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Legislating Breastfeeding?!?

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Legislation to mandate exclusive breastfeeding?!?  Yes, in the United Arab Emirates.  A new law has been passed mandating women to breastfeed their babies for 2 years, and if they are unable a wet nurse will be provided for them.

The BBC published an online discussion of many leaders around the world about this topic.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01qh9dk, click on the icon next to the picture.

Of course there are supporters on each side,

  • women should not be coerced to do anything with their bodies that they do not choose to do, including breastfeed
  • those who feel that it is such an important health issue, it should be mandated.  There certainly is enough research to back this up.

I agree with both sides.  Law is probably not the best way to promote maternal infant bonding and make women want to breastfeed.

Unfortunately, the discussion left out the important aspect that the birth process plays on initiation of breastfeeding.  Numerous research studies show the impact of immediate skin-to-skin.  Skin-to-skin contact can unlock the new mothers’ desire to nurture her baby and to breastfeed.  Mothers who hold their newborns skin-to-skin after birth have increased maternal behaviors and show more confidence in caring for their babies.  Women, with uninterrupted access to their babies, WANT to be with them and they find separation distressing.  This closeness fosters a good start to breastfeeding and we see that these mothers have a better breastmilk supply and breastfeed for longer duration.  They are more committed to solving any difficulties along the way. 

Skin-to-skin holding at the time of birth helps the transition from fetal to newborn life with greater respiratory, temperature, and glucose stability and significantly less crying indicating decreased stress.  Being skin-to-skin with mother protects the newborn from the negative effects of separation, supports optimal brain development and facilitates attachment.

Let’s start by making the birth process ideal for all mothers and for infants and see what that does for improving breastfeeding initiation and duration rates.

 

Vergie Hughes has a long history of experience in Maternal Child Health including labor and delivery, post-partum and pediatrics, and for the past 25 years she has been involved in lactation management. Ms. Hughes has a BSN from Pacific Lutheran University and a MS from Georgetown University. She has been a board certified lactation consultant since 1985. At Georgetown University Hospital, she was the director of the Human Milk Bank. She created and developed the National Capitol Lactation Center and the one week Lactation Consultant Training Program. This course has trained more than 4,000 Lactation Consultants since its inception in 1990.


She has been a private practice lactation consultant and business owner, and operated her own lactation center, Washington’s Families First. Lactation Education Resources On-Line is her website, offering training to professionals and information to parents as well. Ms. Hughes has served on the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners and has served on the IBLCE exam writing committee. Her first love is teaching and that is exemplified by the creativity of the courses she has developed. A series of courses “The In-patient Breastfeeding Specialist,” "The Out-patient Breastfeeding Specialist” and “The NICU Breastfeeding Specialist” are all designed to advance the lactation management skills of nurses at the bedside. She regularly teaches skills to labor and delivery nurses and just recently developed the course “Towards Exclusive Breastfeeding.”


Ms. Hughes is the program director and content manager for all of the on-line Lactation Education Resources courses. Ms. Hughes was recently honored with a “lifetime achievement award” as Fellow of the International Lactation Consultant Association (FILCA).

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Guest Monday, 20 November 2017