Friday, August 22, 2014

Breastfeeding: Save Money, Save the Earth

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 developed 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.

Almost five years and counting... That's how long I've been breastfeeding, if you discount the one month break I had just before giving birth to my second child. I encouraged my eldest to wean, as I was already having difficulties maneuvering around with him nursing and my pregnant belly. It was a decision I kind of regret, honestly, as I would have loved to experience tandem feeding. But those almost five years of breastfeeding? Not remembering much of anything for the first month after birth for both kids except nursing round the clock? Making sure I leave enough stash inside the refrigerator or freezer when I leave for work? Making sure I expressed enough, or more, within the day to replenish what my child consumed? Having my child, or my pump with me every time I go out to make sure I keep up my supply? I don't. I cherish those every moment as I know I gave, and am still giving, the best milk my children can have, the comfort they needed, the warmth they craved.

Pregnant moms may be discouraged to breastfeed with the things I mentioned above. But think about it: breastfeeding alone addresses multiple needs of an infant, nutrition and comfort, basic needs of someone who was suddenly birthed out into a bright and noisy world after being enveloped with warmth and constant nutrition from the belly for 9 months. Not only that. Breastfeeding has a whole other lot of benefits not just for baby, but for mom, too. But did you know that not only the baby and the mom benefit on breastfeeding? It also benefits the whole family... and Mother Earth.

There are 8 Millenium Development Goals that the Philippines and United Nations has set for 2015. And all of them are addressed by breastfeeding. But let me focus on just two: Poverty and Environment.

A recent article by Rappler discusses the cost of formula milk. It mentioned that on average, a family spends P4,000 on formula milk. And that's more than half of what a low income family earns for a month. And a documentary made by UNICEF showed that families who cannot afford infant formula buy powdered milk that are in sachet form from the sari-sari store as they are easier on the pocket, and they believe the claims of these milk as seen or heard in television or radio. "Tibay everyday" and "Wala pa ring tatalo" are just a few of the ad recalls that mothers remember when they buy and give milk for their children, children who are less than 12 months old and have specific nutritional and caloric needs that are far different from the needs of school-aged kids and adults. Those who are more fortunate would recall "Nurture the gift" or "Good Start". But, have you seen this infographic which shows the difference between formula and breastmilk? Clearly, it shows that breast milk and formula have a huge gap in nutritional value.

But why do moms still choose to buy formula rather than breastfeed their child? Aggressive marketing by milk companies that uses popular celebrities to promote their brand of milk. The current Milk Code prohibits milk companies to advertise infant formula but has a grey area on the advertisement of follow-up milk. And these same follow-up milk have infant formula counterparts. So when a mom is in the milk aisle of the grocery and sees infant formula, she would recall the ad for follow-up milk, and in goes the can of infant formula to the basket. And that's around P1,000 based on the article by Rappler for a week-worth of milk.

If the mom breastfeeds, that P1,000 that will not be spent on infant formula can be used to buy other necessities that would benefit the whole family. Nutritious, indigenous food that can feed the whole family can be bought. A dinner out for the family can be enjoyed. A fancy dinner for mom and dad can be experienced. Or, that P1,000 can be saved and pooled for a trip for the whole family. It can even buy mom a baby carrier. Or two. Maybe even four. But that's another topic altogether.

Breast milk costs nothing, it's available any time, comes in the right temperature, are in attractive containers, relaxes both mom and baby, etc. If a mom has to work and leave baby, buying breastfeeding paraphernalia still cost less in the long run than buying infant formula. And these paraphernalia aren't even necessary. Learning to hand-express will save the mom on buying a breast pump. Cup feeding, using a shot glass, a wide-mouthed ceramic cup, or even a small cup specifically manufactured for cup feeding eliminates the need to buy bottles, teats, sterilizer, special brushes, etc. 

Which leads me to breastfeeding being environment friendly. Imagine the boxes, the labels, the cans infant formula uses and disposed of afterwards. Where will all those go? Are the materials used biodegradable? If not, what will happen to all the containers trashed after using up the milk? Add to that the use of plastic bottles, teats, etc. that need to be replaced every few months. Aside from potentially having harmful chemicals even if the manufacturer says it's BPA-free, these plastics are not biodegradable. There are glass bottle options, yes, but these are more expensive, and still uses teats that need to be replaced. Breastfeeding also doesn't have carbon emissions that manufacturing formula milk, bottles, etc. do.

Think about it. Saving money and saving Mother Earth. That's what breastfeeding, and breast milk, do and a whole lot more. 

Here are many thoughts and reasons why we should all advocate for mothers to breastfeed for the first 1,000 days of life #BF1st1000days.

Jenny shares experiencing the One Asia Breastfeeding Forum
Mec insists to do the Math and breastfeed!
Ams, The Passionate Mom says Breastfeed for a Better Future
Pat says breastfeeding saves money and the planet
Cheryl, the Multi-Tasking Mama, tackles maternal health as addressed by breastfeeding
2011 CNN Hero Ibu Robin highlights gentle births and breasfeeding, even in disaster zones
Felyn stresses that Healthy Moms = Healthy Babies
Monique reminds us that there are second chances in breastfeeding
Normi relates how breastfeeding gave her strength and purpose
Nats thanks Dr. Jack Newman for showing how breastfeeding can be a win-win situation
Em believes breastfeeding is a solution to societal problems
Marge shares what breastfeeding has taught them
Kaity was empowered financially and as a woman through breastfeeding
Madel relates her breastfeeding saga
Jen of Next9 reminds us to do our research and share what we know
Celerhina Aubrey vows to work on one mother at a time
Grace wants to put an end to stories of toasted coffee and similar stuff over breast milk
Diane shares how she prevailed when things did not go according to plan
Hazel appreciates mommy support groups
Roan combines two passions, breastfeeding and architecture
Queenie tackled breastfeeding as the best choice for the environment as well and breastfeeding myths and poverty
Rosa shares how the picture she thought of was realized
Sally believes breastfeeding benefits mankind and our planet Earth
Floraine reminds us that breastfeeding helps combat diseases
Crislyn was happy to realize that she improved her own health by breastfeeding
Armi reminds us how breastfeeding during emergencies is crucial
Arvi tells us how breastfeeding made her look at her body a different way
Clarice elaborates on how breastfeeding saves lives and the planet
Giane reminds us that women empowerment can begin by seeing breastfeeding as more than a feeding issue
Liza thought she was only breastfeeding for her child


Mec Camitan Arevalo said...

Thanks for joining the Milk Mama Blog Carnival!!!

currant7 said...

I forgot that you've been breastfeeding for 5 years already!
I remember also that I had to wean my son when I was pregnant with my daughter that I do have the same regrets. No worries, Pat... I'm sure that on the next one - you'll be able to tandem feed. Heeehee

Great entry BFF!

Daniel Kaity Bato said...

Wow! Breastfeeding for 5 years? Very inspiring! I also love your 1st paragraph stating all the efforts you've done just to exclusively breastfeed your little ones. All the effort, so worth it!(: