Breast is best
ANNOTTO BAY, St Mary:
On Monday, at an event in Annotto Bay, St Mary, to celebrate the launch of National Breastfeeding Week, three new mothers were asked to deliver testimonials to the 200-strong audience about what it's like to feed a baby exclusively on breast milk.
One of them, Patrice Spence, revealed that, despite pressure from her family and health care professionals, she refused to introduce formula milk into her newborn son's diet, and is convinced the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh any disadvantages.
Speaking after the launch, which was hosted by the Ministry of Education and the North East Regional Health Authority, Spence, 28, told Family and Religion: "I was asked to come here today to help promote breastfeeding and explain how and why the only thing I feed my baby is breastmilk.
"On my first visit to the health centre, the nurse and community health aide (CHA) educated me about pregnancy, breastfeeding, and how to take care of the baby, and my body. My pregnancy did not go the full-term and I had my son, Anthowan Beckford, at seven months, which is premature. He was delivered safely, but had to be admitted into hospital and placed under observation for a week.
"Finally, he was discharged, but I had to do follow-ups at the hospital and at one of those appointments, I was told the baby was not gaining weight as he was supposed to, and that I should introduce formula to him. At that point, I started to become afraid because my sister, who is a CHA at Highgate Health Centre, kept telling me every day: 'No formula. Just breast because it is the best.'"
Spence, from Highgate, St Mary, recalled that local health care professionals were not the only people recommending that her son's meals be supplement with formula milk.
She said: "My mother also tried to influence me to give the baby formula because he was so tiny, but I decided that I wasn't going to follow them, and so it was recommended that I visit the nutritionist at the health centre on a weekly basis to watch how the baby grew and gained weight.
"Exclusive breastfeeding turned out to be the right choice and I would advise other pregnant mothers to do the same because it helps me to bond closer with my child, keeps him healthy and free from diseases and infections, and I don't have to spend a lot of money, so it costs me less.
"When I look at other children who are the same age, but not exclusively breastfed, their skin does not look healthy, and some of them are underweight. I am really happy I had my sister by my side because just thinking about how my baby has developed in the three months since he was born makes me feel overwhelmed."