My World Breastfeeding Week Challenge!
It has been a regular week in my Cleft Lip and Palate Breastfeeding Support Group. There have been every day celebrations as there are throughout the year; expectant parents with a new diagnosis, birth announcements, pumping milestones, a first latch, post operative smiles – these are our everyday events and our everyday celebrations.
When I sat down to write this post, I wondered how should Cleft Lip and Palate Breastfeeding celebrate World Breastfeeding Week? What do I wish for cleft affected babies and babies with Pierre Robin Sequence? Usually I’m not one to aim low, but after years of aiming high, of sharing resources with parents, and having those parents recount that their breastfeeding intentions were not respected, and after years of hearing, “They said my child can’t breastfeed, so they put them straight on formula” I thought I would suggest a minimum feeding goal – something to build on.
The Cleft Lip and Palate Breastfeeding World Breastfeeding Week Challenge:
To increase exclusive breastfeeding* rates of infants born with a cleft lip and/or palate and/or Pierre Robin Sequence in the first 2 days post-partum, unless there is a medical reason not to**.
The “first 2 days post partum” was chosen in order to compare the collected data with the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) breastfeeding data from their 2014 CDC Report Card which states that 19.4% of US infants received formula before 2 days of age. From what parents recount, the number of infants (worldwide) who receive formula in the first two days may well be much higher. I don’t believe we have statistics on the breastfeeding rates of infants born with a cleft lip and/or palate and/or Pierre Robin sequence, so I have created a small survey of my own.
I’m not the world’s Surgeon General, and I cannot create a worldwide call for action, but what I can do is create a discussion. I want to find out why these babies aren’t exclusively breastfed for their first days of life. We have the knowledge, the technology, and the expertise.
If you are the parent of an infant born with a cleft lip and/or palate and/or Pierre Robin sequence, please take the survey (participation is anonymous). If you are a health care professional, who works with infants in the immediate post partum period, take the challenge! Let’s make sure that these babies are exclusively breastfed for at least the first 2 days of life.
Next year I will run another survey in World Breastfeeding Week and find out whether the Cleft Lip and Palate Breastfeeding challenge has had any effect! (sign up to the mailing list for updates)
*As defined by the World Health Organisation
** Unless there is a medical reason not to, or the parent/s choose not to breastfeed directly or express milk, and declines donated milk, or donated milk is unavailable. I do not intend that breastfeeding advocacy should infringe on body autonomy, or a parents right to make informed decisions for their infant.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014 CDC Report Card http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/2014breastfeedingreportcard.pdf
The US Department of Health and Human Services, The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding (2013) http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/promotion/calltoaction.htm