Its a good week to be a breastfeeding mama! Two great pieces of news just released:
1. First Lady Michelle Obama will begin promoting breastfeeding as a way to cut down on childhood obesity. Mrs. Obama said she wants to focus on the “important touch points in a child’s life. And what we’re learning now is that early intervention is key…Kids who are breastfed longer have a lower tendency to be obese.”
2. The Internal Revenue Service just announced that breast pumps and other nursing supplies now qualify for tax breaks. Women with flexible spending accounts (FSAs) can use their pre-tax dollars to pay for nursing supplies, and families who itemize can include them in their health care costs.
Breastfeeding is hard, especially so for mothers who work away from home and their babies. It is a natural function of the female body, and so it needs to be approachable and comfortable for all mothers. While 75 percent of new moms breastfeed, only 43 percent are still doing so six months after the birth of their babies. Working moms understandably cite the time, cost and frustration involved with pumping at work. Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama last March requires certain employers to provide nursing mothers ample break time and a designated place (not a bathroom!) to express milk during a baby’s first year of life.
Last spring, the journal Pediatrics published a Harvard Medical School study that estimated that 900 premature infant deaths would be prevented if 90 percent of American women breastfed. Going further, the study also concluded that patients and hospitals would see savings of $13 billion in lost wages and saved health care costs if breastfeeding became more commonplace. Perhaps breastfeeding will be seen as less of a lifestyle choice and more of a public and personal health benefit thanks to this study and Mrs. Obama’s leadership.
If you are a breastfeeding mama, make yourself available to new mothers and mothers-to-be. Be a source of encouragement and information. We are all sisters in this together.
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