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Judy Masterson: Feeling smug about breast-feeding

Thomas Delany Jr. Staff Photographer.
Judy Mastersresporter for The News Sun.

Thomas Delany Jr. Staff Photographer. Judy Masterson, resporter for The News Sun. 7/12/06

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Updated: February 19, 2011 2:05AM

I love it when I catch something about breast-feeding in the news. The reports are generally glowing — Increases immunity! Boosts IQ! Cuts likelihood of obesity! — and they make me just a teensy bit smug about my choice to allow a succession of Winston Churchill look-alikes free and easy access to my milk ducts.

Women’s oldest pastime got some unexpected publicity this week by way of Sarah Palin, who can’t resist the chance to get a shot off at the current administration.

Her latest barb: “It’s no wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody you need to breast-feed your babies ... the price of milk is so high!”

The first lady is promoting breast-feeding as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity, and she plans, she said, to particularly encourage more black women to breast-feed their babies.

The federal government, which is the largest institutional pumper of baby formula to poor women through its WIC program is, at long last, looking to make breast-feeding easier and cheaper. The IRS has announced tax breaks on the purchase of expensive breast pumps, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now issues a Breastfeeding Report Card.

The report card, available at, provides state-by-state data so that health professionals, legislators, community advocates and others can work together to protect, promote, and support breast-feeding. The latest data shows that most mothers in the United States want to breast-feed and that they try. But they don’t get the support they need. The 2010 report card also reveals that hospital practices and policies continue to “interfere” with breast-feeding.

When I struggled to nurse my firstborn 23 years ago, I was told by my obstetrician that “the bottle is just as good.” Eight years later, a pediatrician recommended I wean my infant daughter because she was probably “allergic” to my milk. I ignored them, of course, and turned to La Leche League for help. I want to give a shout out to my old LLL leader, Terryl Rajcevich of Waukegan, who came to my rescue.

Sarah Palin may have just been cracking a joke. But she’d come off as less of a boob if she gave a shout-out to breast-feeding and the women and children — in this country and around the world — who are healthier for it.

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