Local support group head, lactation consultant weigh in after controversial breastfeeding report

By Patty Santos - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Breastfeeding is making political and controversial headlines after the United States’ refusal to support a resolution to favor breastfeeding over formula at the World Health Assembly.

The New York Times reported the resolution supported by the majority of nations was challenged by the United States, which threatened other countries politically for their stance.

Claire Barnett, leader of a local support group for women who choose to breastfeed, says breastfeeding has always been political.

Barnett started the group after having trouble breastfeeding her two girls.

“It was an important way for me to bond with my baby. I was committed to sticking with it,” she said.

Barnett said U.S. culture lacks a system to help women through a challenging process.

President Donald Trump fired back at The New York Times report, saying the U.S. supports women who want to breastfeed, but that “women shouldn’t be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the percentage of breastfed babies has increased by about 10 percent in the last decade to about 81 percent. It could be partly due to the education efforts to inform families about the benefits to mother and baby and the help mothers get at hospitals following the births of their children.

Kate McLachan, University Health System lactation consultant, said she’s seen an increase in the number of mothers who are able to exclusively breastfeed at discharge.

“We try to visit every patient to find out what their plan is,” she said.

Breastfeeding is not for everyone.

“We also support a woman's decision to choose how to feed her baby. It’s one of the most personal, emotional and sometimes fraught decisions that a new mom and family can make," McLachan said.

Many hospitals are getting on board with the Healthy People 2020 campaign, which aimed at getting more women to breastfeed by that year.

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