Thursday, May 1, 2008
Breastfeeding New Infants
The benefits of breast feeding for at least the first six months of life have been proven over and over with scientific studies. Let's face it...nature hardly ever gets it wrong. Breast milk is a perfect nutrient, contains antibodies and is easy to digest. It is also free and readily available!
A new study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 77% of new mothers breast-feed their babies in the United States. There has been an effort to educate women about the benefits and it seems to be paying off. The stats may be a little skewed, however, because the study gave credit even if a woman breast fed for just one day. And prior studies have shown that far fewer mothers of any age breast feed for the recommended 6 months.
So there is good news, but still not great statistics for what we know is optimal infant health. I think one of the problems is how unsupportive our society is for new mothers. A breast feeding mother cannot be in public without weird stares from people. There are few workplaces that have facilities for a mom to pump her milk. We make it a huge hassle to do what is natural. It is almost impossible to keep breast feeding once a mom returns to work. With the demands of new motherhood and the extra effort it takes for a working mom, it is amazing anyone breast feeds after returning to work.
European cultures are more tolerant and accepting of what is natural. We could learn from them and have healthier children and happier moms.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 7:56 AM