Photo: Getty Images
Most people know there is an economic upside to breastfeeding. Have you priced the formula milk sold in stores these days? But what would make the Surgeon General, Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, issue an official “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding” earlier this year? What could make this issue so important?
No doubt one reason is due to the health benefits for mom and baby. It is a scientific fact that a baby who is breastfed has less chances of developing infections such as ear infections, diarrhea and even pneumonia. Breastfeeding your baby also decreases his/her chances of having asthma or obesity problems later on. Even mothers lower their risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
So why the call to action? It is due to the nonsupport and sometimes the lack of information on the part of families, communities, employers and health care professionals. Benjamin outlined the following action steps as reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
•Communities should expand and improve programs that provide mother-to-mother support and peer counseling.
•Health care systems should ensure that maternity care practices provide education and counseling on breastfeeding. Hospitals should become more “baby-friendly,” by taking steps like those recommended by the UNICEF/WHO’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
•Clinicians should ensure that they are trained to properly care for breastfeeding mothers and babies. They should promote breastfeeding to their pregnant patients and make sure that mothers receive the best advice on how to breastfeed.
•Employers should work toward establishing paid maternity leave and high-quality lactation support programs. Employers should expand the use of programs that allow nursing mothers to have their babies close by so they can feed them during the day. They should also provide women with break time and private space to express breast milk.
•Families should give mothers the support and encouragement they need to breastfeed.
Some may question the practicality of the above but rationale lies in the benefits when the above points are applied.