Breastfeeding Is a Mother's Choice, Not a Public Health Issue

Breastfeeding supporters are probably rejoicing this week, because the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement updating its recommendation for babies to be strictly breastfed for at least the first 6 months of their lives. Basically, the statement says that breastfeeding is not just a lifestyle choice anymore -- it's a public health issue. Huh. A public health issue? Really?

When I hear the term, "public health issue," I immediately think of a disease outbreak or some kind of epidemic. If breastfeeding your baby for the first 6 months is a matter of public health, then that must mean that women who don't breastfeed their babies are doing something to hurt the greater population, right? And if that's the case, then it means that the AAP believes that women who choose (and I emphasize the word choose) to formula feed their babies are doing some kind of disservice to society. And that's just crazy talk.

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Because breastfeeding has always been, and should always remain, a choice that a mother makes based on what is best for her -- not what other people think is right.

Moms aren't stupid, and we all know how nourishing breast milk is for our babies. But with more immune boosting formulas hitting the market, there are healthy options for those who choose not to breastfeed too. And honestly, even before these newer, fancier formulas came out, plenty of babies grew up healthy and happy drinking the regular powdered stuff out of a metal can. My little guy did just fine on formula, and come to think of it -- he's been sick a lot less than growing up than a lot of strictly breastfed babies I know. He certainly hasn't done anything to hinder "public health," that's for sure.

For the life of me, I just don't understand how breastfeeding can be considered anything but a lifestyle choice. How on earth is it anyone's business other than the mother's? I mean -- there's already enough unnecessary pressure put on moms to breastfeed their babies, even when they are physically or emotionally unable to do so. The absolute last thing those moms need is a large voice like the AAP trying to tell them what to do as far as feeding their child goes. It's none of their business -- because breastfeeding is simply not a matter of public health. It's a matter of a mother taking care of her own child and basing her decisions on what works best for her and her baby. Period.

Do you think that the AAP went too far with their statement?

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