news item: “Breast is Best” unless…

“you have to work.” Is the title of the article I saw a Facebook friend post the other day. The CDC (Center for Disease Control in America) has released its latest round of statistics on breast-feeding and overall the news is good. More women than ever are attempting to breastfeed:

“Over 75 percent of both white and Latino infants who were born in 2008 were breast-fed, while the number of black infants breast-fed the same year was under 60 percent.”

This is great, right? It is, it means that most women are at least attempting to breastfeed. But, the CDC followed up with those women at 6 months after birth and 9 months after birth and found that:

“..as of 2008, the overall percentage of babies still being breast-fed at six months was less than 45 percent. (Six months is the American Association of Pediatrics’ recommendation for duration of exclusive breast-feeding.)”

Why the drop off? For myself, breastfeeding got SO much easier about 4-5 months. We got our “groove” going and my Stella was going longer stretches between feedings. The author of the article says she knows why:

“Breast-feeding after you return to work is a tremendous pain in the ass for even the most privileged women…”

We all agree that rasing a child is the most important ‘job’ in the world. We have all sorts of laws that supposedly ‘protect’ the right of working women to pump in a secure environment without facing penalties, either explicit or the more sinister penalty, being quietly ‘mommy-tracked’, passed up for promotions, given less important files, cases,work, etc. The laws are good, but enforcement, and actually embracing them and supporting working mothers is not what is happening in most situations in this country.

This article is short, but speaks to a number of issues, breastfeeding rates in America, the disparity of those rates among women of different races, the issue of maternity leave, ways the CDC tries to encourage breastfeeding, access to lactation consultants, and issues with the WIC program (Women Infants and Children) that provides formula and food for low-income families. I hope you’ll read the article and chime in with your thoughts. I will chime in more in the comments, especially as I have worked with the WIC program through our foster care experience and can speak more on that issue as the article leaves a few details out. So, please read: “Breast is Best – Unless You Have to Work” and please comment with your thoughts and personal experience.

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Some thoughts/questions for you to consider:

If you are nursing and back to work, how is it going? Do you feel truly supported?

Do you have adequate access to a room to pump in, is it comfortable, clean, secure?

Did you give up nursing because it was too hard to work and pump?

Did you have access to a Lactation Consultant in the hospital? Did you have access after you left the hospital?

Have you ever felt ‘penalized’ in your job because you chose to pump milk for your child while at work?

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