Everybody knows that breastfeeding is the best and benefits both mother and child. Yet, although 75% of mothers initiate breastfeeding, only 13% stick it out up to 6 months. The reason for this are obstacles that undermines a mother’s good intentions. Some of these obstacles are:
- lack of support at home
- absence of family members who have experience with breastfeeding
- a lack of breastfeeding information from health care clinicians
- a lack of time and privacy to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace
- an inability to connect with other breastfeeding mothers in their communities.
The US Surgeon General’s office recently launched the “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding” which is aimed to remove some of these obstacles.
Studies have shown that breastfeeding makes healthier babies and healthier (and happier) moms. According to the Call the Action:
“…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.”
Mothers who breastfed were also reportedly less prone to postpartum depression.
Here are the steps proposed by Call to Action:
- 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.
Breastfeeding used to be a taboo topic. Thanks to breastfeeding celebrity moms like Angelia Jolie and Salma Hayek, breastfeeding has actually become “hip.” The most recent breastfeeding celebrity is baby Flynn born to Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom. His photo was so popular that the website where it was posted crashed. Was it really the baby or was it the mom?