Monday, August 24, 2009


An excellent excerpt on breastfeeding/extended breastfeefing from my friend Jessica's blog...

I just don't know why people get so uptight about nursing a toddler. I don't know why they think it is excessive or unnatural or obscene. And I don't know why they think it's their business to disapprove in the first place! Why don't people research things out a little bit when they have a problem with something? Taken directly from the World Health Organization's website, this the summary of their stance on length of time to breastfeed:
"exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is the recommended way of feeding infants, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond."
So then why do people have such a problem? For starters, it is recommended that an infant be EXCLUSIVELY breastfed for the first six months. No water, no juice, no watered-down cereal, no baby food, no Cheerios, JUST BREASTMILK. Most mothers are told (by their OB, pediatrician, mother, sister, who knows?) that they should try to nurse for six months, a year at most, then wean. Pediatricians sometimes recommend supplementation with sugar water, etc. Why? And then, the mother who nurses her toddler gets looks and words of disapproval for trying to give their child the best start, the start that has benefits that have been shown to be evident even through adulthood! And why do women not get told about the WHO recommendation to nurse for up to two years or beyond? Because the pediatricians get visitors from formula vendors? Because they get all kinds of benefits and goodies if they recommend them to their patients? In a healthcare provider's vow to "do no harm", I, as a nurse, take that a step strive to not only do no harm, but to also try to achieve the best possible result for my patient. I won't go so far as to say that formula harms...after all, it is the only choice for some! But if a doc were trying to achieve the best possible result for their patient, why would they advise a new mother to only nurse for six months or a year, then abruptly wean? Support that nursing momma! Cheer her on! Tell her to nurse for as long as she's able! Try to give that baby the best possible start in life in order to see the best possible result in adulthood! Now, all of this being said, I know that some mothers cannot nurse, cannot exclusively nurse, or cannot nurse for that long. Sometimes their milk dries up in spite of every effort to keep their supply. Sometimes their baby just isn't gaining weight properly and they have to supplement. Sometimes they just make a choice not to...and that's their business and not mine. My biggest issue is being an informed consumer. I have mentioned before how I encourage this to my patients and to family members who ask me medical questions. Their job is to learn and know, and make educated decisions. If they are educated and still make a different decision than I would, so be it. But to be misinformed and make a decision based on misinformation, or to just "go with" something because that's what other people around them have done, well, I feel that's just not right. It's not right in the hospital setting, in the physician-patient relationship, or in a mother's choice of what to put into their child. In Christian circles, we talk about how, yes, it's great to have a pastor to listen to and to hear preach, but you simply can't take his word for everything! You need to read, to study, to search "to see whether these things were so", right? So why should it be any different in life? Even people with the best intentions can be wrong. We're all human. We make mistakes. We misconstrue things. So when it comes to important decisions, be it nursing or surgery or what kind of food you put on your plate, be an educated consumer.

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