Thursday, January 14, 2010

Conference Update - Way to go, Utah!

Breastfeeding is good...

Breastfeeding is right...

Breastfeeding is beautiful.

The Utah Breastfeeding Coalition and WIC presented Molly Pessl at a seminar about breastfeeding. She was wonderful. I only wish every expectant mom could hear her. If so, the commitment to this miracle would be without question. While rare cases exist that don't allow a woman to breastfeed her baby, the vast majority can do it if they have the confidence, commitment, help and encouragement from those around her. Of course throughout history it was universally practiced and babies died if they lost their mother and a wet-nurse could not be found. This is because cow milk just doesn't work for babies - it must be modified to even make it digestible - hence, "formula".

It's wonderful that breastfeeding is being initiated more now than ever before in recent history. Utah now leads the nation in this - recently overtaking Oregon for the lead. 92.8% of all Utah babies are breastfed to some extent with 50.8% still exclusively breastfed at 3 months and 24% at 6 months. Six months is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some breastfeeding is still happening at 12 months in 33.9% of Utah babies.

What these babies get is a living, changing fluid that is worth its weight in gold for immune-boosting protecion and prevention of some diseases for a lifetime. Even obesity is higher in artificially-fed babies as they grow up.

Just as an example, there is evidence that the risk of the following diseases is increased without breastfeeding's protective properties:
  • diarrhea - 3 X risk
  • ear infection - 2 X risk
  • pneumonia - 2-5 X risk
  • bacteremia (blood infection) - 2 X risk
  • meningitis -4 X risk
  • necrotizing enterocolitis (high risk in preterm babies) - 8-10 X risk
  • hospitalization - 3 X risk
  • death in the first year - 20% increase (the reduction in risk is 38% if the baby is breastfed for three months or more or 720 babies in the U.S. each year)
Car seat use was put into law when >400 children died over a three year period because they weren't in a car seat. We could save about 700 babies in one year (2100 in three years) with this simple and natural feeding method.
If you add the health benefits to the breastfeeding mother, there is really no question.

My daughter tells me people really don't know about this and nobody is telling the new moms. Sometimes the doctors are afraid of offending if they suggest that breastfeeding is superior to formula, but it is a health issue. It can be difficult in the early weeks, but we don't give up on other things just because of the challenges that come with them.

The reason we hear more about formula is because it is a multi-million dollar industry. Breastfeeding does not have the advertising dollars. But that doesn't mean it isn't the best for baby and mom. Just because I did fine on formula (how much better might I have done with breastmilk?) doesn't mean it's best for baby considering the information we have now. The smoke and mirrors have been stripped from the formula makers and we know that our mothers were given bad advice when they were sold a product that claimed to be as good as or superior to what nature provides for babies. They were also separated from their babies who were fed on strict four-hour schedules. No wonder they didn't make milk - they were doomed from the start with the "high-tech" hospitals calling all the shots. But, who was looking out for the baby?

These manufacturers still strive to make something close to breastmilk but have not been successful. There are lots of reasons to give breastfeeding a fighting chance. If breastfeeding truly doesn't work out for some reason but you know you did what you could, bottle feeding will supply adequate nutrition for your baby and you should not feel guilty. This isn't about judgment; it's about informed decision-making at a critical time. We wouldn't want you to miss a single, beautiful moment of motherhood.

Dr. Marianne Neifert, MD "Doctor Mom" says, "Dont' put anything in a baby's mouth except the breast until he's passed breastfeeding 101" Best Blogger Tips

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