In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I’d like to share one of my favorite personal breastfeeding stories. When my son Ben was a junior in high school, he took speech. One night he locked himself in my office to work on his “persuasive” talk. He wouldn’t tell me the topic. After he left the room, nosy mom that I am, I looked through the trash and pulled out his crumpled drafts. Breastfeeding. My son, who was captain of the defense on his high school football team, gave a speech about why all mothers should breastfeed their babies. It started out, “This year xxx (number) babies will die worldwide because they were not breastfed. This year, in the United States, xxx (number) of babies will die because they were not breastfed.” I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of him. His speech teacher thought he was kidding when he told her his topic. Probably it’s good that he was a big, burly football player. In high school culture, I don’t know how many boys could get away with extolling the merits of breastfeeding in front of their peers. But no one made fun of Ben.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a society where breastfeeding is so much a part of normal culture that no one has to make persuasive speeches about it? Where hospitals are all baby-friendly? Where mothers are never asked to leave public places in order to nurse their babies? Where breasts are most appreciated for their ability to nourish and nurture rather than to titillate?
According to the World Health Organization, today we could save 1.3 million children’s lives by teaching women around the world how to breastfeed. This week, I hope that you will join with your co-workers to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. Take an additional step and visit the website of the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (or the organization that promotes breastfeeding in your country if you are outside the U.S.) to discover what you can do to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding. It can save lives.