Friday, May 13, 2011

Guest Blog: Boobies for Babies Part One

Arynn Reece just finished her freshman year of college. She was breastfed as a baby, as were her other three sisters. Breastfeeding has always been an important topic to her and her family. For her final, they were able to pick any topic they felt was a problem in our community/state/hometown. She had to write a 9-12 page paper on whatever topic she chose. She chose to write her paper on the views of breastfeeding being so negative, making a point that society's views need to change.

Boobies for Babies

As we were walking around the crowded Target, all my sister’s children were getting cranky. Fortunately, there is a food court there that we could all sit down and relax at. As my brother-in-law took the two older kids to get food, my sister prepared to nurse her newborn baby. Of course, she always carries her soft, plush pink blanket to cover herself up while she is nursing my niece.

As we sat there, a little blonde headed girl noticed two little baby feet peeking out the bottom of the blanket. As soon as she realized there was a little baby under there, her eyes were big with excitement, much like a kid on Christmas morning, and she came to see her up close. The moment the little girl’s mother saw what her daughter was gazing at, she snatched her up so quick the little girl had no idea what was going on, nor did any of us. Then it all came out, as she scorned her daughter for looking at a woman breastfeeding a baby.

The way the woman reacted, you would have thought my sister was stripping in the middle of the food court for everyone to see. Instead, she was calmly, naturally feeding her hungry, newborn daughter. The mother obviously was on the society bandwagon of viewing breastfeeding in public a disgusting thing. As girls were walking around the store wearing very provocative clothing, I did not see this mother pulling her daughter away from all of them. Unfortunately, she was in the mind set, as are so many others, that has turned the idea of women’s breasts into sexual things for men to drool over; as soon as a baby is attached to eat, they automatically become a disgusting sight to see. Why? I do not understand the reasoning. As long as babies have been born, breasts have produced milk for them to eat. Why has our society changed our views to such a negative outlook on this natural, healthy process?

Breasts are a natural part of a woman’s body, and they are the best source of food for a newborn baby. Before formula was processed, breastfeeding was the only way a mother could feed her child; why has our society turned this natural way of feeding into such a disgusting thought?

The new style for women is to show as much skin as they possibly can and flaunt every part of their womanly bodies. We see women on TV, in magazines, or even just walking through the store, in short shorts with their butts hanging out and their shirts barely covering their nipples. So why is this accepted in society? Why does a mother rip her daughter away from viewing a breastfeeding mother but does not make her close her eyes everywhere she sees these obscene clothing styles out in public? Our society has turned women’s breasts into a showcase for men to stare at, instead of them being the natural food bearing parts they are.

Why is it that all these young girls and grown women can upload and display almost nude pictures all over their internet pages, such as Facebook and MySpace, while responsible mothers who have pictures of their children breastfeeding are flagged as inappropriate? This sends the message that women’s breasts are only viewed as pieces of meat that all the dogs drool over. There is a site on Facebook called The Normalizing Nursing in Public League. The NNIPL has about two thousand members that follow it; this site was formed for people, specifically parents, to share ideas, support, and information to help breastfeeding become normal in public. They, just like many others such as myself, believe that many women turn to feeding their babies formula instead of breast milk because of the negative views of society. Their whole purpose is to make nursing in public a normal thing so that our future generation mothers will not have to hide their choice to breastfeed their newborn babies. If you were to look at their site, you would see multiple stories of mothers who have had pictures deleted by Facebook administrators just because they were nursing (NNIPLE). Although, I have flagged multiple almost-nude pictures of young girls that I have seen online, and nothing has been done about them. Why are we so quick to remove a photo of a woman doing what nature intended?

I have been to multiple stores that now have “family restrooms” and “nursing restrooms.” Why should we force these mothers into feeding their newborn babies, who are more susceptible to diseases their bodies cannot fight off yet, in nasty, dirty, disgusting restrooms? I do not see all these people who view breastfeeding as something that should be done in a bathroom eating their cheeseburger-and-fries lunch while sitting on the toilet; therefore, why should these babies have to eat there? Newborn babies have immune systems that are not developed like a grown child or adult. As we grow, we come in contact with bacteria that cause diseases; our bodies then form antibodies that know how to fight them off next time. Everyone knows that bathrooms are one of the dirtiest places a person can be, so I feel as if forcing a mother to breastfeed in a bathroom is just asking to have her child catch diseases that he or she may not be able to fight off yet with his or her underdeveloped immune system (Neonatal Infections).

Breast milk is a major part in keeping a baby healthy. While the baby is in the mother’s womb, she passes on her antibodies to help the baby fight off any infection or diseases. After the baby is born, the mother can continue to pass on her antibodies to her newborn baby. Also, when the mother is sick, the antibodies that she uses at the time are passed to the baby through her breast milk; therefore, when a sickness is going from one family member to the next, it is more likely for the baby to stay healthy and not catch the bug (Newborn Immune System).

It is easy to mix up formula and warm water and have food for a newborn. Instead, the breastfeeding women are taking the hard route. They have to teach their newborns to latch onto their breasts, because, believe it or not, not all newborn babies can get the process down right away. While teaching them how to latch on, the mother has to take the pain of every suck the baby takes while not latched on correctly. Since a mother produces milk in her breasts while pregnant, it makes her breasts very full and sore. If a baby is not eating enough, they have to pump milk out and save it for later. Also, these breastfeeding mothers have to endure the embarrassment of maybe leaking breast milk all over their shirts while in public. So why do they endure all of this hardship? They do it because they know it is what is best for their babies.

Formula gets the job done, but just because the job is done, does not mean it is done right. Anyone who does any research would find that natural breast milk is much healthier for a baby. Of course, natural is always the best, most healthy, way to go. Why pump unnecessary toxins and products into your newborn baby when you do not have to? Studies have shown that exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of a newborn baby’s life help lower the risk of death rates (Palmer).

Not only is it not natural, but formula can be very expensive. Why pay for it? Breast milk is free and ready to use at all times. Why spend fifteen dollars on each can of formula for your baby, and more if they need a special type? If a baby drinks about four cans of formula each month, it costs about sixty dollars each month; this averages out to be about seven-hundred twenty dollars each year that a new mother could save. Everyone knows a newborn baby can be very expensive with diaper costs, new clothes costs, car seat costs, and more; why not save the money?

If anything, breastfeeding could cut down on the amount of government spending. WIC is a government program that supplies “supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.” Therefore, they help new mothers provide for their newborns, infants, and children (Women, Infants, and Children). The government spends millions of dollars on the WIC program each year. With each baby eating an average of four or five cans each month, this would be a cut of about sixty dollars a month per baby on WIC. There were 9,175,478 women on WIC in the year 2010; therefore this would save millions of dollars each year if women were breastfeeding (Program Data). With our federal deficit at four-trillion dollars, I believe the government could really use the saved money.

While saving money with decreasing WIC vouchers for formula, breastfeeding could also help lower the cost of medical care bills. Many people complain that lower-income families do not have to pay their own medical bills and it comes out of the more fortunate people’s pay checks. If more mothers breastfed and had healthier babies, there would be less hospital visits while the baby is a newborn and throughout the child’s life. Therefore, less money would go into the Medicaid program.

Not only is our country trying to lower the debt, but it seems as if we are trying to make children smarter at an earlier age. Teachers are teaching kids how to read and write at an earlier age. My two young cousins could both outsmart me when it comes to anatomy and astronomy. The older boy is not even ten years old, and he can name every single bone in the body and tell you how far away the planets are from the sun. When did we start teaching kids these subjects this early? Obviously, we are trying to make them smarter, faster. Breastfeeding is a major way to help with this. Breastfeeding is linked to smarter children if they are breastfed when they are babies. A study done “by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Australia, children breastfed for more than six months garnered higher grades in math, reading and spelling.” The fatty acids in a mother’s breast milk helps the baby’s brain grow. The study tested one thousand children that were breastfed for at least six months when babies, and their results showed that the kids tested ten percent higher in math and seven percent higher in spelling (Smarter Kids).

We also like our children to be able to become independent at some point in their lives. Luckily, breastfeeding can give party in this process. To wean a child off breastfeeding is to offer them other forms of nutrition or comfort that is not breast milk. The average age of weaning is four years old; although, many children self-wean, which means they decide when they are ready to quit nursing. To allow a child to do this, it allows them the “confidence that they can be independent as they are ready” (Ballard).

Part Two coming soon!

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