Saturday, September 27, 2008

Weekly Roundup

Bad news for the Swiss chef. He won't be allowed to use breast milk in his dishes.

Tainted baby formula is showing up in other countries, including Burma, where it's still selling like hot cakes.

New breastfeeding support DVD, "From Bump to Breastfeeding," available for free to all pregnant women in the UK.

New campaign in Olympia, Washington supports nursing in public.

Interested in donating breast milk? Check out the Human Milk Banking Association of North America for more information.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sesame Street Breastfeeding Clips

Tanya from the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog has dug up some of the coolest videos showing breastfeeding on Sesame Street. The videos are all from the 70s and show both real moms, Sesame Street characters and mammals breastfeeding. Can you imagine a woman actually saying "I am giving my baby milk from my breast" on a kid's program today? It's especially interesting because, according to a 1979 article in The NY Times, Sesame Street's target child was "the 4-year-old inner city black youngster." When the DVD box set of the first two seasons of Sesame Street was released last November, it came with a warning: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.” Since we're all grown around here, we're free to enjoy!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

PETA wants ice cream made with breast milk

I wasn't going to post about this nonsense, but it seems that folks on the internet are getting a kick out of it, so here ya go. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) sent the owners of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream a letter, asking them to no longer make their ice cream with cow's milk, but breast milk instead. They were inspired by that Swiss chef I wrote about last week who will be making sauces and stews in his new restaurant out of 75% breast milk.
PETA wants to reduce the suffering of cows and provide a healthier product for humans. Now, I am all for ending the suffering of any animal. Although I am not a vegetarian, I am an animal lover and I wish that animals raised for the purpose of becoming our food were treated more ethically. But PETA always gets it wrong because they assume that you can only care about humans or animals, not both, and that animals always come first. So it's not OK for cows to suffer, but it is OK for women around the world to be chained to a breast pump 24/7 in order to produce the gallons of breast milk it would take to make those tiny pints of ice cream? And what will these women's babies eat? Formula? Which is, all together now, processed cow's milk!
I don't even know why I am getting worked up because I know that PETA will always come up with some crazy scheme in order to get media attention, and look, it worked. I absolutely love the response from Ben & Jerry's spokesman, Sean Greenwood.
"We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child." Amen, brotha. If you want socially responsible cold treats, buy rice milk or soy milk ice cream.
OK, I am off to eat some Vermonty Python. YUM.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sad news

I read a very depressing article today. Dr. Jack Newman, famed pediatrician and breastfeeding expert, may have to close the doors to his respected Toronto clinic where women have turned for breastfeeding help for the last 20 years. Dr. Newman is considered a world leader in breastfeeding education and support. His instruction videos can be found for free on YouTube and his books are best sellers. Dr. Newman is close to my own heart because when I was having difficulty with breastfeeding and pumping I emailed him and he responded that same day. He gave me some sage advice, along with a few chapters from his book he thought would be helpful. This man has his own practice in addition to his work at the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic and Institute. He has devoted his heart and soul and his entire career to helping mothers and babies and now he may lose his clinic because his private funding has dried up. His website, where he offers tons of invaluable information for free, may also soon disappear.
If you're as upset about this as I am, if you've been helped by Dr. Newman and you have the means, please send a few dollars to the Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation, which is accepting donations on behalf of the Newman Clinic.

Monday, September 22, 2008

HIV positive moms may now be able to breastfeed safely

A chemical engineer at Cambridge University has created a nipple shield that would allow HIV positive mothers to breastfeed safely. The shield is able to disinfect the milk as it leaves the nipple, while leaving the milk undamaged. Although heating the milk first can deactivate the virus, it's a lengthy process that kills some of the nutrients in breast milk. The new shield uses sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) to prevent the spread of the HIV virus.
The researchers are rightfully concerned that this new invention may not be used because it would identify a mom using at as HIV positive. However, the shield will be marketed as a delivery system for medication, so it can be used by moms with an iron or iodine deficiency as well.
This is amazing news and has the ability to have such a positive impact on women and children in the developing nation who have had to rely on formula if mom is positive. Imagine the benefits to women and children in Africa, who can't afford formula and can't rely on state aid or the good will of others to feed their babies.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pumping & Working: Essentials to making it work

One of my good friends will be returning to work in a week and will be pumping for her 4-month-old daughter. I told her I would make her a list of items and tips she'll need to make working and pumping easier. Below is my list, but please feel free to add anything I may have overlooked.

  • A good double electric breast pump. It goes without saying that if you want to keep your supply up, you'll need a quality pump. Most lactation consultants recommend the Medela Pump in Style and the Ameda Purely Yours. If your supply starts to dip, you can consider renting a hospital-grade pump. I am also hearing really good things about the new Medela Freestyle, a hands-free pump.
  • Pictures and videos of your baby, clothes your baby has worn, your baby's blanket. All of these items can help elicit your let-down reflex. If you have a cell phone that takes videos and pictures, make sure you have some photos or vids of your baby nursing that you can play while you pump.
  • Burp cloths. My son never spits up so I have a ton of these things in his linen closet and never had a use for them until I returned to work and began pumping. These will save your clothing. Breast milk does stain (I learned this lesson the hard way by ruining two pairs of pants) so be sure to put the cloths in your lap before you pump. When you remove your breasts from the horns, some milk may drip down into your lap so use the cloths to catch it. You can also them to wipe up any milk that spills on the table/desk where you're pumping.
  • Speaking of horns (or flanges or breast shield....same thing!), it's smart to invest in an extra set. That way, you don't have to wash pump parts at work. Since breast milk is sterile, you can store the horns from your morning pump session in a fridge at work or even in a plastic ziplock bag until you're ready for your lunch time pump. Then you can use the extra set for your afternoon pumping session(s).
  • Make sure the horns are also the correct size! Check out how the right fit should look here.
  • Extra accessories. Keep them on hand, both at work and at home. I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten to pack one little tiny part that then makes it impossible to use the pump. The white part that aids in suction is the membrane and the yellow piece it clips onto on a Medela pump is the valve. On an Ameda pump, the white piece is the valve. Medela accessories can be purchased at Target and Babies R Us, but Ameda parts can only be found online, so stock up before returning to work. You'll also need to replace the valves and membranes every 6 to 8 weeks to ensure the integrity of your pump and your output. If you notice you are pumping less, sometimes just replacing these parts can get you back on track.
  • Extra collection bottles/milk storage bags, just in case. You never know how much milk you're going to get in a given day.
  • A cooling pack. If you don't have access to a fridge, you can keep your milk cool enough with a freezer pack. Even though I have a fridge, I prefer to keep my milk with me at all times.
  • A fun magazine, book, or web site to read. Many moms, myself included, find that "bottle watching" really wrecks your output. If I concentrate and worry about how much milk I am getting, I inevitably get less than if I surf the internet or read Us Weekly.
  • Learn how to go hands-free. If you can't splurge on a Freestyle, you can purchase a bra especially made for pumping moms, like the Easy Expressions. You can also rig up any regular old nursing bra to be hands-free with a couple of rubber bands.
  • Pump at least 3 times a day. Ideally you should pump for every missed feeding, but if you can't, 3 times is in a typical 8-hour work day should be enough. If you get busy, squeeze in a 5 minute pump. Some pumping is better than none!
  • Herbs. Fenugreek works wonders for boosting milk supply, as does goat's rue. You can purchase them at a health food store, or try a tincture like Mother Love's More Milk Plus.
  • Determination and a good attitude. Working and pumping is tough, but worth all of the effort to give your baby the best..your milk! It helps to think of pumping as a way to connect with your baby even when you're apart. You will definitely run into issues at one time or another but don't let them prevent you from continuing your nursing relationship with your baby. If you find pumping becomes too difficult, always remember that some breast milk is better than none and nursing doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition! Your body will make enough milk for you to feed your baby when you're together and you can give her formula at day care if it makes your life easier and preserves your sanity.
For more tips and information on the many common concerns working and pumping moms face, check out the following:

Work and Pump site

Pumping & Relactating Moms forum

Breast milk calculator

Nursing Mother, Working Mother

Optimizing Milk Supply
when Returing to Work or School

101 Reasons to breastfeed your baby
, when you need some inspiration and encouragement

Friday, September 19, 2008

Weekly Roundup

A diet rich in Omega-3s found in fish and breast milk leads to smarter, healthier babies.

Swiss restaurant to serve stews, soups and sauces made with 75% breast milk.

A group of British moms will be posing for a calendar to promote breastfeeding.

"Best is breast" is an unknown concept in China.

Look out for Motherwear's September Carnival of Breastfeeding on Monday, 9/22. This month's theme is learning about breastfeeding.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How long were you breastfed?

It has always been a source of pride for me that I was breastfed until I was 18 months old. Over the years, whenever I have told people, their reactions have been a mixture of surprise and awe. People have always found it surprising that my mother nursed me until I was a toddler.

With the recent resurgence of breastfeeding rates and the AAP and WHO recommendations, I'm always a little surprised that people are still grossed out by nursing toddlers. Maybe if you don't have children it's hard to picture nursing a 2-year-old, but a 2-year-old is still very much a baby in many ways. I plan to allow my son to self-wean and since we don't plan on having any more children for a few years, I don't see that being a problem. I don't think I could ever tandem nurse, but I give props to the women who do. I'd like to have my body totally back to myself for a while before committing to another pregnancy and nursling.

How long is too long to nurse? I don't know, but I am just as skeeved as the next person by that British lady who is still breastfeeding her 8 and 12-year-old daughters. The clips from a documentary have made their way around the internet and if you're interested, you can watch it on YouTube. I think up until age 5 is appropriate and that appears to be about the average age children wean in places where societal pressures, social mores and work constraints don't force moms to wean.
I am just curious how long my readers were breastfed and if you believe that has had an impact on how long you plan to breastfeed your own kids?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Coffee creamer mistaken for infant formula

A brand of coffee creamer has been mistaken for infant formula by parents in Laos. The Bear Brand creamer (made by NESTLE of all people) has a picture of a mother bear and a cub on the label, the same picture that is used on the same brand's containers of formula.

When the international code of formula marketing was adopted, formula companies came up with an amazing gimmick. The code prohibits pictures of babies (or other images idealizing bottle-feeding) on containers of breastmilk substitutes. This is why you see formula containers featuring mama rabbits and bunnies, mama bears with cubs, etc. After the code was adopted, formula companies invented the so-called "follow-up formula" for toddlers age 9-24 months. Since this formula is for babies who have been weaned, the companies argue the product is not a breastmilk substitute, and is therefore immune from the Code. This is why the toddler formulas (and since when is a 9 month-old a toddler?) have pictures of babies on the containers, which of course has the same name as the regular formula.

So it makes sense that Nestle uses this image on its formula packages, but why use the same image on coffee creamer? Although the packaging states in English, Lao and Thai that the product is not a breast milk substitute and contains a picture of a bottle with a slash through it, the population has such a high illiteracy rate that many parents simply can't decipher the differences in the labeling.

How many times can Nestle go down this road before they get right and stop trying to kill infants around the world for their own profit? If you're outraged, you can send a letter to:

Nestle Thailand (manufacturers of Bear Brand):


Kathryn Rowan
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Nestle Canada
25 Sheppard Ave. W.
North York, ON
M2N 6S8

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bonding via bottlefeeding

I'm always really annoyed when people act like the only way for fathers, siblings and grandparents to bond with a baby is to feed him with a bottle. If you want to bond with a baby, give her a bath, change a diaper, sing the baby a song, rock him to sleep. There are so many ways to bond with a baby that don't have anything to do with feeding. Nature intends for women to feed babies, the same way nature intends for women to carry babies for 9 months. You don't see too many men fighting for the opportunity to carry the fetus and then deliver it, do you? I'm thinking if there were a serious interest in it, science would've figured out a way to make it happen by now. I guess we'll wait for that while we wait for the male birth control pill.

Anyway, my partner is always saying he wants to invent a bottle that allows dads to feed a baby that would look like a giant pair of boobs. I always laugh because isn't that seriously a punchline from that movie Meet the Fockers? But now someone has gone and done it! OK, it doesn't look like a pair of boobs, but this new "Natural Bonder Bottle" (which is being marketed as a breastfeeding system for "today's modern parent") provides hands-free feeding in a way that mimics the positioning of breastfeeding.
Would anyone actually use this? It looks sort of ridiculous, no?

I guess I could see the appeal if you're an adoptive mom and missed out on the opportunity to breastfeed, but if you're working and pumping (which is the type of mom this company seems to be targeting) why not use a regular bottle system? Are breastfed babies fooled by this contraption? Do dads and grands really feel closer to the baby? Perhaps it's more comfortable, as the site purports, to feed a baby with the system because you are hands-free and can snuggle the baby better, but I wonder if that is worth the cost. The pricing page is currently down, but I don't imagine it's cheap.
What do you guys think?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More celebrities breastfeeding

Jessica Alba is still breastfeeding baby daughter Honor, and credits the nursing with helping her bounce back to her pre-pregnancy size so quickly.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nursing in the friendly skies

Are you planning a trip out of town for the holidays? Will you need to travel by air? Do the recent incidents where women's breastfeeding rights were violated in the air make you nervous? Annie over at the PhD in Parenting blog has created a few wonderful posts that cover the various airlines' breastfeeding policies, tips for nursing on a plane and what to do if you're harrassed by a flight attendant.

If you'll be pumping on your trip, you always want to make sure you know the TSA information on traveling with breast milk.

How have your experiences been traveling with a baby and breastfeeding on airplanes? I have not had to do this yet, but anticipate that we'll be doing some traveling in March to visit family. We'll still be nursing then and I'd like to know what I'm in for. I think most women probably have positive experiences, but the negative ones get so much attention that is makes moms nervous. Annie says she has nursed her kids for years on planes without a hitch, so I'm confident you'll be fine, too. Better to be prepared, though, just in case!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mark your calendars: Breastfeeding Olympics

2008 Breastfeeding Challenge
Or, as it is known in the Philippines, The Breastfeeding Olympics!

What: A fun event to challenge geographic areas to see who can get the most babies breastfeeding at one time. The winners are determined by a percentage of birthrate.

When: October 11, 2008

Time: 11:00 am your time

Why: To celebrate breastfeeding, to educate the general public, to develop peer support, and to just have fun!

Location/Site: Anywhere you can get 2 or more moms together. Some sites are in someone's home. Other sites are in hospitals. Sites can be in a park, at a clinic, at City Hall, on the Capitol grounds, in a football stadium, at a theater, at a community pool, at a local restaurant, at a mall, at a health fair, at a baby store, at a maternity store, at the library - anywhere you want to gather to have a nurse-in. If your site is in a public location, be sure to get permission to use it as a site.

How the Challenge Got Started: In 2001, the Quintessence Foundation in British Columbia sponsored the first event. That year, there were 856 babies in 26 sites in B.C. Last year, there were 5,383 babies in 230 sites across Canada and the U.S. This year, the event will be an
international effort.

Join this Worldwide Event. Sign up for a site today. Invite all the breastfeeding moms you know and have them invite all their friends. Tell them to get to the event about 15 minutes early to get registered and find a spot. Only those latched on at 11:00 am can be counted in the results!

For more information and to sign up for a site:
Go to This site includes a place to sign up, handouts for moms, and press releases, etc. for organizers.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Does giving birth vaginally make you a better mom?

Add another log to fan the flames of the Mommy Wars. A new study by Yale University suggests that women who give birth vaginally bond more with their babies. The research points to the release of oxytocin during contractions as the reason for more intense bonding between these moms and their newborns. The study used brain scans of a whopping 12 women, so the methods definitely leave something to be desired. However, according to a professor from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, doctors have long recognized that women who have C-sections do sometimes have trouble bonding with their babies. Skin-to-skin contact after birth should be encouraged for women who have C-sections, as well as breastfeeding.

There is no doubt that women who have C-sections go on to be loving and bonded mothers to their children, but it does appear to make mothering and breastfeeding in the early weeks more difficult.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

If it's a breastfeeding support bag, why does it contain formula?

If you gave birth at a hospital in the US, you probably received a free diaper bag from one of the formula companies that included a pamphlet on breastfeeding and a sample of formula. This is what they call a "breastfeeding support bag." Yeah, I am just as confused as you are on how a formula sample is supposed to support breastfeeding. I read a newspaper article this morning that quoted a mother-child coordinator at a Chicago-area hospital who said they give the formula because "if breast milk is going to be lacking, they will have a back-up supply with them." Breast milk is never lacking. Formula is lacking. Formula isn't a living organism like breast milk. Formula doesn't contain antibodies. Formula isn't specially created for your baby. Formula doesn't change from day to day, hour to hour, feed to feed. There is nothing lacking in breast milk.

Yes, there is a very tiny percentage of women who don't make enough milk for their babies. Depending on who you ask, that number ranges from less than 1% to about 5%. So 95% of women will make enough milk to feed their babies. And even if the number were greater than that, why should hospitals of all places be handing out formula? Most women leave the hospital within 3 days of giving birth. The only thing a baby needs the first 3 days of life is colostrum. A mother's milk usually comes in like clockwork at 72 hours post-partum for a reason. A newborn doesn't need a full milk supply for the first few days, even up to a week.

Supplementing with formula in the early days is dangerous. Your body makes milk on a supply/demand cycle. If you do not demand the milk, your breasts won't make it. Giving your baby a bottle is a surefire way to ruin your breastfeeding relationship. Lactation consultants know this. Why don't nurses and pediatricians?

The formula companies don't care about the health of your baby, as they are in this to make money (and they the tune of about $2,000 per year for every child who is formula fed). Only in America are they allowed to market their product so aggressively (although they still do it in foreign countries where it's illegal, killing hundreds of thousands of babies each year whose mother's can no longer afford to buy formula and whose milk has long since dried up).

It's bad enough that the pharma companies who produce formula use underhanded direct marketing tactics (the aforementioned diaper bags, pamphlets with outdated breastfeeding information, formula checks in the mail, etc) but they also have nurses and doctors working for them, too. At some hospitals, formula reps are known to cater lunches for maternity staff and offer prizes to the nurse who uses the most formula with her patients. Ross Laboratories (makers of Similac) even state in a training manual to "never underestimate the importance of nurses. If they are sold and serviced properly, they can be strong allies. A nurse who supports Ross is like an extra salesperson.” (Abbott Labs v. Segura, 1995)

If you're tired of this aggressive and unethical marketing of formula, take a stand by having your baby in a WHO-certified Baby Friendly Hospital. You can also check out Ban the Bags for hospitals and birth centers in the US who do not give out the bags.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Help a breastfeeding support group

Micky over at Mocha Milk is a lactation consultant in middle Tennessee in "real life." She recently started her own business, 9 Months & Beyond, LLC, which provides breastfeeding and childbirth support. The business is growing like crazy and she'd like to receive some funding in order to offer more classes, including prenatal exercise, yoga, art, dance, etc. You can help without even cracking open your wallet. Just take a few moments to vote for 9 Months & Beyond on and she could win $10,000, which would help her move into a bigger location, buy furniture, library items and have leverage with an investor.

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