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    Together We Do Great Things

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | August 21st, 2022

    Together We Do Great Things

    I honestly thought the infant formula shortage would be a wake-up call to all how important it was for us to encourage breastfeeding. However, I still find myself having to convince people that breastfeeding is an investment in the health of society.

    August is National Breastfeeding Month, and the theme this month is Together We Do Great Things. According to the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), the theme was chosen to celebrate the power and impact of our collective efforts. The USBC vision of thriving families and communities cannot be achieved by any one person or by just one organization. It happens with the daily effort by us all and by working together to make a change. As I have mentioned in previous blogs about breastfeeding – WE ALL NEED TO BE INVOLVED.

    Low breastfeeding rates add more than $3 billion annually to medical costs for the mother and child in the United States. We can reduce medical costs by encouraging breastfeeding. Breastfed infants 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.

    How do we become involved? You become involved by being a BREASTFEEDING CHAMPION. 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.

    The infant formula shortage might have eased up, but it is not going away. Breastfeeding is the way we can mitigate the shortage. I know that some women 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 ensures all the necessary screening is done and the milk is pasteurized.

    Here is what you need to do to become a BREASTFEEDING CHAMPION:

    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.

    The painting featured is by Joshua Rotimi Adeyemi and is titled. Iyadun (Mother is Sweet), 2021. Courtesy of the  Bosah Collection.

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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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