Health experts in the U.S. have taken a more compassionate approach when it comes breastfeeding. To show their support for mother autonomy, the Preventive Services Task Force has modified its breastfeeding guidelines for 2016.
One Word Is Enough
The government-funded panel of experts has mostly kept their recommendations from 2008, with the exception of one key omission. They initially mandated doctors to "promote and support" breastfeeding among their patients. Now, only "support" remains. The minor tweak intends to give mothers a choice while reducing pressure on mothers who are unable to breastfeed, ABC News reported.
"The reason the Task Force made this slight word change is to recognize the importance of a mother doing what she feels is best for her and her baby and not wanting to, for example, make mothers feel guilty or bad if they decide not to breastfeed," Dr. Alex Kemper of the USPSTF told MedPage Today. "It's really a personal choice that needs to be made based on her own personal situation."
Dr. Karen Duncan, an OB-GYN from New York, said some mothers find it very difficult to breastfeed. Some can't breastfeed at all. The omission of the word "promote" reduces the indifference some mothers might feel.
"We don't want to shame or pressure women into doing something they are unable to do," Duncan explained. "We need to be understanding that there are many circumstances that go into a woman's decision about how to feed her baby."
Mothers Should Still Be Well-Informed
On the other side of the spectrum, some pro-breastfeeding groups were quick to bash the rewording. La Leche League International, in particular, argued that physicians should continue to educate mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding and the many risks of formula milk.
Diana West, a spokesperson for the organization, revealed that there are a number of women around the world who relied on formula milk simply because they didn't know the benefits of breastfeeding. "What we really come to understand is that far too often, women feel tremendous regret because they were not given adequate information and support when they needed," said West.