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Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mistaken Attitudes About Breastfeeding in Public

One of the biggest frustrations that I've had about the issue of breastfeeding in public is with where many of my fellow conservative Christians have come down on the issue. In both news articles and discussion forums I've seen comment after comment from family values touting "conservatives" that want to use family values as their political crutch but shout "go home and cover up" whenever the issue of breastfeeding in public arises.

This baffles me. As a born-again Charismatic Evangelical, I've made a choice to devote my life to following Christ. That means that in all things I do, I need to consider God's Will and try my darndest to align my actions with it. For me, breastfeeding was not just a health-related choice, it was a God-inspired choice.

It's my belief that if God has created a natural system for feeding an infant, then there's a good reason for it. God has provided the absolute number one source of nutrition for Elnora free of charge. Why would I bypass the natural source of nourishment provided by God to purchase a lesser alternative? (This is not to say that I do not understand moms that are unable to breastfeed or choose not to breastfeed for personal reasons, it's simply to say that I can't understand people that don't even want to consider it, or that advocate against it.)

To expand on that, it only makes sense that if breastfeeding is the way that God created for a mother to nourish her child, then there is nothing shameful about it. God does not create or encourage shameful behavior, it's against His nature. (how human beings sometimes choose to "represent Him" is a whole other thing...) Thus, breastfeeding in public is an act of love between a mother and her child, it is not a lewd or sexual act performed in order to "tempt" men.

The problem is that perceived "temptation" is the very reason that so many Christians are opposed to the idea of a mother feeding her child in a public location. In other words the real issue here is that so many anti-breastfeeding Christians have but one argument to make against the act of breastfeeding in public and it all boils down to sex.

A great example of this is a quote from a male poster on a Christian message board:

If we could all run around naked and no one would lust, then no problem. Thats how it would have been in the garden. But thats not the case, when man fell, we knew good and evil and do either one. As being naked is not a sin, the effects of that is. Just like certain clothes, the clothing is not the sin, it is the intent behind them, and the reaction to them.

Yes, in breastfeeding in public the intent is good, but the reaction may not be so. Just as you can sit in your own place without any clothes all you want alone and not sin, once you step out the door, whatever your intentions, it is a sin.


It's not just men that think this either, this quote is from a woman:
I personally don't want to see anyone breastfeed nor do I want my young teenager son to see it. Some things like private parts should remain covered and not for open display.
There are several problems with this line of thinking.

1.) It's based on the idea that breasts were created for sex. They were not. They were created by God as a way to nourish an infant. The same way that he gave mammary glands to every other mammal on the planet. The fact that adult men happen to find them entertaining is simply a side benefit for husbands and wives. This argument basically allowed America's over-sexualized culture to replace God's beautiful design with something dirty and shameful. I find that to be sad and I've got to think that God probably does too.

2.) It's based on the idea that mothers that breastfeed in public do so by whipping off their tops, approaching the nearest stage and nursing their child exhibition-style on one breast while spinning a tassle on the other. I'm not sure about anyone else, but the last time I saw a mother nursing her child in public I couldn't see a thing other than the back of a very peaceful, very content baby's head. I suppose if I'd stared long enough I might have caught a brief glimpse of nipple when the child latched on or off, but I don't make it a habit to stare at women's chests. The very idea that mothers who nurse in public are looking to put on a show is beyond laughable to the many mothers that have spent time in front of a mirror "practicing" to make sure that they won't end up accidently flashing anyone while trying to feed and calm a crying baby during a trip to the store or perhaps to watch an older child's soccer game.

3.) It removes all personal responsibility from the person dealing with their own "lust" issues. This line of thinking is what has led to laws in Islamic countries that require women to be dressed from head to toe in heavy garb with nothing more than their eyes showing. It creates a culture where men would rather make the temptation dissapear than deal with their own sin issues. This is not what Christ taught. God is not about escapism. God expects, encourages, even demands spiritual growth. Christ teaches us to face our temptations and problems head on and to go to the Bible and the Father in prayer to deal with these issues.

4.) It ignores the fact that until people see something enough to become comfortable with it, no progress will be made. There was a point in time in this country when a mixed race couple could not walk down the street without a risk of persecution. Did that make it ok? No. Until this country was forced to face the reality of something that wasn't wrong to begin with, there was no room for education, no room for acceptance, no room for growth. The same goes for breastfeeding in public. Perhaps if more teenage boys were aware of why God created breasts they would grow into fewer adult men that can't get past their own desire to oogle any woman that walks by. (Maybe those women should be wearing a "That's my baby's lunch you're staring at" shirt?)

I would challenge anyone to produce a verse from the Bible that says anything negative about breastfeeding, whether in public or not. Verses that talk about modesty don't come into play here, because you can't simply assume that a nursing mom is not going to be modest. That said, there are plenty of verses that paint breastfeeding in a positive light...

In fact, I'd argue that there's no mention of breastfeeding in public in the Bible because it likely wasn't even an issue in those days. Nursing an infant would have been as natural as walking, eating or breathing. Chances are pretty good that no one even dreamed of it as a sexual thing at that time.

Luke 11:27 (NIV)
As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you."

Genesis 12:7 (NIV)
As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you."

Genesis 49:25 (NIV)
because of your father's God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, [a] who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb.

Hebrews 5:12-14 (NIV)
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Isaiah 66:10-13 (NIV)
10 "Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.
11 For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance."
12 For this is what the LORD says: "I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees.
13
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem."

Isaiah 49:15
15 "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

I Peter 2:2
2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,

Psalm 22:9
Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.

Hmmm...one might argue that the God of the Bible must be pretty supportive of breastfeeding if He used a nursing mother as an example of His love time and time again...

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Long Term Breastfeeding May Reduce Risks for Breast Cancer

Mothers have long understood the benefits of extended breastfeeding when it comes to their children's health, but many women are still just starting to learn about the benefits they can reap for themselves by providing breastmilk for their babies for longer periods.

While the jury is still out on whether or not breastfeeding definitively plays a role in preventing breast cancer, there have been several studies that have shown strong links breastfeeding and reduced breast cancer rates. A Chinese study that was conducted showed that women that breastfeed for a very long time (six years total) had a 63% decreased risk of breast cancer over mothers that had never breastfed. A study published in 2001 that was conducted at Yale University also showed that women that breastfed their first child for more than 13 months also had a reduced risk of breast cancer.

A study that looked at data from 47 different studies in 30 countries showed that the incidence of breast cancer is lower among women in developing nations and suggested that this may be because women have more children and breastfeed longer. The study showed that a woman's risk of breast cancer drops by about 4.3% for every year she logs breastfeeding. The risk goes down another 7% for every child born.

Some research has also shown that women who were breastfed as infants have a lower breast cancer risk than women who were formula fed. The theory here is that the hormones and immunities that a mother passes to her child play a role in helping that child's body fight cancer causing agents.

Why would breastfeeding reduce the risk of breast cancer? There are several theories. Some scientists believe that breastfeeding lowers a mother's exposure to oestrogen, a female hormone that promotes growth of cells in the breasts. Breastfeeding lowers oestrogen rates by delaying the onset of ovulation after pregnancy, meaning that the longer a mother nurses her child, the less exposure to oestrogen she has.

Another possibility being studied is that lactating breasts do not store fat-soluble carcinogens and pollutants as well as non-lactating breasts. Thus, extended breastfeeding essential "protects" the breasts from cancer causing agents that might otherwise take up residence in breast tissue. Other evidence suggests that lactating causes a physical change in breast cells that make them resistant to the mutations that can lead to cancer.

Time and more research will help us understand more clearly what the link is between breastfeeding and breast cancer prevention, but for the time being, all major health organizations still support the idea that breastfeeding provides at least some help with reducing the rates of breast cancer. That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends "exclusive breast-feeding for approximately the first six months after birth and that breast-feeding continue for at least 12 months and thereafter for as long as is mutually desired." The World Health Organization goes beyond that, encouraging women to breastfeed until a child is two.

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A Year of Exclusively Pumping Comes to a Close

My goal when I first started pumping was to make it to six months. Once I discovered the Mother's Milk Bank and realized that I could donate milk for a full year, I expanded that goal to pumping for a year so that I could donate all of my extra milk instead of freezing it. Why?

Because I wake up every morning to the sounds of one of the best gifts ever given to me by God. That's her over there on the right. My little girl came home from the hospital with me happy and healthy. If I can help just one mother do that with her own child, then all that extra time at the pump is worth it. (See, this is the beauty of having a blog, you can do things like post pictures of your adorable kid on it...)

Elnora turned a year old on November 11th, which meant that I'd made it to my goal.

Regular readers of The Lactivist blog know that this site was started as part of a 30 day business project at Search Engine Guide. (check out the entire article series)

In that same vein, I thought I'd make today's blog post a bit more personal and share the one week challenge that I'm going through right now. Weaning. Ugh.

Any mom that has done it knows exactly what I mean. Engorgement is not fun. At all. Once your body gets used to creating a certain amount of milk each day, it wants to continue doing that. When a child weans naturally, it tends to go a little easier on the mother. The child will nurse less and less over time until they stop all together, allowing a mother's body to slowly ratchet down production.

But when you are pumping, the only way to wean is to start cutting out pumping sessions. I'd managed to get down to just two sessions a day just after Nora turned one, and last week I decided that I'd try and cut it to once a day. That seemed to go ok, so I decided to try and skip a day.

Bad move.

Let's just say that when my husband asked "so where does all that milk go if you don't pump it?" and I didn't have an answer for him....I should have thought things through a bit more.

After about 36 hours, I realized that I had to pump again or I was at risk of letting loose like a fire hydrant. Apparently this was a good idea as I got about 12 ounces in less than 10 minutes. That made me realize that the better plan was to simply pump for a few minutes whenever I got to the point that I *had* to and to hope that my body would shut down milk production accordingly.

So why the timeline?

Because next Monday, I'm flying to Chicago for the Search Engine Strategies conference and I'd really rather not lug my pump with me on the plane. I was still pumping four times a day during the last SES conference in San Jose and it was a total pain in the neck. Not only did I have to make sure I could find pumping time four times a day, I also had to stay on east coast time which meant getting up at 4am every morning to pump. (sometimes that just meant staying up a tiny bit longer before going to bed at all though....)

On the other hand, I can't risk getting there and needing to pump and not having one. I'm up to 48 hours between sessions though, so I can hope.

Incidentally, for those headed to SES, keep an eye out for me. I'll be sporting a milk jugs shirt for the Pimp My Site session.

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Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Breastfeeding Moms May Give Babies a Taste for Food

A new study builds on past research that shows the foods eaten by mothers during pregnancy and while nursing can have a powerful impact on what foods children will eat as they get older. The theory is that the taste of some foods can be passed to the baby via amniotic fluid and while breastfeeding and that babies then learn to eat a more broad range of foods.

From the Independent Online:

She told a nutrition conference in Barcelona that research around the world had demonstrated the transmission of flavours through amniotic fluid in the womb and breast milk. One French study had shown the children of mothers exposed to anise-flavoured drinks while breastfeeding were less likely to be put off by the taste of aniseed than other babies. Similar research in Ireland found the same kind of results using garlic.
This is an interesting study and something that I think a lot of moms would say they've seen anecdotally. Any mom that has breastfed has run into at least a couple of foods that their little ones either don't like, or can't tolerate. (Pizza from a certain Columbus chain being my downfall...three days of screaming fits before I realized I should stop eating leftovers...) Also, I've known many moms that breastfed whose babies never would warm up to any type of infant cereal. (too bland) My Nora started with avacado and banana instead. Even today, she won't eat anything that isn't "flavorful." Spices, herbs, rich foods, etc...whateve rI eat, she eats.

Another benefit of breastfeeding I guess. Give them broccoli and brussle sprouts now and avoid some dinner battles later? ;)

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Global Breastfeeding Rates up 15%

A new report released this past week by UNICEF says that global breastfeeding rates are up 15%. In fact, between 1990 and 2000, the exclusive breastfeeding rate for children six months of age and under has actually more than tripled in some developing countries.

The developing world is fighting a frustrating battle when it comes to breastfeeding. On the one hand, in countries where communicable diseases like HIV are running wild, many mothers are being encouraged to avoid breastfeeding so that they do not pass the virus on to their children. Some studies have placed the transmission rate from breastfeeding as high as 20%.

On the other hand, a lack of clean water sources means that many babies that receive powdered formula are likely to develop diseases like disentary and cholera that also have extremely high mortality rates.

Add to the mix the risk of bad formula being imported from places like China and even formula feeding is a dangerous alternative for many of these mothers. From the Washington Times:

Were counterfeiting and piracy confined to commercial consumer products it would be bad enough but, unfortunately, it is not. Basic foods are being tinkered with as well. Thirteen children died and 200 others were seriously incapacitated in a town near Fuyang, 180 miles from Shanghai, because their parents had unknowingly fed their babies fake baby formula: a mixture of starch, sugar and dry milk powder without protein, fats and essential vitamins.

Investigation by the local media uncovered an unbelievable scandal: More than 40 companies in 10 provinces manufactured and distributed fake formula. Officials also found discarded toxic chemicals sold as table salt.


It's not a battle that can be easily won. This is why it's so essential to support organizations like the human milk banks that are springing up throughout the world. Mother's milk banks not only help provide life-sustaining milk for babies in American NICUs, they also help further research that might help solve some of these problems in the third world. That's why The Lactivist Store donates 100% of the proceeds from any human milk bank shirt to the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

New Breastfeeding Shirts at The Lactivist

Apparently turkey is a great creative motivator because once we all had a little turkey in us, the whole family started coming up with some great slogans for The Lactivist store.

Greg pitched in with suggestions for shirts that say "i suck," "my kid sucks" and "sucker."

I created new ones that read "Milk Shake" and "Dairy Diva" my dad pitched in with the best one of all... "nip/suck."

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Breastfeeding Reduces a Mother's Risk of Developing Diabetes

As of last week, I am now 15% less likely to develop type II diabetes than I was at this time last year.

Why?

Because on November 11th, I'd logged my 365th day of breastfeeding.

According to a new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, mothers that breastfeed their children for at least a year have about a 15% less chance of developing type II diabetes in their lives. The risk dropped by another 15% for every additional year of breastfeeding logged by mothers.

The interesting thing here is that mothers that had breastfed two children for six months each did not have the same reduced risk as mothers that breastfed one child for a full year. It's also worth noting that there was no reduced risk for breastfeeding mothers that had had gestational diabetes...

Researches have suggested that the reduced risk may come from the metabolic changes that happens when women burn the extra calories from breastfeeding. The 500-800 calories a day that are burned by breastfeeding duplicate a serious daily workout. That long-term "workout" changes the way that a body processes insulin and creates a lasting health benefit.

There's obviously the chance here that mothers that breastfeed for longer stretches tend to be more health concious than mothers that formula feed, but the study did take into account things like drinking, smoking and exercise and found that the results didn't change.

Another great reason to be proud that you're breastfeeding.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

30 Day Article Series On Hold

I've seen some posts here and there in forums wondering where the latest installment of the 30 day business series is. I wanted to make a quick post to let everyone know that the series is on holiday break for Thanksgiving. Search Engine Guide isn't publishing this week so that Robert and I can take a well earned break with our families. (This will actually be the first week that we haven't published in...well...as long as I can remember...we even work while we're on vacation...)

Not to worry though, we'll come back strong and steady after the holidays with plenty of updates. A sneak peak?

*Sales are picking up...I'm actually seeing a regular trickle of sales now
*The new Lactivist site is getting more work, but at least the DNS has finally resolved
*Integrating blogger and CafePress into your own domain is hard!
*New ideas for shirts keep popping into my head, so expect some more laughs next week
*AdSense is a great way to boost your revenue
*AdWords continues to suck!

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Exclusively Pumping - Why Does it Get Such a Bad Wrap?

I've written a bit before about the troubles that I had trying to nurse Elnora when she was young. I've also written before about the fact that I'm an exclusive pumper. What I've not written about is my frustration with why so few women are even offered the idea of exclusively pumping as an alternative to nursing when they run into trouble.

Although Elnora nursed like a champ when she was first born, we ran into some troubles by the time we left the hospital. This is nothing unusual...it happens to pretty much everyone. In fact, one of the things that most upset me about the issue is that despite all the reading and research I did about breastfeeding and the enormous amount of preparation I did toward a natural childbirth, I never once ended up reading anything about just how hard nursing was. I mean seriously, nursing is darn near impossible! I don't say that to scare new mothers off, and I imagine that's why no one told me...but I think if I'd been prepared for just how hard it was, I might have had a better chance at making it.

Exclusively pumping came about partly by accident and partly by divine intervention. I'd had a friend that had exclusively pumped for her baby after having a c-section, so I knew it was a possibility. It all started when the resident ped decided that Nora was too jaundiced to leave the hospital unless I promised to supplement. (that's a rant for another day, but it's part of why I can't stand hospitals) Thankfully, because of the friend who pumped, I knew to at least insist that I would only supplement if I was supplementing with expressed milk. So, we went home with a breast pump and orders to make sure Nora got at least 1/2 ounce every two hours. (We also went home with a garbage bag full of free formula...you know...just in case...which is also a rant for another day.)

The first time I pumped, I got about 1/4 of an ounce, so we mixed it with a 1/4 of an ounce of formula. As it turns out, that's the last formula Nora ever had. I was able to pump enough from then on to give her whatever she needed. In fact, by the end of the first week, I didn't have to pump at night anymore, which made life a lot easier. (before that, it was wake up, feed Nora, put Nora to bed, pump milk, clean pump parts, go to bed for an hour, repeat the process...) I still had to pump every two-three hours during the day, but that was doable since I worked from home.

Now I won't lie and say that pumping is easy...it's not. It's time consuming and it can be frustrating to be tied to that pump when you have a fussy baby. But the tradeoff is fantastic. From day one, I was never "tied" to Elnora. I don't say that in a bad way, because I love her dearly, but it was nice to be able to leave her with my mom or mother-in-law for a few hours if I needed a break. I also didn't have to wake up with her every single time because Greg could feed her just as easily as I could. Basically, I had all the benefits of bottle feeding, but I was still giving her breast milk. Yes, I had to wash more parts and yes it took time to pump, but for someone like me that worked at home and that could express plenty of milk, it actually wasn't that hard. In fact, I've given serious thought to pumping from the start with my next child.

All of that rambling is to say that I'm not sure I understand why more moms aren't given this option. I've met so many people that were surprised to hear that I exclusively pumped and that had never thought of it as an option. There are plenty of women out there that would love to give their children breastmilk, but for whatever reason, have issues with the idea of nursing. Pumping could be a great way for these mothers to breastfeed their children without having to nurse. The same holds true for women that would like to nurse their children longer, but who are simply unable to get their child to hold still long enough to nurse. I don't think I ever would have made it past six months nursing Nora, she's just too squirmy. But by pumping, I've been able to give her mother's milk for a full year.

My biggest issue is with supplementing. I don't know a single person here locally that made it out of the hospital without having their baby be given formula in the hospital, or without being told that they had to supplement for one reason or another. Few women realize that supplementing with formula does serious harm to their ability to have their milk come in. That leads to a cycle of having less milk and doing more supplementing that spins out of control until there's simply no milk left. If mothers that had trouble nursing were encouraged to pump rather than supplement with formula, I think less of them would have the same problems with their milk coming in.

I realize that pumping isn't for everyone. Many women are unable to express any amount of milk with even the best hospital grade pump. Others simply don't have the time to put the extra effort toward pumping and cleaning bottles. But I have to think that there are women out there like me that would have eventually given up nursing in sheer desperation for sanity, but that would have gladly tried to pump if they'd known it was a real option.

That's why I've added a new shirt for pumping moms this week. This one simply says "pumped." That way, moms that pump while at work to make sure their kids can have a "home cooked meal" at day care can make a statement as well. I've also updated the exclusively pumping shirt with a new look to make it a bit more refined. I'm still working on some funny ideas for moms that pump while working, but I don't have anything quite ready to go yet. As soon as I do, you can bet that you'll see an update here.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Well Known Breastfeeding Clinic Set to Close

For years, breastfeeding expert Dr. Jack Newman has served new mothers in the Toronto area by directing a highly-respected breastfeeding clinic at North York General Hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital board has decided to close the clinic because they are running out of space for other programs. The hospital claims that they can no longer afford to give space to a program that does not directly involve hospital staff.

Dr. Newman has been a practicing pediatrician since 1970. He established the first hospital-based breastfeeding clinic in 1984 at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. The current clinic in North York serves about 1000 breastfeeding mothers a year. The hospital plans to replace the program, which serves only about 5% of mothers who give birth at North York General each year, with a full-time lactation consultant. Newman claims that a lactation consultant and hospital nursing staff will be unable to offer the support that new mothers need, citing a lack of proper training on issues related to breastfeeding.

While it's true that Newman could open up his clinic in another location, Newman claims that the real issue is that once his clinic is relocated, medical students at the hospital will lose access to the learning that comes with working with and observing Newman's work.

From an article in the Globe and Mail:


But relocating to a private clinic, Dr. Newman said, means medical students will miss out on the training he currently provides. Additionally, a planned research project will go "down the tubes.

"It's a real shame that we can't do that in the hospital, where we can help train students that come through.

"I've been a thorn in the side of many people for many years because I've been outspoken about how poorly we help mothers," he said, referring to what he feels is a lack of support for his work among public health officials.


Newman's book, "The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers : The Most Comprehensive Problem-Solution Guide to Breastfeeding from the Foremost Expert in North America" is available at Amazon.com. For more information on the efforts to save the clinics, you can view the action alert on the INFACT Canada site. To register your support, you can send an email to savetheclinic@rogers.com or you can sign the online petition.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Breastfeeding Rates in the United States

While breastfeeding is making a come back in the United States as more moms learn about how beneficial it is to both their babies and themselves, American breastfeeding rates are still dismal. While 71% of American mothers at least attempt to breastfeed their children less than half (46%) of babies are being exclusively breastfed at 3 months. That number drops to 13% by six months. The number is a bit better for babies receiving at least some breastmilk. More than half (51%) of babies are receiving some breast milk at 3 months and 35% are receiving some milk at six months. But by a year, only 16% of infants receive any breast milk at all.

While the 71% initiation rate is near the 75% goal set by the Centers for Disease Control, the 6 and 12 month rates are far below the 50% and 25% goals set by the group. Sadly, the lowest breastfeeding rates occur among the lowest income brackets and among non-Hispanic black children. Educational programs by the government designed at helping spread education and awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding have been going on for some time.

So what's the reason for such low rates among such a supposedly educated society? I think there are two factors playing the strongest role in this issue.

First, the greatest majority of the current generation of mothers was not breastfed. During the late 60's to early 80's, formula was being pushed by doctors and hospitals as being superior to breastmilk. Such low breastfeeding rates among moms meant that when their daughters grew up and needed to make their own choices about breastfeeding, they had few "role models" to look to. Additionally, since breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be learned, lack of older women to turn to for help and support makes it difficult to fight through those first few weeks.

Second, formula is readily available and pushed on mothers with an amazing force. Nursing moms are sent home from the hospital with bottles and cans of free formula which sent on the shelf and beckon temptingly during those first few weeks of difficult breastfeeding. Stressed out moms suffering from lack of sleep and lack of support are hard pressed to ignore the temptation of getting some sleep and some rest by turning to formula. Moms attempting to nurse are more likely to hear "it's ok, just switch to formula" instead of hearing encouragement, support and suggestions on ways to deal with latch problems or sleepless nights.

Having experienced those frustrations myself, I completely understand why any mother turns to formula. The hours spent trying to get my daughter to nurse combined with Dr's warnings about the weight she was losing would be enough to get any mom to switch. It's not just a matter of "toughing it out." It's a matter of mom's needing to have the energy and focus to be able to care for their child. A mother's sanity is often going to be more important in the long run than making sure that their child gets breastmilk.

Thankfully for me, pumping was an option that worked. Had it not, I likely would have turned to formula as well. Despite all the reading and research I'd done, nothing had prepared me for how difficult it would be to nurse my child. Until our country finds a way to educate and support women through this frustrating time, I doubt that we'll see a significant increase in these numbers.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Long Term Breastfeeding May Help Prevent Coeliac

While it's long been known that breastfed babies are much less likely to develop allergies than babies who receive formula, a new study released this past week shows that breastfeeding may also help reduce the occurrence of coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is a gluten intolerance that is classified as an auto immune disorder.

According to Wikipedia:

It is characterized by damage or flattening to all or part of the villi lining the small intestine, causing scar tissue that cannot absorb nutrients. This damage is caused by exposure to gluten and related proteins found in wheat, rye, malt, barley and oats. Damage to the villi reduces the ability of the intestines to absorb nutrients, and it is believed that the resulting nutritional deficiencies likely cause the wide spectrum of symptoms associated with the disorder. Coeliac disease may lead to digestive problems, such as indigestion, heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome, unexplained weight loss or other signs of nutritional deficiency due to malabsorption, and a wide range of other problems in different bodily systems, including the nervous system, the heart, and the teeth and bones.

The condition is frequently misdiagnosed or overlooked as it can exhibit multiple symptoms and often the patient or medical staff may not link seemingly unconnected conditions. It is most frequently misdiagnosed when the sufferer complains of diarrhea, persistent indigestion, a rash or irritable bowel syndrome.

The only treatment is a life-long gluten-free diet. No medications are required, and none have proven useful.


The study, which followed 4,000 children also suggests that the longer a baby is breastfed, the less likely they are to develop the illness later in life. That's a compelling reason to make sure your tot can rightly wear a child-led weaning shirt!

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Supporting Milk Banks...Everywhere

Spoke with Georgia Morrow, the director of the Mother's Milk Bank here in Columbus, Ohio by email today. (Georgia has been my contact there through most of my experience as a donor and she's just a total sweetheart. When I ran into problems with my supply about six months into pumping, she was great about helping me figure out what the problem was.)

Anyway, the hospital that houses the milk bank has agreed to let us move forward with promoting them via the shirts. We'll likely be creating some shirts specially for the Ohio Mother's Milk Bank, but what we'll also do is set it up so that they can purchase ones at cost to sell on their own. This way we can offer up their choice of any of our great pro milk banking shirts with their own "Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio" text across the back shoulder.

The idea is that we can spread this out to apply to any milk bank. Say the San Jose milk bank wants to do a fundraiser by selling shirts. We can sell to any of the milk banks at cost, put their own logo or name on the back and they can resell the shirts at a mark-up to raise money for their operations.

To that end, I've added another shirt to the mix designed to help promote human milk banking that can be worn by non-donors as well. Check out the new "With the breast of intentions" shirt.

As I've mentioned before, any profits earned from the milk bank promotion shirts will be donated toward the Mother's Milk Bank here in Columbus, Ohio. I'm hoping that other milk banks will be interested in them for fundraisers as well. I'll be selling any of the milk bank promotion products at cost to anyone out there that wishes to purchase them to use for a fundraiser. If you know someone that might be interested, just have them drop me an email at thejenn at gmail dot com.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Upper Breast Side

And I thought The Lactivist was a kitschy name...

Stumbled across a news story yesterday that made mention of New Yorker Felina Rakowski-Gallagher, who owns a small botique in Manhatten called "The Upper Breast Side." The shop is located...you guessed it...on the Upper West Side at 220 71st Steet.

The shop's tagline is "you bring your breasts, we've got the rest."

Cute.

The shop features ten brands and twenty-four styles of nursing bras and the friendly staff will even help measure you to make sure that you're buying a nursing bra with a proper fit. The Upper Breast Side also both rents and sells breast pumps from popular companies like Amedia and Medela along with herbs, nursing pillows, reference books and more.

They also offer regular "latch-on" clinics that are hosted by an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) along with baby CPR, First Aid and baby proofing courses.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Paralyzed Mother Breastfeeds Newborn

At first glance, you might read the above headline and think that I'm talking about a mother frozen in fear. Actually, I'm talking about 26 year old Abigail Witchalls, a young English woman that was brutually attacked during the early days of her pregnancy, but lived to tell about it.

From the Independent Online

Mrs Witchalls, 26, was in the early stages of her pregnancy when she was stabbed with a three-inch blade in the back of the neck in the quiet Surrey village of Little Bookham in April.

She was not expected to survive and was administered the last rites. On Friday, however, she gave birth to a baby boy weighing 5lb 6oz. Although five weeks premature, the birth was natural and Mrs Witchalls was yesterday successfully breastfeeding.

Witchalls was given a fifty percent chance of survial due to the severity of her wounds. Even if she did live, it was thought that she would be completely paralyzed. According to Witchalls, the baby growing inside of her served as inspiration for her recovery. While she still requires 24-hour nursing assistence, Witchalls can now breathe on her own, talk, eat and even move her right arm on her own. She requires assistence with the baby to be able to nurse, but she believes in breastfeeding strongly enough that she's doing it anyway.

The familiy issued a statement to the press just after their son was born:

Abigail and Benoit are delighted to announce the arrival of their second son. Abigail had a natural birth with very little assistance and did not require a Caesarean section. The baby weighed 5lb 6oz and was born a little early, at 35 weeks, but is still healthy. With help to support her newborn, Abigail has started breastfeeding successfully.

I just can't even say how inspirational I find this.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Another Editorial On Breastfeeding in Public

Every now and then I run across a news report, article or blog that has someone spouting off about the horrors of breastfeeding in public. As if a nursing mom was the most disturbing thing they've ever seen...

Usually these people use phrases like "whip it out" or "for all the world to see" and then go on to compare nursing a child in public to things like peeing in public or some other gross bodily function. The general idea here seems to be that there are legions of nursing mothers floating around that get their jollies off of flinging their breasts out for all the world to see.

The latest of these morons (yes, I'll say it, I think they are morons) writes a letter to the editor of Style Weekly. In it, the writer complains about a recent experience with a woman who nursed her six month old in public and goes on to compare the act to public masturbation.

A few snippets from the letter...

As I read Scott Bass’ report about a fellow who was arrested [and charged with] masturbating in his car (not the best choice for lunchtime reading), a woman sitting directly across from me whipped out her right breast and began feeding her six-month old son. She ignored the surprise of the other patrons, and all the while held a running conversation with two other women.

It struck me as incredibly ironic that at the very time I was reading a story that depicted one natural act as lewd (“Loupassi Defends Accused Masturbator, Angers Residents,” Street Talk, Oct. 26), I was being given a graphic demonstration of another natural behavior that, when done in public, would also be described as lewd or at least distasteful by some. Most of us would simply choose not to look upon either situation with any great concern and proceed along our way.

Hopefully, they will all find ways to behave in public — including both respecting the privacy of others and showing personal restraint by refraining from overexposing themselves while out among their fellow citizens.


Is this guy serious? I mean really, is he actually serious in comparing public masturbation to nursing a child? If so, I've got to wonder what other connections his brain manages to make.

Disregarding the entire bit about the ridiculous comparison, because it doesn't even deserve a response, let's simply go back to the bit about overexposure. Ballance talks about how this nursing mother "ignored the surprise of the other patrons, and all the while held a running conversation with two other women."

It's highly unlikely that she "ignored the surprise" because it never even dawned on her that it would surprise anyone. By the time you've been nursing a child for six months, it's such a part of your day that you wouldn't think it was any stranger than running your fingers through your hair. On top of that, the nursing mother of a six month old knows what she's doing as does the child. That means that it's highly unlikely that anything was being "exposed" for more than a brief second or two.

New mothers that are still getting the hang of nursing often have trouble getting their baby to latch, so it wouldn't be unheard of to see a flash of nipple for a few seconds while she tried to position the baby. That said, I've yet to meet a new mother that wanted to try and get their baby to latch in public if they could at all avoid it. The mothers that breastfeed in public are the ones that are confident in nursing and that can allow their child to latch while carrying on conversations without missing a beat.

It's a sad world that we live in when jeans can be so low that they require a Brazilian to wear them and no one blinks an eye, but people get up in arms over the act of an infant eating their lunch.

Sounds to me like that mom needed to be sporting a "My baby doesn't like to eat in the bathroom...do you" shirt. ;)

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Four Month Old Wisconsin Girls Dies When Intoxicated Mom Falls Asleep While Breastfeeding

Twenty-seven year old Wisconsin resident Lorinda Hawkins, who was already on probation for child neglect has now been charged with one count of child neglect causing the death of her four month old daughter. Hawkins passed out while nursing her daughter, falling asleep on top of the infant and smothering her to death.

According to the Associated Press:


The 27-year-old - who was on probation for child neglect - had consumed six double-shot alcoholic beverages at a bowling alley, the complaint said. A toxicologist estimated her blood alcohol level ranged from .15 to .27 percent.



Her husband drove Hawkins and their 4-year-old daughter to the bowling alley and later brought them home, then went out drinking himself, according to the complaint. The baby was unresponsive when he returned an hour later, the complaint said.



Hawkins was on probation for neglect of the same child, and was prohibited from drinking alcohol and from having unsupervised contact with all four of her children at once, court documents show.


This is the kind of thing that just breaks my heart. Not because of the damage it does to the image of breastfeeding, because I think it's fairly clear to anyone that breastfeeding is not what caused this to happen. More so because the 4 month old child of a woman that had already been convicted of child neglect was allowed unsupervised visitation with that child.

I simply cannot understand why these people are allowed to continue to care for their children.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

You can bank on that! (That being breasts of course...)

One of the goals of The Lactivist is to help spread awareness of the availability of human milk banks. As a donor to the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio, I've been continually amazed to learn just how vital human breast milk is to the most fragile of babies.

A few things to consider:

Donor Milk is Extremely Safe.
One of the questions that I've heard time and time again both in person and on discussion forums is whether or not donor milk is safe. After all, it is a fluid that comes from someone else's body. It's understandable how that might make some people uncomfortable. With HIV still posing a significant threat to the world and dozens (hundreds?) of other communicable diseases floating around, it makes sense that moms and dads would want to be reassured that donor milk was safe before giving it to their children.

The reality is that milk bank donors are carefully screened. Full medical histories are taken, bloodwork is done (and must be redone every six months) and release forms must be completed by both a woman's physician and her babies pediatritian. These women must remain drug and alcohol free and cannot donate any milk collected while they, or any members of their families are ill. Donors are also given an extensive list of medications that they may not donate while on. (For instance, even a single tylenol means that a mother cannot donate any milk collected within 24 hours of taking the pill.)

When it comes time to process the milk, milk from several donors is carefully combined before being pasteurized to kill any bacteria that may still exist. On top of that, every batch of breastmilk is carefully tested and screened before being shipped out. In fact, donor milk is even tested for its nutritional properties with the most fragile babies recieving the milk with the highest calorie levels.

Donor milk is so safe that there has never been a single documented case of a baby being harmed by donor milk in the 40 year history of modern milk banking in the United States.

Sometimes the babies that need breastmilk the most are the ones that can't get it.

The irony of the benefits of human millk is that sometimes the babies that need it the most are the ones whose mothers are unable to give it to them. Sometimes, a baby is born so prematurely that a mother's milkl has not yet come in. This is especially common with premature multiple births where there is simply no way for a mother to express enough milk for two, three or even more babies.

Add in the potential of a mother that has delivered early because she's suffering from an illness like Cancer or HIV, or a mother that is simply too exhausted from the stress of caring for a child in the NICU to produce milk and you suddenly have great need for milk from donors.

Support Milk Banking With Awareness Shirts

That's part of why I'm working to come up with more unique shirt ideas that can help spread awareness of human milk banking. Not only do the shirts themselves use humor to draw attention to the program, but every single penny of profit from the sale of milk bank awareness shirts at The Lactivist will be donated to the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio. Shirts start at under $10 and the unique slogans like Modern Day Wet Nurse and These Breasts Save Lives are surefire conversation starters.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Years ago, a friend took me to Taos to try to teach me how to ski. I remember that the hardest thing about skiing was that I'd start off, gently sliding down the slopes, nice and slow and kind of enjoyable. Then suddenly, things would go from nice and slow to HOLY CRAP! I'm flying down the side of a mountain at 100 miles per hour!

That's kind of what has happened with The Lactvist. Born as a fun project for my "real" job (Search Engine Guide. The site started off as something that could be fun and quickly turned into a major project.

See in my every day life, I'm a search engine marketing consultant that edits an industry site called Search Engine Guide. Our audience is mostly made up of small business owners and hopeful entreprenuers that are trying to learn how to market their businesses online. many of them are what I call "shoestring entreprenuers," which means that they operate their businesses with virtually no capital and in their spare time. I wanted to see things from their perspective and provide some insight that might help them out, so I decided to issue a thirty day challenge to myself. I wanted to see if I could set up a new online business, in my free time, with zero capital and manage to turn a profit by the end of the thiry days.

You can learn more about the project (or follow along) at Search Engine Guide:
Zero Cash, a Little Talent and 30 Days.

You can check out the site by clicking the banner below:



The real question for this blog though is why "The Lactivist?

Basically, my daughter turns a year old today. When I had her, I had hoped to be able to breastfeed her, but due to a combination of issues, nursing just didn't work out. Thankfully, I'd had a friend that had exclusively pumped and I knew it was an option. So, by the time Elnora was three days old, I had switched to pumping.

My goal was to make it a full year. It was hard work and it was interesting and sometimes it was funny. (How many people can say that they've pumped milk on a rifle range, or in the back of a bus on the way to Yahoo! headquarters while talking to a VP from the New York Times?) But I also know that I never would have made it without the support of many of the amazing women that I've met online in discussion boards.

Also, timing worked out just right that a milk bank opened in Columbus just after Nora was born. Because I was exclusively pumping, and because Elnora's never been much of an eater, I had plenty of milk to share. Elnora turns one today, which is the last day that I can donate, so we'll be going down next week to take our last donation. I'm not sure just how many ounces I've been able to donate, but I know that it's probably close to 3000.

So what it boils down to, is that I needed to come up with a business idea at about the same time that I was looking for a way to offer something back to all those hard working breastfeeding moms that helped me get through things. These are the types of shirts that I wished I'd owned during the past year. Hopefully, they'll bring a smile to the face of some other new mom that needs a bit of a pick-me-up to make it through herself.

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