Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Breastfeeding & equal sharing of responsibilities: CSW March 2009

Statement on BREASTFEEDING & the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men for the 53rd meeting of Commission on the Status of Women, March, 2009

▪Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine ▪ International Lactation Consultant Association ▪La Leche League International ▪World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action

As people increasingly strive for gender equality, the list of gender-linked tasks and responsibilities, which once were assigned to men or to women only, is shrinking fast. Breastfeeding, though, is still a challenge. Is it possible to share responsibility for work, decision-making, and well-being equally between men and women, when women breastfeed and men do not?

The value of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding provides more than nutrition. It is a system of protection and care for babies and young children. Mothers’ milk aids immune system development. The “delivery system” of suckling and close contact builds emotional attachment and keeps an adult near the baby for safety and stimulation. Some babies and mothers get by without breastfeeding, but even the best compensatory feeding methods entail costs at individual, family, and national levels. WHO and UNICEF underscore the importance of optimal infant feeding, based on breastfeeding, as the foundation for the economic development of nations.i Since alternatives to breastfeeding carry costs, including poorer survival rates and increased illness, it makes good sense to share the responsibility of assuring that women can succeed at breastfeeding.

Child-bearing and child-rearing. Whether born into a single-carer family, a nuclear family, an extended family, or a family that can afford to hire domestic help, the truth is that children require a lot of care and attention. For most mothers, equal sharing of work within the household is a dream, not a reality. There is growing acknowledgment by international bodies and feminist economists that care-giving is productive work. What is needed is to officially recognise and value the work of care-giving. Breastfeeding doubly deserves recognition, for it provides care and a “product” (milk)—both usually ignored by policy-makers.

There are many fathers who take care of their newly-born and older children, but they are still a minority. Male care-giving is praised and facilitated in some cultures but scorned in others. We call on governments to institute policies, such as paternity leave, parental leave, and family leave that support men’s involvement in caring for their babies and children. We call on community leaders everywhere to promote an attitude of support for mothers and fathers in the crucial task of raising the next generation, beginning with support for healthy child-bearing.

Care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS. In resource-poor settings, HIV-positive mothers can give their babies the best protection from death by breastfeeding exclusively —using replacement feeding only if it is acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable, and safe. Care-giving in this context includes good nutrition, counselling and anti-retroviral treatment for mothers, plus supportive lactation care to prevent or treat breast problems and oral lesions (which increase the risk of transmitting the disease). If women do not know their HIV status, they should breastfeed exclusively and be protected from exposure to the virus. Equal responsibility by men and women is especially needed to eliminate unsafe sexual practices.

The work of reproduction. Beginning with conception, progressing through pregnancy, labour and birth, and breastfeeding, until the child’s final weaning from the breast, the reproductive roles of males and females are complementary, not identical. Decision-making can be shared, but the physical work is embodied in the mother.

Reproduction has risks for a woman’s life and health. It brings nutritional, physical and emotional stress. Child-bearing imposes direct time and energy costs. Ideally women are supported to carry the physical burden of reproduction within an enabling environment. The child’s father, plus family and friends (especially if the father is absent), have the responsibility of providing this enabling environment.

Reproduction also has joys to be shared. Much has been learned about the effect of lactation hormones on the maternal brain, and there is growing evidence that close contact with a baby and mother can change the male brain in positive ways.Fatherhood offers men a unique opportunity to evolve as sensitive beings by expanding their care-giving and communication skills.

In times past, wet nursing was the only practical alternative for maternal breastfeeding. Now technology enables parents to substitute manufactured formulas for human milk, use feeding bottles and teats as surrogate breasts, and pump milk instead of relying on babies to suckle. While these techniques may sometimes be life-saving, they threaten to replace breastfeeding by spilling over into normal situations. The existence of new techniques must not be allowed to de-value, or worse, to erase, the breastfeeding lore that mothers and grandmothers pass to their daughters.

Fathers feeding babies. Shared responsibility does not mean that a father must feed his baby half the time. Instead, equitable and reciprocal responsibility can be practised by a father’s taking primary responsibility for another task, such as bathing, dressing, massaging or amusing his baby, or bringing food and drink to the mother while she feeds the baby. Once the child is six months old, the father can be the family specialist in complementary feeding. In child care, the passage of time provides many opportunities for parents to adjust and readjust the balance of their shared tasks.

Sharing responsibility need not mean a mathematically equal division of tasks. Instead, it means men and women negotiate to ensure that tasks are divided fairly and with respect. It means that everyone’s needs are met, both the needs they have in common and the needs that are different, beginning with the needs of the baby. To the breastfeeding mother, shared responsibility gives a vital foundation of support.

Correspondence: chrismulfo[@]comcast.net
i WHO, Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, 2003. Para 1.

ii Daly M & G Standing, Care Work: the quest for security, ILO, 2001, p 1.

iii Folbre N (2003) Caring Labor. Transcription of a video by Oliver Ressler. http://www.republicart.net/disc/aeas/folbre01_en.htm

iv Smith JP & LH Ingham (2005) Mothers’ milk and measures of economic output. Feminist Economics 11(1), 41-62.

v LINKAGES Project (2004) Breastfeeding and HIV/AIDS Frequently asked questions. http://www.pronutrition.org/files/FrequentlyAskedQuestions_HIV_eng.pdf

vi Anthes E. Stretch Marks for Dads: What fatherhood does to the body and the brain. Slate.com (2007) http://www.slate.com/id/2168389/ 2

Friday, March 27, 2009

Do you feel bad when breastfeeding?

Some mothers have very strong negative feelings well up inside them while breastfeeding, just before the milk begins to flow. These mothers feel fine and happy the rest of the time, and they know they are not suffering from post partum depression, so what is it that makes these bad feelings happen right before the "let-down" starts?

This is a recently recognised condition called D-MER, or Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex and there is a lovely website dedicated to this exact topic, D-MER: because breastfeeding shouldn't make you feel this way. They have found that it is a hormonal condition linked to a drop in dopamine that seems to occur whenever milk is released. The good thing to know is that it is treatable.

Watch their video here and visit their web site for more valuable information:

Monday, March 16, 2009

WONDERFUL breastfeeding video...MUST SEE!!

Click here
For some unknown reason this video has been flagged by Youtube as unsuitable for minors!
It is a video used in breastfeeding education classes. How can breastfeeding a baby be considered unsuitable for minors to view???

Friday, March 13, 2009

Beautiful breastfeeding video from LLL Bulgaria.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

MothersMilkBank Charity Ride Australia

The Jetstar Gold Coast Titans MothersMilkBank Charity Ride will see George Doniger cycling from Currumbin to Cairns in Queensland. Starting Monday 16th March 2009 and finishing Friday 3rd April 2009, George will fundraise for the MothersMilkBank during his grueling 19 days of cycling.

The Charity Ride will start at a local IGA store at 9am and finish at a local IGA store at 3pm each day. At the finish of each day, the Lions Club will provide a sausage sizzle for a gold coin donation. This will give the local communities the chance to get behind this great cause.

Queensland is leading the way in helping our babies who need this valuable service but the ability to provide donor milk has stalled. Lack of funds to cover the expenses involved with testing and pasteurising the donor milk means babies and families are suffering without this service.

Since the commencement of the MothersMilkBank, 136 litres of pasteurised donor human milk has been provided for free to sick pre-term infants, as well as other babies in need.

The vision of the MothersMilkBank is to see a national network of Milk Banks established around Australia. The Federal and State Governments have acknowledged that a national network of Milk Banks will greatly improve the health of babies, saving the lives of babies and saving valuable health care dollars. Unfortunately the funding to achieve this vision has not been allocated.

If you would like to make a tax deductable donation or for more information, please visit the website www.mothersmilkbank.com.au

We are also pleased to announce the MothersMilkBank Facebook group! Come, join us and invite your friends. It is hoped we can make this a great place to support each other, ask questions and spread the word.


Thank you for your support, your generosity will play a vital role in the future health of Australia's children.

The MothersMilkBank Team

Voldemort = Formula

‘Voldemort’ approach failing mothers
Monday 9 March 2009

Formula feeding should be clearly named in research showing its potential health risks to babies, according to a new study.

The study, led by Dr Julie Smith from the Australian Centre for Economics Research on Health at The Australian National University, shows that researchers reporting poorer health among formula-fed children too often shy away from including a mention of formula feeding in their titles or summaries.

“This is not helping properly informed health professionals and mothers,” Dr Smith said. “We looked at the findings of nearly 80 authoritative studies, all of which highlighted that formula-fed babies tend to be at higher risk of poor health than children fed on breast milk.

“Yet the vast majority of these studies did not mention formula feeding in the places that matter most for lasting impressions: headlines and abstracts. Rather than naming formula feeding as a significant risk factor, researchers seem to be treating this subject like Voldemort in the Harry Potter novels, as “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” For example, a study showing a higher incidence of a serious condition in formula fed infants was misleadingly named ‘Breastfeeding and necrotising enterocolitis,” she said.
Dr Smith and her colleagues stress that their research into how formula feeding is referred to in scientific studies was intended to ask an important rhetorical question about cultural attitudes and informed choice, and shows why blaming mothers for not breastfeeding is futile and misguided. They argue that initiatives to improve infant health by increasing breastfeeding have described the importance of accurate language, and the key role that well-informed health professionals play for women to breastfeed successfully.

“How can we expect physicians and other health professionals to be informed and convincing about the importance of breastfeeding if they themselves are not getting the facts on risks of formula feeding presented in a prominent and clear fashion?” Dr Smith said.

“Adopting the ‘Voldemort’ approach to describing the risks of formula feeding in published research harms the ability of physicians and other health professionals to support women, and reduces women’s ability to make informed choices. If a mother seeks support and reassurance that continuing breastfeeding is worthwhile, such non committal research reporting means she may get non committal advice from health professionals, even though the evidence is clear that formula feeding disadvantages infant health.”

Filed under: Media Release, ANU College of Medicine Biology and Environment, Health

Learn more: The research paper is online at http://www.acerh.edu.au/publications/ACERH_WP4.pdf