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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Formula Milk for Mamas

Did you ever drink powdered milk when you were pregnant? Why did you drink? Do you think it benefited you and your baby?  The reason I am asking is because of the increased prevalence of the advertisements for milk for mamas.

A lot of the milk companies have realized that there is a growing (and gullible) market among pregnant moms and are cashing in on it!  Visit Facebook and you will see an ads for ProMama, Anmum and Frisomum plus community pages for Frisomum and Anmum.  With the advent of social media, milk companies realized that by engaging moms, they can gain a captured market which starts from pregnancy until birth of the baby and beyond.  The forums are managed by regular everyday moms who can easily relate to the concerns of the mom consumers.  I'd like to play devil's advocate here - ask those moms endorsing or promoting the milk for mamas - do they drink or use the products or brands they endorse?
Alex Hao of Mommy Sense who also conducts childbirth classes at The Pod in Davao City shared this comment:
"Of the last 12 moms in my class last year (2011), 9 were drinking maternal milk, believing it was what they need.  7 were told to stop by their OBGYN: (by that time, they were 7-8 months pregnant) because of the following reasons: (1) baby was getting too big (ultrasound and fundal measurement), (2) mom was getting too big/heavy; (3) OB said its not needed.  Meanwhile, the other 3 moms who did not drink maternal milk either did not like milk and/or were told by their OBGYN that they do not really need it so they did not buy it."

I posted my query on Twitter on whether formula milk for mamas or maternal milk is really necessary.  And here are some responses I got:
As with my experience during my first pregnancy, some moms also shared how bad tasting the maternal milk is that they had to choose a palatable flavor with more sugar - chocolate!
Breastfeeding advocate Dr. Jessamine Sareno directed me to this document - "Literature Review: Pregnant and breastfeeding women" prepared by the University of Adelaide to help me write this post.  The researchers conducted a systemic review of various studies to respond to the question: "(w)hat food groups consumed by pregnant and breastfeeding women, are associated with health outcomes for the mother and/or child?".

One of the food groups included are dairy foods which included 45 studies from different countries.  Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a medical researcher.  From what I understand about the literature review, a lot of the studies show that dairy foods had no positive or negative significant association with childhood asthma, eczema or allergy symptoms, bone mineral density, bone mass, cerebral palsy, childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia, childhood tumors.

Conflicting studies on pre-eclampsia:  There is one study which says that drinking 5 or more units of milk a day was associated with a reduced risk of pre-eclampsia while there is another one that says drinking less than 1 glass or more than 3 glasses of milk a day during pregnancy resulted in an increased risk of pre-eclampsia.  Another study says that increased milk consumption during pregnancy was associated with a borderline increased risk of pre-eclampsia.

However, there were several studies that did say that increased milk consumption during pregnancy was associated with increased gestational weight gain and increased birth weight.  There was also one study which said that milk consumption by lactating women lengthens the duration of nearly full breastfeeding - however, as mentioned in the review, the breast milk volume was not measured so it is difficult to conclude that the longer duration of breastfeeding was associated with improved maternal diet.

What is the point of this post?  I want to emphasize that contrary to the statements of the milk companies, formula milk for mamas is not ESSENTIAL to a healthy pregnancy NOR will it help you breastfeed your babies longer NOR will it help you make more milk!  First, ask your doctor whether you do need to drink milk while pregnant.  And if yes, between the powdered mama's milk and the regular milk we see in chillers or boxes, I would choose to drink the latter - less sugar, less additives.

In my opinion, formula milk for mamas is much like formula milk for toddlers - products created because of the strengthened Milk Code and is pure marketing nonsense.

Did you drink formula milk for mamas while pregnant? How did it affect you? What do you think of these marketing strategies by milk companies for their maternal milk products?

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