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Too Embarrassed to Breastfeed

The Surgeon General released a Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding last week.

In it, in addition to promoting the health benefits and economic benefits of breastfeeding, she describes many of the obstacles that mothers face when trying to breastfeed, such as:

  • a lack of knowledge about the benefits of breastfeeding, the risks associated with not breastfeeding, and an incorrect belief that baby formula offers all of the same benefits as breastfeeding
  • social norms and believing that bottle feeding is a more normal or acceptable way to feed a baby, despite the fact that the AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months
  • poor family and social support, especially from friends and family members who didn’t breastfeed their own kids and fathers who feel left out
  • embarrassment when needing to feed in public places or other social situations
  • breastfeeding problems, especially if they occur early on, and worrying about not producing enough breast milk
  • returning to work
  • hospitals and clinics that give a low priority to breastfeeding support

To help increase rates of breastfeeding, the Surgeon General outlines several steps to remove these obstacles. In addition to giving mothers more information and support when breastfeeding, these steps include the creation of a national campaign to promote breastfeeding.

One step that many moms with breastfeeding problems will appreciate is the call to ‘include support for lactation as an essential medical service for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children,’ so that a visit to a lactation consultant would be covered by their insurance.

Dr. Vincent Iannelli is a Pediatrician, author of the Everything Father’s First Year Book, and is the Director of the Pediatrics Guide for About.com. Follow Dr. Iannelli on Twitter¬†and on Facebook

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