Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Preaching to the choir, I know

You know, I am aware that breast milk is best for my baby. Really, I get it. That's why I pump, for God's sakes.

But a U.S. government public health campaign from the Department of Health and Human Services to pressure women to breastfeed? That makes me mad.

I'll tell you why: because the campaign intrinsically implies that if a woman doesn't breastfeed, it's because she's selfish. It does not take into account that maybe she's actually unable.

I would take a gamble and say that most women who don't breastfeed, can't. And that's for one of two reasons:
a. her baby won't take the breast, or
b. she has to go back to work.

After all, about 70% of women do leave the hospital breastfeeding, or at least trying to breastfeed.

But, according to this controversial article, more than 60% of mothers have to go back to work soon after their baby is born. Yet "federal law requires large companies to provide only 12 weeks' unpaid maternity leave, and lactation leave is unheard of. Only a third of large companies provide a private, secure area where women can express breast milk during the workday, and only 7 percent offer on-site or near site child care."

Don't even ask about getting help with breastfeeding with things go wrong. The government does nothing to provide lactation services to women, it is up to hospitals and other groups like the LLL to do that.

So here are the facts: our federal government is unable to pass laws requiring more maternity leave. It is unable to force employers to provide women time, and a private place, to pump. It is unable to come up with the cash to provide all women the ways and means to provide breastmilk to their babies. (Sorry, ladies, we are spending billions of dollars on the Iraq war, not to mention that breastfeeding ad campaign! We just can't come up with the funds to actually help you!)

But if we moms don't breastfeed, it's because we're selfish.

Yah. Uh-Huh.

Time to go pump again.


Blogger Epiphany Alone said...

The idea of the government jumping on board to make us feel lazy for not breastfeeding made me angry too.

I particularly liked this article which outlines reasons women might not breastfeed, but also how the AAP used faulty statistics in determining their recommendations to begin with:

- Still pumping at 8 1/2 weeks...

1:17 PM  
Blogger pumpingmom said...

Epiphany, the link got cut off. Can you post it again?
Also, the sleep issues do get better. Soon both your daughters will be sleeping through the night, at least on most nights. (Okay, maybe not soon, but eventually....)

1:49 PM  
Blogger liz said...

Standing ovation here.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Epiphany Alone said...

Sorry about that:

6:29 PM  
Blogger Epiphany Alone said...


6:31 PM  
Blogger Cate said...

It's actually spending millions on formula too, via WIC. It probably wouldn't cost a penny in the long run if bfing were truly supported; once you tot up additional health care costs and the number of women who wind up on public assistance because there is no path to career after full-time parenting for working class women, especially if they parent young. Well, okay, it might cost a bit to those paid by Ross Labs' lobbyists.

7:22 PM  
Blogger JK said...

What is frustrating to me is that some doctors tell their patients, if it doesn't feel right, don't breastfeed. To me, that is unacceptable. There are valid reasons, but being told that by your doctor is an excuse not to try.


When you have a baby you are 1) tired
2) hormonal
3) tired
4) tired
5) hormonal
6) overwhelmed

Gentle supportive encouragement in the beginning is important. When I took my breastfeeding class, they taught the dad's how to breastfeed because they knew the Mom wouldn't remember anything.

I agree with you about the campaign. I think the money should be spent on education for doctors and nurses. Seriously. And for paid maternity leave. Not for stupid bull-riding commercials.

12:06 PM  

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