Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mothers using HIV drug to stop lactating

Apparently moms in the UK are using a drug called Cabergoline to suppress lactation. Cabergoline is usually prescribed to HIV positive women, and others for whom breastfeeding is not recommended, to dry up their milk. The off-label use by moms who just don't want to nurse also results in weight loss.

There are, of course, a couple of problems with this. First of all, the drug has some pretty scary side effects, including the potential for lung and heart damage, extreme sleepiness, and what the article describes as "incapacitating headaches." Yes, just what a new mother needs to be: incapacitated and extremely sleepy. Second of all, women who want to stop nursing because it's uncomfortable or they're going back to work, really need education and support, rather than a quick way to dry up their milk. Instead of talking to the women and getting to the root of the problem, doctors are just prescribing the drug and sending the women on their merry way.

An obsetrician who was interviewed for the article states:

“The breastfeeding police frown on the use of cabergoline, but for some women their breasts are an important part of their sexuality and they don’t want them used to provide milk. There is not enough difference between breast milk and infant formula to make a fuss about it.”

OK, well, where we do begin? Why do so many women believe that breasts can only have one function at a time? You can still be and feel sexy while nursing and you can incorporate your breasts into your sex life while nursing. Most men don't care if your breasts leak during orgasm, they're just happy to be having sex with their woman and thrilled that the baby is finally napping. Trust me on this one.

Perhaps it's a cultural thing, but I just can't imagine any American doctor saying something so idiotic to the media. The whole piece is poorly written, with the author stating, "Others are concerned that suppressing lactation will be detrimental to the health of babies, who are believed to receive protective antibodies and a range of other nutrients from their mother’s milk" (emphasis mine). Well, yes, they are believed to receive antibodies and perfect nutrition from their mother's milk because (wait for it) it's true!

The article claims the use of Cabergoline is a reaction to the "breast is best" mantra and the pressure new moms feel to breastfeed. I guess if you don't want to breastfeed it feels like pressure, but what about all of the breastfeeding backlash in the media lately? I feel bad for any woman who is on the fence about whether or not to nurse right now. If I were undecided and read all of the nonsense being spouted off about how awful breastfeeding is and how formula is so wonderful (I mean, Dr. Nancy Snyderman said it on the Today Show, so it must be true!), I'd probably opt not to breastfeed, too.

If you don't want to breastfeed, that's your choice, but be smart about how you dry up your milk. There are many natural and safe options available that won't mess up your heart and lungs and render you unable to care for your baby.

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Judge orders new breastfeeding schedule

I think this has to be a first: a judge in Toronto has ruled that a breastfeeding mother is using her nursing schedule to prevent her child's father from court-ordered visitation with his daughter. The child in question is 29 months old and was conceived during a brief relationship between Carl Cavannah, 42, and Jennifer Johne, 35. The mother was allegedly restricting the amount of time her ex could spend with his daughter because the visits didn't fit in with her breastfeeding schedule. The judge wrote in his ruling: "Jen has been unwilling to give a timetable as to when the breastfeeding will end. But now the time has come for Jen to have greater consideration for the relationship between the child and Carl. If she used a breast pump and provided the milk to Carl, he would be willing to give it to (the child)."

Now, I don't know this child's breastfeeding schedule, but at 29 months it seems she'd be perfectly capable of spending a day with her dad without needing to nurse. If she absolutely needs to be nursed to bed, couldn't the mother come over and nurse her and then leave, or pick her up at bedtime? My son is still nursing at 16 months old, but one night a week I leave the house before he does so he doesn't get to nurse in the morning. There have been days where he's been out with his father all day and by the time they got home he was asleep and he didn't nurse at all. I could see the mom's point of view more if the child was under the age of 1.

I don't think this mother needs to give anyone a timetable as to when she will stop breastfeeding, because honestly, how can she know? If she and her daughter are still enjoying the nursing, they might continue for another year or more. It's none of anyone's business how long she chooses to nurse. I think the judge is also missing a basic understanding of toddler nursing. Yes, the mother could pump and provide breast milk for her daughter while she is away at her father's house, but breastfeeding a toddler usually isn't about the milk. Toddlers nurse for comfort, to connect with mom, when they're scared, when they're bored, when they're hurt. I don't think in these cases a sippy cup of breast milk will do the trick, but it does sound like this child has a father who loves her and wants to be a part of her life. At the end of the day, what's more important? A nursing session, or a father getting the opportunity to forge a loving relationship with his daughter?

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Monday, April 27, 2009

How Do I Act Around A Breastfeeding Mom?

I was reading through the UK's Guardian website and saw this question in the "Dear Lucy" advice column.

What is the etiquette for a man when a female friend starts to breast-feed her baby in front of him? Do you look away but continue talking? Do you look her directly in the eyes - and nowhere else? Do you share the moment with her by looking down at her baby whenever she does so? Or should you just make your excuses and leave the room?

I braced myself for Lucy's answer. I thought she used humor nicely to discuss how this is a tricky area in modern life and how of course it's possible for men to talk with a female friend while she nurses, but it may be better to just get it over with and have a look at her boob so everyone can move on. Although she has a messed up way of describing it ("once you see a child chowing down on a purple-veined udder while its mother goes cross-eyed in agony, the spell will be broken and you'll never want to look again"), I think for most of us, once we see a woman breastfeeding for the first time, we realize it's not that big of a deal. Is it gross? No. Do women have udders? Indeed, we do not. If most women go cross-eyed during nursing it is not because they are in agony, but because that oxytocin is a helluva drug! But I think some people really do need to see nursing up close and personal, to really have a look and realize, "Oh, is that all? Move along people, nothing to see here."

So how should you act around a breastfeeding mom? Continue to talk to her the same way you would if she wasn't breastfeeding. Feel free to look at both the mom and the baby. If a breastfeeding mother is comfortable nursing in front of you, respect that she thinks you're enough of a grown up to handle it. If she wants to cover up, that is her choice, but don't ask her to. If she offers to leave the room, please tell her she doesn't have to. If you find that you're so uncomfortable being in the room with a breastfeeding mom, then excuse yourself, but don't expect a new mother to move to another room on your account. If she's visiting you in your home, don't offer her the back bedroom as a place to nurse. I can remember people doing this to me and it made me feel like an outcast. I didn't want to be relegated to a back room, I wanted to stay and enjoy the party! You may think you are being nice by offering a private space, but many moms don't want to be alone for 20-40 minutes nursing a baby when they could be having
some adult conversation with friends. If a new mom has prettied herself up and made it out of the house, let her enjoy the company! Follow her lead and she'll let you know what would make her the most comfortable. After all the indignities that come with having a baby, she probably won't mind if you catch a peek of boob. But for the love of all that is holy, don't look at her stomach.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday 5

A new study reveals why formula-fed babies are fatter than breastfed babies: formula has too much protein.

An added bonus for breastfeeding moms: breastfeeding reduces the risk of heart disease.

More adventures in cooking with breast milk.

Is breastfeeding really free? A study shows that if you breastfeed more, you earn less(have a feeling we'll be revisiting this one!)

If you haven't already, give the US Dept. of Health & Human Services your opinions on how to promote and support breastfeeding. You can read what others have said so far here.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

10% off Nursing Mother Supplies

Are you in the market for a breast pump, My Breast Friend, bras, or other breastfeeding accessories? Nursing Mother Supplies is offering my readers a 10% discount on all purchases using code MOM10.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

How to treat a cold while breastfeeding

Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers! This month's Carnival theme is "how to" while breastfeeding. Enjoy!

I am one of those lucky people who rarely get a cold. I have an amazing immune system (thanks, mom, for nursing me for 18 months!) I work in a public library where everything is covered in germs and my hubby is a teacher. Despite this (or perhaps because of it), I almost never get sick. The 2007/2008 flu season was so major though, that even I caught the bug, and at the time I was nursing a newborn. I was miserable, but there are lots of ways to treat a cold that are compatible with nursing.

  • First, as with any cold, you want to drink a lot of liquids, particularly hot liquids if you have a sore throat or lots of mucous. The hot stuff helps to break up the mucous so you can get it up and out. I buy lemonade and heat it up in the microwave or sometimes the tried-and-true hot tea with lemon and honey. You can also take the opportunity to build up your milk supply and sip on some Mother's Milk tea with fenugreek.
  • Rest. I know, what a joke! How do you rest when you're mom and are breastfeeding? Take your baby on a "nursing vacation." Lie down in bed together and nurse frequently. Try to spend as much time in bed relaxing as possible.
  • Steam. Run a moist heat humidifier in the room with you and baby or run a hot shower and sit outside it and breathe deeply.
  • Gargle with warm saltwater. Great for sore throats!
  • Saline solution spritzed in the nose helps to clear out the gunk.
  • Time. Most colds really need a few days to run their course and before you know it, you'll be feeling brand new.

Now, of course these are all natural remedies and I prefer them to medication because I know they won't interfere with nursing. However, if you're really sick and need to see the doctor for a prescription, be sure to tell him or her you need a drug that is compatible with breastfeeding. There are plenty of medications that are considered safe for nursing moms to take, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If you really think you need an over-the-counter medication to help with your cold or flu symptoms, there are some safe options like Benadryl and Robitussin. Here is a partial list of safe medications. Weigh these options carefully, though, as they may temporarily or even permanently reduce milk supply.

And don't let anyone tell you that you shouldn't nurse your baby when you're sick! Breastfeeding while you are sick is one of the best things you can do for your baby because you are passing on your antibodies to your little one, and usually, they won't get sick. Just be sure to wash your hands often. And feel better soon!

Here are the other participants' posts in this month's Carnival.

Mama Saga: How to Breastfeed (Or Just Look Like You Know What You Are Doing)
Tiny Grass: How to Tandem Nurse Without Driving Yourself (And Your Nurslings) Crazy
The Marketing Mama: How to Pump Successfully at Work
babyREADY: How to Get Baby to Take A Bottle
Motherwear: How to Help Your Baby Kick the Nipple Shield Habit
Amber @ Strocel.com: How to Get Breastfeeding off to A Good Start
Baby Carriers Down Under: How to Breastfeed Hands-free
Breastfeeding Mums Unite: How to Become A Breastfeeding Support Professional
Milk Act: How to Care for A Sick Nursling
Maher Family Grows: How to Increase Breast Milk Supply Using Supplements
Breastfeeding Mums: How to Wean A Breastfed Toddler
It's All About the Hat: How to be Comfortable Around a Breastfeeding Mother
Mama Knows Breast: How to Get A Spouse to Help With Breastfeeding
MoBoleez: How to (Naturally)Increase Your Milk Supply
Zen Mommy: How to Use YouTube to Stop Nosey Questions
Happy Bambino: How to Deal with Family Members Who Aren't Supportive of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding 1-2-3: How to Teach Your Baby Nursing Manners
Natural Birth & Baby Care: How to Improve Milk Supply Through Nutrition

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday 5

Happy Friday, folks.

A new company has created a "green" breast pump that is meant to be used by multiple users.

Another "duh" study: breastfeeding blocks infant pain during vaccinations.

Dr. Acaro still needs women who are nursing and have had a breast biopsy for her study on whether cells in breast milk can detect breast cancer.

Parents magazine is at it again. Read up on the latest and then give them a piece of your mind.

Dr. Jay Gordon vs AAP: Round 1.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Don't be a weaner?

It's the middle of the night and I wake up to my son's cries. I pad across the hall, bleary-eyed, and scoop him up out of the crib and carry him back to our bed. I am still 90% asleep as I lay him down on his side and slide into bed next to him. Without even having to think, I lift my shirt and he latches on, his little legs in between mine. He reaches out and begins massaging my breast furiously, willing the milk to let down. This seems to go on for hours, as he sucks and sucks, taking comfort from my breasts but not much else. It used to be that he would drink quickly and hungrily, gulping down the milk and rolling over, happy and full, back into a nice deep sleep. Now he sits upright and cries, "Mommy, mommy! Milk? Milk?!"

He hasn't really demanded much milk for the last 5 months, so my body has pretty much stopped making it. We would still nurse once or twice a day, but only for a few minutes and he didn't get much milk, if any. He wasn't drinking, just reconnecting with me after a long day apart or taking a quick suck to lessen the hurt from an owie. I figured this was a good time to begin the weaning process. My initial goal had been to allow him to self-wean, but since he was nursing so infrequently, I thought I would try denying his nursing requests and try to wean him fully.

Saturday during the day he asked to nurse and I distracted him and he forgot all about it and didn't ask again. Saturday night he woke up around 3 am wanting to nurse. He's teething and it seems to be interrupting his normally excellent sleeping pattern. I didn't let him nurse, but tried to comfort him back to sleep in other ways: warm milk, rocking, patting, singing. Nothing was working and his crying was getting harder and harder to bear (I've never not responded to his cries), so I did the only thing I could think of: I turned on the lights and we played until he was exhausted and allowed himself to be shushed and patted to sleep. "OK," I thought. "That wasn't so bad."

Yesterday during the day he didn't ask to nurse at all! Score! Last night, though? Last night he wanted to nurse and when I refused, he wasn't having it. AT. ALL. Nothing I or Daddy did could calm him down. At one point my hubby said, "Elita, there has to be a better way, I can't take this anymore!" and my heart broke. So I finally gave in and let him "nurse," which pretty much consisted of him putting my nipple in his mouth and massaging the other breast. He was out like a light in a few minutes.

Now what? I really feel like I am ready to be done nursing him and it seems he is 90% there with me. I thought I could gently push him over the edge, but it doesn't feel gentle when he cries (and he cried for a while...longer than I'd like to admit on this blog.)

Does anyone have any tips for me? Am I being selfish? Do I just need to go ahead and let him have this one session at night until he outgrows it? Or is this just how it goes with weaning nursing toddlers? Does it take a few tears to wean them? I'm feeling so torn. Breastfeeding has been such a huge part of my life for the past 16 months that I am not sure how I would really feel if we stopped, but I'm feeling drained and like I want my body back. Between the 10-month pregnancy and the nursing, my body hasn't been just my own for over 2 years.


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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Friday 5

TGIF! Let's get into the Friday 5!

1. WIC has expanded its eligibility requirements so that more pregnant and nursing moms can qualify. If you need help providing for your kids, go here and apply. Remember, breastfeeding moms get extra food from WIC.

2. Case closed: breast is best.

3. Outlaws no more! Breastfeeding moms get legal protection to nurse in public in Massachussetts.

4. Is the workplace the new Babies R Us? It would sure make breastfeeding a lot easier!

5. If you're on Twitter, use the hashtag #bfing to connect with other breastfeeding moms.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Guest Post at My Brown Baby

I have a guest post up on one of my favorite blogs, My Brown Baby, today. Please go check it out and join the discussion on how breastfeeding can often be tougher for moms of color.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday 5

Happy Friday! Here's this week's Friday 5.

A Brooklyn mom says her baby was switched at birth and breastfed by another woman....and now won't take her milk!

OK, Salma Hayek did love breastfeeding, but didn't do it quite as long as we may have thought. And who is the mystery actress who was shocked she nursed?

Oh, boy. More Rosin-esque breastfeeding backlash.

Hurricane Katrina: a missed opportunity to talk about breastfeeding, especially in minority communities.

What to do when a woman breastfeeds on a plane next to you.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Interview with Erica Eisdorfer, author of The Wet Nurse's Tale

One of the perks of being a librarian is that I get to read about books way in advance of publication and sometimes people are kind enough to send me galleys to review. I'd like to think I'm on top of what's going on in the book world, but I totally missed that Erica Eisdorfer had written a book about wet nurses that was in the to 10 of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I only found out about it because of a blurb in this month's Library Journal.

The book sounded so intriguing to me that I immediately contacted Erica for an interview, which she was kind enough to grant and which I've posted below.

Photo by Carrboro Citizen
Blacktating: Did you breastfeed your kids? If so, how many and for how long?
Erica Eisdorfer: I did indeed breastfeed both my children. I
nursed my first daughter for 2 years and my second until she was five.

B:What was your breastfeeding experience like?
EE: For me it was a rite of passage. And I loved all the things there are to love about it. I singly mothered my first daughter and I had to go back to work when she was tiny. I was lucky that the woman who ran the day care was a member of La Leche League, and thus did all she could to help me continue to nurse. When I had my second baby, I promised both my daughter and my husband that they'd be able to feed her (breast milk) out of a bottle, but the baby shunned the bottle and so, despite the fact that I pumped twice a day in the bathroom of the bookstore I work in, no one could ever feed her but me.

B:What inspired you to write this book? What was intriguing to you about wet nursing?
EE: Wet nursing was basic women's work for millennia! I think it must've been the second oldest profession, you know? When I thought about those women sitting still for so long, listening to the households around them--to the family dramas, the gossip--I thought whoa, what a hook for a novel. I've always liked the servant's point of view--maybe it's because for lo these many years I've worked in a bookstore on a college campus where the professors like their crusts cut just so. Anyhow, most servants are downstairs--under stairs--but wet nurses now, they were upstairs, privy to all the secrets of the household.

B: Is your main character based on anyone?
EE: Nope, not really. She's pretty much her own person.

B:What research did you do in order to maintain the historical accuracy of the novel? Was it difficult to find this information? Did you uncover anything especially interesting or surprising?
EE: I did a lot of research, lots and lots. There's a great library here on the University of North Carolina campus and I lived in the stacks. There aren't many books about wet nursing--just a couple by Valerie Fildes, very scholarly--but I sucked them up. (Oh. Sorry.) I had no idea, for example, that so many wet nurses' babies died for want of their mothers (their mothers having gone out to nurse in order to feed their other children) that the French parliament actually passed a law to keep the new mothers home until the babies were "set".

B: Were you surprised at the response to your book on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition?
EE: I was delighted. I was thrilled. I gave a deep long sigh when I heard that some people had avoided the book because the idea of a wet nurse was sorta, well, "icky." But that's not what you asked. I was surprised on some days and other days I was like, well, finally! I've been writing novels for a long time and sticking them under my bed--sort of crappy autobiographical novels--and this was the first book which came really straight from my imagination. And it was so liberating to write it! And as I was writing it I kept thinking, that's the way! That's it! I guess I'm trying to say that though my confidence is generally at sort of a low ebb, I had real faith in Wet Nurse.

B: Are you surprised at all of the publicity cross-nursing has been receiving in the mainstream media lately?
EE: I say it's about dang time. There are a lot of working mothers out there and we need to help each other out. One of my favorite scenes in my novel is when Susan, the wet nurse, takes a coach ride with a lady who has two infants--an older one and a tiny infant. She sees the lady's need and jumps in to help. I like the sisterhood aspect of that. I cross-nursed an adopted baby for a bit; it was a lovely thing to be able to do for her fathers but she was mainly a bottle-fed baby and she didn't take to the breast. They were sweet and nervous and they didn't want her to cry but when they gently relieved me of my duties, I was sad!

How amazing is Erica?! As soon as I get a copy of her book in my hot hands, I'll read and review it. Here is the publisher's synopsis of the novel:

Susan Rose isn’t the average protagonist: she’s scheming, promiscuous, plump, and she is also smart, funny, tender, and entirely lovable. Like many lower-class women of Victorian England, she was born into a world that offered very few opportunities for the poor and unlovely. But Susan is the kind of plucky heroine who seeks her fortune, and finds it . . . with some help from, well, her breasts. Susan, you see, is a professional wet nurse; she breast-feeds the children of wealthy women who can’t or won’t nurse their own babies.

But when her own child is sold by her father and sent to a London lady who had recently lost a baby, Susan manages to convince his new foster mother, Mrs. Norbert, to hire her as a wet nurse. Once reunited with her son, Susan discovers the Norbert home to be a much more sinister place than she’d ever expected. Dark and full of secrets, its master is in India, and the first baby who died there did so under very mysterious circumstances. Susan embarks on a terrifying journey to rescue her son before he meets the same fate.

The book will be released in August and of course you can order it pre-pub at Amazon. I'd love to hear your thoughts about the book. Are you excited as I am to read it?

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