“Her biggest challenge was the mothers’ lack of knowledge – many pregnant and breastfeeding mothers just eat rice and do not make use of their resourceful yards where many nutritious plants grow. “Sometimes, they just leave ripe papayas in the yard to rot on the trees and be eaten by birds or simply fall to the ground while their children do not consume any fruits,” she (17-year-old Maria Bere) said. “This is what I have been trying to change.”
In an unusual program sponsored by the Australian government, teenagers in Indonesia have been recruited as volunteers to assist local breastfeeding mothers. Even though they are not yet parents themselves they regularly counsel new mothers on the benefits of both a healthy lifestyle, and the importance of feeding babies exclusively breast milk for the first six months. 18 year old Yohanes Bere is a motorcycle taxi driver who volunteers at a local health clinic where he weighs babies and toddlers while dispensing advice about breastfeeding. His motivation? To eliminate malnutrition in his village. “I want to see the babies and toddlers I serve one day grow up into healthy generation,” said Yohanes, who learned to do the job through teaching himself and training from health officials and a medical team. … “Now we no longer have malnourished babies or toddlers,” he said proudly.”
Meanwhile here in the United States we can’t even get our high schools to talk to teenagers about the importance of breastfeeding, never mind recruit them to help new mothers. Not too surprising really in a country whose Army deploys new mothers back into service (often thousands of miles away from their baby) just 4 months after birth. It’s no matter that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for at least six months, the Army has their own rules.
Taking a quick look at what else is happening in other countries this week, we are reminded that the Cambodian government requires that every company employing over 100 women have a breastfeeding room on the premises. The European Parliament is considering new legislation concerning maternity leave specifically because of the effect maternity leave has on breastfeeding. In Cuba the breastfeeding rate is a low 26% but at least the Cuban article reporting on this had no qualms about including a close up photo of a breastfeeding baby latching on to its mother’s breast. (Facebook would have deleted this pic quicker than you can say “milk please!”) And in order to give mother a private retreat from the chaos in Haiti twelve “baby tents” have been set up around Port-Au-Prince providing mothers with a quiet place to breastfeed.
Meanwhile there was a heartbreaking story from the northern regions of Canada. Apparently mothers in northern Manitoba have to travel hundreds of miles just to deliver their babies. They fly alone into Winnipeg shortly before their due date where they wait until their labor begins. After the birth they climb aboard a bus and begin the eight hour journey home. Imagine yourself trying to get breastfeeding off to a good start in those conditions. A few years ago while visiting a Baby Friendly hospital in Norway I remember them telling me about women facing similar conditions. Any woman from the northern regions of the country with a complicated pregnancy would be sent to a hospital in Oslo to deliver. But rather than send her right home after the birth they would send her to what they called a “Mother & Baby” hotel. In all respects it was a normal hotel, except that a nurse would check in with them once a day to check on them until they felt well enough to make the journey home. I love the idea! Privacy, someone to change your sheets, plus room service and a nurse, I think all mothers could benefit from a little transitional time in a “Mother & Baby” hotel before going home.
The Gates Foundation is seeing some unexpected results from their experiment in providing “Essential New Born Care” training in rural third world areas (the training includes the importance of early breastfeeding). While there was no change in the number of babies dying in the first week after birth, the number of stillborn births decreased dramatically. Apparently babies who did not immediately breathe on their own and would have been considered dead before having received the training were now been revived. The stillbirth rate dropped by an amazing 30%. We’ll have to wait and see what the long term results of initiating early breastfeeding will be.
In medical news a baby in Brazil has contracted yellow fever vaccine virus after its mother was vaccinated. This is the first report ever of something like this happening. The antidepressant drug Paxil has been shown to potentially delay the onset of stage two lactogenesis (mature milk). There is some good news however; a new study shows that premies who are fed at the breast on demand actually leave the hospital sooner than babies fed a schedule.
Don’t reach for that Kit Kat bar just yet. Even though Nestle’s has given their Kit kat bar a new “fair trade” stamp of approval, Mike Brady of “Baby Milk Action” insists the candy should remain on our boycott list. And speaking of marketing spins, Lansinoh has a new breast pump that it claims cuts the time spent pumping in half. I just want to remind people that while I consider pumps and formula to be necessary in certain situations I find the way they market their products to be quite frightening. Both formula and pump companies would have us believe that it would be unwise to have a baby without at least one of their products in your home, preferably before the baby even arrives.
In the “this makes me mad” category this week is the article suggesting that the couple who are planning to sue the hospital who mistakenly gave the mother the wrong baby to breastfeed were included in a column called “Worst People in the World”. And another article that like many started out informing the reader about the benefits of breastfeeding but then included this little tidbit; “It is highly necessary that you follow the advice and information provided by your pediatrician and that any changes in your diet is authorized by him, so as not to cause gastric disorders.” Excuse me? You need your pediatrician’s approval to change your own diet?? Did I read this correctly? All too often I find articles like this, they start out on a positive note and then they say something that makes me cringe.
Okay, time for more good news. A “Baby Friendly” hospital in Hawaii has been awarded some money as part of a wellness initiative. Just another good reason to go “Baby Friendly” folks! And in New Zealand a breastfeeding photo contest was held recently. Again – Facebook management, please take note, not everyone thinks breastfeeding photos are obscene.
And finally last week we looked at the French attitudes towards breastfeeding, this week “Equality Begins in the Creche” sheds a little more insight into the reasons behind some of those attitudes. For one thing, in an effort to boost the country’s fertility rates all French mothers are provided with affordable early childcare. Apparently it is the desire of the French government to increase the native population while keeping women working outside the home. So much for the idea that you can have it all, you just can’t have it all at the same time. The French government believes women can.
As always, I love hearing from you – so post a comment or drop me an email. (And remember, the links to all articles are listed below.)
Kathy Abbott IBCLC
On Facebook:” Breastfeeding in the News”
Stillbirths Drop Dramatically After Newborn-Care Training in Developing Countries
The rate of stillbirths in rural areas of six developing countries fell more than 30 percent following a basic training program in newborn care for birth attendants, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The study tracked more than 120,000 births.
The study tested the efficacy of a three-day Essential Newborn Care training regimen that covers basic newborn care techniques, the importance of early breastfeeding, how to keep infants warm and dry, and signs of serious health problems.
“The study authors found that the overall rate of infant death during the first 7 days of life did not change among infants who had been administered the essential newborn care regimen. However, the rate of stillbirths dropped sharply — from 23 per 1,000 deliveries to 15.9 per 1,000. The researchers believe these improvements were seen in infants who had not drawn a breath on their own and would have been considered to have been born dead by birth attendants who had not received the early newborn care training.”
Lansinoh promotes new breastfeeding product with Principles
“The consumer press campaign is intended to appeal to busy mums on the go as the new product claims to express milk in half the time.”
Mum Wins Breastfeeding Photo Competition (New Zealand)
Teenagers lend a helping hand to fight malnutrition
“Yohanes Bere is an 18-year-old ojek motorcycle taxi driver. But he is often busy assisting mothers who took their babies and toddlers to an integrated health service post in Kekirence village in Belu regency, East Nusa Tenggara.
Without hesitation, he helps weigh the babies and toddlers, and provides breastfeeding mothers with knowledge about healthy lifestyles, including the importance of giving breast milk exclusively to newborn babies until they are at least six months old.”
“The thought of lifting my shirt in public was terrifying — especially after years of struggling with eating disorders. And yet I was being told that I should do it anywhere at anytime. (If not, I apparently wasn’t a “real” breastfeeder.)”
Equality begins in the creche
The debate over motherhood is missing the point – British mums should be fighting for the French model of childcare
“For some decades now, the French government has pursued, with considerable success, a far-reaching policy aimed at boosting the nation’s fertility rate, and increasing the number of women in the workforce. It did this by ploughing millions into subsidised, readily available, and easily affordable childcare.”
“ ’ Baby tents’ offer Haitian mothers a safe place to breastfeed”
“PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 18 February 2010—Amidst the collapsed buildings and temporary camps of this battered city stand 12 special tents dedicated to providing mothers and their infant children a safe and calm place to breastfeed.”
EPHA calls on the European Parliament to support breastfeeding in Maternity Leave Directive
A key piece of legislation, relating to maternity leave, has the potential to impact upoin levels of breastfeeding and therefore public health outcomes. EPHA sent a letter to the Members of the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, calling for measures to safeguard and encourage the uptake and continuation of breastfeeding for young infants.
The letter was sent in relation to the work currently being undertaken by the committee on the improvements to the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding.
Govt. urged to increase maternity leave, Malaysia lagging in Asean
“He said in Cambodia, it was mandatory for companies with more than 100 women workers to provide breastfeeding rooms and childcare centres. Similar facilities were also provided for mothers in Indonesia.”
Fed When Hungry, Premature Babies Go Home Sooner
““This review very clearly highlights the paucity of truly good feeding studies in which mothers and infants were allowed or encouraged to establish breastfeeding ‘rhythm’ early in life,” said Jay Gordon, M.D., attending pediatrician at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and associate clinical professor of pediatrics at UCLA Medical School.”
Is Fair trade Chocolate Fair Enough?
“Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, has added Nestlé’s fairtrade Kit Kats to its list of boycotted products in an effort to promote change for people in developing countries. His organization believes that all Nestle’s products should be fair trade – not just chocolate.”
Sunday’s worst people in the world
“It seems that at 4 a.m. on a January morning two years ago, an Evanston Hospital employee woke up new mom Jennifer Spiegel to breastfeed her baby. Shortly thereafter, a nurse came into the room and explained there’d been a mistake, that wasn’t her baby.
And while no one was injured or sickened, the Chicago couple says the hospital should be held responsible for the mix-up. They are seeking at least $30,000 in damages “
Benefits of Breastfeeding
“After six months, infants commonly begin to prefer more solid foods than breast milk. After one year, the baby will opt more for the same solid food. Remember that the digestion of your baby is in training so no need to hurry in switching to food. Not everyone has the same metabolism and in the case of babies this applies. It is highly necessary that you follow the advice and information provided by your pediatrician and that any changes in your diet is authorized by him, so as not to cause gastric disorders.”
Harper lectures the G8, but what about northern Manitoba?
Most mothers-to-be must fly hundreds of miles into Winnipeg to deliver, leaving behind their husbands and kids for weeks on end. They stay in boarding homes waiting to go into labour, often with no immediate family by their side.
Getting home can mean an eight-hour bus ride with a newborn, making breastfeeding tricky and embarrassing
Breastfeeding Benefits Both Mothers and their Children (Cuba)
“At present, scarcely 26% of women feed their babies exclusively with their milk during the first six months of their lives.”
Breastfed baby picks up yellow fever virus
“A breastfed baby contracted the yellow fever vaccine virus in Brazil a week after its mother was immunised against the disease, report health officials today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The case is the first of its kind to be confirmed anywhere in the world.”
Paxil May Cause Lactation Problems
A new study indicates that new mothers who take Paxil may experience problems lactating. The study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Paxil could cause a delay in the start of full milk secretion.
Hawai‘i awarded $912,713 as part of recovery act community prevention and wellness initiative
DOH was awarded $428,713 to apply sustainable policy and systems changes in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and tobacco. Funded projects include:
Baby Friendly Hawai‘i Project, DOH will work closely with the Breastfeeding Coalition of Hawai‘i to increase support for breastfeeding by changing policies in hospital maternity programs statewide, to increase the likelihood of sustained exclusive breastfeeding after birth, a protective factor from obesity and diabetes.
How Well Does the Military Treat Single Mothers?
“No Wonder the U.S. Is Known for Inadequate Maternity Leave, writes The American Prospect’s Gabriel Arana, when its own military ships women to war before they’re finished breastfeeding. The Army deploys women as little as four months after they give birth, Arana writes, which “isn’t enough of a grace period for deployments–many women are still breastfeeding then. Returning to work after four months might not seem so bad, but it’s a huge burden when work is thousands of miles away.”