Monday, July 3, 2006

the best food for babies

This New York Times article is so carefully written, in order not to be extreme nor offend and almost succeeds. Sorry, but the end is incorrect.

There are dead and brain-damaged babies because of faulty baby formula. The German baby food manufacturer, Remedia, was found to have made a soy-based formula lacking in essential vitamins and minerals. After a number of very sick babies were brought to various hospitals in Israel, it was finally discovered that they were all fed the same brand of formula.

A number of babies died, and some of the survivors are permanently brain-damaged.

It's not a choice between two equals, if your baby is fed human milk (breast milk) or from another animal or totally manufactured.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Breastfeeding is better. It's free, it's tailor-made for the purpose, and there's little doubt that breast milk is, in general, better than formula. On the other hand, it's painful, inconvenient, sometimes impossible, and formula is a nutritious alternative. Although the profit motive and sometimes dirty tricks that formula manufacturers have engaged in give me the heebie-jeebies, and I seriously doubt I would choose formula myself, I can't judge those who do too harshly.

The NYT article got it exactly right in taking the government to task for likening formula use to smoking while pregnant.

"A number of babies died" says me-ander.

You can't say three? Is that not enough for your purposes, so you have to leave it nebulous?

What about women who can't breastfeed, as in literally are physically unable to extract milk?

What about men who are single fathers?

What about women who must return to work shortly after giving birth?

What about women whose milk is contaminated due to exposure to chemicals or pesticides? Is their milk healthier than formula?

What about women who simply choose the convenience of a nutritious alternative to pain, mastitis, spontaneous lactation at the worst times, and hooking oneself to a milking machine every two hours?

Is the tiny marginal benefit something that a woman must subjugate herself to at all costs? No.

muse said...

Maybe in America 3 babies and another handful or more brain-damaged aren't many, but in Israel they're a lot.

It's much more complicated to choose the right "alternative" baby food for those who give it to their babies, for whatever reason.

My main point is that you can't trust the manufactures. There are problems at times, allergies or missing minerals. Most babies are perfectly healthy from formula, but don't take for granted that the formula is "just as good."

Anonymous said...

What about women whose milk is contaminated due to exposure to chemicals or pesticides? Is their milk healthier than formula?
*YES, in general human milk is still safer and more nutritious than formula.*

What about women who simply choose the convenience of a nutritious alternative to pain, mastitis, spontaneous lactation at the worst times, and hooking oneself to a milking machine every two hours?
Is the "Milking Machine" you're talking about the BABY? You don't give birth and then suddenly have to start pumping, given a normal birth and normal baby (i.e. not a preemie, no complications, etc) And there should NOT BE PAIN! How on earth did we survive for thousands upon thousands of years if breastfeeding was so incredibly painful and inconvienient that the majority of women couldn't possibly bear it? If there's pain, SOMETHING IS WRONG. See a Peer Counselor or Lactation Consultant or Nurse!

Is the tiny marginal benefit something that a woman must subjugate herself to at all costs? No. *WRONG* YES is the answer, but the question is incorrect. It is not a tiny marginal benefit. It is the difference between life or death for some preemies, the difference between long term health problems - allergies, asthma, intestinal disorders (Crohns) and NOT having these problems. There is no subjugation.... there is a mother-baby dyad that needs support and protection by our society, by the family and the spouse.
Donor HUMAN milk should be the next option if the mother is unavailable. i.e. your "single dad" scenario.

I hate that this is such a defensive issue. It's so time consuming to dig through everyone's personal experiences and get to the root of the problems or challenges. I breastfed 4 children. My youngest is 1 year and still BF. Thank goodness for BF. It is one thing that is a special gift, bond and experience that is just for me and my children. For other women to disconnect from their children and not BF is sad. They are missing out on a huge part of being a mother. But, for a society that says, go ahead, just cut the baby out via c-section, it doesn't matter either way... it's not suprising that our instant gratification mindset says, go ahead, just bottle feed. It doesn't matter either way. Blech.
Jennifer Delaney - BF Peer Counselor, WIC program

muse said...

Thanks, Jennifer, for the input.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, it is nice that you have had such genuinely positive experiences breastfeeding your children, but you are absolutely incorrect in many of your assumptions about other people's situations.

You say that even in women whose milk is contaminated due to exposure to chemicals or pesticides, "human milk is still safer and more nutritious than formula." This is absolutely untrue, and you should really educate yourself better about the scientific evidence before making such a statement. There are numerous medications and other chemicals that pose significant risk to babies when ingested through breastmilk, yet many new mothers need to continue taking these medications in order to protect their own health. In such cases, breastfeeding would cause much more harm than good, and thus formula becomes a safer and healthier option for that mother. When such women choose (in consultation with their doctors) not to breastfeed in order to prevent exposing their infants to dangerous chemicals, they are absolutely doing the right thing and should be respected for making the best and most responsible choice for their children.

My favorite line of yours is "You don't give birth and then suddenly have to start pumping, given a normal birth and normal baby (i.e. not a preemie, no complications, etc)." OK, but let's look at your "given"s. What about non-"normal" births and non-"normal" babies?

I have always been a huge fan of breastfeeding, and it was one of the things I was most looking forward to when I was pregnant. But then I suffered such severe complications from pregnancy that I very nearly lost my life. In the first few postpartum weeks, I went through 4 surgeries, a ruptured liver and collapsed lung, a drug-induced coma, and more painkillers and strong drugs than you can possibly imagine. While this was going on, how do you think my sweet daughter was being nourished and staying alive?

When I awoke, there were now a half-dozen reasons why I could not (and should not) breastfeed, including 1) my milk had long since disappeared, 2) my own body had such an immense amount of healing to do that it could not afford to divert a single drop of energy into making milk, and 3) the steroids, narcotics, and other drugs in my bloodstream would have been ridiculously toxic to my newborn. Yes, I was devastated to realize that I couldn't possibly nurse my child, but mostly I was grateful to be alive and strong enough to hold her and feed her, even from a bottle.

Now, you may be saying, "OK, fine, well yes, that situation is an exception." But if you'd passed me on the street, you wouldn't know that - you'd have had no idea about what I'd been through. Can you imagine how many smug, self-important women (and successful breastfeeders) like you had the audacity to glare at me - and even verbally confront me - when they saw me feeding my daughter from a bottle in public? I might as well have been pouring arsenic into her veins for the way other women treated me.

The fact is that every woman has her own story when it comes to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, and you have absolutely no business judging every mother you see who is not breastfeeding her baby. You have no way of knowing what their reasons are, but they do, and it would be so refreshing if women like you could learn how to have enough respect for your sisters to give them the benefit of the doubt, and to consider the possibility that just because they are holding a bottle does not mean that they have not made the best possible choice for their child.

Heather

muse said...

Heather, may you enjoy good health. What more can I say?

Diana said...

Thanks for participating in the Carnival of Family Life #9!!!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to echo Heather's comments. While it is undeniably important to educate parents about benefits to their baby's health, in the issue of breastfeeding many have crossed the line in a way that is both intrusive and fails to acknowledge the reality that it is not in fact a choice for everyone.

When my daughter was born prematurely it became even more important to me that she receive the benefits of human milk. The problems we had in establishing a milk supply then nursing were devastating on the heels of a failure to carry to term. I am always stunned by people who feel the need to educate me on the benefits of nursing without any ability to understand or appreciate the reality we faced.

As for Jennifer's comment regarding donor milk, it is not a viable solution for the average healthy baby. The supply of donor milk is limited making it both expensive and appropriately allocated only to the babies most in need of its nutrition. The babies in our hospital were given donor milk as needed until 4-5 lbs, when they were switched to forumla.

muse said...

I think it's wonderful that the hospital made the effort to get donor milk for the tiny premies.

Especially for first time mothers, or those who never nursed babies it's very difficult to establish a milk supply for a baby who can't nurse in the beginning.

And remember that sometimes the bottle you see the baby drinking from is filled with his/her mother's milk.

Anonymous said...

There are very few drugs that a nursing mother cannot take, besides chemo and readioactive agents. Take a look at Medication and Mothers Milk by Thomas Hale, Ph.D.

And as far as pesticides and such, the *prenatal* exposure to these things is what causes damage. Once the baby is born, breastmilk is still better than formula. There is a great deal of research on this issue. See http://www.lalecheleague.org/llleaderweb/LV/LVMayJun94p37.html for a straightforward article with lots of references.

I understand that there are honest reasons that some mothers may not be able to breastfeed, or may not want to. But please, make an informed choice, not based on faulty information.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

"And there should NOT BE PAIN! How on earth did we survive for thousands upon thousands of years if breastfeeding was so incredibly painful and inconvienient that the majority of women couldn't possibly bear it? If there's pain, SOMETHING IS WRONG. See a Peer Counselor or Lactation Consultant or Nurse!"

Oh if life were so simple. Many nurses have looked at my nipples and said that I should have no problem. According to my lactation consultant, they also latched my daughter on the "wrong" way. When I questioned, they said of course there should be pain. Millions of women have done this for millions of years, right? Well I sat overnight in the hospital waiting room and pumped every two hours starting when I was two days pospartum while she was treated for jaundice. I spent $150 on a lactation consultant and even more on the best pump I could buy. I simply can not afford to pay anything more. But let me tell you, breastmilk feeding is killing this woman who had a perfectly normal child and a perfectly normal birth. I pump during work. I pump at night when she is asleep. I breastfeed AND I bottle feed AND I pump more. All day every day. And it is NOT good for bonding. Most of the time I feel like I want to throw her across the room --it is that hard and painful. And STiLL when I'm feeding her a bottle (of breastmilk that comes at a serious cost) women stop me on the street to chide me for my lack of care. Don't I know that I am shortchanging my child by feeding her formula? Give it a rest. Even people who did not have a tough birth have problems. And if they're not really wealthy there is not a lot of help or support for them. Find a la leche meeting, right? Then you have to figure out how to GET there when you're not pumping, bottle feeding or attempting to breastfeed. I know people have an agenda, breast is best blah blah blah. But at the end of the day, I wish those of us who have trouble were taken a little seriously or at least have somebody stop us on the street when they see the bottle and say god, it's hard sometimes isn't it?

muse said...

to the two a's just above
a1 thanks for the info
a2 I must say that I admire you for your determination. It must be so hard. Your baby is getting good food, but the stress factor is making it torture. Stress isn't good for you. Love and calm are important for good health, yours and your baby's.