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Breastfeeding Special: Are Women Viewed As Able to Make A Baby But Not Nourish One?

africanambabyhandresized.jpgBreastfeeding Awareness Month Guest Post: Why are women viewed as able to make a baby but not to nourish it?  Check out this week’s engaging commentary into the complexities of our breastfeeding rates by Jennie Joseph, midwife and founder of Common Sense Childbirth, a birthing center in the Orlando-area of Florida. 

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

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