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Are breastfeeders an endangered species?
August 13, 2011 at 6:58 PM

What are your thoughts?

Breastfeeders Are an Endangered Species

Posted by Amy Keyishian
on Aug 13, 2011 

number of infants bfing by month

Wow. I mean … wow. According to the Centers for Disease Control, less than 4 percent of hospitals give moms the support they need to start off breastfeeding right. And only 14 percent of women exclusively breastfeed for the 6 months recommended by the World Health Organization. Our breastfeeding map also showed how little most of us nurse our kids.

That is not a lot of breastfeeding. That is not a lot of support. And you can call the CDC a lot of things, but a hippie lactivist fringe operation is most decidedly not one of them. If a relatively conservative government organization thinks breastfeeders are an endangered species, I believe ‘em.

Looking at this report, I seriously can’t believe what I’m reading. Eighty percent of hospitals give babies formula, water, or sugar-water (!!!) as a matter of routine. Only half offer skin-to-skin contact in the first hour after birth. Only one-third allow the baby to stay in your room.

Worst of all, almost 75 percent of hospitals don’t provide at-home breastfeeding support after the moms go home. Remember, back in the olden days (when I was born), moms stayed at the hospital for five days after childbirth, so if they chose to breastfeed, there were nurses all around to help. Not that they did, my mom tells me: “I was the only person in Brooklyn nursing,” she tells me, “and if it hadn’t worked for me, I don’t know what I would have done.”

Contrast that with my experience – I had a Miracle Bra's worth of lactation support. Though Penelope was whisked off the NICU after her birth, a lactation consultant was in my room within a half hour of my arrival there, wheeling in a pump so I could get started and store my colostrum. Few things can make a gal feel more powerless than not being able to hold her premature baby. But here was something powerful I could do: start storing the milk she would soon be able to drink.

At home, I found my supply dropping drastically, both as a function of my being too lazy to get up at 3 a.m. to pump and of my missing a day of pumping because I was hospitalized with preeclampsia after delivery (you heard that right!). There was an LC assigned specifically to the NICU moms, a volunteer with a cart selling breastfeeding support items (like bras, flanges and fenugreek), pumps for me to borrow, and rooms I could go into to pump privately if I didn’t want to do so at my baby’s bedside.

I also had tons of moms around me, friends and neighbors willing to grab my hooter and smoosh it into the baby’s mouth, tuck a finger under my baby’s chin to feel that she was swallowing properly, or send me their leftover Soothies.

The ones who felt like freaks were the ones who formula fed, and they complained all the time about being made to feel bad about not exclusively breastfeeding. And I could see where they were coming from: for every supportive comment, there are just as many stories of scolding, finger-wagging nasties saying you just didn’t work hard enough.

But: Aren’t there those same nasties out there with regard to anything? You get lung cancer, there’s always someone asking, pointedly, if you smoked. You have cupcakes at your kid’s birthday party, and someone asks if you aren’t worried about all that sugar and artificial coloring. You develop diabetes, and suddenly everyone you know is an expert on what is allowed on your plate. Breastfeeding isn’t the sole refuge of the nosy looky-loo judgeybitch. It’s just the one that gets emailed around the most.

I’m depressed by this report. I’m upset that so many women don’t have access to the amazing hospitals in my area. I’m sorrowful for women who are made to feel like freaks for breastfeeding. And I’m pissed that we can’t talk about changing that without the discussion devolving into infighting and name-calling.

The discussion of the report devolved into the same ugly arguments: “La Leche League volunteers were mean to me!” “Boob Nazis are mean!” “I couldn’t breastfeed, and you’re making ME feel bad when you say this!” For crap’s sake, people. Can’t we just agree to help women who want to breastfeed achieve their goal without taking it personally?

Some people might quote Rodney King and say “Can’t we all just get along?” But I prefer to quote Wendy Wasserstein. “I don’t blame any of us. We’re all concerned, intelligent women. It’s just that I feel stranded. And I thought the whole point was that we wouldn’t feel stranded. I thought the point was, we were all in this together.”

So. How can we make meaningful changes in how women are supported as they begin motherhood, together?

Infighting and namecalling in three … two … one …

Replies

  • LindaClement
    August 18, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    Part of the problem is that there are at least as many books that say 'it makes no difference' and 'it's not an important choice' as there are books with high-quality information.

    Ditto for 'experts' and websites and professionals.

    Support is much the same: there is as much support for moms who 'choose' not to breastfeed, including justification of their reasons, villification of the breastfeeding 'nazis', and refuting hard science with personal experience (like 'my babies were fine') as if data were the plural of 'anecdote.'

    Quoting usmclife58:

    I find it hard to believe that the decline is due to a lack of information. I think it has more to do with a person's desire to bf. The information is out there, readily available, one just needs to look for it. Support is also available -you can find all sorts on CM, FB, etc. 

    Now, medical staff and such may be a part of the problem as well. Not giving the professional support that is needed, or giving wrong information (I really hate when they do that!).


  • usmclife58
    August 18, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    I have never read a book that said it makes no difference, or that it is not an important choice. Every book I read has said the opposite. Everything I have read has said the BF is better, but FF is an acceptable choice.

    Experts... Well... They vary. Some tell the truth, some tell *their* truth.

    You can find support if you need it. 
    Why can't a mother that FF get support? Why can't a mother that decides to stop BF'ing be able to get support? A mother should get support, whatver kind she needs. 

    Quoting LindaClement:

    Part of the problem is that there are at least as many books that say 'it makes no difference' and 'it's not an important choice' as there are books with high-quality information.

    Ditto for 'experts' and websites and professionals.

    Support is much the same: there is as much support for moms who 'choose' not to breastfeed, including justification of their reasons, villification of the breastfeeding 'nazis', and refuting hard science with personal experience (like 'my babies were fine') as if data were the plural of 'anecdote.'

    Quoting usmclife58:

    I find it hard to believe that the decline is due to a lack of information. I think it has more to do with a person's desire to bf. The information is out there, readily available, one just needs to look for it. Support is also available -you can find all sorts on CM, FB, etc. 

    Now, medical staff and such may be a part of the problem as well. Not giving the professional support that is needed, or giving wrong information (I really hate when they do that!).



  • Love060708kids
    August 18, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Wow that is crazy!  I think there isn't enough information out there about breastfeeding, yes there are some flyers in hospitals but how good is that when people go to wic and get bombarded with formula.  (happened to me personally).  There could be more breastfeeding seminars or something to get the information out there.  I wasn't going to breastfeed because my mothers influence on me; however, my husband is the one who gave me the push to nurse and i've nursed all four of my kids.  One for 7 weeks, one for 2 weeks (thrush and other complications), 16 months and 11 months and still going :)

  • LindaClement
    August 18, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    That you have never read a book of that kind is unrelated to just how prevelant those books are. Perhaps you have a more selective collection of books than you realize?

    I'm not suggesting that FF moms don't need or deserve support... what they do not need is to be lied to, to have the lies of others covered up, or to be encouraged or supported in the lies they tell as justification when they feel uncomfortable about their own choices, if that's their issue.

    It's one thing to say 'I don't feel that those risks are very important to my child's well-being' and quite a different thing to say 'those risks don't exist.'

    It's like claiming that for you, driving is free from any risk of being in a car accident, because you haven't ever been in a car accident.

    I put 'support' in quotations because it is not supportive to enable dysfunctional behaviour like denial. It is the opposite of support. When mom knows she's been scammed, it does her no good whatsoever to have someone else support the scammer --even if for a passing moment it helps mom feel less gullible, or less angry about her gullibility.

    Quoting usmclife58:

    I have never read a book that said it makes no difference, or that it is not an important choice. Every book I read has said the opposite. Everything I have read has said the BF is better, but FF is an acceptable choice.

    Experts... Well... They vary. Some tell the truth, some tell *their* truth.

    You can find support if you need it. 
    Why can't a mother that FF get support? Why can't a mother that decides to stop BF'ing be able to get support? A mother should get support, whatver kind she needs. 

    Quoting LindaClement:

    Part of the problem is that there are at least as many books that say 'it makes no difference' and 'it's not an important choice' as there are books with high-quality information.

    Ditto for 'experts' and websites and professionals.

    Support is much the same: there is as much support for moms who 'choose' not to breastfeed, including justification of their reasons, villification of the breastfeeding 'nazis', and refuting hard science with personal experience (like 'my babies were fine') as if data were the plural of 'anecdote.'

    Quoting usmclife58:

    I find it hard to believe that the decline is due to a lack of information. I think it has more to do with a person's desire to bf. The information is out there, readily available, one just needs to look for it. Support is also available -you can find all sorts on CM, FB, etc. 

    Now, medical staff and such may be a part of the problem as well. Not giving the professional support that is needed, or giving wrong information (I really hate when they do that!).




  • prissypoptart
    August 18, 2011 at 6:09 PM
    I've made it a month.. Im really comfortable with it. I'm sticking with it!
  • paganbaby
    August 19, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    Good for you!

    Quoting prissypoptart:

    I've made it a month.. Im really comfortable with it. I'm sticking with it!


  • LOswald0314
    August 19, 2011 at 7:11 PM
    That's great! Those first couple of months are the hardest!

    Quoting paganbaby:

    Good for you!

    Quoting prissypoptart:

    I've made it a month.. Im really comfortable with it. I'm sticking with it!


  • paganbaby
    August 19, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    Very true. I almost gave up before a month.

    Quoting LOswald0314:

    That's great! Those first couple of months are the hardest!

    Quoting paganbaby:

    Good for you!

    Quoting prissypoptart:

    I've made it a month.. Im really comfortable with it. I'm sticking with it!



  • MistressMinerva
    August 19, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    My daughter breast fed the first baby for about 2 months and then he got really sick and was in the hospital for about 2 weeks so she had to stop breastfeeding. The second baby she is breastfeeding now and he is 11 months old.

  • babowes
    by babowes
    August 19, 2011 at 9:02 PM
    Yeah for you momma!!!!!


    Quoting paganbaby:

    Very true. I almost gave up before a month.

    Quoting LOswald0314:

    That's great! Those first couple of months are the hardest!



    Quoting paganbaby:

    Good for you!

    Quoting prissypoptart:

    I've made it a month.. Im really comfortable with it. I'm sticking with it!




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