Last time I wrote I was up in arms about the trash burning activity that goes on in our town, and how it releases toxic fumes into the air. I sent out an email to my friends and got a lot of thoughtful responses on what might be done: one recommended we start an education and recycling program in our town's schools, another recommended I attend an environmental fair to talk with the municipal trash managers, another recommended I contact the State sustainable development agency, and yet another gave me specific phone contact for a couple state biologists working in agencies dedicated to this sort of topic- I am hoping the last one might result in the fastest response- I'll keep you posted.
I have been thinking about all this more and more, especially when nursing my baby to sleep at night. I can't help but feel I affect her in so many ways, making her smile when I smile, she laughs when I laugh, how incredible it feels to be able to satisfy her hunger from my own body and see how it results in so much growth on her part! But then, there are the negative ways I influence her that trouble me so much- see her face all quizzical when I cry, and now, this worry about how I am probably contaminating her through my milk.
Sadly, the baby was already getting her share as soon as she was conceived. Not to add to the millions of things on a mom's to-worry list, but the term "pre-polluted" is now flying in reference to the level of contamination in fetuses and babies due to mothers' exposure to environmental contaminants. I think it's really easy to just shut out and ignore these inherent risks that come with bringing children into the world, but instead of saying "well, there's nothing I can do about it," why not support legislation that seeks to safeguard unborn babies' health.
Now that she's nursing from me several times daily, my mind returns to the concern of how the contaminants I take in through my food, water, air I breathe, clothes I wear, and other chemicals I come in contact with, are processed by my body and concentrated in my milk. The Natural Resources Defense Council has a great page about Pollution & Mother's Milk, and I plan to stay tuned to this issue to take as much action as possible to reduce the levels of environmental pollution that leads to contamination of breastmilk.
I can't say that contaminated breastmilk is any worse than formula feeding- they too are bound to be contaminated, since both rely on the Earth as their source- but it does sicken me to think that no matter how careful I am, there is no way to prevent my baby from receiving toxic chemical through me. That is why although I have been an environmental activist all my life- speaking out for the helpless wildlife that is destroyed every year simply by our ignorance, and for the quality of our water that runs like blood through the rivers of the world, now, with a child, I feel extra-motivated to get active on causes that protect babies- they are so innocent and defenseless to the onslaught of toxic chemicals our world is filled with. Please do your part as well, such as urging the U.S. Congress to ratify the The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The babies of the world will thank you.