Thursday, July 26, 2012

Does "Breast is Best" Create a Hardship?

Photo of PumpEase courtesy of
I just came across an interesting article posted in the New York Times in which Jane Brody attempts to use a recent serial  interview study from Scotland to prove a point. She says the American Academy of Pediatrics goal that women exclusively breastfeed for about 6 months is unrealistic and imposes undue hardship on mothers. She relies somewhat on her personal experience 43 years ago when she had her twin sons early by C-section and pumped her milk as they were being fed formula in the hospital. Obviously that wasn't a terribly auspicious beginning for Ms. Brody, and she didn't have the advantage of a supportive lactation consultant since the profession didn't exist 43 years ago. Her OB was quite supportive, but her pediatrician was not, and I must say that I really admire her determination to breastfeed her sons despite some incredible obstacles and without a strong support network.

However, the thing that concerns me the most is the perception of a continued lack of support for nursing mothers in the workplace. Federal law mandates not only that breastfeeding mothers be given break time whenever they need to pump, but it also says that employers with 50+ employees are required to provide a place for pumping that is NOT a bathroom. Many employers have made huge strides in accommodating nursing mothers; nevertheless, some companies may still be unaware of the legal requirement to support these employees. It is vitally important that the women who work in these companies make their HR people aware of their responsibility.

A Nurturing Moment actually has a special program in place specifically designed to help employers offer the best support available to mothers. The return on investment is incredible. Cigna conducted a 2 year study of breastfeeding employees and found that their workplace lactation program produced the following results:

  • $240 million annual savings in health care expenses
  • 62% fewer prescriptions
  • 77% reduction in absenteeism
Mutual of Omaha had the following results with their lactation program:

  • 83% employee retention after maternity leave (national average is 59%)
  • Healthcare claims per breastfed newborn averaged $1269 compared to $3415 for formula-fed infants.
That leads us into a discussion of my second major concern with Ms. Brody's article. She asserts that there is no research to back up the claims of the medical community that breastfed babies are healthier. It looks to me like Mutual of Omaha has done some research that backs that up!(Mutual of Omaha. (2001). Prenatal and lactation education reduces newborn health care costs.Omaha, NE: Mutual of Omaha.) Furthermore, the AAP statement is backed up by significant research. In fact, it contains 151 citations to support it's recommendations. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has also responded to the Times article with a statement calling for enhanced support for all nursing mothers. 

This isn't about Mommy Wars or "Milk Wars." It's about a public health initiative. The worst thing that anybody can do is use guilt in an attempt to motivate a woman to nurse. Guilt is a lousy motivational tool. It is even more awful for anyone, breastfeeding advocate or not, to make a mother feel guilty about her feeding choice once that choice has been made. Life is just too short for guilt! 

So what do we need to do? First of all, we need to make sure that all mothers have access to good prenatal education about breastfeeding. They need to know that it may be challenging. They also need to know where to turn if they do have any problems.  Next, we need to realize that, as one mother so aptly put it, "It takes a village to breastfeed a baby." (thanks, Elizabeth!) That village includes health care providers, community support groups, family, friends, and breastfeeding professionals.  Finally, we all need to strive to make the workplace more supportive for nursing moms. Are you in management? Do you own a business? Do you know someone who does? Find out what they're doing to help their nursing mothers. Ask questions before you get pregnant. If your children are older, then see what you can do to smooth the way for younger women. If we all work together, we can help more moms succeed and avoid a lot of unnecessary guilt.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Be a Bosom Buddy and Help a Local Mom

One of our passions at A Nurturing Moment is helping low-income and teen moms. One way we do this is through our Bosom Buddy Program which provides free gently used nursing bras to breastfeeding mothers on the WIC program.  Each WIC mom is eligible for 2 bras every 6 months as long as she's nursing. We will fit her during the last month of pregnancy.

The key to this program's success is YOU! The way we get our gently used bras is from our customers. When you bring in clean gently used nursing bras (the size on the tag should still be visible, and the bra shouldn't be stained), we give you a discount on anything you purchase that day.
1 bra = 5% discount
2 bras = 10% discount
3+ bras = 15% discount
This discount will be over and above any other discounts you are entitled to!

Currently, we are really running low on certain sizes: We don't have any 34 D or DD. We need 36 C, D & DD, 38 D & DD, and 40 C&D. Of course we appreciate any size bra you bring in! You can be certain that another mother will be glad you took the time to donate!

 When a woman is struggling to pay bills, she often doesn't have $50 or even $35 for a good, supportive nursing bra. That's why this project is so critical. Not only will breastfeeding save significant money when compared to infant formula, but Mom won't have to spend a lot of money on a good nursing bra! Recent moms who have received bras through our Bosom Buddies project include a teen mom who is very committed to breastfeeding her baby, a single mom who is planning to finish school, and an army wife.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Travel With Baby 101

A Baby K'tan allows you to maneuver hands free!
Summer time means vacation time! Lots of families are hitting the road or the sky this month, so we compiled some simple tips to make travel a little easier for mom, dad and baby. We'd like to thank all of our families who helped us compile this list.

Tips for Driving

  • Travel at night when baby is asleep if at all possible. We used to leave at 3 in the morning or even earlier so that we'd get 4 or 5 good hours of travel time out of the way before baby woke up.
  • Stop every couple of hours (unless baby is asleep) - this is a great time to nurse baby and let him more around a little bit. 
  • Schedule shorter travel days if you can. Instead of trying to drive all the way in one day, break it up into 2 shorter days. Enjoy the hotel time with baby. Let him splash with you in the pool!
  • Amberly suggests: "Get surprises for when the baby is restless; a brand new toy will always distract them. You can also do small snack picnics at the rest stops." 
  • When you stop for meals, make sure baby has plenty of time to eat, too. If you're breastfeeding, a baby sling you can nurse in or a nursing cover is a great help.
Tips for Flying
  • The TSA website offers some great information about traveling with babies.
  • Amberly recommends keeping the baby awake as much as possible before a flight so that she will sleep through the flight
  • Nurse or give baby a bottle when taking off and landing will help minimize the discomfort of air pressure changes.
  • Jennifer suggests getting baby her own seat.  She adds, "I've seen the crash test videos and a lap baby CAN become your own personal airbag. But aside from that, a car seat will keep them properly restrained so at least if they're throwing a fit, you're not struggling to keep them on your lap, especially as they get older." 
General Travel Tips
  • Have a comfortable way to wear your baby - it makes nursing on the go much easier, helps to calm a fussy baby, and frees up your hands!
  • Joanna offers this wise advice: "Pack for contingencies...I've never regretted it...and ignore the people who give you a hard time about one baby requiring so much stuff...they aren't the ones who might spend the night thinking, 'if only we'd brought______!'"
  • Erin suggests "Keep a little kit of meds and toiletries for baby ready to go. It's easier than remembering each bit while packing." She adds that the clear locking pencil boxes from Target's school supply section is perfect for this
  • Finally, Meredith says, "Best not to be the only adult if you can avoid it! It's nice to have someone to take turns sitting next to baby!"