…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle
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Nestlé Boycott Reaches My Conscious Breastfeeding Sweet Spot

My Guilty Pleasure

Those closest to me know that my guilty pleasure is Häagen-Dazs Chocolate and Peanut Butter ice cream.  I have found a local store near my home that has had the wisdom to keep it in stock for me.  I admit that I have eaten it in on a regular basis during every season since making that discovery.  Now that it is summer, I am chagrined to find out that Häagen-Dazs is now among the brands owned by Nestlé.

As a nurse, lactation consultant and passionate advocate for breastfeeding mothers and their babies, I have engaged in my own personal Nestlé boycott since the late 1970’s.   This has not always been easy.   Over the years the long arm of the Nestlé corporation has continued to extend its reach by expanding its business holdings to include bottled water, pet food and cosmetic companies among many others in their vast empire.   The brands owned by them are listed here.  

Nestlé is the largest food company in the world.  It continues to systematically violate the World Health Assembly’s marketing requirements for baby foods.  This second incarnation of the boycott has been active for almost 22 years duration and  has had some impact upon their practices.   However, they continue to come up with ways to break the Code.   A 6.16.10 press release, excerpted below, outlines their latest scam and includes a link to their email campaign page.

 

Protest Nestlé’s claim that breastmilk substitutes ‘protect’ babies, public urged for UK breastfeeding awareness week
(21 – 27 June 2010)

 

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action (who plays the role of Mr. Henry Nastie in the 3 minute youtube clip below which explains the strategy), said:

“Breastfeeding week promotes the message that breastmilk protects babies. It is a living substance containing antibodies and other protective factors. Nestlé competes with breastfeeding by claiming its baby milk ‘protects’ babies. The boycott campaign helped force companies to put ‘breast is best’ messages on labels, but Nestlé is trying to trump these with its more prominent colourful ‘protect’ logos and false claims of health benefits from using baby milk.” 

 

 

Please join me in the Nestlé Boycott.  Choose to buy a different mascara, cereal, water and ICE CREAM whenever possible.  Check the list and exercise your power as a consumer.  Nestlé puts profits before health and thus it is only when they notice an impact upon their bottom-line that they will take heed of the need to abide by the Code. 

It is especially important that we lend our voices and our support to these efforts.  Conscious breastfeeding and retail discretion are my call to action for you! 

Oh, and yes, if anyone has a killer recipe for home-made chocolate and peanut butter ice cream send it my way!

  

Nestlé-Free Zone

June 24, 2010   1 Comment

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

Beware The Scorn of the Dutiful “Breastfeeding Malcontents”

‘Breastfeeding Malcontents’ are everywhere these days.  Those of us who advocate for breastfeeding need to come to terms with this reality.   The scorn of the dutiful women who have breastfed but ended up feeling disempowered or unhappy with their experiences must be addressed.

These mothers are typically well-educated, well-heeled women who have literally bought into breastfeeding; they have attended classes, purchased books, pumps, gadgets and other products designed to facilitate a positive breastfeeding experience.  Many of these mothers may have even paid lactation experts to help them, but still ended up being dissatisfied with the pressures and constraints associated with breastfeeding in the 21’st Century.

The core idea of La Leche League, mother-to-mother support, which fueled the renaissance of breastfeeding over the last half century, is beginning to backfire. There is a new wave of mothers whose angst is channeled into active discouragement of their friends and peers and an ever increasing need to disprove the value of breastfeeding.

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Helen Rumbelow, the author of “Exposing the Myths of Breastfeeding” is one of these women with a need to ventilate.  She claims that she wrote this exposé because she wanted,  “…to get to the bottom of the medical evidence”.

Her thesis centers on this quote from Joan Wolf, an American academic writing a book on breastfeeding in the West, “The evidence to date suggests it probably doesn’t make much difference if you breastfeed.”

There is no doubt that this comment has stuck in Ms. Rumbelow’s craw as she shares this personal note, “For someone who prolonged my breastfeeding more out of duty than desire, this made me feel slightly nauseous.”  Apparently she is not alone.  She adds, “Many women — the ones who feel that they jeopardised their jobs, marriages, or sanity for the boob — have a right to feel angry about that”

Ms. Rumbelow does not directly tell us about her own experience with breastfeeding.  I am left wondering if these comments might give us a clue:

“…under the weight of this advice from the Department of Health, doctors, midwives, and breastfeeding activists, millions of Western women bow their heads and unclip their Elle Macpherson Maternelle bras.” or  “Dark thought at 3am, when one’s nipples feel like shards of glass. ..”

She can’t seem to make her mind up.  She criticizes the public health authorities for “heavy-handed encouragement of breastfeeding and then facetiously asks us,  “the medical establishment can’t be wrong, can it?”

Lest we forget, breastfeeding is the biologic norm.  Whether or not “Breast is Best” has not been a concern of women until the past 50+ years.  The existence of relatively safe, commercial artificial baby milks to be used in lieu of breastfeeding does not negate the fact that human milk is species specific and designed by nature for human babies.  голова болит секс

Apparently the Chinese Melamine debacle of 2008 was not relevant enough science to be included in the discussion.  The “confounding” effect of which Ms. Rumbelow and her “experts” speak could just as easily be applied to an analysis of formula-feeding with regard to its safety and value in human nutrition.

Medical science is only as good as those funding it and doing the research.  It is interesting to note Dr. Kramer was a speaker at a Nestles conference on infant nutrition held in Beijing, China in 2004.

If doctors were truly that influential in inspiring modern women to breastfeed, why then are the global rates of breastfeeding so abysmal?  Being risk adverse, many doctors do little more than pay lip service to the idea of breastfeeding.  Operating in a managed health care system that stresses conformity, they are often more comfortable managing the intake of formula.

Breastfeeding promotion efforts could learn much from this lesson taken from retail marketing, “…a brand’s worst nightmare is of being hijacked by disgruntled customers with plenty of attitude, heaps of time, and a high-speed Internet connection.

The rancor expressed in Ms. Rumbelow’s article should be a red flag for all of us who support breastfeeding families.  The issue of concern is not about good, bad or indifferent science being applied to breastfeeding vs. formula-feeding.   It is about the experience of breastfeeding in our modern world.

How would you describe your breastfeeding experience?

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July 25, 2009   9 Comments

Retro Breastfeeding: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Retro breastfeeding…now there’s a concept.  It could be viewed in many ways, both positive and negative.

Retro is a prefix from the Latin meaning backwards.  Retro, in the common vernacular, refers to the way things were.  Be it a noun, adjective or adverb it describes something from the past. 

For purposes of this post I am drawing on an expanded definition found in Wikipedia, ”a term used to describe, denote or classify culturally outdated or aged trends, modes, or fashions, from the overall postmodern past, but have since that time become functionally or superficially the norm once again.”

Breastfeeding has been around since the dawn of time.  It is the way human babies were meant to be nurtured after birth.  Nonetheless, it fell out of fashion in the 20′th century. 

You could say that the first wave of Retro breastfeeding began with La Leche League in the late 1950’s.  Against much resistance, mothers banded together to support one another and breastfeed their babies.  They were viewed as reactionaries as they seemed opposed to the progress offered by the medical model of birth and childrearing that relied on the drugs and formulas of big Pharma.  Going back to the “basics” was their call to action.

In 1985, the inception of the allied health profession of Lactation Consulting, born out of  La Leche League roots,  fanned the flames of that Retro breastfeeding comeback.  The job of the IBCLC’s (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) was cut out for them.  In those days, breastfeeding meant timed feedings and supplementation with water or formula.  Those consultants entered in to the fray and began working to change the standards of practice in Western hospitals.  They set out to educate and support women so that breastfeeding would be the rule rather than the exception.   At first there was resistance from some in the medical community who were accustomed to managing infant feeding by manipulating formula intake.   Gradually it became politically incorrect to advocate against breastfeeding.

As we approach the 25′th Anniversary of Lactation Consulting as a profession we are entering yet another wave of Retro breastfeeding.  However, this one merely pays lip service to what began in La Leche and the early days of lactation consulting.   It is a weird amalgam of dogma and old practices, that fundamentally do not support breastfeeding,  blended with touches of tech and pseudo-science.

What is most ridiculous and ironic is that this latest version of Retro breastfeeding can be traced to the the practice of many lactation consultants. Those that have begun to rely too heavily on managing pumps and gadgets and less on the art and skill of breastfeeding have changed the focus from breastfeeding to human milk feeding.

Give me the music any day, but spare me this techno version of breastfeeding from the 1970’s!

July 17, 2009   2 Comments