|Posted on August 28, 2018 at 12:13 PM|
I'd like to introduce our readers to Neve Spicer, writer and founder of We The Parents. She is sharing some very important information about breastfeeding disparity. I thought it especially important to share this information during Black Breastfeeding Week, in the hopes that a change-maker sees today's post and can help take action on the steps that Neve outlined in THIS post. You can scroll to the end of today's post to see those steps, although I encourage you to click on the link and read the whole article.
I'm Neve, a proud mother of two, breastfeeding advocate, and part-time blogger over at WeTheParents. I'm really happy to be contributing to Sweet Pea Births during this year's Breastfeeding Awareness Month.
Now, when I say that I'm a breastfeeding advocate... I'm a pretty easy going one and not so much a die-hard lactivist. I breast fed both of my children and my experiences couldn't have been more different. My first experience was a nightmare; I don't think I did things right, and without a good support network I ended up with a very low milk supply. My daughter pretty much screamed constantly until I began to wean her early at 4-months. With my second, on the other hand, the experience was completely different. I was scared that I’d have the same problem, but actually things worked out beautifully and I breastfed until 18 months.
My breastfeeding experiences led me to want to support women and to let them know that, firstly, breastfeeding doesn’t always go according to plan, but also, secondly, it’s important to realize that our self-defeating beliefs, such as “I can’t produce enough milk” can also be wrong. I also realized that breastfeeding success depends so much on the knowledge and support we receive throughout our breastfeeding journey from pregnancy to weaning.
Now: I’m a bit of a research geek and while digging into some scientific journals on breastfeeding, I was shocked to learn just how drastically socio-economic forces affect breastfeeding rates.
Did you know that only 38% of mothers living below the poverty threshold (in the US) breastfeed at 6-months, while 68% of mothers in top-earning families do. That’s a huge difference, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I learned that that in academic and social policy circles people have known about these breastfeeding disparities for a long time. But why, then, was I not reading about it on the popular blogs I followed?
Too many heated words and firey tweets are being wasted on the breast vs bottle 'mommy war'. The big problem, however, is not whether a well-educated and well-off mother chooses to breastfeed. The real issue is breastfeeding inequality; too many mothers are NOT getting equal opportunity to breastfeed, even when they want to.
After discovering all of this, I wanted to shout about it. It’s time the blogosphere reframed the debate. I think we can all agree that if a mother, from any walk of life, wants to breastfeed, then she should be given the best chance possible. I passionately believe that mothers should unite behind this common goal.
HOW TO REDUCE BREASTFEEDING INEQUALITY
Too few mothers follow the AAP’s optimal breastfeeding recommendations. Were this a result of well-educated, well-informed, and well-off women choosing alternative nutrition options, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, the truth is that many babies are formula fed because their mothers are not sufficiently aware of the health risks or they simply don’t have practical support (at work or home) to make it work.This is unfair and impacts on the health of thousands of US mothers and babies each year. It has been estimated that annual excess deaths attributable to suboptimal breastfeeding total 3,340, 78% (2605) maternal and 22% (735) infant. (Source)But how can we reduce the breastfeeding inequality?While there is no easy fix, there are several strategies that have been highlighted and could use public awareness and support. These are:
Thank you, Neve, for taking the time to research this topic and outlining specific action steps we can take to support our breastfeeding sisters.
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