Wednesday, July 25, 2012

So simple...a Caveman can do it. So Why Can't We?

The recent articles in the New York Times about breastfeeding and being ideal or not, have inspired me to once again write about the true issue at hand regarding the role breastfeeding plays.  The articles all are looking at how breastfeeding fits in, or in most cases, doesn't fit in to our modern society.  Breastfeeding is far from the basic easy tool or item you buy from Babies-R-Us;  this isn't even about "keeping up with the Jones'."  It is something that in today's society is looked at as something extra to do.  But if it is inconvenient, if it gets in the way of "returning to pre-pregnancy lives, including sleep, exercise, friendships, couple time" as it was written by Jane Brody in "The Ideal and Real of Breast-feeding" then it becomes something we abandon if any challenges appear.
Everyone is looking at someone to blame for the current rates of breastfeeding in the United States...the medical professionals not supporting it enough, the Moms not wanting to do it, and the programs and researchers that are trying to educate people about what is fact and what isn't.  Meanwhile authors such as Ms. Brody are doing a disservice to women telling them, it's your choice now because somehow doing so would be too huge a sacrifice.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure if she means children are too big a sacrifice or if the act of breastfeeding a child is.  Because having a child means learning to balance sleep needs, fitting in exercise, friendships, and time for intimacy as a couple as well as date nights.  This all happens regardless of breastfeeding.  This is a stressful time in our life--adding a new baby.  And luckily, our body actual provides itself a defense mechanism to help during this stressful time...breastfeeding.  Hormones released to help moms produce milk also help them relax.  That is Endocrinology and Neuroscience which is undoubtedly understood.  This process helps us complete the cycle of making a life.  We are better off because of it.

Another fact is undeniably true--breastfeeding is responsible for the survival of our species as written by Dr. Baumslag in "Milk, Money, and Madness".  We are here today because our ancestors were able to breastfeed from their mother.  There was no other option before until formula was designed to help sick babies get better and now somehow this same substitute for breastfeeding is supposed to be superior or equal to what we have been eating for the past 200,000 years.  Where's the logic in thinking that we are improving what we consume by making it man made using cow's milk?  These questions make me wonder... especially in a time when bagged lettuce and processed foods are making us more and more obviously sick than ever before.  So what is it going to take for us to learn that there are certain elements of our ancestry we need to carry on doing in order for our body to survive in a healthy state?  This isn't to say that formula is guaranteed to make you sick any more than breastfeeding will guarantee no illnesses.  Breastfeeding is the normal process and formula is the risky ingredient that can potentially alter what was supposed to happen naturally.  Our body is asking us to go through this process after the birth of a baby.  Not only for our body of course and not only for the nutrition of our child, but neuroscience also sheds light on the importance of breastfeeding from the brain's point of view.  Breastfeeding sets up the baby to have two very basic needs met; skin to skin contact with Mom providing protection; and a source of food for survival through breastfeeding.  Your baby expects to have both when born regardless of our modern society.  The more we learn to embrace it, the better off our children will be set up in their primitive brain which is the foundation of cognitive and emotional learning.  A baby that is skin to skin with mom and breastfeeding often in the first few days of life, is more likely to have lower levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone produced in our body.  They are less likely to cry from high stress levels...and guess what, the mom is also probably going to suffer from less stress having a calmer baby.  The more we understand the logic behind the science, the usefulness of the information to share with a soon-to-be mom, and the way it almost always works with the baby demonstrating these behaviors, the less likely the formula will be used as an alternative.

We are capable of doing this no matter what society expects by today's standards and we will all be better off for it in the end.  All we can and should do is to inform ourselves as much as possible.  Get help as soon as a challenge presents itself.  Let the authors continue writing about their forty-five year old breastfeeding experiences.  The new generations of breastfeeding moms will be rewriting the pages of our modern society the way we see it works best for humanity as a whole not our own narcissistic acute needs.  Breastfeeding is something that in a blink of an eye is over and the next thing we know, our child is off to kindergarten.  Give it a chance regardless of the roadblocks or naysayers.  Six months go by faster than it probably took to find time to exercise.  Let's prove to the world that we can do it.  That is my challenge to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment