Well, I assume they’re new guidelines. I’m not totally sure. (Maybe I am slow but I couldn’t seem to track down a release date anywhere!)
A few weeks ago I came across this article (shared by one of my friends on Twitter) about the new breastfeeding guidelines released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Now, is it just me, or does it seem like the U.S. is somewhat behind the rest of the world when it comes to attitudes toward breastfeeding? These days the World Health Organization is saying exclusive breastfeeding up to six months, and then continued breastfeeding thereafter up to two years and beyond. And beyond! Here in the states it seems if you breastfeed longer than 15 months you get the stink eye.
So this AAP article was very interesting to me since I’m hoping to breastfeed through at least 18 months.
After the jump . . .
The article outlines the benefits of breastfeeding, which by now are fairly common knowledge: good for maternal health, infant health, staving off infectious diseases and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, assisting neurodevelopment . . . The article even go so far as to list “Community Benefits,” such as the possibility of decreased annual healthcare, decreased parental employee absenteeism, decreased costs for public health programs such as WIC, and decreased energy demands (more breastfeeding equals less bottles in the dishwashers is a dubious link if your a pump breastfeeder, but we’ll go with it anyway).
The article says that the rate of initiation and duration of breastfeeding in the U.S. is well below the stated ideals written up in Healthy People 2010, and that furthermore, many of the mothers counted as breastfeeders in the study were supplementing with formula, thus not actually counting as exclusively breastfeeding. Since 1990, rates of initiation of breastfeeding have not significantly increased, and the article targets education and “hospital disruptive practices” as the reason. It goes on to list certain things hospitals MUST do for breastfeeding mothers, such as prolonged skin-on-skin contact immediately following birth as long as the baby is showing good vitals (thus putting off the “clean up and weigh” even longer) for as long as it takes for baby to complete its first feeding, avoiding all supplements if possible, teaching mothers to nurse on demand instead of on a strict schedule, and others.
Reading this article was fascinating, and it reminded me of my time in the hospital. Though administering sugar water during circumcision to distract the baby from the procedure is common I’m sure, the nurses explained that it likely contributed to our difficulty finding a good latch that first day, as even a few drops of any supplement are enough satiate a newborn’s tiny tummy and remove important hunger cues that help a mother and baby find a good latch. (Oh, the latch!)
And it made me curious about all your experiences in the hospital. You breastfeeding mamas: were the staff accommodating of your desires to breastfeed exclusively? Any horror stories? (A good girlfriend of mine told me that an opinionated nurse fed her new baby formula while in the nursery, because she felt his fussing meant he wasn’t getting enough from her breast.)
And don’t forget you have a few days still to enter the BabyBjorn Original Carrier giveaway!