Open letter to Obstetrician & Pediatricians in the USA
I am a registered nurse; I have been a believer and supporter of breastfeeding for over 45 years. It is species specific, human milk designed for human babies. Humans are the only species that *thinks* it is better to give another species milk to their babies, formula, REALLY???. Formula is based on cow’s milk. I believe women in the USA were *sold* on the concept that formula is best for babies. This is wrong, formula is best for the companies that make formula; it is a multi-million dollar industry. Formula can be better for moms, they don’t have to feed babies as often, get to sleep a bit more. Breastmilk is so perfect for babies that they digest it very quickly; this is why breastfed babies need to eat every 2-3 hours. Formula is not digested as quickly, so babies can wait the 4 hours. Breastmilk changes as babies get older, it adapts to the growing child.
In 1991 UNICEF and the World Health Organization launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. This was to promote breastfeeding in birthing centers and hospitals around the world. There are 10 steps for a facility to be designed *baby-friendly*. The facility must agree that they will not accept formula or feeding bottles, and they agree to support successful breastfeeding.
As of November 2015, there are 312 centers/hospitals in the USA that are designed baby-friendly. Around the world there are 20,000 centers that have achieved baby-friendly status in 150 countries.
In Cuba 49 of 56 hospitals are baby-friendly, China now has 6000 Baby-Friendly Hospitals. Yet in the USA, we only have 312 centers.
A friend’s daughter had a baby 3 months ago. Mom was successfully nursing since birth. She developed some pain in one breast, called the obstetrician, and was given an antibiotic. This got worse, she called obstetrician again, after waiting to see the doctor for 2 hours, with her baby, she was given another antibiotic. This still got worse; she was told to go to an urgent care facility. There she was told they couldn’t help her, she should go to the emergency room. She was given a third antibiotic, told not to nurse. As an afterthought, doctor decided to take a sample to culture. She had recently pumped her milk into a bottle; this is what they used to culture. Really???? They were culturing milk from a bottle, surely there was contamination from the pump, the bottle, and this is what they are using to decide what treatment to use??? A week later, mom had to be admitted to hospital, and required surgical intervention for a massive infection, with edema and cellulitis.
When the grandmother asked why this happened, the obstetrician told her, *breastfeeding is very traumatic to the breast* REALLY????? Does the doctor understand that, the reason women have breasts is to feed our babies?
Doctors are not knowledgeable about breastfeeding; they don’t learn it in medical school. Unless the doctor has educated themselves, they just don’t know. It is not a priority in the USA. We do not have good role models, little girls do not grow up seeing everyone nurse, dolls come with bottles, oh and we need laws to *allow* women to nurse in public. REALLY?????
Around the world, children are weaned off breastmilk from 6 months to 5 ½ years. Yet in the USA, if a mom is nursing a toddler, she faces a lot of negativity.
"A Natural Age of Weaning", by Katherine Dettwyler, brief version of chapter "A Time to Wean" in Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives, pp. 39–73, ed. Patricia Stuart-Macadam and Katherine A. Dettwyler, 1995, ISBN 978-0-202-01192-9
So when will obstetricians, pediatricians and moms know that BrESTfeeding is the BESTfeeding for their babies?