Breastfeeding: First Step to Good Health

 link to Breastfeeding Education Package

Why Breastfeeding Education

Our attitudes are shaped early in our lives by cultural, emotional, and social forces. We develop our beliefs about what is or is not acceptable from our families, teachers, and friends.

Clearly, we know that breastfeeding contributes to the health and wellness of infants. Formula is an alternative but it does not provide the same amount of benefits as breast milk. We know that breastfeeding is the best alternative in most cases, when the mother is comfortable breastfeeding.

Over the past few decades, in New York State, there has been a decrease in the number of women who initiated breastfeeding. This is especially true of low income, minority women. Recently, some health care providers have been reluctant to promote breastfeeding because of concerns regarding transmission of HIV infection or drugs through breastmilk. (Policy on Breastfeeding and HIV, New York State Department of Health)

The goal of the New York State Department of Health Breastfeeding Promotion Program is to promote the physical and emotional well-being of childbearing families and their infants by increasing the rate and duration of breastfeeding in the State. Breastfed babies are generally healthier than bottlefed babies. One way this can be accomplished is through public education. The goal of this curriculum guide is to help form positive attitudes toward breastfeeding.

Teachers are currently required to include numerous curricula in their daily program. Therefore, a format has been chosen for this curriculum guide on breastfeeding that is similar to Nutrition Comes Alive. Nutrition Comes Alive is based on the integration of nutrition into other subject areas. Obviously, breastfeeding education is a component of nutrition.

This breastfeeding curriculum may be used in its entirety or a teacher may choose to use any individual lesson as a "spot activity". Each lesson can be incorporated into a content area such as social studies, science, mathematics, language arts, or family life education. This process will encourage teachers to choose lessons that can easily be integrated into their current curriculum rather than forcing them to incorporate one more required curriculum.

Developing Thinking Skills

For children to develop a positive attitude regarding breastfeeding, we must help them learn from an early age why it is a good choice for mothers and their infants. We must also address the issue that there has been a significant worldwide decrease in breastfeeding, and we need to promote how breastfeeding contributes to a child and mother's well-being.

On an affective level, the learner needs to be aware of the pressure from advertisers to promote bottlefeeding, to analyze how demands of a career can affect a woman's choice to breast or bottle feed, and to develop a positive attitude regarding the importance of breastfeeding.

Developing the thinking skills of our students is critical towards an acceptance of breastfeeding. Practical, interesting examples that help students examine the advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding are demonstrated in order for them to form their own positive values. Students can practice using their thinking skills while learning about other content areas. In this way, the curriculum guide is offered to help reach the goal of positive attitudes towards breastfeeding and ultimately, an increase in the number of women who choose breastfeeding.

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