By Randy O’Brien
Special to The Press
Nashville – The Tennessee General Assembly has passed a law protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed infants – defined as a child 12 months old or younger – in any location, public or private. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 13 percent of babies over six months of age are still exclusively breastfed.
Registered Nurse and parenting expert Martha Sears says breastfeeding gives babies nutrients that are not available in formula, as well as creating a physical bond with the baby that translates into a stronger, maternal attachment.
“Breastfeeding would change the face of health in this country. It’s probably one of the biggest items that should be on health care reform, convincing parents how important it is.”
Some experts dispute the efficacy of breast milk versus formula, claiming the health advantages are minimal, but Sears insists Tennessee mothers should at least attempt the process to help support the mother/child bond.
Sears, a lactation consultant, is a mother of eight and the co-author of 25 parenting books.
While not every mother can breastfeed, Sears says there are options to use “banked” milk that is tested for contamination. She acknowledges that the processing can be expensive, but for sickly or premature babies, she says it can make a difference.
“Now we have a way to do it that’s more modern…I think breast milk is overlooked as one of our nation’s greatest natural resources.”
The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, said recently there are too many obstacles and not enough support for women who wish to breastfeed their babies.