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“You were due on July 3rd, but you didn’t come out until 10:23 p.m. on July 5 and they kept us in the hospital for three days before we could take you home. You were so beautiful and we were so happy to have our little girl.”
That’s a recount of my mother telling me about the day I was born. That was 25 years ago and I imagine others born 20+ years ago would have a similarly phrased narration of the day they were born – that they stayed with their mother in the hospital for a few days after birth.
The focus used to be on keeping the mother and baby in the hospital, together, to make sure there were no complications. Nowadays, I hear all the time that mother and child leave the hospital ‘later that afternoon’ or ‘the very next morning.’ It’s almost a competition or some ultimate prize to see how soon after giving birth you can leave the hospital.
While it’s great that modern medicine advancements have allowed for better delivery procedures and for doctors to know, more instantaneously, the health of the mother and newborn, the focus on getting mother and child out of the hospital and into their own home may actually be serving as a long-term detriment to both.
According to a new government report, “Less than 4 percent of U.S. hospitals offer the full range of support services that new mothers need to master breastfeeding.”
This push to get mothers and newborns out of the hospitals and into the comfort of their own homes doesn’t lend itself to proper and adequate preparation for women to breastfeed.
Womenshealth.gov lists many benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and child that include: helping your child fight diseases; lowering your child’s risk for developing diabetes, asthma, leukemia and obesity; cost-effectiveness; developing a special bond with your child; lowering the mother’s risk for developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and postpartum depression; and leads to working mothers missing less days because of their child getting sick.