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June 9, 2009
Source: Piedmont 2008

Edwards, Sara
Nursing

Project Summary

I teach maternity nursing care in the courses listed above. My initial goal was to have the undergraduate nursing students explore the environmental impact of breast-feeding versus
formula feeding. During the Piedmont Project workshop my view of sustainability was broadened to consider the economic and social factors that are involved in infant feeding choice. For instance, one can see that breast-feeding is a method that is inherently without waste or cost in its production or delivery. Formula requires energy and cost in its production, clean water to reconstitute it if it is powdered or concentrated, and clean bottles/nipples. Landfills are then required to dispose of the formula containers and used bottles. There are diarrheal illnesses, sometimes lethal, associated with contaminated formula administration. Finally, formula use reduces or eliminates a mother’s breastmilk volume, making her and the
infant dependent on formula. Yet, there are economic and social factors which contribute to the use of formula over breastmilk. Mothers and infants are separated and unable to nurse for
prolonged periods, for instance, when there is a premature delivery, a cesarean delivery, a major illness of mother or baby, an early reentry to the workforce, any domestic instability or
homelessness. A woman’s family and culture also play a significant role in her breast-feeding self-efficacy. These and other factors can together make the choice to breast-feed difficult or impossible. Not only the choice, but also the duration of the breast-feeding relationship impact parenting and the overall well-being of mother and child. When formula is introduced too early or unnecessarily, precipitous weaning from the breast often occurs. These concepts will be presented during the breast-feeding lecture. The students will then explore relevant current news events and published research and discuss their findings in their clinical post-conferences.




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