Monday, September 29, 2008

"single best strategy for the infant's survival, growth and development"

Trust that Breast is Safest and Best
(A Press Release by BMSG)

The Breastfeeding Mothers' Support Group (Singapore) (BMSG(S)) writes with utmost concern regarding the impact caused by the tainted Sanlu brand of formula milk and the needless deaths and loss of health of thousands of infants. In addition, newspapers have also reported on cases of contamination with urea by dairies in India some years ago. Although these, and other, scandals have largely been contained within the countries of origin, we can hardly afford to remain apathetic about the safety of artificial formula milk consumed by our infants whose only source of nutrition in the first six months is from milk.

The BMSG(S) takes this opportunity to stress to mothers that breastmilk stands alone in providing all the necessary nutrients in the necessary proportions required for the optimal health, growth and development of our infants. Mother's milk is special and every species of mammal produces milk that is unique for the young of that species. Simply put, human breastmilk is specially designed for our human babies. Whilst children might develop allergies to artificial cow's milk and many others are lactose intolerant, breastmilk prevents rather than causes allergies and is gentle on our infants' immature digestive systems. Only we as mothers, can ensure that our infants are shielded from the potential harm caused by synthetically manufactured products, contaminations, manufacturing errors, lax controls, cover-ups and errant profiteers. Our babies depend wholly on us for the crucial months of their lives to give them the best milk that nature meant solely for them.

Breastmilk contains many nutrients, some of which are present in minute levels that cannot be duplicated in formula milk and yet play important roles in meeting the needs of developing infants. Breastmilk is also a constantly changing formula through the months, weeks and even days. This ensures the best nutrition at every point in the lives of our infants and is not controlled by artificial nutrient levels set by man. When mothers choose to exclusively breastfeed, they choose to trust in the ultimate goodness of their own breastmilk. Their infants are thus protected from any errors in the production process of formula milk which can mean a difference of life and death or loss of health, as has been sadly highlighted in the scandals.

With the growing affluence of women, their desire to return to the workforce after birth and difficulties faced at their workplace, many mothers have been swayed over by savvy advertising to replace breastfeeding with formula milk as the convenient source of nutrition for infants. With fewer children born per family, it is all the more critical that we give our precious babies the best start in life through breastfeeding. This best start remains in later life as children who are breastfed have been found to have a higher IQ advantage. The World Health Organisation (WHO), in response to the scandal, has once again reiterated that breastfeeding is the "single best strategy for the infant's survival, growth and development".* Its message to mothers is to exclusively breastfeed their infants for six months and thereafter to 2 years and beyond with complementary feeding of solids.

Mothers often assume that if breastfeeding is not possible - which is a rare situation - then formula feeding is the second-best alternative. The WHO makes it very clear that this is absolutely not true. Second-best feeding is mother's own expressed milk given by cup or tube. Third-ranked best choice is donated breastmilk from a milk bank whilst formula ranks only a distant fourth.

Breastfeeding is a natural and loving act. The BMSG(S) urges all mothers to put their trust in their own abilities to breastfeed and to make breastfeeding their best feeding choice. The BMSG(S) offers workshops for all mothers-to-be to prepare them for their breastfeeding journey and trained counsellors offer support to mothers who face any difficulties with breastfeeding. The BMSG(S) would like to stress that breastfeeding difficulties can be managed and overcome if mothers request for assistance early and breastfeeding becomes easier once mothers get the hang of it. Mothers can contact us through our helpline at 6339 3558, email at or website at

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How long should we breastfeed? For 2 years and beyond...

Is is 'normal' for a toddler of 2 years to be breastfed? Who decides what is the norm? The media? I often hear medical professionals advising patients to wean off their baby after 6 months or after a year. I also often hear friends ask me " Are you STILL breastfeeding?". We should realized that our norm for the past 30 or more are determined by the intervention of formula companies. Breast milk was the only way of feeding before formula came into being. Mothers can breastfeeding for as long as they want.

United Nations recommends that Babies should be exclusively breastfed for 6 months, then complement with solid food till 2 years and beyond.

" Optimal infant and young child feeding means that mothers are empowered to initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth, breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and continue to breastfeed for two years or more, together with nutritionally adequate, safe, age appropriate, responsive complementary feeding starting in the sixth month."
Extracted from UNICEF - Infant and child feeding goals

"Pediatricians and parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection. Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child."
Extracted from La Leche League International - How long should a mother breastfeed?

Information on Extended Breastfeeding beyond one year.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Spread the message and save lives!

Dear family and friends,

Please forward this email to anyone you know who is pregnant, a mother or anyone who knows a mother. Mother's milk is the most natural, safest and a God send gift to mothers and babies of the world. It's sad that people do not realize that this is the way that human babies should be fed.

As mentioned by one of my friend: " The truth is, there is never a guarantee that formula milk contains all it is said or touted to contain, in all the right quantities. This China case was not the first, but neither will it be the last.

Formula contamination, or over/under supplementation of nutrients and chemicals is very real and not just confined to China.

Just a couple of years ago in Israel, there was a case of over supplementation of Vit B to dangerous levels. Again, there was no cross-check by authorities and it was not until babies fell ill and died that the problem surfaced. As in any factory/manufacturing scenario, human or machine errors are common.

It is a pity that in the midst of all this, that breastfeeding is not brought to the fore of public consciousness as the right and normal way of feeding infants. Had more Chinese babies been breastfed, and the reliance on formula been less, the impact would not be so severe. Today's Strait Times had an article on parents fretting about what to feed their babies. This is sad and all so unnecessary if breastfeeding had been promoted and supported in the first place. "

There's a lot of myths and misconception surrounding breastfeeding that has been spread intentionally or unintentionallly by the formula milk companies to the general public. As we know formula milk companies are driven by profit and some of their many of their marketing efforts are not necessary ethical. In many rural and third world countries, literally milllions of babies are dying due to malnutrition and contatmination due to unavaliibilty of clean water or lack of facilities and knowledge to sterilize bottles in preparation of formula milk.

Usually a manufacturer won't announce that the competition's product is a better choice. But when the competition is breast milk, infant formula manufacturers concede--right on the label--that breast milk is best. All the DHA and the ingredients that formula company promotes is present in breast milk in the best way to be absorb by the baby. And there are more than 200 ingredients that is present in breast milk that formula milk do not have. It's sad to say that we have to fight the odds and choose to breastfeed when it should be the most natural way if there wasn't any human intervention.

Here are some quick facts about breastfeeding and breast milk may not be widely known:

Breastmilk is
1) The ideal nourishment for human babies
it's protein content particularly suited for a baby's metabolism, the fat content is more easily absorbed and digested than the fats in cow's milk.
2) Baby cry less and happier
As breastmilk is easily absorbed, baby suffer from less colic and digestive problems. Therefore they cry less, are easier to manage and are happier :)
3) Baby are smarter
Some studies shows that breastfed babies are smarter. Some of the reasons presented are that breast milk contain all the brain building ingredients in the most readily absorb-able form for babies. And some shows that since they are easier to manage and cry less from digestive problems, they use those time observing and learning about their environment at a young age. Others shows that it may be due to mothers spending more time bonding and interacting with their children which in turn stimulates their brains at an early age.
4) Breastfed babies fall sick less A mother's milk contain cells from her immune system and antibodies against diseases to which she has been exposed. Antibodies she develops after the baby is born are also passed to the baby through the breast milk.
5) Protects the infants against certain diseases, infections and allergies

For Mothers
1) Helps mother's uterus shrink after childbirth Baby's suckling produces a hormone that helps mother's uterus shrink
2) Helps mother lose weight! Each day that a mother breastfeed is equal to losing about 500 calories per day
3) Reduced Risk of Cancer Mothers who breastfeed for at least 6 months have a decreased risk of breast, ovarian, uterine cancers.
4) Relaxes mother and baby and promotes bonding It's a wonderful way to bond with baby especially when a mother needs to return to work. For me it forces me to slow down in our busy life and spend quality time just nursing and bonding with my son
5) Most mothers can breastfeed their babies and most challenges faced can be addressed and corrected. There's only a few medical conditions known that the mother should not breastfeed. One of them is AIDS.
6) Working Mothers can breastfeed!
With a breast pump and a few minutes at work each day, a mother can continue to breastfeed her baby for as long as she wants to. Although some may argue that a breast pump is expensive, it saves you money on formula milk, medical bills when your child fall sick.
7) Saves Money and its convenient!
Breast milk is free and readily avaliable at the correct temperature and free from contaminant. Saving you substantial amount of money from buying formula milk.

Being a mother myself, I manage to successfully breastfed my son till 2 years and 3 months until he self wean. Although natural, breastfeeding may be faced with many challenges and many breastfeeding support group will be able to share knowledge and encourage other mothers to breastfeed. If you do know or anyone who is facing issues with breastfeeding, I will be more than happy to share my experience and knowledge or direct them to someone who can help them. I am currently volunteering at a breastfeeding mother support group as a trained counsellor- if they are situated in Singapore, they can contact +65 6339 3558 to get help.

To read more here are some great links or just google 'breast milk' or 'breastfeeding' you will get a lot of great information

Here are some links re: the Sanlu Milk contamination case

Spread the message and you may just save lives!
Lets bring nature's way of feeding our babies back.
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