Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Risks of NOT Breastfeeding?

I recently read an article from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill entitled The Risks of Not Breastfeeding for Mothers and Infants. Like numerous other articles on the subject, the report discussed some of the many benefits to breastfeeding for both mother and child:
For infants, not being breastfed is associated with an increased incidence of infectious morbidity, as well as elevated risks of childhood obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, leukemia, and sudden infant death syndrome. For mothers, failure to breastfeed is associated with an increased incidence of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, retained gestational weight gain, type 2 diabetes, myocardial infarction, and the metabolic syndrome.
None of this is new information. Numerous other similar articles and research can be found to support the above statements. What surprised me about the article was the very specific language used in the article. Phrases such as "the risk of formula feeding" are found throughout this article. The authors explain their choice of words here:
Public health campaigns and medical literature have traditionally described the “benefits of breastfeeding,” comparing health outcomes among breastfed infants against a reference group of formula-fed infants. Although mathematically synonymous with reporting the “risk of not breastfeeding,” this approach implicitly defines formula feeding as the norm. As several authors have noted,79 this subtle distinction impacts public perceptions of infant feeding. If “breast is best,” then formula is implicitly “good” or “normal.” This distinction was underscored by national survey data showing that, in 2003, whereas 74.3% of US residents disagreed with the statement: “Infant formula is as good as breast milk,” just 24.4% agreed with the statement: “Feeding a baby formula instead of breast milk increases the chance the baby will get sick.”10
These distinctions appear to influence parents’ feeding decisions. In 2002, the Ad Council conducted focus groups to develop the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign, targeted at reproductive-aged women who would not normally breastfeed.
They found that women who were advised about the “benefits of breastfeeding” viewed lactation as a “bonus,” like a multivitamin, that was helpful but not essential for infant health. Women responded differently when the same data were presented as the “risk of not breastfeeding,” and they were far more likely to say that they would breastfeed their infants. Given these findings, this review will present differences in health outcomes as risks of formula feeding, using breastfeeding mother-infant dyads as the referent group.
I quite agree with this point of view. Many mothers are under the assumption that formula feeding is the "normal" thing to do. How many new mothers have not even attempted to breastfeed their babies because they think of the practice as being something odd? We all know that "breast is best" but formula feeding is pretty good...right? Not so say the authors who point out that there are significant risks to formula feeding.
We live in such a "politically correct" nation that people seem to fear offending others above all else. Even doctors and researches seem to feel the need to sugar coat information for fear of offending new mothers. Doctors seem unwilling to admit that there are risks to formula feeding because they don't want to offend mothers who use formula. I am not saying that mothers who formula feed should be made to feel guilty. But I am saying that researches and doctors should not be shy about giving women the facts they need so that they can make informed choices.

We live in one of the richest nations on the planet. Yet the US is home to some of the unhealthiest kids in the world. That doesn't seem to make sense to me. Why are our children so unhealthy compared to other developed nations? Could it have something to do with the fact that breastfeeding in the US is still not the norm?

The article also talked about the role of hospitals and obstetricians in helping women to breastfeed successfully. Basically the conclusions were that hospitals and obstetricians are not doing enough to help women breastfeed. Research tells us that the vast majority of women are capable of producing more than enough milk for their babies and nurse their babies with no issues. And this makes sense. How else would our species have survived for this long if that was not the case. However, poor advice and lack of information seem to sabotage many women's attempts at breastfeeding. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 73.9% of new mothers initiate breastfeeding when their babies are newborns. However, only 13.6% are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months as suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics. (The American Academy of Pediatrics, who has some of the most conservative breastfeeding recommendations around, recommends
"exclusive breastfeeding for approximately the first six months and support for breastfeeding for the first year and beyond as long as mutually desired by mother and child.")

So why are so many mother's "failing" at following these recommendations? I agree with the author that much of it has to do with lack of support from health care professionals. I saw this from my own personal experiences having a child. Where I delivered my children, the lack of knowledge from the nurses and staff about breastfeeding was both shocking and shameful. I overheard many nurses and lactation consultants suggesting that breastfed babies only need to be fed every four hours just like bottle fed babies. I overheard them repeatedly trying to supplement breastfed babies with formula. All of these efforts, while well intentioned, are sure fire ways to sabotage a new nursing mother's supply. Milk is made on a supply and demand basis. If you take away the
demand (by separating the baby from the mother, putting the baby on an unnatural feeding schedule, or taking away the babies desire to nurse by feeding them in other ways) you will then of course affect the mother's supply.

So where can a mother find good advice on breastfeeding? Well, until things change in this country, much of the initiative has to be taken by the mother. Here are some good sources on breastfeeding information-

Online Sources:
1) See specifically this information here.

Great Books:
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sweetheart Apron

As I said before, I have been sewing up a storm over here lately. Besides making Sophia an apron, I also made one for myself. ;)

So here are some pictures of my Valentine's Day Apron:

It is my own pattern. The top features a heart shaped bodice and it has a wide flared skirt. I made the ties very long so that they could be easily tied in front. (I love the practicality of that!)

The apron itself is reversible. The front side has a Patty Young fabric from her Andalucia line. The reverse side is a black fabric with strawberries, cherries, and hearts. (Perfect for a Valentine's day apron in my humble opinion.)

It also has two heart shaped pockets on the polka dot side:

I also sewed a matching table cloth out of the black fabric for my kitchen table.

Thanks for looking!

Valentine Day Crafts

Marcus and Sophia also did their own share of craft projects for Valentine's day.

They made several homemade valentine's for their Nana and Papa.

To make these, I cut hearts out of craft foam. The kids then glued them onto some paper heart dollies. We then attached "googly" eyes and the kids drew a mouth and some eyelashes. (Yes, those are mouths and eye lashes in case you couldn't tell!)

The other thing the kids made were heart mobile's. I cut some hearts out of plain white card stock. I then gave the kids some red and white tempra paint and various tools to pain the hearts. The results were pretty cool. We ended up with some really cool swirled textures on our hearts.

To finish up the hearts we cut some photos out of an old 2009 family calendar. I then had the kids pick which photos they wanted to paste to the hearts and where they wanted to paste them. They really enjoyed getting to sort through the old family photos and putting them on their hearts. The kids also got the idea of gluing some red and pink pom-poms to the hearts.

Thanks for reading!

Your friend,
Cathy aka The Attached Mama
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Attached Mama Crafts: Special Valentine's Day Edition

You might think that the reason I haven't updated my blog is because I haven't been doing much. However, the exact opposite has been true. I have been SO busy here that I haven't had much time to get online and "check in".

So I thought I would post some pictures of what we have been up to.

Every year for Valentine's day I make something for the kids. To me a handmade gift is the best way to really show someone that you love them. It means so much more than anything that I could buy for them at the store. BecauseThis year I refinished some furniture for Sophia and Marcus's play room.

I found a doll size high chair and crib at the thrift store for next to nothing. The only problem is that they were in REALLY bad shape. There was splattered paint on them them, writing, dents, etc. However, the pieces had "good bones" and I saw a lot of potentional in them. They were solid wood and well constructed, so I thought that they would last for years to come. So I decided to buy them and try to make them over.

Here are the BEFORE pictures of the high chair:

I didn't think to take a "before" picture of the crib...but you get the idea.

Here are the pieces AFTER:

Doll Highchair AFTER: painted red to match their retro style kitchen

Doll Crib AFTER: The crib is also painted red to match their play kitchen. I also sewed a matching quilt for their dolls. It has the red gingham on one side with a rick-rack border. (If you know me well, you will know that I LOVE anything with rick-rack on it.)

The reverse side of the quilt is made out of red fabric with small white hearts. I also made a small mattress for the crib and a cover out of the red gingham. Here is Sophia favorite doll (Baby Susan) enjoying her new sleeping space. :)

Close up of the heart fabric:

I also sewed the kids a matching table cloth for their craft table.

Finally, the kids each received an apron for Valentine's day. I am nearly always wearing an apron when I am at home. So I wanted to make Marcus and Sophia an apron to wear too. I am blessed with children who love to help their mommy. And I though that they might enjoy having an apron to wear around while we clean and cook.

I made Marcus a reversible spider-man apron. It has a spider-man print on one side with a deep red double pocket (to hold the various toys he always carries around in his hand!). The reverse side is a matching red fabric with a spider-man pocket.

Sophia's apron is made out of the red gingham and heart fabric. So it matches the table cloth and doll bedding. :) I also put her initial on the front.

The aprons made me really happy because the kids both loved their aprons. When someone comes to our house Marcus will run up and say, "Look what mommy sewed for me?!"

Well, everyone...that's it for tonight. Thanks for looking! More updates to come later this week.

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