Friday, April 9, 2010
I remember a time when the act of breast feeding a baby was considered old fashioned. At the time that my own children were infants, breast feeding was not common although I knew a number of women who did breast feed their babies. I do not remember the reason or reasons why I chose to nurse my babies, but I have many reasons to feel good about my choice. The latest reason came from an Associated Press article written by Lindsey Tanner and printed in the Anchorage Times on April 5, 2010. In her article, Tanner wrote: "The lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year, along with billions of dollars, if 90 percent of U.S. women breast-fed their babies for the first six months of life, a cost analysis says." Those results came from the on-line journal Pediatrics and are only an estimate of the savings possible. The article suggests that breast feeding may help prevent stomach viruses, ear infections, asthma, juvenile diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and even childhood leukemia. It is apparent from this article that breast feeding has progressed from a life style choice of my time to a public health issue now. Some of the benefits provided by breast milk are: "… contains antibodies that help babies fight infections; can affect insulin levels in the blood, which may make breast-fed babies less likely to develop diabetes and obesity." About 12 percent of mothers follow the governmental guidelines for breast feeding, which recommend that "babies receive only breast milk for six months." About 43 percent of all mothers breast feed, wholly or partially, for six months. Mothers who do not breast feed at all or for shorter periods of time should not be blamed or feel guilty. Motherhood is not only the most important career, but it is also the most challenging career. Mothers who must work outside the home have an even more difficult road to travel. If you are doing the best that you know how to do for your baby, you are doing well! I simply want you to remember that this information is good to have for future babies or to share with other expectant mothers. All mothers need all the help possible! I nursed my babies for about four months, but I don't feel guilty about stopping. I was doing the best I could at the time with the knowledge I had. I would have nursed all of them longer if I had known then what I know now. I am very pleased that all of my grandchildren have been nursed and most of them for longer than six months! Mothers can expect more assistance in the future to insure that additional babies are breast fed. The federal government in their "new health care overhaul requires large employers to provide private places for working mothers to pump milk." In addition, a hospital accrediting agency may evaluate hospitals "on their efforts to ensure that newborns are fed only breast milk before they're sent home." As with everything that is important, new mothers may still have to insist on support from hospitals and/or employers for their quest to breast feed.