How can I encourage my partner’s support for breastfeeding?
Prepare your partner in advance and explain that you need support. Highlight the important benefits of breastfeeding and be sure to emphasize how much money you’ll save, too. Not breastfeeding can cost over $300 a month when you include the cost of increased medical bills — money that could be used for food, housing costs, savings, or a vacation. Point out to your partner that breastfeeding will give your child the best start in life, with effects that last well into childhood and adulthood. If your partner seems jealous of the closeness between you and your baby, suggest other ways for him to be close to your baby, such as talking or singing to the baby, giving a bath, or by simply sitting with you and your baby to enjoy the special mood that breastfeeding creates.
Why does the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services care about breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is a public health issue — it directly contributes to improved health of mothers and babies. Research shows that babies benefit from breastfeeding because it is a cost-effective, low-tech way of reducing infant illness, hospitalization, and mortality, particularly for low birth-weight and pre-term babies. Healthier babies grow up to be healthier adults. Research shows that babies who are exclusively breastfed for 6 months are less likely to develop ear infections, diarrhea, and respiratory illnesses. They may also be less likely to develop childhood obesity. A recent evaluation of research on breastfeeding and breast cancer showed that the more months a woman breastfeeds the less likely she is to develop breast cancer. Researchers estimated that women in countries like the US could reduce their risk of breast cancer by 4.3% for each 12 months spent breastfeeding.
Why don’t more women breastfeed their babies?
The results of recent focus groups done by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health suggest some reasons. Women believe that breastfeeding hurts, either from hearing of others’ experiences or because of their own experience with a previous baby, and women worry that their milk will not be as beneficial if their diet is poor, if they smoke, or if they drink alcohol. Research has shown that the overall benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the negative effects of moderate smoking, drinking, and eating non-healthy foods. Other factors make a difference in breastfeeding rates, too. For instance, the focus group results show that many women believe that breastfeeding is difficult to balance with working outside the home. Also, many of us did not grow up around women who breastfed, so we did not learn about breastfeeding from our mothers and other relatives. Some of us do not have access to prenatal care, which may lead to low birth weight and premature birth — factors that may make breastfeeding more difficult. And women sometimes go through an entire pregnancy without receiving any information on breastfeeding. Learning about breastfeeding should be a standard part of your prenatal care.
Source: The Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention