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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