September 10th – September 15th, 2009
My goodness, I came across some interesting stories this week. For the first time a woman pumped her breasts on live TV (and she was a doctor!). And while we are on the subject of pumps Hygeia has a new pump that lets mothers record their baby’s cry to make it easier for them to let down when pumping. So this is where technology has led us, not only are mothers expected to separate from their babies, they will actually be expected to listen to their baby cry while they sit at their desk. How cruel is that? Can we talk again about the need for a long term maternity leave?
A woman on the police force in Australia “was forced to work overtime for every minute she spent expressing breast milk for her child.” What kind of horrible boss would make a mother do such a thing? A female boss of course, one who was herself “the victim of a male-dominated culture” and was “over compensating to fit into a blokey culture”. (But there is some good news from Australia. The Liberal Party is now supporting legislation protecting breastfeeding mothers.) Meanwhile a college student here in the US who was asked to do her pumping in a men’s room wonders why “the school can accommodate someone with learning disabilities but can’t accommodate me for 15 minutes.”
I also came across some interesting numbers this week. Apparently more people are interested in the issue of breastfeeding in public than in Obama’s effort to secure national healthcare. In NewHampshire the story of a woman who was asked to cover up while nursing in an ice cream store received 290 comments, while a story on Obama’s health care plan only drew a measly 114 comments. In Canada a new study revealed that “among the top concerns for expectant moms, feeding the baby ranked at 20 per cent; labour and delivery at 80 per cent; life after the baby at 77 per cent, and sleepless nights at 56 per cent.” Even more disturbing, ”only 24 per cent of moms are concerned about how they will feed the new baby”. And despite all the marketing by the big formula companies “38 per cent of moms thought all formulas were basically the same.” And here we thought that those mighty marketing experts in the formula companies really knew what they were doing. If 62% of mothers can’t distinguish one formula brand from another than it’s no wonder they prefer to compare themselves to breast milk.
Speaking of formula, ABC reported that because of a new study showing that the adding DHA to formula makes babies smarter experts fear “that the study may be the first test toward marketing a replacement for breast milk.” Okay, okay, after you finish groaning let me point out that even though we’ve all been warning people about formula marketing practices for years, this is the first article from a big time news source that I’ve seen which has pointed the finger of truth at formula advertisers. The story even includes a comment from Hannah Rosen (well known for her Atlantic article questioning the pro-breastfeeding evidence) who says “advocates would need to emphasize other parts of breast-feeding, such as spending time and cuddling with the infant, if they want to discourage choosing formula over breast milk”. “The formula companies can never say it’s just like breast-feeding,”
In other news WIC is no longer giving out “just in case” samples of formula to exclusively breastfeeding moms. And making a come back in tennis 26 year old Kim Clijsters just scored a grand slam after stopping her career to start a family. She was still breastfeeding when she was invited back to Wimbledon.
As interesting as all these stories are, my favorite part of doing this is stumbling across the occasional beautiful piece, the story worth reading because it is so incredibly well written. This week there were two stories that I recommend reading in their entirety (just click on the links for the full story). I simply loved this line from “Still Got Milk?” as she described her experience with post partum depression, “Her strong suck seemed to pull the sadness out of my veins.” What a memorable image! The other story I loved was sent to me by a reader. “Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Kahn” is an amazing reminder of how much our attitudes are shaped by our particular culture. Imagine a world where mothers breastfeeding in public get a constant thumbs up, wrestlers boast that their strength comes from years of breastfeeding, and adults drink breast milk not just because it has medicinal properties but merely because it tastes so sweet!
I want to especially thank of all you who went to my blog and took my poll (I especially liked Nancy Terres insightful comments. Thank you, Nancy!). In answer to the question “Do you think that men are more supportive of breastfeeding than women?” 87% of those who answered said “Some men are supportive, others are just clueless.” 13% said “Absolutely! We women are our own worst enemies.” No one said, “Men just don’t get it the way women do.”Do you think that more men are supportive of breastfeeding than women?”
This week’s poll question is “Is it time to stop talking about the superiority of breast milk? Breastfeeding is supposed to be about a mother and child being together.” To place your vote visit: https://thecuriouslactivist.wordpress.com/todays-poll/
Kathy Abbott, IBCLC
On Facebook: “Breastfeeding in the News”
My Blog: http://TheCuriousLactivist.wordpress.com/
The Liberal Party has bowed to pressure and will support a bill aimed at protecting breastfeeding mothers from discrimination.
The Attorney-General last week told Parliament the government would not support the Opposition’s private members bill because the protection for women was already enshrined in law.
However, after an emotional debate the government backed down and adjourned the matter so it could be discussed in the Liberal Party room today.
The Minister for Womens Interests Robyn McSweeney has told a rally of about 40 breastfeeding mothers outside State Parliament that the bill now has the government’s support.
“What we will also do is work with the hospitality industry to make them aware, to raise awareness amongst staff,” she said.
WIC gets healthy, finally
After 30 years of serving the usual fare, WIC food packages are finally getting their own version of health care reform. Starting October 1, the new menu for the USDA’s Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program will introduce whole grains, low-fat dairy, infant foods, and finally, fruits and vegetables
While WIC has always been a major promoter of breastfeeding, the new food packages will make it tough to say no. To help establish her milk supply, WIC will no longer provide mom with “just in case” cans of formula during Month One; she must choose either exclusively breastfeeding or formula feeding. The mom who chooses to exclusively breastfeed will then receive the most food dollars — $62 a month for herself for a full year, and $38 a month for her infant. Starting in Month Two, moms who choose “mostly breastfeeding ” will receive $49 a month, her infant will get $21 a month. Those who choose the formula package will get $38 a month for mom (but for only 6 months), and $21 for infants. The choice seems obvious — especially when WIC throws in free breast pumps, education classes, and peer counselors.
The WIC changes have the potential to make huge health strides, but moms will have to take advantage of the opportunity.
According to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, only a paltry 297 moms were classified as “exclusive breastfeeders” last month. It’s about time for change.
Still got milk?
There were certain things I thought I’d never do when I became a mother. I wouldn’t yell at my children, share my marital bed or nurse through toddler-hood. As my husband said with authority when we first discussed breastfeeding: “If you can ask for it, then you’re too old for it.”
Never say never when it comes to parenting. Fast-forward four years, and I’m still nursing my 2-year-old. She’s evolved out of her sweet baby-word for milk (“Nigh-nigh?”) into a precise verbal demand: “Me want some bubbies, Mommy. Right now.” Even in liberal Vermont, where lactation activism is a thriving movement, I worry what others will think.
For me, nursing made every challenge worthwhile. It was also the only thing in the continuum of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum that had come easily. While pregnant, I struggled with depression and succumbed to its downward pull during the third trimester. Both my labors had been long and excruciating, complicated by mechanical difficulties that resulted in two emergency Cesareans.
Recovering in bed with a painful, puffy abdominal incision, I grieved my lost dream of natural childbirth. I imagined that other women were fulfilled and empowered by their birthing experiences. I’d envisioned a candlelit home water-birth, a fantasy derived from Ina May Gaskin’s orgasmic stories in “Spiritual Midwifery,” as well as my own sister’s birth in a wilderness cabin, by candlelight during a thunderstorm when I was 10. Weepy with postpartum hormones and exhaustion, I felt I had failed some female rite of passage.
But I cradled my baby and fed her, and she grew plump from my milk. Her strong suck seemed to pull the sadness out of my veins.
ER Doctor Demonstrates Breast Pump on Live TV with Patented New Freemie Hands-Free System
A physician inventor shows a morning television audience how they can use an electric breast pump in public with her new patented device that allows a woman to collect milk with her clothes on. The device promises to be a game changer for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace, as anchorwoman attests, “It works!”
Sacramento, CA (PRWEB) September 15, 2009 — In what may be a first, an ER Doctor demonstrated a breast pump – on herself – on live television in full view of the camera during a morning interview. And no, it wasn’t cable.
The Freemie devices connect to an electric breast pump and are held in place by a woman’s regular bra under her clothing while she collects milk
The interview with Dr. Stella Dao by local CBS morning anchor Lisa Gonzales took place on affiliated station CW31’s Good Day Sacramento, the largest morning show in central California. But the interview is unlikely to generate any complaints to the station, since Dr. Dao, the inventor of a patented new system called the Freemie, was fully clothed during the entire interview. (Watch the interview with Dr. Dao on the show’s Momtrepreneur$ feature page.) The patented features of the Freemie system make it possible for a woman to comfortably pump hands-free, with her clothes on, at her desk or workstation or some other non-private setting, if she prefers or must.
During the live television interview, Dr. Dao was giving an overview of how the system works. When she connected to the pump’s tubing, Gonzales asked, “Should I turn it on?” Dr. Dao replied, “You could!” So she did – possibly making history for both of them. The Freemie was just unveiled late this summer but has already been described as “brilliant” by medical professionals.
In preparation for the live interview, Gonzales, who has a baby at home, pumped with the Freemie system and collected milk on camera while reviewing it for the TV show’s internet audience. She enthusiastically concluded, “It works!”
Video of woman pumping on live tv
Baby Formula Study a Marketing Cover, Researchers Say
Doctors Say Breast Milk Still Tops, Despite Study Finding a Formula Raises IQBy JOSEPH BROWNSTEIN
ABC News Medical Unit
Sept. 15, 2009
A new study shows benefits in adding the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA to infant formula, but breast-feeding experts say they will still advocate a more natural source of DHA: breast milk.
A woman is shown breast-feeding her child, left, and another giving her baby a bottle with formula, in these file photos.
The study, appearing in the journal Child Development, indicates that infants receiving formula supplemented with DHA performed better on a cognitive test than infants who were given formula without it. DHA occurs naturally in breast milk.
But while doctors say the evidence may support formula containing a DHA supplement over formula without one, they are concerned that the study may be the first test toward marketing a replacement for breast milk. The formula used in the study was provided to the researchers by a manufacturing company for free.
One pediatrician notes that in her own practice, some mothers are convinced that formula with DHA can be superior to breast milk.
“The marketing has actually dissuaded mothers from choosing exclusive breast-feeding, which is preferred from all the outcomes that we understand,” said Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, a pediatrician with Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J.
She noted that simply adding DHA — while it may top other infant formula — would not make it superior to breast milk.
“There are many other factors in human milk that also support neurocognitive development and visual acuity,” said Feldman-Winter.
And she was not alone in her skepticism for the apparent reasons behind the study.
“It is clear that the food industry fascination with nutraceuticals (strategically fortified food products) is now spreading into infant formula,” said Barbara Moore, president and CEO of Shape Up America!, in an e-mail to ABCNews.com. “This is a disturbing new development. We have parents thinking that sticking their tiny infants in front of a Baby Einstein video will improve their child’s mental development when the data suggest that parent-child interactions (and plenty of them) are the most critical factor for such development. Moore said in the e-mail. “Now parents will be encouraged to forego breast-feeding — which is optimal for both mothers and babies — in favor of a hyped up infant formula.”
Breast milk has other benefits not related to mental development, Moore said. “Breast-feeding confers protection against infection, including viral infections, and the CDC promotes breast-feeding to confer maximal protection against swine flu and other infections.”
Rosin said that after having her third child, she looked at evidence for breast-feeding and did not find it to be as strong as she would have believed. Despite the fact that she herself continues to breast-feed her third child — “I actually don’t hate it,” she told ABCNews.com, countering assumptions many reading her article had made — she has received a backlash of comments criticizing her, including some from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Action Over Substance
Rosin said the mistake breast-feeding proponents made was focusing on the substance, rather than the act.
“The formula companies tend to advertise their formulas by saying as close to breast milk as possible,” she said. “Everyone accepts that breast milk is the standard.”
Adding DHA would just be the latest attempt to supplement formula by adding a substance from breast milk.
“By turning breast milk into a magic vaccine, the breast milk people made themselves vulnerable to that,” said Rosin.
Instead, Rosin said advocates would need to emphasize other parts of breast-feeding, such as spending time and cuddling with the infant, if they want to discourage choosing formula over breast milk.
“The formula companies can never say it’s just like breast-feeding,” she said.
Formulaic Infant Food
Dr. Miriam Labbok, a professor of public health at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, expressed some skepticism with the findings.
“It might be reasonable from these industry-funded studies to consider that this would be a good additive to formula if you are forced to stop breast-feeding,” she said in an e-mail. “However, 1) none of these studies compare to continued breast-feeding, 2) you could also get these [nutrients] from other sources if you stop breast-feeding, and 3) there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other components in human milk that cannot be replaced.”
Dr. Ruth Lawrence, a neonatologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the American Academy of Pediatrics pokeswoman on breast-feeding, said that DHA may contribute to better formula, but that won’t replace breast milk.
“The important point is not let mothers think it’s as good as their milk,” she said
James Drover, the study’s lead author, did not respond to a request from ABC News for comment.
Clijsters rewrites grand plan by winning U.S. Open
It was not part of Kim Clijsters’s grand plan, and that made her U.S. Open victory feel surreal to the Belgian.
“I can’t believe this happened,” the 26-year-old Clijsters told reporters following her grand slam triumph Sunday after taking more than two years off to start a family.
“It still seems so surreal that in my third tournament back I won my second grand slam.
“As a woman, I came to a stage in my life, too, where I wanted to get married. We wanted to start a family, and I was glad. I feel very lucky that I got this chance to be back here now and that I made that decision, because it’s obviously been a good choice.
“Being a mother is obviously my first priority and being a wife … I’m just very lucky that I’m able to combine both and that my family supports me in doing this.”
Clijsters said tennis was the furthest thing from her mind until she got an invitation to help unveil the new retractable roof over Center Court at Wimbledon.
“There were so many things going on with the wedding, and I was pregnant, and I was breastfeeding and everything. (I) didn’t get into the whole training routine until at the start of this year when I got the invitation to Wimbledon again.”
Breast-feeding mom, Obama speech top list
EDITOR’S NOTE: A story about a mother nursing her baby inside a local ice cream shop and another based on watching President Barack Obama deliver his nationally televised back-to-school address at Nashua High School South were popular this week among our online contributors.
HEADLINE: Breast-feeding mom asked to cover up gets much support
SUMMARY: Breast-feeding advocates are rallying behind an area woman who says she was asked to cover up or leave after she began nursing her infant daughter inside a local ice cream shop. The woman contacted the La Leche League and the Hillsborough County Holistic Moms group, complaining that while she and her family were sitting at a table inside Jake’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream, a manager harassed her for breast-feeding her 2-week-old baby.
HEADLINE: Obama speech yields reflection, few complaints
Factors to consider when you can’t breastfeed
Most expectant mothers assume they will breastfeed their babies, which may explain a recent Leger poll that revealed only 24 per cent of moms are concerned about how they will feed the new baby. In fact, among the top concerns for expectant moms, feeding the baby ranked at 20 per cent; labour and delivery at 80 per cent; life after the baby at 77 per cent, and sleepless nights at 56 per cent. The national survey showed that, in Alberta, moms were more concerned about which clothes to buy for their new baby than what to feed the infant.
The Leger poll also showed 38 per cent of moms thought all formulas were basically the same –a startling discovery for many clinicians, considering all the competition and marketing methods employed by various makers of baby formulas in an era known as the information age
Research Confirms Baby’s Cries Trigger Breastmilk Letdown
Hygeia II Medical Group has found new research showing what many breastfeeding moms already know: the sound of their crying baby can trigger milk letdown. Hygeia breastpumps feature a unique “cry button” which allows the mother to record her own baby crying, and then play back the sound before pumping so she can trigger the letdown.
Mothers tell us that the pump’s ability to ‘cry’ or play back other sounds is helpful for milk letdown and efficient breastpumping.
Carlsbad, California USA (PRWEB) September 11, 2009 — Hygeia II Medical Group has found new research showing what many breastfeeding moms already know: the sound of their crying baby can trigger milk letdown. Letdown or “milk ejection reflex” is critical for transfer of the breastmilk from the breastfeeding mother to baby. Conventional thinking has postulated that the baby’s suckling leads to the letdown, but this newly discovered study shows that the crying of the baby triggers a letdown in most mothers BEFORE suckling begins.
This paper was published by McNeilly, et. al. in the British Medical Journal. It demonstrates that the initial rise in maternal oxytocin, the hormone associated with birth and breastfeeding, is caused by cues from the baby such as crying, as opposed to actual suckling. This implies that baby’s cues are critical to milk letdown, and that the use of a crying stimulus may enhance breast pumping.
Hygeia breastpumps feature a “cry button” which allows the mother to record her own baby crying, and then play back the sound before pumping so she can trigger the letdown. This pump feature is called “C.A.R.E”., an acronym for Customized Audio Recording Experience.
Other pump companies have attempted to elicit milk letdown after pumping begins. Only Hygeia offers mothers a way to stimulate the milk letdown with auditory cues like crying before pumping begins. Hygeia CEO, John Estill says, “Mothers tell us that the pump’s ability to ‘cry’ or play back other sounds is helpful for milk letdown and efficient breastpumping.”
The study by McNeilly, along with other supporting documents, is available as free downloads on the website. http://www.hygeiababy.com/support.php
Healthy living and breastfeeding reduce cancer risk
Scientists have found eating healthily, drinking less alcohol, being active and breastfeeding their children reduces the risk of breast cancer for women.
Working mother’s breastfeeding ordeal
A WOMAN employed by the New South Wales Police Force was forced to work overtime for every minute she spent expressing breastmilk for her child.
The police intelligence analyst, who can only be identified as Sarah for security reasons, was also banned from using morning and afternoon tea breaks because they were “discretionary” and she was denied the use of accumulated leave.
Complaint documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph claim Sarah’s repeated requests for hours that suited her childcare needs were rejected and she had to record the time spent expressing milk at work on her timesheet.
NSW Police Boss Involved in Breastfeeding Ban is a Woman
The New South Wales Police boss, who forced a breastfeeding
mum to work overtime for every minute she spent expressing milk, has been reported to be a woman.
The revelation came as Women’s Minister Verity Firth told all public service agencies to review practices to ensure they were providing support to breastfeeding mums.
The female sergeant told her civilian employee that she was not entitled to paid breaks, and denied her access to a private room, all in violation of an official State Government policy that is ignored throughout almost all of the public service.
However, it is suspected that the woman officer may have been overcompensating to fit into a blokey culture, with experts likening aggressive women in uniform to “religious converts”.
Feminist Eva Cox said the sergeant herself was probably the victim of a male-dominated culture, suggesting that she was trying so hard to fit in that she was tougher on women than her male colleagues.
“The women who get up through the system are the women who are really supportive of the system – they’re like religious converts,” the Daily Telegraph quoted Cox as saying.
“They’re scared to behave in any way soft or feminine and it makes them harder on other women than blokes,” she stated.
However, NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins said that both genders were always treated equally in the Force.
“Police who rise up through the ranks of the NSW Police Force do so because they are the best people for the job. Gender is irrelevant,” he said.
NSW Police is now developing a new breastfeeding policy, and is taking steps to address the employee’s complaints – including a request that all the overtime she worked be reinstated.
The Public Service
Association has lodged an action in the IRC seeking to enforce the Government’s
12-year-old policy supporting new mums
Breastfeeding proves difficult for CSUF mothers
The first day of school for Sirena Ramirez proved to be filled with long hours and pain as she struggled to find a designated area at Cal State Fullerton to utilize her breast pump.
Ramirez, 28, a senior at CSUF and a public administration major, is the mother of an eight-month-old son, and she spends eight hours a day on campus. She was quick to find out that pumping her breast milk while on campus would be a more difficult task than she had anticipated. Ramirez called the Disabled Student’s Center and the Health Center inquiring if there were any facilities on campus that they knew of where she could use her pump. With no luck, she was directed to the Children’s Center.
Although the Children’s Center accommodates breast-feeding mothers with a room with rocking chairs, there are no proper outlets available for the breast pump. However, Ramirez was offered to use the men’s restroom inside the center where there is no proper place for her to sit, and where there may or may not have been a proper lock for privacy.
“What was I supposed to do,” said Ramirez, “Sit in the stall and pump the milk?”
She was also offered a source of ‘privacy’ by putting a chair in front of the restroom door.
“It was a little bit discouraging,” said Ramirez, “I was kind of upset because the school can accommodate someone with learning disabilities but can’t accommodate me for 15 minutes.”
After being given the run-around on the telephone, Ramirez reached out to her former professor, Pamela Fiber-Ostrow, who is the assistant professor for political science, for help. Fiber-Ostrow, who has a 17-month-old son herself, understood the physical pain Ramirez was experiencing, so she took sympathy on the student’s situation.
“I just want to be able to go and ask a question and be sent to the right place,” said Ramirez.
Fiber-Ostrow offered Ramirez her office as a private and safe space, but with conflicting schedules, she instead looked into the Women’s Center on campus. When that didn’t work, Fiber-Ostrow reached out to other faculty mothers who lent leads on other avenues of help for Ramirez.
“I think … as new moms who breastfed, we have a better understanding of the physical pain of not being able to express milk and needing to pump,” said Fiber-Ostrow.
The problem was addressed within 24 hours once Ramirez got in contact with the Dean of Students, Kandy Mink Salas, Fiber-Ostrow said.
“I think there needs to be a more permanent and generally available option for students,” Fiber-Ostrow said.
A more general and permanent option would be helpful since Ramirez hasn’t been the only student-mother on campus that inquired about this matter. Fiber-Ostrow isn’t the only faculty member that believes there should be a solution in this matter for the students either.
Betsy Gibbs, the director of the Children’s Center, said, “I really see this as something the students, faculty and staff should work on to find a solution.”
Gibbs added that she believes that faculty members should lobby for the notion as well since the matter affects them just as much, if not more, than students.
In regards to the importance of benefiting the students of CSUF, Salas was able to step in and quickly find a private office on campus for Ramirez.
“(If there is) any student that needs help and wants to facilitate their education, we will find a place to accommodate them,” said Salas.
As far as some of the established resources CSUF has, Salas and other faculty members don’t see the Health Center, in particular, as an ideal place. The brand new mothers that are breast-feeding or using the breast pump need to be exercising these processes in a more sanitary environment, and with ill students in and out of the Health Center, that could pose possible infection.
However, Salas encourages students with similar issues as Ramirez, or other unresolved complications, to reach out to her for help.
Mongolia : Breastfeeding in the land of Genghis Kahn
In Mongolia, there’s an oft-quoted saying that the best wrestlers are breastfed for at least six years – a serious endorsement in a country where wrestling is the national sport. I moved to Mongolia when my first child was four months old, and lived there until he was three.
Raising my son during those early years in a place where attitudes to breastfeeding are so dramatically different from prevailing norms in North America opened my eyes to an entirely different vision of how it all could be. Not only do Mongolians breast feed for a long time, they do so with more enthusiasm and less inhibition than nearly anyone else I’ve met. In Mongolia, breastmilk is not just for babies, it’s not only about nutrition, and it’s definitely not something you need to be discreet about. It’s the stuff Genghis Khan was made of.
When I walked through the market cradling my feeding son in my arms, vendors would make a space for me at their stalls and tell him to drink up. Instead of looking away, people would lean right in and kiss Calum on the cheek. If he popped off in response to the attention and left my streaming breast completely exposed, not a beat was missed. No one stared, no one looked away – they just laughed and wiped the milk off their noses.
But if weaning means never drinking breastmilk again, then Mongolians are never truly weaned – and here’s what surprised me most about breastfeeding in Mongolia. If a woman’s breasts are engorged and her baby is not at hand, she will simply go around and ask a family member, of any age or sex, if they’d like a drink. Often a woman will express a bowlful for her husband as a treat, or leave some in the fridge for anyone to help themselves.
While we’ve all tasted our own breastmilk, given some to our partners to try, maybe used a bit in the coffee in an emergency – haven’t we? – I don’t think many of us have actually drunk it very often. But every Mongolian I ever asked told me that he or she liked breastmilk. The value of breastmilk is so celebrated, so firmly entrenched in their culture, that it’s not considered something that’s only for babies. Breastmilk is commonly used medicinally, given to the elderly as a cure-all, and used to treat eye infections, as well as to (reportedly) make the white of the eye whiter and deepen the brown of the iris.
But mostly, I think, Mongolians drink breastmilk because they like the taste. A western friend of mine who pumped breastmilk while at work and left the bottle in the company fridge one day found it half empty. She laughed. “Only in Mongolia would I suspect my colleagues of drinking my breastmilk!”