Bethany in Forest Row last weekend.
Today's Cuppa: Ginger and orange tea
I mentioned in my last blog entry the constant tug of war within me ~ isolating myself from society, or being very much part of it and educating others.
One topic which certainly has the old tug of war rope chaffing my stretch-marked belly is that of breastfeeding. I've endured a lot of flak in the past year and a half over appearing in the Extraordinary Breastfeeding documentary. Unfortunately, the programme did very little to educate the ignorant masses who still see feeding our infants and children as something optional or even unnecessary, if not downright disgusting ~ something akin to urinating in public. The mind boggles. Clearly some people really can't tell the difference between a living food and a bodily waste product.
Those people aside, one of my biggest frustrations is related to people who work in the parenting field who perpetuate myths.
The biggest ones are:
1.) It's normal for breastfeeding to hurt ~ expect sore nipples
Nipple pain is either caused by an infection (such as thrush or herpes) or, most commonly, by incorrect latch-on. It's important for all mothers to know that nipple pain is completely avoidable, and not a 'normal' part of breastfeeding, and that the first sign of discomfort for any mother is a warning bell that her baby isn't latched-on properly.
Nipple pain is never a matter of bad luck,
but to do with breastfeeding mismanagement.
In order to increase breastfeeding rates, we have to ensure women are given correct information so they can avoid discomfort, and enjoy breastfeeding for the pleasurable experience it was designed to be.
We would see a tripling of breastfeeding rates (according to the British Medical Journal) if women gathered in breastfeeding groups to learn about breastfeeding. A sad consequence of our nuclear family society is that most women don't get to witness breastfeeding until they have their own baby. How tragic, given it is something so fundamental to the survival of the human species. Breastfeeding has become a dying art. Without breastfeeding, humanity as a species will deteriorate, and then die out.
2.) Bottlefeeding allows dad to bond with baby ~ so get expressing.
Breast milk was never meant to see the light of day, and we do the baby, mother and the father a disservice to suggest bottle-feeding as a way of bonding. Our aim as parents should be to raise our children optimally, not to compromise them in any way. Bottle-feeding is a massive compromise and should be reserved for emergencies, not used as a lifestyle choice.
When a father feels 'left out' by the breastfeeding experience, this is to do with subconscious memories of his own feeding experience in infancy.
Had his needs been fully met in infancy and childhood, there'd be no reason for him to feel left out as a parent.
3.) Babies need iron by six months of age
I've just read a 'natural' parenting magazine which allowed the iron myth to be published…again undermining successful, exclusive breastfeeding beyond the six month age.
There are so many studies which prove that a breastfed baby has plenty of access to adequate iron in breast milk (regardless of the mother's iron status!). The confusion and misinformation regarding infants and iron has been taken from formula fed babies' tendency towards anaemia, and reliance on synthetic iron. The vitamin c in breast milk allows the iron in it to be utilised by the baby.
If you are seriously concerned about your baby's iron levels, then keep up with exclusive breastfeeding! As soon as you introduce solids you are reducing the body's ability to absorb iron. Sadly, the most common foods introduced to babies (rice, cereals, etc ~ in the belief they'll supply iron) are the worst things that should be introduced in the first or second year of life. If you must introduce solids, stick to RIPE, raw fruit and NEVER introduce any food before six months of age. Anything else is a massive insult on a premature digestive system.
My own daughters weren't introduced to solids until the end of their first year of life. They've never had commercial baby food. Their 'weaning' foods were organic bananas, avocados, strawberries, pears, apple, etc.
Later in their second year they had some lightly steamed sweet potato, pumpkin and broccoli. It wasn't until their third year they were introduced to the meals Paul and I were having. They've always been good eaters and not fussy about fruit and vegetables as commonly reported amongst children. Sure, they have their likes and dislikes, but for the most part they eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, seeds, whole grains and nuts.
4.) She's ready for solids
There's so much pressure to introduce solids to babies. I believe it is all part of the cultural bulldozer which seeks to separate mother and child. It's all heavily camouflaged behind the idea that when a baby is putting things in her mouth, or having a growth spurt, that she's ready for food. Breast milk IS FOOD!
TV presenter Lorraine Kelly labours under the misguided belief that babies should be fully weaned as soon as their first teeth appear. How much would she eat if her mouth contained just two, tiny pearly whites?
Why does common sense go out the window in so many aspects of child rearing?
5.) Formula milk is as good as breast milk
Formula is a static product. It shouldn't even have the world milk tacked onto the end of it. No matter how many artificial and synthetic vitamins and minerals the companies add to it, it is impossible to come remotely close to what nature intended our children to feed on for their first few years of life.
Recently I was sent a press release by a group of breastfeeding mothers in London showing some statistics regarding their ideas on breastfeeding; dismal to say the least. One of the quotes in the release went something like this: "Anyone would think formula was poison and that I was murdering my baby by giving him formula instead of breast milk."
Well, the more you educate yourself about breast milk, it's pretty hard to conclude anything else. Personally, I would put it in the category of poison.
I would move the earth (and moon) to give my children breast milk. Formula wouldn't even be a last resort!
There are so many reasons why I get frustrated by the constant pushing of infant formula. It isn't just about its complete inadequacy in providing optimum nutrition, but also because it simply can not provide for our long term emotional and mental needs. There are biochemical nutrients in breast milk with are absolutely CRUCIAL to our long term emotional health. Formula can never provide for this.
Work done by the marvellous James Prescott PhD shows that by breastfeeding for 2.5 years or longer, an absence of suicides and depression was found in most cultures. Breastfeeding bonding (affectional bonding) is imperative in a culture which seeks to live peacefully.
Some of the leading health problems in the world related to sexual, social, mental or emotional dysfunction (such as rape, suicide, depression and homicide) are found in cultures with next to non-existent breastfeeding in infancy and childhood.
Breastfeeding statistics are appalling. As a culture we have NO excuse for this!! We consider ourselves in first world countries to be rich ~ nothing could be further from the truth.
In the US, for example,
6.8% breastfed at 12 months
2.7% breastfed for 24 months or more
1% was breastfed for 30 months or more
How is it that 97% of children are not even meeting the minimum age set for breastfeeding by the hugely conservative World Health Organisation? Have we simply made it too easy for women to choose fake milk? Tribal cultures wouldn't even be able to comprehend such statistics. They don't have incidences of women 'choosing' not to breastfeed or believing that they can't breastfeed. They just do it!
If we didn't have formula milk companies we wouldn't have stats like those above. We'd have a 99% breastfeeding-from-mother rate, and in cases where a mother was unable to breastfeed due to illness (or death) a wet nurse would be available for the child. In my book, The Drinks Are On Me, I take a look at the spiritual and emotional reasons behind a woman's belief that she 'didn't have any/enough breast milk'.
Every time I see a breastfeeding myth perpetuated, I see breastfeeding slip further away from humanity's grasp. We simply won't survive many more generations without this optimal source of nutrition and bonding. A destructive culture has no choice but to destroy itself. Violence is like a cancer.
How will we ever explain to future generations that we had the evidence for full-term sustained breastfeeding, but as a culture we chose to ignore it?