Mamas, Let’s Unite Over Breastfeeding
This year’s World Breastfeeding Week rocked! Finishing last week, this global celebration, once again, brought people together from all countries and cultures to pay homage to that most incredible and ancient of parenting practices: breastfeeding.
With all this positivity flowing, it’s easy to forget that breastfeeding has become a rather divisive issue. Opposing tribes of moms battle each other in the blog comments across the internet. It’s “breast is best” versus “back off and butt out, it’s every moms right to choose what’s best for her and her baby”.
While this conversation does cover some important points, nevertheless, it is a distraction. The really big issue, the one which deserves to take up mom-blogger bandwidth, is breastfeeding inequality.
Did you know that in the poor state of Louisiana (US) only 56% of mothers ever breastfeed, but in the relatively wealthy state of California, 93% do.
Or that only 38% of mothers living below the poverty threshold breastfeed at 6-months, while 68% of mothers in top-earning families do.
It cannot be overstated, these disparities are huge. Especially when you consider that there are currently over four million US mothers with infants under 12-months
This infographic about breastfeeding inequality was created by WeTheParents. It shows how severely socioeconomic forces affect breastfeeding outcomes.
Mothers, let’s join forces
The real issue isn’t whether well-off, well-educated, middle-class moms choose to breastfeed. Yes, breast is always best, but there are many other factors involved in giving kids a good start in life. If these are in place, then bottle-fed infants are likely to thrive, too.
The big problem is that many women who want to breastfeed can’t because they don’t have equal access to the knowledge and practical support.
Here are just some of the hurdles less well-off mothers face:
- Less access to paid maternity leave
- Lower paid jobs that are less likely to allow for pumping breaks
- Inadequate maternity and lactation support in hospital
- Less effective family and community support
- A culture that doesn’t treat breastfeeding as a desirable status symbol (in contrast to the ‘crunchy mommies’).
It’s simply not fair that women born and raised in certain zip codes have such a low breastfeeding outcomes when compared to women from other zip codes. All women should have an equal opportunity to breastfeed their babies.
Moms, let’s unite around the common cause, giving all mothers who want to the best chance of breastfeeding their babies.
Come on mammas, there is so much more that unites us than divides us. Together we can work towards a fairer society for each other and our babes.