Breastfeeding better for planet, climate change than being a vegan | The Australian

According to the algorithms developed by ANU honorary associate professor Julie Smith, my breastfeeding efforts are enough to offset greenhouse gas emissions from the use of our family car for one year. It’s a bigger carbon offset than going vegan for 1.5 years or vegetarian for 2.5 years. It also easily offsets 144kg of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from an estimated 36kg of formula we used after weaning.

The positive impacts of improving rates of breastfeeding are difficult to ignore. Research from the World Health Organisation estimates that exclusively breastfeeding all babies in Britain for the first six months would offset the use of up to 77,000 cars every year. It’s also a population control, naturally delaying the return of fertility for women and helping them space children further apart in places where access to birth control is low.

Using data from her 2002 study based on early weaning at Canberra Hospital, Smith estimates that improving breastfeeding rates could save up to $120m across the Australian hospital system. A study from the US showed breastfed babies presented at hospital less and required fewer prescriptions.

The repeated failure to improve breastfeeding rates, despite strategies and mounting evidence of the benefits, tells us that no amount of preaching to women about the benefits of breastfeeding will improve breastfeeding rates. As long as time out of the paid workforce comes at such a significant personal cost to women, early cessation of breastfeeding will continue. Legislating paid parental leave that falls several months short of the six-month breastfeeding recommendation is a special form of stupidity.

If women lack the structural, financial and cultural support required to breastfeed, they won’t be able to do it for as long as is recommended. They will feel individually responsible for a systemic failing, adding further to the stress and pressure of parenthood.

Source: Breastfeeding better for planet, climate change than being a vegan | The Australian

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