March 22, 2010

Breastfeeding Mothers WIN in Health Care Reform!

Returning to work and continuing to breastfeeding just got easier! No matter what side of the political fence you are on, it is clear that the recently passed health care legislation is a HUGE win for breastfeeding mothers and their babies!!!

Section 4207, entitled Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers, allows a breastfeeding mother to take a break to pump. It requires business with more than 50 employees to provide a private space to pump, that is not a bathroom.

Previously, while 44 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, protect women's rights to breastfeed in public, less than half of the states have laws on the books relating to breastfeeding in the workplace.

The health care reform legislation has changed that! Text from the legislation is as follows:
Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 207) is amended by adding at the end the following:
(r)(1) An employer shall provide—
(A) a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk; and
(B) a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.
(2) An employer shall not be required to compensate
an employee receiving reasonable break time under paragraph (1) for any work time spent for such purpose.
(3) An employer that employs less than 50 employees
shall not be subject to the requirements of this subsection,
if such requirements would impose an undue hardship by
causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when
considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.
(4) Nothing in this subsection shall preempt a State
law that provides greater protections to employees than the
protections provided for under this subsection.’’
This is a giant leap forward for mother's who want to continue to breastfeed their babies once they return to work. If you are mom preparing to return to work and are looking for additional resources on pumping check out La Leche League, and Ameda.

March 17, 2010

Breastfeeding in Public - What's the big deal?

I am saddend every time I hear another story of a mother who is shunned and unable to breastfeed her child in public. Can someone please explain to me what is the big deal? Here's the story of a woman, in my home state of North Carolina, who is trying to look for job at the Employment Security Commssion. She is asked to nurse her child elsewhere for the comfort of the men in the office. What?!?!

When are we as a society going to accept that a mother giving her child nourishment, comforting her baby, using her breasts as nature intended is normal and should be encouraged and not shunned?

I applaud and celebrate all the mothers I know who are able and desire to breastfeed their babies in public. For those who struggle with whether to breastfeed in public or for those who just don't understand, please check out this video designed by the Nursing is Normal (NIN) project. It's inspirational, it's beautiful, it's normal!

March 15, 2010

Doula-ing Offers Sling Safety Tips

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently issued a safety warning about sling carriers. As an avid babywearer I was very interested in learning about the concerns surrounding slings. The CPSC did not issue a warning about a particular sling, but cautions about potential suffocation hazards due to improper positioning of the baby in the slings. The CPSC goes on to express concerns about premature twins and babies of low birth weight.

Babywearing offers many benefits for parents and for babies. Whether its soothing a fussy baby, offering close physical contact for a premature infant, or allowing mom and dad a free hand to cook dinner, proper babywearing can be an invaluable tool for many parents.

I personally, have enjoyed wearing my all three of my children and have found it an absolute necessity with my twins. The New Native sling has been my "must have" baby item since they were a few months old. One of the things I love about the New Native sling is that they give very detailed safety instructions and also tell you what to look out for if baby is not positioned properly. They also offer an "infant support pillow" for newborns to help ensure proper positioning.

Proper positioning is extremely important while wearing the baby in any sort of sling. Here are a few tips on how to ensure proper usage of a sling.

1. Make sure your baby can breathe. Baby carriers allow parents to be hands-free to do other things … but you must always remain active in caring for your child. No baby carrier can ensure that your baby always has an open airway; that’s your job.

a. Never allow a baby to be carried, held, or placed in such a way that his chin is curled against his chest. This rule applies to babies being held in arms, in baby carriers, in infant car seats, or in any other kind of seat or situation. This position can restrict the baby’s ability to breathe. Newborns lack the muscle control to open their airways. They need good back support in carriers so that they don’t slump into the chin-to-chest position.

b. Never allow a baby’s head and face to be covered with fabric. Covering a baby’s head and face can cause her to “rebreathe” the same air, which is a dangerous situation. Also, covering her head and face keeps you from being able to check on her. Always make sure your baby has plenty of airflow. Check on her frequently.

2. Never jog, run, jump on a trampoline, or do any other activity that subjects your baby to similar shaking or bouncing motion. “This motion can do damage to the baby’s neck, spine and/or brain,” explains the American Chiropractic Association.

3. Never use a baby carrier when riding in a car. Soft baby carriers provide none of the protection that car seats provide.

4. Use only carriers that are appropriate for your baby’s age and weight. For example, frame backpacks can be useful for hiking with older babies and toddlers but aren’t appropriate for babies who can’t sit unassisted for extended periods. Front packs usually have a weight range of 8 to 20 pounds; smaller babies may slip out of the carrier, and larger babies will almost certainly cause back discomfort for the person using the carrier.

Also, there are many other babywearing options. I have used both a Moby Wrap and an Ergo Baby Carrier, but there are lots to choose from.

If you live in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area please checkout Triangle Babywearers. You can try out a variety of carriers and also get great tips on proper babywearing techniques.

March 11, 2010

The NIH VBAC Conference Hits Close to Home

As a mother who had a vaginal birth for my first child, and due to umbilical cord entanglement, had a cesarean for my twins, I've been following the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference on Vaginal Birth After Cesarean with great interest. It has recently hit me that if my husband and I decide to expand our family, that I cannot go to just any healthcare provider. Not all physicians in the Raleigh area would be supportive of my decision to attempt a vaginal birth. That idea is mind boggling! The thought that a doctor or hospital would not support my birth choice is something I never imagined that I would have to deal with.

The NIH conference earlier this week examined the availability and access to VBAC for pregnant women The panel reiterated what many evidence-based practitioners believe, that expectant mothers should have the option to pursue a vaginal birth after a having had prior cesarean. Seems like a no brainer, right?

Unfortunately, while 60% to 80% of women who attempt a VBAC have a successful vaginal birth, the reality is that there are hospitals and care providers that limit that option for mothers. Some facilities and doctors ban the procedure outright. The risk of uterine rupture, which is often stated as a reason not to pursue a VBAC, is less than 1%. Not to minimize that small percentage, but is the fear of litigation a reason to limit this birth option for millions of women? The panel recognizes the medical and legal issues surrounding VBAC, but urges all stakeholders to overcome the barriers to allow access for pregnant women.

You an read the panels draft report here. The conference was an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on the availability of VBAC, maternal care and birth options in our country. It is an important discussion that we as birth professionals, mothers and healthcare providers need to work together to move forward.

The Conference is available by webcast at the NIH website.

March 1, 2010

Savoring Those First Few Moments - Umbilical Cord Care

For hundreds of years, midwives have practiced delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord after birth. The delay has proven harmless to baby and mother and offered the benefit of allowing for additional bonding time for the family.

A recent study published in the American Medical Association Journal by a group of pediatricians suggests that premature clamping of the cord is actually harmful and delaying clamping may help prevent respiratory distress syndrome.

As reported in Time:
Delay allows a gradual change from fetal to regular circulation without putting stress on blood vessels in the lungs and elsewhere in the body. The carefree manner in which the newly born infant is "disconnected" from his mother, concludes the report, "is in sharp contrast to the meticulous care with which the thoracic surgeon separates his patient from the heart-lung machine."
Ask your health care provider about their policies on cord clamping and discus with them the option of delaying the procedure. There is no rush.