Why All the Fighting over Breastfeeding?

14 May

Honestly, I can’t understand all the fighting about breastfeeding.  The new Time cover has put a spotlight on breastfeeding (although the story addresses “attachment parenting,” a larger parenting philosophy”) and has every possible show debating.

One aspect of breastfeeding that seems to be lost in all the arguing is the health of mothers and children. In late April, the ladies of “The View” discussed a breastfeeding initiative that was launched in New York City.  Listening to Whoopi Goldberg, you would have sworn they were asking mothers to feed their babies poison.  Whoopi treated the whole idea as a situation where Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city government were trying to infringe on the rights of women instead of the mayor of the most populous city in our country trying to help women improve the health of their children and themselves.

What irritated me the most about Whoopi’s lambasting was the fact that she didn’t give a crap about the health benefits.  If she’d raised the issue of working mothers and difficulty they might find once they did go back to work, I would have wanted to hear that, but she didn’t raise that issue.   According to Whoopi, “most women kind of know this”  that they should try to breastfeed, but much of the evidence doesn’t support her statement.

Instead Barbara Philips, the medical director of the Birth Place at Boston Medical Center, states in the story “Teaching Black Women To Embrace Breast-Feeding” from “All Things Considered”:

“When I, as a physician in a white coat, or when a staff nurse with her hospital badge on, hand out that diaper bag that we get for free from the formula company,” she says, “that mom and baby will go on to exclusively breast-feed for a shorter period of time.”

This is the situation that Mayor Bloomberg is trying to fight.  Formula companies are giving out free formula to influence the feeding habits of newborns despite the World Health Organizations suggesting women to breastfeed for at least six months.

Also, what Whoopi may not realize is that poor women who don’t have the money for formula are less likely to breastfeed according to the story “Teaching Black Women To Embrace Breast-Feeding.”  Also, black women are less likely to breastfeed; even though there are clear health benefits outlined on the New York City website for the initiative:

  • Breast milk is filled with the vitamins and nutrients that your baby needs. It builds your baby’s immune system and helps her brain develop.
  • Breast milk is easier to digest than formula, resulting in less spit-up and diarrhea.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to become obese later in life.
  • Breastfed babies are less likes to get infections and to develop SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), asthma, diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Maybe Whoopi should have taken the time to go to the New York City’s website where they also list benefits for mothers like reduced risk for “some forms of breast cancer.”  Finally, for moms who want to give their babies the benefits of breast milk, but either can’t or don’t want to actually breastfeed they can also pump milk (and now the pumps, which can be pretty expensive, are tax deductible like their new bundles of joy—double plus).

Anyways, can’t we just finally stop the arguing and focus on the health of mothers and their babies?

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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Pop Culture, Uncategorized


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