Last month, Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher released a video in which she said she was not able to travel to the Olympics with her 3-month-old daughter, Sophie, despite still breastfeeding. In a video shared to Instagram, she explained that “Tokyo has said no friends, no family, no exceptions,” CNN reports.
The new mom said she was being forced to choose between her dream of competing in the Olympics and breastfeeding her child. “I can’t do them both,” she explained. Kim said she hoped spreading the world on social media would bring attention to the unfair plight of breastfeeding athletes.
Shortly after her video went viral, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) released a statement explaining it would be “highly unlikely that entry into Japan will be guaranteed this summer of unaccredited people from overseas.”
They said this is largely due to travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, both the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canada Basketball publicly vocalized their support for Gaucher, noting they were making a formal appeal with the IOC to make an exception for the new mom so she could bring both her newborn and husband to the competition.
Luckily, it appears their efforts have worked. The IOC followed up its initial statement days later with a new decision in which they explained nursing athletes will be able to attend the games with their children. The organization noted that breastfeeding athletes face a “unique situation,” and said they are committed to supporting them and their families, Yahoo! News explains.
Gaucher wasn’t the only Olympic athlete being forced to choose between competing and breastfeeding. Aliphine Tuliamuk, a U.S. marathon runner, previously requested an exception to travel with her 5-month-old daughter, Zoe, since she was still breastfeeding. Aliphine’s request was initially denied.
The new mother turned to social media where she opened up about the painful decision to continue to train for the Olympics in Eugene, Oregon, despite being separated from her infant. However, with IOC’s recent revelation that it will allow nursing athletes to bring their kids, it appears Aliphine’s daughter will be able to travel with her to Tokyo after all.
Many experts recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first few months of life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically says babies should be breastfed for the first six months. Afterward, they continue to recommend breastfeeding up until at least 1-year old while gradually introducing solid foods to the baby. The CDC emphasizes that the longer a child is exposed to breastfeeding, the more protection they are likely to have from diseases and illnesses.
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