Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011

Holy crap #1: it's already 2011! Jeepers. What happened? I kind of feel like time should have stopped somewhere around 2003 when Ayden was born. Because I don't *feel* any older than I was then but somehow 8 years of age crept up on me and leapt out of the dark corners and yelled, "AHA! Gotcha!"

New Years festivities for me included six phone calls with my mother, several hours devoted to a post on Mothers of Change, and 2 episodes of PVRd Criminal Minds. I heard the fireworks at midnight and shushed the dog when he barked at them. I went to bed shortly thereafter and slept like a baby all night. Woke up to blood sugar of 5.7~the lowest I've had since before Christmas! That's a good way to bring in the New Year.
New Years resolutions this year? I don't have the energy. Other than a normal, uneventful, beautiful birth, my goals are pretty everyday. Peaceful year. Lots of blog buddies are asking for the same thing; modest goals that add up to a peaceful, uneventful, happy, healthy year. Sounds fantastic to me. Avoiding postpartum anxiety this time would be fantastic, too.

Holy crap #2: we opened up a can of worms on Mothers of Change regarding formula advertising....It's tough because I feel like I want to present what I have learned without sabotaging anyone's maternal confidence, regardless of feeding methods. You guys know me; passionate about women first, and breastfeeding second. It's a long, long fight to protect breastfeeding and to give women who want to breastfeed the best possible chance for success, and at the same time strive to make it obvious that I support women's right to choose ANY informed choice. But few people comment in agreement or support on blogs like MC, (those who do are generally board members! lol!) and the comments we get which disagree or criticize make me want to withdraw to private blogging again simply because I'm better known here. You guys don't agree with me all the time, but you know ME first and my opinions next, so I generally feel like even if you think an opinion is "out there," you trust my intentions.
This is a distinction I'm learning to grapple with as both kinds of writers with different audiences.

[please don't anyone feel dissuaded from disagreeing with me or questioning me; this is me processing my learning curve, not wishing for no dissent]

It's tough, too, because I don't want to come across too wrapped up in conspiracy theory type thinking, but when it comes to birth and breastfeeding, there is a lot in our system which works against nature's design but appears to be in the best interests of the health of women and babies. Many people don't realize how obstetrical trends have interfered with the birth and breastfeeding process and continue to interfere, and so when I spout my ideas I sound crazy because they're so different from the accepted norm. And then for me to start talking about formula companies undermining and sabotaging breastfeeding efforts through ads and commercials which seem benign makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist. Sigh. I guess I just have to come to terms with being a conspiracy theorist. Call me CT. Nice to meet you =)

Which reminds me that I haven't yet done a review of The Politics of Breastfeeding on here. I really passionately want to, but its a daunting task because the book is so good and goes deep into the history of infant formulas and their ads and close alignment with the medical establishment and unethical marketing practices like dressing representatives up in nurse's uniforms and sending them to maternity wards in Africa to 'educate' women on the superiority of infant formula and inferiority of human milks: women who were formula feeding their infants were asked why they chose to do so and the women would reply with, "Because the nurse at the hospital told me to!" This was in the 1960s and I believe this practice disappeared shortly thereafter, although I wouldn't be surprised if it were found somewhere still.

What's the big deal? Here's an example of what happens in developing nations when infants are formula fed:

This woman gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, and was incorrectly informed that she would not be able to produce enough breast milk for both babies and advised to formula feed one and breastfeed the other. She travelled quite far to meet up with UNICEF aid workers in Pakistan, asking them to take a photograph to document how ill her formula fed twin was. She was devastated and her sick baby died the following day (source).

I get kind of passionate about infant feeding practices.

I will do a better review of the book at some time soon~that and another book I read that I didn't like nearly as much and have much criticism against; Breastfeeding Older Children by Ann Sinnott.

Happy new year everyone! Peace and love for 2011...


Rachel Clear said...

Here's to a normal, healthy, beautiful birth to you!

I must say, I wouldn't call my ONE little comment a can of worms, but I do think it would be cool if some good discussions/dialogue could begin taking place on that site. I know it's you and Asheya writing, which is why I felt safe voicing my concern there, so no worries!

melissa said...

No, there was someone from Australia that made it feel like a can of worms, not just your one comment! I sure wish more discussion was prompted...we feel like we're writing into a void! We KNOW people are reading! What do they think? Are we nutbar? Are we weirdos? What?! Do you have problems publishing comments? My mom does, so I was wondering if that was the case (it was the case in the past)...

lori said...

That is the saddest photo I have seen in, maybe forever. Wow! I wonder what's the deal with their formula - maybe watered down to save money, or the lack of mama's antibodies made that baby susceptible to a disease that the other baby didn't catch? A lot of the formula-fed babies I know here in the States are too chunky for their own good.

Seriously heart-wrenching, whatever the case.

Rachel Clear said...

I think the word verification thing can make a lot of comments not post.

I am ALL THE TIME leaving comments, hitting send and closing out the box, only to later discover that the particular blog had a word verification that I didn't fill in, so it didn't send. Or I do the word verification and hit send and close it out, and it didn't accept it and I never know it. I've been trying to be in the habit of always double-checking that, but I'm sure I'm not the only one that forgets.

That's my only suggestion about that. I've never had trouble posting any comments on that site other than that.

Louise Chapman said...

That picture is unbelievable and makes my heart ache.

Asheya said...

Re: infant formula. What I've found most interesting is how women perceive that by protesting formula ads we are somehow protesting their choices in regards to breastfeed or formula feed.

Also, one woman commented that she recently received a formula ad in the mail that was 90% information about breastfeeding, tips on what to do if you have breastfeeding difficulties, and then the ad for Similac. She was saying this showed how they don't have ulterior motives at all! So sneaky, because now they have women's trust, and when things get hard, women think 'well, I can trust this company because they gave me good info, but this is just too hard for me,' and then use the formula. Instead of advertising for milk sharing initiatives, milk banks etc.

Anyway, I think because you are a mom who has formula fed and breastfed you also have a unique perspective to offer women. And you are VERY informed.

Rachel, thanks for your comment on MCMC! I love the dialogue!

melissa said...

I love the dialogue too, I just was surprised by the negative reaction; I think like you I wasn't anticipating women thinking us protesting Advertising would be guilt inducing for individuals who have formula fed. It was a great opportunity to share what the WHO stance is on this topic and to start some discussion, so I'm very glad it happened the way it did. I just HATE to make anyone feel bad at all, ykwim? It's so not me.

As for the photo, UNICEF took it and posted the story alongside it. It didn't say specifically which caused the infant's illness and subsequent death, malnutrition from watered down formula, or overwhelming illness, but I'd be willing to bet that baby was severely sick from diarrhea. Too sick to save. It's still a leading cause of infant death worldwide, and of course is largely mitigated by exclusive breastfeeding.
The woman's mother in law was the one who advised she wouldn't be able to produce enough milk for both twins. It is just so sad.
And apparantly the mother sought UNICEF out specifically so that they could take a picture and tell her story, in hopes that other mothers could avoid the same heart breaking situation.