Friday, August 10, 2012

Essence Magazine: Where Nursing Is Normal

I don't have a subscription to Essence magazine, but when the August issue came out with the lovely Nia Long on the cover, my email box blew up from moms who were excited about the article.

If you didn't know, Long gave birth to a son, Kez Sunday Udoka, in November 2011. Shortly thereafter she sat down at a local LA eatery with writer dream hampton for the cover story. Within the first few paragraphs, hampton  writes,

The restaurant is down the hill from her home in the Hollywood Hills, and halfway through the meal she orders her dish again, this time for her 12-year-old son, Massai, who so enjoys his mom's quinoa leftovers that he's asked her to bring him his own plate. As she's placing his order, a tiny wet spot on her cotton tee begins to grow. She jumps up and says with a laugh, 'I'm leaking!' She grabs her huge designer bag in which a breastpump is buried and runs to the restroom to create a carryout for her other son, her newborn, Kez.
Nia discusses everything from her time in Hollywood, to her work with a home for homeless pregnant teens in Barbados to what it's like combining motherhood and being an actress. Towards the end of the piece, breastfeeding is mentioned again in a very matter-of-fact manner when Nia breastfeeds her baby on the couch during the interview.

Like my readers I was so thrilled to see that the breastfeeding and pumping wasn't mentioned because it was unusual, or the write found her strange for doing it in front of her. It didn't even warrant any comment, either positive or negative.  It was just mentioned as a normal part of the life of a new mom, who like most of us is working while raising and caring for her kids.

I had a couple of conversations about breastfeeding with dream on Twitter around the time that she would have been writing this article. Should I take this as a personal shout out?
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Friday, August 3, 2012

World Breastfeeding Week: Whenever, Wherever

Kudos to the state of Maine for creating a new kind of breastfeeding campaign. One of the things we always talk about in the lactation community is how breastfeeding needs to be supported, promoted and protected. We do a great job of promoting breastfeeding in our culture and are truly terrible at both supporting and protecting moms who breastfeed. The Whenever, Wherever campaign aims to help with the protection piece, by informing and encouraging local businesses on how to welcome nursing mothers.

Businesses who join the campaign become role models in the community. Becoming a member is as simple as displaying a decal in the window of your business that says "We welcome nursing moms, whenever wherever"; training employees that mothers are welcome to breastfeed and hanging an educational poster in a staff space like a break room; and welcoming nursing moms, and not tolerating any harassment of them while on the premises.

This reminds me of the awesome flyer that is prominently displayed in the Chicago Children's Museum, stating explicitly that nursing (and pumping!) moms are welcome and free to do what they need to do anywhere in the museum.

Look, this isn't rocket science. In December of 2009 I wrote a post where I laid out exactly how we could avoid women being harassed while nursing in public. It included the simple steps of a window cling, staff training and for places with the budget, a nursing room for moms who choose to use it.

I'm so thrilled to see that Maine is encouraging businesses to be proactive. How do we get this going in every state? Are any state breastfeeding coalitions working on anything similar?

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

World Breastfeeding Week 2012: CDC Breastfeeding Report Card

The 2012 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card is out! This year the CDC has some good news to report. Breastfeeding rates are up, with increases in the initiation rate and any breastfeeding at 6 and 12 months. The overall breastfeeding initiation rate in the US is 76.9%.

The Report Card also provides a snapshot of what breastfeeding is like in each state. Here in Florida the initiation rate is on par with the country as a whole, with 77% of women ever breastfeeding. I was surprised to see that 30% of women are still breastfeeding here at a year of age. I almost never see anyone ever breastfeeding in public (I can count on both hands how often I've seen it in about 5 years), but it's good to know things in this area are actually better than they seem.

Some other things from the report that I found interesting were that New Jersey had the highest rate of supplementation in the hospital, with 35% of breastfed babies receiving formula before day 2. I really assumed it would be one of the southern states that would win that dubious distinction, since our rates down here are so poor (Mississippi can still wave the "lowest initiation rate in the country" flag, with a paltry 47% of babies there ever getting any breastmilk). I was also shocked that Vermont had far and away more IBCLCs per live birth than any other state (seriously, they had nearly 14, while everyone else had about 3).

Overall I'm happy to see an increase in rates, even it's tiny (about 2%). I'm really looking forward to the updated Racial and Ethnic Differences in Breastfeeding Initiation and Duration information that comes out as a part of the National Immunization Survey. This should be available in January 2013 and will give us a better picture of what the breastfeeding landscape looks like for black women.

© Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition

Did you check out the Report Card? How are things in your neck of the woods?

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