August is here and we celebrate it as national Breastfeeding Awareness month and the first week is internationally celebrated as Breastfeeding Week with walks and celebrations all over the world.
There have been many great stories recently in the media on different studies showing the great benefits of breastfeeding. We also have the news about the birth of Prince George, Prince William and Kate’s first baby, born in England. Born naturally with no drugs, he is being breastfed by his mom. According to the news she had some initial problems that her midwife helped her with and the baby boy is a “healthy hungry baby.”
Less glamorous but nonetheless important were the studies that show that breastfeeding babies have bigger brains, are smarter, healthier, have less chance of getting serious diseases, such as diabetes, Alzheimers, leukemia and cancer. Others show how mothers that breastfeed have their chances of getting ovarian and breast cancer reduced and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Not very common news in the media are the increased risks of artificial feeding for both mother and baby. While we can say with plenty of science to back up that breastfed babies are better off we can say formula fed babies have dramatically increased chances of dying of SIDS, developing diabetes, cancer, have worse brain development. Unfortunately the formula makers are not required by law to post these facts on their package like tobacco companies are.
Still, if you look very close you can read the microscopic print about the claims that brain boost qualities are not proven at all and that the first ingredient is corn syrup, the second is sugar. How is that better than breastmilk or even close to be compared?
The million dollar question is why aren’t we breastfeeding all babies? First and foremost, mothers are not aware of the heavy marketing that the formula industry does and the fact that artificial feeding is in no way comparable to breast milk in any shape or form. The other main factor is how challenging the beginning can be. Once the initial obstacles are passed breastfeeding is the easiest, most convenient and normal way to feed your baby. It is always ready, at the right temperature, right amount, no preparation required, is free and also saves a lot of money on supplies and medical bills for both mother and baby.
I don’t believe saving money was on the prince’s priority list but he is getting the royal treatment. All babies deserve such status and all moms deserve help. A breastfeeding mother is a great source, so is our local La Leche Group. Women’s bodies are capable of not just making babies but we make the food that is essential for development and growth of our species. Call your local leader, call someone you know who has breastfed their child and accept help.
The Grays Harbor chapters of the breastfeeding coalition and La Leche League are putting together our breastfeeding walk to be celebrated on Thursday, Aug. 8, at noon starting at the parking lot of the Mazatlan located on Wishkah finishing at Finch Park where we will have games, raffle tickets and surprises. All breastfeeding supporters are invited to this family friendly fun event. Let’s celebrate the birth of all babies and give them all, along with their mothers, the royal treatment!
Liz Coverdale is a Westport resident.