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Sunday 21 July 2019
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NWRHA defends breastfeeding, mascot

Wendy Ali
Wendy Ali

CHIEF executive officer of the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) Wendy Ali feels no one should be offended when a woman breastfeeds her child in public.

“The child needs this. We need to understand that the breast is not just a sexual object. It is something that God gave us, to provide nutrition and sustain the human race,” Ali told the Newsday yesterday while responding to feedback from social media on the NWRHA’s launch of its initiative on breastfeeding.

A photo of a member of staff dressed in a costume that looked like a breast was circulated on social media Wednesday and labelled as “BREASTEE.”

Some comments on social media were not positive.

One reaction was, “Is this a towel or a boob?” Another person said, “Idk how the model could put that on...I hope they paid her well.”

The costume was part of an in-house competition within the maternity department and the Lactation Management Unit of the NWRHA where they encouraged new mothers to breastfeed their newborns.

Ali said, “It is unfortunate that a noble intention and a great initiative to do something that, maybe, someone did not agree with, took a downside to this initiative. Port of Spain General Hospital, in keeping with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), is aspiring to become baby friendly, and one of the steps is to start a breastfeeding programme.”

BREASTEE is an acronym that highlights the positive aspects of breastfeeding. It means – Bonding mother and baby; Readily available; Easily digested; Antibodies; Sustainable; Temperature; Economical; Environmentally safe.

“All of those are the characteristics of breast milk,” Ali said. “If you breastfeed your baby you would create a long-lasting bond between mother and child. Breast milk is readily available and the most easily digestible you can give your newborn. It is at low cost when infant formula can go at $200 a tin.

“The shot of the mascot was not supposed to go island wide. The mascot would have been used within our institution and clinic. It was to be used by nurses during ante-natal classes. This was supposed to be an informative document to inform mothers on breastfeeding, how to handle breast milk, how to store it, how to position their baby when they breastfeed. In these financial times people should give their children the best at no cost.”

She added that breastfeeding also helped with cancer reduction, keeping mothers in shape, and helping with contraception when exclusively breastfeeding.

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