It was one of those terrifying moments that every mother dreads, a mother woke up to find her baby dead beside her. Many mothers refuse to take their baby to bed out of fear this very scenario will happen to them. But in this case the mother wasn’t safely in bed, she had fallen asleep on a plane high above the Atlantic Ocean with her breastfeeding baby in her lap. The London papers were quick to make sure that everyone knew that this tragedy had befallen a breastfed baby as if such a calamity could never occur to a bottle fed child. (“A BABY girl died when her mum fell asleep as she breast-fed on a jet.”)
But here in the US others were quick to point out that the issue was not breastfeeding, but the lack of a safe sleeping arrangement (“Breastfeeding Not to Blame, Experts Say”). As Dr. Miriam Labbock pointed out in an interview with ABC “There has been so much media about the risks of co-sleeping…but no one is covering how to sleep safely when you are not in those situations,” My worry now is that airlines will begin to frown on breastfeeding during flights for fear that both mother and baby will fall asleep and place themselves at risk. I would hate to see one isolated incident create an unfortunate trend.
Breastfeeding also got a bad rap this week when a mother’s struggles with breastfeeding were linked to her bout of Postpartum Depression (“Trying to be supermum left me suicidal’ ). “I felt such a failure,” she says. “All the other mums on the ward seemed to be doing OK – my baby was crying, but I couldn’t feed him. I was his mum, I was the one who was meant to be able to feed him, nurture him and I couldn’t.” Desperate to give him some breast milk, Clare agreed to be ‘milked’ – an electric pump was attached to her breasts to extract milk and encourage more to be produced. Even so, she only managed to produce the equivalent of two teaspoons. Not enough for a hungry one-day-old baby. Clare took that as another sure sign she was an all-round failure as a mother.” The part that makes me angry about this story is the conclusion that two teaspoons of colostrum was not enough for a one day old baby. No wonder so many mothers feel like failures! The lack of basic breastfeeding knowledge is no doubt the reason behind so much self-doubt and feelings of imcompetence.
But maybe the reason for so much post-partum depression comes more from the lack of support women experience in the hospital. In the UK a new study finds that 35% of mothers are left alone either during labor or shortly after birth. The report states that the “shortage of midwives” is “leading women to be sent home before they were ready and with no support to start breastfeeding” Happily another UK report finds that 88% of mothers who used a doula are still breastfeeding at 6 weeks, and 67% are still giving it a go at 6 months.
But an Australian paper reports that “Nearly one in two mums reported they hated breastfeeding and said they found it tougher than the actual labour” and that “one in every three mothers go into hospital feeling normal but leave troubled and emotionally fraught” “You have to ask what is wrong when women are entering hospital normal, but walk out with emotional distress. (Great question!!) Our hospital system is so fragmented and it is not supporting mothers. It is focused on the birth.” Midwives there complain “the system is “fundamentally” failing women and blame short stays in hospital and little post-natal care for creating the culture of failure surrounding new mothers.” But I’m not sure the answer should be a return to formula feeding as one midwife suggests. “Hospitals have become so driven on breastfeeding, they are ignoring the needs of mothers who may not be able to cope,” she said. “Midwives should be discussing alternatives with mothers.”You used to be able to store a tin of formula under the (hospital) cupboard but not any more. Sounds like there are a few midwives who could use a bit more support (not to mention knowledge) as well.
Speaking of lack of knowledge in Liberia the myths surrounding breastfeeding are partly to blame for their low breastfeeding rate (only 35% of babies there are exclusively breastfed). One of those myths is the fear they must avoid sex because their partner’s semen will mix with breast milk and poison the baby. Instead of breastfeeding mothers will “feed their babies mainly rice and water.” But the Liberians found their solution in red peppers. By combining improved agricultural practices with messages on infant feeding the NGO group Caritas has found a way to get villagers to listen. “Residents are now producing surplus aubergines and red hot peppers which they sell to nearby villages, giving them money to pay school fees, said Sharif. …“We don’t worry so much about [having sex while breastfeeding] now. We do it. Things are much better than they were.”
Meanwhile in Pakistan at a conference on “Islam and Child Rights” it was noted that “the West made tall claims about child rights but mothers in that part of the world had deprived their babies of breastfeeding.” Hmm, maybe we should think twice before we pat ourselves on the back for being such wonderful champions of children. But what can you do? Mothers imitate other mothers. It doesn’t matter what all the scientists in the world say, if most of the mothers in your town aren’t breastfeeding, chances are you won’t either. Look at Alabama for example. “The South is an area of the country where traditions are hard to break,” she said. “When you just look at the fact that more people are bottle feeding than breastfeeding it can be hard because you are in the minority. ” I’ve known people from California or Oregon that have said they feel a little uncomfortable breastfeeding in the mall because they’re not in a culture where everybody is doing that,” she said. In an effort to change that culture Alabama Medicaid will be offering financial incentives “when medical record documentation shows that 25 percent of the total number of mothers who deliver in their respective districts are identified as breastfeeding mothers at the time of their follow-up checkups.”
And what are scientists saying this week by the way? Well for starters the stem cells found in breast milk are getting more attention. “Up to three different types of stem cells have been discovered in breast milk,” And there is speculation that their purpose is to help infants “fulfil their genetic destiny… with a mother’s mammary glands taking over from her placenta to guide infant development once her child is born.” According to researchers at Medela, “Breast milk is the only adult tissue where more than one type of stem cell has been discovered. Researchers have “isolated adult stem cells of epithelial (mammary) and immune origin, with “very preliminary evidence” that breast milk also contains stem cells that promotes the growth of muscle and bone tissue.”
Breastfeeding’s role in preventing metabolic syndrome (in mothers) is also being lauded. Metabolic syndrome which is “a cluster of risk factors such as high blood pressure and high triglycerides associated with obesity” and is often associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. “Pregnancy may have some adverse effects on some of these cardiovascular risk factors,” lead author Erica Gunderson says, “and lactation (breast-feeding) may offset some of these effects.” Does mother nature plan ahead or what? What pregnancy takes away, lactation gives back, how great is that!
Over in Ireland four dairy groups and four academic institutions have joined forces in order to “Mine Milk”. By combining forces they feel they will be better able to exploit any health promoting ingredients found in cow’s milk. Their hope is “the industrial partners will bring a commercial focus to that research. We will provide the market insights that will direct the research.” And which markets are they targeting? “Infant nutrition, metabolic syndrome and immunity are initial key areas of research which has two and five year goals.” A little ironic don’t you think? By replacing breastfeeding with infant formula they can petty much guarantee themselves a market in metabolic syndrome & immunity. (Breastfeeding boosts immunity and reduces metabolic syndrome.)
Meanwhile Parents in the UK are being told not to “rush to mush” and that they should delay offering solids until the middle of the first year. But even this simple instruction is being met with resistance. “In a new campaign that risks “nanny state” accusations, ministers will also give new parents detailed suggestions on how long they should go on breastfeeding and what they should feed children to avoid them becoming fussy eaters in later life.” Wow, talk about going on the defense. You live in a “nanny state” if your government gives you guide lines for infant nutrition?
Good news about the new Health Care bill in Washington. If it passes as currently written it will include wording making it necessary for any business with over 50 employees to provide “an unpaid “reasonable break time for nursing mothers” in the first year after giving birth. Women would be provided a private place, other than a bathroom, to use a breast pump.” For comparison in the United Arab Emirates legislators are proposing doubling the time allowed to pump from one hour a day to two hours for 18 months following the birth. And oh, yes they not only have paid maternity leave, they want to extend it from 45 days to 14 weeks.
And remember that Dad in Sweden who planned to hook himself up to a breast pump every three hours to see if he could make milk? He’s back in the news again. He never did make any milk (after a month of trying apparently all he got was sore nipples) but he did make it onto Trya Banks talk show. While we’re on the subject of dads, another dad blogged about his uncomfortable experience waiting with his wife at a lactation clinic. Too bad he missed the advice from another paternal blogger who insists that the key to surviving such situations is to never look below the neck.
But not all dads are clueless. According to the author of “Pick your poison” (if you only have time to read one story make it this one) some dads worry that by surrendering to the demands of breastfeeding and childcare that their partners are losing their sense of self. The author argues that by not returning to work (especially after the second child) mothers are not only giving up their family’s best chance for achieving financial security, mothers risk losing any chance of ever gaining any real independence. As my friend Robin often says, “A man is not a plan.” And she’s right, most mothers would be in real trouble if they were to lose their partner’s financial support. As for me when ever the argument between working outside the home and being a stay at home mom comes up my answer is always the same – let’s start with universal paid maternity leave please.
Recognizing that many babies were being lost during the first two days of life in the Philippines they began a movement to change birth practices (delaying the first bath for 6 hours, waiting until pulsation stops before cutting the cord, keeping the baby and mother skin to skin to encourage breastfeeding) is being met with resistance from certain ob’s and nurses. “Many especially old, obstetrician-gynecologists have been uncooperative because it would mean more of their time in the delivery room. This is the same concern of nurses and midwives who want mothers and babies out of the delivery room as quickly as possible. The no-bathing rule, for example, will mean that the nurse will still have to go back to the mother after six or more hours to have the baby bathed.”
There’s more of course, from cosleeping with super model Heidi Klum, and getting the okay to breastfeed at government council meetings, to campaigns for milk banks and more news about breastfeeding and HIV, just scroll down and take a look. But if I don’t post this now I’ll never get this done.
Thanks for reading, and as usual I love hearing from you. But before I go I want to send a heartfelt message of sympathy to Janine & Meredith, daughters of Pat Gandt (La Leche League leader & IBCLC). Your mother was so special to me. I still remember her telling me, “Most doctors don’t know beans about breastfeeding!” I’m so proud of both of you for continuing Pat’s work as La Leche League Leaders yourselves. May the “spiral” never end!
Kathy Abbott, IBCLC
On Facebook: “Breastfeeding in the News”
My Blog: http://TheCuriousLactivist.wordpress.com/
Ask Dr. H: Perils to women who don’t breastfeed
Question: I know that there are a number of health benefits to babies and mothers from breastfeeding. But are there any health problems that a mother might face because she did not or could not breastfeed?
Answer: There are actually a number of diseases linked to women who never breastfed: high blood pressure; diabetes; elevated cholesterol and triglycerides; heart disease; ovarian and breast cancers; and metabolic syndrome (a group of conditions that includes obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL “good” cholesterol and a pre-diabetic state of elevated fasting blood sugar).
The reasons for these associations are not clear, but explanations include: greater weight retained after pregnancy (breastfeeding helps with weight loss); absence of oxytocin (milk-stimulating) hormone production results in higher blood pressure and pulse rate; women who are not breastfeeding have higher cortisol hormone levels in response to stress, which can cause higher blood sugar, blood pressure and weight gain; women who do not breastfeed are more likely to be smokers; and women who are obese and/or diabetic have preexisting health problems and a more difficult time producing milk.
Government urged to double work breaks for breastfeeding mothers
ABU DHABI // Health experts are urging the Government to double the amount of time that working mothers are allowed to breastfeed their babies.
Expressing concern at the number of women who relied on formula milk, the experts also gave warning that it could expose babies to health risks.
The call for longer statutory breaks – from one hour per day to two for the first 18 months after giving birth – was among 12 recommendations submitted to the Government, as well as the other governments of the GCC, following a conference in Al Ain last month on breastfeeding. The document was submitted under the patronage of Sheikha Shamsa bint Suhail, wife of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE.
The document recommends that women exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months and continue to use it as a complementary method for two years. It also calls for an extension of paid maternity leave, from 45 days to at least 14 weeks.
The document says makers of formula milk should stop making false claims in advertisements that enticed mothers and health professionals away from breast milk as the best and healthiest option. Health warnings should be placed on formula tins, it says.
Wake up and smell the biodynamic coffee
They call this place Terramater – “Earth Mother” – and the coffee bushes on Adeodato Menezes’s small farm seem imbued with that spirit. “It’s like a woman breastfeeding,” the 63-year-old says, bending down to caress the ripe Catuai cherries low down on the bush. “These are her new babies,” he adds, straightening up to touch the tightly furled leaves, green and tender, that will fruit the following year.
It’s not the kind of language I am used to on coffee farms
Breast-feeding could protect moms’ health
Researchers reported that breast-feeding could offer mothers long-term protection against a condition which is related to diabetes and heart disease.
Scientists found that the duration of breast-feeding by women had a direct impact on lowering the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of risk factors such as high blood pressure and high triglycerides associated with obesity.
“Pregnancy may have some adverse effects on some of these cardiovascular risk factors,” lead author Erica Gunderson says, “and lactation (breast-feeding) may offset some of these effects.”
The findings of the study by Gunderson were based on 704 women in an ongoing, government-funded study of heart-disease risk factors. When the women began the study in 1985-1986 they were ages 18-30 and had never given birth and testing made it sure that they didn’t have metabolic syndrome.
All of them went ahead to deliver at least one child, and only 16% had more than two children. In women who did not have gestational diabetes breast-feeding cut the metabolic syndrome risk by 39%-59%.
Beast-feeding is related to quick loss of pregnancy weight but Gunderson says that breast-feeding might also minimize the accumulation of belly fat which is linked to type
2 diabetes risk.
MOMMY BLOG: A scary story about breastfeeding
You see a lot of disturbing stuff in the news, but this was one of the more terrifying stories I’ve seen lately.
A woman on a transatlantic flight reportedly fell asleep while breastfeeding her 4-week-old baby. When she awoke, her baby was unresponsive, apparently smothered to death.
This shocked me. I feel terrible for the mother, of course, but it also alarmed me because I’ve done the same thing so many times since our 8-month-old was born.
Mornings during the first few months of her life, my husband would often find Asha sound asleep across my lap and me snoozing with my breast still in her mouth, both of us passed out after a middle-of-the-night feeding.
I’m sure I’m not the only one, either. So how about you – does this story scare you as much as me? Leave a note in the comments section or send me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Professional birthing partners ‘increasingly popular with new parents’
Results of a recent survey published in the MIDIRS Midwifery Digest revealed that almost half of doulas working in the UK last year were supporting first-time mums.
The findings also indicated that 88 per cent of women who had a postnatal doula were still breastfeeding at six weeks and 67 per cent at six months.
Govt urged to protect child rights (Pakistan)
MANSEHRA: The speakers at a seminar Friday asked the government to strictly implement the laws for ending child rights violations in the country.
The demand was made at the programme arranged by Saibaan Development Organization and Child Rights Advocacy Network titled ‘Islam and child rights’.
The representatives of national and international NGOs largely attended the function.
They said the West made tall claims about child rights but mothers in that part of the world had deprived their babies of breastfeeding. But Islam ordered mothers to breastfeed babies up to certain time.
“If a mother breast-feeds her child, her health becomes safe and the new-born health is also ensured,” said one of the speakers.
Oprah changed TV — along with many lives
In the ensuing years, I timed my babies’ breastfeeding schedules around the show. Those babies, now 19, 17 and 15, have fond memories of coming home from school, fixing a bowl of cereal and doing homework, always with Oprah on in the kitchen.
Breastfeeding shouldn’t be blamed for death of smothered baby on board United flight, experts say
The horrific story of a woman who reportedly smothered her infant when she fell asleep while nursing on a plane should not scare women away from feeding mother’s milk to their babies.
Several British newspapers reported that an Egyptian woman traveling from Washington to Kuwait to show off her 4-week-old daughter to relatives came awake screaming when she found her 4-week-old daughter dead. A doctor on board United Airlines flight 982 is said to have tried, and failed, to revive the child.
United Airlines refused to the confirm Nov. 24 incident to ABCNews.com. Still, the news agency addressed the question of whether breastfeeding is safe.
“This has nothing to do with breastfeeding,” Heather Kay, a lactation consultant in Princeton, N.J., told ABCNews.com. “If she had been holding the child and she fell asleep, she could have smothered it as well. [And] making it sound like [breastfeeding] is the reason the baby died is really uncomfortable.”
In other words, falling asleep with an infant in arms, not nursing, puts a baby at risk.
There have been other incidents of sleepsmothering, though it is rare. In 2006, British mother Lisa Briggs said that she had accidentally smothered her baby after falling asleep while breastfeeding. It was the second child she had lost that way, she told the press.
But Dr. Ruth Lawrence, past president and founder of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, asserted to ABCNews.com that there must have other factors at play in the plane death because “under normal circumstances, babies do not get smothered [while breastfeeding].
“Breastfeeding doesn’t smother babies,” she told ABCNews.com. “I don’t know a mother who hasn’t fallen asleep while feeding her child, whether nursing or bottle-feeding.”
Co-sleeping with a baby is a practice many experts warn about.
“You can fall asleep in bed with a child after breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or just plain snuggling…[and] accidental smothering during co-bedding is a major concern of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other [organizations]nationally and internationally,” Dr. Ronald Cohen, director of the Intermediate and Special Care Nurseries at Packard’s Children Hospital in Stanford, Calif., told ABCNews.com. “We advise against it strongly.”
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/health/2009/12/02/2009-12-02_breastfeeding_shouldnt_be_blamed_for_death_of_smothered_baby_on_board_united_fli.html#ixzz0Z19GS0yr
Wirral Milk Bank launches breastfeeding awareness campaign
WIRRAL Mothers Milk Bank has launched a breastfeeding awareness campaign by opening a drop-in advice shop in Birkenhead Town Centre. Situated in the Milton Pavement area of Grange Precint, the shop is being run by the Milk Bank in conjunction with Birkenhead Community midwives. Mums can call in at any time for advice and guidance from infant feeding specialists, Milk Bank staff, breastfeeding support workers, children’s centre staff and mental health midwives, domestic violence coordinators. They will also be able to come along for antenatal and postnatal care, baby massage sessions and other information.
It is open from 10am to 3pm, five days a week from Tuesday to Saturday. To coincide with its opening, the Trust has launched a campaign titled ‘Real Mums, Real Midwives, Real Milk’ to raise awareness of the importance of giving babies the best start in life.
Jemma Jones, Birkenhead Community Midwives co-ordinator, hopes the shop will help to build on this campaign and provide mums with an easily accessible place where they can call in and gain advice from midwives.
She said: “Encouraging and giving mums the confidence to breastfeed their baby is so important.
“It is so natural and we want to provide a service that offers mums the help and support that they need.”
Breast Milk For Sale Concerns Local Health Officials
A trend toward nursing women selling their breastmilk has some health experts concerned.
In Ohio, nursing moms can bring their extra milk to a dropoff site at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for a special, volunteer donation program. The milk goes to sick babies around the nation and is not for sale.
But many websites do offer to buy breast milk, for about $1.50 an ounce and then resell for twice that amount. The practice concerns local ;lactation consultants. “For one thing there’s no screening so we don’t know if indeed if what they’re selling is even milk, we don’t know if they’re on any medications or illegal drugs, we don’t know if it’s been pasteurized.” The experts say you should avoid buying milk for your baby on the internet.
Moms who are interested in donating extra milk can call the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine at Children’s Hospital at 513-636-2326.
Breastfeeding Not to Blame for Recent Infant Death, Urge Experts
Co-Sleeping — Not Breastfeeding — May Be At Fault, Experts Say
While this rare scenario, if true, could alarm many mothers, pediatric experts caution that breastfeeding is safe — and the episode should not discourage its practice.
“This has nothing to do with breastfeeding,” says Heather Kay, a lactation consultant in Princeton, N.J. She says it’s not the breastfeeding, but rather, the act of falling asleep while holding an infant that can lead to accendental death.
Breastfeeding Not to Blame, Experts Say
Though it is very rare, this would not be the first time that sleep-nursing has resulted in accidental death.
In 2006, British mother Lisa Briggs told the U.K. press that she accidentally smothered her child after falling asleep while nursing and said she had previously lost an infant under similar circumstances.
“Breastfeeding doesn’t smother babies,” says Dr. Ruth Lawrence, past president and founder of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. “I don’t know a mother who hasn’t fallen asleep while feeding her child, whether nursing or bottle-feeding,” Lawrence adds.
Instead, Lawrence feels there must have other extenuating circumstances responsible for the death because “under normal circumstances, babies do not get smothered [while breastfeeding].”
Lawrence suggests that in an attempt to cover themselves in public while nursing, mothers can accidentally cover the baby’s head and suffocate it.
But other experts feel that these accidents are simply a consequence of sharing sleeping space with your infant — an act known as co-sleeping or co-bedding. It is a practice many pediatric organizations advise against.
“The issue is not breastfeeding, it is co-bedding,” says Dr. Ronald Cohen, director of the Intermediate and Special Care Nurseries at Packard’s Children’s Hospital in Stanford, Calif.
“You can fall asleep in bed with a child after breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or just plain snuggling… [and] accidental smothering during co-bedding is a major concern of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other [organizations] nationally and internationally — we advise against it strongly,” he adds.
According to Lawrence, there are no guidelines on falling asleep while breastfeeding because it is such a common practice. But a quick survey of online early infancy discussion forums reveals that many mothers worry they may harm their infant when they accidentally fall asleep while nursing.
Part of the issue, says Dr. Miriam Labbock, director of the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, is that “we give only over-simplistic messages” about sleeping with your infant, advising against it altogether despite the fact that in some situations, such as onboard a flight, it can be unavoidable.
“There has been so much media about the risks of co-sleeping…but no one is covering how to sleep safely when you are not in those situations,” she says, “[so] moms have to make due when reality and personal decisions are in conflict with the single recommendation…and sometimes, the choices are not well informed.”
Breastfeeding May Not Be ‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’
On the United Airlines case, unless autopsy reports can confirm the cause of death, Tuesday’s tragedy will be officially considered “unexplained” London police told the U.K. press.
“We don’t want to offer mothers disincentive to breastfeed or worries that are unusual [because of] this is one, unusual, tragic, case,” says Kay, because “overall the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any of the disadvantages.”
“It’s very distressing,” Lawrence adds, “because no matter what we say, this [incident] is going to discourage [some] women from breastfeeding.”
But given that the mother was breastfeeding at the time of death, experts still worry that this tragic, isolated incident will have the added tragedy of discouraging mothers from breastfeeding.
Bias Skews Obesity Findings, Says Head of UAB Nutrition and Obesity Research Center
A new study by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health shows that obesity research may be misrepresented by scientists operating with particular biases on topics related to weight, nutrition and the food industry.
The researchers refer to “white-hat bias,” a tendency to distort information about products such as sugar-sweetened beverages or practices like breastfeeding, regardless of the facts, when the distortions are perceived to serve good ends. The name for the bias is a reference to do-good characters often portrayed in early Hollywood Westerns as cowboys who wore white hats
…The UAB researchers also found several examples in the breastfeeding studies in which the authors selectively included some data and discarded other research to support the theory that breastfeeding decreases the risk of obesity.
For both the beverage and breastfeeding research, the resulting data was more likely to be published when it showed statistically significant outcomes. Studies with outcomes that did not show sugar-sweetened drinks to be bad and breastfeeding to be good were less likely to be published. Notably, this bias appeared in studies not funded by industry, Allison says.
The AP says that police were called when Target employees tried to throw a couple out of the store because the woman was breastfeeding in the electronics aisle. The husband, a Detroit police officer, says they were told by the security guard that the act was “against the law.” Obviously, as police officer, he knew that wasn’t true. The National Conference of State Legislatures says that Michigan is one of the 28 states that exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws.
Target says they regret the incident, but, “This specific situation escalated to a point where we were concerned for the safety of our guests, so law enforcement was called. We regret the incident in our store and will continue to provide a shopping environment that respects the needs of all guests, including nursing mothers.”
The mom told the local Fox affiliate, “Forcing me out of the store. Two security guards, the manager or team leader, two officers, they just made a spectacle and a scene. I feel like I can’t go to that specific Target anymore.”
The manager of the store told Fox breastfeeding is “not discouraged” in her store. Hmm.
Swedish ‘milkman’ loses breastfeeding battle
Ragnar Bengtsson, 26, has failed in his high profile bid to pump forth milk from his breasts. But there is some consolation for the self-styled “Milkman”, who is winging his way to the United States this week for an appearance on The Tyra Banks Show.
Bengtsson’s milk race began with a bang in early September as he set about pumping his breasts on a three-hourly basis. The unorthodox sight of a young dad with a machine pressed to his nipples became part of daily life at Stockholm University, as the economics student endeavoured to do his bit for gender equality. If men could breastfeed their babies, the argument went, then women could rejoin the workplace more quickly, safe in the knowledge that their newborns were receiving the proper nourishment from their proud dads.
But ultimately, the experiment failed, with Bengtsson unable to live up to the name of his blog: ‘The Milkman – One Drop at a Time’. On Tuesday at 9pm, he returns to the TV8 studio and the Aschberg show where it all began for a final look back at a trial considered intriguing and brave by some, but sickening and unnatural by many others. “We never expected the enormous reaction we got; a lot of people were almost blinded with disgust,” said Magnus Talib, a member of the Aschberg editorial team that has followed the day-to-day progress of the Milkman.
News of the would-be breastfeeding dad spread quickly, with media outlets from 40-50 countries taking up the tale. Having reported on the experiment right from the outset, The Local has received countless requests from foreign media for contact details for Bengtsson, most recently from The Tyra Banks Show. As always, the inquiry was passed on to the producers of Aschberg, who in turn informed Bengtsson that he would be flown to meet talk show hostess Tyra Banks later this week. “Ragnar just said, ‘oh cool’. Personally I would have crapped myself,” said Talib of the prospect of being flown to the United States to appear on one of the world’s most popular talk shows. Bengtsson, who was unavailable for comment on Tuesday, was reportedly also pleased to finally be able to put his pump back on the shelf.
“All he got was sore breasts,” said Talib.
Trajedy as breastfeeding mother smothers baby after falling asleep on jet
A mother accidentally smothered her baby daughter to death on a flight after she fell asleep while breastfeeding. The four-week-old girl was travelling with her Egyptian mother from Washington DC to Kuwait when the tragedy occurred on November 24. Crew on the United Airlines jet were alerted by the 29-year-old mother’s screams. A doctor travelling on the plane tried unsuccessfully to revive the baby. The plane, which was over the Atlantic at 33,000ft, was diverted to London‘s Heathrow airport just before 10am, where police boarded.
The baby girl was rushed to Hillingdon Hospital, a spokesman told the Daily Mail. However she was pronounced dead on arrival at 10.35am. Three days later a post-mortem was performed on her at the Great Ormond St Hospital in London. Police are still awaiting the results of that. In the meantime, the spokesman said, the death is being treated as ‘unexplained’.No arrests have been made in the tragic incident. A police source told The Sun: ‘This appears to be a tragic accident. The girl comes from a loving family. ‘Her mum was going to Kuwait to show her to relatives.’
A mother breastfeeds her baby (posed by model). Experts have countered against breastfeeding a baby in bed, where mothers can fall asleep – as the mother aboard the United flight did. It is not known if the woman was travelling with anyone other than her child.Officers from Scotland Yard‘s Child Abuse Investigation Team are now dealing with the incident.
The dos and don’ts of breastfeeding, according to the National Childbirth Trust:Do try to support his back, shoulders and neck. He should be able to tilt his head back easily. And he shouldn’t have to reach out to feed.
Do make sure your baby gets a big mouthful of breast from underneath the nipple.
Don’t worry if your baby pauses while breast feeding. This is normal.
Do change position slightly once your baby is attached if you are uncomfortable.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The National Breastfeeding Helpline is 0300 100 0212.
In 2004, Briton Lisa Briggs smothered her baby as they slept less than three years after losing another child to a similar tragedy. Miss Briggs, 23, fell asleep while feeding five-week-old Keitha and woke in the morning to find her lifeless by her side. Miss Briggs had lost her four-week-old daughter Cerese in identical circumstances.
However the Royal College of Midwives said in 2006 there are some benefits for breastfeeding mothers to share a bed with their babies, and a blanket message advising them not to do it could be counter-productive. Melanie Every, a regional manager for the Royal College, said: ‘We know that there are many, many cultures and many, many women who will continue to share beds with their babies, even when they are advised not to do it. ‘Now, knowing that, it’s important to give them advice on the safest possible way of doing it, rather than just saying don’t do it.’ Babies can die of suffocation when their airways are obstructed by lying against their mother – a phenomenon known as ‘overlying’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1232265/Breastfeeding-mum-smothers-baby-jet-falling-asleep.html#ixzz0Z0ydbfT7
Fatherhood Gets Hip
On the long road of parenting commentary, where genial postwar humorists Erma Bombeck and Jean Kerr fall back like abandoned Essos while the flag-festooned rest stops of Parenthood and Baby Boom flap wildly in the distance, two vital topics have always predominated: How Not to Kill Baby and Things Baby Did That Are Funny. (Toddlerspeak: the lisp that launched a thousand Facebook updates.) But a generation of overachievers married to the mighty circuits of our information exchange have birthed a debate on child curation of stunning speed and scope, from teeth-gnashing over C-sections to a Craigslist black market in fresh-drawn baby milk.
The Mommy & Me Generation, who are lately asked to train their infants to themselves by sling and feed them only self-generated extrusions, can be forgiven if they occasionally treat breastfeeding as an act of religious solemnity. (One must find a way to cope with anything one is forced to do 37 times a day.) If the organic quality of what one uses to wipe a child’s ass and house its downy curve thereafter slides easily into a topic of substantive debate, so be it.
Mom Smothers BabyBreastfeeding on a Jet
A BABY girl died when her mum fell asleep as she breast-fed on a jet.
The woman, 29, awoke after an hour to find the four-week-old had been smothered.
Cabin crew were alerted by the mum’s screams in business class, and the United Airlines jet – over the Atlantic at 33,000ft – was diverted to London’s Heathrow for an immediate landing.
A doctor on board the Washington DC to Kuwait flight tried in vain to resuscitate the girl.
Police boarded the jet on landing and Scotland Yard’s Child Abuse Investigation Team officers are investigating. The mum is Egyptian-born and her girl was American.
A police source said: “This appears to be a tragic accident. The girl comes from a loving family. Her mum was going to Kuwait to show her to relatives.”
Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2752647/Mum-smothers-baby-breastfeeding-on-jet.html#ixzz0Z0vzgSDL
HEIDI KLUM FINDING FOUR KIDS ‘TOUGH’
German supermodel Heidi Klum has found being a mother of four ”tough” since she gave birth to her new daughter Lou last month.
“At the moment Lou needs me enormously. Not only because of breastfeeding but also because she needs to be close to her mother. She will sleep now for a year with us in our bedroom – just as her siblings did. It’s easier at night if she is hungry.”
Scientist Claim Victory for Mother’s Milk
Breastfeeding may be vital to a child’s development, claims a new study suggesting that it contains stem cells promoting the immune system and growth of both muscle and bone tissue. Take that, bottle-fed weaklings.
- The claim comes from Dr Mark Cregan, medical director at Swiss healthcare company Medela, who admits that it’s based on “very preliminary evidence.” Not that that’s stopping him from saying that the discovery demonstrates that breast milk helps a newborn child “fulfil its genetic destiny”:
Breast milk is the only adult tissue where more than one type of stem cell has been discovered. That is very unique and implies a lot about the impressive bioactivity of breast milk and the consequential benefits to the breastfed infant… It’s quite possible that immune cells in breast milk can survive digestion and end up in the infant’s circulation. This has been shown to be occurring in animals, and so it would be unsurprising if this was also occurring in human infants.
If these benefits turn out to be true, then it might lead more mothers to breastfeed; according to the World Health Organization, only 3% of mothers worldwide exclusively breastfeed currently, leading to a generation who’ll sadly be too weak to fight off the Terminators they’ll have to deal with.
Stem cells could be the secret reason why breast is best
FACTBOX-WHO issues new recommendations for HIV patients
Here are the major recommendations by the United Nations agency which has 193 member states:
* Countries should phase out use of Stavudine, the most widespread antiretroviral, because it has “long-term, irreversible” side-effects including wasting and a nerve disorder.
U.S. drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY.N) Co and India’s Cipla (CIPL.BO) and Aurobindo Pharma (ARBN.BO) Ltd are among leading producers.
* Instead, countries should use two other antiretrovirals — Zidovudine (AZT) or Tenofovir (TDF) — which are less toxic and equally effective.
HIV patients, including pregnant women, should now start antiretrovirals earlier, when their CD4 count, a measure of immune system strength, falls to 350 cells/mm3, regardless of symptoms.
* WHO’s previous guidelines, issued in 2006, called for starting treatment when patients’ CD4 count falls to 200 cells/mm3 — when they typically show symptoms of HIV disease.
“The best time to start ART (antiretroviral therapy) is before patients become unwell or develop their first opportunistic infection,” the WHO said, referring to diseases such as tuberculosis which prey on weakened immune systems.
* To prevent mother-to-child transmission, HIV-positive pregnant women should start using the drugs from 14 weeks into pregnancy, rather than 28 weeks as previously recommended, and continue until the end of breastfeeding.
“For the first time, there is enough evidence for WHO to recommend antiretrovirals while breastfeeding,” it said.
* Breastfeeding should continue until the infant is a year old, providing both mother and child take the drugs. “This will reduce the risk of HIV transmission and improve the infant’s chance of survival.”
Without treatment, one third of the children living with HIV die before their first birthday and almost half by the second year, the Geneva-based agency said.
Simple steps to save Filipino newborns
We are seeing of late a push to save more of our babies that are being born. This is because experts see a risk that newborn mortality, which has been on the level at 17 deaths per 1,000 since 1998, may revert upwards and ultimately affect our Millennium Development Goals for 2015.
Studies have shown that newborns are at the highest risk during the first two days of their lives. In fact, country statistics say that 50 percent of newborns die during this critical time. This adds up to about 20,000 babies a year.
The sad fact is that the death of these newborns can easily be prevented, only if simple obstetric and pediatric procedures are followed. And this is what the Department of Health has recently been busy studying and preparing for.
At the Quirino Memorial Medical Center, which many of us still refer to as the Labor Hospital, a tight watch on birthing procedures is currently being observed. This is something that our health workers feel will drastically bring down newborn mortality figures.
Changing old habits
The newly introduced newborn protocols are surprisingly simple, easy steps that deal with essential interventions during the baby’s first hours of life. Many of these are simple changes in the current procedure, and only require undoing of what had been taught to our doctors, nurses and midwives in the past.
For example, it has always been the practice to bathe a newborn right after its umbilical cord is clamped and cut. Dr. Bella Vitangcol, who currently heads the program at Quirino, had specifically instructed her staff that no newborn be given a bath until after six or more hours.
They observed that newborns that are only rubbed dried, and then given to the mother to physically hold and hug, acquire greater immunity against hypothermia, which is a major reason for a number of infections.
When the newborn is also immediately delivered to the mother’s arms and maintained in skin-to-skin contact (no clothing barriers between mother and child) for a prolonged period, chances of longer and successful breastfeeding is achieved.
Skin-to-skin contact, especially if the baby has been given to the mother immediately after birth, has been known to trigger the crawling reflex where the newborn on its own seeks out the mother’s breasts to latch on and start to suckle and feed.
Breastmilk is best
It seems that babies that are immediately “separated” from their moms after birth (to accommodate such clinic or hospital procedures as bathing, weighing, footprinting, and others) lose the crawling reflex, and display a prolonged loss of interest to breastfeed.
The breastfeeding campaign continues to be a tough cookie where our government is concerned, not just because of the many advertisements in the past that glamorized bottle-feeding and formula use, but also because generations of mothers have lost the instinct to naturally nurture their newborns.
Breast milk, especially the first expression, is known to contain irreplaceable antigens that give babies immeasurable protection against many infections for life. Newborns that immediately breastfeed have likewise been observed to survive the first critical two days of life.
Mothers that start to breastfeed at the first hour of a child’s life usually also continue to breastfeed for at least the next two or more months, depending on the support condition that is going to be present when the baby is brought home.
Delayed cord clamping
Another procedure that is being introduced is the delay in clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord. The standard practice today is to immediately clamp and cut the cord, ostensibly to facilitate the flow of child delivery especially in hospitals with busy maternal wards.
By waiting one to three minutes, or until the pulsations of the cord stop, a newborn is spared of iron-deficiency anemia, a condition that has been determined to have the cause of many sickly conditions such as anemia in infants and young children.
All these simple procedures are in line with world health standards currently being espoused by the World Health Organization. The Department of Health has been involved with this initiative since last year, and is currently training its relevant hospital personnel all over the country in the new procedures.
Barriers to implementation
The biggest stumbling block to the adopting these simple, life-saving newborn care protocols is breaking age-old habits. Many, especially old, obstetrician-gynecologists have been uncooperative because it would mean more of their time in the delivery room.
This is the same concern of nurses and midwives who want mothers and babies out of the delivery room as quickly as possible. The no-bathing rule, for example, will mean that the nurse will still have to go back to the mother after six or more hours to have the baby bathed.
Lastly, formula feed companies will not want an early initiation to breastfeeding because this will mean totally writing off their multi-billion peso business in the country.
The campaign has a better chance of success if mothers are empowered to demand that they receive this essential newborn care package. Let’s hope that the health department will mount a nationwide information campaign after hospital personnel training is completed.
Otherwise, it will just become like the breastfeeding campaign – almost forgotten and neglected.
Seven Things You Didn’t Know Were In The Senate Health Bill
Pay attention: The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” — better known as the Senate health care overhaul bill – is chock full of interesting but little publicized provisions affecting consumers. Sure, the bill is mainly a blueprint for overhauling the insurance system. But look closely and you’ll see a variety of items that would affect people from the cradle to old age – from breast pump use to retiree health benefits. It’s a congressional tradition, adding pet interests that otherwise might not pass to a big bill that at least will be put up for a vote.
Yes, there’s plenty of time to change the bill. But political analysts say a final overhaul bill would more likely look like this measure than the version already approved by the House because Senate Democrats barely could agree on sending it to the floor for debate. In short, there’s not much political room for major changes.
Here are some examples of what lies in this 2,074-page bill:
Nursing Mothers Get A Break
Employers would be required to provide an unpaid “reasonable break time for nursing mothers” in the first year after giving birth. Women would be provided a private place, other than a bathroom, to use a breast pump. The provision exempts companies with fewer than 50 workers if the requirement would impose “an undue hardship,” a determination left to the employer to make.
This provision was inserted by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who in June introduced the Breastfeeding Promotion Act. Merkley is promoting breast feeding partly as a way to cut health costs. He cites studies showing breast-fed children have a lower rate of disease and illness in their lifetime.
But employers see yet another expense. “Every additional mandated rule further burdens employers who are struggling to keep jobs afloat,” says Neil Trautwein, vice president of the National Retail Federation.
Twenty-four states already have protections for nursing mothers in the workplace, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures
Report: Gaps in Alabama’s maternity services
In covering services for low-income pregnant women, Alabama stacks up well against other states on the variety of services it covers, but it doesn’t match the number of women many other states serve, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation
Alabama is one of only six states that provide pregnant women who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level with everything from basic prenatal care services and delivery to medical and genetic testing. Other states provide coverage to women who earn up to 300 percent of the poverty level.
But Alabama doesn’t directly cover breastfeeding support services. Alabama is one of eight mostly Southern states that do not cover such items as education services, individual lactation consultations and equipment rental, according to the report.
Twenty-five of the states that responded to the survey cover breastfeeding education services, 15 states cover individual lactation consultation and 31 states cover equipment rental, such as breast pumps. But there is evidence that the low-income women in Alabama are getting access to those services by other means.
But getting mothers, particularly those who live in the South, to consider breastfeeding is a challenge.
“It’s definitely a rising trend, but Alabama has always been way down at the bottom when it comes to breastfeeding,” she said. “We’re in the last five — we’re number 46th or 47th.”
The only states that trail Alabama are Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky, Sealy said.
Louisiana and Mississippi are among the eight states that do not use Medicaid to cover breastfeeding support services, according to the report.
Sealy said she believes that one of the reasons that more Southern women do not breastfeed is cultural.
“The South is an area of the country where traditions are hard to break,” she said. “When you just look at the fact that more people are bottle feeding than breastfeeding it can be hard because you are in the minority.
“I’ve known people from California or Oregon that have said they feel a little uncomfortable breastfeeding in the mall because they’re not in a culture where everybody is doing that,” she said.
But that could be changing, and Alabama Medicaid could be helping to lead the charge for change among low-income mothers next year.
Rawls said starting next year Alabama Medicaid would offer a financial incentive to its maternity care primary contractors for promoting breastfeeding among the patients they serve.
“Medicaid maternity care primary contractors will be potentially eligible in 2010 for bonus payments when medical record documentation shows that 25 percent of the total number of mothers who deliver in their respective districts are identified as breastfeeding mothers at the time of their follow-up checkups,” Rawls said.
Sealy said all it really takes to get mothers interested in breastfeeding is a suggestion from someone they trust, such as their obstetrician.
“Simply having an (obstetrician) suggest to you that breastfeeding can be a good thing makes a difference,” she said.
LIBERIA: Breaking breastfeeding myths
MONROVIA, 27 November 2009 (IRIN) – “My first kid died because I breastfed him after my husband had had an affair,” Tina Kollie, mother of a seven-month-old in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, told IRIN. She has not breastfed any children since. “[If I breastfeed], whenever my husband has an affair my child gets sick.”
Rebecca Carter in the Buzzi Quarter neighbourhood said she stopped breastfeeding after a few months because she could not have sexual intercourse while breastfeeding – the semen will mix with breast milk, she said, making it toxic for the child.
“I didn’t want my husband to go with other women so I could not breastfeed,” she told IRIN. “I had to be available for him.”
UNICEF estimates that just 35 percent of Liberian mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding; a survey by NGO Action contre la Faim (ACF) in Monrovia estimated 44 percent in 2008.
ACF staff regularly hear widespread beliefs about breastfeeding perils: It is dangerous to breastfeed while pregnant as it could weaken the unborn infant; women should not breastfeed if a previous child has died while breastfeeding; and breastfeeding over time is dangerous as breast milk can mix with blood.
Instead Kollie, Carter and dozens of other women IRIN spoke to, feed their babies mainly rice and water.
The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend feeding newborns only breast milk for the first six months to reduce vulnerability life-threatening diseases or malnutrition. Aid agencies in Liberia are trying to re-frame breastfeeding and infant nutrition as a health issue.
“Working with communities on breastfeeding is a long, drawn-out job, because malnutrition is often not seen as a sickness, but is associated with witchcraft-like beliefs,” ACF Liberia head, Massimo Stella, told IRIN.
UNICEF nutrition specialist Kinday Samba agreed, saying aid agencies have to support the Health Ministry over the long term to bolster exclusive breastfeeding. “We won’t see huge changes immediately.”
Men, grandmothers key
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), ACF and others are encouraging women to exclusively breastfeed their babies up to at least six months.
Dispelling breastfeeding myths is not the key to changing women’s behavior, ACF’s Stella said; all staff can do is inform communities of the benefits of breastfeeding and trigger discussion, he said.
Women who have already changed their feeding practices can show that it is not dangerous, encouraging others to attempt change, ACF’s care practices manager, Audrey Gibeaux, told IRIN.
ACF must also target men and grandmothers in the discussion, she said.
“I always try to encourage men to come, as they have so much decision-making power in Liberian households…and grandmothers must be present as the knowledge they pass down is considered very valuable.”
Liberia has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in West Africa and grandmothers often care for babies.
Breastfeeding messages must be spread through every channel to be effective, UNICEF’s Samba said, citing radio, posters, community groups and clinic visits as examples.
UNICEF is developing messages to be disseminated on all of these fronts, she said.
Stella agreed: “We found the prevention activities are more effective if they take place simultaneously at country level, community level and school level.”
Monitoring the impact of these efforts is not easy, Stella said. “Immediate evidence of the links among increased knowledge, behavior change and improved health cannot all be measured in medical or statistical terms.”
A UNICEF-supported infant feeding practices survey is due out in late 2009, while ACF will carry out a study of its activities’ impact in February 2010.
More red peppers, more breastfeeding
One village where knowledge has translated to behavior change among some families is Gbarnga-ta, 15km outside of Gbarnga in Bong County, where according to NGO Caritas a third of under-five children are undernourished.
Caritas, supported by CRS, has been working with residents to improve agricultural productivity and infant feeding practices.
Before, women and men thought having sex while still breastfeeding was dangerous, resident Helena Sharif told IRIN.
It was partly the success of the agricultural activities that made villagers more receptive to the NGO’s breastfeeding messages, giving them traction, say villagers.
Residents are now producing surplus aubergines and red hot peppers which they sell to nearby villages, giving them money to pay school fees, said Sharif.
Helena’s husband Tony Sharif is relieved. “We don’t worry so much about [having sex while breastfeeding] now. We do it. Things are much better than they were,” he said, prompting laughter and nods from fellow villagers.
While intensive efforts may work, some aid experts are skeptical that behavior change can be effective on a mass scale.
“It’s very difficult to change people’s behavior,” said European Commission humanitarian aid department (ECHO) representative in Liberia Koen Henckaerts.
“I’m skeptical that you can [do so] in the short term or on a mass scale. It takes a long time, and it is related to wider, entrenched issues such as poverty.”
Breastmilk push is stressing mums
FIRST-TIME mothers feel they are leaving hospitals as failures because they are being pressured to breastfeed at all costs, with many saying breastfeeding was harder than giving birth.
In an exclusive The Daily Telegraph online survey, more than 500 new mothers shared their experiences and experts said the striking findings show how a fragmented and biased system is letting down NSW families.
One in two mums said they felt pressured to breastfeed, while 42 per cent said they were given no information about alternatives and 65 per cent of women said they were given contradictory advice by midwives.
Nearly one in two mums reported they hated breastfeeding and said they found it tougher than the actual labour, while a third of mothers surveyed said they moved to using formula after eight weeks.
The results came as no surprise to midwives and motherhood experts who say the system is “fundamentally” failing women and blame short stays in hospital and little post-natal care for creating the culture of failure surrounding new mothers.
University of Technology midwife lecturer Associate Professor Jennifer Fenwik said research showed one in every three mothers go into hospital feeling normal but leave troubled and emotionally fraught.
“Hospitals have become so driven on breastfeeding, they are ignoring the needs of mothers who may not be able to cope,” she said. “Midwives should be discussing alternatives with mothers.”You used to be able to store a tin of formula under the (hospital) cupboard but not any more. “You have to ask what is wrong when women are entering hospital normal, but walk out with emotional distress. Our hospital system is so fragmented and it is not supporting mothers. It is focused on the birth.”
One new mother responded to The Daily Telegraph survey saying she was not prepared for how arduous breastfeeding would be and called for better education for mums-to-be.”Breastfeeding is one of the most difficult experiences of my life, made more difficult by the fact that I was wildly ignorant as to how truly challenging it could be. “More women would stick it out through these challenges if they were made aware, prior to birth, just how hard it can be.”
What Women Want founder and mother-of-seven Justine Caines said the current model of care was not supportive of mothers. “The system is not about women but about clinicians and what they want,” she said. “If women feel like a failure, I don’t see that as a good sign. Our system is absolutely failing women.”
First-time mother Maria Younan, 27, struggled with breastfeeding and, after three days, told midwives that she wanted to stop. Her daughter Scarlett, now four months old, had to stay in the nursery while Maria struggled to feed her. “I didn’t have sufficient milk and my daughter was getting sick,” she said. “I was the one that had to initiate (bottle feeding). The nurses were great but they wanted me to keep trying with breastfeeding.”
Will it soon be double duty time for Gossip Girl actress Kelly Rutherford? We recently reported actress Kelly who is 40, and her entrepreneur husband, Daniel Giersch, are expecting their second child in June. Meanwhile it turns out Kelly is still doing breast feeding duty for her talking two-year-old son, Hermès. She tells US Weekly, “”It’s an amazing bond with your child. Some cultures do it up to five years, normally. I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just do it as long as it feels right for my son.’”
Rutherford also attributes her slim figure to nursing: “I was thinner after my pregnancy than before, and I think a lot of it was the nursing. They say it helps your body get back to shape in a natural way.”
Exclusive breastfeeding in Sri Lanka: problems of interpretation of reported rates
Accurate interpretation of reported breastfeeding rates is essential in understanding the true picture of a country’s breastfeeding status. In Sri Lanka, where the reported exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) rate among infants aged from 0 to 5months is 75%, accurate understanding of this rate is of the utmost importance.
The danger of misinterpreting the data and assuming that Sri Lanka has achieved a high EBF rate is that health workers begin to believe that no further effort should be made in this area. This is very dangerous as the potential to further improve rates of EBF will not be addressed.
We discuss the interpretation of survey data and various definitions used in the relevant literature. We strongly recommend that interpretation of EBF rates should be done only after careful evaluation of the definitions and survey methods used.
Author: Suneth AgampodiThilini AgampodiAvanthi de Silva
Credits/Source: International Breastfeeding Journal 2009, 4:14
New parents will be told: keep breastfeeding, don’t ‘rush to mush’
Parents will be told not to “rush to mush” by switching their babies to solid food too early as part of a new Government drive to educate new mothers and fathers.
In a new campaign that risks “nanny state” accusations, ministers will also give new parents detailed suggestions on how long they should go on breastfeeding and what they should feed children to avoid them becoming fussy eaters in later life. Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, will formally endorse the Start4Life campaign at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) annual conference in Manchester on Friday. The Start4life campaign tells parents when they should switch babies from milk to solid food, what they should and should not feed them, and when children should start trying to walk.
In particular, parents will be told not to “rush to mush” and give their youngsters solids too early. Generally, babies should be given milk for at least six months, the campaign suggests. Continuing to breastfeed can avoid stomach upsets while the baby’s digestive system is still developing and cut down on the risk of allergies, the campaign says. To help parents decide when it is appropriate for their child to move on to solids, the campaign suggests a “banana challenge” . “A good test is the banana challenge – if your baby is able to sit up and hold its head steady, reach out and grab half a peeled, ripe banana and eat some of it all by themselves, they are ready.”
The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding babies for the first six months. But according to the Department of Health, only 1 per cent of British mothers do so. Half give up and switch to solids after six weeks. Parents will also be told:
<> avoid adding salt to babies’ food.
<>introduce a variety of foods, textures and flavours early on, to avoid the child growing up to be a “fussy eater.”
<>when a child starts eating solids, offer “between-meal snacks” of rice cakes, vegetable sticks, breadsticks, fruit and white toast with cheese spread, avoiding sugary snacks.
As well as advice on diet, the campaign also presses parents to keep their baby active “Babies who are inactive for too often and too long do not have as much opportunity to develop as active babies,” said a campaign document. “Being active takes brain and muscle power so it plays an important role in your baby’s development. “Playing with your baby gives you a great chance to bond and, like adults, babies burn energy by moving around so (you never know) it might help them sleep too.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Lansley, the Conservative shadow health secretary, told the midwives’ conference that a Tory Government would bring about a “rebirth” of maternity care around families and communities. Mr Lansley promised above-inflation increases in spending on maternity services and said the Tories would give expectant parents more choice about care at birth. “We need to focus on making sure that mothers really understand what the options are and what choices are available to them,” he said.
Risk of postnatal transmission can be reduced with HAART in HIV-positive mothers
Researchers conducting clinical trials in Rwanda have concluded that the risk of postnatal transmission is minimal in HIV-positive mothers undergoing highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) while breastfeeding. The results of the trials have been published in the current issue of AIDS, the leading journal in the field of HIV and AIDS research. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading provider of information and business intelligence for students, professionals, and institutions in medicine, nursing, allied health, and pharmacy.
Although formula feeding has been the recommended strategy for preventing postnatal HIV transmission in developed countries for many years, researchers have recognized that this intervention is not feasible for many women in resource-limited settings. Despite this, there had until now been no single study conducted which formally compared maternal breastfeeding with HAART with formula feeding within the same cohort in resource-limited countries.
Dr. Cécile Alexandra Peltier, together with her colleagues, conducted their study with the aim of assessing the 9-month HIV-free survival of children with two strategies to prevent HIV mother-to-child transmission. Women participating in the cohort study could choose the mode of feeding for their infant: breastfeeding with maternal HAART for six months, or formula feeding. All received HAART from 28 weeks of gestation.
Of the 227 infants who were breastfed during the trial, only one became infected with HIV, corresponding to a 9-month cumulative risk of postnatal infection of 0.5% in the breastfeeding group. Moreover, the overall mortality rate of the infants involved in the study was significantly higher in the formula-fed group (5.6%) than in the breastfed group (3.3%).
The results of the study have lead researchers to conclude that maternal HAART while breastfeeding could be a promising alternative strategy in resource-limited settings. A key implication of this study is that women can be offered a choice in infant-feeding options, both of which could be safe and effective, given regular postnatal follow-up and counseling.
Breastfeeding clinic is eye-opening/eye-closing experience
It seems like there are 45,000,000 new moms at the breastfeeding clinic. The only male older than six months, I’m there to support my wife and her efforts to breastfeed our newborn son.Happy to do that, I am somewhat uncomfortable. I’m anxious a nursing mother will haul up her shirt, pull out a breast and start feeding.
I know, I know. That’s a vital part of their routine these days, and it’s something one would expect at this type of clinic. But where is the lone guy in the room supposed to look?
Sitting in a semi-circle alongside them, there are new mothers to my left and right, and in front of me.
Surrounded, I focus solely on my wife. But as we talk, I spot the other moms in the corners of my eye.
I’m going to see one feeding. It’s inevitable. Yikes! I’m mortified. I know I shouldn’t dread it, and I shouldn’t be blushing. Breastfeeding, after all, is one of the most healthy and wholesome things on Earth.
But I don’t think it’s something men know how to deal with when the nursing mom is a complete stranger.
At least I don’t, because I don’t want to invade anyone’s privacy or be pegged as a pervert. Before anyone feeds, the public health nurse calls our baby’s name and we leave the semi-circle — not that I’m disappointed about that. After the nurse weighs our son and offers some pointers, we’re done for the day. I hurry through the half-circle and exit without witnessing a single feeding. Afterwards, for being so uptight about something so natural, I feel like a real boob.
Link Between Breast Milk, Autism?
HOUSTON – It’s certainly a sensitive subject. Even the Neuroscientist, who questions the thought that breast milk could pass on harmful toxins to a baby, realizes it’s a tough subject to bring up. However, he’s trying to figure out if those harmful toxins could disturb brain development of an infant and lead to autism.
First of all, Dr. Michael Merzenich studied rats… not humans. What he found is a high rate of chemical poisons, like PCB’s and PCBE’s… in breast milk.
PCBE’s are a flame retardant found in many products from pj’s, computers, to cars and many plastics.
He says medical research shows chemicals like this can scramble a developing brain. American women are believed to have the highest rates of PCBE’s.
They collect in fatty tissues, like breast milk. He says these toxins easily transferred to breastfeeding rat pups, and he thinks the same would be true for human breast milk.
Even though Dr. Merzenich is studying this, he definitely supports the benefits of breastfeeding He says he does not want to disrupt a maternal bonding experience, but he’s highly alarmed about chemicals in our environment. He’s urging the government to study human breast milk.
…”I agree there is much more evidence to support the benefits of breastfeeding and not really the evidence that breastfeeding would be a cause of autism.”
Women left alone during labour due to shortage of midwives, poll finds
A third of women are left alone and worried during labour or shortly after giving birth, exposing the scale of staff shortages in the NHS, a poll has found.
A survey carried out on the Netmums.com site found women were highly critical of maternity services in England.
The findings released on the eve of the Royal College of Midwives annual conference showed that 35 per cent of women were left alone during labour or shortly after birth.
Half did not have access to a midwife after giving birth.
From next year the Government has pledged that all women will be offered a choice of where to give birth including at home but so far only half of women are reporting that they were offered a home birth.
Women were also critical of support for breastfeeding, even though encouraging natural feeding is a key part of the Government’s maternity strategy.
The poll comes after the Healthcare Commission said NHS maternity services in many parts of England were failing with a shortage of midwives leading women to be sent home before they were ready and with no support to start breastfeeding.
…”It shows that our members want, need and deserve one-to-one care from midwives but they are not getting this and are left alone and feeling abandoned during labour, and especially in the vital postnatal period.
“Some mums have told us that the lack of postnatal care has led them to suffer with postnatal depression, which can have dramatic impacts on the whole family.”
Irish dairy and academia unite over functional ingredients
Four major Irish dairy ingredient players and four academic institutions form the nexus of a new Irish initiative to develop functional food ingredients – Food for Health Ireland.
Shane Starling discusses the government-backed venture with Jens Bleiel, its chief executive officer; John Holland, operations director – ingredients at Carbery and Dr Paul Ross, the head of the Moorepark Food Research Centre.
“We have a group of scientists which range from food scientists and people in scale-up and then the processing side right through to microbiology and through clinical research,” Dr Ross said.
“Within the centre we have the capability to mine milk for health promoting ingredients right through to clinical trials, to scale-up, to GMP manufacturing.”
Strong track record
Holland said the four dairy groups would provide a commercial focus for the research. “Ireland over the years has had a very strong track record in dairy research – many of the institutions are world-renowned,” said Holland.
“So now we as the industrial partners will bring a commercial focus to that research. We will provide the market insights that will direct the research. We will sit through the research and make sure that it is continually on track and achieving its objectives.At the end we will provide the channel to commercialise the outputs.”
While the group has an initial brief to “mine milk” due to the dairy focus of founding members Carbery, Glanbia, Kerry and Dairygold – it may expand into other areas in the future, Bleiel said.
“In the future we will broaden it to international cooperation because we strongly believe that functional foods is a global business,” he said.
Infant nutrition, metabolic syndrome and immunity are initial key areas of research which has two and five year goals.
Women Still Have to Pick Their Poison (But Men Are Still Evolving)
For many women, going back to work a few months after having a baby is overwhelming and unmanageable. As strange as it may seem, things get even more difficult for a working mom after the second and third baby arrive. By that time, the romance of being a modern “superwoman” wears off and reality sets in.
Mom is exhausted. Dad isn’t getting a good night’s sleep. And older kids feel neglected. Dads who want to be equal partners too often fall short because there are certain things they simply cannot do for you — like breastfeeding, sleeping, or even taking a shower. The new mother starts to question herself and whether it is all worth it. And too often, the money just doesn’t add up.
Too often, childcare, taxes and commuting expenses often negate a large chunk of a young mom’s salary. At the end of each year, many stretched mommys will do what I did throughout my late 20s and ask why I worked so hard just for the glory of feeling guilty. Was the paltry profit of an entry level job drained by childcare expenses really worth missing out on so many cute moments?
And what is worth being so completely exhausted at the end of the week that you feel like you can’t give your all to your children, your husband and your boss? The weekends only add to a destructive mental spiral of “self-second-guessing,” trying to run after toddlers and please a husband who just needs a moment of quiet, but doesn’t feel like he can ask for it. Tension builds. You just can’t come up for air in a sea of worry and “to-do” lists that all revolve around fixing up a strained household in time to rush back to work on Monday morning.
It wasn’t supposed to feel like this? Was it? On so little sleep, the day-to-day race of trying to manage each hour and everyone’s needs robs you of your ability to visualize your long-term goals in life. You soon forget to ask what you want to do. You soon forget to ask who you want to be. You stop remembering all the effort your parents put into your childhood so you would grow up to realize your own great potential.
My best friend and I speak of this often. Over the past three decades, she and I have often been mistaken for sisters. We finish each other’s sentences, wear the same hairstyle and laugh at all the same stupid jokes. We look and sound alike. If I had a sister, it would be her. But we have made very different choices in our lives. She juggles a five year old and two stepchildren. She has an MBA from BU and worked for ten years at a Fortune 500 company, but quit at a time in her life when the balancing act was simply too much for her family. She could quit. His salary was sufficient. And juggling the logistics and cost of childcare just didn’t make sense. It seemed financially and logistically stupid to stay at work. And on paper, it was.
Five years later, she wishes she had pushed through. While she is blessed with an amazing husband and children and a beautiful home on the water, she feels unfulfilled and regrets that she did not stick with her career. It is a decision that impacts her relationships and her view of herself. She hates that she is completely dependent on her husband for everything. It is a concept that is not that attractive to him either. He also feels helpless that he cannot fill that void. While it was hard for them juggling the baby, the kids, and the jobs, maybe today would be better for her if she had stayed at work.
And here’s the key. She feels she was being told by society that women could have it all. She thought she could just “jump back in” later. That, like many women I know, has turned out to be completely unrealistic. More importantly, it is a bad strategic choice. We often talk about our very different paths because while she marvels at my ability to balance horrifically challenging job schedules, I marvel at her ability to remember my birthday and to write thank you notes.
After the second kid, it seems like a woman has to pick her poison. Suffer now, or take “a few years off” and pay later. Women need to know that “taking a few years off” can often lead to a permanent condition of dependence and loss of identity. I want to make a realistic, BS-free argument for suffering now and “pushing through.” There are women who have no choice but to keep on keeping on at work for financial reasons. There are also women who have the choice to “take a few years off” until the craziness dies down.
I am speaking to both of you.
For the record, I went back too early both times. The second time I paid a terrible price, a story I tell in my upcoming book, All Things at Once . I realize that of all people, I am no expert on parenting or marriage. My story can inspire just as many women to dial back for fear of making similar mistakes. Still, I want to put it out there because the conversation for women with newborn babies and careers is for right now, not later.
I suffered from a mild case of postpartum depression after my second child and the physical challenge of maintaining an overnight shift at CBS, a marriage, and two in diapers made the symptoms worse and everyone in the house paid the price. But I am still glad I did it.
Today, my girls are 11 and 13 and while the household is still chaotic, it is nothing compared to those years after giving birth. My body and mind were out of whack and recovering. The needs of babies and toddlers were constant and drained the life out my sense of self and my family’s relationship with each other. But it’s not forever.
Just as those adorable “mommy-moments” go away, so too does the over-exhaustion, the instinctive need to be in charge of your baby’s every move, and the guilt. What you are left with is you. And by the time they are in school and beyond, what are you? That question can damage your relationship with your life partner and your children just as much.
You also may need practical options as a family or on your own. If you are haunted by decisions made in the throws of breastfeeding, weight gain and night terrors, you may actually be left with a bigger challenge; how to jumpstart your sense of self.
I have friends who struggle with this question and because of that, also struggle to maintain their relationships. Yes, I am talking about being mentally and physically interesting to the one you love, your life partner. This may sound harsh, but when you step out of the career track, those attributes get harder to maintain. It is a risk you take and it is worth talking about openly.
Don’t just assume that you will be the same cute, interesting girl who entered the work force and marriage ten years and three kids ago. That is the reality that many of my peers are coping with and it is not pretty. It is also impractical to assume that your husband will always take care of you. It is just as foolhardy to think he will find your total dependence on him to be an attractive characteristic.
But there is some good news to report as I open myself up to another round of beatings on Twitter. The attitudes of men seem to have really evolved on this issue. Over the past couple of years, four male friends and colleagues of mine have asked my advice regarding their wives and their apprehension toward returning to work in the months after the second or third child. Wondering how and why I did it. Looking for the right words to bring home. And they have all expressed something completely new and different about how they feel. Each of them wanted their wives to go back, worried about exactly what I have expressed in this blog. They also worried about finances because this economy poses risks that make them feel vulnerable. They need their wives to help secure the family’s future.
But they also felt a worry their partners would regret the choice personally. I know two of them were encouraging their spouses to stick it out for her sense of self, and ultimately for the sake of the relationship. These guys were not thinking of the short term. They’d rather NOT have someone there to make dinner and get the dry-cleaning and change diapers and to make their lives run smoothly. They’d rather have a partner, with her sense of self in tact in the long run. Wow.. refreshing!
But ultimately it is a woman’s dilemma. None of the options are easy. My contribution to the conversation is this. Strategically, women may want to “push through the pain.” Get the kids out of diapers and into school before pulling the trigger on any decision, IF they have the luxury of choice.
Dealing with the Other Woman
How to handle your mother-in-law during the holidays
If she criticizes you, know that it is not real, and it is not you. It’s a problem SHE needs to work through, and there is nothing you can do to help her facilitate it except to continue to be your authentic self and vent to your girlfriends. Unless your mother-in-law is out to end your marriage, the person to confide in is not your husband. Doing so will make it seem as though you are the one who is on attack. To avoid this, try not to let things build up, and address any intentional unkind comments as they come. There is nothing wrong with saying, in the middle of dinner, “No, I’m not breastfeeding my baby to keep my husband from having a close relationship with his child” instead of holding your tongue, fighting back tears, and proceeding to feel uncomfortable every time you nurse your newborn around her for the next year. Deal with it the way you would handle your child screaming, “You’re so mean!” You would say, “I’m sorry to hear that. Now, let’s finish cleaning your room.”
Read more: http://www.momlogic.com/2009/11/dealing_with_the_other_woman.php#ixzz0YP4WSVKz
Jim P. writes:
Personally I have no problems with moms breast feeding their children in public, it’s natural and a part of life, but I do believe there should be a level of decorum involved, especially within the park(s). I certainly feel it is ok to breast feed within general seating or dining areas, especially in a nice shady people-watching spot which are usually in populated areas and moms shouldn’t have to hide or be hidden from public view. I do appreciate when moms wear the appropriate clothing for such a “task”, let’s face it, it doesn’t always go as planned.
That being said, I don’t agree with the practice of breast feeding whileon a ride. In open public areas where people are able to come and go as they please is one thing, but on a ride you’re pretty much stuck for that amount of time and anyone feeling uncomfortable has no choice but to endure it. I can understand people feeling strained in that situation, and if they waited their turn they should be afforded the same guarantee of comfort to enjoy the ride we all expect. No eating, drinking, smoking or flash photography is for the comfort of all guests while on a ride and should be the responsibility of us all, even the little guys. Thanks for the article, it was a thought provoking piece.
Thanks for your comments. To clarify, when I’ve nursed on rides, the only people with me were members of my own party. For example, on Pirates of the Caribbean, you’re usually not seated in the same row with a group of strangers. On the Haunted Mansion, my family and friends would be the only other people in the doom buggy with me. Guests in other rows or vehicles would not be able to see or be exposed to the baby nursing
Don’t be a boob: Breastfeeding etiquette for guys
Keep your eyes above the neck
Eye contact is your best bet. Don’t initiate a conversation with a stranger who’s breastfeeding and no matter what don’t let your eyes linger anywhere below her chin. This is not a time to comment on how cute her baby is!
Never comment on their size
If you can master the “getting on with your business” act when there are boobs on display and the eye contact required to hold a conversation with a breastfeeding mom, offering to get her a drink can be immensely helpful. This does not mean you should fetch her a beer!
Wollondilly Council allow breastfeeding at council meetings
ONE small step for Wollondilly Council, one giant leap for local mums.
That’s the consensus of the two female Wollondilly councillors on the council’s new breastfeeding policy. Cr Judith Hannan used last Monday’s meeting to establish a rule that mums can breastfeed during council meetings if they wish. Cr Hannan’s motion was for the benefit of Cr Cassandra Twarloh, who recently gave birth to her first baby. Cr Twarloh’s new daughter, Khaylan, was one month old on Thursday.
Confusion over the council’s stance on breastfeeding mothers arose after Cr Twarloh was told she couldn’t bring her baby into the chamber because that rule applied in Federal Parliament. Parliament rules prevent babies from being taken into the House of Representatives or the Senate when Parliament is sitting because only elected representatives are permitted on chamber floors. Cr Hannan said Cr Twarloh shouldn’t have been told she couldn’t bring Khaylan to meetings because councils and parliaments were worlds apart.
“She was told you can’t bring babies into the council meetings because that’s what Federal Parliament is like,” she said. “We are nothing like Federal Parliament and it’s in the best interests of the baby and mum that they stay together during this crucial time of relationship development.” Cr Twarloh said she was thrilled about the new guidelines, which were adopted unanimously.
“My personal thought is I wouldn’t want to breastfeed at the council meeting because it would either make some people uncomfortable or be a distraction,” she said. “Someone told me I couldn’t take Khaylan to council meetings and I just assumed you couldn’t because you can’t in parliament. “It’s just one of those things where there wasn’t a rule saying I can’t bring her to meetings but there wasn’t a rule saying I could,” she said.
Justine Roberts: Mistress of the Mumsnet pack
Her website is home to a host of angry mothers who have savaged leaders Gordon Brown and David Cameron
In olden times, politicians used to stand on milk crates or kiss babies in their quest for the floating voter. Now, however, if they want Worcester woman to mark that box with an X they have to be far braver and venture onto the parenting website Mumsnet: the online equivalent of a gang of scary women waiting, talons bared, outside the school gate.
David Cameron is the most recent political leader to undergo trial by Mumsnetters, the forthright users of the influential site. On Thursday he spent an hour fielding questions about the future of the BBC, the number of nappies that should be provided free to the parents of disabled children, breastfeeding, favourite biscuits and whether Jedward should win The X Factor.
The reason the politicians are willing to put themselves in the Mumsnet stocks is that it now has 1m visitors each month who are 95% female, educated (70% have a degree or equivalent), wealthy (“if they don’t buy Boden, they buy Boden on sale”) and, crucially, don’t all know how they are going to vote — about 40% are uncommitted.
I ask Roberts about the sheer rage that fills some of the forums. She takes a deep breath and says: “I know it feels like bullying, but actually it is just 300 people with the same opinion, who all happen to be in the same place.”
She is adamant that Mumsnet does not have an ethos — “we support parents in all their choices” — but my experience is that to question the breastfeeding-ondemand orthodoxy is to unleash the Mumsnet dogs (or should that be bitches?) of war.
Stem cells could be the secret reason why breast is best
Scientist says mother’s milk may play vital role in helping children ‘fulfil their genetic destiny’
Breast milk, long revered for the nutritional advantages it gives a newborn, could be just as vital in terms of infant development, a leading scientist will claim this week. Up to three different types of stem cells have been discovered in breast milk, according to revolutionary new research.
Dr Mark Cregan, medical director at the Swiss healthcare and baby equipment company Medela, believes the existence of stem cells means breast milk could help a child “fulfil its genetic destiny”, with a mother’s mammary glands taking over from her placenta to guide infant development once her child is born.
“Breast milk is the only adult tissue where more than one type of stem cell has been discovered. That is very unique and implies a lot about the impressive bioactivity of breast milk and the consequential benefits to the breastfed infant,” said Dr Cregan, who is speaking at Unicef’s Baby Friendly Initiative conference this week. His research has isolated adult stem cells of epithelial (mammary) and immune origin, with “very preliminary evidence” that breast milk also contains stem cells that promotes the growth of muscle and bone tissue.
Scientists will use his discovery, made at the University of Western Australia, in Perth, Australia, to attempt to harvest stem cells from breast milk for research on a range of issues – from why some mothers struggle to produce milk to testing out new drugs that could aid milk production. “There is a plentiful resource of tissue-specific stem cells in breast milk, which are readily available and from a non-invasive and completely ethical source,” Dr Cregan said.
Advocates hope the discovery will help to lift the UK’s breastfeeding rates: only one-third of babies are exclusively breastfed at one week, the number dropping to one-fifth at six weeks. At five months, only 3 per cent of mothers still exclusively nurse their babies – although the World Health Organisation recommends that babies should consume only breast milk until they are at least six months old.
Rosie Dodd, campaigns director at the National Childbirth Trust, said: “This finding highlights the many factors that are in breast milk that we know so little about and that all have different advantages, such as helping a baby’s immune system to develop.”
Dr Cregan said the discovery of immune stem cells was the “most exciting development”, adding, “It’s quite possible that immune cells in breast milk can survive digestion and end up in the infant’s circulation. This has been shown to be occurring in animals, and so it would be unsurprising if this was also occurring in human infants.”
British scientists gave a cautious welcome to Dr Cregan’s discovery, warning that just because stem cells exist in breast milk did not mean that they could be used to develop a therapy – the ultimate goal of stem cell research. Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, said: “It may give us some insight into specific breast diseases and is potentially valuable when it comes to drug discovery and drug development but it is fanciful to think it could provide routine therapies.”
The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee reminds employers of the significance and benefits of worksite lactation in a Nov. 16 press release. According to a CDC survey, 75 percent of new mothers initiate breastfeeding, but rates of exclusive breastfeeding at six months and continued breastfeeding at 12 months are far below national standards. Currently, only 24 of the 50 U.S. states have legislation providing worksite support for breastfeeding.
Trying to be supermum left me suicidal’
Today, new mums are expected to have natural births, breastfeed without a hitch, and get back into their jeans within weeks. The pressure to be perfect has never been greater…
And after failing to breastfeed and bond with her baby, Clare, 31, from Devon, felt so inadequate as a mother that she not only gave her son away, but also tried to kill herself.
With post-natal depression affecting one in 10 mothers, research suggests that at least 50 new mums commit suicide every year, because they feel they can’t cope with their new babies.
In July, Catherine Bailey, a lawyer and mum of three, drowned herself in the Thames. Her youngest daughter was just seven months old. Recording a verdict of suicide, coroner Alison Thompson said that Catherine “found it hard to meet the demands of motherhood and the high standard she’d set herself”.
Two months earlier, an inquest ruled an open verdict on the death of mum Katy Isden, 30, who plunged 300ft to her death from a 20-floor building. She’d had post-natal depression and had struggled to breastfeed her son, Benjamin.
And Hampshire mum of twins, Heather Finkill, 30, walked in front of a truck after struggling with her newborns. After her death it was revealed she was obsessed with getting things ‘right’ and felt her husband Ryan was coping better with them than she was.
“I felt such a failure,” she says. “All the other mums on the ward seemed to be doing OK – my baby was crying, but I couldn’t feed him. I was his mum, I was the one who was meant to be able to feed him, nurture him and I couldn’t.”
Desperate to give him some breast milk, Clare agreed to be ‘milked’ – an electric pump was attached to her breasts to extract milk and encourage more to be produced. Even so, she only managed to produce the equivalent of two teaspoons. Not enough for a hungry one-day-old baby.
Clare took that as another sure sign she was an all-round failure as a mother. “I did ask for help, but felt I was wasting everyone’s time. After three days I asked for formula for him, but as I said the words, I felt all eyes turn on me. It seemed I was the only one on the ward who wasn’t breastfeeding,” she says. “That in itself made me feel like my son had the worst mum.”
Nursing staff let Clare bottle-feed Rhys, but in her head the damage was already done.
‘HUMILIATED BECAUSE I COULDN’T BREASTFEED’
Full-time mum Laura Buchanan, 26, lives in Stoke-on-Trent with her partner Mark, 32, son Benjamin, four, and daughter Jasmine, two.
“Like many new mums, I had high expectations about motherhood. Celebrities make it look so easy – back at work within days of giving birth. How hard could it be? When I was doing my birth plan, I was prepared by midwives for it to run smoothly. The reality was so different.
When I gave birth to my son Benjamin, he got stuck. I suffered a third-degree tear and lost two pints of blood. It was a huge shock and I felt like such a failure. I couldn’t breastfeed due to the blood loss and was devastated. Everyone says ‘breast is best’ and no one tells you that if it doesn’t happen, you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. Giving my son formula milk, I felt like I wasn’t a proper mum.
I have a many friends who have babies in the past couple of years and I can literally see the pain of those who can’t breastfeed due to the babies not latching on properly in their faces when they talk about it. All this ‘breast is best’ is fine and good, but it’s hit such a point now where mums who have problem breast feeding are now feeling totally inadequate when it doesn’t happen. Yes, it’s preferable, but not, you aren’t a bad mum if it doesn’t happen. These need to be told this by healthcare professionals as they are feeling cupabilised and it’s not on. You can be a great mum even if breastfeeding doesn’t work for you.