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Mums helping mums in Ecuador

It’s a cold morning in Ecuador’s mountainous Tungurahua region, where a group of indigenous mothers and, often, fathers meet weekly in the Santa Rosa village community centre. This time they’ve come to talk about an important topic for the healthy development of their infants: breastfeeding.

The ChildFund-trained guide mother shares with the group, which includes about 15 mothers, proven best practices and other information on how breastfeeding can make a world of difference for their babies.

Mothers then break into groups to discuss and reflect on key messages the guide mother shared, including “breast milk is natural and is the best for your baby; there’s no substitute,” and “only love can exceed the benefits of breast milk.”

Rosario, a ChildFund-trained guide mother, discussing the benefits of breastfeeding

Mothers also discuss commonly held beliefs and traditions in their village that can become obstacles to exclusive breastfeeding in the child’s first six months, as recommended. They talk about the difficulties they face when feeding their babies (the demands of work and managing household chores as well as the needs of other family members) and share ideas for overcoming those challenges.

“During the workshops and sessions we have around breastfeeding, the feedback that we get from mothers is that children are improving, and that is what we want to hear,” says Rosario, the guide mother and facilitator. Sometimes the local nurse also comes to these meetings to provide additional support and information for the parents.

“A community support network for mothers is essential,” says Magda Palacio, ChildFund’s Early Childhood Development adviser in the Americas. “ChildFund’s peer counselling is provided by guide mothers and is a cost-effective and highly productive way to reach a larger number of mothers more frequently, which directly reflects in the survival and health of children,” she says.

During their peer counselling sessions, the mothers in Santa Rosa, Ecuador, came up with their own list of breastfeeding benefits:

  • Protects babies from diseases
  • Helps in their mental development
  • It`s natural and is free
  • It is always available

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