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First Breastfeeding Olympics in the Philippines Normalizes Nursing

First Breastfeeding Olympics in the Philippines Normalizes Nursing

Despite its name, the Philippines’ first-ever Breastfeeding Olympics, held last month in Taguig City, was about so much more than competition: The event was designed to help normalize breastfeeding and unite nursing moms.

More than 200 women from 28 local villages competed with each other to see which group could collect the highest volume of breast milk for the Taguig City Human Milk Bank, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. But the main goal of the event, held in celebration of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, was to change the negative attitude in that area about breastfeeding, and to encourage moms to feel comfortable nursing in public places. And what’s more supportive than gathering up hundreds of nursing moms to breastfeed together?

The competition resulted in the collection of 18 liters of breast milk in total, which was then pasteurized for the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit, outpatient infants and babies in need at other hospitals. (All donors were tested for hepatitis B, syphilis and HIV before participating.)

At the event, the moms participated in a “breastfeeding 101” discussion with a doctor, who talked about everything from a proper latch to the medical complications moms might encounter, as well as general infant nutrition, according to BusinessMirror. There was also a “Hakab na, Taguig!” ceremony (the word “hakab” means to latch), where a group of mothers all breastfed their babies simultaneously for at least a minute.

Participant Mary Rose Santos got into the nature of the friendly competition, but said her bigger goal was “to help fellow moms feed their babies with breast milk,” she told BusinessMirror. Breast milk has properties that make it better food for infants than formula milk, so I wanted to contribute mine to a mother and child who need these benefits.”

Another mom, Maniliza Aguilar, talked about the convenience of breastfeeding, as well as the financial advantage. “Breastfeeding my children has been a great help for us, especially with our daily expenses. It’s also easier for us to latch our baby instead of waking up in the middle of the night just to prepare a bottle of formula milk.”

Santos summed up the spirit of the event. “For me,” she said, “this Olympics is solidarity. It is solidarity between mothers. It is me and my fellow mothers here helping out the mothers out there who don’t have it easy.”

The event was deemed a success, and the “winners” took home rice, fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as the satisfaction of having provided for needy babies and helped normalize breastfeeding for their fellow Philippino moms.
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