Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NYC Hospitals Aim to Become Baby Friendly

Eleven hospitals in New York City are currently working towards becoming certified “Baby Friendly” by the World Health Organization & UNICEF. The hospitals, which are a part of NYC’s Health & Hospitals Corporation, are also specifically targeting African-American moms who make up one third of their clientele. If these hospitals become Baby Friendly, it will have a huge impact on the number of black women who initiate breastfeeding in the hospital.

According to a recent article on WeNews, the city’s health department is providing funding for public hospitals to launch this initiative and hire a breastfeeding coordinator at each hospital. This is seriously a HUGE deal and a fantastic step towards breaking down one of the biggest barriers to breastfeeding, free formula and swag bags from the hospital. If NYC pulls this off, they have the potential to become the first major metropolitan area to reverse the trend of low breastfeeding rates for black women.

Trish MacEnroe, Director of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in the US, told WeNews, “New York will bust the myth that going Baby Friendly is an impossible task. If you can go Baby Friendly in New York, with different races, languages and cultures, and with hospitals being fiscally challenged, that sends a powerful message to all hospitals that breastfeeding is an achievement you can reach."

There are currently only a paltry 86 hospitals in the entire country that can boast that they are Baby Friendly. Hopefully soon there will be 11 more.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What breast pump does Kimora use?

A lot of people have been finding my blog lately in search of the breast pump that Kimora Lee uses on the new season of her show, "Life in the Fab Lane." Kimora is pumping with the Medela Pump In Style Advanced, which can be purchased at your local chain baby store. This is definitely a pump that comes highly recommended, but there are other great double electric pumps out there, including the Ameda Purely Yours and the Hygeia EnJoye.

Black Breastfeeding: You have to see it to believe it

Today someone asked me if I knew of any public service announcements or campaigns to promote breastfeeding featuring black moms and babies or other women of color. Why, yes, I do, and I pointed her to a recent few of them. It got me thinking about how rarely in my day to day life I see women of color breastfeeding. Of course I hardly see ANY women breastfeeding, but when I do, they are always white. I think that is one of the hurdles we face in trying to get more black women to breastfeed. If you don't see women who look like you doing it, you think this is something that isn't for you.
Thankfully there have been a lot of breastfeeding awareness campaigns that have featured women of color. And although sometimes I am disappointed in the images used in many ad campaigns selling products for breastfeeding moms, lots of companies get it right and use diverse models.

So with this in mind, I decided to create a resource for those of you who work in breastfeeding support or are doulas and childbirth educators that feature pictures of women of color, particularly black women, breastfeeding. I will link to the original source whenever possible and update this post and leave a link to it in my sidebar. If you find any others that you think should be included, please email them to me.

California Department of Public Health- Mother's Milk for Daddy's Baby campaign
California Department of Public Health- Formula. Mother's Milk. Not the Same campagin
Ontario Human Rights Commission- A Baby's Right to Eat

INFACT Canada- Benefits 101 Series
New Zealand Ministry of Health- Nursing in Public PSA (features Maori women)
Shelby County, TN- Babies Were Born to be Breastfed
Texas WIC- I'm a proud breastfeeding dad amongst others
Texas WIC- African-American Breastfeeding Promotion
Austin WIC- I breastfeed because....

Companies that use moms of color in their ads


There are a few, but it's not enough! If I am missing a brand you know and love, let me know in the comments and I'll add them to the list. If there is another PSA that you know of, tell me about it so I can spread the word.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Racial Gap in Breastfeeding Rates Widens

This morning the CDC released a new report, "Racial and Ethnic Differences in Breastfeeding Initiation and Duration, by State," which lists the breastfeeding rates amongst the various racial groups from 2004-2008. The news for black women doesn't look good. According to this report, black breastfeeding initiation rates actually went down from about 60% to about 54% since the CDC's Breastfeeding Report Card came out in 2009, which was based on data collected in 2006. In fact, everyone's rates appear to have taken a hit, with white women's breastfeeding rates going from 78% initiation in 2006 to about 74% and Hispanic women's rates dropping from 82% to 80%.

I'm not sure what to make of these numbers. At first glance, the 2% drop for Hispanic women seems to be statistically insignificant, but what of the drop for black moms and white moms? Is this just a matter of overlapping years when the data was collected fudging the numbers a bit? Or is this something to be concerned about? At a time when breastfeeding promotion seems to be a priority of the government what with the health care reform bill including a provision for time and space to pump at work and the retooling of the WIC food packages, not to mention a cultural shift to breastfeeding in the US, I expected the numbers to be much higher.

So now I'm feeling a bit depressed. When people ask what percentage of black moms choose to breastfeed, I'll no longer be able to say we're at an all-time high with a 60% initiation rate.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Do attitudes about formula explain breastfeeding disparity?

A new research study conducted at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center has found that black mothers' attitudes about formula may explain disparate breastfeeding rates. According to the study, moms of all races (Black, White, Hispanic and Asian) are equally comfortable with the idea of breastfeeding. In fact, 60% of black moms initiated breastfeeding in the hospital in 2006, compared with 77% of white moms. The difference was that black moms were much more comfortable with the idea of formula feeding than the moms of other races.

I'm not really surprised about the findings in this study (the article I read didn't say how many women were polled or what their socioeconomic status is) because I have found many moms who think formula is just as good as breast milk or a very close second. I also think we have to remember that most black moms are planning on returning to work after they have a baby and many will not have support in the workplace to pump (Isotoner anyone?) If you know you're going back to work and you know you may not be able to breastfeed past 12 weeks, you're going to have to believe that formula is fine or else you're going to drive yourself crazy thinking you are harming your baby.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Laurie Nommsen-Rivers, says the study raises an interesting point about how breastfeeding should be promoted. “The study results tell us that public health campaigns to promote breastfeeding must also include messages regarding the risks of formula feeding. We are committed to learning more about what influences women’s understanding of the risks of formula feeding, because this is a key part of improving breastfeeding practices and therefore, infant health, for some of our most vulnerable newborns,” she said.

So black moms, what do you think? Are your friends and family members comfortable with the idea of formula feeding? Do you feel they understand the risks to themselves and their babies that choosing not to breastfeed poses? Is it even a question of getting black moms to understand the risks of formula? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What Makes Breastfeeding So Great

Welcome Carnival of Breastfeeding readers! This month's topic is "The Joys of Breastfeeding." Be sure to check out the links at the end of this post to read the various blogger contributions.

What makes breastfeeding so great and why do I love it so? There are the obvious reasons that many moms state when talking about the joys of breastfeeding. For many, it's the bonding between mother and baby. For others it's the idea of growing a baby inside of you for 9 months, then nurturing him at the breast for the next year. Still some may say it's the calorie burn that helds get rid of those pregnancy pounds easier.

I personally had a lot of trouble with breastfeeding in the beginning.  A poor latch led to sore nipples and slow weight gain. My son has always been a gourmand and lingered at the breast for hours on end. There were days when I felt like I got nothing done besides nursing. I can't count the number of times I was late or didn't show up to an event, because it never failed that right as we were about to head out the door, my son would start rooting and I'd need to sit down and nurse him. All the books say that after a few weeks, your baby will nurse quickly, but my son never did. I don't think he ever took less than 45 minutes to eat (even now, at 27 months, he'd be happy to nurse for hours on end if I'd let him.)

But despite the challenges and the frustrations, breastfeeding has always made me happy. What makes breastfeeding so great to me? I love that by breastfeeding my son, I gave him something that no one else ever could. It brings me joy that I can say my son never had an ear infection or needed antiobiotics. The feeling of coming home after a long day of work and sinking into the couch with my baby and nursing him was pure euphoria. Knowing that the cure for anything that ailed my son was available and accessible 24 hours a day. Breastfeeding also gave me an excuse to slow down and enjoy my new baby without feeling the need to bounce back to my pre-pregnancy life in record time. I was able to savor my baby and empowered to ignore the pressure to get a baby-sitter so I could go out on the town or hit the gym. One of the great joys of breastfeeding is taking the time to really enjoy being with your baby.

And diapers that don't stink to high heaven is a nice little bonus, too.

Enjoy these posts from other carnival participants:

Hobo Mama: No need to count calories when breastfeeding
Life of a Babywearing and Breastfeeding Mommy: Breastfeeding is how I connect with my little one after work
Breastfeeding Moms Unite!: Poems about the joys of breastfeeding
Maman A Droit: A Joyful List
Lucy & Ethel Have A Baby: Nursing my little person
Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: Top 5 things I love about breastfeeding
Code Name: Mama: Milk songs
Little Snowflakes: The joys of nursing to sleep
The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Things I loved about nursing my son
Good Enough Mum: You don't have to be crunchy to like breastfeeding
Living Peacefully with Children: Nursing haikus

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I first saw this photo posted on my friend's Facebook page. I asked him what the heck this product is and he said "Cambodian breast milk." I thought he was joking (he's not Asian, so I assumed he was just making shit up to mess with me) but check out this recent article on Weird Asia News. Maybe he wasn't joking after all! 

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Black Family: A Doula Story

I have been meaning to blog about Loretha Weisinger for about a year now, but I could never quite put into words the way I feel about her, the work she does with poor teenage mothers in Chicago, and the excellent documentary about her, Black Family: A Doula Story. There just really aren't words to express the depth of the love Loretha has for these young women who often have no one else in their lives who even care about them and their unborn children, let alone love them.

Loretha herself was a statistic, a poor, single teenage mother, who remembers contemplating suicide after the birth of her child at 16 because she desperately needed help and couldn't find any. She provides the help for these girls that was missing from her own life. In addition to doula services, Loretha nurtures the girls throughout their pregnancies, teaching them about healthy eating, how to care for and love a baby, breastfeeding and how to manage their pain during labor. All of this is provided for free, and Loretha even provides postpartum support up to 12 weeks and even longer if the girls still need it because she doesn't want to leave them without a support system.

One of the reasons that I think breastfeeding is so important for black moms is that research has shown that moms who breastfeed are less likely to abuse their children and breastfeeding naturally lends itself to a more nurturing parenting style. I feel like I see a lot of black parents who are big on discipline but not necessarily loving touch. I really believe that a lot of the violence problems in our community start in the home, with child-rearing techniques that rely too heavily on corporal punishment. In the documentary, Loretha talks about how the girls she cares for have never been parented in a loving and nurturing way, so how can they pass that on to their babies if they've never felt it before? She says:

I’ll ask them, ‘Is it OK if I hug you’? and I’ll say 'See how that felt? I’m hugging you, not to get nothing from you, but just to have the feeling…to bring you where I am.'"
More than how to give birth, Loretha is teaching these young girls how to love. She talks to them about the importance of breastfeeding, reading to their babies, playing classical music for their babies. She tells them how when the baby cries, you need to pick her up because you need to show her you love her and that you're going to take care of her. For so many who've never known love, Loretha is the shining example of what it means to love unconditionally.

If you have about an hour, I highly recommend taking the time to watch the documentary. Have any of you heard of Loretha before? What do you think of her story?

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Happy Black Girl Day!

I'm pleased to present a post today in honor of the Happy Black Girl Day 2: Happier and Blacker. HBGD was created by Sista Toldja of The Beautiful Struggler, whom I fell in love with after her post on why black women weren't exactly thrilled with the choice of Reggie Bush as Essence Magazine's "love issue" cover model. But enough about the stuff that pisses us off, Happy Black Girl Day is about celebrating everything that is wonderful about being a black girl.

So today I am celebrating some of my favorite black girls who understand the importance of birth autonomy, breastfeeding and natural parenting. Here are my Top 5.

#1. Phylicia Rashad- Yes, the original black Super Mom is a breastfeeding mom in real life. Not to be outdone by the character she played for years, Phylicia is a phenom who is not only still acting but also recently narrated "Bringin' in da Spirit," a documentary about the history of black midwives in America. She hosted a DVD that provided breastfeeding information for parents-to-be called "Your Healthy Baby." On Mother's Day she appeared on the Al Sharpton radio show to discuss maternal health and stressed the importance of food as medicine and the importance of motherhood.

#2. Lisa Bonet- OK, so she's a little nuts (I mean, Lilakoi Moon? Really?) but she's in a relationship with the super hot Jason Momoa and has ridiculously gorgeous kids. She's also a self-proclaimed "hippie at heart" who gave birth at home and breastfed all her babies.

#3. Deborah Cox- The platinum-selling singer is a mom of three breastfed babies. Deborah says she is "a big believer in breastfeeding" because "at the end of the day, you have healthier kids." So true!

#4. Halle Berry- The most beautiful mom on the planet breastfed her daughter and praised Larrivo nursing bras for making breastfeeding "sexy." She's also a co-sleeping mama: baby Nahla slept in an Arms Reach co-sleeper.

#5. Tonya Lewis-Lee- Spike Lee's wife Tonya is the executive producer of the film "Crisis in the Crib," a documentary about the high infant mortality rate in the black community. She is working with the department of Health & Human Services to promote breastfeeding and was the face of the "A Healthy Baby Begins With You" campaign. Tonya was breastfed herself until she was two and plans on nursing her own daughter just as long.

Want to read the other Happy Black Girl Day posts? Check them out here (will be updated throughout the day).

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Breastfeeding jokes galore on The Office

Did you catch last night's episode of The Office? Before it started, I tweeted my prediction for lots of breastfeeding jokes and they didn't disappoint! Pam and Jim had their baby girl and like many new moms, Pam had some trouble getting the baby to latch. Every time she tried to ask her nurse for help with breastfeeding, the nurse offered to take the baby to the nursery and give it a bottle. So frustrating, but unfortunately, that seems to be a universal experience amongst moms who gave birth in the hospital.

I loved that the lactation consultant in the hospital was male and that Pam accidentally breastfed her roommate's baby (wonder if she'll sue the hospital?) The only part I didn't like was Pam wearing that damn nursing cover all the time, even when in the hospital bed (does anyone really do this?). In the last scene she is struggling to get the baby to latch on while Jim has gone to install the carseat and I was hoping she would snatch the cover off and that would make the baby latch on properly, but alas it didn't go down that way. Oh, well, you can't have everything, right?

My next prediction? Pam is back to work and pumping, Michael "accidentally" walks in on her and hilarity ensues.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kourtney Kardashian: Future Lactivist?

I swear, I was never a fan of the Kardashians, but I am quickly falling in love with Kourtney. The new mom was calm, cool and collected during the recent birth of her son Mason (she even caught the baby herself!) and has been extolling the virtues of breastfeeding online. She has talked about tasting her own breast milk on Twitter and now we get this choice quote in the latest Us Weekly:

"If I have to feed him, I just whip it out. If I'm doing it in public and someone doesn't like it — don't look. I don't give a shit."

Loves it!

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Simplisse Breast Pump Review & Giveaway

I've got a fabulous giveaway for a Simplisse manual breast pump and breastfeeding accessories over at Blacktating Reviews. The total prize is worth over $100! Go enter now. 

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