Flickr: Photo by Topinambour
I came across the trailer for a new pro-breastfeeding documentary (I think, the website is still under construction and missing some details) at FormulafedAmerica.com. Here's what freaks me out.
In block letters across the screen (set to a peaceful1980s soundtrack) we see the following statement: The United States has one of the worst breastfeeding rates in the world…Next up is Jack Newman, MD standing at a podium announcing to the crowd that they have a 98% rate of breastfeeding in Sweden, asking why we can’t do that in America.
I’ll tell you why Jack Newman, MD. Because in Sweden they have paid maternity and paternity leave for a total of 480 days. When both my children were born I had exactly zero paid days of leave. (Until I fought for, and received six weeks paid when my son was born.) My husband also had zero paid days of leave. That’s about 480 days less than they have in Sweden, if my math is correct.
Whether you get six or sixteen weeks paid, or unpaid, leave (and that’s if you’re a lucky American mother) it’s still not enough time to reach the six-months to one-year goal of breastfeeding. It's not enough time to establish a good supply and pattern if you have a seriously challenging issue. Add to that the fact that your partner most likely gets no paid leave, 31.8% of you are recovering from major surgery while home alone with the baby, and most of you don’t have health insurance that covers a lactation consultant. It’s amazing that any American women are able to breastfeed. Yet many of us do, because we’re constantly being told that breast is best, we believe it and we exhaust ourselves and all of our reserves to make sure our children get what’s best. Another unrealistic, and sometimes impossible expectation.
I sincerely hope this documentary addresses these underlying causes before making women who have to go back to work or risk not having enough money to pay for food for their family, feel like they are hurting their babies by not being able to breastfeed. The film is still in production and I’ve requested a screener when it’s complete. I’ll keep you posted.