World breastfeeding week: mothers have the wish to breastfeed – but reality looks different

world breastfeeding week: mothers have the wish to breastfeed - but reality looks different

Blissfully sucking babies. Proudly smiling moms. Soft light.Selfies of breastfeeding mothers are now commonplace in social media. It seems that for today's generation of moms, giving breast is the most normal thing in the world. Supermodels and stars have led the way in sharing private moments online. It has even given rise to its own catchphrase: #brelfie, a mix of selfie and breastfeeding, as breastfeeding is called in english. But is the impression from the net correct – is there actually less milk powder in the bottle??

Mother know – breastfeeding is good for the infant

Experts say there is a wide gap between breastfeeding wishes and breastfeeding practice. "It is well known that breastfeeding is good for children. Many women start breastfeeding", says the breastfeeding representative of the german midwives association, aleyd von gartzen, ahead of world breastfeeding week (2). Until 8. October). Then there is the crux of the matter: many mothers often stop breastfeeding after a few weeks, says von gartzen. Studies prove this, but some of the surveys were conducted a long time ago.

The world health organization (WHO), on the other hand, recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and then a combination of breastfeeding and complementary feeding until the baby is two years old. Breastfeeding can go on for longer if desired. Breast milk is now considered the optimal food for infants and essential for bonding between mother and child. Both sides benefit in terms of health: for example, the baby's risk of infectious diseases, allergies and asthma is reduced. Breastfeeding can reduce risk of breast and ovarian cancer in mothers.

Why do mothers still stop breastfeeding after a few weeks? ?

Von gartzen suspects unrealistic expectations of life with a baby and a feeling of being overwhelmed by breastfeeding during the first stressful period are the reasons for early abortion. But there is also a lack of knowledge about the practice of breastfeeding, among women and in their environment.

The groundwork for successful breastfeeding is laid in the hospital after birth. But there is an increasing lack of proper support, says von gartzen, who is also a member of the national breastfeeding commission, a body that promotes breastfeeding. If the baby is put on incorrectly, the mother often has such pain from loaded nipples after only two or three days that she says goodbye to good intentions. And that was before the flow of milk had really got going.

Von gartzen sees a gross insecurity:

Women are made to feel that the process is not going to work on its own, with the number of check-ups and controls already in pregnancy. Young mothers are being robbed of their belief in themselves – and thus also in the intuitively correct behavior of the baby. Giving the bottle and knowing exactly how much the child has drunk, for example, suggests more control in the end.

Opinions on breastfeeding in public are also divided and unsettling

But breastfeeding was also sometimes allowed to fail in practice because of people. According to a recently published study commissioned by the federal institute for risk assessment (bfr), although explicitly negative reactions to public breastfeeding are rather rare. However, one in four of those surveyed was ambivalent or negative about breastfeeding in public. For one in ten of the mothers surveyed who had already weaned, the negative public attitude was a reason for the weaning, it was revealed.

Breastfeeding can be perceived as inappropriate, especially in restaurants and cafes, as a case from berlin showed just over a year ago. A young mother got into a fight with a cafe owner and started a petition for legal protection of breastfeeding in public. The issue was widely debated, but her call was ultimately inconsequential.
The national breastfeeding commission, which is based at the bfr, wants to encourage women to breastfeed in public. In a statement, she makes a clear appeal to the public and to mothers: breastfeeding is healthy, cannot wait – regardless of the circumstances.

Photos of breastfeeding celebrities may be a step in the right direction. They could set a broad example, believes expert aleyd von gartzen. Researchers are now trying to find out whether mothers are breastfeeding more and for longer periods of time than 20 years ago – and for what reasons. Mother, but also midwives, doctors and nursing staff are to be surveyed in a study commissioned by the german society for nutrition (DGE). Results expected in 2020.

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