The decision to breastfeed or not to breastfeed is an intensely personal one, based on a variety of circumstances.
For those mothers who choose to breastfeed and can do so, having family and societal support increases the odds that they and their babies will have a better breastfeeding experience.
U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin released the following statement for World Breastfeeding Week, August 1 – 7, 2011.
“World Breastfeeding Week provides an opportunity to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding and to encourage everyone to support mothers who want to breastfeed. One of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant and herself is to breastfeed. It protects babies from many infections and illnesses, such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Children who have been breastfed have lower rates of childhood obesity. Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
“The decision to breastfeed is a personal one, and a mother should not be made to feel guilty if she cannot or chooses not to breastfeed. But given the importance of breastfeeding for the health and well-being of mothers and children, we need to do what we can to help mothers who want to breastfeed to do so successfully.
“Earlier this year, I released the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding which outlines steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed their babies.
“The Affordable Care Act has made significant progress to support breastfeeding,which include historic new insurance guidelines that will ensure millions of women receive preventive health services without a co-pay or deductible. These new guidelines, developed by the independent Institute of Medicine, require insurance companies to cover certain women’s preventive services, including breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.
“In addition, the ACA amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 by having employers provide reasonable break time and a place, other than a restroom, that is private and clean for a mother to express milk.
“I hope World Breastfeeding Week will spark conversations and efforts that will support women who want to breastfeed.”
Countless studies have concluded that breastfeeding is healthy for mothers and babies. Women who can and want to breastfeed deserve to be met with support from the medical community, their families, and from society as a whole.
Ann Pietrangelo is the author of “No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis.” She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and The Author’s Guild, and a regular contributor to Care2 Healthy & Green Living and Care2 Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo