How the bottle ‘sabotages’ breastfeeding

How the bottle ‘sabotages’ breastfeeding

By Tessa Salazar
Published on page B4 of the August 12, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Last updated 11:28pm (Mla time) 08/11/2006

GIVE THE feeding bottle in the early hours after birth, and you seriously compromise a baby’s chance to successfully breastfeed. The mother is bound to fail (to breastfeed) if not corrected right away by somebody who knows how to support breastfeeding.”This was how Dr. Maria Asuncion A. Silvestre, chair of the breastfeeding committee and member of the board of trustee of the Philippine Society of Newborn Medicine, described how the feeding bottle gave mothers a false sense of security.

Silvestre, who recently spoke to members of the media during a PCP Health Forum, added that the amount of milk from the bottle is also disproportionate to the feeding capacity of the baby. The size of the newly born baby’s stomach is like that of a large marble that’s not designed to accommodate one to two ounces of milk formula or water from a feeding bottle. So how come the baby seems to calm down while taking the entire contents of a feeding bottle in? When you force the bottle’s nipple — or even pacifier — in the baby’s mouth, he or she will instinctively start suckling. The baby stops crying, again giving mothers that false sense of security.After being used to bottle feeding, what comes next is that when the baby is then finally breastfed by the mother, the latter would most likely feel uncomfortable about the process. Silvestre explained that as a result of getting used to the artificial nipple, the baby would develop a different way of sucking the mother’s breast — a way that would most likely be painful, would cause soreness or even infection of the mother’s nipples.

Falling into the trap

She stressed that if breastfeeding is not stimulated properly, the mother falls into the trap of giving up breastfeeding and resorting to feeding milk formulas to the newborn. Juliet Sio Aguilar, president of the Philippine Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, said there are bound to be mothers who will experience difficulties especially during the first two weeks of breastfeeding, but they should not give up breastfeeding and go straight to formulas just because it’s the easy way about it. Aguilar added that doctors not familiar with the science of lactating mothers can also fall into the trap of recommending milk formulas to newborns. Silvestre and Sio are one in urging mothers and doctors to allow the natural method of breastfeeding to take its course so that mother’s milk will feed the baby during the crucial first few months of his or her life.

Lack of info, counseling

Silvestre lamented the lack of information and breastfeeding counseling. “It’s not just about talking to mothers, but more of sitting with them, putting the newborn to the mother’s breast, making sure the position and ‘latching on’ of the baby is proper so that the mother is not hurt unnecessarily by the procedure. It’s also about reassuring the mother.”Aguilar cited studies from Naples, Italy involving over 250 expectant mothers and their husbands demonstrating the importance of spousal support. The mothers whose husbands had been given lactation support training actually breastfed longer and exclusively than the same number who were not given any kind of training.

Gifted child

Aguilar stressed breast milk contains all the ingredients to help develop a baby into an intelligent child, the same claims of any milk formula company. She said the breast milk even offers more as it can protect children from infectious diseases and chronic illnesses/disorders like allergies, diabetes and obesity. If the breast milk comes freely to all lactating mothers, “why do we have to pay for the P43-billion total expenditure on infant formula, and P22 billion on total importation of infant formula per year?” Aguilar quips.Sixteen percent of Filipino babies were exclusively breastfed by their mothers for the recommended first six months after birth according to the National Demographic and Health Survey of 2003.Exclusive breastfeeding can decrease the number of under 5-year child deaths by 13 percent according to Lancet 2003 titled “How Many Child Deaths Can We Prevent this Year?”Health experts stressed that breastfeeding is more cost effective than any single public health intervention. Sixteen thousand of 82,000 annual child deaths in the Philippines have been attributed to improper infant formula milk feeding.The revised implementing rules and regulations on the Milk Code recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months without using plain, glucose or rice water or any breast milk substitutes. After that period, she can start complementary solids using locally available fresh and natural foods while continuing breastfeeding through two years and more.


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