This is a post about the developing world, where things are different. Things we take for granted here, clean water, access to health care and education are not a given, for many they are a wish or a dream.
This is a post about breastfeeding. It is not about my choices or experiences or even the choices or experiences of majority of readers of the this blog. It is not about breastfeeding in the first world. It is about breastfeeding in the developing world.
I am delighted to be hosting a guest post on my blog, the author is Mia Sutanto the Chairwoman of AIMI. AIMI is an Indonesian organisation which promotes breastfeeding. Mia shares her experience and why she campaigns to promote breastfeeding.
You can find Mia on twitter
She describes herself: “Lactivist mom of breastfed daughters, breastfeeding counselor, chairwoman of AIMI, ashoka social entrepreneur, wifey, foodie, avid traveller, graceful dancer”
This post is Mia’s.
I had my first daughter in 2004, and had such a lot of challenges with
breast-feeding in the beginning. Sadly I had little to no support from
the doctors. My baby was born with jaundice and so I had to express my
milk. I tried to express but ended up with breast engorgement and
sore nipples. It also used to be the norm for the hospital to take
your child away after they were first born to give you a rest. They
did this with my daughter and gave her formula while she was away from
me. So, I continued to give her formula and mixed it with
breastfeeding while she was little.
I really struggled to breastfeed and gave up after 10 months.
Afterwards I wondered to myself how come I fell short from my goal.
I’d read in magazines and books that breastfeeding is a very good
thing for your baby. There is this perception in Indonesia that if you
want to breastfeed it’s a natural thing to do and that it will be
easy. Instead, I was crying all the time as I found it such a
I realised that just wanting to breastfeeding wasn’t enough – you have
to learn. So, after 10 months I gave up. In late 2006 I found article
about breastfeeding counsellors. I enrolled for some training and
after doing it started to campaign to my friends and family.
I also went online and found the mailing list which was the beginning
of our organisation Aimi – at the time it only had 20 – 30 mothers who
emailed each other for breastfeeding advice. I offered to help as a
With AIMI we try to meet the need by providing breast-feeding
counselling & education support for women but also try and fix the
system – we campaign for responsible marketing & government regulation
to support women who, for example, want to breast-feed at work.
All women deserve to have access to support and education about
breastfeeding, and here in Indonesia it really is a matter of life and
death – our government has calculated that the lives of 30,000 babies
could be saved every year if they were exclusively breastfed for the
first six months.
There’s a huge challenge ahead for us – to be able to reach people all
across Indonesia so that those babies’ lives can be saved.
Many thanks Mia.
Save the Children have launched a campaign “The Power of the First Hour”. Their report which can be read here; Super Food for Babies
The report’s research bears witness to the complex factors which impact on women in the developing world’s choices when it comes to breastfeeding, factors such as community and cultural pressures, a lack of access to health workers, and the inappropriate promotion of breast-milk substitutes by the global companies that produce formula.
Despite much progress and organisations like AIMI and women like Mia, in many places breastfeeding rates are stalling, in some places they are in decline.
In the UK the debate about breastfeeding and formula feeding can be intense and emotional, lets put that to one side. The fact is that breastfeeding is a mother’s natural antidote to hunger and disease, in the world’s poorest places the choice to breastfeed or not can be the difference between life and death for a baby. If all babies were breastfed within the first hour of life, a staggering 830,000 children’s lives would be saved every year. That is how important the ‘Power Hour’ is in the developing world; the first hour of life. But with the right support and information women can make the best choices for their baby.
My wish is that Mia’s post inspires others to get involved. Information to write your own post is available at the Save the Children Bloggers Tool kit here.
Save the Children are petitioning the CEOs of Nestlé & Danone, the largest produces or formula;
“As leading baby milk formula manufacturers, you have a special responsibility. The way you market your products can influence women’s decisions to breastfeed. Despite 30 years of the WHO’s* international marketing code, there are still too many reports of it being violated. It’s time for it to stop.”
Save the Children
(*World Health Authority)
Mia’s words are inspiring, women like her need our support to save babies, not just in Indonesia but across the developing world. There is a better way as the Mia and the women of AIMI show us. Support women and babies in the developing world. Support Save the Children in this campaign.