Recently, I was chatting with my friend who attends a weekly breastfeeding luncheon and she mentioned to me that the Surgeon Generals recent "Call to Action" regarding breastfeeding stated that only 13% of moms exclusively breastfed their babies by their sixth month.
I have to be honest, I was really shocked by that number.
Are you sure, I asked.
Sure enough, upon doing a little googling, I found she wasn't lying.
To me, this statistic is just heartbreaking.
It also makes me go, "Why just six months?" and "What can we do to make this number a heck of a lot higher?!"
With me, in regards to breastfeeding, my goal has always been to make it to a year with my children and anything after that year mark is bliss.
I'm very lucky to have a great support system. I have a husband who is completely cool with it, friends that I can call and chat with if I'm having issues and a mother that encouraged me to breastfeed and told me that she was happy about it.
Along with my support system, I have the added benefit of being a work from home Mom that doesn't require much effort to continue the breastfeeding relationship. We have no structure, no routine, we just nurse when we need to.
Of course, I know that not every mother is as lucky as I am... but I often wonder what propels a Mom to stop nursing her baby at such a young age?
Is it a demanding work schedule? Pump anxiety (which you know I totally understand)? Social pressure (again, something I know all about)? What is it and how can we resolve these issues?
And let me just state, for the record, I know that some women cannot or do not want to breastfeed. I get it, I'm cool with it. I am not trying to shove anything down someone's throat with this post or with my desire to help a Mom out. The point is to help those that want to be helped.
In the Surgeon Generals Call to Action, Dr. Regina Benjamin its stated that some of the areas that need to be fixed are the lack of education in the health communities, such as maternity care practices and employers need to be more breastfeeding friendly.
Thinking about me and my situation, I couldn't agree more. With both my children, the doctor never mentioned breastfeeding to me and when I was in the hospital with my first, I had to ask the nurse about breastfeeding (after they had already shoved a bottle in my babes mouth). With my second I just did it, no questions asked.
Thankfully I had made the decision myself to breastfeed because if I hadn't and had been waiting for someone to inform me about all the good things that come from it, I could've lost that relationship with my children.
A great thing about breastfeeding, besides the closeness it creates, is that it will help protect both Mama and Baby. The "Call to Action" press release states: "breastfeeding 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."
A great added bonus, I believe, because last year a study was published saying that we, as a nation, could save $13 billion dollars a year in health costs if more babies were breastfed exclusively for those first 6 months.
In the press release, it's stated that if we did the following we could see a great increase to the 13%:
"Communities should expand and improve programs that provide mother-to-mother support and peer counseling.
Health care systems should ensure that maternity care practices provide education and counseling on breastfeeding. Hospitals should become more “baby-friendly,” by taking steps like those recommended by the UNICEF/WHO’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
Clinicians should ensure that they are trained to properly care for breastfeeding mothers and babies. They should promote breastfeeding to their pregnant patients and make sure that mothers receive the best advice on how to breastfeed.
Employers should work toward establishing paid maternity leave and high-quality lactation support programs. Employers should expand the use of programs that allow nursing mothers to have their babies close by so they can feed them during the day. They should also provide women with break time and private space to express breast milk."
Families should give mothers the support and encouragement they need to breastfeed."
I am so happy and excited that Dr. Benjamin has started this movement and I hope it works. I hope that every woman that wants to breastfeed her baby can get the support that she needs to build a relationship with her baby.
If not, tell them to email me, I'll be a cheerleader and maybe even wear a short skirt and jump around waving pom poms.
It's a relationship worth fighting for and the benefits are great, especially the one that allows you to cuddle and snuggle your baby for extended periods of time.
Here are some links where you can get support if the thought of me in a skirt horrifies you. :)
Best for Babes
The National Women's Health Information Center
Breastfeeding Counselors are also available toll free at 1-800-994-9662 Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM ET.
Please don't be embarrassed about asking for help.
12 hours ago