Yes, I’m a dad… and yes, I’m about to talk about breastfeeding. I realize I’m treading into dangerous territory. For a variety of reasons many of you reading this did not or could not feed your babies breast milk. The last thing in the world I want to do is make someone feel bad over choices they made in the past, or a situation in which perhaps they had no choice. That would be pointless.
That said, if it’s possible for a mother to breastfeed, I am a very strong advocate of that choice, versus giving formula to ones children. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but the evidence concerning the health benefits to a child at this point are overwhelming. Simply do a bit of research on breastfeeding online or read the many studies if you need more evidence.
The thing is, you probably either agree with me already… or are in the process of dropping me as a friend for having the nerve to write this. So why am I even posting this blog? I’m writing it because at least for those of you who agree breastfeeding is preferable to feeding a baby formula (if it’s an option), there is a conversation I’d like to have; and something I’d like you to do.
Here goes any lucrative sponsorships I might have been offered by infant formula companies… breastfeeding doesn’t have much of an advertising budget. What really bugs me is that hospitals are at least partly culpable in the adoption of unhealthy practices by new parents. When my little girl was born the nurses immediately started pushing the use of formula to feed our baby.
Looking back it makes me sick at heart I was too uneducated, too tired and too selfish to push back when the nurses sold me on feeding my baby the free formula they provided. The nurses and I are the ones who gave it to my girl, not my wife. She breastfed at the hospital, and when we got home we fed our girl breast milk, including pumped milk so I could help with feedings.
CDC Report Card: Practices in many US hospitals do not fully support breastfeeding
- Just 26% of hospitals had a model breastfeeding policy.
- Only 26% of hospitals did not routinely feed formula to healthy, breastfed infants when there was no medical reason to do so.
- Less than half (45%) of hospitals kept mothers and babies together throughout the entire hospital stay, which provides opportunities to breastfeed and helps mothers learn feeding cues.
- Just 32% of hospitals provided enough support for breastfeeding mothers when they left the hospital.
Not enough babies are breastfeeding as recommended:
- Only 22% of babies are exclusively breastfed for 6 months as recommended.
- Only 29% are breastfed for 12 months as recommended.
- Babies who are breastfed have reduced risks of ear and respiratory infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), diabetes, and obesity.
Up above, I said I wanted to start a conversation, and wanted to ask you to do something. Here’s the deal (very much like my blog post about the conspiracy of silence surrounding miscarriages) I’d like you to be more open (yes, you guys, too!) to talking about breastfeeding. Get over your embarrassment and talk with your new parent friends. Help counter all those parenting magazine ads touting the health benefits of their latest DHA enhanced baby formula.
And tell your hospitals who are taking in big “donations” from those formula companies that they need to start putting their patients’ (in this case the most innocent and helpless patients possible) needs ahead of corporate greed. You can probably tell I feel strongly about this. Let’s also continue this conversation in the comments. I know not everyone agrees, so let’s talk about it (respectfully).
What is/was your personal experience with breastfeeding?