Mothers tout benefits of breastfeeding
Reported September 14, 2008
In the 2008 Breastfeeding Challenge, Canada registered the highest number of participants raising awareness over the importance of breastfeeding.
“Every baby has a right to eat, and every woman has the right to feed their baby,” said Maryanne King, the lactation consultant for the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region.
In Prince Albert two mothers came to the challenge for the “latch-on” time at 11 a.m. Brittany Stevenson was there with her baby Chaz Nayneecassum because she thinks there needs to be less stigma surrounding breastfeeding.
She has received stares and rude comments.
“People do make you feel uncomfortable when you try and breastfeed in public, it kind of bothers me a little bit,” she said.
“It’s not like were exhibitionists,” said Diana Glawischnig, as she fed her baby, Alex.
Breastfeeding has become a taboo in public because of the way women’s bodies are portrayed, Janelle Amyotte, public health nurse at the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region.
“We have breasts to feed out babies, that is the natural evolution of things,” she said.
“We don’t have them to be strippers, we don’t have them to be porn stars; we have them so that we can feed our children. And it says a lot about how our society has sexualized the breast over time.”
In the 1950s, when baby formula was pushed as the better way to feed children, the knowledge of breastfeeding diminished.
King said historically there was no need for a person in her role because the information about breastfeeding would be passed from woman to woman.
Amyotte has lots of reasons why breastfeeding and breast milk is better then formula for babies: boosts immune system, easy to digest, sterile, and “it’s ready, at the right temperature, and portable.”
“It also helps parents spend more time with their children, you can have just anybody give a bottle,” said Amyotte.
Research has shown that breastfeeding has reduced the risk of breast cancer and reduces the chance a variety of health problems in children including diabetes, allergies, asthma, heart disease and obesity.
Feeding babies from a bottle can create “overeating habits” at a young age as milk constantly flows from a bottle. Babies have to “work” at breastfeeding so they cannot be forced to eat more then they want, says Amyotte.
For women worried about how their bodies might look, Amyotte says breastfeeding does not cause breasts to sag: that is caused by hormones and the weight changes during pregnancy.
“If you breastfeed longer than six months then you’re much more able to lose your weight to get back to your pre-pregnant weight,” said King.