Introducing a New Way of Promoting Breastfeeding

The data from countdown to 2015 maternal, newborn and child survival in Indonesia said that the intervention coverage for exclusive breastfeeding is decreasing from 42% in the year of 1997 to 40% in 2003 (based on DHS). That led us to a big question why is it falling? – while the data from KPC Survey[1] mentioned that children 0 – 23 months who ever breastfed is 97%; which means in Indonesia, breastfeeding is such a culture, no body doesn’t know about breastfeeding and everybody knows that breastfeeding is the best for babies. These two facts are so contrary. What happen on breastfeeding here in Indonesia? Is it because the advertising on formula milk so bombastic? Is it because parents lose their sensitivity of the importance of breastfeeding? Don’t they recognize that in Indonesia, neonatal deaths represent more than 40 percent of under-five mortality[2]? Don’t they realize that 10 babies died every hour?[3]  Don’t they notice that out of 22 cans of formula got checked, 20% contaminated?[4]


There were uncountable promotions on how good breast-milk is. There were excessive advertising on breastfeeding could save more money. There were massive campaign that breastfeeding is better than cow-milk, and so on, so forth. For the past 20 years these information had drove people to understand ONLY it. No digging further. No probing more on the essential meanings of breastfeeding. In the other side of the world – sadly, the formula companies keep bombarding trough interesting, sophisticated and explosive advertising on their “cow-best-formulated” milk. People are getting groggy and unsteady. People are getting lack of motivation and self-confidence. People are worried more and more on giving breastfeeding, which again led them to choose a save and easiest way, that is: preferring human-invented milk over the human-milk.

Aware of this “fun” fact – and to address the missing parts in promotion breastfeeding for such a long time – the invention of a different approach of promotion and campaign needed.


Another fact needs to be revealed – which put a big intervention on why the past promotion didn’t succeed – behavior of ASKING is not a common, frankly, is not a norm for Indonesian. Many got scared of questioning some doubts. Many worried got stamped unintelligent in their forehead if asking too much[5]. Indonesian is raised not to be courageous enough when they meet difficulties, particularly personal matters, including breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is known as a culture, even from old era – back then, no other choice except to breastfeed. Mother knew that they could provide the prestigious liquid coming out from their breast that could make their children healthy and alive. It is also known as a tradition – a natural intuitive of every woman. Even though at the end of the day, those women could only predict instead of comprehend why must breastfeed. The problem would be more complex if a person goes along with the tradition without knowing the reason why she does it. That is why more and more people confused and fall into a wrong hole – the distraction of comprehensive and persuasive promotion on formula milk.

Aware of another “fun” fact above, the invention of a different approach of promotion and campaign AGAIN needed.


The findings on Mercy Corps formative research done on March 2007, mothers – more than 50 randomly-chosen-mothers in Northern Jakarta Indonesia – intend to have frequently asked questions: “why my breastmilk is not coming out?” “Why my breastmilk is not enough so my baby keep crying?” “Is it okay to mix-feeding breastmilk and formula milk?”, and many more. Of all questions, nothing would have the same answer. Nothing could get the same counseling. No prescribe messages of each question of each mother.

This finding guides to one more “fun” fact about what happen on breastfeeding in Indonesia. Again, need different approach.


The existence of breastfeeding counselor was not popular enough that even they are among the community, still people don’t recognize them. People intend to ignore that there is help available in their area. In Northern of Jakarta, the number of those breastfeeding trusted source approximately 89 persons from health facilities by the year of 2008. Not only that, spreads in four villages in North Jakarta, there are 96 women (and keep growing up)[6], who are willing to be motivator voluntarily and be facilitators for mother support group in their own neighborhood. This fact lead to the need of promoting these trusted sources as the best way to communicate about breastfeeding. The result is, more and more mothers know what they wanted on breastfeeding, so it creates more demands, for example, the demand on doing early initiation (breast-crawl). So then, it overcome health provider’s knowledge, competence, and practice on helping mother’s deliveries.


Combining all the fun-facts that could not be resisted, the reconciliation of special tailored campaign is introduced. Holding to a belief that whoever heard the deeper information on breastfeeding must be interested to know and learn more about it.


The invention on “BREASTFEEDING? ASK ME!” revealed. It is made to stimulate people to ask more about breastfeeding. It is made to disseminate the information that there are trusted source as their local support. Why “breastfeeding? ask me!”? refer to characteristic of asking was such an uncommon habit, no prescribe messages on countering breastfeeding challenges, because there were no such generic answer which make people wanted to ask more and to know more.


The word of “ask me” refers to breastfeeding counselors as their trusted sourced to give optimum information, support, and counseling to mothers. Meeting with breastfeeding counselor becomes a private moment for mothers to counsel or even share their stories and experiences. Moreover, counseling could boost mother’s confidence to stay breastfeed.


To deliver the right messages, trying a new, different and tailored poster among the existence ones is the first step of creating this supportive change. The purpose of the poster is to suggest action. The design of the poster is also costumed, like no other poster who used to put many sentences, this poster is with no detailed and long information. Another costumed design is the chosen color, no baby pink or blue – again like other existing posters – other than two contrasted colors – black and light orange. The meaning behind no soft colors was showing how breastfeeding could also be a challenge until you ask and figure solution.


Completing the poster, to recognize the existing trusted sources – breastfeeding consultant / counselor / motivator – as referring to “ask me” line, “breastfeeding ask me” badge invented. People would know whom to ask and be the “friend” of finding solution of breastfeeding concerns and challenges.


Therefore, with this new way of promoting – “breastfeeding? ask me” poster and badge – the willingness of asking about breastfeeding to counselor would improve, and the expectation of the optimum breastfeeding period would be created as the way of protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding around the world.


[1] Done by Mercy Corps Indonesia 2006


[3] SDKI Survey 2002-2003

[4] IPB University Research. February 2008.

[5] Formative Research of Mercy Corps Indonesia. March 2008.

[6] Monitoring and Evaluation’s Healthy Start Project of Mercy Corps Indonesia. December 2008.