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The Day Someone Threw Me a Rope

The Day Someone Threw Me a Rope
The Day Someone Threw Me A Rope | I can still remember where I sat on the floor in the room, the Southern California light pouring in that way it does, diagonally through the plate glass windows and bending through the blinds. There were about twelve of us sitting in a circle, leaning back against folding cushions, our knees popped up in front of us. Each of us held a fairly new babe in arms -- some nursing, some sleeping, some lying on our legs trying hard to keep their eyes open or to produce an effective burp. The mothers surrounding me were different ages and different shapes and sizes, but all of us shared a common quality: a wild look in our eyes, perhaps a button askew on our shirts, hair thrown up in messy buns or that lay rumpled on our shoulders -- the hallmarks of sleep deprivation and the exhaustion of new motherhood that soaked our very bones. Continue reading

Planning a Flight with your Baby

Planning a Flight with your Baby
Secret Tips Most New Moms Miss


Every week in our New Mother Support groups someone asks for tips on air travel with their breastfed baby. So here is a list of ideas that should make your trip easier. I hope this will also help my daughter Colleen when she travels home from Germany during the Christmas holidays with my grand baby.

    • Make reservations early and book a window seat for yourself. It is easier to breastfeed when you can turn your back to the crowd and get the baby latched on, then sit back and relax. 
    • If traveling with another person, request an aisle and window seat. If the flight is not full, you may get the whole row and if not, the person assigned the middle seat will happily take the aisle. You might try flying at lower volume times of the day/week. However, in the current travel climate there may be no such thing.
    • Take your Car Seat and your stroller right up to the plane and then gate check the stroller, so it's waiting for you as you disembark. If there is an available seat you can take your car seat on the plane with you. If not they will gate check that too. If you don't have a stroller/car seat gate-check bags, take large, heavy-duty bags and some masking or duct tape. Covering the car seat and the stroller will protect them while in the cargo area.
    • Take your baby sling or baby carrier too. This is great for walking through the airport, keeping your baby secure while flying, and calming a fussy baby on the plane. Get up and stretch your legs and take the baby with you. NOTE: Babies need to be removed from carriers and strollers while going through the security checkpoint. www.tsa.gov
    • Consider using a Backpack diaper bag. It will keep your hands free.
    • In your carry on bag bring an extra shirt for yourself and enough diapers/clothes for the baby to make it through a blowout or two. Be prepared for a delay, and if you can, for even and unexpected overnight stay.
    • Create diaper changing bags: one diaper and several wipes in a Ziploc bag (do a bunch). When you need to change the baby just grab a baggy, make the change and use the Ziploc for the dirty diaper.
    • Also considering getting some disposable changing pads and throw them away after each use. This helps to protect the baby from the environment.
    • Check the TSA website and take a copy of the rules with you. You may need it at security if you meet less informed security agents. Currently, you may take breastmilk through security (when traveling with or without the baby) in larger quantities than three ounces.
    • Breastmilk can be kept in a separate bag from other gels and liquids. You must declare that you have the milk and are encouraged to carry on only what is needed until you reach your destination. Any other milk that you want to take, can be packed in large Ziplocs, surrounded by ice cubes or blue ice and placed in the bags you plan to check.
    • Take your nursing covers too. We recommend the Bebe au Lait nursing covers and Poncho Baby. Also try a nursing tank tops, and wearing layers. The tank makes nursing so easy while keeping your midsection covered. The nursing tank is beloved by most of our clients.
    • Planes are flying germ bags, so take a few antibacterial wipes in a baggy. Use them to wipe down the arms of your seat and the tray table.
    • Don't forget your hand sanitizer, you can get travel sizes. We don't have to tell you, but use frequently.
    • Try to nurse your baby or offer a few sips of breast milk by bottle when you are taking off and landing. Getting the baby to swallow helps reduce pressure in the ears. If the baby is sleeping, don't wake him.
    • Put drops of breast milk in eyes and nose repeatedly before and during the trip. This may help reduce the risk of the baby getting sick. It works like an antibiotic/antiviral! Good Stuff.
    • Ask for help! Getting your luggage through security, into the overheads, etc. can be a hassle. People feel good about themselves when they help others, so let 'em help.

  

 

 


ENJOY YOUR TRIP

Essential Breastfeeding Support and Baby Care Items
The Pump Station & Nurtury® has decades of experience providing new families with outstanding educational, breastfeeding and baby care support, including products and classes which can make all the difference to you and your baby. To see a list of some of the essential products that our Lactation Professionals have recommended, click Essential Breastfeeding and Baby Care Products

 


by Corky Harvey MS, RN, IBCLC, Co-Founder
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Is Your Baby Getting Enough to Eat?

Is Your Baby Getting Enough to Eat?

BABY

  • Nurses 8 to 12 times every 24 hours
  • Swallows at the breast
  • Has 6 or more wet diapers every 24 hours by day six
  • Has 3 or more yellow bowel movements every 24 hours by day six
  • Regains birth weight by two weeks
  • Is satisfied after most feedings

MOTHER

  • Notices engorgement, or swelling of the breasts, by day five
  • Does not have extremely sore nipples

The newly delivered mother has milk in her breasts in just the right amount to meet the needs of her baby. The first days after delivery, your baby will suckle frequently to feed on your early, high-powered milk called "colostrum." This is the perfect food for your newborn infant. Unlimited access to the breast these first days gets breastfeeding off to a positive start. Your milk volume will continue to increase over subsequent days in response to frequent feeding. Your baby does not need supplemental bottles of formula or glucose water at this time.

Your baby should rapidly progress to at least 8 to 12 feedings/24 hours. Infants occasionally have to be awakened for feedings during the first days or weeks. Once your baby's weight gain is established, waking should not be necessary. The length of feedings will vary greatly. Typically, babies have one 3-4 hour stretch of sleep and one 3-hour stretch of wakeful, fussy behavior (the marathon feed) every 24 hours. Initially, your baby may feed for only a few minutes, or linger as long as thirty minutes per breast. Let your baby set the pace; he/she will suck strongly with pauses between suckling bursts. Gradually suckling will slow down. Some babies need to use both breasts at feedings, while others are full after feeding on one breast. Alternate which breast you start on to equalize your milk production.

Between the third and fifth day, the volume of milk produced by a breastfeeding mother increases dramatically. At this time you will begin to perceive the filling of your breasts as the welcomed sign of "engorgement." This is due to an increase in the volume of your breast milk, as well as body fluids within your breast tissue. Your breasts may become hot, firm and uncomfortable with the onset of engorgement and you may feel body aches. This condition lasts only 24-48 hours, providing the baby is nursing well. Although the amount of engorgement varies from woman to woman, frequent nursing (every 2-3 hours or more) from birth helps reduce the swelling and tenderness. The more your baby nurses, the less engorgement you will experience. You can tell your baby is removing milk from your breast when you hear swallowing during feeding, and your breasts feel softer and less full after feeding.

Your baby's urine should be clear. Urine increases incrementally from 1 to 2 wet diapers on day one, to 6 or more wet diapers by day six. Although normal for the first two days, a reddish "brick dust" in the diaper after the second day may indicate that your baby is not getting enough milk. After day three, your baby's stool will change from dark meconium (viscous and sticky like tar usually dark green) to green/brown, then to mustard yellow. Yellow breast milk stools are loose and contain seedy curds. Your baby will progress from 1 to 4 stools a day for the first five days, moving to 3 or more stools every 24 hours from day six on.

Most babies lose 5 to 10% of their birth weight during the first days of life. This is normal and is due to the elimination of birth fluids and meconium. As your milk volume increases, your baby should start to gain 3/4 to 1 ounce every day and regain his/her birth weight by the end of the first two weeks. This weight gain pattern of 4 to 7 ounces per week should continue over the next 2 to 3 months.

Mild nipple tenderness at the beginning of each feed for a few days is normal. Severe pain or scabbed, bleeding nipples indicate your baby is not latched on correctly and may not be able to properly compress the areola (the dark area surrounding your nipple) to obtain milk. When properly latched on to your breast and compressing the areola, your baby should be taking enough milk. (see also Our Article on Deep Latch Technique

Human babies are designed to feed frequently. Breast milk is easily digested and can pass through your baby's tiny stomach within 48 to 90 minutes. Watch for indicators of hunger: hand-to-mouth movements, wiggling, stretching, tongue movements, noises and light sleep. Crying is a very late feeding cue, so don't wait for your baby to cry to let you know they are hungry. Feed frequently, as often as your baby desires. This assures adequate feeding and helps build up your supply. If you are still concerned, see your baby's doctor or bring your baby to The Pump Station. We can set up a lactation consultation and weight check your baby before and after feeding. Our Team of Lactation Professionals are board certified and can help and support you. We're prepared to answer questions about latching technique, nursing positions and any other questions. (see Store locations & hours)

 Breastfeeding Record  Breastfeeding Log example:
Date Time Left Breast Right Breast Wet Diapers Stools Comments
Essential Breastfeeding Support and Baby Care Items
The Pump Station & Nurtury® has decades of experience providing new families with outstanding educational, breastfeeding and baby care support, including products and classes which can make all the difference to you and your baby. To see a list of some of the essential products that our Lactation Professionals have recommended, click Essential Breastfeeding and Baby Care Products
Our Recommended Items
learn deep latch with Baby Care 101 DVD
Baby Care 101 DVD
Achieve better latch with Luna nursing pillow
Luna Lullaby Nursing Pillow
save extra milk with Haakaa manual hand pump
Haakaa Manual Pump
good latch with back pillow
The Pump Station Back Pillow
nursing position help with adjustable stool
My Brest Friend Adjustable Stool
easy travel diaper changes with disposable pads
Diposable Changing Pads

See Other Breastfeeding and Baby Care Help Topics

Copyright© 2017 by The Pump Station & Nurtury®. All rights reserved. No part of this handout may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, without permission in writing from The Pump Station & Nurtury®. This article has not been prepared by a physician, is not intended as medical advice, and is not a substitute for regular medical care. Consult with a physician if medical symptoms or problems occur. Revised 01/06

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Baby Wearing

Baby Wearing

Because it's important you do it safely.

Though it may seem like the latest fad in parenting, the concept of baby wearing is far from new. It has been practiced for centuries all around the world. For many, baby wearing is and always has been an important part of life. From the Native American with her cradle board, to the Chinese mother with her Mei Tai, each culture developed a way for a mother to carry her baby while allowing her hands to be free to perform the necessary tasks of daily life. Imagine being a mother in a nomadic tribe: there simply wasn't any such thing as a stroller. No one cautioned these mothers of the past that by wearing their babies they might be spoiling them or thwarting their need to develop independence. Fortunately, today we have research to support that the traditional ways were likely the best ways.

There are so many benefits to baby wearing that it is hard to cover them all in one handout. Here are our favorite reasons:

Happier, Healthier, Smarter, and Safer Babies

  • The gentle movement of baby wearing and closeness to a parent reminds a baby of being in the womb, creating a “back at home” feeling. This provides the baby with the needed warmth, heartbeat, smell, touch, and enfolding that immature humans need for the first months after birth.
  • Studies have shown that the more babies are held, the less they cry. Crying raises the level of a stress hormone called cortisol. Frequent and long exposure to cortisol may have lasting, negative effects on the immature brain. In cultures where babies are always carried, they cry for only a few minutes every day-in contrast to Western culture babies who cry much more.
  • A fussy, tired baby can be easily put to sleep when placed in a sling and taken for a walk. Babies sleep comfortably and for longer periods while being worn.
  • Babies who are worn smile more; have better social development and a better sense of self-esteem and independence.
  • Baby wearing decreases the risk of flat head syndrome that can result from too much time spent lying in a stroller, car seat, or crib. Worn babies also have less head lag and stronger neck and shoulder muscles.
  • Baby wearing makes it possible to go out with a baby without worrying about germs and unwanted contact.
  • Baby wearing lessens spitting up, colic, and reflux because of the upright position.
  • Baby wearing stimulates the vestibular system, helping the baby develop balance and trunk and head control.
  • Baby wearing allows the baby to be an active participant in the walking, talking, laughing, movement and working of parents. This promotes better neurological development, brain growth, and right/left brain hemisphere connectedness for better brain function.
  • Babies who are worn are at the center of activity rather than the center of attention. This helps develop empathy and a healthy sense of self.
  • Carried babies develop a strong and secure attachment to their moms and dads (grandparents and caregivers can also participate in baby wearing). Attachment is not a parenting style, but a necessity for development of normal mental health.
  • Babies in carriers are safer; they are always with you and always in sight.
  • If a parent stumbles or falls while baby wearing, they are less likely to drop the baby or cause serious injury then if the baby were being held in their arms.

Happier and Healthier Parents

  • Baby wearing allows parents to have two free hands while providing security for their infants.
  • Parents will have more time to answer emails, make dinner, care for and play with an older child, and go for walks if they wear their baby.
  • Fathers who wear their baby can share in the nurturing and enjoy a greater opportunity to bond.
  • Baby wearing increases parental sensitivity to a baby's needs and enhances a parent's confidence in their parenting skills as they learn to read their baby's cues. Parents become finely attuned to a baby's gestures, facial expressions, and cries, allowing a baby to better communicate without crying.
  • A mom who wears her baby can learn to nurse discreetly and have a greater sense of freedom.
  • Baby wearing allows parents to care for and play with older children without feeling like they are neglecting the baby.
  • Baby carriers and slings are more convenient than strollers in crowded places, airports, and public places.
  • By carrying the baby a parent can get more exercise and have the added benefit of "weightlifting."

Learning to wear your baby has a definite learning curve, so please don't give up. It does take practice. Parents pour through the doors to hone their baby wearing skills, learning different techniques for each type of sling and for each stage of their baby's life. If this service doesn't exist in your area, find someone who is already good at it and have them teach you. Even approaching a stranger in the super market who seems to have a handle on baby wearing may prove to be a great contact. Don't expect the baby to calm the minute you get him or her into the carrier. Incorporate known calming techniques such as swinging, bouncing, walking, jiggling, and shushing to help your baby settle into the carrier. It will soon feel like second nature and the baby will learn that the carrier is the best place to be.

 

Essential Breastfeeding Support and Baby Care Items
The Pump Station & Nurtury® has decades of experience providing new families with outstanding educational, breastfeeding and baby care support, including products and classes which can make all the difference to you and your baby. To see a list of some of the essential products that Corky and Wendy have recommended, click Essential Breastfeeding and Baby Care Products

 


See Other Parenting and Baby Care Help Topics

Copyright© 2011 by The Pump Station & Nurtury®. All rights reserved. No part of this handout may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, without permission in writing from The Pump Station & Nurtury® Revised 03/18
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When to Seek Professional Breastfeeding Help

When to Seek Professional Breastfeeding Help
Producing breastmilk is natural, but the art of latching a baby to the breast is learned. Sometimes what is supposed to come easily doesn't, and sometimes a breastfeeding problem occurs after you are discharged from the hospital. You may want to consider seeking breastfeeding help if these symptoms occur. Continue reading

Plugged Ducts & Mastitis

Plugged Ducts & Mastitis

What is a Plugged Milk Duct?

A plugged milk duct or clogged milk duct usually feels like a hard, tender swelling in the breast which can vary in size from a pea to a peach and may feel painful while breastfeeding. The skin over the affected area may be red and the area around the plug may feel full even after a feeding. Sometimes a small

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Why is Breastfeeding Important?

Why is Breastfeeding Important?

The benefits of breastfeeding have been well documented. Though it is most apparent during infancy, these benefits have enduring effects that promote optimal health throughout the life of the breastfed baby and his mother. Human milk is a complex, living substance with numerous disease-fighting and health-promoting ingredients; it is a complete infant support-system that provides both nutrition and protection. Breast milk contains immune molecules called antibodies that destroy germs. The mother's immune system makes these antibodies and they constantly adapt. When a baby or mother is exposed to a new germ, the mother's immune cells are activated and manufacture antibodies to combat that specific germ. These antibodies and disease-fighting cells will quickly appear in the milk and the mother will pass them to her baby at the next feeding. There are hundreds of human milk components that interact synergistically to both nourish and protect infants and young children. On the other hand, infant formula provides nutrition only: it has no benefit to the baby beyond basic nutrition.

Breastfeeding benefits women as well. Some of the benefits are long lasting and appear to remain with mothers for years after they have weaned their last child.

Benefits for Baby
  • Breastfed babies have fewer colds, respiratory infections, ear infections, and occurrences of influenza.
  • Breastfeeding is good for the digestive tract. Babies who are formula-fed are sixteen times more likely to have diarrhea than breastfed babies. Breastfeeding may protect against Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and celiac disease.
  • Exclusively breastfeeding for at least three months reduces the risk of juvenile diabetes (Type I) by up to 30%. It also reduces the risk of developing late onset or Type II diabetes.
  • Evidence suggests breastfed babies are less likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease as adults.
  • Breastfed infants have fewer childhood cancers and baby girls will have less chance of contracting breast and ovarian cancer as adults.
  • Because breastfed babies get sick less often, there will be fewer doctor and hospital visits and less money spent on antibiotics and other medications.
  • Breastfeeding for more than four months reduces the risk of hospitalization for a respiratory infection by 72%.
  • Even when a breastfed baby gets sick, the illness is usually less severe and lasts a shorter time than the same illness in a baby not receiving mother's milk.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding lowers the risk of food allergies, asthma, eczema, and skin rashes.
  • Breast milk contains high levels of certain fats that are required to support brain and nerve growth. Breastfed children have higher IQs, better developed neurological systems, and sharper vision.
  • Breastfeeding promotes strong attachment. The act of breastfeeding insures that a baby will be in his mother's arms many times every day; in fact a breastfed baby is touched and held almost twice as much as a formula-fed infant. Attachment is not a parenting style, but a biological necessity for normal mental health and optimal brain development.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to develop adult obesity. The longer the baby is breastfed the lower the obesity risk. Breastfed infants regulate their intake according to their caloric needs and actually control their mothers' milk production.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by 38%. One theory suggests that because breastfed babies sleep less deeply, they are more likely to arouse if having breathing difficulty. Breastfeeding's protection from infection may also help lower the risk of SIDS.
  • Breastfeeding results in earlier development of an infant's immune system.
  • Breastfeeding helps to develop mouth and facial muscles.

Benefits for Mother

  • Breastfeeding enhances attachment. Every time a mom nurses her baby, she releases the hormone oxytocin. This hormone not only causes a mother to release her milk (the milk ejection or let-down reflex), but it makes her fall in love with her baby. It has been dubbed the "mothering" hormone.
  • Oxytocin also provides another of breastfeeding's great benefits: protecting women's mental health. Oxytocin down-regulates stress. The effects of constantly lowering stress during breastfeeding persist long past weaning.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Breast cancer risk is reduced by 4.3 % for each year that a woman breastfeeds, and each additional pregnancy reduces the risk by 7 %-a decrease of as much as 60%. This benefit is dose-related and cumulative: the longer a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk of developing breast cancer. The reasons for this reduced cancer risk are still unclear and complex, but new evidence points to the cycling history of mammary cells. The cycle of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and weaning may be important for the health of the breast. Weaning completes the cycle. Lower estrogen levels during breastfeeding may contribute to the decreased risk of both breast and ovarian cancer. Women who do not breast feed have a 1.5-fold increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of osteoporosis. New mothers experience a loss in bone density during the early months of breastfeeding; but as their fertility returns, their bones act like sponges, absorbing extra calcium. This results in greater bone density and stronger bones. Women who do not breastfeed have a four times higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Breastfeeding helps mothers lose weight. Making milk for one baby requires approximately 500 hundred calories a day. Weight loss during the first year after birth is significantly greater in women who breastfeed as compared to those women who do not. The greatest weight loss takes place between three and six months post partum.
  • Women who breastfeed have a lowered risk of developing metabolic syndrome which is characterized by diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. A recent theory suggests that breastfeeding reverses changes that occur in a woman's body during pregnancy. These changes are increased fat stores, elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, and increased insulin resistance. In other words, during pregnancy women develop mild metabolic syndrome. Breastfeeding can actually reset these changes.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months can delay the return of ovulation and reduce the chance of conception.
  • Breastfeeding moms experience improved sleep and relaxation. Evidence shows that breastfeeding women fall asleep more quickly and actually get more sleep.
  • Breastfeeding encourages normal uterine contractions that not only control post partum bleeding, but return the uterus to the pre-pregnant state more rapidly than in non-breastfeeding mothers.
  • Breastfeeding saves time. It is readily available, just the right temperature, and won't be contaminated or improperly mixed.
  • Breastfeeding mothers will miss fewer workdays because their babies are less likely to be sick.

Benefits for Dad

  • Breastfeeding is cheaper. The cost of formula is $1,200-$1,800 a year. Other costs of not breastfeeding are:
    • More doctors office visit and more hospitalizations.
    • More need for antibiotics and other medication.
  • Dads do not have to get up at night-although help is very appreciated, especially in the early weeks.
  • Breastfed babies' stools are less offensive than formula stools.
  • Dads feel satisfied knowing their baby is receiving the best possible food that will enable their children to achieve optimal health.

Benefits for the World

Breastfeeding is Green. Increased breastfeeding would decrease health care costs worldwide. The US could save $13 billion each year on medical costs if 90% of women nursed their infants exclusively for the first six months. This estimate is based solely on the decreased cost of the care of babies, and does not include savings for the decreased health care costs of the nursing mothers.

Essential Breastfeeding Support and Baby Care Items
The Pump Station & Nurtury® has decades of experience providing new families with outstanding educational, breastfeeding and baby care support, including products and classes which can make all the difference to you and your baby. To see a list of some of the essential products that our Lactation Professionals have recommended, click Essential Breastfeeding and Baby Care Products

 


See Other Breastfeeding and Baby Care Help Topics

 

Copyright© 2013 by The Pump Station & Nurtury®. All rights reserved. No part of this handout may be reproduced in any form without permission from The Pump Station & Nurtury®. This article has not been prepared by a physician, is not intended as medical advice, and is not a substitute for regular medical care. Consult with a physician if medical symptoms or problems occur.

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Overactive Let-Down

Overactive Let-Down

The ability to produce enough milk is a common concern among breastfeeding mothers. The lack of proper education, no role models, and the loss of breastfeeding as a cultural norm, have contributed to the myth that women might have insufficient milk supplies. When, in fact, almost all women are capable of producing adequate volumes of milk for their babies. But how much is too much? And what should you do if you have overactive let-down!

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Shouting "Fire" in a Room of Scientists

Shouting "Fire" in a Room of Scientists

 

Originally posted on Huffington Post By Melissa Bartick, MD, MSc and Briana Jegier, PhD

If you want to grab news headlines, all you have to do is say "breastfeeding has no effect on child well-being." It's like shouting "fire" in a crowded movie theater. You create a Jerry Springer spectacle of moms fighting other mothers about who is doing best for their children. But that's not the truth about who women are, or what science has to say to say about breastfeeding.

This week, a widely reported sibling study by Colen and Ramey ("Breast-feeding benefits appear to be overstated, according to study of siblings." see below) concluded that breastfeeding has "no effect" on "child well-being." But, what's the truth here? To start with, there have been thousands of studies on breastfeeding and health outcomes, and the best and most effectively designed studies available today demonstrate that breastfeeding changes health risks for mothers and children. Strong evidence exists for a relationship between breastfeeding and SIDS, necrotizing enterocolitis (a deadly disease of premature infants), hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections, ear infections, diarrhea, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and acute leukemia. Several of these diseases have significant mortality rates and huge economic costs for families, the healthcare system, and society at large. But this study looked at only two physical diseases, asthma and obesity.

Thus, for the authors to conclude that breastfeeding has "no effect on child well-being" is a gross overstatement and is overtly false.

There are some great summaries on the state of breastfeeding research from reputable organizations available online including the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), that provide information on the extent to which breastfeeding changes risks for mothers and children. These are risks across the population, but they do not guarantee a particular outcome for any individual baby or mother. Some of those risk changes are small and some are quite large which is why it is so important to educate parents-to-be so that they truly can make an informed decision.

This new study looked at over 1700 siblings where one child was breastfed and the other was not, and followed them over time. In addition to asthma and obesity, this study looked at intelligence, behavioral compliance, and parental attachment. However, the study was problematic from inception because the definition of "breastfed" used was problematic -- a breastfed child in the study may have breastfed for as little as one day, or may have breastfed for as long as several years. For purposes of the study, both were treated the same. We know, however, for most conditions, the duration and intensity of breastfeeding is very important to health outcomes.

Although the authors concluded that breastfeeding had no effect, their results actually showed the opposite. From a statistics point of view, all children in the study who were ever breastfed did statistically better than all children who were not, with the exception of asthma. When they looked within siblings where one was ever breastfed and one was not, children who were ever breastfed still did better, including asthma, but the differences were not statistically significant (in other words the better differences between siblings could simply be chance).

Even the conclusion on the intelligence in this study is opposite the most powerful study to date on breastfeeding and IQ, the Promotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial (PROBIT study). This study was the gold-standard in study design, a randomized controlled trial in Belarus between hospitals and clinics that implemented supportive breastfeeding policies and those that did not, therefore eliminating the issues of other environmental factors. Infants in the intervention group had significant increases in intelligence compared to the control group, despite the fact that less than half of the intervention infants were exclusively breastfed for three months.

Another problematic area in this study is that it assumes that siblings would have the same experience and environment, which is a pretty large leap. Context and environment might change the mother's perception of her ability to breastfeed. Thus, the premise any differences between siblings may not be due to breastfeeding, but may be due to the same factors that influenced the mother's feeding choice. Further, the authors assume that a healthier child might be the child who is selected by the mother to breastfeed. However from practice, the opposite is actually more likely because so much education and effort is aimed at supporting mothers who have less healthy children to breastfeed, especially mothers of preterm and low birth weight children.

Despite this study's absurd conclusion that breastfeeding does not impact child well-being, it does raise some important questions about what the focus of the breastfeeding conversation should be, namely breastfeeding disparities. We should really be focusing on the fact that some mothers perceive that they cannot breastfeed for preventable reasons like lack of evidence-based education about breastfeeding, unfriendly family policies in workplaces and schools, and unpaid family leave. These problems are ones that have solutions, though not all of them easy, that would allow each family to make the informed decision on how to feed their baby based on the health impact rather than these preventable and discriminatory barriers.

We need to shift the conversation from whether breastfeeding is good or not, to ways to level the playing field for all Americans with policies like offering paid sick leave and paid maternity leave through insurance (the FAMILY Act now in Congress), and support for working mothers so that they can continue to breastfeed (like through the Support for Working Mothers Act, or SWMA, now in Congress). These kinds of bills will make us a stronger, healthier, and more productive nation, and reduce the growing gap between rich and poor that is eroding our civilized society.



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