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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, May 24, 2006

Member of Italian Parliment Fighting for Breastfeeding Space

While I think it might be best for the country if she went ahead and nursed her daughter right there in parliment ;), it will be interesting to see how this turns out.

From ANSA.it:

Poretti, a 38-year-old Florentine journalist elected for the Radical Party, first wrote to Bertinotti two weeks ago in the hope of having a baby-care room added to the array of plush facilities in the hulking building .

For the time being, between one voting session and the next, she is forced to leave the assembly every two hours or so, using a corner of the infirmary to feed two-month-old Alice.


This is a tough one on some levels. On the one hand, it's fantastic to see an Italian leader standing up for breastfeeding like this. On the other hand, I have a hard time with the "special rights" for breastfeeding moms stance in that I think it ultimately hurts our cause.

That's where the question becomes, could a bottle feeding mom bring her little one with her to parliment and take breaks to feed him/her? Or, would they need to leave the baby in the care of someone else like most moms do when they head off to work? If that's the case, then it falls under that "has a right to nurse wherever mother and baby are otherwise allowed to be" concept. In that case, it comes down to providing mom with a place to either express her milk, or yes, to go and nurse her child.

This type of law already exists in many American states and it's a great way to help promote breastfeeding for moms that eventually have to head back to work. I'm not sure I can advocate for the right of all moms to tote their tots to work with them so that they can nurse on demand though... As a work at home mom, I know just how badly productivity suffers when you're trying to give your attention to work and your child at the same time.

But...it would be a beautiful thing to see the point when breastfeeding is so universally accepted that you could sit on the floor of parliment and nurse. ;)

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Monday, May 22, 2006

LiveJournal Takes Anti-Breastfeeding Pic Stance

Special thanks to The Lactivist reader Imladris2, who sent over the link on this one.

Apparently, LiveJournal, the popular blog hosting site, is threatening to shut down one mother's blog because her default user image shows her daughter nursing at the breast. According to LiveJournal, this violates their terms of service because it shows images that may not be appropriate for a work or school environment.

In fact, a snippet of LiveJournal's response to the mother said:

These rules exist for the sole purpose of ensuring that users can browse the "public" parts of the site (for example, the directory) without worrying about encountering "not-safe-for-work/public" situations. For this reason, LiveJournal's rules regarding default user pictures are generally restrictive than is strictly defined by obscenity laws.

As another LiveJournal mommy-blogger points out:

It is perfectly legal for a woman to breastfeed where I work. It is legal to breastfeed in a public place. If the actual act of breastfeeding isn't considered obscene, legally, then it should stand to reason that a picture of a woman breastfeeding shouldn't be considered obscene.

This is ridiculous because LJ would never seek to have a woman change a picture of a baby being fed from a bottle, spoon, or cup.


Unfortunately, I see from the mom's site that she has removed the image and given up the fight. I can understand someone not wanting to deal with it anymore, but it's also dissapointing to see LiveJournal making this type of decision and standing by it.

Even more so, I'm a little offended at the tone that LiveJournal has taken with both the mom and those who have written in to support her. I've twice seen this statement in responses from the LiveJournal team...

Finally, please be aware that write-in campaigns are never effective in swaying the opinion of the Abuse Team or LiveJournal administrators, or in focusing attention on a particular issue. A flood of requests concerning the same issue only serve to slow down the responses given to valid inquiries such as your request for policy clarification.

Excuse me? Write-in campaigns quite often have an effect and I have no doubt that if LiveJournal's servers were shut down due to a massive influx of mail, that they'd give a little more consideration to their policies. Especially one as lame as this.

Also, my personal blog is housed on LiveJournal...but in light of this, I'm goign to have to give consideration to moving it elsewhere.

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Despite Move to Promote Midwivery, UK Birth Center to Close

Just days after the UK announced a new plan to promote the safety of midwife attended home birth as a safe option for low risk moms, news has come out stating that many of the UKs midwife attended birth centers are being forced to close.

The Guardian Unlimited has the story.

More than 15 birth centres are under threat as NHS trusts struggle to deal with financial deficits, the Guardian has learned. Just eight days ago, as health secretary Patricia Hewitt spoke to the midwives' annual conference about the need to give more women one-to-one care, the third largest birth centre in the country, in Stroud, was told it must shut because of financial pressure, though there is no question of its success and the admiration in which it is held locally.

Stroud, which has been a maternity unit for more than 50 years, delivered 365 babies last year - 28% of them by water births. It achieves home birth and breastfeeding rates higher than the national average, and a third of the women in labour had their own community midwives with them. A further 350 women who gave birth in hospital - sometimes after Caesareans - then transferred to Stroud to rest and recover.


Those running the birth centers claim that closing them won't result in a long-term reduction in costs. Reasons cited include lower cost of care for moms and babies that are cared for in these centers (lower drug costs, lower baby care costs, etc...) and the fact that in the absense of a birth center, more moms will turn to home births rather than to OB-led hospital birthing centers.

Seems like a shame that right on the heels of such a great step forward in choice for women's birthing options, that options are actually being taken away. :(

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Earlier "Term" Births May Have Long Term Consequences...

There's an interesting article in the Washington Post that talks about the rise in early "pre-term" births (34-36 weekers) and the long term health problems that may be associated with that rise.

"As Babies are Born Earlier, They Risk Problems Later"

Some snippets from the article:

The percentage of babies born slightly early has been increasing steadily for more than a decade and is now at an all-time high. So many babies are being born a few weeks early -- more than 350,000 annually -- that the average U.S. pregnancy has shortened from 40 weeks to 39.

Many obstetricians argue that the trend is positive overall because they are preventing thousands of stillbirths and avoiding potentially serious risks for mothers. But other experts worry because these babies are prone to a long list of serious, potentially life-threatening complications, which often require intensive, costly treatment.

Although most of these babies fare well and face far less risk than very premature infants, researchers have begun to realize that they are nevertheless more prone to short-term complications, such as problems breathing and feeding, and jaundice. Studies are also starting to suggest that these children may tend to not develop as well as full-term babies, leading to behavioral, learning and other difficulties.


The article states that the average American pregnancy now lasts just 39 weeks, because these early pre-term births are becoming so common (and overdue babies are becoming so uncommon). It also speculates that the rise in fertility treatments may be leading to more pregnancies that will end earlier either naturally or by being induced to avoid complications.

It also talks about the ability to detect some problems for baby earlier. That, combined with the knowledge that MOST of these early babies will survive, makes it more tempting for a doctor to risk induction. (Lactivist readers know that the "emergency c-section" is the ultimate defense in malpractice court...even if the neede for the c-section was brought on by iatrogenic factors.

More from the article:

But some specialists question whether the increase in Caesareans and inductions is the reason for the drop in stillbirths. And they worry that too much of the increase may be due to women hastening delivery for nonmedical reasons -- they want to make sure their mother will be in town, their husband has a business trip pending, or they are just fed up with being pregnant.

"It's a common request," said Mark Lollar, an obstetrician in San Ramon, Calif., who routinely honors such requests for the wives of professional athletes so their husbands can be present. "I have no problem arranging that for them."

Lollar and other obstetricians insist that they make sure that the fetus is at least 38 weeks old. "We never compromise the mother or the baby's safety," Lollar said.

Other experts, however, say it can be difficult to calculate the precise gestational age of a fetus.


The interesting thing to note is that just this morning, I read a post on the Childbirth Choice debate board over at BabyCenter from a woman who said that her rural hospital has now started discouraging convienence inductions. She said that the hospital has no NICU and any baby that needs a transfer has to be airlifted to the nearest major city. For that reason, the hospital has started telling moms that they need to wait until they are term to deliver, unless there are medical reasons to do otherwise.

That's an encouraging trend and it shows that at least in some cases, hospitals are realizing that they may need to rethink their policies on induction.

Finally...

The lungs, brains and other organs of babies born even a week or two early are often underdeveloped, making the infants much more likely to have problems breathing, maintaining their body temperature and feeding. They are also vulnerable to infections and jaundice, which can be life-threatening or cause brain damage.

In addition to the added cost and anxiety the complications cause, late-preterm babies are about five times as likely to die in the first week of life and about three times as likely to die in the first year than full-term babies, studies show.


Now, I'd be curious to know if those rises in stats are associated with ALL babies born at that age group, or if they've been seperated out to allow for differences in induced babies and naturally early babies. I believe it's the former, which would skew the results somewhat.

It will be interesting to see if there are further studies done on this issue.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Follow-up on UK Home Birth

New Zealand OBs not happy about UK movement

The call for all mothers-to-be in Britain to give birth at home are being labelled ludicrous and dangerous by doctors here.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists is taking issue with the British Government's comments.

Spokesman Alec Ekeroma says, while it is safe for some women to deliver at home, others must go to hospitals.


Well duh! Of course not all women should deliver at home. No one, even in the UK ever said that it was. Even the strongest home birth advocates specifically state that home birth is a safe and excellent option for LOW-RISK mothers. No one is going to argue that someone will a full placenta previa or with HELP or a history of three c-sections should give birth in a hospital.

The entire point here is choice. Choice that OBs don't want women to have...because that choice and further proof of the benefits of home birth could mean less hospital bound patients for them.

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UK Department of Health to Promote Home Birth

Go Brits!

UK Government to promote home births

From the article:

The Department of Health says it wants to end assumptions that a hospital is always the best place to have a baby.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "We are committed to offering all women the choice of how and where they give birth, and what pain relief is available.

"The government underlined its commitment to delivering choice in maternity services in its 2005 manifesto, the National Service Framework for children and maternity and the recent White Paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say.

"All these services will be offered within the context of what is safe and clinically appropriate care for each individual woman.

"We also want every woman to be supported by a named midwife throughout their pregnancy, and for services to be linked to those provided in Children's Centres."

Belinda Phipps, NCT chief executive, said flawed research from the 1970s which falsely concluded home births were not safe had informed government policy for decades.


Obviously some of this movement is being pushed due to the lower costs of midwifery care and home births, but that's something that should be celebrated. In fact, I would love to see this get pushed through and enacted in the UK so that we could really see some positive results that could be used to push for this type of choice in other countries. (the U.S. anyone?)

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

U.S. Ranks Poorly in Infant Mortality Rates

Here we sit in the United States of America. A country that is supposed to have an amazingly superior health care system and a "better way of doing things."

Now, most regular readers here know that I don't tend to agree with "our way of doing things" when it comes to birth. Hospital births these days tend to be highly medicalized and full of unnecessary interventions. The truth is, that just isn't working for us.

Here's proof.

The U.S. Ranks 2nd to Last in Infant Mortality Among Industrialized Nations

Among 33 industrialized nations, the United States is tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly 5 per 1,000 babies, according to a new report. Latvia's rate is 6 per 1,000.

In the analysis of global infant mortality, Japan had the lowest newborn death rate, 1.8 per 1,000 and four countries tied for second place with 2 per 1,000 _ the Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland and Norway.


The article tends to blame most of the problem on higher rates of teen pregnancy and obesity and also cites the fact that economic disparities coupled with our health care crisis is responsible.

I have no doubt that plays a role, but the United States also tends to have much higher rates of iatrogenic issues for both mother and baby than many of these other countries. In fact, of the top five, only Japan is anywhere near as intervention happy as the United States.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

American Mom Aims to Create International Milk Banks

I've written an awful lot on the Lactivist about the HMBANA milk banks and the need for more donor moms in the United States. After all, donor milk is the saving grace of many a premature or ill baby that's trying to recover enough to make it out of the NICU and into their own home.

While it's great that milk banking is on the rise in North America, the reality is that some countries that need it even more than we do, are still years or even decades away from being able to put together the right infrastructure.

That's where one American mom, 28-year-old Jill Youse, of Columbia, Missouri comes in. Youse had 1,000 ounces of milk (about eight gallons) left over from pumping for her nine month old daughter Estella. Rather than donating it to a U.S. bank, Youse decided to ship her milk overseas to a milk bank in Durban, South Africa.

From the article:

Youse did research and found iThemba Lethu, a nonprofit organization that cares for abandoned and orphaned children and infants with HIV/AIDS and donated her breast milk to their milk bank.

Youse’s nearly eight gallons of breast milk was the first shipment to an underprivileged overseas community from the United States.

“I wanted to donate to children who needed it the most,” she said.

With the help of iThemba Lethu, Youse created the nonprofit International Breast Milk Project to promote the concept in the United States.


Sounds cool! I'm not sure what it costs to ship breast milk internationally, but for moms that would be paying for shipping anyway because they live far away from a domestic milk bank, I'm intrigued by the idea.

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Malaysian Art Exhibit Promotes Breastfeeding

This is pretty neat and yay for Malaysia! I've seen a lot of positive breastfeeding news coming out of there recently...

Promoting Breastfeeding Through Art Exhibit

From the article:

SUCKLING babies at their mothers’ breasts were illustrated using various mediums and techniques in the ‘Mo-ther’s Love II – 2006’ art exhibition.

Portraits of serene women breastfeeding their babies against a rural backdrop interspersed with poster-like paintings and more expressionist oils.


It goes on to talk about the change in perceptions about breastfeeding over time...

“Breastfeeding is often considered a natural activity, yet the ability to do it re-volves around issues that may be political or ideological. There was nothing em-barrassing about going about the village wrapped in a sarung and pulling the cloth down to breastfeed a baby under a tree during my mother’s time.

“Now, however, women would feel constrained to breastfeed their babies in public,” she said.

Waba staff Julianna Abdullah said it was time to realize that breastfeeding was not a sensual but nurturing act.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Breastfeeding Record

How many breastfeeding moms does it take to set a world record?

Apparently, 3,738 of them.

Reuters has the story.

Burps, slurps and thirsty cries echoed around the Philippine capital on Thursday as 3,738 mothers gathered to break the world breastfeeding record.

The large number of tired moms was a coup for organisers, trying to promote breastfeeding in a country where many poor families believe that expensive powdered milk is more nutritious.

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