Time to wrap up quite the prolific World Breastfeeding Week already! I'd like to share my own essential must-reads. Part are from this week, and some are just all-time favorites.
First off, Dr. Jennifer Thomas on the utter normalcy of breastfeeding. Turns out it's actually NOT new, but being passed around like crazy this week, and it was new to ME, so I'm including it here. Dr. Jen, we need more pediatricians like you, with a "IBCLC" following the "MD" (or we could just improve medical schools so additional training in human lactation was not a special bonus one has to seek out externally, but instead integrated from the beginning, but I'm a crazy dreamer like that).
On that note, here's a great open letter from a woman to her school, taking them to task for teaching her and her classmates absolutely nothing about lactation, whether human or any other mammal. She's a biologist, not a doctor, but the pre-med students were in the exact same classes she had. Can you tell this is a major peeve of mine? This HAS GOT TO CHANGE.
Two posts on social factors influencing breastfeeding were featured on Blacktating, one by Elita and one a guest post. "Bye Bye Breast Burka" talks about the broader ripple effect that nursing covers have on society, and then Elita asks a damn good question of our own community: "Where Are The Images of Black Mothers?" (Hint: They're sure as hell not where they most need to be.)
Two posts humbled me with their compassion and openness: one for WBW by Hobo Mama, which in turn reminded me of the recent post by PhD in Parenting, "I Won't Ask Why You Didn't Breastfeed". I have taken both to heart, and I hope you will too.
On the research front: There's ALWAYS new research coming out revealing more infreakingcredible properties of breastmilk, but one study happened to pop up in everyone's feed this week, about the newly discovered purpose of certain milk sugars in human milk that were previously thought of as having no real benefit. Turns out they help protect the gut! Snip:
Dr. German sees milk as “an astonishing product of evolution,” one which has been vigorously shaped by natural selection because it is so critical to the survival of both mother and child . . . Such findings have made the three researchers keenly aware that every component of milk probably has a special role. “It’s all there for a purpose, though we’re still figuring out what that purpose is,” Dr. Mills said. “So for God’s sake, please breast-feed.”Also popping up in many a feed over the last few days is today's Weekend Movie, "Prescription Milk" a documentary on the vital importance of human milk for preemies. Please check this out, and consider donating if you can!
Finally, some classics:
Addressing the many internet brouhahae that erupted after a study earlier this year broke down the cost of our low breastfeeding rates in both the financial sense ($13 billion) and in terms of human life (almost a thousand a year), two women kicked particular ass: The Feminist Breeder and Melissa Bartick herself. Bartick puts particlar emphasis on the impact of maternity care on breastfeeding, which is to say, she had me at hello.
Speaking of birth practices influencing breastfeeding, this roundup would hardly be complete without Best for Babes' campaign to Beat the Booby Traps. It's a genius approach and I'm thrilled they're doing what they do.
Annie of PhD in Parenting lays her motivation out in "Why I Blog About Breastfeeding", to which I hereby add an eloquent "DITTO"!
An article that I referenced in my own post on early supplementation addresses a risk that doesn't get talked about nearly as much as nipple confusion and supply issues: the impact foreign, non-human proteins have on a baby's gut: "The Case for the Virgin Gut". Exclusive breastfeeding should be clearly defined, and should be the goal for a minimum of 6 months whenever possible, according to both the WHO and the AAP, and this goes a long way toward explaining why. Kellymom's page on delaying solids breaks it down well too.
And finally, the one article I implore all women who want to advocate for breastfeeding in any capacity to read, the classic "Watch Your Language" by Diane Weissinger. She talks at length about why the language we have all come to habitually use in our conversations about breastfeeding is actually counterproductive. Breast is NOT best. If you haven't read this or heard this argument before, you're probably flinching at the statement. What?! What are you talking about? Breastmilk has so many benefits! It's the perfect food! It's the ideal way to mother! I thought you were a lactivist. Are you kidding?
Go read it. I still have to make a conscious effort to change my own language, and sometimes doing so with compassion involves treading very carefully, but the effort IS worth it. Here's a recent WIC campaign that puts Weissinger's position into action. Look how powerful and simple the result is.
I hope you enjoyed reading these as much as I did! Special thanks to The Leaky Boob for hosting so many great pieces of work.