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Leslie Ott, a certified lactation educator, who is working towards becoming a IBCLC has an idea that just may revolutionize American breastfeeding society and health care. She wants to create a non-profit organization to provide breastfeeding education, resources, lactation consultant services and support, breast pumps and supplies at little or no cost for low income and disadvantaged mothers. Her goal is to raise and extend the incidence of breastfeeding in the socioeconomic group with the lowest rates by providing everything to ensure breastfeeding success. She has submitted her idea to the popular website www.ideablob.com who gives away $10,000 to the idea with the most votes that month. You can view her idea at http://ideablob.com/ideas/5227-Human-Milk-for-Human-Babies. It takes no time to sign up and vote, and your vote can help her to change the world. So go do it!

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Leslie’s particular cause is of genuine interest to me because it is something I am considering writing my entrance essay on for my focus area for applying for my Master’s degree in Social Work. I still need to do a fair amount of research on this and I need to take into consideration the differences between Candian and American culture (she is American and I am Canadian), but this particular question goes thorugh my mind a lot: Why do so many women living in poverty not breastfeed?

I don’t mean to typecast anyone with my ponderings today, but I see many mothers in my hometown with grocery carts full of pop and chips, Corn Pops and milk, two dozen donuts and cases of formula, and I think “What are you doing?!” Why are you buying that crap when your kids need nutritious food? Why aren’t you breastfeeding?” I don’t say these things out loud, and I do try to think up some valid reasons for why they are buying what they are buying, but their sugar-buldging carts make it too easy to question their judgment, and I don’t like to look at people judgmentally. So please help me figure out why some people live this way. And yes, I know my being nonplussed by people’s poor food choices doesn’t *really* have anything to do with breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, but there is a trend I have observed that people on low incomes have a tendency to buy the most non-nutrious foods, thus contributing to weight problems among this population. But this is a post for another day. I have  a weakness for baked goods and ice cream so I’m not a saint, but I don’t live off it. Okay, enough ranting. Back to my breastfeeding-related musings…

I know there are a lot of women of all cultures and races who don’t have much money who do breastfeed and go on to breastfeed for a long time, but there are many who do not. So why is this? Is it a lack of maternity leave in the US? Too many free samples of formula being given out in hospitals and through WIC clinics? Then what about Canada? Is it a lack of education? Is our health care system failing to do its job in properly educating and supporting new moms to breastfeed? Is it discrimination? Are health care professionals assuming poor women won’t breastfeed or breastfeed for very long so they don’t push the issue? Is it a lack of social support? Is it a lack of services available to non-English speaking citizens or immigrants? Is it an issue of pride and not wanting to ask for help? 

I’m a psychology major. I like to find out why things are the way they are, what makes people tick and why one person makes a certain choice over another, but rather than speak too much on any of these issues today I’d like to see what you have to say. You be the student and tell me what you think. Useful posts from others that I have come accross recently include Adventures in [Crunchy] Parenting on WIC and Infant Formula, and PhDinParenting’s Lactivism and the Homelessness Problem and The Economics of Breastfeeding: A Cost-Benefit Analysis, and this piece in the LA Times called Poor women receive less help for breastfeeding. Looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks.

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18 Responses to “Monday Musings: Why Do So Many Women Living in Poverty Not Breastfeed??”

  1. #1 TheFeministBreeder Says:
    April 27, 2009 at 8:24 am
  2. #2 Melodie Says:

    April 27, 2009 at 8:36 am
  3. #3 Amber Says:

    April 27, 2009 at 8:39 am
  4. #4 Emily Jones Says:

    April 27, 2009 at 8:55 am
  5. #5 Annie @ PhD in Parenting Says:
    April 27, 2009 at 8:56 am
  6. #6 Leslie Ott Says:

    April 27, 2009 at 1:08 pm
  7. #7 Bonnie Says:

    April 27, 2009 at 1:24 pm
  8. #8 Cilla Says:

    April 27, 2009 at 8:03 pm
  9. #9 mother in israel Says:

    April 27, 2009 at 10:38 pm
  10. #10 Ashley Says:

    April 28, 2009 at 5:46 am
  11. #11 madabutterfly Says:

    April 28, 2009 at 7:31 am
  12. #12 madabutterfly Says:

    April 28, 2009 at 7:34 am
  13. #13 TheFeministBreeder Says:
    April 28, 2009 at 10:53 am
  14. #14 TheFeministBreeder Says:
    April 28, 2009 at 11:09 am
  15. #15 Melodie Says:

    April 28, 2009 at 11:32 am
  16. #16 Cathy Says:

    April 28, 2009 at 10:05 pm
  17. #17 Jenny Says:

    April 29, 2009 at 4:50 am
  18. #18 Jenny Says:
    May 5, 2009 at 10:56 pm

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