Breastfeeding Symposium: Experiences of Immigrant Women

Norma Escobar, La Leche League Leader, Wilmington, NC
Experiences of Latin American Immigrant Women*

Language barriers: many of the immigrant women are not fluent in English, and are scared and alone without interpretation

Barriers to breastfeeding for immigrant women:

  • Breasts are seen as functional in Latin America and public breastfeeding is not stigmatized. (In the US, breasts are seen as sexual)
  • Mandatory breastfeeding time (one hour) from employers in Latin America. (Nothing like this mandated in the US)
  • In Mexico, there are no free supplies or direct advertising to consumers. (Here both these things are rampant)
  • First feedings are at the breast in Latin America. (In the US, it is with bottles, the formula bottles come with the nursery cart)
  • Breastfeeding duration is more extended in Latin America. (In the US, it is much shorter)
  • Birth considered a normal life cycle event in Latin America. (In the US, it is considered dangerous)
  • Breastfeeding considered safest in L.A. (Here, considered risky)
  • Breastfeeding as a woman and child’s right. (Here, a choice)
  • Fear as a deterrent in the United States–a real fear, exacerbated by recent immigration raids

*Note: I’m really happy to hear about the experiences of immigrant women, which has so far been absent from the discussions.

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