Jakarta. Annual World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated on Aug. 1-7 to mark the anniversary of the "Innocenti Declaration on the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding" by the United Nations cultural organization, Unesco.
Celebrated for the first time in 1992, WBW is observed in 120 countries, including Indonesia.
The Association of Indonesia's Breastfeeding Mothers (AIMI) held a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday (27/07) to remind us all of the importance of breastfeeding.
"Many people know that breastfeeding is good for the baby, but few realize that breastfeeding is also good for the mother," AIMI secretary general Farahdibha Tenrilemba said during the press conference.
The suckling of a baby induces healthy contractions in the uterus, which prevent postpartum hemorrhage and help it return to its original size.
Breastfeeding mothers also have lower levels of estrogen, which means lower risk of getting reproductive cancers and osteoporosis.
Production of breast milk consumes 200-500 calories a day, which is similar to swimming 30 laps or cycling uphill for an hour.
"Mothers who breastfeed tend to be slimmer and healthier," Farahdibha said.
Breastfeeding also releases oxytocin, a hormone that helps the mother and the baby bond.
High oxytocin levels help to lower blood pressure and regulate heart rate in both.
"Breastfeeding is a right choice to be healthy, but also a mother's responsibility," Farahdibha said.
And yet, with today's fast-paced lifestyles, it is not easy for women to exercise the choice.
"It's on obligation for everyone concerned to ensure that both the mother and the baby get what's rightfully theirs," Farahdibha said.
The government's regulation No. 33 of 2012 protects a woman's right to breastfeeding until her baby is six months old.
"In line with the regulation, we're now pushing the government to allow six-months' maternity leave, so that women can better nurse their babies," GKIA (Health Movement for Mothers and Children) member and general practitioner Dr. Candra Wijaya said during the press conference.
Currently, most offices in Indonesia allow three-months' maternity leave.
"Vietnam has already given it [six months] and statistics show that it boosts its economic growth," Candra said.
The 2012 regulation also states that all public places and offices should have breastfeeding facilities.
"Many [public places and offices] already comply with the regulation and provide breastfeeding rooms, but unfortunately their cleanliness and privacy are often not carefully maintained," Candra said.
In addition to the government's regulation and support from the general public, fathers also play an important role.
"Fathers should do all they can to make breastfeeding mothers feel relaxed and comfortable," Candra said. "Loving gestures and helping with household chores will make the mothers happier and increase their breast milk production."
Women should have a well-balanced diet to ensure an ample supply of breast milk for the baby.
"The most important thing is to maintain skin-to-skin contact with your baby. With physical closeness, your body will sense what your baby needs and produce more milk," Candra said.
One way to maintain physical closeness with your baby is to have him or her sleep in the same room with you, especially in the first few weeks after birth.
"It will also help to synchronize [the mother's and the baby's] biological clocks, so that the mother will wake and fall asleep around the same time as the baby, which will also minimize her tiredness."