Thursday, September 3, 2015

It's Time for ALL Working Moms to Have Legal Protection for Pumping

Salaried health care workers deserve the same rights as hourly workers!

by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

If you work as an hourly employee in a store, restaurant or business with more than 50 employees, your employer is legally required to provide you a place to express or pump your breastmilk (a bathroom isn't acceptable) and whatever break time you need to do so. This fact sheet explains the details of the law as it is currently written. However, if you are a teacher, a physician or any other kind of salaried employee, the law doesn't provide you any protection at all.
Some employers like HEMSI  work
 hard to accomodate mamas.

Last year I wrote a blog about this topic and mentioned the Supporting Working Mothers Act of 2013 which was sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon. Unfortunately our lawmakers didn't care enough about mothers and babies to act on this legislation, and they allowed it the bill to die.

Nevertheless, the United States Breastfeeding Committe (USBC) is mounting a campaign to once again find a sponsor for the Supporting Working Mothers Act so that it can be introduced in the upcoming session of congress. You may not be a very politically active person, but please take just a moment to get involved in this very important issue. It isn't a Democrat or a Republican issue. No, it is a MOTHER'S RIGHTS issue. It is a BABY'S RIGHTS issue. Every mother and baby should have the right to sustain their breastfeeding relationship after mother returns to work. Sadly many do not have that option because employers fail to understand the many incredible benefits for everyone involved including the employer!

This school counselor has
been able to pump as needed. 

Benefits for Mom and Baby

The numerous benefits for moms and babies have been well documented. Babies who receive their mothers' milk receive antibodies to anything that mom is exposed to. They also have reduced incidence of all the following:

Upper respiratory infections
Ear infections
Gastrointestinal infections
Juvenile diabetes
Childhood leukemia

Mothers who breastfeed receive tremendous health benefits as well.

Increased chance of healthy loss of extra pregnancy weight
Reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer
Reduced risk of postpartum depression
Reduced risk of osteoporosis and ovarian cancer later in life

Benefits for Employers

Every working mother should
have this right!
Many employers do not realize that when they empower their workforce to breastfeed according to the AAP recommendation they will also benefit the bottom line of their company in a variety of ways:
  • Increased retention of employees following maternity leave
  • Reduced incidence of absenteeism due to working mothers having to care for sick babies
  • Greater job satisfaction reported leading to long-term employee retention
  • Reduced costs for employer-funded insurance plans because the medical costs during the first year of life are drastically reduced. 

The first step you can take is to click on this link which will take you to the USBC campaign. Scroll down to the bottom where you can enter your zip code to send an email to the representative for your congressional district.

Next repost this information to everyone you know

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cancer and Pregnancy Loss Didn't Deter this Mama!

by Megan White, Guest blogger

Isn’t it strange how one moment in your life changes it forever?

This is my journey. It starts out heartbreaking, but like all good stories, it has a happy ending.
When I was 21, I received the scariest news of my short life so far: I had cancer. I was a young mom, and I had cancer. Just the word strikes fear in those that have been touched by it—and most of us have in one way or another. I had a baby that needed me and I didn’t know if I would be around for all those wonderful moments all moms live to see. I held her a little longer, I kissed her a little harder, and I watched her a little closer. She was my reason to fight. I was told I would probably never have another baby. She was my one and only, and I was determined to be the best mom I could be, to cherish every moment I had with here, small or big.

Through treatments, I soon found myself in remission! I had a healthy, happy little girl and a wonderful, supportive husband. I was the happiest I could be, but that desire to have another baby never went away. I tried to push the longing as far back in my mind as I could. I had my girl! It was selfish of me to ask for more—but I did. Quicker than a blink of an eye, six years had passed. We were a family of 3 and we thought that was how it was always going to be. Then, on a rainy February morning, I did something I never thought I would do, I took a pregnancy test. Through shaking hands and a tear filled eyes, I saw the two pink lines show up. I was pregnant! Our family was overjoyed. My daughter was beside herself with excitement. After years of being told another baby was near impossible, we were going have a baby!

Then on May 22nd, 2014 we went to a normal wellness check and heard news that shattered our little world into a thousand indiscernible pieces. We lost the baby. My heart was broken, and I didn’t think I would even be able to walk out of the doctor’s office. The hardest part of it all was knowing we’d have to tell our little girl that the baby was gone. How do you do that? How do you explain to a six-year-old that her brother or sister was no longer in mommy’s tummy? I still don’t know if we explained it right.
We all did our best to push forward, but I know I dropped the ball. I let my grief consume me, and the one that suffered the most was my daughter. I will always feel guilt over that. I pushed myself to do better, to be better. I dusted myself off and was determined to be the mommy that she needed—the one that she was used to.

Then, in mid-September, I had my annual check-up to see if I was still doing well. I was told that I was perfectly healthy. In fact, I was a perfectly health, 8-weeks-pregnant. ‘How is this possible?’ I thought to myself. How is it possible that after 6 years of trying that not only did I become pregnant once, but twice. I was terrified. I didn’t have that overwhelming joy that I felt the first time we were told that we were to have another baby. I couldn’t ; I wouldn’t let myself. I went to my appointments and heard the heartbeat every time, but I wasn’t going to let my hopes rise just to have them fall again. We didn’t tell our daughter about the pregnancy until it was getting obvious that mommy was getting bigger. We didn’t announce the pregnancy to anyone until I was 20 weeks. By then, we had a sex. We were having a boy!

There was no way that I could keep myself from feeling. We were going to have another baby! With every week that passed, I looked up if something were to happen, if the baby would have to be born early, would he survive. Those fears were squashed when I hit 37 weeks, then 38, 39 and then at 40 weeks, one day, our beautiful, healthy baby boy was born! There was only one way that I wanted to nourish him, and that was to nurse. There was not one moment, one experience that I wanted to miss out on. We had a few bumps in the road; we had to learn each other after all! But we have made it! At 8 weeks, our little boy is in the 75th percentile on height, and the 95th on weight! Not only have we made it this far, but I knew that if I was able, I wanted to donate my milk to another fanily that needed it. With an oversupply and an over-active let-down, I have been able not only to feed my son, but donate to 2 other babies! I cannot even begin to explain the honor I feel being a part of someone else’s breastfeeding journey as well as my own.

The pain of our loss will never go away, but we get better at moving forward. You take it day by day, and if you can’t manage that, take it minute by minute. Healing takes time, and my healing has been helped by my two beautiful children. Our journey isn’t over, not by a long shot, and I look forward to every second ahead of us.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Give Them Wings and WatchThem Fly

Nicholas came to the airport to see Uncle John off.
By Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

Today I said good-bye to my 16 year old son as he headed off on the adventure of a lifetime to spend his junior year of high school in Cali, Colombia, at the Colegio Americano. As I was driving home from the airport I couldn't hold back the tears, and the thought occurred to me that the very act of becoming a mother means that you will never again be the same, no matter how old your children get. A tiny piece of your heart will always be with each of your children wherever  they go. You will rejoice when you see them make wise decisions, but if those decisions mean that they leave you for a time, that little piece of heart will go with them...and it will hurt for a while.

When John Carl (Juan Carlos to his Colombian and Peruvian friends) told his coaches at Westminster Christian Academy about his decision to go to Cali, one of his coaches asked him to write up something explaining why he was doing this. The incredible support he has had from faculty, administration, coaches and friends at WCA has been phenomenal. We are so blessed to have been part of such an incredible community of faith for the last 11 years.

I want to share with you what my son wrote because I am so proud of his willingness to listen to God's call. We have tried to raise him to be obedient, and now it's time for us to watch in amazement as he does just that!

Juan Carlos in his uniform

John Carl's Testimony

This summer I took a trip to Colombia for the 185th Cumberland Presbyterian General Assembly which was held at the Colegio Americano. The Colegio Americano is a private school that was founded by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1925; it consists of kindergarten to high school. They have around 120 kids in the high school level grades, so not much bigger than Westminster. However in Colombia, graduation is after grade 11 unlike the United States where it’s after 12th grade.

When I first arrived at the Colegio Americano, I was astounded by the campus grounds, the teachers, and all the students helping out for the General Assembly. That Saturday I had a wild thought that coming here to do schooling would be amazing. When I told that thought to my mom, she didn’t know what to think. She thought maybe coming down again next summer for a couple weeks would be good for me after school here had finished up just to see what school is like in Colombia. I knew in my heart that I truly wanted to attend the Colegio Americano for the entire year and graduate from there.

I have always wondered what God’s calling feels like because I have never been spoken to physically by God, and so I wondered how to know exactly what the Lord wants. The next three days we had services in which God directly showed me the way He wants me to take. We had a sermon on how to listen to God’s call and to go and make disciples of all nations. On Sunday there was a special missionary service where missionaries throughout the world were recognized.

My family used to be in the mission field first in Costa Rica and then in Peru. I was born in Lima, Peru, into a missionary family and would live there for the next 5 years. I remember parts of Peru but not all of it; however, I do remember the heartbreak it brought my entire family, including me, when we were forced to leave the country where I was born. One interesting note is that my trip to Colombia was the first time I had been back to South America since we left Peru. I didn’t realize how much of a longing I had to be back and experience South America again. I have dreamt of going back to Peru and perhaps someday I may live there again, but Colombia feels like the place I want to be, the place I need to be.

The Colegio Americano has a beautiful campus!
That Monday night a Colombian preacher spoke about letting go and being willing to accept God’s will. He had urged his child to finish law school before going into seminary even though God was calling his son into the ministry. In order to please his father, the son finished law school and then became a pastor. That night the preacher apologized to his son for not allowing him to follow God’s calling immediately at that point in his life. This sermon was very powerful to both my parents and me. Afterwards I found my mother and sobbed because we both knew this was exactly what God wanted for me, no questions asked.

I still do not know what all God has planned for me as I go to attend the Colegio Americano this next year, but I do know that if I follow His will and his guidance I will be okay. I also know that people may worry about the safety of a gringo in Colombia. First off, if I am following what God wants me to do I am worried by nothing. Secondly, the city of Cali is a very safe city, and while I was at the General Assembly I never felt danger at all, only the loving kindness of all the Colombians. Someday I pray that I will be able to go to many countries in order to serve and proclaim the name of Jesus to those who are in the darkness, looking for light.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Breastfeeding from a Dad's Point of View

Jason and Madelyn
Today's blog is very special. I really appreciate the time that this dad took to write it. I hope it reaches as many dads as possible!

By Jason Argo, Guest Blogger

The week of February 17, 2011, our daughter Madelyn was born. My wife was hoping to be able to breastfeed Madelyn when she came into this world, and it was a rough road of letdown, after letdown (no pun intended).  From the start, none of the first nurses we had in the hospital wanted to help with the situation, but rather always wanted to  stuff a bottle in our little girl’s mouth. The lactation consultant came in the next morning, but was of no help. She did not really evaluate the baby and did not tell us that Madelyn had a tongue tie, and that was going to make it difficult for her to latch on.

Our nurse that morning, Leah, was like ray of sunshine to the situation. She was so helpful to Amanda, first taking control and getting her physical pain to a manageable level. Then she lit a fire under the nutrition director because Amanda ordered lunch, and 2 hours later it still wasn’t there, but she hated being a burden and didn’t want me to go get it. However, her biggest task of all was guiding in breastfeeding – I do not think she was an IBCLC at that time, but but she offered wonderful nursing support. She also briefly pointed out that Madelyn had a tongue tie. I cannot brag enough on our favorite nurse on the delivery floor of Huntsville Hospital - Leah does an amazing job!  Leah felt the tongue tie needed more evaluation, so she brought the only available IBCLC back to the room which happened to be the same one who initially came in.

She still didn’t touch the baby but instead pointed out everything my wife had done wrong, never anything positive.  “You used a pacifier, the baby is confused.” “You’re sitting with bad posture.” "You’re taking pain medication”. The latter two were unavoidable as my wife has several musculoskeletal conditions that left her in excruciating pain after 18 hours of induced labor, 13 of which were without an epidural, 4.5 with it, and the last 30 minutes when she delivered it had worn off.  Once she started spit-firing all the insults and discouraging statements, Leah took control and told the IBCLC we had it from there and she could leave.

Amanda and Madelyn
Then not long after leaving the hospital, more challenges were flying at Amanda. She faced opposition from her family and mine as well. She would get comments like, "You’re starving her; make her a bottle." Or "Nobody wants to see that;go to another room because you just want to do draw attention to yourself." We also heard this classic line, "Other members of the family want to feed her." None of these things is something a new mother wants to hear, especially coming from family. There were even times where I would unintentionally drop an unsupportive comment. Like most dads, I often have foot-in-mouth syndrome; sometimes I shove it in there up to my knee!

We soon realized though that something was not right when Amanda would try to nurse Madelyn, but she just could not latch. I could not stand to see how much physical pain she was in and how emotionally broken she was over the whole situation. Madelyn was not gaining weight, and this is how we found Glenni at A Nurturing Moment. We came home on Sunday, and by the next Saturday Amanda was in so much pain and so exhausted she was walking through the house like a zombie carrying a can of “just in case” formula the hospital sent home with us.  I was cleaning the kitchen listening to a local Christian radio station and heard an ad for A Nurturing Moment where breastfeeding support was mentioned.  So we called.

Glenni is also another ray of sunshine in this story because she helped in so many ways. She really helped Amanda physically and mentally on some the struggles she was facing. She did everything she could to try to increase Amanda’s supply. She even taught us how to get Madelyn latching the way she needed to be latching.

Amanda always did her best to pump while she was at work but was getting so little. We would move milk back and forth between home, work, and her Mom’s house.  Madelyn suffered from a severe case of silent reflux, never really spitting up, but choking and sputtering and sometimes struggling to breathe, so it was important to us not to have her in a day care with multiple kids per adult. Therefore, we commuted 2 hours each morning and 2 hours each evening to keep her with family.  Most work days we didn’t get home until 9 or 10 PM.  Amanda would take a shower and lie down to nurse the baby while I put away the pumped milk, and I would unpack and load all of her pump parts into the dishwasher.

Each morning I got up long before she did to pack her pump parts into her pump bag and pack snacks for her to eat while she pumped, and then I woke her up so she could nurse the baby while I made and packed our lunches.  Sure, I could have used extra sleep, but it was all worth it because even though we were primarily using formula by 8 weeks, she still got between 2 and 4 ounces of liquid gold every day. Other than the reflux and the occasional reaction to vaccinations, Madelyn did not once catch any cold or get sick at all until a month before she turned 1 when she got an upper respiratory virus.
Even Zeus the dog adores Madelyn!

I write this because men need to realize that if their wives (or significant others) want to
breastfeed the baby, they need to help them breastfeed. To be honest and truthful BREAST IS BEST!!! There are so many things that are put in formula – go read the labels, or open a can and smell it – it even tastes metallic, but there is nothing like mother’s milk. Daddy can do other things to bond with baby like bathtime – make it fun!  Act silly!  Some of the best memories Madelyn and I have when she was a baby are from bathtime!  She’s now almost 5, ask her about the adventures of Soap Monster!

Please, please, I ask the men of the families to encourage  your love to the best of your ability if she is breastfeeding. Don’t let her hide in stalls in the bathroom; don’t let her hide anywhere for that matter. If your child is hungry, your child’s hungry. Don’t run all over God’s creation trying to find a “private” place, because a mom should not be isolated and shamed during a time she deserves to be loved and celebrated. It is a special connection that no one else can have with the child besides mommy, but if daddy is supportive, it grows a special connection between mommy and daddy.

Friday, August 7, 2015

One Month In, New Mom Is Loving the Adventure!

By Janell Hill, Guest blogger

I love it when things amaze me. But then again, who doesn’t? 

As a first time mom, I am constantly amazed with my new little one. Those toes! That button nose! Those lungs…. However, nothing amazes me more than my own ability to support this tiny human being with all the nutrients that she needs to grow by leaps and bounds every day. 

I am amazed that we have made it this far - one month to be exact - breastfeeding. At first, I felt awkward attaching a squirmy little person to myself. Support her head. Check her latch. Make sure she’s awake. There were so many things to consider, and that was all on top of the initial discomfort of breastfeeding and giving birth. Fortunately for me, I had plenty of help and encouragement from family, nurses, and lactation consultants. As the questions abounded, the kind folks at Madison Hospital were eager to listen, answer, and assist. For that, I am ever grateful. 

Currently, we are a month into this adventure. That’s four weeks of dirty diapers, hungry cries, and endless hours nursing. But it’s also four weeks of establishing a deep bond with my little one, loving stares into her eyes, caressing her sweet face, and holding her tiny hand. 

We’ve had our fair share of obstacles throughout this journey, but we’ve stuck it out and persevered. And I’m so glad we have. Watching my new baby eat and grow is truly amazing. She’s growing because of me! This milk is from me! My body is making this!!! 

I would be amiss to say that breastfeeding has been easy. There have been times that I wanted to give up and make a bottle of formula. There still are. But I know that despite the frustrations and fatigue, we will continue to breastfeed, and I will continue to be amazed. 

You can read more about Janell’s adventure in bringing up baby on her blog, On Growing Up