Thursday, January 24, 2008

Breast Feeding

From Web MD newsletter on 1/22/08.
Exclusive breastfeeding for at least four months may help prevent asthma, eczema, and food allergies in high-risk babies, but there is little evidence that delaying the introduction of specific foods makes a difference, the nation's leading group of pediatricians now says.
In a newly published policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) abandons a previous call for the gradual introduction of foods typically associated with allergies in high-risk children.
The earlier guidelines recommended delaying the introduction of cow's milk until after a child's first birthday, eggs until age 2, and tree nuts, peanuts, and fish until age 3.
"We just do not have the studies to back this up," study researcher author Frank R. Greer, MD, tells WebMD. "If a child is going to be allergic to peanuts or eggs, it doesn't seem to matter [after 4 to 6 months] when you introduce these foods."

When I got pregnant with Timmy, I never wanted to breastfeed him. I grew up with many boob men in my life, so my impression of breasts were not that they were to nourish a child. I had a very large mental block against it. Then, I started doing research on all the benefits that my little bundle would receive if I breastfeed him. Given that I have asthma and am allergic to peanuts (oh...and let's not forget the eczema I had as a child), I thought I really owe it to him to breastfeed him. My thinking was that I should do everything in my power to prevent him from going through the torture of asthma and being allergic to peanuts.

So here's the thing: I breastfeed Timmy for an entire year. AN ENTIRE YEAR! In my opinion, that's pretty astounding for a woman who didn't want to do it at all. This does not, however, make me one of those fanatics that thinks that breastfeeding is the only way and you are less of a mom if you don't. I don't think that at all. I only did it for the health benefits it was going to give my child (and b/c the hubs didn't want to buy formula). I say, if you want to formula feed - go for it. There are a lot of good formulas out there that provide much the same nutrients as breast milk.

Having said all that....all that breastfeeding didn't do a thing to fight off the asthma, eczema and food allergies. Timmy, despite my best efforts, has them all. He developed eczema when he was about 6 weeks old - that's when he was breastfeeding exclusively, so if the kind breastfeeding folks could explain that to me...I'd appreciate it. Then, when he was about 18 months old, he was diagnosed with asthma. Following that doctor's appointment, I broke down in tears. I was that child who had asthma so bad it prevented me from doing a lot of things - I so didn't want that for him. I left the office with a nebulizer and a very sad heart. The medical problems didn't stop there. Around the same time as the asthma diagnosis, we discovered, following a trip to the ER, that he was allergic to eggs (not just the whites, but the yolks too) and all nuts and seeds. Oh joy!

The nut allergy I can live with - I have had to deal with it myself my whole life and, quite frankly, I don't know what I am missing when people talk about peanut butter. The egg allergy, however, is really really challenging. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find baked prodcuts without eggs or a substitute that will allow you to bake with ease? The toughest part of a food allergy is letting him go into the world and praying to God that he remembers what we have taught him about some foods not being safe and that he should always ask an adult he knows if he can eat it.

Now, I get this email from Web MD spouting off the same nonsense about breastfeeding aiding in preventing these things. I didn't help my child. Maybe, just maybe, some kids are prone to have asthma, eczema and food allergies and there's not a darn thing we, as parents, can do about it. Would't it be nice if the pediatricis, the AAP and all the breastfeeding proponents out there would stop making women feel guilty about their choice not to breastfeed?

After all of that, I will say that I enjoyed the experience of nursing Timmy. I do plan to do it again with this new bundle of joy. Whether or not I make it for a whole year (given that I will return to work after 12 weeks) remains to be seen.


Life As I Know It said...

I think a lot of things are genetic...allergies, asthma.
When my first was born I breastfed for about 8 weeks. I hated it and he was an awful eater! And I went back to work. When my second was born I tried again and I ended up breastfeeding for a year! He was a muuuuch easier baby or maybe I was more relaxed. Either way, with both kids, I did what was easiest. A happy mom is a good mom. The books and pediatricians don't tell you that!

Eva said...

I enjoyed breastfeeding too, but I put so much pressure on myself to do it that when it wasn't working out I just KNEW my child would receive horrible effects from my lack of commitment! I read all the stuff on how "breast is best" and felt like I was depriving him from what he needed.

Not that I am happy that you and Timmy have seen some health issues despite the nursing, but thank you for pointing it out.

And I'm excited for you on #2!

MOTH3R said...

Thank you!!! I breast fed my kids each six weeks (about the time I had before I had to return to work.) And the biggest reason I quit was mentally I couldn't take it! I felt trapped sitting in a chair with the baby every two hours (or whatever, it was nearly six years ago so the details are a little fuzzy.) I finally decided my child would benefit more from a mom that didn't go off the deep end then the breast milk over formula. It was funny because I was so gun ho over breastfeeding before my babies were born. I chose not to feel guilty about it. I did what was best for my babies.

Sometimes it's hard because I have a friend who is one of those extreme mothers and all her blogs and bullitens feel so judgemental, though I'm sure she would be shocked if I ever mentioned it to her because it's probably the furthest thing from her mind, she's so sweet.

We all want what's best for our children and we should never let others make us feel guilty for the decisions we make.

Teri Kathleen said...

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! I breast fed Sean for exactly 3 feedings. On the 3rd feeding, my nipple started to bleed. No one at the hospital tried to teach me how to do it properly (hind-sight, was probably a latching problem). Nope instead they just would mention his being bottle fed with a slight disdain. I do not regret not breast feeding Sean and I have no intention to breast feed Kayley outside of MAYBE the first couple feedings. I am so happy to hear someone saying that they breast fed and saw none of the benefits that those "experts" talk about!