This may seem like a dry, legalistic-sounding (maybe even boring) document but it says something that I find really exciting:
Resolve that the Academy advise pediatricians not to provide formula company gift bags, coupons, and industry-authored handouts to the parents of newborns and infants in office and clinic settings
Until we have donor milk readily available for all babies that need more milk than their mothers provide, formula will have an important role in safely feeding babies. However, doctors shouldn’t be the (inadvertent) salespeople for the formula companies. Free samples from doctors effectively promote that particular brand of formula, generally a more expensive brand than a family might otherwise choose. Literature from formula companies generally doesn’t have good breastfeeding information. Families can get much better basic information and support from many other sources. There is no need at all for industry-authored handouts. I’m excited that the AAP is encouraging pediatricians to (as the Ban the Bags folks would say) “market health and nothing else”. To read more about this issue in general, check out Ban the Bags.
The exclusion of breastpumps from accepted flexible medical spending account spending made the front page of the New York Times this week. Breastfeeding advocates have been frustrated by this apparent lack of support for breastfeeding but a thoughtful post from Alison Stuebe of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine points out how complicated this issue is:
I’m strangely ambivalent about the decision to exclude pumps from flexible spending accounts. I worry about the pervasiveness of breast pumps in breastfeeding in the US. Pump companies have pushed mightily to convince every American mother that an electric breast pump is an essential, regardless of whether she plans to return to work. If FSAs covered pumps, I’m certain that pump manufacturers would step up their marketing to make sure that every American mother sets aside $300 tax-free dollars to buy that pump that she can’t possibly breastfeed without. Such a policy would be a windfall for pump companies – But I’m not convinced it would be good for breastfeeding.
One of the most disturbing facts that Dr. Stuebe cites is that about 1 in 7 women that uses a breastpump is injured by the pump. Pumping is not always a simple, harmless option that all women should feel like they need to choose.
Like with so many public policy issues there is no simple on-size-fits-all right answer here. For the health of women and children we need to support breastfeeding but we also need to be thoughtful about what that support includes. There needs to be a conversation about maternity leave options, peer support, and professional lactation support rather than just assuming that providing pumps is that same as being breastfeeding-friendly.
World breastfeeding week is the first week in August. It is a chance celebrate mothers nurturing their babies as well as a chance to let people know how important breastfeeding is to mothers’ and babies’ health.
The US Surgeon General used it as a chance to announce her plan to be a breastfeeding advocate
This fall, I will release a Surgeon General’s “Call to Action” that will draw from the best available science to explain how all sectors of the community can help create an environment that is supportive of mothers who choose to breastfeed. It will show how a community-wide approach can help reduce disparities among breastfeeding mothers and children of all backgrounds, and how to improve support for nursing women in their workplaces and communities.
Read the press release here.
I thought it was pretty cool that a story about banked mothers’ milk made a media source as mainstream as USA Today – and not as a story about donating milk to mothers in disaster areas. It is a story about something that could (and does) happen in Madison.
Keely Shaw, 30, feeds her 5-month-old son Halston while her 2-year-old Wiley plays. Both boys were born premature in the 35th week and drank breast milk from the milk bank while Keely waited for her body to produce milk. She now donates breast milk to The Denver Milk Bank.
If you’re a Madison-area mother that wants to donate milk, get in touch with the Mothers’ Milk Association of Wisconsin (MMAW). If you need donated milk for your baby, MMAW is a good place for you as well to find the information about how to get it.
Kudos to the mother, the lawyers, and the judge that treated nursing as something normal:
WAUKESHA – A mom from Milwaukee was pleading guilty to a crime in a Waukesha County courtroom when her baby became fussy and hungry, so she proceeded to give her baby a breast-fed meal while giving her guilty plea.
Read the rest of the story by Jay Sorgi at this website.
Disasters happen regularly — and Haiti’s earthquake is just the most recent, visible, very sad reminder of this fact. We all want to help when disasters happen but unfortunately (as every new mother knows!) the wrong kinds of help can be way worse than no help at all. Maybe we’re starting to learn what the right kinds of disaster aid are, though. This New York Times article summarizes resources about the right kinds of aid and includes this comment about infant feeding during disasters:
Ms. Shaikh gets particularly worked up about misguided donations of baby formula. “A woman who is breast-feeding is given a can of formula when clean water to mix it is unavailable and her baby needs the support of her immune system more than ever,” Ms. Shaikh said “Baby formula,” she said firmly, “does nothing for babies in the middle of a disaster and can even be fatal.”
The recent earthquake in Haiti is providing vivid reminders that babies are particularly vulnerable when disasters strike. Well-meaning organizations sometimes send formula to feed babies — not realizing that artificial feeding can be very dangerous for babies when there is not clean water or refrigeration. If you’re wondering where you can send your aid dollars and know that they will be used appropriately to maintain breastfeeding for babies at disaster areas, you can check out the Emergency Nutrition Network.
While there really isn’t a practical safe way to send donated mothers’ milk to disaster areas like Haiti, it is always helpful to donate milk to milk banks in the USA. There are always babies that need the milk. For more information about donating your milk in Wisconsin, visit the Mothers Milk Association of Wisconsin website.