Mama Knows Breast

Andi in the news

Watch Andi on the CBS Early Show: Click here.

Watch Andi on The NBC NIGHTLY NEWS: Click here.

Watch Andi on THE TODAY SHOW: Click here.

Looking For Other Bloggers Who Write About Breastfeeding

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Bettina Forbes, of Best For Babes, is compiling a list of breastfeeding bloggers. If you run a blog that is solely dedicated to breastfeeding, or you post frequently on breastfeeding matters, leave a comment here. I’ll forward the information on to Bettina. Best For Babes is a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding.

The New Health Care Reform Bill and Breastfeeding

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Just before Christmas, the U.S. Senate passed a health care reform bill. One provision of the complex bill actually pertains to breastfeeding. Writing on the Huffington Post, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), noted:

One of my favorites–in part, I confess, because I led the fight for it–is the amendment that guarantees every mother returning to work the privacy and flexibility in break time needed to nurse her child or pump breast milk. Breastfeeding is great for the baby’s and the mother’s health, and is a big factor in emotional bonding as well.

Merkley summarizes other parts of the bill:
* 30 million Americans will gain access to affordable health care.
* 10,000 additional communities will get community health centers.
* A new Health Care Bill of Rights will:
** ban the practice of barring health insurance to citizens with pre-existing conditions;
** ban the practice of dumping policy holders who get sick or injured;
** enable children to stay on their parents’ policies through age 25;
** ban discrimination based gender or health histories; and
** ban lifetime coverage caps.
* Insurance purchasing pools (exchanges) will give individuals and small businesses–who have been lambs to the slaughter when trying to buy insurance–access to fair rates.
* Insurance companies must spend at least 80%-85% of premiums on health services (higher than the current national average).
* America will invest far more in prevention and disease management.

For an understanding what has to happen next, before this bill could become law (more negotiations and final votes in the Senate and House), read this New York Times article. Also, visit President Obama’s website.

Donating Breast Milk

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CNN has the story of two moms who have donated their extra breast milk to help babies in South Africa. The donations are handled through the International Breast Milk Project. Here’s the link to the CNN story. From the IBMP’s website, it appears that they aren’t accepting more donations right now. But you can fill fill out a form so the group will notify you of changes.
If you are interested in donating milk to babies in the United States and Canada, check out the Human Milk Banking Association of North America’s website. There are instructions about the criteria for donors and how to find a milk bank near you.

NPR Story on African American Women and Breastfeeding

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A piece today on NPR about the low breastfeeding rates among African American women… and efforts to reach out to new moms. You can listen to the audio here. And here’s an excerpt:
When Kathi Barber gave birth a decade ago, she was the first in her family in generations to nurse, and was dumbfounded to realize she had no role models. Barber became obsessed with encouraging nursing among black moms, as numerous studies show that exclusive breast-feeding can reduce a baby’s chances of developing diabetes, obesity, ear infections and respiratory illness.
Yet Barber was frustrated that for many new mothers, their only image of this age-old act may come from a museum or a National Geographic documentary.
“Tribal women, with elongated breasts, earrings and tribal jewelry. And let’s say we’re trying to promote that to a 25-year-old, mmm …” she laughs. “I don’t think that’s going to do the trick.”
So Barber founded the African-American Breastfeeding Alliance and wrote The Black Woman’s Guide to Breastfeeding. As a lactation consultant, she travels the country putting on workshops and training sessions, and encouraging hospitals and family clinics to reach out to this community…
Barber says work is clearly a huge barrier, and black moms may be more likely to hold lower-wage jobs with no breaks allowed for nursing. African-Americans have also had to earn money since long before the women’s liberation movement.
In fact, Barber thinks you can trace part of the problem all the way back to the breakup of families under slavery, and the enduring, negative image of so-called mammies — slaves made to serve as wet nurses for their master’s white children.
That practice continued for domestic servants well past the end of slavery, and for Barber, it helps explain the ironies that played out later. In the 20th century, it was white, wealthy women who led the march to formula feeding, and minorities followed. But when white elites backtracked and made breast-feeding hip, most African-Americans didn’t buy it.
“Infant formula became a thing of prestige,” says Barber. “Breast-feeding was thought to be something that lower-class women did. So, if you can think of it as a political issue, it really is.”
Barber and others say another factor in low breast-feeding rates is aggressive marketing by the multibillion-dollar baby formula industry, which has convinced hospitals to hand out its products for free.

A Breastfeeding Holiday Poem

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It’s been a while since I’ve joined the monthly “carnival” of breastfeeding bloggers. My blogging has been a bit stunted by a move, and all the ups and downs that that entailed. Anyway, this month our lovely group of bloggers is writing about how to stay healthy during the holiday season. Go all the way to the end of this post for the entries from other bloggers. As for me, this topic immediately brought to mind a poem I wrote a few years ago when I was still breastfeeding our youngest son. And so, I bring you once again…

By Andi Silverman,

‘Twas a holiday eve and the babe was asleep,
Swaddled tight in his crib he made not a peep.
My boobs were depleted from feeding all day.
“Please don’t wake. Sleep all night,” to the babe I did pray.
But his lips, how they moved, as he lay in his bed.
Visions of milky breasts danced in his head.
Dad in his boxers and I in my sweats,
Could we get some shuteye? Go ahead, place your bets.
The moon on the breast of my t-shirt did glow,
Gave a luster to leaking spots set to grow.
My nursing pads were soaked, they fell out of place.
My bra had unsnapped. How I missed sexy lace.
For months I’d been feeding our babe everywhere.
Coffee shop, park bench, museum, movie chair.
All my modesty gone, nothing shy anymore.
If the kiddo was crying, I knew how to score.
And now with the holidays, things often got dire.
While out buying gifts, I sometimes drew ire.
I breastfed in clothing stores. Changing rooms rock.
I breastfed in bookstores. To the stacks I did flock.
When from the babe’s room there arose such a clatter.
We sprang from our bed to see what was the matter.
Away to his room we flew with a flash,
Threw open the door, in the dark I did crash.
What a klutz I can be, ‘twas those bags made me fall.
Sacks for our trip, all arranged in the hall.
We were going to Grandma’s, a five hour drive.
Holiday time—Will I make it alive?
One big huge duffle held all the babe’s stuff.
Diapers, wipes, onesies. Did I bring enough?
Now don’t forget burp cloths, crib sheets and toys.
Books and Bjorn, we’ll exhibit such poise.
On breast pump, on bottles, on stroller and boppy.
On car seat, on cradle, on blanket and binky.
Fill the back of the car, fill the trunk with our haul.
And we’ll drive away, drive away, drive away all.
Now don’t forget stopping to feed long the way.
Gas stations, McDonalds and rest stops, oy vey.
Of course there’ll be lots of those diapers to do.
Get out the Purell, you’ll be covered in poo.
When we finally arrive, now what will await?
Lots of food and embraces, it’ll be really great.
No, no one will not fight. I will not shed a tear.
Ok, a white lie— but rejoice in who’s here.
And what about wine or a champagne or two?
Will it make my milk bad? Old wives tale or true?
And will anyone say, “Can he now take a bottle?”
“How long will you breastfeed?” How these questions can throttle.
Now back to that “clatter,” the babe and that noise.
We had rushed right on in, leaping over the toys.
When what to our wondering eyes did appear,
Our babe still asleep, oh how sweet, oh how dear.
His cheeks, how they glistened, his hair soft and furry.
And I smiled when I saw him, despite all my worry.
How delicious, his belly, moving in and then out.
How precious, his lips in a sweet little pout.
He had not woken up! He did not need to eat.
He had had quite enough, his day quite complete.
And so back to our bed we did quietly crawl.
Happy Holidays to one, happy sleeping to all.
© 2006, Andi Silverman,
Breastfeeding 123: Breastfeeding and Dehydration
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Taking Care of Yourself During the Holidays
Cave Mother: A Mother’s Christmas
Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: Don’t Forget the Pump!
Accidental Pharmacist: Motherhood Statement
Hobo Mama: Breastfeeding and the holidays: How to take care of yourself
Mommy News and Views: The Holidays and Being a Breastfeeding Mom
Breastfeeding Mums: Looking After Yourself During the Holidays: 7 Tips for Breastfeeding Mums
The Adventures of Lactating Girl: Breastfeeding and Holidays
Breastfeeding Moms Unite: Taking Care of a High Needs Baby at the Holidays
Happy Bambinos: How to Take Care of Ourselves During the Holiday
Blacktating: Advice For the Holidays

Breastfeeding May Reduce Risk of Diabetes

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We all know breastfeeding has health benefits for babies. And it seems we are hearing more and more how breastfeeding has health benefits for moms, too.
The latest study from researchers at Kaiser Permanente found that breastfeeding lowered a woman’s risk for developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a bunch of risk factors (elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance and belly fat) that are linked to diabetes and heart disease.
Here’s a news story from WebMD and a story from Reuters.
And from USA Today:
“Pregnancy may have some adverse effects on some of these cardiovascular risk factors,” lead author Erica Gunderson says, “and lactation (breast-feeding) may offset some of these effects.”
The impact of breast-feeding on the risk of metabolic syndrome was “slightly stronger” in women who’d had gestational — or pregnancy-induced — diabetes, says Gunderson, an epidemiologist and research scientist at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland. “This is the first study to really look at lactation and the metabolic syndrome in women with GDM (gestational diabetes).”…
Gunderson and her co-authors based their new findings on 704 women in an ongoing, government-funded study of heart-disease risk factors. When the women entered the study in 1985-1986, they were ages 18-30 and had never given birth; testing confirmed they didn’t have metabolic syndrome.
They all went on to deliver at least one child; only 16% had more than two children. They returned for measurements of metabolic syndrome components seven, 10, 15 and 20 years after entering the study; 120 developed metabolic syndrome.
In women who didn’t have gestational diabetes, breast-feeding cut metabolic syndrome risk 39%-56%. In those who did, it cut the risk 44%-86%. In both, the authors write in Diabetes: The Journal of the American Diabetes Association, the longer women breast-fed, the lower their risk.

I’ve written before about another study that also found breastfeeding reduced the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Michigan Target Store Asks Breastfeeding Mom To Leave

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The Crunchy Domestic Goddess blog brought this story to my attention… a mom ran into trouble breastfeeding her 4 week old baby at a Target store in Harper Woods, Michigan. Store managers called the police and the mom was escorted out.
The local Fox channel has an interview with the mom and dad:
FOX 2 contacted Target’s corporate headquarters. They tell us they allow mothers to breast-feed in their stores. But, “This specific situation escalated to a point where we were concerned for the safety of our guests, so law enforcement was called. We regret the incident in our store and will continue to provide a shopping environment that respects the needs of all guests, including nursing mothers.”
“Forcing me out of the store. Two security guards, the manager or team leader, two officers, they just made a spectacle and a scene. I feel like I can’t go to that specific Target anymore,” Mary Martinez said.
In addition to talking with the corporate management at Target, we spoke to the manager of the Harper Woods store. She says breast-feeding is certainly not discouraged inside of her store.

If you want to express your concern with this, there are multiple choices. See Breastfeeding 123 as well as the Crunchy Domestic Goddess post.

WHO’s Recommendations For HIV and Breastfeeding

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Some timely news for World Aids Day
The World Health Organization has just issued new guidelines relating to HIV and breastfeeding. From the WHO’s press release:

In 2006, WHO recommended that ARVs be provided to HIV-positive pregnant women in the third trimester (beginning at 28 weeks) to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. At the time, there was insufficient evidence on the protective effect of ARVs during breastfeeding. Since then, several clinical trials have shown the efficacy of ARVs in preventing transmission to the infant while breastfeeding. The 2009 recommendations promote the use of ARVs earlier in pregnancy, starting at 14 weeks and continuing through the end of the breastfeeding period.
WHO now recommends that breastfeeding continue until the infant is 12 months of age, provided the HIV-positive mother or baby is taking ARVs during that period. This will reduce the risk of HIV transmission and improve the infant’s chance of survival.
“In the new recommendations, we are sending a clear message that breastfeeding is a good option for every baby, even those with HIV-positive mothers, when they have access to ARVs,” said Daisy Mafubelu, WHO’s Assistant Director General for Family and Community Health.
National health authorities are encouraged by WHO to identify the most appropriate infant feeding practice (either breastfeeding with ARVs or the use of infant formula) for their communities. The selected practice should then be promoted as the single standard of care.

Tanya, at The Motherwear Breastfeeding blog, has a great post that puts this development in context. She writes:

You may recall that HIV can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. In the developing world this has been a major source of new infections.
For this reason, it’s been the recommendation that women who are HIV positive not breastfeed, as long as formula feeding is “acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe.”
Many women in developing countries don’t have access to clean water, much less the resources to purchase formula, and not breastfeeding puts their infants at a high risk of death and disease. In one recent study of 14 developing countries, not breastfeeding resulted in over 325 deaths per 1,000 births compared to 35 deaths per 1,000 births among breastfed babies.
That’s why breastfeeding, even though it may mean that a child becomes infected with HIV, is considered safer than not breastfeeding in much of the developing world. Both feeding options carry significant risks, but a child is far likelier to die early in life if he is not breastfed.

Community of Moms Breastfeeds Newborn

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Lots going on today… so I’ll do a few separate posts. First off… a story that is truly remarkable. A group of moms in Michigan are breastfeeding a baby whose mom died shortly after childbirth. Charles Moses Martin Goodrich was born in January 2009, and since more than twenty women have stepped in to feed him. has an updated view of the story today.