Breastfeeding rates in the U.S. have increased in recent years, but recent studies show that disparities exist among certain racial and ethnic groups. What’s more, across the board, there are significant barriers that prevent women from exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months or longer, which the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend.
In this episode, I’m talking with Jennifer Grayson, an award-winning journalist and author focused on the environment, human evolution, and social change. Grayson’s first book, “Unlatched: The Evolution of Breastfeeding and the Making of a Controversy,” received the 2017 Rachel Carson Environment Book award and a 2016 Nautilus Book award.
Grayson gives us an update on the latest breastfeeding rates in the U.S., the barriers women continue to face, and what it has to do with childhood obesity and chronic disease. We talk about the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), why some women get free formula, and how it has affected breastfeeding rates. Grayson and I also tackle much-debated issues such as breastfeeding in public, extended breastfeeding, and the sexualization of breastfeeding.
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2:20 What does the latest research on breastfeeding rates in the U.S. show?
3:55 What are the “Healthy People” targets and what do we know about the 2020 and 2030 goals?
7:10 Why do racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding exist?
11:12 What are baby-friendly hospitals, what does research show about the benefits, and are more hospitals becoming baby-friendly?
13:43 What were the major takeaways from your book and what does it mean for moms today?
23:54 What is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and has anything changed during COVID-19?
29:53 What about breastfeeding in public—have there been any legal changes on that front?
32:16 What is problematic about the “breast is best” phrase?
34.26 Why has extended breastfeeding become controversial?
42:44 Low milk supply is one of the most commonly cited reasons women stop breastfeeding. Has there been increased awareness about it?
53:21 Now that COVID-19 has shined a light on chronic disease in America, why is increasing breastfeeding rates more important than ever?
56:04 What do you think needs to happen in the U.S. to increase breastfeeding rates?
58:39 Do you expect the Biden administration will try to put better laws in place for working moms so breastfeeding rates can increase?
1:00:33 What can people do to address breastfeeding inequity and help women of color get access to breastfeeding support?
1:01:56 Where can people go to find more information about these food issues and about you?
LINKS MENTIONED IN THE SHOW
Jennifer Grayson’s book, “Unlatched: The Evolution of Breastfeeding and the Making of a Controversy.”
Jennifer Grayson’s website: JenniferGrayson.com
Jennifer suggested getting involved with the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee.
To learn more about inequities in breastfeeding, Jennifer recommended Kimberly Seals Allers.
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