Whitesburg KY

Praise for breastfeeding moms

To the Editor:

As a health care professional and avid advocate for responsible parenting I must address a recent comment in “Speak Your Piece.” An apparently elderly woman stated she was “sickened” by witnessing a mother breastfeeding her infant in public. I, on the other hand, would like to applaud this mother. If her child was, as the lady stated, “big,” then the mother has done a good job providing for and caring for her child.

And as for the “man” who the lady said should have done something to make the mother stop feeding the child, I thank you for being understanding enough to support the mother in her choice to breast feed.

There presently is much discussion about health care reform, ways to provide the best health care for the limited funds available. I would like to share some ideas of how breastfeeding can assist in health care reform for both the present and future.

Many of us have heard of the advantages of breastfeeding in sharing passive antibodies from the mother to the infant in the early milk (colostrum), but did you know studies have shown that breastfeeding enhances the child’s response to immunizations? This can protect against serious life threatening diseases for which the vaccines were developed.

Bottle-fed babies have two times the incidence of respiratory illness than do breast-fed infants. Breastfeeding can transfer immunities to external mucosal surfaces to assist in the prevention of respiratory infections, including the very serious RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) for which many infants are hospitalized yearly for frequent special respiratory treatments.

There has been an increase in the number of people diagnosed with diabetes, especially in our area of the country. Breast-fed babies have a 34 percent decreased chance of developing insulin dependent diabetes, according to studies. There have also been studies that show there is an increase in the cognitive function of breast-fed children when tested at 7-8 years of age.

Breastfeeding is not just good for the child, but also offers benefits to the mother. By breastfeeding for at least six months the mother decreases her chances of developing premenopausal breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer.

Despite the overall health care costs alleviated, a breastfeeding mother has also saved her possibly financially struggling family close to $1200 per year for formula and supplies.

Yes, I chose to breast feed my children 28 and 26 years ago while working full time as a registered nurse. I discretely fed my infants during church services with a light receiving blanket over my shoulder and even fed my daughter, who is now a breastfeeding RN, in a restaurant at the 1982 World’s Fair with my back turned to the rest of the customers.

I know not all mothers can breast feed for a variety of reasons, and that is why high quality infant formula is made. My suggestion to the more “experienced” women in our community is to not criticize and discourage our young mothers, but to offer guidance and encouragement for things done right.

Accepting the responsibility to breast feed her child, if possible, is the right thing to do
Family Nurse Practitioner

Leave a Reply