A while ago I wrote a post about Breastfeeding, and I asked a question that a researcher had asked me. Today I want to tell you the answer I gave.
The researcher I spoke to, who is also an OB/GYN, wanted to talk to me about infant feeding and my experiences and she wanted my opinion on how doctors can help depressed and anxious women to breastfeed more.
I’m not surprised that they’re asking. The medical profession in Canada is VERY big on breastfeeding.
You have to understand that in a socialized health care setting, it is very much in the government’s interest to push preventive medicine.
Every diagnosis of heart disease or cancer, every gall bladder surgery and hip replacement, gets billed to the government. Obviously, to save themselves – er, I mean taxpayers – money, they want to prevent diseases and surgeries in the first place. So you can understand why they’re so big on pushing breastfeeding.
I don’t need to elaborate on the many and varied health benefits of breastfeeding. I think every mother has heard the diatribe. Breast is best, etc, etc, etc. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Health Canada and the World Health Organization all recommend exclusive breastfeeding up to six months.
The AAP and Health Canada recommend continuing to supplement a solid diet with breast milk until at least 12 months. The WHO recommends continuing past age two.
But most women aren’t doing it.
In fact, statistics in both Canada and the USA are similar – only between 10 and 20% of babies are still being exclusively breastfed by 6 months of age. I think the similarity in statistics drives Health Canada crazy. By all accounts, it doesn’t make sense.
Canadian women should have a lot of advantages when it comes to breastfeeding success:
- We get a year’s maternity leave, so we don’t have to battle with returning to work and pumping the way that American women like Wall Street Mama do.
- Almost all of our hospitals are considered “baby friendly” and are dedicated to promoting breastfeeding. In fact, Canadian hospitals are getting positively militant about it.
- Then the public health nurse starts calling you and offering to come stare at your baby while he latches on to you.
But women still aren’t doing it.
As someone who exclusively breastfed to six months of age, continued breastfeeding without formula supplementation past a year, and is still breastfeeding her 19 month old, I am decidedly in the minority.
I nurse my baby when I get to his daycare after work each day, and I’m the only one who does that. The rest were all weaned long ago, if they ever even nursed at all.
The researcher I spoke to wanted to know my secret. What could she do to convince women to follow my example?
I told her they don’t need any convincing.
Women know that breastfeeding is better. I think that most women genuinely want to breastfeed their babies, and if they don’t, they probably have good reasons for their decision.
In the poll I did, 98.5% of the women I asked tried to breastfeed. Whether in Canada or in the U.S., the message is getting through: BREAST IS BEST.
But that doesn’t tell us HOW.
That same poll revealed that if a woman had grown up in a breastfeeding-positive environment, either being breastfed herself or seeing women breastfeeding babies, they were over 20% more likely to breastfeed successfully. If a woman had grown up thinking of formula and bottles as the “normal” way to breastfeed, she was working with a handicap before her baby was even born.
Again, I ask – why?
I have seen the answer around me…
(Stay tuned for Part 2 of Breast of Luck from Carol @ If By Yes)