Breast is best – and cheapest

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THE economic crisis and unemployment are encouraging Spanish mothers to breastfeed for longer. Midwives believe that the crisis is motivating women to continue breastfeeding, according to Consuelo Martinez, of assistant manager of Nursing at Murcia’s La Arrixaca hospital.  “It’s as though they’ve been given a little push.  Many say they have no choice,” she explained.

The midwives themselves are also using the crisis to persuade women of the benefits of breastfeeding.  “It’s cheap.  It’s unadulterated.  This is what we’ve always told mothers and now it’s an absolute necessity for very many of them,” said Martinez, who is also president of FAME, Spain’s association of midwives.

There are women without money for formula, she said.  Others, unemployed, can breastfeed for longer than the four months that maternity leave would last.  And in case they do find work, some are expressing and freezing milk – it lasts up to six months – to continue saving money later.

And not only are hard-up mothers preferring to breastfeed but some are returning to washable cloth nappies because disposables are so expensive, Consuelo Martinez revealed.

Nevertheless, money or lack of it is not the only reason why Spanish women are breastfeeding for longer the six months recommended by the World Health Organisation, she maintained.

If twice as many women still breastfeed at six months, this is also due to the work and encouragement of groups and organisations like the La Leche League International, she said.

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