Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Case Against Infant-formula-feeding

photo by Jessie McClain

Those darn beavers damning up "our" river!! Just like people they take a good thing and create mayhem. But if it weren't for those damn beavers....

The complex weave of life on this planet effects us all. Add a few billion humans who think they know what it's all about, and we have become a planet on the verge of environmental collapse. So what's that got to do with breastfeeding and the article, "The Case Against Breastfeeding?" Nothing and everything. The case against infant-formula-feeding is compelling for those who are environmentally aware of the degradation of the planet. Pile up those empty cans, plastic bottles, and various containers of artificial baby milks in our landfills. Add those bottles and plastic nipples and pacifiers to the mix, and let's see how fast they degrade. Support and push the dairy industry so that our babies will be fed milk from another species. Support your local landfill, bottlefeed your baby.
How much does infant formula really cost? In terms of buying it at the store, and in the need for easy access to medical facilities. Because let's face it babies fed infant formula are sicker. I worked in the WIC program for 4 years. I encountered many mothers who told me regretfully that right after they weaned their babies from the breast their babies got sick. I used that moment to talk about relactation but mothers while interested in the idea had issues that made continued breastfeeding a problem for them. Sometimes it was employment but sometimes it was a member of the family who was pressuring the mother to quit. Sometimes it was because the pediatrician advised them to quit. Mothers noticed that once their infant stopped breastfeeding, their healthy infant got sick. Just mere coincidence? I'd like to see a study done on this issue.
Rosin in her case against breastfeeding writes, "...by insisting that milk is some kind of vaccine, they make it less likely that we'll experience nursing primarily as a loving maternal act..."
Not. One of the most interesting aspects of my experience of breastfeeding was that I breastfed to save money. Yes a very utilitarian motive but I am from the working class and our motivations are quite different from those who are middle class. I got hooked on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding worked its magic on me. It became less and less about the money I would save and more about how I felt about my baby. Even Rosin got hooked with breastfeeding despite her belief that its no better than using infant formula. She hasn't quit yet. I once had a mom tell me that she had 5 children. The first 4 she bottlefed. The last one she breastfed because it was going to be her last child. She whispered to me, that she was afraid she loved her last child more than her others. What magic is this? How can we love our breastfed children more? Is this unusual? I had major difficulties breastfeeding my first baby and quit breastfeeding for about a month and then relactated. While I was bottlefeeding I felt an enormous distance develop between myself and my baby. Upon relactation, I felt that huge gulf between us disappear. What do we believe? Breastfeeding is certainly magical but we don't need to tell women this. We just have to let them do it. Oxytocin works wonders on the body.
As for Rosin's dismissal of breastfeeding being some kind of vaccine, I am amused. She should go interview a company called Glycom APS in Denmark. They are using their understanding of carbohydrate chemistry to produce human milk oligosaccharides (genetically engineered) for use in infant formula and functional foods and also in the development of vaccines. In 2006 they entered into an agreement with Nestle Nutrition. Another biotech company, Agennix, plans on using human lactoferrin genetically engineered as a vaccine against cancer. Some companies are using HMFG (human milk fat globule genetically engineered and the real thing) in vaccines. But Rosin feels that breastfeeding advocates should not use the word vaccine. Industry can use human milk components as vaccines. But heaven forbid breastfeeding advocates talk about breastfeeding as being a continuous vaccination. Instead we can just go and spend some money and get the vaccine that imitates the real thing.
Copyright 2009 Valerie W. McClain

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