From Victoria’s Secret model to breastfeeding advocate… Miranda Kerr has shared a photo of her nursing her newborn, and it’s making the internet rounds. Her husband Orlando Bloom took the photo. Salon has a story today about the pic. From the Salon story:
How lovely then not just that Kerr posted a blissful photo that sweetly evokes those magical early bonding days with a baby, but that the picture has been nonchalantly picked up by major entertainment news outlets with barely a hint of squeamishness. Both People and OK! posted the photo, along with Kerr’s message from her blog that “I gave birth to him naturally; without any pain medication and it was a long, arduous and difficult labour, but Orlando was with me the whole time supporting and guiding me through it.”
The U.S. Surgeon General has issued a call to action to get more mothers to breastfeed. Here’s a fact sheet from the Surgeon General, which includes information on the cost savings benefits of breastfeeding. And here’s a clip from today’s press release:
Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin today issued a “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding,” outlining steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed their babies.
“Many barriers exist for mothers who want to breastfeed,” Dr. Benjamin said. “They shouldn’t have to go it alone. Whether you’re a clinician, a family member, a friend, or an employer, you can play an important part in helping mothers who want to breastfeed.”
“Of course, the decision to breastfeed is a personal one,” she added, “no mother should be made to feel guilty if she cannot or chooses not to breastfeed.”
While 75 percent of U.S. babies start out breastfeeding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, only 13 percent are exclusively breastfed at the end of six months. The rates are particularly low among African-American infants.
Many mothers who attempt to breastfeed say several factors impede their efforts, such as a lack of support at home; absence of family members who have experience with breastfeeding; a lack of breastfeeding information from health care clinicians; a lack of time and privacy to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace; and an inability to connect with other breastfeeding mothers in their communities.
Dr. Benjamin’s “Call to Action” identifies ways that families, communities, employers and health care professionals can improve breastfeeding rates and increase support for breastfeeding:
Communities should expand and improve programs that provide mother-to-mother support and peer counseling.
Health care systems should ensure that maternity care practices provide education and counseling on breastfeeding. Hospitals should become more “baby-friendly,” by taking steps like those recommended by the UNICEF/WHO’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
Clinicians should ensure that they are trained to properly care for breastfeeding mothers and babies. They should promote breastfeeding to their pregnant patients and make sure that mothers receive the best advice on how to breastfeed.
Employers should work toward establishing paid maternity leave and high-quality lactation support programs. Employers should expand the use of programs that allow nursing mothers to have their babies close by so they can feed them during the day. They should also provide women with break time and private space to express breast milk.
Families should give mothers the support and encouragement they need to breastfeed.
Every mom has a different story about what worked best for her and her baby. Some moms exclusively breastfeed. Some exclusively formula feed. Some do a mixture of the two. And as for introducing solids, there’s a range here as well. Some pediatricians recommend starting solids at 4 months. Some say later. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. And then continuing breastfeeding until at least 12 months.
Well, there’s a new editorial by some researchers in the UK who say exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months has some problems. Here’s the story from ABC.com Watch this video. And an important point that comes up at the end of the video, the researchers received funding at some point in the three years prior to the editorial from baby formula and food companies.
Federal workers who need to breast-feed on the job should be given a reasonable amount of time, must be provided access to a clean, private room and might not be paid while doing so, according to new government personnel rules.
Administration officials quietly released changes to the government’s breast-feeding policy shortly before Christmas, soon after President Obama ordered updates to how federal agencies and departments accommodate breast-feeding mothers.
The changes, outlined in a memo issued by the Office of Personnel Management, apply to all breast-feeding employees of the executive branch and were among several provisions related to workplace health and safety in last year’s health-care law.
“As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government strives to be a leader in the promotion of wellness programs and progressive workforce policies,” OPM Director John Berry said in his memo to agency personnel chiefs.
According to the memo, agencies and departments must provide employees with “a reasonable break time to express breast milk” up to one year after the birth of a child. Breast-feeding employees must be given access to a private area other than a restroom that is shielded from public view and intrusion by coworkers.
Federal personnel rules do not require compensation for workers who take breaks to breast-feed or express milk, but several agencies provide compensated breaks of 15 minutes each in the morning and afternoon that employees could use for breast-feeding, the OPM said.
While formula may be able to mimic the nutritional value, it can’t match breast milk in protecting babies from illness, nor is it as easily digestible by the newborn’s immature digestive tract. Epidemiological studies have shown that breastfed babies have fewer bouts with ear infection, respiratory infection, meningitis, diarrhea, and constipation. They also have lower risk of allergies, asthma, obesity, diabetes, childhood leukemia and sudden infant death.
The benefits to mothers are similarly impressive, with studies linking breastfeeding to lower risk for type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and postpartum depression. The skin-to-skin contact with their babies causes the mother’s pituitary to release oxytocin, a hormone that helps milk flow, while at the same time helping the uterus to shrink after delivery.
From a purely practical standpoint, breast milk is always available, does not have to be warmed before feeding the infant and does not require lugging around a bunch of supplies. Also, breast milk is free and breastfeeding saves the cost of formula and supplies, which can tally up to more than $1,500 a year. Breastfed babies have been shown to be sick less often, resulting in lower health care costs and fewer missed days of work for parents. The government estimates the U.S. could save $13 billion a year in medical care costs if 90 percent of new mothers breastfed exclusively for six months.
The New York Times has a cool story today about the lactation rooms for people who work in Congress.
There are four lactation suites throughout the Hill — two in House office buildings, one that is undergoing renovation in a Senate office building and one in the Capitol itself — along with several health stations. All are clean, private areas where mothers can nurse their babies and pump their milk. They are also one of the few truly bipartisan spaces left on the Hill, neutral zones amid partisan warfare.
“I definitely got to know Republicans who I wouldn’t have otherwise known,” Ms. Walsh said. “Especially with all of the limitations on travel and trips and everything like that these days, there’s not a lot of camaraderie up there, there’s not a lot of room to meet people on the other side of the aisle.
“You all have something very significant in your life in common,” she said, “and you can all relate to each other and sympathize” about the difficulties of motherhood.
The first suite specifically for lactating mothers on the Hill was opened in the fall of 2006, by Congress’s Office of the Attending Physician. But after taking up the gavel in 2007, Nancy Pelosi, the first female House speaker, was instrumental in making that chamber what she called “family-friendly for new mothers.” She opened the first nursing-only rooms on the House side, and others soon sprang up.
“It is good for our country — more young moms in Congress, pretty soon more women leaders in Congress,” Ms. Pelosi said at a news conference in 2009. “And, who knows, maybe one of these new young moms will be the president of the United States.”
The rooms, which can be entered only through doors with electronic locks, are similar to those in many large corporations, with hospital-grade breast pumps, comfortable chairs and couches, a sink and a mini-refrigerator. There are also a smattering of magazines, telephones and a television often used for watching floor votes — this is Congress, after all.
Besides bottles filled with mothers’ milk, they have also yielded unexpected job opportunities, moments of quiet reflection amid the bustle of Congress and some unlikely friendships.