Breastfeeding in the News

Yes, the pop superstar Katy Perry was recent guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live and called herself "an assistant doula" for her sister's home birth.  Katy went into great detail about the beauty of her sister's home birth and said there were candles all over her living room, calming music and it was very "zen".  There was also a home birth bath tub in the living room and Katy says it was a very beautiful way to bring a child into the world.  Home births used to be the norm before the 1900's, when most women started going to hospitals to give birth.  Many moms still choose the home birth route, however.  Home births are something to consider if you are having a healthy low risk pregnancy, if you don't want an episiotomy or other interventions, if you want to be in the comfort of your own home and be surrounded by friends and family.  Home births cost less than a hospital and they also provide instant skin to skin contact for bonding and breastfeeding. Most moms who choose home births have a trained midwife present in case the baby needs oxygen or the mom needs IV's due to dehydration.  Midwives also bring gauze pads, a thermometer and a pan for sitz baths after birth.  If you are interested in a home birth, make sure you interview several midwives who have experience with home births and make sure you have a Plan B option for the hospital in case of an emergency.  It is a good idea to see if the midwife works with an OB/GYN. 

You would think a store that specializes in lingerie (although not too many nursing bras) would allow moms to breastfeed comfortably, especialy in a fitting room.  Not so at a Victoria's Secret store at the Domain shopping center in Austin, TX.  New mom Ashley Clawson was shopping at the store when her baby started to fuss.  She politely asked the sales clerk if she could nurse him in a fitting room and before the girl could answer her, another employee immediately said "no" and that she could "go nurse outside of the store in the alley". As a sidenote, the Domain is an outdoor shopping center.  Clawson immediately left the store and headed to the nearest restroom and nursed her baby in the toilet stall.   Clawson called her husband and was in disbelief that at store like Victoria' Secret, where breasts are shown everywhere, did not alow breastfeeding.  She started researching laws in Texas regarding public breastfeeding and came to find out that she is protected to nurse her baby anywhere. Clawson reached out to the Victoria's Secret store manager and the CEO of the company.  While they issued an apology, she didn't feel like they took her complaint seriously.  She has since become an advocate of women's rights regarding breastfeeding. 

The Pioneer Valley located in Western Massachusetts is home to a range of programs assisting mothers with infants — and according to statistics, and probably to women you know, help is definitely needed.

In the last month, the Gazette (Our Valley Newspaper) featured some fantastic articles about several programs serving mothers: the new breast milk depot at Northampton Area Pediatrics; Hilltown Village volunteers; and MotherWoman, a Hadley-based advocacy group for women and families.

The Valley is quite lucky to have such programs — and the countless others that support families following childbirth. The work they do is necessary: It does take a village to raise a child.

The breast milk depot is organized by the Pioneer Valley Breastfeeding Coalition. Donated breast milk is being collected, screened and pasteurized before being sent to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, located out by Boston. From there it mostly goes to hospitals to help sick and premature infants fight life-threatening infections in a way formula cannot. But breast milk banks and depots are rare. The Northampton depot, which opened Aug. 30, is only the fourth such place in all of New England.

Hilltown Village is a unique community organization that offers free, neighbor-to-neighbor support for families with newborns who live in the Hilltowns. It has operated since 2009 and now has a staff of about 15 trained volunteers. Hilltown Village volunteers visit the homes of new mothers and help them with child care, errands, chores — whatever the new mom needs.

Also, MotherWoman hired a new executive director, Shannon M. Koehn, the former associate director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal Inc. in Buffalo, N.Y.

Being a new parent is difficult, but particularly so for mothers who in the earliest stages of a child’s development are still healing from delivery and often take on most of the responsibility for child feeding and care. There’s also a more lofty set of standards mothers are held to than fathers.

Of course, this is wrong. There shouldn’t be a socially enforced distinction between the role of father and mother. But there is, making the extra support provided by these maternal programs vital. Here’s a sample of what mothers grapple with in the weeks following childbirth:

■ Healing and adjusting: After a baby is born, many moms experience new health problems, according to a survey of 2,400 mothers, “Listening to Mothers III: New Mothers Speak Out,” by the Childbirth Connection. In the weeks after delivering a baby, 58 percent of mothers said they were suffering from sleep loss, 54 percent were stressed out and 51 percent were physically exhausted. Many women were also dealing with sore nipples, backache, weight control and lack of sexual desire.

■ Women feel guilty: In the “What Moms Choose: The Working Mother Report” by Working Mother, 48 percent of working moms and 42 percent of stay-at-home moms said they feel guilty they’re not doing enough to take care of themselves. For working moms, 51 percent said they feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids. And 55 percent of stay-at-home moms said they worry about not making a contribution to the family finances.

■ Breast-feeding troubles: Fewer than half of mothers surveyed by Childbirth Connection said they breast-fed for as long as they had intended. The top reason women gave for ceasing breast-feeding: it was too difficult. There’s an old saying, “When mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy.” Support for mothers is support for families, which translates into support for everyone. We congratulate MotherWoman, the Pioneer Valley Breastfeeding Coalition and Hilltown Village for their important work. As they continue to back women, we hope the Valley backs the programs.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's 2013 Report Card has been published and breastfeeding rates are on the rise in the United States!  The CDC says 77% of new moms are nursing their babies and that is a 6% increase from 10 years ago.  In addition to the good news about breastfeeding rates on the rise, about half of these moms are continuing with breastfeeding for at least six months, which the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends.   What is the reason for this increase?   The CDC suggests that the increase may be because more hospitals are encouraging breastfeeding by giving moms more time to bond with their children after birth. Hospitals across the United States are also taking the proper steps to become Baby-Friendly, which means they are partial to breastfeeding and do not allow any type of formula bag, coupon or sample in their hospital.  The CDC is delighted that the breastfeeding rates have gone up.  Babies who are breastfed have lower risks for many diseases and illness such as ear infections, gastrointestinal issues, diabetes and obesity.  Mothers who nurse are less likely to develop breast and ovarian cancers.  The state of Idaho came in first place with the most breastfeeding moms, around 91.8% of new moms breastfeed there.  Other states with high grades were California, Oregon, Colorado and New Hampshire.  The state with the lowest breastfeeding rate was Mississippi.  Only 50.5% of new moms ever breastfed.  Only 9.1% of moms made it to a full year of breastfeeding.  Education and support of breastfeeding is key for any state that is determined to become one of the elite.  As reported on CBSnews.com

A couple new breast milk banks have opened and one of them is in China!  Contaminated baby formula has been an ongoing issue in China, that started back in 2008 with an outbreak of melamine, a chemical that is used to make resin.  The substance was found in baby formula after several infants developed kidney stones, over 50,000 were hospitalized and some even died.  Chinese baby formula makers used melamine to apparently increase the protein level in the formula.  One would think that Chinese mothers would immediately turn to breastfeeding with such a scare,  however it has always been difficult for new moms in China to get the breastfeeding support they need.  Chinese employment laws push moms to use formula and many women have to return back to work shortly after giving birth.  Many Chinese factories don't provide adequate space for pumping.  Hospitals get perks from formula companies and samples are often given to new moms.  The new milk bank in China is located in Guangzhou Women and Children's Medical Center and is scheduled to open in June.  Over eighty women have pumped their breast milk and donated it to the bank since March of this year.  While one milk bank will not be able to provide coverage across China and it's gazillion number of moms, this milk bank is a step in the right direction and hopefully other provinces will follow suit.  The other new breast milk bank will open in Orlando, Florida and will be the states first milk depot. 

No April fools joke here!  Today is a big day for the state of Oklahoma as a breast milk bank opens.  The Oklahoma Breast Milk Bank will start screening donors today and it will take place at the University of Oklahoma Medical.  Before today, breastfeeding moms would have to donate their milk to a bank in Texas.  The conception of Oklahoma's Breast Milk Bank took place two years ago as Anne Darnell-Gillingham, President of the not-for-profit milk bank, was with her pregnant friend about what a shame it was that their state didn't have a milk bank.  Her daughter Nellie was in the NICU and she would pump day and night so that her daughter could get all the breast milk she needed.  Of course Nellie was so tiny that she couldn't consume all the milk that Anne was pumping and she was told by a nurse to donate her breast milk.   She ended up donating it to the milk bank in Fort Worth, TX and at the same time, the dream of opening a milk bank in Oklahoma was created.  Anne and her friend spent two years planning and fundraising so they could purchase screening equipment and pasteurizing machines.  The screenings will begin today and the breast milk donations will be collected in May of this year.  A local blood bank is going to be a drop off location as well as local hospitals in the near future.  Anne is more than pleased that her dream came true and that her milk bank can provide breast milk to babies in need in her own state.  As reported on Fox23.com

The state of Maine is looking to increase awareness and breastfeeding support especially with low income mothers.  Maine's WIC program has a vast majority of new moms who are enrolled yet they choose to formula feed their babies.  Even though breastfeeding support classes are offered and the program endorses breast milk, the state still spends over $1.4 million per year to provide the low income mothers with formula.  Although low income moms from Maine represent a high percentage of choosing formula, the state on a whole is about even with the national average.  In 2012, there were 76 percent of babies in the state who were breastfed at least once.  Maine also has several Baby-Friendly hospitals (where formula bags are banned),  they are ranked #3 for the amount of board certified lactation consultants in the nation and ranked #4 for the amount of La Leche League leaders.  Seems like mothers living in Maine should all be breastfeeding!  Unfortunately not so...the Maine WIC program provides around $118,000 of formula cans per month to moms in need.  Maine mothers (of all incomes) also receive unsolicited formula packages in the mail after they come home from the hospital.  While some mothers use formula to supplement, others may see this package as an incentive to not breastfeed...especially if that mother is having difficulties with breastfeeding.  The free package includes formula samples and coupons.  Not all mothers are swayed to switch to formula because of the package, but it sure assists those moms who may already be on the fence with nursing their baby.  A few Maine hospitals (in Augusta and Waterville) that aren't certified as Baby-Friendly have stopped accepting formula bags.  As reported on onlinesentinel.com

A group of local women have gotten together and started the first breast milk bank in the state of Oklahoma.  It is named Oklahoma Mother's Milk Bank and now joins as the 13th milk bank across the United States.  The women who are behind the breast milk bank claimed that every state should have a milk bank as there are so many babies in the NICU across the country and they need breast milk to survive and become healthy.  These women are taking the step in the right direction to help the hospitals and pre-maturely born babies in state of Oklahoma.  Planning for the breast milk bank took about two years.  The OU Medical Center's NICU unit can hold 90 babies and they will now be able to receive the donated breast milk.  Before the Oklahoma bank opened, those babies needed to depend on frozen milk shipped from nearby Texas.  Mother's cannot always make enough milk for pre-mature babies or sick babies.  The donated milk keeps the babies heathly and keeps their little tummies full!  As reported on Fox 25 KOKH-TV Oklahoma City. 

There are many colleges across America that don't provide lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers that must return back to work.  MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is above the bar as they now have 15 lactation rooms for nursing mothers.  They just added another pumping room, which was reported on the college's website yesteday.  Having a lactation room is an added bonus for a breastfeeding mother that has to return to work.  Knowing that she has a comfortable, clean space to pump will put her at ease as she returns to work and will hopefully encourage her to pump for many more weeks to come.  According to MIT staff, the college has a huge commitment to keeping their community healthy and as we all know, breastfeeding is best for both mom and baby with short-term and long-term healthiness.  Massachusetts state law requires employers to provide breastfeeding mothers with pumping breaks and a clean space to do so.  MIT is often recognized by the Massachuesetts Breastfeeding Coalition because they do such an excellent job of providing nursing mothers with ample space to pump.  Some of the lactation rooms come equipped with a breast pump, but mothers must bring their own tubing, breast shields and bottles.  The rooms also have comfy sofas, sinks and refrigerators. MIT is located in Cambridge, MA and is known for supporting breastfeeding to the fullest.  The city's health alliance participates in World Breastfeeding Week each year and hosts a special event that's open to the public that offers breastfeeding support and has a breastfeeding photo contest.  According to the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition, the Cambridge Birth Center has an A+ as 100% of moms discharged from the center are breastfeeding, this was reported back in 2007 and we couldn't find any new data available.  Massachusetts has always had high breastfeeding rates when compared to other states in the country.  You can find out more about MIT's lactation rooms on their website: hrweb.mit.edu/worklife/child-care-parenting/breastfeeding-support/lactation-rooms/campus

Most of us were shocked when we found out that Jersey Shore star Snooki was pregnant.  After several interviews with gossip magazines and the news, we never thought she would breastfeed after hearing some of her comments regarding it.  Well, Snooki has smartened up and has decided to give her baby boy the best food possible: breast milk.  She didn't want to breastfeed because a friend of hers did and said it was painful.  She did try it and learned to love it.  Now, however, she chooses to pump and give her little baby Lorenzo, a bottle.  She has recently posted pictures to her Twitter of her breastpump and has titled it "from fistpump to breastpump" and "milkin it for my baby".  Snooki is also very  happy about the fact that breastfeeding burns calories.