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Why breastfeeding remains best for babies?

Breast milk remains the number one milk for babies – a friendly and healthy reminder from the Department of Health (DOH) as a mother’s milk contains the nutrients that the baby needs for its growth and protection against diseases.

The Philippines celebrates National Breastfeeding Month in August each year to promote and support breastfeeding over bottle feeding as the normal, natural, and preferred method of feeding infants.

However, breastfeeding should not only be taken into consideration this month. Why?

Dr. Janesa Valerie Reyes, pediatrician at the Region 1 Medical Center (RM1C) in Dagupan City, emphasized that breast milk serves as a baby’s “vaccine” as it is a rich source of antibodies and chemical properties that fight off viruses and harmful bacteria as well as prevent the entry of foreign proteins that cause allergies.

“Very important ang breastfeeding sa mga sanggol kasi proteksyon nila ito sa mga sakit gaya ng diarrhea, pneumonia, even sa allergies ay protected sila, tamang-tama lang ang weight nila like protected sila sa obesity, at lumalaking matalino ang mga batang na-breastfeed,” she said in an interview.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), breastfeeding also provides health benefits for the mother as it can lower the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. 

Dr. Reyes agreed, adding that breastfeeding enables a mother to regain her pre-pregnancy weight quickly.

She also stressed the importance of ‘exclusive breastfeeding’ for the first six months of the baby’s life, wherein only the mother’s milk should be given to the baby and nothing else.

“For the first six months of life, ang pino-promote natin ay exclusive breastfeeding. Ibig sabihin ay walang ibang ibibigay – breast milk lang. You don’t need to give water kasi may component na ito ng water,” she said, adding that babies should be still breastfed for up to two years and beyond while introducing other appropriate food.

By exclusively breastfeeding, a mother can meet her baby’s nutritional demands without having to worry.

If she keeps up a well-balanced diet and drinks plenty of fluids, she can be sure that her baby is getting the nutrition he needs.

“Iyong milk supply ni mommy also depends on her nutrition, so importante rin na she takes care of herself. Importante na she is eating a well-balanced diet. Okay din ang sabaw – nakakatulong din iyon sa hydration. Very important sa milk production is mina-manage ang stress,” Dr. Reyes said.

What’s more aside from nutritional benefits?

Breastfeeding also contributes to a close mother-child relationship. 

A newborn needs milk throughout the day, but he also yearns for connection with his mother. 

He needs his mother to hold him close. 

Constant affection, attention, and touching between mother and child are irreplaceable.

However, this is not just a mother’s role. 

Parents play a big role in raising their children healthy. 

Thus, fathers should also understand the importance of breastfeeding as bottle feeding does not provide the greatest benefits to the baby. 

Bottle feeding may be more convenient but it is the baby who is on the losing end.

With this year's theme: “Isulong ang Ligtas at Malusog na Pagpapasuso Para sa Manggagawang Pilipina!”, let us work together to promote safe and healthy work practices for breastfeeding mothers as stipulated in the Republic Act No. 10028, Chapter IV, Section 9 that says, “The Department of Health is hereby mandated to develop and provide breastfeeding programs for working mothers whose employees are encouraged to avail of it as part of their human resource development programs.”

National Breastfeeding Month may also be celebrated in August but this is a friendly and healthy reminder that breastfeeding awareness should be a constant effort rather than something that lasts just for a month. (JCR/AMB/JCDR/PIA Pangasinan)

About the Author

Jenrie Del Rosario


Region 1

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