Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington: I'm In!

I met with a representative from the Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington (BCW) yesterday! Finally! I say finally because we've been trying to meet for months, without success. So this was a great transition directly after the Target nurse-in, and over a hot cup of tea, discussed the coalition, public health, advocacy, and other topics. And I love the pen she gave me!

 Before the meeting's end I was made a member of this coalition and was overjoyed at the moment! This is my second coalition, the first being the Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition (IBBC), which I am still thrilled to be a part of.

I was asked a question yesterday during this meeting that has been in my mind since. "What is the answer to ending disparities?" Among communities Of Color, which is the reason I'm involved in this arena. I would love to have the answer to this one, and the only thing I could think of so far is to promote literacy and critical thinking, which I believe is a start to being able to make truly informed decisions. Of course it goes deeper than that, and we must take into consideration other factors as well -- racism, sexism, classism, which all work together, and must ensure we are not strictly making these issues for women to deal with. I don't have all of the answers.

I believe coalitions are such a great way to bring individuals and groups together to see the differences also, while recognizing we are inevitably working towards a common goal, while listening to and understanding each and learning the culture of these groups. I get more and more excited at the thought. I anticipate working with others.

Who Says Men Can't Breastfeed?

Now this is not your everyday situation, but I'm always thankful when I see contributions like these from those so willing to help out our little ones in the animal kingdom -- or in this case, to provide such nourishment to a stuffed baby manatee. And of course I'm always grateful for public breastfeeding advocacy! =D

The Nurse-in @ TARGET

I went to the Seattle, WA at Northgate Target yesterday to attend my very first nurse-in!    

The event was due to the harassment of a mother, who was confronted with both a rude sales associate, and a representative when she called in to complain about the anti-breastfeeding she encountered on-site. The nurse-in was organized as a  nation-wide protest to challenge the entity's policies or no policies on breastfeeding awareness.

I was the only Black woman in attendance, and of the small circle of about 15 the only one without kids. That didn't surprise me of course, but I also didn't see many women Of Color, and it got me wondering where they were. I know I must take things into account, such as location, but of course I was wondering. I saw random women with babies, and did not hesitate to approach them and ask if they wanted to join in. That I noticed, none of the Target associates had any problems with breastfeeding, and I even asked for some chairs for those involved, and a female associate asked what was going on. When I told her this is a nurse-in, and gave her the reasons why, her jaw dropped in disbelief right before stating she "supports us 1,000 percent!" Target apparently responded to this incident, but of course they were a day late and a dollar short.
I don't want to say "I can't wait for the next one," since that would mean another mother facing humiliation while trying to feed her baby. But I somehow get the feeling even with a protest at the national level we'll be back in some other store, government office or other institution. Yes it is unfortunate, but if I'm able to attend, I sure will.



Thursday, December 1, 2011

Is Slavery Why Black Women Aren't Breastfeeding?

I've heard this argument before and have read similar, but I stumbled upon this article recently that is from 2009. The author doesn't go into much detail about her theory on why she believes slavery may be the reason Black women have lower numbers in breastfeeding, but here is a small excerpt, and of course you can read the full article here:

Slave Owners Purchased Us As Wet Nurses
To get to the bottom of this breastfeeding business, it's important to go back. Waaay back. A long time ago, black women were notorious for nursing. In fact, slave owners used and purchased black women as wet nurses for their own children, often forcing these mothers to stop nursing their own infants to care for others. "On the one hand, wet nursing claimed the benefits of breastfeeding for the offspring of white masters while denying or limiting those health advantages to slave infants. On the other hand, wet nursing required slave mothers to transfer to white offspring the nurturing and affection they should have been able to allocate to their own children," writes historian Wilma A.Dunaway, in the book The African-American Family in Slavery and Emancipation, published by Cambridge University Press. And since breastfeeding reduces fertility, slave owners forced black women to stop breastfeeding early so that they could continue breeding, often to the health detriment of their infants, Dunaway writes.
Now, one of the legacies of slavery is the severe social inequality in economics that still has a large impact in Black and communities Of Color today, and the article talked about the belief that breastfeeding is for poor people -- an idea still situated in many communities.

Breastfeeding is for Poor People
But there's more to our story than breastfeeding interrupted at the hands of slave owners hundreds of years ago -- though many may argue that some vestiges of slavery still exist in the mindset of the black community. Aggressive marketing by the formula companies in the 1930s and 40s made formula-feeding the choice of the elite -- "the substance for sophisticates" -- white or black. And who doesn't want to be like the rich and famous? That marketing continues to this day, down to the formula company-sponsored bag of goodies you probably received on the way out of the hospital. Then there's something I call the National Geographic factor -- that is, most of the images we see of black women breastfeeding are semi-naked women in Africa whose lives seem so far away from the African-American lifestyle and experience.
"'Breastfeeding is for poor people,' my mom once said to me," explains Nicole, a 37-year-old mom from New Jersey, who breastfed two children for a year. "My mom is a very progressive woman, but this was the thinking of her generation. I couldn't believe it."
Well, Black women DO breastfeed! But there is no denying our numbers could use a drastic increase, which is why I want to start this conversation here. Do you believe being enslaved and forced to feed a white slaver's baby left a legacy and is the reason for our lower rates? Does the image above (that I found on a postcard for sale on eBay) hit a nerve with a tradition of being mocked? Or is it more advertising? Is there more to the story? Well, I have my theory and believe it can be all and neither and more, and I will be getting into that. But for now I'm eager to hear your thoughts.

The Breast Crawl (Video)

For some strange reason, I recently woke with an insatiable urge to research the breast crawl. Why? Why not? Well, I'm not sure exactly. It is possible because I only know very little about the it, and from what I've noticed, haven't seen or heard of it applied to many situations.

In case you are unfamiliar with the breast crawl, it is a method where immediately after birth a baby is placed on the mother's abdomen instead of the mother holding the baby in the usual cradle position -- and the baby initiates breastfeeding by finding its way to the nipple. If I'm not mistaken, it is said that the baby has a greater sense of autonomy from finding its way to its food source. But this information could be incorrect.

My search for more information has begun, but I have some lingering questions like: Where did this practice initiate? Why don't we see it more often? Why is it when I look something up it is usually a practice by women who are not from or in N. America?  Does it hurt the new mother's stomach to have a baby on top of her? Can it work after a Cesarean? Do you only use the breast crawl once after birth, or can babies do this throughout infancy? What happens with twins? Of course my mind works this way, but hey, I think they're good enough inquiries! Well, I am on a search to find more info, and if you know of any, please don't hesitate to throw it my way!

Have you, or do you know of anyone who has ever practiced the breast crawl?

References and image:

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks + Giving: Holiday Thoughts From A Future IBCLC

I try to avert celebrating Thanksgiving! I have trouble with a tradition that paved the way for the horrendous acts against cultures -- something that still happens today with people whose voices are continuously silenced. A story that has been pitched as a peaceful conjoining of groups, when usurpation, genocide, and colonialism is the backdrop. And let's not forget the white savior image -- something no one ever questions.

But sometimes when I oppose these things it leaves me feeling isolated from my friends and family by not "just joining in". This is also why I emphasized the word try because it usually winds up that I find myself sitting around the table -- because I just want to be with my family. But is it really just a time to spend time with family? Enjoying good food and company? A friend suggested I try and 'redefine' this day and give thanks for the reasons I am thankful. Well, I don't know how well redefinition can work, but I have no problem stating what I'm thankful for, and have decided to do this -- in the future IBCLC sort of way.

Today (and everyday), I am thankful I was drawn to the area of infant feeding. Despite the fact that I have no children and have never breastfed, the need for more proponents of mother's milk humbled me by choosing me as a representative, and everyday I am made more aware of why. I am thankful I followed my heart.

I am thankful I am working towards becoming an International Board of Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)!! IBCLC services are priceless in their ability to provide information and help women increase their milk supply, learn proper breastfeeding techniques, answer questions, diagnose ailments, and a lengthy list of benefits for infant feeding and care -- especially assisting women who may become discouraged.

I am thankful I have a pool of resources at my fingertips and there are countless women on twitter and facebook who are constantly posting breastfeeding information and articles, facts, myths and stories that I continuously soak up! I am thankful I can make comments, joke, and even scratch my head and ask questions at some things, too! I am thankful they are always willing to share their personal journeys with me.

I am thankful that earlier this year I became a member of the Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition -- something I never imagined. The coalition's focus is to "Encourage the African American community to support women in their breastfeeding choice and efforts," and I am overjoyed to be a part of such an organization. I am thankful that the founder, who is an IBCLC, is always willing to 'check in' on me and share information to help in my endeavor.

I am thankful I am beginning to work with other state and local coalitions.

I am thankful I grew up in a family where nursing a child is the cultural norm, and that my grandmother, my mother, and all of my sisters breastfed  -- which in itself is powerful and set the foundation for my personal understanding of its importance.

I am thankful for YouTube, and its millions of educational and instructional videos -- many on breast care and infant feeding.

I am thankful I am a Black woman venturing into a field where the need for more racial diversity is dire, and my presence alone can encourage and increase breastfeeding rates among other members of my community!

I am thankful I am making an effort to look at the whole woman, and not simply her infant-feeding techniques, trying my best to not contribute to "Excuse-Like" excuses.

I am also thankful that I have an outlet to express all of this information and document my journey, which provides an avenue for critique and the gathering of different perspectives.

Finally, I am thankful I studied Cultural Anthropology!! While I believe there are many ways to positively impact this area and different angles are helpful and appreciated, I am thankful that my understanding of anthropology allows me to add another dimension to my outlook and complicates the way I practice and produce information in this area.

So I give thanks, myself, and my best -- to raise awareness, to represent those who are underrepresented, and to help end the long list of social and health disparities that exist -- especially in communities Of Color. Breastfeeding helps save lives!

Yes, I am very happy to be part of this!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Would You Nurse A Baby Cow? (Videos)

What about a puppy, kid (baby goat), pig, monkey, or a baby tiger?

How many times has your grocery list looked something like this:

milk, eggs, cheese, bread, chicken, jello, bacon, donuts?
    Humans have depended on animal products for various reasons since the beginning of time. There are some civilizations who would not have survived without the use of animal skins as protection from extreme climates, while others have used them for labor (horses, for example), or for plowing, and others utilize their companionship.

    Billions of people use animal products as part of their daily subsistence. We use milk for cereal, eggs for baking cakes, cheese for sandwiches, butter on bread, yogurt for snacks, sour cream on nachos, whipped cream on pies, and cream cheese on bagels. We make burgers for lunch, marinate chicken for dinner, fry bacon for breakfast, eat turkey at Thanksgiving, ham on Easter, and more turkey on Christmas. We use cats to releive stress and dogs for loyalty, while wild cats and monkeys are usually peered at through bars at the zoo (something I do not support, btw). Some use cow dung for fuel, and insulation for homes, while others use goats as celestial sacrifices to their creator before blessing and consuming the flesh at festivals, family functions and rights of passages. We wear leather jackets made by big names like Louis Vutton and Coco Chanel -- brag about our new shoes, designer handbags and wallets to match, and of course, for furniture. And this is just the beginning. So the question is, would you breastfeed an animal?

    For those who do not consume or wear animal products, perhaps the indirect link comes from an animal as a companion to the worker whose production is used to make man-made materials. The question is: would you feed one of these animals? Not just feed, would you lift your shirt and give it milk from your body, allowing it to suck on your breasts just the same as a human baby to show your thankfulness and respect for non-human animals?

    I don't know how nourishing it would be for a goat, calf, puppy, or cat to drink human milk. But I do know that we take so much from our animal kingdom, that while watching these videos they made me wonder if we could, would we would return the favor should we ever have the chance and the situation call for it?

    People making comments on these had some very interesting things to say, and of course there were those with blatant disregard for others and their living patterns, especially from the "Indian woman breastfeeding a calf" video. Read them for yourself. But this one stood out to me, not just because I have come to gain a more thorough understanding of the relationship between Hindus and the Sacred Cow tradition, but because ironically one of its comments is one that also made the most sense; "Do humans not drink cow's milk ALL the time?"

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    Why Didn't YOU Breastfeed?: Getting Past 'Excuse-Like' Excuses

    I recently realized something. More often than not when I find myself in conversations with women about feeding their children -- mostly on how they fed, I get very different reactions. Now it is normal to receive different reactions since everyone's story is different, but what I've noticed is when a woman says she has breastfed, it is usually followed by a long and sentimental story they are willing to share. The mother's look of pride is written all over her face as she boasts of the amount of time she nursed, how she did it, whether she pumped on occasion, and this is usually followed by a story of her nursing history -- hers, or her family's. I've also noticed when I talk to women who did not breastfeed the conversation is usually much shorter, somewhere in that time, she'll give her reasons, but often in an almost excuse-like excuse.

    I want to explain what I mean by the phrase 'excuse-like' excuse, and I had to refer to my dictionary for the definition of 'Excuse' so I could give you a clear explanation of what I believe to be an "Excuse-like' excuse.

    According to the dictionary on my Macbook, when the word 'Excuse' is used as a verb it denotes:

      1 attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek todefend or justify • forgive (someonefor a fault or offense you must excuse my sister hecould be excused for feeling that he was born at the wrong time.• overlook or forgive (a fault or offense) • (of a fact or circumstance) serve in mitigation of (a person or act) :his ability excuses most of his faults.When 'Excuse' is used as a noun it denotes: a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault oroffense there can be no possible excuse for any further delay • reason put forward to conceal the real reason for an action; apretext they use their hunting as an excuse to get away from the womenfolk.

    As you can see, "excuse" is used to try and cover something, get out of, or to defend or justify. To explain the reasons for not doing something -- with an embedded notion that something should have been done.

    Unlike excuses, 'excuse-like' excuses need a more holistic look. Unlike direct ways to avert something "I should have but didn't", 'Excuse-like' excuses are often non-verbal cues -- body language, lack of eye contact, overall facial demeanor, or when your instincts tell you a woman does not want to continue or to take part in the conversation about why she didn't nurse. If you know a woman who has children and did not breastfeed, it is easy to tell when she uses an 'Excuse-like' excuse, when the subject comes us, she mostly maintains her silence. This is your ability to recognize an 'Excuse-like' excuse. 'Excuse-like' excuses are reactions and non-reactions to actions, or you can say an action to a reaction. Let me make myself a bit clearer.

    If I went up to someone, and said "What an adorable little baby! Did you breastfeed?" That automatically suggests she should have breastfed her baby, not giving any thought to her situation, or her breastfeeding culture.

    If the mother said "No, I didn't breastfeed because -- my job, my spouse, my lack of understanding, etc., many would quickly jump to the conclusion that these were excuses, and offered their suggestions:
    "You could have pumped, it's not your spouses decision, there are books available, etc." However the mother's (reaction) is not an excuse-like' excuse. An 'excuse-like' excuse is being silenced (non-reaction) through these types of conversations (actions), where a mother is not allowed to state her reasons for fear of backlash (again, non reaction). Does this make sense?

    No one wants to face this type of opposition in a time where breastfeeding fundamentalism is all around. Though I can't say I blame people for advocating breastfeeding, however, extreme breastfeeding needs to be placed in its proper context. As I've said before: I support breastfeeding as part of the natural reproductive cycle directly after birth, and would like it if every baby received mother's milk. But I also recognize that that thought is idealistic at best. Different people have different stories. I recognize that above and below the surface are various reasons a mother has not, cannot, or will not breastfeed her child, which is why I believe a holistic approach is not only beneficial but necessary in understanding infant feeding, and viewing this area through the mother's lens -- what she faces on a daily basis, and what has shaped this outlook. This is also why I have decided to make more of an effort to listen and learn from mothers, and let them explain to me what infant feeding means to them. This is also why I am wanting to know from a group who is often pushed into the margins and who are often met with breastfeeding fundamentalism and silenced.

    I am an proponent of mother's milk. But I am not in favor of arbitrary judgement or, like I said before, an extreme breastfeeding advocate! I don't advocate excuse-like excuses, nor do I believe those who do not nurse do not want the best for their babies. Not at all. I am coming from a place of sincere curiosity and from wanting to learn from you and your breastfeeding culture -- those things that have shaped your outlook and views, and how you daily put this into practice. This will only work effectively to increase my level of understanding as well as fortify the level of understanding we have of each other as a group. 

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    The ILCA's Annual Conference 2012 = Update

    Well, I won't be speaking at the International Lactation Consultant's Association's Annual Meeting next year. I got that email -- the one that starts out very friendly but inevitably ends with "Thanks, but no thanks"! It's OK. I can live with it. I'm sure they had a very large pool of great choices. I have to admit that just a very small part of me is very slightly relieved for the reasons that my nervousness may have taken over. But I'd rather be nervous and speak to mass audiences on things that are important, than to be nervous and not speak to mass audiences on things that are important.

    I'm still giving a bit of thought on presenting on Breastfeeding and Feminism at the University of North Carolina, even though time is dwindling to get in an abstract. Maybe I'll find something more local. Either way, I'm not deterred in my mission.

    Should Lactation Consultant Services Be An Essential Component of Healthcare?

    If you believe in the benefits of Lactation Consultants, and think these services should be a part of a healthcare package, and have ever wanted a opportunity to rub elbows with representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, here is your chance. Part of me wonders why DHHS need to speak to IBCLCs and advocates given the overwhelming amount of information on breastfeeding benefits, and knowing the objective of Lactation Consultants will help in obtaining those benefits, so having these kinds of specialists in healthcare would only make sense. . . but that's just me.

    I still believe working towards getting to a place where breastfeeding is seen as the cultural norm, pushing towards goals where we as a society will arrive at a place where everyday people can pitch in everyday, calling on specialists only in special circumstances, should be our greatest goal. And while we work towards that, here is an opportunity to advocate, since the DHHS just may be in your area and will be listening to you. 

    Here is an excerpt from the International Lactation Consultants of America's website, but you can read the full text as well as get additional information here. Below are the meeting places, dates, times, and email addresses to RSVP. RSVPs are required! Send an email with your name, organization, title, email address and phone number to the designated RSVP by the RSVP Due Date listed! You DO NOT have to be an IBCLC, or any other type of breastfeeding counselor to attend!
    Lactation consultants make a difference every day in diverse settings and with a variety of people. You may think that you are too small to make a difference in the scheme of things. However, advocating a point of view is engaged in by almost all special interest groups in the United States. As individuals and/or groups, we have the right to lobby policy makers which insures that our interests and concerns are heard, as well as competing interests and views, so that legislators and policy makers have a broad base of information on which to base their decisions. Lobbying attempts to persuade an individual, agency, institution, or organization to support an idea, an issue, a certain course of action, etc. You lobby whenever you work to encourage someone to agree to your way of thinking or to embark on a new project or program. We call ourselves “advocates” because we speak for those whose voices are often silent – breastfeeding mothers and babies. 
    USLCA works to fulfill its vision and mission to see that IBCLCs are valued members of the health care team and that as an association it advocates for its members. However because USLCA is YOU, we are all needed to engage in advocacy activities. The power of “one” is strong and when one determined individual networks with others championing similar agendas, change happens. 

    Chicago    4-Nov     9:30 AM- noon                                              
    233 N Michigan Ave, 13th floor (Room 1329)  

    Boston 8-Nov 1-3 PM                                                                           
    John F. Kennedy Federal Building. 15 New Sudbury St., Conference Room 2075 (20th floor)

    New York    14-Nov    10 AM - noon                                             
    26 Federal Plaza, Suite 3835 New York, New York 

    Kansas City
       15-Nov    10 AM - noon                                           
    Bolling Federal Office Building 8th Floor SSA Conference Room  

    601 E. 12th Street  

    Atlanta     16-Nov    10 AM - noon                                                  
    61 Forsyth St. SW, Suite 5B95, Atlanta  

    Seattle     17-Nov     2 - 5 PM                                             
    Jackson Federal Building, 915 2nd Ave, South Auditorium

    Denver     18-Nov  9 AM - noon                                                      
    999 18th St. South Terrace, Suite 400

    San Francisco  21-Nov  3 - 5 PM                                                         
    90 Seventh Street, Suite 5-100

    Philadelphia     8-Nov    10 AM -noon                       
    Public Ledger Building, 150 S. Independence Mall West, Conference Rm 419

    Dallas     9-Nov    10 AM - noon                                              shelby.gooden@hhs.
    r for Community Cooperation, 2900 Live Oak Street

    Go and be heard. Or at least go and listen in -- show your interest and support.

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    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Silence Is Golden: Closing My Mouth On The Breastfeeding Thing

    I'm not usually an advocate of silence. In fact, the opposite is true, and I'm most often hell-bent on speaking up. Talking about it. Speaking for it. Or against it -- whatever it is. Injustice. Inequality. Racism. Homophobia. White supremacy. These are just a few subjects that are always rolling from my mouth and in my writing. I don't regret speaking on those things, and especially how they intersect the realm of breastfeeding.

    What I've noticed since I've been in conversations with women who have breastfed is they seem to share similarities in their breastfeeding stories. Mainly, that it really hurts at some point -- usually in the beginning. I'm recalling the conversation with the sistah from Chuck E. Cheese -- the one who asked about Black women as breastfeeding advocates in Washington State. When she, the other lady and I first began talking about nursing, she said she tried to feed her first child but it just hurt too much and couldn't continue. I'm almost embarrassed that I chimed in when I told her breastfeeding usually only hurts if a baby is not properly latched. Hey, that's what all the books I read said. Babies are usually not latched properly if they don't have as much areola inside of its mouth as possible (and not just the nipple), have nipple confusion from exposure to bottles and pacifiers, are stressed out from mother's stress, ill, and countless other reasons. Maybe I was just paranoid, but felt like she gave me a wtf look, or could it have been a look that I provided information she never heard of before? Well, whether this was new information or she thought I was crazy, this highlights the issue I have with books. Now, I know plenty of women who have nursed children. My sister, for example, nursed seven boys, and I saw how it hurt -- at least in the beginning. And I have talked to others who have said the same thing. Could they all be attaching the baby incorrectly? It's possible. But even after several successful breastfeeding scenarios?

    Needless to say that was a moment of awakening for me for a few reasons, but instead of harping on myself and feeling like a complete ignoramus, wondering how I could have possibly even gone there -- telling her about her experience and breastfeeding endeavor, I've decided to allow that incident to teach me a lesson in listening and learning. And instead of offering my armchair advice, I'm going to sit back and keep my mouth shut -- on praxis, that is. I will continue to be an advocate, but I'm going to take in information and ask more questions. Learn from them. At least for now -- until I get more formal training under my belt. I do believe sometimes silence can be golden, and in these opportunities with mothers, can provide a source to learn what has shaped their experiences, what obstacles they faced, why they didn't nurse, stopped or continued, and how this information can assist others. If someone happens to ask me a question or two, I'll happily speak up, but for now I'm going to sit in the area of silence and use that as a space to progress.

    How To Get A Good Breastfeeding Latch

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    101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child

    1. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends it

    "Human milk is the preferred feeding for all infants, including premature and sick newborns... It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least the first 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired."

    (See A.A.P. Breastfeeding Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk (RE9729))

    2. Breastfeeding promotes bonding between mother and baby

    Breastfeeding stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin in the mother's body. "It is now well established that oxytocin, as well as stimulating uterine contractions and milk ejection, promotes the development of maternal behavior and also bonding between mother and offspring."Uvnas-Moberg, Eriksson: Breastfeeding: physiological, endocrine and behavioral adaptations caused by oxytocin and local neurogenic activity in the nipple and mammary gland.: Acta Paediatrica, 1996 May, 85(5):525-30

    3. Breastfeeding satisfies baby's emotional needs

    All babies need to be held. Studies have shown that premature babies are more likely to die if they are not held or stroked. There is no more comforting feeling for an infant of any age than being held close and cuddled while breastfeeding. While many bottle-feeding parents are aware of the importance of cradling their babies while offering the bottle, some are not. Even for parents with good intentions, there is always the temptation to prop up a bottle next to the child, or, when the baby is a little older, to let the child hold his/her own bottle and sit alone. This is emotionally unsatisfying to baby, and can be dangerous physically. An unsupervised child can choke. Also, propping up bottles over night leads to tooth decay.

    4. Breast milk provides perfect infant nutrition

    "Human milk is uniquely superior for infant feeding and is species-specific; all substitute feeding options differ markedly from it. The breastfed infant is the reference or normative model against which all alternative feeding methods must be measured with regard to growth, health, development, and all other short and long-term benefits."

    (See A.A.P. Breastfeeding Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk (RE9729))

    5. Not breastfeeding increases mother's risk of breast cancer

    "If all women who do not breastfeed or who breastfeed for less than 3 months were to do so for 4 to 12 months, breast cancer among parous premenopausal women could be reduced by 11 percent, judging from current rates. If all women with children lactated for 24 months or longer, however, then the incidence might be reduced by nearly 25 percent. This reduction would be even greater among women who first lactate at an early age."

    Newcomb PA, Storer BE, Longnecker MP, et al. Lactation and a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer.

    N Engl J Med. 1994;330:81-87

    6. Formula feeding increases baby girls' risk of developing breast cancer in later life

    Women who were formula-fed as infants have higher rates of breast cancer as adults. For both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer, women who were breastfed as children, even if only for a short time, had a 25% lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who were bottle-fed as infants.

    Freudenheim, J. et al. 1994 "Exposure to breast milk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer". Epidemiology 5:324-331

    7. Formula Feeding is associated with lower I.Q.

    The latest study to support this statement was done in New Zealand. Here an 18 year longitudinal study of over 1,000 children found that those who were breastfed as infants had both better intelligence and greater academic achievement than children who were infant-formula fed. Horwood and Fergusson, "Breastfeeding and Later Cognitive and Academic Outcomes", Jan 1998 Pediatrics Vol. 101, No. 1

    Morrow-Tlucak M, Haude RH, Ernhart CB. Breastfeeding and cognitive development in the first 2 years of life. Soc Sci Med. 1988:26;635-639

    Lucas A., "Breast Milk and Subsequent Intelligence Quotient in Children Born Preterm".Lancet 1992;339:261-62

    Wang YS, Wu SY. The effect of exclusive breastfeeding on development and incidence of infection in infants. J Hum Lactation. 1996; 12:27-30

    8. Breast milk is always ready and comes in a nicer package than formula does

    Need we say more?

    9. Breast milk helps pass meconium

    Babies are born with a sticky tar-like substance called meconium in their intestines. Colostrum, or early milk, is uniquely designed to help move this substance through the infant's body.

    10. Breast milk contains immunities to diseases and aids in the development of baby's immune system.

    Formula provides neither of these benefits

    Koutras, A.K., "Fecal Secretory Immunoglobulin A in Breast Milk vs. Formula Feeding in Early Infancy". J. Ped Gastro Nutr 1989.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Pumpkin Milk for Pumpkin Baby

    I saw this floating around facebook. Right away I had some questions; how will Pumpkin mama feed pumpkin baby? I hope she decides to refuse the hospital milk that I've heard is too often suggested. And I also hope she has lots of support and love inside and outside of her circle should she have questions or if she feels discouraged know that help is nearby. Perhaps mama will find articles  and other reading on how to grow strong and healthy pumpkins. I wondered if pumpkins are valued more or less based on their outward appearance than let's say a cucumber, zucchini or watermelon, even though they are all members of the Cucurbit family? Do they face discrimination in the patch or elsewhere? Or do those viewed as more valuable than others have more of a chance at feeding their little orange ones? Must they place bumper stickers on a wheel barrow while moving around? Is it necessary to cover up even though they don't normally wear clothes? If they experienced harassment would they have pumpkin-ins? I thought this was cute, folks! We are in a season where pumpkins are all around. Whether you are celebrating any holiday or not, have a happy and safe day!

    Below is a recipe for pumpkin milk. Apparently the final product turns a bit green,
    but is loaded with nutritious goodness. If you make this, share your thoughts!

    Fresh Pumpkin Seed Milk Recipe

    Breastfeeding is boo-tiful!

    The IBCLC Road Is Longer Than Expected

    Well it looks like it's going to take a bit longer to get through nursing school than I thought. No, not that kind of nursing, breastfeeding school! I haven't started any classes yet. The bottom line is these courses have turned out to be much more costly than I expected so I'm working in that area. I looked into federal funding (more student loans, eek) but not sure I'd even want to go that route.

    I am still on the right track with gathering information and using what resources I have to move me in the right direction -- marinating, so I am not that worried. But like I said before will be going through and finishing graduate school, so as long as I have the classes done within a specific amount of time I'm good, and I can do that. I am still looking into volunteering and in about a week or so, will be meeting with the manager of the Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington, and I continue to blog since it keeps me active and alert. Yes I would like all of this to happen like NOW, since I'm still that excited about it, but the way I look at it is slow and steady wins, and I am talking to people and learning a ton of stuff -- hopefully teaching a few things, and making a difference along the way. This is all part of it. After all, this is a lactation journey, not a destination.

    Breastfeeding Laws In Washington State

    A few years ago for my friend's birthday, we went on a camping trip to Orcas Island. The campsite she and I stayed at had a restaurant we visited, and as we were eating I remember a woman sitting inside, a couple tables away, with her breasts very exposed while she fed her child. I also remember one of the others with her at the table, a male, glanced around to see if anyone was watching -- it wasn't the kind of nervous or embarrassed look, but a look to see if anyone was watching since she was close to bare-chested is the feeling I got.

    I've only ever felt anything but just how much Washingtonians pride ourselves on being progressive, liberal, and earthy -- we're pretty granola around here. And though I have been around many who will and have happily whipped out a breast anytime, anywhere to feed their child -- especially those close to me me like friends and family, I have to admit I haven't seen much breastfeeding in public. Now, it is possible that I haven't really looked for it, until I became the most interested in breastfeeding, which was more recently. But looking at all of the politics and seeing so much anti-breastfeeding in our society I've thought about that day in the restaurant and wondered what would have happened if someone, ignorant of infant feeding as a non-sexual act and lacking cultural awareness, would have given this woman a hard time for nursing in a public space -- no allowing her baby to finish eating to satisfy its hunger just as all of us were doing in this restaurant that day? Would she have known her rights? If I had known would I have stepped in? Would you? Well, thankfully the woman was able to feed her baby without incident, but this is unlike so many stories I have read about and heard of, where women are constantly harassed and laws designed to protect, often face dissidence.

    Of course I know about the laws in other states like Michigan because of the most recent nurse in. The law states you can feed your baby anytime, anywhere in public whether you are covered or not, and it is not considered indecent. And I also know about breastfeeding laws in Pennsylvania because of that questionable mobile breastfeeding unit, the Milk truck that was recently introduced. But as someone who considers myself an advocate in this area, I'm embarrassed to say until very recently, I had no idea about the laws on breastfeeding in the state I live in.

    Well, after not too much searching this is what I found on the Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington's website: On April 22, 2009, Governor Chris Gregoire signed into law a breastfeeding civil rights bill. HB1596 amends the state anti-discrimination statutes RCW 49.60.030 and 2007 c 187 s 3 to add the following civil right: (g) the right of a mother to breastfeed her child in any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement. In simple terms, this means a public place such as a park, fairground, etc.

    Though there is nothing that protects nursing women in the workplace, you can feed your baby in public! But what I am wondering is where did this come from ? I mean, if this is a new law, what does it supersede? What was the old one? Was there anything in place protecting nursing mothers?

    Just to be clear, I think it is absolutely pathetic to have laws in order to feed children! People go hungry everyday, and making sure we have nourishing meals and are all fed should be our priority! There is no such laws when it comes to feeding ourselves. I believe we need an overhaul in our culture that will produce more understanding, awareness and encouragement when it comes to breastfeeding, so we won't need to resort to exercising a law to do it wherever, and while I dedicate time and effort, and contribute what I can to this area, here is a just a small way to become informed.

    There are resources out there. These sites contain multiple resources and other ways to get you in the know with the necessary breastfeeding information you will need for yourself and for others. This is only  a few resources, and I encourage you to look for others.

    1. Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington
    2. La Leche League of Washington
    3. Within Reach is an organization dedicated to the wellness of child and family health for the residents of Washington, and has breastfeeding information available, along with information on healthy food initiative, healthcare, low cost child care, support hotlines, and a list of others. 
    4. Washington State Department of Health WIC Breastfeeding website 
    As stated these are just a few. What others do you know of? What do you recommend?

    Are you in Washington State? Do you know other breastfeeding laws and legislation here? In the Pacific Northwest? Do you know the laws on breastfeeding in your state or another?

             To posts. 
    It's free and there's NO SPAM!

    Sunday, October 23, 2011


    CURE TOOTH DECAY: REMINERALIZE CAVITIES & REPAIR YOUR TEETH NATURALLY WITH GOOD FOOD (Second Edition), is written by Ramiel Nagel, who has a degree in Legal Studies from UC Santa Cruz, and gives an in- depth look at our eating habits and cultural traditions, how they are linked to our overall dental health, and how through the same avenues, can be repaired. Ramiel Nagel began searching for ways to naturally cure tooth decay upon discovering his young daughter's need for dental work and did not wan to subject her to harsh treatments.

    "Your teeth are not designed to decay. They were designed to remain strong, resilient, and cavity free for your entire life," is the first line of this text, and tells us contrary to what most of us have been made to believe, cavities, decaying teeth, and dentures in our old age is not only abnormal, but is a complete contradiction to nature. Why would nature contradict itself?  Ramiel Nagel based much of his initial research from Dr. Weston Price, whose work as a dentist and research of indigenous cultures and their thriving dental and overall health found that not only did they have optimal facial bone structure, but they were immune to dental caries and cavities. The overarching question to be answered is "Why do we suffer from tooth decay, and what can we do about it?

    I felt a bit overwhelmed by this book -- by the list of things to eat, but mostly the list of things to avoid. This feeling comes from a place of privilege as well as a place where I must orient myself in this world, and take into account a global society around me. In the country I live in we often believe we are better than others in that we feel our industrial and modern society is superior. However, it is this same types of thinking and practices that make us often disregard the lessons we can learn from others who do things differently. This is also where we turn our backs on the suffering we often cause, support, or simply pretend it does not exist. For that reason, I want to start out by recognizing my privilege and, like Ramiel Nagel in his small section titled Thanksgiving, where he acknowledges his thankfulness for having food whether good food or bad food, thank God and the Universe that I eat everyday. There have been times where I have faced tremendous hardship, but I don't go hungry. In fact, in the midsts of my deepest struggles, I have been made to consciously recognize the blessing of my eating habits -- consuming whole, unprocessed foods, while the situation could have been drastically different. Even though I can't say the majority of foods produced today, at least in the society I'm in, are all natural and are produced in the best moral and social settings and have the intentions of bringing this in the best way to its consumers, I do recognize many around the world and even in my own environment do not have access to even that. And if you have read this text and like me are feeling overwhelmed by what seems to be too many restrictions, you are also likely coming from a place of privilege. Recognizing this continues to motivate me, and I hope you as well, to become and remain actively involved in eradicating these types of injustices and disparities, and work at getting to a place where everyone, everywhere can have healthy and filling meals that nourish us, and repair and restore our bodies.

    I have always lived by the mantra "The earth has everything we need to sustain ourselves!" Yet we have been heavily influenced and conditioned to believe that outside intervention is not only viable, but the only option in our dental health and well-being, and the majority of us have sworn by this for generations. However, as mentioned above, that message only reflects the utter contradiction of nature. "Our teeth should remain strong, resilient, and cavity free for our entire lives. Why would nature contradict itself?" It also reflects the need for each of us to go beneath the surface and question what contributes to the increasing decline in our dental health, and while we're at it, we could also benefit from seeking out and questioning a few other areas that work together in keeping this dependence on modern society and misinformation in many areas at the backdrop of our society.

    I had long known the dangers of the Western diet are often times, despite our efforts, less than ideal -- "Store food gives us store teeth." And I knew the body was capable of repairing itself through nutrition, but when it came to teeth I didn't really know the extent of just how the meals we believe are healthy affects our teeth, or that through this same avenue -- eating, could be repaired. If I never saw Ramiel Nagel's credentials, I would have never known his background is in Legal Studies. This text, forewarded by the President of the Holistic Dental Association, provides well-researched and informative material that, for starters is not filled with esoteric facts, dental-eese, or requires a working knowledge of the dental industry, but also gives us an in- depth history of the industry's practices and why these have been able to continue. 

    CURE TOOTH DECAY gives us alternatives. And these alternatives, unlike the dental industry which is something experienced by the privileged, are more accessible to many people.The recipes, tips, and simple methods such as brushing with sea salt, or oil pulling, for example, that do not require a large budget or extensive knowledge, and shows us that taking care of our teeth can be achieved outside of those mainstream institutions. Somewhere along the way while reading this text, I became convinced this author has some background in anthropology, and believe some of the recipes he provides along with raw milk, eggs, etc. -- those considered non-traditional or what many here in Western culture would consider so-called scraps -- fish head soup, fish intestines, for example,  can work to destigmatize and de-'Other'ize certain groups whose eating habits are different and whose dental and overall health are thriving. He even shared his children's love of eating grasshoppers. The only area where I felt slightly discouraged is towards the end. All of the methods were praised throughout this text, then mentioned they may not work, but that I know, is a given for anything, and of course was not enough to thwart my belief in nature's ability to heal us, or my belief in the part we can play in healing ourselves. 

    The information provided is information I would share while working with communities in lower-socio economic statuses -- those who do not have access to proper dental care which, in my opinion, makes this more than just information on obtaining better dental health for ourselves, but it is key in showing us how we can implement these in areas that need it most. Our teeth can tell a lot about our living situation and our society, and through these methods we can change those areas that are flawed -- with more people and communities having access, garnering our own sense of agency and increasing our overall health. At least that's the way I see it. I walked away with the feeling this book is more than just about being published and making profit, but about empowering people, contributing to positive social changes, and making a difference. I really appreciate this information, and am so happy to have read this.

    In this video, Ramiel Nagel talks about the holistic alternative to conventional dentistry!

    Click here for Part II and her for Part III

    Author: Ramiel Nagel
    Year: 2010
    Paperback: 28.97
    Genre: Dentistry/Health
    Pages: 234 
    ISBN: 978-1434810601

    Thank you, Golden Child Publishing, for providing a copy of CURE TOOTH DECAY: REMINERALIZE CAVITIES & REPAIR YOUR TEETH NATURALLY WITH GOOD FOOD, for this review.

    Note: All opinions are my own and honest, and I am not compensated by the publisher!

    Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Not That Interested In Birth

    An archaeological excavation in Italy's Mugello Valley: A
    2,600 year old image of a woman giving birth. 
    I've been thinking about a conversation with a friend a while ago when talking about baby stuff. We somehow got on the subject of birth -- probably because she's on her way to becoming a doula, but she began to tell me some birth stories she learned about in her classes. I remember when we began to talk about other aspects of birth also, I told her that I'm not that intrigued by birth. Wait! Let me rephrase that. It's not that I'm not intrigued by birth. I am absolutely intrigued by birth. The fact that we are able to make another human being, incubate and nourish it for nine months, then watch as it emerges from our fabulous bodies (something I have witnessed on a few occasions) -- that's incredible! I'm just not that interested in it.

    Maybe I'm having a bit of trouble correctly articulating my point. I remember talking to my friend and telling her the reasons I would be interested in birth -- misrepresentation, marginalization, unfair birthing practices --  injustice. Where those unfair practices are prevalent then I would be interested in it -- to advocate for justice and equality. But on a regular, I have to say I'm not all that interested in the whole baby experience, mama stuff, and I don't get warm fuzzies thinking about at-home deliveries, baby blankets, booties, cloth diapering, and baby slings. Now I know breastfeeding a baby requires a birth, but strange as it may sound I sometimes figure my reasons are simple: we don't have to have babies. Don't get me wrong, my foundation is pro life -- understanding there are exceptions related to politics, access, assaults and more behind this that I won't get into right now, but the whole pregnancy process does not have to happen. Putting sexual activity and the reproduction aspect into a heterosexual paradigm (though not suggesting various orientations do not play a part in this), in many cases, we don't have to be pregnant, and there are times we can avert this -- safe methods of birth control, getting to the foundation of our sexually hedonistic society, and critiquing tactics where sex sells a tire, a sock, a refrigerator, electric fans, a computer desk -- a pair of shoelaces?! I won't even go there. Or abstinence. But we cannot avert eating to live. It must be done! That's the way I see it. And how our infants eat not only can affect us and our communities for generations, but who is eating, what we are eating, and who has access is a reflection of so many other areas of society. Infant feeding is a practice steeped heavily in politics. I'm interested in those politics.

    I understand it's not always this cut and dry and gets more complicated, but before you castigate and label me a heathen, know that I do feel a little guilty about feeling this way -- especially in this particular realm. Also remember that although I don't have any children of my own, I have 15 nieces and nephews and I have played a very active role in helping raise Each. And. Every. One of them. Those are my kids. And I loved and cherished it! Also know that once upon a time I was very interested in birth -- of my own. In fact, I wanted to have children (three) and become a midwife -- back in the late 90s/early 2000s when I was in my early 20s, and always pictured myself having all of my babies at home, in the bathtub, underwater, with my entire family around eating pizza and playing games in the next room -- you know, long before this stuff was popular around here. People always said I'd be such a great mother, and others already called me 'Nature Mom.' Now, if my views and feelings change and I do ever decide to mother, adoption is my final answer! But the former -- well, those were the days. That was back then. I was at and am in different place.

    Today, I am an advocate of infant feeding because I see the politics behind it, and want to face those head on, and am using what I know and will learn to bring these issues to the forefront, and work to make infant feeding accessible to those who choose to practice this type of nourishment. I want to help empower those interested so we can make informed decisions -- not ones based on misinformation, manipulation, misrepresentation, and bias. I work in the margins. I am also interested in actively challenging health and social disparities on multiple fronts that stem from this. That's what I'm here for. And even though I do get excited when I find out someone I know is going to have a baby, will go to baby showers and help out the best I can, and encourage nursing not just for food, but for overall health, well-being and the multitude of other benefits, I'm just not that interested in the process it takes to get there. Is that bad?