Posted by doularama | Filed under News
Not long ago, I was recommending to women in need of breastfeeding support, a newly-crowned IBCLC here in the Bronx. I had met her about a year earlier while we both volunteered for a fund raising event for The New Space for Women’s Health, Manhattan’s next freestanding birth center at the time ( a project which has just been discontinued, hopefully only temporarily).
Anyway, this acquaintance, who I now count as a friend, works for a government agency that is charged with spreading the good news about good health in the Bronx. I’m sure their mission statement isn’t worded quite that way, but that really does suffice for my purpose right now. So, my friend asked me if I knew of anyone who might be interested in teaching one-hour breastfeeding classes. Her office needed to get a certain number of classes taught in a short amount of time and they were looking for help. Well, not only did I know someone, I was that one. She told me to go to the office so we could talk about it.
When I showed up, I was surprised to find I was on a job interview. The application even asked for references- and they were called! We talked about my experience as a doula and an educator and then I was asked if I had ever actually breastfed. I could have been hired solely because I had breastfed my son only an hour before the interview. Before I left, they asked, quite incidentally, if I might also be available to give talks on SIDS. They were providing all the curricula and a very generous stipend, so I said yes without knowing that I was stepping into a pit of self-betrayal from which I could only emerge by complaining to my dear husband and you, of course. Thanks for reading.
The class is actually on SIDS and Safe Sleep Practices, which are actually unrelated because, as I have been trained to say, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the unexplained death of a baby, furthermore and to the point, it is not preventable. I suppose, though, that someone felt that a class for telling people to put their babies to sleep in a crib, on their backs, with no blankets, pillows or other suffocation hazards might be too short. Well, that’s not the only problem.
My big concern is with the recommendation that families make their babies sleep alone. The recommendation is based on a flawed study which was funded by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association, i.e., the crib manufacturer’s lobbyists. The study concluded that babies sleep best alone, in a crib. Once again, we in the United States, have decided that what the rest of the world is doing, what humankind has been doing all along, is wrong and we should go out and buy something, along with its hundred accessories to make it right.
Our public education campaigns have been dumbed down because it is widely recognized that some people may not follow the safety guidelines for bed sharing. I wish I could share that, if they want to experience the ultimate in bonding and hormonal regulation, better sleep and milk production and even better family relations, they should keep their newborns with them around the clock and find out how to safely share their beds. Maybe I could slip each of them a note instruction them to meet me outside for a private class. I know, however, that many of these women have always planned to separate themselves from their newborns with at least a wall. That even in the hospital they will welcome the rest offered to them by the nursery option. This is typical in our society and it’s very difficult for me to explain that it just isn’t normal.
Next week I will be speaking to four different groups, spelling out for them the guidelines that our government has established for them on safe sleep. It is unlikely that anyone will ask me what I personally did with my children, but if someone does, should I admit that for four months my son slept on top of me as I sat in a recliner? Probably not, as that is discouraged by all sides, but I will tell them that I made the decision that was right for my family and I’ll encourage them to do the research and make the decisions that are right for theirs.
I won’t stray from my curriculum for now, but I look forward to seeing our leaders take us in a new direction in the near future. Perhaps they should focus on breastfeeding, the missing factor in bed-sharing infant deaths.
Posted by doularama | Filed under Recommendations
I have way too many blog posts floating around in my head, wanting to come out, but I just don’t know when they actually will. Luckily, I’ve just discovered Latching On The Politics of Breastfeeding in America and here’s a couple of cents on that. Sometimes it seems foreign to me to hear that women don’t want to breastfeed in public (or at all) because there is no way on any level that I can relate. Then I teach a class or give a talk and talk to the real women, pregnant, not planning to breastfeed or undecided. I know I help to make up some minds just by answering questions. What’s wrong with us that our women have these questions in the first place?
Posted by doularama | Filed under News
This poster was part of an early 20th century campaign that was started to reduce the rate of infant mortality. Many babies were dying and something had to be done. The statements made were scary, but true.
Today, just one hundred years later, we find ourselves once again campaigning to bring back breastfeeding. This time, however, not so many babies are dying. It’s not so scary. We’ve gone from, ”Mother’s milk is the only safe food for a baby during the first six months of its life.” to “Breast is Best.”
Posted by doularama | Filed under Uncategorized
The scandalous part about this video clip is that it’s so old! This should be a normal part of what children view on television and in the world around them. It wouldn’t need an explanation if it were. Well, Maybe to a bird.
Oh my goodness! I haven’t been to the movies in years and this might just get me out there. Something tells me, however, that it won’t be a date night with my husband. Maybe he’ll meet me afterwards. I hope it’s not just being released on DVD- I need a good excuse to sit in a room full of adults for a couple of hours. Anyway, here’s the trailer. Please jump on the bandwagon. Too many of us don’t take a strong position on breastfeeding because we don’t want to make anyone feel bad. How much harm are we doing so that we don’t hurt their feelings? Share the facts and you’re bound to change some minds. See you in the movies…
Ina May Gaskin’s new book has just been released. I was at a seminar with her last year and saw a couple of the photos she wanted to use for the cover of this book. One was the photo of a mountain which she took herself. It looks just like a breast, with color variations and all. Below is the other set she wanted to use. My daughter delightedly exclaimed “leche” when she saw a nude statue in a museum once, and my son took another nude statue as a reminder to ask me for my own milk another time. In the end, her publishers got their way and the book has a very conventional cover.
I’ve just spent a few minutes (because I couldn’t stand any more) watching videos of people saying things like it’s unnatural for six-year-old girls to breastfeed dolls. I don’t see how much more natural it is for them to bottle-feed dolls. Both of my children, and one is a boy, used to breastfeed their dolls. It was completely natural to them because they didn’t even know what a bottle was. I don’t buy dolls, but it’s nice to know that there will be an alternative to pacifiers and bottles on the shelves. Maybe in time for the holidays? Scandalous! I don’t think the shirt is necessary and they should work on the English translation, but it will be nice to have options. That’s a common doula sentiment. Regarding the question posed in the last line below, how sad that we live in a society in which this might be considered a gimmick to shock, and many may actually be shocked.
From today’s New York Times online- Motherlode
The Doll That Breast-Feeds by Lisa Belkin
The doll aisle of your local toy store will have a new offering soon — a baby doll that breastfeeds. Called Bebe Gloton (in Spain, where it is manufactured and sold, that translates to Baby Glutton) it is expected to be marketed in the U.S. next year.
There are already dolls that allow children to care for their babies the way Mommy and Daddy do — diapering them when they pee, giving them a bottle when they are hungry, wiping them when they burp.
But this latest is like nothing else out there. The toy comes with the doll and also a brightly colored halter-top with two strategically placed flowers where nipples would be. There is a sensor in the doll and the flower such that bringing the mouth of the doll into position causes the baby to make suckling motions and sounds.
Videos of the doll in use have gone viral in recent days, with parents and experts discussing among themselves whether this is a natural and appropriate way to teach children about something natural and appropriate, or whether it is a step too far.
Some are even arguing with themselves. Dr. Ronald Cohen, medical director for the Mother’s Milk Bank in San Jose as well as director of the intermediate intensive care nursery at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, told ABC News, “My take is that anything which reminds young girls that their bodies are something other, and more, than sex objects, is a very good thing.” In the next sentence he added: “On the other hand, encouraging young girls to want to have babies at a very young age may not be so great.”
In response, the director of sales and marketing for Berjuan, which manufactures the doll, told abcnews.com: “Breast-feeding is completely natural; it is not something that we have invented ourselves, it is something that is done all around the world. There are studies that discuss the benefits of breastfeeding, and there are associations around the world that are … supporting this.”
True. But there are many other things that are natural for adults that children don’t necessarily need to be mimicking at five, no?
Will you be buying the doll for you child? Is this a way to bring them closer to Mom while she’s nursing, or just another gimmick designed to shock — and sell?
Posted by doularama | Filed under Recommendations