SOME milk-formula manufacturers in the Philippines are Abbott Laboratories Philippines Inc., Mead Johnson Philippines Inc., Wyeth Nutrition Philippines Inc., Nestlé Philippines Inc. and Pacific Healthcare Philippines Inc. They are multinational firms headquartered in the United States, Switzerland and Singapore.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, “because of limited milk production in the Philippines, the country relies on milk imports to provide breastmilk substitutes.”
A survey of stores in Pasig City reveals milk supplements Bonamil costs P88.83 for 180 grams and P864.87 for 2 kilograms; Enfamil A+ Two Lactose Free at P591 for 350g and P1,230 for 900g; DG Infant Formula at P699 for 400g, Nestogen 2 Follow up Formula at P495 for 1.3kg and P378 for 900g and Similac Organic Infant Formula at P2,107 for 658g. Prices may vary depending on the store.
Working mother Jenne Pauline Sison spends P900 per can of a Wyeth Nutrition milk formula brand every 15 days.
Allyza Travino, who works for her mother’s company, spends P1,000 every two weeks for every 1.6 kg of a Nestlé S.A. brand of milk formula for her 4-year-old daughter Cassy.
“Gustuhin ko man na padedehin si Cassy, hindi ko rin magawa kasi wala talagang lumalabas na gatas sa akin, [Whether I wanted to breastfed Cassy, I still couldn’t do it because I cannot produce milk],” Travino said
Travino added her inverted nipples, as well as earning money for the family, has prompted her to choose milk formula for her daughter’s diet.
THE UK-based charity National Childbirth Trust (NCT) defines infant milk formula as “usually based on processed, skimmed cow’s milk”. “Added ingredients include vitamins, fatty acids and prebiotics [carbohydrates that can stimulate the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in the digestive system],” the NCT said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) includes this among “breast-milk substitutes”.
The WHO said breast-milk substitutes mean “any food being marketed or otherwise presented as a partial or total replacement for breast milk, whether suitable for that purpose”.
Infant milk formula usually comes in powder form, diluted with water and fed to infants or children 12 months and below through a bottle.
Barangay Sumilang, Pasig City Health Center midwife Nomelita A. Talop told the BusinessMirror infant-milk formulas bring convenience to mothers, especially if they have jobs or other tasks to do. Also, it would be more comfortable for the baby to drink in bottle if he or she has a cleft palate, Talop added.
For homemaker Joy Mapadat, being busy with work prompted her to use infant formula.
She sells snacks to augment her family’s income that relies on the salary of her husband who works as a security guard.
Another mother belonging to Mapadat’s barangay, Sumilang also cited her work as a decision to stop breastfeeding.
“Nag-try akong mag breastfeed dati kaso one month lang [kasi] hindi ako makagawa ng iba pang gawain dito sa bahay, [I tried to breastfed before for only a month but stopped because I cannot do other household chores]”, Maizilyn Huilar said, while folding sun-dried clothes. Huilar said she now regrets her decision “because milk formulas are expensive”.
MADAPAT’S neighbor Jocelyn Santos ruminates of her decision to breastfeed all her six children.
Santos, pregnant with her seventh child, told the BusinessMirror she chose to feed her children her milk because of the prohibitive price of infant formula.
Besides, we need the money, the full-time stay-at-home mother said, as the family only relies on the salary of her husband who works as company driver.
Money is what Jasmin Isidro said she gained out of breastfeeding. Isidro, a mother of two sons, works as a sweeper at the Pasig City Hall.
“I personally breastfed my two boys for six years without really planning on where I will channel the savings,” she told the BusinessMirror.
Isidro, however, said it also helped that they live with her parents and win in “Bingo”, her pastime.
For Jane Obsina, a 40-year-old mother of three, said the decision to use infant formula also boils down to time management.
Obsina said she breastfed all her daughters, the youngest of whom is Angelito.
Motherhood is really hectic because taking care of the family is a major responsibility that has no limit and exceptions, she said.
Obsina’s sister-in-law and fellow Zumba dancer Rita Vergara, however, cited health concerns for going back to breastfeeding.
Vergara, a mother of three, said she used infant formula before but her son was rejecting the diet. From then on, she went back to breastfeeding him.
Vergara said she sells snacks and other products during holidays, like Holy Week and Christmas to augment the income of her husband from driving a tricycle.
To be concluded