According to the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO, thirty-eight percent of all babies are exclusively breastfed until six months of age in the region. When it comes to Belize, the percentage is a little lower at thirty-three percent. As we celebrate breastfeeding week, the Ministry of Health is hoping that more people will be sensitized to the need for a child to be exclusively breastfed during the first six months of their lives. Love news spoke with Nurse Elizabeth Enriquez who said that breastfeeding is essential to a child’s development.
Elizabeth Enriquez – Nurse: “Breastfeeding is important because it is the food that is to be given to the baby. It has the proper nutrients and the proper amount for the baby to have. I have seen the babies that breastfeed tend to grow better, tend to be less sick with colds, allergies and things like that, as opposed to the ones that are not breastfed. To the mothers out there why they should breastfeed their child, number one: is because the formula is expensive, a tin of milk is expensive and I guess the baby will drink like two tins of milk for the week depending, let’s say it is probably up to three or four for the week. That translates into money, especially then when it grows older you have to give it cereal so you have to be spending and then if you breastfeed the baby you can use a cup if it is smaller because even though the baby is young the baby can drink it out of a cup.”
This year’s theme for breastfeeding is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding”. Robin Daly, Nutritionist at the Ministry of Health, spoke about the significance of the theme.
Robin Daly – Nutritionist, Ministry of Health: “The whole idea is that it takes more than one person to support breastfeeding. It needs to be parents or furthermore the family so the theme is very appropriate for our activities that we are doing as well. People might feel offended sometimes when they see a woman breastfeeding. You might see sometimes women might just put a rag or cover at least the top portion of the breast but with proper knowledge and education you can decrease that stigma and that shame face that people might feel like when the woman is breastfeeding or they may feel offended that they should not see that breast. We might just encourage women sometimes to go in an appropriate area but we do not have that big of a stigma here in Belize. We see people breastfeeding all over, sometimes shop, waiting areas, sometimes on the bus but at the end people need to understand that that child has a need for food.”
Daly added that a woman should not be ashamed to breastfeed her child in public.