We lost centuries of knowledge about breastfeeding in little more than a generation
It takes a village to help a mother breastfeed.
Earlier this year, Statistics Canada released a report on breastfeeding practices. Among other things, it showed that of the mothers who start out breastfeeding, about one in six does so exclusively for the first six months of an infant’s life — the period now recommended by both Health Canada and the World Health Organization. This led The Globe and Mail to say, “the vast majority of women are ignoring public-health recommendations.”
Hardly. Those recommendations weren’t even in place when the women in this survey were breastfeeding, between 1998 and 2003. It’s going to take a while for the idea of exclusive breastfeeding for six months to become standard advice given by doctors — some of whom are still obsessed with getting four-month-old babies on cereal — let alone common practice among mothers. Also it’s clear, as this report shows, that most moms want to breastfeed and that they understand the value of breastmilk to their babies (more on this later). The key issue is why they stop, and I assure you it’s not out of zeal to ignore expert advice.