Sunday, September 30, 2007

More on supporting breastfeeding

More than just about anything else, feminism supports increasing the choices that are available to women (just as other liberatory movements increase freedoms and the availability of choice).

I would not, therefore, advocate exclusive breastfeeding as always the best choice for every mother and infant. But in today's context, breastfeeding is not always available as a choice for mothers, often because they must work and their employers do not provide them with time and private space to express milk.

Mothers are also denied information about the health benefits of breastfeeding and advice on how to succeed in getting started.

A Mothering article cites health benefits
to infants that include lowering the risk of respiratory tract infections by 72% and lowering the risk of ear infections by 50%.
Breastfeeding reduces a mother's risk of ovarian cancer by 21% and breast cancer by 28%.
In spite of this, only 16% of American mothers breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, which is the current pediatric recommendation.

Cesarean sections make breastfeeding harder on mothers, and the rate of C-sections has climbed from 5% in 1970 to about 30% today.

Finally, selling formula is big business, both in the U.S. and abroad. Peggy O'Mara reports that political coercion and false advertising is used to discourage mothers from breastfeeding.

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