Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Breastfeeding: Can You Handle the Truth?

I keep meaning to write an article on breastfeeding, but dang it, other people keep writing them first! And furthermore, writing better articles than I could have written!

When It Comes to Breastfeeding, We Can't Handle the Truth

This lovely article (thank you, Feminist Breeder!) is a great commentary on the newest breastfeeding study out, which has shown (surprise, surprise!) not only that breastfeeding is "best," but that the the lack of breastfeeding in this country is costing us the lives of over nine hundred American babies every year. Every year.

She makes a great point that I love:

"Why can’t we get on board with this research? The problem is that people don’t want to hear it. But I’ll say it anyway.

"Breastfeeding. Saves. Lives.

"You know what else saves lives? Car seats. So, why aren’t people spitting mad at the NHTSA for saying that? Why aren’t they leaving thousands of comments on car seat articles saying “But I just couldn’t afford a car seat, why are you trying to make me feel guilty?!?!” Well, maybe it’s because our society will admit that car seats save lives, and we’re willing to give them out free at fire stations and hospitals if we have to because it is that important."

Good point.

Breastfeeding is not easy - at least not for me. Both times I have had horrific starts to breastfeeding, and both times I nearly gave up. If not for my terrific team of midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, and a top-notch breastfeeding-supportive pediatrician, I probably would have done so. But it is so worth it to push on past the difficulties and reach the other side.

My experience (through my friends) has been that American doctors are breastfeeding-supportive - but only when everything is going perfectly. The second that any shadow of a problem makes itself even possibly known, their first instinct is "Abandon ship! Abandon ship! Give that baby some formula now!" And if a breastfeeding relationship does survive the initial onslaught of formula-happy docs at the hospital, it is generally ended by six months due to social pressure. It is the unusual woman indeed who breastfeeds to a year (the bare minimum according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and half the minimum recommended by the WHO). The end result is simply that most mothers do not receive the support they need to breastfeed, and they quit. If I had been in a traditional hospital/doctor setting, I believe that both of my babies would have been formula babies.

Some day I really will get around to writing that breastfeeding article (along with a host of others), but in the meantime - read this one! :)

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