Thursday, September 16, 2010

Headlines again emphasize that it is all Mom's fault...

The CDC has issued its report card, and again offer an excellent analysis of the situation, highlighting what must be done to enable women to succeed with breastfeeding.

What does the media say as a title or first sentence?
"CDC: Many Moms Breastfeed but Drop Off"
"...while 75 percent of newborns get breastfed right after birth, mothers give up quickly."

Let's blame the victim, why don't we?!?

Mom's are not giving up or dropping off. WE THE PEOPLE are giving up and dropping out of sight. Our society and our health system and our cultural priorities are undermining women's best intentions from the get-go, and then, we blame them for the failure. Has this become the American way?

WE THE PEOPLE are failing to support women who intend to breastfeed. If every woman in the US were supported and empowered to achieve her breastfeedign intentions, we would see a sea-change in practices nearly instantly.

What should we be doing, rather than pointing our fingers at mom?
1.All hospitals should have in place the practices outlined in the Ten Steps to breastfeeding in maternity settings, written and published by WHO AND SIGNED ON TO BY US GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS 20 years ago. (By the way, WE THE PEOPLE said that every effort would be made so that all hospitals in the US would have all the Ten Steps in place by 1995.)
2.Fight for paid maternity leave, at least for several weeks. Research has shown the clear health benefits of prenatal and post partum leave for both mother's and infant's health. Those health benefits and concommitant reduced health care costs would surpass the cost of a minimum wage package for care. (And, by the way, we are the only developed country that offers no paid maternity leave.)
3. We need to provide co-located childcare, so that moms can be in contact with their infants to continue breastfeeding. The new law allows for milk to be expressed during the work day, but we do not know the differential impact of feeding expressed milk vs breastfeeding on the maternal and child health outcomes.
4.The major infant nutrition intervention provided by WE THE PEOPLE is WIC, a vitally important program for those in need. However, this program markets formula brands (see US Government Accountability Office. Some Strategies Used to Market Infant Formula May Discourage Breastfeeding; State Contracts Should Better Protect Against Use of WIC Name. 2006; i-40)
5. We need media to show breastfeeding as the normative method of feeding in all TV shows and films, and to not accept brand placement for infant feeding bottles, pumps and formula.
6. We need to reimburse Lactation Consultant services, so that these are not reserved for the wealthy alone.
7. We need to stop blaming the victim and point the finger instead in the right direction - back at ourselves, at WE THE PEOPLE who created a social and healthcare milieu that forces each woman to fight a lonely battle to breastfeed her child.