I need to talk about this because I feel that it is very serious; this is a topic that concerns the entire humanity. This can save a baby’s life, decrease acute and long-term illnesses, help the economy of every country, and contribute to ecology of the whole world. The word is BREASTFEEDING.
Years ago when I came to this beautiful country I now call home, I started to work as a Clinic Supervisor for an amazing Nutritional Program for low-income families, called WIC. It didn’t take too long for me to learn and realize that mothers need help to breastfeed. I opened my eyes wide and I could not believe how something so important, PURE, and Natural could need so much help. And how human beings are losing this amazing power…Hard to believe, isn’t it?
So I decided to learn in order to help. While working for the WIC Program, I had the opportunity to assist an average of 3,000 mothers 1 on 1, especially high-risk cases, during 7 years. I also offered prenatal breastfeeding classes and breastfeeding support groups. During those years, what called my attention was that the number of exclusive breastfeeding mothers was small, followed by combo-feeding mothers. Exclusive artificial infant milk/formula-feeding mothers were the majority every single year. And I wondered why, since usually when you ask first-time mothers how they want to feed their babies during pregnancy, 99% of the time they say ‘Exclusive Breastfeeding’. However, then comes the ‘but’…that dreaded ‘BUT I’m not sure if I’ll be able to breastfeed because…’
Some of the most common reasons stated are:
- My mom couldn’t do it
- I need to go back to work soon
- My friend says that breastfeeding is painful
- I don’t know if I would like to breastfeed in front of other people
- I don’t know if I will have enough milk…...
...…and so many other doubts that shouldn’t exist in a healthy pregnant mother.
In addition, there is an increment in the variety and publicity for Artificial Infant Milk, which is very confusing for the new mothers. A pregnant mother told me: ‘Have you seen how many amazingly good artificial baby milks are now available in stores? What would the difference be in doing one or the other, having so many alternatives now?’
She should be relaxing, thinking about how to feel happy and healthy, and how she will enter motherhood in the near future and be available for her baby, because that’s what mothers nature or GOD - whoever you believe the most in - intended for us human females.
So how did this happen? During these years I arrived to the conclusion that this is not more than SOCIETY and the RULES of this ‘NEW LIFE’ or ‘NEW WORLD’.
There are amazing discoveries that can really help humans, and benefit the whole WORLD, but breastfeeding or breastmilk are not one of them. This is not something that we can generate by modifying stuff in a laboratory, or with a computer. BreasT milk is custom made for every particular baby by his/her own mother. Breastfeeding or the use of breast milk is not a matter of being hippie or modern or old fashion.
Seeing a mother breastfeeding her baby should be one of the most beautiful things that we could see in life. She is nurturing her baby by dedicating time from her own life, food and energy from her own body.
As a society, I think that we should be proud of every mother who besides the barriers and challenges of life, decides to MOTHER FEED her baby with mother’s milk. Yes, I said MOTHER FEED. Why don’t we change the name if it bothers people so much?
What’s happening with Breastfeeding low rates is our own fault. These are some of the reasons that make me feel we are guilty:
Unpaid maternity leave. Mothers need to go back to work soon after baby is born.
Artificial Infant Milk/Formula were made for special situations in which the mother can’t be present for some reason - or for specific medical conditions. Nowadays, it is being used by anyone just as if it were mother’s milk. Some people think that either one is the same; I realized that many people are simply not aware of the risk of using formula, and the fact that it won’t protect their babies against very serious illnesses (please don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not judging, I’m just trying to explain my point of view, I have many friends who used formula for their kids and I respect their decision).
I have many cases of healthy mothers and HEALTHY FULL-TERM BABIES that needed to increase the breast milk intake during the feeding. Their doctors recommended supplementing with formula after breastfeeding, without even trying to supplement with mother’s breast milk first for at least one day, or even sending them to a Lactation Consultant to assess the use of a breastfeeding-friendly way to supplement an infant feeding, especially if there is a need for using formula.
The Sexual way that Society uses the word ‘BREAST’.
There is a Community board in my son’s school where people put their business cards to offer their services. I wasn’t allowed to do it: Do you know why? Because my business name is BREAST Time of Life, so kids can eat ‘Chicken Breasts’, but they cannot read BREAST in my business card, since my use of the word ‘breast’ seems to be objectionable.
How twisted are our thoughts? Not allowing kids to get used to seeing a mother breastfeeding in public. Yes, it is ok for little kids to see ninjas slicing their enemies, explosions, violence in cartoons or video games, but watching a mother feeding her baby with her own BREAST?? That is twisted!
I was told by the school that parents were needed to talk about their jobs in front of the class, and about how their work can help in the community. Well, since only a few offered their help, I decided to talk about how Mother’s Milk feeding (avoid the use the B-word) can help the entire community in so many aspects, including the world because it is eco-friendly. To make it more interesting for the kids, I also decided to talk about mammals and show pictures of animals’ breastfeeding, and at the end introduce a mother feeding her baby. Well, they said ‘yes’ But… please don’t show pictures of Humans Breastfeeding L. I took a big breath, and one more time here I am thinking how are we going to change the world? HELLO!!! I work with HUMANS and B-Feeding is the norm!!!
But this doesn’t end here. After having that conversation where I agreed in presenting only pictures of mothers and happy babies -without showing the breastfeeding act in the pictures- 2 days later, a father who is a pilot and works in Search and Rescue along with paramedics, showed a video that had images of explosions, war, helicopters shooting…and answered kid’s questions like: Do you have guns? He said ‘yes’. Do you shoot people? He made a pause and he said ‘yes’ - I guess nobody assessed him before hand as to how he would present and answer this video and answer such questions. His work rescuing people is certainly amazing. Showing that video to the kids???... I’m still not done talking to the school.
A woman that was walking by told me once: “You should cover up when your breastfeed your baby”. I said, ‘no thank you, I’m fine’. Actually, sometimes I do cover up, but I do it because I feel uncomfortable too, in some specific places.
In the US, Mothers are protected by law to breastfeed in public. Do you know what I think? I still can’t believe it, it is very sad that we need a law to allow us to BREAST FEED in public. But in case anybody is thinking about telling a mother something about it, well…there is a LAW.
So these are some of my dreams and ideas:
If B-feeding is a prohibited word, let’s start calling it MOTHER’S MILK FEEDING, or simply as Natural BABY FEEDING, MOTHER FEEDING, etc…you get the gist.
Get over it, if you can see nudity at the beach or TV, Mothers should NOT cover to BREASTFEED their babies.
People should simply look away if they don’t want to see a mother BREAST Feeding.
People who love life and respect NATURE should be happy and confident to congratulate a mother who is Breastfeeding in public, and also be able to offer help if that mother needs it.
A BREASTFEEDING mother should never feel ashamed of Baby feeding in Public.
PAID maternity leaves for at least the first 6 months of baby’s life, or you know what? I want to dream BIG. We need to find a solution so the mother who wants to stay home with their kids for 2-4 years can do it without compromising the financial health of the family. I propose to pay a salary similar to the cost of a full-time daycare to those mothers who want to stay home to take care of their babies. This will increase breastfeeding rates, keep families together, be happy, with healthy kids. And most important of all, the little ones will be with their parents during the most crucial years of their life to set strong healthy foundations for these future adults.
Doctors and Lactation Consultants should be able to agree on a breastfeeding-friendly method to supplement a newborn when Artificial Milk is needed, avoiding the use of any bottles during the first month of life - especially in Full-Term Healthy Babies.
Welcome mothers to stay one more day in the Hospital to learn more about how to take care of their babies and baby feeding, before sending them home.
Assign a Lactation Specialist to follow up during the first month with every single mother, after discharge.
We human beings SHOULD take a 15-30 minute weekly NUTRITION Class in school, starting in Kindergarten, and including breastfeeding as one of the topics.
Schools should stop selling empty calorie foods, and offer only healthy food.
All schools should have pictures of happy kids doing physical activity outdoors, and eating well.
If after doing all these things, any of us decide to use a less healthy option, nobody should judge our decisions, only we know our reasons to do so, but at least as a community, we can have peace of mind knowing that we tried it all to help everyone have the knowledge and tools needed to make an educated choice.
BREAST FEEDING, MOTHER’s MILK FEEDING, BABY FEEDING with HUMAN MILK is BETTER. Help Mothers to breastfeed, spread the word. Support them, look for Professional help ASAP.
HUMAN MILK = Giving Your Baby the Food that will allow him/her to Develop his Mind and Body to his/her maximal potential.
Thank you for your precious time,