For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Even breastfeeding is being marketed ...

... as being "green."

With World Breastfeeding Week coming up, there's good reason to promote breastfeeding.  Like everything else these days, there are those that will turn just about anything into an environmental issue.  :-P  I happen to be very much in favour of extended breastfeeding.  I bf'd both my girls for about 3 years each.  This was an accomplishment with my elder daughter.  Hers was a hospital birth with two shots of demerol, an epidural and forceps.  The only reason I agreed to the drugs was because the hospital staff lied to me, saying they would not have any effect on her.  She was drugged out for several days and, when they finally wore off, no longer instinctively knew how to nurse.  After a disasterous first week that was ended only with the help of a La Leche League leader (the dr's didn't even know what to look for), we finally figured it out.  By then, I was so badly injured on one side, I couldn't use it until it healed.  When it did, my daughter would no longer even try to nurse on that side, so for the next three years, I had one breast several sizes than the other. *L*  This actually worked out well.  I never had to remind myself to switch sides.  With my second daughter, born at home without any drugs at all, nursing was never any problem, though I did find myself tempted by the convenience of nursing one sided again, anyways. *L*

With my first pregnancy, my husband and I went to prenatal classes.  At one point, the nurse teaching the class asked who planned to bf their babies.  All the pregnant moms raised their hands, with a lot of "of course, it's best for baby" type comments.  After everyone in the class had their babies, there was a get together with all our babies. All the babies were 3-6 weeks old.  What I found interesting was that, of all the people there, I was the only one who had actual problems with nursing - and I was the only one still nursing!  All the other moms had tried to bf, but quickly gave up.  One even went to far as to thicken her baby's formula with cereal.  Considering who adamant everyone had been about bf'ing before, I couldn't believe how quickly they all gave up, even though none of them actually had problems bf'ing.

Bottle feeding will never go away, and I don't think it should.  There will always be babies who, for one reason or another, cannot nurse.  Today's formulas, as inferior as they are in many ways, are a significant improvement on the early baby foods used when bf'ing wasn't an option.  In a perfect world, bf'ing would be the norm with bottle feeding available, without guilt, for those rare occaisions where bf'ing isn't possible.

I won't go into any of that now, though.  Instead, I wanted to respond to the current re-marketing of bf'ing as being the "green" thing to do.  Apparently, the greens are just discovering this now.  Go figure.

In the Sun Media, today, I found lists of 10 reasons to breastfeed, and environmental reason to bf.  Here's my take on both...

10 Great Reasons to Breastfeed

1. It's free.

I'm glad this one is first, actually.  We were pretty broke with both our kids, and not having to worry about money for formula really took away a lot of stress (that and those feel-good hormones that get released while bf'ing... ;-D).  I can't believe how expensive infant formula is!  How can anyone afford it???

2. Health Canada, The Canadian Paediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend it.

Personally, I wouldn't consider this a plus.  Medical organizations go through their fads just like any other and, quite frankly, I don't consider them necessarily reliable.

3. Breastfeeding is associated with higher IQs. 

 Junk science alert.  "Associated with" is meaningless.  It just means there's a correlation.  Correleation does not equal causation, but it does make for a good selling point for all those new "smart baby" infant formulas out there. :-P

4. It is nature's most perfect food, custom designed for human babies.

 This is absulutely correct.  All mammals product milk specific to their species, which is why cow's milk has to be modified so much before it can be safely used for human babies.  As it is, goat's milk is closer to human milk than cow's, but cow's milk is more plentiful and cheaper.  Early commercial infant formulas used the milk byproducts left behind in the making of other dairy products.  The manufacturers used to throw it away until they found a market for it in baby formula.  This actually meant less waste, but it didn't make it any easier for human infant digestive systems to handle.

5. Breastfeeding means more sleep for baby (and mom and dad!)

 I certainly found it so.  Especailly after I figured out how to nurse lying down (being as large as I was, the recommended way didn't work).  Since I was sleeping with my daughter anyway, this immediately added another 2 hours of sleep to my nights.  My daughter would start fussing, I'd roll into postion, she's latch on, and we'd both drift back to sleep.  Not that she had to fully awake in the first place.  What bliss!

6. Breastfed babies get fewer cavities and have healthier dental and jaw development.

 I don't know.  It didn't stop my elder daughter from having jaws that are shorter than they should be, resulting in malpostioned teeth.  I think genetics plays a stronger roll, though nursing certainly helps.

7. Sweeter smelling diapers. 

 True enough, but they still stink. *L*

8. Breastfeeding makes for happier, healthier babies.

 There's truth to this statement, but it seems to imply that bottlefed babies are neither happy, nor healthy, which isn't true. 

9. Breastfeeding is great for moms, too. It helps to shrink the uterus, prevent postpartum hemorrhaging and increases weight loss. 

 Helping shrink the uterus is one of the side benefits of the hormones released while nursing.  Regarding the weight loss, that's misleading.  Breastfeeding does seem to use up some of the mother's fat reserves, particularly from the "saddlebags" on the thighs - at least it seems to.  That does not actually mean there will be weight loss, since weight is more complex than simple adiposity.

10. It's what breasts were designed for! 

True enough.  Too bad our culture sexualizes them so much.

Environmental Benefits of Breastfeeding

- No garbage. 

Unless breast pads are used.  There are disposable ones as well as washable types.  They do a decent job of preventing stains from leaking.

- Saves energy. No factories are required to manufacture it.

I'm not sure "saves energy" is the right term to use here.  There's a lot more involved when using factories as an example.  Quite a lot of resources go into manufactuing infant formula, including research and development.

- Saves electricity. Breastmilk doesn't need to be refrigerated or heated.

 Isn't electricity energy?  :-/  The point is quite accurate, though.  This is particularly important in those areas of the world that do not have reliable refrigeration or safe water supplies.  This is where the Politics of Breastfeeding comes into play.  Some serious ethical issues involved.  Even in first world nations, with clean water and refridgeration reliably available, I think there's a tendancy for people to forget that keeping a bottle in the diaper bag for hours while going about the day is potentially dangerous.

- Saves gas. Fewer trips to the supermarket, drug store, doctor's office and hospital. 

 I'm not so sure about this one.  With the supermarket and drug store, it would save gas only if parents are making trips just to buy formual seperate from all their other shopping.  While I can see people making an dash to the store if they run out unexpectedly, but generally people will buy formula at the same time they're doing their grocery shopping, etc.  The dr's office and hospital again makes it seem like bottle fed babies are all so much sicker than bf babies.  I don't think the difference is enough to make that much of a difference in overall gas useage.

- Breastfeeding means fewer cow-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

 Nope.  Sorry, but bf'ing isn't going to change the number of cows there are in the world.  Even if infant formual became uncommon, used only when medically needed, that won't change.  We don't have whole herds of dairy cows producing milk only for infant formula.  (And we'll just ignore the cow farts and burps causing global warming myth for now.) 

- No stuff to buy - formula, bottles, nipples and other paraphernalia.

 Not if the mother pumps and stores milk for future feedings, as many women who work out of home do successfully.  There aren't too many jobs out there were Mom can bring her baby to work to bf as needed.  Otherwise, yes, not having to get all that stuff is a definate bonus.

- Reduces the need for disposable sanitary products. 

 Yes and no on an individual basis. Some lucky women have delayed menses for the entire time they're nursing.  Me?  I didn't last 6 months. :-P

- Effective birth control when none else is available.

Again, this is an individual thing, but nursing and frequent physical contact between mother and infact, especially skin to skin contact, does delay fertility.  Baby wearing and co-sleeping increases this effect.

Hmmm... the new version of blogger seems to have gotten rid of the spell check function.  Well, I've got other family members wanting the computer, so if there are any typos, I apologize now. ;-)

Monday, September 21, 2009

What if?

H/T to Climbing Out of the Dark for this. 

Apparently this is making the email rounds, though I've yet to see it elsewhere.  Just an example of some of the double standards that are out there...

If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a TelePrompTer installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how he inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?

If George W. Bush had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take Laura Bush to a play in NYC, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had reduced your retirement plan's holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?

If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent "Austrian language," would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?

If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current in their income taxes, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to "Cinco de Cuatro" in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?

If George W. Bush had misspelled the word advice would you have hammered him for it for years like Dan Quayle and potato as proof of what a dunce he is?

If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he's a hypocrite?

If George W. Bush's administration had okayed Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11?

If George W. Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans, would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?

If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?

If George W Bush had proposed to double the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved?

So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive?

Can't think of anything? Don't worry.

He's done all this in 5 months -- so you'll have three years and seven months to come up with an answer.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What is healthy?

Just going through my morning news, when I caught this headline.

Half of all fat people think they are healthy.

What does this mean?  Being a headline, you know it's a play on words.  With size bias being so rampant in our culture, my automatic interpretations tend to mentally add things like "but they're wrong..."  Using the phrase "think they are healthy," seems to imply that what they think does not reflect the reality.

Then the article itself opens with...

One in six obese Australians and more than half of the overweight population wrongly believe they are a healthy weight, a new survey has found.

Ah ha.  Right.  It's not actual health they're talking about.  It's a "healthy weight."  And, of course, these people are wrong to believe their own weight is a healthy weight. 

The tendency to judge ourselves against other people, rather than scientifically based weight guidelines, was ''normalising'' obesity, said the Heart Foundation, which commissioned the survey.

 Scientifically based weight guidelines?  The BMI, the article tells us, which is a totally useless measurement of health and was never originally intended to be one?  And of course, there's the dreaded "normalising" of obesity.  Because heaven forbid anyone should think themselves normal.

The survey of 1200 people found one in four people who are considered obese using the body mass index (BMI) rate their health as being very good or excellent, and one in five believe their risk of getting heart disease is low to very low.

So here we have a survey, where people are asked to rate their own health.  Did anyone follow up with these people and actually test their health indicators?  No.  It's completely self reported. 

So I ask you, who would better know what an individual's health is like?  The person filling in the survey, or the person reading it without ever having met, seen or examined the people surveyed?

Because the people surveyed are fat, as defined by the BMI, the people doing this survey seem to be concluding that they MUST be unhealthy, therefore any who claim their health to be very good or... dare I say it... excellent, must be delusional.

Let's look at this for a moment. 

I am fat.  No question about that.

Blood pressure?  Good
Cholesterol?  Good
Blood sugars?  Tending to the low side of the numbers, but still well within the "safe" range.
Diabetes? (T1 or T2)  No, and no family history
Liver function? (yes, I've had that tested.  It's not normally tested for, but I had been put on a prescription with a possible side effect of liver damage, so it was being monitored.)  Good
Heart?  Good with no family history of heart disease.
Lungs?  Aside from my chronic cough, healthy, with some tests rating me healthier then average.  In fact, according to the tests, I shouldn't have a cough.
Allergies?  None that I know of.
Cancer?  No.  The only direct family member to get cancer in my family is my grandmother, who was killed by an undiagnosed brain tumor.  She was in her 80's and, according to her medical check up the day she died, she was in good healthy - except for the "snakes" in her head that she kept complaining about.  After her dr's visit, she lay down for a nap and never woke up.

I also don't smoke, don't drink, eat a variety of foods in moderation, and get as much exercise as I am physically able to.

Based on my family history, I'm going to be a fat woman in my late 80's when something kills me.  So I've got another 40+ years to go, yet.

What problems do I have?  Aside from the cough already mentioned, I have post traumatic osteoarthritis in my feet and knees. Probably some arthritis in my fingers and right wrist.  Tennis elbow in my left elbow that is still bothering me.  All of these are related to injury or over use, and are not caused by being fat.  Most predate my weight gain, so if there's any association to make, it would be that they have caused some weight gain due to restricted mobility.  The lump I found in my breast?  A cyst posing no health risk, though it will be monitored.  Again, unrelated to my weight.

Based on repeated medical tests and examinations, I can honestly say that my health is very good.

Any guess what?  My risk of heart disease really is very low, for two reasons. 1) family history and 2) I've never gone on a diet, therefore my heart has never had to go through the stress of yo-yo dieting.

Yet, according to the people who did this survery, the mere fact that I am fat means that I should not believe my own health to be good in any way.  In spite of all evidence to the contrary, the very fact that I am fat should mean that I am unhealthy. 

By extension, being thin should mean healthy, and we all know that thin people never had heart attacks, strokes, get cancer or diabetes, have high blood pressure and cholesterol levels...

Uh huh.

Thanks, but no thanks.  I'll deal with my real problems, not imaginary ones because people who know nothing about me think I should, simply because of my weight.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Let us always remember.  Not just the tragedy of this day.  We need to remember that there are still those, like the terrorists who commited suicide to accomplish this, who would gladly see it done again.  
It isn't over yet.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Which side am I on?

My friends in BC are pretty upset with the Campbell government right now. There are massive cuts to arts happening right now. A lot of them are highly involved with the arts community, so these cuts will affect them directly.

I find myself torn about the whole thing.

On the one hand, I don't believe that it's the government's responsibility to fund things like the arts. I believe that governments' priorities need to be with things like infrastructure, uploading law and order, including maintaining the police and military, medicare, public education, and ensuring the smooth running of the country. Once those basic requirements are tended to, then the government can look towards supporting "extras" such as the arts.

Right now, we're still in a global recession. Even though Canada has been withstanding the storm better than any other country, with some provinces completely untouched by the tumult, we still need to be vigilant to ensure things don't tank. Especially with what's going on in the US, since our economies are to closely integrated.

So to me, this is the time for governments to prioritize what needs to be taken care of, and the arts don't fall into that. As harsh as it might sound, these are the sorts of things governments need to cut back on; it is not the government's responsibility to promote and fund the arts. If people really feel passionately about it, this is the time for the private sector to step in.

Personally, I think a lot of the pain they're feeling is self inflicted. We live within walking distance of several stage theatre companies, music halls, and art galleries, yet the only events we've been able to take in are the free promotions. Why? Because as much as we'd like to support the arts and go to these shows, we can't afford the tickets. We could afford one, maybe two, in the cheap seats, but there's four of us and there's just no way we can justifiably squeeze that out of our budget. If I have to choose between buying art supplies for my daughter and buying a ticket to a symphony, my daughter's art supplies will win every time.

Oh, yeah. My daughter is an artist. A very good one, too, and constantly pushing herself to be better. She plans on making her art her career, and she's adamant that she will do this without any sort of grants or handouts from the government. Personally, I think she's fully capable of accomplishing that.

So as much as I empathize with my friends who are upset about the funding cuts, I can't completely agree with them, since I don't consider arts funding a priority for government resources. If people want the arts supported, more of them need to put their money where their mouth is, and if they can't afford it, then find some other way to do it. Even in rough economic times, there are wealthy people who can and do support the arts, as do businesses. I think, in many ways, people forget that the arts are, in fact, a commercial enterprise. If one cannot support themselves and their art without government grants and subsidies, perhaps they're not as good as they think they are. Lord knows there are some incredibly horrible things passing as "art" our tax dollars are supporting that I really wish they weren't.

On the other hand, the same people that are cutting arts funding are giving themselves raises, bonuses and perks.

Sorry, Dude, but if your in government during a recession and believe that arts funding cannot be afforded, then neither can your pay raise be afforded.

I'm not against funding for the arts at all - I think it's great if governments, at all levels, can support the arts. It helps add to the vibrancy of the community and can be a valuable hand up to budding artists. At the same time, I think government funding of arts shouldn't be a priority, and that too many arts organizations use that funding as a crutch - not to mention too many crappy artists who's tripe should never see the light of day are basically living off our tax dollars.

Which leaves me wondering. Which side of the issue am I on?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Life support?

You know, I've getting really tired of Ignatieff's bluster.

Iggy says Tories on "life support"

SUDBURY — Michael Ignatieff says the Harper government is on “life support” — and he sounds like he may be ready to pull the plug.

The Liberal leader kicked off a summer caucus retreat Monday on a hawkish note, suggesting he’s keener to force a fall election than some of his strategists.

“We’ve kept this government on life support for 10 months,” Ignatieff said, noting that Liberals supported last January’s recession budget despite deep reservations.

“But in June I made it clear that in a whole number of areas, the government’s performance was letting Canada down and it hasn’t got better over the summer.”

Ever since Ignatieff has taken the Liberal leadership chair, he's been threatening to tear down the federal government. The problem is that all but the must delusional of his supports know that the Libs are in no position to do anything of the sort right now. It would be political suicide. So all he can really do is bluster and threaten. I keep getting this image in my mind of one of those old cartoons, where a tiny little dog is gnawing away on somebody's ankle, to no effect but a little irritation.

What I find really interesting is the language used when he's making these statements. They make it sound like the Libs are the ones with the actual power, and they're just letting the CPC stay in office. The reality is that Ignatieff and his Liberals are quite impotent right now. It makes me wonder who they're trying to convince that they're really so all-powerful that they can bring down the government at a whim - us voters, or themselves.

Personally, I'm finding that the more Ignatieff opens his mouth, the less I can take him seriously.