Mama Knows Breast

Andi in the news

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What’s Best for Babes?

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There are a lot of organizations, professionals and moms-on-a-mission who are devoted to promoting breastfeeding. They all do good work. Now here’s another group that is taking a unique approach to increasing breastfeeding rates in the U.S. Best For Babes is a non-profit founded by two moms who are trying to harness the power of mainstream media. I had a chance to talk to the founders Bettina Forbes and Danielle Rigg about their plans. Here’s what they had to say:
What is Best For Babes?
Best for Babes is dedicated to increasing breastfeeding rates and making breastfeeding mainstream. To accomplish this, BfB is the first and only entity to bring together celebrities, corporations, foundations, fashion, advertising and the media to give breastfeeding a makeover. Our motto is “inspire, prepare, empower”: BfB is providing inspiring images and role-models, smart info on how to avoid the “booby traps,” and how to have a game plan for breastfeeding successfully. Our research and experience have convinced us that this strategy is the best antidote to persistently low U.S. breastfeeding rates.
Why did you start BfB?
Because new moms don’t need more pressure or more guilt! They need solutions, and the inspiration to succeed at nursing. We are two moms who endured unnecessary breastfeeding problems ourselves and heard many similar stories from our peers. Danielle took her personal struggle and passion for breastfeeding and turned it into a degree as a CLC (Certified Lactation Counselor) in 2002. Bettina was more recently certified. In our work we kept finding the same problem: too many moms weren’t being motivated, prepared or supported properly. At a time when breastfeeding is being encouraged as never before, women are still being set up to fail.
On the motivation side, we found that many women were being turned-off both by existing breastfeeding groups and by images with which they did not identify. Many moms also were scared-off by stories they heard about breastfeeding problems. The saddest part is that 95% of these problems are easily avoided with the proper guidance.
What are your goals?
We’d love to see the U.S. have the same breastfeeding rates as Sweden—where 99% of women initiate and 79% are still mostly breastfeeding at 6 months. In the U.S., the initiation rate is 64%, and only 14% are breastfeeding exclusively at 6 months. One of our most important goals is to provide celebrity and everyday role models. Many women have never seen another woman breastfeed and don’t know where to turn for support or inspiration.
We also want to simply get the most accurate information into women’s hands. Mainstream articles are not always evidence-based, and put little emphasis on prevention. So, we are educating women on how to be better prepared before birth—which hospitals have the best breastfeeding track record, how to find a pediatrician who is trained in lactation or has an IBCLC on staff, which health insurance covers lactation specialists; which employers provide pumping accommodations and on-site daycare. Women also need social support from families and friends. They need positive media images and stores and restaurants that are nursing-friendly. All of these make a huge difference in breastfeeding success We will also be asking for volunteers: Moms are a powerful force and we think the time is right to harness their energy. Moms deserve to be pumped up, geared up, and to feel fabulous about giving their best mom-made wonderfood™ to their babes.

What celebrities are on board with this idea?

Marilu Henner is one of our founding board members and has been terrific. She immediately “got” our concept and is tremendously supportive. Henner is a well-known actress and a New York Times bestselling author who has dedicated herself to helping people improve their health. We’re expecting other celebrities to jump in soon too.
What did you do before BFB?
Well, immediately before BfB, both of us were trying to figure out how to tend to two small children (apiece), our husbands, our homes, and still find time to change the world! Before that, Bettina worked in corporate philanthropy for Merrill Lynch where she managed a highly successful scholarship program for inner-city youth in ten major U.S. cities. The program received numerous awards, including the nation’s highest honor, the President’s “Points of Light” Service Award, in 1999. Danielle was an employment and labor lawyer working at a prestigious NYC firm, and, later, for a large corporation. She gave all that up when she found her calling to help women learn to breastfeed Danielle’s diagnosis with breast cancer at age 37, has motivated her even more to tout breastfeeding’s protective effect against breast cancer – especially the lesser-known benefit for breastfed baby girls.

What should we watch for next from BFB?

In August we were on the cover of Stork Magazine. This was the first in a series of gorgeous images plus smart info that we have planned for our advertising/media campaign. Look for interviews with us in prominent mainstream magazines, and cross-marketing projects with our partners. Also tune in to the “Boob Tube” at where we set the record straight on latest breastfeeding-related articles, research and products.

Book Review of “bOObs: A Guide To Your Girls”

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Sometimes you come across a book with a truly clever title and it seems to jump off the shelf. Well here’s one of those books for you, bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls. Through blogging I’ve gotten to be friends with the author, Elisabeth Squires. She also has a blog, The bOOb Lady’s Blog.
So this month, as part of the Breastfeeding Bloggers’ Carnival, I’m reviewing Elisabeth’s book. The other blog posts are book reviews as well. This should give you some gift-giving ideas as we dive head first in the holiday season.
boobs cover.jpg
“bOObs” is a book about every breast related topic you can think of– buying the right sized bra, getting a mammogram, coping with breast disease, having breast surgery, exercising comfortably, “exposing your girls” and even accepting the changes that come with age. Throughout the book, Squires debunks myths, gives historical perspectives on breasts and has fun quotes from women of all ages and breast-sizes. There are gems like this one: “Breasts are like avocados. At twenty, they aren’t quite ripe, at thirty they’re perfect, and at forty they are overly ripe. –36B, age 44.”
Of course, there is an entire chapter on the pregnant and nursing boob. Squires takes a realistic and informative perspective on breastfeeding, and has sound practical advice like this: “Toward the end of your pregnancy, around your eighth month, you’ll want to invest in three good nursing bras. At a minimum, you want one to wear and one to spare, while the third will typically be in the wash. Some women also choose to wear a cotton nursing bra at night.”
Squires did her research for this book. (I’ve got to ask her how many years or months she spent on this). It’s a long book– the 290 pages includes an index, footnotes and book and web resources. And finally, she even has your own personal “Boob Journal.” This will help you record your bra sizes, dates of mammograms, “mammoirs” (aka memories) and drawings of your breasts. Of course there are also detailed instructions on doing a monthly breast self-exam.
Bottom line, this is a great gift for your sister, cousin, mom or aunt. (It’s probably a bit much for a young teenage girl). Just mention the title and you’ll find yourself having a fun conversation.
Now for the other blogs participating in the Carnival:
The True Face of Birth has a review of my own book, “Mama Knows Breast.”
The International Breastfeeding Symbol Blog reviews The Baby Book and Unconditional Parenting.
Hobo Mama reviews Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent.
Breastfeeding Mums blog and The Motherwear Blog both review too many books for me to list here. Just click to their sites. They’ve found some real gems, including my book :) . Thanks, once again, ladies!
On School Street reviews Blindsided by a Diaper: Over 30 Men and Women Reveal How Parenthood Changes a Relationship.
Tales of Life with a Girl on the Go reviews the children’s book The Best Gifts.
James and The Giant Moose Blog has a review of Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood.
Breastfeeding123 reviews Baby Matters.
Crunchy Domestic Goddess reviews the video What Babies Want.

A Thanksgiving Trip to the ER

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First off, let me say, everyone is ok. But if you want to find out why we spent last night in the pediatric ER, read my post over on the New York City Moms Blog. It’s a new moms blog network and I’m going to be posting there regularly. New York Moms has some sister blogs as well. There is Silicon Valley Moms, Chicago Moms and DC Metro Moms.
And a final note…there was a brief moment tonight when I thought we were headed back to the ER. The Bortsky got his finger slammed in a door at diner. He’s fine, too. Thank God. Much to be thankful for tonight. Now, if the kids would just fall asleep.

New Policy for Separating Illegal Immigrants From Their Breastfed Babies During Detentions

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For once, here’s some breastfeeding news that makes sense. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has issued new guidelines on the detention of nursing mothers who are in this country illegally. The New York Times is reporting today that they can now be released unless they pose a national security risk. ICE’s new written guidelines also establish how agents should handle the arrests of single parents, pregnant women, and other immigrants with special child or family care responsibilities.
This follows a sad case last month. Here’s part of the NYT article:

Federal immigration agents were searching a house in Ohio last month when they found a young Honduran woman nursing her baby. The woman, Saída Umanzor, is an illegal immigrant and was taken to jail to await deportation. Her 9-month-old daughter, Brittney Bejarano, who was born in the United States and is a citizen, was put in the care of social workers….
Ms. Umanzor, 26, was arrested in her home on Maple Street in Conneaut, Ohio, on Oct. 26 and was released 11 days later on orders of Julie L. Myers, the head of the immigration agency. While in detention, Ms. Umanzor did not see her daughter Brittney, who had been fed only breast milk before her mother’s arrest. Ms. Umanzor remains under house arrest with Brittney and her two other children in Conneaut, 70 miles east of Cleveland, under an order for deportation. Her lawyer, David W. Leopold, has asked that her deportation be delayed on humanitarian grounds.
Ms. Umanzor had been at home with two of her three children, both American citizens, when the immigration agents arrived, along with a county police officer carrying a criminal warrant for a brother-in-law of Ms. Umanzor who also lived in the house.
As the agents searched, Ms. Umanzor breast-fed her jittery baby, she recalled in an interview after her release.
The baby was born in January in Oregon, where Ms. Umanzor’s husband, also Honduran and an illegal immigrant, was working in a saw mill.
Through a quick records check during the raid, the immigration agents discovered a July 2006 order of deportation for Ms. Umanzor, who had failed to appear for a court date after she was caught crossing a Texas border river illegally.
The agents detained her as a fugitive. She was forced to leave both Brittney and the other American daughter, Alexandra, who is 3, since the agents could not detain them.
“Just thinking that I was going to leave my little girl, I began to feel sick,” Ms. Umanzor said of the baby. “I had a pain in my heart.”
Ms. Umanzor turned over her daughters to social workers from the Ashtabula County Children Services Board, who had been summoned by the immigration authorities. In all, the social workers took in six children who lived in the Maple Street house, including Ms. Umanzor’s oldest child, a son born in Honduras. They also included three children of Ms. Umanzor’s sister, an illegal immigrant who was at work that day. Four of the children were born in the United States.
In jail and with her nursing abruptly halted, Ms. Umanzor’s breasts become painfully engorged. With the help of Veronica Dahlberg, director of a Hispanic women’s group in Ashtabula County, a breast pump was delivered on her third day in jail. Brittney, meanwhile, did not eat for three days, refusing to take formula from a bottle, Ms. Dahlberg said.
After four days, the county released all six children to Ms. Umanzor’s sister, who managed to wean Brittney to a bottle.
On Nov. 7, after two dozen women’s health advocates and researchers sent a letter protesting Ms. Umanzor’s detention, Ms. Myers issued a memorandum instructing field officers “to exercise discretion” during arrests by releasing nursing mothers from detention unless they presented a national security or public safety risk.
In cases where the breast-feeding children were United States citizens and entitled to public services, Ms. Myers urged the officers to seek assistance from social agencies to “maintain the unity of the mother and child.”

New Websites for You To Check Out

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Here are some of my recent internet discoveries:
Sinead, from Breastfeeding Mums has launched a social networking site for moms called BMums.
Breastfeeding Guru is a beautifully designed site that has news, reviews and expert views. There’s a review of my book on the site. Mindith, the woman who runs the site, is a Certified Lactation Education Counselor.
And now some food for grown-ups. Check out FoodieBytes, a new way to find a restaurant. Type in the sort of food you want to eat, in a particular city, and you’ll get a list of restaurants. Right now the service is available for New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, DC. There’s a blog too. Thanks to Kelli of ABoobLog for telling me about this one– it’s her husband’s new venture.

My Amazon Problem is Resolved

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Update: I just got an email from Amazon telling me the problem was resolved. Here’s what it said: “Thank you for writing to with your concern. I’m sorry for the difficulty you experienced using our web site. The issue causing this problem has now been resolved, and you should be able to create Tags. We appreciate your patience. Thanks again for your contributions to the community.”
I also went to some of the other well known breastfeeding books on Amazon and created similar tags for those books. This should help new moms find the resources they need.

Now to the original post:
Sometimes it pays to be a nudge. For weeks I’ve been pestering Amazon about the fact that their site would not let me create a “tag” for my book that said “breastfeeding.” The problem is now fixed.
I went onto the Amazon page that sells my book Mama Knows Breast today, and tried one last time to create the tag. And lo and behold it worked! I had no idea it was fixed. I was actually still waiting for a response from customer service.
So Amazon, kudos to you for realizing breastfeeding is not a dirty word. But please, get your customer service department to shape up. I was one step away from writing you a nasty-gram. Then you would have seen the true nudge come out.

Does Breastfeeding Make Your Breasts Sag? New Study Says No

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From December 2003 to March 2006 I was either pregnant or breastfeeding. Not a day off. I got pregnant with The Bear while still breastfeeding The Bortski. So for a while I wasn’t quite sure how things would look in the boob department once I was all done with the baby feeding thing. So what happened? Let’s just say my bra size has changed. I won’t tell you which way it went….up or down. But let’s just say that it’s different. And almost any mom will tell you something similar.
All the literature I’ve ever read says that breast changes are due to the pregnancy itself, weight gain, weight loss and heredity. Breastfeeding has nothing to do with it. Now a study that came out last month confirms that breastfeeding doesn’t make your boobs sag. Here’s some information from WebMD.
“Expectant mothers should be reassured that breastfeeding does not appear to have an adverse effect upon breast appearance,” report University of Kentucky plastic surgeon Brian Rinker, MD, and colleagues.
They interviewed 132 women who came to their plastic surgery clinic to get breast augmentation or a surgical lift for sagging breasts.
The women were 39 years old, on average. The majority — 93 patients — had had at least one pregnancy. Most of the moms — 58% — had breastfed at least one child.
Rinker’s team noted the women’s medical history, BMI (body mass index), pre-pregnancy bra cup size, smoking status, and other factors.
The bottom line: “Breastfeeding does not adversely affect breast shape, beyond the effects of pregnancy alone,” conclude Rinker and colleagues
However, four other factors were linked to breast sagging:
* Older age
* Cigarette smoking
* Larger pre-pregnancy bra cup size
* Greater number of pregnancies
Age and cigarette smoking both hamper skin’s elasticity, note the researchers.

When I first learned about this study, and realized it was done by some plastic surgeons, I was a bit skeptical. Their ultimate goal, obviously, is to plant the idea in women’s heads that a boob job is the way to go post-baby. But put that aside for a moment, and focus on the study’s bottom line. Breastfeeding is not going to change your figure. I guess it’s nice to get a thumbs up for breastfeeding, no matter where it comes from.

Speaking at Another Moms Event in New York City

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Calling all pregnant ladies… or new moms…or anyone who wants to talk about babes and boobs. I’m doing a book signing with the group Baby Bites on December 5th. Here are the details:
When: Wednesday, December 5th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Where: Destination Maternity, corner of 57th and Madison
Cost: $40 in advance, $45 day of, food & refreshments will be served
Here’s a link to the event information.

Still Trying to Get Amazon to Let Me Create a Tag That Says Breastfeeding

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So far, I haven’t had any luck with my quest to create certain “tags” on the Amazon page that sells my book. Amazon won’t accept any variation of the word breastfeeding. I wrote about this here and here last week. Since then, I wrote yet another letter to Amazon. I got a pretty lame response today.
Here’s my letter.
To the Amazon Team:
I have been trying to create tags for various forms of the word breastfeeding. Breast feeding. Breast-feeding. Breastfeed, breast feed, breast-feed. Amazon will not let me do this. The title of my book is “Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide to Breastfeeding.” So these tags are very important to me.
I wrote about my trouble with this on my blog. My blog is linked through RSS to the Amazon site, so the post is visible on my sales page. Can someone please help me resolve this problem? Thank you.
Here’s the response:
Andi, Thanks for contacting us at
I’m sorry, but I will need to research the tag feature further. I
will write back to you with an answer within the next 5-6business
Thank you in advance for your patience, and thanks for shopping at

I’m Making A Guest Appearance on the Site The Nest Baby

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In the late 90′s I lived on Mott Street in Manhattan. It was a cute little block that had yet to be overrun by chic boutiques. Today its a shoppers’ mecca. But back then we had one coffee shop, a pizza place, a diner and some abandoned store fronts. I also had a hallway neighbor who mentioned that she was working on a new website for brides. (She may have even been starting it, I can’t remember. I can’t remember her name, either). That little website was called The Knot. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.
If you have, you may also know The Knot’s sister websites, The Nest, and The Nest Baby. Can you say building a brand?
Anyway, The Nest Baby is an adorable site for moms who are trying to conceive, well into their pregnancies or experiencing life with a newborn. I’m making a guest appearance on the site this week, and I’m answering reader questions. Hop on over if you’d like and check things out.