More women are breastfeeding

First Lady Raquel Arbaje joined Rosa Elcarte, Unicef resident representative in the Dominican Republic are working together to get more Dominican mothers to breastfeed their babies at birth. Arbaje spoke at the Presidential Palace on 2 August on occasion of the World Breastfeeding Day.

She spoke of her experience breastfeeding her three daughters. She stressed breastfeeding is an act of love and bonding with the newborn.

Unicef says 16% of mothers breastfeed their babies in their first six months. In the most vulnerable areas the percentage is a low 12.6%.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), as part of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding (WABA), urges to continue to promote breastfeeding with milk from the mother’s breast.

“Breast milk is the best food during the first six months of a baby’s life, and it does not require any other food or drink, only the breast. At the same time, I should mention that breastfeeding from the mother’s breast acts as the newborn’s first vaccine, since it protects him/her against the most frequent childhood diseases,” insists Dr. Elcarte, the Unicef representative.

There has been an increase in the number of mothers that get started in breastfeeding. From 30% for the 2014 Enhogar-MICS survey, the number increased to 43% for the 2019 Enhogar-MICS.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef recommend starting breastfeeding in the first 60 minutes of life, as well as exclusive breastfeeding up to isx months and complementary breastfeeding up to two years of age.

In the Dominican Republic there is Breastfeeding Law 8-95 for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding, which prohibits health personnel from offering formulas and bottles. Violations of this law still persist and most mothers are not aware that mom’s milk is better.

“The global goal for 2025 is to achieve that 50% of children under six months receive exclusive breastfeeding, which still places us in a lagging position in relation to that intention,” says Dr. Elcarte.

Unicef works with the Ministry of Public Health and the National Health Service (SNS) to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding by encouraging the promotion of breastfeeding from pregnancy, through the support of counseling mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding, both for the child and for herself. Efforts are ongoing to dismantle false beliefs or myths about breastfeeding, many times promoted by commercial formula companies.

The UN Children’s Fund advocates that it is vital that the newborn be placed skin-to-skin on the mother’s breast from birth and that breastfeeding be initiated within the first hour after birth to benefit both the newborn and the mother.

It urges that all private clinics and maternity hospitals allow the baby to stay with its mother in the room to facilitate breastfeeding on demand, i.e. whenever the baby wants, without schedules.

“We extend our congratulations to the institutions and companies that have installed their breastfeeding friendly rooms, and at the same time we motivate more employers and managers to commit to enable these spaces as a strategy to ensure that their employees continue breastfeeding when they return to work,” said Elcarte. There are an estimated 130 breastfeeding rooms in several work centers.

In the Dominican Republic, ProLactaRD works to promote awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding. National Institute for Comprehensive Care for Early Childhood (Inaipi) is also active promoting breastfeeding.

Read more in Spanish:
El Dia
Diario Libre

3 August 2022