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Health & Baby

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Surprises in New Breastfeeding Guidelines

Adoption, Custody Cases, Culture, and Workplace Issues Addressed

Custody Issues

Courts should also become more sensitive to breastfeeding, says the AAP. Judges may not realize how long babies need to be breastfed, says Lawrence, noting that worldwide, breastfeeding lasts an average of 4.27 years, though social pressures shorten that time considerably in the U.S.

Lawrence says many U.S. women breastfeed babies 12 or 18 months old in the privacy of their own home and that a judge may have "no idea" about that while deciding custody matters.

The new guidelines also address America's changing population. The AAP wants to promote breastfeeding as a cultural norm.

New immigrants might breastfeed "without thinking twice" in their native lands, says Lawrence. But in the U.S., she says newcomers may perceive bottle feeding as being more popular and reconsider their decision. That message may unwittingly be expressed by traditions like including a bottle in baskets for new moms, says Lawrence.

In addition, women from some Southeast Asian cultures traditionally discard early milk, which is loaded with nutrients. "We're trying to teach them that it's very valuable and should not be discarded."

Workplace Sensitivity

The AAP also addresses two work-related issues. The guidelines encourage employers to accommodate breastfeeding or pumping. Childcare providers are also urged to support breastfeeding and the use of breast milk provided by parents.

They also say hospitals should adopt policies and procedures that facilitate breast feeding. They say hospitals should work actively toward eliminating practices that discourage breastfeeding such as the promotion of infant formula, formula discount coupons, and separation of mother and infant.

AAP guidelines are reviewed every five years. The AAP's last breastfeeding recommendations came out in 1997.

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