With more policies supporting breastfeeding, there should be more mothers breastfeeding their babies.
But this is not the case in the Philippines as a 2022 study of the University of the Philippines Manila shows only 34 percent of mothers breastfeed exclusively – far from the target of the World Health Assembly to increase to at least 50 percent by 2025.
Breastfeeding rate in the Cordillera stands at 60 percent.
Laguna-based breastfeeding peer counselor Myla Gregorio said many mothers could not exclusively breastfeed primarily because of the discomfort they experience while breastfeeding.
Gregorio, who was in Baguio last week as a lecturer for the celebration of the Breastfeeding Awareness Month, said more mothers would choose breastfeeding if they only they get enough support from fellow mothers, health workers, and relatives about breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding should not be difficult; it should be beautiful,” Gregorio said, citing her own experience where she never went through the ordeal of some mothers like difficulty in producing milk and painful breastfeeding.
Gregorio said giving accessible intervention for mothers in the barangays can help encourage mothers to continue breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding peer counselors provide guidance to mothers on the proper way of breastfeeding and how to manage the barriers in breastfeeding and give counseling to mother and child on proper nutrition during lactation, among others.
In cases when a mother cannot breastfeed, breastfeeding peer counselors can also refer milk banks or facilitate donation for mothers who are able to produce more than enough milk.
The Breastfeeding Care Center of the North which is based in Baguio is a recognized breastfeeding counseling group. It trains barangay health workers, midwives, nurses, and other groups interested to be peer counselors in their own communities.
It organized last week a breastmilk donation drive that will benefit babies at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. – Rimaliza A. Opiña