Anthropologists can be so distracting. Last week I had a chance to hear both Sarah Hrdy (author of “Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding”) and James McKenna (author of “Sleeping with Your Baby”). So instead of searching out the latests news on breastfeeding I kept finding myself thinking about the biological and cultural evolution of mothers and babies. For millions of years babies have slept with their mothers. Even primates that allow others to care for their babies during the day sleep with their babies at night. (Coincidently both Hrdy & McKenna started their careers studying monkeys!) It has only been in the last 200 years (just since the Industrial Revolution) that we have stopped sleeping with our babies. Think how short a time that is! There is no way that the physiology of infants could evolve fast enough to cope with such a significant change. It would be like expecting polar bears to adapt to palm trees at the North Pole twenty years from now.
Now consider that in just the past 100 years we have gone from breastfeeding our babies to feeding our infants cow’s milk from a bottle. And yet in this short amount of time our culture has so totally embraced formula feeding that any movement back towards breastfeeding is met with stern resistance. In Australia women are reacting extrememly to the announcement that the government wants to make breastfeeding the norm. “Whatever happened to choice?” asks one columnist who insists that “This goes to the very core of a mother’s rights.”
“My nipples were red raw from breastfeeding and blood was dripping on to the carpet. Tears were falling on top of the splatters. A midwife entered the room. Her advice for me was to “grin and bear it”. Stories like these are offered as proof that women are being pressured into breastfeeding at the expense of their own well being. For a more balanced look at the choice between breastfeeding and formula read “Does Healthcare have anything to do with Health?” by Dr. Kimerer La Mothe (If you have time to read only one story today this is the one I recommend.) She says “Health is not given to us, it is created by us, as we use the information at our disposal to discover and grow the seeds of what our own bodily selves know.” Here is her take on breastfeeding:
“You must like nursing, people say. Well, yes and no. It’s not really about liking it. It’s about making the movements that allow me to be the mother, dancer, and philosopher I am and want to be. It’s about making the movements that will enable me to keep working, keep sleeping, keep the child napping, stay sane. It’s about managing the flow of thoughts and feelings, laundry and lunching. It’s about convenience and challenge, pleasure and well-being, time saved and spent. It’s about investing in an immune system and trusting in touch. It’s about figuring out what works, and having the faith and fortitude to honor it. It’s about health.”
While the mommy warriors attack each other about which is better breastmilk or formula, the formula companies continue to make money. Shares in Mead Johnson have risen 89% since their Initial Public stock offering (IPO) last February. “Bristol-Myers Squibb Co is to sell its 83 per cent holding in pediatric nutrition company Mead Johnson” which will allow the company to be even more independent. Goody for them. Meanwhile the UN reports that almost 200 million children under the age of five have experienced “stunted growth” due in part to not exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months. “Stunting is associated with developmental problems and is often impossible to correct,” a UNICEF statement said. “A child who is stunted is likely to experience a lifetime of poor health and underachievement.” Here in the US formula companies are also being accused of marketing heavily to blacks who now have the lowest breastfeeding initiation rates and the highest rates of food allergies.
But before you despair the news isn’t all bad. Happily in the list: “A to Z of what’s right with America” breastfeeding can be found under B. And in British Columbia a public health nurse has convinced her city council to place breastfeeding welcome here decals in all the municipal buildings. This should make it easier for private businesses to follow suit. I’ve also included a report from mothers who tried breastfeeding in Disneyland. One mother tells how she nursed while on the Haunted Mansion ride “although that part of the ride as you head into the cemetery where you’re turned around and heading backward was a little tricky”. Another mother reports that while nursing at the official Disney Baby Care Center she felt “secluded and lonely”. But I think Disney did the right thing by calling their center a “baby care” room rather than a “breastfeeding room/lounge”. In Australia apparently some bottle feeding mothers feel resentful of breastfeeding rooms because they feel excluded.
Asiana Airlines has launched their “Hapy MomServices”. “ …the airline has been providing exclusive check-in counters for mothers at the airport, breastfeeding covers and baby slings free of charge for travelers with babies.” I’m not sure how I feel about the breastfeeding cover ups, but free slings! That’s terrific. They have even raised the age limit from 24 months to 36 months and they’re in 10 international airports! Meanwhile back here in the states Sesame Street has been lauded for continuing to show their old Buffy St. Marie tape of her breastfeeding (the article includes a link to the clip) but somehow the another clip from the 1980’s that included a brief breastfeeding segment now shows a baby being bottle fed.
Over in the UK the NHS are now handing out instructions to dads on how to be a good father. “Midwives see lots of fathers, but because they don’t fit into an NHS role – they are not the patient – they don’t have anything to give them.” Becoming a father for a first time is apparently good for men as it makes them more motivated to improve their health. (McKenna talked about a study which reported that having a baby lowered fathers testerone levels – but only if they were married!) This same article encouraged dads to support their partner’s efforts to breastfeed. Too bad the young man from Saipan who beat his wife as she was breastfeeding didn’t get the same encouragement.
In science news Dr Susan Love’s efforts to recruit one million people in breast cancer studies has allowed at least one breastfeeding researcher to speed up her work. “Kathleen Arcaro, an environmental toxicologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, wants to analyze genetic changes in the breast tissue cells present in the milk samples from 250 women. She needed women who were currently breastfeeding and who needed a breast biopsy for a suspicious lump. If her team had sought women through the normal channels — such as doctor’s offices and breastfeeding support groups, the project would have been too costly. But she has now enrolled 144 women, 80% of whom came from the Army of Women. “In less than a year, we’ve processed [samples from] 93 women in a study that people said we wouldn’t be able to do,” she says. A study in the International Breastfeeding Journal reports that variations in mother’s breasts (specifically nipples) can affect weight gain. While a study on pacifiers done in Argentina “concluded that pacifier use does not alter the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months of age among infants born at term who had successful breastfeeding established at 2 weeks of life.”
There are a few more miscellaneous articles included below. (Nicole Kidman inists she wouldn’t have gotten her last movie role if her breast were still at their pre-breastfeeding size.) In “Needling Worry: Why are we so crazy when it comes to vaccines?” the author compares our growing concern about vaccines to our passionate defense of breastfeeding. “I think the anxiety about vaccines and breastfeeding is about seeking a false sense of control,” said Kiki Schaffer, director of the Parenting & Family Center at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. “You can’t be anxious about everything, because it’s too much, so you pick a few manageable things to get really, really upset about. A few years ago it was asbestos, then alar in apples. But picking one or two things feels safer than having anxiety about the whole world.” And I think part of making your choice about what to get worked up about involves slamming the choices of others. Because what if they’re right? What if you’re the one who’s screwed up when it comes to your kid? Nothing could be more horrible to contemplate”.
That is certainly food for thought. Although for lactivists such as myself one could also argue that it is easier to effect real change if you narrow your focus. Next week I will be speaking to a group of businesses in a teleconference hosted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Hopefully my crazy belief that breastfeeding mothers should be supported in the workplace will not only be heard, but will be acted on as well.
Have a good week everyone, and thanks to everyone who sent me birthday greetings on Facebook. You really made my day!
Kathy Abbott, IBCLC
On Facebook: “Breastfeeding in the News”
Do Pacifiers Interfere With Breastfeeding Success? William T. Basco, Jr., MD
One of the World Health Organization’s recommended best practices for assuring successful breastfeeding is for nursing mothers to use no artificial nipples or pacifiers with newborn infants who are breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting to introduce pacifiers until infants are at least 1 month old. Data are mixed on whether pacifier use affects breastfeeding. Observational studies suggest that pacifier use has a negative effect on nursing success, but randomized trials in developed countries suggest either no effect of pacifiers on nursing success, or reduced nursing success only with very early pacifier introduction.
This study sought to evaluate the effect of pacifier use on breastfeeding success in infants up to 3 months of age — a longer period than has been assessed in previous studies. Participants were enrolled at 5 tertiary care centers in Argentina, which were a mixture of public and private institutions….
In 2005 and 2006, 1021 infants were enrolled (528 assigned to pacifier use group). The groups were virtually identical on pre-enrollment characteristics, including birth weight, rate of cesarean section, maternal age, previous breastfeeding by the mothers, maternal education and smoking status, and percentage with fathers in the home. Approximately 95% of the subjects in both groups completed the trial.
The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months of age was 85.8% in the pacifier group and 86.2% in the no-pacifier group, for a risk difference of 0.4%, (95% confidence interval -4.7% to 4%) In both groups, > 75% of the mothers were exclusively breastfeeding their study infants at 4 months. The rates of “any breastfeeding” were also virtually identical and remained > 97% for both groups through the 3 and 4 month assessments. Of note, only 67% of the infants in the pacifier use group actually used a pacifier, but 40% of the infants in the no-pacifier group also used a pacifier. The investigators concluded that pacifier use does not alter the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months of age among infants born at term who had successful breastfeeding established at 2 weeks of life.
The study authors noted that because previous trials enrolled fewer participants or followed infants for shorter periods, this study adds a great deal to the literature around this question. Although the investigators caution that this was a highly selected population (motivated mothers and infants who had established successful early nursing), such women likely constitute large percentages of the population at many US maternity hospitals. These data strike me as highly useful and practical when offering advice to expecting or new mothers on “what to do about pacifiers?” Coupled with data on decreased risk for sudden infant death syndrome with pacifier use, these new data should reassure both moms and pediatric providers that pacifier use is not harmful and may, in some scenarios, be beneficial.
Bossy breastfeeding mums pressure bottle feeders, real mums survey finds (Australia)
A VOCAL minority of breastfeeding mums look down on those who bottle feed.
A http://www.realmums. com.au survey of 466 women found some mothers who bottle-feed were made to feel inadequate by the pressure.
But it found while almost half the breastfeeding mothers (43.5 per cent) felt uncomfortable feeding in public, 98 per cent of the comments made to them were positive.
Real Mums founder Amanda Cox was disappointed to discover that bottle-feeding mums often put themselves down “big time”.
One was even told she could not use the parents’ room as they were for “breastfeeding mums only” and several were verbally attacked in public. But Ms Cox said these bad experiences were in the minority. She said while breastfeeding was great, women should not be judged if they could not physically or mentally do it.
“A few bottle-feeders also felt awkward, ashamed or as though they were judged,” she said. “The sad thing was the way they spoke about themselves in relation to their inability to breast-feed.”
Health ministers last week agreed babies should be breast-fed for the first six months.
The Real Mums survey found more than nine in 10 mothers had breast-fed in public and more than one in three had bottle-fed in public. The biggest concern of breastfeeding mothers was a wriggly baby who pulled away.
“They did feel uncomfortable when first attempting breastfeeding in public, but once they got the hang of it, they were mostly OK,” the survey found.
Almost all negative comments in public were directed at bottle- feeding mothers.
A small percentage of breastfeeders referred to things such as the “poison” of formula and made disparaging remarks about bottle-feedsing even though they weren’t asked.
“While some breastfeeding mums were seriously sanctimonious, and some bottle-feeding mums were seriously self-denigrating, the number was few, which is nice,” Ms Cox said.
“And breastfeeding mums did appear to be just a wee bit – OK, a lot – paranoid when it came to feeding in public.
“Most (were) more worried about what people might be thinking, not what was actually happening.”
“The bit we liked most, however, was … that of those that did have someone comment, they were positive comments.”
Breastfeeding with benefits
“I thankfully was told about the group from my doctor, because I had no idea what La Leche League was before then,” she said. “It’s important to have breast-feeding services in a community, and we get referrals of moms from Royal Victoria Hospital. But a lot of mom’s still don’t know anything about our groups.”
To help spread the word, the La Leche League Barrie groups are holding a breastfeeding benefits family fun fair and silent auction fundraiser on Saturday at Ferris Lane Community Church (49 Ferris Ln.) from 10 a. m. to 1 p. m. Admission at the door is $3 per person, or $10 per family. The event offers something for every family, including a silent auction, activities for children and tasty treats to nibble on courtesy of The Italian Bakery in Barrie.
An idea that is Hazardous to Your Health
Does “healthcare” have anything to do with “health”?
At the end of last week an article on breastfeeding caught my eye. Apparently, some celebrities have recently boasted about breastfeeding’s bulge-burning benefits. The article offered a response, amassing anecdotes from Every Woman for and against, asking: Is it true?
On the one hand, as someone who might qualify for professional nurser status, I warmed to the article’s positive pose. Mother of five, I have nursed for a total of over ten years—a full quarter of my life—and haven’t stopped yet. It works for me, for my kids, for our family.
On the other hand, however, the article made me shudder, and not (just) because it appeared in a fashion segment focused on fat. Left intact and even reinforced by the discussion was the greatest obstacle there is to any women figuring out for herself what strategies for nurturing her child will work for her: the idea that her body is a thing. This idea is hazardous to our health.
While no one came out and said, my body is a thing, the discussion assumed that a maternal body is a material entity subject to rules that apply in most cases. Is breastfeeding-to-lose such a rule? Women interviewed in the article and those who responded to it lined up for and against the rule based on their experiences. Those for whom it was true expressed delight that their bodies worked as they should. Those for whom it wasn’t were resigned or resentful or rebellious, blaming their bodies, or citing variables that interfered with the rule’s effect (like metabolism, not enough sleep, or inadequate exercise).
However, the point to take home is not the truism that every woman is unique. The unsung point concerns the nature of health itself. Health is whole. What is healthy for us is something we must work out for ourselves in the context of the relationships that sustain us. Health is not given to us, it is created by us, as we use the information at our disposal to discover and grow the seeds of what our own bodily selves know.
Health, in this sense, is both the ability to know what is good for us, and the willingness to align our thoughts and actions with that knowledge. To have it, we need to cultivate it in our sensory selves and for our sensory selves every day—even and especially when figuring out how best to nurture a child.
This “health” is absent from current “healthcare” debates as well. Health is not what we get when we secure cheap drugs, insurance policies, or the right diet and exercise plan.
Even so-called “preventative medicine” is not about health. It is about monitoring a few variables that scientists know how to measure, marking them as “indicators,” and then prescribing drugs or behavior modifications designed to keep our numbers within a specified range. It is about identifying and managing risks based on statistics gathered over other times, places, and persons.
Little in our contemporary approach to healthcare is about helping us learn for ourselves how to discern for ourselves what is good for us. We are told what is good for us and advised to implement it, for our own good. The assumption is that we don’t know.
Yet, the fact is that no stack of statistics can deliver the most important piece of information you need for your ongoing health: which dot on the curve is you? No one can tell you what you most need to know: what works to enhance your health?
Our bodies are not things. Our bodies are movement—movement that is constantly registering sensations of pain and pleasure designed to guide us in making choices that align with our best health.
Yet this capacity for knowing what is best for us remains a mere potential unless we develop it. Specifically, we need to learn to welcome, work with, and refine our sensations of pain and pleasure, so that our sensory selves can become surer guides.
Support in doing this kind of work is what mothers—as well as those concerned with health—need.
You must like nursing, people say. Well, yes and no. It’s not really about liking it. It’s about making the movements that allow me to be the mother, dancer, and philosopher I am and want to be. It’s about making the movements that will enable me to keep working, keep sleeping, keep the child napping, stay sane. It’s about managing the flow of thoughts and feelings, laundry and lunching. It’s about convenience and challenge, pleasure and well-being, time saved and spent. It’s about investing in an immune system and trusting in touch. It’s about figuring out what works, and having the faith and fortitude to honor it. It’s about health.
There is no way to measure the complexity of variables that make breastfeeding right for me, and thus no way for me to assume its rightness for anyone else.
Our health is something we cultivate through practices of attention to our own bodily selves. But we cannot begin to do so until we stop looking outside of ourselves for the rule that applies to our bodies, and start welcoming whatever information and stories come to us, not as grounds for judging ourselves, but as vital resources for helping us explore the movements we can make towards our own health. It’s what our bodies know.
Huge numbers of stunted children, says UN report
Almost 200 million children under the age of five in the developing world suffer from stunted growth, according to a new U.N. report. But surprisingly, in the Middle East, wealthier countries have more of a problem than some poorer nations.
The Occupied Palestinian Territories, for example, have a stunting prevalence of 10 percent — the lowest in the Middle East — according to the study from UNICEF, the New York-based United Nations Children’s Fund.
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both much wealthier nations, had significantly higher rates of stunting prevalence — 20 and 17 percent respectively.
Yemen had the highest rate of stunting prevalence in the Middle East — a staggering 58 percent — meaning more than half of all Yemeni children under five were significantly short for their age.
“High income from oil doesn’t mean the general population is benefitting from it,” said Arnold Timmer, senior adviser on nutrition for UNICEF, when asked about the findings.
Economic development is generally good news for nutrition and for human development,” Timmer told CNN. “But what children and mothers eat is not driven by economic indicators, but also by diet preferences, what’s available and what’s culturally trendy.” Timmer said food choice is a particular problem in the Middle East. “Instead of exclusively breast milk, the children might be getting a porridge of milk and butter and sugar that doesn’t have any vitamins and minerals in it,” Timmer said, “or tea.”
Timmer said tea is not recommended for young children because it can inhibit the absorption of iron, causing anemia.
Stunting, or low height for age, is caused by undernutrition, the U.N. said. “Stunting is associated with developmental problems and is often impossible to correct,” a UNICEF statement said. “A child who is stunted is likely to experience a lifetime of poor health and underachievement.”
The report, entitled “Tracking Progress on Child and Maternal Behavior,” said the 1,000 days from conception until a child’s second birthday are the most critical for development.
Stunting is a greater problem than being underweight or wasting, the U.N. report said. Most countries have much higher stunting rates than underweight rates, it said. In some countries, like Afghanistan, Yemen, Guatemala and Ethiopia, more than half of all children under five years old are stunted.
The U.N. defines stunting as height for age minus two standard deviations from the median height for that age. Wasting is defined as weight for height minus two standard deviations from the median weight for height for that age.
The bulk of the world’s undernutrition problem is localized, with 24 countries accounting for more than 80 percent of the world’s stunting. More than 90 percent of the developing world’s stunted children live in Africa and Asia. Although India is the country with the highest number of stunted children, it does not have the highest prevalence of stunting, due to its large population. Afghanistan has the highest prevalence of stunting of any country, with a whopping 59 percent.
The report recommends that of all the proven interventions, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life — together with nutritionally adequate food from six months onwards — can significantly impact stunting.
Progress has been made in both Asia and Africa on stunting, the report said. In Asia, the prevalence of stunting dropped from about 44 percent in 1990 to 30 percent in 2008. In Africa, it fell from around 38 percent to an estimated 34 percent over the same period.
But the children’s agency warns much more needs to be done.
Breastfeeding at Disneyland
Many of us have taken our infants to Disney theme parks. This week we discuss babies at theme parks. All of our contributors this week had their experiences at Disneyland as present:
Mary writes: That child nursed not only on the train around the park, but on Pirates of the Caribbean, “it’s a small world,” Storybook Land Canal Boats, Monorail, Jungle Cruise, Mark Twain, and, my favorite, the Haunted Mansion (although that part of the ride as you head into the cemetery where you’re turned around and heading backward was a little tricky).
For moms who feel that they need privacy, the Baby Care Center on Main Street at Disneyland offers a lovely quiet room with rockers, where moms and babies can go to enjoy a comfortable place away from onlookers. On a hot day, this place is a blessing.
Adrienne writes _ Many people know about the Baby Care Centers in the Parks. I nursed in a Baby Care Center once—and never again. I know that many women prefer a quiet, dark place to calm and feed their babies. In fact, I have often clarified that the feeding area in the Baby Care Center is available not just for breastfeeding but for bottle-feeding as well. The Baby Care Center feeding area can be a great resource for parents who want it.
That said, I felt secluded and lonely in the Baby Care Center. There are many “magical” aspects to breastfeeding, but not every feeding is a soft-lens angelic mother and child moment worthy of a poster in an OB/GYN’s office. I had plenty of quiet time at home with my baby. During our leisure time at Disneyland, I wanted to spend time with my family and friends—and I would like to think that they enjoyed their time with me as well! The magic in Disneyland and breastfeeding was that I could comfortably feed my son while I enjoyed time with my family and friends!
Breastfeeding decals planned (Prince George, BC)
The city’s buildings could soon be sporting window decals that tells mothers they’re welcome to breastfeed in public places.
Pending approval from city council, the decals, which state that “healthy communities support breastfeeding anytime, anywhere,” will be placed in all civic facilities and city hall.
In September, Northern Health public health nurse Jessica Madrid encouraged city council to take the step, noting that about 80 per cent of mothers start off breastfeeding but the rate plummets following discharge from the hospital to 55 per cent after two months, 35 per cent after four months and 20 per cent after six months.
“We need a champion to help us promote breast feeding anytime, anywhere,” Madrid told council in a presentation. The window decals promote the “social marketing of breastfeeding as the cultural norm.
Cost of the decals, which staff said are easy to affix and remove, will be covered entirely by the Children First Initiative and the roll-out campaign will include additional information on how to support breastfeeding mothers and their children.
Madrid sees placing the decals in municipal buildings as a starting point from which she hopes to see them eventually show up on the windows and doors of city businesses
Fatherhood: It’s Good for You
Most people wouldn’t see being a dad as a health issue, but apparently it is.
Upon becoming a father for the first time, many men discover a new meaning to life. Positive life changes usually follow, including quitting smoking and drinking, driving more carefully, eating better, getting more exercise and learning how to manage stress. Men who are actively involved in the lives of their children tend to be healthier, have more fulfilling marriages and careers and tend to live longer.
Support Breastfeeding. Ideally, your baby should have nothing but breast milk for the first six months. But nursing is sometimes hard for new moms. Make sure your partner gets plenty of fluids and rest, and encourage her every way you can.
Food Allergies on the Rise for US Children
The number of children with food allergies has increased 18% in the past ten years according to new research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, those seeking treatment at hospitals and clinics for food allergy related symptoms have tripled since 1993.
Race seemed to be a factor, but not gender. Black children were about twice as likely as white children to have a peanut or milk allergy. Hispanic children have the lowest overall incidence of food allergies, but the greatest increase over the past 10 years. There were no significant differences in allergy rates between boys and girls.
Theories for the rise in allergic reactions to food range from “the hygiene hypothesis”, where over-sanitization of the environment has lead to immune system insufficiency in children. Another theory is the lower rate of breastfeeding in some demographic groups, which is thought to be protective against the development of food allergies.
Nicole Kidman says breastfeeding helped her get parts that called for curves.
Nicole Kidman isn’t coy about these baby bumps. The Oscar-winning actress better known for meaty roles than actual curves suddenly filled out after she began breastfeeding her baby daughter, Sunday Rose, last summer. “They’re not very big, my boobs, so they just became normal size. I loved it!” she titters in the December/January issue of Ladies’ Home Journal. “I felt very Woman. When you’ve had a slightly androgynous body your whole life, having breasts is a nice feeling.”
…her bigger bosom is what clinched her role as a sultry beauty in the upcoming musical “Nine” starring Daniel Day-Lewis. “[I had] big boobs because I was breast feeding – I was perfect for it,” she says. “I wouldn’t get cast now.”
“I was not looking to go back to work,” she admits. “I went back to work because this was . . . the perfect kind of scenario. Part of me was nervous about going back to work . . . but they said I could bring my baby to the set, and Rob didn’t seem to find a problem at all, so then I was like, ‘Uh, this is heaven.”
Man allegedly beats up wife as she’s breastfeeding their baby (Saipan Tribune)
A 27-year-old man is facing charges in court after he allegedly beat up his common-law wife while she was breastfeeding their baby.
Once they got home at 3am, Ilo accused his wife of having an affair with a family member. Ilo then allegedly threw a can of beer, hitting the victim on the forehead. Later, as the victim was breastfeeding their baby, Ilo allegedly punched her several times, pushed her to the wall, pulled her hair, and threatened to kill her with a machete.
Breastfeeding – The Feedgood factor
New mums and mums-to-be in Ayrshire and Arran can get the feedgood factor when they choose to breastfeed their babies.
Why are we so crazy when it comes to vaccines?
CREDIT: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
I’ve been writing about parenting for eight years. And for eight years I’ve joked that if you want to make readers crazy, you only need two words: “vaccines” and “breastfeeding.”
Back in the day, of course, we just wanted our kids to survive childhood. I once wrote a piece for the Forward theorizing about why Judaism historically didn’t address stillbirth or miscarriage. Why weren’t babies who lived less than 30 days given funerals? Why weren’t they attended with the rituals associated with mourning? I’m guessing it’s because attitudes were different in a time when an infant’s death was a regular occurrence. It was better to move on, push past grief, plan for the next kid. Today we have the luxury of neurosis. We get to dwell. We have fewer kids, and we not only expect them to survive to adulthood, we expect them to go to Yale and become gastroenterologists and program our TiVos. We get worked up about vaccines and breastfeeding because we can.
Meanwhile, I wave around studies showing that once researchers correct for maternal age, income, smoking, intelligence, and education levels, the evidence is inconclusive about whether breastfeeding is better than bottle-feeding with modern formula—but lactivists continue to hurl insults at bottle-feeders and insist they’re harming their children and society. Why do we talk such different languages, at such cross-purposes?
So why the passion? I think it’s because we’re terrified of an unknowable future. Parenting is about making choices—how to feed a newborn, whether to work or stay home (if you’re an upper-middle class Jewess who is fortunate enough to have that choice), whether to vaccinate.
“I think the anxiety about vaccines and breastfeeding is about seeking a false sense of control,” said Kiki Schaffer, director of the Parenting & Family Center at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. “You can’t be anxious about everything, because it’s too much, so you pick a few manageable things to get really, really upset about. A few years ago it was asbestos, then alar in apples. But picking one or two things feels safer than having anxiety about the whole world.” And I think part of making your choice about what to get worked up about involves slamming the choices of others. Because what if they’re right? What if you’re the one who’s screwed up when it comes to your kid? Nothing could be more horrible to contemplate. Better to close your eyes and go on the attack. At this point, the notion of kids dying of old-school diseases seems far more remote than the notion of your specific kid getting autism or an immune disorder. We don’t know any kids with rubella. We know lots of kids with autism.
All I know is that judgmental eye-rolling doesn’t help anyone. Not kids, and not parents.
The effect of maternal breast variations on neonatal weight gain in the first seven days of life
This study aims to examine whether specific maternal breast variations (such as flat nipple, inverted nipple, large breast or/and large nipple) are barriers for weight gain in breastfed infants during the first seven days of life.
Breast variation among first-time mothers acts as an important barrier to weight gain among breastfed neonates in the early days of life. Health professionals need skills in the management of breastfeeding among mothers with the specified breast variations, so that mothers are given appropriate advice on how to breastfeed and overcome these problems.
Infant formula maker spun off from parent company
Biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb Co is to sell its 83 per cent holding in pediatric nutrition company Mead Johnson which produces Enfamil infant formula.
Stephen Golsby, Mead Johnson’s chief executive officer said: “This transaction represents the important final step in our journey to be a fully independent public company. We believe the decision to split-off Mead Johnson reflects confidence in the success of our growth strategy and our strong financial performance since our IPO (initial public stock offering) in February, as well as BMS’ objective to focus on their core BioPharma business.”
Mead Johnson develops, manufactures, markets and distributes nutritional brands in 50 countries worldwide. The company claims its Enfa group of brands, including Enfamil(R) infant formula, is the world’s leading brand franchise in pediatric nutrition. In addition to baby formulas, including Enfamil that generated 61 per cent of the company’s revenue of $2.88bn last year, the company sells nutritional supplements for pregnant and nursing women, and people with metabolism problems.
James Cornelius, chairman and chief executive officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb, said: ““Now is the right time to move forward with a split-off, given the excellent performance of Mead Johnson since the IPO earlier this year and our confidence in the current and future performance of our biopharmaceuticals business.
“By executing our healthcare divestment strategy, we have sharpened our BioPharma focus, improved the overall financial strength of the company and supported our ability to pursue strategic business development opportunities. All of these actions help us fulfill our mission to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines to help patients prevail over serious diseases,” said Cornelius. Shareholders in his company will receive $1.11 of Mead Johnson stock for each $1.00 tendered in Bristol-Myers shares.
Mead Johnson shares have risen 89 per cent since the stock’s first public sale last February.
Sesame Street turns 40: Segments promote breastfeeding over the years
Recently, Sesame Street expanded its focus on healthful living with exercise and good eating habits. But in actuality, the program has been promoting healthy eating for babies since its inception, depicting breastfeeding and breastmilk as the normal, natural way to feed infants and drawing praise from members of the attachment parenting community for years.
One well-known clip from 1977 features a mother named Buffy and her infant son, Cody. While she nurses her baby, Buffy explains to Big Bird why some mothers feed their babies at their breast. “He likes it because it’s nice and warm and sweet and natural; it’s good for him. And I get to hug him while I do it!”
Some controversy exists over this next clip, which highlights video segments of parents and their babies set to the song “You’re My Baby” written and performed by Sesame Street‘s musical director, Joe Raposo. The original clip (see below) was aired in the mid-1980s and briefly shows a mother breastfeeding her baby at approximately the 1:10 mark. This segment was updated for the 21st century and, sadly, the breastfeeding clip was replaced with that of a baby being bottle-fed.
If you would like to see Sesame Street advocate for breastfeeding in future episodes, contact the show’s production company, Sesame Workshop, via a short submission form located on their website.
NHS launches pocket ‘how to be a dad’ guide to fatherhood
Every new dad is to be handed a pocket guide offering advice on how to be a good parent.
The credit card-sized guide will provide tips on parenting and details on where to go for help.
It will be handed out to fathers attending the birth of their child and direct them to advice on subjects such as breastfeeding and paternity leave.
Duncan Fisher, of the card’s developers DadInfo, who will debate the role of fathers in childbirth at the Royal College of Midwives conference later this month, said: “Midwives see lots of fathers, but because they don’t fit into an NHS role – they are not the patient – they don’t have anything to give them.”
Among the tips given is the suggestion that the dad’s role at the birs to “help provide a loving and calm environment” and a warning that fathers can get depressed after the birth, “especially if your partner’s feeling low”.
A to Z of what’s right with America – the list.
A is for Alternative medicine – Although the Associated Press hasn’t figured it out yet, alternative medicine is cheaper, safer and more effective than pharmaceuticals and surgery.
B is for Breastfeeding – Because the best milk is mother’s milk.
C is for the Constitution – Without it, this website wouldn’t even exist and free speech would be stifled.
D is for Democracy – Despite all its shortcomings, Democracy is still the best form of government the world has come up with.
Give mums a break (Australia)
WOMEN do not need politicians telling them about the importance of breastfeeding. They do not need a bunch of bureaucrats demanding that they breastfeed their babies for six months.
What they could do with is a bit more access to services and support, not lectures that make them feel inadequate. But as always, governments find it much easier to browbeat and pontificate than actually provide the ground-level assistance that taxpayers really need. Health ministers want a National Breastfeeding Strategy introduced next year to promote, protect, support and value breastfeeding so that it is viewed as the biological and social norm.
That might sound lovely, but what of the many mothers who find breastfeeding almost impossible for physical or economic reasons? Won’t such a campaign just make them feel so much worse? This goes to the very core of a mother’s rights.
Read in today’s Sunday Herald Sun our exclusive survey of new mothers and you will hear many felt “pressured” into breastfeeding even though they found it difficult. The mothers said they were given different advice by midwives, leaving them confused, distressed and frustrated. One was even told that giving formula to her newborn was like feeding it McDonald’s, another said that hospital staff treated her like a criminal for giving her baby a top-up formula feed.
Whatever happened to choice?
I support a woman’s right to choose and believe breast is best. However, we are overlooking the very simple fact that some women can’t or do not want to breastfeed. In an ideal world, where a mothers can choose and afford to stay at home and where breastfeeding comes easily, no doubt more would breastfeed. But new mothers are under enough pressure to cope. Give them a break.
This national strategy is not the way to encourage breastfeeding. It is putting a wedge between mothers who do and those who do not.
Breastfeeding just doesn’t work out for some mums (Australia)
There I was in a private room with no shirt on and no bra. I couldn’t. My nipples were red raw from breastfeeding and blood was dripping on to the carpet. Tears were falling on top of the splatters. A midwife entered the room. Her advice for me was to “grin and bear it”. I was told to bite my lip for the first 10 seconds of every feed and the pain would gradually disappear.
As a first-time mum I was vulnerable and accepted her advice without question. After all, my comfort was secondary to giving my son the best start in life. My partner was a little less accepting. He asked the same midwife about introducing one bottle feed into the mix each day (one out of eight). She rolled her eyes and said: “A male would ask that question.”…
At their meeting in Adelaide on Friday, they signed off on a draft National Breastfeeding Strategy. The full five-year strategy will be finalised by the end of the year. Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon says it’s needed because not enough Australian women are breastfeeding. She cited an Australian study from 2004 that claimed 92 per cent of newborns were being breastfed. After one week that dropped to 80 per cent. With every month there was a steady decline. By three months, it was down to 56 per cent and by six months it was 14 per cent. Australian women should be doing better, Roxon says.
I for one am offended. The vast majority of women are already doing the best they can. Why doesn’t the Government just butt out? By all means give women the information they need, but let them make their own choices for their own children and don’t make them feel bad if they fall short of the mark.
Mother banned from breastfeeding in pub
A mother has described how she was made to feel like a criminal after being ordered to stop breast-feeding in a pub.
Staff at the venue allegedly told Elizabeth Simpson, 28, to stop attending to her 10-week old daughter because customers were “eating their meals”.
“They said it was their policy not to have breastfeeding in the restaurant but there was no sign saying that.
“The fact that their main clientele seems to be young mothers shocked us even more,” she said. “It is absolutely ridiculous.
A Freemasons Arms spokesman said: “We’re disappointed to hear that one of our customers is unhappy with their recent visit.”
“We cater for lots of parents with young children and always aim to make their visit enjoyable as well as comfortable by providing baby changing facilities and high chairs.”
He added: “Breastfeeding in the pub is perfectly acceptable and our team is trained to offer support as and when requested.
“If this was not the case on this occasion then we sincerely apologise and hope the customer is willing to visit the pub again in the future.”
Recruiting an Army of Women to fight breast cancer
Dr. Susan Love has a goal: Get 1 million people to enroll in breast cancer studies. She’s well on the way.
That’s why the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation created the Army of Women, an Internet-based campaign aimed at connecting volunteers with breast cancer researchers. Set up in partnership with the Avon Foundation for Women and scientists, the Love/Avon Army of Women takes all of those who sign up online: healthy women, women with a breast cancer diagnosis, women of all ages, shapes and colors, and even men with breast cancer. Its goal is to recruit one million volunteers.
Kathleen Arcaro, an environmental toxicologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, wants to analyze genetic changes in the breast tissue cells present in the milk samples from 250 women. She needed women who were currently breastfeeding and who needed a breast biopsy for a suspicious lump.
If her team had sought women through the normal channels — such as doctor’s offices and breastfeeding support groups, the project would have been too costly. But she has now enrolled 144 women, 80% of whom came from the Army of Women. “In less than a year, we’ve processed [samples from] 93 women in a study that people said we wouldn’t be able to do,” she says.
Packaging for pistol sight among items found in Fort Hood shooter’s apartment
KILLEEN, Texas – Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s dingy apartment holds the odd remnants of a solitary military life, with hints of secrets and suggestions of terrible plans.
A folding card table near the kitchen was covered in white plastic and a random scattering of belongings. Some hinted of Hasan’s Arab roots and Islamic faith: a pile of Jordanian and Israeli coins, an Al Fajr-brand alarm clock and a white knit skull cap. Beside those items was a thin paperback book published in India in 1993, Dreams and Interpretations , by Allamah Muhammed Bin Sireen.
The book’s back cover declares it “a must in every Muslim home.” Its table of contents promises explanations for 900 dreams – everything from birth to breastfeeding, from seeing Allah to recognizing his messengers.
More black women are breastfeeding, but less than other moms
A National Health and Nutrition Examination survey shows that breast-feeding rates increased significantly among black women from 36 percent in 1993-1994 to 65 percent in 2005-2006. However, the findings, released last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also show that 80 percent of Mexican American and 79 percent of white infants were breast-fed during the same period.
And, despite an increase in lactation programs and consultants in hospitals, many health care professionals do not encourage black women to breast-feed. Barber also notes that heavy marketing by makers of infant formula also impacts some women’s decisions to breast-feed. However, black women who are educated, as well as those who have a supportive partner tend to breast-feed more, Barber says.
Asiana Airlines to Reinforce Mother-Friendly Services
Asiana’s mother-friendly services have been gaining enthusiastic reviews from those who have been through the ordeals of travelling with infants.
Through the recent launch of “Happy Mom Services,” the airline has been providing exclusive check-in counters for mothers at the airport, breastfeeding covers and baby slings free of charge for travelers with babies.
The service was initiated on Oct. 1 at 10 International airports (Incheon, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, London, Frankfurt, Paris and Sydney) to which Asiana flies. Out of 2,277 passengers traveling with infants, 1,043 passengers used the exclusive counters and 167 passengers were provided with breastfeeding covers, an Asiana spokesperson said.
In response to the enthusiastic reception, Asiana will extend the “Happy Mom Services” to 66 airports internationally. Also, they will lengthen the age limit from 24 months to 36 months old.
“I was worried about breastfeeding on board. But when arriving at JFK International Airport, I found that there was an exclusive counter for mothers run by Asiana and received a breastfeeding cover as well. During my 14-hour flight to Incheon, it was very pleasant for me to travel to Korea,” Choi Eun-sun, a passenger on the Nov. 13 Incheon OZ221 from New York to Incheon, said.
“No other airline has provided such services. This is really great for moms,” Agreda Sison Leizl, a passenger on the airline’s Oct. 29 flight from Chicago to Incheon, said.
Netizens have also shown their interest in the new services and currently 21 blogs and 10 internet cafes are talking about the “Happy Mom Services.”
The exclusive check-in counters for those with infants provide the 3E services ― Express Check In, Express Boarding and Express Baggage. It allows passengers with infants to shorten the waiting period at airports.
Passengers with infants will also receive a “Priority Tag” on their checked baggage. Arriving passengers with infants will now be able to quickly retrieve their baggage without the hassle of caring for their infant while waiting at baggage claim.
During long-haul flights, mothers have faced difficulties in feeding their infants. Usually, feeding takes place in the toilets or the galleries of aircraft. In order to resolve these difficulties, Asiana will provide breastfeeding covers for passengers when asked by request at the departure point.
For larger infants travelling on children tickets, Asiana is providing free installation of baby safety seats upon reservation. Asiana hopes the service will negate the need for passengers to bring along their own baby seats.