Breastfeeding in the News: Aug. 11th – Aug. 17th, 2009

Hello all,

Not as many stories this week, but a lot to think about.  An evolutionary psychologist has come up with an interesting theory that mothers are hard-wired to go into a mourning period if breastfeeding does not follow delivery of a child” as an explanation for post partum depression.  “And it’s not just choosing formula over milk that may cause the separation. Hospitals’ policies of keeping newborns in nurseries may instigate a mourning process in new moms as well, regardless of how they feed their newborns.”  Immediately after that article you will see an interview with a British midwife who says “Following the birth of my second child, I was deeply affected by her puzzling inability to breastfeed. Subsequently, I found it very hard to bond closely with her as every bottle feed brought a sense of rejection.”   

A new study shows that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer for women with an immediate relative with breast cancer by 59%!  That’s wonderful news but I was also intrigued by another little tibit in this story. Mothers who took lactation suppression drugs (as opposed to those who neither breastfed nor used lactation suppressing drugs) also lowered their risk.    One group was protected via lactation while the other was protected by making sure the body never lactated. Hmm… I would certainly like to know more about this.

Nancy Terres sent me a response in a nursing journal (JOGNN – sorry there is no link to with it) about a study on the need to educate parents on the risks of bed sharing.  The long response (I’ve only posted a little snip of it) from Tom Johnston (a male IBCLC?? Good for him!) & Elizabeth Johnston was terrific (lots of data & great perspective) but of course it didn’t make a dent in the thinking of the original authors of the study.  But still it was wonderful to learn that there is some dialogue going on.

Norma Ritter tells me that the survey mentioned last week “in which mothers said that regardless of how they fed their own baby, many moms believe infant formula is a safe alternative to breast milk.  You might be interested to learn that this survey was conducted by a group called Mom’s Feeding Freedom.  According to their website: was made possible by a grant from the International Formula Council. The opinions and views expressed on this web site are of Kate Kahn who independently manages and controls the editorial content contained on the web site. Their interpretation of government policy is somewhat, shall we say, inventive?  For example: did you know there are some government officials around the country, including in New York, Massachusetts and California, who are trying to withhold information and support from new moms who choose to bottle feed their babies? The campaign is promoted as an effort to ban the marketing of infant formula in hospitals. However, it really is an attack on women’s access to information to make a legitimate choice.”  Thanks Norma!

In other news the mom in Grand Forks did not get sent to jail for breastfeeding her baby while drunk (she did get sent to rehab) but unfortunately she has been arrested twice since that incident on other charges (like slashing tires out in the parking lot after being told she couldn’t see her baby).  There was a nurse-in at a Chick-o-Fil in Florida.  And there is a new breastfeeding friendly hospital discharge bag out on the market. 

And once again the dirty truth comes out about nipple shields.  Not only do they have to be washed constantly, it can take forever to wean from a shield, in this case five months (I once worked with a mom who was still using a nipple shield at three months – she hated it and the baby refused to nurse without it).  So if you know anyone who is still handing out nipples shields as a  “quick fix” please let them know the truth.  Unless you show the mom how to wean from the shield and follow up to make sure that she does, you are doing her no real favor.

Lastly a special thanks to Debra Berube Dwyer, Nicole Deggins, Rebecca Hains, Sharon Bo Abrams,  Norma Woolf Ritter, Ruth Lackie, and Nancy Terres for sharing your thoughts with me.  I loved hearing from you!

Kathy Abbott, IBCLC

On Facebook: “Breastfeeding in the News”

My Blog:



On Bed Sharing (from JOGNN)

Finally, we have to take issue with the assumption that it is incumbent upon us as health care professionals to continually educate new parents in regards to separate sleeping as ‘‘safe sleeping.’’ If 89% of respondents in this study reported knowing the ‘‘risks’’ of bed sharing, yet 72%reported engaging in that ‘‘risky behavior,’’ we can only come to one conclusion: parents know that many health care professionals believe that bed sharing is risky, but parents do not actually believe that we are telling the truth. In other words, they aren’t buying what we are selling. The problem, if you can call it that, is not the one of ignorance, it is the one in which nature and common sense tells parents that the ‘‘experts’’ are wrong.

Jarold (Tom) Johnston, CNM, IBCLC & Elizabeth A. Johnston, BSN


Response from authors: Our position was and is that new parents, in particular, should be informed that bedsharing has documented risks and that even if safety precautions are taken to try to practice safe bedsharing, the reality is that not all the risk factors can be readily addressed. Specifically, being overtired is virtually unavoidable for a new parent, and bedsharing is most likely to occur within the first 3 months after birth (during which time infants have limited mobility). These are two of the risk factors associated with bedsharing. We understand and respect that perspectives on the practice of bedsharing are polarized. However, our position and reason for the study was based on the increasing evidence that bedsharing has risks for young infants in particular. Despite the fact that this perspective may be controversial, we believe that parents should be informed of these risks.


Christine A. Ateah RN, PhD, and

Kathy J. Hamelin RN,MN


Is postpartum due to not breastfeeding?

Postpartum depression has been linked to choosing bottle feeding over breastfeeding, according to an evolutionary psychologist’s research.

The fields of evolutionary study goes beyond how birds got their wings. Evolutionary psychology, one subfield, tries to understand humanity’s instinctual actions based on a long view that goes back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. And new moms, one new theory goes, may be hard-wired to go into a mourning period if breastfeeding does not follow delivery of a child.

Back then, there would be one main reason why a woman would deliver a baby and then not breastfeed: the baby had died. Untold generations of that, lead researcher Gordon Gallup posits in the August issue of Medical Hypotheses, may have imprinted a biological trigger of grief when that separation happened. It would even kick in when the baby was just fine.

This theory was tested in a small study, researchers noted. A group of about 50 mothers of 4- to 6-week-old infants were examined for postpartum depression. Age, income, relationship statues and education were not contributing factors in who was more likely to be clinically depressed. But breast or bottle was: breastfeeders were less likely to have the baby blues, as it’s sometimes derisively called.

And it’s not just choosing formula over milk that may cause the separation. Hospitals’ policies of keeping newborns in nurseries may instigate a mourning process in new moms as well, reagrdless of how they feed their newborns.

Inside Medicine: Breastfeeding lead midwife

In a series focusing on medical specialties, the BBC News website meets Suzanne Barber, an infant-feeding adviser midwife.

Her speciality is helping mothers breastfeed their babies and deal with any problems they have.

My biggest challenge is when there is unintentional undermining of breastfeeding, from well-meaning others, by recommending supplementation with formula milk.

So often it is said that a baby is “starving” and “the mother hasn’t got enough milk” or “the milk isn’t good enough”.

It takes patience and sometimes courage to re-educate those who have unintentionally been given poor advice and education when they had their babies and to convince such mothers that the baby’s behaviour is normal and that the mother will be able to provide for all the baby’s nutritional needs.


Following the birth of my second child, I was deeply affected by her puzzling inability to breastfeed. Subsequently, I found it very hard to bond closely with her as every bottle feed brought a sense of rejection.

I have since been driven towards supporting others both in the teaching and promotion of practice, which maximises success in breastfeeding wherever possible.

Breastfeeding moms state ‘nurse-in’

Breastfeeding mothers had a “nurse-in” Friday at a fast-food restaurant in Orlando, Fla.

The protest was inspired by a woman who said an employee at the Chick-Fil-A had told her to cover her breast and offered her a towel as she fed her baby Florida law allows women to breastfeed almost anywhere at any time and specifically says the nipple does not need to be covered. The woman said she tried complaining to the manager and to Chick-Fil-A’s head office, but to no avail. The restaurant now says it’s educating employees about the breastfeeding law and considering door stickers to tell guests it’s a “mom-friendly” place

Grand Forks mother in drunken breast-feeding case arrested again

A Grand Forks mother who pleaded guilty in a case of breastfeeding while drunk has been arrested again, making it two times that she’s been locked up since her sentencing Friday on a child-neglect charge.

Friday night, just hours after her sentencing…Officers arrested her that night after receiving a complaint that she had slashed the tire of a pickup in the parking lot of her apartment building.

Friday, a state District Court judge allowed Anvarinia to serve at least part of a six-month sentence in a substance-abuse treatment facility, but she must complete the program to get credit for time served. She was also sentenced to three years of supervised probation.

More than 200 hospitals across the US to give out free breastfeeding discharge bags

soon more than 200 hospitals across the country will be giving out new breastfeeding discharge bags called the ‘Healthy Baby Bounty Bag’ to moms who want to breastfeed instead.

It is an insulated bag you can use to store pumped breast milk. Inside it has samples of products, coupons, and resources – all that can help breastfeeding mamas succeed plus a few other goodies.

In my bag was Lansinoh milk storage bags and disposable nursing pads, Boogie Wipes samples, SaniHands for Kids hand wipe samples, an Aquaphor sample, even some Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother’s Milk tea bags (my fav part!) and a card with a code to redeem a free gift from Cottonwood Kids.

Breastfeeding 101: What the heck is a nipple shield? + information about other nursing supplies

My first born was a bit jaundice and therefore extremely lackadaisical about nursing. I.e. he was lazy. I was determined to breastfeed, and much to the horror of any true La Leche League Leader, the lactation specialist at the hospital gave me what she called a “nipple shield,” probably the most controversial breastfeeding aid on the market. 


A plastic shield that fits right over your nipple, it makes your breast more “user-friendly” and baby may just latch right on. My son sure did. It took me five months to wean him off the thing. (So not only was I washing my reusable nursing pads, I was constantly sanitizing the darn nipple shields.  At times I thought using formula would be less work.)–What-the-heck-is-a-nipple-shield–information-about-other-nursing-supplies

New York Times: Breast-Feeding Linked to Lower Cancer Risk

Although several studies have found that lactation is protective against breast cancer, the new report found little effect for premenopausal women over all. But for women with an immediate relative, like a mother or a sister, who had breast cancer, those who breast-fed had a 59 percent lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer. That is closer in line with the risk for women who had no disease in the family, the study found.

The new study, published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, used information from 60,075 participants in the second Harvard Nurses’ Health Study. More research is needed to replicate the findings and to show that the reduced risk is the result of breast-feeding, rather than some other factor common to women who breast-feed. But Dr. Stuebe suggested that breast-feeding may prove just as effective a strategy for high-risk women as the use of Tamoxifen, a drug that interferes with estrogen activity and is often used in high-risk women to reduce breast cancer risk.

Interestingly, women who took drugs to prevent the formation of milk were at lower risk for breast cancer than those who refrained from breast-feeding but did not use lactation-suppressing drugs, the study found.


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