Posts tagged ‘Breastfeeding’

Beyond Infancy

My photo for mothering.com’s project. 3 years, 8 months and 9 days.

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May 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm Leave a comment

Would You Like to Come In For a Cuppa?

I am thrilled to see breastfeeding getting more and more “press,” whether it be bad, good, or nonsensical. The fact is that people are saying it, and our kids need us to hear it. But I am not happy by the comments. It’s really getting old. I keep waiting for a moment of enlightenment, but it’s not happening. So this is my call, my plea, my mom-cry.

Last week, an informational poster was on Facebook highlighting the benefits of nursing a toddler, for both child and mom. Though it is now accepted that such posts will irate at least a few parents, I was surprised. Will I ever learn?

Something is wrong when an informational piece of material angers any person, and I don’t mean because the information is blatantly false (example: one pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream a day is good for you. Fine print: if you’re starving on a desert island). Yes, there is definitely some mud slinging involved between breastfeeding moms and bottle-feeding moms, and sometimes what is in the bottle doesn’t even matter. But to react impulsively to information with vitriol for anybody who chooses to approve of the information is silly at best, quickly followed by rude.

It is a fact that in our country more babies are bottle fed with formula. We will leave the reasons at the door. Due to this, magazines for parents are run amok with advertisements for formula and those advertisements will highlight the benefits afforded to the most precious being in a parent’s life. That’s advertising. Sometimes, in advertising, information is skewed, whether it be shape-up sneakers purporting to make your ass look like J-Lo’s, or eating two packs of Snackwell cookies tastes just as great as a Twinkie with half the calories (neither snacks are very tantalizing, in my opinion). The fact is: it is advertising. You don’t see too many advertisements for nursing since, you know, it’s free and all. So blog posts by nursing moms and informational posters on Facebook are often considered as ads.

As a breastfeeding mother, I read these ads, both types. I understand that there are mothers out there who simply cannot nurse their babies (again, I will leave the reasons for this at the door) and use formula. When I see those ads, I only want them to be accurate. But sometimes, they aren’t and therein lies my problem.

A misconception exists that I don’t think people are even realizing, and it is that formula is a direct and equal replacement for breast milk. Again, let me reiterate: many, many parents need to have formula for their babies. There is no choice. A baby must eat. And scientists (I hope!) and nutritionists (I hope!) worked hard to provide alternate nutrition for babes that needed nourishment where none other could be found. The day of wet nurses has nearly diminished, and so few people know about milk banks or that asking for  donations is available, so they turn to what is most offered, readily available and often suggested and encouraged as a replacement for the breast milk they are unable (hopefully) to supply. That is formula. Get used to it.

BUT – and this is the big “this gets my panties in a bunch” statement – many people believe that babies get from formula exactly what they would get from breast milk. This is through no fault of their own! Our society has come to rely on advertising for information and that is the problem. Throw into the mix the heated discussions between nursing moms and bottle moms and all hell breaks loose on Facebook. Nobody is learning anything: advertising wins.

When I see a poster that displays all the benefits a toddler is still afforded by nursing, I see it as educational material provided the source is displayed and verifiable, or if I have already come across this information myself (using verifiable and reliable sources) and know them to be true. I can understand how some see it as just another advertisement. What I don’t see, however, is the part that induces women and men to fits of anger because that information was “supposed to” make them feel guilty.No parent should ever feel guilty for how they are choosing to care for their children – within parameters of course (here, one should feel guilty about abuse, abandonment and variations thereof. I hope that goes without saying). If you are a parent then you know that the baby you brought in the world is a piece of your soul with arms, legs and a desire to be fed. You know that you care more about that baby than any person in the world; more than the hippie moms who offer you goat’s milk or those who offer recipes for making cheese out of your breast milk or the doctor who carefully weighs a diaper or the midwife who listens to his heart or the daycare provider who rocks him to sleep or even the spouse beside you who wants to hold him but you are holding him instead. You love that child more than anybody in the universe. So stop being angry.

I have seen those moms who are snobs about nursing. I have seen those moms who are snobs about formula. I have seen those moms who doubt the other’s motives. But we are all moms. We are here, lost in a world of self-containment, where knocking on a neighbor’s door without texting first feels rude. Rude to check in, to stop by randomly, to expect a conversation and a cup of tea. Rude! We have lost what made women thrive and learn and grow and our only outlets are these forums and social networks and blogs and comment threads on other blogs! We have become knee-jerkers, ready to pounce when an opinion is spoken, prepared to agree or disagree. Do we have to do either? Really?

Can you help me? Can you help me build a community of women that thrive by teaching and learning? Can we show the world that kindness and thoughtfulness and listening to another’s experience is not loss, but is, indeed, an opportunity we relish? Yes, there are some women who will have an attitude that goes nowhere beyond “scoff” and they are gone. Yes, some people will feel that you want to rule over them, tell them what to do, and think that you’re saying you Know and they Don’t Know and you are Right and they are Not Right. Those people will always exist. And those who responded to that informational poster about nursing toddlers, they experienced something in their lives that did, at one point, encourage them to feel badly about their choices. And there are many moms for whom nursing was easy, a success, and they doubt it was really a struggle for anybody. There are still those moms who wanted to do it one way and changed their minds and tried another, and said “Well, shit. This sucks.” And neither option is easy. Getting up to prepare bottles is not easy. Nursing, as awesome as my experience has been, is not easy. It’s damn freakin’ hard! We all have it hard, guys. All of us.

The point is: you don’t have to know the truth of their experience in order to change their experiences, or those of the people who will follow. You don’t – so let that go. Be mindful when you comment and respond. Check your feelings and your emotions. You can feel passionate, but can you express it through thoughtful information?

Pander if you must, but teach. We all have stuff to learn, we all have stuff to teach – but more importantly, we all have children we need to care for. Let’s help each other out a little, huh? When you see a post, a blog, a comment, consider it a knock on the door, a mom who stopped by to say hi, and respect her opinions. Just do it.

April 6, 2012 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

Breastfeeding in Public

Excellent nurser, right from the start

This will be quick.

Breastfeeding in public. Yes? No?

In a conversation with a friend just the other day, we noted that we are in a unique position, in this day and age, of realizing the responsibility we have as educators – all of us. We know that we learn from history. We know that keeping secrets, covering up, hiding, are old-school methods of “dealing with it in private” that do not educate or promote change. I am for promoting health, happiness, the betterment of our society. I believe strongly that in breastfeeding my child, I am creating a healthy human being who has a strong defense against diseases, cancers, and obesity, as well as having a high IQ. As a mother for whom breastfeeding was a success, I choose to educate about breastfeeding simply by doing it. As is my right, as is my baby’s right, I do it when he is hungry. I never know where I’ll be.

At a Pumpkin Festival. I'm facing the highway, separate from me by a fence. Truth be told, I was so proud to be nursing at this public event, I longed for a honk to encourage me.

I do it.

I take pictures so he'll know he was breastfed, that I was proud to breastfeed, in the hope that he will not feel any misgivings about encouraging breastfeeding for his own children.

You should too.

Nursing burns at least 500 calories a day. Doesn't mean it has to look like it. But it can be exhausting, physically. I get sleepy while I nurse. I read, knit, watch TV... I keep a tray beside me for water, remotes and books. You should too!

I could list all the statistics that show breastfeeding is indeed the successful invention of evolution that breastfeeding advocates claim, and that anything other than breastmilk is an inferior product. However, statistics will not dictate your choice.  If nursing is a functioning option and you choose otherwise, then no amount of research will decide for you. You will do what you want to do. But breastfeeding is made for your baby. That’s why I nurse.

Watch me.

I show less of my cleavage than a low cut shirt or a bikini. I show less of my breasts than an episode of CSI or Baywatch. Breasts are sexual; sex makes babies; breasts feed babies.

This is normal. This is for the shortest period of a long life. It’s food. Health. For you & him or her.

Toddlerhood makes for a lot of jumping, rolling, climbing, stopping, starting. I call it "eXtreme Nursing." It can make me sooooo tired.

Even when I’m not in the mood, I’ll lift my shirt, take out my boob and feed my baby…because he’s HUNGRY.

The average age, wordwide (the average - the middle mean), for self-weaning completely, is 4.2 years. It will protect me from breast cancers and other cancers; it will protect your daughter from the same; it will provide antibodies, health, strong jaw structure, and a connection to you that most nursing moms find difficult to describe. When my son is ready to wean, I'll let him tell me.

As a nursing mom, I am an educator. Every time I feed my baby and a woman walks by and sees me, she is seeing a healthy, loving, and nourishing moment. To the women who look at me, and smile, and say “I remember those days,” thank you. To the women who look and are embarrassed or turn quickly away, I thank you too. And I hope you remember it, and it becomes not-embarrassing – not because you had a baby or because you learned it can be more awkward to turn away so quickly – but because you saw it again, and again, and again.

September 17, 2010 at 6:11 pm 2 comments

Links for ‘Dentists & Breastfeeding’

This is “Part Two” to my post Dentists & Breastfeeding:

The following are a few excerpts with links for various web sites, articles, discussion boards, etc., that I came across in my search for more information. This list does not reflect everything I found or came across, but can certainly give other parents or interested parties a launching pad for their own research. Terms I found useful to use were: ‘dental caries,’ ‘ECC,’ ‘strap mutans,’ ‘bottle mouth vs. nursing decay,’ ‘breastfeeding and dental caries,’ ‘dental caries in infants, toddlers,’ etc.

kellymom.com was a resource often used in a Yahoo! Group about young kids’ teeth (that link is following). From Is Breastfeeding Linked to Tooth Decay?:

In a study done by Dr. Torney, no correlation was found between early onset (< 2 yrs) dental caries and breastfeeding patterns such as frequent night feeds, feeding to sleep, etc. He is convinced that under normal circumstances, the antibodies in breastmilk counteract the bacteria in the mouth that cause decay. However, if there are small defects in the enamel, the teeth become more vulnerable and the protective effect of breastmilk is not enough to counteract the combined effect of the bacteria and the sugars in the milk. Enamel defects occur when the first teeth are forming in utero. His explanation is based on quite a large study of long-term breastfed children with and without caries.

I found this passage most helpful. As I noted in my previous post, my son’s tooth emerged with a small, brown dot already on it. The dentists I went to see for counsel brushed this information aside and continued to insist the cause was nursing. I believe that the cause is a weakness in his tooth enamel due to my diet immediately prior to and during pregnancy. For two years before I became pregnant, I started smoking cigarettes (I know — who chooses to start smoking at 27 when it was such fun asking “Why are people smoking in this day and age?” It was a dark time for me). I also drank beer quite regularly, the alcohol and hops of which breaks down into sugars. Sugars are not good for teeth, but also not good for the body, which affects your teeth. I was addicted to breads and high-sugar fruits. While pregnant, my favorite phrase was “taco-bell-butterfinger-blizzard.” (It’s true.)

I also found that this article, Myth: Breastfeeding and Dental Caries, validated my decision to continue on-cue breastfeeding as I always have, including at night (emphasis added by me):

FACT: There is no published, valid evidence that establishes long-term, at-will breastfeeding as a risk factor in BBTD. Limitation of the duration of breastfeeding has documented negative consequences to the baby and mother. “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay” is a disease of artificial feeding.

At Eve’s Best, I found Cavities in Baby Teeth, which was not biased to breastfeeding mothers, but considered the prevention of cavities. In regard to breastfeeding, the site says:

As soon as your baby has teeth, wipe them clean after each meal. While breastmilk actually contains natural cavity fighters, formula does not.

Do not allow your formula fed baby to go to sleep with a bottle, unless you plan on cleaning his teeth with a wipe and tooth gel after he is asleep.

This site was most helpful in providing solutions, what I most needed after two disappointing dentist appointments. I did not want to believe that our only recourse would be surgery, especially at 17 months. It was on this same page that I found out about Xylitol and its bacteria-fighting properties, as well as NovaMin, the active ingredient in Oravive toothpaste. I also learned about the support group and forum veryyoungkidsteeth. The group has been very informative. For kids who know how to spit, there is also MI Paste, which is available through dentist offices without a prescription, if your dentist carries it (it does contain fluoride); however, MI Paste is milk derived with lactose content less than 0.01%. If you or your child are allergic or have high-sensitivity to casein or lactose, be cautious.

Eve’s Best is full of information and links offering natural approaches to preventing, aiding and some would say even curing, tooth decay.

Which brings me to a very large resource you may have come across yourselves: Cure Tooth Decay, by Ramiel Nagel. This approach focuses on diet, and if you’re into food, you probably heard about the research on which this diet is based: Weston A. Price.

I bought the book and started reading it immediately on my iPod Kindle app. The book itself is a bit pricey for me ($24), so I went with the digital version ($15). However, before you do that, the website is loaded with information. So much so, that I dare say you do not have to buy the book (though sometimes, it is so much nicer to hold a book in your hands to quote, read out loud, or just have for flipping back and forth and around, etc.). The only parts of the program I have seriously adopted thus far is to take cod liver oil every day. My son loves the stuff (so bizarre), and I chase it with water or some peanut butter (I really don’t like fish flavors). I do endeavor to eat only pastured animals and I avoid dairy. But as I have done a lot of other research concerning food, I will delve into that later. (I’m quite excited to start soon actually. My research has gone far and wide from vegan to paleo [caveman diet]).

And a most helpful, science-based and well-supported article providing a good list of resources is Big Bad Cavities: Breastfeeding is Not the Cause. If you don’t read anything else, certainly read this one.

I hope that the above links and information is helpful, and that once you’ve explored those, clicks here and there bring you to more information. Have fun, carry on, and love those babies (if you got ’em).

February 12, 2010 at 12:38 am Leave a comment

Dentists and Breastfeeding

In my opinion — in my humble opinion — pediatric dentists still have a lot to learn about the positive effects of breastfeeding, and must endeavor to find other causes for poor dental health in young children. “Bottle-mouth” is not synonymous with breastfeeding. Here is what I learned:

It seems pediatric dentistry lumps breastfeeding into the same category as bottle-feeding, pacifiers and sippy cups. This categorization ignores and generalizes important criteria. Whereas formula contains processed “foods” and imitation nutrition for babies and toddlers, breastmilk is the product of evolution and the human body, made specifically for the child borne to that mother. Breastmilk has strong bacteria-fighting characteristics that make it perfect for children. It is loaded with antibodies; antibodies that the mother has created throughout her life – as well as loaded with vitamins and minerals. In fact, when one questions how long breastmilk can stay at room temperature, on the door of a fridge, in the freezer, etc., that time frame is determined by the length of time breastmilk is able to fight bacteria.

A fantastic article at mothering.com, points out — as much of my research has — that breastmilk fights the very same bacteria that causes dental caries. What causes those dental caries seems to be most in question. It appears that pediatric dentists want to blame the breastmilk — and on-cue (on demand) night nursing. At the same time, as this article points out, the AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentists) concede that breastmilk fights the very same bacteria. Add to this the suck/swallow action necessary to expel milk from the breast and these dentists have a weak argument. So what is it?

Although the cause of my son’s cavities was not as important a factor to me as stopping his teeth from getting worse, I could not help but feel offended when two different dentists told me it was from nursing. Would my body, meant to not only carry and birth my son, fail him when it came to nourishment? Would the very best food for him — a fact that science continues to prove everyday though mothers have known it for years — truly betray him when his teeth came in? I didn’t think so. Neither did dozens of articles and references to studies that I have encountered through online researching alone. What more would I find if I went to medical libraries and universities?

In talking about this question with a friend, she made a good point. It seems that these dentists, and often times other medical persons in positions of authority, have a difficult time with “I don’t know.” So they guess. Where they fail is that in their guessing, they are making mothers feel guilty for giving their children the very best start to a long life. Breastmilk is vital, nourishing, and undoubtedly the very best food.

After much pain (literally. My stomach and head ached for days after each appointment, but even more so after the second), I decided I would not have my son, at almost 17 months, be put to sleep in an outpatient surgery room and have four caps put on his four front teeth. Not only do I feel uncomfortable because he’s so little and there’s a risk of death with any anesthesia, but the dentists did not bother to 1) explore other reasons for his tooth decay; 2) explain the risks of leaving his teeth as they are; 3) suggest alternative treatments until he was at an age when I would be more comfortable. In short: they couldn’t be bothered. When I left, I felt not only stunned and offended and shut out, but I felt belittled, demeaned, and disrespected. Aren’t I allowed answers? Discussion? Possibilities? Explanations? Or am I to simply hear your verdict of four caps and $2500 and say “Okay, sure, yes, why not?” To make it worse, I asked about the procedure. Not only am I not allowed to be with him when they put him to sleep and put a tube down his throat , but he is not allowed to eat or drink anything, including water and breastmilk, after midnight. When I talked more to myself than to the hygienist and said, “He won’t like that,” she responded: “Close the door and let him cry.”

I was done with the dentist. (I did not mention that we bedshare).

I turned to the internet. Here’s what I found to slow the process of decay and maybe even, dare I say, cure it?

I learned first about a book called Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel. I will not link it here yet because I don’t want to give it a straight-up endorsement so much as to just include it in my litany. To sum up, the basis of the book is to change your diet to that of a traditional diet — studied at length and in great detail by Weston A. Price, a dentist of the ’30s who studied various cultures around the world and how their nutrition/diets affected their teeth. What he found was that those peoples who lived off their land, eating animals (including their organs) and unprocessed dairy, oils, grains, etc., had the healthiest mouths. Those who were consuming all or part of a more westernized, processed diet, had obvious signs of decay — if they even still had teeth. (Because I have done a huge amount of research on diet that includes this one, I will not get into details just yet. Please stay tuned for future posts, however, because I really do have a lot to share about all of this). The gist I want to share with you now is this: the mouth needs a good pH balance; that means, it needs a specific ratio of calcium and phosphorous. Of good calcium and phosphorous (a quick Google search can show you how processed, pasteurized milk does not provide this good calcium as it is — what some might call — “cooked away”).

My search then took a turn. I sought other forms, a “quick-fix” form, of this pH balance. That’s when I learned about NovaMin, the brand name for a combination of Calcium Sodium Phosphosilicate. This combination has been shown, according to NovaMin, to remineralize teeth. From various discussion groups, reviews, etc., that I’ve read about the most popular brand of toothpaste to contain NovaMin (from what I’ve found), the results after using it are impressive. People report a complete turnaround; one person, and only one, reported pain when it came in contact with his teeth, but admitted he had severe sensitivity to even cinnamon, and that the pain subsided after more use. I immediately went to Amazon and ordered a 4 oz tube for $9.99.

I then found that the tube I bought (Oravive) contains sodium lauryl sulfate, a useless ingredient that only contaminates the body while tricking my mind into a “ooh, look, it works!” just because it suds up. So I wrote to Oravive, who must be directly associated with NovaMin because the reply was from a NovaMin rep and not an Oravive rep. I asked if they had a version of Oravive without the SLS in the works. They told me to check out Burt’s Bees new line of toothpaste; so I did and it was half the price!

I also learned that Xylitol has powerful bacteria-fighting properties. The sweet sugar-replacement, when one uses low doses (a toxic dose is considered to be 75 grams. That is a LOT of Xylitol), is effective in helping to slow the rate of decay in children. Therefore, I bought the Spry Infant and Toddler Tooth Gel.

My plan is this: brush morning and night with Oravive, and at midday, use the tooth gel.

But wait! I learned about something else. There’s a product I read about on the Yahoo! Group veryyoungkidsteeth (excellent source of information, support, and talk, and has real, live supportive dentists on the list. It is geared toward breastfeeding, attachment parenting women), called MI Paste. Apparently, it is only available from a dentist’s office, but NOT by prescription. Made from casein from cow’s milk, it is a topical solution to be put directly on affected teeth. It sounds like a miracle cure, if you ask me, though I have yet to procure a tube and have no idea of its cost. That doesn’t mean I won’t try, though.

My Amazon order should arrive by the end of this coming week. I will certainly work on dietary changes (what changes I will make is for another post); I will be diligent about cleaning my son’s teeth as well as my own, and I will watch him for signs of pain or infection. Breastfeeding is not to blame for this.

Since the dentists don’t want to hypothesize on other causes, I have a few myself. So without preamble (ha, ha), here’s my humble opinion: considering my son’s tooth came in with a tiny, brown dot on it right away, I surmise that the problems started when he was in the womb. I do not doubt my diet played a role. Furthermore, teeth tend to be very sensitive to problems when you’re pregnant. I already had cavities, but during and after, they became worse. Add to that the role of “new mom” and I was not the most hygienic person for the first 8 months or so. My son, to make it more complicated, put everything in his mouth. If he could reach it, it was in, so I was constantly fishing stuff out with my fingers. When he started drinking water from a Nuby sippy cup at 9 to 10 months old, the one small, brown dot on his tooth took on a life of its own and his other three front teeth were rapidly affected. I believe that there was a combination of pregnancy-diet, putting everything in his mouth, and bacteria from my mouth getting into his, that caused his dental caries. In fact, I think his teeth would be far worse if I weren’t breastfeeding and my milk weren’t fighting and killing bacteria that was already eating his teeth away. (I’m not sure if the tap water contributed, but I can’t ignore the connection, whether or not it is coincidence.)

I’ll let you know how the new plan works out. I’m excited to write more about my nutrition research. It’s leading me to some strange and interesting information. As time permits and goes by, I will be adding more detailed information including links to all the places I’ve visited in each subject. It’ll be a long list, but I’ll try to be orderly and detailed as I go about it. No promises – but we do our best.

IMO. IMHO.

February 8, 2010 at 1:44 am 5 comments


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