"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (August). For this month, we write about the World Breastfeeding Week 2014 - Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life and share how breastfeeding can help the Philippines achieve the 8 Millennium Development Goals development by the government and the United Nations. Participants will share their thoughts, experiences, hopes and suggestions on the topic. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.
Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries."
I will admit to being stumped as to what to write for my chosen Millennium Development Goals (Achieve Universal Primary Education and Develop a Global Partnership for Development). After all, what else do I say that I have not said before?
But since I have adopted the "Do the Math" mantra whenever I try to inspire moms to stick to and commit to breastfeeding, I guess I will adopt the same here.
First, let's have a quick look at the following pertinent breastfeeding statistics:
1,738,100 babies are born in the country yearly
Only 34% of these babies end up being exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months (around 278, 000 babies)
18.75 - infant mortality rate for every 1,000 births
16,000 children under 5 years old die every year from illnesses traced to formula-feeding or directly-addressed by breastfeeding
It is actually very good that infant mortality rate in our country has been steadily declining. And looking at these numbers, we can say that just more push from the right institutions and it can be further reduced dramatically. That is where breastfeeding will come in.
Just another 10% more moms to exclusively breastfeed can buy them lactation amenorrhea, protection from getting pregnant again and contributing to next year's population. A steady increase like this can mean that ten years down the line, the government can be at a perfect position to actually provide better primary public education because population growth was curbed somehow (or at least, it did not boom as exponentially).
Add to this the possibility that a family with an infant who breastfed exclusively can channel their abundant/ just enough/meager funds to food for the entire family as well as education for the older children.
Let us not even quibble with rates and percentages. Let us just say that if 1,000 more families will exclusively breastfeed this year, there may be 1,000 less babies next year... and 1,000 more babies next year who will be better fed.
For us middle-class and the rich, with happy problems like which food to introduce first and whether we are able to offer enough variation, this does not seem impressive. But try living their life... Tell me if it's still easy. Try living from hand to mouth. Try losing a child to diseases like diarrhea (Go Erceflora!) and infections (Amoxycillin anyone?). Try having kids with stunted growth who cannot process what they should be able to by the time they are of school age, putting further stress on an already struggling education system. Try imagining how burdensome that could be to a family if a child will be unable to learn or contribute. Try imagining struggling to feed and raise a child only to lose that child before it turns 5 years old... and repeat the same every few years or so.
From a middle-class point of view, consider how kids of can afford parents start school at the average age of 3. This means that from that point on, that child will be bringing home viruses and germs he caught in school. Now, imagine that there will be 1,000 less toddlers/preschoolers who will get sick this year from a certain flu strain because they are still being breastfed. They won't get sick because their mom's milk will give them the antibodies. That means no medicine intake or hospitalization for a few days. That means Mommy doesn't have to go absent from work for a few days. No stress on the finances or on everybody's schedule. That will mean not missing school for a few days so there is less tension about missed lessons. Now, what if these one thousand kids get spared twice in a year? Thrice? This great possibility is attainable if only a mother will commit to breastfeeding in the first 1,000 days of a child's life. #BF1st1000days
Wouldn't you agree that if you look at things this way, it becomes easier to see why our government should make this a priority?
Where does global partnership come in?
Well, 1,000 more kids breastfed means 1,000 less that institutions like WHO and UNICEF will be worrying about because it is 1,000 less children requiring aid.
1,000 more breastfed kids mean 1,000 less to make provisions for in times of emergencies and calamities.
1,000 more breastfed kids would mean at least one set of 1,000 days not missed by working moms to deliver services locally and internationally. Aren't you curious just how much that would mean for commerce and trade?
1,000 more breastfed kids will mean millions of savings from out-patient treatment due to respiratory diseases.
If policies like "Wednesdays off for baby's first year" (an additional 44 days of maternity leave) can be enacted, we might be looking at more than 1,000!
And 1,000 babies exclusively breastfed has the potential of bringing about 192,000 less cans in dump sites (the environmental cost by those who can afford). Indeed, why don't we tell formula-feeders that when they do so, they are wasting water and blocking drainages?
Oh, and 1,000 less children dying will mean around P33M savings from funeral costs, FYI. These costs affect the national budget, the implementation of plans, the approval of loans and aids and the ability to pay off such loans. These savings can in turn be channeled to feeding and educating more children, right?
Breastfeeding is truly a gift. It is basically free and yet it can save money and lives, regardless of demographic. Which is why I hope you will scroll down to read the rest of the entries for this blog carnival. Read and hare each one if you can, let us get more mommies to commit to breastfeeding in the first 1000 days. We may not meet our MDG targets next year but still, any small step in the right direction :)