Kids would be healthier if more mothers breastfed them. What do you think?
Here are 3 Things I’ve Read Recently on the topic:
1. If 90 percent of American women breastfed their babies for six months, the lives of 900 babies could be saved every year.1
2. The United States could save $13 billion a year if nine out of 10 American women breastfed their babies for the first six months of the child’s life.2
3. Breast milk contains antibodies that protect infants from childhood illnesses.3
My Take on It:
It’s easy to advocate for breastfeeding—until you try it and discover that it isn’t so easy. My pediatrician urged me to breastfeed both of my kids for a year, but by the end of the first six months, I was exhausted. Why? Because our society expects so much of parents of newborns. Those who work often can’t afford to take the first six months off, and many workplaces aren’t equipped (or make it hard) for moms of newborns. (I remember, with great embarrassment, attempting to talk to my bosses about this issue, which made me realize that a lot of moms wouldn’t even dare broach the subject.)
Even my friends who were stay-at-home moms found the transition to becoming a new parent overwhelming and that the list of “good ways to raise your infant” was a bit daunting. So some breastfed while others didn’t. When I was visiting Sweden, I was impressed with the cultural norm of most women breastfeeding their children. (But Sweden also has generous, paid, family-leave policies.) I wish more American moms breastfed their infants, but I think our society needs to change to make it easier to do so.
Ask your partner or close friend: “what keeps mothers of newborns from breastfeeding?”
- Find out more about raising infants well in our Ages 0-2. section.
- Read more about the importance of breastfeeding from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ page on breastfeeding.
What would it make it easier for more American moms of newborns to breastfeed their kids? Share your suggestions below.
1-3. Melissa Bartick and Arnold Reinhold, “The Burden of Suboptimal Breastfeeding in the United States: A Pediatric Cost Analysis,” Pediatrics 125 no. 5, April 5, 2010.