Declared in 2011 by the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC.), an independent, nonprofit coalition of more than 40 nationally influential professional, educational, and governmental organizations, August is the official National Breastfeeding Month. The USBC’s mission is an important one: Improving the nation’s health by protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding. The first week kicks off with “World Breastfeeding Week” (http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/) coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). Formed in 1992, WABA is a global network of organizations and individuals who believe breastfeeding is the right of all children and mothers and who dedicate themselves to protect, promote and support this right. WABA acts on the Innocenti Declaration and works in close liaison with UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
In support of National Breastfeeding Month and World Breastfeeding week, we bring to you helpful information including, support systems, federal and state laws, statistics, and our own personal stories! Enjoy.
Breastfeeding Awareness: There are many facts about breastfeeding that we should all be conscious of. Listed below are a few major points we feel are important know.
- Placed into law in 2010, The Affordable Care Act expanded prevention coverage for Women’s Health and Well being which included insurance coverage for breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.
- WHO and UNICEF recommend:
- early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth;
- exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life; and
- the introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond. (I also just read somewhere that WHO now says beyond 3 years old!!!)
- According to the CDCs report card on breastfeeding, U.S. infants who begin breastfeeding on average was high at 77% in 2010, 49% were breastfeeding at 6 months, up from 35% in 2000, and the breastfeeding rate at 12 months increased from 16% to 27% during that same time period.
Breastfeeding Laws in NY – This is a very hot topic right now. A person’s opinion seems to vary based on their own experiences. According to www.ncsl.org, the following laws are in place in NY.
N.Y. Civil Rights Law § 79-e (1994) permits a mother to breastfeed her child in any public or private location. (SB 3999)
N.Y. Correction Law § 611 allows a mother of a nursing child to be accompanied by her child if she is committed to a correctional facility at the time she is breastfeeding. This law also permits a child born to a committed mother to return with the mother to the correctional facility. The child may remain with the mother until one year of age, if the woman is physically capable of caring for the child. (2009 N.Y. Laws, Chap. 411; SB 1290)
N.Y. Labor Law § 206-c (2007) states that employers must allow breastfeeding mothers reasonable, unpaid break times to express milk and make a reasonable attempt to provide a private location for her to do so. Prohibits discrimination against breastfeeding mothers.
N.Y. Penal Law § 245.01 et seq. excludes breastfeeding of infants from exposure offenses.
N.Y. Public Health Law § 2505 provides that the Maternal and Child Health commissioner has the power to adopt regulations and guidelines including, but not limited to donor standards, methods of collection, and standards for storage and distribution of human breast milk.
N.Y. Public Health Law § 2505-a creates the Breastfeeding Mothers Bill of Rights and requires it to be posted in a public place in each maternal health care facility. The commissioner must also make the Breastfeeding Mothers Bill of Rights available on the health department’s website so that health care facilities and providers may include such rights in a maternity information leaflet. (2009 N.Y. Laws, Chap. 292; AB 789)
Pumping in the workplace – According to www.ncsl.org, the following laws protect working mothers from having to express milk in an uncomfortable location and also ensures that they will be given the time that they require to do so:
- President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on March 30, 2010. (See the combined full text of Public Laws 111-148 and 111-152 here.) Among many provisions, Section 4207 of the law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 (29 U.S. Code 207) to require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk. The employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for such purpose. The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk. If these requirements impose undue hardship, an employer that employs fewer than 50 employees is not subject to these requirements. The federal requirements shall not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees.
Breastfeeding in Public – Despite the fact that there are many laws in place to protect women that choose to breastfeed to be able to do so in public, that does not mean that society has accepted it. My personal issue with this topic is that so many things that are now considered socially acceptable at one time made people uncomfortable. Music has evolved, our way of dressing has changed, and I believe that breastfeeding can become accepted publicly again. Women should not have to cover up if their child isn’t comfortable with it.
If someone criticizes you for breastfeeding in public, the La Leche League International offers a few different ways to respond:
- Ignore the comment or change the subject.
- Share information on breastfeeding with the other person.
- Make a joke about the situation or yourself to lighten the mood.
- Show that you are recognizing the person’s viewpoint by asking further questions without agreeing or responding to the criticism.
- Be empathetic — show that you understand the other person’s feeling and meaning.
Most of all, it is important to remember that you are meeting your baby’s needs. It isn’t possible to stay home all the time and you can feel free to feed your baby while out and about. You should be proud of your commitment! Plus, no bottles and formula means fewer supplies to pack!
Breastfeeding Benefits: There are a slew of benefits/Pros (which definitely outweigh the risks/Cons—I don’t think there are any at all). Not milk.com has over 100 benefits listed on their web site with references, and we’ve listed a few below!!
- Promotes mother/child bond and helps create independence later on in life (many think it’s the other way around, making the baby stay dependant… THIS IS NOT TRUE)
- Provides antibodies to the baby, protecting them against viruses and infection and contains the exact contents of nutrients (fats, proteins, vitamins) your baby needs and adjusts in fat content automatically as needed.
- Exclusively breast fed babies for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.
- For moms it is a known fact that it helps reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancers, consumes calories, and
- Saves time; no time needed devoted to washing/sterilizing bottles, nipples, etc… warming up formula… breast milk is ready to go on demand.
- It’s Free!!! Formula is sooo expensive amongst other things; there is no money spent using your own breast milk!!!
- A study published in the journal Pediatrics estimated that if 90% of U.S. families followed guidelines to breastfeed exclusively for six months, the U.S. would annually save $13 billion from reduced medical and other costs.
- It’s Green; decreases your carbon footprint. Think about the resources needed for the production of formula/ breast milk substitutes (factories, plastics/metals, gas for shipping products to stores, etc…) It is much more environmentally friendly.
Breastfeeding Commitment: Breastfeeding has a dedication component to it as well. To some it may come easy, but to others it can pose a challenge. Additionally some of us may want to continue with extended breastfeeding; beyond 2 years of age. Below are some statistics and helpful facts on support from infant throughout the toddler years.
To help those along the way with support and other information, please check out the following sites. We’ve found them to be very helpful with our breastfeeding journey.
In addition, we have listed a few pointers to keep in mind, below.
- Let your baby and nature set the pace
- Hold off on pacifiers
- Reach out for help
- Dads and family members, please lend support!!
- Make healthy life choices (eat well, stay hydrated, don’t smoke, take your vitamins, and rest!!)
- Give it time and don’t give up!!
As stated above it is recommended to extend breastfeeding beyond 2 years of age as long as it works for mom and baby. There are a few issues that us moms might have with deciding on whether or not to extend breast feeding and mainly these include:
- Wondering if your baby would become too attached AND mostly
- Negative reactions from the public and even family members
All of the benefits of breastfeeding still apply with extended feeding. You will still be saving money, providing nutrients to your little one (which helps them read earlier, have less medical issues/conditions, and gain independence), reducing your risk of diseases and cancers, and increasing that mother child bond.
The most difficult aspect is the negative reaction(s) that extended feeding might attract. Luckily, there are many sites, sources of information, and even celebrity support and their own stories to help shore up your decision.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, the average age of weaning worldwide is between 2 and 4 years old. This is contrary to how I have seen many people react negatively toward extended breastfeeding (in the media, friends, family, etc…)
Rakijah Says: My grandmother asked me the other day if I was going to be like that woman on Time magazine, nursing her “older” son who was standing on a chair (see the picture below)!! Haha!! I had no answer for her. I just said “when he’s ready, I’ll be ready.” Though, I do believe he is already starting to self wean.
Rakijah Say’s: I always knew that I would breastfeed my son (Michael). I exclusively breastfed him when he was an infant and still do today, he is now 2 years old. At first it was a little difficult with getting him to latch “correctly” and nurse evenly on both sides. Our nurse at the hospital even “scolded” me saying that if I didn’t feed him every 2 hours I would have to give him formula!! Humph!! How dare she?!?! I was lucky enough to have done my research and knew that eventually everything would work out… and it did. He had no formula at all and still does not drink cows or goat milk (of course he eats regular food and drinks water/juice). I did struggle from time to time especially going back to work and being able to provide him with enough milk during daycare, but I got through it with the help of having a strong determination, using a breastfeeding consultant, finding recourses like La Leche League and Kelly Mom, and having the support of my family. I also nurse in public when we need to (not too much now since he is older). I used to be so scared to do so, but I got over that barrier quickly. People did stare once in a while but maybe that was just my nervousness—never had any horror stories that I’ve read blogs etc… I know that some moms/babies have certain conditions or life situation which prevent breastfeeding and that’s OK. I just knew what was best for us. Michael now nurses when we get home from work/daycare and at night right before bed. I know eventually he will self wean. I know that I made the right decision for us, I am happy and so is he. <3 <3
Bridget Say’s: I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed my children. So, when my daughter was born I took it very seriously. The most frustrating thing for me at first was communication between myself and the nurses that were caring for my baby. I expressed from the moment that she was born that I wanted her to be solely breastfed. After a day I realized that the sign in her basinet said “Breast and SIM.” Now, being a new mom I was unaware that “SIM” stood for Similac. I was very upset to realize that she had been receiving a small amount of formula in the nursery. Luckily, this did not stop me from being able to solely breast feed my daughter. The next thing that truly frustrated me was that I could tell that my daughter was hungry, but she would not latch on. I kept asking for lactation consultants to help me but I found that they were busy and did not really give me great tips that worked each time that I tried to feed her. I was so lucky that as I was getting ready to leave the hospital a volunteer lactation consultant spotted me with my daughter, and could tell that she was hungry. She immediately asked to help me and would not allow me to leave the hospital until my husband and I had a technique that would work for us. She was truly an angel. From that moment on getting my daughter to latch on was so much easier. I was fortunate enough to stay home for the first four months of my daughter’s life. During that time I learned to feed her, pump, and eventually store up breast milk in my freezer. Once I returned to work I found that it was a lot harder to keep my supply up. Due to my demanding work schedule, I was only able to pump once a day while I was at work. Also, once I returned to work my daughter’s interest in breast feeding decreased. She preferred her breast milk in a bottle. All of this led to a huge decrease in my milk production. By the end of 6 months I had to stop breast feeding because I was barely producing an ounce every few hours. I was very sad to see this part of my relationship with my daughter go away but I held my head up high knowing that I had done what I had set out to do.
Be Sure to share your motherhood experiences with us below.