|Photo by Aneta Hayne Photography|
Normalize breastfeeding - it has been a term all over the internet for the last several years. Moms posting breastfeeding selfies (#brelfies) on social media to a variety of reactions - from praise to the more critical, “why is she posting that??!” I think the real question we need to ask ourselves is: why do we have to work to normalize an instinctual behavior that is the biological norm?
Formula has its place in infant feeding. Not all mothers are able to produce as much breastmilk as needed, and formula is used to help baby grow. However science has shown time and time again that breastmilk is the optimal source of nutrition and immunological benefits for babies, especially premature and medically fragile infants. It reduces the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (also known as NEC, a leading cause of mortality among preterm infants) by up to 75%, and recent studies show it can be life changing for infants with congenital heart defects as well. For these reasons and so many more, breastmilk is the recommended diet for the first year of life. Families are encouraged to take prenatal breastfeeding classes, initiate breastfeeding within the first few hours after birth, and continue breastfeeding upon hospital or birth center discharge. Despite these efforts, many moms stop breastfeeding long before hitting this goal. According to the CDC’s 2018 Breastfeeding Report Card, 83.2% of infants start off breastfeeding, but only 57.6% were breastfeeding at 6 months, and just over one-third (35.9%) were breastfeeding at 12 months.
|Photo by Dave Clubb on Unsplash|
|Photo from The Little Milk Bar|