Breastfeeding in the News (Again!)

This week these was a lot of hubbub over some comments made by a radio personality in South Carolina about breastfeeding in public.  The female show host made some pretty destructive and bigoted comments about breastfeeding in public, including calling it indecent.  I do not wish to post a link to the radio show because I believe that her comments are hurtful to breastfeeding mothers, and I don’t wish to promote her.

Instead, I’d like to link to Kourtney Kardashian’s blog about her breastfeeding her son, Mason, despite negative comments from those around her. Kourtney says,

“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.”

I just love seeing celebrities out there doing things like breastfeeding and talking about co-sleeping and other natural parenting issues.  It seems to normalize it for a lot of people in our culture, and I think that is a good thing.

Additionally, one good thing came from the radio show – I found a link to Kate Hansen’s beautiful art blog.  She refuted the radio host’s ignorant comments with some beautiful artwork of nursing mothers.  I loved it.  Her post was part of a Nursing in Public blog carnival.  Click the badge below for more articles on breastfeeding in public.

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

In the News: Christy Turlington Burns Pushes for Maternal Health

Inspired by her own birth experiences, supermodel, Christy Turlington Burns, has made a film, “No Woman, No Cry,” documenting some of the most common causes of maternal deaths. She hopes the film will raise funds and awareness surrounding hemorrhage, infection, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion, and obstructed labor, in order to help reduce the number of deaths caused by these conditions each year.

“Hundreds of thousands of women are dying every year, and 90 percent of those deaths are preventable,” said Turlington Burns.

Christy Turlington Burns financed the film herself and took two years making it. During the filming, maternal deaths in the Peruvian community she visited were reduced.

Below is a trailer for the new film:

Visit everymothercounts.org to read more about Turlington Burns and her new documentary.

It Saves Lives, Billions of Dollars and 99 Other Reasons

Last week, a study published online in the journal Pediatrics was released stating that if more new mothers breastfed their babies for at least six months, it would save 911 babies’ lives and over 13 billion dollars in excess medical costs (both direct and indirect costs like missed time from work).  This is a significant study, pointing to lack of education, lack of support and hospital interference as reasons for the United States’ failing to reach goals set for breast feeding by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, ACOG, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

According to USNews.com and study author, Dr. Melissa Bartick,

The average U.S. hospital does a poor job of providing evidence-based care around infant feeding, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other factors that make it difficult for mothers to follow breast-feeding recommendations include limited work, social and cultural support, as well as aggressive marketing of infant formula.

So how do Colorado hospitals stack up?  You can view the CDC’s Breastfeeding Report Card to see how we compare to the rest of the county for 2009.

CNN.com reported that,

Bartick says many hospitals delay immediate urgent skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby, which can make things harder for the newborn to act on its natural instincts to suckle.

Moms also need to be better educated about the importance of breastfeeding and they need adequate support after they leave the hospital in case they run into problems because the newborn isn’t properly latching on and therefore not getting enough food.

Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director for the March of Dimes, was not surprised by the findings of the report. Fleischman, who did not work on this study, says if a new mom is struggling with breastfeeding, she may end up in a situation where “grandmother suggests to stop the silliness and give formula instead.”

He believes the mothers and grandmothers of new moms also need to be educated about the benefits of breastfeeding because for their generations, feeding their babies formula was the norm.”

Many new mothers worry about their breastmilk supply, but this illustration from Ameda shows just how big the newborn’s stomach is.

And addressing the financial costs of not breastfeeding, CNN reported study findings as saying,

Most of the excess costs [$10.56 million] are due to premature deaths.  Nearly all, 95 percent of these deaths, are attributed to three causes: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); necrotizing enterocolitis, seen primarily in preterm babies and in which the lining of the intestinal wall dies; and lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia.

Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of all of these and seven other illnesses studied by the study authors.

As if the lives of nearly 1,000 babies and billions of dollars weren’t enough motivation to breastfeed, check out the 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child by Promotion of Mother’s Milk, Inc. (ProMoM), a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness and public acceptance of breastfeeding.

In response to her study findings, Melissa Bartick wrote the following in her article in the Huffington Post,

Yes, I’m a researcher and a physician, but I’m also a mother. Since I live in the United States, you can probably guess what my birth experience was like. Maybe you’ve heard me on the news saying that moms shouldn’t feel guilty. I’ve been there. So take that guilt and turn it inside out, and do something positive so that other moms don’t have to go through what you did. We all deserve better.

DOULA! The Ultimate Birth Companion

How exciting!  I just found out from a Facebook friend that there is a new film, set to launch this June all about doulas!  Many mothers are chosing to give birth with doulas as a part of their support team.  But some parents (or grandparents or friends) still have questions about what a doula does and what her role in birth is. 

Here are a few frequently asked questions about doulas, with answers from doulafilm.com: 

What is a doula? 

A DOULA (n:pronounced doo-luh) is a professional birth companion, an experienced woman who supports you before, during and after your birth. Like having your mum, sister or best friend with you when you have your baby.

You can hire a doula whether you are planning a home birth or a birth in a hospital.  She is there to help you have the birth you want. 

What’s the difference between a doula and a midwife?

Midwives are responsible for everything medical and so it is midwives who “deliver” the babies, doula’s don’t do anything medical.

Unless you are working with an independent midwife, then midwives work on shift systems and so your midwife during labour will probably be replaced by another midwife shift changes.  Also, if you have your baby in hospital, midwives may “pop in and out” during your labour as they maybe be tending to other women at the same time, returning for the actual birth. Doulas stay by your side for the entirety of the labour and birth, however long it lasts, they don’t have shift changes and they finally leave a few hours after the baby is born when the mum is completely settled.

What about dads/partners?

The doula is there to support both the mum and her partner. It’s a 3-way positive relationship where everything the doula does is for the good of both expectant parents. By providing practical support, this frees up the partner to be with the mum 100% of the time. By providing emotional support, the doula is the rock which either parent can rely on; she is there to answer any questions and to be the advocate if needed, or to step in if the partner needs to rest. It’s not about the doula taking over, it’s about her working with the parents to help them have the birth they want!

Here’s a trailer:

 

This summer, look for FREE screening dates of “DOULA! The Ultimate Birth Companion” from Sweet Sprouts!  To find out more about the film, check out the website: DoulaFilm.com, and make sure to check out our links to find a doula in the Denver area!

Carrier Recall and Baby-Wearing Safety

Baby slings are all over the news lately.  After three deaths in the last year caused by improper use of the Infantino sling-like carrier, the product is being recalled.  But it is important to realize that these deaths are linked to a specific type of carrier (a bag sling) and not to all slings.  Click here to see the latest story and video from the Today show on the type of carriers being recalled.

With this recent news, it’s normal to be concerned about the safety of babywearing.  I’m glad to share that Babywearing is and continues to be  a safe and positive way to care for your baby.  On Sunday, Mothering Magazine released the following statement,

SANTA FE, NM (March 18, 2010) — On March 12, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a Federal Agency, issued a warning in regard to the use of baby slings. The CPSC asserts that there is a risk of slings suffocating infants who are younger than four months old, and that caution should be used when carrying babies of this age group in slings.

Mothering puts the CPSC warning in perspective: Babywearing is safe, but some slings and positions are not. While baby carriers are as old as civilization, modern babywearing has exploded in the last four years. Along with this rapid increase in use has come the creation of some unsafe carriers, in particular bag-style slings that have a deep pouch, excessive fabric, and an elasticized edge. These deep, bag-style slings can be especially dangerous for premature or small babies.

Some general guidelines for safe babywearing:

1. Only choose a sling that allows you to see your baby’s face.

2. Be sure baby is not curled up tightly, chin to chest. This position can restrict breathing, especially in newborns or in infants who cannot yet hold up their heads.

3. Make sure that the sling fabric is “breathable,” and keep baby’s face clear of fabric.

4. Do not press baby’s face tightly against the sling wearer’s body.

5. Position the baby’s face upward.

6. Reposition baby if there are any signs of respiratory difficulty: rapid or labored breathing, grunting or sighing with every breath, restlessness.

For more information, see Mothering’s Special Report on Babywearing

On Monday, Parenting Unplugged Radio hosted a radio show with Mothering and Babywearing International to discuss babywearing safety and answer questions (listen here).  And several articles have been published recently to help parents choose a safe sling or wrap for their baby and reassure them that babies can be worn safely.   Please note that today, the bag slings by Infantino and Wendy Belissimo have been recalled.

Here is the press release from Babywearing International.

And here is a wonderful post from Dou-la-la that includes a video and very clear illustrations (including the ones above and below) on safe babywearing.

It is important to remember that anything used incorrectly can be unsafe.  Read this October 2009 article on car seat injuries occurring outside vehicles, for example.   Used correctly, Babywearing is still safe and a wonderful way to parent and bond with your baby. 

If you have a sling and are concerned about its safety, please take a look at sleepingbaby.net for some safety guidelines and pictures of slings that are not safe.  If you have an Infantino SlingRide or Wendy Bellisimo carrier, please note the recall information, which can be found on the Today show link at the top.

What Happened in 1980?

Yesterday, MSNBC reported on VBAC.  A government panel recently concluded that “Too many pregnant women who want to avoid a repeat cesarean delivery are being denied the chance.”  That’s right, denied the chance. 

15 years ago, 3 in 10 women who desired a VBAC were able to so, but recently those rates have dropped by a third, to 1 in 10.  According to a panel of specialists, this is due to one third of hospitals and half of physicians banning women from attempting VBAC. 

Why is this so?

“It’s partly concern over litigation, the NIH panel said, because while a uterine rupture remains very rare, it can be devastating to the family and end in a high-dollar lawsuit.”

So is VBAC safe?  Well, look at what doctors and hospitals have known, but many seem to be ignoring, since 1980,

“But in 1980, government experts concluded that many mothers could safely deliver vaginally the next time, citing evidence that their risk of a uterine rupture was less than 1 percent.”

That’s right, 1980!!!  The article goes on,

“VBAC remains a safe alternative for the right candidates, and when those women try labor, between 60 percent and 80 percent of the time they do give birth vaginally, the NIH panel concluded. It urged that doctors offer mothers-to-be an unbiased look at the pros and cons, so they can decide for themselves.

“We believe that many women should have an opportunity to give it a try,” said panelist and Delaware obstetrician Dr. Nancy Frances Petit of the U.S. Uniformed Health Services.”

To read the entire article on MSNBC.com, and watch the video, click here.

In the News: Gisele Bundchen’s Home Birth

Super model, Gisele Bundchen talks about her recent home birth.  She gave birth to her son, Benjamin, in the bath tub.  Using words like intense, powerful, safe, strong and empowering, it’s the kind of encouraging birth story we love to see in the media. 

A few quotes from the new mama:

“I wanted to have a home birth. I wanted to be very aware and present during the birth… I didn’t want to be drugged up. So I did a lot of preparation, I did yoga and meditation, so I managed to have a very tranquil birth at home. It didn’t hurt in the slightest. The whole time my mind was focused in each contraction on the thought ‘my baby is closer to coming out.'”

She said,

“Giving birth was the most intense and life-changing experience of my life. I am blessed to have been able to have a home birth surrounded by love , where I was able to feel safe. It was a powerful experience. I never felt so vulnerable but so strong at the same time. It was amazing to experience my body become free to do what it was made to do by allowing my mind and my body to let go and be free to experience the changes taking place within… I was just there… focusing on my breathing and relaxing the best that I could… so present, to witness the biggest miracle in my life happen before my very own eyes. To give life to another being, what a gift! “When he finally was placed into my arms, I looked into his precious eyes and felt an overwhelming, unconditional love. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. “We did it!” “We did it together!” He and I. I never felt so complete and empowered in my life.”

Gisele started her own blog, launching yesterday, where she talked about her birth experience.  Check it out and let me know what you think of her story.  http://blog.giselebundchen.com.br/?p=772&cpage=1&lang=en