Breastfeeding has always carried a stigma in my family and as a young teen growing up, I was never exposed to the important aspect of breastfeeding. Most of the women in my family with the exception of my grandmother did not breastfeed. When I became pregnant for the first time in 1999, I had my reservations about breastfeeding but thanks to the birthing center in NYC that I belonged to, I was able to take a class on breastfeeding, birthing, and other great parenting tools before my first son Kai was born. I found breastfeeding challenging especially since my first son had issues latching on, but I succeeded in providing him and later his bother Phoenix with breastmilk. For me, it was an important bonding experience for the babies and me, a time I held precious and dear.
Today breastfeeding has become much more popular and accommodating in the US. I have seen a change in the attitudes of our culture. Malls and other businesses like Ikea, for instance, have provided spaces by the restrooms called family rooms where mothers can breastfeed in a calm and private environment. They provide soft rocking chairs, changing tables, soothing music and soft lighting for a very natural ambient.
In the year 2000, The Millennium Development Goals were part of a summit of the United Nations. One of their goals was to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people by working on poverty, hunger, education, and decreasing child mortality. Preterm and low birth weight account for about 80% of neonatal deaths (Ahmed 2011). In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, these issues are very prevalent. However, one of the interventions and best practice to lower preterm births and low birth weight is breastfeeding. Because of the lack of clean water in these nations, infants are likely to die from diarrheal complication due to unsafe water used for formula. In these countries, the way to combat infant mortality is by promoting breastfeeding, reducing the distribution of formula, and creating supporting work policies so mothers get opportunities to continue pumping breastmilk while away from their babies.
In the US, according to Maggie Fox of NBC news (Fox 2016), 80% of mothers breastfeed but only for about one to six months. What if they knew that breastfeeding longer could increase their children’s intelligence and their future wealth? According to an article published by Disease in Childhood, Gennaro explained the results of a study in Brazil during the 1980’s. In this research, they studied 5,900 babies our of those babies they followed 3,500 of them and tested their IQ as well as their wealth at age 30. The results were convincing, those babies who were breastfed for less than one month, those babies who were breastfed for 12 months or more had significantly higher IQ’s and made more money (Gennaro 2015). In addition, a study conducted in Canada revealed that breastfeeding more than three months increased maternal sensitivity and synchrony, which in turn resulted in happier babies.
It is important in my profession in early childhood to be able to provide families and mothers any information that will improve their lives and the lives of their children. For me, it is important to share this information regarding breastfeeding because I come across many young mothers who have limited access to this kind of information. It is imperative that infants get the best start in life, breastfeeding can be the answer to many neonatal and preterm deaths. Breastfeeding also benefits infants into adulthood. Breastfeeding positively impacts an infants ability to develop their cognitive abilities and increase their intelligence. In many ways, breastfeeding is the perfect human survival practice. Breastfeeding is more than food; it creates a bond that will last a lifetime between mother and baby.
Breastfeeding: Sensitive mothers and intelligent offspring. (2015). Archives of Disease in Childhood, 100(6), 601. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1136/archdischild-2015-308764