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New Moms Learning to Breast-Feed Need Better Information

September 11, 2000

I was disappointed by the missed opportunity of your (misnamed) recent article, "A Natural Formula for Success" (Sept. 4). I am a childbirth educator and breast-feeding mom, and each week I read the Health section looking for useful information to share with my students. Instead of providing information about how women can overcome the barriers to breast-feeding, the article used several anecdotal stories that implied that in the end, bottle feeding is just as good as breast-feeding. Of course there are individual children who were bottle-fed and are thriving; no one parenting choice will determine the whole of a child's development. But these individual stories are irrelevant to the fact that breast-feeding does confer important health and emotional benefits to women and children.

The text of this article only reinforced myths about breast-feeding while providing little concrete information about how to overcome barriers.

--REBECCA L. WEIKER

Los Angeles

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As somebody who has worked for pro-breast-feeding legislation at the state and national levels and a nursing mother with two children, I commend your coverage of the low breast-feeding rates in the United States. You are correct in saying that lack of information is one of the leading causes of early weaning.

Unfortunately, those who are responsible for answering a mother's nursing questions are often poorly trained. It is important for women to insist that their questions be answered by lactation consultants certified by the International Lactation Consultants Assn., designated by the initials IBCLC.

Another excellent source of information and support is La Leche League International. La Leche League leaders, while not health care professionals, are dedicated volunteers who are trained to help nursing mothers. In the United States, to get free help or find the nearest La Leche League group, call (800) LALECHE. La Leche also maintains a Web site at http://www.lalecheleague.org.

MARY P. WALKER

College Station, Texas

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Thanks for a great article. As a successful breast-feeding mother of a 12-month-old baby girl and a now 5-year-old boy, your article neglected to mention one of the most important support people a new breast-feeding mother depends on: the father. If it wasn't for my wonderfully supportive and encouraging husband, I'm sure I would've quit breast-feeding our first child within three weeks. I had a lot of support from the nurses in the hospital as well as friends, but the father is really the key to a successful breast-feeding mother.

Also, mothers today have a very reliable and useful support system called the Internet. There are many Web sites devoted to breast-feeding issues, and women can anonymously find out answers to their questions and concerns and find other moms sharing the same issues. It is amazingly reassuring to know you are not the first nor the only mom to feel so torn about such an important issue.

LAUREN KUCKELMAN

West Covina

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