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Dear President Obama – Don't forget about breastfeeding

breastfeeding-babyWe realize you’ve got a lot on your mind these days, like the economy, health care, and the entire Middle East, but if you have one second to take a look at this petition from the United States Breastfeeding Committee, we’d really appreciate it.

I get the sense that you probably think breastfeeding is a no-brainer. You’re smart like that. With all the health benefits for mom and baby, you’d think moms would be scrambling to attach their babies to their boobs.

And you can’t beat the price of breastmilk, particularly as our economy is sinking fast. Not that you need me to remind you of that situation. Formula is pretty darn expensive (but they don’t tell you that when they send you home with that ugly black bag and all those free samples) and the money families are spending on formula could go to helping them stay afloat during these crazy times.

So maybe you’d be surprised to know that there are still millions of new moms who head straight for the bottle (well, that one too, but mostly I’m talking about the formula bottles) without even giving breastfeeding a chance.

The question is, who’s to blame?

Statistics show that moms in lower income brackets and minority groups are less likely to breastfeed, probably not because they don’t want to or think that it’s gross, but because they’re heading back to their jobs to provide for their family – jobs that don’t give them nursing breaks.

And while we’re quick to guilt and judge moms who don’t try it or stick with it after a few weeks or months, the support for breastfeeding mothers really stinks. If you’ve got the time and energy to make it work, it’s obvious that it can be extremely rewarding. But for many women, it’s just not that easy.

We’re hoping that you’ll give some attention to this issue. While the US Breastfeeding Committee does agree with the US Department of Health and Human Services in encouraging moms to breastfeed for at least 6 months, only a handful of states are actually meeting the Healthy People 2010 breastfeeding targets! Meeting these targets could save millions upon millions of dollars in later life issues like obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

But we also need more support for moms who breastfeed – time off to pump, incentives to continue to breastfeed through at least six months, maybe longer, and better resources to help breastfeeding moms problem solve without feeling guilty.

Thanks for your attention to this matter.

Yours in breastmilk,

Kristen Chase

PS: If you wouldn’t mind giving a tongue lashing to businesses, corporations, and online forums (read: Facebook) who seem to think nursing moms should hide in their homes until they’re done breastfeeding, we’d appreciate it.

PSS: We’re guessing if the government supports breastfeeding for a minimum of six months and strongly encourages it through at least one year, then they realize moms will have to leave the house and feed their kids.

Right?

[This post was written by Kristen Chase.]

Comments

  1. Yes, Yes, Yes!!! Great post!

  2. Knowing that the economy isn’t all that great and being in control of your own body and having a basic understanding that you might get pregnant sure would help your pocket book. You want freedom to choose but just because you have the biological ability to have children means that, for some reason, you MUST. If you want the right to choose that also means having to deal with the consequences. Nobody is holding a gun to your head to have a child. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it. The government DOES have better things it could be doing…like “fixing baseball” or something…

  3. Heh… I’m not sure how supporting breastfeeding correlates with the choice to have children and don’t do it if you can’t afford it…

    Because lots of those women feeding their babies formula are getting vouchers from WIC (Women, Infants, Children)programs to pay for that MEGA expensive formula.

    Now if more of those Moms were educated, supported, accommodated on the job and encouraged to breastfeed until 12 months of age, our government would save lots of subsidy dollars. (Before anyone gets all crazy about why should a breastfeeding Mama get longer breaks to pump, let me remind you about all those extra 10 minute smoke breaks taken by employees. And smoking will CAUSE health issues while breastfeeding promotes health for Mama and Baby.)

    But then, Danny you do make a point that fixing baseball might be more important than the government supporting breastfeeding. So, I’m thinking we won’t pay much attention to your correlation anyway.

  4. I’m surprised this entry did not mention the issue of paid parental leave like exists in almost every other developed country. Pumping breaks *ARE* important for those who are employed outside the home while nursing. But plenty of moms quite frankly find pumping a hassle and decide to wean their babies once their maternity leave is up. For many of them, that’s after only 6 or 12 weeks. If we want more moms to BF a year, we’ve got to enable them to stay home with their babies for that length of time…

  5. Gee,Danny boy – you’re so right, I never saw it like that before.. .and it’s not like anyone’s circumstances ever changed AFTER they got pregnant or the baby was already born. Guess they should be having late-term abortions, or performing infanticide if the change in circumstances happens after the baby is born – after all, we can’t have those babies living off public funds for any amount of time, can we? And there’s no guarantee that adoptive parents wouldn’t have similar financial difficulties come up, so the kids are better off not existing at all. Hmm… why didn’t YOUR parents think of that, Danny?

    As for the time off for breastfeeding/pumping, it’s a first step but not a panacea. I’m lucky enough to be able to afford the time out of the workforce while my children are little, but as an extreme extrovert who suffers from chronic health problems (which were the primary thing that got me committed to to breastfeeding as a teen – more than a decade before my first pregnancy – I was hoping that breastfeeding might help protect my children from some of the health problems I have) this is REALLY hard on me mentally some days. I don’t have the physical stamina to get them out of the house to interact with other at-home families during the day and if I was slightly less mentally resilient I would likely be dealing with major depressive episodes through the last four plus years of being out of the workforce, due to lack of daily adult interactions with people outside my own home. I know I’m an unusual combination of issues (I don’t know any other physically disabled mothers of young children, much less ones who are actively breastfeeding) but even just being an extrovert and out of the workforce has been really mentally hard on a lot of my friends. Add in the financial hardship of the time off since very few states have ANY requirement/way to have the 12 weeks most employers have to grant us PAID, and it’s hard on pretty much ALL families for mom to take the time off even for the full 12 weeks. Especially with Canada now realizing that a YEAR is an appropriate maternity leave and subsidize it, is there really any surprise that our breastfeeding rates SUCK? Then add in the formula lobby/marketing and women being socialized against breastfeeding,even sometimes from alleged breastfeeding proponents. Think about the images that we see of breastfeeding – almost always out the top of the shirt/buttoning down – this gives the impression to non-mothers and pregnant women that that’s the only way to get boob out of clothing so they think they need to FLASH EVERYONE every time they go to feed the baby. I’ve seen adverts and posters like that all over the place, from Pediatrician/OBGYN/Nurse-Midwife offices to parenting magazines to pro-breastfeeding websites. In 4+ years as a breastfeeding mother I have NEVER come out the top of a shirt to feed a baby in public and rarely even do so at home because their nails go from clipped to SHARP in the blink of an eye and I want to protect my skin with a layer of fabric!). I’m a photographer and understand the draw to position the breastfeeding mother being photographed that way – I have enough photographs of myself breastfeeding my children to realize how little it conveys the idea of “breastfeeding” to have mom lift her shirt from the bottom like most moms do regularly from my experience. Then theirs the marketing of “breastfeeding covers” (which make me want to SCREAM… It’s like drawing a big “come over here and harass me, I’m doing something that involves the participation of my BOOB in your presence!” – people have looked down at my in-a-sling nursing babe from over my shoulder while I was using a motorized cart and not realize he wasn’t just sleeping, how’s THAT for discreet!)

    teething baby trying to bite his brother, time for eyes back on the kids~!

  6. Nothing beats nature. That means that we should support breast feeding, but not be judgmental for those who choose a different path.

    One more thought, if top and bottom teeth meet, time to stop!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Dear President Obama – Don’t forget about breastfeeding – A topic near and dear to my heart, especially with my due date so near. […]

  2. […] you are reading this, you are probably aware of the benefits.  We all must stand together against blatant attacks against this primal food source.  We were intended to provide milk for our […]

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