Hey Moms, got some time on your hands? Those summer days stretching on and on with nothing to do? Ha, of course not. But in any case, a couple of recent news bits have come to the rescue to help you fill up any spare moment: with a guilt-a-rama trip.
Your first worry, should you choose to accept it, is not breastfeeding enough. A government survey this week points out, again, that U.S. mothers aren’t breastfeeding their babies for as long a period as doctors consider optimal, and headlines about the survey tell moms directly that they should pay attention. (The current recommendation is six months of exclusive breastfeeding (no formula or solid stuff) and then continuing on up to a year or more.)
That’s right, it’s time to tell these moms, again, to shape up. CNN’s follow-up story to the survey news was headlined, more or less, “Five Ways Idiot Mothers Screw Up Breastfeeding.” Surprisingly, failing to unbutton their shirts was not number one.
Maybe the government could repeat something like the subtle, accurate, respectful – and no doubt effective – 2005 TV ad commissioned by Health and Human Services that compared not nursing to riding a mechanical bull during pregnancy.
Anyway, the federal government’s got its goals, so moms will just have to try harder. Buy shirts with zippers if those buttons are too hard, darn it!
But really, one of the biggest aids to breastfeeding is if the baby and the breast are in, you know, proximity, to each other. So something like six-months paid maternity leave would help. And how about a covered home visit or two from a lactation expert while you’re at it? That would all sure help conquer stress that can affect breast milk supply, such as, for example, the stress of no paycheck during an unpaid “maternity leave.” No, that’s too much to ask for, right? What is this, Sweden or something?
Okay, more realistically, how about 20 minutes free a couple of times a day to pump breast milk at work and maintain breastfeeding even without that proximity thing. Because the survey points out that breastfeeding correlates positively with higher income and education levels. Certainly there are cultural factors affecting how long you nurse, but there are big practical matters too: women with higher incomes are more likely to have jobs where they can control their schedule enough to have the time and space to pump.
But alright, maybe you did nurse per recommendation, in fact maybe you stayed home with the baby and maybe you started to go bonkers and slapped in one of those baby smartie DVDs just for a little, itty bitty break. Well, you screwed up too. Because according to this study, those videos make babies dumber.
Well, all I can say is, duh. We knew the videos weren’t really making our little treasures into geniuses. But, you know, we wanted to make a phone call. Or take a shower. Or read the paper. Is that a crime?
Or when we were too pooped to do anything but plop down next to the baby and stare bleary eyed at the videos too, they were a little fantasy break for the moms. Because the Baby Einstein programs, which really made the category of “videos that you can use to distract babies for half an hour while pretending you’re doing something enriching with them,” were created by a mom also. In her living room, no less (well, at least the first one). Who just wanted to bring this kind of video to the world, after seeing how it worked for her. And who then sold the company to Disney, in one fell swoop doubtless fully funding her kids, grandkids and great grandkids college funds. It’s a great success story for these times, and the creator was duly honored by the current President George Bush. That was something to think about while you slouched on the couch, too lazy to even interact properly with your own beloved baby.
No word yet on what’s the net effect if you breastfeed (good for IQ!) while the baby video’s on (bad for vocabulary!). But I’ll be on the lookout for that story this summer. I’m guessing, just guessing, that we moms are messing up when we do that too.