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    Archive for the ‘Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative’ Category

    In The News: Lopez Says…

    People magazine happily plunked down $6 million to feature Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony’s twins on its cover.

    As ridiculous as that may sound, Jennifer’s comments on breastfeeding left me even more puzzled:

    My mom didn’t breast feed and I think that was the thing for me. You read and figure out what’s the best thing for them.

    Can a baby be healthy and grow adequately without breastfeeding? Absolutely. I certainly do not side with breastfeeding fanatics who equate bottle feeding with bad parenting or negligence.

    I also understand that not every woman can — or wants to — breastfeed. Women have every right to choose, and I find it obnoxious when people criticize this very personal choice.

    What I have a problem with is Jennifer Lopez’s notion that she chose bottle feeding based on “what is best for her babies.” While bottle feeding is certainly not detrimental to a growing baby, it is inaccurate to claim it is identical to breastfeeding.

    Some studies have concluded that breastfed babies have stronger immune systems, decreased risks of developing ear infections and diarrhea, lower infant mortality rates, enhanced neurological development, better oral health (due to a different suckling motion than drinking from a bottle).

    Breast milk is not only tailored to fully meet a baby’s nutritional needs for the first six months, it also contains naturally tranquilizing hormones.

    Some studies are less enthusiastic about health benefits from breastfeeding, but that does not take away that breastmilk is always clean and at the right temperature.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics’ official position is that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for all babies.

    They recommend it as the sole source of food for the first six months of a baby’s life, and as a complementary source from six to twelve months of age.

    They are not alone.

    The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are just some of the organizations that hold the same position.

    Formula is okay, but undoubtedly second best.

    Part of the problem is that most hospitals in the United States do not really support breastfeeding.

    Many do not have lactation specialists on staff, and they immediately bombard mothers with baskets of formula.

    Once a woman feeds her baby formula, it is very hard to get her to commence breastfeeding.

    Breastfeeding is a technique and skill that needs to be learned. It is not innate.

    This is why it is crucial to have trained specialists on staff who can teach new mothers the right positions for breastfeeding and how to handle common problems like mastitis (inflammation of the breast) and sore nipples.

    In 1991, WHO and UNICEF launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.

    The ten steps hospitals must follow to be an official baby-friendly one can be viewed here.

    Here’s a shockingly low figure – of the 5,810 hospitals in the United States, only 63 are baby-friendly.

    The full list can be viewed here. I was very shocked to discover that New York City doesn’t have any!

    Another huge barrier to low breastfeeding rates in the country? The ridiculous and undeserved taboo!

    Last April, ABC News reported that an astounding 57 percent of people in this country believe women do not have a right to breastfeed in public.

    What is so wrong about a woman feeding her baby in a natural and healthy way?

    Has our culture’s common practice of hypersexualizing women’s bodies completely screwed with our heads?

    Here’s an even more astounding figure – 72 percent of people surveyed believe it is “inappropriate” to show a woman nursing on television!

    So Jerry Springer (well, now his former security chief Steve Wilkos, who took over the show) can show people verbally and physically attacking each other before noon, and it’s considered perfectly okay to see someone get shot or stabbed on primetime television, but people choose to tear their hair in some ridiculous “moral” outrage over something as harmless as breastfeeding?

    Color me confused — and pretty disgusted.

    If anything, breastfeeding needs to stop being relegated to the “naughty” corner. It needs to be talked about, discussed, and out in the open.

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