Posts Tagged ‘ breastfeeding ’

Key Breast Milk Ingredient Synthesized: Exciting or Freaky?

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

I stopped breastfeeding Mason when he was five weeks old, for a variety of reasons, and I felt incredibly guilty about it for months–even though it was the right decision at the time. I gave Mason a formula that I (and our pediatrician) felt good about, and I focused on finding other ways to bond with him. But I still felt a little wistful when I watched friends nurse their babies.

Now there’s a new development in the works that could give formula-fed babies (and their moms) a boost. According to a report published in Science Daily, a microbial engineer at the University of Illinois has synthesized a sugar in human milk that is thought to protect babies from pathogens.

Of course the human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) is incredibly expensive: 1 milligram of 2FL (the shorthand scientists are using to describe it) costs $100 and a single study would require $1 million worth of HMO alone. Scientists will need to do a lot of testing before something like this could ever be released to market–who knows whether it’s really safe. And given the prohibitive cost, it’s hard to say when or how those studies will take place.

But despite the obstacles, I find the prospect of something like this to be very exciting. To be clear, I’m not saying formula with this HMO would be superior to breastmilk. I’m just saying that for moms who can’t breastfeed (think of my sister), or who just don’t want to, any advancements that would make formula more healthful would be awesome.

What do you think?

Photo: Bottle with milk via lorenzo_graph/Shutterstock.com

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Breastfeeding Father Should Be Allowed to Become La Leche Leader

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Trevor, a 27-year-old transgender father and stay-at-home dad in Canada, was grateful that La Leche League helped him breastfeed after he gave birth to his first child last year. Now he wants to pay that support forward, but the group won’t let him, according to a report on Today Moms.

The breast-feeding advocacy organization told him via a letter that he posted on his blog (milkjunkies.net) that only a mother who has breast-fed a baby is allowed to become to
La Leche League leader, reports Lisa Flam. In other words, thanks, but no thanks, Trevor.

Say what?

New moms are under tremendous pressure to breastfeed, so how can the largest group devoted to promoting breastfeeding deny an experienced, passionate person the opportunity to help and support moms who are trying to become successful nursers? It just doesn’t make any sense.

In fact, Trevor is probably the group’s best argument that anyone can breastfeed.

Furthermore, Trevor’s a  particularly valuable resource for moms who are struggling to nurse, because it couldn’t have been easy for him to do it either. After all, it’s annoying when you’re struggling to learn how to do something and the person who’s teaching you how to do it makes it look (or seem) effortless–or who doesn’t have a story of legitimate struggle.

And surely it hasn’t been easy for Trevor. He was born with female anatomy and although he took appearance-altering testosterone and underwent surgery to remove most of his breast tissue, he kept his female reproductive system.

After reading Trevor’s enthusiastic remarks about breastfeeding I almost wished I could nurse Mason. Then I thought of Mason’s vampire-like incisors and suddenly felt fine sticking to the sippy cup.

Not surprisingly Trevor’s story has created a firestorm and now La Leche League policymakers say they’re reviewing the case and figuring out next steps, Flam notes.

Let me make it simple for you, ladies: Allow Trevor to volunteer for your organization. Value him, and every other person, who is willing to work hard on behalf of your cause.

Photo: Dad and baby via Ana Blazic Pavlovic/Shutterstock.com

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Waitress Forbidden from Pumping Breastmilk at Work, Manager Feared She’d “Spray All Over” His Office

Friday, August 24th, 2012

The New York Daily News is reporting on a new kind of breastfeeding bully. The latest offender is a chain restaurant manager in Seal Beach, California, and he made a terrible mistake last week.

Kristen Joseph, a 28-year-old single mom and waitress at Hennessey Tavern, was just trying to earn a living—and pump her breastmilk during a 10-minute break from work, as she had done for the last six months—when her as-hole manager stood in her way, according to the report.

Joseph says he refused to give her keys to the office so that she could pump in private. “He said it was disgusting,” she told CBS Los Angeles. “He said he didn’t want me to spray all over his office.”

But apparently he was fine with her waiting on tables while her breasts leaked.

After crying outside, Joseph says she returned to her shift and continued to work as her milk leaked on her shirt, because she had tables to close and paperwork to finish.

How can a manager be so cruel? This poor woman is a single mother, and I imagine she returned to work (despite the humiliation) because she was afraid of being fired.

Companies with more than 50 employees are required to provide an area, separate from the bathroom, for women to pump their breast milk, according to the report. Although I don’t know how many people this particular restaurant employed, how hard is it to give someone a private space for 10 minutes?

I stopped breastfeeding before I returned to work, so I never had to worry about pumping on the job (although my company is very accommodating to nursing mothers). Have you ever had any problems pumping at work?

As an aside, I’ve never been to a Hennessy Tavern, and now I’ll be sure to never go to one.

Photo: Breastfeeding mother via Natalia Dexbakh/Shutterstock.com

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NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg: The Biggest Breastfeeding Bully of All

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

It’s not enough that hospitals are banning free gifts of formula, or that the editor of Mothering magazine likened free gifts of formula to cigarettes, now the mayor of New York City is locking up formula at local hospitals, according to the New York Post. He says that he believes the maneuver will “encourage” new moms to breastfeed, but it sounds like the ultimate act of breastfeeding bullying to me.

As part of his Latch on NYC initiative, which launches September 3, the city will keep tabs on the number of bottles that participating hospitals stock and use, making it the most restrictive pro-breast-milk program in the nation, reports the Post.

More than half of the city’s 40 hospitals have also agreed to give up swag bags sporting formula-company logos, toss out formula-branded freebies, and document a medical reason for every bottle that a newborn receives.

I live in New York City. Mason was born here. If I choose to give birth to another child in the city, I better pray that my child latches on immediately and is naturally perfect at nursing. Otherwise I’m going to have to negotiate with a nurse in order for my child to be fed (as I’m recuperating from a C-Section) and endure a “talking-to.” And what about that medical justification?  Is one night of solid sleep following major abdominal surgery good enough, or will I need to somehow feign total incapacitation?

I breastfed Mason the entire time I was in the hospital, but I was grateful that he could get a bottle in the nursery at night so that I could have a couple of nights of solid sleep (and time to heal) before we were totally on our own with him.

Oh, and get this: If I get thirsty during all of this, I’ll need to watch what I drink because the major is also trying to ban large sizes of sugary drinks from being sold in NYC. What liberty will he rob from us next?

Policies like Latch on NYC do nothing but create more stress and anxiety for expectant mothers. If a mom is willing and able to breastfeed her child, she will. If she’s not, she should have a viable alternative without being put through a major guilt trip. Why should NYC’s mayor–or anyone else, for that matter–have the right to institute a policy that make a new mother’s time with her baby anything but joyful?

Photo: Michael Bloomberg via Miro Vrlik Photography/Shutterstock

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Just Ridiculous: Giving New Mothers Formula Is Like Giving Trying-to-Quit-Smokers Cigarettes

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

“A ‘gift’ of formula is like a ‘gift’ of a pack of cigarettes when you’re trying to quit smoking; it will undermine your resolve,” says Peggy O’Mara, editor-in-chief of Mothering magazine.

O’Mara made the comment in support of the fact that Massachusetts has become the second state in the country whose hospitals ban free formula gifts to new moms, in an effort to force encourage moms to breastfeed. Her remarks were excerpted in a TIME magazine article about the formula ban and the Mitt Romney connection (see the article for more on that).

I had to read O’Mara’s remarks three times–was she making a terrible joke? How could she seriously compare formula to cigarettes? It’s incredibly offensive for so many reasons.

For starters, I gave my baby formula, so how dare she even suggest a connection between a toxic cancer-causing product and a nutrient-rich food. I didn’t throw in the towel on breastfeeding because the hospital sent me home with a few free samples. In fact, I transitioned Mason to formula after I struggled for weeks to breastfeed. I finally confessed my anxieties to our pediatrician and he told me to let go of the guilt and switch to a specific brand of formula. He insisted that Mason would be just fine. And you know what? He was absolutely right.

O’Mara is also suggesting that moms lack free will. Using her logic, grocery stores should never offer free samples because some shoppers might be on a diet and the freebies might weaken their resolve to avoid snacking between meals.

It’s ridiculous.

I’m also appalled that Rhode Island and Massachusetts instituted the ban in the first place. Why should the government have that right? And what about moms who can’t breastfeed their babies for health reasons?

Take my twin sister, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about a decade ago. She gave up her MS meds while she was pregnant, because the particular drug she was taking had been proven harmful to a growing baby, and by 30 weeks her symptoms were so bad I was afraid for her. However, Erin insisted that she would not go back on her medication–nor would she seek an early induction–because she was determined to give birth to a healthy baby girl.

When asked by her ob-gyn whether she was taking a breastfeeding class, Erin explained that her neurologist was urging her to go back on her MS medications immediately after the birth due to her declining health, and therefore she wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. Instead of being supportive, her doctor gave her grief about formula feeding and pressured her to delay taking her medication. Erin called me crying after the appointment, and I told her to ignore the b*tch.

Erin’s efforts paid off and she gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 41 weeks. Fortunately she listened to her neurologist and started her shots, along with an aggressive steroid infusion, immediately after she delivered her baby. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough: Erin had a massive relapse shortly after Natalie was born and was paralyzed for weeks. Imagine what kind of shape she’d be in if she had given in to the pressure to breastfeed.

When did breastfeeding become a tool for bullying?

Photo: Mother feeding a baby a bottle via mathom/Shutterstock.com

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