Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guest Post: Have Breastfed Baby, Will Travel

I'm pleased to present a guest post today by Corinne, a mom of two who writes about traveling with kids on her blog. This post is about her experiences traveling with a breastfed baby.

We didn’t take our first trip with our daughter until she was no longer nursing. It was my decision to wait. Lovingly nicknamed “The Dairy Queen” by my husband, my already well-endowed chest doubled in size while breastfeeding and I wasn’t certain that there was a swimsuit known to man that could contain me. Truthfully though, I wasn’t keen on bustin’ out all over the beach when I was already dealing with body issues as a new mother.  So, in addition to our already stuffed suitcases, I added a few cans of formula and figured out how to sterilize bottles in a hotel room.

Fast forward a little over 3 years and we’ve added a bouncing baby boy to our mix.  This time I was simply too in need to get away to care. By 8mos, my son had been on 4 trips – the first two when he was exclusively nursing – and boy did I learn how little work it is when you’re breastfeeding and traveling. 

Our first adventure as a family of four was an extended long weekend in Quebec City.  At 10.5 weeks, my son was sleeping good stretches of at least 8 hours at night (we’re so lucky, I know) and a pretty contented little guy.  We were *almost* in a routine of feeding every 3-4 hours, so we were able to be out and about, and I just needed to find a quiet place to sit when it came time to nurse.  One time he fussed in a restaurant and I nursed at the table - no one blinked an eye.

Next was a cottage resort a month later... This time there was a beach involved (albeit a lake) but it’s safe to say that motherhood the second time around leaves you precious little time to worry about things like body issues when you’ve a baby to cuddle and a preschooler to admire when she’s swimming with her daddy.  Have I looked better in a swimsuit? Yes. Did I really care? Not particularly.

By the time we visited Gramps in Florida, the baby had just started solids, and I was pumping milk to mix in his cereal and to thin his veggies.  Aside from the odd good natured grimace from my father-in-law about breast milk in his fridge (and the requisite jokes about pouring it in his coffee), I still had no bottles and nipples to sterilize.  In fact, in the shade of our beach umbrella, with the sand in my toes and sea breeze in our hair, I had a moment of pure bliss as I nursed my little sand crab.

That same bliss happened a lot more frequently on our last trip, which was to an All-Inclusive beach resort in the Caribbean. I figured we’d go back to our room to nurse and for naps, but we didn’t bother.  While his sister frolicked with her dad in the turquoise water, my roly poly beach baby would breastfeed under our palapa, before having the naps of his life in his stroller.  At 8mos, he was onto table foods and sippy cups of water, but this time around I didn’t even have the pump to worry about. 

With so many reports of families being kicked off airplanes, or shamed in stores, I’m delighted to report that we experienced nary a stink eye as my son nursed in airports, on airplanes, in restaurants, in parks, on the beach, or by the pool. Now, as our well-traveled 2nd born approaches his first birthday, I can’t believe how much more I’ve learned about traveling with babies.  I never would have believed it with my first, but the younger the baby, the easier to travel with – especially a breastfed one. 

Corinne McDermott is the founder of Have Baby Will Travel – your guide to family travel with babies, toddlers and young children.  Connect with her at or

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mother's Day Giveaway!

Are you looking for a new scent? I have a bottle of Escada's latest perfume, Marine Groove, to give away, just in time for Mother's Day! Head over to my review blog for the details on how to enter.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Simplisse Update: Are Simplisse & Handi-Craft Separate Companies?

After my post last week about believing that Simplisse was the same company as Handi-Craft and feeling duped after I held a giveaway of the Simplisse manual pump, I received an email from the Brand Manager of Simplisse, Steve Richardson. Here is his email to me in full:


I saw your post this morning and wanted to clarify some things. I was going to post this as a comment on the site, but just couldn’t find where to post a comment – so I got your direct email from Steve Simmons.

Handi-Craft and Simplisse are completely separate companies with their own boards, officers, and sources of finance. Simplisse is a privately-held company and is separate and independent from Handi-Craft. We are not a subsidiary, a sub-brand, or owned by Handi-Craft. Simplisse has a shared services contract with Handi-Craft. What that means is that we share certain functions like record keeping, accounting, etc. That is a transparent part of our business that we’ve shared since we first introduced the brand back in September 2009.

I assure you Simplisse has no connection whatsoever to the formula industry. Simplisse, Inc. is a privately-held company focused solely on creating products for breastfeeding moms that advances their ability to fulfill their breastfeeding goals and provide breastmilk to their babies for as long as they choose.

You asked about the reference we cite that discusses the association between pain and breastmilk quality. Our Clinical Director (who is an IBCLC) is getting those citations. We are removing some portion of the article on the web site until we have those citations, and we will re-issue the content with those references.

Simplisse was formed with two simple goals – to assist moms with meeting their breastfeeding goals by providing quality products for moms to express breastmilk as efficiently as possible when they are away from their baby, and to make the process of expressing breastmilk as comfortable as possible. We remain fully committed to developing products that help achieve those goals.

Steve Richardson
Simplisse, Inc.

I wanted to believe everything in this email, I really did. But I decided to do some investigating to see what I could come up with. I'll post my findings and allow you to make up your mind, and if you are a blogger, decide if this is the kind of company you would like to work with in the future.

First, Steve Richardson is listed on his LinkedIn page as the Brand Manager of Simplisse. However in this article about lawsuits against bottle companies for using BPA in their bottles, Steve is referred to as the spokesman for Handi-Craft, the parent company of Dr. Brown's bottles. In a press release from 2009 he's listed as the Brand Manager of Handi-Craft.

He's also listed as the contact for this press release issued by Handi-Craft.

And what of the IBCLC who Steve mentions in his email as Simplisse's Clinical Director? Her name is Dr. Jimi Francis and she is a well-known researcher. I know she is the Clinical Director because a friend who is an IBCLC received a pump in the mail, unsolicited, from Simplisse with a form letter written by Dr. Francis, "Clinical Director of Simplisse." Dr. Francis' speakers' bio on Lactspeak credits her as a clinical consultant to Simplisse. But in her own CV, which you can download here, and on her LinkedIn page, she lists herself as the Clinical Director at Handicraft from 2006 to present.

Then there was a study lead by Dr. Francis, highlighting the superiority of vented bottles in maintaining the nutritional quality of "baby milk," you know, like the bottles Dr. Brown's sells. And Handi-Craft sponsored the study. It's got its own website, which you can see here.

Steve Simmons, who is also referenced in the email, is the guy I was contacted by about reviewing the pump. His LinkedIn page lists him as the Online Manager for Handi-Craft. I hovered my mouse over the link where he inserted his company website URL so you could see it.

The link goes to which is one of the URLs that will take you to the Dr. Brown's website.

There was also a job listing in March of this year for a Quality Systems Engineer for both Dr. Brown's and Simplisse. I guess that is part of their shared services contract? Then there is this press release about a breast pump created by Dr. Brown's with the help of Dr. Jimi Francis and using a lot of the same language to describe the pump that you see on the Simplisse site.

And oh, yeah, the Simplisse site was originally registered on Whois to Handi-Craft.

Now, I'm not an attorney although a friend of mine who is is looking into their corporate structure, but she suspects that they may be listed as separate companies on paper but have all of the same employees and really be the same for all intents and purposes.

Those of you who are still with me may be wondering why Simplisse wouldn't want to be affiliated with HandiCraft. First of all, it seems pretty obvious that Simplisse is heavily courting IBCLCs. I have even heard that they have a booth at the annual ILCA (International Lactation Consultant Association) conference this July. ILCA's advertising policy would not allow a WHO Code violating company to be an exhibitor at their conference. In addition to this, every company wants to be successful. Without buy-in from the IBCLC community, a breast pump is going nowhere. And let's face it, Medela pretty much runs this breast pump game and has for the last 25 years. Ameda has a share and Lansinoh and Avent are small players. But other pump companies have never passed IBCLC muster (Playtex, First Years, Evenflo, etc) and though some moms may buy them because they are inexpensive, they are rated poorly overall and an IBCLC would never recommend them. I've gathered so far that the response from the IBCLC community is not necessarily favorable and many had misgivings about this pump the first time they heard about it.

So I'll let you decide whether or not Simplisse and Handi-Craft are the same. I know I've already made up my mind.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Duped, Disconcerted & Disappointed

A little over a month ago, I accepted a Simplisse Manual Breast Pump for a review and giveaway on the blog. I was excited about this new company and the marketing manager I spoke to was such a nice guy. I congratulated him on this promising new company that seemed ready to make waves. I mean, a pump created by lactation consultants from a WHO Code compliant company that totally understands the importance and power of social media? A real winner, right? Well, not so much.

See, someone posted to a listserv I read frequently, saying she'd also been contacted by this pump company and had some concerns about who the parent company might be. I wrote her back to reassure her it was fine, this was a brand new company, and WHO Code compliant. I had done my due diligence and looked the company up in several databases. Everything seemed on the up and up.

But then a friend tipped me off to this thread on the forums. A search of Whois shows that the address for Simplisse matches the address for Dr. Brown's, a bottle company whose parent is Handi Craft. Of course they are nowhere near WHO Code compliant. So essentially it seems like Handi Craft is trying to hide their affiliation with Simplisse. In addition to this chicanery, a search of their website shows some really dubious breastfeeding information that sounds eerily like formula company speak

Can someone please point me to the scientific study that says stress can reduce the infection-fighting nutrients in breastmilk or that pain while nursing can reduce the nutritional quality of breastmilk? Sigh. This was posted under the "Breast Health" section which I didn't even look at because I figured it was about checking for lumps and breast cancer. 

So I got duped. Several other mom bloggers that I like a lot and respect also got duped. I'm trying to be easy on myself because it took a lot of investigating to piece this all together and I think I just liked the idea of this pump so much I missed some of the signs. To be honest with you, I am not even sure if the brand manager working with bloggers understands or realizes the implications of all of this. 

I'm disappointed but I guess I shouldn't be surprised. No, this is not on the level of Nestle, but it's still frustrating that so few companies are completely transparent and honest and forthcoming about who and what they are. 

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Cancer Sucks: When Cancer Leads to Abrupt Weaning

I received my Spring edition of Brain, Child magazine a few weeks ago in the mail and though I always look forward to it, I was especially excited to read this issue's personal essay on breastfeeding. This essay entitled "This Sucks," was about a mom who had to abruptly wean her infant son when she found out she had breast cancer. The author, Kelly Feinberg, writes:

When Ari was only seven months old, I was forced to wean him from exclusive and happy breastfeeding when an enlarged milk duct turned out to be cancerous. Due to my age, treatment needed to be swift and aggressive, involving a bilateral mastectomy. One day I breastfed Ari on demand, wore him wrapped tight against my chest, and slept with him skin-to-skin; the next day I mixed bottles of formula to hand over to my husband and moved to the other side of the bed, out of reach.

This sucks, indeed. Thankfully, although she had to wean, Kelly found a new way to remain attached and bonded to her son: finger sucking. Like breastfeeding, Kelly soon found out finger sucking can sometimes be too intimate, embarrassing in public and uber demanding. Often the skin on her fingers would be raw from Ari sucking on them all night. Her emotional state caused her to lash out at him and she even tried covering her fingers with a glove to dissuade him from sucking. She says the sucking made her feel strangely exposed in a way that nursing in public didn't. She writes,

Then, I felt important breastfeeding in public, a champion of all things natural and best for my baby. Now I just feel sad. My finger is a poor substitute for breastfeeding, and my baby and I both know it. It is evident in his continuous, never-satisfied suck and in my impatience.
Having to wean abruptly due to a cancer diagnosis is heartbreaking, but I loved the way the author and her son found a way to continue their nursing relationship. Another mom who was dealt this shitty hand is Jenn Michelle of the blog bits of myself. She had to wean her daughter Nugget so she could begin chemotherapy and in the meantime, they nursed like this

Photo © Jenn Michelle

Luckily Jenn and Nugget were eventually able to resume nursing. Unfortunately Jenn learned in June of last year that her cancer is back. Kelly also learned that breast cancer had metastasized to her liver and has begun chemotherapy again as well.

Reading about these stories makes you hug your own baby a little bit closer. Even though I have been ready to wean, when my son asked for his milkies this morning when he woke up, I pulled him in close to me and gladly nursed him, thankful that I still had the option to do so.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Don't Kill Your Baby

Every time an article comes out referencing a study that proves how breastfeeding benefits moms and babies, moms come out of the woodwork to talk about how the article is picking on moms who feed formula. Then we hear a lot about how moms shouldn't be made to feel guilty. Thank goodness it's not 1910 and we don't all live in Chicago! This is an ad created by the Chicago Health Department that year titled "Don't Kill Your Baby!"

Now of course the ad is aimed at preventing moms from giving their babies things like beer, coffee and candy (was this a big problem at the turn of the century?) I love the inaccurate information in the ad, but at least they got one thing right: Mother's milk is best of all.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Weaning Milk

I started the process of weaning my son when he was about 26 months old. I stopped nursing him to bed and we would occasionally nurse in the morning, but only if we had enough time before getting ready to leave the house. The first time I told him "no" to night nursing he had a fit, but we snuggled and read and he got over it pretty quickly. After a few weeks like this, he was asking less and less and we were nursing quite infrequently. In fact, if you had asked me about two weeks ago I'd have said, "We're done, he's weaned," except a cold and cough and both of us feeling yucky last week led to nursing several more times.

In the interim, when we had stopped nursing, I decided to see if I could squeeze out any milk one day. A little came out but it was very white and thick, almost the texture of glue, rather than the watery milk that generally comes out when you first begin hand expression. It was so strange I decided to taste it and YUCK. It was salty and not sweet at all and just tasted horrible. My first thought was, "Oh, crap, I'm pregnant." I had read that pregnant milk can taste very salty and that it's the reason many toddlers self-wean when mom is pregnant; they just don't like how the milk tastes.

Soon after my period arrived so after consulting Dr. Google I realized that what I was experiencing is "weaning milk." Essentially what happens is the level of lactose in your milk drops and the sodium and chloride levels go way up, leaving your breast milk tasting salty. It is a totally normal part of the weaning process.

Thinking about this made me wonder if this is why many women think their babies have "self-weaned" at age 8 or 9 months. Many babies will go on a nursing strike at this age and if mom is not pumping and expressing milk, by the time the baby gets back to the breast, he may not like the taste anymore and switch to the bottle. I've always heard lactation consultants say it's extremely rare for a baby to self-wean before the age of one, but I hear it a lot from moms around the age of nursing strikes.

Anyway, our uptick in nursing has made my body start producing more milk that is definitely less salty, but still not totally back to the sweetness I was used to. So at 28 months we're not quite weaned, although I think we will be soon.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

New PSA: Breast Milk Satisfies

Major props going out to the state of Ohio's Health Department on their new breastfeeding PSA billboard:

Of course the haters have come out in spades to say they find the image of a beautiful, brown breastfed baby with milk on his mouth to be "distasteful." Interesting. I never heard that about those "Got Milk?" ads, where celebrities sported that thick white milk mustache. No matter, I love this billboard and I love the idea behind the "Breast Milk Satisfies" and "Help Me Grow" campaigns. Anyone in Ohio spotted this billboard yet?

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Breastfeeding in Haiti: What is it really like?

After the tragic earthquake that struck Haiti, there seemed to be a ton of chaos and disorganization amongst the various aid organizations working in the region. Of course initially myself and other lactivists discouraged people from sending formula donations to Haiti. Haiti, we said, has a breastfeeding culture and we don't want to do anything to disrupt that. In fact, soon there was an urgent call for donations of breast milk to Haiti to help babies whose mothers had died or couldn't be located. Shortly after we found out that the breast milk that did make it to Haiti was never used and that aid organizations didn't really want it anyway. Although that was disappointing, I was very pleased when UNICEF created Baby Tents in Haiti, where moms could go and have a safe, clean place to nurse and relax with their babies.

Most Americans don't really know much about Haiti and what I heard over and over again from people, particularly in the rabid comments section on blogs that talked about breast milk donations, was that to discourage formula donations was selfish and elitist of us. But was it really? As many lives as breastfeeding saves in a developed nation like the United States, can you imagine the health implications in a place like Haiti?

Last week I stumbled across an excellent blog post, written by an expat named Gwen who lives in Haiti with her husband and three kids, one of whom they adopted from Haiti. In this post she discusses the complex social issue that is breastfeeding in Haiti. Apparently although there is a culture of breastfeeding in Haiti, there are also a lot of myths and superstitions that prevent babies from being nursed. Some of these myths include colostrum is poisonous, mother's milk is easily spoiled and turned poisonous by any personal trauma and baby must be immediately weaned, and that breastfeeding can cause mental illness. Another problem is one we see here in the US as well. Gwen writes:

Okay, now onto a whole OTHER side of the issue—the “free” factor. Generally in Haiti (and I don’t have a quote to back this up, but I do have TONS of anecdotal evidence) when you give something away people will generally want it, but there’s a perception that something free is insuperior to something you have to pay for. This is why many clinics (even for the very poor) will charge a very nominal fee for medical care. For some reason, it seems that Haitians feel that something they pay for is worth more. Therefore, it is reasoned by many that if you have to PAY for formula, it MUST be better than breastmilk, which is free. And so therefore, it also becomes very much a social status thing. People who can afford formula usually will give this to their babies rather than breastfeeding them.This presents TONS of problems. Especially in a country like Haiti (or really any developing country) where people see starving children and want to “help.” Therefore, (get ready for a big generalization) white people come in with their week-long “white people clinics” (as a fellow ex-pat here calls them) and give out free formula to babies who are malnourished.
Of course buying formula is not really a sustainable option for the average Haitian family. In fact, Gwen states that formula is actually more expensive in Haiti than it is in the US, almost double the cost. The cost of formula can drain even a middle class family in the US, imagine having to buy formula when you live below the poverty line and there is no WIC. With such a complex issue there are no easy answers, but Gwen recommends donating to two charities that are doing wonderful work with mothers and babies in Haiti, Olive Tree Projects and Heartline Ministries.
I highly recommend you click over and read the entire post because it's really filled with excellent information about the cultural barriers to breastfeeding for Haitian women. And if you can, continue to donate to Haiti. It's been a while since it was on the forefront but the people there will need help rebuilding their country for years to come.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Guest Post: So that's what they're for!

I'm pleased to present a guest post today by Kia, a mom-to-be who plans to breastfeed, and is learning to embrace her breasts for the first time.

My bewbies magically appeared between the ages of 12 and 13.  I had little ant hills before then but they blossomed into a B-cup almost overnight.  I was a complete tomboy at the time and was massively embarrassed by them.  They made playing volleyball and basketball a little awkward until I learned about the harnessing power of the uniboob sport bra.  That only worked at practice though.  When I would re-emerge into the real world I had other issues to be concerned about.

If I ever wore a form-fitting shirt I was suddenly getting male attention, and sadly a lot of time from people that were older than me.  I began to hunch my shoulders as habit but my breasts were still there.  The unwanted male attention was still there. It was icky in my mind but I dealt with it.

I dealt with it into my adulthood.  My breasts have always been a perky B-cup that have flattered my silhouette, even as I gained weight in the last few years.  It is only in pregnancy that I am beginning to appreciate them.  Before now I hated that they were only a secondary sexual characteristic that men have wanted to fondle or do goodness knows what with.  When people would get too forward at a club and catch me in a bad mood I would usually snap that they were just mounds of fat and to get over it.

When I found my husband I was relieved to learn he was a booty man and never made a big deal about them.  He liked and complimented them after we had been going out for a while, but they did not entice him in creepy ways like they had others in my past.  It was a nice reassurance in a weird way.  Then in my 7th week of pregnancy they swelled to a D-cup and he shyly admitted a new admiration for them.  He was respectful though because he knows how I have felt about them in my past.

This is the past though.  I am now 29 weeks pregnant.  They are still a D, waiting to expand again before I give birth or after when I am engorged to deliver milk.  I love them now.  Aesthetically they are a little big for my taste, but they harness an unbelievable gift in my mind.  I will be able to nourish a child with them.  As a mammal I will be able to use my mammaries for their intended purpose.  The purpose that puts me in the same category with many other animals and humans the world over.  The purpose to feed a life after I deliver.

There has been some prolonged staring at them, even by well-meaning friends who are caught holding a glance too long.  I am now able to laugh it off because there is a higher purpose than a secondary-sexual trait.  I am not shy to wear a form fitting top or dress because I am pregnant and beautiful.  I think with pregnancy comes an honesty and disregard for the silliness of others.

For me at this stage in my pregnancy I am reading breastfeeding books, participating with online breastfeeding forums, planning to attend my first La Leche League meeting later this month, and prepping supplies at home for when baby gets here.  I am preparing as much as I can.  My only wish at this point is that my body does what it needs to do to feed my baby, and that the baby is able to be fed.  There are no guarantees that it always works out for mom and babe, but I am approaching the nursing stage with an appreciative optimism for the two mounds of fat resting on my chest.

Kia is eagerly expecting her first baby in June.  She makes her home in Colorado and spends her time working on behalf of natural resources, teaching yoga, and taking pictures.  You can read more of her writing at her Bodhi Bear blog.

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Christina Milian: Breastfeeding Mama!

Christina Milian and her husband, music producer The Dream, welcomed a baby girl named Violet on February 26th and have shared some pictures of her with US Weekly.

Photo by Larsen & Talbert, US Weekly

OK, all together now..."Aaaawww!" Baby Violet is so cute and looks like a little diva already! Christina says she has a ton of personality and laughs all the time. She also says she plans to breastfeed for a year (YAY!) and that she's "surprised how hungry she is. Like, how do I keep up?"

I think it's interesting how people are generally surprised at some of the normal behaviors of breastfed infants. We've all been so accustomed to how formula fed babies act, sometimes we forget that it's perfectly normal for a breastfed infant to eat quite frequently, especially in the first few weeks. I think all of us worried about our milk supplies in the beginning, but I am sure Christina and Violet will be just fine. Keep bringing that baby to the breast and nursing her on cue, Christina. I hope you are able to meet your breastfeeding goal and that you and Violet enjoy a wonderful nursing relationship.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

New PETA Ad: It was good enough for Jesus

In the wake of the new study that shows that increased breastfeeding rates would save lives and billions of dollars, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has created a new ad to promote breastfeeding. "PETA?" you might be thinking, "why do they care, they don't have a dog in this fight?" But they do. See, PETA would like to see most of stop consuming dairy because of the horrible way dairy cows are treated. Since most infants are on a cow milk-based formula, increasing breastfeeding rates means less formula needs to be produced, means less dairy cows being milked to death on farms. Since Kentucky has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the US, this billboard will appear in Lexington, according to the PETA blog.  So what do you think of the ad?

 This is not the first time PETA has used such an image. They have a whole website dedicated to why Christians should be vegetarians, using Jesus' message of mercy and compassion for all of God's creatures.

Of course we all know PETA has an agenda and at the end of the day, they couldn't care less about moms and babies and the health benefits of breast milk to humans. They proved that when they suggested Ben & Jerry make ice cream out of breast milk instead of cow's milk.

So what do you think? Self-righteous? Annoying? Smart? I've heard religious people talk about how the idea that Jesus was breastfed makes them more comfortable nursing in church. But what will the average person make of this ad? How does it make you feel?

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Target's Idea of Breastfeeding Marketing

I have a love/hate relationship with Target. I hate they let their employees harass nursing mothers in their stores and don't do anything about it. But I love that they sell cute clothes for toddler boys for ridiculously cheap prices. But then I hate that every time you buy a baby item from them, they print a coupon for formula on the back of the receipt. But I've also always given them props for this:

Yes, at Target, the aisle that sells breastfeeding supplies is the "Natural Feeding" section. I've always sort of loved that, a lot. But when I was poking around the Natural Feeding section this weekend, I saw a new display that gave me some serious pause.

A new display advertising several different breast pumps and their various accessories was accompanied with the above sign that reads "Natural Feeding, get started in 3 (baby) steps." OK, so according to Target, how does one get ready to feed naturally?
Step 1 is to select the right pump. For feeding naturally you need a breast pump? Thanks for letting me know, Target! Who'd have thought you needed equipment to feed naturally? Not only does Target think you need a double electric pump (which is thankfully and inexplicably DISCREET) but you should probably buy a manual pump to supplement your primary pump as well.

Step 2 is to choose my accessories. And no, accessories doesn't mean anything like a nursing pillow or a glider or even a sling. No, Target wants you to buy a converter kit so you can use your pump with multiple types of bottles and different containers for your breast milk. And while you're at it, you should buy special wipes so that you can totally wipe up your breasts both before and after you nurse your baby because obviously having a mouth on your boob, even your own baby's mouth, is like, so gross.

And finally, take care of yourselves, ladies! Breastfeeding really HURTS so you'll need creams, gel pads and cooling packs for your sore, aching nipples. You'll also leak, which is SO embarrassing, so be sure to buy some breast pads to conceal that.

That's all Target had to offer. Nothing about how to actually enjoy your baby or breastfeeding. In fact, the baby seemed to be totally removed from the entire equation. So what's going on here? Why such emphasis on pumping, rather than the act of breastfeeding a baby? I understand that Target is a store and has a lot of product to move, but they do sell items to nurture the natural breastfeeding relationship. This is very similar to the marketing that has cropped up at Babies R Us, where Medela sponsors breastfeeding classes whose description begins "Ready, Set, Pump!"

So is it any surprise that a recent article in Time magazine states that more and more women are choosing to exclusively pump in order to provide breast milk for their babies, instead of actually breastfeeding? I know it's a complicated issue, but for the life of me I don't understand choosing this route. One of the biggest benefits to breastfeeding is not having to fool with sterilizing and preparing bottles. Breastfeeding makes life easier because you just latch the baby on and go about your business. The few times I tried to pump while taking care of my newborn were a complete and total disaster. If I had tried to do that every few hours in order to maintain a milk supply, I'd have given up on breastfeeding with a quickness. I know that some moms have no choice in the matter because the baby cannot or will not latch. I am talking about making the decision to not offer your baby the breast and instead pump around the clock to offer breast milk in a bottle.

There was an interesting discussion of this trend on the Motherwear Blog. The fact that it seems some moms are choosing pumping because they don't want to have to nurse in public is distressing and sad. But are moms also being influenced by this message, that pumping provides the benefits of breastfeeding without having to deal with any of the stuff that might be uncomfortable or weird at first? Or are the pump manufacturers and stores just noticing the trend and responding accordingly? Is feeding your baby breast milk in a bottle breastfeeding?

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Study: Lack of Breastfeeding Costs Lives, Billions of Dollars

A new study says that 900 babies and billions of dollars could be saved every year if 90% of mothers in the US were to breastfeed. The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics and appeared online today, analyzed the prevalence of 10 common childhood illnesses and the costs of treating these diseases, which can include hospitalization. According to an economist's calculation, the US could save $13 billion per year if we could raise breastfeeding rates. It can be argued that this estimate, astounding as it is, could even be considered conservative because the study only took into account the "gold standard" of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. We know that breastfeeding continues to provide health benefits for babies (and mom!) well beyond the first 6 months and into toddlerhood if the baby is fortunate enough to nurse for that long.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Melissa Bartick, says that breastfeeding is a public health issue and I think it's obvious that this is true. For so long, whether or not to breastfeed has been couched as a "parenting choice," a message reinforced by the formula companies. Infant formula marketing has been usurping the feminist ideal of choice for forever, as if deciding to use formula was akin to picking the safari print over the froggies for the nursery. If anything, says Dr. Bartick, the benefits of breastfeeding have been underappreciated and hopefully this research study and the coverage it's been getting will finally hammer that point home.

Some people will continue to deny the importance of breastfeeding, though, and of course the detractors are already speaking up. One of those people is Dr. Lillian Beard, who like Hannah Rosin, wants us to instead focus on the "costs" of breastfeeding. She spoke to ABC News and is quoted as saying, "The biggest barrier to mothers continuing to breastfeed seems to be the fact that more mothers are in the workplace. It's a very impressive number," she said of the $13 billion estimate, "but I want to know: Did the study take into account the cost for breastfeeding mothers?"

Oh, yes, THAT's what's important here, right? The relative cost to breastfeeding mothers, not the lives that could be saved or the billions that could be put to better use?  "I think this report puts an unfair slant on it," Beard said. "It's not taking into account that for almost two thirds of U.S. families, women are either the co-breadwinner or the breadwinner. Returning to work is germane for the survival of the family."

While I agree that returning to work is definitely a huge barrier to breastfeeding, I also think that hospital supplementation with formula and formula freebies play a huge role as well. For an excellent analysis and break down of the fallacies of the ABC article, please read this blog post by Bettina of Best for Babes.

Funny that Dr. Beard didn't mention these things, right? A quick Google search shows that maybe Dr. Beard has more of a stake in this issue than she'd like to admit. See, Dr. Beard is a member of the "Nestle Family"! She serves on their board and answers questions about infant nutrition for their Nestle and Gerber web sites. This is a woman who has been quoted as saying that Nestle's infant formula is almost as digestible as breast milk. I wonder why ABC left that part out? She's credited as a professor at both George Washington University and Howard University, no mention of Nestle.

If you want to try and spin the story into something else, at least speak to someone who can even pretend to be neutral. At this point, I'd prefer to hear from Hannah Rosin again. At least she doesn't profit off of the sale of infant formula and doesn't have "M.D." at the end of her name.

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Video: Nursing Our Future

I just discovered a fabulous video created by the Holistic Moms Network called "Nursing Our Future." The video is similar to the ones that are part of the "Nursing Is Normal" series that aim to normalize nursing in public. The difference is this video features photographs submitted by moms of themselves nursing in public around the globe. Keep an eye out for some moms of color, including a black mom nursing her twins!

The video is also available for purchase on the Holistic Moms site for $5.

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National Breastfeeding Hotline

Did you know that in the United States there is a free resource for breastfeeding help over the phone? The Department of Health & Human Services' Office of Women's Health provides moms with a way to speak to a trained breastfeeding counselor over the phone, Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 6 PM EST. Simply call 1-800-994-9662 and you can speak to someone in either English or Spanish.

The National Breastfeeding Hotline counselors have been trained by La Leche League and can answer questions on everything from proper latch to pumping. They are available to support new moms and dads on their breastfeeding journey any way they can. If your question can't be answered by one of the counselors, they can direct you to an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in your area. For more information, check out Women'

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Michelle Comes Out!

Remember when I asked Michelle Obama to come out of the breastfeeding closet? Well, she's finally come out! During a speech Wednesday on flexibility in the work place, Michelle talked about going for a job interview when daughter Sasha was newborn.

During the speech she said:

"In fact, in the last job I had before coming to the White House -- I remember this clearly -- I was on maternity leave with Sasha, still trying to figure out what to do with my life, and I got a call for an interview for this position, a senior position at the hospitals. And I thought, okay, here we go. So I had to scramble to look for babysitting, and couldn't find one.
So what did I do? I packed up that little infant, and I put her in the stroller, and I brought her with me. And I prayed that her presence wouldn't be an automatic disqualifier. And it was fortunate for me that, number one, she slept through the entire interview. And I was still breastfeeding -- if that's not too much information. And I got the job."
No, Michelle, not too much information! In fact, we need more information! You've cracked open the door to that closet, but we want more! We want to hear more about your breastfeeding relationship with your girls, what the early days were like, what your experience was like pumping at work, how bittersweet it was for you to wean. I hope that this is only the beginning of Michelle talking about breastfeeding!

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