http://www.facebook.com/erinbabyvlog -- I did this video after an experience I had with an on-call pediatrician here in Ottawa, Dr. Andre Engels.
When he asked me if I planned on breastfeeding my 13 month old daughter until she was in high school, I was shocked and appalled.
This letter was written, and shared here in video format, in hopes that it will help other mothers to know what to say to a pediatrician should they ever find themselves in my situation.
I feel that it is very important for me to state Section 1 of the Human Rights Code, RSO 1990, c H.19, which states, Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability. The Ontario Human Rights Commission's position is that the obligation not to discriminate on the basis of 'sex' includes an obligation not to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, breastfeeding and gender identity.
This legal obligation is reflected in guidance contained in the Canadian Medical Association's Code of Ethics, paragraph 17.
Health Canada recommends the following: Encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, as breast milk is the best food for optimal growth. Breastfeeding may continue for up to 2 years and beyond.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. At six months, other foods should complement breastfeeding for up to two years or more.
WHO also states that breastmilk is the ideal food for newborns and infants. It gives infants all the nutrients they need for healthy development. It is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.
WHO states that beyond the immediate benefits for children, breastfeeding contributes to a lifetime of good health. Adults who were breastfed as babies often have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, as well as lower rates of overweight, obesity and type-2 diabetes.
WHO states that breastfeeding should not be decreased when starting complementary feeding.
A Dewey 2011 reference states that in the second year (12-23 months), 448ml of breastmilk provides: 29% of energy requirements, 43% of protein requirements, 36% of calcium requirements, 75% of vitamin A requirements, 76% of folate requirements, 94% of vitamin B12 requirements and 60% of vitamin C requirements.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the role of pediatricians and other health care professionals should be to protect, promote and support breastfeeding enthusiastically and, in consideration of the extensively published evidence for improved health and developmental outcomes in breastfed infants and their mothers, a strong position on behalf of breastfeeding is warranted.
The AAP also states that pediatricians should promote breastfeeding as a cultural norm and encourage family and societal support for breastfeeding. They also need to recognize the effect of cultural diversity on breastfeeding attitudes and practices and encourage variations that effectively promote and support breastfeeding.
The sad part is that, in a study performed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which involved a survey sent to 1602 active Fellows of the AAP, only 65% of the pediatricians surveyed recommended exclusive breastfeeding for the first month of life. Only 37% of pediatricians recommended breastfeeding for 1 year. The majority of the pediatricians surveyed had also not attended a presentation on breastfeeding in the previous three years however most said that they did want more education on breastfeeding. They concluded that pediatricians have significant educational needs in the area of breastfeeding.