“Sometimes Robbie Goodrich looks at his son, a 6-month old who lost his mother the same day he was born, and wonders why other babies like him can’t be so lucky.” A woman dies while giving birth, a father is left with a hungry baby, an order is placed for banked milk but the order is delayed. Instead of reaching for formula a community of mothers forms, and together they offer up their milky breasts (not their milk, their breasts), and do what mothers have done for centuries. Taking turns they place the foundling to their breasts and give him the comfort of their skin, their milk, their love.
Because the theme for world breastfeeding week (Aug.1 – 7) this year is “Breastfeeding: a Vital Emergency Response. Are you ready?” I’ve come across a lot of stories about events promoting breastfeeding, from picnics to subway rallies, but I think the story about Robbie Goodrich and his son Moses sums it up best. The emergency wasn’t a flood, or a hurricane, or even an earthquake. The emergency was simply a child who had been separated from its mother. Formula was readily available, so some might argue that this wasn’t an emergency at all. But for a man who has just lost his wife in childbirth to be able to call his six month old son “lucky” says it all. Babies need breasts. They need the touch of a woman’s skin, the coo of a soft voice, and comfort of a milky nipple. They need what we all need in an emergency, the assurance that they are not alone, that someone has heard their cries and cares enough to come to their aid. Moses is indeed a very lucky baby!
In contrast to Robbie Goodrich we have Judd Apatow. Judd went on the Late Show last week where he was declared the “King of the Morons” not because he forgot to bring along any food for his three month old baby during an outing, instead he was crowned “King” because he asked his friend’s wife who was a new mother herself to breastfeed his baby, an act which was deemed to be “maybe the worst thing you can do on earth.” The audience was of course appalled at such a squeamishly outrageous act of idiocy.
There was other news of course. The Spanish have shocked the world with a new breastfeeding doll, a few breastfeeding mothers posed for a provocative calendar, and Angelina Jolie has now been immortalized on a park bench with a life size nude statue of herself breastfeeding. (Beat that Octo Mom!)
A new study shows that women believe formula to be a safe alternative that allows mother needed choices. If you need a good response to that study read the article “Breastfeeding is a Feminist Issue” from the Huffington Post. It’s a great discussion about the need to promote breastfeeding as a human right and a social justice issue rather than a lifestyle choice. Telling women they should breastfeed and then sending them back into the workforce without any support just isn’t cutting it any more.
In the “what’s old is new again” department grandmothers have been recognized as an important resource for breastfeeding mothers, and mothers of premature infants are being told to combine hand expression with pumping to increase to increase their milk supply. It seems that not only do babies do better with a human touch, their mothers do too!
That’s it for now, and just a reminder, if you want to read the full article, go to the link. And as always I enjoy hearing your comments!
PS – Happy Birthday to Julie Pottier-Brown! Beautiful, funny, and smart Julie is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. Her capacity for both enthusiasm and outrage, balanced with a mastery of diplomacy that I’ve never quite mastered myself, continually astonishes and delights me. Her support and faith in me keeps me going. I could not ask for a better friend!
Kathy Abbott, IBCLC
on Facebook: Breastfeeding in the News
Breastfeeding Mom gets a ticket in a no standing zone
After desperately driving for over 20 minutes looking for a legal place to park and breastfeed their crying 6 month old son, Martha and Enrique Velez finally gave up and settled for a spot in a no standing zone. Unfortunately for the young couple, as Martha nursed her baby, a New York City traffic cop appeared and asked her to move the vehicle pronto. Martha replied, that the vehicle was not blocking anyone nor was it double parked. She pleaded with the patrolman to give her just one more minute.
The cop ignored Martha’s pleas and began to write her a ticket. Folks soon began to gather around and started yelling at the policeman to have a heart and give the nursing mom a break but the crowd’s comments fell on deaf ears. The couple was slapped with a $115 ticket. According to news sources, NYPD had no comment and the finance department would only say, that the Velez family could fight it in court, which they plan to do tomorrow
Breastfeeding Over Looked
I FIND IT ironic and disappointing that ‘Virginia makes strides in reducing its infant mortality rate’ (Hampton Roads, Aug. 5) was published during World Breast-feeding Week. The story does not mention the role that breast-feeding plays in reducing infant mortality.
Breastfeeding Moms Rally on Subways
As a part of World Breastfeeding Week, a number of mothers and their children took to the subways for the fifth annual Breastfeeding Mothers’ Subway Caravan. The point of the caravan is to remind non-lactating people that breastfeeding on the subway is totally legal—the NYC Department of Health says, “In New York State, employers must provide time and a space to pump breast milk. Both New York City and New York State have laws that protect a woman’s right to breastfeed in public.”
Breastfeeding is a Feminist Issue:
Breastfeeding is not simply a “choice” women make. It is not, as my first video interviewee Emily Taylor of the Carolina Breastfeeding Institute told me, “a simple choice between vanilla or chocolate ice cream, as people like to make it out to be.” It is a decision women make based on a tremendous variety of factors
For these reasons and more, newborn feeding is a feminist, reproductive rights issue.
Yes, I wrote newborn feeding — not just breastfeeding. As we talk about breastfeeding, we must also discuss all newborn feeding.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Breastfeeding Institute organizes and hosts the annual Breastfeeding & Feminism Symposium annually. The symposium holds at its core these four principles:
- Breastfeeding is a public health imperative and an important aspect of reproductive health, as well as a reproductive right and a social and biological process;
- Women must have the right to self-determination to breastfeed freely and without constraint;
- It is important to re-orient the paradigm in which breastfeeding is viewed as a “lifestyle choice” to a paradigm in which it is a “human right” and a “social justice issue” so as to ensure the social, economic and political conditions necessary to promote success; and
- Women’s decisions to breastfeed should not result in the loss of their economic security or any rights or privileges to which they are otherwise entitled.
- None of these can realistically occur without fighting for women’s equity in U.S. society.
campaigns like National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, while certainly helpful, still put the onus on women to make a choice to breastfeed based on the health benefits to baby and mother, leaving them to navigate an extremely difficult time with varying levels of familial and societal support.
Newborn feeding is a feminist, reproductive rights issue and until we all work together in order to integrate legislative, cultural and health changes into the mix, working towards women’s equality in this country, not much will change.
Breast-Feeding Doll Too Real for Comfort?
A Toy That Mimics Breast-Feeding on Girls’ Chests Is Causing an Uproar
American girls own dolls that pee, dolls that suck on a bottle, dolls that burp or sit on a potty — and all are accepted as appropriate by most adults.
But a new doll that breast-feeds has pitted expert against expert and mom against mom over whether this toy has gone too far. None can seem to agree if the Spanish-made Bebe Gloton doll is natural, useful or disgusting.
The doll is currently sold only in Spain,
The doll allows children to imitate the act of breast-feeding by using a special halter top that comes with the toy. The halter top is made from a colorful material with two flowers positioned where nipples would be.
When the mouth of the doll is brought close to a sensor embedded in the flower, the baby makes motions and sounds consistent with suckling.
However, a viral video demonstration on YouTube has been met with remarks that the doll is over-sexualizing young girls, or forcing girls to grow up too quickly, or teaching young girls about a natural part of motherhood.
“There are just things that I think kids are too little to understand,” she said.
Ewen worried that if her two boys, ages 4 and 6, saw the toy, they would be confused because neither had been breast-fed.
When I think of Angelina Jolie naked, I think, “Breastfeeding.” You too? No?
Just minutes away from Brad Pitt’s birthplace, Phantom-Financial has posted a life-sized park bench statue. It’s apparently inspired by last year’s cover of W magazine, and the statue is just in time for World Breastfeeding Week.
National Breastfeeding Awareness Month: How grandmothers can help
Grandmothers are getting more attention as being important sources of support for a breastfeeding mother.
A recent study by two nurses found that mothers looked to grandmothers for information and loving support. Grandmothers who are knowledgeable about breastfeeding can dispel myths while still acknowledging barriers that a new mother might face (Grassley and Eschiti, Birth, v 35 no 4, 2008).
Study develops technique to help moms find more success in breastfeeding premature babies
researchers at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine have perfected a technique that promises to change that. Researchers studied 67 new mothers of premature infants, and taught them a “simple, safe and free tool for assisting breast milk production: their own hands”.
“In the study, 67 new mothers of premature infants learned how to combine an electric breast pump with hand-expression techniques to extract milk,” a review of the study by The Medical News explains. “Unlike prior research showing poor milk production in preemies’ moms, the subjects who used both hands and pump established plentiful milk supplies. By the end of the eight-week study, their average milk production exceeded the amount needed to feed a healthy 3-month-old, even though none of the women studied could nurse when their babies were born. The findings could have implications for women who have full-term infants, too.”
NY Passes Breastfeeding Mother’s Bill of Rights
So milk-filled boobs have their own Bill of Rights. Does that mean breasts can sport firearms (finally!)? Not so much. (Note- this bill has passed the Senate only – it is not a law yet. K.A.)
Judd Apatow discusses breastfeeding, his wife’s sex scene with Adam Sandler
(The “King of the Morons” realizes that handing his 3 month old baby to another woman to breastfeed is “maybe the worst thing you can do on earth”.)
Goodrich: Why can’t more babies be as lucky?
Sometimes Robbie Goodrich looks at his son, a 6-month old who lost his mother the same day he was born, and wonders why other babies like him can’t be so lucky. Lucky only because Charles Moses Martin Goodrich, who goes by Moses, gets round the clock feedings of breast milk, routinely considered the food of choice in the medical community. And it’s not costing his family a dime.
That’s because after Susan Goodrich died of an amniotic fluid embolism 11 hours after birthing Moses in January, 25 women in the small community stepped forward to either pump milk or nurse in her place.
“It’s not wet-nursing because there’s no economic relationship, and it’s not cross-nursing because it’s not casual. It’s now between friends — but they were initially strangers. I think what’s going on is something very different. I can’t find the parallel. When I’ve done the research, I can’t see this situation anywhere else.”
It’s bewildering to Goodrich and his team of nursing mothers. They never questioned whether it was the right thing to do. They simply know it is.
“This isn’t like a dairy bar,” Goodrich said. “It’s not mechanical, let’s get the baby food.’ It’s deeper than that.”
The decisions were to allow newcomers and to forego medical screenings. Their reasoning was that since the women had all recently given birth, they’d also had recent health screenings. That combined with the low incidence of viral infections in their community allowed the team to move forward without reservations.
Moses has had no major health issues in his first six months. The hardest part of the arrangement is really for Goodrich; unlike a nursing mother, he can’t take Moses out and feed him wherever, he must stay home for visiting volunteers five times a day.
Not that he’s complaining.
“Parenting isn’t about convenience,” Goodrich said. “Parenting is about what’s best for the kids. And this is what I’m convinced is best for my children.”
Goodrich has heard through the “gossip mill that there are raised eyebrows.”
“Like it’s a harem of women,” Goodrich said. “Some people think anything with a breast is something sexual. Just the idea that, here’s a single guy with women coming over to this house and exposing themselves.”
That just makes the volunteers laugh.
Because if anything, they’re not exposing their breasts, but their hearts.
2 dozen nursing moms come to aid of baby boy in Marquette
A caring community gives a little guy a good start
The nurses ordered about $500 worth of milk (at $5 an ounce) from the Bronson Mother’s Milk Bank in Kalamazoo. It wouldn’t arrive for two days. In the meantime, Moses would have formula.
Then came a life-changing phone call.
Breastfeeding Mothers Pose for Provocative Calendar