While waiting for their turn for their prenatal check up, mothers at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City listen to the discussion on breastfeeding myths by a counselor from LATCH Davao, a breastfeeding support group. (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/davaotoday.com)

In this file photo, mothers waiting for their prenatal check up at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City listen to the discussion on breastfeeding myths by a counselor from breastfeeding support group LATCH Davao.  (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — When Joan, 29, got pregnant, she set her goal to breastfeed her baby as much as possible. But she was only able to exclusively breastfeed her son for about 50 days.

“I cut it short to 50 days because I need to get back to work as we faced financial constraints,” she told Davao Today in an interview Friday.

Her son has been mixed fed since then. Her mother would feed the baby with formula milk in the morning and she would nurse him when she gets home from the office.

But mixed feeding caused dwindling in her milk supply. “I felt there was a decrease in my milk supply and that he is not satisfied,” she said.

Joan said she was happy to hear of  President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that he backs longer maternity leave.

“It means more time with your newborn and more time for breastfeeding for working mothers like me,” she said.

Longer maternity leave

In an interview with CNN Philippines on Thursday, Dec. 29, Duterte said mothers should have a longer maternity leave.

“I agree that you need a longer period of rest sa maternity leave. Gusto ko nga isang taon eh (I even want it to last for a year),” he said.

He said he wants the baby to be breastfed because this will boost their immune system.

Duterte said he is just waiting for the papers that would extend maternity leave period to 100 days from 60 to 78 days.

Under the Social Security Law, working mothers who has paid at least three monthly contributions in the 12 month period preceding the semester of her childbirth or miscarriage “shall be paid 100 percent of her average daily salary credit for 60 days or 78 days in case of caesarean delivery.”

Not born mothers

Alex Hao, founding member of Lactation, Attachment, Training, Counseling and Help in Davao said there is need for longer maternity leave to help the women adjust to their role as mothers.

“There is a need for longer maternity leave because we are not born mothers. We become mothers. It takes time to adjust to our roles, get to know our body and our baby,” she said.

Julie Lapaz, a breastfeeding counselor also from LATCH Davao, said most working mothers who seek their help worry more of where to pump and how to store their milk.

“Of course, this would account the short maternity leave that is sometimes imposed on some companies, shorter than what is already mandated by law,” she said.

“A lot of times, it is disheartening for a mom to hear as to why she goes through all this hardship of having to pump and store when she could just buy breastmilk substitute. So, it is really ideal for the mom to have the correct support within her family as well as her work environment to ease her into going back into work after giving birth,” she said.

The World Health Organization promotes exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life.

The WHO said: “Review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants.”

“Breast milk is the natural first food for babies, it provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life,” it said.

Breast milk also promotes sensory and cognitive development and protects the infant from infectious and chronic diseases. (davaotoday.com)

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