The Dim-Post

February 9, 2012

I too have an opinion on the Piri Weepu bottle-feeding controversy

Filed under: health — danylmc @ 10:25 am

Background here if you have no idea what this is:

Piri Weepu has defended his decision to bottlefeed his daughter after footage of the All Black bottle-feeding her was cut from an anti-smoking advertisement.

The two-second glimpse of the Rugby World Cup star feeding his 6-month-old daughter Taylor was removed following concerns from pro-breastfeeding organisations the high-profile of Weepu would sway people away from breastfeeding their children.

However the decision to cut the footage has been widely criticised, with some pointing out men and many women cannot breastfed.

There’s been a lot of talk about ‘breastfeeding nazis’, with the presumption that everyone knows that breast-milk is best, there’s already huge cultural pressure on women to breastfeed etc, so more breastfeeding advocacy is excessive. Well, that’s true of white, middle-class New Zealand. And some of the mid-wives Maggie and I encountered during our pre-natal classes were, frankly, crack-pots who approached the issue of breast-feeding with religious hysteria, in which infant formula was evil and failure to breast-feed was child abuse. (actual example: the mid-wife who taught the lactation class we attended insisted that women who failed to breast-feed wouldn’t be able to get jobs when they were ready to go back to work, because employers preferred to hire woman who breast-fed.)

But this pro-breastfeeding culture isn’t universal:

Ministry of Health data (2006) shows that only about 66% of the general population breastfeed their newborns with this figure reducing to 55% at three months and just 25% at six months. While 59% of Maori mothers breast feed their newborns, dropping to 45% at 3 months and down to 17% still breast-feeding at six months. At the same time 57% of Pacific mothers breast feed their newborns, 48% at 3 months, with 19% still breast-feeding at six months. There are several other studies done by various researchers and the general trend appears that breastfeeding rates are not improving for New Zealand mothers including Maori and Pacific populations and the national targets are not met.

I talked about this with the pediatricians at the neo-natal ward: many Maori and Pacific Island mums simply refuse to even attempt breastfeeding. Those cultural pressures don’t seem to be there. One of the many advantages of breast-milk are the immunological benefits: you simply can’t get those protective and anti-microbal factors from formula milk. And children from those demographics least likely to be breastfed are the ones most likely to go home to poorly insulated houses that are overcrowded and shared with adults who smoke. They’re the children who most need to be breastfed, and they aren’t. So that’s where pro breastfeeding organisations are coming from. They’re actually losing the battle.

Having made that point, it seemed to me that all the advocacy for breast-feeding during the pre-natal period wasn’t matched by post-natal support. Wellington Hospital has a really, really high throughput model, in which mothers and children are sent home as quickly as possible, long before proper feeding is established. I don’t know if that’s standard across New Zealand, but it seems like pro-breastfeeding organisations could put more energy into lobbying for improved maternity care. All that advocacy is pretty futile if the health system doesn’t actually follow through on it.

85 Comments »

  1. Yeah, you’ve nailed it with your last comment there. To really improve breastfeeding rates you have to target groups who don’t even try (find out why and adopt a strategy that addresses that, don’t berate them), plus you have to put the resources in to help women when they hit the inevitable hurdles they face. But you have to make it attractive and well, not easy (because there is inevitably a point where it isn’t) but less hard anyway.

    Problems: Hospitals that chuck you out after a few hours or a day or two; hospitals with shared rooms so you get no sleep and no privacy; hospitals that are staffed so minimally that if your baby is on time and average weight, and you have family, you’re on your own; hospitals that don’t look after your baby at night so you don’t get a chance to recover from the birth; hospitals that turf you out before you have a chance to see a lactation consultant; midwives and Well Child providers who are paid to only visit you at set times and if you are low risk only visit you for the minimum they can get away with (so they can devote more time to high risk mothers and babes); a lack of information on mixed-methods (combining breast feeding with bottle feeding); and so forth.

    These are mostoly problems of resourcing not a lack of public advertising campaigns.

    Having said that, I’ve encountered a few women who, before their baby was born, were determined *not* to breastfeed and I found that weird. Yes, free choice and autonomy over your own body, but I wondered what information they had based their decision on.

    Comment by MeToo — February 9, 2012 @ 10:39 am

  2. How did they know it wasn’t breast milk in the bottle?

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 9, 2012 @ 10:46 am

  3. Yer point Sanc?

    Comment by MeToo — February 9, 2012 @ 10:48 am

  4. Piri Weepu hasn’t actually got the anatomical facility to lactate.

    Comment by Richard — February 9, 2012 @ 10:50 am

  5. Yer point Richard? I mean, why not state the obvious?

    Comment by MeToo — February 9, 2012 @ 10:53 am

  6. The problem with the La Leche League et al is their fundamentalist approach. They’ve gone beyond advocacy and into denying reality and common sense. LLL on breastfeeding is a bit like Family First on abstinance, you might like it to be that way but it sure as hell won’t be so in the real world. Weepu’s a good example but I’m aware anti-natal classes in Wellington won’t provide any information bottle feeding win the DHB subsidized bits. Tutors have to talk to people afterwards about it as if it were some illegal activity rather than a fact of life related to a necessary part of baby care. The daftest thing of all is that bottles are a bit of a nessessity for the old pump and pass to partner trick.

    Comment by Richard — February 9, 2012 @ 10:58 am

  7. @MeToo, well if the issue is with bottle feeding per se rather than formula as opposed to breast milk then it is an entirely different kettle of fish. I know a couple of mums who expressed breast milk just so their husbands could be involved in feeding their child, a great thing to do IMHO.

    But if this is just about the delivery mechanism for feeding then this has got more to do with the politics of child birth that child health A belief that the physical act of latching on is somehow innately a morally good act is simply crack-pot stuff.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 9, 2012 @ 10:58 am

  8. My baby was bottle fed breastmilk Sanc, so I appreciate the dynamics. But that’s not what this controversy is about.

    Comment by MeToo — February 9, 2012 @ 11:06 am

  9. I don’t get that it was for an anti-smoking ad. I have a bit more sympathy now or the LLL view. I had thought it must have been something about encouraging men to be invloved with the care of infants.

    But since it was about smoking, introducing the breast-feeding vs bottle-feeding issue was a bit clumsy.

    Comment by NeilM — February 9, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

  10. that shoud be “I didn’t get”

    Comment by NeilM — February 9, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

  11. You said “actual example: the mid-wife who taught the lactation class we attended insisted that women who failed to breast-feed wouldn’t be able to get jobs when they were ready to go back to work, because employers preferred to hire woman who breast-fed”

    that’s awesome! Definitely the first question I will ask when interviewing prospective staff from now on. Can’t see that getting you a law suit for discrimination (although the woman would likely just assume you weren’t hiring her because she had small children, rather than any other reason)🙂

    Comment by Amy — February 9, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

  12. a point of interest: in the early 70s the norm was for the staff to insist that women *do not* breastfeed. the mother-in-law did so and was apparently regarded by nursing staff as “a bad mother” for neglecting the nutritional needs of the child this way.

    Comment by Che Tibby — February 9, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

  13. >Tutors have to talk to people afterwards about it as if it were some illegal activity rather than a fact of life related to a necessary part of baby care.

    Indeed. I’m not convinced that acting this way actually encourages people to breastfeed. When they sense that some vast ideology is behind the tortuous process they are being subjected to, they simply turn away from the profession together, and it’s not like it’s difficult to buy a bottle and work out how to use it, nor is it entirely intuitive to subject a newborn child to suffering from hunger when the alternative is obviously available.

    A very easy compromise is to drop the bullshit about the breast itself, and focus on the breast *milk*, which can be delivered by a bottle. Then a child can have a mixture of both breast and bottle, giving males a chance to also bond in the very early stages of child rearing, and other people can do the feeding too, if both parents want a break – grandparents are usually gagging to get a go. I can’t see this as being unhealthy, that the child becomes accustomed to the tender love of a number of people rather than one exclusive person who is very often quite stressed out, and can be recovering from surgery, and is most certainly being sleep deprived.

    That way, mothers can slowly adjust to the fact that as the child gets stronger, the breast is actually the most convenient delivery in a lot of situations, kept naturally sterile, requiring no equipment, served at the right temperature, and can be enjoyable for them.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 9, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

  14. Che Tibby wrote: “a point of interest: in the early 70s the norm was for the staff to insist that women *do not* breastfeed. the mother-in-law did so”

    I’ve heard of wet-nursing, but only by a woman who had recently weaned a child of her own. How did they get the mother-in-law to lactate?

    Comment by kahikatea — February 9, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

  15. Then a child can have a mixture of both breast and bottle, giving males a chance to also bond in the very early stages of child rearing

    That’s hippy talk, Ben.
    It’s common knowledge that male bonding with children begins and ends with sporting events.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 9, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

  16. “It’s common knowledge that male bonding with children begins and ends with sporting events.”

    Wrong, it begins with a sound thrashing and ends with a clip around the ear.

    Comment by merv — February 9, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

  17. merv – I have always believed these are a subset of activities during aforementioned sporting events.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 9, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

  18. If this country is serious about breastfeeding, professional lactation consultants need to be subsidised post-natally. We had the experience of having a great pre-natal breastfeeding class that was very informative, but we still ran into inevitable problems post-natally. The hospital midwives were, mostly, useless and inconsistent when it came to getting our baby to breastfeed. After two weeks of expressing, tears and a few bottles of formula, we finally paid to get a professional lactation consultant to come in, who fixed up the problems in under 2 hours.

    Comment by Michael — February 9, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

  19. Maybe the LLL, being white and middle class, were uncomfortable that a middle class white prejudice was betrayed, and they would rather a maori father be shown chainsmoking and shaking his baby instead, not feeding it and holding it in a loving protective manner?

    Comment by gn — February 9, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  20. merv @16, I guess that’s supposed to be a joke but joking about violent child abuse these days is not a good look.

    Comment by Pete George — February 9, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

  21. don’t forget the fatherly mantras – tackleim, geddim, and geddupyaloser

    Comment by insider — February 9, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

  22. @ gn

    Nah it wouldn’t be the father, it would be a ‘partner’

    Comment by insider — February 9, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  23. >That’s hippy talk, Ben.

    Busted! m’Stoh!

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 9, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  24. “employers preferred to hire woman who breast-fed”
    What, pervy male employers? In the hope that the young mum will not be shy about popping out her engorged mammaries in the office to feed the child or express?
    Weird indeed.
    Our own experience does include running an underground campaign amongst those about to have their first child: get yourself an expressing kit and steam steriliser BEFORE the child is born, not on day-3 when mum’s breasts become so engorged that baby cannot latch on. Ever heard the noise a baby makes while it waits for you to (a) find a store that is open and selling expressing kits, then (b) boil all the components? Sure, it’s not overly loud, but it is incessent. And it is programmed to instil a sense of urgency in the parents.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 9, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

  25. CF: Wish I’d had that advice before my first! As it stands we got through with a mix of expressing/formula for 3 weeks until breastfeeding started to work properly, but the lack of information available means we really weren’t prepared.

    Comment by Simon Poole — February 9, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

  26. (And my partner got given shit by random members of the public for bottle feeding our son expressed milk. Infuriating)

    Comment by Simon Poole — February 9, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

  27. I don’t see the correlation between an image of a Maori sportsman bottle-feeding his baby daughter and women chosing to not breastfeed. If breastfeeding needs promoting, then promote it – but don’t stop people seeing other positive images of good parental care in the process. That doesn’t benefit anyone.

    Comment by Ataahua — February 9, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

  28. While it has not been to my knowledge extensively tested popular scientific thought is that any mammal with a nipple can be made to lactate. In the normal course of events an expectant mother’s body starts to produce milk because the right cocktail of hormones is produced. The same thing happens in hysterical pregnancies and when women wet-nurses (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_nurse).

    So Richard you are incorrect Piri does actually have the anatomical facilities to breast feed. It just wouldn’t be easy, and would in all likelihood only be possible by administering the appropriate hormones. But I’d suggest that all of the Oestrogen and HPL et al would be detrimental to his usefulness as a rugby player. A couple of references for you
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=strange-but-true-males-can-lactate
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_lactation

    And my 2c as someone who has seen a couple of babies unnecessarily starve because their mothers were so determined to only breast feed, the message shouldn’t even be breast is best. It should be to provide babies with adequate and optimal nutrition.

    Comment by R Singers — February 9, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

  29. As someone who is going to go through this with my wife in about 8 months time, its an interesting debate. I have had friends being pressured and made to feel like failures because they simply can’t breastfeed for whatever reason. That is wrong.

    There is also some conjecture about the benefits of feeding exclusively breast milk to the age of 6 months http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/jan/14/six-months-breastfeeding-babies-scientists

    Comment by max — February 9, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

  30. There has been talk of Nazis but as the artical says, HSC asked LLL etc what they thought of the ad and they gave their opinion. Well, why wouldn’t they? It was HSC’s decision to change it, not LLL’s.
    (I have no affiliation with either, nor do I have kids, so I am an expert).
    The ad’s intention was to change the way people behave around their kids which is somewhat at odds with the “They are my kids, I’m not going to have anyone tell me how to raise me kids” remark.

    It’s odd though. Women have had to breastfeed forever until 100 years ago, else the kid just died, and we did have an awful infant mortality rate.
    But even when there were no artificial alternatives those who could often outsourced the job to wet nurses. I guess it must be an awful job, but everything about having kids seems to be.
    More support for parents with young kids sounds like a good idea to me.

    Comment by Roger Parkinson (@RogerParkinson) — February 9, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

  31. To be honest, you don’t want people in hospitals longer than possible. Hospitals are full of sick people, and sickness is, after all, contagious.

    (They’re also full of medical personnel, who are pretty dangerous.)

    So I don’t think it is really a great idea to keep mothers and children in hospital longer: a better model has to be around better care outside the hospital.

    Comment by Keir — February 9, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

  32. merv @16, I guess that’s supposed to be a joke but joking about violent child abuse these days is not a good look.

    Agreed Pete. Because as I recall, violence against children used to be goddamn hilarious.
    Top marks for sanctimony, Sir.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 9, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

  33. “I talked about this with the pediatricians at the neo-natal ward: many Maori and Pacific Island mums simply refuse to even attempt breastfeeding.”

    tl:dr version – when I talk about the need for public education I’m not talking about me and my peers, who of course have got it all figured out, but about poor people with their silly ways.

    Comment by Hugh — February 9, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

  34. Gregor – talking and joking about thrashing kids used to often go unchallenged, which left an impression of tacit acceptance of violence as being ok.Unfortunately to too many people it was (and still is) seen as normal.

    I get asked what solutions I have to problems. I used to be a silent non-violent person thinking violence wasn’t my problem, until I recognised silence could contribute contribute to the problem of apparently normal violence. So now I speak up against violence to try and make it clear it shouldn’t be normal and acceptable.

    I try not to be accusative and gave merv the benefit of the doubt in suggesting he may have just been joking, but wanted him – and others who may have read it – to know I don’t think joking and glorifying violence is a good look.

    Can you suggest how I could have said it better?

    Comment by Pete George — February 9, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

  35. Another little spanner in the works is the recommendation that you should avoid bottles entirely for the first couple of months as the mechanics involved are very different for the baby. If they get used to the speed of delivery from a bottle as well as the sucking (as opposed to lapping) motion of bottle feeding then breast feeding can be much harder.

    This is starting to sound like a huggies.com forum.

    Comment by Phil — February 9, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

  36. @ Pete

    I would have suggested saying nothing because it was very clearly, nay, blindingly obvious, that the comment was in jest.

    And for the record, I don’t consider ‘tsk-tsk’ing as offering a solution to a problem.

    But then, that’s just me.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 9, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

  37. @Gregor – it’s just one part of many ways to try and resolve our horrendous rate of child abuse in New Zealand. Saying nothing has been a dismal failure.

    Yes, it was probably said in intended jest, but you can’t be sure about that, can you?

    And regardless, “it begins with a sound thrashing and ends with a clip around the ear” is clearly, nay, blindingly obviously not funny to me. Nor do I think it’s funny for all the kids out there for whom sound thrashings are part of their normal daily terror.

    That’s not just me.

    Comment by Pete George — February 9, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

  38. Jestless: NARK angels

    Comment by Pete George — February 9, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

  39. @peter George – I think most people reading the ‘sound thrashing’ comment will see it as a joke even if you can’t, for future reference why don’t you assume the average readership if this blog is say… a bit more ‘well rounded’ than some of the other blogs you spray your comments around.

    Comment by ieuan — February 9, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  40. Good post Danyl. you are an excellent clarifier. And Che, I had my babies from 1975 to 1982. Breastfeeding was definitely becoming fashionable in the mid 70s. LLL were in fine form by then and as an educated middle class mum I was determined to breastfeed and had the week plus in hospital to help me on my way. I remember my own mother bottle feeding one of my brothers with cows milk, water and sugar. That would have been in the late 50s, early 60s. There was a certain prudery and squeamishness about it prior to the 70s if I recall and the LLL, while fanatical, helped to turn that around.

    Comment by Maura — February 9, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

  41. >If they get used to the speed of delivery from a bottle as well as the sucking (as opposed to lapping) motion of bottle feeding then breast feeding can be much harder.

    Or conversely, as with my son, they can be encouraged to suck because they get something for the effort. It does rather depend on the bottle itself and how it is used. I managed to get my boy out of the hospital only after we had taught him to suck with a Habermann teat, that lets the adult control the flow by turning the bottle. Only after this did he finally learn how to breast feed.

    He’s unusual because he was disabled by brain damage at birth, so many of his fundamental reflexes are uncoordinated and have had to be trained. But even with all that going on, with us stuck in NICU for six weeks, I was only able to access information that a Habermann teat even *existed* after we had satisfied the medical system that we’d suffered enough, and that a child being fed through a nasal gastric tube is actually better off getting it through a bottle. They didn’t want to “confuse” him, but that wasn’t really an issue – he wasn’t getting it at all from the endless tortuous sessions where nurses pushed him onto the nipple, after tweaking it really hard, many times a day, and extracted the milk with a syringe, and tried to trick him by dribbling it in whilst pushing the nipple on. I was even taught to stimulate his tongue in the right pulsing manner, the poor little guy spent hours with my finger in his mouth convulsively sucking and getting nothing except dribbles of breast milk.

    I can’t be sure that all of it put together didn’t cumulatively contribute to him finally getting it, but the bottle was the final thing, and he took to it with such gusto, probably because getting milk by sucking is something that we are hardwired to respond to, the feedback loop of finally getting a decent meal by sucking, that I can’t help but feel we (and he) suffered needlessly for several weeks. I expect most people who have struggled with the breast and then tried the bottle have experienced this powerful feedback loop, which feels incredibly natural and good, with the child showing all the most obvious signs of contentment, that it is indeed tempting to think that the medical profession somehow doesn’t get it at all. Which is false, but I don’t think they sell themselves well, indeed I felt strongly that many of the practitioners felt conflicted about it, because they are also about health over politics, and they instinctively don’t like not being able to tell people the truth about their options.

    Latching is actually important too, supposedly the breast sucking motion is important in speech development. Breast is best. But it’s not everything.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 9, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

  42. ieuan – do you think that comment was funny? (I presume you can speak for yourself if not for the average blog readership)

    Have you considered that violence against kids happens across the demographics, even including the ‘well rounded’.

    Comment by Pete George — February 9, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

  43. Pete – for the love of God man, we get it.

    1. Child abuse=awful
    2. You are the arbiter of family values, common sense and good taste on the interwebs
    2. You humour has been surgically excoriated and replaced with pomposity

    Where the fuck is Rhinocrates when you actually>/i> need him?!
    Soaked I suspect.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 9, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

  44. The thing is Gregor, you’re making it obvious you don’t get it (I see you’re speaking for ‘we’ again, are you official spokesperson here? Maybe not if you want some help.)

    Comment by Pete George — February 9, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

  45. Righto Pete. I have just unanimously and undemocratically elected myself as the official spokesman and representative of ‘We’.

    Please address further questions vis-à-vis what may or may not constitute humour on this blog to The Department of Tedious Pedantic Buggers.

    That is all.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 9, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  46. Where the fuck is Rhinocrates when you actually>/i> need him?!
    Soaked I suspect.

    Worse. Marking assignments. Oh God, the pain.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 9, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

  47. Dear Sir, s
    I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about the comment you have just posted about the male who clips their childrens’ ears. Many of my best friends are men, and only a few of them are transvestites.
    Yours faithfully,
    Brigadier Sir Charles Arthur Strong, Mr.
    P.S. I have never kissed the editor of the Radio Times.

    Comment by garethw — February 9, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

  48. “Worse. Marking assignments. Oh God, the pain.”

    Ha ha.

    Figures.

    Comment by will — February 9, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

  49. That’s weak garethw. A weak clip around the ear probably won’t do any damage, depending on the context and frequency. But beware, clipping around the ear or any blow to the head is now an assault offence, for good reason.

    Who would risk brain damage of their child? Too many people apparently.

    Comment by Pete George — February 9, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

  50. Oh come on Pete. I know Gareth can be a bit of a wet but it seems like a harmless joke to me.

    Comment by will — February 9, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  51. “48.That’s weak garethw. A weak clip around the ear probably won’t do any damage, depending on the context and frequency. But beware, clipping around the ear or any blow to the head is now an assault offence, for good reason. ”

    Really?

    I would have thought that the difference between a “weak clip around the ears” and and a strong clip around the ears was the emotion of the moment.

    As a father I can tell you there are alternatives to any form of physical response to kid issues. The whole culture of physical response needs go, I have worked and lived with cultures who have never touched their children in discipline… oh ffs its not really worth trying to explain is it?

    Comment by gn — February 9, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  52. Excuse me! Did not this post start with breast feeding and bottle feeding?

    How the hell did it wind up about “clipping ears”?

    Comment by peterlepaysan — February 9, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  53. What is this clipping of ears you are talking of is this a local saying?

    Comment by max — February 9, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

  54. New parents need a lot of support… and mostly they get SFA help and a truckload of sneering or ill-informed advice.

    I had four babies in four and a half years (3 of them emergency C sections. See how I felt I had to add the ’emergency’ bit in there?)

    I still remember with love the friend who came every Tuesday afternoon, sent me to bed, looked after the babies, vacuumed the house and put tea on.

    If everyone who criticised a young struggling family was handed a broom and a bucket,a pot of spuds to peel or a stack of washing to fold they’d soon shut up…

    Comment by sunny — February 10, 2012 @ 6:09 am

  55. I think the gentleman who awarded ‘top marks for sanctimony’ possibly nailed the underlying issue that afflicts much of the mentality surrounding issues relating to child-rearing. It’s impossible to talk to people whose minds are so infected with ideologically-driven ideas of what is ‘correct’ that they unintentionally lampoon their own opinions and in the end jeopardise their right to be taken seriously.

    Comment by Eric Blair — February 10, 2012 @ 6:49 am

  56. Eric, do you think the mentality surrounding the supporting of jokes about thrashing children is not a serious issue?

    Protecting kids from violence is hardly an ‘ideologically-driven idea’, is it?

    It looks like all (just a few) men on here are supporting child abuse jokes. Trying telling the blokey joke to your girlfriends, wives, partners, sisters and mothers. See how funny they think it is. (I’ve tried this to see what response I’d get)

    Comment by Pete George — February 10, 2012 @ 7:15 am

  57. Pete, I have. In most social groups a jokey comment about a ‘clip around the ear’ or a ‘sound thrashing’ is taken with the jest that is is given with.

    Comment by merv — February 10, 2012 @ 8:20 am

  58. merv, don’t you see that jesting about such things can be seen as social approval for actually doing those things – and we know there is a culture of thrashing kids in New Zealand. Jesting is a part of that culture, often inadvertent but nevertheless it supports the culture.

    Comment by Pete George — February 10, 2012 @ 8:27 am

  59. And merv – some of those who joke about thrashing their kids will be some of those who actually do thrash their kids, possibly remembering the laughs they got.

    Comment by Pete George — February 10, 2012 @ 8:30 am

  60. I’m aware this has moved off topic (although it does relate to how we treat our babies). Thanks to Danyl’s tolerance. If anyone wants to discuss this any more you can do it here, I’ve posted on our culture of violence:

    Have you heard the one about men thrashing children?

    Comment by Pete George — February 10, 2012 @ 8:45 am

  61. Which reminds me….

    Q: What did the Gestapo say to the Cuckoo Clock?
    A: Ve have vays of making you tock!

    Holy shit Pete! Lampooned Germans and inadvertently but apparently nevertheless, gave my tacit approval to National Socialism and torture in a single, not very tasteful (or funny) jest.

    Possibly auto-Godwinned as well.

    Where is Joris de Bres when you need him?

    Comment by Gregor W — February 10, 2012 @ 8:52 am

  62. Oh dear lord Gareth, flagellate yourself immediately.

    Comment by merv — February 10, 2012 @ 8:56 am

  63. er, Gregor.

    Comment by merv — February 10, 2012 @ 8:57 am

  64. Oh and Pete, keep your snide asides alluding to my possible status as a child beater to yourself. Theres a good chap.

    Comment by merv — February 10, 2012 @ 9:02 am

  65. merv – it wasn’t intended as a ‘snide aside’ directed at you, it was stating something obvious in general. I have no idea about you specifically.

    I remember an old classmate joking about giving his son a good belt around the ear at a school reunion, and everyone knew he was also serious.
    I remember a sports teammate joking about giving his wife a fat lip for ‘giving him lip’, and everyone knew he was also serious.

    In both those cases there were sparse grins and everyone else was emotionless – and silent. Tacit approval.

    Comment by Pete George — February 10, 2012 @ 9:24 am

  66. Look in the mirror then.

    Comment by merv — February 10, 2012 @ 9:33 am

  67. > employers preferred to hire woman who breast-fed.

    I wonder how employers know the difference.🙂 Certainly La Leche come across as overly zealous on this issue. The big picture is that if the child is well cared for, does it really matter how they’re fed? I must admit I haven’t seen any research showing that breast-fed babies live longer happier lives than bottle fed babies.

    Comment by Ross — February 10, 2012 @ 9:40 am

  68. Pete, why don’t you volunteer your time to one of the organisations that help prevent domestic abuse rather than waste it hassling people who comment on a blog site?

    Comment by ieuan — February 10, 2012 @ 9:43 am

  69. ieuan – I do volunteer my time to address domestic abuse. One of those I’m actively involved with is NARK – so named because it’s based on speaking up about violence against kids. So I speak up on blogs.

    A bit of hassling on a blog is nothing compared to a lot of bashing of kids. Toughen up.

    Comment by Pete George — February 10, 2012 @ 9:52 am

  70. merv – I did look in the mirror. And since then I’ve been determined to do what I can to make a difference, by not remaining silent.

    Comment by Pete George — February 10, 2012 @ 9:54 am

  71. I must admit I haven’t seen any research showing that breast-fed babies live longer happier lives than bottle fed babies.

    There is quite a bit of evidence. It’s worth recalling that the pro-breast feeding movement was in large part a reaction to the aggressive marketing of infant formula which did have considerable negative health effects. Things have moved on since then with better formulas and more ethical marketing but there’s it’s stil a significant issue in some communities and some countries.

    Comment by NeilM — February 10, 2012 @ 10:03 am

  72. Good on you Pete. Can you take your effort elsewhere?

    Comment by merv — February 10, 2012 @ 10:26 am

  73. Neil

    You might like to post links to that evidence.

    Comment by Ross — February 10, 2012 @ 10:52 am

  74. This study suggests that there is no difference in the weight and helght of children who are bottle- or breast-fed. I have also seen a meta study which suggests that there is no difference in blood pressure of the two groups.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14508217

    Comment by Ross — February 10, 2012 @ 11:02 am

  75. Obviously designed for purpose breast milk is going to usually be better for the baby, unless of course it isn’t available in which case hygenically prepared formula is the next best option.

    WHO and UNICEF warned that “lack of breastfeeding – and especially lack of exclusive breastfeeding during the first half-year of life – are important risk factors for infant and childhood morbidity and mortality”.

    In particular, the use of infant formula in less economically-developed countries is linked to poorer health outcomes because of the prevalence of unsanitary preparation conditions, including lack of clean water and lack of sanitizing equipment.UNICEF estimates that a formula-fed child living in unhygienic conditions is between 6 and 25 times more likely to die of diarrhea and four times more likely to die of pneumonia than a breastfed child.

    WHO, UNICEF and other national and international health agencies, with few exceptions, now recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Infant formula is considered an imperfect approximation of breast milk because:

    – The exact chemical properties of breast milk are not fully understood.
    – A mother’s breast milk changes in response to the feeding habits of her baby and over time, thus adjusting to the infant’s individual growth and development.
    – Breast milk includes the mothers’ antibodies that help the babies avoid or fight off infections and give their immature immune systems the benefit of their mothers’ immune system that has many years of experience with the germs common in their environments.

    Most of the risk now seems to be in poorer countries, but are we in that category with the levels of poverty being talked about here?

    There’s more interesting information in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infant_formula

    Comment by Pete George — February 10, 2012 @ 11:23 am

  76. ‘Obviously designed for purpose breast milk is going to usually be better for the baby’

    Nothing about the human body is ‘designed’, we evolved and with that comes a whole host of compromises and baggage.

    Breast is best in an ideal situation where the mother has a plentiful supply and when compared to formula prepared in unhygienic circumstances then there really is no debate.

    But flip that around and if you have a mother with an inadequate supply to meet the baby’s needs and there is a ready-made alternative in formula then really the answer should be ‘do what works for you’.

    And conveniently evolution has also given most of us a brain big enough to make that decision without kowtowing to the ‘we know best for you’ brigade.

    Comment by ieuan — February 10, 2012 @ 11:53 am

  77. @max What is this clipping of ears you are talking of is this a local saying?

    “Clipping of ears” is the practise of making small length-wise incisions through the ears. Typically performed on young male babies, especially those with large ears. It destroys the aerodynamic characteristics of the baby’s ears and thus prevents him inadvertently flying away. Most popular in windy places such as Wellington and Palmerston North.

    Comment by Richard — February 10, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

  78. Pete

    Thanks for the info. I was more interested in any research in the developed world. But the research you refer to may not be a problem with bottle-feeding as such but the lack of hygiene associated with it.

    Comment by Ross — February 10, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

  79. Nestlé was one of the companies that came in for a lot of criticism because of their aggressive marketing of infant formula but have since responded to that criticism. On their site they emphasise the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months:

    Although exclusive breastfeeding rates have been increasing in Africa and Asia over the past 10 to 15 years, UNICEF’s statistics show the necessity to continue to educate mothers about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding during the 6 first months of age and the introduction of appropriate and nutritious complementary food thereafter.

    http://www.babymilk.nestle.com/breastfeeding-is-best/breastfeeding-in-developing-countries/Pages/default.aspx

    Comment by NeilM — February 10, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

  80. What does one do with the ear clippings? I throw my toenail clippings out the window, because the snails like them.

    I was about 14 when I heard the joke about the activity that is more fun than swinging a baby round on a clothes line. “When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth.” George Bernard Shaw

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 10, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  81. meh, “spade” sounds better than “shovel”. It’s all about the wording:
    “What’s more fun than swinging a baby round on a clothesline? Stopping it with a spade.” The use of the words “dead baby” tends to see the laughs leak away. Words and mental pictures are what make “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” funny.

    What’s 2 feet high and can’t fit into an elevator/What’s 2 feet high and walks down a corridor going “clang, clang, clang?”
    Why do seagulls fly upside down over Australia?

    Am I allowed to tell a joke that has the Pope in it? And a penis? Can I link to Hilter downfall vids? Can African Americans say “sup nigger” to each other? Does free-speach exclude jokes? Does it exclude pictures of men feeding babies?

    Want to know what Ithink is NOT funny? Videos of people injurying themselves. Well, MOST of them are not funny.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 10, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

  82. Something new to add to the discussion:

    Breastfeeding helps reduce asthma: study

    Breastfeeding has a protective effect against asthma and wheezing for children aged up to 6, University of Otago research shows.

    Its findings should support a global public health message to breastfeed, the study’s lead author says.

    Not surprising as it involves allergy immunity.

    Comment by Pete George — February 11, 2012 @ 11:17 am

  83. I hope that’s 6 months and not six years.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 13, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

  84. This book is authoritative about the evidence for breastfeeding, while making one’s blood boil about the folly and, alas sometimes, venality of the social and commercial forces that stop this vital function of early life and parenting from being the norm. It’s a great read about a vital public health service.” Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy, City University London
    http://www.pinterandmartin.com/product/The_Politics_of_Breastfeeding%3A_When_breasts_are_bad_for_business_978-1-905177-16-5

    breastfeeding is mostly not done in Ireland and UK. most of them use formula. big business 1, kids 0

    Comment by Fred Jones — April 10, 2012 @ 3:08 pm


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