I am writing with regard to the column by Frank Trapani printed on May 31 titled, “Breast-feeding baby gives the best start.”
As a breast-feeding mother of a one-year-old, the headline caught my eye and approval, but the content of the article was another matter.
While the author makes some salient points, I worry that the foreboding tone and in-depth discussion of obscure problems could “turn off” expectant mothers who are deciding whether or not to breast-feed.
The author’s discussion of “the quality of milk” being “lacking” because the mother is not getting adequate nutrition was particularly galling because this is, at best, an extremely rare problem and is, at worst, a great example of fear-mongering.
To the expectant mother, the idea that she is now facing another year (based on the current American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that breast-feeding be continued “for one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant”) of abstemiousness and healthy eating can be more than a little daunting.
Yes, a healthy diet is important for all of us, and is particularly important for pregnant and nursing mothers. However, most of us are not malnourished, and eating potato chips is not a crime.
A mother who drinks an occasional soda or eats some chips (or, God forbid, has a glass of wine) is still going to be producing irreplaceable goodness for her baby in the form of her breast milk.
To quote Michael Pollan, “Mother’s milk is not, as once was thought, sterile: it is both a ‘prebiotic’ — a food for microbes — and a ‘probiotic,’ a population of beneficial microbes introduced into the body.”
In addition, through kissing, touching, and being close to her baby, a mother picks up a sampling of any harmful microbes that might be in or on her baby and begins to produce antibodies that are passed to her baby before there are even any symptoms of illness. These pre-, pro- and antibiotic properties are true of all breast milk, potato chips or no.
I would love to see more articles about breast-feeding in the U-B, but please find some written by any number of the amazing doctors, nurses or consultants who are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, rather than printing the musings of a retired chiropractor who seems to be out to hawk obscure supplements and homemade formula.