Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Breast-Feeding in the News Again! (edited)

Edited to link to a critical commentary from a blogger I respect a lot (Selkie) - at the very end.

Look at this!! Wow, just Wow!

"Breast-Feed or Else" is the title of the article published today in the New York Times. [Is it OK, BTW to use the illustration from the article? I hope so :)] It begins:
Warning: Public health officials have determined that not breast-feeding may be hazardous to your baby's health.
The writer (Roni Rabin) uses that statement to illustrate that there is no warning label like that in cans of formula of formula advertisement, but that such warnings have been proposed by at least one Senator. In Brazil these warning labels do exist and formula, bottles and pacifiers (which also have a warning label) cannot be advertised in magazines geared towards parents, if I'm not mistaken. The labels, also found in cans of powdered milk read something like this: "The Ministry of Health recommends that babies be breast-fed for the first two years of life." This doesn't mean that breastfeeding rates are high in Brazil, which they're not (I've written about it a bit here - 4th paragraph), they're actually quite low, but at least the government is doing all it can to promote breast-feeding (I just found out that there are actual medical journal articles about Brazil and breastfeeding, too bad they can't be read online).

I was delighted to see that the NYT article presents in a succint manner many of the scientific study results that indicate that breast-feeding is undoubtedly the best way to feed babies. I could go on and on about this subject, since it's one I'm absolutely passionate about, as you may recall from this post. On the other hand, I've been extremely frustrated that in the 4 years since I had my boys and became a fervent lactivist, most of my friends in/from Brazil who had babies were not able to breastfeed. I should not give up, though, since one friend tells everyone that she would have never breastfed her son for 4 months if it weren't for me. Moreover, my sister-in-law often says that I helped her a lot and now I'm delighted to see her trying to convince her own friends to stick to breastfeeding. At least the experience of my friends and relatives will probably come in handy as I continue to try to support other mothers to breastfeed.

Oh, and this reminds me that I haven't written part 2 of my breastfeeding "saga" yet. Maybe I should start a "to blog" list :)

Selkie wrote a quick post about the article - she is very right in criticizing the way they portray breastfeeding - with one example of a woman who in many years spent only one night away from her daughters (not too different from my own experience, though :). It's definitely a one-sided view of b-feeding and I'm sure it won't get people excited about it, since it's portrayed as really troublesome, but I'm still happy to have breastfeeding discussed. I guess I really only commented above at more length about the label issue and them made some comments about my personal experience with people breastfeeding. Maybe I should have been more thorough, but it was really late last night (and it is 1 am again tonight - sigh - so I'll have to stop here).


Juliet said...

I have never understood why many women choose not to breastfeed. It's free, convenient, and just plain healthy for your child. I feel proud that I nursed William for two years and four monthes.

Emily said...

Because sadly many of us fail to get the correct advice or any support and suffer complete agony.

For me, my nipple disintegrated with 24 hours of delivery as a result of stupid midwives shoving my baby on and not checking she was latching on properly. I was ruined before I had even begun. The damage was so intense that even pumping caused me to nearly pass out with pain.

It's never so simple as just choice. And living with failure is hard. Living with judgements of others, even harder.

Jamie said...

Thanks for posting this, Lilian -- it's good to read a more enthusiastic response. Hope you get a chance to post part two of your breastfeeding odyssey soon (but I know how it is with those posts you mean to write...).

rmgales said...

Breast feeding is a personal choice, but so is bottle feeding. In response to Juliet's post, it's not convenient for everyone, and not all mothers are able to breast feed. Most importantly, not all mothers want to.

I didn't breast feed my daughter, and she is now 27 happy, healthy, educated, and living life to the fullest. I believe we as mothers should support each other with our choices. An open mind deters controversy!