…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle
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World Breastfeeding Week 2010: Health Care Worker Call To Action

This is the 19′th annual celebration of World Breastfeeding Week.  The Theme of 2010 is commemorating the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

In the past 20 years there has been some progress in the rates of  initiation of breastfeeding.  Yet, only 28% of Maternity facilities world-wide have fully implemented the Ten Steps and have been certified by the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.  Were this an analysis of anything else, this would not be a passing grade.

 I’ve been in the trenches throughout this period and beyond.  At first glance, it appears as though we have made great strides.   According to the NYC Dept. of  Health and Mental Hygiene report put out in April 2009,  an impressive 85%  of women initiate breastfeeding.  However, after 2 months the number falls to 32% who are still exclusively breastfeeding their babies.  Surveys reveal that the top two reasons for stopping were related to concerns about the milk supply either having enough (39%) or that it was adequately satisfying their babies (39%).

The fall off rate here in NYC is quite dramatic, but not surprising to me.  Despite health code regulations that prohibit formula discharge packs, many families will leave the hospital with generous samples of formula in tow.  Mothers who have had cesarean sections report that their babies were given at least one bottle, if not more, of formula during the first few days after delivery.  

Many of the New York hospitals have lactation consultants on staff or nurses “trained” to support breastfeeding.  Nonetheless, their focus seems to increasingly be on feeding a measurable amount of fluid to the newborns.  They get  moms to sit on the pump getting drops of colostrum and encourage them to give their babies formula until the “milk comes in”. 

 Using the pump as a  first line of breastfeeding support relegates direct breastfeeding to the back seat.  New mothers leave the hospital knowing how to pump rather than how to achieve a deep, pain-free latch.

New parents are set up to believe that artificial baby milk or formula and human milk can be exchanged ounce for ounce in bottles without consequence .  Unwittingly they are weaning from the beginning or setting themselves up to experience the top two reasons many of them will choose not to breastfeed beyond two months.

Without a doubt, the Ten Steps are a helpful tool to focus our attention on the importance of consistent breastfeeding education and support.

To pack a punch and ensure successful breastfeeding beyond the first few weeks, the Ten Steps must be embraced by unequivocal  and truly breastfeeding-friendly health care workers:  nurses, doctors and lactation consultants. 

To be continued…

August 2, 2010   2 Comments

Breastfeeding and Inception: My Dream Within A Dream

Inception” (2010) is a must-see movie, completely original and thought provoking.

 

It captured my imagination when I saw it this week. I found myself having lucid dreams about the potential of inception.  I was mulling over in my head the fact that subliminal messages enter our minds on a daily basis. Advertising campaigns deliberately harness the power of suggestion to drive our product allegience. Ideas that have found their way into our subconscious are digested and interpreted during our dream life.

Although  it is not yet possible to share actual dreams in the fashion of the movie “Inception”, we often speak of having a shared dream in our conscious life. 

I started to think how marvelous it would be if inception were possible.  World Breastfeeding Week begins today.  It would be awesome if a universal subconscious brand loyalty for breastfeeding would have a viral inception.  To create a model where the dream of all human babies being breastfed, as nature intended, was indeed the reality. 

Edgar Allen Poe

‘All that you see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.’

Sometimes, I feel caught in a dream within a dream.  A place where there is a lack of belief  in a woman’s body being able to nurture her baby after birth and a need to continually prove that human milk is superior to artificial baby milk. I feel like Cobb in the movie trying to instill an idea that breastfeeding is the biologic norm against these objections implanted by the marketing geniuses of Big Pharma.

Inspired by ”Inception” the movie, and the definition of the word according to the World English Dictionary:  the beginning, as of a project or undertaking…

During this month of August, I will be participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  On a daily basis, in my waking life, I will promote conscious breastfeeding and plant the seeds to share the dream of living in a breastfeeding world.   

Won’t you join me and share the ride?

August 1, 2010   No Comments

Breastfeeding Needs A New Marketing Mindset: Part 1

Breastfeeding has been, and remains, the biological norm for feeding human babies since the dawn of time. It is the completion of the pregnancy and birth cycle designed to nurture human beings in their accelerated growth and development after birth. The first 3 months are often called the 4th Trimester because it is during this period that the mother’s milk supply will be established based upon the feedback loop between the baby, breast and brain (pituitary glands).

Early in the 20′th century, drug companies started selling commercial artificial baby milks, aka formula. Gradually women were persuaded that breastfeeding was a choice, rather than the natural food needed to ensure the optimal growth and development of their infants during the first year of life and beyond. In the late 1960’s, formula began to be marketed directly to the medical community and a sharp decline in the initiation and duration of breastfeeding was noted throughout the world. In less than a century, it was no longer the birth right of human babies to be fed their mother’s milk.

What’s a breastfeeding advocate to do to combat the marketing prowess of Big Pharma? For the past 25 years legions of dedicated lactation professionals and breastfeeding women have pondered this question, myself included.

The basic approach has been to promote breastfeeding by proclaiming that it is natural and full of health benefits for both the mother and her nursling. Education and peer support have been the primary tactics to shift the global paradigm back to breastfeeding as the accepted norm.

Unfortunately, modern breastfeeding advocacy has been fashioned from a defensive mindset. Marketing efforts take on formula, tit for tat, pun intended. The activity of breastfeeding has been steadily taking a backseat to the commodity of expressed breast milk.

In their efforts to create an evidence-based model, many lactation consultants have moved their attention away from direct breastfeeding and are promoting pumping and breastmilk to go up against the competition, one-on-one, bottle by bottle.

The current breastfeeding marketing strategy is in desperate need of an overhaul. What do you think?

June 2, 2010   1 Comment

Conscious Breastfeeding for Posterity: Everyday is Earth Day

Breastfeeding may not seem to have anything to do with Earth Day.  However, I beg to differ.  On this occasion, I am emboldened to declare that  it protects our global environment by reducing the demands  on it which are intrinsic to the production of artificial baby milk; when mothers directly breastfeed, sources of waste and pollution are eliminated.

Breastmilk is the bio-available, species-specific food which is perfectly crafted for human babies.  It is delivered by the elegant and  nurturing act of breastfeeding.  Literally organic, it is made by the mother’s body, and delivered to her baby via her breasts.  In contrast to artificial baby milk,  human milk is a raw food that does not require processing and distribution. It does not use valuable resources nor does it pollute the environment .

Breastfeeding is a feeding practice that is almost completely self-contained; the supply depends upon maintaining a synergistic connection between the baby and the breast. The baby, breast and hormones released by the pituitary gland of the mother set up the milk supply after birth. Supply adjusts to removal of milk by the  baby over time.

Unfortunately, the modern practice of pumping and bottle feeding human milk does exert an impact on the environment in terms of use of electricity, cleaning products, bottles and other gadgets that will eventually become waste in a landfill or elsewhere.  However, relative to the elements that go into the production of formula, it is far less of an ecological burden.

Conscious breastfeeding  mothers make a positive contribution to the ecology and environment in which they are raising their children  by actually breastfeeding whenever possible.  A shift in emphasis away from an over-reliance on pumping will reduce their carbon footprint.

On this Earth Day, and everyday, we need to create a world in which breastfeeding is the norm rather than the exception.

April 22, 2010   1 Comment