Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The lies of drug companies: how they get women's money coming and going

Up until the 19th century virtually all women breastfed their children. Then, in 1867, Henri Nestle founded the first formula company and concocted the first infant formula. While his original intentions were good (to provide nutrition for orphans and infants of mothers who truly could not produce milk), the formula industry has blossomed into a multibillion dollar a year cash cow and our breastfeeding rates in the US are dismally low. In the US 62.5 percent of women start out exclusively nursing in the hospital, but by six months only 14.2 percent are still exclusively nursing. A sad number, considering that both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months (at which point you may add solids to the diet, but should continue to give breastmilk as the main source of nutrition until a child is at least a year old.) Additionally, the World Health Organization recommends 2 years of breastfeeding as the bare minimum!

Breastfeeding is infinitely superior to formula. It is silly that we humans think we can try to copy God's design. Every time the drug companies isolate a new component in breastmilk and add it to the new formulas (like Enfamil Lipil with DHA/ARA) it just reaffirms the awesomeness of God's design. He made breastmilk to be the perfect food for our little ones and we will never be able to replicate it.

The formula companies put on a fine charade of being pro-breastfeeding, even giving out "breastfeeding success bags" at the hospital. These clever little bags contain a little booklet of tips for breastfeeding, and a large can of formula "just in case". Studies show that moms who start out breastfeeding and stop are more likely to continue to feed their child formula the entire first year, while many moms who start out on formula will switch to cow's milk well before the first birthday. So there is big money to be made by encouraging nursing moms to switch to formula. And even a few bottles of formula in the first few weeks can have drastic ramifications on a woman's milk supply, so making that easy bottle of formula readily available is an insidious trick.

What are the risks of feeding our children formula vs breastmilk?
Ear Infection- 3-5 times more likely with formula
Respiratory Infection - 2-5 times more likely with formula
SIDS - 3-5 times more likely with formula
Necrotizing Entercolitis - 20 times more likely with formula
Type I (Juvenile) Diabetes - 2-7 times more likely with formula
Diarrhea/Gastroenteritis - 6 times more likely with formula
Risks of Rheumatiod Arthritis, Urinary Tract Infections, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Allergies, Asthma, Obesity, Lymphoma and Hodgkin's Disease are all increased as well when formula is chosen over breastmilk. Additionally, children who are fed formula have IQ's that are 7-10 points lower than children who are breastfed, with the IQ increasing the longer a child is breastfed.

So, first, the formula/drug companies make money by selling formula. Then, they make money when we take our sick, formula fed infants and children for treatment of diseases caused by the formula. Are you getting nauseated yet? We haven't even looked at the risks to mom if she chooses not to nurse.

Moms who are gestational diabetics have twice the risk of developing Type II Diabetes if they do not nurse. They have 1.6 times the risk of developing ovarian cancer and twice the risk of premenopausal breast cancer. They also have increased risk of endometrial cancer, osteoporosis, post-partum hemmorhage and post-partum depression.

So the drug and formula companies really have an excellent business plan: Push the formula so we spend big bucks feeding our children an inferior product. Then make even bigger money treating the illnesses caused by the inferior products (both in the children and the mothers.) And many of the formula companies are owned by drug companies!

This baloney makes me sick. But I have seen the strangest phenomena when I present these facts to patients and coworkers. They get all defensive of the formula and drug companies. This makes no sense to me. I think I'd be hopping mad if I found out I'd been lied to and put my babies' and my own health at risk. But I guess the risk of feeling foolish or uneducated trumps the importance of examining the facts and calling for change.

(sources for this article include www.kellymom.com and www.mamadearest.ca/en/info/risk_and_costs.htm).

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas mourning

What a horrible day at work.

I arrived at the ER this morning just in time to hear the overhead page for a "CPR in progress" call to be hitting our doors in 2 minutes. A 44 yr old man had been eating with his family and died suddenly. For the next hour and a half I sat with his family as they cried in shock and grief at this unexpected Christmas morning. My heart just broke for them.

As I was praying silently for them the Lord brought to my rememberence the whole meaning of Christmas. Emmanuel, God made flesh. The infinite God became a finite man so that death would not be the end. So that we could live with Him forever. So that some distant day, this family's Christmas mourning would be turned into dancing.

What a wonderful gift we have in our Savior, and what a wonderful future we have in Him.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fluffy bums!

Hard to believe that we've been a cloth diapering family for almost 2 yrs. When my wacky sister, Kimberly, started cloth diapering her firstborn (the adorable Libby) we all turned up our noses at her. Cloth diapers went out with wood sided station wagons, right? And then I tried one. And I was hooked. The new diapers are so swell. No stiff plastic pants or ginormous cloth diapered bubble butt. The new diapers have a layer of PUL, a magic fabric that contains wet messiness, but is as soft as regular cloth. Most either snap or velcro at the waist. My sweet dh installed a minishower on the toilet (similar to the sprayer on your sink) and we simply spray any poopies into the potty. A Rubbermaid tub (with a tight sealing lid) in the laundry room solves any stinky issues and they are super simple to clean. Some friends of mine have expressed disgust at the thought of poop and pee in the washing machine, but honestly, if you have a baby, any time you wash their clothes there is poop and pee in the washer.

We started with Fuzzibunz, simple pocket diapers. An outer layer of PUL is matched to an inner layer of moisture wicking microfleece (to keep baby's bum feeling dry). Elastic gussets at the leg hug baby's thighs and snaps make fastening the waist a cinch (no pins!). At the back of the diaper is a small opening between the layers in which you insert, well, an insert (a microfiber or hemp pad for absorbing pee). This makes the pocket diaper system very versatile, as you can add an extra insert if you are heading out on the town or going down for the night.

We loved Fuzzibunz, but I wanted to try all the new stuff when Luke was born (wool, prefolds, Snappis, fitteds, AIO's - the variety is mind boggling). And after trying it all, we came back to Fuzzibunz. So easy, and very daddy and babysitter friendly.

But now, we've switched again. I found a couple of All In Ones (meaning a diaper that has no pocket, the absorbant pad is sewn in) that I adore and can hold up to our heavy pee-ers. So we've switched our stash to all Magic-Alls and Blessed Bottomz. Oh, and Snap EZ Nap EZ stuffable trainers for our older bedwetters (since Pullups are freaky expensive).

And I'm in stash nirvana. I am trying to limit myself from going to some of my favorite cloth diaper sites. I am satisfied with the diapers I have and really don't need any more. Going to www.diaperswappers.com just stirs up lusts I don't need to have.

Lusts? For diapers? Yup. As moms we can easily fall into the trap of coveting for our children's sake. But it is still coveting. My children's diapering needs are covered. So going to oogle at cloth diapers is stirring up a lust in me for something I do not need. God has supplied my needs and those of my children and I should rejoice and give Him thanks for this.

I'm a mammal

Mammal: (n) any vertebrate of the class Mammalia, having the body more or less covered with hair, nourishing the young with milk from the mammary glands, and, with the exception of the egg-laying monotremes, giving birth to live young.

So, recently I had a conversation with some family members about nursing in public (NIP). The family members said that women should cover up with a blanket to avoid damaging any onlookers’ tender sensibilities. This, of course, did not sit well with me. And the more I ruminated upon the subject, the more upset I became. I think there is a major problem in society today. We view breasts as entirely sexual, when in fact, they are not. God designed them for nourishing our young. A nursing child is a child who is eating. Nothing more, nothing less. Breastfeeding is not a sexual act and it is not a bodily function akin to defecating or urinating. It does not need to be done in seclusion and it does not require a baby to be covered with a blanket unless the mother chooses to do so for her own comfort or the baby’s needs (some babies need a blanket to keep them from becoming distracted). We do not eat with blankets on our heads as adults. If it is inoffensive for adults to eat in public, why is it so terrible for infants? Flashes of mommy flesh? I would submit that you see more breast displayed on the covers of mainstream magazines at any supermarket checkout counter. Heck, you see more flesh exposed on teenage girls at the mall. Do most moms go about breastfeeding in order to become exhibitionists? Of course not, we are simply feeding our children in the way God intended. The indecency argument is flawed and hypocritical. Our schizophrenic society declares that breastfeeding moms are indecent but celebrates half naked lingerie models prancing on TV as freedom of expression.

Why is this, you may ask? Because at the core of our Western society, we hate children. What? You protest, of course. We love kids. We love babies. Really? When we were pregnant with our fourth child we began to hear the whisperings. "When are you getting fixed?" we were asked, ( as if something were broken.) "You do know how that happens, don’t you?" strangers would inquire in the grocery store (as if it were their business.) Even Christian friends began to counsel us about birth control - all in the name of "prudence" and "stewardship" of course. We happen to believe the Bible is true. That children are a blessing (Psalm 127:3). That we should eagerly desire and embrace new life. But our society does not see it this way. Children are a hinderance, a necessary evil that should be planned and only allowed when convenient. Strange, but while many Christians were up in arms over the Plan B emergency contraceptive pill they use the regular birth control pill without a second thought. It is estimated that 5-15% of the time the birth control pill does not prevent ovulation, allowing the egg to be fertilized, but preventing implantation. The exact way the Plan B pill works. Even Christians who eschew hormonal methods have embraced barrier methods of contraception and limit their family size to 1 or 2 kids. Why do we do this? Has God changed? Are children no longer a blessing? No, we have simply swallowed the devil’s line. We have decided that it is prudent to limit our family size so that our kids may have all the advantages and so we won’t be stressed out. Is is possible that God has a grander design for the family? Is it possible that having many siblings teaches children things that all the music lessons and summer camps in the world never could? Is it possible that when Paul said women would be saved in childbearing (I Timothy 2:15) he meant that we would be sanctified and grow in holiness by mothering our little flock of blessings?

The devil is a crafty fellow. He delights in twisting what God has made. He convinces Christians that it is God’s will to decline the blessings of the womb by calling it stewardship. He convinces Christians that breastfeeding is something to be hidden away. That the breasts He gave women to nurture and suckle their babies are completely sexual and perverse. Funny, in the Middle Ages it was common for religious art to show Mary breastfeeding the infant Jesus with a fully exposed breast. I believe it is not a godly thing to say that breastfeeding must be fully hidden, but rather a "religious" thing.

With our first two children (and to some extent with our third) we embraced the Ezzo method of babycare (known as Babywise or Growing Kids God’s Way). I found it extremely difficult to keep my milk supply up with the strictly scheduled feedings it prescribed. And it made my heart ache to hear my babies cry in their cribs when they needed me. It seemed like the advice I received went directly against the instincts God had put in my heart. I was advised to only offer the breast for nourishment, never for comfort. Later I found this is not even a Biblical approach. The Bible says that God comforts us just like a mother comforts her child at her breast (Isaiah 66:12-13). In Old Testament times children nursed for at least 3 years before weaning. Hannah took Samuel to the temple to serve when he was weaned. Ishmael teased Isaac at his weaning celebration (would you tease an infant?) With Luke, our littlest. I have nursed on demand. He is a happy, healthy, easy baby. I feel more confident and less stressed in my mothering. I feel like instead of making him a bother to be fit into my schedule I am embracing and enjoying him. There are some great things about the GKGW teachings and we still use many of them with our older children, but for feeding little Luke, I'm letting him call the shots.