Mama Knows Breast

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Breast feeding Videos

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Welcome to my new weekly feature…The Boob Tube…or You Boob.
We’ve all been hearing a lot about YouTube lately, you know the company that Google bought for $1.65 billion.
To see what all the fuss was about, I checked out YouTube, and did a test. I did a search for “breast feeding” videos and found 72 clips. They range from home movies to television commercials. Some are funny, some are serious. And so, starting today, I’ll do a YouTube breastfeeding video of the week.
To kick things off, I’ll salute my inner francophile and show you a clip of a breastfeeding commercial from the 1970′s. Click here to see the clip.
Now my French is not so great, but here’s a rough translation:
Gesture of love, Promise of health, Give them your milk, To feed better is to live better.
Wouldn’t it be a different world if we had commercials like this on the TV in the U.S?!?! And by all means, if your French comprehension is better than mine, please let me know!

Baby Einsteins?

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Have you ever tried to actually read an article printed in a medical journal? I’ve had to do it more than a few times…while working as a reporter, and now, while researching my book, “Mama Knows Breast.” Personally, I find that reading the results of a scientific study is an exercise in skimming and extreme concentration. I’m not a doctor. I don’t play one on TV, and the last science class I took was aptly nicknamed “Physics for Poets.” Science is not my forte. Just give me the bottom line.
Anyway, I just read the latest study that examined the possibility of a link between breastfeeding and intelligence. And here’s the study’s conclusion: “Breast feeding has little or no effect on intelligence in children. While breast feeding has many advantages for the child and mother, enhancement of the child’s intelligence is unlikely to be among them.”
The study was published today in the British Medical Journal, BMJ. Here’s a link. The study notes that since 1929, other researchers have found that children who were breastfed had higher IQ’s. But this new study says some of the earlier research is flawed because it did not consider the mother’s IQ as a factor. Basically, the study published today says that kids inherit their IQ; they don’t get it from breastfeeding.
The authors write, “Children who were breast fed had mothers with higher IQ and with more education and who were older, less likely to be in poverty or to smoke, and more likely to provide a stimulating and supportive home environment.” In other words, the kids were smart because their moms were smart, not because they were breastfed.
As the headline from a Medpage story put it, “Children Inhert IQ From Mom’s Brains; Not Her Milk.” For more news stories on this research, you can go to WebMd, MSNBC, or the CBC.
So why don’t I groove on reading scientific articles? Is it because my mom breastfed me for six months and not longer? I doubt it. I simply didn’t get the math or science gene in the family. It went to my brother, the neurologist. And he got less breastmilk than I did.

Yom Kippur, Fasting and Breastfeeding

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I am not good at fasting. I can barely go three hours without eating or drinking something. If I don’t eat, I get cranky and tired. So Yom Kippur, or the Jewish Day of Atonement, is always a challenge. One year, in fact, I actually got sick from not eating.
Last year I was pregnant and I didn’t feel well so I didn’t fast. Jewish law actually says you do not need to fast if you are ill. So what is the answer for breastfeeding moms? Are you required by Jewish law to fast?
I should state that I’m Reform; in other words, I’m flexible about my religious life. If I was Orthodox, or Conservative, I would probably know the answer to this question about fasting and breastfeeding right up front. Or I would have asked a Rabbi, family member or friend. In my case, I’ve turned to the internet. Bottom line, it seems that Jewish law says that both pregnant and breastfeeding women should fast unless their health, or the baby’s health, would be at risk.
Here is a good site with an explanation as well as guidelines on how to fast while breastfeeding. Nishmat: The Jerusalem Center for Advanced Jewish Study for Women.
Another source of information is Kellymom.
As always, make an informed decision. And if you do refrain from eating, have an easy fast.

Happy Meal

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There are certain meals you’ll always remember. Both good and bad. Good– lobsters from a Maine clamshack; steak frites from a fancy New York restaurant. Bad– salmon croquettes and something I ate that landed me in the ER. So how about the kids? We all know they develop refined food preferences pretty quickly.
As for the Titty Bear, he just had his very first meal that was OTB, or “off the boob.” He reached the six month milestone and so it was time for some rice cereal. The Bortski (our two year old) actually had his first rice cereal at four months. But since then, the pediatrician’s recommendations for first solids have changed. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends exclusive breastfeeding (ie. NOTHING, but breastmilk) for the first six months. So, that’s what we did this time around.
The Titty Bear turned six months a couple of weeks ago, but it took me a little while to get the stars aligned for his big culinary adventure. First we had to get the thumbs up from the pediatrician, then I wanted to give him a couple of days to get over his shots, then we were traveling to visit relatives. Once things settled down, it was time to set him up in the high chair.
Day 1, Attempt 1: After a very sleep deprived night (but that’s another story altogether), stumble into kitchen blinking in bright lights. Bortski is already seated “like a growm-up” at the table with DaDa having oatmeal. Wrangle the Titty Bear into the high chair. Bortski immediately wants back into the high chair. Go figure. Pour rice cereal into bowl. Add water. Notice an odd looking brown clump. Dump the mixture in the sink. Start to pour another bowl. Think twice. Dump the whole box of cereal in the trash.
Day 1, Attempt 2: Now we’re cooking. Bortski is fine about ceding his throne to the Titty Bear. In fact, he is wearing a paper crown he got at an arts and crafts class at a book store. “I’m a Prince,” he says, from his seat at the table. Titty Bear starts to suck on the high chair tray. Make the rice mixture. Put spoon to his mouth. Titty Bear looks shocked. Offended even. He starts to shake. Is something seriously wrong? Determine he is fine. Continue feeding. “I ate the whole thing!”
Day 2: The Titty Bear loves it. Cereal is all over his face. His hands. He tries to pick up the bowl. Afterwards, flat out refuses to breastfeed. Do we have a problem here?
Day 3: Not so interested.
Day 4. I think this thing is working. Titty Bear eats his cereal. Breastfeeds to wash it down. And promptly takes a nap. Still sleeping 2+ hours later. Go check that he’s still breathing.
So will the Titty Bear remember these very first meals? If he’s anything like the Bortski, some day he’ll look at the rice cereal and say “blech.” But just in case, I have pictures to show him how much he loved it. Now, if I could just get this crusty mess out of my hair.

Letters to The New York Times

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You may recall the recent New York Times story about how hard it is for working moms to breastfeed, especially moms who don’t have “white collar” jobs. As the article pointed out, white collar workers have an easier time pumping because they often have privates offices or even designated lactation rooms. “Blue collar” workers often find their jobs incompatible with breastfeeding, and their employers unsupportive. ( I wrote about this story on September 4).
These Letters to the Editor reaffirm the primary point of the article. They emphasize the need for employers, and even the government, to foster an environment that makes it easier to pump, or even breastfeed, at work.

Breastfeeding Linked to Reduced Bedwetting

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Ok, so just when you thought that they couldn’t come up with another study showing the benefits of breastfeeding, here’s one for you. Breastfeed kids are less likely to wet their beds. That’s the news according to a study done by researchers at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital’s children’s hospital and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Here’s the story.

Comments on the NYT Breastfeeding Article

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A couple of weeks ago the NYT ran a big article about the benefits of breastfeeding. The article focused on a government public health campaign to promote breastfeeding. Conversations about the article and the campaign now continue on the internet. “Breast-feed or Else” was the article’s title. Now NYT blogger Judith Warner has written an entry “Why Vilify Mothers Who Bottle-Feed?” Check out the more than one hundred comments to her blog entry.

Another Breastfeeding Benefit–Preventing Obesity

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Breatfed babies are less likely to put on extra weight. That’s the latest from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here’s The New York Times story.

Government Ad Campaign Encourages Breastfeeding

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The government is encouraging mothers to breastfeed with an aggressive advertising campaign. The Department of Health and Human Services’ ads suggest that not breastfeeding is actually dangerous to your baby’s health. One of the television ads shows a pregnant woman clutching her stomach while riding a mechanical bull in a bar. The suggestion…its risky to ride a bull, and risky to give your baby formula. The slogan of the campaign…Babies Were Born to Be Breastfed.
Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa is going one step further. He has proposed putting warning labels on cans of infant formula. Here’s an article about this from The New York Times, as well as a Today Show segment that has clips from the television commercials.

World Health Organization Releases New Standards for Kids’ Growth

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The World Health Organization has released a new study that gives guidance on how every child in the world should grow. These new standards, which are based on kids who were breastfed, show that growth is influenced more by nutrition and healthcare than by genetics or ethnicity. Here’s the press release from the WHO.