Sunday, September 09, 2007

The WHYs of breastfeeding

I'm a frequent user of online parenting community The Bub Hub. Many Hub members were contributors of stories and photos in my book. Recently on the Hub, I noticed a thread of interest titled ''Why are breastfeeding rates so low?''

The question I want to discuss is: Why are BFing rates so low in Australia?

Current statistics state that only 10% of mothers exclusively BF until 6 months as recommended by the WHO. But the more alarming statistic is that by 6 months 70% of mothers are not BFing at all.It has been suggested that the majority of those 70% want to BF but are unable to. I believe this could be true so I ask the question: Why have we lost the ability to BF our children? Why has the art of BFing been lost?

To read the rest of the post and the replies, go to

This is a question that constantly plagues me. I WANT to help increase breastfeeding rates by helping mums-to-be and new mums become more aware and informed about what breastfeeding can be and should be like.

I truly believe the key is breastfeeding education for ALL pregnant women (whether in the form of classes or free literature) and promoting breastfeeding as IMPORTANT to the general public. I love to see breastfeeding campaigns, such as the current year long FEEL FREE TO FEED campaign ( . I'd love to get a grant and be able to give Breastfeeders Anonymous to EVERY pregnant woman in Australia.

I also believe the answer lies in our culture. Western culture does not embrace breastfeeding. We are too busy to sit and indulge in long feeds. We (and I'm talking the generic we) don't keep our babies close enough to encourage good breastfeeding.

In Breastfeeders Anonymous lactation consultant Joy Anderson wrote, ''Humans are a ‘carrying’ species of mammal, and our babies are born with an instinct to expect to have constant contact with their primary caregiver (mother) and be fed little and often.'' This unfortunately does not often sit well with our modern western culture.

Of course there's also the issue of promotion of formula. I recently went to a baby expo and was APPALLED to see a major formula company with a HUGE stand, grabbing as many pregnant women as they could and handing out formula samples. What kind of message is this giving? I would love to have a Breastfeeders Anonymous stall directly opposite this stall and get the breastfeeding message out there, and maybe one day I'll be able to afford to do so.

Anyway, I've rabbitted on for far too long, but I thought this was a really interesting discussion. Why do so many women want to breastfeed, yet so few of these actually succeed in doing so? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

No comments: