Committee discusses pros, cons of breastfeeding

Celina Hutchens

A group of women, a rubber nipple and a breast pump as a door prize took the spotlight at a discussion of women’s issues at the Stark campus yesterday.

The Women’s History Month Committee sponsored “Working Mothers and Breastfeeding: Is it all it’s cracked up to be?,” where a group of 15 gathered and shared stories of why they chose to breastfeed.

Elizabeth Studer, registered nurse and board-certified lactation consultant at The Breastfeeding Center in Massillon, gave background information on why women should breastfeed, as well as her own experiences with it.

“Because of many errors in infant formulas and situations where babies went by artificial milk, that’s when in the ’70s they decided to start breastfeeding,” Studer said. “In the ’80s, the rates really went up, but what happened is they would start breastfeeding, then they would quit.”

She said that no one, including doctors and nurses, truly knew how to help out a mom with breastfeeding, but in 1985 they had the first exam to be an international board-certified lactation consultant.

“We needed a health care professional to help breastfeeding mothers,” she said.

In 1986, Studer said she began teaching her own breastfeeding classes because of no support from the hospitals in training new mothers on the how-tos. The group discussed the issue of knowing when to stop breastfeeding and whose choice it was – the mother’s or the child’s.

Statistics from the Playtex M.O.M. Program said breastfed babies have stronger immune systems, better vision and lower rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Breastfed babies also grow into healthier children and adults by lowering the risk of juvenile-onset diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Studer said the federal government is trying to establish laws to provide a lactating room for women in public places. However, currently a law is in place allowing women to breastfeed in public.

Carey McDougall, assistant professor of art and the coordinator of women’s studies at the Stark campus, organized the day’s event and was surprised to find out how hard breastfeeding can be.

“I knew it was really complicated, and people make the decision on breastfeeding for various reasons,” McDougall said. “You actually have to go out and search for information. It’s not intuitive to breastfeed, you have to go out and learn.”

Contact medicine reporter Celina Hutchens at [email protected]