Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Link Between Breastfeeding and IQ discovered ....again

Apparently scientists have discovered that if you have a specific gene (supposedly 90% of us do) than breastmilk makes you have a higher IQ. Notice I didn't say smarter....I don't know that smart and IQ are necessarily the same thing.

Here's the article if you'd like to read it. I could have told you my children are brilliant...enough proof for me.

Thanks to my sweetie for heads up on this story.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NaBloPoMo Ya'll!

It's NaBloPoMo or National Blog Posting Month! What does that mean? It means you may be sick of me by the end of the month. I am going to try my hardest to blog EVERY DAY for a month.

I am going to try to post every day during November....it sounds impossible. Maybe only to me but it sounds impossible. But I promise to give it the ole college try.

So stay tunned....

Friday, October 26, 2007

Trying out Utterz

Me blog more! I can call y'all!
Have you wondered what I sound like? You might find out soon thanks to this amazing new application I got turned on to by Jennifer over at the Black Breastfeeding Blog! Thanks, girl! And if you read this, you have a beautiful voice yourself.

Mobile post sent by mickyj using Utterz Replies.

Lactation Educator Workshop in Nashville TN

I posted a while back about what a Lactation Educator is and does. Did you say, "Hey! I can do that!" or "Wow! That's what I would LOVE to do!" or perhaps you would like to get more training in breastfeeding support and education. This training is perfect for labor doulas, midwives, postpartum doulas, crisis pregnancy center workers, anyone who works with pregnant and postpartum women/families. You do not have to complete the entire Lactation Educator program but the training alone will educate, motivate and encourage you to do just that for your clients.

So I will be having a training in Nashvegas next month - November 17-18, 2007. We will meet in the heart of the beautiful city of Nashville at the historic Nashville Farmer's Market (in an upstairs meeting room). Lunch is available from a variety of ethnic vendors downstairs. This training includes current videos, current research on breast anatomy and successful breastfeeding and challenges for both mother and baby. It is a fun and fabulous weekend and I hope you'll consider joining us!

And just for you...okay and your friends if you spread the word, an amazing discount of $25 off the workshop fee of $325 if you register by November 5, 2007! Just visit the CAPPA.NET and visit the page for my Nashville training. Contact me directly for the discount!

See you next month!!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Business Doula and Me

Sheri Menelli, the Business Doula(tm) interviewed me the other day regarding Mocha Milk and our coverage on NPR and what having a blog has done for business. To read what she had to say on The Birthing Business Institute's Blog click here.

I think she may be using some of our conversation for future classes and materials of hers. Which is great because I think what Sheri is doing is tremendous. If those of us that are passionate about birth and breastfeeding could actually get organized, focused and making money, we'd be UNSTOPPABLE!! Her business and marketing tips are yes, common sense and not complicated business strategies but they are IMPORTANT, vital steps that most of us are NOT doing. It's about time someone stood up and said, doulas, midwives, lactation consultants, etc. deserve to make good money, should be proud to market their business and should be respected experts in their communities. I hope Sheri will continue with the Birthing Business Institute for years to come, speaking at conferences and doing online seminars. Thanks, Sheri!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Get ready Mamacitas!


Sunday, September 30, 2007

What is a Certified Lactation Educator?

In teaching breastfeeding classes, working with moms one-on-one and advocating for breastfeeding in my everyday conversations I get called lots of names. Good ones like lactation consultant, lactation nurse or even the boob lady. However, I have only two true titles in the world of lactation - accredited La Leche League Leader which is a volunteer position with the oldest, most respected mother-to-mother breastfeeding support organization in the world and Certified Lactation Educator through CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association).

This year I became a trainer for CAPPA's Lactation Educator program. My next training is October 20-21 in my old hometown of Knoxville, TN. It will be attended by nurses, LLL Leaders, mothers who want to help other mothers, WIC employees and others. I want to share a little bit about the CLE program through CAPPA to clear up any misconceptions, answer your burning questions and who knows, this might be YOUR path in lactation support.

Purpose of Lactation Education Certification Program.

The purpose of the CAPPA lactation educator program is to provide childbirth professionals comprehensive training in breastfeeding education. When a candidate completes the certification program they will be qualified to teach and educate the public on breastfeeding and related issues. When all requirements have been satisfactorily completed candidates will be issued the CAPPA credential “ CLE ” Certified lactation educator.

This program does not issue Lactation consultant status, and does not qualify one to issue medical advice, diagnose medical conditions for mother or baby or to prescribe treatment or medication.

Scope of practice
Certified Lactation Educator

Lactation Educators fill an important function in educating and supporting families interested in learning about breastfeeding. This education may take place in the public, hospital, clinical or private setting. Lactation Educators provide informational, emotional and practical support of breastfeeding. They may provide this service exclusively as breastfeeding educators, or may use their training to augment their support in other professions, in the cases of doulas, childbirth educators, nurses, dietitians, and postnatal or parenting educators. In addition to providing breastfeeding information, Lactation Educators offer encouragement, companionship, an experienced point of view, and foster confidence and a commitment to breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding education is not restricted to new families, but applies to the general public and medical staff as well. Due to the limited breastfeeding information given in standard medical and nursing training, and the rampant misinformation about breastfeeding that is so prevalent in our society, the breastfeeding educator serves as a resource for accurate, evidence-based information to the public and health care providers, as well as to childbearing families.

CAPPA does not issue Certified Lactation Consultant status, nor does the Lactation Educator Program qualify a member to dispense medical advice, diagnose or prescribe medication. However, Lactation Educators provide a wealth of information about how and why to breastfeed; establishing a breastfeeding-friendly environment; basic breastfeeding
anatomy and physiology; the normal process of lactation; deviations from normal; physical, emotional and sociological barriers to breastfeeding; overcoming challenges; and resources available (including medical referrals) for the breastfeeding family. They can also be a source of vital support, guidance and encouragement throughout the duration of breastfeeding.

CLE™ Program FAQ

How are CAPPA's Lactation Education programs different from other breastfeeding courses or programs?

Our program is designed for those who would like to teach breastfeeding classes either privately, in groups like at hospitals, parenting centers, etc., or use the credential and education to complement their doula and/or childbirth educator practices.

Do your Lactation Education training's qualify me to sit for the IBLCE exam?

No. Our training's are Lactation Education training's, not breastfeeding management courses. We are geared towards those who wish to educate, not for those who wish to prepare to sit the IBLCE exam at this time. Our courses are not IBLCE exam prep courses, with the exception of some of Vergie Hughes' courses. Please see our training's page for more information. http://www.cappa.net/trainings.asp

If you wish to sit for the IBLCE exam, please see the IBLCE website for instructions, qualifications and pathways.http://www.iblce.org

What do you train your Lactation Educators to do?

We teach normal and unique breastfeeding situations and management, the role of the Lactation Educator, scope of practice, counseling the nursing mother, what to refer out to healthcare providers such as IBCLCs, MDs or Midwives. We assume that our attendees are higher level learners who already know the basics of breastfeeding.

Another part of what we teach is how to set up a class, interesting teaching techniques, and compassionate communication with the new breastfeeding family, which most breastfeeding management/exam preparation courses do not offer.

What exactly is a CAPPA Certified Lactation Educator?

We are like childbirth educators, except that we are breastfeeding educators. We can also act as counselors, referring out issues that are out of scope of practice to IBCLCs, MDs or group support to LLL. We have a position paper about our Lactation Education programs available at Lactation Educator Position Paper.

For Requirements and pathways to certification, please visit CAPPA.net

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

School's In?

Schools back in session...but if you are a breastfeeding mom, you have to risk clogged ducts and mastitis to go back to school. What do you think of this mom and student at Harvard University who wants to take extra breaks to pump for her baby?

A football team in Scotland (which we on this side of the pond, know means soccer for them) is joining a breastfeeding in public campaign. Hmmm...how do I get the Tennessee Titans to do a breastfeeding promotion? I can see it now... Tennessee "tit" ans! Go boobs! Okay, I better stop.

And a bit of personal news - the Birth Workshop was a huge success! Thank you to all who helped and thank you to Barbara Harper of Waterbirth International. We will soon have pictures on the Birth Workshop website and information on our next event - a Hypnobabies Instructor Training in Nashville. Also if you are interested in becoming a Certified Lactation Educator and are close to or live in Columbia, South Carolina, Nashville, TN or Knoxville, TN see my website for more information.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Reflections from the CAPPA conference

I am attending the CAPPA conference this weekend in my very own city of Nashvegas (funny how it's in my city but still an hour away). Anyway, yesterday, Jack Newman started off the weekend with a bang or more like a whirlwind of "controversies in breastfeeding".

Quote of the day:
What do colostrum and formula have in common?

They are both liquids.

And then he went on to say that even that point is debatable. (Colostrum is often a very thick liquid.)

And I sat next to two very lovely ladies from Australia that commented that our obsession with pumping - which pump to buy, when to pump, pumping instead of breastfeeding, etc - is primarily an American obsession. In Australia, mothers and babies are together (only in the nursery if in intensive care), mothers have 24-hour access to their NICU babies, mothers have long maternity leave, mothers have true breastfeeding support and culturally, BREASTFEEDING is the norm.

Not that they don't have their own problems, have WHO code violators and aggressive marketing by companies looking to make money but they are doing some things right that we in "the states" could learn from. Now I want to go to Australia - maybe I will try to go to the Hot Milk conference one year. That would make a fun vacation!

I'll post more about the conference later!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

My new favorite Quote

I went to a dinner in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week on Tuesday hosted by the Tennessee Lactation Coalition and the Cumberland Pediatric Foundation. The speakers were Margreete Johnston, MD, IBCLC and Julie Ware, MD, AAP Chief Breastfeeding Coordinator. Both did a fabulous job and spoke on important topics. Dr. Ware ended her talk with my new favorite quote - but only the first half of it. I found it in it's entirety and it is below. Enjoy.

Imagine that the world had invented a new "dream product" to feed and immunize everyone born on Earth. Imagine also that it was available everywhere, required no storage or delivery - and helped mothers to plan their families and reduce the risk of cancer.

Then imagine that the world refused to use it.

At the end of a century of unprecedented discovery and invention, even as scientists discover the origins of life itself, this scenario is not, alas, a fiction. The "dream product" is breastmilk, available to us all at birth, and yet we are not using it.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Food! Fashion! Panties?

Here's another goodie!

Can you spot me and P-Tizzle in the Fashion Show?

For the record, the point was to show the baby in the LLLI Licensed clothes not me or the sling but he was sick and I was NOT taking his cranky behind out of the sling.

If you weren't there you missed the historic LLLI fashion show. Not that big of a deal to me...but I would love to hear your thoughts. Should LLLI be licensing it's name to panties and bras and onesies? Was the model in a bra walking the stage during our tea in bad taste? Is this the wrong image of LLLI on the internet? Is it a forward-thinking modern image?

Post your thoughts and let me know. Especially those who are "outside" of LLLI - how does this affect your view of leaders, of LLLI, of what we do?

La Leche League - 50th Anniversary

Happy World Breastfeeding Week! My first gift to you is a video on the history of this organization that I am proud to be a part of. La Leche League is often seen as a "white woman's group" probably because it was started by 7 suburban White housewives. However, I really believe they want to support all mothers interested in breastfeeding. La Leche League is not perfect and has a lot of work and growing to do but they, we are working on it. I believe in La Leche League and am personally doing what I can to make it an organization for ALL women.

Notice the Mocha mama with the righteous Afro about half-way through the video. So apparently we have been going to LLL meetings since at least the 70s.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Off we go!!!

Tomorrow P-Tizzle and I will be off to the La Leche League International Conference in Chicago, IL!

I am so excited about all the fabulous speakers, the unique and interesting exhibits and hanging out with so many other "lactation nerds", gentle parents and authors of all the books I like BUT a little worried as to how I will keep a 13 month old entertained during sessions for 5 days! Pray for me, mothers, pray.

So, if you see a frazzled, tired-looking mother with dreadlocks and a wild-eyed, curly-haired little tornado say "hello"! And maybe offer me some chocolate or an adult beverage.....

I'd like to know if any Mocha Milk readers will be at the conference? Please leave a comment and let me know if I should look out for you. We can sit together at a luncheon!

It's not too late to register. To find out more information about the conference visit La Leche League's newly redesigned website.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

International Nestle Free Week

Boycott groups in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America have declared 2-8 July to be International Nestlé-Free Week.

Baby Milk Action
is a non-profit organization which aims to save lives and to end the avoidable suffering caused by inappropriate infant feeding. Baby Milk Action works within a global network to strengthen independent, transparent and effective controls on the marketing of the baby feeding industry.

The global network is called IBFAN (the International Baby Food Action Network) a network of over 200 citizens groups in more than 100 countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. Where water is unsafe a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhea than a breastfed child.

That is why a marketing code was introduced in 1981 to regulate the marketing of breastmilk substitutes. Companies continue to violate its provisions - see examples here. Find out how Baby Milk Action works to stop them and how you can help.

Baby Milk Action is not anti-baby milk. Our work protects all mothers and infants from irresponsible marketing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Birth Workshop - Coming this Summer

I am proud to announce a unique event coming to Nashville, Tennessee this August 28-29, 2007. 9 Months & Beyond, LLC and Vanderbilt University School of Nursing along with Vintage Remedies brings you a workshop with
Barbara Harper,RN of Waterbirth International.

Barbara has been researching and documenting waterbirth and gentle birth since 1983. Besides that she is full of energy, spunk and most impressively mounds and mounds of up-to-date birth and bonding information - specifically information that can make birth more gentle, humane and healthy despite our love for technology and drugs.

So come on down to Nashvegas and join us! If you are coming to the CAPPA conference - stay a few extra days. We would love to see you!

Pass the information on to pregnant friends, family and neighbors, heck stop a pregnant woman on the street and tell her to come to the parent night. Post it on your yahoo groups - this is a grass roots operation here and I can use all the help I can get to let people know about this event! So I am shamelessly blogging about it. I wish I had had the opportunity to attend something like this during one of my pregnancies. Not only would it have given me information, it is also inspiring and encouraging to hear positive information about birth. The professional workshop just might be what we need to bring waterbirth to the Nashville area and other parts of the country that are lagging behind. Come learn and then share your new found knowledge with your part of the world.

To find out details about our event or to register, please visit

Or you can keep reading....

A Parent Information Evening

We've got an amazing evening planned for Middle Tennessee parents as Waterbirth International's own Barbara Harper discusses the topic:

"I want a Healthy, Happy Baby – Do My Birth choices Really Matter?"

We'll also have a panel made up of local birth experts to field any questions you might have. Oh, and if that's not enough to get you there, there will be goodie bags, door prizes and exhibitors!

Tuesday, August 28th - 6-8pm
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing
Registration is $5 per person, $8 for 2 people and $30 for a group of 10!

Professional Workshop

Our professional workshop for August brings birth professional Barbara Harper to Vanderbilt University's School of Nursing to address

"Embracing Gentle Birth in a High Tech World – Solutions that Work."

CEU's will be awarded. The cost is free to Vanderbilt students and faculty.

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007 - 8:30am-5:30pm
Vanderbilt University Campus
School of Nursing Building
Free for Vanderbilt Nursing Students and Faculty
Students: $45
Regular Rate: $65
Late Registration (After July 27): $85
CAPPA members receive the $65 rate at any time.

Paid registration includes continental breakfast, snacks, CEU's, syllabus, exhibit tables, gift bag and door prizes.
Continuing Education Credit

Applications have been made to provide CE hours for CNMs, CPMs, LMs and RNs. 5 Contact hours / .5 CEUs from the ACNM have been applied for by Barbara Harper of Global Maternal/Child Health Association.

Application for continuing education credit has been submitted to Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN) and is pending approval. VUSN is approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by the Tennessee Nurses Association which is accredited as an approver of continuing education in nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. Provider Number 032113008. Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, 461 21st Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee 37240

CAPPA has approved this workshop for CEUs for certified professionals. Please check with your professional organization concerning CE/CEUS.

About Our Speaker
Barbara Harper

Founder and director of Waterbirth International Resource and Referral Service, Barbara has been researching and documenting waterbirth and gentle birth since 1983. An internationally recognized expert, she lectures and consults in hospitals and universities. She is the author of Gentle Birth Choices (2005) and the producer of the videos Gentle Birth Choices and Birth Into Being.

Barbara’s topics will include:

* How best to keep birth undisturbed
* Identifying fear and helping to resolve it
* Chemical pathways of labor
* Influence of birthing practices on bonding and breastfeeding
* Neuroscience of motherbaby skin to skin contact
* Getting women into Hot Water: everything nurses, doulas and midwives need to
* Local panel of midwives, doulas and nurses talking about how to institute
Gentle Birth in hospitals

To Register for either workshop visit BirthWorkshop.com

To inquire about sponsorship or advertising opportunities, contact us at info@birthworkshop.com.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

New Breastfeeding hotline

La Leche League has a new 24 hour breastfeeding hotline. According to La Leche League

"toll-free phone help is available 24 hours a day, anywhere in the US, providing information, education, and support for women who want to breastfeed, healthcare providers, and others".

So let everyone know to call 1-877-4-LA LECHE for breastfeeding concerns for a warm voice, correct breastfeeding information and support.

Of course, they could use your help funding the phone line too. LLL has set up a Cafe Press store with items that you can purchase to support and advertise LLL at the same time. You can also donate directly to the helpline.

To donate funds directly to the helpline, please contact Carroll Beckham, helpline treasurer, at cbeckham@nc.rr.com or mail your donation to Carroll at 2101 Woods End Drive, Fayetteville, NC 28312. Donations are also being received by Pam Freedman, pmfree3@aol.com, in memory of Olivia and Elena Parry, grandchildren of LLL Leader Linda Parry. Olivia and Elena died tragically in a house fire in December, 2006. Linda was quite instrumental in the creation of the helpline. Donations in memory of Olivia and Elena can be sent to Pam Freedman, 104 Crofton Springs Place, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.

So, let your pediatrician, Lactation consultant, WIC office, OBGYN, friends, cousins, everyone know this helpline is out there for moms and healthcare professionals day and night for any breastfeeding related problems. It could be just the right support at just the right time.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Roll Tape...Camera 1

I have been slacking as a blogger lately...sorry to all who have been regular readers and have had nothing new to read. I have had lots of ideas for posts, but no time to post them. If you could only have access to my brain...oh, wait, that probably wouldn't be a good idea either. You would also have access to my anxiety over our family finances, post-baby weight gain and daily 4:30 freak-out over what's for dinner. I am sure one day we will be able to blog straight from our brains, but until technology catches up, you'll just have to wait for me to sit down and write once in a while.

Don't be shy, please write me or comment and let me know that you are reading so that I will keep writing and engaging the world in this discussion on breastfeeding in the Black community.

Okay, just wanted to update on my video project. You can see here back in December of last year I started doing research into putting together a video to encourage breastfeeding among Black women. In my head I envision a video that shows images of us breastfeeding children, playing with, loving and holding our children and sitting with our husbands (and significant others) and friends and discussing breastfeeding. Why did you choose to breastfeed? How did you deal with your family members that thought breastfeeding was nasty or inappropriate? How did the baby's father participate in baby care? Answering questions that Black mothers - all mothers want to know and showing that it really can work for real mothers. Working mothers, mothers in school, younger, older, large chested and small.

Well, this Saturday, we will roll tape. We will attempt to get mothers, babies, children, husbands, boyfriends, doctors and of course the crew (my dear husband and his professional camera-man friend) together to get enough usable footage to make a 5-10 minute waiting room video. Something that will encourage moms to "try" breastfeeding.

I am very excited. I am very nervous. I have never done anything like this and don't know that I can do it. All I know is that it is worth a try. We are trying to get it done in time for the La Leche League International Conference in a little over a month. If we do, I will hopefully show it during a session I am facilitating on Breastfeeding in the African-American community.

Thanks to Latchon.org - a place where those who have an idea or dream for a breastfeeding project can meet donors with support to give. More people need to visit latchon.org and more people need to give there too. Please consider sending some of your charity money to projects there. My project was fully supported because someone who went to latchon.org believed in my vision.

Keep your fingers crossed for us, say a little prayer and stay tuned for an update. Hopefully many happy, healthy families will show up Saturday ready to share their breastfeeding experiences with the world.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Reasons to Breastfeed in 1914 or 2007

I had to pass on this gem found by the Breastfeeding Daily Tips and News RSS Feed on the blog of a NYC husband, father and apparent breastfeeding supporter: Scott's Simple Story.

I am fascinated by things like this...it is interesting how public health campaigns are structured and worded.

For instance, today we usually hear "Breast is Best" or about the "benefits of breastfeeding" or "Breastmilk, the gold standard".

In 1914, however, they described it differently. See #4 below. "Mother's milk is the only safe food during the first six months of its life."

So, take a look at this information sheet put out by the NYC Department of Health and express your opinions on public health messages and breastfeeding of yesterday and today.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Shout out to NPR!

Never thought you'd hear a Black person say that, did you?

Apparently on May 11, 2007, the News and Notes program on NPR (National Public Radio) did a story titled The Black Blogoshpere Expands and discusses how more and more of "us" are getting involved in the world of blogging and thus increasing our presence in the online world.

Thanks to a comment by a reader I found out that they mentioned Mocha Milk by name!! They even talked about Mocha Milk being a blog dedicated to all things breastfeeding related in the African-American community! You can listen to the piece here.

They went on to encourage more African-Americans to blog and to comment on blogs. I encourage you to post here - join my online community - help me grow our presence in the internet world.

Maybe one day I'll reach the Lactivist status and be recognized at the grocery store.

Now back to your regularly scheduled breastfeeding information....

Friday, May 4, 2007

Give yourself and your family a gift this Mother's Day - Exercise!

Breastfeeding has always been an amazing weight loss plan for me. I am what you could call a "thick" or "healthy" girl. In high school, the biggest girl on the dance team. I wasn't unhealthy, just not thin. Then, when pregnant with the princess (baby #1), I gained a good 45-50 lbs. I was going to eat what I wanted. But, I did exercise and stay active.

I will never forget a conversation I had with a born-skinny mom with a young child who told me how she lost so much weight she was SKINNIER after having a baby than she had ever been before. I could have smacked her. It wasn't her fault, God bless her, she just wanted to share the good news that breastfeeding and chasing a baby can help you loose weight. That's not the kind of thing you want to share with a big-as-a-house pregnant woman. It's just too hard to believe when you can't see your toes.

Lo and behold, I was like my skinny mom-friend. I too became tiny as my little nursling got plumper and plumper. Not only that, I got thinner after baby #2. So thin in fact I started throwing out my "big clothes". Unfortunately, I started regaining as #2 nursed into toddlerhood. My weight loss plan was starting to fail me.

Now, 10.5 months after birthing the last little golden nugget, I am dangerously close to my full term pregnancy weight. For the first time in my life I am understanding the term "muffin top" and I am still not able to wear my normal clothes (why did I get rid of the "big clothes"?).

Did I also mention I turn 30 on Sunday? My metabolism is apparently screeching to a halt as I turn the corner on decade three.

So, I stop by the Motherwear Blog and see a post from Tanya about The WOMAN Challenge 2007 (Women and girls Out Moving Across the Nation). Apparently, she has a few extra baby pounds hanging around as well and has challenged everyone to join her team Breastfeeding Babes and get moving. The challenge starts on Mother's Day (May 13th) and goes for 8 weeks. And as much as I really don't have time to exercise or know how I am going to get around to it, I know it is a commitment I need to make.

So, I joined the team! Go to the WOMAN Challenge site and sign up. Make a commitment to yourself and your family today. They need you to be healthy so you can be around to take care of your family, make memories with your family, laugh with your family.
I am taking it as an opportunity to spend more time engaged in a fun and healthy activity with my children. We can go outside and play tag, throw a Frisbee, run races, walk the neighborhood or at a park or turn on some music and dance inside the house.

If you sign up, let me know, let Tanya know. Or even, start your own team, with your friends or colleagues, right where you are. Give a gift only you can give to yourself and your family - your health.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Where have I been and weighing in on the Gallagher Article

Apparently, I have been under a rock. I didn't realize I have not posted since April 19th! Yikes. But I have good excuses...I am launching a new Happiest Baby class at the local Gymboree, we are applying to a private school for the princess in the fall, I am working on my CLE workshops, I am running a breastfeeding support group on my own, teaching breastfeeding class, attending meetings and oh yes, I cook and clean for and keep tabs on three children and a husband. It is also dance competition season for the princess. However, that does not absolve me of my duties as the mistress of this little spot on the web you have come to know and love as Mocha Milk. I hope you have been kept "abreast" of current happenings in the lactation world by my fellow bloggers. Jennifer at the Black Breastfeeding Blog has been faithfully writing and had several interesting entries about wet nursing. She said everything I would have said and more (It's so nice to agree :)) so please check out what she had to say.

Apparently while I was gone, there was a big stir over an article posted by Jen at The Lactivist but written by Morgan Gallagher, a self-described Lactaneer. If you read some of the comments posted (strangely mostly by "anonymous" posters) they call the article "racist", say they are comparing the breastfeeding rights struggle to "slavery and its repercussions" and say it compares "racism to breastfeeding" and then some go so far as to call both Gallagher and Jennifer racist themselves and "using blacks for their dumb-a$$ causes".

Jennifer added a post on May 1, essentially stating that she understands why the analogy of being black to a baby's essential need to eat/breastfeed would be offensive, belittling and poorly placed. Jennifer, please don't feel the pressure to apologize, soften your words or even call the article poorly written. It was beautifully and properly stated. This is a case of the Jessie Jackson/Al Sharpton bullying so common in American culture today. Just because a White person said it, doesn't make it racist or wrong. I could have easily said the same thing, and in fact have made similar statements myself. I will address this more later.

Call me an Uncle Tom if you will (However I won't post your comment, because first off that's a dumb insult if you've even read Uncle Tom's Cabin and like on The Lactivist says, name calling will get you nowhere.), but I think race is a PERFECT analogy when discussing a baby's right to eat and a mother's right to breastfeed.

Gallagher wasn't talking about our struggle, slavery, the civil rights or lynchings. The point was biology. I am pretty sure the point was not to insinuate that women breastfeeding their children are under the same persecution as Blacks during the Civil Rights movement. The point is this: I can not stop being black any more than my baby can stop being hungry or wanting to breastfeed right at the moment he is hungry/scared/uncomfortable/thirsty, etc and needs to nurse. Breastfeeding is what baby human mammals do. A baby shouldn't have to eat in a toilet or under a blanket because they are a baby and get nourishment from a woman's breast. A mother shouldn't have to hide what she is doing because it is how a human baby eats. That was the point. Nothing more, nothing less.

One anonymous poster said that the struggle to protect breastfeeding and the baby's right to be breastfed is not a civil rights issue/can't be compared to the civil rights struggle. It is fundamentally a civil rights issue. Her argument is flawed because she says breastfeeding mothers aren't lynched, or crosses burned on their lawns. If that's the criteria for a civil rights issue than what about the rights of disabled people, Native Americans, religious minorities, etc. Most of those groups didn't suffer lynchings or cross burnings either (some actually did if they lived in KKK areas during certain periods of history). Regardless, this is not the struggle TODAY. Maybe the anonymous poster works for Jessie Jackson. He is always riding on the glory days of "the struggle". We have to realize that we are fighting a different struggle now. I live in the South. Are there still scary pockets with crazy racists loons? Yes. But we have a strong, educated, (biracial) Black man running for president, Black CEOs, entrepreneurs and some of the most powerful people in television and government are Black. If you are a Black child and want to go to college and make up your mind to do so, YOU CAN. We now struggle against self-perpetuated stereotypes (in entertainment), poor education, poor neighborhoods and our inability to work together (Bill Cosby says it much better than I). But I digress...we were talking about breastfeeding.

Maybe I have a deeper understanding of what she was trying to say because I live with the reality that the very life I live is offensive to some people - Black and White. My husband is White.(Which to some of you will disqualify everything I have to say.) I am Black. (Race in itself is actually a cultural construct not a biological one which actually makes the whole argument silly but I am making a point.) There was a time, about 40-50 years ago that the thought of the two of us holding hands or eating together in a restaurant would have made people sick. We would have been told to leave restaurants, not sit together on buses, told we can't "do that" here. Now, for the most part, we are free to do as we please, go where we want, be together and be who we are, without fear of harassment or danger.

No one is implying that a baby or mother is lynched for breastfeeding. However, being kicked out of a restaurant, having security called, having to bring in lawyers, being treated like a security threat on a plane, having your milk poured out as you weep, are all forms of intimidation, abuse and harassment. These are actions that may cause women to choose not to breastfeed, to wean early or supplement with formula when in public. These actions lead to health problems (whether you can see them or not - they may take years to manifest), infections, and increased morbidity and mortality rates (or at least no improvement).

And the problem is, having a culture that encourages the breastfeeding mom/baby pair to hide, stay home and not "offend" everyone else is hurting OUR PEOPLE the most. Our babies are dying in greater numbers, our babies have more disease, more infection, more obesity, less connection and bond to the family and die more often. So here we bitch and moan about how white women are exploiting us to promote breastfeeding when we are not doing enough to further the cause in our own community. When we are still looking at the lowest breastfeeding rates among all races in America. I hope those that were applying the racist label and recounting all the bad things ever done to Black people by White people are actually spending half as much time promoting breastfeeding - the single most beneficial, the cheapest and easiest health intervention among our people - as they were spending trying to shame someone for actually pointing out that it is wrong beyond all reason to tell a person to eat in a bathroom because of the color of their skin just as it is wrong to tell a breastfed baby (via the mom) to eat in a bathroom. The reason it is a powerful argument, is because today, virtually no one would dare suggest that Black people shouldn't eat in public (as was the sentiment 50 years ago), but we do that to babies when we say their mothers should not feed them in public.

That was the point, and it is a point well taken.

For further thoughts on this subject see my former post on Rosa Parks and Lactivism.

I would be happy to hear your thoughts as well.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Protecting the protective nature of breastfeeding

Kudos to the National Action Against Obesity President MeMe Roth who has taken a stand against Unilever, maker of Suave Shampoo for a commercial they are currently running equating breastfeeding with flat hair and a flat chest. In a Fox News interview on the Bill O'Riley show, Roth expressed her concern over this jab at breastfeeding that may prevent children from receiving this protection against obesity. Newsflash, Suave - no 80 year old woman has perky, perfect breasts (unless she bought and paid for them and has had them replaced every 10 years or so) regardless of the way she fed her babies.

It is so encouraging to see someone outside of the world of "breastfeeding advocacy" recognize and promote breastfeeding in regards to obesity prevention (or any other health issue). She encourages everyone to write a letter expressing discontent to Unilever at unilever.com. Believe it or not, I actually wrote! I used the form here. If I get a response other than a form letter, I will let you know.

Also, new research indicates that mamas who have a baby after 25 years old have even more reason to breastfeed. It reduces their increased breast cancer risk. See this article here for more information. It just keeps getting better to give your baby the best (or the normal, right?)!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ronald McDonald House...Or Why you can't Trust Clowns

So, I don't have a lot of time to post this morning but I want to alert you to a situation going on in Texas regarding a breastfeeding mother and child undergoing treatment. They are staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston Texas and were asked to only breastfeed i their room as to not offend other house guests. You can read about the saga so far at The Reluctant Lactivist.

I don't write letters. I am not a very good lactivist in that sense. But I am pretty sure I will be writing about this one. And you should too.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Oprah says Happy National Siblings Day!

My two older children have this thing where they will randomly declare "Brother day" or "Sister day" and proclaim the coordinating sibling as "king for a day" of sorts. Well, who knew a sibling day really exists. Apparently Oprah (she knows everything, doesn't she?) knows about sibling day and decided to celebrate by having special brothers and sisters on her show today.

One story was about the Diamond Sextuplets - the first surviving set of African-American sextuplets! You can read about them on Oprah's site. Here's the best part: Mama Diamond breastfed/pumped for her babies for SIX - count 'em - 1-2-3-4-5-6 MONTHS!! She deserves a medal!

Here's my favorite quote from the Oprah story:
Raising six brand-new babies isn't an easy task. Simply feeding them can be a challenge—especially since Diamond decided to breast-feed all six! "The doctor told me Mother Nature would take care of this all," she says. "I was pumping about 50 to 60 bottles a day."

They are smart parents. First of all, can you imagine the formula bill for SIX babies? Breastfeeding is always touted as a smart financial decision, but for them it was probably the only way they could still eat! And who is this doctor? I want to give him a big kiss! And a big professional pat on the back for realizing that this mama really could make milk for her babies! She was her own personal milk bank! This is an inspirational story for us all and goes to show what a little encouragement from a medical professional can do to encourage breastfeeding/pumping for high risk/NICU babies or any baby/mom couple.

Thanks to Angela over on Breastfeeding 1-2-3 for the heads up on this story!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Breastfeeding and Babywearing

I have been thinking about slings/carriers/wraps more than usual lately. I use them every day to carry around my baby, but it is such a part of my daily life, that I hadn't really given it much actual thought in a while. However, I am considering adding slings to my business inventory again so I have been on the hunt for the best slings.

I hope that babywearing will catch on in the Black community, because after all, our African sisters and ancestors have always carried their babies. In this Washington Post article from 1994, An Idea Still Looking for Traction in Kenya, Carol Mandi, editor of an East African Women's Magazine, EVE shares her thoughts on picking the good ancient traditions from the bad. A statement that has always struck me to my core, she says:

"But carrying on your back, well, that is just a wonderful custom that keeps the baby emotionally stable and lets the mother feel bonded. We can't stop being African women just because we are suddenly thrust into the modern world. What next? They will tell us to stop breast feeding in public? No way."

Yet, African-American women seem to want the biggest stroller, keep the baby in the carseat and never carry him/her and breastfeed in public? No way! For a people so often concerned with remembering and honoring our past, there are many basic nuggets of wisdom we have too quickly forgotten. Instead of worried about feeling bonded to our babies we are overly concerned with spoiling our precious little ones.

Babywearing often comes up with breastfeeding because a lot of breastfeeding mothers enjoy closeness with their baby and say that keeping the baby close helps them feed the baby quickly, easily and sometimes hands free. Not only that, the sling can act as a nursing cover or changing pad. For those of you unfamiliar with babywearing I thought I would share some basics from NINO (Nine In, Nine Out: A non-profit babywearing organization.

What is babywearing?
Babywearing is the practice of carrying your baby close to your body in a sling, pouch,wrap, or other baby carrier.

Why wear your baby?
Rest those tired arms
A baby carrier distributes baby’s weight across your body, making it much more comfortable than carrying a baby in arms. Many caregivers carry even older babies quite a lot. Most carriers are usable from birth up to 35 pounds (16kg).

Freedom of movement

Wearing baby frees you to take care of the house, run errands, eat out, and enjoy the outdoors without struggling with a stroller. The baby carrier is your stroller, portable crib, coverup, and more.

Free your hands to care for other children
Babywearing can help keep your baby content while making you more available for
other children.

Soothe fussiness, reflux, and colic
Some babies crave constant motion. Others spit up unless they remain upright. Some babies enjoy being swaddled. Others insist on being held constantly. A baby carrier allows you to address all of these issues with ease.

Share the load
Father, older siblings, grandparents, and other caregivers now have a powerful tool to comfort and bond with baby.

Slings promote bonding
Wearing baby fosters trust and attachment. A baby whose needs are met promptly now will be more secure later. Baby carriers are also a great way to bond with foster or adopted children.

Make frequent feeding easier
Newborns want to eat all the time, but new mamas sometimes feel tied down. Feed on the go — some moms even breastfeed with both hands free — in a baby carrier.

Carried babies tend to cry less
Research shows that carried babies cry 40-50% less. When your baby is close you will
become aware of his needs more quickly. Babywearing makes long-term carrying easy.

Carried babies tend to be more alert
Babies that are carried see the world from an adult point of view, and adults will tend to interact more with a baby whose face they can see. Babies are less likely to be bored and can learn more about their world when they are up higher.

Carried babies are safer
Protect your baby from unwanted touches of strangers by sharing your personal space – a great way to keep babies safe from germs during cold and flu season.

There are several different types of carriers. Most women and children carrying babies and children around the world use a simple scarf or long peice of fabric often referred to as a Wrap or scarf. Brand name wrap styles include Moby Wrap, Moby D, Didymos and Rebozo. Pouches are popular among first time moms, those new to babywearing and those who prefer the simplicity of a single piece of fabric. Pouches can be accented with padding on one or both rails, pockets and key rings. Pouches include the Urban Pouch, Hotslings and Mama's Milk. Ring slings come both padded and unpadded and are perhaps the most well known style of baby "sling". There are virtually hundreds in this style, from small SAHM manufactures like Soul Baby NYC who sell to friends, on their own websites or on EBAY to larger companies like Maya Wrap who use Guatemalan fabric for their signature vibrant colors. There are Asian-styled and inspired carriers such as the popular Mei Tie and Podegi and soft-structured carriers like the popular Ergo Carrier.

There are so many carriers (and I my listing is a mere nod to the thousands of styles and many many manufactures/designers out there) to choose from that every mom can find one that fits her fashion sense, lifestyle, budget and baby's personality. Slings now come in such beautiful fabrics and accessory choices, they are truly a fashion accessory for moms AND a way to carry baby and still have hands free. And, yes I do think a stroller still comes in handy sometimes...it is nice to have something to put the heavy diaper bag or packages in! Sometimes the stroller is a nice change of pace for a long stroll or extensive airport travel with an older (but still slow walking) child. Having traveled in airports and being a yard sale junkie - I can tell you there is nothing better than being able to keep baby close, protected from strangers and safe in a sling/carrier. If you have never tried a carrier and you have a child under 30-35 pounds, give it a try. You will wonder what took you so long! And beware, they can be as addicting as cute shoes...and as expensive too. But at least you and your baby will look good and be comfortable!

For more information on babywearing visit thebabywearer.com and mamatoto.org

Here's where I need your help. What is your favorite carrier? I would like to carry two - three different styles so moms have plenty to choose from. Maybe a pouch for beginners, a ring sling and a wrap. I would love your recommendations and raves. If you make or sell them, feel free to boast about it too! Just leave a comment with your babywearing experiences!

Friday, March 30, 2007

You can make enough milk for your baby! And other things I should have blogged about earlier...

First of all, let me ask your forgiveness for being MIA for so long. I have gotten busy with other things and neglected my blog. I will try to go back to at LEAST once a week. You can count on Mocha Milk for that!

So, what did I miss? Well, my birth state of Ohio is getting its very own Ohio Breastfeeding Coalition. What's a breastfeeding coalition you ask? It is a group for anyone interested in promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding. We have a state and several regional/city Breastfeeding Coalitions in Tennessee. It is a great way to network with other lactation professionals, work together on legislation, workshops, conferences and bring more resources to breastfeeding moms. If you are interested in joining the Ohio coalition, they have set up a Yahoo group here.

I wrote a rebuttal (her words, not mine)of sorts to Jennifer's continued "Breastfeeding in Public/Let's be Discreet" discussion at the Black Breastfeeding Blog. As a matter of fact, she's still talking about it. It's not so much that I disagree with her, I just have never really seen a woman lift her shirt up to her chin, announce to the room that she is now going to expose her breast, proceed to latch on her baby and dare anyone to say something. Do I have friends who show more skin at a LLL meeting or in the company of other women? Yes (which should not be a problem if you ask me.). Have I ever seen a mother just expose her breast without regard for those around, take twelve minutes to latch her baby and give the middle finger to anyone staring? Absolutely not. I am not quite sure what she and others arguing for "discreet" nursing want. Every mom to use a blanket or cover up? To turn your back to others while latching? What exactly are the rules of discreet nursing? I have a feeling I already "follow" them but from all the discussion I have read it is a subjective thing. One woman's discreet nursing is another's indecent act. And to assume that any mother asked to leave for breastfeeding her baby is being indecent or indiscreet is asinine. Several of the stories that have made the news involved mothers who were holding their shirts down or covered with a blanket. HOW could they have been more discreet? It was truly the act of breastfeeding that was objected to NOT how it was being done. I would LOVE to hear your opinions on the matter, so feel free to leave a comment - I will post them no matter what the opinion and we can discuss.

I also went to the Northwest Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition 2007 conference this past Wednesday in Dalton, GA, USA. I have one word: FABULOUS! First of all, the south needs all the good breastfeeding conferences it can get, and I must say, Georgia breastfeeding supporters, you are doing a great job. The LLL of Georgia also has a WONDERFUL conference each spring! It is a full conference with Health Care Provider seminar and children's activities! One of the best conferences I have ever attended!

Back to the NW Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition Conference. It was wonderful for several reasons: one, it is affordable; two I was surprised to see a lot of African-American peer counselors, nurses, IBCLCs etc, a few men and several people in
white coats. There were even a few moms with fat, healthy breastfed babies. Nice to see a wide variety of people getting information about breastfeeding. Of course the best part was hearing the brilliant James McKenna, PhD speak.

The title of the Conference was : Pertinent Issues in the SIDS/Bedsharing Debate
How Breastfeeding and Cosleeping Change Everything. His research in sleep of parents and babies, together and apart is quite amazing. He can be quite technical at times, using lots of charts and graphs but he is also warm and practical. Not to mention, he can (and did) tap dance! He has written a book called, Sleeping With Your Baby: A Parent's Guide. I will add it to my client reading list and will encourage all my friends and parents looking for sleep solutions to read it. The science is out there folks, and it is hands down on the side of the biological imperative of the mother-baby unit and of constant supervision of infants by adults which, you guessed it, includes close night time proximity (co-bedding or co-sleeping). Run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore and purchase this book. And if he is speaking near you, go. You will not be disappointed.

And finally, you may have missed this in the news, as I don't think it got a lot of press, but apparently in Brazil, there is a 55 lb, one year old! Now get this, he is as far as all accounts tell it, exclusively breastfed, or at least still breastfeeding. Now, I can no longer find the original video, just a picture and story here at BabyTalkers.com but trust me, his little mama was just as normal to skinny as can be. So, not a genetic thing. The video even showed this little woman nursing this HUGE baby. Just goes to show, YOU can make enough milk for your baby, even a BIG FAT BABY! And I thought 20 lbs at 5 months was big!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Art that makes us imagine ourselves

Call me nerdy, but I enjoy museums. I love to learn new things, see new things, and if I can interact with the art or science exhibited, even better. Well, now I don't even need to leave my house to go to an interactive, informative and inspirational museum exhibit. The International Museum of Women is a "museum without walls" and last year it began an exhibit called Imagining Ourselves, A Global Generation of Women. It is the Museum’s first interactive, multi-lingual online exhibit designed to reach a global audience and it is fascinating.

So what does it have to interest the readers of Mocha Milk? Well, each month has a different theme. The theme this month is MOTHERHOOD. None of the featured stories deal specifically with breastfeeding, but several deal with birth and those of us who deal with breastfeeding know that the way we birth profoundly affects breastfeeding.

I have spent several days exploring the site when I can. There are four short films that moved me and I hope you will take the time to view: LifeWrap, Play your Part , Love, Labor, Loss: A film on obstetric fistula in Niger and Born In Brazil. There are many other films, pictures and stories to explore and many lead to information on projects being done around the world to help women suffering due to malnutrition, poor health care and low social status.

What I learned from the March 2007: Motherhood Exhibit

1. One woman dies every minute due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these women die from things that could be avoided through better nutrition and trained midwives and medical personnel. I am so disturbed by this and I just can not be happy with my own personal birth experiences until birth is safe for all women. I understand that birth is unpredictable and complications will occur, but I also know there is much that could be done to make it safer. Not more technology, but more training and supplies to support the ancient art and SCIENCE of midwifery.

2. The c-section rate in Brazil is 65-85%. While the "average" first labor is 6-18 hours, in Brazil it is 4 hours before a c-section is done. America - this is our future if we don't get our act together.

3. Obstetric Fistula is a big and real problem that we (especially other Black women) need to get behind and deal with NOW. Women are in labor for days at a time, perhaps a week and because of true CPD from malnutrition, can not get their babies out. These women need the right nutrition (from childhood), they need proper pregnancy care (trained community midwives) and proper medical care and intervention (trained Obstetricians). That is why organizations like the International Center for Traditional Childbirth, The African Birth Collective and others are so crucial. They not only help train American midwives and help the women giving birth while they are there, they also work to train local midwives and bring in much needed supplies.

4. Postpartum depression is not just a rich woman's disease. It can strike women in any culture and needs to be dealt with globally.

5. The LifeWrap is probably the most important first aid device to be invented in years. I am convinced it should be in every midwife's kit in the world, even here in America. It could save women from the very real, very scary complication of hemorrhage, which I have seen first hand. Yes, we have medications to stop hemorrhage in the industrialized world, but sometimes, even the medications fail. Reusable, simple to use and low cost - sounds reasonable to me.

6. No matter what our birth experiences are like in America, we have it so so so much better than the majority of our sisters around the globe. Yet most of them still breastfeed. Maybe we can help them with birth issues and they can help us with breastfeeding ones.

There are many other lessons to be learned at the IMOW Motherhood exhibit. I know I will be going back to watch more films, read more stories and learn about more worthwhile organizations and projects. If you make time to "visit" the museum from your computer, come back and leave a comment and tell what you learned. Share with your friends and family what you've learned. Increase awareness. Share motherhood experiences with your sisters around the globe.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sharing About myself

Well, apparently, I've been tagged. Good thing too, since my upkeep of the blog has been spotty lately. So much going on in real life (have you looked at the new 9 Months & Beyond website?), that I am having a hard time keeping up with the webworld too.

That's what friends are for - helping you keep all those balls in the air. So Jessie, the Master Herbalist over at Vintage Remedies tagged me for the latest game: Share 5 things about yourself. Now, this is not a "personal" blog, I consider it a professional, informative, activist blog if you will. Information and commentary on breastfeeding issues as they relate to the African-American community. But, I guess it wouldn't hurt if you know a little bit about the woman behind the blog, me, Micky Jones.

So here it goes, feel free to leave a comment. Am I the woman you thought you knew? Are you shocked? Can you confirm my crazy statements? Want to share something about yourself? Leave me a note and join in as we all get to know each other better.

5 things you didn't know about me yesterday

1.I have a 3 for 3 record of short labors. My first was 6 hours, start to finish. Second was about 3-4, my husband and I debate on the amount of time. The third was about 2 hours once the contractions started. Both my mother and grandmother had short labors so I guess it is hereditary. I am the kind of woman other women hate at birth story time. Mine are so fast - crazy, steamroller intense, but fast and yes, even enjoyable. I will say though, the shorter, the more "painful". I hope to try hypnobabies if we have another so I can have one of those "pain-free" births.

2. I was a professional back up dancer and choreographer in the Christian Music industry. Any guesses as to who I was a dancer for. I loved it because I love to travel and love to meet new people. I love hotels and I love to eat out. It's a lot like doing breastfeeding trainings and workshops, just not as sweaty.

3. David Copperfield made me disappear during a magic show. I have had a HUGE crush on him my entire life (I blame my father who did cheesy magic tricks when I was a child and made me love magicians.) and have watched every special he ever made. My husband scored some tickets the last time he came through Nashvegas and I somehow managed to get picked to go on stage for a trick. To this day I have never told a soul, not even my husband, how the trick was done. I will take it to my grave. David shook my hand, gave me an autographed picture and I will never, ever reveal the secret. It is the only secret I have from my husband. Sorry, honey. No, I won't tell you.

4. I got married when I was 19 years old. No shotguns were involved.

5. I was in a professional production of Little Shop of Horrors at The Boiler Room Theatre in the Factory in Franklin, TN. If you've seen the movie, I was Tisha Campbell's character. The stage show is a bit different from the movie but just as campy and a lot of fun. It was a great experience and I hope to do theater again when I have time and it is a show I want to do like Hairspray (hint, hint Jamie, musical director!) or High School Musical (just kidding). Since my daughter has apparently inherited my flair for the dramatic, I see more theater in my future, either as an actress, backstage or as a stage mom.

So there you go, more than you ever wanted to know about me. To continue the trip around the blogging world, I tag Jennifer at the Black Breastfeeding Blog, Barbara Harper at waterbirthblog, and Tanya over at the Motherwear blog.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shameless Self-promotion

Today is the soft-launch of my new website: 9 Months & Beyond .I have the BEST web/graphics/marketing man on the planet: My husband. He currently works at Gibson Guitar and occasionally does some freelance on the side through his company Core 29. He is BRILLIANT and puts up with the toughest clients in the world, namely ME.

Let me take a moment here to give a word of advice to all my fellow professionals in the childbirth/breastfeeding/parenting world. PLEASE have your marketing materials professionally done. It is time we look legitimate. The year is 2007. Just because you can make a webpage at geocities or freeweb yourself, DOES NOT mean you should. Find someone who will make you look as professional as the hospitals in your area. Get quotes from several designers, CHECK THEIR WORK and then have a logo, website and card professionally designed. My designer husband begs you, please, stop the madness and the comic sans and the butterfly trails. I know this is all easy for me to say as I can pay my designer in lovingly home-cooked meals and well, I did give him three beautiful children, but in all honesty, it is worth the money and something to consider as an investment in your business. It will be a lovely day when my husband no longer makes fun of "birth websites" because, let's be honest, most of them fit the stereotype of being poorly designed with music in the background and several pages that don't load.

Sorry for the lecture - back to my regularly scheduled self-promotion....

Please sit back, have a cup of tea and spend some time at my new site. We will be adding more pictures soon. Pictures of birth tubs, pictures of me with clients and other professionals like Ina May and Bill and Martha Sears. Many of our services will start up in the next month or two and a few are available now like CAPPA CLE Trainings and Birth Plan Consultations.

Feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think about the site. Don't forget to bookmark it, tell your friends about it and refer moms and dads to it, especially those in the Nashville, Tennessee area.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Welcome to the March Carnival of Breastfeeding!

Ah...Advice. Pregnant women are a walking target for little old ladies, frazzled moms and single frat boys with a baby sister who all want to share a nugget of baby care wisdom. And by the 6th month of pregnancy you are ready to strangle the next person who offers their heartfelt piece of baby advice. I have been pregnant three times and nursed three times (including right now) so I have unfortunately had my fair share and then some of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding advice. This month's Breastfeeding Carnival is about breastfeeding advice: the good, the bad and the ugly.

In my experience....
The worst: From a single guy who worked with my sweet hubby, while at a wedding with my young baby in a sling. Is she sleeping through the night? It's all about sleeping through the night. Once she's sleeping through the night everything will be perfect. I just nodded, smiled and ate another piece of cake. From time to time I imagine that young guy married, up with their baby at 3 am, hopefully reading askdrsears.com and realizing that whether or not your baby is sleeping through the night is completely irrelevant to the rest of your parenting or baby growing up.

The best: All the great advice I have gotten from other mothers at La Leche League meetings over the past six years. A breastfeeding support group is the BEST place to get the advice and support you need to keep going and realize that you are not crazy. There is always someone who you can give advice to and always someone who's advice will help you know where to look for answers next. Some gems over the years: "He will eventually be able to drink out of a cup without a no spill top. Don't worry.", "You can night wean and still breastfeed and still cosleep.", "Don't worry about what other people say." I learned about Little Duck from Twelve Corners - easily the BEST baby diaper rash/all purpose balm of all time at my local LLL group. That ALONE was worth it, trust me. Six years later, I still have Little Duck in my house! It doesn't matter how long I go, I always learn something new from the mamas young and old(er)who share at these mother-to-mother meetings.

So advice isn't all bad, it isn't all good. I guess part of being a mom is learning how to weed through it. How to let the bad advice pass through your ears and not let it take root. And to take the good advice and use it to do your own research and see if it will work for your family. My advice to you: TRUST your baby and yourself. Your God-given mama instincts and your connection to your baby are the only semblance of a map you have in this crazy treasure hunt we call life.

So be blessed by the luck-o-the-breastfeedin' mamas as you check out the other posts today. Tanya at the Motherwear Blog shares a long list of good and bad advice; Angela at Breastfeeding 1-2-3 shares how to navigate the medical advice in regards to breastfeeding; Jennifer at the Black Breastfeeding Blog shares the best breastfeeding advice she ever got; Cairo Mama gives some advice to get you through the rough spots, especially after an unexpected birth outcome; Andi at Mama Knows Breast shares who to get advice from and a little mother-to-mother advice; the mama at The Twinkies shares Brestfeeding wisdom from the Trenches; Jennifer over at The Lactivist gives one much needed and hard to find advice for pumping moms; the mama at Random Wonderings shares her "ugly" advice from a disappointing breastfeeding experience; and the Mum across the pond at BreastfeedingMums Blog shares good advice/bad advice and C-A at The Baby Gravy Train shares the best advice she was given as a new breastfeeding mom.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Check out another African-American Breastfeeding Blog!

Today Angela over at Breastfeeding 1-2-3 posted an AMAZING collection of breastfeeding related product, book and clothing reviews! Trust me, a post like that takes a lot of time and requires a lot of back and forth between open tabs (you other bloggers know what I mean). Please go over and check out this virtual mall of anything you could ever need or want related to breastfeeding that she so diligently put together.

I didn't make it far down the page before seeing a link to the Black Breastfeeding Blog. At first I was shocked (happy but shocked) to learn there was another black woman blogging about breastfeeding, but soon realized that the woman behind the Black Breastfeeding Blog is none other than Jennifer James, web magazine diva, homeschooling advocate and experienced writer. She is the heart and soul behind Mommy Too Magazine and the National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance among other things. The Black Breastfeeding Blog is in a network of blogs dedicated to the Black American parenting experience from conception to securing money for your child's education. So encouraging to see more voices representing African-Americans on the web and even more exciting to me to find one encouraging and supporting breastfeeding moms! Thanks Jennifer!

I have added the Black Breastfeeding blog to the Places I Like list on the left. I hope you are visiting my friends on a regular basis. Like most women, we always have a lot to say!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Vitamin D - The Controversy lives

A new study released a few days ago is raising concerns about the levels of Vitamin D in American pregnant women and babies. The study funded by the National Institutes of Health, found that 80% of African-American women and over 50% of White women had Vitamin D levels that were "too low" at delivery. They also found that the newborns had low levels of vitamin D - 92.4% and 66.1% respectively had low levels despite 90% of the moms taking the recommended amount in a prenatal vitamin.

I think this study raises more questions than answers. First of all, there is no agreed upon optimum level of Vitamin D intake. Part of the problem is that Vitamin D isn't really a vitamin, it's a hormone. Your body synthesizes it from sunlight. Vitamin D is truly a lack of appropriate sun exposure. However, all the concern about protecting oneself from skin cancer (which is valid but needs to be balanced with our need for fresh air and sunlight) has created a culture afraid of the sun and its rays.

I would be interested to read the study. Were the women encouraged to eat a diet high in foods that provide this essential element of good health such as Salmon, shrimp, Cod and cod liver oil, eggs and of course fortified dairy and other products? Now cod liver oil can be taken in a pill - no more yucky spoonfuls of fishy oil! It is difficult if not impossible to eat your way to your necessary amount of Vitamin D, but thinking about it as part of your dietary planning is a smart thing to do.

Were the women encouraged to get a small amount of sunlight each day/week Spring through fall? That is the easiest and best way to get "Vitamin D" - the way your body was meant to have it, by making it! Cynthia Good Mojab calls vitamin D deficiency, sunlight deficiency. How would you cure a deficiency in sunlight? More sunlight! Read her article from LLLI's Breastfeeding Abstracts here.

What levels are dangerous? When does your level of Vitamin D leave you more susceptible to the various chronic diseases that it is believed to help protect against: breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more? Just about every study on Vitamin D concedes that we can and should all have higher levels but don't . Yet we don't all have cancer; we don't even have high amounts of rickets or osteomalacia (rickets for grown folks). If we are supplementing and it is not enough, maybe it's time to put down the sunscreen a little and enjoy the sunshine a little more.

I understand that public health messages are supposed to be simple and for the masses. However, I think a blanket ban on sun and blanket recommendation of vitamin D supplementation isn't getting us to where we need to be.

You may be wondering what this has to do with breastfeeding. Well, the NIH and AAP recommend Vitamin D supplementation for ALL breastfed babies, regardless of skin tone based on the amount of Vitamin D found in breastmilk. This is flawed for two reasons. One, the vitamin D content of human milk varies from five to 136 IU per liter and is not the constant 25 IU vitamin D per liter claimed on the NIH website. Secondly, humans are meant to synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight through skin NOT ingest it through food. So calling the baby's food source deficient is unfair because it was never meant to be the source. Just because you can add enough Vitamin D to formula to have the magical approved RDI listed on the label, doesn't mean the baby absorbs it.

From the NIH website:

Infants who are exclusively breastfed
In infants, vitamin D requirements cannot be met by human (breast) milk alone [4,19], which usually provides approximately 25 IU vitamin D per liter [20]. Sunlight is a potential source of vitamin D for infants, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that infants be kept out of direct sunlight and wear protective clothing and sunscreen when exposed to sunlight [21]. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a daily supplement of 200 IU vitamin D for breastfed infants beginning within the first 2 months of life unless they are weaned to receive at least 500 ml (about 2 cups) per day of vitamin D-fortified formula [20]. Children and adolescents who are not routinely exposed to sunlight and do not consume at least 2, 8-fluid ounce servings of vitamin D-fortified milk per day are also at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency and may need a dietary supplement containing 200 IU vitamin D [20].

Formula fed infants usually consume recommended amounts of vitamin D because the 1980 Infant Formula Act requires that infant formulas be fortified with vitamin D. The minimal level of fortification required is 40 IU vitamin D per 100 calories of formula. The maximum level of vitamin D fortification allowed is 100 IU per 100 calories of formula [22]. This range of fortification produces a standard 20 calorie per ounce formula providing between 265 and 660 IU vitamin D per liter.


Does the risk of skin cancer from sun exposure outweigh the known risks of formula? Did the AAP research that before making this recommendation?

Am I supposed to exclusively breastfeed or wean to some formula by two months to make sure my baby is getting enough vitamin D? Is it any wonder that the "benefits of breastmilk" don't outweigh the "benefits of formula feeding" to most moms?

It is statements like these (and their underlying attitudes and misunderstanding of human milk) that makes breastfeeding promotion difficult. How can breastmilk be both "the gold standard" and "deficient and needing supplementation"?

For more information on this issue see LLLI's FAQ on Vitamin and fluoride supplements, Kellymom.com's Does my Baby need vitamin D supplements and The Politics of Vitamin D: Questioning Universal Supplementation by Kathy Barber and Mishawn Purnell-O'Neal.

Now, next time the sun is out, go outside and enjoy yourself! Get your RDI of sushine!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Pregnancy on the big screen

I was just minding my own business, reading my email, when I saw a post from one of the many lists I am on about a new film concerning pregnancy and birth in the good ole U.S. of A. It looks very promising. Pregnant in America is said to be "a film that will expose the underside of the U.S. childbirth industry and help end its neglectful exploitation of pregnancy and birth". He said "neglectful exploitation...", I can already see some OBs taking off their earrings and greasing up for the fight. This could really stir things up in the world of American birth.

I have not seen An Inconvenient Truth, but many people were moved by it. I have read passionate posts about people who felt like their eyes were opened and they were moved to make steps or more steps to living a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Apparently, Al Gore is now organizing a series of worldwide concerts to continue his mission.

It all started with a film.

Now, granted, this guy, Steve Buonaugurio doesn't have the money, political clout and renown that Al Gore has. But if he can create a groundswell of support using the power of viral marketing (think YouTube videos) and the blogging world (remember the recent Pork vs the Lactivist), he can use this film to make a statement and actually turn the tide of the pregnancy machine in this country. It took consumer demand to allow fathers in the delivery room. Maybe a film like this can help create the fire that will drop our cesarean rate from 30 percent to 10 percent (as it should be) and will drop our shameful infant mortality rate (and the shame only rises for the African-American family who has higher infant mortality rates).

So go check out the trailer and tell me what you think. Would you see the film? Do you think it will give an honest view of the state of pregnancy and birth care in America today? Will it scare women or help them wake up and become more aggressive consumers? I can't wait to hear what you think.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Big Apple Supports Breastfeeding

This story is a few days old, but the city of New York deserves a big thumbs up for their recent breastfeeding promotion effort. The New York Post has an article about the New York City Health Department's million dollar program to support and encourage breastfeeding. The program includes $2 million in hospital based breastfeeding promotion, $7 million to hire home visiting nurses,$4.5 million for an ad campaign (signs on buses and taxis, etc.) and training 50 health care workers in breastfeeding support. I am excited about the ad campaign and I think the city will probably do a very good job producing beautiful, multicultural public health pro-breastfeeding messages.

I am crossing my fingers about the rest of it however. The article said they will be taking the free formula "gift" bags (aka - Marketing Materials for drug companies) out of hospitals, possibly an attempt to be more Baby Friendly, and will replace the formula sponsored diaper bags with milk storage bags and ice packs. Will $2 million be enough to do that and hire enough staff? Are there regulations as to how the hospitals spend the money? Who decides?

The prospect of home health nurses is very exciting. That is an intervention that has been used in many populations to improve health outcomes. I hope that the nurses they hire actually have BREASTFEEDING training. Breastfeeding is not always covered in a basic nursing curriculum. I sincerely hope whomever is responsible for the administration of this program will make sure every home health visitor is trained in basic breastfeeding management.

I am sure what the thought plan is with training 50 health care workers to assist breastfeeding women...in a city with over 8.1 million people...50 newly trained IBCLCs (I hope this is what they are alluding to)? Maybe per hospital, that would work. I am not sure what that means but it will be interesting to see if breastfeeding rates in New York city go up.

Here's hoping that throwing a bunch of money at breastfeeding promotion and support actually works and is executed well. If so, maybe other cities will follow.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Love Day Report....

I hope you all were able to experience a little romance yesterday. If you are like me - a few kids, still nursing at least one of them and limited babysitters by choice or necessity - romantic moments are often scheduled. As experienced couples will tell you, spontenaiety is a luxury of the childless. After a baby joins the family, it may be easier to "schedule" a night for regular romance to 1)assure that it ever happens again and 2)give mama time to emotionally (try to relax with the kids that that day) and physically (get enough sleep and be energized for the "night" ahead) prepare for something that used to happen only when "the mood" struck. It's also nice for your man to know he won't be going too long without. I know it can be somewhat awkward discussing what goes on in the bedroom (or if their are children in your room - in the other rooms of the house) but sexuality is important to every woman, breastfeeding mothers included.

Every year we celebrate our anniversary (February 1) and Valentine's Day in one big shebang. This year was our first attempt to leave the Tizzle (8 month old and baby #3) and have a romantic dinner and after party (if you know what I mean) in an empty house.

I am a woman of my word and I promised that I would deliver a report, to you the readers of Mocha Milk, if the wonderful people behind Condessa Breastfeeding Lingerie sent me a set to try. Well, they found out that I was admiring their skivvies and sent me the beautiful Cassandra Seductive Sunset Brassiere and Brief Set for evaluation. I was in search of form and function. So keeping with my original post about Condessa, I have a list of SEXY - what I liked and GET BACK - what could use improvement.

-Beautiful, vibrant color! Makes you feel happier and more beautiful. And I have to say, Sunset on brown skin - very nice. I am sure the other colors look just as good.
-Cotton-lined cups. The bra cups are lined with a soft, cotton fabric so the lace doesn't rub the nipples. Comfortable but undetectable to your man.
-Bra sizing seems to be pretty standard yet generous. Runs true to regular bra sizing.
-Jewel tone button snaps to release cups. I wasn't crazy about the function of them but the aesthetic was very pleasing. They looked like a pretty decoration not an access point, ya know?
-Very supportive! Several of you wrote me personally and said you might try Condessa even though you are hardcore underwire fans. I have only owned one underwire bra in my life but the Condessa Cassandra line bra supports like an underwire without the potential duct-plugging wire! It is supportive, lifting and separating without wires and I had no idea what I was missing.

-Lace bras under cotton shirts can be rather unsightly. Some mothers shy away from lacy bras for that very reason. So if you never wear anything but cotton t-shirts this bra might bother you. On the other hand, maybe it means you need to branch out and try something a little dressier! It would be great if the other collections would include a silky/flat front bra as well.
-The bra cups release from the middle of the chest. That is a unique way to open a nursing bra and it is a little of a learning curve. The snaps/buttons are gorgeous, but difficult to unsnap with one hand which is preferable when trying to discretely unhook your bra and feed a wiggling baby. I am not sure if the placement of the snaps or the type of snaps or the combination is what makes unhooking difficult, but this was the biggest drawback.
-The brief. The fabric was not breathable enough for my tastes. Again, I tend to be a cotton gal, but am not against other fabrics if they still allow for circulation. It could have been the size not fabric. Which leads me to my biggest issue with the bottoms - size options! Don't forget about the big girls...especially after having a baby. Eight is the largest size in the bottoms and I know that could leave allot of my girlfriends out in the cold or at least with a pretty bra and nothing cute for their booty.

I learned about myself in trying out this lingerie. I really do feel prettier and sexier when wearing pretty, sexy lingerie under my clothes. I learned I can do something small (like wearing a sexy bra) and it can make a big impact on how I feel and act. I learned that it really does matter to your mate, even if he never mentions it. I joke that men don't really care what your underwear looks like on you, just how it looks on the floor, but when you go to the trouble of "fancy" lingerie, it makes him feel special and adds a little spice.

Let's just say my husband approved of me reviewing the Condesesa Cassandra lingerie. He had nothing but good things to say...

I am wondering if I have wandered into the land of TMI (Too Much Information) ...please forgive me if I have shared a little to much. We grown though, right ladies?

Anyone else tried any other breastfeeding lingerie? I would love to hear what other bras are maternal and sexy. If Tyra and Oprah can have bra and panty parties, so can we!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

That's Some Pig!

I recently read the children's classic, Charlotte's Web with my children and went to see the new live action version of the movie. In the movie Charlotte, a common gray spider hopes to save her pig friend's life by showing the world what a wonderful pig Wilbur is. So she writes a message in her web describing Wilbur that says simply, "Some Pig".It wasn't extravagant or puffed up, just a simple statement of who Wilbur was.

As I mentioned last Friday, the Pork board wrote a C & D letter to the Lactivist to get her to remove a site from her Cafe Press website that said "the other white milk". The letter was harsh, implied that she was advocating human milk as some kind of fetish/sexual thing and more threatening than it needed to be.

I along with just about everyone else in the blogging world was soon sizzling about how these big piggies were handling themselves. Because of the blogging world buzz, the Lactivist's cool head and ability to wait, think and handle things professionally, she was issued a letter of apology from the National Pork Board and the employees of the National Pork Board will be making a donation, from their own pockets to The Mothers' Milk Bank of Ohio. I am glad it was her and not me to go through this ordeal. Had it been me, I think I would have had to have somebody hold my earrings and my baby, if you know what I mean.

She has asked everyone who wrote about the original incident to follow up with the happy ending here. Just as Charlotte's Web ends in Wilbur's life being saved (sorry if you haven't read the book or seen the movie), this has a happy ending for all: more money for a struggling non-profit milk bank, more publicity for milk banking and the Lactivist isn't going to jail. Okay, she wasn't ever in danger of jail, but she could have been looking at a lot of money spent and the headache of legal proceedings. And it is so nice to see a business, any business recognize their wrongs and take steps to make it right.

So while our family doesn't personally partake of the swine, I won't be mad at you for gettin' your BLT on...just pass me the turkey bacon and we can still be friends.