Friday, September 01, 2006
Doctors firmly believe that breast milk is something of a magic elixir for babies, sharply reducing the rate of infection, and quite possibly reducing the risk of allergies, obesity, and chronic disease later in life.
The "sharply reducing" is not an accurate characterization. A better term would be "slightly reduces," at least when it comes to infections and allergies. For obesity and chronic disease, a better term would be "theoretically."
But for lower-income mothers — including many who work in restaurants, factories, call centers and the military — pumping at work is close to impossible, causing many women to decline to breast-feed at all, and others to quit after a short time.
It is a particularly literal case of how well-being tends to beget further well-being, and disadvantage tends to create disadvantage — passed down in a mother’s milk, or lack thereof.
One would think we were living in the age of Les Miserable. Does anyone but the most strident La Leche League activist seriously think formula fed children are at a measurable lifelong disadvantage?
Breast feeding, it seems, should even take precedence over airline security:
Dr. Ruth Lawrence, a member of the committee on breastfeeding at the American Academy of Pediatrics, said: “If this rule is going to continue, the airlines need to provide some sort of alternative that will allow a mother to safely bring home her pumped milk. If it’s a working mom, she needs every drop of that precious golden fluid for her baby when she can’t be there.”
There's a guilt trip for you. Who wouldn't feel bad about depriving their child of that "precious golden fluid?" Do doctors in high places ever stop to think of the effect their hyperbole has on ordinary people?
Judging by the comments, most people buy into this idea that breast milk isn't just the best option, it's the only option. Except for this lone voice of reason:
I don’t get why all of this is a big deal. I breast fed three babies, each for more than a year, never took off from work and never pumped. They got formula when I was at work and the rest of the time, including in public and all through the night, they breast fed.
Formula isn’t poison. The point isn’t to avoid babies getting it but to make sure that they do get breast milk with all the antibodies, etc. What is the point of making things a bigger hassle for women than it has to be? I did what was easiest and cheapest.
P.S. This is a gem, buried deep in the article:
Wealthier women can spend their way out of work-versus-pumping dilemmas, overnighting milk home from business trips and buying $300 pumps that extract milk quickly, along with gizmos that allow them, in what seems like a parody of maternal multitasking, to pump while driving to and from work.
Just don't try it with a real baby.
P.P.S: The historical reference to wet nursing in France in the "Les Miserable" link came from this wondrous collection of history links.
posted by Sydney on 9/01/2006 09:10:00 PM 1 comments
By 8:25 PM, at