Can this be true? TEN percent of 6 month olds are being breastfed in the US?
Six month olds are tiny little new babies, most with one or no teeth yet. And NINETY percent of them are drinking formula?
I am astonished and sad.
We really need to figure out what is happening to all these nursing mamababies from the point that they leave the hospitals as nursing duos to the time when only one in ten of them is still together a mere six months later.
Are they leaving the hospitals with idiotic misinformation, reeling from their overmanaged births, completely unprepared for what breastfeeding a newborn is really all about?
Do the people who write the glossy pamphlets they slip somewhere into your going-home-kit even have a clue about human lactation or nutrition?
Are there ever, ever pictures in those pamphlets of mom and baby laying on their sides, in bed, maybe with hair greasy, maybe with their shirt off, red and botchy baby in a diaper...or is it always the same fully dressed mother in the glider, with her perfectly sturdy and also similarily outfitted 3 month old, no boppy pillow, no rashes, shoes tied, house tidy, oh so perky, "8 to 12 times a day"?
Who could live up to that? What does that image have to do with anything besides selling glider-chairs?
Has the entire hospital staff been bottle fed every four hours?
I direct this at hospital birthing mothers because they are in the vast majority in our country. 95%, I think? (correct me if i'm wrong)
I picture midwives not afraid to tell the mothers and family members what to expect in newborn care and feeding. Thats its all day all night no clocks no clocks no clocks. I picture midwives being available for phone calls and for real advice and for house calls 1, 3, and 7 days after birth. Or more.
I picture the UC moms being so self educated that they certainly would be able to handle realism and information and hopefully they have someone to call if things get squirrely.
So, what is happening to these moms and babies? Why are they quitting? What is the average age of quitting, I wonder? I have a bad feeling it is at about 2 weeks old when the hell and agony is too much, perhaps. Before they get to the happy-cherub part. Before they gain confidence. before they can see the sparkly bright eyes and before they can get into the fact that it is simple and convenient and awesome. Before they even have their milk in right. Before they are not bleeding and not hobbling and not sweating and not swimming in a sea of breast pads and maxi pads and laundry and pain pills and chaos, they are already quitting.
I blame so many things, but the lack of postpartum support, EVEN TO THE MOMS WHO "FEEL AWESOME", has absolutely GOT to be the number one factor.
Maybe it is their girlfriends, the ones who didn't nurse, the ones who don't have children, teasing them, asking them to go dancing, asking them when are you gonna wean, asking them doesnt it hurt? dont you feel like a cow? are you gonna do THAT in the restaurant? Being as uneducated and ignorant as most Americans are.
Maybe it is their husbands, partners, lovers, all with the same questions, hang-ups, fears.
Maybe it is their mothers, mother in laws, grandmothers, telling then they are nursing too frequently, offering to "take the baby for the night", telling them horror stories, making them go do that in the back bedroom so Grandpa doesn't faint away dead at the sight of a clavicle.
Mom+Baby belong in bed, or on the couch for a while. But boy oh boy does this " serene surrender" conflict hard with just about every single thing and symbol and vision and false advertising imagery we have ever learned or known or seen in these modern times. You know, celebrities, parenting mags, media lies, urban legends spread by well meaning in-laws...
We might read about "other cultures" whose women have a babymoon, a lying-in, 22 days, or a month, and we might smile for a moment and think "wow, how cool." But do we stop and see what that is rooted in?
We might tell our friends and sisters who just had a baby "call me if you need anything", but do we mean it? What about after the first couple of days postpartum? Do we stop and see reality?
Do we offer booties and layette sets or do we leave a hot pizza on their porch, ring the doorbell, and drive away? Don't we have 10 dollars for a family we know and love?
Have you ever been a laundry fairy for a new family, (something we requested specifically after the birth of both our 3rd and 4th children and did not recieve?) How nice it would be to have them just put their clothes out on the porch and have them returned folded and fresh. What a little deal it would be to you and what an incredible blessing it would be to them. The new family. Community.
Have you ever just went and sat with a new mom, kept vigil with her on her couch, helped make the boppy and the water bottles and the leaking all seem fun and funny and normal and cool?
I am so sad for the nursing mamababies who quit, 9 out of 10 of them according to this study, before they even hit the half year mark. I hope this can change, but pinpointing exactly what happened would be complicated. Between all the "I didn't have enough milk" and whatnot, many of these people probably don't know what happened, really.
If only we could all be guardians of breastfeeding initiation and continuation rather than just lip-service supporters who remain isolated from each other.
I think newborn mamas and babies need much more protection and guradianship than pregnant women do. Most women's bodies do all the work of growing a baby, and outside of the basic needs for nutrition and rest, the vast majority of women can and do grow their embryos and fetuses just fine. But apparantly 90% of women in our country haven't been able to sucessfully nurse their children for even 1/2 a year.
Something HAS to be done.