Breastfeeding Inequality: The Real Issue

In case you missed it, this week is World Breastfeeding Week. Woop! It’s a beautiful celebration of mammas’ mammaries and the liquid gold they spew forth.

But while #WBW2018 does an incredible job of uniting mothers across the globe in the common cause of suckling babes, unfortunately, the topic of breastfeeding has become rather divisive; at least on social media and the mommy-blogosphere.

Sadly, the huff and puff of the breastfeeding mommy wars tend to be a time-wasting distraction from the real issue at hand: breastfeeding inequality.

Let me explain.

The big breastfeeding issue isn’t whether a well-informed, well-educated, and well-off mom decides to bottlefeed her baby. Yes, breast is best, but in truth, once you factor in for good health care, educational opportunities, parental involvement, and nutritious supplementary food, middle-class kids generally get a good start in life.

On the other side of the class divide, however, things are less forgiving. Babies that grow up in hardship usually don’t have access to the same social and health advantages. For these children, the benefits of breastfeeding are multiplied.

But here’s the thing:

Less well-off mothers are far less likely to breastfeed. In fact, in the US only 38% of mothers living below the poverty threshold will breastfeed for 6-months. Compare this to 68% of wealthy mothers. The difference is huge.

This breastfeeding inequality infographic by WeTheParents shows how socioeconomic forces drastically affect breastfeeding rate. The stats are shocking.

So the next time you stumble into a ‘breast vs bottle’ battle being waged by two middle-class moms, remember that this isn’t where the real issue lies.

Forget the mommy wars, let’s focus, together, on making sure that all women who want to breastfeed have equal opportunity to do so.

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