Saturday, March 26, 2011

Breast is Best or when Bottle is Better...

First of all, let me say that I am a huge fan of breastfeeding. If a woman wants to breastfeed, she should have all the support and encouragement she needs and wants. I breastfed my children for as long as possible. Neither child made it to the magic "first year" nursing. One quit at 9 months (she would take a bottle, but much preferred being an adult and using a cup), the other, who decided that nursing was the cause of her ear pain (not the raging ear infection she had, with NO symptoms), quit at 6 months. (I tried for 3 days to get her to nurse...latch her on in her sleep, nope. She would awaken and scream, even after the ear infection was gone.)

Breast milk, of course, is meant to be fed to babies. Studies have shown that breastmilk changes as a baby grows, and that the breastmilk made by a mother who delivers prematurely is different from that made by a term mother. And as the baby grows, breastmilk changes to support the baby's needs.

Although women are "born" to breastfeed - we almost all have the right equipment (breasts, nipples, milk ducts), some women don't. Genetics plays a part in an ability to breast feed and throughout history, women who have been unable to nurse have found substitutes. Milk nurses, bottles, a friendly lactating cow, goat, whatever...all through history you will find women who couldn't breastfeed due to physical issues. And that is not counting the women who can't nurse due to starvation, illness or injury.

So, what about women who CAN breastfeed but don't? Are they failing their children? Are their children any different than breastfed children?

A patient of mine, long ago, told us at her very first prenatal visit that she did not want to breastfeed. In our practice, we remained non-judgmental, as we did with all our clients. All clients were given information about breastfeeding benefits. This client steadfastly refused to even look at the literature. Late in her pregnancy she confided that she had been sexually abused as a young girl, and having her breasts touched by anyone made her physically ill. She would not even allow her husband to see or touch her breasts. For this woman, bottlefeeding was definitely better for her and her baby. As we told her, better a happy bottle-feeding mother/baby pair, then a baby who senses with every breastfed meal that his/her mother hates what is happening.

Other women, without the problems of this woman, also choose to bottle feed. The reasons are many - convenience, family pressure, need to work in an environment where continuing nursing is not possible. Unfortunately, these women are often condemned by the "all natural, all the time" mothers.

So, what is your attitude? What have you experienced? And how can we promote breast is best and not neglect those women for whom bottle IS better?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I had a (mother) who read to me...

Well, sorry for the break but I've not been quite my usual self so blogging got put by the wayside until I had some energy.

I've been thinking about baby gifts, because I have friends who are expecting. Usually I give them copies of books. "Good Night Moon" and "The Runaway Bunny" are most common, but if I know they have those books, any books that catch my eye. I almost always give copies of the cardboard types, so the babies may enjoy the books and mom and dad don't have to worry about torn pages.

I have to admit, I am a bookworm of the first order. My husband has often threatened to leave me if I bring home ONE more book (he hasn't left yet, BTW...). But I do have books and books and books. So do my children. I fully believe that kids have the right to own books, their own books - that they choose, read, mutilate, whatever.

From baby-time on, either my husband or I read nightly to our children. Early on, the books were the traditional - "Pat the Bunny", "Good Night Moon", "The Runaway Bunny". We had bought several of the cardboard-type books at one of the big superstores and the children both loved being read those books and being allowed to "read" them whenever they wanted.

Our eldest caused quite a fuss one night. I was at work and she was demanding that her father read 'hush book' to her. Unfortunately, he hadn't a clue what she meant. He finally called me at work, and I told him that she wanted "Good Night Moon" - her version of the title was due to the fact that I always emphasized the word hush when reading the sentence "...the quiet old lady whispering hush..."

Later on, we wandered into other books. We read Beatrix Potter (and had some beautiful VHS tapes of the books; unfortunately who has VHS any more? We still have the tapes). We read Dr Seuss. I don't know when my children learned to read but I know that it was well before school age. We also belonged, for a while, to one of those "Children's Book of the Month" Clubs and got some very charming books that way. Unfortunately, the children grew but the age of the club's reading material didn't, so eventually we dropped the club.

Books were never forbidden to the children. If they wanted to read them, they could. If they got bored or disliked the book, they put them back. The only requirement was that they handled it with care.

Reading material was never censored, either. Babysitter's Club books (all types), Goosebumps, American Girl, Alcott, Tamara Pierce, Caroline Cooney, Nora Roberts, J.D. Robb, Tolkien, J.K Rowling...whatever they wanted to read, they could. I found new authors from them and they learned new authors from me. We discussed books and events. Fiction, nonfiction, graphic books (there was a period when it seemed we owned every manga book on earth), they were all allowed.

So...reading material. What do you read to your kids? What do you allow them to read? Do you have trouble with getting your kids to read? Do they like to read or hate it?