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let them eat styrofoam

Not even two weeks in, it might seem a little early to consider the nutritional impacts of the new administration. However, while maybe lost among the more pressing issues, there among the flotsam and jetsam of the post-inaugural news was a story that caught my eye. A story that might begin to inform. But first, let me back up a little.

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Michelle Obama’s White House Organic Garden. Photo by John Shinkle.

My antenna is usually positioned to pick up the bits of information associated with food and nutrition as it relates to the personal or the political–and it beeps especially loudly when there is an atmospheric collision of the two.

As regards presidential matters, examples from prior administrations–beginning with my own nascent awareness of such things–include the following:

  • Ronald Reagan’s affection for Jelly Beans. And, his administration’s declaration of ketchup as vegetable in an attempt to allow flexibility in school lunch planning. This was a nutritionally-depleted response to maintaining nutritional requirements in the face of budget cuts to the Federal School Lunch Program. (It was actually pickle relish that was used as an example in the original regulations.)
  • George H. W. Bush’s anti-broccoli proclamation–and while broccoli took the whipping, apparently his distaste of vegetables was non-discriminatory. It was during his time in office that the USDA Food Guide Pyramid took to the streets, so to speak, a cavalcade of refined carbohydrates–bagels, baguettes, rolls, and pasta–marching in stride.
  • Bill Clinton’s propensity for Big Macs and Philly Cheese Steaks with onions and Cheez Whiz, his post-presidency quadruple heart bypass surgery, and the subsequent radical changes to his lifestyle and diet. In the wake of his own health epiphany, his Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association founded The Alliance for a Healthier Generation. However, while in office, Clinton’s 1996 welfare reforms resulted in deep cuts to the Food Stamp Program, thus limiting the ability for working families to obtain benefits.
  • George W. Bush’s eating habits were healthier than those of his father. Better, after experiencing a pretzel-induced near-fatal choking incident in the White House, he acknowledged his mother’s advice to chew one’s food carefully. While he attended to his physical activity by jogging his way through many a national crisis, it was during his years in office that the nation’s health and obesity crisis could no longer be ignored. Bush did support some well-meaning nutrition legislation, but during his second term, the USDA Food Pyramid morphed into the MyPyramid. This chaotic appearing icon further fueled confusion concerning governmental nutritional recommendations, leaving everyone to just throw up their hands to reach for the closest bag of Doritos. Oh, and then there was the recession.
  • Barack Obama’s nutritional legacy is really attributable to First Lady Michelle’s devoted efforts. Along with appointing a White House chef dedicated to healthy menus and growing an organic garden on the South Lawn, she promoted the Let’s Move initiative. Attendant legislation included the signing of The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. Despite this presidency’s strong commitment to our nutritional well being, it faced resistance from its own Congress–which passed a bill allowing pizza with two tablespoons of tomato paste to qualify as a vegetable in the USDA School Lunch Program. Sound familiar? And, it was downright thwarted by Big Food. Also, while the president’s support for the cause was irrefutable, his own dietary habits were less than aligned, as I previously detailed during his bid for re-election.

And so, that brings us up to the present. I have gleaned a tiny bit about the dietary and culinary inclinations of the new commander-in-chief. For now, let’s just say I am not surprised. I am also remembering the ridiculousness of his pizza parlor outing in NYC with Sarah Palin. And, I have now found this–his alternative facts explanation.

While for now I can ignore the personal, I am still quite worried about the political. I am concerned about the fate of Michelle’s beautiful organic garden at the White House. And, the myriad initiatives that germinated under her tender care, yielding amazing gardening programs and healthier food systems in schools and preschools as well. Not to mention the attention that is given to facilitate women’s ability to breastfeed their babies, optimizing children’s health from birth. What is going to happen to all of that?

Well, the details are still scant, but here’s what I have so far that may give us a clue. It comes from that one story I mentioned above. It was the story about the Inaugural Cake. Here are the basics of what happened, in case you missed it. The setting was the Inauguration’s Armed Services Ball. The cake was a nine-tiered tower whose design was blatantly plagiarized from one made for Obama’s Commander in Chief Ball in 2013. The baker, merely following orders, was not aware of the plagiarism until after the fact. At the Ball, the cake’s bottom layer was sliced by means of a military saber wielded jointly by Trump and Pence. And the real kicker? Apparently, only that lowly layer was actually real cake–the rest of it was made out of styrofoam. It was a styrofoam cake!? Don’t they know about the styrofoam bans?

Oh, dear fellow plebeians–and members of the military–prepare to heed the call of the new administration’s both obesity prevention and anti-hunger programs. It may, in fact, be, “Let them eat styrofoam!”

Well, that is it for now. Please take care and make sure to eat your greens. For those of you who have been marching around in the cold of winter, let’s share a virtual cup of tea or some hot Golden Milk to warm us up. And curl up to read the many links on this post.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn

Related Recipe: Golden Tumeric Milk from Downshiftology

 

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Golden Milk My Plate

My Plate Haiku

If only we could

Change the world on that one day

By feeding our hearts.

by Julie

Far from Home

Well, here I am. Right now I am on retreat in beautiful California, far from home. While my orientation to space is altered due to this coastal exchange from east to west, my orientation to date and time has been altered as well. I have experienced a profound loss.

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The beautiful California Coast

As I search for some renewed serenity and some solid ground-albeit in this land of shaky earth-I do try to stay somewhat aware of the prevailing events of these times that still swirl around me. Likewise, as I reconnect with the calendar structure that patterns the days before me, I turn the page onto August just in time to remember to honor the annual celebration of World Breastfeeding Week.

As I consider the support of breastfeeding babes, moms and families an essential component of improving the collective health of communities around the globe, I do always try to write something about World Breastfeeding Week and its annually appointed theme.

Forgive me this year, that as my tears still flow more readily than my words. In lieu of my own thoughts, I share this interesting article by the journalist (and my dear friend) Ellen Wulfhorst. Ellen provides a look at the very real consequences of compromised attention to the timely initiation of breastfeeding. This highlights how powerful are the immunoprotective properties of breast milk and how greatly breastfeeding serves as an antidote to infant mortality.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

Thank you to all who continue to support me, my blog, and my work. Gratitude to those who have nourished me on this visit–Julie, Gordon, Debbie, Michael, Ben, Lois and Richard.

To healthy birth and rebirth, Elyn

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Julie’s My Plate

My Plate Food for Thought

Breastfeeding is not only the cornerstone of a child’s healthy development;

it is also the foundation of a country’s development.

UNICEF and the World Health Organization’s World Breastfeeding Week Message

first food

Yesterday, while I was leaving work, my friends wished me a nice weekend, acknowledging that I was taking today off in honor of my birthday. Happy Birthday they chimed while sweetly presenting me with a sunflower plant. As I have for the past twenty-seven years when asked about birthday plans, I am apt to explain that it is also my son’s birthday. Though my day’s celebration is no longer actively intertwined with his as it was when he was young, I cannot extricate my birth from his.

When I mentioned this, Josie commented on how for every parent, the birthday (or receiving day) of their first child marks their own re-birth as well, no matter the confluence of dates. It is the day that changes profoundly everything that may have preceded it. This is quite true. Cathy added that she birthed her first child exactly at the moment Mount St. Helena’s volcano erupted in 1980! While distanced by an entire continent, for her the event was no less spectacular.

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Midsummer Night’s Dream

Still, I remain as tickled and surprised by my calendrical coincidence of blazing glory incarnation as I was the mid-summer night it occurred. And, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I enjoy that the date I first brought babe to breast coincides with World Breastfeeding Week/Breastfeeding Awareness Month. As a matter with so many implications for health, nutrition, and societal well being, and one rife with dilemmas, I try to bring attention to this important activism each year. Thanks to Mary Ellen, here’s a nice little video from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation about Growing a First Food Movement Naturally that helps give perspective to the story of infant feeding.

This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week is Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make it Work. Its focus is on furthering support for nursing women working in formal, non-formal or home settings so as they can continue to breastfeed their babies and maintain their right to breastfeed. The need to return to work–exacerbated by the lack of mandated and satisfactory maternity leave policies–is one of the main factors why women stop nursing. The initiatives associated with this year’s campaign highlight and advocate for improved national and state labor laws and practices; employer awareness and compliance with existing laws; and ways to create clean, comfortable, private and safe areas for women to nurse or to express breast milk in the workplace.

It is encouraging to witness that some real strides are being made. Government agencies, global health organizations, national groups, and local coalitions have been working hard so that women do not have to stop nursing their babies in order to keep food on the table for themselves and their families. Lactation spaces are becoming available in various public and private settings. Closets and storage areas in offices, factory buildings, schools, and daycare centers are being transformed into comfy lactation rooms; and creative and caring entrepreneurs are designing nursing pods for women working, recreating, or relaxing in various field and outdoor settings.

In the fall of 2013, I attended a Nets basketball game at the then newly anointed and crazily crowded Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Navigating the many corridors along with throngs of people was not easy. Having made it up to our seats in the nosebleed section, the female contingent of my party had to then descend back down a few levels to find a bathroom. Literally relieved to find the facilities, we were also quite surprised to find a door marked ‘lactation room’. A burly guard stood by the entrance. Our supportive interest piqued, we asked him about the room. As though protecting a highly paid all-star, he tersely informed us that there was someone in there. Though I probably wouldn’t bring my baby to such a noisy environment–unless it was a nursing toddles or if a family member was playing in the game or singing the national anthem–but if I did, I’d be nursing in my own seat, jumbotron cameras and all. But, for those mamas and babies who deserve a modicum of privacy and quiet dining, having such an option in such an incongruous setting is quite incredible. I wonder who there is to thank for that.

My own awareness of the many aspects of this year’s Let’s Make It Work campaign was heightened yesterday as well, when I was fortunate, as in previous years, to watch SUNY Albany’s School of Public Health/New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Supplemental Foods annual webcast presentation of Breastfeeding Grand Rounds. This was, as always, an excellent program and it highlighted many great examples of breastfeeding-friendly environments. Though it left me feeling inspired, it also reminded me how amazing women are and how damn hard they work.

Stories and images of women shlepping breast pumps and accessories to work, utilizing break and lunchtime to sit in secluded rooms listening to the whir of mechanical pumps, rushing into daycare centers in the middle of the workday to nurse a baby, sequestering into hidden spaces to feed their young, and negotiating with employers individually for their own rights–god bless them all.

My mixed reaction to the situation also was evident as I attempted to find an image for my new Lifeseeds Nutrition Instagram post to honor the week and encountered some difficulties. The breastfeeding photos I most easily found depicted either beatific, blissed-out industrialized world mothers posed in pristine settings or somber-faced traditional world mothers huddled in sparse environments. Though I appreciate the beauty of both, neither captured what I was looking for– a reflection of how working mothers often feel in our modern society–weary from its many demands and yet comforted in the respite of feeding their child. I hope the one I finally chose came close.

As for my birthday, I wished really only for a little quiet me time. Though no longer tending daily to my children’s needs, with one child still in college I am still a working mom. The memories of running from babysitter to job to various activities with a baby in tow are still pretty fresh and my plate continues to feel pretty full. Thankfully, I got what I wished for. It is a perfect sunny day and my little village is exquisitely tranquil. My front porch cradles me, and I have some time to write. Soon I will have the phone conversation with my son where we simultaneously say, Happy Birthday.

Until then, wishing all the hard-working mommas, and all who support them, good nourishment of both body and soul.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn

Related Posts: Blessed Feeding; To She Who Loves Us Before She Meets Us; Breastfeeding Redux; Oh MotherA Winning Goal

My Plate Plate

Momma’s My Plate

 

My Plate Haiku

Hard toiling mamas

Hear their hungry babies cry

Breastfeeding and work–let’s make it work

by Elyn

a winning goal

I would feel a little remiss were I to not make mention this year of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). In previous years I have always made a point to do so. But, it is late. I should already be in bed. Besides, I have to get to work early tomorrow in order to partake in a webinar that is celebrating the week and its important mission. So, I will be brief. wbw2014-logo-hd

Perhaps after tomorrow’s webinar, I will have something more inspiring or informational to offer with a larger perspective. Tonight, I sit quietly with only my personal experience–the one that reminds me that twenty-six years ago at this very time I was deeply in labor, nestled in my midwife’s quiet birthing room in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. On the other side of midnight, in the dark of night of the day of my own birthday, my son would make his way into the world. Our breastfeeding relationship would begin immediately thereafter.

But, during that time, the practice of breastfeeding on a larger global scale was diminishing with serious consequences for maternal and child health, with societal and environmental implications as well. In 1981, the World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, to remediate the malnutrition suffered by infants and young children due to the inappropriate marketing of commercial formula. And, then in 1990, exactly two years after my own bond was formed in connection with the dying art of breastfeeding, the Innocenti Declaration was signed by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. It designated the first week of August as World Breastfeeding Week.

Twenty-four years later, though there have been significant gains made in reversing the declining trend, there is still work to be done. There are also newer nutritional impacts of breastfeeding being investigated as we begin to better understand the myriad functions of the gut microbiome.

This year’s WBW slogan is Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life. I suppose it relates to this year’s Football World Cup. Could that be? That’s a little funny to me because my son has been a soccer player and is a devoted fan of the sport. Though no longer on the field much, he is hoping to be working in the field of professional soccer someday. May I also parenthetically add, that throughout and since the World Cup games, I’ve noticed that I have had an almost daily blog reader from Brazil–so apparently not everyone in the country was focused on the sport. A special hello to that reader(s).

The objectives of WBW 2014 are strongly linked to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set by governments and the United Nations to fight poverty and promote healthy and sustainable development in a comprehensive way by 2015. A description of how breastfeeding is linked to the MDGs can be found here. The connections are quite profound.

I am interested to see what I will learn in the course of tomorrow’s session. I will let you know if there is anything particularly interesting. In the meantime, please take a moment if you will and have a look at these powerful photos. They will say much more than my usual thousand words.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn

P.S. The webinar session was yesterday. It was sponsored by the SUNY School of Public Health and entitled, International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and Promoting and Supporting Exclusive Breastfeeding. I applaud the school’s long term commitment to this topic and recommend the session highly. I believe it will be available soon for viewing online. Dr. Ruth Lawrence, an international breastfeeding authority, and author of Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, whose pioneering work and advocacy for breastfeeding dates back to the 1950s, is on the panel.

The webinar described some examples of successful applications as well as egregious violations of the International Code of Marketing, and also shared some exciting outcomes in regard to increasing initiation and exclusivity of breastfeeding in some NYC hospitals and in the Vermont WIC Program due to some dedicated efforts. It also discussed commerciogenic malnutritionin this context, referring to the marketing of breastmilk substitutes and its impacts on babies, but I may ponder some wider implications as well.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn

Related Posts: Blessed Feeding; To She Who Loves Us Before She Meets Us; Breastfeeding Redux; Oh Mother

Today’s My Plate is the beautiful watermelon cake prepared for me by my office “birthday angel”.

Related Recipe: Watermelon Fruit Cake 

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Cathy’s My Plate

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Plate Haiku

Hearts are not just reserved for romance

Every living thing

Is in love.

by Kat

confluence

This is about confluence–where different streams of my life all flowed together in one special day–today. To start with, it is my birthday. And, twenty-five years ago today, my first child, Morgan, was born and I had my first experience of nursing a baby. Giving birth on my birthday was pretty special, and a big enough confluence in itself, one which was only considered at about 7 pm the evening before, after returning home from seeing the movie, “A Fish Called Wanda” and realizing I was in labor.

But there is more. Today is also part of World Breastfeeding Week which is celebrated during the first week of August. As a nutritionist concerned with the feeding of the species and maternal and child health issues, I do like to honor the week and spend time advocating and educating about breastfeeding in my work. I like that my birthday and nursing day coincide with this annual event. This year, I am using some of the well-produced materials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health’s It’s Only Natural campaign as part of my activities at the Health Center and I am continuing to address it as I have done in my previous writings.

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World Breastfeeding Week Display

Also today, Pete and I are in Seneca Falls, New York for Empire Farm Days, the largest agricultural trade show in the Northeast. This show has also taken place during these same dog days of summer for the past eighty years. It is a nice birthday gift to be in the midst of these many farmers whose business it is to grow and raise amazing foodstuff for the masses and for me to have a chance to more fully appreciate their concerns. Food off the farm has a very abstract quality, quite remote from its actual origins. But, being at this show, one can see that farming matters such as soil health, pest management, plant hardiness, marketing and the raising of animals are quite real.

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Yep, me driving the big tractor. Empire Farm Days

As today unfolded, it was no surprise to find my alma mater, Cornell University, with a large presence here. Both Cornell and Seneca Falls sit upon the shores of Cayuga Lake, and Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences plays a large role in the state’s agricultural initiatives. My nutrition studies took place inches from the ‘Ag School’. I walked miles through its vast acreage, bought college-made ice cream at its Dairy Barn, spent hours studying in its Mann Library, barely survived its microbiology course– and, it was where I met Pete.

The Cornell exhibit was displaying a video called Birth on the Farm. Starting with birds, it shows bluebird babies hatching from their eggs, barn swallows being fed by their parents, and then it moves on to mammals. A sheep, a horse, a dog, and a cow give birth, each baby emerging with amniotic sac intact. Once licked clean by their mama–with a little help from the farmer–these newborns quickly find their way to the nipple or utter and begin to feed.

Witnessing the wildly innate behavior of the mother/infant nursing dyad in the animal world heightened my wonder about how that behavior has become so disrupted among humans. Human babies, like their mammalian cohort, will find their way to the breast as well, when placed on their mama’s tummies. I just finished a research project on breastfeeding, scratching my perpetual itch to understand the modern-day hindrances to feed our infants in the biologically prescribed way that has sustained humanity for millennia. How has something that a puppy can figure out within minutes of birth become something that is culturally perceived as more difficult than rocket science and as contentious as climate change? How has the concept of species-specific milk become so foreign?

I put those questions aside in order to make sure I had time to head over to the nearby Women’s Rights National Park and Museum and Women’s Hall of Fame. This was the icing on my birthday cake. The exhibits are awe-inspiring and provide a really deep appreciation of how arduous the fight for women’s rights has been. Immersed in this incredible history, I picked up my previous thoughts again and mused over the sometimes expressed contention that breastfeeding further chains women to their domestic duties and inhibits their participation in the workplace and in the larger society where they may wish or need to be. Walking in the footsteps of these courageous women bolstered by my feeling that this argument misses the point. It is not breastfeeding, but instead, the lack of mandated maternity leaves, workplace supports and other inequalities in this country that are prohibitive. The exhibits themselves provided some proof.

For example, Norway, the country with the highest breastfeeding rates in the world, also leads in regard to the number of women in parliamentary positions. And this year, Ina May Gaskin is being inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame. Ina May is the modern “mother of authentic midwifery”. Though midwives had assisted with childbirth since ancient times, their role had been essentially obliterated with the professionalization of male-dominated obstetrics in the early twentieth century. Her efforts sparked a revolutionary movement which not only opened the way for the re-emergence and popularization of midwifery-guided and women-empowered birth but also contributed to the re-establishment of some breastfeeding practice in this country. Interestingly, Ina May perfected her motherly arts at a commune community called The Farm, and her grandmother was an avid admirer of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the suffragettes.

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Declaration of Sentiments Seneca Falls Women’s Convention 1848

At the end of the afternoon, Pete rejoined me and we went for dinner. A nice end to a very special day. As we sat at the restaurant overlooking the water where the Cayuga-Seneca Canal flows into Seneca Lake, I thought about how my day all flowed together–birthday, college, nutritional work, food and farming, women’s rights, birth, and breastfeeding. All pretty big themes in my life.

Considering this confluence, I contemplated its meaning. Could it be, that if when enough babies are born welcomed and sustained by the mother’s touch, natural nipple, and warm nutritionally complete milk; when women’s capacity to nurture and nourish is deeply valued and protected; and, when our farmers are supported to grow healthy food and to protect the land–that the world may be a safer, healthier and softer place? I hope someday.

Please, let me know what you think and do send greetings! Happy Birthday, Morgan. Love, Mom.

In health, Elyn

My Plate

My Plate

My Plate Haiku

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course. by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, et. al.

 

 

oh mother

I was hoping not to have to work today. It is Sunday and I promised myself a little repose. So there I was actually lounging on the couch this morning when the news of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s announcement of the New York City Health Department’s Latch on NYC breastfeeding initiative filtered into my airspace from an NPR podcast.

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breastfeeding (Photo credit: sdminor81)

Clearly, the launch of this voluntary program for New York City’s hospitals was timed to coincide with World Breastfeeding Week. The story started off nicely enough with a rational presentation of the benefits of breastfeeding and informed that 27 out of 40 New York City hospitals have already signed on to the recommended policy. But, it then whacked me with a tirade of the backlash (and responses) to the initiative–bemoaning that women do not want to have their parenting decisions enforced, especially by a man–and specifically not by health policy promoting Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

I rolled over and groaned into the cushions. My hopes for a relaxing day were shattered. I intended to glue my attention to the Olympics–one of the rare times I surrender to watching TV– but this report was going to interfere. Having discussed the topic of breastfeeding previously, I had no choice but to respond to this in a timely manner. Water polo and volleyball could wait, but this must be addressed before track and field and gymnastics takes to the screen.

In brief, Mayor Bloomberg did not make up these policies, and in fact, they are not mandated. These are recommendations consistent with the guidelines of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. Other larger jurisdictions have already implemented these policies. The intention is not to take choice away from women or to impound life-giving nourishment. It will not send women back into the kitchen chained to the stove with babes pulling on the teat as some editorials that I read implied.

Instead, it is a long-overdue remediation of a situation that separated the human species from their species-specific milk and compromised in both subtle and profound ways the health of many moms and babes. The superiority of human milk, as compared to artificial milk or formula, for human babies is not disputed and its immuno-protective properties are well established. There are many other benefits as well of mother’s milk as a substance and breastfeeding as a method.

What is not as well-known is that formula companies have participated in the disruption of this mother and child feeding relationship for many years and that this has promoted a cultural ignorance about the benefits of breast milk and a communal lack of wisdom regarding supporting women in this most natural of human behaviors. Big corporations have been the beneficiaries of immeasurable profits by influencing infant feeding using extreme measures by literally getting invited right into the hospital.

Pregnant women are wooed with coupons, samples, and free merchandise. New moms are given goodie bags with loyalty promoting formula brands. What formula a baby is started on has nothing to do with the baby or the doctor, but by whatever company got their hands on those tiny sucking lips first. Where else does this marketing intrusion occur so blatantly in matters related to health?

Women’s efforts to nurse have been sabotaged in hospitals for decades by babies being given sugar-water or formula without consent. Birth attendants including doctors and nurses not educated in lactation have also impeded the mother’s success at nursing. The result is a society that for decades has been led to believe that nursing is difficult, inconvenient and an impediment to maternal freedom. What has created barriers for mothers choosing to nurse is not nursing, but a lack of education, limited support, pathetic maternity leave policies, lack of comfortable places for nursing and pumping and a prudish culture that has turned to feed at the breast into a lascivious act aggravated by laws that even make nursing in public illegal in some places.

If you wish to discuss enslaving factors as regards women’s choices, this is what people should be concerned with–not the new policies. Of course, there will be some situations where babies will require formula, and there will be women who will choose formula feeding for a multitude of reasons. But, I am pretty sure the locked cabinet that the policy suggests will not be in the hospital basement by the janitors’ supplies and that women won’t be found dragging their IV poles down the hall in desperate search of a contraband formula to sate their starving babies. And, I strongly doubt that nursing staff will be utilizing methods of intimidation to enforce breastfeeding.

This is just an opportunity to fully educate and inform and to take the profits out of our babies’ bellies. It is one of a long series of efforts by many health care professionals to enhance the health of women and children in both the short and long-term. This is not rocket science nor is it evidence of a nanny state. If we as mothers have to choose our battles–this is not the one to wage.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn

Related Posts: Blessed Feeding; To She Who Loves Us; A Winning Goal; Breastfeeding Redux

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Cathy’s My Plate

My Plate Haiku

Blueberry bushes

Three children with empty pails

Pluck, pluck, crunch, exhale.

by Michael

To she who loves us before she meets us

To she who loves us before she meets us. Inscription on the Monumento a la Madre in Ciudad de Mexico.

The story of how women birth babies in this country has many chapters. In brief, it is a story that begins with essentially all births being attended to by midwives from various traditions in women’s homes or designated places and leads to the current paradigm of almost all births being managed according to a pathology-oriented medical model in hospitals.

Monumento a la Madre, Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico

The change was effected by the professionalization of obstetrics at the end of the 1800s; the advent of charity hospitals that lured women with the promise of improved care but essentially were intended as training grounds for a profession that had no actual experience–and that resulted in a significant rise in maternal and infant mortality; and the influence of physicians who changed labor and delivery from a natural process to one that required the routine use of a series of interventions. By the 1940s, the vast majority of births took place in hospitals. This trajectory was not the same in most other industrialized countries.

The introduction of “twilight sleep” which used morphine and scopolamine defined mid-20th century birth. The combination of these drugs left women powerless, with no memory of their labor or delivery. Problems associated with this cocktail led to its discontinuation but gave rise to other substituted interventions.

The late 1960s and 1970s saw a counter movement with women recreating options for more natural births. This resuscitated the profession of midwifery and ushered in the establishment of free-standing birth centers, more comfortable birthing rooms in hospitals and even expanded possibilities for women to deliver their babies back in the sanctity of their own homes. However, the persistent culturally held belief system that medically guided births are safer and the seduction of pain-free birth–promised now by the wide-spread use of epidurals–has maintained the predominance of a medical model. A midwifery model of care is still marginalized–though it is quite alive and kicking.

In Attacking the Causes of Obesity, Really?, I discuss how I believe some very powerful influences regarding our current health situation including the weight problem have been seriously overlooked. To me, dismissing the consequences of dissociating women from the birth of their children is a glaring oversight. It seems rather obvious that as women were lulled into surrendering their most primal potent power that there would be other negative sequelae. Try not to interpret this on a personal level but rather on the larger societal level where these insidious changes occur.

Birth is a very divinely tuned natural process where a precise cascade of hormones allows for a woman to orchestrate the birth of her baby. It benefits from attendant security, guidance, and support. Right after a normal delivery, a woman is alert and aware, able to hold, bond, nurse and care for her infant. Imagine, coming out of an induced stupor to find yourself alone with no baby to immediately see–let alone to hold. With medications and fear impeding the ability to breastfeed, it is also no coincidence that formula feeding quickly obliterated nursing at the same time that these interventions were implemented. This period of medically controlled birth was also marked by weight gain fear being instilled in women and the withholding of food during labor. Those practices are still the norm today.

Over the course of a few decades in this country, we abruptly dissolved the innate wisdom of women on how to trust their instincts in the care and feeding of their young. Ironically, it happened just as women were gaining other rights. It has now been about seventy years since that big SNAP, CRACKLE  and ultimate POP of male-dominated modern obstetrics felled the tree that rooted women to their maternal wisdom. Our infant and maternal maternity rates are abominably high–along with our C-Section rates, and, our breastfeeding rates are pathetically low. Chronic illnesses are common and increasing in our children.

With a few generations of women now lacking communal wisdom and thereby, confidence in their ability to give birth; and, with doctors who are not trained in nutrition and the motherly art of breastfeeding conducting our obstetric and pediatric care, is it any wonder that we no longer know what to do? That we no longer know how to cook and prepare real food for our children, that drugs are offered like candy, that a huge percentage of our infants and young children have hardly ingested a morsel of non-processed or non-adulterated food and, that we barely know and trust how to nourish our own selves?

In that prior post, I state that I want to be an impressive expert–a paid one. Here, I will boldly lay claim to my area of expertise. I have had the very unique experience of providing nutrition care in clinical and community settings for almost thirty years. In my next post, I will share my observations and experiences.

Until then, as always, I welcome your thoughts and comments. And, I share my deep gratitude for all the incredible midwives, many of whom I know personally, some who have birthed my own children, others who are out there fighting for the rights of women and children on a daily basis.

A special thank you to my midwife Helena who brought me boxes of organic vegetables the summer I was pregnant with my daughter. And to Leslie and Jennifer.
Please check out BirthNet and Every Mother Counts.

In health,  Elyn

Related Posts: Blessed Feeding, Breastfeeding Redux, To She Who Loves Us; Oh Mother

My Plate Haiku

Craving for pickles

And German chocolate cake

My friend is pregnant.  By Gretchen