Posted by Barbara Ransom on March 10, 2011
After my daughter was born and I returned to work, instead of stepping out to use the restroom or get a cup of coffee during my break, I would lock myself in my office. I’d close the shade on the window, scrunch up my shirt, unhook my oversized nursing bra, and strap myself into my breast pump — my own portable milking machine. More than once I found myself wanting to “moo.” For ten to twenty dreary minutes, I would sit there with the machine rhythmically pulling on my breasts, making a “pssshhh pssshhh” sound as milk slowly sprayed out into a bottle, drops at a time. I would do the same on my lunch break. It was tedious and monotonous at best, but I kept focused on that fact that breast milk was best. I also felt reassured that it wouldn’t contain all those chemicals that formula does. I planned to feed my baby organic baby food too. I even made sure all the dishes, cups and spoons I purchased were BPA free.
And then I read that samples of breast milk had been found to contain chemicals. Apparently most of the chemicals were UV filters that correspond with sunscreen and other cosmetic use. This showed that chemicals could actually be absorbed into our bloodstream through our skin. And that some infants were getting more of these chemicals, along with several pesticides, than what the Environmental Protection Agency deemed “acceptable.” Most importantly some of the chemicals are those known as “endocrine disruptors,” which interfere with hormone activity. This is extremely important early in life. No one yet knows what all this could mean.
All my life I’d been told how important sun protection was for my skin and how it will reduce the risk of skin cancer. But along with this disturbing news, I found another reason to forego the use of sunscreen: Vitamin D.
• Americans are largely deficient in vitamin D, especially nursing mothers and babies.
• Vitamin D is created when your skin is exposed to the sun, and most chemical sunscreens block that production.
• Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for immune function, bone and teeth health.
• Vitamin D can help regulate your hormones and mood.
So, I have decided to forego the use of sunscreen entirely, or to use a natural one during lengthy sun exposure. It feels right to do what is best for the baby and myself by limiting this chemical contact. The possibility of an improved immune system and mood is an added benefit.