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Are breastfeeders an endangered species?

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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 …

by on Aug. 13, 2011 at 6:58 PM
Replies (11-20):
LivinDeadGurl
by Maranda on Aug. 14, 2011 at 4:30 PM

*shrugs*

To each their own.

BeachMommy07
by on Aug. 14, 2011 at 9:34 PM

 Why are they an endangered species. Not following this article. lol.

LOswald0314
by on Aug. 15, 2011 at 1:49 AM

 True.

Quoting babowes:

Also the lack or nurses in hospitals.....or the problem with nurses havin too many patients at one time.....it is hard for them to support a bf mom bc of the time and patience that it takes to hep a bfeeding mom.

 

armywife1229
by on Aug. 15, 2011 at 7:37 AM

Well, I think we need to start with supporting each other in whatever decision we make. 

Then, we need to educate. Breastfeeding is hard work, and does not have to be the only way you feed your baby! You can supplement, and still successfully breastfeed. This makes a huge difference for new moms as they face sleep deprivation, frustration, and exhaustion.

But, its most important that we all make the best decision for our families and then get the support we need.

LindaClement
by on Aug. 15, 2011 at 11:04 AM

The other problem is the lies told in the guise of 'avoiding creating guilt.'

If a woman had a stroke and the doctors told her that it was possible for her to regain function and be able to walk again, but it would be really hard work for months, inconvenient, expensive, and it still might not work... so she could 'choose' whether or not to do the physio... and she ended up in a wheelchair for life. Assume what she wasn't told was all the rest of the story: being confined to a wheelchair simply shortens your life; the work might be hard, but it was the only way to regain function --and which is harder: getting yourself around or needing help to do everything for the rest of your life? In a matter of years, the cost/benefits of the physio would be completely eliminated by the benefits of her overall health and wellbeing (thereby vastly limiting her ongoing healthcare costs)...

When she discovered the truth, would she feel guilty or angry?

Mothers who are told that 'there is no difference' between breastfeeding and bottlefeeding, and it's a matter of 'personal choice', when the information comes from every 'professional' source they encounter, should be angry when they find out they've been actively and intentionally lied to.

When they find out that leukemia rates are dozens of times higher in bottlefed children --for life. When they find out that type 1 diabetes rates are multiplied --for life. When kidney problems are multiplied --for life. When malabsorption issues are multiplied --for life. When obesity rates are multiplied --for life. When their babies are exposed to contaminants (metal filings and rat hair and melamine) and diseases (e. coli, necrotizing enterocolitis) that are unavailable in breastmilk, some of which kill children. When SIDS rates have been known to be dramatically higher in bottlefed babies since the advent of bottlefeeding. When her own risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer goes through the roof, simply by 'choosing' not to breastfeed.

When she made the choice without the information... she wasn't making a 'choice' she was being manipulated.

When moms discover that the information they were given by professionals was all carefully scrubbed free of the truth so moms 'wouldn't feel bad' about a very poor 6th class choice (in order, the choice for health of the mother and child goes: 1. feeding at the breast 2. mom's freshly expressed breastmilk 3. mom's frozen expressed breastmilk 4. wet nurse 5. donated breastmilk 6. artificial breastmilk substitutes 7. homemade 'formula' 8. unmodified milks from other mammals) while very neatly making it appear that the 6th class choice was 'the same' as a living, natural fluid designed to meet their individual growing baby's moment to moment changing needs... I would expect them to be furious.

Quoting armywife1229:

Well, I think we need to start with supporting each other in whatever decision we make. 

Then, we need to educate. Breastfeeding is hard work, and does not have to be the only way you feed your baby! You can supplement, and still successfully breastfeed. This makes a huge difference for new moms as they face sleep deprivation, frustration, and exhaustion.

But, its most important that we all make the best decision for our families and then get the support we need.


LOswald0314
by on Aug. 16, 2011 at 1:42 AM

 Wow.  That's a good way of putting it.  There really is so much more to it than people realize.

Quoting LindaClement:

The other problem is the lies told in the guise of 'avoiding creating guilt.'

If a woman had a stroke and the doctors told her that it was possible for her to regain function and be able to walk again, but it would be really hard work for months, inconvenient, expensive, and it still might not work... so she could 'choose' whether or not to do the physio... and she ended up in a wheelchair for life. Assume what she wasn't told was all the rest of the story: being confined to a wheelchair simply shortens your life; the work might be hard, but it was the only way to regain function --and which is harder: getting yourself around or needing help to do everything for the rest of your life? In a matter of years, the cost/benefits of the physio would be completely eliminated by the benefits of her overall health and wellbeing (thereby vastly limiting her ongoing healthcare costs)...

When she discovered the truth, would she feel guilty or angry?

Mothers who are told that 'there is no difference' between breastfeeding and bottlefeeding, and it's a matter of 'personal choice', when the information comes from every 'professional' source they encounter, should be angry when they find out they've been actively and intentionally lied to.

When they find out that leukemia rates are dozens of times higher in bottlefed children --for life. When they find out that type 1 diabetes rates are multiplied --for life. When kidney problems are multiplied --for life. When malabsorption issues are multiplied --for life. When obesity rates are multiplied --for life. When their babies are exposed to contaminants (metal filings and rat hair and melamine) and diseases (e. coli, necrotizing enterocolitis) that are unavailable in breastmilk, some of which kill children. When SIDS rates have been known to be dramatically higher in bottlefed babies since the advent of bottlefeeding. When her own risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer goes through the roof, simply by 'choosing' not to breastfeed.

When she made the choice without the information... she wasn't making a 'choice' she was being manipulated.

When moms discover that the information they were given by professionals was all carefully scrubbed free of the truth so moms 'wouldn't feel bad' about a very poor 6th class choice (in order, the choice for health of the mother and child goes: 1. feeding at the breast 2. mom's freshly expressed breastmilk 3. mom's frozen expressed breastmilk 4. wet nurse 5. donated breastmilk 6. artificial breastmilk substitutes 7. homemade 'formula' 8. unmodified milks from other mammals) while very neatly making it appear that the 6th class choice was 'the same' as a living, natural fluid designed to meet their individual growing baby's moment to moment changing needs... I would expect them to be furious.

Quoting armywife1229:

Well, I think we need to start with supporting each other in whatever decision we make. 

Then, we need to educate. Breastfeeding is hard work, and does not have to be the only way you feed your baby! You can supplement, and still successfully breastfeed. This makes a huge difference for new moms as they face sleep deprivation, frustration, and exhaustion.

But, its most important that we all make the best decision for our families and then get the support we need.

 

 

paganbaby
by on Aug. 16, 2011 at 1:45 AM

Same here.

Quoting seraphimsong:

Don't worry. I feel the same way and I am by no means a "bf nazi". Those are the 2 biggest reasons I hear for giving up also and I think that if they had more support they would of made it. I do think it takes a great deal of research on your own part too though. When I decided to bf I spent my entire pregnancy researching issues and remedies. I wanted to be prepared. Had I not done that, there would of been times I would of easily given up.

Quoting LOswald0314:

 Theses statistics are really sad.  The biggest issue really is lack of information and support for new moms. I've heard so many women say "I couldn't breasfeed", "My baby wouldn't latch on", etc.  If someone had been there to help them and teach they could have made it.  It is so rare that a woman truly can't.  And I, will probably get called a BF Nazi for saying that, but it's the truth. 


paganbaby
by on Aug. 16, 2011 at 1:47 AM

Damn...

Quoting LindaClement:

The other problem is the lies told in the guise of 'avoiding creating guilt.'

If a woman had a stroke and the doctors told her that it was possible for her to regain function and be able to walk again, but it would be really hard work for months, inconvenient, expensive, and it still might not work... so she could 'choose' whether or not to do the physio... and she ended up in a wheelchair for life. Assume what she wasn't told was all the rest of the story: being confined to a wheelchair simply shortens your life; the work might be hard, but it was the only way to regain function --and which is harder: getting yourself around or needing help to do everything for the rest of your life? In a matter of years, the cost/benefits of the physio would be completely eliminated by the benefits of her overall health and wellbeing (thereby vastly limiting her ongoing healthcare costs)...

When she discovered the truth, would she feel guilty or angry?

Mothers who are told that 'there is no difference' between breastfeeding and bottlefeeding, and it's a matter of 'personal choice', when the information comes from every 'professional' source they encounter, should be angry when they find out they've been actively and intentionally lied to.

When they find out that leukemia rates are dozens of times higher in bottlefed children --for life. When they find out that type 1 diabetes rates are multiplied --for life. When kidney problems are multiplied --for life. When malabsorption issues are multiplied --for life. When obesity rates are multiplied --for life. When their babies are exposed to contaminants (metal filings and rat hair and melamine) and diseases (e. coli, necrotizing enterocolitis) that are unavailable in breastmilk, some of which kill children. When SIDS rates have been known to be dramatically higher in bottlefed babies since the advent of bottlefeeding. When her own risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer goes through the roof, simply by 'choosing' not to breastfeed.

When she made the choice without the information... she wasn't making a 'choice' she was being manipulated.

When moms discover that the information they were given by professionals was all carefully scrubbed free of the truth so moms 'wouldn't feel bad' about a very poor 6th class choice (in order, the choice for health of the mother and child goes: 1. feeding at the breast 2. mom's freshly expressed breastmilk 3. mom's frozen expressed breastmilk 4. wet nurse 5. donated breastmilk 6. artificial breastmilk substitutes 7. homemade 'formula' 8. unmodified milks from other mammals) while very neatly making it appear that the 6th class choice was 'the same' as a living, natural fluid designed to meet their individual growing baby's moment to moment changing needs... I would expect them to be furious.

Quoting armywife1229:

Well, I think we need to start with supporting each other in whatever decision we make. 

Then, we need to educate. Breastfeeding is hard work, and does not have to be the only way you feed your baby! You can supplement, and still successfully breastfeed. This makes a huge difference for new moms as they face sleep deprivation, frustration, and exhaustion.

But, its most important that we all make the best decision for our families and then get the support we need.



LovelyLauren55
by on Aug. 16, 2011 at 9:35 AM

Yep I do agree, and it makes me sad, breastfeeding is not only GREAT for your baby,its a GREAT way to start a healthy bond with your baby! It makes me sad when moms dont even try..... I think everyone should at LEAST try

usmclife58
by on Aug. 18, 2011 at 4:05 PM

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!).

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