When the government in Taipei enacted a law mandating breastfeeding rooms in public buildings it was hailed as a symbol for “the enhancement of women’s rights”. Compare that to here in the US where acceptance of breastfeeding varies widely from state to state. In New Jersey a council woman was photographed arguing her point as she stood and nursed her attached baby. Said one politician, “If that’s her forte, God bless her.” Meanwhile in North Carolina a woman who couldn’t afford child care began nursing her baby in an unemployment office. Despite the fact that North Carolina has a law protecting the rights of mother’s breastfeeding in public she was asked to leave. According to the NC Employment Security Commission they “do not prohibit a mother from breastfeeding, but do have a breastfeeding policy.” The policy states they will offer private rooms, if available, for the mother. If not, they ask the mothers wanting to breastfeed to cover-up or step outside.” Never mind the issue of state law versus private policy; this is an employment office we are talking about! Where is the enhancement of “women’s rights” in this case?
In other world news mothers in Kenya are protesting the withdrawal of free formula, a policy that was instituted when it was learned that the survival rate of babies born with HIV was higher than those who are formula fed. One mother spoke against the policy “because I cannot generate enough breast milk, I wean my babies at two months. Six months is unworkable.” Meanwhile in Cuba 98% of babies leave the hospital exclusively breastfeeding! Down under the Australian Premier has decided that whenever Labor MP Rite Saffioti wants to leave the chamber to nurse her baby a Liberal will be asked to leave as well. I wonder how the Liberals feel about this. (Only a politician would come up with such a solution.)
In the UK a committee is investigating the increasingly blurred line between the marketing of infant formula and so called “follow up” formula. In Scotland policy makers are taking their cues from the Harlem, New York by adopting a program created there that includes home visits during pregnancy and for the first two years. I love it when the vision of innovative locals gets the notice it deserves! In France however the land where the “crèche” (daycare) was invented, the concept of the “good mother” does not even exist, and according to one author that is a good thing. In France it’s wife first, worker second, and mother last. See what century’s of wet nursing can do to a country.
In what’s now being called the “Air Freshener” incident a mother in Britain was told she couldn’t nurse in the dressing room of a charity run clothing store because she was told “your breast milk stinks”. So much for the ‘oxytocin factor’ bringing out the best in people. Breastfeeding issues made two advice columns this week, the first was a question I certainly had never considered before. In Backpacker.com a hiker wanted to know if the smell of his wife’s pumped milk would attract bears. I wanted to know why the baby wasn’t with her, but according to my Facebook friends there are mothers who leave their baby at home and climb a mountain carrying a breast pump instead. In a UK column advice giver “Claire” bravely takes on the thorny question of breastfeeding a toddler in public. Her answer was a gem, “It pains me to have to break it to you but I’m not, in fact, a world authority on breastfeeding. I’ve never done it and to be honest I find the whole concept quite baffling. I’m not sure why you have written to me or indeed anyone as it is quite clear that no one could convince you that breastfeeding a toddler is a good idea. The puzzle is why it bothers you so much. If your friend ends up standing in the school canteen offering her breasts up as an alternative to mini pizzas then so be it.”
A new issue of La Leche League’s most famous book “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” is scheduled to arrive in July! This will be the first updated edition in six years and from what I hear it will include some major revisions. There is also a new book out from a different publisher about breastfeeding older children, and by older I mean the 6 years old not the 6 months. Medela has a new link on their website for those looking for advice on how to get lactation coverage from their insurance companies.
In consumer news slings took a hit when the US Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that in the last 20 years 14 infant deaths had been associated with slings. According to the report “many of the babies whose deaths they are investigating were either born prematurely, had breathing difficulties (eg because they had a cold) or they were a low birthweight twin.” A follow up article by the New York Times notes that the number of slings available has exploded in recent years. We all remember how Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (which includes crib makers) came out with all those studies against co-sleeping, considering how many slings are made by smaller women owned businesses I would hate to see this organization take on slings as well (especially since only one sling manufacturer was implicated). One way to avoid this is for sling makers to police themselves. It would not be a bad idea for certain standards to be created and in my humble opinion the best way to do that is to join the American Society for Testing and Materials (http://www.astm.org/ ). The ASTM is a highly respected voluntary organization that is a well known leader in creating standards around the globe. Check it out ladies; don’t let the Goliath’s of the world get their way!
In science news ‘pregnancy brain’ has been associated with a lack of fatty acids (which presumably have been suctioned off by the fetus) and does not return to normal until the baby reaches 6 months. Whether or not lower levels of fatty acids is a true deficit to a woman’s ability to think I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that this will be used a new marketing tool for yet another perinatal product shortly.
I have to thank you all for patience in waiting for this latest edition of “Breastfeeding in the News”. In the past two weeks I have visited five Baby Friendly hospitals in New England for a fascinating look at the process of going Baby Friendly. When I was done with that I finally caved in to my daughter’s constant request for a dog. (For three years she has added the word “puppy” to every shopping list I have ever written.) Never mind that we have five cats, never mind that I have never owned a dog before, I caved in and now we have a gentle, one year old, thirty pound, West Virginian, shelter dog who was not house broken and apparently had never seen stairs before. On the second day we had her she busted out of her crate and chewed the power cord to my laptop clean in half. And just now while I was writing this she stole and opened up a container of cat food! If anyone needs a reminder of what motherhood is like in the early days just get yourself a puppy. I’m exhausted already.
As always I welcome your comments, and if you haven’t had a chance to read my last essay “Wetness is Opportunity” please take a look at it. I want to send a special shout out to my Facebook friend Effath Yasmin from India for the kind words she sent me about the essay, so nice to hear from you Effath!
Kathy Abbott IBCLC
On Facebook:” Breastfeeding in the News”
PREGNANCY BRAIN MAY BE FIRST SIGN OF EFA DEFICIENCY DURING CHILDBEARING YEARS
Thursday, March 18, 2010 by: Sherry Rothwell, citizen journalist
…”If not attended to, EFA (essential fatty acids) status in the mother will continue to decline throughout the breastfeeding period, with repercussions to both her breastfeeding baby and subsequent children. Essential fatty acid deficiency has been shown to play a key role in many growth and developmental difficulties such as: learning, behavioral, nervous and immune related disorders.”
…”While “pregnancy brain” is also associated with the “amnesia” effects of the hormone oxytocin and other nutritional deficiencies, science has now shown that a pregnant woman`s brain actually shrinks in size during pregnancy, and then increases again at six months postpartum. It is likely no coincidence that this occurrence co-relates with the time when many women stop or decrease breastfeeding, thus eliminating or reducing the strain on the mother`s EFA stores. Since we know that 60% of the human brain is composed of fat and that a woman’s reserves are most strained during the childbearing years, we have to at least consider essential fats as a significant contributing piece of the “pregnancy brain” puzzle.”
Deficiency of essential fatty acids and membrane fluidity during pregnancy and lactation
Lactating mothers showed less recovery from the deficiencies than did the nonlactating mothers, but neither approached normal at 6 wk. The changes seen in phospholipid profiles suggest a significant transfer of omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated FA from the mother to the fetus. These FA are essential for normal fetal growth and development; their relative deficiency in maternal circulation suggests that dietary supplementation may be indicated.
Hospitals friendly to newborns and their mothers are widely realized in Cuba
By David Koch
SANCTI SPÍRITUS, Cuba, 17 March 2010 – With a history of poverty and political strife, Cubans have experienced much deprivation over the years. But access to basic services, such as healthcare, is available to all – especially children – whose first right is to the best start in life.
VIDEO: Watch now
In 1991, Cuba ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which states that nations “shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.” And the country vigorously defends a children’s right to health, and hospitals friendly to newborns and their mothers cover the island.
“Undoubtedly, the reach and quality of child- and mother-friendly hospitals in Cuba sets one of the highest standards in the world.”
Breastfeeding to the fore
Post-delivery care is one of the hallmarks of child- and mother-friendly hospitals like the General Camilo Cienfuegos Provincial Hospital in Sancti Spíritus, the capital of the province of the same name.
“During the first 48 hours, we ensure that the mother is always by the child’s side, that she breastfeeds him or her on demand over the first 15 minutes of the child’s life,” explained Dr. Gladys Figueredo Echagüe, Deputy Director of the hospital’s maternity ward. “We ensure that the families participate in this process, and ensure that 98 per cent of our newborns are sent home breastfeeding exclusively.”
Despite such practices, some experts believe that breastfeeding among Cuban mothers is declining slightly due to an increased reliance on powdered formula.
“I believe that Cuba is an excellent model regarding the protection and best interests of the child,” he said.
Taipei protects right to breastfeed
Government offices, public venues and most shopping malls must also set up nursing rooms.
Anyone who does not comply with the law will be subject to a fine of NT$5,000-$30,000 (US$157-943).
Catholic hospitals have long promoted breastfeeding and have welcomed the measures.
The law, proposed in 2005, will finally come into force in Taipei on April 1, said Yu Li-hui, head of the health promotion division of Taipei city council.
“This is the first law of its kind in Taiwan. It not only follows the world trend but also symbolizes the enhancement of women’s rights,” Yu told UCA News.
The rate of breastfeeding has dropped since the 1970s when TV commercials created a misconception of healthier babies with formula milk. Breastfeeding draws strange stares from passersby, making it seem that this is not a norm in Chinese society, said Yu.
But Chinese mothers have breastfed their babies publicly in the 1960s when breastfeeding was common.
“The practice has been encouraged since 1980s and now more than 90 percent of mothers breastfeed their newborns in hospitals…”
ASK A BEAR: BREASTFEEDING AROUND BEARS
Q: My wife has been breastfeeding our 3-month-old daughter, and she’d like to get out for her first post-pregnancy backpacking trip this summer. While we cannot take the little one along with us yet, we had planned to take a breastpump and dispose of the pumped milk.
We can’t seem to find any information about whether it is safe to camp in bear country while…uh…lactating. So, how about it? Is it safe to camp in bear country when you are a breastfeeding mom? Thanks! —Mike from Virginia, via email
A: Hey Mike. First of all, congratulations on the new cub—here’s hoping she has two eyes, ten claws, and a shiny fur coat.
Secondly, as long as you dispose of the milk properly, your wife should be good to go on that backpacking trip. There’s no evidence to suggest that lactating females would attract bears any more than those who aren’t. If it’s inside your body, a bear probably can’t smell it; any food or external odors left on your skin or clothes are more likely to attract bears.
As for disposal: You can treat it much the way you would treat dishwater. Scatter it broadly at least 200 feet away from water sources, and well away from your camp (strain it, if need be). This way, impact should be minimal. If you want to truly reduce your impact to zero, however, you should probably wait to go backpacking until your wife stops lactating. It’ll certainly cut down on her discomfort.
Breastfeeding a risk in bear country?
“ Large food caches, quantities of cooked food, and left-overs are what you worry about, as far as I’ve learned. The bears know where the most food is. If a bear smelled food stains on a person, or smelled the very strong odors of a food cache or a pile of scraps, which way do you think that animal will turn? Bears, black and grizzly, are extremely smart omnivores and scavengers, and they’re inclined to expend the least energy for the biggest payoff. So, attack a human who smells like her own milk (and risk human counter-attack), or sneak in at night, rip open a cooler, and grab and go?”
RIGHT TO BREASTFEED QUESTIONED
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) – A woman said she was asked to stop breastfeeding her child while at the Winston-Salem Employment Security Commission Office last Tuesday.
Elizabeth Abbott, a mother of four, said she went to the employment office to search for a job. “I don’t have a job, which means I can’t afford $200 a week in daycare. Which means, when I go look for a job, my child goes with me,” said Abbott. While waiting at the office, she started breastfeeding her infant son when a female receptionist asked her to to stop, stating it was a distraction.
“She came over and said for the comfort of the men in the office, I need to leave and nurse him elsewhere. I told her I wasn’t going anywhere, and she continued to tell me that the comfort of the men was going to be an issue. I said I really don’t care. My baby is hungry, I’m here to find a job and my baby wants to eat,” said Abbott.
North Carolina law protects mothers and gives them the right to breastfeed their child anytime, anywhere.
“There were other people that heard her comment and actually were upset about the comment she made to me,” said Abbott. “If a man can sit there and feed his child at the ESC with a bottle, then a women should be able to nurse their child the same way.”
A spokesman for the NC Employment Security Commission said: “They do not prohibit a mother from breastfeeding, but do have a breastfeeding policy.” The policy states they will offer private rooms, if available, for the mother. If not, they ask the mothers wanting to breastfeed to cover-up or step outside.
Abbott said she believes no policy should trump state law. “There shouldn’t be a policy. I don’t care what their policy is,” said Abbott.
North Carolina is one of 44 states that have laws protecting mothers wanting to breastfeed in public.
Suffocation Danger To Young Babies In Sling Carriers: US Consumers Warned (Medical News Today)
“The commission said many of the babies whose deaths they are investigating were either born prematurely, had breathing difficulties (eg because they had a cold) or they were a low birthweight twin.”
PARENTING GROWS UP – PUBLISHERS ANSWER MOMS’ AND DADS’ CALL FOR AN INCREASING VARIETY OF CHILD-REARING TITLES
BY GWENDA BOND — PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY
But perhaps the biggest postpregnancy book of the season is Ballantine’s newly revised and updated edition of the classic The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by the La Leche League. Since the last update to the title six years ago, major changes have created more questions for breastfeeding moms, says Marnie Cochran, executive editor at Ballantine, even as the science has solidified its importance. She cites increases in C-sections and multiple births, improved pump technology that can be overwhelming for new mothers to choose from, and women juggling the return to the workplace and nursing.
“Much like a La Leche League meeting itself, the new book will now meet the urgent needs of women of all ages who choose to breastfeed, and for however long they choose to try to keep doing it,” says Cochran.
Family says accused mother is mentally ill
SARASOTA – Brittany Livingston tried to get help for mental health problems including postpartum depression, but she would not take the prescription medicine while breastfeeding her youngest daughter, worried that it might hurt the child.
On Feb. 26, she showed up at her mother’s Sarasota house in crisis, asking for help and saying she needed to go somewhere for psychiatric treatment, as she had done several times before. But she took off before anyone could help her, family members say.
“She was begging, pleading,” said a family member, who would not give her name. “But that other part of her would not let her sit still.”
That night, deputies say, she tried to drown her two daughters — a 2-year-old and a 9-month-old — in a retention pond in Charlotte County.
On Friday, they charged her with two counts of attempted murder and moved her to the jail.
Her bail has been set at $300,000
Family members say Livingston, an honors student at Riverview who enrolled in State College of Florida and wanted to be a teacher, should be getting psychiatric help, not jail time.
Roselle Park councilwoman nurses baby at meetings so other mothers can too (New Jersey)
ROSELLE PARK — The strongest public statement at this month’s Roselle Park council meeting was never entered into the minutes.
Near the end of the meeting, 3rd Ward Councilwoman Larissa Chen-Hoerning brought her 6-week-old son, Enzo, onto the dais with her and began to breastfeed him while the council debated an ordinance regulating overnight truck parking on borough streets.
Chen-Hoerning said that she doesn’t think the act of nursing her baby, discreetly shielded from view by the desk in front of her, should be stigmatized as dirty or shameful.
“I want to help women say ‘Someone else is out there breastfeeding, and maybe it’s OK to do,’” Chen-Hoerning said last week.
Mothers in the United States often face complaints when they nurse in public places like restaurants or stores, according to La Leche League International spokeswoman Loretta
On several occasions since his birth in January, Enzo has dropped into Roselle Park council meetings for a snack. No one on either side of the dais has batted an eye.
“I was telling someone about it the other day, and they said, ‘Do you nurse on camera?’ and I was like, ‘Well, yeah,’” Chen-Hoerning said.
After the meeting, resident Eugene Meola said the baby was so quiet he hadn’t even noticed him during the meeting. Other residents, Chen-Hoerning said, have expressed their support for her. Former councilman Jacob Magiera, who attends many borough meetings, said last week the councilwoman is modest and perfectly within her rights.
“If other council members don’t object to it, she’s entitled to do what she wants to do,” said Magiera. “If that’s her forte, God bless her.”
Mo’Nique Portrays a Mother from Hell in Precious
“This neglect begins in infancy,” Dr. Fine warns. “What’s the message mothers give their kids while plopping pacifiers in their mouths? I don’t have time to nurse you. Your needs are not important.”
Are French mothers right to put marriage before motherhood?
It stems from the 18th century, according to Badinter, when French women would give their newborn babies to wet-nurses to save themselves from sagging bosoms. The French maman has long been party to a “woman before mother” policy, she says; it was the French who invented le crèche for children aged two and three.
These days bottle feeding enables French women to perform three roles: wife, professional and mother. More than half of French women choose not to breastfeed; the number of non-breastfeeders rose from 45.6 per cent in 1995 to 56 per cent in 2002. The concept of “good mother” does not exist in France, Badinter says.
But this is not necessarily a bad thing, according to her book Le Conflit, la femme et la mère
Barrett Fund Awards $77K in Adams, Cheshire, Savoy
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The William J. and Margery S. Barrett Fund for Adams, Cheshire and Savoy, a fund of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, recently awarded grants totaling $77,000 to 12 nonprofit organizations in the three towns.
Berkshire Nursing Families: $10,000 for Breastfeeding Support Services, a program that provides comprehensive breastfeeding support services for families in Adams, Cheshire and Savoy.
It pains me to have to break it to you but I’m not, in fact, a world authority on breastfeeding. I’ve never done it and to be honest I find the whole concept quite baffling.
I’m not sure why you have written to me or indeed anyone as it is quite clear that no one could convince you that breastfeeding a toddler is a good idea. The puzzle is why it bothers you so much. If your friend ends up standing in the school canteen offering her breasts up as an alternative to mini pizzas then so be it.
Mothers’ protest at withdrawal of free formula milk (Kenya)
Provision of free formula milk in public health centres for HIV positive mothers has been halted drawing protests from the women.
The government says the move is aimed at promoting exclusive use of breast milk for the first six months. However, the mothers say the directive is impractical because they cannot afford enough food for themselves to generate milk.
The government says it took the decision after studies showed that survival rates of breast-fed babies born of HIV positive mothers is higher than those on formula milk.
“Because I cannot generate enough breast milk, I wean my babies at two months. Six months is unworkable,” said Ms Everlyne Atieno from Mathare North.”
SHOULD A MOTHER BREASTFEED A CHILD OF SIX? A NEW BOOK TELLS THE STORIES OF WOMEN WHO DID JUST THAT.
MEDELA ANNOUNCES NEW WEB LINK
MCHENRY, Ill., March 11 /PRNewswire/ — Medela today announced the launch of an important new resource – www.breastfeedinginsurance.com – where new and expectant mothers can access comprehensive information and tools to help them discover if their breastfeeding related expenses, such as breastpump rental/purchase or lactation consultants, are covered by insurance.
Sibling jealousy (‘Nagje-jelling si Big Sister!)
PARENTIN TALK By Tintin Bersola-Babao (The Philippine Star)
“Whenever she’d see me breastfeeding her baby brother, she’d get jealous. So she’d also insist on being fed. And I allow her to experience it all over again. Funny what she said one time, “Mommy, I don’t like the taste!” Ha, ha, ha. What’s important is that I did not deprive her of the renewed breastfeeding experience. I believe this made her feel that she now has a shared experience with her baby brother but she holds the badge of honor of being the one I breastfed first.”
Doyle signs measures on breastfeeding, carbon monoxide detectors (Wisconsin)
“Why do we need breastfeeding detectors?”
“Breasts, if not properly ventilated, give off large amounts of carbon monoxide. This should save hundreds of lives annually.”
Teen pregnancy initiative unveiled in Edinburgh
The £1.6 million scheme to help first time parents has been based on a successful community nursing drive in Harlem, New York.
“The test project, based on a parental support scheme running in Harlem, New York, will provide home visits from nurses to young mothers-to-be throughout their pregnancy and during the first two years of their baby’s life.”
“Lesley Backhouse, chair of the UK-wide Breastfeeding Network, commented: “We know from a similar scheme’s success in New York that a close relationship between a nurse and mother develops ongoing support in best practice for parenting skills – including increased breastfeeding.”
Fiona McCade: Please, let’s not create a breastfeeding frenzy
FUTURE generations will probably call it The Air-Freshener Incident. The unfortunate event happened in Dulwich, south-east London, when a woman taking refuge in a charity shop changing room to feed her baby was sprayed with the aforementioned by the manager, because “your breast milk stinks”.
Mind writes policy on breastfeeding after shopper told her ‘breast milk stinks’
Mental health charity Mind has been forced to devise a breastfeeding policy in its stores after a mother was told her “breast milk stinks” by the manager of its East Dulwich store.
Mrs Baker has subsequently called on the charity to create “a clear policy allowing breast-feeding in changing rooms, and guaranteeing privacy behind curtains” and said she was left feeling “shocked and indignant” by the events.
Premier offers breast feeding solution (Australia)
Premier Colin Barnett has moved to head off controversy over breastfeeding in Parliament by guaranteeing new mum and Labor MP Rita Saffioti will be automatically “paired” with a Liberal if she has to leave the chamber to feed her baby. …
UK investigates baby milk marketing enforcement
By Shane Starling, 16-Mar-2010
A UK government committee looking into European Union baby milk marketing laws has raised issues with local enforcement procedures which it says need to be addressed.
The Independent Review Panel (IRP) voices concerns held by LACORS – the UK local trading standards enforcement agency – that classification of baby milk that often include omega-3s and prebiotics is not clear enough.
“One of the major problems for enforcement officers is the use of advertising and promotional material which blurs the distinction between follow-on formula and infant formula,” the IRP concluded.
BMA criticised the IRP for focusing on potential baby milk-infant formula confusion that may exist among caregivers rather than internet, point-of-sale promotion, baby clubs, care lines, labels and health claims that continue to promote follow-on formula.
Baby’s snuggled in a sling, but safe? NY Times.
“At first it was like, ‘Am I trying to be an indigenous tribal woman?’ ” Ms. Ossinova said, noting that she had four other carriers at home. “But I got over that hump, and I’m quite passionate about it now.”
In recent years, the number of carriers has expanded from a handful of styles to scores. “In 2004, there were barely any carriers,” said Bianca Fehn, an owner of Metro Minis. “You had to find these work-at-home moms who made them and go on a waiting list for weeks or even months to get a carrier.” Before opening the store, she started an Internet community called Slings in the City that held regular baby carrier demonstrations around town. The demonstrations are now offered at Metro Minis four times a month, and are usually crowded.
But as carriers have grown more popular, their safety has been questioned, with particular alarm about bag-style slings, which have contributed to the suffocation deaths of several infants. On Tuesday, Inez M. Tenenbaum, the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, announced a forthcoming warning about slings, saying that “we know now the hazard scenarios for very small babies” carried in them. Many specialty stores, like Metro Minis, do not sell bag-style slings whose safety has been challenged, and instructs buyers to position babies in any sling upright and tight against the caregiver.
While most people using baby carriers extol the convenience of having their hands free to steer a toddler, dial a cellphone or maneuver through a grocery store, some see it as an integral part of their parenting philosophy, which holds that babies should be worn on the body to foster a strong attachment to their parents.
Other experts dismiss any suggestion that strollers may be psychologically detrimental.
Claire Moore, 33, nuzzled her 7-week-old daughter, Zoë, while explaining that her carrier had been picked by her husband, Adrian. Walking their dog most mornings in nearby Prospect Park, he had spent months during her pregnancy trying to figure out the most practical, comfortable carrier for them both by surveying the park’s many fathers with babies tethered to their chests. Eventually, Ms. Moore said, he settled on the ERGObaby; they bought one in cranberry.
“He’d been keeping an eye out and knew that was the one,” she said. “All the dads are wearing it.”