Check out this article published in the Washington Post demonstrating, yet again, the overwhelming benefits of breastfeeding.
Breast-feeding would save lives, money.
At this point in time, we know that babies were born to nurse and that nursing confers substantial life-long benefits to mothers and babies. Somehow the formula industry has persuaded us that formula is almost as good as mother’s milk. And, really, it isn’t. It isn’t even close. While formula is a much better option than the teas, gruel, or cereals of old for those who can’t nurse, formula is not the substance that babies should eat. (In fact, other countries act on this information and have Human Milk Banks. That way, all baby’s have access to mother’s milk and few babies need to settle for formula).
We should consider refraiming this converstation. It’s not that breastfeeding confers benefits. Breastfeeding is the biological norm. Formula feeding has negative, life-long consequences. Maybe if we spoke in those terms, we could finally get real support for nursing. Women and families need more than a private room to pump. Women and families need paid maternity leave of a sufficient duration. Internationally, paid maternity leave of 6 to 18 months is the norm. For a country like the United States that prides itself in being the best, we ought to consider supporting nursing. Until we do, everyone else will be healthier and smarter than our kids.
We are afraid of making women who formula feed feel bad when we point out how lacking formula is as a food. But I think this is the wrong emphasis. Many women have no other option but to formula feed. They don’t get support from their health care provider, their work, or their community. They have to go to work shortly after giving birth or no one has taken the time to teach them how to nurse. The decision to formula feed is not an individual one. Society is set up for formula feeding. As long as we frame nursing as an individual choice, we as a country won’t make the meaningful changes that will support the health of women and babies and families. Women need to get pissed that the United States is the only developed nation that doesn’t have maternity leave. Women need to get pissed that they can’t access a Human Milk Bank. Women need to get really, really angry about how their needs and the needs of their children are ignored.
Studies are great. Science is important. I hope you enjoy this Washington Post Article. And I hope when you think about it, you get a little bit angry. Because a bunch of angry mothers can change the world much faster than another study showing the benefits of breastfeeding.