Christine E. Altman
Breastfeeding is considered by global, national and local health agencies as superior to any other form of infant nutrition, yet in the US breastfeeding rates are low. In spite of recommendations from major public health organizations rates have not significantly increased. The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative has been shown to increase rates of breastfeeding in exposed populations, but has not been widely implemented in the US. A health campaign to increase awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding to the infant, mother and community should be executed promptly. The information contained in the campaign should be directed at a wide audience in order to build a large support base for encouragement of breastfeeding.
The nature of infant feeding has been explored by many cultures and generations; the views of these practices have changed with the progression of time. The use of wet nurses, women other than the infant’s mother, to provide nutrition to the infant through breastfeeding has been used in many cultures. During the British colonization of North America women wet nurses were a common practice. (Treckel, 1989) At this time colostrum, the pre-milk substance now known to contain numerous beneficial biological compounds, (Koenig, 2006) was thought to be a toxic substance that would cause serious illness in the infant and increase the chance of morbidity. Due to this misconception women were instructed to delay breastfeeding the infant until the “coming in” of milk; the process we now know as lactogenesis II.
The delay in suckling left the mother’s breasts often dry and abscessed; this early complication often impaired the mother’s ability to breastfeed their own children. It was not until the early 1700’s that colostrum was declared to have positive effects on the development of the infant, and early suckling was... [continues]
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