In the midst of all of my breastfeeding research and literature I keep running into articles and information about the breastfeeding practices of this country, and I thought this would be a fun and interesting trivia question. So which is it? Wrestling is the national sport of all of the countries listed. But the correct answer is D, Mongolia.
The people of Mongolia take immense pride in their national sport of wrestling. In fact, wrestling was considered the most important of the “three manly skill”, which also include horseback riding and archery. Genghis Khan was known to use wrestling to keep his men in shape and ready for battle. Wrestling events have been held for centuries, and are still a big deal and a source of national pride in Mongolia.
It is unknown when the saying came about that babies must be breastfed for 6 years to be good wrestlers, but it is indeed a well-known saying. I have read countless articles from women from the US visiting or relocating to Mongolia. They are consistently struck by the vastly different attitudes about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is encouraged and celebrated both privately and publically. Mothers approach breastfeeding with more enthusiasm, confidence, and less trepidation than their American counterparts. Breastmilk is seen as being healthy and nutritious, but it goes beyond just the milk itself. The act of breastfeeding historically has been seen as an important and nurturing part of life that everyone should experience.
Sadly, breastfeeding rates have been decreasing recently in Mongolia. In 2010 nearly 60% of Mongolian babies were exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. This number went down to 50% in 2013. According to the World Health Organization, poverty causes mother’s to return to work early and unethical formula advertising practices are largely to blame for the decline.