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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.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm in Denver

Hey all...sorry for not posting much this week. I've got a backlog of several interesting topics to bring up.

I'm in Denver though...teaching a seminar out here in Lakewood. Greg and Emmitt came along as well.

I'll get a trip report and pictures up when I get back (it's been an...interesting?...trip) but it will likely be at least tomorrow before I have time to get some posts thrown together.


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, June 23, 2007

Guesting on Mommy's Getaway Radio Tomorrow

Just a reminder post that I'll be the guest for the hour-long Mommy's Getaway talk radio show tomorrow evening.

The show runs from 5pm-6pm EST and we'll spend the entire hour talking about the culture of breastfeeding in the United States and the issues that many moms face from friends, family and co-workers.

You can listen to the show online at the Blog Talk Radio site.

If you'd like to call in to ask questions, you can call 646-652-2615. You can also hop on Yahoo IM and message your questions or comments to mommys_getaway.

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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, June 22, 2007

I Likes 'em Rugged

Be still my heart...

It's been more than 15 years...but Indiana Jones is back.

(I know, totally off topic, but I figured every last one of my female readers could use a happy moment.)

More info on ComingSoon.net.


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, June 20, 2007

Sucking it Up and Admitting You Aren't Wonder Woman

In the last six months, I've found myself having conversation in person or via email where people ask me "how I do all that?" They're referring to life with two kids, three businesses, helping launch the Ohio Breastfeeding Coalition, working behind the scenes with breastfeeding moms, packing those bento lunches and a million other things.

I generally respond "Oh, I simply live life on the verge of a nervous breakdown."

They laugh and I laugh, but generally, I'm not joking.

There are women out there that can raise six children while running two businesses, keeping their house clean, giving their friends and husband proper attention and finding the time to work out and prepare healthy meals.

I'd like to kick these women.


In the rear.

Ok, not really. I actually admire these women, but I wonder sometimes if they are doing it all and doing it well, or if they are also living life on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

I'm a perfectionist. Not in that I want everything to be perfect, but in that I don't like to show my flaws or admit my mistakes. I've got a little bit of Monica Geller in me. I NEED to be the host. I NEED to be the person that helps, I NEED to be the person that inspires. I NEED to be the person that appears to have it all together.

But as I grow into a bona fide adult (I'm 30 now, I think I qualify as a grown-up) I realize that life isn't about the apperance of being perfect. In fact, that appearance does nothing more than feed the fuel of making other women feel like they need to be perfect to...because if they aren't, something is wrong with them.

Jen can do it, why can't I?

Well, perhaps it's because you aren't writing out your ticket to the loney bin.

In the last month, I've realized a few things.

Instead of enjoying my time with my kids, I find myself waiting for nap time so that I can get some work done.

Instead of enjoying time with my husband, we've become roommates with a common goal of keeping two children alive.

My kids were watching way too much TV so that I had any chance of accomplishing things.

It was the middle of June and I only got to play outside with the kids once a week or so.

It made me sad. I was missing out on the very things that drove me to work from home to begin with. All because I was too busy trying to do everything. All because I'd convinced myself that eleventy billion things would fall apart if I wasn't the one running them.

And thus, I began to live life on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

Then...the clouds parted and a little ray of sunshine came through.

My publisher, (the world's BEST boss) called to say he knew how stressed I was and knew how rough it was getting now that Emmitt is old enough to get into things. He wanted to help lighten the load a bit, so he asked his wife what she thought he should do for me.

She said "every woman dreams of not having to clean."

She was right. I hate cleaning and my house, while fairly organized, is often pretty dirty.

So he has hired a cleaning crew to come in once a week for the next year. They've been here twice now and I stand amazed at the difference it has made to my mental health to walk around a house that has a few toys scattered around, but that is actually clean.

Life was starting to look up again.

Help is a good thing.

Shortly after the cleaning company started, my laptop broke. Then the borrowed laptop broke. I spent a week hardly able to work, yet still desperately trying to work. I realized just how much "wasted" time I have in my day because I neither parent nor work effectively. Basically, I sucked at both.

That's when a friend suggested that I look into getting a break a few times a week.

I've long said that I'll outsource anything but child care. I have no problem with people who use day care for whatever reason, but for me, my children are my responsibility and I've long been adamantly opposed to leaving my children with someone other than family, close friends or the sunday school teacher.

I explained this to my friend and she helped remind me that while it was true that I was the one taking care of my kids, I wasn't getting to enjoy them.

Then I realized that it had gotten to the point that Elnora knew that if Barney is on PBS, Max and Ruby are on Noggin.

Man, that hit me hard.

I had been planning on sending Elnora to Pre-school in the fall as a way to get a bit of a break, but I found out that none of our local pre-schools would accept her because she won't be three until November. That left me with the option of part-time day care.

Then I found Mango's Place.

Mango's Place is a "drop-in" child care center about twenty minutes from me. They take children 8 and under and charge a per-hour fee. You can leave them for up to four hours at a time and simply call in the morning to reserve a space. They have a structured day with story time, play time, craft time, music time, etc. They're fully licensed and have all the benefits of a day care, but with the advantage of using them when YOU want to use them.

So I took Elnora yesterday to try it out. I dropped her off from 11:30-2pm while Emmitt and I went to have lunch with my sister-in-law and to ship my laptop in for repairs.

She loved it. In fact, as I was filling out the paperwork, she was tugging on the door to the play area while signing BOY PLAY, GIRL PLAY. When they let her in, she never even looked back, lol.

When I went to pick her up, the owner told me she had done great. She'd gone to the bathroom, she'd eaten the entire bento I'd packed for her, she'd read books, played with kids and when I asked Elnora if she'd had fun, I got an enthusiastic yes. Then the owner asked if I was looking for a pre-school.

Turns out, they are launching a pre-school in the fall in the same building and they will accept one 2.5 year old per class of ten. They had an opening in their morning class that meets two days a week. Plus, I can leave Emmitt there as well and he can play in the infant area.

There's a Starbucks across the street with wifi access.

That means I can drop the kids off two days a week for 3 hours and go work at the Starbucks. In fact, with no kids around, I can likely finish all of my work up in tha three hours. That means that when we get home, I can stay off the computer and spend my time with the kids or doing things around the house.

With that realization, I floated through the day yesterday.

I'm not wonder woman. I am NOT wonder woman. I AM NOT wonder woman.

But I'm starting to be a happy woman.

Sometimes, being a good mom means recognizing that you simply can't do everything. There's nothing wrong with asking for help. It took me a long time to realize that.

And remember...help doesn't have to mean hiring a cleaning service or paying for part time child-care. I realize how blessed I am to be able to do those things. But looking back, I can also realize just how many times I turned down an offer from a friend to baby sit or to cook a meal or to take the kids to the park so I could snag a nap.

I spent a long time trying to make sure I WAS the perfect mom and I realize now just how silly that was.

It's not about being the perfect mom, it's about being a great mom to your kids.

(Thanks for indulging me...here's hoping that this message gets through to at least one of my readers.)

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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.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Am I The Only One?

Some weeks I find myself looking over my shoulder to see if a film crew is following me. Really...there's no other explanation for the past few weeks if my life is not a sitcom.

The highlights? My laptop is busted and must be shipped off for up to two weeks to be fixed.

The laptop I borrowed from my sister-in-law survived for an hour before my idiot dog broke it.

Yep, that's two laptops to be fixed, and I have to pay for the second one.

Then the same idiot dog tried to eat a skunk. (anyone want a basinji mix?)

Then Greg decided that if we ran the a/c that it would move all the skunk air around the house and it would stick to all the fabric, so I spent the day working in a house that got to 96 degrees before shouting "screw it all" and turning on the air.

And that's only the things I feel like talking about.

So, pleas know that posts will be sparse the next two weeks since I'll be stuck working on the desktop when the kids are sleeping and I'll have to prioritize on the things that actually earn me a decent living. I'll try to get a few posts a week up.

Oh, or...here's a thought. If you'd like to guest post here at the Lactivist, sent me an email with your post text and a link to your blog. If I think it's a good fit, I'll post it here with credit for you and links back to your blog so that readers that like your style can come and read more of your musings.

In the meantime, here's a little something my cousin sent me that will give you an idea of my life right now.

Thinking of becoming a parent? Try this 15 step plan first.

Lesson 1

1. Go to the grocery store.

2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.

3. Go home.

4. Pick up the paper.

5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already
are parents and berate them about their...

1. Methods of discipline.

2. Lack of patience.

3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.

4. Allowing their children to run wild.

5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior. Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel....

1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)

2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.

3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.

4. Set the alarm for 3AM.

5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.

6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.

7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.

8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.

9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4

Can you stand the mess children make? To find out..

1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.

2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.

3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.

4. Then rub them on the clean walls.

5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.

6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.

1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.

2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.

Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6

1. Take an egg carton. Using a pair of scissors and a jar of paint, turn it into an alligator.

2. Now take the tube from a roll of toilet paper. Using only Scotch tape and a piece of aluminum foil, turn it into an attractive Christmas candle.

3. Last, take a milk carton, a ping-pong ball, and an empty packet of Cocoa Puffs. Make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Lesson 7

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.


1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment.
Leave it there.

2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.

3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.

4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 8

1. Get ready to go out.

2. Sit on the floor of your bathroom reading picture books for half an hour.

3. Go out the front door.

4. Come in again. Go out.

5. Come back in.

6. Go out again.

7. Walk down the front path.

8. Walk back up it.

9. Walk down it again.

10. Walk very slowly down the sidewalk for five minutes.

11. Stop, inspect minutely, and ask at least 6 questions about every cigarette butt, piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue, and dead insect along the way.

12. Retrace your steps.

13. Scream that you have had as much as you can stand until the neighbors come out and stare at you.

14. Give up and go back into the house.

You are now just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.

Lesson 9

Repeat everything you have learned at least (if not more than) five times.

Lesson 10

Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is also excellent). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 11

1. Hollow out a melon.

2. Make a small hole in the side.

3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.

4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.

5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.

6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine- month old baby.

Lesson 12

Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street, Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking What's "Noggin"?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 13

Move to the tropics. Find or make a compost pile. Dig down about halfway
and stick your nose in it. Do this 3-5 times a day for at least two years.

Lesson 14

Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying "mommy" repeatedly.

(Important: no more than a four second delay between each "mommy"; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years.

You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 15

Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the "mommy" tape made from Lesson 14 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

This is all very tongue in cheek, anyone who is parent will say "it's all worth it!" Share it with your friends, both those who do and don't have kids. I guarantee they'll get a chuckle out of it. Remember, a sense of humor is one of the most important things you'll need when you become a parent!

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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, June 15, 2007

Nurse-Ins are NOT the First Line of Defense (Or Why Men Run the World)

I'm tired this week.

Not because Emmitt still wakes several times a night, or because I'm getting only a few hours of sleep. Not because Emmitt is teething, or my laptop is broken and my online time is limited.

(Ok, maybe a little bit because of that...)

But because I'm so frustrated with women and lactivism right now that it's physically exhausting. After this week, I also now know why men run the world.

It started Tuesday. I spent most of the day at a meeting that by all accounts should have been a wonderful example of women coming together to move a great cause forward. Instead, it reinforced my belief that too many women spend too much time focusing on getting things their way to actually get anything of substance accomplished. There's too much focus on who gets credit, who gets say so and "how things have always been done" to have any chance at doing something amazing.

Then after spending a full day offline with computer problems, I returned to an email box absolutely stuffed with reader letters about the situation that took place in Denver at the Elitch Gardens Theme Park earlier this week.

If you aren't aware of the incident, here's a YouTube video of news coverage.

You can also read the mother's original post describing what happened.

Now, let me be the first to say that I think what happened to this mother is horrible. Colorado state law protects a mother's right to breastfeed and neither the park employees nor the police officers had any right to ask this mother to move or to harass her. The mother (and everyone else) is entirely justified in being up in arms. I'm pretty ticked off about it myself.


When things like this happen, we have two choices in how we react.

1.) We can channel our anger into energy and follow proper channels to accomplish something that will have a lasting impact on our society.


2.) We can allow our anger to turn us into shrill, ranting women that gather a few minutes worth of publicity, but ultimately get written off as "those crazy, hormonal moms that want to cause another ruckus."

Tell me...which do you think is going to accomplish more in the long run?

Which is going to protect not only our rights to breastfeed any time any where, but to also change the culture so our daughters and our granddaughters don't even give the issue a second thought?

I want to note that I (along with several other experienced lactivists I keep in touch with) emailed this mom within a day of her original post to offer our assistance. I was (and still am) more than willing to step up and help any mother figure out the best way to approach a situation like this to ensure the best chance at a positive out come.

In this instance, I'm saddened to see that moms have let their anger overtake their rationality and I'm afraid the results are not going to be anywhere close to what they could have been.

Why do I say this?

Because along with watching the flurry of "shrill" emails (and thankfully a few well written, yet powerful ones) I'm amazed to see that a group of moms has contacted the media and planned a nurse-in for tomorrow. I'm amazed by this for several reasons...

1.) They've done this without any input from the mother that was harassed. Thus, they've co-opted someone else's issue without their support or their knowledge. Nurse-ins, when appropriate should happen WITH the original mother's backing and approval.

2.) They've given a single day's notice and planned an event on a holiday weekend, thus ensuring a less than stellar turn-out

and most importantly

3.) They've rushed into a reactionary response without taking the time to work with Elitch Gardens and to give the park a chance to rectify the situation.

In response to the news about the nurse-in, Elitch Gardens has released a statement on the incident:

Colorado State Law provides women the right to breastfeed anywhere. We also allow it in our park. Our concern was not that she was breastfeeding her child, but that she was exposed while doing so making several guests uncomfortable enough to bring it to the park management's attention. We suggested alternative options to Mrs. Skrydlak-simlai for her to continue breastfeeding her son in public while also allowing us to preserve a reasonable comfort level for the rest of our guests. We never asked Mrs. Skrydlak-simlai to leave the park or threatened to arrest her. At Eltich Gardens, we make every effort to provide a safe, fun and enjoyable place to all people, free of discrimination or judgment of any kind and we apologize if we offended Mrs. Skrydlak-simlai.

Now, I want to make a point here that I also made on the Mothering thread.

When you have an issue with someone at work, in your family, or in life...do you find that walking up to them and punching them in the face is a good way to get them to listen to your point of view and to come to a resolution?

No, it usually results in the other person getting extraordinarily defensive and totally unwilling to listen to any point you have to make.

Yes, if you are big enough and strong enough, punching someone in the face will *probably* get you your way. But will it get your way because you are stronger, or because you have actually changed their mind?

As I see it, moms that are new to the issue of lactivism and to the fight for breastfeeding rights have only a few reference points of how to fight the battle we wage daily.

They remember hearing about the nurse-in at The View.
They remember hearing about the nurse-in at Victoria's Secret.
They remember hearing about the nurse-in at Delta.
They remember hearing about the nurse-in at the PA Mall.

Notice a common theme there?

Nurse-ins are what gets news and exposure, but they aren't always what accomplishes changes in policy and changes in attitude. In fact, a nurse-in that isn't paired with a specific call to action and a proposed solution accomplishes little more than a sound-byte on the six o'clock news.

The problem with this is that it often leads to a few angry moms calling for a nurse-in when they hear about something going on. In fact, one of the first responses I tend to see to any breastfeeding in public incident is "when's the nurse in?" or "I'll go to a nurse-in!" (Ok, to be fair, those are paired with oodles of what are often nasty emails to the company.)

Here's the deal though...

When an incident like this happens, we have one (maybe two) shots at press coverage before people get bored and move on to the next sound byte. That means that we have to make the most of that press coverage. Get the most leverage, make the best point, and have the best shot at instituting change.

A video clip of half a dozen (or even dozens and dozens of) angry breastfeeding moms shouting "Try eating with a blanket over YOUR head!" doesn't accomplish much. Sure, it enrages the people that already agree with us, but for those against us? It simply reinforces their belief that we're nothing more than a bunch of hormonal women with too much free time looking for something to complain about.

On the other hand, a well-thought out, properly planned nurse-in complete with talking points, media kits and moms experienced in public relations can result in news coverage that shows dozens of moms, feature thoughtful, articulate commentary and arms reporters with facts and data that make it far more likely they'll craft fair and balanced coverage.

When we jump on things without thinking them through, we run the risk of created wasted opportunity.

That's fine, you say. You're telling us what not to do, but you aren't offering up anything constructive other than to say "you shouldn't do that."

Ok, here's my advice. Take it for what you will.

If you ever find yourself facing a situation like this, here is what I suggest.

1.) Know the breastfeeding laws for where you are located. If possible, carry a card that cites the exact law in your state. If you are approached, calmly point out the law and ask them to leave you be. When you are finished nursing your child, ask to speak with a manager and calmly inform them about what happened.

2.) If you are threatened with arrest by the police, tell them that you will be happy to leave as soon as you get their names and badge numbers. (Whether they have the right to ask you to leave or not, if you refuse, you can be arrested for trespassing and/or resisting arrest.) When you return home, call their supervisors and calmly inform them what happened.

3.) Once you've done one and two, work your way up the chain of command seeking resolution. Write down names, dates and details about each conversation that you have.

Keep in mind that employees are often speaking their own minds, not that of their employees. Think of the number of times your children have said something that made you want to crawl out of your skin from embarrassment. Imagine if people held YOU directly responsible for what they've said rather than approaching you and giving you a chance to rectify the problem.


IF you've done the first three and have been unable to come to a resolution, I suggest the following:

1.) Contact someone with a public relations or law background that you trust. You might do this by going through LLL, your state breastfeeding coalition, or sites like mine. Work with them to formulate a plan. Figure out what you want and what the best ways to accomplish it might be.

2.) NOW you take the issue public. This is when you contact the media, the moms and everyone else for things like letter writing campaigns and press coverage. You give companies a chance to see how unpopular their policies are and to change them. Set a deadline for resolution.

3.) If you still haven't accomplished a change, now is the time to CONSIDER a nurse-in.

If none of the above work, then it's time to turn your attention elsewhere and to channel your frustration toward things that will change the culture. No matter how badly we want to get our way, we're not always going to and we must accept that. We do our best, we fight our hardest, and then we swallow the bitterness and we find new ways to work. We help other moms, we form coalitions, we lobby for legislation...we do the things that work.

But above all, we must maintain our focus and our civility.

Shouting gets you noticed, but it rarely earns respect.

When I ran into my problem with the Pork Board earlier this year, I didn't sit down and fire off angry emails and blog posts the moment it happen. I sat on it for three days. I considered my options, I spoke with trusted advisors, I weighed their advice and then I formulated a plan.

When Robin Neorr was discriminated against by City Kids day care because her daughter was breastfed, she spent more than a month trying to resolve the issue before approaching the media. Even then, no nurse-in was planned because the time simply wasn't right. Instead, Robin banded together with other mothers to launch the Ohio Breastfeeding Coalition. City Kids still has not changed their policy, but Robin is thinking long-term. She's focusing on creating programs, lobbying for legislation and introducing new options that will not only eventually force City Kids to change their policy, but will also create a more positive environment for nursing mothers in Ohio.

Robin understands that patience is the name of the game and that outrage needs to be channeled into determination.

We're not going to change the world overnight, but we ARE going to change it. Every group that has ever struggled for rights and acceptance have had to wage a long battle to get what they rightly deserve. Why should we expect to be any different?

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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.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Blogger Face-Off

If you ever wanted to know a tiny bit more about me from the business side, here's your chance. I'm going up against eMom's Wendy Piersall this week in the Bloggers Face-Off at Daily Blog Tips.

Check it out (and check out Wendy's blog if you're a working mom) and then vote for your favorite blogging mom. :)


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.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fathers and Breastfeeding - The Importance of Seconds

Welcome to the June Carnival of breastfeeding! This month, we're focusing on dads and their impact on breastfeeding. While I'd hoped to have Greg write today's post about what it's like to be married to The Lactivist, things just didn't work out for him to get it written in time. (I'll have him do it somewhere down the road though.)

As I sit down to write this at the last second (It's 3:51pm and I need to have it posted by 5pm) I realize that "second" is an important number in the life of a breastfeeding dad. Especially in the life of my kid's breastfeeding dad.

For example...

1.) Dads often have to come "second" to babies during those first few months.
2.) Dads serve as an essential "second" pair of hands when dealing with nurslings.

and perhaps most importantly (at least in my family)...

3.) Dads are the secret weapon that can you get through the dreaded "second night" of breastfeeding.

It's that third point that I really want to hit on, but first I need to pay a little homage to dads on the first few points.

Coming Second to Baby

Any new mother will tell you that a new baby, especially a breastfeeding baby, takes up every single second of her spare time. A breastfeeding baby can't wait to eat, especially in those early days. Since mom's the only one that can do the feeding, a dad has to be understanding and supportive while playing the waiting game.

Of course there's also the obvious issue of your baby seeing your breasts more times in a day than your husband does in a week. ;)

Greg did an amazing job of playing the patience game after the birth of each of our children. With Elnora, that meant not only coming second after Elnora's needs, but also coming after the needs of that darn pump. My schedule required me to pump at 10:30pm for more than six months. Since Greg heads to bed early, that meant going to bed without me for months on end. It was his support that allowed me to get my milk into Elnora for 14 months, despite not breastfeeding.

Second Pair of Hands

In terms of a second pair of hands, I have no idea how I would have survived life with Emmitt without Greg around to help out. Sure, I manage with two kids during the day, but what would I do at 8:30 when it's time for both of them to go to bed? How would I keep Elnora from running off in a restaurant while I'm nursing Emmitt? (Good grief, how do you single parents do it?!)

Greg has stepped up to the plate big time to become Elnora's best buddy while I nurse Emmitt. He puts her to bed each night while I put Emmitt to bed. He sits with her and helps her if we go out to eat so that I can tend to Emmitt. He brings me a drink or something to eat if I'm nursing. He does what I can't do and generally makes life much easier.

The Second Night of Nursing

This one gets filed in the "oh I wish I'd known" files. When Emmitt was a few months old, I heard a lactation consultant mention "the dreaded second night." I asked around a bit and found out that most every breastfeeding mom I spoke with ran into some type of awful problem on that second night. In fact, it was the "make it or break it" night for many moms...myself included.

To those in the "know," the second night is a night where dad's support (or the support of SOMEONE) can be an absolute lifesaver in terms of the nursing relationship.

For example, let's look back on my own "second night" experiences.

Elnora was born in the hospital at 1:30am. Greg stayed with us in our room that night and woke up with me every couple of hours to change Elnora and bring her to me to nurse. The first nice went pretty smoothly and I sailed confidently into the second day thinking this nursing stuff was pretty easy.

Until Greg decided to go home to let the dog out and check on some things and ended up staying there the second night to get caught up on sleep. I was still tender enough that I couldn't get in and out of bed while holding Elnora, so the nurses took her to the nursery. The problem was, it took me four hours to get her back. I finally had to threaten to go get her myself. By the time they brought her in, she was going nuts and wouldn't settle down to nurse.

Hours and hours of screaming and crying (by both of us) and intervention by an incompetent nurse threw us into a downward spiral. Before long, Elnora would begin screaming whenever she came near the breast. We worked with an LC and got nowhere. Jaundice and weight loss followed and not knowing much, we found ourselves "forced" to supplement. (Thankfully, I at least did it with my milk which led to my exclusive pumping.)

Fast forward 22 months later to the birth of Emmitt.

Emmitt was born on the futon on our back porch. I nursed him an hour later (in the recliner I'm sitting in as I type this) and again, the first two days went beautifully. Then we hit the second night.

Suddenly, my wonderful nursling became a screaming maniac that wouldn't settle down, couldn't organize and refused to nurse. I tried everything. Swaddling, unswaddling, singing, swaying, skin to skin, laying down, standing up...the kid would not nurse. I was still sleeping in the recliner out here on the porch because I was getting up once an hour. Greg was in our bedroom on the first floor and he heard Emmitt crying.

He came out to check on us and found me rocking back and forth on the futon saying "I will not get the pump, I will not get the pump, I will not get the pump." All I could think of was how much easier it would be to pump some milk and give him a bottle, but I was terrified of heading down the same road we'd walked the first time around.

That's when Greg became my hero.

He got me calmed down and settled Emmitt and I both into the recliner. Then as I, quite literally, passed out from lack of sleep, HE got Emmitt calmed down, latched on and nursing. It took him about 45 minutes, but soon both Emmitt and I were sound asleep in the recliner as Emmitt nursed away.

If Greg hadn't come out to check on us, I'm not sure I wouldn't have broken down and gotten that pump out. If I had, who knows where we'd be. But thanks to Greg's willingness to be patient when I couldn't, we survived that night and things picked right back up the next day.

Still Number One

Greg may play "seconds" in a lot of areas right now, but he's still the love of my life and my best friend. In fact, it's his willingness to be second, and his understanding about our children's needs that make him number one in my book.

What Does Everyone Else Have to Say?

For more perspective on fathers and breastfeeding, check out the plethora of entries into this month's carnival:

The Motherwear Blog shares the thoughts of a dad on breastfeeding.
Down with the Kids on Mother's Milk - a Dad's Perspective
Breastfeeding 1-2-3 shares A Father's Take on Breastfeeding Perception verses Reality
Nursing Your Kids talks about Partnership
Hepatitis-Epi offers up Fathers and Breastfeeding
Musings of a Crunchy Domestic Goddess pens My Hubby, the Lactivist
Breastfeeding Mums explains how her husband became her "Best Breastfeeding Buddy."
Mama Knows Breast points out that her husband is her co-author. (She's just finished a book on breastfeeding.
Fine Whine asks "Where are all the Boobs?

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

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

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Live on Internet Radio, Sunday, June 24th at 6pm

EDIT: Originally, this post said the show was tonight. Since I've made this post, it has been rescheduled for June 24th. I'll repost with info when the date gets closer.

If you happen to stumble across this post prior to 6pm (EST) on June 10th, don't forget that I'll be a guest on "Mommys Getaway" talk radio today to discuss the cultural issues surrounding breastfeeding. It's a live show and they do take callers for questions and discussions. (So if you ever wanted a chance to talk to me about these issues, here it is!)

You can listen live at the show's web site and can call in with your questions at (646) 652-2615.

Hope to hear from some of you tonight!

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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, June 08, 2007

A Bucket Full of Berries

They look yummy, don't they?

They are. They're literally so fresh and so tasty that if you twist the stem, it gently pops out leaving a little hole in the center of the berry where that sort of fuzzy part pops out.

Here's the story...

Greg and I have talked a few times about wanting to head to a pick your own strawberry farm so that we could A.) Get yummy fresh strawberries and B.) take Elnora to learn about picking.

Well last night, a little after 8pm, I came out to the back porch after getting Emmitt down for the night. I glanced out the window of our porch and was greeted by the image of Elnora sitting in the neighbor's garden, eating strawberries.

You can imagine the thoughts that flew through my mind.

(If not, I'll fill them in for you...

"Holy crap! How did she get out of the house!"
"What is she eating?!"
"Where's Greg!?"
"Oh man, the neighbor is going to be sooooooooo mad!!!")

Then I glanced a bit to the left and spotted Greg hunched down picking berries as well. Ok, felt a little bit better...after all, while my two year old might steal someone's berries, I'm fairly confident that my husband wouldn't.

Then I noticed the neighbor even further up the row, standing there talking to Greg.

Turns out, our neighbor's strawberry patch has gone crazy and he (he's in his 70s) is having some health problems this year that make it hard for him to get out there and pick them all. So, he saw Elnora and Greg playing outside and invited them to come pick strawberries.

We ended up picking what I'd guess is about 4 pounds or so. That doesn't count the pint (or more) that Elnora ate while they picked. We brought them back to the house and put about a pound in a container that she carried next door to the neighbors on the other side, then we came home and ate another pound or so for dessert.

I packed a ton for Greg this morning in a "breakfast bento" with some cottage cheese and a few animal crackers. That leaves us with maybe one more pound to eat this evening.

Hope he comes by and invites us again. I almost can't eat the store ones after eating those...

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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.

Salon.com Covers the International Breast Milk Project Controversy

Oh, what one little blog post can do...

Salon.com has picked up the story about Prolacta and the International Breast Milk Project and asks a few questions of their own about how everything is working.

Earlier this week, Prolacta and Youse attempted to clear the milky waters. According to Elster, all milk received from the inception of the IBMP project to May 31 of this year will go to Africa. After May 31, however, IBMP will send 25 percent of all donations received to Africa, and 75 percent will be sold to Prolacta for $1 an ounce. What kind of profit margin does this mean for Prolacta? Potentially a motherlode. If, as Elster told me, the average donation runs around 180 ounces, then that would mean that 135 ounces (75 percent) "sold" to Prolacta would generate around $4,725 (at $35 an ounce) for the company, or about $3,890 after subtracting the expense of donor processing (about $700 per donor) and the cash payment to IBMP.

Quite honestly, those numbers don't look much better than the ones I originally posted.

Basically, for every donor the International Breast Milk Project recruits, the IBMP will get 45 ounces of breast milk and $135. Prolacta, on the other hand would get 135 ounces of breast milk and up to $3,890 in sales.

Umm...that just doesn't seem right.

The article also touches on my question about the financial issues of shipping all that milk and includes a response from Jill.

Prolacta's profits aside, a question remains: Should we really be sending frozen breast milk to Africa? Given the shipping, the refrigeration, the sheer expense of transporting precious little of the precious liquid around the globe, is it more important as a symbol than as an effective solution? As Laycock observes: "Fifteen thousand ounces will feed three babies for six months. If those dollars spent processing and transporting milk could be spent setting up milk banking in a country, one can only imagine how much more they could accomplish."

In part, Youse agrees with this sentiment, though she adds that not all communities in Africa are good candidates for setting up local breast milk banks. In addition to widespread HIV infection among potential donors, there are cultural and practical obstacles. "In some places, it can work, in others it's never going to happen," says Youse. But in general she acknowledges that transporting milk safely to Africa is extremely expensive and not terribly efficient.

I wonder if Oprah will read that article in Salon...

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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.

An Update on Janipher Maseko...

From Morgan Gallagher:

Just to catch you all up. First of all, thank you for your letters to the various officials. I think we can safely say they have made a difference!

Janipher and the kids were released from Yarl's Wood detention centre, last Friday, June 1st, the day she was going to be deported to Uganda. She's currently being housed in emergency bed & breakfast accomodation, prior to being found adequate housing.

She is safe from being deported in the short to medium term, whilst law suits against the police, Social Services and Immigration officials are undertaken by her lawyers. The lawyers who have agreed to take on her case, are specialists in this area.

In this time, she is supported on welfare. Her housing situation is not ideal, especially with a newborn and a tiny toddler but she has to stay in the system as it's set up.

Getting out of Yarl's Wood like this, is very rare, and the lawyers are sure that the international profile has helped.

However, Janipher and the kids may still end up deported. The asylum rules are very severe, and whilst there is no doubt the UK authorities acted illegally - and inhumanely - in their treatment of Janipher, and that this will addressed legally... it will likely not effect immigration status at all.

Deportation is a long term issue, however, and in the breathing space we have, many people are working to try and help Janipher and her babies recover from this ordeal.

Many politicians have been shocked by how she was treated, and how easily it could have been hidden from everyone - so we can only hope that this will help bring about long term change in both attitudes and proceedure.

So again - thank you everyone who wrote, emailed or faxed. I will keep you update, and rest assured - we will keep fighting for her. :-)

Morgan Gallagher www.nursingmatters.org.uk


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.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Putting the Emergency Room on Speed Dial

"What do you think they'd say to us if we took our eight month old to the ER with a broken arm and told them he fell off the slide while climbing it?" I asked Greg the other night.

"Good question," he replied.

I tell you folks...this boy is going to accelerate the white that is rapidly invading my hair color.

He turned eight months old last weekend. He's fearless.

As long as he has a wall or something to keep one hand on, the kid is off and walking.

His latest feat? Walking up the sliding board on the back porch. He'll grab hold of the raised sides with each hand and then brace his feet against the base of the raised edge. Then he slowly works his way up the slide. Yes, he falls off...fairly regularly.

Every last time he's fallen though, he simply rolls over, thumps on his butt, falls over on his back, stares at the ceiling for a moment and then gets up to try again.

Of course Elnora doesn't help matters. She generally goes around back, climbs the stairs and stands at the top dangling a toy and egging him on.

Today, he proved that he's just going to take off without thinking things through.

I was sitting on the back porch writing an article and I heard a funny squeaking sound. I looked up and noticed that I didn't see Emmitt anywhere. Nora was down for a nap and we were on the back porch with the baby gate up, so I knew he couldn't have gone far. That's when I heard him giggle and heard the "swoosh, swoosh" of his little knees heading across the floor.

Still didn't see him.

Until I looked behind the futon.

Yep, the kid had wedged himself in behind it. He'd spotted a book on the floor behind the futon and took off after it.

I tried to reach him, but he was too far down the wall for me to even grab his foot. I even tried moving the futon out about a foot, but I still couldn't get to him. (Not that he seemed at all concerned about how he was going to get back out.)

That's when I figured I might as well grab the camera. I snapped a shot or two and then headed over to the other side of the futon where I knew he'd pop up behind the coffee table.

Sure enough, he'd reached the book and was happily pushing buttons to try and make it talk.

Darn it if I didn't have to pull the futon out about four foot from the wall to get back in there and get him.

Yep...going to have to put the emergency room on speed dial. I have a strong feeling that we're going to make our share of visits...


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.

My Thoughts on the Prolacta / International Breast Milk Project Arrangement

So I've had a few days to mull things over since Jill shared the new agreement between the International Breast Milk Project and Prolacta. I've also had a chance to send a few emails back and forth with Jill to clarify some points and to answer a few questions that I still had. Now that I've had some time to digest things, I think I'm willing to lay out my current thoughts on the subject.

(No idea what I'm talking about? Check out my original post asking if the International Breast Milk Project is a scam?)

Where Things Stand Now

First, let me lay out the facts about the relationship between Prolacta and the International Breast Milk Project according to Jill.

1.) Jill is NOT employed, paid or in any way compensated by Prolacta for her work with the International Breast Milk Project. While she does devote herself to the project full time, she is a volunteer. She tells me that she has reimbursed herself "around $3000" in the last year to cover her own personal expenses. She says that there are no plans for her to earn an income from either the IBMP or Prolacta.

2.) Prolacta and the International Breast Milk Project had collected roughly 55,000 ounces of donated milk for Africa as of May 31st, 2007. Prolacta had shipped around 15,000 ounces to Africa. They have confirmed that they will ship 55,000 ounces to Africa. In other words, ALL of the milk collected prior to June 1st WILL be shipped to Africa.

3.) Beginning June 1st, Prolacta will ship 25% of the milk received via the International Breast Milk Project to Africa. The remaining 75% of collected milk will be "purchased" from the IBMP at a cost of $1 an ounce. These funds are to be sent directly to the centers in Africa that are using the milk for the purpose of setting up their own systems. Prolacta and the International Breast Milk Project estimate that this will amount to roughly $50,000 to $75,000 a year in funding.

4.) The International Breast Milk Project has had more than 800 applicants but has only processed and accepted 275 donors.

5.) While the shipping from the United States to Africa is donated by various shipping companies, Prolacta's "cost" for supporting the project includes blood testing, shipping from donor moms to Prolacta and the milk screening and processing.

6.) Prolacta has been in business since 1999 and has made less than $1 million in the last seven years.

7.) The International Breast Milk Project has committed to yearly reporting on the amount of donor milk collected, the amount sent to Africa and the amount of funds raised from Prolacta.

What This News Changes

The main thing that all of this changes is the idea of transparency.

You may recall that my primary motivator for my original post was the fact that moms were being drawn in to donate to a "tear-jerker" (but obviously wonderful) cause and that Prolacta might be profiting hugely from those mother's altruistic intentions.

If everything runs as Jill says it will, that risk is somewhat negated. Any mom that does even the smallest bit of reading on the IBMP site will know what percentage of their milk is going to end up in Africa.

Ultimately, that was the main goal of my post. To make sure that moms had the ability to make informed decisions. It appears that they will now be able to do so.

What This News Doesn't Change

So there's no denying that the IBMP and Prolacta stepped up to the plate when it came to transparency, but the reality is that this new information doesn't really do much to improve my opinion of the arrangement.

In fact, it pretty much confirms my own feelings that as a donor mom, I'd be sticking with HMBANA.

Here's why.

1.) While I understand that Prolacta spends a lot of money on screening, shipping and processing, there's a HUGE difference between recouping costs and making a profit. The system as it is set up now leaves them in a position with a strong potential for profit. The idea of a company profiting off of the donated milk of a mother seeking to help someone doesn't sit well with me.

The current agreement means that Prolacta will get about 75,000 ounces of breast milk a year in exchange for processing and giving away about 25,000 ounces of breast milk. For a company that has had a hard time gathering donors, this seems like a pretty fair trade. Sure, they're paying $1 an ounce for the 75K ounces, but they're also factoring in the cost of those other 25K ounces. Prolacta is not going to lose money on this deal, so you know that they know they can still come out ahead based on the 75K ounces.

2.) It's a bad business model. Sure there's money to be made...but as an entrepreneur I have to frown on any company that builds their business model off a process that requires someone else to provide your raw materials for free. Can you imagine Del Monte expecting farmers to ship their fruit and vegetable to them out of the goodness of their hearts? Why should breast milk be any different?

I'm a capitalist at heart. I believe in business and in charging what the market will bear. I don't believe that "essential" products should be given away for free. At the same time...I don't believe in profiting off of good will. In other words, if I found out that the Red Cross was selling 75% of my donated blood to a pharmaceutical company, I'd be equally upset.

3.) For every question answered, another one gets raised. For example, Prolacta has suddenly started promoting their "human milk based fortifier" and speaks of it repeatedly in the new FAQ section. Unfortunately, I cannot find any info on exactly what this is. I also can't find ANY confirmation that they have a true human milk fortifier other than what's on their web site. Considering the risks associated with milk fortifiers in micro-preemies (necrotizing entercolitis for one) and the fact that those risks would mostly vanish with the intro of a true human milk based fortifier, I'm honestly astounded that I can find no mention in the mainstream press, medical journals, IBCLC sites, Preemie sites, and so on.

In fact, I find it amazing that none of the the wildly intelligent women that I know who have had babies stay in NICUs within the last year have been able to find any information about a human based milk fortifier being available.

Thus, I'd love to hear more from Prolacta about exactly what it is that they have. Are they simply gathering the milk together and skimming off the top 10%...the way you'd take cream from cow's milk? That would create breast milk with incredibly high fat and calorie counts. It would also leave 90% of the milk to be used for pharmaceutical research.

Or, are they somehow creating an entirely need product that's formed from breast milk, but is a "new" product entirely? I'd just love to hear more about this and I cannot find any information at all apart from fuzzy marketing speak and press releases.

Where Does This Leave You?

Well, it depends on how you feel about all of the above. I can't (and won't) tell you what you should do. I can simply tell you to read the information, consider the situation and decide where you want to donate your milk.

If you aren't near a HMBANA bank and want to donate badly enough to be ok with just 25% going to Africa, then go for it. If you are near a HMBANA bank and still want to donate to Prolacta, then that's your choice too.

They've certainly given us answers... I just can't say that they've made me happy.


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.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Radio Show on Milk Banking

Note: Sorry about the slow response on the Prolacta/IBMP thing...I'm having lap top trouble and have limited time online, so "real" work has had to come first.

Last night I had the pleasure of joining Tamara and Kristen on their show at Blog Talk Radio. We spent an hour talking about milk banking and the various topics related to it. We covered the HMBANA banks, for profit milk banking, how to become a donor, what the milk is used for...we even did a brief dive into the controversial practices of wet nursing, cross nursing and milk sharing.

If you're interested in any of those topics, you might enjoy downloading the podcast of the show and giving it a listen. I actually had a great time talking with these two ladies and I think we managed to put out a fun, informative show.

I'll actually be on again this coming Sunday to talk about the culture in the United States as it relates to breastfeeding. We'll hit topics like breastfeeding legislation, breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding older children and anything else controversial we can think of.

So take a listen to yesterday's show and if you like what you hear, mark your calendar for 6pm next Sunday so that you can listen live (or even call in with your own questions and comments.)

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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.

Carnival of Breastfeeding Call for Entries

After taking a month off, the Blog Carnival of Breastfeeding is gearing up for another group post later this month.

Since it's June, the topic is going to be on Fathers and the impact they have on breastfeeding. (In fact, we'd welcome some fathers writing up their own entries on breastfeeding...I'm going to try to talk Greg into writing about what it's like being the husband of a Lactivist.)

So write up a post, get the father of your nursling to write it and email it to me by the end of this week. I'll pick my favorite (or maybe my favoriteS) and we'll post them with the carnival next week.


Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

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

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Update on Prolacta and the International Breast Milk Project

I'll be back in the next day or so with my own commentary, but in response to my post questioning the International Breast Milk Project, Jill Youse, the IBMP's founder has issued the following open letter.

Dear International Breast Milk Project Family,

I have some very exciting program updates for you!

Last fall, Prolacta Bioscience pledged to donate the processing of 10,000 ounces of donor milk for babies orphaned by HIV in Africa for the International Breast Milk Project (IBMP). I was thrilled with this pledge because it doubled the amount of our previous shipment.

Oprah’s coverage on the International Breast Milk Project coupled with other prominent news stories caused a ripple effect that no one could have imagined. To date, we have collected nearly 55,000 ounces of breast milk.

This overwhelming response from generous donors and supporters like you has enabled International Breast Milk Project to expand its reach. Last week, Prolacta Bioscience agreed to process and test even more donated breast milk for free. 25% of all donated breast milk—an estimated 25,000 ounces each year—will be screened, tested, and shipped by Prolacta each year for free. When you donate milk, Prolacta will segregate 25% of your milk to go to Africa, so every mom knows that some of her milk is going to help babies orphaned by poverty and disease in Africa. The rest of milk will stay in the US for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Prolacta has also agreed to donate $1 to International Breast Milk Project for every ounce of donated milk that stays in the U.S. Based on current donations, IMBP will receive $50,000 - $75,000 each year, ensuring a sustainable, steady source of funds to build critically needed healthcare clinics for babies orphaned by poverty and disease in Africa, and will provide a vehicle to help local moms donate milk. 100% of every dollar that each ounce of milk provides will go directly to supporting babies orphaned by HIV in Africa.

Ultimately, the vision of IMBP is to make donor breast milk a global norm. Our increased funding will enable us to achieve our goal which is to build critically needed healthcare clinics for babies orphaned by HIV in Africa. These clinics will also serve as a vehicle to help local moms donate milk. Breast milk donated within Africa provides an even more efficient and sustainable source of breast milk for infants there.

IBMP will publish quarterly donation reports on our website www.breastmilkproject.org, so you can track the ounces coming in and the funding going out. You will know that 100% of your milk is making a difference in the lives of babies orphaned by HIV in Africa.

Also, be sure to read through the updated Frequently Asked Questions on our web site, which provides detailed information about how and where your breast milk will be used.

Thank you again for your amazing response and support. Your donations mean a lot to us—and even more to the infants whose lives have been saved by your generosity and compassion.

Jill Youse
IBMP Home Page

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is the IBMP a non-profit organization?
o Yes. The International Breast Milk Project is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
o IBMP provides free donor breast milk to infants who have been orphaned by HIV in Africa.

2. How is the milk collected?
o There are several steps:
1. A candidate donor applies online and fills out a medical questionnaire. Once the questionnaire goes through medical review, the candidate is asked to get medical clearance for herself and for her child.
2. After medical clearance is received, IBMP bank arranges a blood test at the donor’s home which is paid for by Prolacta Bioscience. The blood test is performed by a national laboratory. At the same time, the potential donor provides a cheek swab to create a DNA match for the milk. This ensures that only milk from tested donors enters the system. The DNA test was developed and is paid for by Prolacta.
3. Once the blood test comes back clean, the donor is qualified! Prolacta sends a specially designed container and cooling bricks to the donor’s house using FedEx. The donor places the cooling bricks in her freezer for 48 hours in preparation for shipping. When ready, the donor mom places the milk and the cool bricks into the box and puts the prepaid priority FedEx label on the box. One call to FedEx, and the milk is on its way. Prolacta pays for all of the shipping.
4. Once the milk reaches Prolacta, it is tested for the five most common drugs of abuse, for excessive levels of bacterial contamination, and matched using Prolacta’s proprietary DNA matching technology.

3. How is my medical information handled?
o Each candidate is assigned a donor number. This donor number is the only identifying information that the national lab has. The lab uploads the results into the donor tracking management system so names and results are only known by the IBMP bank staff. IBMP bank is HIPAA complaint.

4. How is the breast milk shipped safely to Africa?
o The milk is frozen and sent on dry ice. Prolacta uses the same shipping containers that are used in the pharmaceutical industry to maintain the temperature. These containers have been tested and with the right amount of dry ice, they can hold the milk in a frozen state for seven days. Additionally, the companies that ship the milk, such as Quick International, have the ability to re-ice the shipments if there are delays in transport. To date, the milk has arrived frozen solid!

5. What does Prolacta pay for?
o IBMP bank arranges a blood test at the donor’s home which is paid for by Prolacta Bioscience. The blood test is performed by a national laboratory.
o The DNA test was developed and is paid for by Prolacta.
o Prolacta sends a specially designed container and cooling bricks to the donor’s house using FedEx. The donor places the cool bricks in her freezer for 48 hours in preparation for shipping. When ready, the donor mom places the milk and the cooling bricks into the box and puts the prepaid priority FedEx label on the box. One call to FedEx, and the milk is on its way. Prolacta pays for all of the shipping.
o Once the milk reaches Prolacta, it is tested for the five most common drugs of abuse, for excessive levels of bacterial contamination, and matched using Prolacta’s proprietary DNA matching technology. Prolacta pay for this extensive testing.

6. If the shipment to Africa is full, will I be told in advance of donating my breast milk?
o The shipments will continue as long as the milk for Africa is collected. If your breast milk arrives after the shipment cut-off date, it will simply go into the following shipment.

7. If the shipment to Africa is full, where will my milk go and who will it benefit?
o If you donate, at least 25% of your milk will go to Africa. The other 75% will be used in the U.S. to help critically ill infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Some of this milk will be sold, some will be donated in the U.S., and some will be used in research to demonstrate the benefits of human milk fortifiers made from human milk.

8. If my milk is sold, how much will it be sold for?
o A portion of the milk that is not sent to Africa will be used to make human milk fortifier which is used for critically ill and premature infants. Prolacta produces the only fortifier made from 100% human milk for critically ill infants in the NICU. The fortifier is used to supplement a mother’s own milk. Like many products in the NICU, the cost of human milk fortifier is expensive. Human milk fortifier costs begin at approximately $100 per day per baby.

9. What is human milk fortifier?
o Human milk fortifier is used to increase the caloric content of mother’s milk. Currently, most premature infants are fed bovine (cow) based fortified milk using products made by formula companies. Prolacta’s Human Milk Fortifier is made from 100% human milk.

10. Do the non-profit milk banks sell a Human Milk Fortifier and if so how much does it cost?
o No. The non-profit milk banks do not sell a Human Milk Fortifier.

11. If human milk is perfect food, why fortify?
o By being born early, premature infants miss out on significant in-utero growth. Human milk does not have enough calories and protein to sustain the growth rates required for these babies to catch up with their full term peers. Feeding these babies more volume does not work since their stomachs are too small. The solution to this problem is to concentrate their food. The current standard of care is fortification using cow milk products. Prolacta Bioscience is offering an alternative by making a concentrated fortifier from 100% Human Milk.

12. How is fortifier administered?
o It is added to a mother's own milk, or to donor milk, and fed through a feeding tube.

13. How much of each donor’s milk is processed for Africa?
o At least 25% of the donation will be sent to Africa. Prolacta will also donate $1 to International Breast Milk Project for every ounce of donated milk that stays in the U.S.

14. Why does IBMP allow any of the donated milk to remain in the U.S. for use by a for-profit company?
o IBMP requested this combination of milk and financial support to meet the critical needs of infants in Africa. In order for IBMP to realize their vision of establishing donor breast milk as a norm in Africa, a supply of local donor milk must be established. Based on current donation rates, it is estimated that IBMP will receive $75,000 each year, ensuring a sustainable, steady source of funds to build critically needed healthcare clinics for babies orphaned by poverty and disease in Africa, and will provide a vehicle to help local moms donate milk.
o Prolacta has stepped up to support our efforts. Their organization is also a start-up organization, and the relationship is based on a sustainable model that allows them to donate the services that no other organization can provide.
o Partnering with a for-profit organization allows us to help babies in need in Africa AND to help critically ill babies in the NICU here in the U.S. It is a win-win situation.

15. What will the dollar per ounce be used for?
o This past year we have partnered with the Lewa Children’s Home Eldoret Kenya to bring clean water and healthcare to children orphaned by disease and poverty. We will help fund a healthcare clinic that will break ground in late 2007 or early 2008. We will be shipping the milk to Eldoret and exploring the possibilities of local milk donations. 100% of the dollar per ounce will go directly to aid the Lewa Children’s Home and healthcare clinic. Click here to view the photo album of the home.

16. Does anyone profit off of the IBMP milk?
o No one has made a profit to date; however, the hope is that there is enough profit in the future to continue to expand and support the program. More funds will enable us to build critically needed healthcare clinics for babies orphaned by poverty and disease in Africa as a vehicle to help local moms donate milk.

17. Does Prolacta sell milk online or to the public?
o No. Prolacta provides milk to hospitals only. You must have a prescription for Prolacta’s products.

18. Is it true that IBMP has had 800 donors for the IBMP?
o No. We have had over 800 applicants to IBMP. Currently, there are 275 qualified donors.

19. Why didn't you partner with non-profit milk banks?
o Prior to partnering with Prolacta, IBMP asked non-profits if they could partner with the International Breast Milk Project. The non-profits were very supportive but graciously declined for various reasons.

20. How exactly is Prolacta involved with IBMP?
o Prolacta donates the collection, processing, safety testing, and shipment of the breast milk to Africa. Prolacta uses state-of-the-art formulation (pharmaceutical grade), pasteurization, and filling processes to ensure the highest possible quality and safety of donor breast milk for babies. Their processes include tests for foreign (non human) protein, drugs of abuse, bacterial contamination, and PCR testing for viral contamination. Prolacta has been a pioneer in developing improved methods for all aspects of human milk testing and handling.

21. How much does it cost Prolacta to donate the collection, processing, safety testing and shipping services?
o The cost of collection is very expensive. The cost of collection, processing, safety testing, and shipping make up the majority of the cost of the product.

22. What is the relationship between IBMP and Prolacta?
o 25% of all mother’s milk received will be segregated during the testing process for shipment to Africa. 75% of the milk received will yield a $1.00 per ounce donation in the name of the mom to the International Breast Milk Project. 100% of these donated funds will be used to build critically needed healthcare clinics for babies orphaned by disease and poverty in Africa.

23. What percent of the $1/ounce that Prolacta donates to IBMP milk banks in Africa program goes toward Africa?
o 100%

24. Is it true that Prolacta has profited millions of dollars from donor milk?
o No. Since Prolacta was established in 1999, its commercial sales to date have been less than $1 million dollars.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments: