Some Random Links

Hello All! It’s finals week around here, so I don’t have time to write my own posts, but here are some articles I’ve read over the last few days that I think I should share with you all. I also decided to try to potty train again and give Peanut a real shot to get it. Not the best idea with finals coming up. :-/

We already knew that breastfed babies had a lower risk of SIDS, but now this new study finds there is an actual component in infant formula that increases the risk of SIDS.

How we word things as breastfeeding advocates is very important. There’s always the risk of offending a mom who didn’t breastfeed or didn’t breastfeed as long as she would have liked. This article goes over another aspect of watching your language. It’s about watching your language to normalize breastfeeding.

I’ve already linked this article in a past post, but I think it’s important that everyone reads it so I’m linking it again. Infant formula companies boast that they have DHA and ARA in their formulas. They make the consumer pay more to have these nutrients in the formula. The formula companies, of course, don’t tell the consumer that this extra nutrient (in the form it is in the formula) can cause diarrhea and even death.

Have you come across any interesting articles lately? Feel free to post them in the comments! 

We’re Not Trying to Hurt You

Photo courtesy of bestpregnancytips.com

It seems like every time I turn around, I’m offending someone. I try to word things in ways that aren’t offensive to formula feeding moms, but it’s difficult to get the point across without causing moms to go on the defensive.

I never judge a mom for formula feeding. I would never try to tell you that you’re a bad mother. Two of my best friends formula fed/feed their children and they know that I don’t see them as lesser persons for it. I think it’s different for them because they know me and we have a friendship. When it’s a stranger it’s much easier to misinterpret what they mean and get offended.

The simple fact is that in our society, breastfeeding is the underdog. In the United States, about 75% of moms try to breastfeed at all, but only about 44% of moms are breastfeeding at six months. Luckily these rates keep getting higher, but a big part of it is educating moms on why they should breastfeed and how to do it.

The biggest factor on whether or not you’ll breastfeed is education. More than income level. More than race. Education is the key to getting more moms to breastfeed. Since we can’t force every woman 18-35 to get a college degree, we have to try to educate them on this one subject. So that’s what I try to do: educate.

So please, don’t take what I’m saying as an attack on formula feeding moms. Please don’t assume that I hate all formula feeding moms. Please don’t assume I think I’m any better than you for breastfeeding. Just know I’m out here trying to inform people. I’m trying to give new and soon-to-be moms the information that will help them succeed. I’m trying to out the booby traps set up by hospitals, workplaces, and society. I’m trying to make breastfeeding be something that’s not socially taboo.

Know that lactivists are out there to help, not to judge.

Motherhood Maternity Boycott

Hello all!

I am amazed at all of the comments I’ve received and continue to receive on my last post about a possible boycott of Motherhood Maternity. There seems to be a resounding “Yes!” that we should indeed boycott, so I’ve written this letter for everyone to send in. You’re welcome to edit and add as you’d like.

Since this is an issue with a partnership that they have, I feel it prudent to send these letters to the Vice President of Marketing Partnerships Zanny Oltman. You’re welcome to also send the message to the general marketing partnerships department. Here are the email addresses:

zoltman {at} destinationmaternity {dot} com

marketingpartnerships {at} destinationmaternity {dot} com

This boycott involves all Destination Maternity stores and brands. Be sure to watch out for their brands when shopping for maternity clothes at Babies R Us, Macy’s, and Kohl’s too. A complete list can be found here: http://destinationmaternitycorp.com/HomeBrand.asp

Here’s the email:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am one of the many mothers who gave my information to a store representatives at one of your Destination Maternity Corporation stores (Motherhood Maternity, Pea in the Pod, and/or Destination Maternity) and consequentially had infant formula samples sent to me by one of your “select partners”. I, along with the other mothers who have been and will continue to send you these emails, urge you to rethink your “partnership” with these formula companies. While many moms do choose to formula feed—which is their decision to make—I choose not to, but having these actual cans of formula sitting in my house puts me at risk of ending my breastfeeding relationship prematurely. It puts all mothers and babies who are sent these cans of formula at risk. No matter the determination of a mother to breastfeed, having those cans sitting there calling to her in the middle of the night when she’s sleep deprived, likely in pain, and just looking for some relief, can easily act as a detriment to her choice to breastfeed. Formula companies know this and take advantage of it by sending formula to expecting mothers through “partnerships” such as the one you are involved in and giving away free formula to hospitals to give away to new parents. Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, Ban the Bags and Best for Babes are just three organizations that recognize the harm this free infant formula can cause.

We send you these emails to inform you that until you cease this partnership, we will no longer be shopping at your stores or buy your brands. We also plan to send the message along to all current and future moms we encounter that Motherhood Maternity, Pea in the Pod, and Destination Maternity stores do not value breastfeeding by holding this partnership. On the contrary, you are risking ending your breastfeeding relationship prematurely by shopping at these stores.

Thank you for your time,

{insert your name here}

Lastly, please leave a comment here letting me know that you have sent in an email to Destination Maternity so that we can kind of keep count of how many of us are joining in the boycott. Thank you all for joining me in this cause against breastfeeding booby traps!

Should We Boycott Motherhood Maternity?

As many of you know, I wasn’t married when I first got pregnant. We actually got married when I was about 4 months along, which was fine by me because we were planning on it anyway and had been dating for 3 years.

Anywho, that’s not the point of this post.

So before I got married, I didn’t really need maternity clothes and I didn’t buy any baby-related things. I only went to a maternity store once because I needed a swimsuit for my honeymoon and I refused to wear my bikinis of my pre-pregnancy years with my newly growing belly.

The store I went to was Motherhood Maternity.

When you’re checking out at this store, they ask for your info. A friend of mine told me that I should give it to them because they send you free baby magazines and what not, so I did. I did indeed get free baby magazines. I also got a ton of pregnancy and baby-related ads in the mail. And I got a big box of formula.

When I was pregnant and I received this box of formula, I was simply annoyed. This was before my Lactating Girl days and I was thoroughly planning on breastfeeding without supplementation, but I didn’t know much about Booby Traps. I went to immediately throw it away, but my mom said that she should give it to my sister-in-law who formula feeds. My mom rarely sees my sister-in-law (because it turns out that whole family is awful, but that’s an entirely different subject) so it sat in my mom’s pantry up until just recently when she threw it out because it was past its expiration date. She actually thinks it might have been part of the formula recalled for bug parts too.

In my annoyance, I called the company (I’m guessing it’s Similac since that’s the recalled bug parts company assuming my mom was right) and got taken off of their list. At the time I hadn’t connected Motherhood Maternity into it.

Then just recently, I started getting more baby stuff in the mail. I got a couple of magazines which I don’t hate getting even though I don’t really have much time for magazines. It was then that I made the connection that Motherhood Maternity must be giving away my information. How is it them and not any other company I bought maternity clothes, baby things, or anything else from? Everything was being sent to my mother’s house and to me with my maiden name.

So they’re giving me free baby magazines. Oh well? Since Peanut is closing on two, they probably figure I’m going to get pregnant again soon. I wonder if they have everyone on a two year clock in their system? Either way, I didn’t particularly mind.

Until I got another big box of formula.

This time, I was livid. How are you sending me, Lactating fricking Girl a big box of formula?!? After I specifically called and was taking off your list (assuming it was the same formula company as before which I think it was by the size/color of the box, but I’m not sure). Raaaaaaaaar!!!!!!

So I called Motherhood Maternity. They said that they do give information to “select partners”. Why exactly are they choosing to partner with a formula company? Why is this formula company trying to get as much actual formula in my house as possible? I mean, it’s one thing to send me coupons and let me choose whether or not I want it in my house, but to send me actual cans of formula is wrong. They’re hoping that I’ll be crying in the middle of the night as a new mother and decide to give my baby some of their formula. Then they’ll have me hooked! Then I can spend thousands of dollars on their formula over the next year. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!

I am this close to boycotting Motherhood Maternity entirely for partnering with such a company. I realize all formula companies send out boxes of actual formula samples, but I think it should take signing up with the actual formula company for it. If you truly want the formula, sure, send samples. Don’t send samples to every unsuspecting woman who shops at the biggest maternity store in my area!

So internets, I ask you for your opinion on what I should do about this mess. Is this boycott worthy? Possibly just worth some strongly worded letters to Motherhood Maternity and/or formula companies? Whatever conclusion we all come to, will you join me in this fight?

Misery Loves Company

I don’t put a gate at the top of my stairs.

That’s just what works best for my family. Yes, I am putting Peanut at risk by not protecting her from the stairs. I have decided to assume that risk by not putting a gate up to prevent her.

Would I blatantly recommend all parents shouldn’t gate their stairs? No. Would I say that people who gate their stairs are lying about the benefits of the gate? No. Would I say that gates are obviously unnecessary because my child hasn’t fallen down the stairs? No. If a mother came to me with a situation that called for her to also not put a gate at her stairs, I would gladly tell her how we handle the stairs and maybe even advise her to do the same. But I do not know everyone’s situation.

(To stretch the analogy a little too far)

Maybe a mother would see my recommendation of no gates when she is very frustrated and ready to throw her gate out. Maybe she has a different situation than mine that can be simply fixed by a different type of gate. Now she gives up on gates when she didn’t necessarily need to and her child is also put at risk of falling down the stairs. Maybe my child is lucky and doesn’t have an ill effects of her lack of gate, but who says this child is as lucky?

Now replace that gate with breastfeeding.

Yes, formula feeding is something that works best for some families. It’s something you have to decide on after weighing the benefits and risks—and there are many risks of formula feeding. Would I ever judge a mother for making that decision? No. I will judge the system that didn’t help the mothers that had to make that decision, but never the mother. Each mother does what’s best for her family. Yes, that includes the decision to stop breastfeeding in some cases.

Just because you made that decision doesn’t mean it’s best for all other moms. Don’t try to hide the risks of formula feeding. It’s not fair for you to take that educated decision away from other mothers. You can’t say that formula feeding didn’t hurt your child and therefore isn’t bad. Formula feeding runs the risk of lower IQ, more illness, and (in and out of the US) even death, but a risk is just that—a risk. If your child had zero ill effects of formula feeding—which you can never know for sure because you don’t know what your child would have been like had they breastfed—that just means that your child is lucky. Don’t let your guilty feelings rob another mother of her happy, healthy child.

Misery truly does love company.

The Guilt

There’s a war going on in the midst of the mothering world—breastfeeding versus formula feeding. I may be biased as a breastfeeder, but I feel that the formula feeders have more hate. When advocating for breastfeeding rights, I never say “oh, you should have tried harder” or “you’re an awful mom because you formula feed” (because it’s the system’s fault, not the moms), but it seems like no matter what I say it is taken that way. I blame this on The Guilt.

Recently, I tweeted about a study I found:

I basically just shortened the title and posted a link. Immediately afterwards, I had a “Twitter argument” with @madamemenu about correlation versus causation and the like which ultimately ended in a “agree to disagree” type of thing. It was not until a week or so ago that I found out I was prominently mentioned in this post by Fearless Formula Feeder. Once again, it was misinterpreted that I was trying to make causation when saying “more likely” directly equals correlation in my mind, but that isn’t the point. The point is this constant war between formula feeding and breastfeeding moms.

Breastfeeding moms who often struggle to get to the point they are at with breastfeeding and formula feeding moms who likely turned to formula because of the same struggles—it would make a perfect team. So why do we decide to hate each other rather than band together to fight the system? I blame The Guilt.

I realize most of the people who read my blog breastfeed, but play along with me here. As a lactivist, I always look at breastfeeding and pregnancy and think about all of the formula ads I saw, the cans of formula that were sent to my house, the bag of formula they gave me at the hospital, et cetera. Imagine you formula feed/fed your baby. From this perspective, rather than being bombarded with ads for formula, you’re instead bombarded with constant messages that breast is best—implying you’re not doing the best for your baby. No matter what your reasoning is for chosing to not breastfeed, being told you’re not doing the best for your child will make you feel The Guilt. No matter how true it is, you start to resent those ads and eventually even the women who do breastfeed. You feel judged. You feel angry. You feel The Guilt.

As many of you know, I co-sleep. I have thoroughly researched the benefits of co-sleeping and have done everything I can to eliminate the risks. I am entirely convinced this is the correct decision for my family and I quite often discuss the benefits of co-sleeping with others as well as how to eliminate risks. That said, I still occasionally feel The Guilt. The American Academy of Pediatrics (the same organization I quite often cite for their breastfeeding recommendations) says it’s not safe. So does the Consumer Product Safety Commission. No matter how convinced I am that this is the right decision for my family, being told that it isn’t the best or safest makes me feel that same guilt, feel that same judgment, and feel that same burning fury in my chest that wants to kill any person who dare claim I am endangering my child.

In my lactivism, I never try to make a formula feeding mom feel guilty. Every time before I write a post, tweet, or even comment on someone else’s blog I contemplate two things: 1. Do I sound accusitory to formula feeding moms? How will my statements be read from the other side? While at the same time walking the fine line of 2. Am I sugar coating it for formula feeding mom’s benefit? Am I in any way implying that formula feeding is just as good a breastfeeding? I don’t want to tip toe around The Guilt and give soon-to-be or one-day-to-be moms the impression that they don’t even need to try. I want them to understand that sometimes breastfeeding is really, really difficult in the beginning and some moms don’t get the proper support to get to that point where it’s easy breezy, but that just means they need to try to surround themselves with the support and do as much as they can to educate themselves before they’re in the middle of it all.

Lactivism is not meant to cause guilt, it’s meant to prevent it.

Boycotting WIC

I’ve decided I am boycotting WIC (Women Infants and Children). For those who do not know, WIC is a government program that gives vouchers for specific foods to low income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, babies, and children.

As you know, I am poor. I have been counting the days until Curtis graduates and I’m not poor anymore (December! Yay!), but until then I need a way to feed my family. Therefore, we are on food stamps and WIC. As of right today, I’ve decided to boycott the latter. Here are my reasons.

1. The number one reason I’ve decides to boycott WIC is concerning my last visits. During my consultation, they weighed and measured Peanut. She is right in the middle on all of the scales of percentiles–which she has been since day one–so all is good. After going through all this info, the WIC employee says “Wow, she’s doing so well for being only breastfed.”

Are you kidding me?!? WIC, a program that claims to support breastfeeding and has even recently decided to give more foods to breastfeeding moms and babies (for problems with that, see Reason 2) is telling me my daughter is doing well for being exclusively breastfed? As if they expect her to be deficient?

Of course, the woman who was obviously embarrassed and realized she misspoke immediately retracted the statement by saying something along the lines of Imeanyouneverknowwithbreastfedbabiesbecauseyoucan’ttellhowmuchthey’regettingandthemommighthavealowsupply. But the damage was done (and don’t even get me started on the problem with the second statement.)

2. WIC has decided to give more foods to moms and babies who breastfeed. Yay! They’ve also decided to give baby food to babies instead of just rice cereal. Yay (for other moms who aren’t doing baby-led weaning)! So get this brilliant idea, babies who are breastfed only not only get fruit and vegetable baby food (like formula fed babies do), they get meat baby food too. Yay?

They tried to play it off as this awesome benefit for my baby since she’s breastfed, but I saw right through it. You think my baby is iron deficient. Yes, this happens RARELY to breastfed babies. Yes, formula fed babies need not worry because their yummy iron-fortified formula. But seriously?

Just because I’m breastfeeding means my baby is iron deficient. Just like it means my baby is vitamin C deficient. Gah! Anger noises!!! Ayubtezhfegudvmi!!!!!!!!!1

3. Now we move on to the lactivist reason. Before my recent visit, I had been feeling iffy about staying on WIC out of principle. WIC gives free formula to low income moms + breastfeeding is hard at first = why not just give up and formula feed? I mean, all of those ads say that so-and-so’s formula is the closest to breast milk, implying it’s just as good as breast milk. GAH MORE ANGRY NOISES!!!!

I understand that women were feeding their babies powdered milk and that’s why WIC was created, but if it’s FREE isn’t that a bit too easy? Charge something. Even if it’s one dollar per can, at least it won’t be free. Or as _breastfeeding said on Twitter, charge the same price as powdered milk.

4. Last, but not least, going into WIC makes me feel sad. Every time I go in and see all of those babies being formula fed (I’m always the only breastfeeding mom) I get heavy in my chest. You know that feeling when you are about to cry? I feel so sad for all of those babies who will have more problems–both emotionally and physically–through childhood and into adulthood than my Peanut. I wish I could change things for them. It really puts an unneeded stress on me.

I don’t think this is the right option for everyone. I have means of providing this food for my family without WIC (through budgeting, family help, and food stamps). Though WIC would definitely help my situation, I am willing to go through a little more hardship to stand up for something I believe in. I plan on going in and returning my packet and explaining why I don’t want to receive their benefits anymore. I’ll let you know how that goes.