Posts Tagged ‘pregnant’

Britax Car Seat Sale!

Amazon is having a rare sale on Britax car seats, which are touted as being among the best/safest car seats available. I have one and LOVE it. Yes they are a little bigger and heavier than most, but they have performed better than other car seats in crash tests.

The sale is for one week only, so don’t delay, click here to view the sale items! It looks like all Britax seats will also receive free shipping! When I purchased my Britax, all prices were very similar, so free shipping was important to me. But now there is a sale AND free shipping! Can’t beat that!

Britax offers a wide variety of car seats — convertibles, boosters — and in different models with different features. I have the Boulevard, which offers true side impact protection. I have a Civic, so that was an important feature to me. It also had a knob on the side allowing you to adjust the straps to where YOU want them all without having to remove the straps or the seat.

Britax also has a new seat — the Click and Safe seat which provides and audible click to let you k now when the restraints are tight enough to keep your child safe.

Another thing to watch for is weight limits. The Boulevard is rear-facing up to 35 lbs and forward facing up to 65 pounds. The Roundabout is rear-facing also to 35 lbs, but only forward facing to 40 lbs.

The most important thing about car seats it to make sure they are properly installed!! I NEVER install my own seats. There is a technician at one of the fire stations here who is recommended by Children’s Hospital. He is certified and does hundreds of installations every year. The fact is, death from improper use or installation of car seats is the leading cause of death in infants and children. It’s so not worth it — get it professionally installed fire stations will do this for free, so cost is not an excuse, just takes a few minutes. Your child is worth it!

Other tips for safe car seats and usage:

1. Make sure the seat fits your car and fits your child. It does not matter how safe the seat is if it does not properly fit the car or child.

2. Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. This has nothing to do with age or how long your child’s legs are. Rear-facing is the safest position up to the weight limit of the seat or until his head reaches the top of the seat.

3. Use the seat every time! NEVER go anywhere without your child properly restrained in an approved car seat. Surprisingly, nearly half of all child deaths and injuries related to car accidents are from parents not using a restraint. Don’t do this — buckle up your child before you even start the car.

4. Watch for recalls, especially important if you are using a second-hand seat. Car seats come with a registration card. Fill it out and send it in so the manufacturer can send you any recall information.

5. Lifetime of a seat is about 6 years, at which time a new seat should be purchased, because the plastic starts to breakdown. Again, especially important if you are using a second hand seat.

6. Use a 5 point harrness, LATCH system and tethers.

7. Inspect the seat regularly to ensure it is still secured properly (ideally you would do this each time before putting the child in the seat). Very important as one day I discovered the car seat belt came undone on my daughter’s infant seat. Scared me to death to think what could have happened if I had not checked.

8. Make sure the straps are tight and secure each time you buckle up your child and that the chest clip is in the middle of your child’s sternum.

9. Children up to 80 pounds, 4’9″ and 8-10 years old need to be in some restraint system.

10. Don’t buckle in your child when she is wearing a heavy coat. It can create gaps and your child could fly out of the seat on impact. Instead buckle your child in then use blankets for warmth.

Go to the sale NOW! Before it’s too late….

Other resources:

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/

http://www.aap.org/family/carseatguide.htm

http://car-seat.org/

15 things you should know to care for baby

I thought this was a pretty good little article from USA Weekend.

15 things you need to know to care for Baby
Important lessons from the latest research
By Kelly DiNardo
 
Forget sugar and spice and everything nice. Your little one is a lot more complicated than that. USA WEEKEND wants to make sure you have a recipe for success, so each year we sift through the most recent scientific studies and research to compile this list of the 15 most important findings you need to know. From getting Baby to love her green beans to avoiding tooth decay, we’ve got you covered so your child can be the focus.

1 Help kids eat veggies. “Ignore the faces Baby makes when you introduce new foods,” says Julie Mennella, one of the authors of a study published in Pediatrics that found repeated exposure to veggies increased babies’ consumption. “We gave babies a taste of green beans for several days, and after about eight days, they were more willing to eat it. They learn to like their veggies.”

2 Lower Baby’s allergy risk. Breast-feeding for four to six months may protect against food allergies, says a newly published policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “If you can’t breast-feed and you have a history of allergies, choose a low-allergen formula that’s not the regular milk or soy-based formulas,” says Scott Sicherer, M.D., author of Understanding and Managing Your Child’s Food Allergies. “Also, hold off on solid food until your baby is about 4 to 6 months.”

3 Try honey. In January, the Food and Drug Administration advised that children under age 2 should not be given over-the-counter cough and cold medicines because of potential side effects that include rapid heart rates, convulsions and death. Instead, soothe your child’s cough with a teaspoon of honey. A study done by researchers at Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, Pa., compared a teaspoon of buckwheat honey, honey-flavored cough suppressant and no treatment in 105 children with an upper respiratory tract infection and found that honey worked best at calming coughs. However, do not give honey to babies under the age of 1, as there are rare but severe side effects, including infantile botulism. Instead, when Baby gets a cough or cold, treat symptoms with non-aspirin pain reliever and saline nose drops.

4 Quit smoking. Researchers at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia found that if Mom smoked before breast-feeding, her baby’s sleep was disrupted, and Baby slept for a shorter period of time. “Ideally, Mom will quit smoking,” says Mennella, who co-authored the study. “But if she doesn’t quit, she can time the breast-feeding so that Baby is minimally exposed to the nicotine in the milk. It gets into the milk within a half-hour of smoking and takes two to three hours to leave the body.”

5 Take a test. Well-child visits take about 15 to 30 minutes and cover many issues, including vaccination schedules, so it’s no surprise that when pediatricians are trying to cover so much territory, they fail to identify up to 80% of developmental delays in kids. In a Pediatrics study, researchers found that when parents completed a screening test in which they answered questions about their baby’s development, referral rates for continued evaluation increased by 224%. “Push your doctor to use a standardized developmental tool,” says Hollie Hix-Small, one of the study’s authors. She suggests completing the Ages & Stages questionnaire at asq.uoregon.edu. “It gives parents a better understanding of where their child should be.”

6 Watch Baby’s mouth. Decay in baby teeth is on the rise among 2- to 5-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Keith Morley, D.M.D., president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, offers these tips to keep Baby’s teeth in tip-top shape:

Tips
Take Baby to the dentist at age 1.
The dentist can walk parents through a series of things to do with their little one.
Brush Baby’s teeth as soon as they come into his mouth.
Use a fluoride-free toothpaste until he can spit.
Do not let Baby take a bottle to bed if he has teeth.
The sugars in the milk or formula contribute to decay.

7 Go skin to skin. In a review of studies, researchers at Vanderbilt University found that babies who were placed on their mother’s chest with just a blanket over their back were more successful with the initial latching on to Mom’s breast and breast-fed longer. “If possible, hold your newborn there after the first [ever] breast-feeding for about two hours,” says Elizabeth Moore, one of the review’s authors.

8 Skip the bumper. Bumper pads on cribs and bassinets are meant to prevent Baby from hurting herself, but a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that the risk of accidental death or injury outweighs their possible benefit. The researchers found that over 20 years, there were 27 accidental deaths and 25 non-fatal injuries of children between 1 month and 2 years of age that were attributed to the bumper pads.

9 Turn off the TV. Parents are ignoring the AAP recommendation that children under age 2 not watch TV. According to a study done by researchers at the University of Washington, 40% of babies are regular viewers by the age of 3 months, and 90% of2-year-olds are regular viewers. Studies have shown that early TV viewing is associated with a variety of long-term problems, such as slower development of reading and math skills. Toymakers also are introducing tech devices with screens, like children’s computers, for younger and younger kids. “I don’t see a reason to introduce those products to kids under 2,” says Frederick Zimmerman, the author of the TV study. “Interaction with other people, like parents and older siblings, is far better.”

10 Avoid unnecessary medication. “Every infant under 3 months of age is going to have reflux,” says Vikram Khoshoo, M.D. Khoshoo and researchers from West Jefferson Medical Center near New Orleans measured the reflux, or regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the esophagus, of 44 infants. They found that 42 of the babies were on anti-reflux medication, but only eight should have been. “If your child is gaining weight properly, not having recurrent respiratory problems, not excessively irritable, feeding well and not vomiting blood or bile, they do not need to be on medicine,” Khoshoo says. To help alleviate reflux, give Baby a smaller volume of milk and thicken it with rice cereal, and recline Baby at an angle of about 45 degrees during and after mealtimes. “If that does not help, the child needs to be evaluated,” Khoshoo says. “It’s not good to take unnecessary medications because we are still learning all of the effects.”

11 Check Baby’s head. Since parents have been told to put Baby to sleep on her back to avoid sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the incidence of positional plagiocephaly has increased fivefold. Positional plagiocephaly occurs when Baby’s head becomes slightly misshapen because her skull is soft, and she’s primarily sleeping on one side. Within a year or two, “as the baby starts moving around, they take care of the problem on their own,” says Monica Wehby, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. She suggests rolling up a blanket and angling it under Baby’s shoulder and hip to alleviate pressure on the head. “Don’t prop the head or you’ll risk them suffocating themselves. If you’re concerned or it gets worse, mention it to your pediatrician.”

12 Know the signs. It’s estimated that one in 150 kids are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), a group of disorders that affect social behavior and communication skills. Most parents become concerned when Baby is between 15 and 18 months. Although how the disorder presents itself varies, you may want to talk to your doctor if Baby ignores your efforts to draw her attention, seldom makes eye contact and hasn’t begun babbling after 9 months. If Baby has ASD, she may play differently, too. Kids with ASD often lack creativity, engage in repetitive play and develop attachments to common objects, like string, sticks and rocks, rather than store-bought toys.

13 Follow safe swim rules. After age 1, the primary cause of death for kids is injury. In the past five years, there were, on average, 2,200 children younger than 5 years old treated in emergency rooms for swimming pool-related injuries. “The No. 1 rule is that you never leave a child unattended around a swimming pool,” says Larry Baraff, M.D., professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “You have to be paying attention. You can’t be having an intense conversation.”

14 Check your home. More than 90% of injury-related deaths in children under 1 happen at home, according to the CDC. A study published in Pediatrics found that moms reported a greater use of home safety practices than were actually in use. For example, smoke detectors were found in 97% of participants’ homes, but only about half were working. The AAP recommends the following tips to keep your home safe for Baby:
 
Tips
Make sure drapery and blind cords are out of Baby’s reach.
Be certain the smoke detectors work and that there is one in or near Baby’s bedroom.
Place plug protectors in any unused electrical outlets.
Keep all medicines, vitamins, toiletries and any other potentially poisonous substances in cabinets with child-resistant safety latches.

15 Get Baby vaccinated. The AAP issued new vaccination recommendations in 2007. The changes include giving Baby a hepatitis A vaccine at 1 year of age as a two-dose regimen. Each dose should be given at least six months apart. The AAP also recommends two doses of the varicella vaccine (for chickenpox) — the first given to children between 12 and 15 months and the second between 4 and 6 years.

My comments: I think all these are good an important. However, I the AAP, WHO, AAFP and UNICEF all recommened breastfeeding for 6 months and then gradually offering supplemental foods starting at 6 months.

I would also add that there are many benefits to eating organic foods. Young children consume a great amount of pesticides from foods and this could lead to other health issues. Eating organic foods is much healthier.

I know #15 (vaccinating baby) is being debated by many parents. I believe that parents should do the research and decide what is best for their family. Dr. Sear’s “The Vaccine Book” has been very helpful in our decisions about vaccinating our children.

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Have we found the cause of SIDS?
Lead and PVC free lunch boxes
BPA in infant formula
Breastmilk contains stem cells
Breastmilk cures
Importance of Breastfeeding
Disturbing news about ARA / DHA in infant formula

Nursing is more than breastfeeding

I thought this was a great little article at SAFbaby.

Breastfeeding isn’t only about providing mother’s milk. While seldom recognized in literature, doctors’ advice or common conversation, there’s a whole lot more to breastfeeding than nutrition and immunity, and some of this can be achieved during bottlefeeding as well.

Breastfeeding has taken quite a bashing over the last century. In order to rebuild acceptance of breastfeeding, breastfeeding advocates have focused on the importance its nutritive and immune support roles. But breastfeeding is designed to be much more than just providing food — it is a time for nursing, a time for comfort and nurturing. This is a time for studying and memorizing each other’s faces, for speaking or singing to your baby and developing her trust and nonverbal communication.
Read more…

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Disturbing news about ARA / DHA in infant formula

Britax Car Seat sale

Amazon is having a rare sale on Britax car seats, which are touted as being among the best/safest car seats available. I have one and LOVE it. Yes they are a little bigger and heavier than most, but they have performed better than other car seats in crash tests.

The sale is for one week only, so don’t delay! It looks like all Britax seats will also receive free shipping! When I purchased my Britax, all prices were very similar, so free shipping was important to me. But now there is a sale AND free shipping! Can’t beat that!

Britax offers a wide variety of car seats — convertibles, boosters — and in different models with different features. I have the Boulevard, which offers true side impact protection. I have a Civic, so that was an important feature to me. It also had a knob on the side allowing you to adjust the straps to where YOU want them all without having to remove the straps or the seat.

Another thing to watch for is weight limits. The Boulevard is rear-facing up to 35 lbs and forward facing up to 65 pounds. The Roundabout is rear-facing also to 35 lbs, but only forward facing to 40 lbs.

The most important thing about car seats it to make sure they are properly installed!! I NEVER install my own seats. There is a technician at one of the fire stations here who is recommended by Children’s Hospital. He is certified and does hundreds of installations every year. The fact is, death from improper use or installation of car seats is the leading cause of death in infants and children. It’s so not worth it — get it professionally installed fire stations will do this for free, so cost is not an excuse, just takes a few minutes. Your child is worth it!

Other tips for safe car seats and usage:

1. Make sure the seat fits your car and fits your child

2. Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. This has nothing to do with age or how long your child’s legs are. Rear-facing is the safest position up to the weight limit of the seat or until his head reaches the top of the seat.

3. Use the seat every time! NEVER go anywhere without your child properly restrained in an approved car seat.

4. Watch for recalls, especially important if you are using a second-hand seat.

5. Lifetime of a seat is about 6 years because the plastic starts to breakdown. Again, especially important if you are using a second hand seat.

6. Use a 5 point harrness, LATCH system and tethers.

7. Inspect the seat regularly to ensure it is still secured properly (ideally you would do this each time before putting the child in the seat)

8. Make sure the straps are tight and secure each time you buckle up your child

9. Children up to 80 pounds, 4’9″ and 8-10 years old need to be in some restraint system

Other resources:

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/

http://www.aap.org/family/carseatguide.htm

http://car-seat.org/

Born Free unveils BPA, PVC and phthalate free orthodontic pacifier

BornFree announced today the launch of its new orthodontic product line by unveiling the BornFree BPA-Free Pacifier for Day and Night use. The new pacifier is made from materials that are 100% free of Bisphenol-A, Phthalates and PVC.

This seems to be like no other paci on the market. The handle is flexible, which is cool and innovative, so it won’t hamper sleep (which is where the Day and Night use claim comes into play). The nipple is also collapsible and the shield is breathable. Sounds like a winner all the way around!

The new pacifier is available for ages 0-6 months and 6+ months to meet the oral development needs for each age group. I actually saw these in Babies R Us over the weekend and my daughter tossed 2 packs in the cart. Smart girl! They look nice, as far as a pacifier goes, though we have 10 weeks until our new bundle arrives, so I can’t share personal experience just yet.

“BornFree is committed to only providing BPA-Free products,” said Gil Lemel, founder and CEO of BornFree. “Our goal is to offer a smart and safe alternative for the entire family.” Lemel added, “The pacifier is the first of many products that will soon be available in our new orthodontic line.”

You can get the 0-6 month version here and the 6+ month version here.

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FDA: Vitamins contain lead

The FDA did an analysis of the lead content of 324 different vitamins. Shockingly, very few were lead-free. 5 of the samples studied exceeded the level the FDA considers “safe, ” though none of these were for children or pregnant or lactating women. Just when I thought we were making progress finally banning lead in toys (even though this was really a no-brainer and should not need a law banning it), now we have lead in vitamins.

Although all of the vitamins for those in the high-risk category (children, and pregnant and lactating women) were below the daily levels the FDA considers “safe,“ I have to question if any amount of lead is really safe. Not to mention it’s very likely we are exposed to lead in other ways in our daily lives and may not truly know where we are being exposed. Best bet is to avoid anything known to contain any amounts of lead. We just ditched our old cast-iron bathtub because it very likely contained lead. Lead is also common in PVC-made products, garden hoses, some clothing, paint, lunch boxes/backpacks/diaper bags, etc., older porcelin/cast iron tubs and sinks, plus many other places. And it’s still in some toys (and the government “ban” will still allow for very small traces of lead — it is NOT a zero-tolerance deal).

Lead ends up in the vitamins because it naturally occurs in the environment, however, that does not mean I want to find it in a vitamin, especially one I give my child. This comes at a good time actually, as I was about to look into a good vitamin for my toddler.

Here is the study summary and results of each vitamin studied. These seem to be all over the counter varieties, so my prenatal was not listed unfortunately.

Below I have listed the top 10 vitamins with the most and least amount of lead. Here’s my disclaimer before you purchase any – still review the labels for other ingredients!! Some may still contain preservatives and other ingredients you may elect to avoid (ie parabens, sugars, etc.) I did not account for that in these lists – just the lead content.

Infants and Young Children (Age 0-6 years)
There are 3 vitamins for infants and young children that had non-detectible lead levels. These are:

1. TwinLab Infant Care Multi Vitamins
2. NF Formulas Liquid Pediatric
3. Natrol Liquid Kids Companion

And rounding out the top 10 in this category for the LEAST amount of lead by daily exposure are:
4. Kids Liquid Dolphin Pals
5. Windmill Bite-A-Mins
6. My First Flintstones
7. Natural Wealth Children’s Chewable Multivitamins Plus Extra C
8. Uno Diario Ninos
9. Flintstones Plus Immunity Support
10. Natural Wealth Children’s Chewable Multivitamins

The top 10 with the MOST amount of lead by daily exposure are:
1. Dynamic Health Multi for Children
2. Clinicians Choice Chewable Daily Multivitamins
3. Wonder Laboratories Formula Nineteen
4. Vita-Big-Kids
5. Nature’s Plus Animal Parade
6. Ola Loa Kids
7. Physio Kids Multilogics Chewable
8. Nutraceutical Pedia Power
9. Superior Multi Age
10. Nature’s Plus Animal Parade Shake

Older Children and Teens (7+ years)
The top 10 with the LEAST amount of lead by daily exposure are:
1. Lil Critters Drop Zone for Teens
2. Nutrition Now Zow for Teens
3. Michael’s For Pre-Teen Boys
4. Michael’s Teen Boys
5. Puritan’s Pride Mega Vita Min For Teens
6. Michael’s Pre-Teen Girls
7. Michael’s Teen Girls
8. Good ‘N Natural Ultra Teen
9. Futurebiotics Derma Teen
10. GNC Mega Teen

The top 10 with the MOST amount of lead by daily exposure are:
1. Vitanica Women’s Symetry
2. Esteem Total Teen
3. FoodScience Teen’s Superior
4. Nature’s Plus Source of Life Power Teen
5. Rainbow Light Active Health TEEN
6. Maxi Teen Supreme
7. Doctor’s Choice For Male Teens
8. Clinical Nutrients For Male Teens
9. Clinical Nutrients for Female Teens
10. Kal Enhanced Energy Teen Complete

For Pregnant and Lactating Women
The 10 with the LEAST amount of lead by daily exposure are:
1. After Baby Boost 2
2. Nature’s Sunshine Nature’s Prenatal
3. Nature’s Plus Prenatal Liquid
4. Natrol PreNatal Care
5. Pregnancy Plus
6. Pure Encapsulations PreNatal Nutrients
7. Maxi Health One Prenatal
8. Nature’s Bounty Prenatal
9. Stuart Prenatal
10. Natural Wealth Prenatal

The 10 with the MOST amount of lead by daily exposure are:
1. Carol Bond Women’s Choice Prenatal
2. Daily Foods Baby & Me
3. Life Time Professional Pre-Natal Formula
4. DaVinci Laboratories Ultimate Prenatal
5. Buried Treasure Prenatal Plus DHA Complete
6. Rainbow Light Complete Prenatal System
7. Prenatal Superior
8. Vitamin Source Prenatal Complete
9. A to Z Naturals Wow! PreNatal
10. After Baby Boost 1

For Adult Women
The 10 with the LEAST amount of lead by daily exposure are:
1. FemOne
2. Viactiv Multivitamin Milk Chocolate
3. Family Value Multivitamin/Multimineral for Woman
4. MotherNature.com Women’s Basic Multi
5. Kirkman EveryDay
6. Vitabase Woman’s Multi (liquid)
7. Food Force Women’s Force
8. 21st Century One Daily Women’s
9. NewChapter Organics Every Woman’s One Daily
10. Viactiv Flavor Glides

The 10 with the MOST amount of lead by daily exposure are:
1. GenSpec VF-3 para Mujeres Hispanas
2. Women’s Superior
3. DaVinci Laboratories Spectra Woman
4. Garden of Life Living Multi
5. For Women Only
6. GenSpec VF-1 for African American Females
7. Garden of Life Living Multi Optimal
8. Esteem Total Woman
9. Super Nutrition Women’s Blend
10. NutriBiotic Ultimate Matrix

Related Articles
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Toxins found in crib mattresses may cause health problems

Pregnant women told to avoid BPA packaging

I saw this article this morning. Good advice for pregnant & lactating women in avoiding the hormone mimicking BPA.

Pregnant women told to avoid BPA packaging
By Charlotte Eyre
 
03-Apr-2008 – A US health-advocacy group has warned that pregnant women should reduce their exposure to packaging that contains bisphenol A (BPA) to avoid passing the controversial chemical to their unborn children.

The warning, from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), will serve as yet more negative publicity for packaging companies, many of which use BPA when manufacturing polycarbonates for water bottles, canned soups and drinks, and baby food bottles.

“We don’t want to tell people not to eat canned beans or tomatoes,” said CSPI nutritionist David Schardt. “But at the same time, it makes sense for all parents, and especially pregnant and nursing women, to minimize the exposure of their kids’ developing bodies and brains to BPA.”

The group cites a scientific study published by the National Institute of Environmental Health (NIEH) in August last year, which warned that rats exposed to BPA experienced “a wide range of adverse effects”.

While the influence on humans has not yet been fully studied, the NIEH said that the changes in the animals indicated that BPA may provoke childhood health problems such as early onset of puberty, obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and urogenital abnormalities.

According to the CSPI, these findings are worrying enough to call for pregnant women to boycott packaging products containing BPA.

“In fact, the food industry could make life easier by phasing it out entirely,” Schart said.

Bisphenol A was first studied in the 1930s as a possible mimic of the hormone estrogen in women. The chemical was later developed to make clear plastics for use in the food industry.

Several scientific results have been conducted into the safey of BPA in recent years, and researchers have also linked it to adult health concerns, especially breast and prostate cancer.

In 2007, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) set a maximum limit for human daily intake of BPA of five milligrams per kilo of body weight per day, but stressed that more studies were needed to link the chemical with human health problems.

The Canadian government has also launched a study into BPA, the results of which are expected later this year.

Related Articles:

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  • Breastfeeding Language

    This is a great article written by a lactation consultant.

    Watch Your Language
    By Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC

    The lactation consultant says, “You have the best chance to provide your baby with the best possible start in life, through the special bond of breastfeeding. The wonderful advantages to you and your baby will last a lifetime.” And then the mother bottlefeeds. Why?

    In part because that sales pitch could just as easily have come from a commercial baby milk pamphlet. When our phrasing and that of the baby milk industry are interchangeable, one of us is going about it wrong…and it probably isn’t the multinationals. Here is some of the language that I think subverts our good intentions every time we use it.

    Best possible, ideal, optimal, perfect. Are you the best possible parent? Is your home life ideal? Do you provide optimal meals? Of course not. Those are admirable goals, not minimum standards. Let’s rephrase. Is your parenting inadequate? Is your home life subnormal? Do you provide deficient meals? Now it hurts. You may not expect to be far above normal, but you certainly don’t want to be below normal.

    When we (and the artificial milk manufacturers) say that breastfeeding is the best possible way to feed babies because it provides their ideal food, perfectly balanced for optimal infant nutrition, the logical response is, “So what?” Our own experience tells us that optimal is not necessary. Normal is fine, and implied in this language is the absolute normalcy–and thus safety and adequacy–of artificial feeding. The truth is, breastfeeding is nothing more than normal. Artificial feeding, which is neither the same nor superior, is therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior. Those are difficult words, but they have an appropriate place in our vocabulary.

    Advantages. When we talk about the advantages of breastfeeding–the “lower rates” of cancer, the “reduced risk” of allergies, the “enhanced” bonding, the “stronger” immune system–we reinforce bottlefeeding yet again as the accepted, acceptable norm.

    Health comparisons use a biological, not cultural, norm, whether the deviation is harmful or helpful. Smokers have higher rates of illness; increasing prenatal folic acid may reduce fetal defects. Because breastfeeding is the biological norm, breastfed babies are not “healthier;” artificially-fed babies are ill more often and more seriously. Breastfed babies do not “smell better;” artificial feeding results in an abnormal and unpleasant odor that reflects problems in an infant’s gut. We cannot expect to create a breastfeeding culture if we do not insist on a breastfeeding model of health in both our language and our literature.

    We must not let inverted phrasing by the media and by our peers go unchallenged. When we fail to describe the hazards of artificial feeding, we deprive mothers of crucial decision-making information. The mother having difficulty with breastfeeding may not seek help just to achieve a “special bonus;” but she may clamor for help if she knows how much she and her baby stand to lose. She is less likely to use artificial milk just “to get him used to a bottle” if she knows that the contents of that bottle cause harm.

    Nowhere is the comfortable illusion of bottlefed normalcy more carefully preserved than in discussions of cognitive development. When I ask groups of health professionals if they are familiar with the study on parental smoking and IQ (1), someone always tells me that the children of smoking mothers had “lower IQs.” When I ask about the study of premature infants fed either human milk or artificial milk (2), someone always knows that the breastmilk-fed babies were “smarter.” I have never seen either study presented any other way by the media–or even by the authors themselves. Even health professionals are shocked when I rephrase the results using breastfeeding as the norm: the artificially-fed children, like children of smokers, had lower IQs.

    Inverting reality becomes even more misleading when we use percentages, because the numbers change depending on what we choose as our standard. If B is 3/4 of A, then a is 4/3 of B. Choose A as the standard, and B is 25% less. Choose B as the standard, and A is 33 1/3% more. Thus, if an item costing 100 units is put on sale for “25% less,”the price becomes 75. When the sale is over, and the item is marked back up, it must be marked up 33 1/3% to get the price up to 100. Those same figures appear in a recent study (3), which found a “25% decrease” in breast cancer rates among women who were breastfed as infants. Restated using breastfed health as the norm, there was a 33-1/3% increase in breast cancer rates among women who were artificially fed. Imagine the different impact those two statements would have on the public.

    Special. “Breastfeeding is a special relationship.” “Set up a special nursing corner.” In or family, special meals take extra time. Special occasions mean extra work. Special is nice, but it is complicated, it is not an ongoing part of life, and it is not something we want to do very often. For most women, nursing must fit easily into a busy life–and, of course, it does. “Special” is weaning advice, not breastfeeding advice.

    Breastfeeding is best; artificial milk is second best. Not according to the World Health Organization. Its hierarchy is: 1) breastfeeding; 2) the mother’s own milk expressed and given to her child some other way; 3) the milk of another human mother; and 4) artificial milk feeds (4). We need to keep this clear in our own minds and make it clear to others. “The next best thing to mother herself” comes from a breast, not from a can. The free sample perched so enticingly on the shelf at the doctor’s office is only the fourth best solution to breastfeeding problems.

    There is a need for standard formula in some situations. Only because we do not have human milk banks. The person who needs additional blood does not turn to a fourth-rate substitute; there are blood banks that provide human blood for human beings. He does not need to have a special illness to qualify. All he needs is a personal shortage of blood. Yet only those infants who cannot tolerate fourth best are privileged enough to receive third best. I wonder what will happen when a relatively inexpensive commercial blood is designed that carries a substantially higher health risk than donor blood. Who will be considered unimportant enough to receive it? When we find ourselves using artificial milk with a client, let’s remind her and her health care providers that banked human milk ought to be available. Milk banks are more likely to become part of our culture if they first become part of our language.

    We do not want to make bottlefeeding mothers feel guilty. Guilt is a concept that many women embrace automatically, even when they know that circumstances are truly beyond their control. (My mother has been known to apologize for the weather.)

    Women’s (nearly) automatic assumption of guilt is evident in their responses to this scenario: Suppose you have taken a class in aerodynamics. You have also seen pilots fly planes. Now, imagine that you are the passenger in a two-seat plane. The pilot has a heart attack, and it is up to you to fly the plane. You crash. Do you feel guilty?

    The males I asked responded, “No. Knowing about aerodynamics doesn’t mean you can fly an airplane.” “No, because I would have done my best.” “No. I might feel really bad about the plane and pilot, but I wouldn’t feel guilty.” “No. Planes are complicated to fly, even if you’ve seen someone do it.” What did the females say? “I wouldn’t feel guilty about the plane, but I might about the pilot because there was a slight chance that I could have managed to land that plane.” “Yes, because I’m very hard on myself about my mistakes. Feeling bad and feeling guilty are all mixed up for me.” “Yes, I mean, of course. I know I shouldn’t, but I probably would.” “Did I kill someone else? If I didn’t kill anyone else, then I don’t feel guilty.” Note the phrases “my mistakes,” “I know I shouldn’t,” and “Did I kill anyone?” for an event over which these women would have had no control!

    The mother who opts not to breastfeed, or who does not do so as long as she planned, is doing the best she can with the resources at hand. She may have had the standard “breast is best” spiel (the course in aerodynamics) and she may have seen a few mothers nursing at the mall (like watching the pilot on the plane’s overhead screen). That is clearly not enough information or training. But she may still feel guilty. She’s female.

    Most of us have seen well-informed mothers struggle unsuccessfully to establish breastfeeding, and turn to bottlefeeding with a sense of acceptance because they know they did their best. And we have seen less well-informed mothers later rage against a system that did not give them the resources they later discovered they needed. Help a mother who says she feels guilty to analyze her feelings, and you may uncover a very different emotion. Someone long ago handed these mothers the word “guilt.” It is the wrong word.

    Try this on: You have been crippled in a serious accident. Your physicians and physical therapists explain that learning to walk again would involve months of extremely painful and difficult work with no guarantee of success. They help you adjust to life in a wheelchair, and support you through the difficulties that result. Twenty years later, when your legs have withered beyond all hope, you meet someone whose accident matched your own. “It was difficult,” she says. “It was three months of sheer hell. But I’ve been walking every since.” Would you feel guilty?

    Women to whom I posed this scenario told me they would feel angry, betrayed, cheated. They would wish they could do it over with better information. They would feel regret for opportunities lost. Some of the women said they would feel guilty for not having sought out more opinions, for not having persevered in the absence of information and support. But gender-engendered guilt aside, we do not feel guilty about having been deprived of a pleasure. The mother who does not breastfeed impairs her own health, increases the difficulty and expense of infant and child rearing, and dismisses one of life’s most delightful relationships. She has lost something basic to her own well-being. What image of the satisfactions of breastfeeding do we convey when we use the word “guilt”?

    Let’s rephrase, using the words women themselves gave me: “We don’t want to make bottlefeeding mothers feel angry. We don’t want to make them feel betrayed. We don’t want to make them feel cheated.” Peel back the layered implications of “we don’t want to make them feel guilty,” and you will find a system trying to cover its own tracks. It is not trying to protect her. It is trying to protect itself. Let’s level with mothers, support them when breastfeeding doesn’t work, and help them move beyond this inaccurate and ineffective word.

    Pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages. Breastfeeding is a straight-forward health issue, not one of two equivalent choices. “One disadvantage of not smoking is that you are more likely to find secondhand smoke annoying. One advantage of smoking is that it can contribute to weight loss.” The real issue is differential morbidity and mortality. The rest–whether we are talking about tobacco or commercial baby milks–is just smoke.

    One maternity center uses a “balanced” approach on an “infant feeding preference card” (5) that lists odorless stools and a return of the uterus to its normal size on the five lines of breastfeeding advantages. (Does this mean the bottlefeeding mother’s uterus never returns to normal?) Leaking breasts and an inability to see how much the baby is getting are included on the four lines of disadvantages. A formula-feeding advantage is that some mothers find it “less inhibiting and embarrassing.” The maternity facility reported good acceptance by the pediatric medical staff and no marked change in the rates of breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. That is not surprising. The information is not substantially different from the “balanced” lists that the artificial milk salesmen have peddled for years. It is probably an even better sales pitch because it now carries very clear hospital endorsement. “Fully informed,” the mother now feels confident making a life-long health decision based on relative diaper smells and the amount of skin that shows during feedings.

    Why do the commercial baby milk companies offer pro and con lists that acknowledge some of their product’s shortcomings? Because any “balanced” approach that is presented in a heavily biased culture automatically supports the bias. If A and B are nearly equivalent, and if more than 90% of mothers ultimately choose B, as mothers in the United States do (according to an unpublished 1992 Mothers’ Survey by Ross Laboratories that indicated fewer than 10% of U.S. mothers nursing at a year), it makes sense to follow the majority. If there were an important difference, surely the health profession would make a point of staying out of the decision-making process. It is the parents’ choice to make. True. But deliberately stepping out of the process implies that the “balanced” list was accurate. In a recent issue of Parenting magazine, a pediatrician comments, “When I first visit a new mother in the hospital, I ask, ‘Are you breastfeeding or bottlefeeding?’ If she says she is going to bottlefeed, I nod and move on to my next questions. Supporting new parents means supporting them in whatever choices they make; you don’t march in postpartum and tell someone she’s making a terrible mistake, depriving herself and her child.” (6)

    Yet if a woman announced to her doctor, midway through a routine physical examination, that she took up smoking a few days earlier, the physician would make sure she understood the hazards, reasoning that now was the easiest time for her to change her mind. It is hypocritical and irresponsible to take a clear position on smoking and “let parents decide” about breastfeeding without first making sure of their information base. Life choices are always the individual’s to make. That does not mean his or her information sources should be mute, nor that the parents who opt for bottlefeeding should be denied information that might prompt a different decision with a subsequent child.

    Breastfeeding. Most other mammals never even see their own milk, and I doubt that any other mammalian mother deliberately “feeds” her young by basing her nursing intervals on what she infers the baby’s hunger level to be. Nursing quiets her young and no doubt feels good. We are the only mammal that consciously uses nursing to transfer calories…and we’re the only mammal that has chronic trouble making that transfer.

    Women may say they “breastfed” for three months, but they usually say they “nursed” for three years. Easy, long-term breastfeeding involves forgetting about the “breast” and the “feeding” (and the duration, and the interval, and the transmission of the right nutrients in the right amounts, and the difference between nutritive and non-nutritive suckling needs, all of which form the focus of artificial milk pamphlets) and focusing instead on the relationship. Let’s all tell mothers that we hope they won’t “breastfeed”–that the real joys and satisfactions of the experience begin when they stop “breastfeeding” and start mothering at the breast.

    All of us within the profession want breastfeeding to be our biological reference point. We want it to be the cultural norm; we want human milk to be made available to all human babies, regardless of other circumstances. A vital first step toward achieving those goals is within immediate reach of every one of us. All we have to do is…watch our language.

    If you found this article of interest, you may desire to ensure you regularly receive your own copy of the Journal of Human Lactation(JHL). Taking out membership in the International Lactation Consultant Association(ILCA)includes the benefit of four issues of the JHL a year. See www.ilca.org for how to join.

    Reprinted from the Journal of Human Lactation, Vol. 12, No. 1, 1996

    References: 1. Olds D. L., Henderson, C. R. Tatelbaum, R.: Intellectual impairment in children of women who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy. Pediatrics 1994; 93:221-27.2. Lucas, A., Morley, R., Cole, T.J., Lister, G., Leeson-Payne, C.: Breast milk and subsequent intelligence quotient in children born preterm. Lancet 1992; 339 (8788): 261-64. 3. Fruedenheim, J.L., Graham, S., Laughlin, R., Vena, J.E., Bandera, E., et al: Exposure to breastmilk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer. Epidemiology 1994, 5:324-30. 4. UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO: Facts for Life: A Communication Challenge. New York: UNICEF 1989; p. 20. 5. Bowles, B.B., Leache, J., Starr, S., Foster, M.: Infant feeding preferences card. J Hum Lact 1993; 9: 256-58. 6. Klass, P.: Decent exposure. Parenting (May) 1994; 98-104. to kayhh’s Breastfeeding page

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