Monday, May 17, 2010

I Believe in Science

So, back in the old days, infant mortality was a lot higher than it is today. Here is data covering Canada from 1921 to 1974. Science advances, generally causing more babies to survive.

(Don't get me started on our growing cesarean rates. That's not supported by science.)

Here's my brief overview on my position, informed by what I understand is the science on...

I am a committed breastfeeding mama. I have just passed my first year of breastfeeding, and hope we continue on for a long time.

Like Arwyn in her post on things we don't speak about, I feel like I need to state that. I'm a huge believer in the benefits of breastfeeding. It's a good thing for the baby, and it's a good thing for mama. Not only that, it's good for the planet, and once you get the early bumps out of the way, it's easy and convenient when it's working. So, I breastfeed because I've read about it and it sounds like today's science supports it as the best choice.

(See The Fearless Formula Feeder for thought provoking and often heart-wrenching stories one when breastfeeding doesn't work.)

I have also adhered to the CDC and Health Canada's schedule for infant vaccinations. I believe the studies I have read about that say that the risk of not vaccinating is much greater than the risk of the vaccines themselves (link below). I've read about vaccinations, and it sounds to me like today's science supports them as the best choice.

Vitamin D Supplementation?
What I've just started hearing about is vitamin D supplements for breastfed babies. Science is saying that most North Americans are vitamin D deficient and should take supplements, including breastfed babies. When I first heard someone say this, I scoffed, thinking to myself the long repeated "breastmilk is the perfect food for babies." But... what if I'm deficient in vitamin D? What if my baby is dark skinned or growing up in a region with little sunlight? Vitamin D deficiency can be very serious.

Breastmilk probably was perfect, before we started messing with ourselves - spending loads of time indoors, not making enough vitamin D, eating weird processed foods. Maybe with a supplement (not a replacement), we could make it better.

So, having read a bit more about it, maybe I would give my baby vitamin D supplements, if I were having a do-over. And of course, maybe someday I will. Because it seems that today's science supports it.

Tongue Tie:
As I've written a lot about, my baby and I had latching problems due to tongue tie. If we were left alone to manage, maybe she would have survived, maybe not. But I have read that in the recent old days, midwives would clip tongue tie at birth. That tongue tie clipping is arguably an intervention in what would have naturally occurred.

Much as today's science supports co-sleeping, an old tradition which I was initially against, but started doing when our baby slept very fitfully after her two month vaccinations. After we started co-sleeping, we all slept much better!

This is an interesting article that covers what they call the war on science in more depth if you're interested. Some people might see being a vaccine supporter and a breastfeeding supporter as contradictory. To me it makes sense, based on what I've read.

Vaccines, breastfeeding, clipping tongue ties, maybe vitamin D supplementation. Some old fashion, some new fangled. All largely supported by today's science showing this is good for babies.

The fact is, naturally, babies don't always survive. Sadly, even with the best that science and mama's milk have to offer, they still don't all survive today. We all do our best to make the right choices for our babies and families.

What scientific findings have intrigued or surprised you lately?

PS: incidentally, since I'm writing about infant mortality, here are two inspiring mamas working to make meaning from the loss of their babies: Kayce and Kristine.

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