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 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 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,'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!