the latter would surely be able to convince more people than the former. As they say in Filipino, “sayang talaga.” If they had only stuck to advocating breastfeeding and declined on accepting formula milk endorsements, they could have helped a lot. I distinctly remember Angelina Jolie's breastfeeding photos were a hot topic back then, as well as that of Salma Hayek breastfeeding an african baby. Imagine the impact this would have on the Filipinos of something like that were to come out featuring today's hottest stars. I'm sure it'll become an instant fad!
They really should get a celebrity endorser. Or better yet, they should come out with a big billboard along EDSA that boldly proclaims Breastfeeding as the cheapest and healthiest milk for babies. (I got that idea from a n@wie that suggested there be a billboard that says Babywearing Rocks!). Wouldn’t it be nice if that billboard should show breastfeeding mothers of all sorts including the “artistas”. That would surely catch the eye of a lot of people (although on second thought we might get into trouble with the MMDA for indecent exposure or something).
Maybe they can get Andi Eigenmann (now that she’s pregnant) to be one of their model endorsers? Personally, I think the billboard would be a good idea. I’d even volunteer to be a part of that if they push through with it, seriously!
So while we wait for the more influential people in the government to be able to do something about promoting breastfeeding, I will still do my share – I will share to whomever wishes to listen about the benefits of why I chose to breastfeed my kids. Hopefully I’ll be able to fulfill my social obligation.
I hope you check out the other wonderful mommas participating in the carnival, please check out these links: