Breast vs. Bottle in America: The Whole Truth

April Peveteaux
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Photo by McKinlee

I just read a post by Dr. Melissa Bartick on The Huffington Post that no one on either side of this issue can argue with when it comes to the state of maternal care and breastfeeding in the U.S.

Bartick recently published a paper, The Burden of Suboptimal Breastfeeding in the United States: A Pediatric Cost Analysis with the American Academy of Pediatrics where she explains how $3.6 billion could be saved in health care costs if more women breastfed their babies for a longer period of time.

As I'm the first person to point out, you need such things as maternity and paternity leave, health insurance that covers a lactation consultant and lots of support before you can start making moms feel bad that they couldn't breastfeed for six months to a year.

Luckily, Dr. Bartick gets that, and her essay outlines exactly how a birth and postpartum period should be vs. how it really is in America. As she illustrates all of the problems women face during and post-birth that contribute to a low breastfeeding rate, I felt like I was reliving the first weeks of my son's life. Many of you will find it familiar as well.

But first Dr. Bartick describes the ideal birth and postpartum period, and I swooned. The ideal is a beautiful experience, rather than one filled with pain, tears and frustration.

Of course, even if our hospital and social policies were changed, there would still be emergency c-sections, baby illnesses and other reasons a birth experience wouldn't be "perfect." However, shifting our societal expectations and realities would bring us all a heck of a lot closer to being able to feed our babies and care for ourselves -- rather than having to sacrifice one or the other. 

I also love that Dr. Bartick calls for action at the end of the piece. Writing to your Congressperson, your hospitals and anyone else who could make a difference on how women and babies are treated in this country.

Read Dr. Bartick's article, then tell me, can you really blame a mother who has to stop breastfeeding? Or who could never make it work in the first place?

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