ProMoM Inc. - Promoting the awareness and acceptance of breastfeeding.

What can be done to
support breastfeeding?

 

The most significant first step that can be taken is to enact a complete ban on marketing formula to the public.  Every member of the World Health Organization, including -- as of May 1994 -- the United States, is already on record as supporting an international code forbidding all marketing of substitutes for breastmilk to the public. World Health Organization's Code for the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. Some nations have already implimented the code by adopting laws that strictly regulate formula marketing. However, nothing has been done so far to implement this code in the United States.

Furthermore, every can of formula should bear a warning, similar to the Surgeon General's warning on every pack of cigarettes: "Warning: this product is substantially inferior to human milk.  Use of this product instead of human milk increases your baby's chances of becoming seriously ill and dying. Breastfeed if you can, and get help breastfeeding if you have difficulties. Use of this product to supplement breastfeeding may reduce and ultimately eliminate your supply of breastmilk."

Similarly, the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative outlines the steps that every maternity hospital can and should take to promote and support breastfeeding.  Legislation could require hospitals that receive government funding to conform to the BFHI principles.

Funding for breastfeeding education should also be commensurate with the risk posed by formula-feeding.  Government should be spending money to educate the public and the medical profession about the importance of breastfeeding.  For example: every primary and secondary school curriculum that touches on the nature of human reproduction and development or on nutrition should contain a unit on why breastfeeding is the only normal way to feed a baby.  Medical and nursing schools should teach lactation physiology and breastfeeding management.  Television and radio public service announcements warning parents of the dangers of formula-feeding - similar to those that now warn parents of the dangers of lead poisoning and smoking during pregnancy - should be funded by the government and broadcast often.

The private sector can also do alot. Working pro-breastfeeding messages into entertainment shows as well as news and public affairs programming, is one contribution that the media can make. Employers can accomodate the needs of nursing mothers in their employ by cooperating in bringing infant day-care close enough to the workplace to allow daytime nursings for the babies of working mothers or at least setting aside a small private place for them to pump their milk during the day.