Well Being

Breastfeeding Education

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waldorf-dolls-breastfeeding.jpgWelcome to the September Carnival of Breastfeeding! This round the topic is breastfeeding education. First, let's start with a little breastfeeding education humor. The two adorable handmade Waldorf dolls shown in the photo were given to my daughters by their great aunt Sue. During yet another game of midwife, my three-year-old stuck these dolls together and said, “She's breastmilking her baby. Breastmilking her!” Perhaps the term “breastmilking” should be added to the lactation lexicon!

Back to the question at hand. What is the best way to educate mothers about breastfeeding? What is the best way to educate the general community about breastfeeding (so we don't get comments like this one asking why a small business should have to provide a place for women to pump)? What is the best way to educate medical professionals?

Those questions (and the answers) are difficult ones, but they remind me of a couple of proverbs. “A stitch in time saves nine.” “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If we don't educate our young people about the benefits of breastfeeding, and don't provide adequate information and support to pregnant women and new mothers, then some of them are going to turn to formula-feeding. My point is that we need to put the work in on the front end.

There should be breastfeeding education in the K-12 curriculum. More women should be preparing for breastfeeding during pregnancy. Medical professionals should be given training on breastfeeding so they can provide good medical advice about breastfeeding.

Hospitals and communities should support breastfeeding clinics, like the one run by Dr. Jack Newman, author of The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers: The Most Comprehensive Problem-Solving Guide to Breastfeeding from the Foremost Expert in North America, Revised & Updated Edition. I heard Dr. Newman speak at a La Leche League conference once. Not only was he a funny, dynamic, and inspirational speaker, it was obvious what a passionate advocate of breastfeeding he is. So I was saddened to read this City News article that says the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic and Institute faces closure due to lack of funding. One of the quotes by clinic co-founder Edith Kernerman stood out to me:

“Breastfeeding, like walking, is natural, but it's a learned behaviour. And so when your child goes and falls the first few times you're not going to say, okay, that's it, it's off to crutches for the rest of your life. No, you're going to pick that child up and you're going to learn how to walk with that child and that child will learn to walk with you….

And it's the same with breastfeeding. We need to learn, we need to learn by watching women around us breastfeed and we don't see women breastfeed because women are afraid to do it out in public.”

I totally agree. One of the best ways to educate women about breastfeeding is from one mother to another, or a mother to her daughter, or sister to sister, etc. Women need to see other women succeed at breastfeeding, and to receive support, encouragement, and advice from other mothers. It saddens me that La Leche League, which was founded on the principle of mother-to-mother support, sometimes gets a bad and erroneous reputation for being extremist. I have found leaders to be supportive of breastfeeding in general, whether a mother chooses to breastfeed for a day, a year, two years or beyond. If a new mother even goes to a La Leche League meeting, she might initially be taken aback to find other mothers who are breastfeeding toddlers. I wish those new mothers would realize that La Leche League members do not have some agenda to get everyone into extended breastfeeding. They want to support women to have a successful breastfeeding relationship in the early months (which then, not surprisingly, often leads to extended breastfeeding!) If you haven't already, please take a moment to vote in the poll about La Leche League in the sidebar or at this post.

To sum up, my hope is that more emphasis will be placed on breastfeeding education and awareness — starting at a young age and continuing through to adulthood — so that more mothers and babies can enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding!

Enjoy these carnival contributions from the following bloggers:

~ BreastfeedingMums: The Perfect Breastfeeding Teacher
~ Hobo Mama: Breastfeeding Education
~ Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Podcast: So You Want to Work in Breastfeeding Support
~ Beautiful Letdown: How I Learned to Breastfeed
~ Momopoly: Q&A with a Lactation Consultant
~ Babyfingers: Let's Take Our Perverted Society to School
~ Stop, Drop, and Blog: Breastfeeding: With a Little Help from My Friends, Books, and Professionals
~ Nurturing Notes: Breastfeeding and the Registered Dietitian
~ Poked and Prodded: You Have to Prepare for Breastfeeding