From: Amanda Virostko
Healthy Communities Breastfeeding Coalition coordinator
The word “breast” has been abundant in the Orchids and Onions this past week. The Orchid and Onion wars started with a simple comment, “Onions to women who feel the need to breast-feed in a coffee shop.” As a mother of two breast-fed babies, I can assure you that it is not I who feels the need to breast-feed, but instead my child feels the need to eat, or perhaps be comforted.
I made an informed choice to breast-feed and will therefore meet my child’s needs when he is hungry. My intention is not to make anyone uncomfortable, but I will put my child’s hunger at the top of my priority list. Indiana Code 16-35-6 allows a woman to breast-feed her child anywhere the law allows her to be. Moms are legally allowed to feed their babies when the baby wants to eat, which could happen while mom is grocery shopping.
Breast milk provides 100 percent of a baby’s nutritional needs for the first six months of life. At six months and beyond, solid foods can be added, with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation to continue to breast-feed through the first year, and beyond if desired. By breast-feeding, babies are given a steady dose of antibodies that helps them fight off illness and experience decreased rates of ear infections. Breast milk is specifically tailored to a baby’s needs, changing as the baby grows, reacting to mom and the baby’s environment.
Evidence shows that babies who are breast-fed are less likely to develop diabetes later in life and are less likely to be overweight. There are numerous benefits to the mother as well, such as a reduced risk of breast or ovarian cancer, the rates continuing to decrease the longer mom breast-feeds.
Most people know that breast-feeding is good for moms and babies; so why does nourishing a baby make some people uncomfortable? It may have to do with not being accustomed to seeing moms breast-feed in public. So the more moms breast-feed in public, the less uncomfortable people will be. Please put the needs of the baby before your own discomfort; also consider that there is a good chance mom is uncomfortable, too, and she is just trying to do the best she can.