In the October 16, 2015 editorial in the New York Times by Courtney Jung entitled “Overselling Breast-Feeding,” Ms. Jung asserts that encouragement to breastfeed has reached a “moral fervor” inconsistent with the true value of breastfeeding.
La Leche League International was among the first to recognize the important health and emotional qualities of breastfeeding. When our organization began nearly sixty years ago, most babies were not breastfed and a significant portion of the population smoked. Just as research has shown that smoking has a serious negative effect on health and the world’s health organizations now strongly recommend against it, not breastfeeding has been shown to have definite health risks and consequences, and breastfeeding is now clearly understood to be the normal way to feed a human baby.
This deepening understanding of the importance and value of human milk for human babies from an immunological, physiological, and psychological standpoint is a result of an ever-increasing, vast, and incontrovertible body of research. Even though occasional studies refute or question certain qualities, the world’s scientists and health organizations have clearly concluded that breastfeeding is essential for infant and maternal health because the overall research has definitively proven its worth and importance. Understanding and valuing strong scientific evidence is not morality. It is rational, logical, and essential to any society that seeks to optimize its citizens’ health and wellbeing.
There isn’t any pressure in our society that could force intelligent women to do something that doesn’t make sense. Mothers simply want to breastfeed because they want the best health for their children and themselves. We’re also hormonally driven and biologically hard-wired to breastfeed and be breastfed. We’re mammals. Lactation and breastfeeding is the normal behavior and food for human mothers and babies.
About La Leche League International
La Leche League began as a small support group near Chicago in 1956. It has become the world’s leading breastfeeding advocacy organization. La Leche League International’s mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.
Diana West, Director of Media Relations La Leche League International
SCHAUMBURG, Illinois (November 3, 2015)