Mama Knows Breast




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Lactation Rooms on Capitol Hill

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The New York Times has a cool story today about the lactation rooms for people who work in Congress.

There are four lactation suites throughout the Hill — two in House office buildings, one that is undergoing renovation in a Senate office building and one in the Capitol itself — along with several health stations. All are clean, private areas where mothers can nurse their babies and pump their milk. They are also one of the few truly bipartisan spaces left on the Hill, neutral zones amid partisan warfare.

“I definitely got to know Republicans who I wouldn’t have otherwise known,” Ms. Walsh said. “Especially with all of the limitations on travel and trips and everything like that these days, there’s not a lot of camaraderie up there, there’s not a lot of room to meet people on the other side of the aisle.

“You all have something very significant in your life in common,” she said, “and you can all relate to each other and sympathize” about the difficulties of motherhood.

The first suite specifically for lactating mothers on the Hill was opened in the fall of 2006, by Congress’s Office of the Attending Physician. But after taking up the gavel in 2007, Nancy Pelosi, the first female House speaker, was instrumental in making that chamber what she called “family-friendly for new mothers.” She opened the first nursing-only rooms on the House side, and others soon sprang up.

“It is good for our country — more young moms in Congress, pretty soon more women leaders in Congress,” Ms. Pelosi said at a news conference in 2009. “And, who knows, maybe one of these new young moms will be the president of the United States.”

The rooms, which can be entered only through doors with electronic locks, are similar to those in many large corporations, with hospital-grade breast pumps, comfortable chairs and couches, a sink and a mini-refrigerator. There are also a smattering of magazines, telephones and a television often used for watching floor votes — this is Congress, after all.

Besides bottles filled with mothers’ milk, they have also yielded unexpected job opportunities, moments of quiet reflection amid the bustle of Congress and some unlikely friendships.

Breastfeeding and Mom’s Sleep

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Babies don’t sleep through the night.  They just don’t.  Parents never get any sleep.  And that is never going to change.

I’ve often heard people claim that breastfeeding moms get the least amount of sleep because they have to wake up to breastfeed.  But that just didn’t ring true with my experience.  If I had been bottle feeding, I would have had to get up anyway.  I would have had to get out of bed, make the formula, stumble back to the bedroom… all with a screaming child.  Yes, my husband could have done some feedings, but there was little chance I was going to sleep through that.

So I wasn’t surprised to see the results of a new study which found that moms who breastfeed are not losing any more sleep than moms who formula feed.  Here’s a link to the study in the journal Pediatrics. And from Reuters:

Contradicting the suspicion that breastfeeding moms get less sleep, the results represent “good information to be able to tell women, (that) ‘not breastfeeding is not going to help you get better sleep,’” study author Dr. Hawley Montgomery-Downs of West Virginia University told Reuters Health. “And the benefits (of breastfeeding) for both mom and baby are tremendous.”…

There has been an “urban myth” that women who breastfeed get less sleep, Montgomery-Downs noted, which may cause some to hesitate to do so. Caring for a newborn is challenging enough, without being sleep-deprived, and some research has even suggested poor sleep after childbirth may increase the risk of postpartum depression…

When Montgomery-Downs and her colleagues asked 80 new mothers to report how often they woke up and how rested they felt, and to wear sensors that measured how long and efficiently they slept, they found no significant differences between those who relied on breastfeeding, formula, or both. They report their findings in the journal Pediatrics…This suggests that “there may be some kind of compensation” for breastfeeding mothers, Montgomery-Downs said in an interview.

For instance, babies who breastfeed may wake up more (and wake up their parents more), but those nighttime feedings may have less of an impact than if they were drinking formula, she suggested. In order to prepare a bottle, women often have to get up, turn on the lights, and move around quite a bit, all of which may make it harder for them to go back to sleep.

Alternatively, when breastfeeding, women may be awake for shorter intervals, and be less active, which makes it easier for them to go back to sleep. Women who breastfeed also have higher levels of the hormone prolactin, which facilitates sleep, Montgomery-Downs noted. And if the babies are sleeping next to the mothers, they may feed while the mother is sleeping, she added.


Breastfeeding and Vitamin D

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MSNBC has a story that’s a reminder that Vitamin D is especially important for young children and infants. From the story:

…(B)reast milk — considered the best source of nutrition for babies — is low in vitamin D. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all children, including infants, get 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day, an amount that is not possible to get from breast milk alone, experts say. And while people can also get vitamin D from sunlight, the AAP advises that infants younger than six months avoid exposure to direct sunlight due to skin cancer risk.

So what’s a mom to do?

The AAP recommends vitamin D supplements, in the form of drops, be given to breast-fed babies shortly after birth…Only about 5 percent to 13 percent of breast-fed babies received vitamin D supplements between 2005 and 2007, according to a study published in April in the journal Pediatrics. These low numbers might stem from the misperception that breast milk contains everything the baby needs, experts say.

So why is Vitamin D important? From the Mayo Clinic’s website:

The major biologic function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. Recently, research also suggests vitamin D may provide protection from osteoporosis, hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer, and several autoimmune diseases.

Rickets and osteomalacia are classic vitamin D deficiency diseases. In children, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, which results in skeletal deformities. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, which results in muscular weakness in addition to weak bones. Populations who may be at a high risk for vitamin D deficiencies include the elderly, obese individuals, exclusively breastfed infants, and those who have limited sun exposure. Also, individuals who have fat malabsorption syndromes (e.g., cystic fibrosis) or inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Crohn’s disease) are at risk.

Here’s a link to the AAP recommendations.  As always, before you make any decision about a vitamin supplement, check with your pediatrician.

NYT Story on Breastfeeding and Weight Loss

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The Motherlode blog on the NYT has a story about how the New York State Department of Health’s breastfeeding campaign focuses on one benefit of breastfeeding… weight loss. From the New York Times:

This fall, the New York State Department of Health created a series of TV ads aimed at women who qualify for assistance with the cost of groceries. Although some of the ads speak of long-term health benefits, the one creating the most buzz focuses on a more immediate result. It looks like an ad for a weight-loss product, with a woman dancing happily, boasting she has lost 16 pounds — and crediting breastfeeding rather than NutriSystem.

So what do you think of the ad?  Here it is:

Major Similac Recall

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Similac recalled about 5 million cans of powdered infant formula because of the possible presence of beetle larva.

The FDA said that this type of beetle could cause stomach problems and make infants lose their appetite.

The makers of Similac, Abbott Laboratories, has set up a phone hotline and directed consumers to a website for more information.  But a lot of parents have experienced problems getting information.

From the Similac website:

Abbott is recalling these products following an internal quality review, which detected the remote possibility of the presence of a small common beetle in the product produced in one production area in a single manufacturing facility. The United States Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) has determined that while the formula containing these beetles poses no immediate health risk, there is a possibility that infants who consume formula containing the beetles or their larvae, could experience symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort and refusal to eat as a result of small insect parts irritating the GI tract. If these symptoms persist for more than a few days, a physician should be consulted.

Breastfeeding Cuts Moms Risk of Diabetes

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New research from the University of Pittsburgh is showing that breastfeeding for at least a month cuts a mom’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.  Here’s the link to the study in the American Journal of Medicine.  And now a blurb from a Reuters article:

Previous research demonstrated health benefits to moms who breastfed as long as six months or a year. The Pennsylvania results suggest that even a month of breastfeeding can have positive, lasting effects.

“What we found that was somewhat surprising was the pretty dramatic benefits for moms who breastfed as short as a month after the birth of their child,” the lead author, Dr. Eleanor Schwarz of the University of Pittsburgh, told Reuters Health.

In type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin that the body needs to turn food into energy. An estimated 10 percent of American women have it.

Breastfeeding and Celebrities

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I wrote a story that is in this month’s issue of the New York Observer Playground.  The topic… breastfeeding and celebrities.  I interviewed Gossip Girl star Kelly Rutherford for the piece.  Also, a sidebar to the article features some cool breastfeeding supplies including tops, pumps and bras.  See page 82.

Observer Playground – Fall 2010

World Breastfeeding Week

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World Breastfeeding Week is right around the corner.  The official dates are August 1st through the 7th.  But this annual event has more or less morphed into Breastfeeding Awareness Month.  There are events going on all throughout August (and even September), nationally and internationally.  Here’s a link on the La Leche League site to see what might be happening near you.

Each year, World Breastfeeding Week has a theme. This year, it’s “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.”  There are videos to go with each of these ten steps:

Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding: Every facility providing maternity services and care for newborn infants should:
1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care
staff.
2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
3. Inform all pregnant mothers about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation even if they should be
separated from their infants.
6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk unless medically
indicated.
7. Practice rooming-in – allow mothers and infants to remain together – 24 hours a day.
8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
10.Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

Feel free to share your plans on how you are marking World Breastfeeding Week.

Share Your Opinion: Celebrities and Breastfeeding

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I’m working on a story for a magazine right now about celebrities and breastfeeding… and I’d like to hear your opinions.

I’ve done many posts on this site about celebs who are breastfeeding.  Remember Angelina Jolie’s breastfeeding photo on the cover of W Magazine?  Or Julie Bowen talking about using the double football hold to breastfeed her twins?  Or how about the pics of Maggie Gyllenhaal breastfeeding in public?

So what do you think of these stories?  Why are so many celebrity moms talking about breastfeeding these days?  Is this a new trend?  And what sort of impact can this have on the general public?   Is there a downside, if any, to all of this boob talk?

Kourtney Kardashian Talks About Breastfeeding

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Even if you’re like me, and you’ve never watched the shows Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, or Keeping up with the Kardashians, you probably have heard the names Kourtney, Khloe and Kim tossed around.  And maybe you’ve heard a bit Kourtney’s views on breastfeeding.  You can read her post about it here, on the Celebrity Baby Blog on People Magazine.  Or you can visit her own site.  Here’s an excerpt:

Each mother has her own personal view about breast feeding. Some choose not to do at all, while others, like myself, are all about it. For me it just felt like the right thing to do, and has been the most amazing bonding experience.

Mason is now six months old and has only been fed breast milk up until this week! I just started incorporating solid foods into his diet. We began with a mixture of rice cereal, oatmeal cereal and mixed grain cereal with some breast milk added. When I introduced it to him, he seemed confused — but ready and excited for it!

I still want to continue breastfeeding for maybe another six months or as long as Mason still wants it. I’ve heard that some babies just get over it and stop nursing. But personally, I’m still loving it. I love the bonding time, love that it’s natural and what your body is made to do, love the benefits for his body and mine. I find it to be such an amazing womanly thing.