I chose the topic of breastfeeding this week mainly due to my lack of knowledge surrounding the topic. While I do not have any children of my own yet, I was intrigued to find out why mothers often opt in favor of this option. I also wanted to develop more of an opinion of the route I will take when it comes time for me to have children.
This week’s reading highlighted the importance of breastfeeding. Babies who are breastfed are often healthier, have less of a chance of developing asthma and allergies—although this didn’t prove to be the case in my life; my mom breastfed and I have both (lucky me)—and are less prone to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (Berger, 2014). Benefits even include a higher IQ, better vision, and later puberty (Berger, 2014). Not only is there a list of advantages for the baby, there is for the mother as well. In choosing to breastfeed, mothers do not have to prepare formula, save a lot of money by not having to purchase the formula, and have less of a chance for developing breast cancer and osteoporosis (Berger, 2014).
Breastfeeding is done around the world. For example, the Philippines is an international leader in protecting and advocating for mothers who choose to breastfeed and lawmakers have created laws against the aggressive marketing of formula companies, who are attempting to create advertisements that promote that their formulas make babies smarter (The World Health Organization, 2012). According to the WHO (2012), 88% of Filipino babies are breastfed as infants, while only 34% are exclusively breastfed up to five months (The World Health Organization, 2012). While statistics are high for infant breastfeeding, it is interesting to note how low statistics are for babies that are exclusively breastfed up to five months. Based on the UNICEF article I read, mixed feeding is not encouraged for the first six months, as it can lead to diarrhea and other diseases (UNICEF, 2014).
In Peru, 97% of babies are breastfed as infants and 69% are exclusively breastfed from birth to five months (The World Health Organization, 2012). While these numbers are much higher, the Peruvian culture highly encourages breastfeeding and it is often done openly in public (The World Health Organization, 2012).
I was shocked to read the United States’ statistics. About 73% of infants have been breastfed, but only 33% of these babies have been breastfed exclusively under four months and an even lower 14% are exclusively breastfed by the time they reach six months (The World Health Organization, 2012).
It was interesting to read into various country’s statistics and beliefs regarding breastfeeding. It seems as though the reason exclusive breastfeeding through six month statistics are not higher is due to a lack of education and because of culture’s stigmas placed on breastfeeding. This research has impacted my future decision of choosing to breastfeed exclusively through my child’s first six months of life.
Berger, K. S. (2012). The developing person through childhood (6th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
Breastfeeding Around the World (2012, March 5). In In Culture Parent. Retrieved September 13, 2014, from http://www.incultureparent.com/2012/03/breastfeeding-around-the-world/#slide0
Breastfeeding (2014, August 4). In UNICEF in action. Retrieved September 13, 2014, from http://www.unicef.org/nutrition/index_24824.html