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Tuesday Tidbits: Does Breastfeeding Really Matter?

August 2015 060Does breastfeeding really matter? Or, is it just one possible way to feed a baby?

Breastfeeding matters. It matters for women, babies, families, workplaces, society, and the whole world.

But, is breastfeeding hard?

It is true that in the early weeks many women experience difficulties with breastfeeding. Coupled with the lack of support many women also experience from partners, in-laws, extended family members, and employers, they may stop breastfeeding long before they originally hoped and planned. Is that breastfeeding’s fault though? Is it inherently difficult? No, but it turns out that our prevalent images of breastfeeding may contribute to difficulties with latch and milk flow. Laid-back breastfeeding (nursing the baby draped across your body tummy to tummy rather than sitting upright with the baby in the crook of your arm) may be the answer to many early breastfeeding challenges:

In the commonly used cradle, cross-cradle, and football/rugby holds, mothers and babies must fight the effects of gravity to get babies to breast level and keep their fronts touching. If gaps form between them (which can happen easily with gravity pulling baby’s body down and away), this disorients baby, which can lead to latching struggles. The pull of gravity makes it impossible for a newborn to use his inborn responses to get to his food source and feed. For baby, it is like trying to climb Mount Everest. Instead of mothers and babies working together as breastfeeding partners, mothers must do all of the work. Instead of being able to relax while baby helps, most mothers sit hunched over, tense, and struggling.To complicate things further, in these positions, gravity can transform the same inborn feeding responses that should be helping babies into barriers to breastfeeding. Head bobbing becomes head butting. Arm and leg movements meant to move babies to the breast become pushing and kicking. Mothers struggling to manage their babies’ arms and legs in these upright breastfeeding holds have often told me: “I don’t think I have enough hands to breastfeed.”

How Natural Breastfeeding Can Help

In Natural Breastfeeding positions, baby rests tummy down on mother’s body, ensuring the full frontal contact that activates his GPS. Baby’s weight pushes the pressure buttons on his front, which improves his coordination for easier feeding. Natural Breastfeeding makes it possible for babies to be the active breastfeeding partners that nature intended. But it’s not just good for babies. Mothers can relax completely and rest while baby feeds, often with both hands free. And gravity helps baby take the breast deeply, so there’s no need to micromanage baby’s latch.

via Many Moms May Have Been Taught to Breastfeed Incorrectly: Surprising New Research – Mothering.

I learned about laid-back breastfeeding before my third child was born. It made a huge difference in her ability to latch well and nurse comfortably (I then didn’t discover she had an upper lip tie until she had dental work at two!) It also made a dramatic difference for my last baby, who was my easiest, most comfortable, almost-painless-from-the-start, early breastfeeding experience (they all got easy with time and I nursed each for three years, but the early weeks were more challenging with the first three compared to the last!)

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Isn’t modern formula close to breastmilk though?

No! Breastmilk is a living substance, customized to your specific baby. It is amazing how many unique things breastmilk can do!

Vitamins and minerals that we all know are present only represent a very small proportion of what’s in our milk. There is a huge range of other components. Components, for instance, that dispose of harmful bacteria in different ways. By absorbing them, engulfing them, destroying them, lining the gut and preventing them from entering our baby’s blood stream, preventing them from using our baby’s iron stores to grow (pathogens need iron to thrive), etc…

And these are targeted responses to specific pathogens, because our baby’s saliva goes into our blood stream and informs us of anything harmful they have been exposed to in the last few hours. Our body immediately produces the exact antibodies for that specific infection, and feeds it back to our babies via our milk within the hour.

via The composition of Human milk | Breastfeeding Thoughts.

Notice I do not say that breastmilk is “perfect.” What it is, is normal. It is the species-specific, biological appropriate food for human babies.

I’ve heard that our bodies make different kinds of milk and you have to be careful to separate the foremilk from the hindmilk though? Doesn’t that mean I’ll need to pump to make sure my baby is getting enough of the cream?

If you have pumped and put your milk in the fridge, you have noticed the same phenomenon. As the milk cools, the fattier, more opaque milk rises to the top and the bottom portion of the milk appears thinner, more translucent. Perhaps you would call this milk more “watery.” But, it isn’t watery. It doesn’t lack nutrients. It is just lower in fat.

Breastfeeding moms read a lot about foremilk and hind milk and for lack of a better term, obsess about it. I talk about this with moms way more than I care to. Why?

Because, in my opinion, this is a completely nonsensical and irrelevant topic 99% of the time.

We don’t know the fat concentration of your milk when the baby first starts nursing, nor do we know the rate at which the milk gets fattier.

via Balanced Breastfeeding – “The Good Milk” Foremilk/Hindmilk.

What about postpartum depression? One of my friends said that her doctor told her to wean because of depression.

While this is a common recommendation, it is not evidence-based. In fact, breastfeeding helps protect mothers’ August 2015 001 mental health by mediating the effects of stress:

Research over the past decade has shown that breastfeeding and depression intersect in some interesting and surprising ways. All of this work has shown something that makes sense. Breastfeeding does not deplete mothers, nor does it cause depression.

Breastfeeding problems certainly can do both of these things—all the more reason why women need good support and accurate information. But it does not make sense for something so critical to the survival of our species to be harmful for mothers. And it is not.

Breastfeeding and stress

One of the initial areas of research was in examining the role of breastfeeding in turning off the stress response. Of particular importance was breastfeeding’s role in lessening mothers’ levels of inflammation (which is part of the stress response). The molecules that cause inflammation can lead to depression. When inflammation levels are high, people are more likely to get depressed. When inflammation levels are lower, the risk of depression goes down. The great thing is that breastfeeding is specifically anti-inflammatory. This is one way that breastfeeding protects women’s health throughout their lives. It lowers their risk of depression. It also lowers their risk of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes…

via Mothers’ Mental Health and Breastfeeding – Breastfeeding Today.

Side note: why is depression such a risk for mothers anyway?

…When you consider the isolation, lack of support, history of abuse or other trauma, and, particularly in the U.S., the need for mothers to return to work almost immediately following the birth, the increase in depression rates is hardly surprising…

via Mothers’ Mental Health and Breastfeeding – Breastfeeding Today.

What about the sleepless nights everyone talks about? I want my partner to be able to feed the baby at night so I can get more sleep.

Similar to mental health, research has actually found that nursing mothers get more sleep, not less.

And, on a related note, many people share the misconception that it is normal and desirable for a breastfed baby to “grow out” of needing to nurse during the night. This actually depends on multiple factors, primarily the storage capacity of a mother’s breast:

In other words, if you are a mother with an average or small breast storage capacity [which is unrelated to breast size], night feedings may need to continue for many months in order for your milk production to stay stable and for your baby to thrive. Also, because your baby has access to less milk at each feeding, night feedings may be crucial for him to get enough milk overall. Again, what’s important is not how much milk a baby receives at each individual feeding, but how much milk he consumes in a 24-hour day. If a mother with a small storage capacity uses sleep training strategies to force her baby to go for longer stretches between feedings, this may slow her milk production and compromise her baby’s weight gain.

via Do Older Babies Need Night Feedings? — Nancy Mohrbacher.

Am I creating a bad habit by allowing baby to breastfeed to sleep? April 2015 090

Your child’s desire to nurse to sleep is very normal and not a bad habit you’ve fostered. Don’t be afraid to nurse your baby to sleep or fear that you are perpetuating a bad habit. Baby often will seek the breast when sleepy or over-stimulated because it’s a comforting and familiar place to him. To associate the breast with wanting to relax enough to go to sleep makes perfect sense. As adults, we also do things to relax ourselves so we can go to sleep: we read, watch TV, get something warm to drink or a snack, deep breathe, get all snug under the covers, etc. Breastfeeding does the same thing for your baby.

via KellyMom.com : Breastfeeding to Sleep and Other Comfort Nursing.

You may find that nighttime nursing is surprisingly peaceful and undisturbed. I remember finding my first baby often puzzling during the day, but at night, it felt like we were in perfect harmony…

…So we feast together in the darkness.
Till we are both full-filled.
Me. You.
You. Me.
Youme.

via A Poem for World Breastfeeding Week 2015 #WBW – The Story Witch.

Breastfeeding matters. It is woven through our lives and through the interlocking systems of society. It has important impacts on physical, mental, and emotional health for both you and your baby. In fact, breastfeeding is a type of “shero’s journey,” one that impacts a mother and her child through the rest of their lives:

Breastfeeding is the day in and day fabric of connection. It is a huge physical and emotional investment, the continued devotion of one’s body to one’s baby. Breastfeeding support may not as exciting or thrilling as birthwork for me, but it is so very REAL and so very needed, and part of the nitty-gritty reality of individual mother’s complicated lives as they find their feet on the motherhood road. It really matters.

In what ways has breastfeeding been a hero’s journey for you?

via Breastfeeding as a (s)hero’s journey? | Talk Birth.

Breastfeeding Blessing Pocket Altar (mini birth altar, medicine bundle, doula, midwife, mother blessing, lactation, nursing)Sign up for the Brigid’s Grove Newsletter for resources, monthly freebies, + art and workshop announcements.

And, as is our tradition, in honor of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month, you can get 10% off items in our shop throughout August: WBW10OFF.

Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week!

August 2015 043It is World Breastfeeding Week and we’ve been busy supporting celebratory events around the country. We donated nursing mama sculptures to the World Breastfeeding Week picnic in Springfield, MO and to two LLL Leader workshops, one in NY and one in Tennessee. Today, we donated a birth sculpture and 4o goodie packets to the upcoming Women in the Wild photo shoot in Kansas City and we also mailed a spiral mama sculpture and 20 goodie packets to a Live, Love, Latch event in Portland, TN.

August 2015 068Is there a Live, Love, Latch event near you? Check it out here: Events – Live, Love, Latch!

On August 22, we’ll be giving away some goodies at MamaFest in Rolla, which is also registered as a Live, Love, Latch event.

What is MamaFest?

 It’s a celebration! A celebration of women, of community organizations that serve women, of women-owned/women-oriented businesses. We want you to come visit the vendors, have some refreshments, visit with your friends on the couch, and take home awareness of what your community has to offer YOU.

(Men and children are welcome to attend!)

via MamaFest 2015.

I’m particularly excited about the Women in the Wild event. This article about the effort really brings home why it matters:

…The women behind this photo would like to shift the paradigm, to change the narrative of shame that is inflicted upon mothers. They would like to celebrate the bodies of mothers, with all of their glorious imperfections, because they are strong, and beautiful. Mother of one, Jacklyn Kosakowski, shared: ”When the opportunity came up to take this photo, I honestly wasn’t doing it for others. I did it for myself. My changing body during pregnancy was difficult for me, and especially afterwards was hard. I’m at a good place with myself and I have just recently began to appreciate my stretch marks and mommy belly. This body carried and nourished my baby for nine months and pushed for four hours just to meet her, so I should be proud of this body. To just be out in the open, half naked, with other beautiful mothers was such an amazing feeling. There was no judgement, we all looked beautiful.”

via The Shame Game » Erin White Photography.

You can also visit Erin White Photography on Facebook for more information and beautiful, inspiring photos.

The theme of the 2015 World Breastfeeding Week is: “Let’s Make it Work” and it focuses on mothers combining breastfeeding and employment.

The WBW 2015 theme on working women and breastfeeding revisits the 1993 WBW campaign on the Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative. Much has been achieved in 22 years of global action supporting women in combining breastfeeding and work, particularly the adoption of the revised ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection with much stronger maternity entitlements, and more country actions on improving national laws and practices. At the workplace level, we have also seen more actions taken to set up breastfeeding or mother-friendly workplaces including awards for breastfeeding-friendly employers, as well as greater mass awareness on working women’s rights to breastfeed.

via World Breastfeeding Week 2015.

WHO_BreastfeedingWeek2015_EN4Images for the 2015 theme of “Let’s Make it Work” are available here: WHO | World Breastfeeding Week.

Why does the support of employers matter to breastfeeding women? It matters immensely. Women and their babies don’t exist in isolation, they are nestled within larger systems that can either help make or break the breastfeeding relationship:

“Governments and commercial companies will ‘invest’ billions in expensive new technology: roads, bridges, airports, dams or power generation plants, ‘for the good of society’. They may even ‘invest’ in schools and hospitals, but the crucial primary investment in the emotional, physical and mental health of all humans, which breastfeeding and mothering provide, is invisible.”

—Gabrielle Palmer (The Politics of Breastfeeding, p. 333)

via Breastfeeding as an Ecofeminist Issue: Collage Project | Talk Birth.

Seriously. This is why World Breastfeeding Week matters. It isn’t just about breastfeeding memes and platitudes, it is about systemic change in the US and around the world.

I was interested by this story about an Argentinian politician and her baby breastfeeding at work:

…We’re having a moment here when it comes to the cultural conversation surround public breastfeeding. When we talk about women balancing work and childcare, part of what we’re talking about is women living in a world that makes it difficult to care for their children while simultaneously managing the rest of their lives. It’s not that it’s physically impossible to care for a baby while going about one’s day, it’s that we live in a world in which women are shamed for things like breastfeeding in public.

via Why it’s important that this Argentinian politician was breastfeeding her baby on the job – Page 2 of 2.

August 2015 060…We are mammals because as a species we nurse our young. This is a fundamental tie between the women of our time and place and the women of all other times and places as well as between the female members of every mammal species that have ever lived. It is our root tie to the planet, to the cycles of life, and to mammal life on earth. It is precisely this connection to the physical, the earthy, the material, the mundane, the body, that breastfeeding challenges men, feminists, and society.

Breastfeeding is a feminist issue and a fundamental women’s issue. And, it is an issue deeply embedded in a sociocultural context. Attitudes towards breastfeeding are intimately entwined with attitudes toward women, women’s bodies, and who has “ownership” of them. Patriarchy chafes at a woman having the audacity to feed her child with her own body, under her own authority, and without the need for any other. Feminism sometimes chafes at the “control” over the woman’s body exerted by the breastfeeding infant…

via Breastfeeding as an Ecofeminist Issue | Talk Birth.

Past World Breastfeeding Week posts:

 Sign up for the Brigid’s Grove Newsletter for resources, monthly freebies, + art and workshop announcements.

And, as is our tradition, in honor of WBW and National Breastfeeding Month, you can get 10% off items in our shop throughout August: WBW10OFF.

Tuesday Tidbits: National Breastfeeding Month

10556374_10152170229481290_105195906968994596_n(1)I was feeling kind of bad during the first week of August about having not gotten around to making any World Breastfeeding Week posts this year (I was still coming down from Mamafest on August 2nd, plus in “second stage” on birthing a really huge project, to be revealed soon!). Anyway, Pathways to Family Wellness Magazine took care of it for me with the image above! The referenced article is on the Pathways site here: Breastfeeding As an Ecofeminist Issue | The Outer Womb and on my own site is here: Breastfeeding as an Ecofeminist Issue | Talk Birth. I noticed it was shared 3,552 times on Facebook, which seems “viral” in terms of breastfeeding memes! (I confess I wish it would have directed back to my own site or page with that number of shares though!) And, no, I didn’t read the comments on it except for a handful, because I am not really interested in any criticism right now. BUT, the one critical comment I did see was about “society” having nothing to do with it is up to women to take care of themselves/assert their “natural rights” which “no one can take away from them,”  and so I have to repeat: breastfeeding is a sociopolitical and sociocultural issue. It does not occur in a vacuum and in the privacy of our own homes, it is intimately and inextricably linked to the health of society as a whole and inevitably impacted by the circles of support, broken or healthy, that surround each and every breastfeeding dyad. Breastfeeding is a systemic issue. Women, families, babies, men, children…we are all embedded in an expanding network of social, political, and cultural systems every, single, day. It is inescapable, for better or for worse.

As a related image of the embedded, interdependent nature of reality, including breastfeeding, I really appreciated the graphic in this post by Science and Sensibility.

wbw2014-goals-1024x1024Breastfeeding is a women’s health issue, a reproductive rights issue, and promotes gender equality and empowers women! It both systemic and personal. Neither context can be ignored.

I was very pleased to get an email from Routledge publishing at the beginning of August promoting World Breastfeeding Week and offering a compilation of related free resources through the end of the month. Routledge is a textbook publishing company and I use some of their textbooks in my Human Services classes: World Breastfeeding Week – Routledge.

In addition to breastfeeding-specific textbooks, they also are offering free online access to related interesting textbooks like The Politics of Maternity and Social History of Maternity and Childbirth. This tells me they recognize the birth-breastfeeding continuum!

Live Love Latch logoSince our Mamafest event was coordinated by two LLL Leaders and our other local Leader helped with it as well, it made since to me to register it as an official Live, Love, Latch event. Live, Love, Latch is an initiative launched by La Leche League USA this year in honor of National Breastfeeding Month in August. The point of these events is celebration of breastfeeding and breastfeeding support.

The purpose of the celebration is, of course, to celebrate breastfeeding, but also to highlight support. All in attendance will be counted as participants, with the goal being to break the previous year’s record for breastfeeding supporters attending. Leaders have autonomy to decide on the details of each celebration.

This celebration theme provides an opportunity to educate family, friends, healthcare providers and other community members about how breastfeeding can be supported, and also emphasizes the value of the support network behind every nursing dyad.

via About – Live, Love, Latch!

I will write more about Mamafest in another post this week (I hope!), but if you’re curious, the photo album is available on the Rolla Birth Network Facebook page. We had 84 people sign in on our Live, Love, Latch sign-in form and about 100-120 people in attendance overall. It was really a successful, fun, exciting event.

After sharing these other images and thoughts, I couldn’t resist making another image of my own:

meme1And, we set up a new coupon code at Brigid’s Grove in honor of National Breastfeeding Month! Use WBW10OFF for a 10% discount on any item through the end of the month. 🙂

MamaFest!

Last summer, my Rolla Birth Network friends and I conceived of a local event to be held celebrating mothers. We made a couple of August 2013 020decisions in planning our event that were really smart: we decided to focus on celebration rather than education (or even activism), we decided not to involve any money (either for the attendees or the hosts [aside from tabling materials/supplies]), and…this is key…we also decided to only do that which was within our own personal resources to provide. It worked! We pulled off a lovely MamaFest event at Tara Day Spa in Rolla. It was well-attended and fun and involved very little expense for anyone. It was work, of course, but it was within our resources/capacities. Community organizations were welcome to have a table at the event for free with the only stipulations being no formula/bottle materials (this event is co-sponsored by La Leche League of Rolla in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week) and that they had to provide something to do at their table. Our vision was that this event would not involve simply walking around picking up flyers and leaving, but instead would provide an opportunity to hang out with friends, see cool things, learn some stuff, and make some projects. I had a birth art booth that was a delight for me to offer to the women.

This year in August, we hosted our second annual MamaFest event, again with a similar vision. Our resources/time were a little slimmer August 2013 017this year due to peoples’ schedules (particularly my own, leaving my co-founder shouldering most of the organizing effort), new babies, etc. We had fewer exhibits and fewer attendees and slipped more into the boothy-vibe that we hoped to avoid, and learned some things to try next year. I still consider the event a success, especially considering the fairly minimal womanpower with which we had to work. It was an especially good outreach opportunity for LLL and I said at the end that even if I hadn’t been involved at all with the planning of it, I would definitely have considered it a worthwhile event to continue attending with my LLL booth. I was super excited about my simple, but pretty (and free!) offering for the birth art booth this year: mother affirmation/blessing cards. Unfortunately, very few people took me up on my offer and I was a little sad about that, but my LLL booth with its breastfeeding trivia game and got breastmilk ™ pins was pretty popular. We have lots of ideas for next year and the possibility of experimenting with new directions, such as doing away with the booths altogether and having more retreat-like experience stations (i.e. yoga). What we know we want to keep is our commitment to celebrating women and their capacities, because they’re just super awesome and worth celebrating!

Here are some pictures of my booth and some projects from the event:

August 2013 016

Birth art booth!

August 2013 031

Loved this thumbprint necklace project offered at the booth of a local doula/photographer. Alaina appropriated it immediately because, “me like hearts!”

August 2013 028

Babyloss memorial charms offered by the Rainbow Group (local pregnancy/infant loss support)

August 2013 015

Emergency back up project that I scrambled for when I realized people weren’t making my cards–affirmation “stones” (glass pebbles written or drawn on with glass paint markers).

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At least my own loyal family members showed up and made my project! (mom, sister, and visiting cousin)

What I learned from this event again this year was that you do not have to live in a city to be able to offer something like this in your community, all you need is a small handful of women who care and who can use their skills and resources to make it happen! 🙂

Tuesday Tidbits: Breastfeeding Research

August 2013 050

Some new (but non-breastfeeding) sculptures this week! 🙂

Before I begin today’s post, I feel like acknowledging that I find it puzzling that we even need to do research on breastfeeding or that it is considered “news” OR that it is something for which the advantages need to be “debunked” OR “proven.” It feels similar to me to seeing journal articles “revealing” that your own blood has special nutrients in it that help your body to function or announcing that having your own blood in your body helps you be healthier and live longer. Or, likewise, if we were to see articles “proving” that it is good for your cells if you drink water or that a special component has been added to a new soda to make it as “close to water as possible.” Some things just don’t really need to be news. And, I’ve observed for over eight years that new, often negative research about breastfeeding often “coincidentally” surfaces right around World Breastfeeding Week, and usually some new campaign also surfaces with a feel-good, but toothless message about “supporting all mothers,” and perhaps some “shocking” reveal article about celebrity breastfeeding will also pop up.

That said, unsurprisingly, some breastfeeding research and general breastfeeding articles have caught my eye recently. The first with regard to weaning and depression:

But the frequency with which women experience depressive episodes when weaning their babies is far less understood. Researchers “The intersection between lactation and mood is important, and it is extremely understudied,” said Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, director of the perinatal psychiatry program at the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders. “There are definitely people who report mood symptoms associated with lactation.”

via Weaning And Depression Linked In Many Women.

The second is one that will actually affect the way I practice when helping breastfeeding women and it is about the relationship that may exist between mothers having trouble breastfeeding and early signs of diabetes.

New research has revealed the hormone insulin plays an important part in the production of breast milk – and mothers who are struggling with feeding may have low levels of insulin.

For a long time, insulin was not thought to play a direct role in regulating the milk-making cells of the human breast.

But scientists now know that the mammary gland in breast becomes sensitive to insulin during lactation.

via Why mothers struggling to breastfeed could be showing early signs of diabetes | Mail Online.

And, not new or surprising or current, but unfortunately of continued relevance is the fact that IV fluids during labor artificially inflate baby’s birthweight:

But when babies lose more than 7% of birth weight during these early days, does this automatically mean they are not getting enough milk? No, according to a recent study.

A greater weight loss may be completely unrelated to breastfeeding and due instead to excess IV fluids mothers receive within the final 2 hours before delivery. According to this study, these excess IV fluids inflate babies’ birth weight in utero and act as a diuretic after birth. Babies whose mothers received more IV fluids before birth urinated more during their first 24 hours and as a result lost more weight. Number of wet diapers during the first 24 hours predicted infant weight loss. This was true whether the babies were born vaginally or by c-section. Another study published earlier this year had similar findings.

This weight loss has nothing whatsoever to do with breastfeeding and milk intake. In fact, the authors suggest that if clinicians want to use weight loss as a gauge of milk intake, they calculate baby’s weight loss not from birth weight, but from their weight at 24 hours. According to their findings, this could neutralize the effect of the mother’s IV fluids on newborn weight loss.

via Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple – Breastfeeding Reporter – Newborn Weight Loss and IV Fluids in Labor.

They way we treat women during birth matters for her breastfeeding relationship and the health of her baby! Birth interventions are not benign.

Also, not benign is the way this article from MSNBC chose to describe some research about breastfeeding women having a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease (if researchers were more careful to watch their language, ala Diane Wiessinger, and remember that breastfeeding is the biologic norm, the article would actually be titled, “formula feeding increases risk of Alzheimer’s”):

Amazing news for moms who breast-fed: All that hassle was worth it — not just for your baby (who will likely have a higher IQ), but for you as well. A new Cambridge University study suggests that women who breast-feed can cut their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to two-thirds and calls the link “highly significant.” Those overly precious attachment parents might have the last laugh yet, as the benefits seemed to increase with longer periods of breast-feeding: Women who breast-fed for a year were found to have about a 20 percent lower risk of developing the disease as someone who had breast-fed for only four months. [Source]

via Breastfeeding cuts Alzheimer’s risk by two-thirds, study says.

Note that this “article” was published during World Breastfeeding Week and inserts little digs about being “overly precious” and a “hassle.” Words matter. They seep into our consciousness and affect our realities and our understandings of ourselves and our babies.

Not coincidentally, we also have to keep “proving” over and over again what many parents often feel in their hearts: that babies need to be with their parents, that they need to be held, and that breastfeeding is good for them.

“Ill-advised practices and beliefs have become commonplace in our culture, such as the use of infant formula, the isolation of infants in their own rooms or the belief that responding too quickly to a fussing baby will ‘spoil’ it,” Narvaez says.

This new research links certain early, nurturing parenting practices — the kind common in foraging hunter-gatherer societies — to specific, healthy emotional outcomes in adulthood, and has many experts rethinking some of our modern, cultural child-rearing “norms.”

“Breast-feeding infants, responsiveness to crying, almost constant touch and having multiple adult caregivers are some of the nurturing ancestral parenting practices that are shown to positively impact the developing brain, which not only shapes personality, but also helps physical health and moral development,” says Narvaez.

Studies show that responding to a baby’s needs (not letting a baby “cry it out”) has been shown to influence the development of conscience; positive touch affects stress reactivity, impulse control and empathy; free play in nature influences social capacities and aggression; and a set of supportive caregivers (beyond the mother alone) predicts IQ and ego resilience as well as empathy.

via Modern parenting may hinder brain development, research shows // News // Research at Notre Dame // University of Notre Dame.

Is anyone else getting tired of these kind of impressive “reveals”? I find it discouraging and frustrating, but maybe I’m just in a bad mood today!

I was less crabby to read this pleasant little story about Selma Blair and her breastfeeding toddler:

Arthur, who just celebrated his second birthday on July 25, seemed to enjoy the tasty snack, smiling and chatting gleefully with his mother and passers-by before the two headed off the train.

Even in more progressive parts of America breastfeeding is still seen as taboo, despite countless studies affirming the list of health benefits for both mothers and their children…

via Selma Blair breastfeeds her son Arthur, 2, during afternoon shopping trip | Mail Online.

And, from the same publication (not always widely renowned as a respectable source!), we see this interesting article about portraits of breastfeeding mothers from the 1800’s along with a little social commentary:

The seemingly normal image of the nursing mother in mid-1800s America poses a stark contrast against the media storm surrounding California mother-of-two Jamie Lynne Grumet last year, who posed on the cover of TIME breastfeeding her three-and-half-year-old son.

via Bizarre pictures reveal the unlikely trend for photographs of breastfeeding mothers in Victorian-era America | Mail Online.

And, interestingly, something else women also feel, but don’t necessarily have “back up” for, is the understanding that it isn’t breastmilk alone that has these effects for women, it is the act of breastfeeding itself, something that is not always differentiated in breastmilk research:

1) Find out what they mean when they say “breastfeeding.” This question by itself can often clear up misperceptions. In many cases, when critics say “breastfeeding,” what they really mean is “breast milk” independent of its delivery method; they do not mean the entire package that is breastfeeding. Breast milk obviously shines when compared to any of its substitutes. But when the independent effects of the milk are teased away from the act of breastfeeding, the differences seem smaller. And that is precisely the point—it’s the milk and the method of delivery that make the difference for both mother and baby.

via Answering the Critics: Breastmilk Separate of Breastfeeding Does Not Produce the Same Results | Kindred Community.

Along these same lines, but from a personal perspective instead, I was pleased, but not particularly surprised to read this mother’s story about breastfeeding her adopted son:

I am surprised by how not different breastfeeding our son feels compared to breastfeeding our older, biological children.

But because he’s adopted, breastfeeding felt even more important. I wanted him to feel that bond — that closeness and skin-to-skin, to help him feel comforted. Not being pregnant, and not knowing what he felt like in the womb beforehand … I wanted that physical connection with him afterward. And it’s just been really easy so far, although I don’t love the supplemental nursing system [laughs]. There have been moments of trying to get him to latch where, I’m just like, ‘Ok! I’m done!’

But I feel so bonded and attached to him, and I think a huge part of that has been the breastfeeding.

via The Breastfeeding Chronicles: Nursing My Adopted Child.

We also see questionable research results that seem to completely overlook the systemic context in which women make their feeding “choices”:

Brown found extraverted, conscientious and emotionally stable mothers were more likely to try breast-feeding. But being agreeable or open to new experiences made no difference, according to the findings published Tuesday (Aug. 6) in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Many try, but many quit

More than 80 percent of the women in the study tried to breast-feed, but less than half who tried were still breast-feeding six months later. And women who switched from breast to bottle tended to switch quickly. About 73 percent of the women who stopped breast-feeding did so within two weeks after giving birth.

Women who were conscientious — for example, detailed-oriented and punctual — were likely to start, but also likely to stop breast-feeding.

Mothers who kept breast-feeding during the first six months were more extroverted and less anxious than mothers who always bottle-fed or switched to the bottle. The effect was particularly strong within the first six weeks after birth. [Blossoming Body: 8 Odd Changes That Happen During Pregnancy]

via Mom’s Personality Key to Whether Baby Get the Breast or Bottle | LiveScience.

It is a huge mistake to reduce breastfeeding decisions to a “personal choice,” when it is a public health issue made in the context of a society that treats formula like the norm (as with the breastfeeding reduces risk, rather than formula increases risk research, as referenced above), pays excessive attention to celebrity breastfeeding experiences or public breastfeeding encounters, makes snide remarks under the guise of presenting new, duh-based research, that tolerates disparities in survival rates of black babies, and interferes with the birth process to the extent that we do not even have an accurate starting birth weight to gauge the “success” of breastfeeding by.

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Nursing toddlers at the creek last week. We’re talking about something else, but our faces look like we could be saying: “OMG! Can you *believe* that these things are even issues?!”
Totally.

Wednesday Tidbits: World Breastfeeding Week!

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Today is the last day of World Breastfeeding Week and I fully intended to create a link-full Tuesday Tidbits post about this yesterday. However, I was busy helping actual breastfeeding mothers at my monthly LLL meeting and then came home and worked on my handout and project preparations for our second annual MamaFest event this Saturday. I then had a faculty meeting while Mark took Lann to tae kwon do and went grocery shopping with the other kids and by the time I had a few minutes to spare again, it was 11:00 at night and I figured I might as well forgo Tuesday Tidbitting and just watch Teen Wolf instead! 😉 For MamaFest, I’ve been getting together handouts, a trivia game, and pins for prizes for my La Leche League booth, birth art supplies and display items and birth education handouts for the Rolla Birth Network/Talk Birth/birth art booth, and miscarriage/stillbirth handouts for the Rainbow Group loss support table. I’ve toyed with various projects for my birth art booth and finally came up with something that feels perfect—birth or motherhood affirmation/blessing cards!

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I got better at them the more I made. This one has a pocket with other little affirmation cards in it. I also started to experiment with painting on little glass “stones” to go in the pocket too. I need glass paint markers really though and I quickly ordered some, but they won’t make it in time for MamaFest.

For ideas for affirmations for them, I’m bringing along several books, including:

25 Ways to Joy & Inner Peace for Mothers

25 Ways to Awaken Your Birth Power

World Breastfeeding Week often seems like an occasion during which the media perceives non-breastfeeding mothers as being “discriminated” against somehow, and some women seem to take the occasion personally—like its very existence is a personal criticism. This article about the “I Support You” initiative is good in theory, but I sense in it the suggestion that WBW is specifically trying to make non-breastfeeding mothers “feel bad” and I did not appreciate the loads and loads of comments on the article that reference “La Leche Nazis”—particularly because said “Nazis” apparently visit mothers in the hospital to critique their mothering and I seriously doubt that any of the experiences shared in the comments were actually with LLL Leaders (who I have never been known to go to a hospital room uninvited and try to make mothers breastfeed. That isn’t part of our job at all. The commenters were probably dealing with whichever nurse is assigned to lactation, trained or otherwise).

I plan for my message to say: “To all those mothers who’ve learned the difference between the mother you think you will be and the one you actually are — I Support You.”

via I Support You: The Conversation We Should Be Having About Breastfeeding And Formula.

A related article that also has some great insights and thoughtful content (but for which, again, I feel breastfeeding advocacy is misconstrued):

Three billion things can go wrong when you breastfeed. But even with a bad latch, tongue tie, thrush, a clogged duct, and a crazy oversupply, I still think that nursing this little boy is the most amazing magic that I’ve ever felt in my life. I am the only thing that is keeping my child alive right now. You’re damn right that’s a superpower. When my breasts are engorged and I’m in pain, or when I swoop in to a room and soothe my screaming baby with my body, I want to shout it from the rafters, just like all of you did. This time, my breasts make milk. That is my superpower. And yet I have seen that breastfeeding moms get tested too: the nasty stares, the mean comments, the endless questioning that makes you doubt yourself: “Are you sure he’s getting enough? He’d sleep longer if he took a bottle. He’ll never be independent if he’s attached to you all the time.” The Mommy Wars have fueled the embers of fear and failure on both ends of the feeding spectrum. The simple act of feeding your child now comes with having to defend your choices.

via Milk Drunk | Kim Simon.

The underlying message of these articles, however, as well as that of World Breastfeeding Week itself, is really about the value of community support for mothers. The whole “village” and “tribe” concept. When I hear mothers describing attempts to breastfeed, I hear mothers with broken hearts as well as many stories involving broken circles of support:

I am a systems thinker and always hold in mind that breastfeeding, like all aspects of women’s lives, occurs in a context, a context that involves a variety of “circles of support” or lack thereof. Women don’t “fail” at breastfeeding because of personal flaws, society fails breastfeeding women and their babies every day through things like minimal maternity leave, no pumping rooms in workplaces, formula advertising and “gifts” in hospitals, formula company sponsorship of research and materials for doctors, the sexualization of breasts and objectification of women’s bodies, and so on and so forth. According to Milk, Money, and Madness (1995), “…infant formula sales comprise up to 50% of the total profits of Abbott Labs, an enormous pharmaceutical concern.” (p. 164) And the US government is the largest buyer of formula, paying for approximately 50% of all formula sold in the nation…

via Breastfeeding as an Ecofeminist Issue | Talk Birth.

Giving Birth with Confidence also wrote about the role of the breastfeeding village:

You’ve probably heard “it takes a village” when it comes to parenting and raising children. And it’s true — surrounding yourself with supportive family, friends, and professional and online resources goes a long way in making your parenting experience a better one. But what about a “village” for breastfeeding? Breastfeeding can be (and often is) a wonderful experience. It also can be trying, challenging, and hard work. Creating access to a network of people and resources who support breastfeeding will help you in times of need, provide a sounding board for your thoughts, and celebrate with your triumphs.

via World Breastfeeding Week: Creating Your Village — Giving Birth with Confidence.

And, so did Brain, Child magazine:

For breastfeeding advocates, then, your best shot at influencing other mothers to breastfeed is when you’re nursing yourself—and talking it up to your pals, especially if you’re central in your network, which gives you what social scientists call high “transitivity.” And, it stands to reason, that even if you’re not a breastfeeding advocate—even if you don’t even know what colostrum is—you can still be affected by the changing norms. Once your friends breastfeed in front of you, chances are excellent that witnessing a two-year-old lift up her mother’s shirt to nurse at a park just isn’t worthy of a second thought, much less a flinch. Like in the obesity study where friends of friends were shown to convey habits, you’ve become “tolerant.”

via The Village | Brain, Child Magazine.

Reading these articles made me think of the classic article by Teresa Pitman, originally in Mothering magazine (I think). I think this article is responsible for the introduction of the word “tribe” into the natural mothering lexicon as it is currently used (but, maybe it was The Continuum Concept, which is what Pitman references in her article. I know for me, it was Pitman’s article that first introduced me to the notion of a “tribe” and the fact that I needed one!). I was excited to hear her speak on the subject in person at the La Leche League International conference in Chicago in 2007.

I realized that we had formed our own, very small tribe. Spending our days together satisfied our need for adult companionship without separation from our babies, and working together made all the chores — even cleaning disgusting stuff out of the bottom of the fridge — more fun.

Eventually our husbands both found work in other communities, and our daily time together came to an end. But I had seen how important this kind of relationship is for me, and I deliberately tried to recreate it with other friends.

Not long after Vicki and her family moved, I was at a church picnic when I saw Lorna for the first time. She and her family had just arrived in our community. Something about the way she held her baby was familiar to me, and I went up and introduced myself.

She, too, was looking for a tribe, as she had recently moved away from her family. Soon my new friend Lorna and I got together every Thursday to bake bread (and sometimes other foods) for our families for the week. She had a bigger house and roomier kitchen, so we generally went there. We split the cost of the ingredients, and as our children played together (by then, I had three children and Lorna had six), we kneaded and shaped the dough. While the bread was rising, we talked and tended to other tasks. I often brought a basket of things that needed mending, so we could work together while we were waiting.

We were there when she miscarried her seventh baby, and she tended to my older children while I was giving birth to my fourth. I still think of Thursday as baking day, even though Lorna now lives hundreds of miles away.

My children are almost grown, but I still work with parents. The theme of loneliness is as strong and prevalent as it was when I sat crying on my bed with my new baby, wondering how I’d cope with no one to talk to. Certainly the desire to overcome isolation is one of the reasons why women return to work; it’s a need easily understood by those of us who opt to stay home with our children.

We truly are social animals; we need to be with other people to feel good, whole, and happy. It’s worth the effort to create tribes, however small and imperfect they may be.

via Finding Your Tribe – by Teresa Pitman.

I was also reminded of my own past thoughts about surviving postpartum:

“In western society, the baby gets attention while the mother is given lectures. Pregnancy is considered an illness; once the ‘illness’ is over, interest in her wanes. Mothers in ‘civilized’ countries often have no or very little help with a new baby. Women tend to be home alone to fend for themselves and the children. They are typically isolated socially & expected to complete their usual chores…while being the sole person to care for the infant…” –Milk, Money, & Madness

via Postpartum Survival Tips | Talk Birth.

And, I thought about the role that a tribe—or lack of one—plays in “lactation failure,” that may be falsely attributed to biology OR to evil “La Leche Nazis” assaulting unsuspecting women in hospital rooms with steaming piles of dogma doo.

I’ve remained firmly convinced for, like, ever, that it is culture that fails mothers and babies and not women’s bodies that fail. And, I truly wonder if it is ever possible (except for in cases of insufficient glandular tissue, metabolic disorders, breast surgery/removal, and clear physical malformations) to really tease apart whether a mother is actually experiencing lactation failure or sociocultural failure. I remain fairly convinced that in many cases it is impossible to know—but, that a mother (or physician) may certainly experience it as “lactation failure” and thus add that data point to the 1%. I have long maintained that a lot of people forget that breastfeeding occurs in a context and that context doesn’t necessarily support breastfeeding. However, I do also know from years of experience that motherbaby physiology can lead to problems too and we often overlook that in assertions about breastfeeding.

via Preventing Culturally Induced Lactation Failure | Talk Birth.

The idea of the “I Support You” campaign, with its “unbiased” subtext, also caused me to take another look at some past thoughts about “bias” and breastfeeding:

While I very much appreciate this observation and reminder, we also absolutely need to remember that biased means to exhibit “unfair prejudice”–it simply IS NOT “biased” to support breastfeeding as the biological norm and most appropriate food for babies. I was very concerned to read the comments on the post from other educators talking about their own “biases” toward physiologic birth or breastfeeding and how carefully they guard against exhibiting any such bias in their classes. Hold on! Remember that the burden of proof rests on those who promote an intervention—birth educators and breastfeeding educators should not be in a position of having to “prove” or “justify” the biological norm of unmedicated births or breastfed babies. I hate to see birth instructors being cautioned to avoid being “biased” in teaching about breastfeeding or birth, because in avoiding the appearance of bias they’d be lying to mothers. You can’t “balance” two things that are NOT equal and it is irresponsible to try out of a misplaced intention not to appeared biased. So, while I appreciate some of this educator’s points, I do think she’s off the mark in her fear/guilt and her acceptance of the word “bias.” The very fact that making a statement that someone has a bias toward breastfeeding can be accepted as a reasonable critique is indicative of how very deeply the problem goes and how systemic of an issue it is. If I say that drinking plenty of water is a good idea and is healthier for your body than drinking other liquids, no one ever accuses me of having a “bias towards water.” Breastfeeding should be no different. But, as we all know, breastfeeding occurs in a social, cultural, political, and economic context, one that all too often does not value, support, or understand the process…

via A Bias Toward Breastfeeding? | Talk Birth.

And, along these same lines, I saw a great quote from one of my midwife Facebook friends:

“Being an advocate for breastfeeding as the biological norm, healthiest and safest mode of feeding for most mothers and children is just that. It is meant to inform, enthuse, support, save lives, normalize the act. It is not meant as a slight or condemnation of non-breastfeeding mothers. Individually women breastfeed or not for a whole host of reasons. That is reality. That fact is respected and in no way is judgmental. Acknowledging the individual diversity does not change what breastfeeding is and why we need to continue to advocate for it around the world.” Desirre Andrews, CPM, RM

Exactly!

Speaking of my smart Facebook friends, I enjoyed reading a personal post from an IBCLC friend about why she didn’t celebrate WBW this month:

I think I’ve closed the “breastfeeding mother” chapter of my life, content instead to serve other breastfeeding mothers the best I know how. This is a big shift for me, since I’ve never approached breastfeeding support other than from the perspective of a mother who is also “walking the walk.” Am I “over” breastfeeding? The truth is, today, I’m ambivalent about it. My celebration of World Breastfeeding Week will always be welcome—I will never not be a supporter or an advocate, but a decade is a long time to do something, to do anything. A decade is a long time to be a breastfeeding mother; to not be one anymore, without ceremony or the closure that a more formal ending might offer, leaves me a bit unsettled.

via Why I didn’t celebrate World Breastfeeding Week this year | normal, like breathing.

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This small but mighty little girl still really, really, really likes to “nonny.”

Reading this made me reflect on my own breastfeeding journey and the toddler point at which I am with my own (likely) final nursling. I’ve wondered a lot if and when this chapter of my life will close in terms of working with other breastfeeding mothers. It is still very much my current reality, so it is hard to assess. What I do know is that when I go to LLL conferences and I see women who have been Leaders for 30 years, I think…that is my future. And, I leave with the distinct impression that I’m a lifer. However, a couple of years ago I might have said the same about birth work and now when I see pictures from my pregnancies, read some of my own writing, or look at some of the childbirth education supplies I’ve amassed over the years it all feels very far away now.

But, returning to the idea of support and tribes and breastfeeding women and I Support You to mothers of all kinds in their mothering journeys (which I DO absolutely believe in!), I also thought again of this:

This month as I sat in the circle at our mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group meeting, I looked around at all the beautiful mothers in that room. I reflected on each of their journeys and how much each one has been through in her life, to come to this time and this place, and tears filled my eyes. They are all so amazing. And, my simple, fervent prayer for them in that moment was that they could know that. Know that on a deep, incontrovertible level. I tried to tell them then, in that moment. How much they mean to me, how incredible they are, how I see them. How I hope they will celebrate their own capacities and marvel at their own skills. How I see their countless, beautiful, unrecognized, invisible motherful actions. How when I see them struggling in the door with toddlers and diaper bags and organic produce that they’re sharing with each other, I see heroines. They may look and feel “mundane” from the outside, but from where I’m sitting, they shine with a power and potency that takes my breath away. Moderating toddler disputes over swordplay, wiping noses, changing diapers, soothing tears, murmuring words, moving baby from breast to shoulder to floor and back to breast without even seeming consciously aware of how gorgeously they are both parenting and personing in that very moment, speaking their truths, offering what they have to give, reaching out to one another, and nursing, nursing, nursing. Giving their bodies over to their babies again and again in a tender, invisible majesty. In this room is a symphony of sustenance. An embodied maternal dance of being.

via International Women’s Day: Prayer for Mothers | Talk Birth.

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Stopped for some sandy nonnies.

Last year’s World Breastfeeding Week Post Round Up | Talk Birth.

World Breastfeeding Week Post Round Up

I ended up writing a lot of breastfeeding posts during WBW this year and decided to gather them all together in one post, plus extras, so that no one manages to miss out!

Other favorite posts about breastfeeding:

  • Breastfeeding as a Spiritual Practice: Reflections on the intimate, spiritual connection and meditative quality of being a breastfeeding mother as well as thoughts about parenting as a (rigorous) spiritual practice of its own.
  • Breastfeeding as an Ecofeminist Issue: Why does breastfeeding threaten both feminists and the patriarchy? Why is breastfeeding a core women’s issue? And, why aren’t we more concerned about systemic barriers?
  • The Birth-Breastfeeding Continuum: From a biological perspective birth and breastfeeding are not discreet events, but are inextricably linked. Healthy breastfeeding begins with healthy birth!
  • Ode to my nursling: What it is like to nurse my baby.
  • Nursing Johnny Depp: My “classic” essay on what it is like to nurse things other than my baby…
  • Listening Well Enough: What I learned from a dream about listening to breastfeeding mothers.
  • Listening to my baby…even when we disagreed! Personal story about how I learned to listen to my baby about what he needed with regard to breastfeeding even when I didn’t like what he was telling me.
  • Inseparable: Personal thoughts about being “in dependence” with our babies.

Other great resources:

Infographic for parents (and heck, providers too!) about the first few days of breastfeeding–newborn stomach sizes, number of diapers, etc.

Ban the Bags toolkit: Great rebuttals to common arguments about the assumed neutrality of distributing formula marketing materials via medical care settings/providers as well as evidence about the link between “free” formula distribution and reduced rates of successful breastfeeding.

Resources from the Breastfeeding Taskforce of Greater Los Angeles including:

Also, you can check Baby Friendly USA to see if your birthing facility is Baby Friendly.

CIMS sent out some good WBW information about how Birth Practices Affect Breastfeeding:

CIMS is proud that the WHO/UNICEF included recommendations in the Ten Steps of the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative in the WHO/UNICEF’s Infant and young child feeding: A tool for assessing national practices, policies and programmes (2003).

The WHO and UNICEF recommend that to maximize the establishment of successful breastfeeding women in labor, regardless of birth setting, should have access to the following practices recommended in the MFCI:

  • Care that is sensitive and responsive to the specific beliefs, values, and customs of the mother’s culture, ethnicity and religion;
  • Birth companions of her choice who provide emotional and physical support throughout labor and delivery;
  • The freedom to walk, move about, and assume the positions of her choice during labor;
  • Care by staff trained in non-drug methods of pain relief and who do not promote the use of analgesic or anesthetic drugs unless required by a medical condition;
  • Care that minimizes routine practices and procedures that are not supported by scientific evidence including withholding nourishment, early rupture of  membranes, use of IVs,  routine electronic fetal monitoring, episiotomy and instrumental delivery;
  • Care that minimizes invasive procedures such as unnecessary acceleration or induction of labor and medically unnecessary cesarean sections.

And, so did Lamaze:

Valuable resources and information for expecting parents, like Lamaze’s Push for Your Baby, are aimed at giving expecting parents the tools to push for the best care practices for moms and babies, including those that support breastfeeding education and awareness.

Lamaze calls out the following top five breastfeeding barriers within the first 24 hours of birth to help expecting moms prepare for the best breastfeeding experience:

  1. Unnecessary birth interventions
  2. Separating mom and baby
  3. Use of pacifiers or other artificial nipples before breastfeeding is well established
  4. Supplementing breastmilk with formula
  5. Lack of postpartum breastfeeding support

Note: on August 15, Lamaze is hosting a free webinar called Moms, Babies, Milk and the Law: Legal and Ethical Issues When Teaching Breastfeeding

And, some other interesting posts not by me:

World Breastfeeding Week Sucks According to this Lactation Consultant

While I don’t really care for the title because I think it may cause people to not even read the article, I really appreciated this IBCLC’s thoughts about the correlation between the occurrence of WBW each year and the strategic release “breaking” news about some kind of breastfeeding related controversy. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but this does in fact happen every. single. year. During World Breastfeeding Week, something comes out that causes doubt about breastfeeding or breastfeeding advocates. Maybe it is about vitamin D and how “deficient” breastmilk is, or maybe it is a trumped up “mommy wars” tale or hyperbolic call to action about not letting those mean “breastfeeding Nazis” try to tell us how to raise our babies, or, like this year, a bizarre spin on the idea that formula should not be readily distributed in large “gift packs” via our medical care system, but should instead be reserved for cases in which it is actually needed (see above mentioned notion of those mythical, control-freak breastfeeding Nazis who are out to get us all). Anyway, the LC points out this:

I really hate World Breastfeeding Week because much of the media takes it as an opportunity to attack those who wish to support mothers who breastfeed rather than celebrate their efforts to improve infant feeding. Every year I hope I will not have to read more faux feminist manifestos that denigrate the value of women who enjoy their care-giving roles. I hope I won’t have to read more junk science fishing expeditions by journalists who deliberately exclude the wide body of solid research that does show that what infants are fed does matter. This year sets a new low with the addition of outrageously false claims that New York’s City’s Mayor has imposed a ban on formula that is going to deprive mothers of their rights. –Susan Burger

And, speaking of the bizarre spin of this year’s anti-WBW backlash conspiracy, Moxie wrote a great post exploring this issue: The illusion of choice, the free market, and your boobs

If you truly care about a woman’s right to choose what’s best for her and her baby, you will take the financial pressure out of the equation, and eliminate any actions that impede free choice. Putting formula samples right next to the baby’s head impedes free choice. Having to ask for formula (just like you have to ask for tylenol, or an extra chucks pad, or another container of orange juice) doesn’t impede free choice. It doesn’t change anything for women who cannot breastfeed–they can still get those formula samples easily by asking. It doesn’t change anything for women who don’t want to breastfeed–they can still get those formula samples easily by asking. It could change everything for women who want to breasfeed but don’t have correct information or are experiencing problems they can overcome if they’re given help, because they will be given EQUAL ACCESS to information that can help them breastfeed and formula samples. They ask for help or they ask for formula. Equal access. No privilege for formula.

I don’t want the decisions I make about how to parent my children made by the highest bidder. Especially since the highest bidder doesn’t care about me and only wants my money. (Let’s not forget that those formula samples are worth about $1.50. A woman who chooses to feed formula based on those samples has just been signed on to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on formula once she leaves the hospital. She is never informed of that. Is THAT free choice?)

I don’t care how you feed your baby. But I want you to make a decision about it with all the information, all the support, and all the help you can get. Free choice. I do not want your choices narrowed by the huge financial incentives formula manufacturers pour into hospitals. [emphasis mine]

And, as I’ve already referenced in some of the posts linked to above, Dr. Newman has a helpful article about How to Know a Health Professional is not Supportive of Breastfeeding that directly connects to the issue of formula distribution by medical care professionals. One way to know right away is if the provider distributes material provided by a formula company—even if that material is labeled “breastfeeding information.”