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 Successful Breastfeeding ...And Successful Alternatives II

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Tite Prout
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Nombre de messages : 1737
Localisation : Montréal
Date d'inscription : 01/06/2005

MessageSujet: Successful Breastfeeding ...And Successful Alternatives II   Mer 26 Avr - 18:58


According to La Leche League literature, insufficient milk supply is rare. The problem, they say, is not a deficiency in the mammary gland, but a "shared belief" among women or health workers "that insufficient milk is a common phenomenon." Baby's frequent crying, they say, should not be interpreted as a sign of insufficient or poor quality milk—even though this is what a mother's instincts tell her. According to the La Leche League handbook, "The word ‘insufficient' is like the word ‘inadequate'—once it has been directed at a mother it can never be retracted, and her confidence in her body's ability to nurture and nourish at the breast often plummets."

Yet ancient medical literature abounds in treatments for lactation failure.27 Modern studies show that a mother's milk supply can vary and that it is influenced by her diet. In 1981, investigators in Gambia found that milk output diminished during the five-month rainy season when food supplies were less, although there was a greater fall-off among mothers nursing babies older than three months.28 Milk was more plentiful during the non-rainy season, and the growth of the infants was much more satisfactory. First-time mothers were better able to maintain milk output than mothers with multiple children. The researchers found no correlation between milk supply and frequency of feeding. The main factor was the amount of food available to the mother.

Concern about milk supply is not a modern phenomenon, inculcated by evil formula manufacturers in order to sell more formula—although the formula makers are indeed quick to exploit this concern. Most traditional cultures use special foods or "galactogogues" in the belief that they increase milk flow, ranging from powdered earthworms in India, to fish soup in China and Japan, to a variety of special teas.29 Soup made from roosters is a galactogogue used in several areas of the world. Weston Price recorded the practice of special feeding for pregnant and lactating women. The foods given were animal foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins and, in a few cases, soaked cereal gruels.30 Modern literature on breastfeeding dismisses the notion of galactogogues as mere superstition, but future generations would be better served if researchers devoted their efforts to determining which of them actually worked.

Mothers from all societies and in all ages have naturally been concerned about having enough milk for their infants. An 1885 votive painting from Japan depicts a mother praying for an abundant milk supply for her newborn infant.31 The adjoining painting shows her prayer being answered, as milk flows from her breast to a bowl. If adequate milk were automatic for all women, there would be no need to offer prayers.

The percentage of mothers who begin by breastfeeding has not changed over the past 20 years. A federal survey in 1995 found that 58 percent of all women began breastfeeding, the same percentage as in the early 1980s. But almost 20 percent fewer mothers were still nursing after three months than in the mid-1980s, and this in spite of the fact that breastfeeding is now universally promoted as best for babies.32

A common reason for discontinuing breastfeeding in the US is, "I don't have enough milk." Proof is given by baby's frequent crying or failure to gain weight. We do a woman a great disservice by telling her that it is "all in her head." In addition to adequate rest and help, she needs special milk-inducing foods or, failing that, readily available nutritious alternatives for her infant.

Consumption of trans fats lowers the overall fat content of mother's milk.33 The poor quality of the American diet, including very high levels of trans fatty acids in commercial foods, is another reason why so many mothers abandon breastfeeding after the first few weeks—they know better than any lactation consultant that they do not have enough milk, or that their baby is not happy with the quality of milk that it is getting from her breast.

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." Behind the simple mantra "breastfeeding is best," gliding easily off the tongues of lactation consultants, sales reps, government officials and pediatricians, lurk several gross deceptions that usher millions of women into the arms of the formula industry. First is the deception that insufficient milk is rare. Yes, it is rare in a society of truly healthy people but the western nations are not inhabited by truly healthy people. The production and release of milk is governed by a complex interaction of hormones, involving the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and thyroid gland. There are plenty of places where it can go wrong and given the high levels of thyroid and endocrine problems in western women, it's a wonder that so many nurse successfully at all. Insufficient milk supply is a problem more common than the medical profession wants to admit, as many a valiant breastfeeding mother, starting off with the best of intentions, has learned to her sorrow.

Second is the deception that "Almost all mothers can produce good milk, even if their diet is not perfect." With this statement we turn our backs on the accumulated wisdom of traditional people throughout the globe, most of whom recognized that nursing mothers need special diets to meet the special needs of the growing infant. As early as the 1940s, Weston Price observed a decline in the quality of human breast milk, as evidenced by the extensive dental problems he found in his breastfed patients.34 The recent poor showing of breastfed infants in comparison trials indicates that modern human milk is not better—and possibly worse—than it was in Price's day.

The final deception is that babies should not be given homemade formula made with cow or goat milk. Early books on infant feeding recognized that milk from a cow (or goat, water buffalo, camel, sheep, reindeer or llama) was the logical substitute. How wise these early writers seem in comparison to our modern "experts":

Nature does not always confer upon a woman the important capacity for nursing her baby, but the women who are able should do so. Every pregnant woman should not only be impressed with the importance of this duty on her part, but with the essential preparation for accomplishing it. However, there are women who for some reason cannot perform this natural function—for these, it is necessary to learn to take advantage of the way now available to them to feed the infant artificially. The logical substitute for human milk is cow's milk (or goat's milk).35

A mere fifty years ago, part of the preparation for women during pregnancy, aside from a diet enriched by special animal foods, was the scouting out of a cow that would be given the best of pasture and whose milk would be available to the infant throughout its infancy. Today we know that we should dilute the milk and add other whole foods, but even before we knew these things, thousands of babies thrived on rich whole milk from a variety of animals. Yet some of the strongest words in the medical literature today are aimed at commercial formula's only competition—homemade formula based on cow or goat milk.

Today the new mother who finds herself struggling with nursing, and frantic at the frequent cries of her baby, is first told that she should have more confidence. When she gives in to the inevitable and switches to bottle feeding, she is told that formula made in factories is better than milk produced by living animals. Another formula customer is born.

Instead of engaging in wishful thinking, let's establish some realistic goals. Top of the list would be to have virtually 100 percent of all women nursing during the first month. The anti-immune factors in the first few weeks of mother's milk are indeed unique to human milk, and cannot be duplicated or provided in any formula. Ninety-eight percent first-month nursing has been accomplished in Sweden by banning the distribution of free formula samples in the maternity wards. Free samples should be strictly forbidden—not just in the maternity wards, but through the mail and in government programs like Women Infants and Children (WIC), which distributes free formula to low income mothers.

Second, let's provide accurate nutrition advice to our young people through sex education classes, childbirth classes and breastfeeding support groups. Future parents need to know that the "average America diet" is not likely to produce healthy children and not likely to give a mother healthy milk.

Third, let's tell mothers who are struggling with poor milk supply about the wonderful little device called the Lact-Aid, a little plastic bag with a tube that lets a mother give her baby a supplement through a tube laid over her breast while she continues to nurse. Sometimes just a few weeks with the Lact-Aid is enough to get mother and baby "over the hump" and increase milk supply for the newly relaxed and rested mother. This device has been around since the early 1970s but breastfeeding support groups have only recently endorsed it.

Finally, let's accept the inevitable. Breastfeeding for several months should always be encouraged, but in today's society it is not a luxury available to many. The need to return to work, problems with milk supply, unsatisfactory progress of the infant—these are compelling reasons for mothers to turn to formula feeding (although every effort should be made to allow breastfeeding in the workplace). But mothers need to know that formula made with good quality milk and other whole foods is vastly superior to factory-made formula.

Above all, let's keep in mind the ultimate goal. The goal is healthy children—not breastfeeding for the sake of breastfeeding and not convenience feeding with store-bought foods—but healthy children. It is a goal that requires wisdom, dedication, patience, hard work and mutual support among breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers. Above all, it requires knowledge, not deception, and there is no better place to start than with the teachings of Dr. Weston A. Price.

Note: The Lact-Aid system can be ordered from (423) 744-9090. Visit their website at
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