Exclusive Breastfeeding Celebrated by Rural Myanmar Family
by Sandar Linn
This year's World Breastfeeding Week, 1-7 August, highlights a true 3D experience: an opportunity for outreach, an investment in a healthy future, and a unifying lens through which to see the world.
Oaktwin, Bago-Myanmar, 29 July 2011 – Nwat Nwat Win, 31, is a mother of three. The youngest is a healthy eight months old baby girl, Wut Hmone Phuu, well known in her neighbourhood for being exclusively breastfed up to six months. It is nothing short of a revolutionary practice in Bant Bwe Kone village where Nwat Nwat Win lives.
In an environment where giving babies water, juices, herbal liquids and rice long standing traditional practice, what convinced Nwat Nwat Win to change her mind for exclusive breastfeeding?
When Nwat Nwat Win was pregnant with her third child, the UNICEF-supported programme to promote and support exclusive breastfeeding began in Oaktwin and Phyu Townships of Bago region. Some 500 community volunteers and basic health staff were trained in interpersonal communication skills, vital for the success of frontline communicators, which enabled them to reach thousands of mothers and grandmothers in order to change practices to exclusive breastfeeding.
“The mid-wife and volunteers from Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association (MMCWA) visited me often and explained the importance of exclusive breastfeeding. I asked them, what difference this would make to my child,” said Nwat Nwat Win.
Of all the facts on child nutrition that they explained, she said, that exclusive breastfeeding is important for further development of the child, both mentally and physically, appealed her the most. Nwat Nwat Win decided to take on the challenge to give the baby the best chances she can have.
“I did it for the entire six months and have no regrets. I am proud of my little girl,” announced Nwat Nwat Win, “She has not been sick since she was born. She has no diarrhoea, and no flu.”
Nwat Nwat Win, however, had to endure a lot of pressure not only from some neighbours but also within the family like her mother. “My neighbours said that my child would die of not given water,” she said. “But I persisted. Nowadays, my daughter is a living example that we were right, and I show her to other women to convince them.”
Although her mother encouraged her to exclusively breastfeed, when the weather became hot, she wanted to give water, worried that her grandchild might be thirsty.
“Nwat Nwat Win’s family is a good example. The programme implemented right down to the village level to promote and support exclusive breastfeeding was very effective and many of the new mothers actually tried to keep breastfeeding after initiating,” said Daw Kay Thi Khaing Oo, the local midwife.
Wut Hmone Phuu is eight months old and she is given rice, fish and vegetables as complementary feeds along with breast milk.
“I was anxious yet excited to see results on my baby’s health as we did not give her water or any other food but breast milk. I cannot express how happy I am that she is well and I shared my story with all my friends,” said Ko Than Win Htun, the husband of Nwat Nwat Win.
UNICEF and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action celebrate this year World Breastfeeding Week by underscoring the theme: ‘Talk to Me! a 3D theme: an opportunity for outreach, an investment in a healthy future, and a unifying lens through which to see the world.’
Through supporting the government policies, and improving community-based health care practices, UNICEF supports mothers to breastfeed immediately after birth and up to six months.