4124.0 Beyond Lactation: Breastfeeding as a Feminist Issue and Women's Reproductive Right

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 10:30 AM
Womenís breastfeeding practices occur in the context of many continued inequities in gender norms and power: little public or private-sector support for breastfeeding and mothering; sexualization of the breast; lack of adequate health coverage; fragmentation of health care; the commercialization and medicalization of infant feeding; and lack of support by family, friends and communities for breastfeeding and childcare. These inequities and the dismissal of the feminine gender from the public sphere, complicate womenís abilities to be employed (even part time) and still allocate sufficient time and money to ensure the wellbeing of family members. Yet until very recently it was not recognized by the feminist community as an important womenís health issue (like natural childbirth) or a reproductive right (like contraception or abortion). Much of the global support for womenís rights has also ignored the rights and importance associated with womenís roles as mothers, opting instead to concentrate on other important issues, such as workplace equity and reproductive freedom. But the economic and social connections between womenís multiple roles as mother and worker are strong and help to shape womenís economic security and quality of life. The papers in this session take the view that breastfeeding is part of the reproductive continuum and, as such, should be protected under reproductive rights and justice approaches. The four papers draw attention to the (dis)connections between breastfeeding, feminism, race, and public health, and offer ideas for how we can reposition breastfeeding as a fundamental part of womenís reproductive health and rights.
Session Objectives: By the end of the session, participants will be able to: 1. Examine the contradictions and connections between breastfeeding advocacy, feminism, and public health practice; and 2. Identify strategies to broaden our current approaches to breastfeeding promotion and support.

10:50 AM
Breastfeeding for health: A global human right
Miriam Labbok, MD, MPH, FACPM, IBCLC, FABM
11:20 AM
Soul Food For Your Baby: Exploring barriers to breastfeeding among African Americans
Elizabeth L. Woods, MA, MPH, Diana E. Ramos, MD, MPH and Cynthia Harding, MPH

See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.

Organized by: Women's Caucus
Endorsed by: Black Caucus of Health Workers, Food and Nutrition, HIV/AIDS, Maternal and Child Health, Socialist Caucus

CE Credits: CME, Health Education (CHES), Nursing

See more of: Women's Caucus