Thoughts on Breastfeeding Week

Friday, August 3rd, 2007
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

A colleague mentioned the other day that we’re in the middle of National Breastfeeding Week — August 1 through 7, 2007, according to the International Lactation Consultant Association. The next day’s New York Times reported that New York City’s 11 public hospitals will no longer offer free samples of baby formula in gift bags to new mothers. The city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation said the decision was meant to promote breast-feeding as part of the city’s campaign to improve infant health. The agency estimated that 24 percent of women who deliver at public hospitals breast-feed exclusively after they are discharged, up from fewer than 15 percent of such women a year ago.

Instead, new gift bags for moms will include a breast milk bottle cooler, disposable nursing pads, breastfeeding tips and an “I eat at mom’s” baby t-shirt. Distribution begins during National Breastfeeding Week. Formula will still be available, but the new moms have to ask for it.

My “new mom” days are far behind me, but I say “bravo.” I remember how much I counted on the hospital staff for guidance in that area. The new gift bags send a subtle message that breastfeeding is an “opt-out” rather than “opt-in ” choice.

The next challenge will be to convince moms to breastfeed longer. A government survey this week found that only about 30 percent of new moms are feeding their babies breast milk alone three months after birth. At six months, only 11 percent are breast-feeding exclusively.

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