Monday, March 24, 2008

"Nutritional Supplements" for Newborns

I just visited a client who was told to give her healthy, exclusively breastfeeding newborn a supplement called ViSyveral. It occurs to me that this might be routine at hospitals around Bangalore, though it's the first time I've heard of it. Please note that babies do not need anything other than breastmilk for the first 6-9 months (not even water). This "nutritional supplement" has the following information on the box:

"May be administered by mixing in water, sweetened formula, fruit juices, desserts or water, cereals, soups, desserts or any other liquid or semi-liquid food."

"Ingredients: liquid glucose, sucrose, vitamins, gum acacla, coconut oil, sodium bicarbonate, disodium EDTA and antioxidants."

"Contains added flavours and class II preservatives."


These drops are problematic on many levels for a newborn. For starters, the directions might be confusing to some. We shouldn't be feeding newborns anything besides breastmilk, especially not desserts, soups and fruit juices! Secondly, look at the first two ingredients: SUGAR! Is it a mystery why there is a global epidemic of obesity? For more on sugar's effect on children's development and how to reduce your child's intake, click here. Don't forget that formula isn't really anything like breastmilk; click here for more on what's problematic about infant formula. Finally, food preservatives have been linked to childhood hyperactivity, and I don't even want to think about the chemicals in "added flavours"!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Readers Respond to New York Times Article About Doulas

A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times ran this pretty negative article about doulas and lactation consultants. I wanted to post the letters to the editor that were published a week later.

New York Times
March 9, 2008
Letters in Defense of Doulas

To the Editor:

Re "And the Doula Makes Four," by Pamela Paul (Sunday Styles, March 2): I recently gave birth to my son with the assistance of an experienced doula, without an epidural and other interventions that I had hoped to avoid. Your article, in emphasizing negative experiences with doulas who seem to be acting inappropriately and outside their scope, does a disservice to parents. Medical literature has demonstrated that with a qualified doula, a mother is likely to have a shorter labor with fewer complications, including a lower chance of Caesarean section.
Diana Graham, M.D.Raleigh, N.C.


To the Editor:

Your article reported that "44 percent of women described the relationship between their hospital nurses and doulas as hostile, resentful and confrontational." In fact, this study - which surveyed a total of nine women from a single hospital in north-central Alabama - found that four women described their nurses as behaving that way. The doulas, on the other hand, were described as "calm," "respectful" and "the best investment I have ever made in my life." In my experience as a doula, the vast majority of nurses welcome doulas' respectful support and nonmedical role. I can only hope doulas will become more widely available so every woman who wants one can have this kind of support during childbirth.
Dorian Solot
The writer is a birth doula certified by DONA International, a
professional organization that provides training and certification as
well as information for prospective clients.


To the Editor:

It seems Americans do more research on car purchases than on medical providers and hospitals. I did my research and had an amazing doula for the birth of my first child. When my second son was born, we had trouble with breast-feeding. A certified lactation consultant saved our breast-feeding relationship. While I am sure there are bad doulas and lactation consultants, I believe the majority are excellent and much needed in our over-medicalized birth environment and pro-formula society.
Corinne Griswold
North Granby, Conn.