Reader opinion — Breastfeeding week — one baby at a time

This week we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the WABA or World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action throughout the world. Its first campaign was “baby friendly hospital initiative.” This year the theme is to recall what happened and what can be done to improve the policies on breastfeeding. August is also national breastfeeding month.

Most people don’t realize how important breastfeeding is and how much it affects everyone’s lives. We are all born. If you are reading this letter now, you are on the list. Yeap, you were born. There’s nothing we can do to change the way you were fed then, but we can do something about the way babies being born from now on will. And before anyone thinks I am judging mothers let me set the record straight: breastfeeding and bottle feeding mothers are all awesome. They are all beautiful and they love their children just as much and want the best for them.

Now let’s talk. We all need to be fed from day one and for optimal results from hour one. The way we feed our babies interferes with 100 percent of the population. Still people don’t see the whole picture. Yet we are sick, kids are sick and becoming more and more obese, in need of more and more medications. Flu seasons get worse every year, more allergies and less effective and depleted immune systems.

We need to stop the bleeding.

Picture our current system like a road that ends up on a cliff. We are all driving off this cliff and our emphasis is on building hospitals to treat the injuries from falling. Hospitals are important, we need to treat people that are hurt but how about placing alerting signs before the cliff so cars can stop before hitting the end of the road? That’s an idea! How about creating laws that won’t allow to build roads that will end up on a cliff? Now we are talking!

We need to take care of the sick children, that’s the hospital in the picture. We also need to make sure their caregivers and family members are educated on how to feed and treat their kids, that’s the sign on the road.

A lot more people need to be involved on this one. Health care practitioners need to tell mothers that breastmilk is not just the best, but is the normal, and artificial feeding will increase 100 percent chances of getting ear infections and 257 percent chances of hospitalization due to lower respiratory diseases on the first year only and 64 percent chances of developing type 2 diabetes and 56 percent chances of SIDS just to name a few. For the mother, 33 percent more chances of developing beast cancer.

Those alarming numbers are from the Surgeon General’s call to action on breastfeeding support breastfeeding by the way. I bet people informed with that will think differently. You won’t see that on a can of so called formula, there’s a cute bunny rabbit but none of that and by the way there’s nothing scientific about it besides its name. This part is when we don’t allow roads to end up on a cliff. Let’s not allow this multi million dollar industry to advertise lies, to give away free samples that will compromise the mother’s milk production to a point she won’t be able to breastfeed anymore and that is when the samples are over, time to buy.

No more “free discharge bags” or publicity on magazines or inside doctor’s offices. Chances are 95 percent of mothers that were not able to breastfeed their babies had no problems but also no appropriate help and support and a free sample “just to supplement” that is more likely to be the culprit.

Breast milk is produced by the the baby nursing from the mother’s body and artificially feeding him will interfere and compromise the mother’s ability to make milk. It is a recipe for failure and formula companies know that well and no cute little bunny rabbit can make that look good.

That is what this week is about, call for action. No more false advertising and lies. Cigarettes cause cancer and it took a lot of time and long political fights to be able to have the tobacco industry regulated but we got it.

Artificial feeding hurts children, it makes them weak and prone to cancers, obesity and diabetes, asthma, allergies, lower IQs, leukemia, and they need to place that in huge letters on the can, and stop advertising. Stop giving for free, a product, a commodity that affects health like alcohol and tobacco and therefore not opened to free market as stated in the U.S. commerce clause.

I am doing my part, writing a letter and helping mothers breastfeed their babies. One mom at a time, one baby at a time, taking baby steps with love and perseverance. I am a Le Leche League Leader and I speak for the babies and thanks for listening.

Liz Coverdale lives in Westport.