Forums  •  Classifieds  •  Events  •  Directory

 
Page 1 of 5 123 ... LastLast

If this doesn't describe the Hong Kong mom scene...

  1. #1
    MLBW Guest

    If this doesn't describe the Hong Kong mom scene...

    ...I don't know what does. (at least with the expat moms)

    Case Against Breastfeeding

  2. #2
    MLBW Guest
    There are so many good quotes from this article but the "meat" of the article is below, I think plus quotes that I absolutely love at the bottom.

    "...An ideal study would randomly divide a group of mothers, tell one half to breast-feed and the other not to, and then measure the outcomes. But researchers cannot ethically tell mothers what to feed their babies. Instead they have to settle for ?observational? studies. These simply look for differences in two populations, one breast-fed and one not. The problem is, breast-fed infants are typically brought up in very different families from those raised on the bottle. In the U.S., breast-feeding is on the rise?69 percent of mothers initiate the practice at the hospital, and 17 percent nurse exclusively for at least six months. But the numbers are much higher among women who are white, older, and educated; a woman who attended college, for instance, is roughly twice as likely to nurse for six months. Researchers try to factor out all these ?confounding variables? that might affect the babies? health and development. But they still can?t know if they?ve missed some critical factor. ?Studies about the benefits of breast-feeding are extremely difficult and complex because of who breast-feeds and who doesn?t,? says Michael Kramer, a highly respected researcher at McGill University. ?There have been claims that it prevents everything?cancer, diabetes. A reasonable person would be cautious about every new amazing discovery.?

    The study about obesity I saw in my pediatrician?s office that morning is a good example of the complexity of breast-feeding research?and of the pitfalls it contains. Some studies have found a link between nursing and slimmer kids, but they haven?t proved that one causes the other. This study surveyed 2,685 children between the ages of 3 and 5. After adjusting for race, parental education, maternal smoking, and other factors?all of which are thought to affect a child?s risk of obesity?the study found little correlation between breast-feeding and weight. Instead, the strongest predictor of the child?s weight was the mother?s. Whether obese mothers nursed or used formula, their children were more likely to be heavy. The breast-feeding advocates? dream?that something in the milk somehow reprograms appetite?is still a long shot.

    In the past decade, researchers have come up with ever more elaborate ways to tease out the truth. One 2005 paper focused on 523 sibling pairs who were fed differently, and its results put a big question mark over all the previous research. The economists Eirik Evenhouse and Siobhan Reilly compared rates of diabetes, asthma, and allergies; childhood weight; various measures of mother-child bonding; and levels of intelligence. Almost all the differences turned out to be statistically insignificant. For the most part, the ?long-term effects of breast feeding have been overstated,? they wrote.

    Nearly all the researchers I talked to pointed me to a series of studies designed by Kramer, published starting in 2001. Kramer followed 17,000 infants born in Belarus throughout their childhoods. He came up with a clever way to randomize his study, at least somewhat, without doing anything unethical. He took mothers who had already started nursing, and then subjected half of them to an intervention strongly encouraging them to nurse exclusively for several months. The intervention worked: many women nursed longer as a result. And extended breast-feeding did reduce the risk of a gastrointestinal infection by 40 percent. This result seems to be consistent with the protection that sIgA provides; in real life, it adds up to about four out of 100 babies having one less incident of diarrhea or vomiting. Kramer also noted some reduction in infant rashes. Otherwise, his studies found very few significant differences: none, for instance, in weight, blood pressure, ear infections, or allergies?some of the most commonly cited benefits in the breast-feeding literature.

    Both the Kramer study and the sibling study did turn up one interesting finding: a bump in ?cognitive ability? among breast-fed children. But intelligence is tricky to measure, because it?s subjective and affected by so many factors. Other recent studies, particularly those that have factored out the mother?s IQ, have found no difference at all between breast-fed and formula-fed babies. In Kramer?s study, the mean scores varied widely and mysteriously from clinic to clinic. What?s more, the connection he found ?could be banal,? he told me?simply the result of ?breast-feeding mothers? interacting more with their babies, rather than of anything in the milk.?

    The IQ studies run into the central problem of breast-feeding research: it is impossible to separate a mother?s decision to breast-feed?and everything that goes along with it?from the breast-feeding itself. Even sibling studies can?t get around this problem. With her first child, for instance, a mother may be extra cautious, keeping the neighbor?s germy brats away and slapping the nurse who gives out the free formula sample. By her third child, she may no longer breast-feed?giving researchers the sibling comparison that they crave?but many other things may have changed as well. Maybe she is now using day care, exposing the baby to more illnesses. Surely she is not noticing that kid No.2 has the baby?s pacifier in his mouth, or that the cat is sleeping in the crib (trust me on this one). She is also not staring lovingly into the baby?s eyes all day, singing songs, reading book after infant book, because she has to make sure that the other two kids are not drowning each other in the tub. On paper, the three siblings are equivalent, but their experiences are not.

    What does all the evidence add up to? We have clear indications that breast-feeding helps prevent an extra incident of gastrointestinal illness in some kids?an unpleasant few days of diarrhea or vomiting, but rarely life-threatening in developed countries. We have murky correlations with a whole bunch of long-term conditions. The evidence on IQs is intriguing but not all that compelling, and at best suggests a small advantage, perhaps five points; an individual kid?s IQ score can vary that much from test to test or day to day. If a child is disadvantaged in other ways, this bump might make a difference. But for the kids in my playground set, the ones whose mothers obsess about breast-feeding, it gets lost in a wash of Baby Einstein videos, piano lessons, and the rest. And in any case, if a breast-feeding mother is miserable, or stressed out, or alienated by nursing, as many women are, if her marriage is under stress and breast-feeding is making things worse, surely that can have a greater effect on a kid?s future success than a few IQ points.

    So overall, yes, breast is probably best. But not so much better that formula deserves the label of ?public health menace,? alongside smoking. Given what we know so far, it seems reasonable to put breast-feeding?s health benefits on the plus side of the ledger and other things?modesty, independence, career, sanity?on the minus side, and then tally them up and make a decision. But in this risk-averse age of parenting, that?s not how it?s done....

    In 2004, the Department of Health and Human Services launched the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign. The ads came out just after my second child was born, and were so odious that they nearly caused me to wean him on the spot. One television ad shows two hugely pregnant women in a logrolling contest, with an audience egging them on. ?You wouldn?t take risks before your baby is born,? reads the caption. ?Why start after?? The screen then flashes: ?Breastfeed exclusively for 6 months.? A second spot shows a pregnant woman?this time African American?riding a mechanical bull in a bar while trying to hold on to her huge belly. She falls off the bull and the crowd moans.

    To convey the idea that failing to breast-feed is harmful to a baby?s health, the print ads show ordinary objects arranged to look like breasts: two dandelions (respiratory illness), two scoops of ice cream with cherries on top (obesity), two otoscopes (ear infections). Plans were made to do another ad showing rubber nipples on top of insulin syringes (suggesting that bottle-feeding causes diabetes), but then someone thought better of it. The whole campaign is so knowing, so dripping with sexual innuendo and condescension, that it brings to mind nothing so much as an episode of Mad Men, where Don Draper and the boys break out the whiskey at day?s end to toast another victory over the enemy sex.

    What?s most amazing is how, 50 years after La Leche League?s founding, ?enlightenment from the laboratory??judgmental and absolutist?has triumphed again. The seventh edition of The Womanly Art, published in 2004, has ballooned to more than 400 pages, and is filled with photographs in place of the original hand drawings. But what?s most noticeable is the shift in attitude. Each edition of the book contains new expert testimony about breast milk as an ?arsenal against illness.? ?The resistance to disease that human milk affords a baby cannot be duplicated in any other way,? the authors scold. The experience of reading the 1958 edition is like talking with your bossy but charming neighbor, who has some motherly advice to share. Reading the latest edition is like being trapped in the office of a doctor who?s haranguing you about the choices you make.

    In her critique of the awareness campaign, Joan Wolf, a women?s-studies professor at Texas A&M University, chalks up the overzealous ads to a new ethic of ?total motherhood.? Mothers these days are expected to ?optimize every dimension of children?s lives,? she writes. Choices are often presented as the mother?s selfish desires versus the baby?s needs. As an example, Wolf quotes What to Expect When You?re Expecting, from a section called the ?Best-Odds Diet,? which I remember quite well: ?Every bite counts. You?ve got only nine months of meals and snacks with which to give your baby the best possible start in life ? Before you close your mouth on a forkful of food, consider, ?Is this the best bite I can give my baby?? If it will benefit your baby, chew away. If it?ll only benefit your sweet tooth or appease your appetite put your fork down.? To which any self-respecting pregnant woman should respond:?I am carrying 35 extra pounds and my ankles have swelled to the size of a life raft, and now I would like to eat some coconut-cream pie. So you know what you can do with this damned fork.?

    "The debate about breast-feeding takes place without any reference to its actual context in women?s lives. Breast-feeding exclusively is not like taking a prenatal vitamin. It is a serious time commitment that pretty much guarantees that you will not work in any meaningful way this is why, when people say that breast-feeding is ?free,? I want to hit them with a two-by-four. It?s only free if a woman?s time is worth nothing"



    "That brings us to the subject of pumping. Explain to your employer that while you?re away from your baby, ?you will need to take breaks throughout the day to pump your milk,? suggest the materials from the awareness campaign. Demand a ?clean, quiet place? to pump, and a place to store the milk. A clean, quiet place. So peaceful, so spa-like. Leave aside the preposterousness of this advice if you are, say, a waitress or a bus driver. Say you are a newspaper reporter, like I used to be, and deadline is approaching. Your choices are (a) leave your story to go down to the dingy nurse?s office and relieve yourself; or (b) grow increasingly panicked and sweaty as your body continues on its merry, milk-factory way, even though the plant shouldn?t be operating today and the pump is about to explode. And then one day, the inevitable will happen. You will be talking to a male colleague and saying to yourself, ?Don?t think of the baby. Please don?t think of the baby.? And then the pump will explode, and the stigmata will spread down your shirt as you rush into the ladies? room."

    "Breast-feeding does not belong in the realm of facts and hard numbers; it is much too intimate and elemental. It contains all of my awe about motherhood, and also my ambivalence."
    Last edited by MLBW; 04-17-2009 at 01:01 AM.

  3. #3
    eneri7 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Mid-levels
    Posts
    39
    If you must work and rely on formula, fine. And your baby will be just fine too.

    Yet to state that a woman who can stay at home with her child and breastfeed for the first 6 months, and assert that her "time is worth nothing" is downright insulting. If we're going to look at it that way, then I'm sorry, maternal instinct tells me being with your child in the early months far outweighs your career for the time being unless you NEED the money.

    It's equally unfair to imply mothers who work are bad moms. That's nonsense.

    Breastfeeding appeals to me because it's a natural process. Your body is able to nourish your child and that's a beautiful thing. I have never been won over by the arguments that say it will make my baby smarter, thinner, etc. These claims, I believe, should be taken with a grain of salt.

    I also don't believe babies need Baby Einstein books or the like to be stimulated or smart.

    Breastfeeding, like birth, is a personal affair. Your child, your body, your business.

  4. #4
    Matty is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Sai Kung
    Posts
    536
    I don't think that this descibes the HK Mum scene at all.
    I've found that formula feeding is much more accepted here than it is in Australia. Even amoungst expats.
    I know of a friend who was the only non BFing mum in a babygroup in Sydney, and she was made to feel so uncomfotable she never went back.

    I Formula fed one of my sons and BF the other, and was never judged for either.

  5. #5
    tstmum is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Hong Kong
    Posts
    199
    [QUOTE=Matty;908719]I don't think that this descibes the HK Mum scene at all.
    I've found that formula feeding is much more accepted here than it is in Australia. Even amoungst expats.
    QUOTE]

    I agree with Matty on this one. In Australia, when I was preparing a bottle for my baby in public I felt really uncomfortable and that people were looking at me disapprovingly. My first baby was 50:50 BF:formula, and my second was exclusively BF to 1 year. I definitely don't judge those who choose to use formula, but I do agree that breastmilk offers health benefits that formula can't (like antibodies). Breastfeeding is incredibly hard work and a huge time commitment, and for some it just does not work out. They should not be made to feel like social outcasts if they choose to use formula.

  6. #6
    MLBW Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by eneri7 View Post
    If you must work and rely on formula, fine. And your baby will be just fine too.

    Yet to state that a woman who can stay at home with her child and breastfeed for the first 6 months, and assert that her "time is worth nothing" is downright insulting. If we're going to look at it that way, then I'm sorry, maternal instinct tells me being with your child in the early months far outweighs your career for the time being unless you NEED the money.

    It's equally unfair to imply mothers who work are bad moms. That's nonsense.

    Breastfeeding appeals to me because it's a natural process. Your body is able to nourish your child and that's a beautiful thing. I have never been won over by the arguments that say it will make my baby smarter, thinner, etc. These claims, I believe, should be taken with a grain of salt.

    I also don't believe babies need Baby Einstein books or the like to be stimulated or smart.

    Breastfeeding, like birth, is a personal affair. Your child, your body, your business.
    You totally misread what that woman was saying. She was saying that proponents of exclusive breastfeeding often tout it as a "free" source of nutrition for your baby which is really misleading. To say that it is "free" means you are saying that the extraordinary amount of time that women must commit to breastfeeding is worth nothing. So, it is misleading to tell women that one of the pluses is that breastfeeding is "free." It's not. It costs women their time, energy, patience and often times their comfort. It's not saying that womens' time is worthless--just the opposite. So instead of being insulted, go back and read what she is actually saying.

    "maternal instinct tells me being with your child in the early months far outweighs your career for the time being unless you NEED the money. "

    -maybe YOUR maternal instincts but it's not necessarily true across the board. Some women need to work for other reasons apart from just the monetary aspect. For some women (and probably more than are willing to admit to such a not politically correct thing) it is healthy on a mental and emotional level for them to be employed outside the home so that when they return home to be with their child they can be an even better mother. It's quantity of time versus quality of time for some women (i.e. me).

    I totally agree with your last statement that it's a personal affair--and that's why I really can't stand the pervasive culture that pushes breastfeeding (the article mentions Health and Human Services ads that really paint women who don't want to breastfeed as doing their children a disservice--and it's simply not true--this is a PA campaign supported with taxpayer money!)

    I hate having it rammed down my throat at every turn--whether openly or indirectly and I am so happy to read that pretty much all the popular media that hypes breastfeeding is well...hype...inconclusive research.

  7. #7
    MLBW Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Matty View Post
    I don't think that this descibes the HK Mum scene at all.
    I've found that formula feeding is much more accepted here than it is in Australia. Even amoungst expats.
    I know of a friend who was the only non BFing mum in a babygroup in Sydney, and she was made to feel so uncomfotable she never went back.

    I Formula fed one of my sons and BF the other, and was never judged for either.
    Well, maybe you've seen a different side to the scene here that I haven't. I guess I must be running in the "wrong circles" because a vast number of expats on this site are big time into LLL and all that jazz.

    But in the local culture here, definitely formula is more popular and I guess I'm thankful that I'm here and not in the States where you get glares if you mix up some formula as if it were stricnine that you were about to feed your baby.

    But, the first paragraphs DO describe a lot of the other tendencies I see here--moms sizing each other up based on the amount of "non-toxic, high-quality wooden toys" in their toy stash or the sleekness of their designer stroller or the brand of shoes their baby is wearing as well as what organic food brand the other uses or if they use organic at all. It's kind of funny to me.

  8. #8
    MLBW Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by tstmum View Post
    Breastfeeding is incredibly hard work and a huge time commitment, and for some it just does not work out. They should not be made to feel like social outcasts if they choose to use formula.
    Well said. I think that expectant mothers should be warned that it is hard work and time consuming and that it's not a big deal if it doesn't work out. I was fed this entire gospel of "Breast is Best, Breast is Best, Breast is Best" for the entire time I was pregnant that upplayed all the (inconclusive--as the article points out) evidence of how great breastfeeding is and what the real-life advantages for your baby are (which are also hyped by proponents)--even by the trusted medical establishment. But reality begs to differ and I'm glad that this article pointed some of those things out.

Page 1 of 5 123 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-07-2008, 11:07 AM
  2. New in Hong Kong
    By richasrivas79 in forum Moving Forums
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 05-03-2008, 01:04 PM
  3. I'm new to hong kong
    By snehalatha in forum Hong Kong Pregnancy Forum
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 02-15-2008, 10:59 PM
  4. New Mum in Hong Kong
    By sofia in forum Playgroups
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 02-01-2006, 01:21 AM
  5. New in Hong Kong
    By krutherf in forum Everything Else
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-06-2004, 12:10 PM
Scroll to top