For legions of lactating women in one of Manhattan’s most productive precincts, it has become an essential destination: a place to buy breast pumps and BPA-free bottles, and to bond over the myriad challenges of what is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world. The windowless emporium on West 70th Street has not just nursing bras but nursing blouses, nursing tank tops and nursing dresses, with a name, though high in snicker potential, that perfectly captures the neighborhood zeitgeist: The Upper Breast Side.
But now, the boutique is colliding with another symbol of Manhattan life: the powerful board and picayune rules of a fancy apartment building, in this case the Pythian, a legendary landmark originally built as an exclusive — and, yes, all-male — lodge.
After a member of the board of the Pythian, a condominium whose ground-floor space the Upper Breast Side occupies, complained that its brass door was improperly ajar — and fined it $250 — the owner, Felina Rakowski-Gallagher, filed a discrimination complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights. The door, she said, was too heavy for pregnant women and stroller-pushing mothers to open safely.
The state found “sufficient evidence” to support the complaint, and recommended a public hearing; a settlement conference is scheduled for March 23. Meanwhile, the board of the Pythian has escalated the argument, saying that the Upper Breast Side is not a consultancy or resource center, as Ms. Rakowski-Gallagher described it when she bought the space five years ago — but a retail store…
There’s a fantastic one day sale of $1.99 right now on The Three Little Pigs from Nosy Crow. (I’m helping promote the launch). Nosy Crow is based in London, and today, the UK is celebrating World Book Day… so we’re doing the price drop to mark the occasion. I know I’m biased, but I can assure you, if you have an iPad, this is well worth the $1.99. Here’s a video to show you what I’m talking about:
Now here’s some good news from the IRS! Not something you’d expect every day… breast pump expenses are now tax deductible. From the Washington Post:
The ruling, long sought by advocates, means that women will be able to use money set aside in pretax spending accounts to buy the pumps and related equipment, which can cost several hundred dollars. For women without flexible spending accounts, the cost of pumps will be tax deductible if their total medical costs exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.
Previously, the IRS considered breast pumps to be feeding equipment, not medical devices. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics argued that breastfeeding has many medical benefits for both mother and baby. Advocates hope that making breast pumps more affordable will enable more women to breastfeed longer.
So here’s something I’ve been working on lately… I’m helping with publicity for the launch of a very cool iPad app from a new children’s publisher called Nosy Crow. It’s a version of The Three Little Pigs and it’s unlike any story book you remember from when you were a kid. Totally interactive, catchy music, children narrators… all the different places to tap means kids can really own the story and direct the action. Our boys have been testing it for months and they love it. You’ll have to wait until it goes on sale in the app store on February 17th to see the whole thing. But in the meantime, watch this video and enjoy!
When our first son was born I remember debating whether or not to put bumpers on his crib. I liked the way they matched the sheets. And the displays in the store always looked so nice. But then I started to read stuff about the suffocation dangers of bumpers. I found mixed information, and our pediatrician didn’t have a strong opinion. So I got suckered into buying the bumpers. I stopped using them, however, as soon as I realized they obstructed my view of the baby.
Since then, the data has become much more clear. And now The Consumer Product Safety Commission is taking a closer look at bumpers and other sleep products. From the NYT:
Three years ago, Dr. Bradley Thach, a professor of pediatrics at Washington University in St. Louis, published findings that had the potential to upend nurseries across the nation, and perhaps save some lives too.
Dr. Bradley Thach’s findings about the dangers of crib bumpers are now getting a second look by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
In reviewing data from the Consumer Products Safety Commission, Dr. Thach concluded that crib bumpers — the padding wrapped around the inside of a crib that often matches the bedding—were killing babies. In a 10-year period beginning in 1995, he found 27 suffocation deaths involving bumper pads, and he theorized that many more might have occurred because of inconsistencies in the data.
“Because bumpers can cause death, we conclude that they should not be used,” he warned.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission initially ignored the findings. Last summer, it reached the same conclusion as a trade group representing product manufacturers, which asserted that other factors, like a crib crowded with pillows or babies sleeping on their stomachs, might have been a factor in those deaths, rather than the bumpers. As a result, most parents remained unaware of the debate over the safety of crib bumpers.
Now, prompted by consumer advocates and news reports highlighting potential dangers, the commission has reversed itself and decided to take a deeper look at crib bumpers as part of a broader regulatory crackdown on the hazards of an extensive line of baby sleep products that have been blamed for more injuries and deaths…
From Victoria’s Secret model to breastfeeding advocate… Miranda Kerr has shared a photo of her nursing her newborn, and it’s making the internet rounds. Her husband Orlando Bloom took the photo. Salon has a story today about the pic. From the Salon story:
How lovely then not just that Kerr posted a blissful photo that sweetly evokes those magical early bonding days with a baby, but that the picture has been nonchalantly picked up by major entertainment news outlets with barely a hint of squeamishness. Both People and OK! posted the photo, along with Kerr’s message from her blog that “I gave birth to him naturally; without any pain medication and it was a long, arduous and difficult labour, but Orlando was with me the whole time supporting and guiding me through it.”
The U.S. Surgeon General has issued a call to action to get more mothers to breastfeed. Here’s a fact sheet from the Surgeon General, which includes information on the cost savings benefits of breastfeeding. And here’s a clip from today’s press release:
Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin today issued a “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding,” outlining steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed their babies.
“Many barriers exist for mothers who want to breastfeed,” Dr. Benjamin said. “They shouldn’t have to go it alone. Whether you’re a clinician, a family member, a friend, or an employer, you can play an important part in helping mothers who want to breastfeed.”
“Of course, the decision to breastfeed is a personal one,” she added, “no mother should be made to feel guilty if she cannot or chooses not to breastfeed.”
While 75 percent of U.S. babies start out breastfeeding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, only 13 percent are exclusively breastfed at the end of six months. The rates are particularly low among African-American infants.
Many mothers who attempt to breastfeed say several factors impede their efforts, such as a lack of support at home; absence of family members who have experience with breastfeeding; a lack of breastfeeding information from health care clinicians; a lack of time and privacy to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace; and an inability to connect with other breastfeeding mothers in their communities.
Dr. Benjamin’s “Call to Action” identifies ways that families, communities, employers and health care professionals can improve breastfeeding rates and increase support for breastfeeding:
Communities should expand and improve programs that provide mother-to-mother support and peer counseling.
Health care systems should ensure that maternity care practices provide education and counseling on breastfeeding. Hospitals should become more “baby-friendly,” by taking steps like those recommended by the UNICEF/WHO’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
Clinicians should ensure that they are trained to properly care for breastfeeding mothers and babies. They should promote breastfeeding to their pregnant patients and make sure that mothers receive the best advice on how to breastfeed.
Employers should work toward establishing paid maternity leave and high-quality lactation support programs. Employers should expand the use of programs that allow nursing mothers to have their babies close by so they can feed them during the day. They should also provide women with break time and private space to express breast milk.
Families should give mothers the support and encouragement they need to breastfeed.