Federal pumping law upheld. The Affordable Health Care Act contained some important advances for nursing moms, and these were in jeopardy due to court challenges to the law. The Supreme Court upheld the law this summer, letting stand the requirements that many employers accommodate nursing moms wishing to pump at work. The law was also the basis of the mandate that insurance companies cover, at no charge, breastfeeding support and pump rentals, starting in August of this year.
Time Magazine features a 3-year-old breastfeeding on its cover. Setting off a furious debate, Time Magazine featured a photo of California mom Jamie Lynne Grumet nursing her 3-year-old son Aram as part of its story on attachment parenting. For more on extended (or “long term,” or “full term”) breastfeeding, see our podcast interview with the author of Breastfeeding Older Children.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) adopts stronger breastfeeding policy. Calling it a matter of public health, not a lifestyle choice, the AAP published its revised breastfeeding policy. Among the highlights: exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for 6 months (not 4-6 months as previously written), the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (the foundation of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative) are endorsed, and the WHO growth charts are promoted.
Photos soldiers breastfeeding in uniform highlight challenges of military moms. While photos of two mothers nursing in Air Force uniforms was deemed inappropriate conduct by the military, they succeeded in raising awareness of military mothers’ breastfeeding challenges. One of the mothers explained: “I’m proud to be wearing a uniform while breastfeeding. I’m proud of the photo and I hope it encourages other women to know they can breastfeed whether they’re active duty, guard or civilian.” For more on this topic, see our podcast interview with the author of Breastfeeding in Combat Boots!
Breastfeeding rates have largest jump in a decade. The CDC reported this year that rates of breastfeeding initiation and breastfeeding at 6 and 12 months rose by about 2 percent. Breastfeeding initiation increased from 74.6% in 2008 to 76.9% in 2009 births, representing the largest annual increase over the previous decade.
Beyonce breastfeeds baby Blue, and breastfeeding has its first celebrity event. Beyonce won the hearts of nursing mothers everywhere when she breastfed in public and encouraged other moms to do it. Breastfeeding had its first celebrity event promoting breastfeeding and toxin-free living this spring, with hosts Kelly Preston, Laila Ali, and Jenna Elfman. See our 2012 celebrity round-up for more!
Baby Friendly hospitals on the rise. According to the CDC, the number of Baby Friendly Hospitals in the U.S. tripled, and thanks to a CDC grant program, and many other initiatives ranging from Mayor Bloomberg’s in New York City to Kaiser Permanente’s in California, there are many, many hospitals in the Baby Friendly queue.
Facebook continues to ban breastfeeding photos. The latest issue in the long standing problem of Facebook deleting breastfeeding pictures belonged to The Feminist Breeder, whose account was suspended when she posted a picture of her daughter taking a break from nursing and swiping a piece of bacon from her plate. It violated no Facebook standards, and her account was later reinstated, but it highlighted this problem once again. For more on this issue see our podcast interview on Facebook vs. The Leaky Boob!
Joint Commission to hold large hospitals accountable for exclusive breastfeeding rates. Here’s a late breaking piece of good news: the Joint Commission will soon be requiring large hospitals to report on their exclusive breastfeeding rates. Not sure why that’s a big deal? Check out this post!
California passes first breastfeeding employment discrimination law. In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2386 (Allen) which prohibits discrimination in employment and housing on the basis of breastfeeding or conditions related to it (pumping at work, for example). For more on this complex subject see our podcast interview on the topic!
It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection. — Voltaire
Motherlove was born in Rist Canyon, in the mountains west of Fort Collins. The beginnings of the company and our family beginnings are one and the same. My mother started making the products we sell today from herbs and plants she gathered around our house when she was pregnant with me. If she needed another salve or tea, she found the plants and made it. My sisters and I grew up playing in the forest and helping her gather herbs and raise the food we ate. In those days, we lived a pretty secluded life, and I joke that the reason I’m so close to nature is because those same plants were my best friends. The first Motherlove products were made in our kitchen and given to friends, then given to some of their friends and eventually sold in a few local stores. The company grew as did my sisters and I from those plants and that very special place in the canyon.
It’s been difficult to talk much about the summer of 2012. The High Park fire destroyed almost 89,000 acres, including the land where we grew up. Our family is one of the very lucky ones – the house we know as home is still there. Many families are not so lucky and are faced with rebuilding from literally nothing. When they say that fire is the ultimate test, they’re not joking. Knowing what our friends and neighbors are going through, it feels trivial to complain about the loss of our childhood haunts and the plants my mother loved.
The raw emotion and trauma the entire community faced during the fire and in the months after is difficult to verbalize. We could all see the fire and smell the smoke for weeks. From the meetings where we sat listening to damage reports, often next to someone as they learned their home was gone, to those first trips back up the canyon and assessing damage and then deciding what to do next has been devastating.
But amid all the chaos and heartbreak there has been a thread of reaching out and joining together. The annual mountain festival had exceptional importance this year. The fund raising efforts for Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department to rebuild the fire station that burned during the fire have been wildly successful. Throughout the community of Fort Collins there has been an outpouring of love to help those affected by the fire with a multitude of fund raising events and volunteer clean-up and rebuilding projects.
And in the spirit of The Rist, the rebuilding is largely focused on sustainability. From ways to make the new homes more likely to survive another fire to energy efficiency and green materials, organizations such as NoCo Rebuilding Network are providing education and grants to help the community grow and renew itself. This network has brought together building professionals, local businesses and nonprofits to help provide direct grants to survivors in the rebuilding efforts using safer, smarter, and stronger as the pillars of their organization.
It will take years to rebuild and restore a sense of new normal. The forest, streams and wildlife have been altered forever. The trees my sisters and I knew as friends will never again hide a little family member during a game of hide and seek or provide refuge during a time of turmoil. But we’re starting to feel the hope that nature brings as it renews and grows again, and the spring will bring the first signs of what’s to come. Everyone in The Rist will heal and grow and renew in their own time, and because the spirit of the earth and her renewal is strong in our community, we will all be stronger. I choose to remember The Rist as I knew it as a child, but I know that in time, there will be new life to love and slowly our friends and neighbors will create new places to call home.
As other families and communities have struggled with natural disasters recently, it reminds me all that life’s most important lessons are learned from nature and the earth. Her ability to renew and grow again after the most shattering events is not an accident. From the lessons of my mother, often the most healing herbs are really just weeds that grow in the harshest of conditions. So to use this metaphor, perhaps seeing beyond the weed to the inner strength of the plant is the greatest healer of all.
Breastfeeding had its first ever celebrity event promoting breastfeeding and Motherlove was proud to be a sponsor! Held in partnership with Healthy Child, Healthy World, the event at Jenna Elfman’s featured celebrity hosts Kelly Preston, Laila Ali, and Jenna Elfman. Host Jenna Elfman said, “Education and awareness are the first steps. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something, and every action counts.”
Jessica Simpson says “Sometimes I worry she’s not getting enough, but it’s been an amazing experience.”
Mayim Bialik, (whom we interviewed for a podcast!) responds to Time Magazine’s breastfeeding cover photo: “I breastfeed my 3-year-old because he’s not done breastfeeding, and I’m not ready to tell him not to. … [I]t is still a tremendous source of discipline, and of bonding, that occurs between a mother and a child.”
Selma Blair says, “We all have nipples. I don’t care who I offend; my baby wants to eat. If I can’t get a cover over me quick enough, so be it.”
Isla Fisher says the secrets to her weight loss are breastfeeding – and Spanx!
Kourtney Kardashian says, “Even at night when I’m getting up to nurse her, I love that my house is quiet and we have moments of just me and her breastfeeding in her little pink room.”
And don’t forget Hugh Grant posing with a breastfeeding fan!
Check out our links below for a (partial) list of the latest evidence on the effects of breastfeeding on mothers’ and babies’ health, the constituents and functions of breastmilk, and new insights in breastfeeding practice and policy.
Breastfeeding associated with these health outcomes in babies:
Breastfeeding associated with health outcomes in mothers:
Properties and function of breastmilk:
Breastfeeding practice and policy
Breastfeeding (as well as bottle feeding) requires that we log lots of hours in one or more position, and if those positions set us up for pain we’re sure to feel it!
We asked, Debbie Roberts, an occupational therapist and author of “Preventing Musculoskeletal Pain in Mothers,” in a recent edition of Clinical Lactation, to describe some of the more common positions which cause nursing moms pain, and what they can do about it.*
What are the most common areas where nursing moms may end up with musculoskeletal pain?
Nursing moms may be predisposed to develop musculoskeletal pain in their neck, shoulders, forearms, wrist and low back. Pregnancy and the postpartum period place unique strains on a woman’s body. Some of these stressors are related to physiologic changes and others are related to new child care demands. Picture how pregnancy changes a woman’s posture: abdominal and pelvic floor muscles tend to get overstretched and weak, while anterior shoulder muscles, lumbar paraspinals and hip flexors tend to get short and tight. As a result, a postpartum woman may have a tendency to sit, walk or nurse in a slightly kyphotic posture ( picture her neck, upper back and shoulders flexed forward, or rounded). A kyphotic [hunched upper back] posture can lead to neck, shoulder and low back pain. Postpartum women may also be predisposed to joint pain due to ligament laxity (ligaments that surround and support joints may be overstretched and weak). Sleep deprivation and pre-existing medical conditions can also pre-dispose nursing moms towards having musculoskeletal pain. For example, hypothyroidism may predispose a postpartum woman towards developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
What are some ergonomic principles nursing moms should know?
Ergonomics is a big topic but a few important ideas can be summarized as follows:
First: neutral positioning for spine and joints refers to a balanced, comfortable position that avoids musculoskeletal strain. This may vary slightly between individuals.
Second – conserve your energy and rest before you get too tired. Standing uses more energy than sitting. A neutral spine position may feel more restful.
Third – protect your joints – avoid bending or using your wrist in awkward positions (especially when carrying something heavy or for an extended period of time); protect your low back – avoid bending at the waist with straight legs. If you must carry something heavy, keep the object close to your body and keep your forearms/wrist straight.
Picture the amount of joint stress that a mom would experience if she tried to carry a gallon of milk and a heavy grocery bag with one hand and an infant strapped in a carrier with the other hand. Ouch! This would really strain her wrists, forearms, fingers, shoulders and back. To protect the joints in her hands, Mom should make multiple trips and should take the baby out of the heavy carrier. Now picture Mom, leaning forward to nurse. She’s likely in a slightly kyphotic position, with the baby’s heavy head resting in the web space of her hand. This position puts stress on the mom’s neck, back, shoulders, forearms, wrist and fingers. In contrast, imagine how mom’s posture changes if she’s sitting in a semi-reclined position and brings the baby up to her breast or if she brings the baby up to her breast. When semi-reclined or lying on her side, a nursing mom is more likely to have her spine, forearms and wrist in a relaxed, neutral position.
Some moms end up with carpal tunnel pain. What would you suggest they do to relieve this pain?
Carpal tunnel pain is due to entrapment of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may include numbness, pain, sensory changes and loss of grip strength in the hand. First, it’s important for the mom to see her primary care provider. She needs to have a diagnosis and plan of care to accurately treat her symptoms and to ensure that she gets long-term follow-up. Her primary care provider may in turn recommend an occupational therapy or hand therapy consult. Under the care of an MD and therapist, treatment options may include: using NSAIDs (non-steroidal-anti-inflammatoy-drugs) for short-term pain management; use of a custom-made hand splint; home exercise and stretching program; and recommendations for modifying specific activities in the “mom’s” daily routine.
In the meantime, a mom who is experiencing carpal tunnel should avoid prolonged, extreme wrist positions, especially if it involves gripping an object tightly. And get plenty of rest. If a mother finds it too painful to hold her baby with her forearms, laid-back or side-lying positions may provide some relief.
* This post is provided for educational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. If you are are experiencing musculoskeletal pain – especially if it is negatively impacting sleep, daily activities and/or mood – please discuss it with your primary care provider.
Millions of women experience stress incontinence after having a baby. And millions more will develop incontinence as they age. But there’s a lot you can do about it, and our podcast discussion this month is all about that.
Tanya spoke with Tasha Mulligan, physical therapist and personal trainer, and creator of the Hab-It: Pelvic Floor DVD. She’s passionate about helping women like herself rehab their pelvic floors and reverse stress incontinence.
They spoke about how the pelvic floor is related to incontinence, how to properly do Kegels, how rehabbing your pelvic floor is about much more than Kegels, and answered lots of your questions!
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