Raising Awareness with Black Breastfeeding Week! Yes, they deserve a special week in world breastfeeding month! :) Please read on if you have a different opinion or don't understand why. Black breastfeeding moms absolutely face more challenges than other mothers in the US AND they need the benefits of breastfeeding even more because they and their babies are even more at risk. If you don't know, read on. Studies, surveys, CDC reports and more support this. "The barriers are financial, cultural, systemic and logistical. When dominant culture women aren’t aware of the challenges that women of color face, that lack of awareness becomes a barrier of its own." And please remember that race matters not just in breastfeeding, but in life... everyday. Whether you think it does or doesn't or should or shouldn't - race impacts everything.
"The percent of US infants who begin breastfeeding is high at 77%. While there is concern that infants are not breastfed for as long as recommended, the National Immunization Survey data show continued progress has been made over the last ten years. Of infants born in 2010, 49% were breastfeeding at 6 months, up from 35% in 2000. The breastfeeding rate at 12 months increased from 16% to 27% during that same time period."
Why, you wonder? Well, it is attributed to an increase of Skin-to-Skin contact between mother and baby immediately following birth AND the practice of Rooming- In (23 of 24 hrs spent with mom instead of baby away from her in nursery). These practices are being implemented more and more at area hospitals here in and around Philadelphia, PA and we are seeing great results for moms and babies success with breastfeeding. While we hope to lower the rate of cesarean sections happening, we can also hope to increase these numbers even more. The report demonstrates that as the percentages of hospitals and birthing centers where >90% mothers and babies get skin to skin and rooming in INCREASES, so does the immediate and long term success of breastfeeding. This supports the Healthy People objectives for 2020 while making mothers and babies happier! Let's keep it up, America! Let's keep it up PA! Let's keep it up Philly! Support support support! Hospital procedures effect breastfeeding success so greatly, more than mothers realize, so we need procedures to support moms and babies getting the best start to breastfeeding. Come on nurses, docs, midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, and let's not forget our peer counselors - This week is also World Breastfeeding Week and the theme is focusing on the importance of support from moms in the community, ie peer counselors! ;) And last but definitely not least, let's keep it up, mommies! You can do it!
Lamaze International lists the TOP 5 Barriers to Breastfeeding. And while everyone who experiences these things when having a baby assumes they must be necessary, they are SO OFTEN NOT. Get the word out - moms have to know that they can ask for alternatives and while the practices may be 'normal' for that hospital, they are NOT normal for babies or getting breastfeeding off to a good start. Remember, the staff only sees moms through day 2 or 3 usually! What they don't see is the struggle afterwards that moms often encounter because of these barriers, and all too much without support. This is why our initial rate of 77% breastfeeding when discharged drops so drastically each week following.
Below is copied from their website: http://www.lamazeinternational.org/p/cm/ld/fid=324
In honor of breastfeeding awareness, Lamaze calls out the following top five breastfeeding barriers within the first 24 hours of birth to help expecting moms prepare for the best breastfeeding experience:
Read the link above for further info and explanations of the map above, which is just one small piece of the results.
Nothing about the map surprises me whatsoever. You can literally SEE the perspectives (based on either education, socio-economic status, or just lifestyle/culture) within a geographical region. I can place a clear reason for the colors of the map being what they are in each area. Interesting ...how it all groups together isn't it?
Oregon and Montana are the only two states that have more than 50% of babies being exclusively breastfed at 3 mos! We have to start demanding more baby friendly hospitals in PA! Especially in the surrounding Philadelphia area! And then we'll see our breastfeeding rates go up. Let's demand support for these mothers and babies!!! Here is what it takes for a hospital to be considered baby friendly - http://www.babyfriendlyusa.org/eng/10steps.html
To see the list of all the hospitals and birth centers who have made the grade - http://www.babyfriendlyusa.org/eng/03.html - It is not a coincidence that these states with many of these hospitals have higher breastfeeding rates. Come on PA, get with the program! Our moms want to breastfeed, too! They're just not given good information or a good chance when forced to stay within our hospitals who preach support and give the opposite - recipes for failure. If a hospital truly supports and encourages breastfeeding, they should be refusing to accept formula advertising bags, bottles, samples, etc, as well. And at the least, not offer to a mom who wants to breastfeed. We have to work hard to battle the hard core marketing teams and salespeople working for the formula companies - they are slimy and persistent with their advertising to docs, hospitals, and moms. We are just 'lactivists' with no financial ba
I find it interesting that I hesitated publishing this post over a month ago for some reason. I think I felt I had something more to add but not the time to put my thoughts into it fully. But now I know why. It was because something locally was about to happen and I was going to want to rant about that at the end of this post! :)
A local health system just recently laid off all their lactation consultants, divided among four Philadelphia area birthing hospitals. One of the hospital's (call it hospital A) higher ups spoke up against this action and was able to keep theirs at that particular location. Another hospital (B) ended up keeping theirs as well after the IBCLC actually lobbied for her own position. Hospital C lost their very well known and experienced IBCLC after going years without one at all and then seeing BFing rates go up with her hire in the past few years. And then, my biggest complaint from the hospital that so many women LOVE - hospital D. They lost both of their lactation consultants, one of which ran a weekly breastfeeding support group. The other also served the L&D floor as a bereavement counselor. Right from a hospital that has always claimed and probably will continue to claim to be 'breastfeeding friendly' (even though I also happen to know they also routinely recommend babies being sent to the nursery and routinely give pacifiers, too.) Both of which are NOT a BFing supportive practice if you didn't already know or if you didn't read the suggestions on the site listed above. I can't understand boasting about Lactation services one day and then quietly letting go your entire lactation support team, leaving moms high and dry, and hope no one notices? Without even telling OB patients this prior to their deliveries? And when a mom does ask, she is told that the nurses on staff have had training on helping moms get off to a good start. Really? Because they are aware of a few 'positions' to have a mom try with her babe? It is insulting to compare the support of a busy shift nurse with that of IBCLC's. Their knowledge of moms and babies, skills training, and job experience is so contrasting. Do I need to revisit the 'babies being separated from mom' again, that those same nurses are also trained on so that moms can 'sleep better'? Oh. Rant. Sad for all. Now, we're back to another problem that drives me bizerko in this area - the more informed and privileged moms will hire their own LC's after returning home and probably be just fine in the end. The less informed (not knowing better) will be relying on the hospital to help them successfully breastfeed. Some will be fine, but many will give up without correct information and support and seeing free formula show up at their house when BFing has become difficult in those first weeks. The less privileged will also be another group giving up more frequently because they might not be able to afford to pay out of pocket for a private LC yet they can easily acquire free formula through a state run program. Hopefully I'll be back at some point with an update that all our letters and advocacy worked and they were hired back at the two remaining hospitals. But in the meantime, I am making it known to all I know that these hospitals and this HEALTH system clearly does not place high value on breastfeeding, mothers, or babies. It causes many to question what they DO value. If you want to call or write a letter, please contact me and I'll gladly supply you with the necessary information or you can check out my facebook page and scroll down to my post about this over a week ago.