Breastfeeding Critical To Children’s Health; Women Need Social Support To Breastfeed
New York Times: Where a Miracle Substance Called Breast Milk Saves Lives
Mia Armstrong, 2019 graduate of Arizona State University and winner of Nicholas Kristof’s 2019 ‘win-a-trip’ contest
“…The lives of 823,000 children younger than five could be saved annually if we scaled up breastfeeding to near universal levels, according to estimates published in The Lancet breastfeeding series from 2016. Specifically, breastfeeding is linked with decreases in diarrhea, middle ear infections, and respiratory infections and increases in IQ and nutrition. … The good news is that these are lives we know how to save: Babies should start breastfeeding within an hour of birth, breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of life without any other food or liquid, and then continue breastfeeding with complementary food until they are at least two years old, according to the World Health Organization. … But when we frame breastfeeding as solely a woman’s responsibility, as the 2016 Lancet series notes, we are also ‘ignoring the role of society in its support and protection.’ Though the challenges look different depending on where you are, as a society we’ve erected barriers all around the world to make it harder for women to give their children the breast milk they need in the way they need it. In the United States, these barriers may involve workplace rules hostile to breastfeeding or hospitals that unnecessarily separate infants from mothers, whereas in [other countries], they may involve misinformation surrounding when to introduce water or lack of access to healthy complimentary food. … [T]o breastfeed, [women] may just need more support…” (6/5).