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International Women's Day

March 2015

Sunday, March 8th, is International Women's Day, and honoring that, here is some interesting information describing how breastfeeding empowers women.

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) has published Activity Sheet 4, entitled Breastfeeding: A Feminist Issue. Breastfeeding is an important women's issue, human rights issue, and feminist issue, since it "empowers women and contributes to gender equality." Women are empowered by "asserting the value of both their productive and reproductive work." The document goes on to discuss, in detail, why women's groups should spend time and resources in support of breastfeeding campaigns and programs. Breastfeeding requires societal changes to improve the position and condition of women. It also confirms a woman's power to control her own body as well as challenging the male-dominated medical model and the business interests of artificial milk companies. Breastfeeding also challenge the media model of women as consumers, as well as the view of the breast as sexual. Breastfeeding encourages solidarity and cooperation among women at all levels.

In her commentary, Cindy-Lee Dennis (1999) reviews the professional literature regarding breastfeeding-related confidence levels. Studies have found that maternal confidence was the most significant factor influencing breastfeeding duration; low confidence levels in mothers led to a three-times higher rate of premature weaning and 4-5 times higher risk of breastfeeding "failure." Studies also show that low confidence levels are positively associated and predictive of breastfeeding duration.

The Locklin study (1995) found five major themes that affected breastfeeding confidence levels. The first, Discovery, makes the change from confusion and fear when initiating breastfeeding to discovery about maternal and infant capabilities and competencies, leading to motivation for continuing the breastfeeding relationship. Secondly, Connection, showed that once knowledgable, mothers began to trust their own intuitive powers, quickly taking pride in ownership of the process. The next step, Comforting, illustrates the awareness of the unique shared intimacy evolving between mother and infant. The health of their infants for long periods further heightened maternal confidence. The fourth step is empowerment, when mothers can internalize their newly gained confidence and make a decision to continue breastfeeding, thanks to their growing reliance on intuition and experience. Lastly, Telling, finds mothers with a consistent need to share their success with others.

By assisting mothers to breastfeed, you are increasing their own personal sense of accomplishment, intuition, and confidence to breastfeed. This affects not only the breastfeeding dyad, but the family, the community, nation, and world! What a fabulous difference YOU are making...keep it up!

Kathy Parkes, MSN-Ed, RN, IBCLC, FILCA
Course Tutor, Step2 Education
 

REF: 

Dennis, C. (1999). Theoretical underpinnings of breastfeeding confidence: A self-efficacy framework. Journal of Human Lactation, 15(3), 195.

Locklin, M. P. (1994). Telling the world: Low income women and their breastfeeding experiences. Journal of Human Lactation, 11(4), 285.

WABA. Breastfeeding: A feminist issue. Retrieved from ww w.waba.org.my/resources/activitysheet/acsh4.htm

 

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