Before we have children, we often believe that breastfeeding is a natural process that should go well most of the time without much help. Many of us are caught off-guard by breastfeeding challenges. We forget that though breastfeeding IS natural, it is also cultural. Breastfeeding depends as much on support in the larger culture as it does on any individual woman’s physiology. This week our government took a baby step toward supporting breastfeeding. (See the article link below.)
When women in the United States succeed at breastfeeding, it is often against great odds. We do not get much or any paid time off of work. If our milk supplies are low or our babies do not suck well, we do not have many places to turn to for help. Because often what we need to succeed is SERIOUS SUPPORT. We need the kind of support that allows us to feel less stressed (that often includes feeling less stressed about paying our bills), that allows us to pump ten times a day for a week, that allows us to cry for two days straight.
Now imagine that you need intense breastfeeding support AND you must work 40 hours a week. When women combine paid employment with mothering an infant, they often find that breastfeeding gets difficult. And without support to weather the difficulties, it can seem like formula feeding is the best we can do.
Some women face formidable obstacles to successful breastfeeding. But we can work on them, one by one, clearing a path for more and more babies to get the absolute best start possible in life. Making the purchase of a breastpump, in certain circumstances, tax deductible is a baby step in the right direction. We can do more, but I am happy to see this beginning awareness. Financial support helps, well, financially. And it also helps psychologically, by sending the message that our efforts to do something that might be challenging are worth it. It’s about time!
Breast-Feeding Gets A Boost Amid The Health Policy Wars