Archive for April, 2009

Margaret Wills, a Lactation Consultant on my yahoo group for Private Practice Lactation Consultants wrote this wonderful reply about The Case Against Breastfeeding and has given me permission to use it on our blog. Sometimes other people can find the words that express what I am feeling and trying to say better than I can. Comments?

Margaret Wills

Regarding Hanna Rosin’s article “The Case Against Breast-Feeding”:
Look for the follow-up essay, “The Case Against Placentas.” After all, medical technology can now generally sustain 32-week premature infants — why not induce labor then, so women can be back in the office two months earlier? The author doesn’t see that her argument is the same, nor that her reasoning is backward. Breastfeeding, both the milk and the human interaction of delivering it, is our basic biology and psychology — we don’t have to prove any “advantages” to breastfeeding. The burden of proof is on the new idea — especially if the intervention, needed when our biology has unexpected problems, is being proposed as a new norm. If Rosin is going to cherry-pick scientific studies, without much regard for sample size, funding, and study date and structure, she needs to find valid results that prove formula feeding provides better outcomes — and creates more equality in marriages and the workplace. Good luck with that.

Rosin has a right to be angry — but not at breastfeeding. We need to direct such rage and frustration at a society where breastfeeding has become so difficult that a woman has to be lucky, very dedicated, or very privileged to achieve a basic biological activity. Rosin is able to enjoy her breastfeeding relationship, while writing for major magazines, because she is one of the Manhattan mothers she derides. (And in her warmer closing paragraphs, she admits that maybe scientific studies can’t quantify all human activities.) Meanwhile, Norway can achieve breastfeeding initiation rates approaching 98%, with high female workforce participation, because women get extended, paid family leave and consistent information and support.

Rosin is right that breastfeeding takes time and resources, and the sense that this is an important investment. But we unfairly lay that commitment on the individual woman, when it needs to be shared by the healthcare system and the societal attitudes that surround her. It’s easier to make the choice to breastfeed when it becomes just “what we do.”


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Getting up this morning I heard the usual hustle and bustle in the kitchen. My handsome son was up with the children. It was his turn and my dear daughter-in-law was having her morning to sleep in a little longer. They alternate who gets up with the kids. Nice arrangement.
The 7 year old was off on the bus and the other 3 were finishing eating their breakfast. He sat down on the floor and called the twins, now 23 months, to him for their first diaper change of the day. I tell you, I’m proud. This Dad can change a wiggling baby, put on any kind of cloth diaper faster than anybody! Well he’s done it with 4 children now. We’ve gone through all kinds, from prefolds with snappies and the Bummis wraps and now the bumGenius.
I asked him what he thought and without hesitation he said bumGenius were his favorite. They are easy to put on and fit so well. And of course the money saved with diapering twins is very important for their budget. Twins aren’t cheap and disposables for 2 cost close to $100 per month.

This is a great blog about cloth diapers.

So many Moms find it a bit daunting to get started, so it is nice to read about other peoples experiences and how to make this easy and positive for everybody. It is the beginning that seems hard, but once you get into the swing of things and pat yourself on the back for saving your family money, reducing what goes into the landfill, reducing your “carbon footprint” you’ll feel great. PLUS we have had so many Moms tell us their baby actually points to the cloth diapers on the changing table rather than the disposables. They FEEL BETTER!! Isn’t that one of the best reasons?

The May Mother’s Teas at Best Start are all about using cloth diapers. Come with your questions and experiences to share.

May 6th and 16th at 10 AM.

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Have you read in The Atlantic Monthly (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200904/case-against-breastfeeding) or seen on TV The Case Against Breastfeeding, an article by Hanna Rosin, a breastfeeding mother who questions, no belittles, the benefits of breastfeeding? She claims, from her personal reading, that the scientific proof is not strong or compelling enough for women feel forced to give up their time and energies to breastfeed their children. She speaks of women who choose to formula feed being looked down on by other women. We find the exact opposite at Best Start. Almost daily we have mothers stressing because every person in their life is pressuring them to stop breastfeeding and give formula to their baby.

After devoting my career to helping mothers achieve their goals of as much breastfeeding as they can, from a little to exclusive breastfeeding, I found Hanna Rosin’s article disturbing. I’ve laughed and cried with so many women in my practice who came for my help and desired this for themselves and their babies. Every bit of DNA in a woman tells her this is important and is part of what makes her a woman. That is why it is such an emotionally charged issue. It hurts our ego so much if breastfeeding doesn’t ‘flow’ as expected. Many women close the door on breastfeeding when it is too difficult for them and it is understandable. It is true that breastfeeding is almost effortless to many women, and a severe strain to others. It makes us grieve when a mother who wants to breastfeed with all her heart has severe difficulties such as hormonal issues or insufficient glandular tissue that prevents her from achieving a full milk supply for her baby. She may often work hard to provide all the precious milk she can for her baby and is grateful there is formula that is safe, available and nutritious when she needs it, but she wishes she did not have to use it. She is often jealous of mothers who seem to have an abundance of breastmilk, but decide to stop after a few weeks because they find it an inconvenience.

Please read Peggy O’Mara’s excellent article below “Case Closed”. In her rebuttal to Hanna Rosin she says what I could not find the words to say. The evidence IS there. It IS compelling and conclusive that breastmilk and any amount of breastfeeding is the best for human babies. Formulas are NOT the same. Yes, babies live and grow up and love their mothers if formula fed, I did, but it is not optimal. We are still mammals and each mammal’s milk is different, made for it’s own baby and that baby’s physical needs for it’s best development. No concoction we can make blending animal milk, water, vitamins, minerals, omega 3’s and now probiotics, can match what each mother provides for her own baby.

Case Closed: Breast Is Best

Issue 154 – May/June 2009

by Peggy O’Mara, Editor and Publisher


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