In an effort to increase the number of breastfeeding mothers, Mexico has made an unconventional move.
The Mexican government has just ordered its hospitals to avoid doling out baby formula to mothers and babies. This is to force women to actually feed their infants with their own milk, which is more nutrient dense.
The government has long been criticized for its lack of support to nursing mothers. For one, it has failed to establish proper regulations for the sale of baby formula in health care facilities.
The problem is compounded by the fact that more women have decided to work. Mexico has an ongoing problem with poverty, which forces mothers to report to their jobs as soon as possible to augment the family's income. While mothers generally can pump milk while in the office, it's disallowed in many Mexican businesses.
The decision was made as a way for the country to cope its poor record in breastfeeding. According to World Health Organization, only 1 out of 7 mothers in the country practices breastfeeding, making Mexico one of the lowest ranked in Latin America.
Pure breastfeeding is expected for the first 6 months. After that, food can already be introduced into the baby's diet. The food will be given on a complementary basis, but mothers may have to breastfeed until the baby's 2 years old, which is the optimal length of time for the practice.
The move doesn't have to mean formulas are no longer sold. However, parents can only get them in shops outside the hospital and upon the request of the doctor.
This isn't the first time, however, that Mexico tried to promote breastfeeding. In 2014, it launched a massive print campaign, which later backfired. Many people especially women complained about the images that featured certain female personalities with their toned bodies posing topless. Their breasts were then covered with captions including one that said mothers should not turn their backs on their babies. Instead, they should give them their breasts.
The ads left a bad taste on the advocates as it seems to suggest women who don't or can't breastfeed are bad mothers.