Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration had pushed to block a resolution backing breastfeeding at a United Nations health assembly. Experts Paula P. Meier, PhD, RN, Tricia J. Johnson, PhD, and Aloka L. Patel, MD, explain why — and how — Rush promotes breastfeeding.
In recent days, considerable attention has been given to whether the United States optimally promotes and protects breastfeeding, using criteria defined by the World Health Organization.
From a global health perspective, breastfeeding is an early-life intervention that unequivocally enhances health and reduces societal costs, so its promotion and protection should be a national priority for allocation of health care resources. Not unlike immunizations, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and partial breastfeeding thereafter represent early foundational health behaviors that translate into lifetime health care savings for the infant, mother and society as a whole.
These health care savings result from a significantly lower risk of infections, allergy and asthma, childhood cancers, and later-onset noncommunicable chronic diseases such as overweight and obesity, hypertension and type II diabetes in recipient term infants.
On December 30, 2007, my husband Rich and I drove to Rush at 2 in the morning because I had a fever of 102. I was not quite 26 weeks pregnant, and I was barely showing. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that we would be parents that day. It was just a fever.
However, it was a fever indicating that I might have a sick baby inside of me. Dr. Patricia Boatwright made the right decision to deliver, and it was confirmed that Samantha was a very sick baby. She had an infection and stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit at Rush for 14 weeks.
The phrase “a deer in headlights” definitely described Rich and me. That parental bond took a very long time to develop for us. Initially we heard “Mom” or “Dad” and our first instinct was to look around for someone else. We also called our daughter “baby” and had to force ourselves to call her Samantha. We enjoyed being around our baby and did everything asked of us while Samantha was in the NICU. But that deep bond just wasn’t there for these first-time parents. Not like now. I realize now how overwhelmed we were.