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    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | August 1st, 2021


    The other day I was talking with a young woman who just had a baby. I asked her whether she was breastfeeding. She responded, “Of course, that is the true purpose of the breast. It is only in America, that they make breastfeeding a big deal. In the rest of the world we know why we have breasts”. My response was a simple smile.

    August is National Breastfeeding Month and I have been thinking about that conversation – Why do we make breastfeeding a big deal in America?

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

    • Only 1 in 4 infants is exclusively breastfed as recommended by the time they are 6 months old.
    • Low rates of breastfeeding add more than $3 billion a year to medical costs for the mother and child in the United States.
    • Black infants are 15 % less likely to ever been breastfed than White Infants.

    Breastfeeding is a big deal. Breastfeeding is an investment in health and not just a lifestyle decision. Babies and mothers benefit from breastfeeding.  Infants who are breastfed have reduced risks of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, severe lower respiratory disease, ear infection, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and gastrointestinal infections (diarrhea/vomiting). Breastfeeding can help lower a mother’s risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer and breast cancer.

    The theme for National Breastfeeding Month is Every Step of the Way. The goal is that every family is supported at every step along the infant feeding journey, with warm and coordinated hand-offs and transitions so that the needs of lactating families and those who support them are anticipated and met, every step of the way1.

    Every Step of the Way National Breastfeeding Month 2021 Weekly Observance:

    As I did last year, I am asking all of you to be COMMUNITY BREASTFEEDING CHAMPIONS. No experience is necessary. You could be female or male. It does not matter whether you have had a child or not. It does not matter if you have or have not breastfed. All you need is the desire to keep our SISTERS ALIVE AND HEALTHY. Breastfeeding saves lives and saves money.

    I am aware that there will be some women who will not be able to breastfeed for medical reasons. We do have DONOR MILK which has the same benefits. If donor milk is chosen, it has to come from a donor bank to be safe. This is to make sure all the necessary screening is done and that the milk is pasteurized.

    What does it mean to be a COMMUNITY BREASTFEEDING CHAMPION? I would love you to:

    Talk about breastfeeding as a norm – Breastfeeding is part of life and we should tout the benefits of breastfeeding.

    Advocate for women by registering to vote – You can influence legislation that promotes breastfeeding – paid maternity leave for all, limiting the influence that formula companies have on elected officials, etc.

    Advocate for women in your workplace– have a dedicated private place for nursing, allow adequate breaks and have a refrigerator dedicated for storing milk.

    When buying gifts for a baby shower, buy gifts that support breastfeeding – nipple pads, nursing blouse, breastfeeding pillows, breast pumps, milk-saver (collects leaking breast milk as the mother nurses), etc.

    If you have a positive story about breastfeeding – share the story– It is often the negative stories that make social media.

    Offer options – If latching is a problem, milk can be expressed and put in a bottle. What is important is that it is breast milk the baby is getting. Hand expression is an option if a pump is not available.

    Breastfeeding can be exhausting – offer to run errands, clean the house and/or babysit the other children in the house. If the mother sleeps when the baby sleeps, she will get enough sleep. It is okay for mothers not to entertain.

    The painting featured this week is by Joshua Rotimi Adeyemi and it is titled. ‘Breastfeeding Mothers’. It is part of the Bosah Collection.

    1U.S. Breastfeeding Committee

    #breastfeeding #NBM2021 # WBW2021 #BBW2021

    2 Responses to “IT IS A BIG DEAL”

    1. Robyn Lutz says:

      Love this! Love you!

    Leave a Reply

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

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