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Feeding Frenzy: ABC’s Primetime touches the taboo

I love it. ABC’s Primetime What Would You Do? (aired 5/14) touched the taboo… breastfeeding in public. For those who didn’t see the show, a cafe manager (actor) berates a woman (actress) for breasfeeding in his cafe. Customers (NOT actors) vocally defend the breastfeeding moms. It was great. One customer says “She’s just feeding her baby.” Another customer says “It’s a blessing to see a woman feeding her baby.” And yet, despite the positive acclaim from the witnessing customers, the show stated that 57% of Americans disapprove of nursing in public… a whopping 57%!

Only when–not surprisingly–one breastfeeding mom (actress) drinks a beer while nursing (a doll) do the customers not defend the mom against the nasty manager. Which makes me think… It is widely known that drinking alcohol causes birth defects, but it’s not widely known just how incredibly beneficial breastfeeding is to babies. According to the US Breastfeeding Committee, breastfeeding babies exclusively for 6 months and up to 12 months

“…protect against many infectious and chronic diseases, and result in about a 50% reduction in common illnesses, and a 20% reduction in postneonatal deaths… [saving] billions of dollars annually.”

The Committee also notes that employers who encourage new mothers to continue breastfeeding upon returning to work

“…noted many economic benefits including lower health care cost amounting to $400 per baby over the first year as well as reduced absenteeism and higher morale.”

Because many women–who initially breastfeed–discontinue doing so upon returning to work, employer support is incredibly important to increasing the number of women who exclusively breastfeed their babies for 6 months. (Thank you, Health Care Reform!) Not only does this lower Mom’s risk of serious chronic disease (diabetes, breast cancer and heart disease) and significantly reduce Baby’s risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and infection, breastfeeding also reduces healthcare costs associated with these conditions.

So, maybe, those 57% of Americans who disapprove of breastfeeding in public should… Forget that breastfeeding provides Baby a natural defense against disease. Forget that breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural act. And, forget that breastmilk is the most nutritious food on the planet. Perhaps this majority should instead focus on the economic benefits associated with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding to help reduce our astronomical healthcare costs… Now, there’s a culture shift that will help improve the health of our country.

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