Tuesday, May 22, 2007

the truth about bureaucracy and the breast



Jennifer James
Chapel Hill, NC
2 children - girls




Did you know that there are only 56 Baby Friendly Hospitals in the United States out of 19,000 worldwide? Did you also know that when black mothers give birth in Baby Friendly Hospitals, their breastfeeding rates go up significantly?

In 2001, a research team from Boston University Medical School and Boston Medical Center tracked the results of Boston Medical Center attaining its Baby Friendly Hospital designation. Not only did their breastfeeding initiation rates go from 58 percent to 87 percent over four years, the rate of black mothers who initiated breastfeeding rose from 34 percent to 74 percent. That's drastic. That's significant. That's remarkable.

Additionally, a study released on May 15 states that when a child is born in an inner-city, baby-friendly hospital breatfeeding rates are comparable to national breastfeeding averages.


Since 1991, hospitals and maternity and birthing centers around the world have been awarded Baby Friendly recognition, but it's not easy. Each hospital and birthing center has to comply with ten specific steps set up by the WHO and UNICEF in order to call themselves baby friendly and cannot "accept free or low-cost breastmilk substitutes or feeding bottles".


Of course, we know this poses a difficult challenge for most hospitals both in America and worldwide because of the sweeping dominance of formula companies. Money talks, to be sure.


What this says to me: This says that the vast majority of hospitals in the United States would rather sell out the health of babies and instead accept lucrative contracts from baby formula manufacturers under the guise of giving mothers feeding options for their babies. This is clearly reprehensible.


If you are a pregnant mom, please consider supporting Baby Friendly Hospitals that are doing the right thing and thinking about the well being and health of babies and not their budgets and pocketbooks.





*Jennifer James is the Editor of MommyToo and many other blogs which focus on the health and well-being of mothers and children of color in America.

15 Comments:

Blogger the prisoner's wife said...

i may be slow...but what's a "baby friendly hospital"? i quickly looked on the list for the hospital i had my son at & it wasnt listed, although that hospital was GREAT! anyway....perhaps i need to do more research, but what it is?

12:26 PM  
Blogger Jennifer James said...

A baby-friendly hospital is one that doesn't give away free samples of formula, but instead supports and encourages breastfeeding.

4:30 PM  
Blogger the prisoner's wife said...

ahhh...gotcha. thanks.

we were encouraged to breastfeed, but they also had formula, just in case (which was good...because we needed it. my nipples started to bleed, badly). but, i alternated b/w BF & formula

7:41 PM  
Anonymous jasai said...

i know what you mean PW but I wish they would have encouraged me to try harder with my son; told me that he won't starve to death if it took a day to get the milk going. I was nineteen and if I remember correctly the nurses were kinda anxious to get him fed.

I flat out refused to allow them to feed my daughter. Nursing her was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Makes a girl feel pretty useful and saves a LOT of time, money and hassle.

11:01 PM  
Blogger LisaC said...

I wish I got the support to breastfeed my oldest when she was born. I was young and very uneducated about breastfeeding. I like so many first time Mother's didn't know the first thing about breastfeeding.
As a result I only managed to feed her at the breast for 2 weeks and what an excruciating 2 weeks it was.

Before I gave birth to my second child I did my research on the matter and quickly found out that there was more to know than sticking a breast in the babies mouth. New Mother's need to be educated.

Having the privilege to breastfeed the rest of my children (for more than a year each) has brought more joy to me than I could have imagined. We quickly developed very close bonds.

I've never heard of "Baby Friendly Hospital" but now that I know they have my support.
(sorry so long, as you can see this is very dear to me).

11:13 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Even though UCLA gave formula samples, I came in the door already clear that that mess was going in the trash. I had to go to a lactation consultant because I was having problems, and the thing I realized is that if I lived in South-Central, there are no lactation consultants down there. No natural childbirth classes down there. No doula services, etc. The access to quality health care definitely negatively affects us.

11:44 PM  
Blogger mark said...

Good article out of curiosity does the black church discuss this issue of promote dialogue about it. Good post

Also please sign up with the afrospear forum. We are forming a collective black think tank to adress dire issues of concern to black folks. http://afrospear.jconserv.net/index.php

10:13 AM  
Anonymous jasai said...

this and other topics like it are things we should insist our churches address. real issues. earthly issues to aid us in our lives now.

the bible declares that here on earth things are first natural, then spiritual. the entire body of the church would do well to remember that.

3:55 AM  
Anonymous myra said...

i delivered my children at yale-new haven hospital -- not on the "baby friendly hospitals" list. i also nursed my daughter for one year and my son for 13 months. we kindly accepted the free samples of formula and used them, as well. i had a breast reduction when i was 19 years old. thankfully, i was able to nurse almost exclusively, but i have fewer milk-producing ducts than most women who have not had a reduction (the productivity of ducts remaining after a reduction ranges depending on the skill of the surgeon and the physiology of each woman's breasts). as a result, i supplemented every other night with a bottle of formula. i was never ashamed of this, and, frankly, was thrilled the hospital offered some free samples, given how expensive formula is.

i say all this as a word of caution, i suppose. whenever society pulls to one extreme, in this example making formula completely unavailable in birthing hospitals, there is a potential for the demonization of those who find themselves, for whatever reason, at points outside of that extreme. let me clarify that i do not think the post demonized women who use formula. i imagine a women who decided to use formula over nursing, for whatever reason, wouldn't feel too great after reading it, either.

unfortunately, we live in a society, especially in this post-welfare-reform moment, when low-income women and women being pushed out of the middle class cannot afford to stay home and nurse their children for long periods of time, as i was privileged to do. nor can they afford high-quality breast pumps that make nursing at work feasible. and far too many women often work in places where pumping is not really an option.

hospitals have an absolute duty to promote breastfeeding and support women in their nursing practice, no question. and, there is no place where this is more necessary than in hospitals that serve low-income families. having said that, however, hospitals must not only be baby friendly, but women friendly. and until our society and our government starts truly supporting the rights of mothers to either stay home and nurse their children, or support them so that they can continue to work and nurture their children appropriately, i.e., provide clean, pleasant spaces to pump at work and regular times to do so, women will still need formula. until our society becomes women friendly, hospitals will need to continue to provide women with free formula samples.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous jasai said...

Myra, I am glad that your experience was one that ultimately met all of your needs but I think too many times when people fight to gain an advantage for themselves other people feel judged and like they are being boxed it (or out, as it were). It is important that alternatives to breast milk be available to mothers and children that need it but I think that overwhelmingly - expensive pump and all – breastfeeding is both better for the mother and baby in the short and long term. (supply and demand would take care of the expense issue)

My concern is that very few hospitals are telling these mothers the great danger that exists in giving brand new children "formula." And I know that there are great numbers of people who will argue that many children have taken formula and been fine but i challenge that so many others have taken it and been irrevocably harmed.

I think it is marvelous to encourage women - especially poor and minority women to be self sufficient when it come to how they will provide nourishment for their new babies. Not only is nursing optimal for the physical health of the mother and baby but it is also emotionally beneficial to both as well.

If there is any area in which a new fight need emerge it is in the workplace. Like you said, many mothers are not given the space or time necessary express milk so that they can continue to support their families and grow healthy happy babies. But something can be done about this as well. As mothers and women we have the power to make this different.

7:01 PM  
Blogger upwords said...

I wasn't sure what this meant either, but I figured it had something to do with formula samples. I have always thought that was the worst thing doctors and hospitals do to young moms. It totally goes against what they say they are for. It should be available by request perhaps for those who insist, be we need to make breastfeeding more "normal" like it is around the world.

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