Monday, September 23, 2013

Hazardous Television

This was originally posted on Sept 22, 2006 on my knitting blog.  I'm just moving posts over here so that my knitting blog is really a KNITTING blog :)

Is anyone else annoyed with "Bringing Home Baby" and "Baby Story" on TLC?
They should come with a disclaimer: "Following any/all of the parenting activities in this episode might put your baby in danger and play havoc with their health".
My big pet peeve: car seat safety. I know 8 out of 10 car seats are installed incorrectly. But if you watch "Bringing Home Baby" you might see more than 8 out of 10. For the past two days, both episodes showed the infant car seat in wrong for the trip home from the hospital. Primarily, they left the handle up. Don't people read the instruction books? What about the stickers that are right there, ON the car seat: "The handle must be in the DOWN position when used in a vehicle" or "The arrow must point this way when used in a vehicle" and if it's that way, the handle is down. On Wednesday, the mother was sitting RIGHT beside her baby in the backseat. Didn't she wonder what all the different stickers say? The handle was UP. The scary thing is....this mother is a lawyer! DOH! I also see chest clips too low, babies in snowsuits or swaddled under the straps, and convertible seats facing the rear that are not reclined enough. Argh.

But my BIGGEST pet peeve....the bottle feeding! The new episodes show a baby being bottlefed in the opening title sequence. So you see it in every episode. The statistics are now that just over 70% of newborns are breastfed. Bottle feeding is not only the un-normal, but also the uncommon, way to feed an infant. So why is it portrayed on TV as the "normal" way to feed? 

 So often the 'excuses' the mothers give are lame, indicating a lack of education or dedication: "My milk hasn't come in" (no one's milk has come in by day 2), "He's got a bit of jaundice" (giving a bottle of bovine breastmilk isn't the cure--more nursing or bili blankets work better), "Daddy wants to feed him too" (if Daddy works full time, how many feedings does that mean he can actually do? Out of 10 feedings, he might be around for 4---mainly middle of the night--not the greatest bonding time. Ever heard of a breast pump?). "It's not easy to breastfeed" (but it's not easy having kids with allergies, ear infections, asthma, diabetes, lower IQ, and cancer---and don't forget the increased chances of SIDS). Not to mention the increased cancer risks and other health issues to mom by bottle feeding.

There is no substitution for human milk. Formula (bovine breast milk, essentially) is more suited to feeding orphaned cows than it is for feeding human babies. Formula is so not the optional food for babies, that the World Health Organization lists it as the fourth option. It is better to have donated human milk than to use formula. There are human milk banks opening up in many places and mothers are willing to pay huge amounts to feed their babies with the food that the baby's body is designed to consume. There are Yahoo groups for women with milk to share, and parents looking for human milk. There are mothers that induce lactation to feed their adopted baby, or in one case I know--she induced lactation after nine years (that's years, not a typo) for her ex partner's newborn. Now that's love!

Now, I know there are some women who are going to cry "I tried, but it wasn't easy" or "I have to work" or "He didn't take to it" or "Bottles are more convenient". Those that get the most defensive about their position are usually suffering from hidden guilt. Having guilt means that you know, deep down, that you didn't do the right thing; make enough of an effort. Guilt is different from regret or remorse.  You may feel regret that you didn't breastfeed, but not guilty.  And that's fine!  If you have that defensiveness/guilt and have any more children, then that guilt might be a good thing actually. If you really tried--consulted LCs, BF clinics, books, videos, used pumps, herbs, prescription medication, etc--and it still wasn't successful, then you shouldn't have any guilt (but unfortunately too many mothers have guilt about everything). For an awesome article on guilt and breastfeeding, check out 'Rev Jan's' website.  However, we must keep in mind that each mom's level of "tried everything" is different.  You can't try everything if you don't know about something.  Making a mom feel bad because she didn't know about More Milk cookies, isn't helpful.  Yes, even with the internet, a mom may not learn everything, nor be comfortable with trying everything, nor even have access (or support) to try everything.  My "everything" may not be your "everything"....but is there a minimal "everything" that all moms should try?

My personal opinion, through 7 years of research and practice: Newborns under 6 weeks should only receive formula if there is a medical issue. Infants under six months should only receive formula under the guidance of a doctor. Free samples of formula at hospitals should be banned (some hospitals have made great gains in this area). Nestle and Enfamil (and any other company that has infractions) should be held accountable for breaking the WHO Breastfeeding protocol that they signed. Currently there is no punishment if a formula company signs and then does what they please anyway! Every workplace should have 'pumping rooms' like at Starbucks' head office. Doctors should go over the 100 reasons to breastfeed with a pregnant mom before delivery. The US program WIC (Women, Infants & Children) should not provide formula for babies under 2 months and should increase their support of breastfeeding. Over half of the formula sold in the United States is through the WIC program. Guess who pays for WIC? Taxpayers of course. New research into the "virgin gut" indicates that babies should have only breastmilk for the first 6 months, and that even powdered formula is not a good option because it's not sterile.  Formula should go back to being the emergency food it was originally intended for.  Our want of convenience is causing a health crisis.

The 70%+ breastfeeding rate is better than it was 20 years ago. But it should be higher, to match the number of women that can actually breastfeed, not just the ones that 'want' to breastfeed. However, much improvement needs to be made in sustaining this number over the first 6 months. It is currently recommend that babies receive nothing but human milk for the first 6 months, but only about 17% of babies are still breastfed at 6 months. That's lousy. Even my LC was surprised when I said I 'only' made it to 9 months with my first two. She thought it was awesome; I was disappointed.

So, I guess I can't call myself a 'closet lactivist' now, LOL.

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