Recently read this in a social work textbook – Physicians undermined the credibility of midwives by creating a perception that their practices were “unscientific”. It took nearly a century for midwives to begin to recapture their reputation and their influence over childbirth practices (Schoen 2000 cited in Rogers 2019). The resulting increase in use of midwives, home birth, and birth centers as an alternative to maternity wards within hospitals helps to restore women’s control over the birth process and to decrease the medicalization of birth (Parry 2008; Phelan & O’Connell, 2015 cited in Rogers 2019).
Similarly, since the 1960s and 1970s, women (and physicians) have rediscovered the benefits of breastfeeding. A generation earlier, the experts had recommended scientifically engineered formula over breast milk (Rogers 2019).
The test of time will surface misinformation that the media and healthcare system feeds us, won’t it? What are we learning from our history or are we repeating history? What have we chosen to believe in? Do we believe in them because it is what we are familiar with? What if we believed wrong?
I grew up in an era when most babies were fed formula milk due to the mainstream message that formula milk was superior to breast milk. The obvious difference I have noticed between my generation and my parents’ generation was that my generation saw more incidences of eczema (which is essentially an autoimmune disease).
I also grew up in a time when antibiotics were prescribed freely by doctors. Until scientific evidence showed up to say that too much antibiotics can cause bacterial resistance or antibiotic resistance and generate unwanted side effects.
(Read up on antibiotics here: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/five-unintended-consequences-antibiotic-overuse-031114)
Today, 30-40 years down the road, this message is still ingrained in the psyche of parents. Formula milk is preferred over breast milk for its convenience because society and culture has not made it easy for mothers to breastfeed in public or at work. I speculate too, that it’s chosen over breast milk due to the lack of knowledge about the wonderful attributes of breast milk, coupled with the residual misinformation that formula milk’s benefits surpass that of breast milk.
What have we done to breastfeeding? Will there come a day when no mothers will be breastfeeding because it’s seen as cumbersome and unpopular? If I am God, I will look upon my creation with sadness and grief, seeing how people destroy themselves, unknowingly and knowingly.
Misinformation can cause a generation of children to have a decline in health outcomes. Thus, it is of utmost importance for us to inquire and inform ourselves, especially in a heavily medicalised society. Get into conversations with doctors during consultations, ask them the hard questions, and don’t take mainstream healthcare narratives and product marketing at face value.
When I have to make tough decisions regarding family health issues, I would fall back on what is natural, given by God, and stick with that belief as my foundation. It has not proven me and my family wrong thus far. A question I often ponder upon is “Why have we chosen to put more trust in pharmaceuticals (synthetic drugs) instead of what is natural and good?”
What has happened to our belief in healthcare over the last century? Who is wiping out pertinent information about nutritional knowledge, natural systems which has kept humans alive for thousands of years, and natural remedies which help the body self-heal?
Source: Rogers, A. T. (2019). Human behaviour in the social environment: perspectives on development and the life course. New York: routledge