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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, April 30, 2007

Milestone Update - Crawling

Just a quick post because this blog often serves as my "what date was that again?" reminder for these things...

As of this morning, Emmitt has abandoned the "army crawl" method of movement and has embraced the hand, hand, knee, knee method of crawling.

The sad thing is that he doesn't really get around any faster and him crawling isn't nearly as funny as his army crawl was.

Oh, and I forgot how much harder it is to get kids down for a nap when they can go from laying down to sitting up. ;)

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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.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Welcome Near Mama's Heart as an Advertiser

I wanted to make a post this morning to welcome the third advertiser to come on board here at The Lactivist.

The children's book "Near Mama's Heart" was put together by breastfeeding blogger Colleen Newman over at My Baby and More. I actually reviewed the book in February and noted that it was one of the books Elnora often asked for at nap time. Like most kids, she loves ANYTHING with picture of other children in it and the fact that they are drinking "mana" (milk) makes it even better.

In fact, if you've thought about buying the book but wanted to get an idea of what was in it, Colleen has set up a great little video clip on her site that shows the entire book. How's that for letting you "try before you buy?"

I'd also note that both La Leche League International and Attachment Parenting International have added the book to their "recommended" list for each group's lending libraries.

That makes this one a great gift for a new mom, a child about to be a big brother or big sister, or a gift to your local LLL or AP group. If you haven't already taken a look, please support The Lactivist's advertisers and check it out.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Is Wet Nursing a Bad Thing?

It's no secret that wet nursing is the topic du jour these days when it comes to the media and breastfeeding related issues. It's been in Time Magazine, and on The Today Show. I even had a call just yesterday about a radio station that was planning on covering the issue.

In general, my view of wet nursing gets laid down something like this...

1.) It's been around since almost the dawn of time, so long as the wet nurse has been tested for milk-born diseases, it's fine by me.

2.) I do worry about the idea of paying women to be wet nurses, especially if those women have children of their own. My biggest concern is obviously...what happens to the children of the wet nurse? Are they being given formula so that mom can nurse the baby that carries a pay check?

3.) I also worry about the bonding. The nursing relationship creates a powerful physical and emotional bond. I guess I don't see how an infant (and even a child) could separate that bond and really fully understand the difference between a wet nurse and a mother.

Now with that in mind, I've seen two things pop up in the last few days that have caused me to have even more concern about the issue.

The first is from the Foreign Policy blog. The author wonders what will happen if human milk becomes part of a global trade.

...if the for-profit breast-milk industry grows (in 2005, demand for breast milk from one nonprofit association of milk banks grew 28 percent), where will companies get all their milk once altruistic donors run dry? If they follow the model of other American businesses, they might turn to the developing world for their raw material—in this case, breast milk.

It would be expensive to ship frozen milk across continents and oceans, but given that Prolacta last year was marketing milk at $35 per ounce, it's possible that paying low amounts to women in the developing world would make importing a viable business strategy.

Clearly, though, there are a lot of sensitive questions to be debated. Is this exploitation of poor women, or is it giving them income for a body fluid they supposedly can't use anyway?


Yikes. That thought had honestly never occurred to me. I've written about my concern on that level for paid milk banking. I've often worried that if milk banks like Prolacta began purchasing milk that they would then process and sell that you'd run into some serious ethical issues.

For instance, you could have moms pumping and selling their milk while formula feeding their own children. After all, if you could sell your breast milk for a few dollars an ounce, you'd have enough money to pay for anything your baby needed, even formula.

Then I spotted another post on the topic that spun the concerns off into a whole other direction.

Jennifer James over at Black Breastfeeding Blog puts the issue of wet nursing into a historical perspective and sheds some light on a history that I'm sure many of us haven't considered.

Forced wet nursing during slavery and then wet nursing for survival post-Civil War caused untold pain in the black community that still resides with us today. In my opinion, wet nursing is the primary contributor to the low breastfeeding rate among black women in America. When breastfeeding rates are as low as is currently evidenced among black women, babies and families alike suffer. Because breastfeeding produces so many health benefits to children and mothers, when breastfeeding is noticeably absent in such high numbers, black babies aren't as healthy as they could be. Today, this may not have been the case had black mothers been able to nurse their own children throughout American history instead of being forced to work the fields or be house slaves.

On the farther end of the spectrum, wet nursing was yet another factor that kept black women from bonding with their children both during slavery and afterward. Black women so often were nursing white children that their own children were not able to benefit from the healing properties of breast milk and the natural bond between mother and child. These reasons alone make wet nursing one of the worst institutions imposed upon black women.


Now I don't know about the rest of you, but I'll be completely honest and say that I read that and went "oh wow." (And not in the happy way, more in the "holy crap, that's horrible and I can't believe I never realized it!" way.)

Talk about adding a whole other level to the debate...

Here I am talking about my own fear of wet nursing being used to exploit low income women without realizing that the exact history of wet nursing in the United States was closely tied to that very thing. (Though obviously far worse than simply exploiting low income women.)

I wonder, do these posts change the debate for you?

I still don't have a problem with wet nursing per say, since in this day and age one would like to think that someone becomes a wet nurse purely by choice...but it does spark in my mind that creeping bit of doubt that says that there's a fine line between "by choice" and "by necessity" and that it's a line we don't want to see crossed.

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Milestone Update

Well, we've hit some more milestones this week, and the blog has been a little "heavy" so I thought I'd lighten the mood with an update on what's going on in the lactivist household.

Emmitt can now sit up on his own! He's been working on it all week, but he couldn't quite make that final push into a sit. Instead, he'd end up mostly sitting up, but leaning over with his weight supported by his hand. He sort of looked like one of those posing reclining models, lol.

But last night shortly after Greg came home, he pushed himself up and "poof" there he was in a full sit, all on his own. He looked as surprised as we were.

He's still not crawling in the traditional mode, but the kid can "army crawl" like nobody's business. In fact, he goes faster that way than Elnora ever did on all fours. I'll have to see if I can get it on video to upload...it sort of looks like he's swimming across the room.

Now on to Elnora. We're down to one "accident" every few days. I've told her that when she goes a full week with no accidents, we'll move her to training pants. We're on day three right now, so hopefully she'll make it.

Even better is the sign language. A box from Amazon.com arrived yesterday with the first six Signing Time videos. That means we no longer have to worry about waiting for them from the library and then getting them returned in time. They're ours for keeps!

She's doing a great job of integrating the signs into every day activity, especially when it comes to asking for things. It's pretty common now for her to come in and sign FISH and CRACKER to tell me that she wants Goldfish. (Ok, so they're Annie's Rabbits, but whatever...) She also comes into our room first thing each morning signing "drink" because she's woken up thirsty, lol.

On the other hand, it works against her. When I was home a few weeks ago my mom put her to bed and Nora kept yelling that she had to go potty. Mom would get her, take her to the potty and nothing would happen. The second time, Nora signed to my mom NO SLEEP.

LOL. Busted! Mom told her she didn't have to sleep, but she had to stay in bed. Sure enough, Nora was out like a light not long after.

I think the biggest benefit by far is the context that the signs allow. While she's working very hard on words and has added quite a few recently (car, bath, home, cracker, banana) she still has a lot of word/sounds that mean multiple things. Using the sign on conjunction with the word allows us to know what she means and then to repeat the proper word and encourage her to try it again. Less frustration for both of us and good learning opportunities being presented.

In fact, here is the list of signs that she currently knows and uses...

Eat - Milk - Thirsty - Hungry - Drink - Water - Apple - Cereal - Cookie - Banana - Bread - Cheese - Cracker - Ice Cream - Candy - More - Help - Day - Sun - Sleep - Bed - Happy - Sad - Cry - Boy - Girl - Ball - Doll - Cat - Dog - Fish - Car - Shoes - Socks - Mom - Dad - Grandpa - Grandma - Baby - Book - No - Wash Hands - Brush Teeth

That's 43 signs. We're working on:

Potty - Please - Thank You - Stop - Share - Friend - Sorry - Wait - What - Doll

At the rate she's picking them up, she'll know them by the end of May.

Now, for the really big news...

Emmitt made his first sign!!

No joking. He'll be seven months old tomorrow and quite honestly, I thought it was a fluke.

Last night while we were eating dinner, he was sitting on the floor in the doorway of the kitchen playing. I said to Greg "I wonder why he's waving his arm around in the air like that..." Then I looked again...he opened and closed his fist.

Noo.... Then he did it again.

I pointed it out to Greg and we decided that it could be a fluke but we'd keep watching and see if he kept doing it.

So today, I was putting him down for his nap. I nursed him and he fell asleep, so I popped him off and put him in the pack n play. A few minutes later, I heard him. I peeked in, he was wide awake.

Wanna guess what he was doing?

Sure enough, he was looking at his hand and opening and closing his fist. I went in and talked to him and said MILK while I did the same thing. He got this huge grin on his face and I swear to you, the kid crawled a lap around the pack n play. It was like those cartoons where the guy runs around the room on the wall.

So I picked him up and laid him on the bed and lay down next to him to let him nurse. As I did, he held his arm up in the air and opened and closed his fist. I said to him "Milk? Milk? I see you telling me," and he got this HUGE grin again. Then he kept doing it.

WOO HOO!

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Little Perspective on the Obesity Study

I think some of my regular readers are wondering why I'm so up in arms about the new obesity study. I'd imagine that they are thinking something along the lines of"

"Jennifer usually thinks these things through pretty carefully and tends to not get upset by the minor things. This is just another stupid study, who cares what it says?"

You guys are right...to a degree. But I've had enough comments come in that I figured I needed to address the issue.

A single study that says that breastfeeding does not prevent or help prevent obesity does nothing to lessen the benefits of breastfeeding. It shouldn't keep people from breastfeeding. It certainly doesn't say that breastfeeding causes or contributes to obesity, so normally, I'd pretty much disregard it and say "whatever folks, there are bigger battles to be fought."

But this time...this study...it goes deeper.

So, let's take a look at a screen shot of Google News from this morning...read through those headlines and get the general idea of what your average, not super informed person is going to take away from it...



Take-away point: Breastfeeding does not prevent (or even help prevent) obesity

Now, let's take a look at another screen shot of Google News this morning to see some other news that has been talked about in the last week.



Take-away point: A new formula is being created that WILL help prevent obesity

Is my point of view on the study making a little more sense yet?

Now you guys know that I'm pretty rational. I'm not a conspiracy theory type, I don't tell you to boycott Nestle (that's your own choice) and I pretty much NEVER rant against formula because I believe that breastfeeding stands up on its own merits and no mother that ends up needing to use formula for any reason should be made to feel bad about her choice.

HOWEVER, I do not think that it can be written off as "it doesn't matter" when a study this flawed comes out and gets THAT MUCH news coverage right at the same time that other news is breaking about a new component that will be added to formula to "help prevent obesity."

The reason that I addressed this study and worked so hard to help you understand what I feel the flaws are and why I don't think it should be taken as truth is because legions of moms around the globe are going to be seeing, hearing and reading about how breastfeeding does not help protect against obesity at any stage of life. (Which again, runs contrary to many peer-reviewed studies.) At the same time, they are going to be hearing about a new type of formula that claims it WILL help protect against obesity.

I want to make sure that as you go out into the world and as you run into people that comment about these two news stories that you are informed enough to explain why these two studies do not negate the benefits of breastfeeding. So that you are armed with the information that allows you to say "Well actually, that study really didn't do much of anything except show that white nurses suffer from obesity at the same rate whether breastfed or formula fed."

So take it for what you will, but based on those two Google images above, I think this topic was worth getting a little up in arms about.

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Welcome Small Business Ideas Forum as a New Sponsor!

Well goodness folks, I announce that I'm offering up advertising and 50% of my prime real estate is sold within a few hours! Apparently, if you are thinking of advertising here, you might want to get cracking.

Anyway, wanted to make a quick post to welcome our latest sponsor, the Small Business Ideas forums.

Seem like an odd fit for a breastfeeding site?

Well, as you guys know, I'm a full time work at home mom. I run a consulting business and I do quite a bit of writing and teaching. That's allowed me to be at home with my children full time which has made breastfeeding quite a bit easier. I'm not the only mom that feels this way and thankfully, the Internet has allowed legions of men and women to make the leap to working at home by becoming consultants, starting their own businesses, or even becoming professional bloggers.

The Small Business Ideas forum was formed with that audience in mind. It's chalk full of both brand new and experienced work at home types including quite a few work at home moms and work at home dads. The goal of this site is to bring people together to brainstorm ideas, learn from each other's experience and to collectively build more financial security into working at home.

It's a friendly place. I spend quite a bit of time there myself. (Disclaimer: this site is owned by the same publisher that owns my Search Engine Guide site.) If you work at home, or are thinking about doing so, you might want to check it out.

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April 26th is "Take Your Child To Work Day"

Hmm...in this household, EVERY DAY is "take your child to work day" since I work in the living room and it hardly seems fair to confine them to their rooms... ;)

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Outsourcing Breastfeeding on the Today Show

I posted earlier this week looking for some moms that had cross nursed or wet nursed. Thankfully, many of you wrote to help me track down some women for a spot on national TV.

The spot aired this morning on the Today Show on NBC and should be available online shortly.

It started with a quick scene of Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette just after she'd had a baby. She says (as they are taking the baby away) "I'd like to feed him." The woman taking the baby responds "But madam, we have a nurse for that," as the baby is whisked away.

Next we cut to Janet Shamlian of NBC Chicago reporting on mothers. They speak with Tabitha Trotter who says she often breastfeeds someone else's baby. She states that she has nursed the children of gay men, of moms that have multiples, moms that are on medications, etc. She estimates that she's nursed more than 40 infants over the last decade. She's never charged for her services though, she does it, because she wants to help.

They then cut to Gretchen Flatau, the Executive Director of the Mother's Milk Bank of Austin, Texas. She mentions that there's a risk of direct cross nursing or wet nursing because of the potential to spread viruses. She talks about the screening process and the pasteurization process of the HMBANA milk banks.

They cut back to Trotter, who explains that the pasteurization process destroys some of the benefits of the breast milk and that she feels that the milk has the most impact when it comes straight from the source.

Shamlian then mentions a service in California that wet nurses can be hired through. They stated that the going rate for a wet nurse starts at $1000 a week. (Though I think what they meant was that it ADDED $1000 a week to the typical nanny fee, as from what I understand, the wet nurses of this variety also serve as nannies.)

Shamlian also mentioned that while wet nursing and cross nursing are happening, many women fear being judged when they talk about it publicly, so it still mostly goes on quietly and behind closed doors.

With that segment wrapped up, they shift to Merideth Viara in the NBC Studios. With her are:

Jacqueline Wolf, Department of Social Medicine, Ohio University
and
Jeanne Rosser, from La Leche League International

On the topic of professional wet nursing, neither one is in favor. They both point out that there's a concern about the potential of exploitation for the mother's of poor children. (A concern I've noted in the past as well...) Wolf points out that paid wet nursing is a situation "frought with peril" due to the potential for jealousy between the mother and the wet nurse since nursing creates such an intense physical bond.

When it comes to cross nursing, where mothers aren't paid, both women support the idea. They explain that it takes so much time, so much concentration and so much focus to have that breastfeeding relationship and with more than half of mothers with children under a year old working, it's a time issue. They talk about a mom's need to focus on work, to focus on nursing the baby to focus on older children and basically point out that many moms are "too busy" to be able to fully nurse their own children.

Rosser explains that mothers need to know that there are risks involved in cross nursing, and states that LLL likes to support the mother/baby nursing relationship. She states that La Leache League does support milk banking because milk banking is screened to rigorous standards and is pasteurized for extra protection.

Wolf explains that if you are going to cross nurse or have a wet nurse, you need to know "as much about that mother as you would know about a sexual partner."

Viera asks about bonding between mother and child. "If you are't feeding, do you break that bond?"

Wolf states that that is her primary concern about wet nursing, that a paid nurse is nursing th baby all the time. That means that a strong bond is going to form between wet nurse and baby rather than mother and baby. She goes on to explain that with informal cross nursing, it's an occasional thing and it's very unlikely that you'll risk breaking that mother/child bond.

Viera asks about what a mom that is interested in doing this should ask.

Wolf (I think) replies that you need to know the woman's health history and situation and that she should go through a health screening similar to what she would if she was going to give blood. She went on to point out that this practice is more common than people realize, but they ran out of time and the segment actually cut Viera off in closing to go to local news.

Overall, I think it was a very good, very positive piece, far better than I had hoped for. Hopefully the the transcript and video will go up later today so that I can link to that.

ETA: The Today Show has the story up online now.

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A Powerful Wake-up Call on Breastfeeding and the Culture

Morgan Gallagher has put together one of the most well thought-out, most articulate arguments I've ever read for changing the way that we fight the lactivist battles. (And has graciously given permission for it to be reposted.) I've written in the past about the need to shift the debate from the right of the mom to nurse to the right of the child to eat, but this post goes above and beyond that.

It's long, but I promise you, it's worth the read.

--

Human Rights Verses Hegemony

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to read, and respond to, the posts which suggest it was Jessica and Tobin's responsibility in RHM to prepare the way for her nursing. That is not unreasonable for Jessica to be asked to 'announce' her intention to nurse - for, after all, we all need to find a way to rub along together.

I'm finding it hard to read these posts, as they seem to be suggesting that all parties involved have equal rights in the matter. Tobin's need to be nurtured is of equal status as the rights of the 'offended' party in having to watch such an uncomfortable act.

This is complete nonsense. There is only one right here: Tobin's right to nurse. That's why there is a law stating so, no matter how ineffective it turns out to be.

Tobin has an inalienable human right here that is being denied. The right of a human child to human milk, to nurture and nourish when its psychobiology requires it.

The offended onlooker does not have any rights to be protected. The offended onlooker has a personal issue, a feeling of discomfort and unease, that requires handling. A cultural dissonance, that needs acknowledged,
responded to, engaged with and hopefully smoothed away. The nursing dyad has no such personal issue in this paradigm. The nursing dyad is not operating out of a cultural context. The nursing dyad has supreme importance and protection in this scenario.

There is a simple truth here, that is so awesome and complete in its simplicity, that it's in danger of being overlooked: breastfeeding an infant is not a lifestyle choice. It is not a cultural convention. It is not a personal statement. It is a biological imperative. It is our essential nature. It is an essential element of our species, and the continuation of it. It is a biological norm.

We do not choose to breastfeed. We can choose not to. Likewise, we do not choose to breastfeed in public. We can choose not to. Breastfeeding is not a cultural construct. Not breastfeeding, is. Nursing an infant when the infant needs it, is a biological norm. Deciding that this needs to be done in a certain place, at a certain time, or in a certain way, is a cultural value.

The problem with many of the comments in here over the past couple of days, comments about tolerance, offence, understanding that other parents are going to be askance at nursing twins. is that these arguments place nursing within a cultural paradigm. It positions the debate in one of opinion, feelings and cultural mores. In doing this, it assigns equal right to all participants, not to have their feelings etc 'offended' and that they all have equal standing in the debate: no one position is more valued or 'protected' than the other. Different cultures often do things so
differently from each other, that problems and tensions arise when people of the differing cultures meet are best met with discussion, sharing views etc.

All laudable comments on such problems as they arrive in a multi-cultural society.

However, breastfeeding is not a cultural activity. Therefore it does not belong in the cultural difference paradigm. As a biological normative behaviour, it exists in a complete different paradigm: that of human rights.

Quite often, when this sort of thing is discussed, someone will say "Would you ask a black person to go eat in their room if someone else was offended?" and a huge debate will fall open about whether or not that was an appropriate thing to say. One side will scream its not appropriate to
reference colour, the other will say "Why not?" and off the merry go round will go.

Well, I'm going to raise it here - as an example of what I mean by the basic difference between arguing about a cultural convention and a biological norm.

Being black is a biological norm. In fact, it's the biological norm. Being

white is actually the absence of being black. To discriminate against someone on the basis of colour, is to discriminate on their essential biology. It is to discriminate against their right to exist: it impinges on their human rights. There is no logic, rhyme or reason to such discrimination. It is a cultural construct imposing lunacy on the essential nature of humans. No one decides to be black. It is not a cultural concept. It is not a lifestyle choice. It is an essential artefact of human biology. It is.

As is breastfeeding.

Remembering that we do not choose to breastfeed. we can only choose not to.

All babies are born to breastfeed. It is not a cultural concept. It is not a cultural artefact. They are not making a lifestyle choice. They are following their biological, and psychobiological, imperatives. They are doing what humans do - they are suckling for nurture, for nourishment and
for survival. It is.

That is why they need the protection of the human rights paradigm, not the cultural one.

When laws are passed to protect the nursing dyad, these laws are not about protecting cultural difference. It is not about soothing cultural dissonance. It is not about protecting feelings, emotions or opinion. It is about protecting the essential normative biology of a nursing dyad. It
is to prevent cultural suppression of an innate human characteristic. Just as being black, is an innate human characteristic.

I reiterate: breastfeeding is not a lifestyle choice. It is not something you choose to do. It is something you can only choose not to do. If you accept that an infant has an inalienable human right to human milk, and to comfort and soothe on the mother's breast, you must also hold up its right to do so when it needs to - regardless of how offended the 'onlooker' in. By all means soothe the onlooker - but don't make it the responsibility of the mother to do the soothing.

Keeping nursing in public debates with the cultural paradigm is completely and utterly redundant in our current society. It was once the only place the debate could take place, and we must thank, and support, the previous generations in their struggle in that paradigm. Many nursing mothers here
and now, are only here because of the work of previous generations, who in the Great Drought sought to change personal opinion when they could. Slowly, gently, and in a 'let's all get along nicely' way. Wonderful women fighting a small, slow battle, inch by inch. Thank you.

However, we are not there anymore. Keeping the debate in the cultural paradigm is not only no longer useful - it is detrimental to progress. Keep it in the cultural battlefield and you do several things, all of them invidious:

For starters, you place all the pressure on the individual mother, and her infant. Jessica Swimely has carried that entire pressure of this battle on her head over the past few days - as the law that is there to prevent her from having to do so, has failed her. By keeping the cultural paradigm in mind, you make it about the mother making the inroads into culture. You makes statements as a society that breastfeeding is to be protected . but you leave the individual mother to take the flack. She must make the choices daily, on where and when her child's psychobiological needs are suppressed by the hegemony. She carries the burden.

As does the infant.

In addition, you get all the cultural 'debates' that take up the time and energy and prevent progress. The female human breast is 'sexual' and it's understandable that others will be offended. Ehm no. The female human breast is not sexual. It does not carry a biologically determined normative function of 'sexual attraction'. (Enlarged breasts actually mimic the true sexual attraction - the human bottom. Large breasts are not biologically standard.) Culture dictates whether or not it is a sexualised organ. Keep the debate in cultural mores - keep having endless arguments about seeing sexual body parts. Some USA State laws have even identified this as part of the protective law and stated legally that a nursing breast is not a sexual object. When you accept, and promote, the concept that nursing in public is a cultural debate, you actually end up undermining what you're trying to protect - by constantly allowing the ever rolling debate on such trivial points as to how much of a breast can be seen before offence is caused. Unless it's a non-nursing breast, in which case you're allowed rather a lot of it on billboards.

You also create space for the debate to include when and why weaning should occur and further undermine normal nursing practices from establishing. Lest we forget, this is about nursing toddlers. Every single time one of the posters in here has made a comment about how it is understandable that people have reacted badly to nursing twin toddlers, a dagger has been struck
in the heart of many of us. Two extremely pernicious concepts have bobbed to the surface here - one is the 'indiscrete' women, making it harder for laws to be passed, as she 'whips it out' and alienates people. Concurrent with this is the notion that those of us nursing toddlers in public are making it harder for acceptance, as we are acting so far out of the cultural

norm. Shame! Shame on you! How can you possibly justify discussing a woman's body, and her biological imperative to nurture her infant in such negative and unjust terms? How can you stand up and say you support breastfeeding, but you can see that those nursing toddlers are better advised to hide more than the others? How can you undermine the very women fighting longest and hardest to establish normative nursing patterns. How can you justify suggesting that women nursing in public hinders breastfeeding awareness?

Yet you do all of these things, when you argue about breastfeeding as a cultural issue. Because the very nature of cultural debate is to state that all sides have some points to make, and must be accommodated.

Breastfeeding is not a cultural artefact. Breastfeeding is a biological norm. The ability of the infant to access their mother's milk when and where it chooses, is a human rights issue. The right of the human infant to nourish and comfort itself at the mother's breast when it requires to, is an
inalienable human right. A woman having control of her own body, in order to nourish her infant regardless of cultural suppression, is her inalienable human right.

These are human rights, not cultural debates. We can act in order to get along nicely where possible, but the right of the human child to breastfeeding is paramount.

And lest we forget.. the cost of the lack of nursing, is death for many human babies. In the USA, 2 babies per thousand die for being on formula. Many many more get ill. In the wider world, 3500 babies a day die for lack of breastfeeding. In the time it's taken me to write this - over 7000 babies have died. And in the global village we live in, the lack of nursing in the West, feeds into that statistic. Women in the West feeding their infants in closed rooms, are not seen by their own communities, by the expectant mothers around them. but they are also not seen by the mothers of the Third World, desperate to give their babies 'the best'. These women only see white, affluent and incredibly healthy babies and mothers. on the sides of cans of expensive formula. By keeping our nursing mothers bundled in the corner, or locked in bedrooms with their toddlers, or asking the common room to clear before feeding them. we contribute to the problem. But that's okay, because the father over there, feeding his sick baby formula,
is appeased.

Women chose not to nurse because they live in a culture that disapproves of it. We cannot change this, by working within the culture to 'smooth it all out'. We cannot dump the responsibility on the individual nursing mother to prevent offence. We must act to protect her rights to nurse, and her child's right to nurse. Their human rights. Full stop. Period. End of.

Working in terms of the sensibilites of the onlooker to nursing, was once useful. Yesterday. Or even the day before yesterday. We can acknowledge how useful it was, and how much was acheived, as we move on to tomorrow.

Morgan Gallagher
Online Lactaneer
Nursing and nurturing the psychobiological needs of her 26 month infant,
despite hegemonic pressure

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Great Christian Perspective on Nursing in Public

Long-time readers know that I'm a conservative Christian mother. (New readers are often surprised since they assume lactivist = liberal.) That's why I'm often interested in hearing the perspective of other Christians that are supportive of both breastfeeding and of nursing in public. After all, despite the very vocal cries of outrage against nursing in public from some Christians, the fact remains that Jesus was not only breastfed, but was mostly likely breastfed in public.

That's why I was glad to spot a great article on the topic while I was over at Damien's Breastfeeding for Dad's blog.

Christopher West writes on the subject of breastfeeding in public from the Catholic perspective and has some good insight to share.

I remember attending the Second World Meeting of John Paul II with Families in Brazil in 1997. Nursing mothers were a common sight at this international gathering. What I found intriguing, however, was that women from "first-world" nations tended to drape themselves and sit off in a corner, while women from other nations seemed to have no qualms whatsoever about feeding their babies in full view of others. I remember one woman unabashedly roaming the crowd passing all manner of bishops and cardinals with her breast fully exposed while her child held on to it with both hands happily feeding. The only people flinching seemed to be those from the northern hemisphere.

Isn't it interesting that the part of the world producing the most pornography and exporting it to the rest of the globe has seemed to lose all sense of the true meaning of the human breast? What a commentary on the sad state of our sexually wounded culture! Breasts have been so pornified" that we can fall into thinking that even their proper use is shameful. In other words, we have been so conditioned to see a woman's body through the prism of lust that we find it very difficult to recognize the purity and innocence of breast-feeding.


Couldn't have said it better myself!

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A Response to the New Breastfeeding and Obesity Study

I've already got a pretty lengthy post up talking about the new study that claims breastfeeding has no impact on future obesity. In that post, I asked for some feedback from people that have a better understanding of studies.

Always one to lend a hand, Ohio Breastfeeding Coalition member (and epidemiologist) Jessica Lietz has graciously put together the following response. I thought my readers might find it interesting...

A study, "A longitudinal study of infant feeding and obesity throughout life course" by KB Michels, WC Willett, BI Graubard, RL Vaidya, MM Cantwell, LB Sansbury and MR Forman, was advance-released online by the International Journal of Obesity (International Journal of Obesity (2007) 1–8), claims that there is no association between breastfeeding and risk of obesity in adulthood.

Please hold on a minute while I put my epidemiologist hat on, and get my claws ready to tear this apart.

Okay, ready.

My preferred route of attack is with the methods section, as that is where the meat of the study is. The first concern I have is that the participants of the study are mainly Caucasian, as stated: "Participants are predominantly Caucasian white". The study provides no further background on the race or ethnicity of the participants. Many studies, such as "The Decision to Breastfeed in the United States: Does Race Matter?" (Pediatrics, Vol. 108 No. 2 August 2001, pp. 291-296) state that race is an important predictor of breastfeeding.

Second, they did not determine the SES (socio-economic status) of the study participants as infants or as adults in the way that most studies do (as percent of the Federal Poverty Level, which is based on family size and household income). A family of two earning $30,000 is much different from a family of 6 living on the same amount in the same locale. Moreover, many studies have shown a direct correlation between socio-economic status (SES) and duration of breastfeeding (examples: Effects of socioeconomic status on breastfeeding duration in mothers of preterm and term infants, from The European Journal of Public Health Advance Access published online on March 28, 2007; and Socioeconomic Status and Breastfeeding
Initiation Among California Mothers from http://www.publichealthreports.org/userfiles/121_1/121051.pdf).

In addition, in the tables of demographics, more than 28% of survey participants reported household incomes of $100,000 or more. This is not representative of the United States population.

The authors asked about the SES of the nurses' households, but not the households the nurses grew up in. I don't know about you, but most of my habits were formed well before I got married, and many habits- dietary and physical activity- are related to SES. For example, my mom had a factory laborer job and so did my dad and both have high school educations (less likely to breastfeed) and were poor enough to get WIC when I was a child (again, less likely to BF). It is basically impossible to breastfeed (or pump) when you stand on an assembly line all day.

They both had to work to pay for their rent, car, etc. It is a lot easier to breastfeed (and pump) when you have a white collar job. Here I am, 28 years old, with a Masters (husband has a BS) and we are not "poor". So asking my current SES would give you a much different picture than the SES I grew up in. I would also like to know why they recorded the nurses' husbands' education levels rather than those of the nurses (because we all know that the hubbies bring home the bacon, right?). As a side note, they did not use the same education level intervals for the nurses' parents as they did for the nurses' husbands.

Okay, so I don't like who they included in the study. So what? Let me dig in a little deeper. I also have some issues with what they did not ask the study participants. Participants were not asked to report the obesity status of immediate family members. Also, the nurses' mothers were not asked why they ceased breastfeeding. Perhaps there are differences in those who stopped after one week versus those who breastfed more than 6 months, such as what type of birth attendant the mother had (ob/gyn, family practice physician, or midwife), where the birth was at (home, hospital, or somewhere else), whether the mother had complications (c-section, mastitis, illness in baby, illness in mother), or other reasons (told to stop by doctor, didn't like it, hurt, took too much time, didn't get needed help).

Next up: how they asked what they asked. First, they had the nurses rate, based on pictures, what their body shape was. I don't know about the rest of you, but I know I have a warped image of what I look like (thanks to our American culture), and most women I know do as well. I'm sure I would choose a different image for myself than my husband or mother would choose for me.

And to ask me what shape I was at age 5 or 10?

I don't even remember anything from when I was 5 years old, and all I remember about being 10 was that my Grandpa died (or was that when I was 9? Or 11?). The authors themselves admit that the figures are "imperfect".

Moreover, "body fatness" based on appearance has NOTHING to do with BMI. Someone could be heavy in pounds due to muscles and therefore have a high BMI, but not be a "9" from the figures. And, few participants said they were a level 5 at ages 5 or 10. In other words, none of them wanted to state that they were "fat".

Second, the way they asked the duration of breastfeeding does not make any sense. They did not even use the same intervals for 'ever breastfed' and 'exclusively breastfed'. And can you tell me how a person could possibly be in the "exclusively breastfed" category when the duration of breastfeeding was <1 week?

What else did that baby eat for the rest of its infancy?

The authors state "women who were breastfed for more than 9 months had a risk of becoming overweight or obese similar to that of women who were breastfed for less than 1 week or exclusively bottle-fed"; however, these were not the exclusively breastfed babies- just the "ever" breastfed. This means that the baby could have been nursed once a day and had 11 formula feedings.

And finally, their results were "null", meaning no effect. Normally those studies are rarely even published, because who wants to read an article about a lack of causation? We all want to read a cause-and-effect article (smoking causes lung cancer, pollution causes asthma, hormones do (do not, do, do not...) cause heart attacks (breast cancer, osteoperosis...).

For future activity: someone needs to look into the funding sources for the authors and their departments. I wonder, perchance, if any of the funding comes from anyone such as my friends a few blocks from here, at the big factory that makes baby formula?

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Welcome Viva Nursing Pillow as a Lactivist Advertiser

I wanted to make a quick post to welcome the first advertiser to join up at The Lactivist.

Let's have a warm welcome and thank you to Cornelia Tuoriniemi, the inventor of the Viva Nursing Pillow. I've spotted these around a few times and they look pretty interesting. They're similar in style to a Bobby, but have a built in back-rest. (They're also adjustable so they'll fit women with a waist size between 22" and 44.")

They've got a nice removable cover and the inside of the pillow is washable as well, so if you've got one of those babies that likes to spit up or have explosive poos, there's no worry about getting this thing nice and clean.

I'd also note that they were one of the best products of 2007 according to iParenting Media.

They'll run you about $40, plus there's free shipping.

Please take a moment to check them out to say thanks for supporting this site. (Besides, from what I've seen so far, it looks like it'd be a great baby shower gift for a mom that plans on nursing.)

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Opening Up the Door To Advertisers

Well guys, it's been a full year that this blog has been advertising free. (The year prior to that I dabbled in AdSense and CafePress ads, but I just didn't have the traffic or the topic to do much with those.)

Traffic is up and continues to rise at a nice pace. This little "hobby site" has turned into a project that takes me quite a bit of time. Some days, it takes as much or more time as my real job.

I've also taken to trying to put some money back into the breastfeeding community via sponsorships, events and other endeavors.

So, I've decided to open things up to advertising. If you run a business and you are interested, you can view the Lactivist rate card. The CPM costs are quite competitive for a blog with such a specific focus and such a high engagement rate.

If you don't run a business, but know someone that might be interested, please spread the word.

Ok, back to my regularly scheduled pontificating...

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Oops, Guess Your Kids Are Gonna Get Fat Anyway...

Or at least that's what the mainstream media is prepared to tell you.

Despite numerous studies over the years that have shown that breastfeeding (especially if done exclusively for six months and along with a slow introduction of solids for a year or longer) does help reduce the obesity, it apparently only takes one flawed study for the media to decide to toss all the rest.

On the other hand, it's sure doing a good job of getting us all to talk about the story and to link to it, though I'm sure a news site would neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever sensationalize anything just to get more readers...

...I digress.

Anyway, there's a story over on MSNBC about a new study that's been making the rounds among breastfeeding circles.

While breast-feeding has many benefits, it won’t prevent a child from becoming fat as an adult, says a new study that challenges dogma from U.S. health officials.

The research is the largest study to date on breast-feeding and its effect on adult obesity.

“I’m the first to say breast-feeding is good. But I don’t think it’s the solution to reducing childhood or adult obesity,” said the study’s lead author, Karin Michels of Harvard Medical School.


Now go back and read that first quoted line from the story and then consider this:

Dogma: a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof

So apparently, the author of the article feels that U.S. docs simply believe, on faith, that breastfeeding would cut obesity. Apparently the author is unaware of the vast number of studies that have shown this to be true.

Don't you love how the media uses those great words to influence your perception of the story from the start? Let's hear it for unbiased reporting!

Continuing on, these lines from the ABC News coverage really jumped out at me:

The Harvard study, published online this week in the International Journal of Obesity, involved nearly 14,500 women who were breast-fed as infants and more than 21,000 who were not.

In 1989, the women were asked their height and weight and what those measurements were when they were children and at age 18. Then every two years, through 2001, they were asked to update their weight information. The surveyed women were all between 25 and 42 at the time of the 1989 questionnaires, Michels said.


Ok wait. Right now, in the comments. Tell me your height and weight today and then tell me what it was at 5, 10 and 18.

Can you do it? Bet you can't. I sure as heck can't. All I know is that when I was a senior in high school I was 5'7", a size 14 and the 147 pounds that was printed on my driver's license was a lie. ;)

Let's continue...

In 2001, the mothers of these women were sent a questionnaire asking if their daughters had been breast-fed and for how long.

When possible, researchers checked medical records to confirm what the mothers and daughters recalled, but breast-feeding is not routinely documented. Still, the researchers believe the women's recollections of breast-feeding are reliable.

"A mother knows whether she breast-fed her child," said Michels, an associate professor of epidemiology.


Umm....ok. I didn't know that "because I said so" worked in research. I thought it only worked on children...and even then, not all the time.

It hasn't even been two years since I stopped pumping for Elnora and I continually tell people that I EPed for her for 14 months. Guess what? That's wrong. It was 13 months, almost to the day. Why do I say 14 months? I have no idea. Somewhere along the line that number popped out on accident and now it just comes out on its own and I end up having to correct myself.

That's only TWO years later.

My mother-in-law spent years telling me about her natural births and how great they were. Then, when I was pregnant with my first, we looked through her medical records. Turns out she had IV narcotics, a third degree episiotimy and a high forceps delivery.

She was as surprised as I was.

Sure...those memories...they're flawless. Oh yeah...and my mother-in-law was a nurse.

The study involved only women, but the researchers believe the results are equally true for men, Michels said.

Again with the "because I said so" logic. Does that REALLY work in academic settings?

So let's dig into the study a little bit and pull out some actual quotes. (If you are interested, you can view the entire study online.)

Breastfed infants gain weight more slowly during the first year of life than formula-fed infants, probably due to the natural limitations of available energy supply.

Don't you love that "natural limitations of available energy supply" wording? Don't you love how it makes it sound like breastfeeding is denying children that privilege of weight gain? Breastfeeding only has a certain available energy supply...it's not good enough people!!

...sorry...got a little carried away there.

Continuing on...

Breast milk is lower in protein than infant formula, which may affect growth.

Again, breast milk is lacking and formula rocks. We all know how great protein is, right? And your breast milk...it doesn't have as much as formula! FOR SHAME! Your children will grow into girly men and frail women that can't stand up to the rigors of life in our society.

NHS II participants were also asked to recall their body shape at ages 5 and 10 using a nine-level figure drawing

Umm. Ok. Want to see the drawings they got to choose from?

As we know, ALL women have perfect self-images that accurately reflect how they really look. I'm sure that asking women to pick themselves off of a drawing chart both now and at prior points in their life is going to provide accurate data.

Now, let's consider a few things about this study.

First, there have been numerous studies in the past that have shown that breastfeeding DOES lower the rates of obesity in children and some have even shown lower risks further down the road. That said, we shouldn't be surprised to see one come out that shows something different. Even without getting suspicious of motivations and data, consider this from Wikipedia's entry on the "misuse of statistics."

In marketing terms all a company has to do to promote a neutral (useless) product is to find or conduct, for example, 20 studies with a confidence level of 95%. Even if the product is really useless, on average one of the 20 studies will show a positive effect purely by chance (this is what a 95% level of confidence means) The company will ignore the 19 inconclusive results and promote endlessly the one study that says the product/idea is good.

Now, let's consider that one of the qualities of a good study is a study population that matches the general population. This study was made up of...nurses.

JUST nurses. Mostly white nurses (96% to be exact) at that.

Anyone else out there think that Caucasian nurses and their lifestyles and their choices are a perfect representation of the general populace?

Didn't think so.

That tells me that the only thing this study MIGHT be good for is predicting the impact of breastfeeding on obesity for nurses.

Oh yeah, it was just female nurses too...no men allowed ladies.

Add in the fact that this study is based on self-reported data, much of which relied on memory from decades prior makes me suspicious to begin with. Now, I'm not a stats person, but I think we have a few readers that are. Anyone care to weigh in on the problems with both self-reported and retrospective studies? From my understandings, the quality of data in these studies is highly suspect, but I'd love to hear some input from someone that actually knows something about statistics.

Finally, anyone wanna do some digging to see where the funding for this study came from? Because I find it very interesting that on the heels of an announcement about how researchers are developing a new type of baby formula that will "lower risks of obesity" we suddenly get wind of "the largest study EVER" and how it shows that breastfeeding does NOT lower the risks of obesity.

I'm sure those two things aren't in ANY way connected....

So basically what we've got here is a retrospective self-reported study of female nurses and their own mother's memories.

Yeah...that's the type of data that makes a compelling argument for tossing out all prior peer-reviewed research.

By the way, I've taken up real estate. Anyone want to buy a bridge?

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Another Update on the Suave Commercial...

I wrote last week about finally seeing the Suave commercial with the nursing mom.

I'm still seeing comments pop up about people being mad that it says negative things about nursing. So...I went and watched it yet again.

Let me preface this part by saying that much of the criticism is that it's pregnancy and the progression of age that make your breasts flat, not nursing. So, guess what the commercial ACTUALLY says?

The exact line in the commercial is:

"62% of Moms say that having a baby has left their hair and their breasts flat."

Followed by...

"New Suave Volumizing for up to 170% more fullness."

Hmm...see that? Not that breastfeeding makes them flat or nursing makes them flat...having a baby makes them flat.

Can't argue with that.

ETA: My mom just instant messaged me after reading this post. She wants to know if Suave makes the hair or the breasts 170% fuller. She said if it's the breasts, she's buying stock in the company. ;)

So now we're left with the fact that YAY, a commercial has a breastfeeding mom.

I think I shall write a letter to Suave on this one to say thank you. I'd encourage you to do the same.

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Nursing Mom Booted from Massachusetts iParty Store

Lactivist reader Cori sent me a late night email to point out the story about Massachusetts mom Melissa Tracy and a run in she had with management while nursing at an iParty store in Weymouth.

From the Boston Herald:

"He stood over me and said you can't do that here," Dr. Melissa Tracy recalled of the party-pooper manager. "I've never felt that badly before."

Tracy, 40, a cardiologist practicing in Brockton, was shopping on Friday for her daughter Isabell'’s 4th birthday party when she said 2-month-old Tristan got hungry and began to cry. "Rather than let him become hysterical, I sat down on the floor and breast-fed him," Tracy said.


The Enterprise reports:

Within five minutes, the store manager, identified only as Dave, came up to Tracy, a mother of two.

"He said, 'You have to stop doing that. You can't do that here in the store. I don't think it would be good for children to see you," Tracy said.


Oh yes, we wouldn't want children, who have no yet learned that breasts are only ok if they're being used to sell something, to see breasts being used for one of their natural purposes. Oh the emotional scarring that would produce! Besides, if children recognize breastfeeding as a natural function as breasts, how will marketers use them to entice purchases down the road?

The entire world as we know it would come to a screeching halt!

The story goes on to say:

Tracy later spoke to the regional manager and again to the store manager, who apologized for the incident, she said. The company offered her a $25 gift card, which she refused.

"We regret that this happened, really," Dorice Dionne, founder of iParty Corp., said Monday.

"It's not what we would have liked (the manager) to have said, and we're sorry, we're disappointed that he did," Dionne said.

Dionne said the company "will make our managers aware that women might need to have some private space and to see how that can be accommodated."

"This is something that we need to include in manager training, to have more sensitivity, how to handle this more courteously and sensitively," Dionne said.


Hmm...apparently the going rate for being publicly humiliated is $25. That sounds about right...

On the other hand, I am glad to see that iParty says it plans to educated managers about breastfeeding, though I'd am NOT pleased to see the line about how women need some "private space" as those types of things imply that the private space is the ONLY place to nurse. Additionally, there is no need to "handle this" in any way, courteous or not. How about just doing nothing, the same way you would if mom pulled out a bottle in the store?

Let's continue on with that "private space" issue for a moment though since the coverage from WHDH-TV includes comments from the mother on that topic:

After being asked to leave the store, Tracy called the corporate office, which apologized and offered her a gift certificate. Tracy refused however, saying that what they want is for companies to provide areas for breast-feeding if it is a problem.

I have to admit, I was reading along with all these stories nodding my head going "right, right..." and then I saw that line and went "aww crap!"

Now, I think there's a very good chance that Ms. Tracy was misquoted or at least her quote is misrepresented, but I don't know her from Adam, so maybe it's not. Add in the fact that the iParty corporate response seems to address this issue as well and I'm thinking that their statement might be in response to this phrase.

(ETA: Just heard from Tanya at the Motherwear blog. She's spoken with the mom and has clarified that this is NOT what she meant when she spoke to reporters. Tracy wants to fight for legal protection for breastfeeding mothers, not have businesses create a private space to banish them to.)

Ok, it's fine and dandy (and actually fantastic) if a company wants to provide a nursing mom's room that mothers CAN go to. The problem with these types of rooms is that store management and even nursing moms often end up assuming that mothers MUST go there.

Can't say that I think that's going to push this movement ahead. I mean sure, it's better than nursing in the bathroom, but we're still acting like it's something that HAS to be hidden. Like with nursing covers, I have no problem with a mother going someplace quiet and private to nurse, if they want to.

Motherwear's Tanya points out that this is why Massachusetts needs some positive breastfeeding legislation.

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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.

Pennsylvania Breastfeeding Law Moves Out of Committe

Jake Marcus shares the word that Bill 34 has moved out of the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee and will now go up for a vote before the full senate. The bill appears to have had an amendment attached, but there's no confirmation yet on what changes that might have made to the spirit or wording of the bill.

The bill was supported by all members of the committee except State Senator Jane Earll who helped torpedo the bill the last time it was introduced.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Any Readers Ever Cross Nursed?

Hey guys!

Just got off the phone with a producer for a national news show that wants to do a story on wet nursing and cross nursing. I seem to recall that there are at least a few readers here who have cross nursed, even if just once or twice.

If you'd be willing to speak her (maybe appear on the show, not sure) then please drop me an email. The show is supposed to air Thursday, so she's on a tight timeline.

You can email me at jennifer@thelactivist.com and I'll get you in touch with her.

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Annie's Natural Sale at Amazon

Woot!

One of the issues I have with buying organic is that things are just so darn expensive. Sure, I can sometimes find them on sale and I stock up, but still...this stuff isn't cheap.

Two of the things that we've switched over in the last few months are macaroni and cheese (one of the few things that Elnora will consistently eat) and goldfish crackers, which are her favorite snack.

Annie's Natural's sells both of these, but they tend to be fairly expensive. Today, while shopping at Amazon to buy a Mr. Bento (yay!) when I noticed that Amazon is also having a sale on some Annie's Natural's products as well. If you use coupon code ANNIES77 by April 30th, you can get $10 off $39 worth of selected products.

I ended up buying a 12 pk Annie's Natural Organic Macaroni and Cheese and a 12 pk of Annie's Homegrown Cheddar Bunnies. When I did the math, it ended up being a little more than a $1 a box for the mac and cheese and $1.66 a box for the cheddar bunnies. Not bad at all! Plus since the order was over $25, I got free shipping.

Might be worth stocking up if any of you guys like Annie's Natural's stuff. There's quite a bit included in the sale.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

More Lactivist Bash Photos

Karen (Cairo Mama) has got a post up with pictures from the Lactivist Bash as well. Go check out all the cute babies and see what you missed.

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An Earth Day Post

I kind of skipped over Earth Day due to all the planning for the Lactivist Bash, but a shopping trip yesterday reminded me of it.

For two months now, I've been trekking off to Whole Foods every two weeks hoping that their new shipment of grocery bags would come in. Each week, I'd leave disappointed.

Yesterday, I loaded up the kids and we headed across town to stock up on some basics. Greg and Elnora love the Whole Kids brand organic honey nut cheerio's and I buy Kashi Golean Crunch six boxes at a time. This time around, we were not disappointed. The new bags were in!

For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, check out this shot...



You'll note two cloth grocery bags hidden behind all those layers of plastic bags. I bought them months ago when I first spotted them at Whole Foods. At the time, I thought that they always sold them so I only bought enough to carry my groceries from that day. On my next trip, they were gone and I learned that I'd have to wait for the spring shipment to get more.

So yesterday, I spotted the new bags. They're $1 each and hold a TON of food. In fact, the two bags that I do own nearly always hold a week's worth of groceries for me. It's only when I'm stocking up on staples that they don't cut it. (And for those days, I have some inferior cloth bags from Giant Eagle. Now I can pass those on to someone else and use the awesome Whole Foods bags.)

What does this have to do with earth day? Well, estimates are that more than 80% of purchased items go home in one of those plastic bags these days. Around these parts, there seems to be an unwritten rule that you can't put more two items in a bag. That means that I often came home with 15-20 bags from a single shopping trip. While it's true that many stores are now offering bins to allow you to recycle those bags, recycling still uses resources. Why not avoid the plastic bags altogether?

(Check out the site Reusable Bags for more info.)

Since the bags were available again, I picked up eight of them. I've got three for my grandmother, three for my mother and two more for me, giving me four bags total.

Not convinced that you want to help save the environment? Here are a few more reasons to use these bags instead of plastic ones...

1.) They hold way more than the standard plastic bag. This reduces the number of trips to and from the car AND keeps you from that painful feeling of plastic bag cutting into your hands as you try to carry too many bags at once.

2.) The straps are long enough to sling over your shoulder. I can carry one bag on each shoulder and one bag in each hand and get ALL of my grocery inside in one trip.

3.) No more "what do I do with all these plastic bags" questions. I hated throwing them away, never remembered to recycle them and ended up with huge collections of these things laying around.

4.) They fold up super small. I carry two of them with me at all times in my diaper bag. I'll likely add two more and carry four with me. That way, I can use them even if I hadn't planned on shopping. I've carted stuff home from Target, grocery stores and even clothing stores in them.

5.) They're great for taking stuff places. I've packed Elnora's clothes in one when she went to the in-laws on a weekend. I also used two to carry supplies to the Lactivist Bash this weekend.

6.) They save you money. Some stores actually give you a credit if you take your own bags in. At Meijer, the credit ranges from 5 cents to 50 cents per bag, depending on who is ringing you out. Either way, the bags paid for themselves in just a few trips.

7.) They're darn sturdy. I've had both paper and plastic bags bust on me and wow, is that not fun. These bags are super strong. I've loaded them down with enough weight that I almost couldn't comfortably carry them and they've held up under the pressure.

So if you've got a Whole Foods near you, take a trek, get some bags. If not, check out the wide range of reusable bags available online.

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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.

HIV and Breastfeeding Study Broken Down

Back in March I wrote a post talking about the push for HIV positive moms to breastfeed on the premise that a new study showed that exclusively breastfed infants were less likely than babies that also received formula or early solids to contact HIV from their HIV positive mothers.

At the time, I wrote:

So knowing that breast milk is the BEST form of nutrition, but that formula is extremely likely to result in a healthy baby as well...

Why in the WORLD would you encourage a mother to risk a 4% transmission rate of a disease that kills every single person that contracts it? When the risk of death from using formula is far, far lower than that?

It's called the risk/reward ratio people.

So could someone please explain to me how the 4% risk of HIV transmission is worth the reward of what breast milk gives? Sure, it's great for that 96% of babies that end up healthier and HIV free...but what about that 4%?


I was basing that information off of the news reports that I could find on the study. Quite honestly, I was (and remain) astounded that so many lactation professionals are on email lists pushing exclusive breastfeeding for the children of HIV positive mothers without limiting that suggestion to those in third world countries.

Today, I ran across an article on Stats.Org that really breaks the HIV/Breastfeeding study down and points out a lot of the problems with the way the data has been represented in the media. Having read through this new post I'm even more convinced that no HIV positive mother with access to a clean water supply should be breastfeeding their child.

From the study:

The rate of HIV infection among breastfed babies is almost 20 percent. The four percent figure is among babies who were uninfected after six weeks. And the reduced risk attributed to breast feeding is compared to babies who also have formula, not compared to those who are exclusively formula fed.

The main issue with this study is that it is not comparing breastfeeding and not breastfeeding...


Note that first paragraph...the actual rates are 20 percent. That's quite a bit different from the four percent that is often touted by lactation professionals. Considering that contracting HIV is a death sentence, 20 percent is a pretty scary number. Also, the four percent rate applies only to those that remain uninfected by six weeks. That's great...if you can see the future and know that the child will not be infected, but unless mom plans to pump to maintain her supply for six weeks while giving the child donor milk, I just don't see how that figure really helps anyone.

She also points out a pretty serious problem with the credibility of the study...

The Lancet study was observational, not controlled. That is to say, the women were not told whether to supplement their breast milk with solids or formula or not: they were simply provided with the formula should they choose to use it. While in theory, those who decided to breastfeed exclusively and those who decided to do “mixed feeding” were similar groups of women, both sets of women were HIV-positive South African women with young children. But HIV infection does not affect all people equally at all times before the infection turns lethal. If the women who are sicker are also less likely to breastfeed alone, the whole data could be skewed.

How would the data be skewed if sicker women introduced formula into the diet of their babies? It could be that they have higher levels of HIV virus in their bodies and in their breast milk, which is then passed to the babies. It could also be that they are themselves immuno-compromised, which in turn diminishes the positive immunological effects of the breast milk that their babies do get. Yet another possibility is that there are other, secondary infections that these women suffer from – which, when passed to their babies, make the babies more vulnerable to the HIV exposure through breast milk. In all these cases, there would be no greater positive effect for their babies were these women to nurse exclusively.


The problem here is that no controlled study could ever be put together in this type of situation. It's unethical to make a mom nurse her child while HIV positive, so self-reported and observational style data is the only type that can be collected. I'm not statistician, but I do know that controlled studies are the most accurate and that many flaws present themselves when you aim to put together an observational study.

The final issue here is the one that I brought up in my original post. This study and the results were aimed at mothers and children that live in third world countries where clean water supplies are an issue. Here in the United States and in other developed nations, the risk of formula feeding is significantly smaller.

The two main factors leading to infant deaths in this study were illness resulting from poor water quality, and infection by HIV. Those who are given formula are exposed to the water (with an immature gut), while those who are given breast milk are exposed to the HIV virus. In making these comparisons, the study is trying to assess which of the two evils is lesser.

Both of these are different calculations for people living in North America and Europe. First of all, water quality is high and babies do not typically die of waterborne illness and associated diarrhea and dehydration. Over 70 percent of American babies are formula fed, with no indication that this has an impact on death rates (we noted last year that the American Academy of Pediatrics’ claim that using formula increases death rates was based on injury rates, not formula use).


So once again, I'd really like someone from the lactation community that still believes that babies who are born HIV free in developed nations should be breastfed and why because quite frankly, I cannot wrap my head around that line of thinking.

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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, April 21, 2007

The Lactivist Bash is Over

Many thanks to the families that showed up for the Lactivist Bash today. It was great fun to meet all of you and to spend an afternoon talking and having fun with some like minded moms.

While I had RSVPs for more than 75 people, only about 40 ended up making it. That was ok though, it was a small enough group that everyone talked to each other and the kids could play together without stampeding us.

So on to pics...

Here's a shot of Linda Smith a Dayton IBCLC that's working with the CDC to establish state breastfeeding coalitions. She came to meet with us and to tell us a little bit about what's going on at the national level.



Here are shots of Jessica Leitz (on the left) and Karen Zamperini (Cairo_Mama).



A crowd shot...



We really did have a good time. In fact, the last few of us ended up hanging out until nearly 4:30 instead of the planned 3:00 ending.

We're doing it again this fall. :)

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Ohio Civil Rights Commission Back Breastfeeding Mom

Wow. Gotta say, I'm proud to live in Ohio today. (Well, actually I am most
days...just not when we're playing UofF in national championship games...)

Jake Marcus from Birth Without Boundaries just sent me this from today's Columbus Dispatch:

For the first time, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission has found probable cause that a woman was discriminated against for trying to breast-feed.

Anna Swank of Blacklick filed a complaint Aug. 29, the same day she attempted to breast-feed her then-6 month-old son, Levi, in the Kids' Club at Lifestyle Family Fitness, 5929 E. Main St., after exercising.

Swank, 33, said she was feeding Levi when a manager told her that it was inappropriate, and that if she did it again her Kids' Club privileges would be revoked. She was told to go to a locker room.

The finding against the fitness company upholds women's right to access to public places, said G. Michael Payton, executive director of the commission.

"Only females breast-feed their babies," he said. "Therefore, rules and regulations which create a hardship or burden to providing nourishment in commonly accepted ways violates the public accommodation provision on the basis of sex."


Ohio's breastfeeding in public law went into effect two years ago and though there have been some incidents with mothers breastfeeding in public, this is the first one to go this far through the system.

So what's up next?

The Civil Rights Commission will next attempt to resolve the matter with the fitness company through conciliation. No meetings have been scheduled, Payton said. If that effort fails, the commission will issue a formal complaint that the attorney general's office will prosecute in an administrative hearing.

Wonder what all that means and why I'm so happy?

Well, I'm working on confirming this with some Ohio lawyers, but basically, it looks like this judge's ruling will provide a case history to count breastfeeding as a protected class. That then means that moms that are harassed can actually file discrimination charges and that businesses will face the same legal penalties that they would face if they had discriminated against someone based on race or gender.

In other words, Ohio would have one heckofa tough breastfeeding law.

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Breastfeeding Mother Kicked out of Boca Raton Houston's Restaurant

Here's an interesting response to all those people that tell us we're complaining about nothing and that if we'd just be more discreet, it wouldn't be an issue...

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

As 5-month-old Marcello nestled at her breast under a blanket, and the rest of Simone Bertucci's family enjoyed dinner at Houston's restaurant this week, a restaurant manager interrupted the meal with a startling order: Bertucci must leave while she was nursing.

In case you didn't catch what I'm talking about, let me offer up another quote from the story...

A modest woman and mother of three who is breastfeeding for the first time, Bertucci said she always takes a blanket to cover up but she could sense a disapproving vibe from a nearby table.

Get that? She was nursing UNDER a blanket and she STILL got kicked out.

Oh and Florida law does specifically protect the right of a mother to nurse anywhere public or private.

The mom in this case did get a pretty quick apology according to the article.

Glenn Viers, vice president and general counsel of the Beverly Hills-based Hillstone Restaurant Group, which owns Houston's, sent a letter to Smith on Friday with the company's apology to the Bertuccis and an invitation for them to return.

"We mishandled the situation and we very much regret it," Viers said. "I can't un-ring a bell. I've got three kids and my wife breastfed. Stuff happens. We're human, we make mistakes and we strive not to."

If any good can be derived from the incident, Viers said, it will be that awareness about nursing moms will be heightened.

"I think that when we are doing our management training, we'll give this a little more attention than perhaps it's received in the past," he said. "There's not a person in my company today that doesn't have an understanding of what the rights of breastfeeding moms are in the United States."


Ok, it's a start...and if they really are training their staff fully on the matter, I applaud them for taking positive steps to make sure it won't happen again.

I just found it interesting to see this story after I spent some of yesterday debating back and forth with a male reader about how us nursing moms should not only be MORE discreet (he couldn't define what discreet was) but that we should also apologize if anyone is offended no matter how discreet we're being.

If women are still being booted from restaurants for nursing while using a blanket, we certainly have a long way to go before moms can simply nurse.

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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, April 20, 2007

I Just Saw the Suave Commercial...

I knew there was a reason I was still up at 1am...

Just heard some wierd music and looked up to catch the full suave commercial that has some people raving and a few people ranting.

To those who are ranting, I say: GROW UP.

It was a good commercial. ;) Cute images, mom was CLEARLY nursing and hey, it assumes that moms are going to breastfeed.

Who cares if it says it makes your breasts flat...the mom was still doing it. ;)

ETA in case someone misses it in the comments:

Tiny-Dog offers up directions on finding the commercial at the Suave Web site.

Here is how to find the commercial:

1. Go to www.suave.com
2. Click the "Beauty" icon in the upper-left corner (third from left, shaped like a flower).
3. Place your pointer over "Mom's Transformations" and click "From Flat to Fabulous."

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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.

Awesome!

Looking for a great present for a mom you know that takes eleventy billion digital pictures each year?

How about a digital picture frame?

Yes, I know this has nothing to do with breastfeeding, but it does have to do with what Greg got me for my birthday this year.

He bought me the Westinghouse 8" Digital Photo Frame and we loaded it up with about 100 images last night. The picture quality is fantastic on the LCD screen and the photos are about the size of a 5x7 picture.

You can run vertical or horizontal shots on it and can also run pictures one at a time, or in a mosaic view. We set the delay to about 3 seconds and set it on the dry sink in the living room. Every time I walk by, it has another picture of the kids or the family.

Absolutely awesome.

As you can imagine, Elnora loves it.

The cool thing about this is that it lets me show off all those fantastic pictures of the kids that I never get around to having printed. You download the images off of a simple Flash drive, so every time I take a new batch, I can dump some old pictures and throw on some new ones.

They're not cheap, but if you take as many pictures as I do, they're certainly a great gift.

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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.

Preparing for Lactivist Bash 2007

Light on the posting today unless I get things wrapped up early. I'm getting ready for tomorrow's Lactivist Bash and likely won't have much time to write.

Stopped by Costco this morning and loaded up the car with supplies. I'll likely spend the night cutting up fruit and frying onions, peppers and sweet italian sausage. (Decided on sausage with peppers instead of chili dogs...less work and cheaper.)

The party runs from 11am-3pm tomorrow and it looks like we may have 75+ people there. I'll take my camera with me and will be sure to get a recap and pictures up tomorrow evening.

If you're in the Ohio area and still want to come, drop me an email. I'm not going to post the location online, but I'll be happy to give you directions if you let me know who you are.

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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, April 19, 2007

Suave Under Fire for Breastfeeding Commercial

Hmm, file this under "wait, what?"

I've heard a lot of buzz the last month or two about the Suave commercial that features a breastfeeding mom. Discussion forums, blogs, email lists and even my own inbox have been ripe with posts from moms that love the commercial that shows a breastfeeding mom and implies that Suave can help you stay cool through all of life's stages.

If I recall the commercial correctly (I think I've seen it once) there's this fast-forward style video of a mom going through all stages of mothering (pregnancy, holding an infant that appears to be nursing, chasing kids, etc...) and then talks about how Suave helps her stay cool and collected. (This is in opposition to the one that talks about how most of us moms have "let ourselves go" but that Suave can help us get back to our sexy selves.)

So I was kind of surprised to find out that NAAO (National Action Against Obesity) is protesting Suave.

From their Press Release:

National Action Against Obesity demands Suave Shampoo pull its anti-breastfeeding TV ad.

Suave TV Spot Concept:
Nursing leaves both your hair and chest flat. Suave can help with one.

"We get the joke," said NAAO President MeMe Roth (who nursed her two children, each for a year). "But misconceptions about nursing have to stop. A flat chest can be blamed on yo-yo dieting, age, genetics--and don't forget gravity--but not nursing.


Hmm...haven't seen this one. Believe me, if I had, you guys would have heard about it. Quite honestly, I'm surprised that I haven't had an email from any readers yet that have spotted it either...

So I'm curious, have any of you spotted it? I certainly wouldn't find it to be amusing, though quite honestly, nothing save a very lengthy breast reduction surgery could make MY chest flat.

And for pete's sake, would someone PLEASE upload these commercials somewhere so that we can all see them? I don't have a DVR, or I'd do it myself.

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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.

Nursing Isn't Quite What I Expected...

Welcome to the sixth Carnival of Breastfeeding! This month the theme is "What I didn't expect when I was expecting." Below my entry, you'll find links to other bloggers' posts on that theme.

I've told the story before about talking with a friend about breastfeeding while we were both about halfway through our first pregnancies. She'd planned to nurse for "a couple of months" before switching to formula because anything beyond that was "weird." I, being the ever so enlightened one (lol) said that I planned to nurse for SIX months, but that I'd probably switch to formula after that because nursing after six months is "weird."

Oh how things change.

So how does nursing compare to what I expected?

Well, I expected it to be easy and I expected to not like doing it. (But was going to do it anyway because I knew it was important.)

Turns out that it's difficult and I LOVE doing it.

Oh how things change.

I never took a breastfeeding class before Elnora was born. After all, women had been nursing since time began. Why would I have to LEARN how to nurse? (Quite a strange line of thinking for someone who devoted tons of time to learning the Bradley method with the aim of a natural childbirth...you know, the ones that had been happening since time began?)

When Elnora was born, I had her nursing within about 20 minutes. She latched on and went to town, it was great.

Then the second night hit and everything went to Montana.

I did finally take a breastfeeding class...in the hospital, three days after she was born, just before we left and after things had already gone crazy.

As most of you know, that tale ended up with me exclusively pumping for about 14 months.

The second time, I STILL didn't take a breastfeeding class. After all, I was a lot smarter now. I was the Lactivist for goodness sake, why would I need breastfeeding classes. (yes, you can all roll your eyes now...)

Thankfully, Emmitt was the polar opposite of his sister. While we did hit a rough patch when I ended up with a cracked nipple, it only took one trip to an LC to get things in order. At almost seven months, we're still going strong with no plans to give up any time soon.

The things that surprised me most beyond just the difficulty of it all?

The time it took... With Elnora, I remember calculating the amount of time I spend pumping, washing parts, making bottles and feeding her each day. It added up to about 7 hours. That didn't count diaper changes or playing. It also didn't factor in that I was working 50 hours a week from home. I have no idea how I didn't end up institutionalized. With Emmitt...he ate 10-12 times a day until he was four months old. I learned to type one handed while nursing. I only work about 20 hours a week now. ;)

The knowledge I'd gain... Not just on the mechanics of breastfeeding, but on the values of it. I'm now known as the crazy "breast milk will fix that" person in my family. Got pink eye? Let me get you some breast milk. One of the kids sick? Let me pump milk for them. My great aunt is losing too much weight? Let's sneak breast milk into her milk shakes! (No one takes me up on it...lol.)

The fact that I'd become an activist... I remember talking to Greg when I got ready to launch this site. "It'll just be a fun hobby site," I explained. He laughed at me. "As if you could EVER do anything that was JUST a hobby." He's right...I now get as much mail each day about the Lactivist as I do about my real job (and believe me, that's no small amount.)

The fact that I'd become a crusader... This is different from being an activist... My Lactivist fun has me fighting and educating, while my crusader days mostly has me educating and informing and sometimes fundraising. I'd never heard of milk banks until after Elnora was born and now I'm trying to make sure that everyone else has heard of them as well.

What do I wish someone had told me?

I really wish someone had pushed me to get to a breastfeeding class early on in my pregnancy.

I wish someone had told me that I could pump for awhile while working on Elnora's latch...that it didn't have to be one or the other.

I wish someone had told me to read Misconceptions while I was still pregnant.

I wish someone had told me that just because sometimes you want to run away and hide from your kids, it doesn't mean that you don't love them.

I wish someone had told me that snuggling up to a happily nursing baby that will sometimes laugh when he's fallen into a milk induced slumber was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Well...maybe that last one...I'm glad I got to find out all on my own.

So what things surprised you the most about nursing? Was it the time? The difficulty? The enjoyment? The hating it? I don't think it ever goes quite how we expect it to and I know that my experience has been that each child is very different.

After you've shared your thoughts, check out the other entries in this month's carnival.

Motherwear Blog - What I Didn't Expect When I Was Expecting
Breastfeeding Mums - What I Wish I'd Known About Breastfeeding
Mama Knows Breast - Top Ten Things I Didn't Expect About Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding 1-2-3 - What I Didn't Expect When I Was Expecting
Spit Up On My Shoulder - Education is Key
Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mother - What I Didn't Expect About Breastfeeding
New Mama's Next - The Surprises of Breastfeeding an "Early Bird"
The True Face of Birth - What I Didn't Expect While Pregnant
Down With the Kids - Goodbye Booby
The Spice Choir - How Breastfeeding Changed My Social Life

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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, April 18, 2007

The News I Missed

Quite a bit happened while I was on vacation and then battling that nasty case of the flu. (Isn't that always the way it is?) In case you missed the stories, here's a quick catch-up...

The Airlines are Still Boobs

Emily Gillette's case against Delta and Freedom Airlines is finally moving forward. The Vermont Human Rights Commission denied the airlines motion to dismiss the case. The Bennington Banner reports that the case will move forward as follows:

Since Gillette and Delta and Freedom Airlines had failed to solve the issue through negotiation, an investigation will now commence that may involve requests for documents and a review of any and all materials submitted by both parties relating to the incident in question.

Once an investigative report is given to both parties, according to Appel, both parties have the right to respond to the report within 10 days of receiving it. Both parties also have the right to appear before the commission to make a brief oral presentation.

If, after this, the commissioners decide that there are reasonable grounds to believe that unlawful discrimination occurred, the case will be transferred to the executive director, who will attempt to bring both parties to accept a settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached within six months, the commissioners will decide whether to close the case or take it to court, either in Montpelier or the court in the county in which the alleged incident took place.

Gillette's lawyer, Elizabeth Boepple of Manchester, was pleased by news of the VHRC's decision to uphold Gillette's complaint. "What it means is we can now proceed," said Boepple, who was also impressed by the solid defense of Gillette's complaint provided by VHRC.


Earth Day Nurse Out

Earth Day Nurse Out
April 22nd 12-5pm
Boston Common near "Soldiers and Sailors Monument" MAP
Bring friends and family
Rain Place: South Statuon Commuter terminal

Email Drie Tierney with questions.

2007 Breastfeeding Awareness Walk

Plans are coming together across the country for an August 7th Breastfeeding Awareness Walk with the theme "First Step to a Healthy Life." It's been suggested that a great plan would be for state coalitions or LLL groups to plan walks that end on the state capital lawns and to invite legislators that have supported, sponsored or introduced breastfeeding legislation.

The California WIC Association and California Breastfeeding Coalition are already working on walks throughout the state and have put together a great planning kit for other areas that are interested in organizing.

(And for you Ohio readers that aren't already on the Ohio Breastfeeding Coalition email list, join up because we're working on planning our own awareness walk.)

And You Thought You Were Tired Nursing One or Two...

I can't believe I'm going to say that I'm sad to have missed Oprah, but I'm sad that I missed Oprah! Last week they did a show about siblings and they featured the Harris Sextuplets. The Harris kids are the first surviving set of African-American sextuplets in U.S. History. Not only that, but their mother, Diamond, breastfed the babies until they were six months old! Now that is a mom that deserves some serious applause (and a good day at the spa...). Diamond Harris noted that for a period of time, she was pumping between 50 and 60 bottles worth of milk a day.

There's more, but most of the others will get a separate post as I go through my email and put information together. I'm still working up the post that I hinted at last week while I was gone, but playing catch-up and working on the Ronald McDonald House story has put it on the back burner until later this week.

Thanks to all my readers that have sent me emails alerting me to stories. I couldn't keep on top of things as well as I do without your help. Please also know that I will be responding, but that I'm out of town right now and can receive email but can't send any. So if I've written to you, it's just sitting in my out box waiting for a better connection.

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