Posts Tagged ‘clare byam-cook’

Out of the mouths of babes…

February 4, 2010

So, this isn’t very radical, but I felt moved to share a little personal story. I want to share it particularly in light of the recent scandal with Clare Byam-Cook, and media coverage over feeding older babies. All too often, people – from C B-C, to woefully ignorant but actually practicing medical professionals, to the average person on the sofa – are quick to say that since there ‘no nutritional benefit’ after 6 minutes/weeks/months/one year (delete as appropriate depending on the speaker), older children do not need to breastfeed, and so continuing to nurse is clearly ‘for the mother’s benefit’. Some imply that this is a sort of psychosis of overprotective mothering, others go so far as to accuse mothers of child abuse for sexual gratification. Rarely do any of these people actually talk to any older nurslings. And so.

Yesterday was a challenging day with my toddler. We had to leave his best friend after a two day visit and travel for many hours on a variety of trains and busses, many of which were late. He was tired, he was sad, and I was trying so very hard to be patient. But by the 5th hour of travel, I’d run out of snacks (two oranges, a banana, and a box of crackers having gone down the hatch), and ideas too. It was well past his bed time, he kept asking to go back to his friend’s house, and to get off the train, etc. I was in that typical frazzled-mother state of just offering one thing after another – do you want a story? a song? a drink of water? – he looked at me, stopped whining and said, “no, I want mok” (his word for breastfeeding). I said, “oh, sure, no problem” (and mentally slapped myself for not having offered sooner, but he hadn’t looked like he was in the mood).

As he clambered happily into my lap, he explained to me, “I’m sad, and it makes me feel better”.

Does nursing my 2 and a half year old son benefit me? Do I find it gratifying? You betcha.
But just you try to tell him that he doesn’t need it, doesn’t want it, and shouldn’t have it. Ha. That would cause a meltdown that only one thing could cure… MOK!

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Latest Clare Byam-Cook Scandal

January 29, 2010

Well, obviously everyone else has already addressed this more eloquently and amusingly than I can (see this blog post), but I feel the need to make a brief mention of the latest scandal over Clare Byam-Cook’s ahem, interesting, approach to breastfeeding.

Appearing on GMTV on a discussion about breastfeeding older children, C B-C ┬ásaid “Breast milk beyond the age of 2 isn’t necessarily good because it’s very, very sweet. The fact that it’s breast milk doesn’t make it any different to a glass of Coca-Cola.” Once again demonstrating her phenomenal lack of knowledge related to both breastfeeding and child nutrition.

Since others have covered this topic so well, I would just like to run through a few quick points.

– Clare Byam-Cook’s credibility rests on her apparent qualifications as a midwife and ‘breastfeeding specialist’. According to the information on here, she ‘retired’ from practising midwifery in 1985 (a few short years after she must have started), and hasn’t practised, or presumably been licensed or done any further professional training, since. Her bio does not list, nor am I aware of, any actual training in breastfeeding support or management. Now, unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a ‘breastfeeding specialist’, and she’s certainly made a great deal of money trading as one and selling books on the subject, but it appears that she has no specialised training whatsoever, and any training she may have received as part of midwifery studies would now be at least 25 years out of date. Back in 1985, recommendations were still for routine separation of mother and baby, routine administration of artificial milk supplements, and scheduled feeding. So I guess that explains why she’s still promoting many such ridiculously outdated ideas. As ever, Clare Byam-Cook remains a shining example of why, when someone gives you proscriptive advice and claims to be an ‘expert’, you should never ever take them at face value!

Further to the specifics of this outrage, I’d like to say a few things about breastfeeding, breastmilk, and tooth decay.

– Sugar does not cause tooth decay, bacteria do. They are attracted to sugar on the teeth, and then wear away the enamel. More on that here
-Breastmilk does not contain the same sort of sugar that Coca-cola does – and lactose is not as attractive a sugar as sucrose/fructose for those sorts of bacteria
-In addition to sugar (lactose), breastmilk also has antibacterial properties that partially mitigate the effect of the sugar if you really want to, read more here
-Breastfeeding delivers the fluid differently than drinking out of a bottle or a cup. Drinking from a bottle or cup allows the liquid to pool behind the teeth, making it a prime ground for attracting bacteria to eat that tooth enamel. However, because of the way a baby latches onto the breast, breastmilk is actually delivered down the throat, bypassing the teeth entirely.
-Breastfeeding, even at night, even after toothbrushing, and even in older children is not associated with any increased risk of dental caries. In fact, ‘bottle-mouth-syndrome’ refers to artificially-fed babies plagued by caries.

For a fascinating, informative, and very graphic look at this issue, check out Brian Palmer, DDS

So, to sum up.
Breastfeeding. Does. Not. Cause. Caries.

Clare Byam-Cook is putting babies and mothers at risk with her insidious misinformation, and should be stopped. While I am titillated to see her stupid quote splashed all over the media, I am worried that this was all a ploy to get tons of press coverage… has she got a new book coming out?