Saturday, August 1, 2015
THE RESILENCE of BREASTFEEDING IN A TIME of CLIMATE CHANGE
"We won't have a society if we destroy the environment."--Margaret Mead
"A spiritual voice is urgently needed to underline the fact that global warming is already causing human anguish and mortality in our nation and abroad and much more will occur in the future without rapid action."
"To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival."--Wendell Berry
Resilence, according to a dictionary is the ability to recover from or adjust easily to change. Breastfeeding is resilence. The survival of infants has depended upon exclusive breastfeeding for thousands of years. We are mammals and the mammary gland is how we as a species have survived. With the influence and rise of the infant formula industry, breastfeeding has come close to extinction. And now the Earth appears to be facing the threat of extinction because of mankind's unwillingness to protect the environment.
We are seeing more and more extreme weather conditions that threaten not only our lives but our way of living. What do we do when the power goes out for a few days? or a few months? What do we do when a massive tornado or hurricane destroys our communities? What do we do when our grocery store has no food to eat or bottled water to drink? How do we survive the extreme heat or extreme cold during extreme weather events? Is climate change happening?
I imagine most of us don't want to think about the possibility of having to live through a natural disaster or more natural disasters. In Florida, living along the coast, we think about disasters during hurricane season (June-December). I remember well the back-to-back hurricanes we had one year. I lost power to my house for 9 days in August. Florida in August is very hot and humid. Many people had their homes damaged, some severely. We had blue tarped roofs everywhere because of the damage of high winds and rain.
How does a mother bottlefeed her baby when there is no power for days, and running down to the store is not an option? What happens when roads are impassable and gasoline stations are closed? What happens when water and sewer systems break? A mother who is exclusively breastfeeding does not have to worry about how she will feed her baby. She has the milk right there, correct temperature, no bottles or nipples/teats to worry about cleaning or disposing of into the environment.
Breastfeeding is not wasteful of resources. There are no cans to dispose of, no plastic bottles or nipples to fill landfills. No leftover milk to dump into city sewers. Electricity is not needed. Breastfeeding is an elegant system of environmental balance. There would be no need for more and more dairy farms, if more women exclusively breastfed their babies. Dairy farms are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
In June of this year the Encyclical Laudato Si' (On Care for Our Common Home) written by Pope Francis was published. It reflects the concern regarding climate change and the need for communities to reduce the destruction of the environment. It is a powerful document that it is very well-written and one does not have to be Catholic to appreciate the depth and astuteness of the Pope's Encyclical on climate change.
In November of this year the United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Paris, France. There are hopes that this Conference will create a binding agreement on climate change among all nations. It is time to reflect on how "the breastfeeding mother contributes to the health of her baby and to the health of our planet." IBFAN has created a pamphlet on "Climate Change and Health." There are many pictures in this pamphlet from the Philippines and how their breastfeeding organizations utilize their mobile breastfeeding tents to support and encourage breastfeeding during disasters. There are solutions to climate change and one solution is to breastfeed. This solution needs our support and encouragement.
A Happy World Breastfeeding Week to all!
Copyright 2015 Valerie W. McClain