Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of the Best 2009

So 2009 is almost officially over and what a great year it has been! My blog turned 1 in April and my son turned 2 in December. I attended my first blogging conference and joined Twitter. I worked harder on this blog than almost anything else this year and I’ve met some incredible people because of Blacktating and gotten some incredible opportunities as well.

Everyone seems to be posting a year-end best-of list, so I figured I would compile my Top 15 Posts for 2009. Here they are, in no particular order.

Breast Milk: Breakfast of Champions!

Life Photo Archive 

Attachment parenting, breastfeeding...and hip hop?

Salma Hayek opens up about weaning and cross-nursing

Mothers using HIV drugs to stop lactation

How to treat a cold while breastfeeding

Interview with Erica Eisdorfer, author of The Wet Nurse's Tale

Blogging & Breastfeeding on Back Talk

Unbuttoned coverage on NPR

This is how you do it

Lesbian, transgender and breastfeeding..oh my!

Formula ads: how far is too far?

Women of color movers and shakers in breastfeeding support

Wendy Williams: I couldn't breastfeed

Guest post: Becoming your own advocate

Bettina of Best for Babes also had a great idea to compile a list of the Top 50 Breastfeeding Blogs and the Top 50 Breastfeeding Posts of 2009. Here is a list of some of my favorite breastfeeding bloggers, and I'd love to hear yours!

Sustainable Mothering
Hobo Mama
Mama Knows Breast
Breastfeeding 1-2-3
PhD in Parenting
Mommy News
Adventures in [Crunchy] Parenthood
Breastfeeding Moms Unite!
The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog
One Hot Mama
One of THOSE Moms

Please leave a comment telling me what other breastfeeding blogs you read or if there are any particular posts about breastfeeding that spoke to you this year.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quote of the Day: The Pioneer Woman on Motherhood

I am sure most of you have heard of Ree Drummond, the fantastic cook behind the food blog The Pioneer Woman. I recently bought her new cook book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl and I noticed that Ree managed to bring up breastfeeding more than once! Here's a quote from the book, on new motherhood.

"One of the hardest things about becoming a mother for the first time was the stark realization that I was absolutely, wholly responsible for another human being's survival. I had this baby, this human baby, in my little house in the country and it woke up in the middle of the night. Like, after I went to sleep! It wanted to eat, it seemed. Night after night, I staggered to its crib with my eyes glued shut and sat on the rocker in its room and dutifully attached its mouth to my throbbing, engorged breast and allowed it to root around and drink the milk, real milk, from my bosom. And I cried. I cried a lot.

Slowly, though, during the course of the coming days and weeks, I began coming to terms with the fact that there was no getting around it: without me, this child would not survive. If I didn't feed it, nobody would. Well, I'm sure Marlboro Man would have if I'd asked him to, but in all my postpartum desperation, I wasn't about to deal with washing bottles on top of everything else."

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Teaching Black Women to Embrace Breastfeeding

NPR seems to be thinking a lot about the topic of this blog, black women and breastfeeding. First there was the piece in November that talked about how black women often avoid breastfeeding. Then today, another piece, also featuring Kathi Barber, about decreasing the disparities in breastfeeding rates. Why do black women breastfeed less than all other races, and how can we narrow that nursing gap?

The piece talks about the negative image that many black women have of breastfeeding, that of the tribal women, with long, sagging breasts that you see in National Geographic. There is also the belief that breastfeeding is painful and gross. In addition, most black women return to work soon after having children and we know how difficult it is to continue to breastfeed while working, particularly when doing blue collar work. Combine that with a lack of breastfeeding role models, the hypersexualization of black bodies, the inability to see breasts as anything but sexual objects, and well, you can see why we have so many problems.

Kathi Barber also sees a link between low breastfeeding rates in the African-American community and the legacy of slavery. Do 21st century moms still carry the anger of the slave forced to breastfeed the master's white children while her own baby starved? Possibly. I think the bigger issue may be the pervasive reluctance to do or be anything deemed as "white." Who are the vocal and visible black women that breastfed? There are a handful of celebrities, but how often do you encounter a black woman breastfeeding while at church or the park or at daycare or a family event?

The thing that leaves me scratching my head, and that I didn't fully realize, was that even middle-class, educated black women have pretty abysmal breastfeeding rates when compared to our white counterparts. Maybe because it seems most of the black women I know who are like me DID breastfeed, at least for a few months if not longer. If the women with the most education, the ones most likely to have a supportive work environment, to truly understand all of the benefits to breastfeeding, aren't doing it, how can we expect anyone else to?

It seems there is still a ton of work to be done and I'm grateful that people like Kathi, who founded the African-American Breastfeeding Alliance, are working hard to promote and protect breastfeeding in the black community.

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Nursing Is Normal!

I found two cool local campaigns aimed at normalizing breastfeeding on YouTube the other day. The first is from the "Nursing Is Normal In Charlotte Project" and features photographs of women nursing in public, interspersed with some great quotes about breastfeeding.

A similar project was started in Madison, WI and their video can be seen here.

Love, love, love this idea and it seems like the type of project that a group of like-minded moms could put together easily. I know that a lot of you that read the blog are members of LLL and WIC volunteers. I think this would be an excellent idea to bring up with at your next meeting. I'd love to see all 50 states represented in similar videos. And if you know of other any cities or groups that have participated in the Nursing Is Normal Project, please let me know!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December Carnival of Breastfeeding: Advice for the Holidays

Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers! This month’s theme is taking care of yourself during the holidays. Please scroll down to the end of this post to read the posts from the other participants.

My son was born two years ago on the first night of Hanukkah. He was the best Hanukkah present I’ve ever received (especially since he was due November 17, a full two weeks before he made his debut!) Hanukkah was pretty much a bust that year. There were no latkes, no candles, no nothing. Just me trying to recover and enjoy my new baby and figure out this whole mothering thing.

My baby was only three weeks old on Christmas Day, so not much was expected of me. We kept it super low key and spent the day with my mother-in-law, who cooked dinner. I didn’t buy anyone a present, didn’t step foot into the kitchen and didn’t feel a bit guilty. It was totally my ideal holiday.

I'd like all of the new mothers to take a page out of my book and take a backseat this holiday season. My best advice to all of the breastfeeding moms who are celebrating their first Christmas or Hanukkah with a newborn is obviously to take it easy and get as much rest as possible. A lot of people will tell new moms to give themselves permission to hand off the baby to relatives, but for me just the opposite was true. I had to give myself permission to be “rude” and “hog the baby.” He was so tiny and new and I was so in love, I didn’t want anyone else to get near him. People would say, “Oh, I’ll hold him so you can sit and eat” or “He’s sleeping, let me put him down in the bassinet.” But I really just wanted to snuggle him the entire time! So if you feel that way, just know that’s normal, too!

As a breastfeeding mom, you’ll probably also get loads of advice from your family about breastfeeding (get used to it!) Even if you know what they’re saying is incorrect, don’t allow them to get under your skin and ruin your holiday. Just smile sweetly and nod your head. And if anyone tells you that you’re spoiling the baby or feeding him too often or that he looks hungry and wouldn’t he rather have a bottle?, you can always use the tried and true, “Oh, this is what my pediatrician told me to do!” Perfect this sweet, ditzy smile. It will serve you well for months (and possibly years) to come. If your company is particularly ornery, you can always offer them some bean dip.

Happy Holidays to everyone and to the new moms, enjoy your gift!

Also check out....

Mama Knows Breast: Breastfeeding Holiday Poem

Chronicles of a Breastfeeding Mother: Don't Forget the Pump!'s Breastfeeding 1-2-3: Breastfeeding and Dehydration

Cave Mother: A Mother's Christmas
Accidental Pharmacist: Motherhood Statement
Hobo Mama: Breastfeeding & the Holidays: How to take care of yourself
Mommy News & Views: The Holidays & Being A Breastfeeding Mom
The Adventures of Lactating Girl: Breastfeeding and Holidays
Happy Bambino: How to Take Care of Ourselves During the Holidays
Breastfeeding Mums: Looking After Yourself During the Holidays: 7 Tips for Breastfeeding Mothers
Motherwear Blog: Taking Care of Yourself & Your Baby During the Holidays
Breastfeeding Moms Unite: Caring For A High Needs Baby During the Holidays

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Blogger Event: Car Safety & the New GMC Terrain

I recently attended an event for bloggers in Miami where I learned about car safety from representatives from Safe Kids and got to test drive the new GMC Terrain. If you're interested in learning more about these topics, please head over to my post on Blacktating Reviews.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wendy Williams asks: Do you think it's OK to breastfeed in public?

Thanks to Teefee for pointing out Wendy Williams' status update on Twitter on Tuesday.

I was nervous about clicking the link, but this is the video it led me to. In it, Wendy discusses the recent harassment of Mary Martinez (she mistakenly refers to her as "Mary Hernandez") in a Detroit area Target. Take a look.

I was so happy that Wendy didn't say she had a problem with public breastfeeding, but I am still more than a little bit annoyed at the idea that women are purposefully going around trying to flash their boobs at strangers while nursing their babies. I have yet to see a breastfeeding mom who didn't try to be discreet (and just because you don't use a blanket or one of those ridiculous aprons doesn't mean you aren't trying to be discreet). The thing is, babies aren't discreet. When your kid needs and wants to eat, you have to feed him! Particularly a four-week old!

So while I'm slightly disappointed by this response, it doesn't really surprise me. What did surprise me, however, was this black woman in the audience proudly announcing she nursed her youngest until age 4!

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Guest post: To Breastfeed Or Not To Breastfeed?

I’m pleased to present a guest post today by Jenn who blogs about her path to motherhood at Baby Makin’ Machine. The Future Mama, as she’s known on Twitter, is famous for asking tons of questions about being a mom. From cloth diapers to co-sleeping, Jenn wants to learn about it all! Here are her thoughts on breastfeeding, from the perspective of a mom-to-be.

Breastfeeding… If there’s one thing I’ve learned about it in the last year of my life is that it’s a hot topic among mothers. I didn’t understand why at first. Some women do, some don’t… who cares what your neighbor does as long as you do what you feel comfortable with. But I’ve learned that women do hear from their neighbors, on both sides. Some say it’s wrong to breast feed in public, to breastfeed after your baby has teeth. Others say you don’t love your baby if you don’t breastfeed. All of the animosity between mothers first turned me off to learning more about it.

“I wasn’t breastfed, I turned out ok.” That was initially how I thought about breastfeeding. I’d try it, and if it worked out I’d keep doing it as long as it worked out.

Now I’m pregnant. In 8 months or so I’ll have my own little baby in my arms and the decision of whether or not I am going to breastfeed will be staring me in the face. There are lots of things I love about the idea. I love the idea of being able to feed my baby on the go, and not needing to pack bottles. I think this will make traveling while my baby is young nice and easy. Of course, I know it’s healthier for my baby, and it will help my baby to be healthy and strong. The idea that breastfeeding can also help you to lose pregnancy weight doesn’t sound so bad either.

But there are a few concerns or worries I have about it too. I worry about having the time and capability to breastfeed while I’m also working close to 50 hours a week. I know I can do it with time and patience, but I also don’t want to stress myself out about it. I want to be able to breastfeed comfortably. I know some women don’t mind popping their boob out in public and more power to them. But for me to be comfortable, I’d like to find a way to keep my ladies covered, while also keeping my baby comfortable and full.

I know breastfeeding your baby for a year is ideal but I also know it doesn’t work that well for everyone. I’ve seen babies who weren’t breastfed never get sick, and others the same age who were who seem to always be sick.

I have a lot to learn. Not so much in the aspect of “why breastfeed” but HOW I can do it, enjoy it, and keep it up with my crazy life schedule. I know everyone and every situation is different, but my hope is to learn a lot over the next 8 months, try my best, and do my best to respect everyone’s decision, while hoping people will do the same for me.

How about it, readers? Do you have any advice for Jenn on how to make breastfeeding work with a hectic schedule?

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quote of the Day: She has SOME idea

Khloe Kardashian to Rachael Ray on how Kourtney plans to breastfeed her baby.

"Kourtney was like, 'I'm so excited. I don't have to cook for five years! And I go, 'What do you mean?' She's like, 'I'm gonna breastfeed.' I go, 'For five years?' She has, like, no idea!"

Well, no, she obviously has *some* idea.....

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Does Anyone Still Believe Nestle?

In September of 2008, I blogged about how Nestle was using a logo of a mother bear and baby cub on both infant formula packaging and coffee creamer. The Bear Brand is sold in Laos, whose population has such a high illiteracy rate that they can't distinguish between the two products.

This is a picture of the coffee creamer label where you can clearly see the mother bear holding her cub in the breastfeeding position, yet Nestle expects a population that is mostly illiterate to know this product is not a breast milk substitute.

The misuse of the coffee creamer was so wide-spread that a study was conducted and pediatricians and parents in Laos were surveyed on how they used the Bear Brand. Of the 26 pediatricians contacted, 24 said parents "often" or "sometimes" fed coffee creamer to their babies as a substitute for breast milk. Other results of the study? "In the capital city, pediatricians said that mothers used the product when they returned to work. In the countryside, they reported that poor families used it when the mother was ill or died. Of 1098 adults surveyed, 96% believed that the can contains milk; 46% believed the Bear Brand logo indicates that the product is formulated for feeding to infants or to replace breast milk; 80% had not read the written warning on the can; and over 18% reported giving the product to their infant at a mean age of 4.7 months."

Yet Nestle would like you to believe they do not violate the WHO Code in developing countries. The Code is about marketing of breast milk substitutes and in this case, the label is the only clue parents in Laos have as to what is in the container. If the same labels are used on infant formula and canned sterilized cow's milk, how can parents tell the difference? There is obviously a problem when doctors in Laos have admitted infants to the hospital who were being exclusively fed coffee creamer!

In January of this year, Nestle said it recognized there was a problem and had stopped distribution of the Bear brand creamer in Laos. They claimed they were "reevaluating" the Bear brand and studying how to prevent any future confusion. Yet look what Candice of Mom Most Traveled found in a grocery store in Nong Khai, Thailand in November.

Candice says, "This is a picture of sweetened condensed milk that I took at a grocery store in Nong Khai, Thailand. Identical products are sold in Laos. Nestle puts the Bear Brand logo on sweetened condensed milk, coffee creamer, baby formula, and other juice box drinks marketed to toddlers. None of these other products are equal to baby formula, but I can understand why parents would choose them over formula. It has the reassuring Bear Brand logo, and coffee creamer is lots cheaper than baby formula. I cannot read Thai, so I am effectively 'illiterate' like most of Laos. When my first son stopped breastfeeding (at age 26 months), he rejected cow's milk so I struggled to find a suitable substitute. I started buying the boxed toddler drinks with the Bear logo, thinking they had nutrients like baby formula. Now I realize that I would have been just as well feeding him Ovaltine or other standard sugary kiddie drinks. So even I fell for it. I am fully pro breastfeeding and well educated. My second son weaned at 24 months and also rejects cow milk. I am letting him drink juice instead of Nestle toddler drinks. "

It doesn't stop there. Upstate Mom from Our Life Upstate recently went to Ethiopia to pick up her adopted daughter. She found that not only does Nestle advertise its formula there, they also give free samples away in hospitals. All things they swear they do not do, because they (wink, wink) don't violate the WHO Code in developing countries.

Does anyone still believe Nestle?

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All the Baby Mamas!

Have you seen this adorable video extolling the virtues of babywearing? Stephanie from Adventures in Babywearing held a contest and asked entrants to create a video using a Sakura Bloom Essential Silk sling. This is what Leigh from Marvelous Kiddo came up with. I couldn't help but post this video because it combines two of my favorite things, babywearing and Beyonce! Enjoy.

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Michigan Moms: Your Support For Breastfeeding in Public Needed Now!

I was contacted this morning by the Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA), which has just learned that the house bill HB 5515 concerning the rights of breastfeeding women in Michigan could come to the floor as early as the end of this week. At this point in the process there are no more witnesses or written testimonies submitted and it is only the Representatives themselves who will speak.

What can you do? Kiddada Ramey, Founder and President of BMBFA has some suggestions. Contact your own Representatives to ask them to support this bill. If they have a large outpouring of support for the bill from people in their district it stands to reason they might be persuaded to vote in favor. This is especially important for those representatives who might have misgivings or are negative about passing the bill. If this passes it will hopefully go into a public hearing in the Senate and we will then, again, need to testify and be present for support.


Please take a few minutes to write to your representative if you live in Michigan. You can use the district map on this page to find your Representative and his or her contact information.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tom Colicchio on Breastfeeding

I am a HUGE fan of Top Chef, which is, along with Project Runway, the thinking person's reality show. I am embarrassed by the amount of time out of my life and space in my brain is dedicated to crap like Ray J of Love, but there is no shame in loving Padma, Tom and Gail. I consider myself a bit of a foodie and I have eaten at Tom's restaurant, cooked from Padma's cookbooks and have also eaten at several of the Cheftestants' restaurants across the country. So of course I was pleased to read today that Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio's four-month-old son is only getting the creme de la creme: breast milk!

According to Tom, "He's definitely a big eater and loves to eat like me. He's only on breast milk right now, and even at night time, when he wakes up, you just stick a bottle in his mouth or breastfeed him and he goes right back to sleep."

What a lucky kid. Exclusively breastfed and Tom Colicchio is going to cook him his first meal!

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Join the December Carnival of Breastfeeding

Join the December Carnival of Breastfeeding. This month's theme is, "Taking care of yourself during the holidays." Do you have any tips for nursing moms on how to get rest & relaxation during the holiday season and avoid becoming stressed, overtired and getting plugged ducts and mastitis? Please share them with us!

Email submissions by December 14th. The Carnival will be on December 21st. As always, we'll be looking for posts that are:

- Well-written and grammatically correct

- Thoughtful and directly on point for the carnival subject

- Submitted by blogs that pertain to subjects of interest to our readers (breastfeeding, parenting, etc.)

If your post is selected for inclusion, you will be asked on the day of the carnival to edit your post to link back to each of the other participants in the carnival. Examples of past carnivals can be found here.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Texas Breastfeeding PSA: Every Ounce Counts

I just discovered a new breastfeeding public service announcement created by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Enjoy.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Here We Go Again....

Breastfeeding has been in the news a lot lately and unfortunately, not much of the news has been positive. First, there was the tragic story of a woman whose baby died of unknown causes while she held her on a transatlantic flight. The headline from the Daily Mail read, “Tragedy as breastfeeding mother smothers baby after falling asleep on jet.”

Now, the autopsy results were not even in and police were calling the baby’s death “unexplained,” yet the headline is clearly blaming the mother and for some reason breastfeeding as well. If this mother fell asleep while nursing her baby on a flight and smothered her, what does breastfeeding really have to do with it? If the baby was smothered, that could have happened whether the mother was bottle feeding or even just holding the baby at a bad angle.

In addition, there are some elements of the story that make me very uncomfortable, including the fact that this was the second time this woman has a lost a newborn baby under similar circumstances. Still, the take away from this is that breastfeeding was not to blame in this baby’s death.

More recently, a woman was kicked out of a Target near Detroit for breastfeeding her four-week-old baby. Mary Martinez was nursing her baby in the electronics section when a security guard asked her to stop or leave and told her that breastfeeding in public is illegal. Breastfeeding in public is not illegal in Michigan, although there is currently no law protecting a woman who is asked to leave by an establishment because she's nursing.

Ms. Martinez’s husband, who is a police officer, was with her and informed the security guard that his wife was not breaking any laws. Unfortunately, the exchange escalated and Target employees ended up calling the police. The lame statement Target released said in part that police were called to “ensure the safety of other guests” and that Target supports breastfeeding mothers who are “nursing discreetly” in their stores.

Honestly, when will it stop? When will mothers no longer have to fear being harassed for simply feeding their children? When will corporations, airlines, restaurants and malls create official written policies to protect breastfeeding mothers? I am tired of hearing about moms being asked to leave community pools, department stores, airplanes and parks for breastfeeding. I am tired of the stupid caveat that moms must be "discreet." That is not supporting breastfeeding mothers.

Why is it that the Chicago Children’s Museum can get this right and no one else can? If you need a reminder, Target, this is how you do it.

It’s simple, really. You invest in some window clings or other signs featuring the international symbol for breastfeeding that state “Breastfeeding is welcome here.” Then you create a policy and put it in your employee handbook. When you have orientation with your new hires, you explain the policy to them. You train your managers and security guards on how to handle the occasional complaints from customers that will be inevitable until breastfeeding in public is considered normal. If you want to go above and beyond, you might even create a nursing mother’s room for those moms who like a little privacy or a comfortable chair to nurse in. That’s it. See how easy that was? This is not the first time I am giving you this information for free. Please use it. You’re welcome.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Baby Star Nursing Blanket Review & Giveaway

I've got a review and giveaway for the Baby Star Nursing Blanket over at Blacktating Reviews. Enter by Friday, December 11th for your chance to win!

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New recommendations for breastfeeding & HIV

Just in time for World AIDS Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) has set new guidelines on breastfeeding & HIV. After lots of recent clinical studies showed the efficacy of antiretroviral drugs in preventing HIV/AIDS transmission from mother to baby through breast milk, WHO now recommends women begin taking AZT at 14 weeks and continue until they stop breastfeeding. In other words, WHO is stating that if antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) are available, it is recommended that a woman breastfeed.

For those of us in North America and Europe this may not seem like such a huge deal. Formula feeding in places where a mother has access to clean water is relatively safe. However, in places like Africa, it is actually more dangerous for a baby to be fed artificial baby milk than to be breastfed by an HIV positive mother. In countries where the water supply is unsafe, UNICEF estimates that babies who are bottle fed are 25 times more likely to die, particularly from gastrointestinal illness.

"In the new recommendations, we are sending a clear message that breastfeeding is a good option for every baby, even those with HIV-positive mothers when they have access to ARVs," said Daisy Mafubelu, WHO's Assistant Director General for Family and Community Health.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Breastfeeding Often Avoided by Black Moms

Yesterday's edition of NPR's Tell Me More featured a conversation with Kathi Barber, the author of The Black Woman's Guide to Breastfeeding, Jamila Bey, a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, and Dawn Porter, a television executive. Host Jennifer Ludden discussed the reasons why breastfeeding rates are lower amongst African-American moms with the three ladies and the audio is embedded below (for those of you who can't listen at your computer, a transcript is available here.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Breastfeeding & Race Intersect in New Play

While listening to NPR on our way to the mall this morning, a piece came on about playwright Sarah Ruhl's new play, In the Next Room. Also known as "the vibrator play," In the Next Room is the story of Dr. Givings, a 19th century physician who cures "hysteria" in women by giving them orgasms with a curious electrical device. Dr. Givings administers this treatment while his wife sits in the parlor with their newborn baby, wondering what is going on.

I was sort of paying attention to the radio while playing with my cell phone, but my interest was piqued when I heard that Ruhl wrote the play while she was breastfeeding her baby and found herself interested in the topic of wet nursing and decided to include it in the story line. When Mrs. Givings has difficulty breastfeeding her baby, she and Dr. Givings hire an African-American woman to come and nurse her.

Ruhl says her play is about "how we separate out bodily functions and labor and love." She says she's intrigued by "this notion of paying someone to do something that, ideally, one does for one's own child — or paying a doctor for the sexual treatment that ideally your partner is giving you in a more intimate way. So it's all these questions of intimacy."

I got a sense from the review of the play in the NY Times that the subject of race is broached tangentially, and since the play is a comedy, I can imagine it's not the focus of the plot. I still think the idea of exploring this type of working relationship really fascinating. Does anyone know if there's a novel or play about a white woman and her black wet nurse? If so, please send it my way.

Anyway, if you are lucky enough to live in New York, the play is running at the Lyceum
until January. If you can't make it to the play, you can check out a clip below.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nicole Kidman on Breastfeeding

Nicole Kidman says she was cast in the movie Nine because she was breastfeeding.

"They're not very big, my boobs, so they just became normal size. I loved it!" she tells the December/January issue of Ladies' Home Journal. "I felt very Woman. When you've had a slightly androgynous body your whole life, having breasts is a nice feeling. [I had] big boobs because I was breastfeeding – I was perfect for it. I wouldn't get cast now."

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Breastfeeding Checks

How would you like to send one of these checks out to pay your mortgage?

Thanks to Heather at It's All About the Hat for pointing them out to me. As you can guess, these checks depicting a breastfeeding mother benefit La Leche League International. With every purchase of these checks, address labels and checkbook covers, 10% goes to LLLI.

If breastfeeding is not your cause, Message Products also sells checks that support NOW, Planned Parenthood, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and more.

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Formula Fed America

I learned about a new documentary called Formula Fed America on Twitter last night. There were lots of retweets of the link flying around, but I believe the first person to post the link was Anne from Dou-La-La.

Of course my first reaction to watching the trailer was, “Yes! Finally someone has made a movie about the dangers of not breastfeeding!” I am hoping the movie is going to be very accessible and informative without being so preachy as to be a turn-off to the average viewer. I am hoping it will be the breastfeeding version of Ricki Lake’s “The Business of Being Born” and will make a huge splash and be covered in the media.

I am tempering my excitement a bit for now. The website has sparse information on the movie so I have no idea when it will be in theaters or if it’s going to be straight-to-DVD or only available in huge markets. In addition to that, the trailer makes me a bit nervous.

Notice that it features three moms talking about their breastfeeding experiences and three doctors talking about the importance of breastfeeding. All of them are white. I’m concerned that the entire movie is going to lack diversity and breastfeeding will continue to be seen as something that only white women do when we know that’s not true. I hope that they don’t show lots of women of color formula feeding. I hope that the racial and cultural barriers to breastfeeding will be discussed. I hope that women of color won’t be completely absent from this conversation because our babies have the worst health outcomes in the United States and we’re dying of breast cancer and diabetes and obesity and heart disease at higher rates, too.

I hope this movie comes to my area soon. I will definitely be front and center to see it, but I’ll probably be holding my breath a little the whole time.

I emailed briefly with Leslie Ott, one of the makers of the film. She told me that they are still conducting interviews and hope to wrap the film in February. The film is still unedited and anything related to promotion is not yet set in stone. I have sent her some follow-up questions that I hope she'll have the time to answer.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Guest Post: Becoming Your Own Advocate

I'm pleased to present this guest post by Angel, a mom who had to become her own advocate in order to continue pumping at work. Her story is really inspirational and shows how one mom can make a difference for all the women at her job.

Working in the Health Department of a community college, and having a boss who had exclusively breastfed all 3 of her own children, I did not anticipate any barriers to pumping at work after returning from my maternity leave. My boss was gracious enough to provide me with a temporary office, so that I did not have to worry about finding a place to pump, or interrupting my work for frequent pump breaks. As a lactivist and aspiring lactation consultant, breastfeeding was near and dear to my heart, and I was so proud to be working full-time, and still be able to breastfeed my son with no need for supplements.

However, one day out of the blue, the dean called me into her office and proceeded to reprimand me for taking excessive breaks and violating college policy. Apparently, a coworker of mine had called the dean and reported that I was spending 2 hours and 45 minutes each day pumping! This was such a ridiculous overstatement, that I thought she must be joking, but to my horror, the dean not only believed the report, but threatened to cut my hours and pay in order to make up for the time I was allegedly spending.

I was speechless; the room was spinning. I saw all my intentions and personal goals thrown out the window, along with my innocent baby’s right to be breastfed. I started worrying about how our family would keep up our budget and get by with a reduction in pay.

Then I snapped back to reality and realized that this woman obviously had no idea what a huge can of worms she’d just opened. I told her that it was my right under Illinois law to pump at work, and that there was no way I could be in violation of college policy, since the college HAD no policy on this—I had checked. Furthermore, I couldn’t be in so-called violation, since the break times reported weren’t in any way accurate. I told her that she could check with my boss or any of my coworkers, if she needed confirmation. She seemed momentarily stunned into silence. I told her that I would email her the information on Illinois law, and promised to continue to keep my break times within the allotted time.

I was furious! I was shaking by the time I got back to my office, and of course, the coworker who’d ratted me out had called out sick that day. I racked my brain, trying to figure out how in the world she’d come up with 2 hours & 45 minutes, when at that time, I was only taking 2-10 minute breaks and a 25-minute lunch, which totaled up to the 45-minute lunch afforded to full-time employees. Even when I first came back from leave, and was using a dying secondhand pump, it was probably an hour & a half a day, max. Plus I worked through most of my pumping, so it wasn’t even exactly a “break”. To make matters worse, my other coworkers were all privy to what this meeting was about, since she’d been complaining about me to all of them. I realized at that moment that my boobs had been the latest topic of discussion around the office. I was mortified.

My boss was beside herself at what my coworker had done, & promised to back me if I ever needed her testimony. I contacted the college’s union rep, but there was no union available to classified staff. She did sympathize with me, however, and advised me not to allow the charges to go unrefuted. I decided to type up a letter of rebuttal. I submitted this to HR, along with a signed statement by my boss confirming my actual break times spent. In the letter, I wrote that I was dismayed that nursing mothers would now be portrayed in a negative light, as it had been my intention to schedule a positive, proactive meeting with HR to set up lactation rooms and implement a program and official policy at the college. I attached a copy of the Business Case for Breastfeeding which is a wonderfully thorough & educational packet for businesses on how and why to become a breastfeeding-friendly employer.

I set up a meeting with the director of HR, pleaded my case, and expressed my interest in creating a lactation program & space at the college. She expressed regret at my circumstances, but didn’t seem to understand the importance of a lactation program, or care much about finding space (even though I did offer to do all the work). She hadn’t even read the packet I’d sent. She requested a month to “research”. A month turned into 2, and before I knew it, she’d retired.

In the meantime, my coworker and I had not spoken in over 2 months. Workdays were horribly awkward and stressful, and pumping at work was now a nightmare, knowing that she was timing me and reporting back to the dean with her “findings”. My milk supply took a beating, and although I knew damn well from all my research that I could boost my supply by relaxing, I was incapable of doing that. I spent most of my breaks crying and wishing I could be anywhere else.

After weeks of depression, stress, and anxiety, I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to take the high road and asked my coworker out for a cup of coffee. We addressed our issues and came to somewhat of an understanding. Work slowly become bearable and I found the strength I needed to follow through with my goals for the college.

I scheduled a meeting with the new director of HR, and offered my assistance in starting a committee, finding space, and handling the logistics myself. She, like the previous director, had not even bothered to read the packet I’d sent, and just couldn’t imagine that there was a big enough need to justify creating a lactation room, let alone 7 rooms campus-wide, as I’d suggested. She insisted that there was no space on campus, but I gave her the names of several college employees who’d suggested places for such a room, and a list of pregnant employees who would use such a room if it were available. I told her stories of what other nursing mothers on campus had gone through in order to breastfeed (discrimination, harassment, pressure to wean, isolation, etc.), and insisted that it wasn’t right.

I left the meeting thinking that she, too, had blown me off. But a week later, I got an email letting me know that she’d found a room, and was working with maintenance to make the space appropriate! I was incredulous! In the 30+ years since the college had opened, no one had been successful in getting a lactation room built, despite countless requests. But now, we had one! I felt nothing but exhilarating joy at the thought that all future mothers on campus would not have to go through what I did just to breastfeed their babies. I had thought this an impossible situation, but somehow, I got someone to listen.

Finding a room turned out to be much easier than HR had anticipated and they’re now willing to work with me on creating a lactation program and an official college policy. I’m so happy that some good came out of this horrible situation, and that other nursing mothers will benefit from my experience. If I could offer any advice to moms out there, it would be to educate yourself about your rights and the law, be proactive about getting your employer’s support, and don’t give up at the first sign of resistance. Most employers find that accommodating their nursing employees was surprisingly easy—it’s just getting them to agree to do it initially that can be tricky. You shouldn’t have to deal with discrimination, and if you don’t fight it when it happens to you, you’re also enabling your employer to mistreat the next nursing mom.

You have resources! Contact La Leche League and a leader would be happy to work with you or your employer to make your company breastfeeding-friendly. All the literature is on your side! Do what’s best for you and your baby and advocate for breastfeeding whenever possible! I’m so glad that I did, and I’m happy to report that my son is one year old today, and is still a happy booby baby, with no intention of stopping any time soon.

Angel is a wife and mother of two who works full-time and attends classes part-time at the same college. Soon to pursue further education as a lactation consultant, Angel currently assists new mothers as a post partum doula while also raising awareness as an unwavering breastfeeding advocate. When given a moment to relax, she enjoys napping, reading, playing board games with friends, and beating her husband at Guitar Hero.

Want to learn more about lactation programs on US college campuses? Click here.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Feel the burn?

You've heard it countless times from countless celebrities. From Rebecca Romijn to Kimora Lee to Jessica Alba, all claiming they dropped the pregnancy weight with little to no effort thanks to breastfeeding. Salma Hayek famously disagreed, stating for her, breastfeeding did not make the weight fall off.

So does breastfeeding really help you shed the pounds? We know breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day, but a new research study suggests it won't necessarily get you into your pre-pregnancy clothes any faster. According to the study, a few factors determined how much a new mom lost: whether she was overweight before pregnancy, what she gained while expecting and duration of nursing, said Kathleen M. Rasmussen, an author of the study and a nutrition professor at Cornell.

So what does this mean for the average breastfeeding mom? I think the take away is that if you gain sensibly while pregnant (no more than the recommended 35 pounds or so) and breastfeed, you'll probably lose the weight quicker. However, I don't think women should concentrate on the numbers on the scale. I think the most important thing to remember is that you're doing the best thing for your baby and improving your health at the same time.

Is it OK to breastfeed in order to get back into your skinny jeans? Absolutely, it can definitely factor into your decision, and as Marsha Walker is quoted as saying, "We deserve it. She ought to get into those jeans after 9 months of pregnancy and 20 hours of labor. That’s what I tell mothers.” At the end of the day, no woman looks the same after having kids as she did before, not even Heidi Klum. And that's OK (or at least, it should be).

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?

I have a review and giveaway of a copy of the new book Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat? by Claire Mysko and Magali Amadei up at Blacktating Reviews. Claire, a beauty activist, and Magali, a former model and ED sufferer, interviewed over 400 women and men about the effects of pregnancy and motherhood on a woman's body and self-esteem. The book aims to show:

- How you can learn to trust your changing body, appreciate it, and yes…even work it!
- Why you should be wary of the Hollywood "bump watch" and post-baby weight loss stories– and how to take the focus off the scale
- How to deal with your raging hormones—in the bedroom and beyond
- How to recognize when your body issues get extreme—and how to get help

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

$100 Yummie Tummie Giveaway!

My review of Yummie Tummie Shapewear is up at Blacktating Reviews and I've got a $100 gift card to give away to one lucky reader. Go enter now!

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Breastfeeding is Life Changing

Welcome Carnival of Breastfeeding readers! This month’s Carnival theme is “What I Wish I’d Know Then….”

When I was first thinking about this month’s theme, it crossed my mind that I could talk about clusterfeeding, and how I wished someone had told me it was perfectly normal for my son to be attached to my boob for hours on end every evening. Then I thought it would be better to dispel the myth that newborn babies eat “every two hours.” I mean, I guess technically it’s every two hours, but the clock starts when your baby begins his meal, not ends it. So it usually feels more like feeding every 30 minutes, round-the-clock, especially if your baby is a gourmand like mine was and prefers to hang out at the buffet for hours, savoring every drop.

But honestly, what I wish I’d know then, and what I don’t think I could ever have imagined, was how much breastfeeding would change my life. I never thought the simple act of feeding my baby could be so life altering. For the first three months, I lived, breathed, ate and slept breastfeeding. It was all I could think about and talk about (and, it seemed, all I ever did). I spent hours online at the Kelly Mom forums, asking questions and reading about other moms’ experiences. I scoured the internet for pictures of women breastfeeding, for articles about breastfeeding, for videos showing how to hand express or latch my baby on. It wasn’t just that I was having some trouble and needed the help (I was and did), but I wanted to know as much about breastfeeding and how milk is made and how babies nurse as I could. It was at this time that I discovered many of the blogs I love and read to this day, and was inspired by other black women who were as passionate about breastfeeding as I was. It was what inspired me to start this blog, which has been an outlet for me and brought some amazing opportunities my way. Because of Blacktating, I have met and become friends with some of the smartest women on the planet who have educated me not just on breastfeeding, but on birth, child development, feminism, attachment parenting and more.

Breastfeeding has changed how I view my future and my career path. I am going to attend training to become a Certified Lactation Counselor so I can teach breastfeeding classes on the weekends. I have been inspired to a higher calling, to help women and babies.

Breastfeeding is such a huge part of my life that sometimes I wonder who I will be when I am no longer nursing. I don’t even think I can count all of the ways that I have changed since becoming a mother, but I know that I wouldn’t be the same woman I am today if I had not breastfed. I want all women to know that breastfeeding profoundly changes you in ways you couldn't have imagined, although I wish I had known then!

Photo credit: Motherwear

Please check out the amazing posts on "What I wish I had known then..."by these other bloggers. This is one of the best Carnivals to date, with some of the most heartfelt posts on breastfeeding I've had the pleasure to read in a while.

Massachusetts Friends of Midwives
My World Edenwild
The Adventures of Shrike & Whozat
Hobo Mama
The Starr Family Blog
Momma's Angel
Breastfeeding Moms Unite
Birth Activist
Three Girl Pile Up
Happy Bambino Blog
Fancy Pancakes
The Milk Mama
Fighting Off Frumpy
Breastfeeding Mums
Cave Mother
Breastfeeding 1-2-3
Mum Unplugged

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday 5

I have skipped a few weeks of the Friday 5! My apologies, things were hectic and I was also out of town. Hopefully these 5 will make up for it.

Remember the Breastfeeding Challenge? Toronto won with 372 moms breastfeeding at the same time.

A group of Florida moms is providing breast milk for a baby whose mother passed away.

The International Breast Milk Project is providing breast milk to typhoon victims in the Philippines.

Mali has 48 "baby friendly" hospitals. The US has about 80.

Breastfeeding mothers can exercise to offset bone density lost while lactating.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bravado Breastfeeding Information Council Survey

Bravado! Designs, makers of some of the best nursing bras on the market, will launch the Bravado Breastfeeding Information Council (BBIC) on November 10th. The BBIC will serve as a resource to the media, providing accurate information about breastfeeding. Additionally, the Council will provide research and guidance to businesses and organizations, with the purpose of instituting successful and meaningful programs for breastfeeding women.

For many years, Bravado has run surveys on their website to better understand the experiences of breastfeeding mothers. However, they'd like to reach more women and that's where you all come in.
Bravado would like you to take a few minutes out of your busy day to complete a brief survey about your breastfeeding experience. The survey asks questions about your duration of breastfeeding, how supportive your friends and family were of your decision to nurse, whether or not you continued to breastfeed after you returned to work, etc.

To thank you for your time, you'll be entered into a contest to win one of five $100 gift cards to Target or Sephora, your choice!

You can learn more about the BBIC at their new website. Once there, you can also register to attend a live webcast on November 10th which will feature some of the "best brains in breastfeeding" discussing their findings.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

You are not a pacifier!

Photo by Itsmybinky

I never used a pacifier with my son. I was one of those moms who was totally against using it from day one. From all the books I had read and through speaking with the Lactation Consultant at the hospital, it seemed detrimental to breastfeeding to introduce a pacifier (or any artificial nipple) before 4-6 weeks. By that time, my son and I had an established breastfeeding relationship and to give him a pacifier seemed counterintuitive. When he needed to eat, he had me. When he needed comforting, I was there. I felt, and still feel, that a pacifier would have hindered my ability to interpret and respond to my son's needs effectively. Besides, pacifiers cause a host of problems. Early introduction of pacifiers has been linked to shorter duration of breastfeeding. Pacifiers can affect teeth alignment. A new study has shown that pacifiers (along with bottles and finger sucking) cause speech problems. There also appears to be a link between pacifier use and frequency of ear infections.

So why do so many people give their baby a pacifier? I know that some babies do need pacifiers, like preemies and those in the NICU. But healthy full-term babies? Why is it that when a baby needs to be comforted, instead of bringing him to our breast, we reach for a piece of plastic? Are they just a part of our culture and deemed a necessity, like cribs and strollers (which many moms eschew as well)? I think that plays a role in it, but I also think many women fear "being used as a pacifier" by their babies. We are told again and again by friends and family not to nurse on demand because you "don't want the baby to use you as a pacifier!" But the thing is you are not a pacifier.

Whenever I hear a mom being admonished for nursing her baby on cue, allowing her baby to fall asleep at the breast, or letting a baby comfort nurse, I am brought back to this wonderful quote by Paula Yount.
"You are not a pacifier; you are a Mom. You are the sun, the moon, the earth, you are liquid love, you are warmth, you are security, you are comfort in the very deepest aspect of the meaning of comfort.... but you are not a pacifier!"

That statement really sums it up for me. I think it's important to remember that you can never nurse too often, although you can nurse too little and cause problems. There is no shame in responding to your baby's needs. In fact, I think it's what gave me such confidence as a new, first-time mom, so much so that people would often comment on how self-assured I seemed.

What do you think? Am I unfairly villifying the pacifier? Are they a useful tool or just another accessory pushed on us as a necessary part of modern parenting that hurts more than it helps?

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Breastfeeding Campaign Debuts in New Zealand

The Ministry of Health in New Zealand has just launched a new ad campaign to promote breastfeeding and normalize breastfeeding in public. The campaign will consist of posters placed on buses, ads in women’s and parenting magazines, in malls and on screens in warehouse stores. According to the press release, the campaign was created with friends and family of breastfeeding moms in mind, who often can influence whether or not a woman breastfeeds and for how long.

"Although New Zealand has breastfeeding rates that are consistent with other OECD countries, rates are low at six weeks, especially among Māori and Pacific women,” said Ministry of Health Deputy Director Margie Apa. She went on to say that barriers to breastfeeding, including “lack of breastfeeding support and information, mothers returning to paid work and finding it hard to continue breastfeeding, and negative attitudes to breastfeeding from the general public and family members” tend to more adversely affect minorities, teenage parents and low-income moms.

The pictures used in the campaign are absolutely beautiful and props to New Zealand for their concerted effort to include minority women in the ads. What makes these ads so powerful and extraordinary is that they're so mundane. They are simply photographs of women going about their daily lives, breastfeeding in the library, on the bus and at the airport.

The text on the bottom of the ads reads, "Wherever they're heading, a healthy start in life will help them get there. In the community and in the workplace, breastfeeding is natural. Perfectly natural. For information, please visit"

The US could learn a lot from this ad campaign. Remember the disastrous campaign created by the Ad Council in 2005? First there were these images:

Dandelions? Ice cream? An ad campaign to promote breastfeeding and not a mom or baby to be found? That was quite the head scratcher. (Not to mention the fact that the formula companies lobbied to get the actual messages on the ads watered down before they even debuted). Then there was this TV ad that many women found downright insulting.

Compare those ads to the ones in New Zealand and you can see how far we have to go in this country. We need to fight those "booby traps" that keep moms from breastfeeding or meeting their breastfeeding goals and focus on making breastfeeding the cultural norm, the natural extension of pregnancy and childbirth. These ads are a huge step in the right direction to help normalize breastfeeding, particularly in public. Anyone in marketing in New Zealand looking for a job?

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