Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Personal Preference" - NOT!

I received the following e-mail today:
I came to Maria last year when my daughter had difficulty nursing. Maria believed my baby had torticollis (amongst other health concerns), which explained why she wasn't nursing well. After going to at least 5 separate pediatricians, orthopedists, and neuroligists who all told me she had a personal preference, I gave up on the idea that she had torticollis. At one year, she remained "crooked" and the diagnosis at a very well known pediatric orthopedist was torticollis (left untreated for one year!!)

Well, well, well... So, I pulled her chart to refresh my memory and my notes could not have been clearer. FYI- Torticollis is a twisted or stiff neck caused by spasmotic contraction of neck muscles drawing the head to one side with chin pointing to the other side.    As you can see by the description, it doesn't take an Einstein to figure this out yet, she was jerked around by many doctors.   

If you know me at all, you have heard me say over and over  "babies are the smartest people I have ever met and they always do things for good reason".  If you look, watch, touch and listen, they will lead you to what's wrong.  Also, mothers always know when something is "not right"with their child....never ignore her!  So, I take special care and pay attention to everything I can...that's how it's done.  The problem is, it takes time and they are too busy to do the job right!

Of course, I sent her back, a very supportive e-mail tonight.  Trying to be positive, praising her courage and reassuring her. "You did the right thing by taking matters into your own hands, she is lucky to have you for a mom! Now that she is on the right track, the baby will get the treatment she needs and deserves....she will be OK"
But between you and I, this makes me sick, sad, disturbed and pissed-off that this poor mom and baby were denied an early diagnosis and treatment plan! Not to mention, the emotional and physical trauma, that could have been avoided! 

How could these people call themselves professionals??? What was this child’s pediatrician doing all year, besides sticking this kid with needles and spewing percentages from that stupid growth chart?!!! ....

I tell you, a day does not go by, that I don't hear about a mother and child who are damaged by a negligent act or statement, a rude, hurtful comment, punitive advice or just plain wrong information, by their "hired professional" (doctor) Yes, they work for you!!!  Remember that!  
You don't have to put up with this crap!  You are working hard for your insurance and paying top dollar....for what, to be treated like this?  I bet, if one of their employees performed like that, they would be fired....lickity-split!
So unless you start speaking up and leaving those particular practices, they will just continue to do what they do, over and over.  You deserve better.

Now I'm all worked up.....gonna take a hot bath and go to bed.
This blog is gonna kill me yet.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tip Off to the “Top Off”

Alas, a solid study which finally “put to bed” the myth that giving your breastfed baby a bottle of formula at night, makes him sleep longer.

The article by Theresa Doan called "Breast-feeding Increases Sleep Duration of New Parents", compared how much sleep parents lost when they gave the formula supplement before bed versus not giving it. Why the focus on the parents instead of the baby? Sadly, to the parents, it's their own  lack of sleep that is really the concern, not the baby’s.

Like, James McKenna, PhD, who directs the Mother-Baby Behavior Sleep Lab at Notre Dame, this research is based on “real monitored” sleep. They didn’t just ask parents how they slept, (sleep-deprived parents are just not reliable when reporting how long they slept) Instead, they watched and/or monitored their sleep.

The findings: Babies DO NOT sleep longer with a formula bottle, actually they slept less. Let me put it another way; parents have a 40-45 minute sleep loss when they give A BOTTLE of formula at night as opposed to just breastfeeding. Also, it showed that BOTH parents were affected, not just one.

How did this, “top off” myth come about in the first place? It is simply a “throw-back” from the formula feeding years. Think about it, prior to the 1960’s, when you gave birth in a hospital, there was no rooming-in. As a matter of fact, the feeding schedules were so rigid, you didn’t see your baby often enough to establish a breastfeeding relationship, let alone ample milk supply!

New mothers were in the hospital, for a week or more to recooperate. During that time, the babies remained in the nursery for long periods, especially at night, whether they were crying or not. Back then, the mantra was “crying is good for the lungs” (which many grandparents still think is true).

So, these well-rested mothers ended up with LOW milk supply, due to nothing more than, lack of contact and breast stimulation. This set the stage for formula feeding as a means to satisfy the late night hungry baby and thus equate such bottle, to better sleep. It’s no wonder so many women, from that era, felt they just didn’t have enough milk...I'm sure most of them didn't.

Sad to say, the same practices, while more subtle, exist today. Even though, we have rooming-in. Babies are not nursed frequently enough, especially at night, for fear of “being used as a human pacifier”. What are you left with? a fussy baby and low milk supply.

I don’t believe the myth that, the slow digest-ability of formula has, to do with parents sleeping better. I do believe that “super-sized” formula-feeding before bed, is the direct result of the rigidity, discouragement and/or unwillingness to nurse frequently at night, in the very early weeks. It’s the artificial schedule and formula-feeding together, that ultimately results in less sleep for these parents, not more, like they were led to believe.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Shedding the Light on Vitamin D - (protective eyewear required!)

It is well-known that I am not a fan of supplementing infants, under 6 months, with vitamins of any kind. Why do I dare go against, what some consider, an absolute necessity?  First of all, I usually go against things that don't make sense.  For instance, breastmilk actually does contain some vitamin D along with ample amounts of Vitamins A & C and the other vitamins and minerals a newborn needs - go figure!  Also considering, Vitamin D, is not really something you're supposed to get through your food, who’s to say that the amount in breastmilk is deficient, it may be “just right”.


OK, now I feel better that I got that off my chest!   Thirdly,  sunlight is still our main source of Vitamin D, unless you're in a cold, dark climate with little sun exposure, or very dark-skinned, 10-15 minutes of sun (even near a window, if it's cold out) should be enough.  What have we turned into - the people who fear the sunlight?  The CSS - Crazy Sunphobic Society? 

Due to the immaturity of the infant gi tract (better known as guts) introducing substances directly by mouth, other than breastmilk, only serves to place them at risk for food allergies, asthma and probably eczema. See for yourself @ : folder=INBOX.Sent_Items&uid=536&aEmlPart=0&part=2&tnef_part=-1&filename=early%20vitamin%20supplements.pdf&email_folder=INBOX.Sent_Items#

By the way, have you ever taken the time and read the ingredients on a bottle of Tri-Vi-Sol, made by Emfamil? (Mead Johnson) including the synthetics, artificial colors and flavors and don’t forget the sugar…..yummmm! How about the Side effects: upset stomach, headache and unusual or unpleasant taste in mouth – just what you and your baby need, right?
Note to reader : please don’t ask me for advice about your fussy baby if you insist on continuing this practice. In fact, maybe you should ask your doctor or the formula rep who pushes this crap, if they would like to care for your crying, sick baby!  Better yet, take responsibility for their future life-long illnesses!

Now for those of you, who are known to be Vitamin D deficient or live in a cave or truly believe the risk of rickets actually exists and just can’t take that chance, I have a safe option for you and your baby. According to this study, you can increase the Vitamin D in your breastmilk (thus to your baby), by simply taking more Vitamin D yourself.  Study below: "Breastfeed Med. 2006 Summer;1(2):59- 70. High-dose vitamin D3 supplementation in a cohort of breastfeeding mothers and their infants: a 6-month follow-up pilot study.

So, problem solved.(again!)  Thankfully, you can feel good, if you choose to take the supplements, that you’ll be supporting a vitamin company and not the unethical, greedy formula industry!  I am proud of you and happy for your baby!!

In closing, I’d like to leave you with one of my all-time, favorite “tongue in cheek” but quite effective commentaries about the subject:   So enjoy and go outside!!! (preferably during the day)

But God Forgot the Vitamin D in Breastmilk??
By Dr. Jack Newman FRCPC

"The phalarope, a wading shorebird, has a unique way of dining on creatures too deep for it to reach. It draws them up by spinning in the water at breakneck speak. Phalaropes detect prey, thrust, seize, transport and swallow in less than half a second, at a rate of 180 pecks per minute".

But God forgot the vitamin D in human milk?

"Light signals are essential to butterfly mating... Males and females have photoreceptors on their sex organs. When light to the male's receptors is completely blocked, the pair's genitalia are exactly aligned and they can mate. If the light leaks, it's no go."

But God forgot the vitamin D in human milk?

"Tiny blind burrowers, Namib Desert golden moles have nifty survival tricks. After hunting termites on the surface, they dig a foot or so into the African sand and remain torpid there for 19 hours or more as their bodies cool, reducing their energy needs".

But God forgot the vitamin D in human milk.

"Bola spiders excel at capturing moths. Females spin a silken thread with a sticky droplet at the end. When a moth appears, the spider swings the thread until it sticks. To bring moths close, the spider uses deception. She produces chemicals similar to pheromones used by females of several moth species to attract mates. When male moths show up, they find only a fatal attraction."

But God forgot the vitamin D in human milk?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hold Me, I Need a Good Cry!

For a minute, close your eyes and remember how it felt the last time you cried in the arms of someone you love? Afterwards, did you feel better? Perhaps, relieved, relaxed, and totally connected to that person?

We all need a good cry, now and then, even your baby. Crying is healthy for us and its healing function begins at birth. It is believed that stress-relief crying, early in life, helps prevent emotional and behavioral problems later. But this healing process is only effective if the baby is allowed to cry in the safety and comfort of a parents loving arms.

Let’s be quite clear. I am not talking about babies who are left to “cry-it-out” alone. As you know, I do not advocate sleep training - it’s against everything I believe, not to mention, I don’t buy into the BS that a baby “learns” to sleep.

Now, the ugly truth, what they do learn from sleep training.

#1 They can no longer trust you or anyone.

#2 They are truly powerless and should just give up.

#3 They are not a worthy enough for someone to help them

#4 Their crying leads to feelings of despair and sadness

#5 Their anxiety and fear will be a normal part of life.

FYI- This is how it really works:
When you plop them in their crib, awake and alone, their nervous system signals life-threatening danger and then they are programmed to cry. This escalates into severe stress and distressful crying followed by quieting, with emotional and physical withdrawal. This is called the protest-despair response. This response is associated with high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which permanently alters certain brain structures which are involved with memory and vulnerable to stress.
Oh yeah, and when you come into their room in the morning and they greet you with that big smile and they are so happy to see you!! It’s because they feared something horrible happened to you and that they would never see you again. Dramatic but true.

Babies are vulnerable, feeling human beings who you need to be attuned to, quickly respond to and nurture. They need to be loved unconditionally, good nights and bad.

Now, for the therapeutic side of things, crying does help babies release stress and heal from trauma, as long as all their current needs are met and they are not suffering from a medical condition. But babies should always be held in arms and never left to cry alone.

There are many sources of stress for babies. When a pregnant mother is anxious or depressed, the baby can be stressed even before birth. Some other reasons could be; fear, pain and trauma at birth, colic, allergies, over stimulation, high frustration prior to attaining developmental milestones and frightening events.

Crying-in-arms is a healthy release for babies.  So, this is how you can help.  First, make sure there is nothing wrong, make sure they have been fed, changed and not sick.  Then, you need to relax and honor your baby’s attachment needs and just hold her, go into a peaceful room and get into a comfortable chair, look in her eyes and talk, gently reassuring her and allow her to release the stress of whatever is bothering her. Listen respectfully to what she is trying to tell you.  Before you know it, you’ll both be asleep!

This is the child who will always feel she can come to you and confide in you, no matter how serious the matter. Cry in your arms and be comforted, no matter how old she is.  A kinder, gentler soul.
Isn't this the legacy you'd like to leave behind? 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Expressing Concern

Even though, more mothers in the US have “latched-on” to fact that breastmilk is best.

They refuse to “latch-on” their babies! You mean, breast-feeding? Forgedaboudit!

Read for yourself:
Breast Pumping on Rise as Moms Choose Not to Breast-Feed - TIME,8599,1971243,00.html?artId=1971243?contType=article?chn=sciHealth
Breast-Free Breastfeeding, Exclusive Pumping’s Growing Popularity

NEWS FLASH: Breastmilk from a bottle is not the same as breastmilk “real time” from the breast!  Breastmilk changes in composition; during the feeding, throughout the day, not to mention, day to day. The beginning of the feeding is different from the end of the feeding. The morning milk is different than the night milk. Today’s milk will be different from tomorrows. A nursing mother constantly colonizes antibodies and literally immunizes her baby every time she nurses. Comfort hormones are released during the feeding that the mother and baby receive simultaneously resulting in a sleepy, calm baby and relaxed mom. That’s the beauty of breastmilk, directly from the breast!!

REALITY CHECK: Most pumped milk, especially after freezing long-term, will quickly be "out-dated, poorly-timed, age-inappropriate and non-immune”. Sure, it’s better tolerated than formula, but once it is stored and/or frozen, the baby is missing out on many of the beneficial physiologic properties. For instance, someone in your house is sick and you are nursing, your breastmilk will protect your baby from the severity of that illness. But if you are bottlefeeding your baby breastmilk pumped 3 months ago, he/she will not be protected. Breastmilk is a “live” body fluid. Many elements do not survive long-term storage (longer than a week) for example: antioxidants, host-defense factors, Vitamins A, C & E

WARNING: If you attempt this, statistically, you will ultimately fail. Most women cannot keep up with the volume consumed by their baby via the bottle, where overfeeding is universal. Ask anyone who pumps at work and has to contend with their daycare provider’s constant nagging for more milk.

True, some women are just blessed with enough milk for the entire state and they are usually the only ones that may pull this kind of thing off. But it is rare. Some women make it to 3 months, a few to 6-7 months. Sooner than later, they get frustrated, exhausted and “cut the cord” with their pump!

Aside from the many misconceptions that lead to this decision, it’s the emotional component that is most disturbing to me. Sadly, I don’t have enough space to address the impact on the baby (I can’t even go there right now) But what I will tell you is: women who choose to exclusively pump, tend to be very controlling and quite competitive. Often, they brag about things like: how much milk they can pump at one sitting. One time, I was asked how much milk I made. So, I pointed to my son and said, ‘You’ll have to ask him!” These women love to brag about how much breastmilk they have in the freezer. So,I would brag about how much ice cream I had in the freezer! And of course, I can’t forget this one; not only, does their baby drink down a bottle in record time but he can hold his own bottle, too!  That’s when I would say:
“That may be fine for you, but honestly, I cherish every minute we spend together breastfeeding…and so does he!”

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Suck It Up!

Last week, a new study published in the Pediatrics journal: The Burden of Suboptimal Breastfeeding in the United States: A Pediatric Cost Analysis, concluded that if 90 % of U.S. women breastfed their babies for the first six months of life, over 900 infant lives would be saved each year, along with 13 billion dollars in associated medical expenses each year.

One of my dear clients, (who obviously thought my blood pressure wasn’t high enough!) alerted me to the Newsweek blog by Mary Carmichael, entitled: Most Women Stop Breast-feeding by Six Months. Whose Fault Is That? Needless to say, I braced myself for yet another negative, self-serving response or should I say, excuse to why women in American just can’t nurse.  She refers to the above study as, “the next round in the never-ending slugfest over the health benefits of breast-feeding.”  I refer to it as, the next round in the never-ending denial and "udder" ignorance of Americans over the health benefits of breastfeeding, to the point of shame and embarrassment.

Furthermore, Ms Carmichael states half-heartedly, “Yes, breast-feeding does have health benefits (although we could argue all day about the magnitude of those benefits, especially given how complex and multifactorial the diseases listed in this article are—breast-feeding prevents leukemia?) OMG, she didn’t do her homework! (a simple google search would have sufficed!) FYI- Babies who are breastfed DO have a lower risk of developing childhood leukemia, according to an analysis of 14 STUDIES by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.   Bring it on, Ms Carmichael!  Nay-sayer!

What do you think prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation over 10 yrs ago? Namely that “babies be exclusively breastfed (no water, juice, tea, formula, or other liquid or solids foods) until they are at least six months old and that breastfeeding continue for at least one year and as long thereafter as is mutually desired.” It was the overwhelming studies that could no longer be denied. Yet, the majority of physicians in the US, as we well know in NJ, advice otherwise, putting our children and mothers at risk everyday.

How do they get away with it? Does the term, INFORMED CONSENT, mean anything? Why do doctors and hospitals protect new parents from the knowledge of the risk associated with infant formula use? This phenomenon is not seen in any other area of health care. Could it be their contractual association with the infant formula industry?  Women are told of the risks of alcohol and cigarettes to their unborn children. Smokers are told of tobacco's hazards to their health and to those who breathe their second-hand smoke. Yet the known dangers of formula feeding are never discussed or if they are mentioned, it’s not in a straightforward way. The fact is, concealing risk is unethical and violates the principles of informed consent.

But instead, parents hear about the "benefits" of breastfeeding, as though they are “extras” above and beyond what a mother could want for herself and her child. These "bonuses" are measured against the poor health outcomes of formula feeding–-outcomes so common in the US that they are seen as the "norm" by which we measure all babies.

I could comment on literally everything she wrote but it just gives me a headache so only one more quote, Ms Carmichael concludes her blog with this statement: “Breast-feeding has some health benefits, but we shouldn’t blame mothers who don’t manage to do it long term because not everyone can. Sometimes that is the fault of hospitals and corporate workplaces and formula makers. And sometimes—it may be unsatisfying to say it, but it's true—there really is no one to blame.”

Well, it satisfies me to say, “that is not true and just a cop-out!” I am sick of the irresponsible behavior and excuses surrounding this critical health issue. Ms Carmichael wishes us to casually dismiss the blame for the fact that 88% of mothers in this country are formula feeding by 6 months? No one should be held responsible for the 13 billion dollars in extra health care costs or over 900 infant lives lost each year? This is simply unacceptable!  There's blame all right,and everyone has a share in it, including her.

Trust me, I would be first in line to force the medical establishment, government, corporations and formula manufacturers to take responsibility for the damage done but that won’t happen. Even educating the public, about breastfeeding, is often watered down and minimized, taking a back seat to almost any other health issue. Tons of money is poured into programs to promote and support nursing but they still cannot compete against the resources, greed and unethical practices of the formula industry.  Let's face it, there is no money to be made in breastfeeding. Thus, no commercial value placed on worth what-so-ever? 

Well, I for one, am not standing for it!   I implore you, MOTHERS OF AMERICA!!!! It's up to us. We have the breasts and thus bear the ultimate responsibility for the health and well-being of our own children. No excuses. No regrets. We can no longer afford to let others interfere or negatively influence their decision and commitment to breastfeed. Our babies are depending on us to provide what is best and that should be our only priority, first and foremost. Future generations are counting on us to reclaim and restore this basic right, as nature intended.
So let’s make our babies proud, healthy and happy...let's breastfeed, no matter what, the hell with everyone else!  Breasts and Babies Rock!!!