Mama Knows Breast

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British Magazine Article Asks: Is Breastfeeding “Creepy?”

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I’m a bit tired of the pro-breastfeeding, anti-breastfeeding back and forth.  But here we are, once again, in the war of words.  In the July issue of the British magazine, Mother & Baby, the deputy editor Kathryn Blundell wrote an article titled, “I Formula Fed. So What?”  And here’s a quote from the piece:

I wanted my body back. (And some wine)… I also wanted to give my boobs at least a chance to stay on my chest rather than dangling around my stomach… They’re part of my sexuality, too – not just breasts, but fun bags. And when you have that attitude (and I admit I made no attempt to change it), seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy.

On the magazine’s website, there is now a post giving Blundell’s explanation of why she wrote the article.  Of course, the British press has been all over this.  The BBC reported on the resulting internet brouhaha.  And today, the New York Times blog Motherlode, jumped into the fray, as did Babble.  And there’s even a Facbeook page called “Mother and Baby Magazine-  Please Support Breastfeeding.”

There’s no need here to go into the arguments that pit breastfeeding against formula feeding.  We’ve heard it all before.  The issue, I think, is one of the magazine’s editorial judgment.  I don’t fault the magazine for publishing the piece, but perhaps someone on the magazine’s masthead is not the right person to write the story.  It sends the message that the magazine has an agenda.  If the same piece had been written by a contributing writer or a freelancer, it might seem less didactic.  Even juxtaposing it with another piece, a pro-breastfeeding piece, might have been a better editorial choice.  Maybe the standards are different in the British press.  I don’t know.

I’ve been poking around on line, trying to find a link to Blundell’s original article.  No luck at the moment.  But I did find a blog that says it has transcribed the piece. And if you happen to find the actual link, please let me know.  And as always, please weigh in, and tell me what you think about the story.

Most Men in Sweden Take Paternity Leave

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This is truly amazing. Imagine a country where the government actually encourages mothers AND fathers to take parental leave.  This isn’t just a pipe dream.  It’s the reality in Sweden. From the NYT:

From trendy central Stockholm to this village in the rugged forest south of the Arctic Circle, 85 percent of Swedish fathers take parental leave. Those who don’t face questions from family, friends and colleagues. As other countries still tinker with maternity leave and women’s rights, Sweden may be a glimpse of the future.

In this land of Viking lore, men are at the heart of the gender-equality debate. The ponytailed center-right finance minister calls himself a feminist, ads for cleaning products rarely feature women as homemakers, and preschools vet books for gender stereotypes in animal characters. For nearly four decades, governments of all political hues have legislated to give women equal rights at work — and men equal rights at home.

Swedish mothers still take more time off with children — almost four times as much. And some who thought they wanted their men to help raise baby now find themselves coveting more time at home.

But laws reserving at least two months of the generously paid, 13-month parental leave exclusively for fathers — a quota that could well double after the September election — have set off profound social change.

Companies have come to expect employees to take leave irrespective of gender, and not to penalize fathers at promotion time. Women’s paychecks are benefiting and the shift in fathers’ roles is perceived as playing a part in lower divorce rates and increasing joint custody of children.

In perhaps the most striking example of social engineering, a new definition of masculinity is emerging.

“Many men no longer want to be identified just by their jobs,” said Bengt Westerberg, who long opposed quotas but as deputy prime minister phased in a first month of paternity leave in 1995. “Many women now expect their husbands to take at least some time off with the children.”…

While Sweden, with nine million people, made a strategic decision to get more women into the work force in the booming 1960s, other countries imported more immigrant men. As populations in Europe decline and new labor shortages loom, countries have studied the Swedish model, said Peter Moss an expert on leave policies at the University of London’s Institute of Education.

The United States — with lower taxes and traditional wariness of state meddling in family affairs — is not among them.Portugal is the only country where paternity leave is mandatory — but only for a week. Iceland has arguably gone furthest, reserving three months for father, three months for mother and allowing parents to share another three months.

The trend is, however, no longer limited to small countries. Germany, with nearly 82 million people, in 2007 tweaked Sweden’s model, reserving two out of 14 months of paid leave for fathers. Within two years, fathers taking parental leave surged from 3 percent to more than 20 percent.

“That was a marker of pretty significant change,” said Kimberly Morgan, professor at George Washington University and an expert on parental leave. If Germany can do it, she said, “most countries can.”…

An Apology for The Mom Who Says She Was Asked To Stop Breastfeeding at Colorado Rockies Game

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UPDATE: The family says they received a letter of apology from Coors Field’s Director of Guest Services.  To read the apology in its entirety, go to Facebook, and join the group Nurse In @ Colorado Rockies.  Here’s a clip from the letter.

…It is regrettable that we were not able to speak that night as I believe we could have explained our actions to your satisfaction. We have no policy prohibiting breastfeeding in the park, in fact it is something that occurs quite often here. We work hard to make Coors Field a family ballpark and believe that breastfeeding is something that goes with the family environment.

I have spoken to the staff involved and each of them assure me they were only trying to offer you alternatives to feeding in the seating area. Normally our interactions with a mother who wishes to breastfeed involves her asking for a more private area away from the crowd.

I believe that the staff assumed they were helping by offering these alternatives, when in fact you just wanted to attend to your child and continue to enjoy the game. I can understand this was not how you perceived their actions and were offended. I can only apologize and use this situation to educate my staff to prevent a similar situation in the future.

We have instructed the staff that if a mother who is breastfeeding does not ask for assistance to continue to do their jobs like they normally would and not approach her with suggestions of alternate areas. If they feel that the mother would benefit from these suggestions; such as a very hot day or adverse weather, to begin the interaction by informing her that there is no issue with feeding in the seating area but we can provide alternate areas for her and her child if she would like…

Original Post:

A Colorado mom says ushers at Coors Field asked her to breastfeed her baby in the bathroom during a Colorado Rockies game.  From the ABC station in Denver (click here also to watch a video):

A Colorado Springs mother is demanding an apology from the Colorado Rockies after she said she was harassed by several ushers at Coors Field because she was breastfeeding.  Sandra Snow and her family were seated in the nosebleed section during Tuesday’s baseball game when she decided to nurse her hungry newborn daughter.   She moved to an empty row behind her seat so no one was around. She claims she was fully covered.  “An usher came up to me and told me I needed to do that in the family restroom,” said Snow.  “I told her, ‘I’d be done in a moment and I would come down then.’

After finishing, Snow said another employee came to her, reiterating that there were family restrooms in the ballpark.  “What I felt was, ‘This was offensive to other people and that I needed to take my disgrace to the restroom,’” Snow said. “I’m always careful about covering up and making sure nobody sees anything they don’t want to see.”

The family was so upset they decided to leave the game early.  “I was shocked this was still an issue in this day and age,” Snow said.  7NEWS checked out the family restroom and found the only place Snow could sit to nurse was on the toilet.  “What other time do we eat and use the restroom? That was not an appropriate area for me to feed a child,” Snow said.

Women in Colorado have a legal right to breastfeed in public.  A Rockies spokesman denies that employees took issue with Snow nursing, instead they claim the issue was that she had moved to a row that was closed off.  But what isn’t clear is, if that was the case, why did the ushers bring up the issue of her nursing.  The Rockies said nursing is allowed in any public area of the ballpark and that employees are trained on the policy.  Snow has e-mailed a complaint to the team and recently posted her story on Facebook.  “That is not their position to say where I feed my child and why I choose to feed her the way I do,” Snow said. “I just don’t think I will be going to any more professional baseball games.”

I’m Going to Blogher

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For the past few years I’ve been wondering what all the buzz was about the Blogher conference.  Well this summer I’ll find out.  The weekend long get together, girl power, blogger event is in New York.  When I finally got around to deciding to go, the conference was sold out.  Fortunately I was able (through persistant checking) to find a ticket for sale on a chat board on the Blogher site.

So, if any of you are going, let me know.  And, if any advertisers are out there reading this post, I’m looking for a company (or companies) to sponsor me for the weekend.  For information about being a sponsor, click here.

And now… blog on.

An Apology About Google Adsense

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I just noticed that Google Adsense, which I have on my site, is serving me an ad for infant formula.  I’m going to see if I can figure out how to get rid of that.  I’m not sure, though, if it is something I can control… And this is actually one of many reasons I recently switched to have Blogher ads on my site.   Blogher gives you a lot of control over the type of ads you want to appear on your site.  You can actually specify types of ads you don’t want.  In my case, I checked that I didn’t want any ads from formula companies.  Kudos to Blogher for recognizing this as something many people want to control.

The Atlantic Story on Supplements in Infant Formula

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There’s an interesting story in The Atlantic about supplements that companies are adding to infant formula.  The author, Marion Nestle, a professor at New York University (and the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics) writes:

If you don’t have a small baby, or if your baby is breastfed (and see note at the end of this post), you no doubt are missing the furor over “functional” ingredients that companies have been adding to infant formulas.

DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) came first. As I discuss in my book What to Eat, infant formula companies could not wait to add it. They knew they could market it on the basis of preliminary evidence associating DHA with visual and cognitive benefits in young infants. Although evidence for long-term benefits is scanty, the companies also knew that they could charge higher prices for formulas containing DHA.

The FDA approved the use of DHA in infant formulas on the grounds that it is safe, but did not require the companies to establish that DHA makes any difference to infant health after the first year. Because of its marketing advantage, virtually all infant formulas now contain DHA. Surprise! They also cost more.

Companies now want to add other ingredients, such as prebiotics, probiotics, lutein, lycopene, and betacarotene, which also can be marketed as healthier and at higher prices.

In response, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has issued a report (PDF) on the lack of evidence for the benefits of functional ingredients and the substantial harm they will cause to the economic viability of the WIC program, the USDA’s assistance program for low-income mothers and children.

A Breastfeeding Rap

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I found this video through Lactnet, a Listserv group focused on breastfeeding.  The video is on YouTube and has a note that says it was from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s “Scope and Scalpel” (my guess is a student play).  Enjoy!

And Congratulations to Another Blogger… Mama Bird Diaries!

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And somehow I’ve been blogging under a rock… because I missed the posts from one of the funniest bloggers I know.  Kelcey Kintner of Mama Bird Diaries recently had twins.  They were born a bit early, but one is home from the hospital, and the other should be as well soon.  Kelcey is breastfeeding and pumping around the clock, as you can imagine.  So send her a shout out here.

And I guess there just must have been something in the water ten months ago… because the long awaited cousin for my kids has arrived too!!

Congratulations to Tanya of The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog!

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One of my favorite bloggers has a big announcement on her site today… Tanya of Motherwear’s Breastfeeding blog had her second child, a baby girl born by a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).  Tanya, here’s to many hours of sweet feedings.  I’m looking forward to your coming posts and everything you’ll share with the blogosphere.  Mazel Tov!

Gifts for New Moms

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I recently put together a care package for a family member who is about to have a baby any day now.  We’re very excited here on Baby Watch 2010… waiting for the phone call!

So what did I put in the package?  I pulled together some of my favorite items for new moms.  Some are specifically for breastfeeding, and some can be used even if you aren’t breastfeeding.  These are items I’ve either used myself, or items that friends have given high marks.  Here’s the list:

1. My Brest Friend nursing pillow (I had the Boppy but it didn’t work too well for me).

2. Nursing cover (I didn’t use one; I typically just grabbed whatever I had with me… a jacket, my shirt, baby blanket.  But a lot of the shawls are really pretty, so why not?)

3. Lansinoh breast cream (use only if necessary).

4. Simplisse manual breast pump (handy if traveling to a place where you won’t have access to an electrical outlet).

5. Washable/reusable breast pads. (I can’t remember the brand, but they all do the same work of containing leaks).

6. Born Free baby bottles because they don’t have any BPA, Phthalates or PVC, in the plastic.

7. And finally, I gave her my trusty old Medela Pump In Style