October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Think Before You Pink website has this featured video, which will hopefully make you think about the doublemindedness of pharmaceutical companies.

Milking Cancer from Breast Cancer Action on Vimeo.

Did you know that if you give birth twice and breastfeed each child for 12 months each for a total of 24 months of breastfeeding, you reduce your potential risk for breast cancer IN HALF?

Did you know that by breastfeeding, you reduce your offspring’s breast cancer risk?

Kids’ lungs benefit from longer breastfeeding

Fri, Jan 2, 2009 (Reuters Health) — Children who are breastfed for at least 4 months may have better lung function than children who are breastfed for shorter periods of time and children who are bottle-fed, a new study suggests.
Among 10-year old children, researchers found greater lung function and capacity in those who were breastfed for 4 months or longer during infancy.
“The physical exercise caused by suckling at the breast — about six times daily on average for more than 4 months — may result in increased lung capacity and increased airflow in breastfed children compared with bottle-fed children,” Dr. Ikechukwu U. Ogbuanu told Reuters Health.
Ogbuanu, of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and colleagues studied the feeding practices of infants born in 1989 on the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. At the time, breastfeeding was predominantly direct suckling from the breast rather than indirect feeding of pumped breast milk from a bottle, the researchers note.
Among the 1033 children tested when they were 10 years old, 39 percent had been directly breastfed 4 months or longer. About 40 percent of the children had been breastfed for less than 4 months. Another 21 percent were not breastfed and therefore comprised the bottle-fed group.
Standard tests showed that the lungs of children who were breastfed for 4 months or longer were stronger than the lungs of children who were bottle-fed.
The researchers noted no beneficial effects on lung function from shorter duration breastfeeding.
The statistically significant increase in lung capacity among children breastfed for 4 months or longer is likely related to the physical exercise from breastfeeding, the investigators say.
“At lease some of the benefits from breast milk may accrue from the process of suckling itself,” noted Ogbuanu. This concept is supported by other studies noting suckling exercise is nearly twice as long during breastfeeding compared with bottle feeding, and that breast feeding requires more “ventilatory” effort.
— Joene Hendry

2008 Breastfeeding News Reports

This from the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog:

Some good news:

Some bad news:

Some hmmmm news:

Birthfriend announces a new podcast

It’s still a little rough but I have a good friend who is a sound engineer and he’s coming over to help me with better equipment and recording advice, but it’s a start!

The new podcast is called Birthwise Mommycast.  I hope to feature news and commentary on all things birth oriented, from pregnancy through breastfeeding and early parenting.  Please listen and subscribe.  I promise it will get better with time.

Bellycast

EDIT:  I had to completely change my podcast name and location because I was apparently infringing on a trademark name, so if you made me a link on your own blog, please go back and change the link to reflect the new name and location.

If you also have a birth related blog, please add me to your links to increase traffic to both sites.

To more informed families!

World Breastfeeding Week

WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) had set aside the week of August 1-7 as World Breastfeeding Week.  The emphasis this year is “Mother Support:  Going for the Gold”.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta releases a breastfeeding report card each year for every state. You can search their site to find out the statistics for your state. Georgia’s statistic for “ever breastfed” is 68.2%. Keep in mind this number reflects any mother who ever tried breastfeeding even once, but never breastfed again. Our statistics for mothers who are still breastfeeding at 6 months was 38% and those who continue to 12 months were 16.8%. This falls very short of the Healthy People 2010 goals, set by the national government.

The government funded WIC program supplied over $3 billion last year in formula alone. At tax payer expense, we are creating a system in which we inadvertently discourage the free milk which nature provides and are possibly creating infants with more health problems, which may also have to be funded at tax payer’s expense. This is self defeating.

To experience any changes to our state breastfeeding statistics, we have to address several issues. Employers need to realize the economic value of supporting and encouraging their new mothers to continue to breastfeed after returning to work. A healthier baby with less illness means fewer days missed at work and less claims on their health benefits. This can be accomplished by simply providing a quiet, private place for moms to pump their milk at work and a place to store it, along with a break during the day. Acknowledging that we have high school age single moms that may still need to finish school, I envision a place in every high school for a returning young mother to pump milk and store it until she can return to her child.

Also, we need to address public attitudes towards nursing mothers. While the moms in my support group discuss ways in which to breastfeed discreetly in public, there are just times and places in which you have a hungry baby who doesn’t tolerate hiding under a hot blanket. As a society, we need to remember that this mom has chosen the very best method for nourishing her baby and needs to be encouraged and supported, rather than admonished. We need to remember that she is using her anatomy for the very purpose it was designed. How will we ever improve our statistics if we look upon nursing mothers as an aberration instead of the biological norm? If little children grow up seeing mothers nourish their infants at the breast, they will come to see that as a natural choice. But if they never see it, they will only have the mass-marketed bottles and formula as a reference point.

If you visit http://www.promom.org/101 you will read 101 documented reasons to choose breastfeeding for your child. Among them are:

  • Formula feeding increases the mother’s risk of breast cancer
  • Formula feeding increases a baby girls’ risk of developing breast cancer in later life
  • Breast milk contains immunities to diseases and aids in the development of baby’s immune system
  • Breastfeeding satisfies baby’s emotional needs and increases bonding between mother and baby
  • Formula feeding increases mother’s risk of developing ovarian cancer
  • The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend it
  • Breastfeeding protects against Crohn’s disease (intestinal disorder)
  • Formula feeding increases risk of children developing diabetes
  • Breastfeeding baby helps decrease insulin requirements in diabetic mothers
  • Breastfeeding may help stabilize progress of maternal endometriosis
  • Formula feeding increases chances of baby developing allergies
  • Breastfeeding protects baby against bacterial meningitis
  • Breastfeeding protects baby against respiratory infections
  • And on and on and on….

So, next time you happen upon a mother feeding her baby at the breast, smile and give her a “thumbs up”. She has chosen a way to feed her baby that offers so many advantages. She needs our support and encouragement.

Cows nursing in 'public'

Cows nursing in 'public'

The Trust Birth Conference

I’m going. This conference is sponsored by Ancient Art Midwifery Institute and Carla Hartley. She says it will be her last one and it is worth putting everything else aside to attend. Some of the biggest names in the birth community will be there. Dr. Sarah Buckley, Dr. Michel Odent, Dr. John Stevenson, Jan Tritten, Heather Cushman-Dowdee (Hathor, the cow-goddess), Rixa Freeze, Henci Goer, Mindy Goorchenko, Gail Hart, Ricki Lake, Gloria Lemay, Sheri Menelli, Shonda Parker, Karen Strange, Sheila Stubbs, Debby Takikawa, and many others. Everyone is talking about it…be one of the ones who gets to attend this life-changing event.

Click here for just one of the YouTube clips.  Friday sessions here.   Saturday morning here.  Saturday afternoon sessions here.  Sunday sessions here.

Milking the Innocent

Marketing infant formula at the cost of young lives.
by Sharon Craig

In the Philippines, as in much of the global South, infant formula powder is a booming industry. Television ads for formula feature prodigy violinists and boast of “brain building blocks” and “IQ nutrition systems.” False advertising also leads mothers to believe that breast milk is inferior, and that their bodies will not produce enough milk to nourish a child.

Last September, more than a thousand breastfeeding mothers rallied in Quezon City. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has been distributing booklets emphasizing that “breast milk is important because it is a unique gift from God which no one can replace.” Dr. Shigeru Omi, World Health Organization Director for the Western Pacific Region, said, “The church has a major role in advocacy to promote breastfeeding and will greatly influence society.”

Breastfeeding benefits infants with balanced age-specific nutrition and immunities that prevent infections. UNICEF estimates that 1.3 million children die per year because they are not exclusively breastfed for the first six months. Medi­cal research shows that formula-fed babies can suffer poor nutrition and growth and decreased IQ, along with numerous life-long risks. Formula, which comes in a powder that must be mixed with water, is especially dangerous in areas with poor access to clean drinking water; infants’ weak immune systems are exposed to treacherous bacteria and viruses, starting a cycle of diarrhea and malnutrition.

A long with the industry’s misleading promotions, health professionals in the Philippines often agree to promote formula to patients in return for incentives and commissions, as UNICEF’s documentary Formula for Disaster highlights. Representatives from formula makers distribute brand-name merchandise and samples to healthcare facilities in an effort to entice new mothers into formula consumerism. If families start bottle-feeding with the free powder, milk production decreases; when the free samples run out, families are faced with the artificial need to bottlefeed. Impoverished families then struggle to buy substitute formula, often lessening the powder-to-water ratio to make the can last longer.

As a result of all these tactics, an astounding 84 percent of Filipino babies are formula-fed, even though bottle-feeding costs at least $43 a month—in a country where income averages $118 per month. This contributes to the fact that nearly one out of every three babies in the Philippines is underweight at age 1.

Formula companies have long been notorious for unethical marketing practices. In response to Nestle’s behavior in the developing world, the Infant Formula Action Coalition started a boycott of Nestle products (from 1977 to 1984 and from 1989 to the present), which was supported by many U.S. churches. In 1981, in response to corporate tactics that endanger the lives of millions of children, the World Health Organization ratified an international code on the marketing of breast-milk substitutes.

Many of WHO’s key recommendations were incorporated—in theory—in the 1986 Philippine Milk Code. But harmful and unethical formula marketing continued in the Philippines, so, in the summer of 2006, the nation’s Department of Health (DOH) announced plans to enforce the Milk Code with concrete regulations, including prohibitions on free samples and on advertising food for infants less than a year old.

U.S.-based infant formula companies Wyeth, Novartis, Mead Johnson, Glaxo­SmithKline, and others—which each year spend $100 million, more than half the DOH’s total annual budget, advertising their lucrative breast-milk substitutes in the Philippines—got the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the DOH marketing regulations. In the name of international investing, multinational formula companies also lobbied against the marketing regulations through the U.S. Em­bassy and the U.S. Chamber of Com­merce.

Last October, the Supreme Court of the Philippines finally ruled that some of the DOH regulations could go into effect. Breast-milk substitute labels will have to state risks of inappropriate formula feeding, and there will be limitations on advertising with “pictures or texts that idealize infant and milk formula.” While the Supreme Court did not ratify all of the proposed regulations, UNICEF and breastfeeding activists see the ruling as a minor victory for Filipino babies.

“Women are being brainwashed about infant formula,” says Dr. Marsden Wagner, former WHO Director of Women’s and Children’s Health. “Breastfeeding will increase only when there is control of this industry by the government through laws and regulations which ensure women get the right, scientific information [and when] doctors and hospitals are all ‘baby friendly.’” Governments, citizens, and businesses must not allow the baby-feeding industry to continue its harmful and unethical formula marketing at the cost of innocent lives.

Sharon Craig is a midwife and freelance writer who has worked in Russia, the Philippines, and Afghanistan and is currently based in California.