The Ministry of Health and Wellness has disclosed that breastfeeding rates are declining in Saint Lucia every year.
The disclosure comes as the Island prepares to observe World Breastfeeding Week from August 1 to 7, 2017.
Nutrition Officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Maryanna Phillip, told the Ministry’s Communications Unit that every year breastfeeding rates are going down.
Phillip said this was especially true of exclusive breastfeeding where mothers are expected to breast feed alone for the first six months after the birth of a child.
She noted that the ministry has embarked on a campaign to raise awareness of the need to breast feed infants.
The Nutrition Officer said that breastfeeding benefits the baby and mother.
“It helps the mother’s womb, especially the uterus, to return to the normal size quickly,” Phillips stated.
She added that when the infant consumes breast milk, money that would be spent on infant formula is saved.
Phillips has urged mothers to disregard the stigma associated with breastfeeding and continue the practice.
“There is a stigma among young mothers that when they breast feed their babies, their breasts are going to sag and we want to tell them that is not so. All they have to do is support their breasts during pregnancy with good supportive bras,” the Health and Wellness Ministry official asserted.
She appealed to mothers, especially young mothers, to breast feed their babies.
It was explained that breast milk is highly nutritious with easy-to-digest proteins and natural ingredients that protect babies against disease and infection.
Colostrum, the milk that mothers produce in the first days after birth, is not only dense in nutrients, but is also rich in antibodies that protect babies from bacteria and viruses that cause infection, it was observed.
On Friday June 9th, the Ministry of Health and Wellness hosted its first of several education campaigns in the North of island to promote the importance of breastfeeding for infant nutrition and health.
Phillips was one of the facilitators.