In the childbirth class that I teach we talk a lot about breastfeeding. One of the main reasons we talk so much about it is so that couples will be prepared to work together as a team after their birth to make breastfeeding successful and that they will have the knowledge, tools and contacts to help them should they have trouble.
Many of my friends have struggled with breastfeeding. It has become common knowledge that breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your newborn baby, and that breastmilk is also better for your baby than formula but it also is free, better for the environment and helps promote public health as a whole. Despite these benefits some women give up breastfeeding because of difficulties and the ease of giving formula and other reasons. The quote below sums up what I beleive to be an excellent summary of the problems surrounding breastfeeding in our culture.
“We tell women that breast is best, we tell them to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, we even tell them it will raise their kidâ€™s IQ (and we should give that a rest), and then we send them home with formula samples, or with a baby whose throat is too sore to suckle, or a mom whose milk is delayed because of surgery, and we donâ€™t teach technique, and we are offended when a woman breastfeeds in public, so we make her feel housebound, and we donâ€™t give a mother and her partner paid leave, and we send her to go back to a workplace without on-site childcare, and so her only alternative to formula is to plug her nipples into a machine, and if sheâ€™s lucky she gets periodic breaks and a â€œnon-bathroom lactation roomâ€ in which to pump, and if sheâ€™s not she gets a toilet, and so on and so forth.
Itâ€™s no wonder women are ready to burn their nursing bras.”
Jennifer Block, Author of Pushed: The Painful Truth About Modern Maternity Care
I hope that as a culture we can educate women about breastfeeding and promote breastfeeding in practical ways that help women give their babies the head start that they need.