OB/GYN, pediatrics

Is breast-feeding right for you?

In the early 1970s, less than 25 percent of U.S. mothers tried to breast-feed their newborns. Now, 75 percent of infants are receiving some breast milk.

Still, several myths abound about the practice. At Signature Medical Group, we try to examine those myths and answer your questions. Our OB/GYN’s offer comprehensive obstetrical and gynecological care with the highest regard to your needs as a new mother. Trusted to deliver more than 3,000 babies every year, Signature physicians offer quality care in a comfortable environment.

Some myths surrounding breast-feeding:

Breast-feeding is natural. That depends on how you define “natural.” Breast milk is produced by the human body and for most of history breast-feeding infants has been a basic fact of life. But its value as being wholesome and nutritious depends on what the mother has been eating, drinking and breathing, health experts say. There are concerns about environmental contaminants that nursing mothers can’t control, and women have been arrested for feeding their infants milk contaminated by drugs, alcohol and even prescription medications.

Formula is just as healthy as breast milk. Breast milk has a unique blend of proteins, fats, vitamins and carbohydrates that convey a range of additional benefits going beyond simple nutrition, health experts say. Breast milk decreases the risks of ear infections, asthma, gastrointestinal ailments, diabetes, allergies, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome.

One year is the best time for weaning. Most women aim to breast-feed for one year, but there’s nothing special about that amount of time, health experts say. Most of the benefits of breast-feeding have already occurred by the end of the fourth month. Some women, however, discover how difficult it is to wean their children off breast milk and may continue it for years.

Most U.S. women breast-feed. Statistically, that’s true  — 75 percent try to breast-feed and 35 percent are still doing it at 3 months. But there are large differences between races and classes. White, educated, older and married women are more likely to breast-feed. Lower income and minority mothers have fewer resources and face economic barriers as they are less likely to get paid maternity leave. Pumping – the solution for working mothers – is often not available at work.

Breast-feeding rates dropped in the 20th century because women entered the work force. U.S. breast-feeding rates actually began rising just as women entered the work force in large numbers in the 1970s. The women’s movement has also been instrumental in the resurgence of breast-feeding.

More questions? Signature’s OB/GYNs cater to all your needs as a woman, from the teen years through pregnancy, motherhood and menopause. Make an appointment today to see one of our specialists.