Picture this: you have the most perfect food in the world to feed your newborn. This food has the perfect nutritional mix for your infant, protects your infant from a myriad of diseases, safeguards your infant against future obesity and offers some protection against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Instead you use an inferior substitute food. You put it in a plastic container that leaches toxins into the food product when you could have used a warm, pliable container that promotes a better bond between you and your baby.
And now, that inferior, substitute food may itself be tainted.
China is investigating one death and more than 50 serious illnesses caused by contaminated infant formula-- contaminated by melamine, the same industrial chemical that caused thousands of pet deaths in the United States last year. The chemical causes products contaminated with it to test as protein and is used because it's cheaper than real protein.
Canada is getting ready to ban all plastic baby bottles that contain bisphenol-A, or BPA, a chemical that mimics a human hormone and which has been shown to cause long-term changes in lab animals exposed to it. Of course it can also be found in canned soups, beans and soft drink containers-- in fact, it can be found in the urine of 95% of all U.S. residents. But exposing infants to this chemical so early in life is potentially much more dangerous. For some reason-- the influence of corporations on American public policy, perhaps?--
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promotes breastfeeding and tracks breastfeeding statistics. While 70% of U.S. babies had some breastfeeding immediately after birth, only 40& were being breastfed at three months, and only 10% at six months. When it comes to being exclusively breastfed, only 10% of babies were fed through six months.
My first daughter was born six weeks early and delivered by caesarean section in September, 1967. She weighed 5 lbs, 1 oz. They let me breastfeed her the first few days to promote immunity. Then, my baby's pediatrician came stopped into the hospital to tell me she was losing weight and that I needed to switch her to an enriched formula. I still remember the guilt I felt over my milk not being good enough for my baby. It took me years to find out that all newborns lose a little weight directly after birth.
By the time my second daughter was born in 1977, I knew a lot more. I was also 30, not 20, and more able to resist the pressure to start feeding her the empty calories of baby cereal at three months! She had no solid food until 6 months. She was still nursing occasionally after her first birthday.
I know breast feeding can be challenging and time-consuming, and that there's not a lot of support out there for mothers who want to give it a serious try. But if it wasn't possible for almost every mother to succeed, we wouldn't have survived as a species.