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Breastfeeding Awareness Month: Are Mothers Viewed As Good Enough to “Incubate” A Baby But Not to “Nourish” It?

I love Jennie Joseph and the great work she does in the Orlando-area promoting healthy births at her Commonsense Childbirth facility. Dig into this engaging commentary:

On Breasts and Babies – Is there a connection?

The Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, issued a call to action earlier this year. She very clearly outlined the case for supporting breastfeeding in America. Had she been discussing breasts in any other context, medical or not, maybe there might have been more a more resounding response.

I have been in the maternal child health field for thirty years, twenty of them in the United States. As a British-trained midwife, breasts, and their relevance to birth and babies have pretty much been part of my everyday existence. I was educated to see the continuum that breast feeding is and the importance it holds for mother/baby well-being during the childbearing year, and beyond. It has been extremely difficult to work inside the disconnect that I have experienced here; where the female body is considered just about adequate to fulfill the role of ‘incubating’ the baby but not particularly capable or necessary to ‘nourishing’ said baby once it makes its exit.

American women make a valiant attempt to make decisions based on the information they receive but too often become dissuaded and discouraged when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles to successful nursing. The evidence about the benefits of breast feeding has been available for years but the will to wholeheartedly support the undertaking is weak. The Surgeon General rightly points out the need for ALL of us to help remove these barriers. Clearly women ARE ‘…going it alone’ if 75% start out breast feeding and only 13% are still nursing six months later. Pediatricians recommend babies be breastfed for the first year and have even pointed out a potential $13 billion saving in healthcare costs if 90% of babies were breastfed for at least six months.

According to the “Call to Action,” ‘breast feeding protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections, and pneumonia. Breastfed babies are also less likely to develop asthma, and those who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese. Mothers themselves who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers’.

What is not mentioned in the press release is the very real importance of attachment and bonding that is enhanced with breast feeding as well. We can no longer allow our personal biases to stand in the way of what is best for our children. Every woman that chooses to breast feed her infant needs our fullest support.

Imagine if the 75% of women who start out could count on their community, their healthcare system, their clinicians, their employers and their family’s commitment to help them continue further into that first year. For the sake of our children, let’s reconnect breasts and babies!

Jennie Joseph LM, CPM, Midwife
Executive Director, Commonsense Childbirth Inc. – a 501(c)3 non-profit
Commonsense Childbirth School of Midwifery, ‘The Birth Place’ birthing center, founder of The JJ Way MCH Health System

Comments
2 Responses to “Breastfeeding Awareness Month: Are Mothers Viewed As Good Enough to “Incubate” A Baby But Not to “Nourish” It?”
  1. This is such an important topic. I appreciate your point that the information is out there, but many women are lacking the support to commit to breastfeeding their babies. I breastfed my daughter, and I noticed she suffer from many of the common childhood maladies including ear infections, colic, allergies etc. Because of this observation, I chose to breastfeed her for an extended period of time. It seemed to be an issue for some in my life people, but I knew it was the best thing for my daughter and I, and I decided it wasn’t up for debate. What a wonderful topic for us to explore so that more families can benefit from breastfeeding.
    Wishing you all the best,
    Asante George
    htp://AsanteGeorge.com/blog

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