Breastfeeding Demystified with Maggie Payne-Orton, RN

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Are you a parent to be? Do you feel overwhelmed by the conflicting information about whether to nurse or not? Join pediatric nurse practitioner, Maggie Payne-Orton for a frank discussion about breastfeeding.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome to the Women's Health Place on WebMD LIVE. Our guest this afternoon is pediatric nurse practitioner Maggie Payne-Orton, RN.

Maggie Payne-Orton, RN, is a pediatric nurse practitioner and a clinical instructor at Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. She has been involved with Georgia?s Safe Kids coalition and serves as a community advisor to the Wellstar breastfeeding advisory board and as a board member of the Foundation for Medically Fragile Children. As a clinician in rural practice, Maggie provides holistic care to infants, children, and adolescents, as well as lactation consultation to nursing families.

Maggie is a member of the International Lactation Association and the Southeastern Lactation Consultants Association. She received her bachelor's degree in nursing from Florida State University and a master's in pediatric nursing from Emory University.

Moderator: Welcome to WebMD LIVE, Maggie. It is a pleasure having you with us this afternoon.

Payne-Orton: Thank you. I'm happy to be here. I'll start with a little opening statement about breastfeeding . Choosing to breastfeed is one of the most healthy choices a family can make for their new baby. Unfortunately, a great deal of conflicting information about breastfeeding, has been and is being circulated, for example, that most new mothers can expect to have a great deal of difficulty with breastfeeding, and that breastfeeding success is a nebulous goal attained by only a rare and lucky few. These misperceptions have resulted in relatively low breastfeeding rates in our country. About 50 percent of women attempt to breastfeed. 1.8 million woman in our country do not nurse, and this is one of the lowest rates in the industrialized world. Contrary to these popular myths, most mothers can breastfeed. Although we are not necessarily born with the knowledge of how to breastfeed our babies, breastfeeding is an art that can be learned with enough knowledge and loving support. In fact, in cultures where breastfeeding is the norm, breastfeeding success rates approach 100 percent. The benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and infant have been well documented. Infants who are breastfed have less otitis media, diarrhea, and a higher IQ. Among the many benefits noted, breastfeeding mothers are purported to have a better sense of well being and have a quicker recovery after birth. And at this time, I'd like to open the floor to any questions that our audience may have, and hope that I may help a few more women successfully breast feed.

saralg_WebMD: Why do you think most women do not breastfeed?

Payne-Orton: I think there are a variety of reasons, mostly cultural, and stem from an ongoing assault against breastfeeding over the last 100 years. In previous centuries, the very wealthy and members of royalty used wet-nurses, because they felt breastfeeding was below them, like a lower class. And, as we well know, people in cultures tend to want to emulate the rich, and so with modernization, and industrialization, and the ability to mass produce these products, and aggressive marketing directly to physicians in the early part of the 1900's, women gradually began to choose other alternatives to the breast. There's a Victorian influence as well. Some of us are not comfortable exposing our breasts in public, and society views breasts as social icons rather than using them for what they were meant to be used for, to be able to nourish our infants. So the cultural influence is a big part, and coupled with that, the continued aggressive marketing on the part of formula companies, and that most healthcare providers are relatively unprepared to be able adequately counsel and support breastfeeding mothers. So that's part of it. Of course, there are many other reasons, but those are the two biggest impediments I see in breastfeeding.