As World Breastfeeding Week
approaches, it’s time to look at the reasons why something as natural as breastfeeding comes under fire in certain sections of the United States. What is widely considered the first and only
option in many countries is constantly being tinkered with by doctors, family members, and even societal subtext. So what can you do to steer clear of the roadblocks?Avoiding the Booby Traps
First let’s talk about the challenges, or what the breastfeeding organization Best for Babies calls “Booby Traps.” According to Danielle Rigg on www.bestforbabes.org
, there are family issues, healthcare issues, cultural issues, and institutional problems that all lead women to believe breastfeeding may not even be an option. If a woman doesn’t have a support system that is well-versed in a natural approach, she can face issues that can’t be answered inside her comfort zone. Rather than being surrounded by those who will help her with latching and other common issues, she may be quick to turn to formula.
Gynecologists and maternity professionals may also be making it a bit too easy to give up on the natural method. Caesarean and other intervention rates are growing in the U.S., creating a less natural path from birth to nursing and tougher times creating breast milk. That leaves those that are struggling without options, due to the lack of hospital protocol around lactation initiation. You may even be discharged from the hospital before your milk comes in, making your journey a solo endeavor. And since it’s difficult to fail at anything, even for a short while, young women will often give up when breastfeeding doesn’t work, scared of their own fault in the matter.
Nicole Peluso, IBCLC and certified Doula, thinks one of the biggest challenges is establishing an adequate milk supply. Peluso, a representative of the La Leche League, agrees that the new options for scientifically triggered birth can interfere with the normal hormonal process that creates the milk. But it’s important to not let your C-section stop you from trying.
“It’s easy to put a Band-Aid on a breastfeeding problem,” says Peluso, “but it’s better to do what you can to prevent problems with an excellent birth experience, and then face lactation issues with the cooperation of holistic practitioners.”
Her lactation practice, called The Sanctuary Breastfeeding Resource Center, is providing mothers of all ages any information they might be missing from the big hospitals. Peluso also points to the La Leche League International (llli.org) for wonderful resources about the steps you can take to ensure a natural approach to feeding your infant, as well as Breastfeeding USA. Even the World Health Organization writes, “Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development
. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large.” Cultural Taboo?
So if there are all these positive outlets, why does there seem to be a cultural taboo against breastfeeding?
“I think cultural taboos vary from demographic to demographic,” writes Peluso, “within the group of middle and upper-middle class women who have private health care, there seems to be very few taboos these days and instead lots of support for breastfeeding.” It seems to be those without the money or resources to include a wide scope of ideologies that are really suffering. Younger and poorer women with government-subsidized health care are not receiving the same advice as those who are free to browse their options. But Peluso points out that the U.S. Surgeon General has
made strides to identify the demographics that need help.
So while, at times, it seems that the odds are stacked up against those who are looking to breastfeed – from the problems with the public to the misinformation – it’s important to understand that the natural option is always available.
It may not be the easiest path. It might lead to some frustration or discomfort. And it may be a challenge to find the information you need. But it could also provide a special bond and a healthy start for your child.
Even if it takes a few days to latch on. Cited Sources
Peluso, Nicole. Interview. IBCLC and certified Doula. 20 July 2012.
"Breastfeeding." WHO. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 July 2012. http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/.