I will start off by stating the obvious that human lactating persons are NOT cows nor should one compare such a person to a cow.
That being said, nowhere is lactation and milk supply management studied quite as closely as when it comes to dairy cows and other mammals. Dairy farmer’s lives revolve around this, and so as a result, it makes up a large part of studying something like say, dairy management. Everything, from feed, housing design, disease management, biosecurity, breeding, all of it is with one goal in mind – optimizing milk production. There are a lot of lessons from this that are applicable when considering the question of whether proposing breastfeeding as a reasonable solution to the formula shortage.
Spoiler: IT’s NOT.
Applicable lessons on Milk Production from a Farming Student:
- Lactation is controlled by hormones. When the milk supply dries up, it can only be restarted through birth or by using hormone injections, which can take time and doesn’t always work and is also not an option for everyone. For example, use of bovine hormones to generate milk production in dairy cattle is not permitted).
How it Applies: If the baby wasn’t being breastfed previously, its not just an easy thing to start breastfeeding after milk supply dries up.
- Production Capacity is highly individual and has a genetic component (in Cows interestingly it’s linked to bulls actually if I remember correctly). The dairy farm will have cows that produce only a fraction of what the highest producers do, and this is in a breed that was specifically bred for milk production.
How it Applies: Not every person is able to produce enough milk to adequately feed their child and need to supplement for their child to survive.
- A lot of things can cause a milk supply to drop or dry off: disease, injury, stress, lack of nutrition, and insufficient clean water are just some examples. Milk supply will also go down with age.
How it Applies: There are a variety of things that could cause someone’s milk supply to drop, stop, or never come in to begin with.
High levels of stress, not having adequate access to nutrition, can similarly prevent persons from producing sufficient milk necessary, and can impact yield. Places without consistent access to water (like say Flint, MI), may lead to dehydration among poorer individuals causing them to be unable to produce sufficiently. It’s worth noting that this will disproportionately affect people with less support and/or resources.
- Medication and certain diseases can contaminate milk. When medication is administered, the milk is subjected to a withdrawal time, which is a set period of time during which any milk produced by the treated animal is not added to the main tank. This is the amount of time necessary for there to no longer be traces of medication in the milk.
How it applies: People who require certain medication to survive or manage conditions might be unable to safely breastfeed. Similarly, if they catch an illness, they may have to stop breastfeeding to prevent the infection from spreading to the baby.
- Milk yield will drop off over time, with highest production occurring a short while after initial start of production and then gradually drop off over time. To go back to full yield, you have to get the cow impregnated, dry her off, and wait for her milk to come in with the next birth.
How it Applies: Once again, yield is so hugely variable that it’s really not a reliable option. We forget that historically certain classes hired wet-nurses to provide additional nutrition, or forced their slaves into it.
- Nutrition and what is being eaten is a huge component of milk production. Grains can increase milk yield for example, but too many can cause acidosis which in turn can cause a huge drop in production. It’s a delicate balance.
How it Applies: The formula shortages have a high impact on low-income families who may not have the resources and money to be able to travel around to find availabilities in the same way, and cannot afford marked up prices. These same families may not have consistent access to the right food to encourage good milk production.
- Milking takes a huge toll on the producing animal. Cows for example will lose body condition (weight) during the process. Calcium will leach from their bones if not sufficiently available. Milk fever is a thing, as are other conditions like mastitis that develop due to the process of milking. It’s a physically intensive process. In Dairy farming, the cow has farmers and farm hands to look out for her wellbeing and doing everything possible to make sure she is happy, healthy, and comfortable.
How it Applies: It’s just as intensive on humans. It takes real physical resources, and time. For some women it can be painful and unpleasant. For some it’s just not possible. A significant number of breastfeeding people don’t have the level of support that would make breastfeeding possible to sustain.
Lactation whether in dairy animals or in humans is not just a simple thing. We have this assumption that just because something occurs naturally, that the process is simple and works properly every time. The reality is much more complicated than that.
Death and infant mortality occur in nature all the time. Failure to Thrive is one of the terms given to animals who cannot feed adequately, either due to an internal inability or because there isn’t enough milk for them.
Even in farming, we use formula to supplement since milk may not always be available. We even have replacement colostrum for emergencies.
Breastfeeding can be a great thing when it’s a possibility, but it’s not simple and it’s not free the way people imagine. It is absolutely not a solution to the formula shortage because formula is literally a solution to the problems with breastfeeding.
If you’re the member of any sort of minority, chances are you’ve run across this. Some friend, family member, or vague acquaintance ends up in a situation where they are confronted with their own inherent biases in some way, and they feel the need to run to you as the Representative of Minority Co. to explain the situation.
For example, imagine you have a friend name Betty who is the owner of a small business who is hiring someone to work as a part of that business. She has narrowed her choice down to two ideal candidates, who are identical in terms of qualifications. Both have the right amount of experience, the same great attitude and personality that fits into the team dynamic, in terms of “reasons to hire” the two are completely interchangeable. Except that Candidate A is abled while Candidate B is disabled.
Now Betty is not a Capital A Ableist. She knows that disabled people are just as capable as abled people, she truly believes that the world should be accessible, and has all the empathy for disabled people having a difficult time being able to find gainful employment. Betty has signed countless petitions to make accessibility more prevalent, her own brother even has a disability. Betty is an ALLY!
But Betty’s business is small, and even with the added help, she is hopelessly overworked. Candidate B’s disability will require the company to undergo some work to make it completely accessible. Maybe, it would even cost her some money to get some needed program or service, or to make some changes to the physical location of the business. She was already putting pressure on her budget by hiring a new person, the added finances would be just too much. She would have to close up shop, and it’s not really fair to her or to any of her other employees, or to her family, to jeopardize her business for the sake of one person. If they had been better qualified and the best option than of course, it would be no question, but the two candidates are completely identical and really it’s a coin toss one way or the other. Wouldn’t it be just as unfair to Candidate A to only not hire them because they’re not disabled? She makes her choice and then next time at dinner with her brother’s she lays the whole story out and asks:
“Can you understand where I’m coming from?” Continue reading “But Can You Understand Where I’m Coming From?”
It’s been a wonderful morning. One of my birds passed away last night, and I got to wake up to this pile of annoying bullshit in my inbox. Lately it seems like our blog has made its way over somewhere to a bunch of people who like to get all upset at the idea of the “charity cases” of society daring to speak out about not being treated like human beings. Then of course if we respond, we’re “having hysterics”. Comments complaining that people being forced to live through inhumane conditions like those in the Salvation Army shelter have no right to complain because they don’t pay for those services, or this lovely example of human compassion who didn’t even bother paying attention to what they were commenting on before making a point to remind me that I’m fat.
Are you being serious here? First off, getting your government check a week early doesn’t short you for the month. There is this thing called budgetin9, it is what most working people do. You should give it a try, you certainly appear to have the free time to fit it in!
Also it is hard to take claims of starvation/no food seriously from someone who:
A) is significantly overweight
B) who blogs about making and eating artisinal food items like expensive bacon.
This morning though, I’m feeling both in the mood to educate, annoyed for other , and a little bit petty, so douche wipe gets to see their name on here just like they wanted, while I use his comment to illustrate exactly why these comments come off as
- Disingenuous and pretty obvious that it’s not actually about what is written there
- Just another excuse to fat shame, poor shame, and generally make people afraid of speaking out about problems or interests for fear of facing assholes like this one.
Continue reading “How Dare you Be Fat!”
(Posted with permission. )
It’s 2 am, when suddenly you find yourself unable to communicate clearly. Your words come out incoherent and hard to understand, including in text. What do you do?
Continue reading “Could Have Died Because She Needed an Ambulance and was Deaf/HoH.”
This year, I’ve been spending a lot of time building different things. I’ve had to start over in a lot of ways, and things are still shifting pretty dramatically for me. While things are unstable, it has given me an opportunity to learn how to do things I never really imagined possible.
Today I managed to see one project come to fruition. I built a Little Free Library (not yet registered in part because I can’t actually afford to) and it’s been installed at the Community Garden and Oven that I’m a member of.
Continue reading “My Little Hobbit House Library”
CN: mentions of suicidal ideation
For the last little while, I’ve been struggling quite a bit. I’ve been trying desperately to fix the situation I was left in last year. I’ve been just barely getting by with help from friends, by taking out more debt, and by surviving off of stores I’ve had sitting by just in case.
Rather than getting any easier however, things have just been getting worse. My roommate had to move to BC for work and while I was able to find someone to take over his room, the rental agency had issues with him replacing my former roommate on the lease. I couldn’t very well leave my old roommates name on it, and my own financial situation means they are not willing to have it be in my name alone.
As such, I had to give my notice for the end of summer.
I knew the rental situation in Ottawa had gotten worse in the years I’ve been living at this place, but even so I was unprepared for the reality I am facing. The rent costs have skyrocketed to such a point, where $300 over what disability considers a reasonable housing allotment gets me a room in a house with six other people, and I can forget about the house being accessible, meaning I have no idea what to do with my wheelchair, let alone how to be able to live in a place I can’t physically navigate.
Essentially, the way things stand right now, at the end of August I am homeless.
Continue reading “I NEED YOU TO STAND WITNESS”
Echar pa’lante is a saying which means ” keep moving forward”.
Just six months have passed since Maria devastated the Caribbean. I wrote about my hometown in Puerto Rico and about my grandma. I wrote in the hopes of educating people who may not be as familiar with Puerto Rico other than knowing about the capital, San Juan. I wrote it in the hopes of getting help for my grandma.
Six months later and the island is still recovering; still struggling.
Continue reading “Echar Pa’lante: 6 Months Later”
Being a fat nerd living in poverty means that there is a lot of pop culture fashion that I just cannot afford. You may have heard that Torrid released a Sailor Moon-inspired line on January 9th. Sailor Moon has been one of my favorites for years. I knew I would never be able to afford whatever clothing came out though because Torrid is expensive.
Continue reading “Too Poor for Fashion”
CN: emesis, classism, fatphobia from doctors, medical negligence, disordered eating
Continue reading “Broken”
CN: SA, CSA, domestic violence, corporal punishment
Continue reading “Victim Double Standards”