Friday, February 27, 2009

Milk, Money, and Madness

The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding, 1995
Naomi Baumslag, M.D., M.P.H., and Dia L. Michels This book is just packed full of gems. More than just about culture and politics, it discusses the mechanics of the lactating breast and the history of breastfeeding; I found the wetnursing section to be fascinating. When I read the preface, I thought to myself, "I want to just copy/paste that to my blog!" When I read the introduction, I thought, "Forget that preface, this is what I want to copy/paste to my blog!" Then every page after that I thought the same. At one point I thought to myself, "They should make this book available to every mom and future mom out there!" And then I remembered where I got this book: the library. I'm going to highlight some of the statistics and quotes that I found particularly amazing:

"If every newborn in the United States were breastfed for just twelve weeks, the health care savings from avoiding nonchronic disease in the first year of life would be $2-4 billion annually." (from the Introduction, page xxiv, their italics, not mine)

"If the infant fails to gain sufficient weight, by the standard charts compiled and distributed by the infant formula companies, it is too often assumed that the mother's milk is inadequate and instructions are given to add formula as a supplement. This thinking is too limited in scope....The solution is not to blame breastmilk and begin blindly supplementing the infant's diet but rather to search for and address the cause of insufficient weight gain. And inadequate maternal diet, incorrect positioning, and scheduled feeding are some of the factors that need to be considered" (page 28).
I loved this because so often women are told their bodies aren't good enough. It is unlikely that a woman's breasts would make insufficient milk whether in quality or quantity. What a mother really needs is not to be told that she's not good enough but instead a struggling mother/baby pair needs quality support.

"A severely malnourished mother will produce less milk, but enough to sustain healthy growth for a newborn for six months....Most strikingly, even in conditions of severe starvation, where the amount of milk may be decreased, the quality remains remarkably constant. This is how infants are able to survive famines and wars." (page 84)

One of my favorite paragraphs was when they discussed the Kennedy hearings:
"The most dramatic testimony of the day was that of Dr. Natividad Clavano, Chief of Pediatrics a Baguio General Hospital in the Philippines, who described how the hospital had successfully addressed the infant formula problem by refusing to allow the milk nurses access to new mothers, removing formula promotion posters, ending the distribution of formula samples, instituting immedeate breastfeeding after birth, and twety-four-hor-a-day rooming in. In just over four years, in a population of 10,000 infants, the breastfeeding rate jumped from 26% to 87%. Furthermore, Dr. Clavano stated, 'we were able to reduce our infant dealths by over 47% and diseases by 58%. Diarrhea was reduced by 79%'" (page 160). Wow. Wow Wow.
There is so much gold in this book. Check it out. I'll return it to the library so you Provo-ites can have immediate access to it. :) Ok. One more favorite to conclude with:

"Our attitudes toward breastfeeding are indicators of our attitudes toward children. Should children be touched often and encouraged to enjoy the most intimate contact with their mothers, or kept at a distance in an effort to teach them sulf-sufficiency? Should children be comforted when crying, or be left to exhaust themselves to sleep? Should children be put on a structured schedule, or be allowed to fee and sleep when hungry and tired?" (page 37, bolded emphasis mine).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Friday Fill-ins

1. I'm a completely different person than I was 5 years ago and, I'm glad, I feel more connected with God than I ever have been.

2. Why do I have a steam cleaner and not a vacuum? There's a little disparity here (we do own a sweeper vac, but there's no vacuum suction, so it doesn't count as a vacuum).

3. How does this weird spring at the end of February work, anyway?

4. Every morning, I put a baby on my breast (or, more commonly, she sort of appears there and I don't know how.)

5. I consider myself lucky because we've never been in debt and McKay has a good job.

6. One day we’ll see wrinkles on our faces- I wonder what that'll be like.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going to Salt Lake, tomorrow my plans include eating chili and Sunday, I want to sleep in!

The Parenting Police

Once upon a time it was a gorgeous Wednesday and it was time to head out the door to go to our ward's playgroup. I put Margaret in the sling and grabbed my coat. I stopped and wondered if I really needed it- it's been beautiful in Provo this week. I decided that moving my wallet and keys into different pockets was more hassle than it was worth, so I just threw on my heavy winter coat figuring that if it was too hot, I'd deal with it.

I was walking along in front of the 7-11, talking on the phone with a friend when suddenly, a minivan with 2 platinum blond 40-something women pulled up in the driveway in front of me blocking my ability to walk on the sidewalk. One of the ladies jumped out and tried to hand me money commanding,

"Take this money. You NEED to buy your baby socks."

I was still trying to assess the situation.

"No thanks, she's fine."

The lady was persistent, "You're wearing a big coat and she doesn't have socks!" implying that somehow I'm more concerned about myself than my baby. In my mind I thought, "Yeah, and I'm sweating in this coat!"

"No. She's fine."

The lady in the van yelled out at me, "NO. SHE IS NOT FINE!"

I'm a little taken aback and after a few more, "No. We're fine" comments, they did leave.

I kept on walking, a little shaken up. Why did they care? It was very nice out. Margaret is rarely cold, and if she was, she'd let me know- it's not like she's forgotten how to cry.

It was after they left that I realized I should have threatened to call the police on counts of harassment. Later on in the walk, I saw a little girl standing in an open doorway with just underwear on: perhaps it would have been prudent to go up to the house and give them money to buy her pants and a shirt?

I've replayed the scene in my head; I'm still left with questions: What were they thinking? Did the sling make me look too poor to buy a stroller? Were they on a weird "service" scavenger hunt and needed to give away random money by harassing and yelling at a young mother? Would it not have happened if I wasn't wearing my coat? Would they have offered more money if they thought I was too poor to buy a coat for myself along with the inability to buy socks? Should I have taken the money and gone to 7-11 to buy a slurpee? Hmm...




Any ideas for good responses to this? If you've got a clever/witty response I should have used, let me know in the comments. I'll knit up some baby socks for the person with the most hilarious response. :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mini-review

I'll probably do a more thorough book review on this later. I haven't had much computer time lately, so I've been reading. I tend to read around 10 books at a time and the one that is most gripping gets my attention first.

Oh this book is driving me crazy right now! Milk, Money, and Madness: The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding. Right now I'm in the section about the marketing of artificial foods. I don't want to read the nasty underhanded stuff that companies (*cough* Nestle *cough*) have done because it makes me upset, but I can't put this book down!

I've also learned all kinds of stuff about breastmilk and the amazing creations our bodies are. Did you know that your small intestines analyze what pathogens you intake and then hormonally tell your breasts what you've been exposed to lately so your breasts can make the most ideal protection for your baby? Genius! I knew that your body would give your baby antibodies, but I didn't know that the small intestines were involved or that it was so exact in preventing your baby from getting sick- I figured it just gave the baby equal amounts of all immunities. How clever of our bodies to think that our babies are probably exposed to the same stuff we are!

One of my favorite parts was titled, "Isn't Formula Just a Third World Issue?" refering to that attitude that formula is only dangerous when water in unclean and that "formula doesn't kill babies." From the book,

Most people assume that no child in the West dies because s/he is not breastfed, but a 1989 study conducted by the U.S. National Institue of Environmental Health Sciences estimated that four of every 1,000 infants born in the United States each year die because they are not breastfed. In 1992, 4.1 million American children were born. If half were bottle-fed (which is a conservative estimate), there would have been 8,168 unnecessary, preventable deaths.
The book was published in 1995, so it's over a decade old, hence the use of older birth rates. I started reading this book because I've been asked to speak to a women's health class at BYU about breastfeeding support, specifically in Utah county and LDS community. I think I was told this was required reading for their class- though I can't find the email that said that anymore. Oh well, it's a great read anyway.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fill-ins

1. Give me string and I'll turn it into something you can wear.

2. Whenever Margaret stands, I wonder if I should grab the camera and watch to see if she'll take a step (took her first on Wednesday, but fell immediately).

3. I wish it were warmer out so I could take Margaret to the park.

4. Anything mentioning the word "cajun" was the last thing I ate that was utterly delicious.

5. To live in this world and enjoy it is wonderful, but to be satisfied with the status quo is heresy.

6. Other than this one, Knitting Out Loud is the last blog I commented on.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to laundry, perhaps?, tomorrow my plans include hanging out with friends and stake conference and Sunday, I want to knit and knit and knit!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Letter-Writing Campaign

Because Facebook hasn't really responded to the first virtual nurse-in, the group, "Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding Is not Obscene (Official Petition to Facebook)" is hosting another virtual nurse-in combined with a letter-writing campaign this Saturday.

While the letters would have ideally been in the mail already, don't let that deter you! Also, you don't need to be a nursing mom to change your profile picture. There are lots of pictures such as Madonna and Child portraits that are in the public domain that you can use.

The event site gives a list of things you might want to include in your letter:

  • Women post breastfeeding photos because they want to demonstrate or celebrate breastfeeding, just as they do other aspects of their lives.
  • Women post breastfeeding photos because breastfeeding is a normal part of their day and what they do as mothers.
  • Women post breastfeeding photos because others want to see their children doing things that are healthy and important, such as eating. Breastfeeding has well-known unsurpassable benefits for the health of children and mothers in nutrition, disease prevention, and emotional bonding.
  • Breastfeeding is not inherently a private or intimate activity. Almost all American states have passed laws promoting breastfeeding and allowing it in public in the manner a woman chooses.
  • Facebook's deletion of many breastfeeding photos goes against the main biological purpose of women's breasts and how they function. Its posting of ads in which scantily clad women use sex to sell things makes it even harder for women to counter the harmful public prejudice against breastfeeding.
  • Facebook's deletion of many breastfeeding photos stigmatizes breastfeeding. Its description of some ways of doing it as obscene is wrong and demeans and insults women.
  • Because of the quantity of breastfeeding photos on Facebook, its deletion of some implies telling women how not to breastfeed. Because of Facebook's scope and error, that is harmful to the public good.
  • Women with large areolas cannot latch a child on without exposing some skin which Facebook has arbitrarily deemed bad to show. Regardless of physique, latching on and off are necessary parts of the breastfeeding process.
  • Women breastfeeding, with or without much breast exposure, are not nude.
  • Women breastfeeding, with or without much breast exposure, are not obscene.
  • Women breastfeeding, with or without much breast exposure, are not pornographic.
  • Women breastfeeding, with or without much breast exposure, are not performing a sexual act. Their breasts and parts of them are not classified as sex organs. Their breasts are mammary glands which lactate for the optimal survival of humans.
  • Women breastfeeding, with or without much breast exposure, do not harm children. What harms children is their not seeing how breasts are used for feeding children.
  • Include the request that Facebook leave all breastfeeding pictures in place, that is the most important point in this campaign.
Here I go, off to write!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Potty Strike

Last Monday someone asked me how the ECing was going. I think my response was "awful" or "terrible." Margaret was going through a potty pause/strike.

She just DID NOT want to be on the potty for the past couple of weeks. I don't want her to associate the potty with frustration, so I relaxed a bit. We still had naked butt time, but I also had to repeatedly remind myself that missing the potty isn't a failure, it's just part of learning. By this Wednesday, though, she was back to the regular pottying life we had before.

At 10 months things are a little different. She doesn't signal because she's too busy playing- though she'll stop playing and have a little potty face right before she pees, so if we're paying attention, it works, but it's not obvious. We've been using the toilet sign ever since she was 5 months and I'm sure one day she'll pick up on it. She would prefer to play than to sit on the potty, so I have to bring a puzzle or read a book to her while she's on the potty. We also have to go off of timing. In the morning when she wakes up, she goes more often, so I offer the potty every half hour. As the day progresses, she goes longer without pottying so I offer every hour or so. Offering the potty regularly is probably the most successful way for us to EC right now. If I'm on top of it, we catch everything in a day.

She's also back to holding it over night and on outings. We woke up Friday to find that she hadn't wet her diaper all night. All morning was naked butt time, so we used no diapers. When I went to the grocery store that afternoon, I put her nighttime diaper back on since it had been dry. When we got back from the store, she was still dry. Then we did more naked butt time in the evening and put that diaper back on her that night. Having less diapers to wash is always a good thing.

Why the potty strike? Potty strikes occur when a child is going through big changes: developmental milestones, life changes such as a sibling or moving to a new home, sickness. This isn't limited to babies- toddlers who are potty learning will have pauses due to these, too. When the strike first happened, Margaret had a stuffy nose. The strike happened until she was over her cold. I think the majority of it was her stuffy nose- who wants to deal with pottying when the rest of you body isn't feeling well?

Before the potty strike, I had been considering getting her some panties since we were doing so well. Unfortunately no one sells panties small enough for a 10 month old. XXS is too big. I'm thinking of going to a thrift store to buy some cheap cotton pants and cutting them down to panties. Sure, I could buy the expensive tiny training pants from the EC store, but I'd rather be thrifty here. Anyone else have suggestions for small underwear?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Discrimination

Why is nursing in public such an important cause?
To ask a breastfeeding woman to cover up or leave or hide in any way while leaving alone a parent feeding their child in other ways is discrimination. To interfere with a child's eating at the breast while not interfering while other children eat in other ways is discrimination. It's harassment. This is why over 40 states have created laws to protect public breastfeeding: discrimination is wrong and should not be tolerated. It sometimes takes time for the majority of society to catch up with the legislation (Little Rock Nine, anyone?), but it does happen.

Can't you just nurse covered?
This question brings in a discussion of "discreet." There's an interesting discussion of discreet here, but I'll summarize some of the issues. First, discreet is different for different people. Some people feel discreet means no flesh showing, so they use blankets or other nursing covers. Some people feel discreet means that it's not obvious to most of the people around them and feel that nursing covers are too blatantly declaring, "Breastfeeding is happening over here!" They feel that without one, less people notice and so they're being discreet. Some people feel discreet means they never leave the house. Obviously a wide spectrum. Additionally, in that linked discussion there is a mom who says she just cannot nurse "discreetly" because of the size of her breasts. For women in her situation the discrimination is not just a gender issue, but a body shape discrimination issue.

There is also the issue that covering doesn't mean that people will be comfortable. Some people are just not comfortable with breastfeeding in general. Using a cover doesn't stop the looks and harassment.

Does this mean everyone should breastfeed uncovered?
Only if they want to. If a mom is more comfortable covered, then she should do that. How "discreet" you are is up to you and your child's comfort level. It should never be decided by the people around you, even me. I am trying to ensure that no mom will be harassed for breastfeeding no matter how she chooses to do it.

Why fight it- aren't there other ways to promote breastfeeding?
Yes, but as long as women are told to be ashamed, that mental roadblock of "people don't approve of this" will still be there. We worry about what people will think about us. We shouldn't, but we do; we are social beings. Even if no free formula samples were handed out, if every hospital and WIC lactation consultant was IBCLC certified, if every mom was fully educated on latch and positioning and how to increase and maintain supply, moms would still quit early because they would feel too confined, too restricted, shamed by society's lack of acceptance.



"When an actress takes off her clothes onscreen but a nursing mother is told to leave, what message do we send about the roles of women? In some ways we're as committed to the old madonna/whore dichotomy as ever. And the madonna stays home, feeding the baby behind the blinds, a vestige of those days when for a lady to venture out was a flagrant act of public exposure." -Anna Quindlen

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Friday Fill-ins

1. It seems like Margaret's potty strike is over.

2. Could you return your library books when you're done, please?

3. If I thought you were coming home early I'd start dinner!

4. Awesome is what I think of most when I think of you.

5. To me, Valentine's Day means waffles.

6. Prayer gives me strength.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to twice baked potatoes, tomorrow my plans include waffles for breakfast and Sunday, I want to sleep in!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Decade

Last week I got a letter in the mail. It was addressed to my parent's house in Illinois, but they forwarded it to me. It was a letter that I wrote when I was 13 to myself in 10 years. My seventh grade English teacher had us all write letters to ourselves and she would mail them to us 10 years later, which she did.

It has given me a lot to think about. "It's like a time capsule," I wrote on May 19, 1999. Indeed it is. I spent the first page writing how my day had been with details like what I ate for breakfast and whose locker was next to mine and the test in geography on Russia and Europe that day. I also recorded the basic horrors of junior high and puberty (as if I could forget), "I was so scared of what people thought of me when I rode up to the school and parked my bike. I usually get teased about my hair and get comments of "greasy!" because I have really oily hair. It really hurts me."

One thing that is probably more interesting to my mom than me is that I wrote down my little brother's toddler-speak. He was 2 at the time and I wrote down some of the words he knew- how he pronounced them and what they meant.

The second page is mostly a run down of my family- what I think of each of them and my relationship with them. It's interesting to see which things have and haven't changed. What I think is most telling is the paragraph about myself, "I am such a mess," "I need to get things under control," and "I hope you love yourself.'

I thought of myself as a child and I thought of Margaret. I thought about why I wrote that. Is that how I'd like Margaret to think of herself when she's 13? Can I help her have a more positive transition into adulthood?

Reading this letter was like remembering a smell- suddenly all the feelings I had when I wrote the letter came back to me. I knew why I wrote each sentence- I even remembered what I had purposefully left out in order to be more optimistic. I tried to make myself look more satisfied in some places than I know I was. It's funny- you can't lie to yourself, can you?

At one point, I think I showed a little stroke of genius, "I think you should make another one of these and not open it until 10 more years." I think that's a great idea and I'm going to do it. It's really very interesting.

One sentence has been playing over and over in my head- it really resonated with me as a parent, "I hope I never yell at my kids." I still hope that. And I hope that Margaret never has to think that sentence.

Sexuality and Gender Traits

I'd like to go back and re-analyze the "breasts are private" thought. I once had a discussion where the other person insisted that breasts are inherently sexual and to be honest, I think we just didn't have our definitions straight. We were discussing two different things: sexual traits and gender traits.

From what I can tell, the "breasts are private" argument goes like this: women generally have breasts and men generally don't. Women and men are different sexes so breasts must be sexual. So breasts should be private.

Since we are forward-thinking people, we wouldn't want to single out women and discriminate against men, so I'll continue with: Men generally have facial hair and women don't. Men and women are different sexes so facial hair must be sexual. Facial hair should be private.

The issue here is an understanding of gender traits. Gender traits are the physical differences between the sexes. They are usually generalized and aren't the same across the board. For example, not all men have chest hair, but chest hair would be considered a gender trait.

Now, an organ or body part is sexual when it is being used for sexual gratification or arousal, ie sexually. This can include any part: breasts, shoulders, elbows. But if that body part isn't being used sexually, then it isn't sexual at that moment.

This is why breasts, wrists, chins, etc. are not inherently sexual. When they are being used sexually, then yes, they are sexual. If not, then they aren't.

I'm not saying body parts can't be found sexy or attractive; they can. Perhaps a man has particularly attractive ankles. They might be sexy to some people if he's wearing sandals while walking his dog, but he isn't using his ankles sexually so they aren't private and he doesn't need to hide his attractive ankles.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

This Week In Lactivism

While my blog was on a lactivism pause this week due to McKay's new insistence that he gets the laptop Monday through Thursday for schoolwork, a few of my favorite bloggers posted about breastfeeding.

Emily re-posted an essay, The Problem with Breastfeeding, about the marketing angle of breastfeeding.

PhDinParenting posted the first of what she says will be a series about where our culture got off track. Her first post is about children's television. I really liked the Mr. Roger's segment- I saw it first last week. I'll post it to the bottom of this post.

Rixa of Stand and Deliver explained why we need to see more breastfeeding. When I was interviewed by various TV stations about the Facebook nurse-in, I made it a point to never say, "You can't see anything anyway," about breastfeeding because I never wanted to imply that it would be wrong if you could see something. I'm glad she hit that point- I don't think I ever made it clear here.

Also, another virtual nurse-in is being organized for Facebook, along with a letter-writing campaign. There is an example of a letter that you can use at the link.


Emily also found another essay about birth outcomes, examining the effects of the implications that a live baby and mom is all that matters after a birth. This doesn't fit into lactivism, but I wanted to share it anyway.

And now for some good ol' public television!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Friday Fill-ins

It has come to my attention that my last post might have led you to believe that I'm pregnant. I'm not. I knew people might think that, but I still wanted to say that I do look forward to being pregnant again whether or not rumors might have happened. I really enjoyed it last time and I definitely plan on celebrating my next whenever that might happen.

1. Please don't tell everyone I'm pregnant :).

2. Can you remember your dreams in the morning?

3. The color intensity of yarn is the deciding factor that makes me want to buy it!

4. I have a craving for good times.

5. If my life had a pause button, I'd pause it when I need to cross the street and there's too much traffic.

6. Eyes are the first things to go (glasses at age 11).

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a ward activity if McKay finishes his homework, tomorrow my plans include Dungeons and Dragons (why, yes, it is a weekly occurrence) and Sunday, I want to go to ward conference!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Achievement

wrote this yesterday, but didn't post until today (Thursday)

So it's February, but I wanted to direct you all to my first FO of 2009. Yay knitting!

And I got tagged by Hailey.

8 TV shows I love:
1) The Office
2) The Colbert Report
3) That 70's Show
4)
5)
6)
7)
8) ... I don't watch TV. I listed those because I watch the first 2 regularly on hulu.com and we own a couple of seasons of That 70's.

8 restaurants I love
1) Gloria's Little Italy
2) Mimi's
3) Winger's
4) Olive Garden
5) Sweet Tomatoes
6) Burger Supreme (for their gyros)
7) Guru's
8) Zupas

8 things that happened yesterday
1) I finished the baby sweater
2) Lasagna for dinner
3) Grocery shopping
4) Took a shower with Margaret
5) Checked the mail
6) Put away some laundry
7) Read some more of "An Advocate for Women" about Emmeline B. Wells
8) Worked on knitting some legwarmers for myself

8 things I am looking forward to
1) Doing my laundry at Faith's tomorrow
2) Going shopping for Valentine's presents
3) lunch (yay leftovers!)
4) being pregnant again- it was a lot of fun the first time
5) the day that cold season is over
6) when McKay graduates
7) summertime
8) the month of March

8 places I would love to go
1) LDS Church Archives
2) The temple
3) Brazil to try out all the Portuguese McKay's taught me. (beije-me!)
4) Australia
5) England
6) Germany again
7) the yarn store
8) India

Monday, February 02, 2009

Metric

So in the previous post today I mentioned that I heard that 10 centimeters doesn't come from women dilating, but from the diameter of a newborn's head. I saw that at Dr. Spock's page.

Also in my searching, I found this little page, where a CNM suggests that a woman's body can actually stretch to 13 centimeters- giving women over an extra inch! This is the first time I've heard this, but it could very well be true for some women out there.

Also, if you're interested in more birthy things, Rixa posted some links from her bookmarks. She bookmarks the most fascinating stuff.

Links about cesareans

Other birth links (precipitous birth, induction, etc) I particularly like the "risk magnet" description of pregnant women.

A Math Lesson


This is something that the previous post reminded me of and that I've been thinking about in general lately: the average experience can be different from the most common experience.

First some math. One of McKay's parents has 4 siblings. Actually, both of his parents have 4 siblings and the rest of the numbers are surprisingly the same also.

Each of those siblings have been married and have children and are done adding to their families. These 5 families (including McKay's) have, in order from smallest to largest: 3, 3, 4, 5, 8 children.

Now let's look at some very basic statistical figures.

Mean (average): 4.6
Median (middle number in the list from least to greatest): 4
Mode (most common number): 3
* See McKay's addition below

This sample size is small, so the "bell curve" is greatly skewed (as seen by the difference between the mean and median). This is a much simplified example, but it's pretty obvious that the average experience is different from the most common experience. While it might said that on average, McKay's aunts and uncles have 4.6, children, the mode is 3. Here, it is actually more common to have a smaller number of children than the average.

This is important to remember. Although it is typical for studies to have a greater sample size before coming to conclusions, it is still not guaranteed that the mean is the same as the mode- that the average experience is the same as the most common.

What does this mean for us? If it is determined that the average body temperature of an adult is 98.6 degrees Farenheit, does it mean that most adults have a body temperature of 98.6? Then there are other questions to ask: is that average determined just from men, or are women included (it's not atypical for men to be considered the "norm" and women are left out of studies)? What is the age range of these adults? How active are they? What climate do they live in? Do ethnic differences exist? etc.

When it is said that women gestate for 40 weeks, is that an average? Were the women studied first time moms? Were they of European descent or was there a variety of ethnicities included? Is that representative of the most common experience?

We should also question what is studied. We talk about 10 centimeters of cervical dilation; I searched and couldn't find a study that said that 10 centimeters came from measuring women's actual cervices. I did find a couple of places say it came from measuring the average diameter of a newborn's head (I'll have to find those; I forgot to bookmark them). Does the 10 centimeter standard take into account the amazing ability for a woman's body to stretch?

And then there is advice that, from what I can tell, is made up from concerns and not due to studies. We discussed at LLL last month the common advice to nurse a baby for 10 minutes on one breast and then to switch to the other for 10 minutes. Nowhere can I find numbers to substantiate this. I think this standard advice comes from the concern to make sure both breasts are stimulated to encourage supply. I really don't think the 10 minutes on both sides is an average or mode or anything related to the actual experience of mothers and babies.

Statistics and averages are convenient helpful to us for understanding the human experience, but it is important that when we see those results that we question what it means for us personally before we internalize those numbers and impose them on our own experience.



*McKay wanted me to mention the variance, "Doesn't mode affect the variance? Or at least, the variance would be higher if the mode is different from the mean." He's right, but I wanted to keep this simple. I learned about mean, median, and mode in fifth grade but didn't learn about variance until I took a college statistics class.