Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mary, Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow?

What is a woman? Saint or sinner? Virgin? Slut? How do men view women? Can't say I know cause I ain't a man. But over the years I have felt the ominous weight of a male-centered society. Young people's greatest insult to a girl is to call her a slut. Sexual liberation? Who got liberated? Not women. I once had a date with a fella who couldn't believe I had a mind. He must have had a vision of women as feeble-minded. Actually, I couldn't figure out how someone could get to this age in life (50's) and think that all women are ignorant simpletons. Well, what has this got to do with patenting of human milk? Alot and a little.

We, woman are supposedly liberated. We are free, free at last. Yet, we still call women sluts? What do we call men who sleep around? Yes, we call them: politicians, men of the cloth, lawyers, doctors, neighbors, husbands, and fathers. But what's the word for it? Honestly can't think of the word. Slut isn't the word because that is only directed at the female gender. Interesting...

The dichotomous view of women is reflected in society's strange views on breastfeeding and the biotech industries interest in human milk. Our society believes that women should have choice regarding infant feeding. The male corporate society seems to think that all female biology is a choice. Periods? Who needs them? Breastfeeding, who needs that? Babies, if ya don't want it, we have choice. Menopause, you don't have to have that. Liberation from biology is choice. But does man want to be liberated from his biology? Let me see, erections, who needs that? What an inconvenience, lets offer a choice. Men don't have to be liberated from their biology, because why?

Women reject their biology. Men embrace their biology. But the biotech man not only embraces his biology, he wants to own and control the biology of women. Like the pimp who controls and makes money off his prostitutes, biotech man is making claims on the cells of the mammary gland. Slavery is not just rooted in the physical chains that bind a human to a place, but the mental chains that control the mind. Biology is slavery if you are a female, or so our culture dictates through the media. Behind the chains of slavery is always the economic advantage of owning a resource without paying for it. Behind the chains of slavery is the mind control, that make the victim believe that they have chosen their chains.

Stem cells are in breastmilk. So, woman, why are you accepting the slavery of choice? Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Breastfeeding is an example of allogenic stem cell therapy"

Dr. Satish Patki and Dr. Ramesh Bhonde of India said,

"Breastfeeding is an example of allogenic stem cell therapy where the child receives mesenchymal stem cells from the mother as a natural gift."

There is a pilot study underway where breastmilk stem cells will be given to sick babies. Of course, I would argue that the mother's own breastmilk should be what a sick baby should get but the argument will be that women don't or can't breastfeed. The article on this research has an interesting statement that might be worth letting mothers and fathers know. (wait a minute I forgot we can't tell mother's the benefits of breastfeeding because breastfeeding is normal--maybe this once we can tell them about stem cells?)
"According to Patki, stem cell number in the colostrums contains about 50,000 cells per ml while mature milk contains hardly 50-100 cells per ml. Hence in the first five days the baby gets 5 million stem cells per kg body weight per day."
These scientists see a use for these stem cells in effective treatment for neonatal sepsis, neonatal respiratory diseases. I can see what will happen...mothers wouldn't be allowed to breastfeed sick babies but they will pay for stem cells from other mothers' breastmilk to treat their baby.
On another note, we should congratulate inventors Mark Cregan and Peter Hartmann because their patent application was accepted as a patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's called, "Method of isolating cells from mammary secretion," patent #7776586. They have developed a method of isolating the stem cells from breast milk. The patent is owned By Carag AG of Switzerland. Never heard of this company? Neither had I, but I did go to their website and learn that in 1999 Michael Larsson bought the company. I believe Michael Larsson is part of the family that owns Medela. He is on Carag's board of directors. Carag has joint ventures with a variety of universities (University of Zurich, University of Western Australia, University of Gothenburg, University of Belgrade) and Medela and Swissimplant AG.

So there are stem cells in that there breastmilk made by women. The image of a modern day Colombus, planting a Swiss flag or is it an Australian flag on mothers' donated milk. "I claim thee in the name of the Corporation, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost...."
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Breastfeeding: The Tree of Life, an endangered species

From the milk cells clustered like leaves, to the branches of the milk ducts, the human mammary gland stands as a tree of life. It's function is to sustain human life and it does this quite simply, yet elegantly. It is food security and food sovereignty for a people. It represents independence: a freedom from corporate ownership, secrecy, and profit. It is traditional knowledge, passed from mother to daughter, within a community. It is genetic diversity, species specific, a food system rooted in immunology. Yet this tree, this tree of life is an endangered species. Like so many indigenous traditions, the knowledge is being lost. The global corporate worldview is destroying it like the rain forests in the Amazon.

With stealth and secrecy the corporate world of pharmaceuticals and food technology, acquires human milk to study and make claims, patenting as much of it as possible. These corporate giants prey upon the ignorance of the people. Donate your milk for research...not telling the donor that the plan is to plunder and profit from what is freely given. Like the indigenous people in the rain forest, women watch as the corporate world destroys a natural resource. We watch as the earth becomes bare from deforestation. We watch our natural resource dry up, as the robber destroys our safety and peace. We become dependent on their system, on their products to survive. The knowledge of breastfeeding is destroyed, replaced by the medical-industrial jargon, incomprehensible and destructive. Secrecy of the value of breastfeeding is part of the system. Breastfeeding is put on a pedestal of impossibilities, used as a whip to judge women, and denied to those who need to breastfeed.

Dripping words of encouragement, the authorities talk of poisoned breastmilk, toxic breastmilk, infectious breastmilk. The wondrous tree of life, full of milk becomes a barren, empty vessel. It's role relegated to sexual enticements. Women condemned by society to show their empty breasts while denying their infants its treasures. Women scorned, keepers of the tree of life. I weep for a world gone mad.
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

Monday, November 8, 2010

make it so....we are a breastfeeding culture

The magical words, "make it so," and it happens. This is a common authoritarian, militaristic viewpoint. We will just "power-through" and people will do what we want them to do. And if they won't, then we make them. Our society uses the soft approach when it comes to making people behave. First we use PR campaigns through educational institutions and or advertising. The internet and blogs work great for creating new mind sets. The CDC devotes some millions of dollars to blogging and bloggers so that the public understands health and disease as viewed by those in power.

The current spin in breastfeeding advocacy is that breastfeeding is normal. How does that statement impact women who struggle with breastfeeding or those who can't or refuse to breastfeed? As a mother who struggled with breastfeeding her first baby, and as an IBCLC working with mothers who had problems breastfeeding, I find the statement unsettling, upsetting. No qualifications, no elaborations are made regarding this statement. Thus, if breastfeeding is normal, then often the conclusion some would make is that formula feeding is abnormal. To be judged, perceived as abnormal in a culture is upsetting. It creates the image of the blame game on individuals rather than on a society that creates enormous obstacles to breastfeed.

The cry that breastfeeding is normal is a reaction to the discrimination of breastfeeding in our society. But the answer is not in reversing that discrimination and making those who bottlefed feel the weight of public judgment. The answer is in placing the blame on the infant formula industry for its PR campaigns, its circumventing of the WHO Code, and on a society that places profit first before the welfare of its people.

Years ago, I struggled with breastfeeding my first baby. She was born at home in a very simple birth. Birthing was easy in comparison to figuring out how to breastfeed her without enormous pain. I called La Leche League and tried to follow their suggestions but got no where. Finally, in so much pain, I started formula feeding my baby. I felt devastated, a failure. Despite people telling me it didn't matter, it did matter to me. And I felt an anger inside that people could be so ignorant of the feelings that mothers have when breastfeeding doesn't work out. The only saving grace in the midst of this situation, was the belief that I would go back to breastfeeding when I healed. Most of my family and friends thought I was done with breastfeeding--quit and that's it. But I started reading everything I could about relactation and adoptive nursing. And back in 1982 there wasn't much to read. I read and reread the chapter on relactation in You Can Breastfeed...Even in Special Circumstances. I was afraid it would hurt again and I was afraid that maybe I was just one of those people who couldn't do it. But I had alot of support from my husband. He believed that it would work and his statements were all positive. It was about a month after quitting breastfeeding that I breastfed her for a few minutes. It didn't hurt and I gradually over time increased breastfeeding while decreasing the infant formula. At a certain point, I was down to giving only a few ounces of formula. I found my fear of not having it as a back up stalling my ability to fully breastfeed. Going to La Leche League meeting inspired me to quit all the way, and fully breastfeed her. This experience was the inspiration for being a La Leche League leader and for becoming an IBCLC. I saw the value of support (husband and La Leche League) and information (knowing that relactation is possible). Struggling with breastfeeding, using infant formula has made me more aware of how abnormal our society is regarding infant feeding. Certainly, breastfeeding is the biological norm. But culturally breastfeeding is a lost practice. For many breastfeeding in a society that thinks breasts are obscene, just sexual appendages, means that many women struggle to bring breastfeeding into their lives.

I do not think my experience was abnormal. In fact after working as an IBCLC for some years, I would say that many women struggle with breastfeeding physically and emotionally. Why? Because we live in a culture that sets up enormous barriers. Perhaps the reason I feel so revolted by the words, "breastfeeding is normal," is because of my struggles with breastfeeding and seeing others struggle with it. Breastfeeding would be normal, if we lived in a society that protected and supported breastfeeding mothers and babies. But that is not the situation. And making statements as if there is normalcy when there isn't is just bad PR.
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Selling Breastfeeding as "normal"

Breastfeeding advocacy has changed its strategy. Instead of describing breastfeeding as "best," "free," and listing "benefits," we are now told that breastfeeding is to be described as just normal. There are numerous problems with this strategy in promoting breastfeeding to the public. Normalcy is defined in communities by the majority. Does the majority in US communities perceive breastfeeding as normal? Despite many women attempting to breastfeed, initiation rates climbing to 70-80% in the last few years, continuation rates drop drastically by 3 months. I see relatively few women breastfeeding in public. We hear constant media stories of women harassed for nursing in public areas, despite laws to protect breastfeeding.

Yes, breastfeeding is the biological norm but it is not the cultural norm in the US. We may wish it to be a cultural norm, but just saying it does not make it so. In fact the reactions to statements like this may cause more harm than good. Is it formula feeding that is abnormal? Or is it our society that is abnormal? When the public hears the statement breastfeeding is normal, how do they perceive that statement? Do they wonder about the reality behind that statement?

If we read about words that sell a product or a concept, would we use "normal?" Reading on the web about words that sell, I do not see "normal." I do see the word, "free." But breastfeeding advocates have been told not to use the word, "free," because it implies cheap. Yet in all the marketing websites I looked at, free was one of the words that sells(one website states that it is the top selling words of all time). Benefits was another selling word. Yet again we told not to talk about benefits of breastfeeding. Instead I have read articles by breastfeeding advocates that state that there are no "benefits" to breastfeeding because breastfeeding is just normal.
Yet marketing pros, use the word benefits. Why bother breastfeeding, if there are no benefits?

Are those who write about effective marketing wrong? Will describing breastfeeding as normal promote breastfeeding? Already the infant formula industry in Australia and New Zealand has embraced the words, breastfeeding is normal. Why? One would suspect that they like "breastfeeding is normal," because it sells more infant formula.
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain