Saturday, April 10, 2010

Study: Breast-feeding would save lives, money

Last week, the journal Pediatrics published a study that concluded that "the lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year...if 90 percent of U.S. women breast-fed their babies for the first six months of life..."  It attributes these potential lifesaving benefits to the prevention of diseases that breastfeeding offers, like ear infections, diabetes, asthma, and others.

But how can we get to 90% (WITHOUT making new mothers feel guilty or pressured)?  It probably starts with support and positive influence in the birthplace.  Many hospitals still offer newborns bottles even when mothers intend to breastfeed, and some do not offer the level of support and education on breastfeeding needed to set new moms up for success.  Then, many other changes would be required at home, such as a higher rate of support from dads and other family members, as well as acceptance in the workplace and of breastfeeding in public.  Essentially, a 90% breastfeeding rate would require a huge shift in cultural norms.  (And, by the way, wouldn't it just be nice if women's bodies were respected as much for their life-supporting abilities as their sexual attractiveness?)  Maybe the best we can do is to keep talking about it.


  1. i know some places offer it (very rarely) but a HOME visit by a lactation consultant would be awesome. The hospital gave me a "warm line" (not a hotline because no one was there around the clock) and then there was the pediatrician's office nurse-slash-consultant, but again that was business hours only. Or more LLL publicity, I've been saying I'll find one and go for oh...almost 3 years now lol. It's usually those hours you need someone that no one is available. And let's be honest, our mother's generation, or the one before us, barely breastfed so they're not much help =) I think this is where a midwife is the best thing--a source that's always willing to be available for calls and visits like this!

  2. I tried everything to breastfeed. I think, what would help is if a lactation consultant was sent to see the mom the instant the baby is born. Well, maybe not the same instant but, within a few hours. The hospital sent one, 3 days after I gave birth and she never asked to see the baby nursing.

    I hired a private one at home. By that time, it was too late. I tried everything to build up my milk supply but, with complications after my C-Section, I made the decision that formula would be the best for my child. I could no longer pump around the clock and after 6 hours of straight breastfeeding and my child was starving, well, one night, I sent out my husband to get formula and to hear my baby girl stop howling was just peace to my heart. I almost went into deep depression because of this but, I am okay now.

  3. K-Mom, I have heard your story before. I'm sorry you went through that, and thank you for sharing it. There was a week between LC appointments for me and I just sat there wondering, how am I going to make it one day, let alone one week? And like you, I didn't make it, but how could we have, on our own in that difficult situation?

    Innocence is right--it's those late, lonely hours when you most need help that you can't wake your husband for the 90th time, call your mom (if she knows anything about breastfeeding--many don't, as Innocence also pointed out), or your LC or nurse, when we are forced to make the hard choices about newborn baby feeding that have far-reaching effects for both baby and mom.

  4. I agree....talking about it and getting good information out there is important. Unfortunately, lots of docs are giving false bf info and that has to change!! I experienced that twice with my baby. If I didn't have an aunt who bf all five of her kids I never would have made it past a month with mine. Support and information...the hard part is getting all that out there.

    and K-Mom I am so sorry for your experience! I had a c-section with my first but only made in nursing because of support from my aunt. That initial support really is the key