Thursday, July 31, 2008


Did you guys see the piece on cross-nursing that aired on Good Morning America a few days ago? According to the report, this is a "growing trend" amongst breastfeeding moms. If you don't know, "cross-nursing" is just a fancy term for breastfeeding another woman's baby. Obviously it's been going on for centuries. The aristocracy and southern slave owner's wives used wet nurses because breastfeeding was only for the lower class. Breastfeeding has always been seen as déclassé and when formula was invented at the turn of the century, opting to bottle feed was seen as a way of becoming (or appearing) middle class.
My own grandmother, an immigrant from Eastern Europe, was a wet nurse of sorts. Back in the old country, one of her neighbors didn't produce any milk when she had her first child, so my grandmother would express her milk into glass jars and give it to the woman. If she hadn't done that, that baby would've died. There was no formula to be had, and even if it had been available, no one would have been able to afford it. (It's interesting to note that by the time my grandmother arrived in America and had my mom, she opted for formula--even though they were still poor).
So no, this is nothing new, but is it seriously falling back into favor? Do you know anyone who does this? My gut-reaction to the piece was "gross." I can't imagine under what circumstances I would want another woman to nurse my son. Even if, heaven forbid, something happened to me, I don't think I'd want my baby nursing with someone else (although, interestingly enough, I wouldn't hesitate to nurse a baby who was hungry if there was no other food source available).
I think the idea that this is somehow a way for women to bond seems sort of silly. Don't women bond by having a glass of wine and discussing their lives? Am I wrong? Is my knee-jerk revulsion off-base? Breastfeeding is beautiful, but it's such a personal and intimate bond with your baby. I wouldn't want to let anyone in on the sweetness of my breastfeeding relationship with my son.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sharing office space with your babe

My friend Mimi and I spend a lot of time talking about feminism, especially as it relates to libraries (our line of work). We find it really funny that people who work in libraries will try to start serious discussions about tech-sector benefits (like being able to bring your dog to work) before they will initiate a talk about flexible work hours, on-site daycare, paid maternity leave and other women and family-friendly policies.

When I saw this article I had to laugh because, although my co-workers oohh and aahh when I bring my son into the office to visit, I can't imagine any of them being supportive of me being allowed to bring him into the office. The article is from an Australian newspaper but is pulling information from a US study about the practice of bringing your baby to work.

So according to this article, a couple hundred companies in the US allow women to bring their babies to work and return to a flexible schedule. Of course this is very beneficial to new moms, and if we can't get paid leave or affordable, government-subsidized daycare, at least being able to bring your baby to work would allow women to continue to breastfeed. As a mom who pumps at work, lord knows I wish I could just latch my baby on instead. Pumping is time consuming, painful, tedious and stressful. I feel like I spend the majority of my day at work worrying about my pumping output, not my patrons or other projects.

Carla Moquin, who wrote the book, Babies at Work: Bringing New Life to the Workplace, says that most folks are rightly skeptical about how all of this works, but that once people try it, mom and baby get into a nice routine and everyone is supporting. Hhhmm. I call bullshit. Does anyone think co-workers, especially those who weren't able to take advantage of a similar program or who don't have kids, would actually be supportive of this type of thing? I've seen people mad enough to spit over women leaving work early to care for a sick child or attend a soccer game. Can you imagine their ire over a mom bringing her "spawn" into the office?

And which companies are offering these programs? I skimmed the list and surprise, surprise, almost none of them are places known as "women's work." So disheartening. I would love to believe that something like this could work (I'd be the first in line with my baby) but I just don't think we're there as a society. And if secretaries, teachers, nurses and librarians can't make use of the programs, what good is it? It's like when I read the list of the 100 most family-friendly companies that Working Mother magazine puts together and they're all in the fields of finance and computers and have a small percentage of women on staff.

Why is is that those of us in traditionally female fields don't fight harder for these benefits? Is it because we know we'd never get them? Is it because the boss tends to be a man?

Does anyone think this would fly at her job? I'm really fascinated by the whole scenario.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Another cool contest!

One of my new favorite blogs, Baby Cheapskate, is offering 12 bumGenius cloth diapers to a lucky reader (retail value $200). If you're thinking of switching to cloth diapers but were afraid of the initial investment, this is the one for you!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Melissa Joan Hart is breastfeeding

Melissa Joan Hart (better known as Clarissa or Sabrina the Teenage Witch, depending on how old you are, I guess), is breastfeeding.
From a current interview in OK! magazine:

"Now, I’m going off to shoot a movie, so I really want to look good for that. But the thing is I’m also breastfeeding. That’s an important thing to include here, because I’m at my weight goal for right now. Im not looking to get super skinny right now because I can't. If I do that I'll lose my milk, and I don't want that for my son. So I am where I want to be right now until I'm done breastfeeding. I'll keep losing. My body will just naturally losing weight, and Ill keep working out and eating well."
Good for you, mama!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Breast milk necklaces

Have you ever wanted to turn your breast milk into a fashionable piece of jewelry? Yeah, me neither. A group of artists in France figured out that if you boil breast milk and vinegar, it hardens into a plastic which can then be molded. Their work will be on display at an exhibition in France in September called "La part des Anges," or "the angel's share." The collective, Duende, has put together a collection of objects that explore the sharing of food between mother and child, and includes plates specifically used for eating and storing of placenta, as well as the milk jewelry.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Breastfeeding help

The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be tough. New moms are given all manner of bad advice from friends and family, as well as health care professionals who haven't been trained in the fine art of breastfeeding. The nurses at the hospital told me I should take my son off the breast after 15 minutes and one even told me I would have a hard time because I have "terrible nipples" (they're a bit flat). Both of these were dead wrong! But where does a new mom turn to for help with breastfeeding?
It used to be that women learned how to breastfeed from the other women in their lives: mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, etc. Even today, in developing nations, women grow up watching other women breastfeed. It's natural and normal. Today, breastfeeding is hidden. Moms pump and use bottles when out in public or cover up with a wrap. Even amongst close family and friends, I've seen women retreat to a bedroom or bathroom at a party to feed their babies. If you've never seen someone do it the right way and even the medical pros don't know what they're talking about, how do you know when you're doing it wrong and who do you turn to for help? If you can't afford a consultation with a Board Certified Lactation Consultant or one is not available to you through your hospital, here are some free places to turn.
I literally taught myself how to latch my baby on correctly by watching Youtube videos and reading online! Here are a list of amazing breastfeeding sites that have helped me tremendously along this journey.

Kelly Mom
Dr. Jack Newman's breastfeeding handouts and videos
Mother 2 Mother
Breastfeeding Essentials
La Leche League

Friday, July 11, 2008

Advocating for breastfeeding moms on campus

Are you a new mom who will be returning to school or work on a university campus? Have you worried about pumping or nursing your baby while on campus? Tanya over at the Motherwear Breastfeeding blog has taken the time to put together a document of which college campuses provide lactation rooms for nursing and pumping moms. It's not complete, so if she missed your university, please e-mail her and let her know!
Don't have a space and want to advocate for one on your campus? Request this free toolkit from the government that can help you have the conversation with your Human Resources department.

Infant feeding and disasters

I live in South Florida and our first hurricane of the season was brewing out there in the Atlantic, threatening Bermuda, as it gained force and became a category 3. I've lived in this area pretty much my entire life and have been very lucky to only suffer minimal damage during a hurricane. I've lived through three horrible ones: David, Andrew and Wilma. Wilma hit the closest to home and was actually one of the Top 5 most costliest hurricanes, with damages in excess of $29 billion. At our home we lost power for about a week and were forbidden to even drive for many days. All the trees in my neighborhood were annihilated. We couldn't cook, we lost all of the food in our refrigerator, the stores were all shut down, lines at the gas stations went on for miles, we took cold showers in the dark, etc etc. It was pretty awful, but we were all alive and safe and there was minimal damage to our home, so we couldn't really complain (this was two mere months after Katrina).
Back then I was young, single and carefree and didn't have any kids, so it never crossed my mind how people who rely on formula were feeding their children. Now that I have a son I do worry about hurricanes, but at least I know that regardless of what happens, I'll be able to feed my child!
What did these parents do? I'm sure some were smart enough to stock up on bottled water and formula, but they couldn't sterilize any of the bottles or nipples. What if you're already poor and can't afford to stock up? What if water is in short supply? Once ready-to-serve formula is opened, it has to be refrigerated or discarded after an hour.
When you live in a place where nature can wreck havoc at a moment's notice, disaster preparedness is a must. The risks associated with feeding babies a human milk substitute are only compounded during a disaster. Ah, breast milk: sterile, free, nutritionally perfect for all infants and readily available, even without electricity or water!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Good job, Massachusetts!

Massachusetts is close to passing a bill that would exclude breastfeeding in public from any obscenity laws. If it passes, it will also penalize businesses that prevent a mother from breastfeeding in public. Excellent news!

Want to know if your state has a similar law? Check here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's a lie!

I love Salma Hayek! Frida is one of my all-time favorite movies. She always comes across as really smart and down-to-earth in all of her interviews. Oh, yeah, and she's totally gorgeous, too. When she was pregnant with her daughter, she gained a lot of weight. She's been open about the fact that she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which was a factor. She was on Oprah back in May to promote her work with Pampers and UNICEF to provide vaccines to needy children around the world and the subject of pregnancy weight came up, of course. Unlike most celebs, Salma didn't make her first appearance post-baby at 6 weeks looking like a stick figure. She talked about losing the weight sensibly by exercising, but not compromising her nursing relationship with her daughter. She said what I have been waiting for someone to say for a long time: breastfeeding will not necessarily make the weight fall off! I know, I know, I'm not exactly helping my case any by saying this, but it's true. I'm assuming it's partially genetic because my mom breastfed me for 19 months and didn't lose an ounce. Tell me it's not just me, mom and Salma? Did any other breastfeeding moms have difficulty losing the pregnancy poundage?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Partners make a difference

If you breastfeed, your child's father won't be able to participate in feeding the baby.

Dads need to be able to give the baby a bottle in order to bond with him or her.

I hear this excuse as a reason not to breastfeed a lot, both in real life and online. I think many women find it a difficult and heavy burden to be the sole source of food for their newborns. Breast babies wake more frequently throughout the night, clusterfeed for hours in the early evening and love to be comforted at the breast. And let's face it, those first few weeks, breastfeeding can be downright painful due to poor latch and nipples that haven't toughened up yet. It's understandable to want to share the feeding duties with your partner and if your partner isn't supportive of breastfeeding or ambivalent about it, it's easy to give up. It sounds so freeing to be able to leave your baby with a bottle.

This is why partners make all the difference. The breastfeeding relationship isn't just between mom and baby, but between mom, baby AND dad. Dads have to support mom when she's tired, sore and scared the baby isn't getting enough to eat. It's so easy to reach for that can of free formula you got from the hospital when you're exhausted and feeling unsure of yourself. I remember a night where my son was clusterfeeding for almost 4 hours and I didn't think I was making enough milk and asked his dad to just bring me a bottle of formula. I felt like a failure and like I was starving my poor baby because of my own selfish need to breastfeed. Thank God my partner calmly talked me through it, helped me get the baby latched on again, and sat up in bed with me, rubbing my back. About 15 minutes later, my son fell asleep and we put him back in his bassinett. We made it through. I often wonder what would have happened if I was with a different kind of man. It's a slippery slope once you start supplementing. I might no be breastfeeding my son 7 months later. I might have given up.

The USDA created a whole marketing plan called "Fathers Supporting Breastfeeding" aimed at African-American men. Even the government gets that dads really can make all the difference! The plan talks about all the ways dad can bond with the baby, like giving her a bath, changing diapers, singing to the baby, etc. Dads can help mom the most by doing the cooking and the cleaning. That's so much more meaningful than a bottle! Helping your child receive the best possible nutrition is such a priceless gift! OK, not even priceless: it's free!

I was reading a wonderful post by a breastfeeding father yesterday about how important dads are to the breastfeeding relationship. He totally rebuffed the argument that dads have to be able to feed a baby via a bottle in order to bond. He talks about being the foundation that kept his wife going through plugged ducts, mastitis, thrush. My favorite quote from the piece was this:

"When my wife became pregnant, we agreed to try breastfeeding. The first thing we learned about it is best summed up by Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back (though, I believe, he was discussing a different subject): 'Do or do not. There is no try.'"

And that really sums it up for me. Breastfeeding takes dedication and the love and support of those around you. You have to be committed to it, as does your support team. The same way you were partners in creating this new life, you have to be partners in nurturing the breastfeeding relationship.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Win a free stash of 5 baby slings!!

Happy 4th of July! I'm taking my son to a BBQ this afternoon and I will be wearing him in my sling, a Baby K'tan.

If you use a sling, you can enter this contest from Along for the Ride. Simply tell them your best piece of baby wearing advice and you're on your way to being the proud owner of FIVE new slings!

Win the Essential Babywearing Stash from Along for the Ride (one Beco Butterfly, one Hotsling baby pouch, one BabyHawk Mei Tai, one Zolowear Ring Sling, and one Gypsy Mama Wrap)

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