GREAT BAY-The support of the private sector is being sought by healthcare professionals to encourage breastfeeding in our society as St. Maarten joins the rest of the world in the global observance of World Breastfeeding Week from August 1 to August 7 annually.
In this regard the St. Maarten Medical Centre (SMMC) Breastfeeding Committee in collaboration with Collective Preventative Services (CPS) has embarked upon a month long breastfeeding campaign that includes sensitizing the public to the importance of breastfeeding and information evenings. It all begins tonight with an information session will be held at the hospital for mothers from 7:00 pm.
“Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers” is the theme for 2013 observance of Breastfeeding Week.
“This theme focuses on the support given to the breastfeeding mother from the difference areas of her life such as family and social network, place of employment, healthcare systems, government legislation and response to crisis or emergency,” Nurse Candy of the SMMC told the press during the campaign launch on Friday.
These five circles of breastfeeding support are also depicted on a promotional flyer that features a breastfeeding mother in its center, as part of awareness initiatives.
“We want to draw attention to the importance of peer support in helping mothers to establish and sustain breastfeeding,” she added.
In St. Maarten, stakeholders plan to focus family and social network, place of employment, healthcare systems, government legislation and response to crisis or emergency.
“In this modern world that we live in, it is still good for babies to what is the best; to be breast fed,” Nurse Candy stated.
A survey will also be conducted to measure how various institutions support breastfeeding mothers.
“Once that survey is compiled, then we can move forward with a baseline to work with. We realize that breastfeeding is one of the most important meals for our children, it is economical, readily available and also protects the child’s immune system,” representatives from the CPS explained.
It has been proven that infants and children who are breastfed are less likely to contract infections, viruses and illness such as diarrhea or respiratory complications are less obese and also register higher IQ levels. The practice also aids mothers in preventing breast cancer.
“We know that once they go back to work it is very difficult to sustain this, hence the theme: Close to Mothers where workplaces are encouraged to support their employees to breastfeed for at least the first six months of their child’s life,” they added.
The joint committee said that its greatest endeavor this year will be in approaching businesses to evaluate how breastfeeding friendly they are.
In past surveys were conducted with fathers and mothers separately.
To close off Breastfeeding Week, stakeholders plan to organize a Pregnancy Market where mothers, expectant mothers and families can attend on Wednesday from 5:00 pm at Sector Health Care behind the Vineyard Building. Another info session will be held at the SMMC on Thursday night.
The officials are very concerned that breastfeeding no longer appears to be a standard in rearing a child. There are a lot of taboos and misconceptions regarding the practice and it are these notions that the officials want to dispel. Many breastfeeding mothers stop because they are not supported.
They explained that although an employee may resume duties after maternity leave, this does not mean that she has stopped producing milk.
They want to see facilities where employees can breastfeed even while at work or even the incorporation of time into the work schedule for breast feeding. This would allow nursing mothers to expel the milk they produce and store it, so that when they return home it can be given to their babies.
Stakeholders have also produced a jingle that will be aired on radio and television promoting the importance and benefits of breastfeeding in the development of society. Throughout various articles will also be published in the media in support of breastfeeding.
“Once you have a healthy baby you have a more productive mother. A mother that has to stay home with a baby that is ill hampers your business. So with the mother’s breastfeeding, you can avoid the amount of sick leave a mother would have to take because of her child being sick as a result of ear infections, diarrhea or asthma. Those are things that can be prevented by breastfeeding,” they stated.