Category Archives: prenatal health

Formula Marketed to Moms–For Moms. Really???

 

This article was recently posted on  Birthing Beautiful Ideas:

[Recently] on Twitter, @heartsandhandss alerted me to a Similac product that has me wavering between disheartened disbelief and cynical outrage:

SIMILAC MOM

That’s right.  Formula for moms.

Or as the Similac Canada site specifically states, it’s a “nutritional beverage” designed “for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms.”

Uh huh.  A formula for moms who may be planning to or who are already breastfeeding.

Not surprisingly, after glancing through the site’s information on Similac Mom, I’ve counted more than a few glaring problems with this (patently ridiculous) product.

*

A badge declaring that Similac Mom is “available in the infant aisle” (or, it suggests, “ask your pharmacist.”)

Riddle me this: why would a product targeted to pregnant women and breastfeeding moms be available in the infant aisle?

It couldn’t possibly be that the proximity of Similac Mom to formula canisters would lead pregnant women to associate their own “nutritional beverage” with Similac’s baby formula!

It certainly couldn’t be that each and every time a pregnant or breastfeeding mother went to pick up her Similac Mom, the Similac brand would become further entrenched in her mind, potentially leading her to think “Similac! Formula!” every time she went for her daily “nutritional beverage.”

And goodness me, it couldn’t be that this “nutritional beverage” for “breastfeeding moms” would thereby insert a well-known infant formula brand into the breastfeeding section of a grocery or pharmacy aisle!

Canadian moms: if you’ve seen Similac Mom in your grocery or pharmacy, is it located near the formula containers or near the breastfeeding products?  Or is it somewhere else entirely?

*

The product is described as “the first and only nutritional beverage for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms.”

Formula-feeding moms are, it seems, not an important demographic for this particular product.  And why might that be?

It is true that pregnant and lactating women have different nutritional needs than women who aren’t pregnant or lactating.

But I think there’s another reason why Similac Mom isn’t targeted to formula-feeding moms: They’re already purchasing formula!

Similac Mom ensures that all women can be consumers of Similac-brand formulas–even the ones who aren’t buying it for their babies!  (And hey–Similac Mom might just “help” breastfeeding moms to choose Similac infant formula too!)

*

When combined with prenatal vitamins, Similac Mom could lead to potentially dangerous levels of Vitamin A.

Both pregnant and breastfeeding moms are encouraged to take prenatal vitamins in order to supplement their daily nutritional intake.  Typically, the daily dosage of these vitamins contains 5000 IU of Vitamin A.

But taking too much Vitamin A during pregnancy can lead to birth defects.

Similac Mom includes 1166 IU of Vitamin A.  When combined with a prenatal vitamin and food sources of Vitamin A–especially if one were to drink more than one serving of Similac Mom–this could lead to a potentially dangerous level of this vitamin.

(And this is why the site advises women to consult their doctors if they plan to drink more than one serving.  Yikes!)

*

The site describes Similac Mom as something women can drink “rather than skipping a meal” and as a “meal replacement.”

I can make this short and sweet: Don’t. View. Similac. Mom. As. A. Meal. Replacement.

Please.  Don’t.

A supplemental snack?  Sure.  But a meal?  No.

225 calories per serving does not a meal make for a pregnant or breastfeeding mom.  (And two Similac Moms is probably not an option for most women, especially if they are also taking a prenatal vitamin with the aforementioned dosage of Vitamin A.)

If you don’t have time to prepare quick meals or snacks as you need them, try and spend one or two mornings or evenings each week making turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread, or apple slices and peanut butter, or cheese and crackers, or bran muffins, or anything that you can store in the fridge during the week and then grab “on the go” when you need them.

If you forget to eat meals (and I never understood this until I had kids), try and store baskets of healthy snacks all around the house and/or on your desk at work.

If friends and/or family members have offered you help, ask them to bring you meals.  They don’t even have to be hot meals!  A basket filled with healthy snacks (that you can combine into a makeshift “meal”) for pregnant or breastfeeding moms is a wonderful treat!

Just make sure that none of those “meals” is Similac Mom.

*

As if this weren’t all bad enough, the second listed ingredient in Similac Mom is sugar.  And there’s no fiber in it to boot.

On behalf of pregnant and new mom’s bodies (and butts) everywhere, I say no thank you, Similac.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under breastfeeding, From One Mother to Another, General Health, Mommy and Motherhood, prenatal health

A Cordial Invitation: Join Me Over at Science & Sensibility

In case you’ve wondered where I have wandered off to recently, let me cordially invite you to Lamaze International’s Science & Sensibility  research blog site–which I am now managing.  I am thrilled, humbled and excited to be steering my writing and childbirth education work toward an actively (and internationally) accessed social media site where I gain the honored opportunity to interact with brilliant writers, researchers, maternity care clinicians and professionals and normal birth advocates.  Please drop on by, sign up for an RSS feed from Science & Sensibility and, most importantly, join the conversation!  (And invite your friends and colleagues to do the same!)

1 Comment

Filed under Childbirth Issues, natural childbirth, pregnancy, prenatal health, Writing and Publishing

Marching Forth: Africa’s Committment to Improve Safety of Moms and Babes

It’s always wonderful to come across stories like this, that highlight successes in the pursuit of improved maternal and infant outcomes revolving around pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.  Congratulations to Rwanda for making drastic changes and improvements, with the plan to meet the Millennium Development Goals of 2015 in regards to maternal and infant mortality.  For a highlight on improvements made toward maternal and fetal/infant/child health throughout many African countries, read this July 2010 article.

Leave a comment

Filed under breastfeeding, Childbirth Issues, family, From One Mother to Another, General Health, pregnancy, prenatal health

Keeping Childbirth Safe–No Matter Where it Takes Place

The world finally gets it (OK, some parts of the world). Childbirth does not have to be as dangerous as it is for many women and fetuses in developing countries.  For that matter, it does not have to be dangerous for the vast majority of women in developed countries, either, but that is a whole other ball of wax (in short, think: high rates of medical intervention in low-risk women have the propensity to create more problems that require fixing, than they necessarily do solve or prevent potential problems).

Here is yet another example of a relatively simple technology with a focus on reducing perinatal maternal mortality, as presented at the American College of Nurse Midwives‘ annual convention.  The device?  A strap-on belly with uterus, baby and blood contained within.  The goal?  To get as many birth attendants around the world–especially in areas like Afghanistan, the Central African Republic and rural India– trained with basic life-saving knowledge of how to catch a baby (or help to deliver a malpositioned fetus) and intervene when postpartum hemorrhage is occurring.  Truthfully, most of the life-threatening scenarios surrounding childbirth can be handled successfully, as long as the knowledge of how to handle those scenarios is there, and well practiced.

As described in this article, “Using both hands, the teacher wearing the device can move the baby through the birth canal, which is formed from a flexible plastic frame. Simulated blood flows out of the vagina, controlled by a thumb-operated roller valve. To simulate the contraction of the uterus after delivery, the teacher squeezes air from a large bladder into a smaller one while pulling the latter lower in the pelvis. She can tap on a piece of hard plastic inside the mannequin to create a heartbeat, varying the rate and loudness to simulate fetal distress. In all cases, the sense of reality is heightened because the equipment is connected to and manipulated by a human being.”

The “Mama Natalie” simulator can even replicate a retained placenta fragment–the primary cause of third stage and postpartum hemorrhage.  When would-be birth attendants know how to recognize this condition, they can also learn how to remedy it (by manually removing the left-over piece of placenta that is stuck to the internal uterine wall, thus allowing continued bleeding).  In extremely rural areas or home birth scenarios where high-tech intervention is miles away, the performance of this relatively simple procedure, and appropriate follow-up techniques and care, can be a matter of life and death.

Kudos to Laerdal Medical for creating this device, making it available to poor countries at cost ($100/each), and adding to the overall trudge toward the Millennium Development Goal 5 which “seeks to cut the 1990 maternal mortality ratio of 320 deaths per 100,000 births by 75 percent.”

6 Comments

Filed under Childbirth Issues, cultures, From One Mother to Another, General Health, Mommy and Motherhood, natural childbirth, pregnancy, prenatal health

In the News: Stories About Childbirth

We all know it:  the collective media including television, radio, newspapers (and, in my mind, the film industry, too) has enormous power.  Even if its various news companies have consolidated under a couple massive corporate umbrellas. So when I see articles or images about childbirth–newspaper blogs, print media or otherwise– I perk up right away, my interest tainted by an undercurrent of pessimism.  “How bad is it going to be, this time?”

Although I’d like to think that folks are becoming progressively savvy about the mass of information flooding their consciousness on a regular basis, I know there are still plenty of other people out there who accept “the news” as gospel truth.

Just think for a second on how childbirth tends to be represented in film and media.  What images come to mind?  Blue gown-draped women strapped into narrow hospital beds raised half way up to the ceiling so everyone in the room has a front row view of her intimate space…wide opened legs secured into stirrups…sweating, screaming and panicking as a ten-pounder comes barreling out the birth canal?  If we’re talking mainstream media and film, this is the type of image most typically portrayed.

Thankfully, there are more and more documentaries arising that demonstrate the softer side of birth–the emotionally empowering, life celebrating, ecstatic side of giving birth. Unfortunately, the mainstream media refuses to embrace this image of women during labor and delivery.

This morning, I came across a newspaper blog post in which the author, a mother of a three-year-old who is pregnant with her soon-to-arrive second child, comparatively discusses her emotions during her first baby’s birth, and the impending change in her family’s life as baby #2 arrives.  The title of her post: Childbirth Means Your Life’s Forever Changed.

A great title, really.

Suddenly optimistic, and hoping to read about how this woman might have been empowered during her first baby’s birth–how she scaled her own personal wall of difficulty, only to emerge on the other side stronger and more confident in her ability to handle the difficult challenges life will inevitably throw her way–how childbirth changed her for the better, having given her a glimpse into the true depths of her being… I read about a woman who approached her first birth encompassed by fear and hesitation.

In her own words, recalling her emotions prior to her first child’s birth, “The path is set and you have few options but to grin and bear it. Or in my case, hit the epidural early and hit it hard.”

Few options?  What a regretful mindset to be in.

When I read an article like this, my response is two-fold:  1) What a missed opportunity this person bypassed to learn the true depths of her strength as a woman, a mother, an individual.  2) How many women have read this same article and, once again, have had reiterated for them the unfair notion that childbirth is little more than a sentence to hours of optionless misery that you can do nothing other than “grin and bear it” through?

For women who are so frightened of birth, I wish them the time, courage and opportunity to watch films like this and this and this. And then, perhaps one or even a few of those women would be willing to go here for ongoing support in seeking/considering/planning for a gentle childbirth experience.

7 Comments

Filed under Childbirth Issues, family, From One Mother to Another, Mommy and Motherhood, natural childbirth, pregnancy, prenatal health

Money for Maternal Child Health: The Gates Foundation’s Newest Project

I am assuming by now, you’ve heard about the announcement Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation made this week about the $1.5billion the Foundation is poised to spend over the next five years for the purpose of saving maternal and child lives surrounding childbirth, as well as improving over all maternity care, in developing nations.

Gates’ announcement was made at the Women Deliver 2010 conference this past Wednesday, and according to the Women Deliver website, on a global scale, “at least one woman dies every 90 seconds from [childbirth] and another 20 suffer infection or disability, while four million newborns die every year. These grim numbers actually represent improvements over the last 20 years….”

What’s important to understand here, is that a majority of these deaths (particularly in developing nation environments) are EASILY prevented–given access to basic medication (antibiotics), trained birth attendants (in most cases, we’re not talking about trained surgeons, we’re talking knowledgeable midwives) and simple postpartum hemorrhage tools and techniques.

Again, from the Women Deliver website:

  • Every year, between 350,000 – 500,000 girls and women die from pregnancy-related causes. Almost all of these deaths (99%) occur in the developing world.
  • Ten million women are lost in every generation.
  • Four million newborn babies die every year, also from causes that are mainly preventable and typically linked to the mother’s health.
  • Huge disparities exist between rich and poor countries, and between the rich and poor in all countries.
  • One in eight Afghan women will die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and one in seven in Niger.
  • One in 4,800 women will die of these causes in the United States, and one in 17,400 in Sweden.

Map of women who will die due to complications during  pregnancy

If that doesn’t give you pause, it darned-well should.  Imagine seven or eight of your girlfriends…your aunts/sisters/mothers…which one of those seven or eight can you imagine losing to pregnancy-related causes?  Despite efforts by people like famed midwife Ina May Gaskin who continues her work on the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project, many of us living in developed nation environments can scarcely imagine what it would be like to lose a loved-one during the perinatal time period.  And those of us who do know someone who died following a pregnancy-related complication, may have experienced that tragedy as an aberration rather than a commonality.  Imagine the anxiety surrounding that time in a woman’s life when the stakes are so much higher than which we here in the US, UK, Australia, or most of Europe will  ever experience.

(Interestingly enough, considering the amazing access to medicine and well-informed maternity care, US women are still at an unacceptably increased risk when it comes to pregnancy and birth, especially when you compare our statistics to places like The Netherlands where the maternal perinatal mortality rate is approx. 9/100,000 births compared to our ~16/100,000.  In our reality, the problem most often boils down to overuse of technology…but that’s a whole different story.)

I’m excited to see what improvements will be orchestrated through The Gates Foundation contribution, and the global work being undertaken by researchers, activists, care providers, educators and citizens who choose to exercise their voices…all for the sake of improved outcomes for mothers and babies!

Leave a comment

Filed under Childbirth Issues, family, From One Mother to Another, Mommy and Motherhood, natural childbirth, politics, pregnancy, prenatal health

Birth/Breastfeeding Survey Update

Wowy-wow-wow!  We’re on a roll!

With now almost 100 responses to this survey, about medical interventions during childbirth and breastfeeding practices, the thing is finally going viral!  (Andrew, are you proud of me for using this techy term?)

Rather than list off all the locales we now have represtened, I’ll do the opposite:

Out of the fifty United States, plus territories, there are only 19 16 states left unaccounted for:

Alabama
Delaware
Guam
Hawaii (come on, folks.  I’m part Hawaiian!  Make me proud here!)
Kentucky
Maryland
Mississippi
Missouri
Nebraska
New Hampshire (someone from the Kerry family?  Anyone?)
New York
North Dakota
Northern Marianas islands
Ohio
Oklahoma
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Tennessee
Vermont
Wisconsin

After scanning the list, think very carefully:  do you know one single woman who’s given birth in the past five years who lives in one of these states?  Do you know more?  I want every state to have the chance of being represented in this survey.

This survey is about having a voice.  It is about tracking how we’re doing and what we are doing as the current childbearing generation.  How are we doing?  What are we doing?  Have you taken the time to browse other people’s responses?
What are you seeing?

I am certainly noticing a variety of trends in the responses but I will leave my complete analysis to another day.  But you know what I think is utterly and totally cool?  All sorts of birthing women are represeted here:  hospital birthers and home  birthers.  Water birthers and…um…dry birthers (is that an appropriate term?).  Women who experienced a bunch of medical interventions and women who had none are equally present here.  As are those somewhere in between.

While almost all of the responses are from women with some amount of breastfeeding experience–that number varies widely too. (Note:  women who did/have not breastfed their chil(ren) need not feel excluded from taking this survey.  Your input is valuable to me too!)

So thank you all for the gift of your time, consideration and answers.  Keep up the good work.  Keep spreading the news on this survey.  Keep thinking about the associations suggested in the questions contained in the survey.  What patterns do you see?

Leave a comment

Filed under breastfeeding, Childbirth Issues, family, From One Mother to Another, General Health, Kids, Living, Mommy and Motherhood, natural childbirth, pregnancy, prenatal health