Debunking breastfeeding myths

Published in Daily Tribune Life
July 6, 2012

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Having breastfed four children, the first three for over a year each and the youngest for three years, advocating breastfeeding is an effortless task that comes straight from the heart.

I was not a stay at home mom, who had all the time in the world to sit and feed for hours on end. When I breastfed my first child, I was a full-time lecturer at the UP College in Baguio, teaching Journalism. I remember leaking milk while lecturing as I taught four straight hours. I kept on lecturing with a straight face even as I knew my students were wondering why there was a growing wet patch around my chest.

When I had my next child, I was working for a multimedia production house that required me to even work evenings after a full day at work. On my third child, I was reviewing for the bar exams, while I breastfed him and his elder brother all at the same time. And by the fourth child I was practicing law while I breastfed non-stop for three years.

It was not easy, but I made it through. I am grateful to have had that opportunity to nourish my child and have a special bond with them all throughout. Many times I had to rearrange my work schedule to ensure that I could breastfeed my children. And, yes, pumping milk was important for the time I would be gone most of the day.

In a recent conference on breastfeeding with the Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund) and the Beauty, Brains and Breastfeeding Inc. (BBB), it was heartbreaking to hear that only 34 percent of mothers in the Philippines breastfeed. When the misconceptions in breastfeeding were presented, I could wholeheartedly agree from experience that, indeed, they are myths.

Five truths

First, exclusive breastfeeding is not a hindrance to a woman’s professional success. Throughout my breastfeeding years, I was a fulltime lecturer in Journalism; a full time-law student; lawyer and multimedia manager. None of my bosses felt my breastfeeding interfered with the quality and timely delivery of my work output.

Second, breastfeeding is not inconvenient. In fact, feeding at night is easier when breastfeeding a child. The breast milk is always at the right temperature, it’s pre-mixed and always fresh. There are no bottles and teats to sterilize, no water to warm up and no powder that gets contaminated.

Third, breastfeeding is not an alternative to formula, and it is not only for the poor as the nutrition it delivers is just as potent for babies born to parents with means. The nutrients and immune-building properties of breast milk are unparalleled. Proper breastfeeding techniques will also help the baby latch properly and gets the milk flowing.

Fourth, breastfeeding does not deform a woman’s breasts. Proper breastfeeding techniques and exercise can ensure that a woman’s breasts do not sag. Using pillows (boppy pillows shaped like a horseshoe) on one’s lap also helps a mother breastfeed comfortably and with ease, preventing the unnecessary downward pull of the breasts. Plus, breastfeeding does not make one fat. It is the quality and quantity of food and the amount of exercise one engages in that determines the ratio of fat to muscle. When breastfeeding, the stomach muscles contract as one breastfeeds and help the breastfeeding mother get back in shape.

Fifth, breastfeeding on demand and in public is not shameful. In fact, many clothing devises afford some privacy to breastfeeding moms in public. Some malls like SM also have breastfeeding centers for moms and babies to bond while the rest of the family is gallivanting in the mall.

BBB moms Daphne Oseña-Paez, Unicef Special Advocate for Children and celebrity host; Patricia Bermudez-Hizon, sportscaster and wife of PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) player Vince Hizon; and Iza Abeja, BBC executive director, exclusive breast feeders and advocates for BBC attest to these truths as they emulate Beauty, Brains and Breastfeeding. With their careers, they were all still able to breastfeed their children and stay beautiful throughout the process as can be seen in their billboards along MIA Road in Pasay, Philcoa, Quezon City and Cubao near the DILG Building also in Quezon City. Breastfeeding education is key in opening the eyes of Filipina mothers that exclusive breastfeeding is best for their babies and even for their own bodies.

For more information on breastfeeding, visit http:// beautybrainsandbreastfeeding. blogspot.com/p/about-us.html, http://www.unicef.org/philippines/ children/breastfeeding_1.html or http://www.unicef.org/philippines/ reallives_17981.html.

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