This Breastfeeding month of August, we pay tribute to local leaders who make breastfeeding possible. Leadership and support from the top to the community level are all important, to ensure women can make informed choices on infant feeding and can get support and advice when they need it.
The city of Taguig is one of the cities in Metropolitan Manila with the most number of breastfeeding mothers—7 out of 10 mothers in fact, according to an official poll. With everyone from its mayor and other local government officials, city health staff and community volunteers throwing their full support behind its breastfeeding campaign, Taguig’s success affirms the power of a community’s commitment to help mothers successfully breastfeed.
Mayor Lani Cayetano of Taguig City
“The success of the (breastfeeding) program does not lie on mayor’s office alone. We should all understand it—the mayor, the councilors and also the barangay captains. The most important thing is that they understand what we want to achieve… it’s not just getting them to agree but also putting the advocacy into their hearts.”
Joann Espiritu, Nutrition Program Implementer/City Breastfeeding Coordinator and Julie Bernabe, City Nutrition Action Officer
“We have so far trained 30 nurses, 30 midwives, 4 nutritionists/dieticians and 179 peer counsellors. Some of them are themselves pregnant or have recently given birth and are now breastfeeding. That’s what makes them very effective.”
Dr. Erlinda Rayos del Sol, Assistant City Health Officer
“I think it is hardest to convince working mothers to breastfeed. I think their decision to bottle-feed instead of breastfeed is based on a false belief that bottle feeding puts them at a higher social status than their peers. I use myself as a positive example. I tell them: Do you want to have a lawyer in the family? Because I have a child who grew up to be a lawyer and that’s quite an accomplishment, if you ask me. I also tell them: “Think of the money you’ll save. Look at me, a doctor who can relatively afford things and I am breastfeeding. Why won’t you?”
Norhasim Ali, WHO Breastfeeding TSEK (Tama, Sapat at EKslusibo) coordinator
“Getting a mother to agree to breastfeed is only the first step. As a breastfeeding advocate, I see to it that she appreciates the benefits of breastfeeding and counsel her on the proper ways to do it.”
Taguig breastfeeding peer counsellors, with Nurse Wilma Gonzales (first row, in white) Bgy. Lower Bicutan nurse
“Many of those that we counsel are working mothers. Oftentimes when they return to work they stop breastfeeding altogether. So we try to convince them as best we could, sometimes visiting them at their homes to monitor them and explain the benefits of breastfeeding. Other times we offer them massages at the health center to aid their breastfeeding.”