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    This is Our Why

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | August 6th, 2023

    This is Our Why

    I traveled this past weekend and arrived back on Sunday. While waiting for the shuttle to get my car, a woman stopped to ask me whether she was waiting in the right place. After I told her she was, we then struck up a conversation. She was upset because the gate agent made her check in one of her bags before she boarded. They considered the bag that contained her breast pump a third bag. When you look up the rules, the breast pump is considered a medical device and should not be counted as a carry-on. I wish I had been around to advocate for her and explain the situation to the gate agent. I would have stood up for this woman. Since I was not there and had just met her, I told her she was doing a great job breastfeeding and thanked her for giving her baby this wonderful gift.

    August is National Breastfeeding Month. This year’s theme is This is Our Why – this is the time to celebrate mothers and lactating parents. We all have role to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. The gate agent needed to know our why. Breastfeeding has a lot of benefits for mother and baby.

    For the mother:

    • It makes it easier to lose weight gained during pregnancy
    • Decreases the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure
    • Decreases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer
    • Decreases the amount of bleeding postpartum

    For the baby:

    • Breast milk has the right amount of fat, sugar, water, protein, and minerals needed for a baby’s growth and development.
    • Breast milk is easier to digest than formula, so the baby has less gas, fewer feeding problems, and less constipation.
    • Breast milk contains antibodies that protect the baby from diarrhea and allergies.
    • Breastfed infants have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

    Listing all the benefits of breastfeeding reminds me of the why. One thing I forgot to mention- breast milk is free.

    Last year, I encouraged all of us to be BREASTFEEDING CHAMPIONS. Here is what we need to do:

    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 promoting breastfeeding – paid maternity leave for all, limiting formula companies’ influence on elected officials, etc.

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

    When buying gifts for a baby shower, buy gifts that support breastfeeding – nipple pads, nursing blouses, 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. Hand expression is an option if a pump is not available. What is important is that it is breast milk the baby is getting.

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

    I will add one more thing to this list – Advocate for women at the airport – The bag which contains the breast pump is a medical device and should not be counted as a carry-on.

    One Response to “This is Our Why”

    1. Linda K. Jackson says:

      Once again, thank you for your pearls of wisdom. I learned some new VALUABLE information today!

    Leave a Reply

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