Archive for July 2007

Update on HIV+ Mothers in Africa Encouraged to Give their Babies Formula

July 31st, 2007 by MamaBear

Oh, this is sad. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is newsworthy. My aim in informing the world of things related to breastfeeding is in the hopes of effecting a positive change, not to bring anybody down.

But still. It’s very tragic.

According to a new report, the push by some groups to encourage HIV+ mothers in Africa to eschew breastfeeding for formula in the effort to reduce HIV transmission to their babies has backfired miserably. According to the report, the risk of a baby dying from being formula-fed in many parts of Africa is much higher than the miniscule risk of acquiring HIV from their mothers’ milk, had they been breastfed. Breastfeeding, even if it’s from an HIV+ mother, provides immunities and protection to the baby that formula cannot replicate. Moreover, improperly prepared formula in unsanitary conditions often leads to diarrhea, a common cause of death in many parts of rural Africa.

Thank you to Jennifer James of The Black Breastfeeding Blog for providing the link.

Unfortunately, it’s taking a long time for mainstream ideologies to catch up with what researchers in South Africa, like Anna Coutsoudis, have suspected for years: that exclusive breastfeeding is better for babies born to HIV+ mothers in rural Africa than formula. Coutsoudis, the South African hero responsible for creating the iThemba Lethu milk bank in 2001, is a professor of pediatrics and child health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban and has been involved in pediatric HIV research for over a decade. She has also been a prominent breastfeeding supporter and advocate for baby-friendly hospital policies. Additionally, she has helped to create educational programs to increase awareness of sustainable home pasteurization of breast milk for women who are HIV+, in an effort to increase the waning breastfeeding rate in South Africa.

Ahh, feels good to end on a positive note. It’s a great way to begin World Breastfeeding Week, which starts tomorrow, August 1, and finishes August 7. However, it’s important to note that for many families, every week is Breastfeeding Week. ;)

Edited to add: All of the donations from purchases made in the store for the month of August will go to La Leche League International.

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Reader Mail

July 29th, 2007 by MamaBear

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve received many emails and messages thanking me for helping to expose what Prolacta is doing. I remember when I started doing my research, I read a few posts by other bloggers, and I thought what they were doing was really necessary. I was so grateful for their pursuit of the truth. The more I read, however, the more I wanted more information.

I kept looking, but the internet could only give me so much. I remember so many articles and sites, even Salon, a highly respected news website, quoted Prolacta’s price for human milk fortifier, as “about $35-$40,” (I issued a correction, which was printed in the comments section), but no matter where I looked, I couldn’t get an exact quote anywhere. This is why I started making phone calls. I didn’t want some ambiguous estimate; I wanted to know exactly how much they were charging.

That’s when I called Prolacta, found out their price for human milk fortifier was $184.83/ounce, and became the first person on the internet to write about it. I then called the National Milk Bank to see how they were affiliated with Prolacta, and found out they sold all their milk for $1/ounce to Prolacta. Even though they call themselves a “milk bank,” they do not actually distribute any breast milk to needy babies themselves. They’re essentially just a sugar-coated funnel for acquiring Prolacta’s raw material.

I then called iThemba Lethu, the orphanage in South Africa that the International Breast Milk Project donates to, and found out it only houses six children and has its own in-house milk bank (established 2001), which essentially makes the International Breast Milk Project an enormous waste of time and resources (which, other bloggers already had pointed out, would have been the case anyway since it costs so damn much to ship anything that far, let alone frozen milk). I found out that, as of this date, the IBMP has only sent Africa a little over 5,000 ounces of breast milk (all to iThemba Lethu), after they promised they’d send 55,000 ounces PLUS 25% of what was collected after May 31, 2007 (and in my opinion, it’s not very likely the IBMP will finish sending even just the 55,000 ounces by year’s end, allowing them to collect even more donations in the interim).

The Lactivist was the one, along with some other curious souls, that got Prolacta, I mean, the IBMP, to admit that they were only going to send 25% of the milk donations collected after May 31, 2007 to Africa, even though nobody ever mentioned any of this when they were showcased on Oprah. Lauredhel astutely noted in a recent post that the new president of the California chapter of The International Breast Milk Project, April Brown, is none other than Prolacta CEO Elena Medo’s daughter. (I’d actually missed that tidbit when I first read the OC Register article, so thank you, Lauredhel, for pointing it out!)

On the MilkShare Yahoo group, someone posted a link to my site and the Lactivist’s to try to warn potential donors not to fall for these scams. Since that post was made, I’ve received even more mail.

One letter in particular caught my eye, and I want to share it with you.

The email is from Betty (name changed), a woman who donated to the National Milk Bank. She says she was never told her milk would be sold for a profit, or even sold at all. She writes me:

I wish I could find others who have actually gone through this… This really actually hurts me. I didn’t bargain for this. My heart is still sick. I don’t know what to do. I feel very betrayed. All they had to do was provide disclosure…then I would have NOT chosen them…But instead, they gave ‘just enough’ information to get me interested. I should have known it was all too good to be true….*sigh* oh well…I have a pump and endless supply of bottles now. I guess that’s supposed to help me feel better.

The whole reason I picked the National Milk Bank and not a HMBANA bank is because I didn’t WANT the mothers to have to pay for the milk and one of the lovely ladies at NMB assured me that it was as a prescription in the NICU so it was covered completely. …

I know there’s problems inherent with ANY organization, but I just wish there was full-disclosure. I’m VERY into informed consent, and there is NO WAY IN HELL I would have donated had I known they would alter my milk other than pasteurizing it and NO WAY IN HELL I would have donated if I had ANY inkling (my biggest nightmare now) that they were turning my milk into Human Milk Fortifier. If I wanted someone to make a profit, I’d sell it myself.

Betty also shared with me an email she got from the National Milk Bank after she and her husband started making inquiries about what happened to her donated milk and how the National Milk Bank operates. As you read, notice how the writer, a National Milk Bank employee, evades revealing too much truth. My comments are in [brackets]:

Hi Betty,
We received a message from your husband earlier today and wanted to get back to you, but [insert some generic excuse here for why they screened Betty’s husband’s call and didn’t return it].

Prolacta Bioscience is who we work with and where the milk goes, once it has been donated. [Notice the use of the words “who we work with,” not “who we sell our donated milk to.” Often, those selling their milk to Prolacta will say that they are “partnering” with Prolacta, or some other garbage term that disingenuously represents what they’re actually doing.]

Once there, [what followed this was essentially a three-sentence advertisement for Prolacta human milk fortifier. *yawn*].

Another thing I would like to share with you is that in order for the babies to receive the milk, they must have a prescription from their NICU doctor. No prescription equals no milk. [Five more sentences of utter rubbish not relevant to anything at all.]

In answer to your concern, we do not sell our milk to the public. [Here they should have added, “We sell it to Prolacta for $1/ounce.”]

However, we do receive a profit, and the small profit we receive allows us to cater to our moms the way we do. [What?! They’re a for-profit entity? Just like Prolacta? *Break to check* Yup, nowhere on the website does it say it is a non-profit anymore. Funny that. I will update my links page now.]

We are able to supply our moms with …[Spare me your sales pitch. What you should be writing is “our donors supply us with our paycheck.”]

In addition, we are not established under a hospital or a medical office which makes it very difficult to claim non profit due to the guidelines and strict adherences to follow under government regulations. [Or, to put it more succinctly, “we make a profit off the milk donations we receive by appearing to look like a non-profit, but actually, we’re not.”]

If we can answer any other questions or concerns, please email or call us at 866-522-6455. Thank you and have a blessed day. [Nice touch. I’ll bet that last sentence alone is enough to make your donors forget they were conned.]

[Name removed]
National Milk Bank

If you’ve had a similar experience with Prolacta, The National Milk Bank, the International Breast Milk Project, or a midwifery/birth center, please post a comment or write me privately. With your permission, I’ll post it here.

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Posts Brewing…

July 27th, 2007 by MamaBear

In the meantime, I want to share this UNICEF documentary I found on YouTube. It’s about formula marketing in the Phillippines. This is similar to the practices that led to the scandal in the 1970’s with Nestle, only now there are more companies at it than just Nestle. I’m beginning to think that the allure of money is just too seductive for big companies (and sometimes even small businesses, like some of the unscrupulous midwives shown in the documentary) to ignore. I suppose it can become easy for individuals with already shaky ethics to be swayed completely when confronted with the opportunity to make extra cash. I’m not saying I don’t understand that this is part of human nature. I just wish so many big businesses in the baby-nutrition industry would stop disappointing me with their questionable marketing campaigns.

As you watch this documentary (which is broken up into five parts that pick up one after another after you push the “play” button on each), note that what it portrays in the Phillippines with regard to formula is analogous to the situation here in the USA with Prolacta and the methods they employ to recruit breast milk donors (complete with midwifery/birth center recruitment as well). I guess one thing Prolacta has going for them is at least they’re not recommending that people formula-feed. It’s actually to Prolacta’s benefit that more women lactate, so that they can provide them with the raw material for their human milk fortifier. There are a lot of problems with the Prolacta-midwifery/birth center arrangement, though, which I’ll get to in later posts.

I hope you learn as you watch the video, entitled “Formula for Disaster.” (The beginning was a bit hard for me to watch, with the baby crying for sooooo long without getting picked up, but once you get past it, the information conveyed is very compelling.) Duration: about 30 minutes for all five parts together. If you can’t watch the whole thing, one part is better than nothing, and they all teach something valuable. :)

What can you do about this?  You can visit the Baby Milk Action “Campaign for Ethical Marketing” page and learn more about how you can write to the formula companies who are doing this.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, too. Comment below or contact me privately.

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You’re Going to Want to Read This

July 25th, 2007 by MamaBear

Remember how I talked incessantly about the International Breast Milk Project? And then I talked some more? Well, I’m not done talking.

Here’s the summary of what I’m about to say: the 55,000 ounces of breast milk the IBMP promised to send to Africa? They haven’t been sent yet.

Want to know how I know?

It all started when a reader commented on my blog. MaryJaneLouise wrote:

From the IBMP’s website:“To date, we have collected nearly 55,000 ounces of breast milk.”

Sounds impressive, no? Well, divide by 25 ounces (low average daily consumption for a baby) and you get 2,200 baby-days of feeding. Still impressive. Divide by 365 days in a year, and you get…….. 6. 6 baby-years worth of donations.

Her math was right (except that she had to divide by six again because there are six children in the orphanage, which would have resulted in one year’s worth of donations), so, intrigued, I did a few calculations of my own using what I knew at the time. I answered her comment with this one:

That’s interesting… When I called iThemba Lethu, the director of the milk bank, Penny Reimers, told me that a shipment from Prolacta lasted them about four months. She said the last shipment was the 55,000 ounce one, and she also mentioned that it took four months to finish it even including the South African milk donations…She told me each child drank about a liter of milk a day, so roughly 34 ounces each child/day. Multiply by six and you get 204 ounces per day consumed by the whole orphanage. Take 55,000 ounces, divide by 204 ounces/day and you get 269 days, which is almost nine months.I don’t see how they could drink 55,000 ounces in four months, especially with the extra donations coming from their local bank. I didn’t think much of it until you mentioned this. Maybe she estimated wrong and each child is drinking two liters a day instead of one? Then the numbers she gave me would make sense. Still, that’s an awful lot of milk for one baby to be drinking.

Something’s not adding up… Maybe some of the milk is being stolen?

Also, Mary Jane, Prolacta’s last shipment of 55,000 ounces was a lot but it’s an anomaly. On the IBMP page, they mention that their next shipment will be 5300 ounces in late April: Late April has come and gone and that shipment hasn’t gotten there yet, at least according to the director of the iThemba Lethu milk bank (I called very early this morning to interview her). Anyway, if iThemba Lethu goes through 55,000 ounces in four months for six kids, then 5300 ounces will last them about a tenth as long.

None of this is to take away from the fact that Penny Reimers expressed nothing but complete gratitude toward Jill Youse and Prolacta, as I would if I were in her situation. However: everything I’ve written, I stand by.

I was not satisfied with this, though. I wanted to know why there was such a large discrepancy between what was reported and what I had calculated.

So I called South Africa again, this morning. Penny Reimers, director of the iThemba Lethu milk bank, is the person I spoke to. She is a very kind and gentle soul and had nothing but positive things to say about the project. It was an absolute pleasure to talk to her, and I have nothing but admiration for the work she does in the iThemba Lethu milk bank and with the kids in her care.

Here’s what I learned from our conversation:

  • iThemba Lethu has received a total of four shipments, including the one Jill Youse sent to Africa with Penny’s husband while he was on a business trip to the U.S.A. This first shipment was raw breast milk which the iThemba Lethu milk bank pasteurized in-house.
  • In our last conversation, she’d told me the last shipment she got was the 55,000 ounce one, but she told me now she must have been mistaken because she doesn’t think in ounces. She thinks in liters. She was confused, checked her records and found out that actually the last shipment arrived on Mother’s Day, May 18th, and that it had 5,343 oz in it. This was the purported April 2006 shipment the IBMP talks about on its About page. So it had arrived! Good.
  • She said this shipment of 5,343 ounces was so massive that she thought it was 55,000 ounces. Her words, “It filled three freezers-worth completely.”
  • When I asked her how many freezers-worth the other two shipments from Prolacta filled, she said it was less, that it was more like two freezers-worth and change. In other words, the other two shipments were less than 5,343 ounces.

This explains the discrepancy. This explains why it is that such a small orphanage can go through the donated milk so quickly even when adding in the local donations. She clarified this for me and said each shipment lasted about 3-4 months’ worth, including local donations, and that not every child gets fed breast milk. It sounds like she’s managing her milk bank very efficiently, without much waste. The milk would be consumed faster if she fed every child milk, which she does not because she needs to ration it for the very needy cases.

Since the IBMP made their promise to send 55,000 ounces of donated breast milk, they have sent the one shipment of 5,343 ounces in May 2007. Their rate of shipments to Africa is about two shipments a year so far.

Why is it important to know all of this? Because the International Breast Milk Project got 55,000 ounces of donated milk because of Oprah. On Oprah’s show, it was stated that the donated milk would go to Africa, not 25% of it. The IBMP promised that all those 55,000 ounces would be sent to Africa, and that thereafter, 25% of what is donated would be sent. At the current rate and quantity that the IBMP is sending milk (an average of two shipments a year), it would take almost five years to send the originally promised 55,000 ounces to Africa. I don’t know if pasteurized frozen milk can sit for that long in a freezer without becoming freezer-burned, but I’m guessing no. One year, maybe. Five? No. I’m also guessing they’re not going to pro-rate the milk they receive after May 31, 2007 to make sure all 25% of what’s donated gets to Africa like they promised. This gives them a five year gap of slop which seems a little bit excessive to me.

From IBMP’s FAQ page (emphasis mine):

Will all of my milk be sent to Africa?

o Although our objective was to collect and send 10,000 ounces of milk, we had an unexpectedly incredible and overwhelming response: 55,000 ounces were collected through May 31, 2007. All 55,000 ounces of this breast milk collected through May 31, 2007 will be shipped to Africa for babies orphaned by HIV.

This is either a bald-faced LIE, or the milk the orphans will be getting will be very old by the time it arrives. The only other way their statement could remain true is if the IBMP either steps up its shipment frequency or shipment amount, by a lot. Keep in mind that any donation made now to the IBMP will be 75% straight to Prolacta and only 25% to Africa. Though by the looks of things, I don’t see how they’re going to ship all 55,000 ounces to Africa by the time one year is up. I think what they’re expecting is that people will forget all of this and assume all the 55,000 ounces have been donated. They haven’t been. I give the IBMP until May 31, 2008 to see if all 55,000 ounces have been donated. They’ve got plenty of time. We’ll see if it happens. Even so, it gives them a year’s head-start, in which they could collect 100% of all donations and keep them for Prolacta, and no one would ever be the wiser. Do the math yourself and see what you come up with. (Edited 7/26/2007)

I asked Penny Reimers if I could donate milk directly to iThemba Lethu instead of through the International Breast Milk Project, and she said that if I wanted to, I was certainly welcome to. If you want to donate milk to the iThemba Lethu breast milk bank directly, and you have the means, do so. Then you’ll know for certain all your milk will be used for at least one of the six orphans in iThemba Lethu. They have pasteurization capabilities in-house, so you can send the milk raw, as long as it is frozen when it arrives. Penny mentioned that DHL and FedEx and another courier donated their shipping services. Perhaps if you ask them, they’ll foot the bill for your personal donation as well.

If you are reading this in South Africa and have a stash of breast milk to donate, please consider donating to the iThemba Lethu milk bank. All local donations (given in South Africa directly to iThemba Lethu and not through IBMP) will go to help at least one of the six orphans at iThemba Lethu, and it will help keep your milk bank strong.

Personally, I’m a big advocate of local donation, wherever you are. On my links page is a plethora of articles and pages about milk banks around the world. If you are in North America, please remember that donating to a HMBANA milk bank is the only way you can be sure your milk will be distributed for no more than it costs to process it. As always, MilkShare is another option for those of you who would prefer to meet your recipients through informal milk donation. But make sure you meet them, because you never know where Prolacta might be hiding.

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La Leche League Founders

July 25th, 2007 by MamaBear

This video is so inspiring that I cried throughout it. A friend of mine shared it with me, and I’d love to share it with you so that you may feel inspired too. It chronicles the history of La Leche League International. It tells how LLLI, originally LLL, was founded by seven women who breastfed their babies in 1956, a time when breastfeeding rates were abysmally low in the U.S.A. Over a few decades, their influence has had enough of an impact to change attitudes about breastfeeding for the better. They still need help, though, which is why donations for the month of August will go to La Leche League International. Enjoy the video.

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What Lighters and Breast Milk Have in Common

July 24th, 2007 by MamaBear

The Transportation Security Administration, the agency responsible for safeguarding our nation’s transportation systems, has finally come to its senses about breast milk. On August 4, 2007, it will be permissible for mothers traveling without their babies to transport more than 3 oz. of the liquid gold, as long as they declare it at the security checkpoint. Due to the strict regulations regarding liquids imposed since August 10, 2006 after a thwarted terrorist attack in the U.K., passengers were not allowed to carry more than 3 oz. of any liquid in their carry-on luggage, unless they were traveling with a baby or young child. This new common-sense approach will make it possible for mothers who pump while away from their babies to do so without the anxiety of having to dump several ounces of precious nourishment upon entering an airport security checkpoint.

Additionally: the ban on most lighters was also lifted. Not that that matters to me, but I couldn’t help noticing that TSA lumped lighters in with breast milk when they lifted the ban, so I thought I should mention it here too.

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New Information on the International Breast Milk Scam Project

July 23rd, 2007 by MamaBear

I thought I knew all there was to know about the International Breast Milk Project. Apparently, there’s more.

The International Breast Milk Project was a project created by Jill Youse to donate breast milk to HIV+ orphans in an orphanage in Africa named iThemba Lethu. On the IBMP’s “About” page, they state, “The International Breast Milk Project is the first organization in the world to provide donor breast milk from the United States to babies orphaned by disease and poverty. The first batch of donor milk arrived to the iThemba Lethu orphan home in April 2006.”

Upon reading this, you might get the impression that these African orphans would never receive breast milk if not for the valiant efforts of Jill Youse and the International Breast Milk Project.

That’s exactly what Prolacta wants you to think. The rest of the story may surprise you.

iThemba Lethu, the orphanage made world-famous by the hoopla surrounding the International Breast Milk Project, has received breast milk, donated from South African moms and pasteurized by their own South African breast milk bank, since August 2001. The bank was funded entirely by UNICEF, and the person who made this happen is a South African woman named Anna Coutsoudis. At times, the South African breast milk bank has even had more milk than the children needed.

Prolacta had nothing to do with this.

So why create the International Breast Milk Project in April 2006 at all? There was no dire need for it. The African orphans of iThemba Lethu were already receiving plenty of donated breast milk. They were thriving, not starving, like the International Breast Milk Project has implied. The South African milk bank didn’t need rescuing; it was tremendously successful all by itself, for almost five years before Jill Youse came along. The children were all getting the breast milk they needed, and pretty efficiently, too, with a local milk bank supplied by South African donors. A milk bank that often enough had more milk than the children needed. They didn’t need milk from the United States, though of course they weren’t going to turn it down.

Here’s another question. Why, instead of creating the International Breast Milk Project (which was totally unnecessary since the problem it addresses had already been solved), didn’t Jill Youse create the United States Breast Milk Project, whereby she donates breast milk to needy orphans right here in the USA? Aren’t there HIV+ orphans in this country who need breast milk and aren’t getting it? Hmmmm… Maybe because giving away Prolacta’s product for free in this country would set an undesirable precedent for the company’s future. After all, if you just give it away, then why should anybody pay for it? How do you determine who’s destitute enough to receive free milk and who must fork out the $184.83 per ounce? Prolacta’s target market is, after all, babies in the NICU, all of whom can be considered “in-need.”

Or maybe it had nothing to do with that, and everything to do with the positive public relations shipping milk halfway around the world would generate. Yep, that’s probably more like it.

The great irony here is that the International Breast Milk Project may actually undermine South Africa’s existing breast milk bank in the long run. If iThemba Lethu gets all its milk from the International Breast Milk Project and not from South Africa’s own breast milk bank, what motivation do South African women have to continue donating? What incentive is there for the milk bank to continue to improve, if all the work of acquiring and pasteurizing the milk is done beforehand? Do this for long enough, and the old “Give a man a fish vs. Teach a man to fish” parable comes to life in reverse. With enough free milk from the International Breast Milk Project, the art of milk banking in South Africa may eventually die off.

It would be one thing if the International Breast Milk Project had been created in the absence of an already existing milk bank. But that’s not the way it happened.

Edit (7/24/2007): It has recently come to my attention that iThemba Lethu houses a total of six children. SIX. From all the media coverage, you’d think there were hundreds, if not thousands, of HIV+ babies in the orphanage receiving breast milk from the International Breast Milk Project, but it’s only six??? Six children who were already being provided with breast milk from their homeland? How much sense does it make to create a multi-million-dollar program to feed six infants breast milk from another continent when they’re already getting breast milk from their own in-house milk bank?

It is shameful how the IBMP and Prolacta can get away with all this subterfuge.

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Breast Crawl Video

July 22nd, 2007 by MamaBear

I found this video and had to share. It shows a newly born infant crawling on her mother’s chest, all on her own, to initiate breastfeeding. This is probably what would happen with most infants at birth if it were only allowed. Unfortunately the norm in hospitals in the U.S. is to whisk away the infant shortly after delivery, even when there is no medical reason to, separating it from its mother and coming between crucial mama-baby learning and bonding. This leads to unnecessary breastfeeding challenges, I’m sorry to say. It’s always good to see evidence of people making an effort to change that foolish practice, even if it’s not in my own country.

The only reservation I have about this video is that this poor woman who has just given birth is surrounded by a bunch of people (a lot of them men) in a brightly lit room. I think it’s a bit disconcerting, but she doesn’t seem to mind too much, and they seem to be protective of her and her baby while allowing the two to get to know each other without intervening, so I’m willing to let it pass. Other than that, I think it’s wonderful that she and her baby were allowed what every mother and child should be allowed: to bond in peace shortly after birth.

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Cloth Diaper Tutorial, Part 4

July 21st, 2007 by MamaBear

Now that you’ve learned about diaper pails, cloth wipes, some of the different types of cloth diapers and how to wash them, you’re going to learn how us crazy cloth-diapering mamas leave the house. Behold, my arsenal:


From left to right: backpack, water bottle, three cloth diapers, cloth wipes, two “wet bags.”

The two “wet bags” are where I put my dirty diapers when on the go. I change the baby like I normally do and just stick the dirty diaper and used cloth wipes in the “wet bag.” If I forget to put my washable “wet bag” in the diaper bag, I make sure I always pack a gallon-sized zipper style plastic bag. In a pinch, I could always use a plastic bag from a store and tie it with a knot. When I get home, I dump the contents of the “wet bag” in the diaper pail. I never have to touch anything any more so than if I were using disposable diapers.

I carry the water bottle around for two reasons: (1) I like to always have water to drink, especially since I’m lactating, and (2) if there’s no sink with which to wet the cloth wipes, I can always squirt the clean cloth wipes with water from my bottle. I keep refilling the same bottle with filtered water from the tap to cut down on waste.

In addition to the above items, I also pack: a travel diaper changing pad (got it free at the hospital after I gave birth), a blanket, a change of clothes for BabyBear, and a baby bottle with breast milk + formula in it (she refuses to breastfeed, and if I could fill the bottle with only breast milk, I would — I’ll go into that in more detail when I chronicle my breastfeeding saga in the near future). I don’t usually pack diaper cream because it may ruin the fleece (the white inside part) in the AIO pocket diapers by making it repellant. (It may not ruin it forever, though, so don’t fret if this happens to you. Stripping the diapers could fix the problem.)

I don’t use a traditional diaper bag because I like to pretend I’m still in college when I’m schlepping my baby around in public. Actually, I just think it’s practical. The one-strap diapers bags, as cute as some of them might be, are kind of cumbersome and weigh me down on one side. With a backpack (nothing fancy, just a regular old backpack), I can have both hands free for holding the baby. When we flew to Florida, I had my baby in a Moby wrap in front and put my backpack on my back and I still had my hands free to roll my luggage around in the airports.

Read more about cloth diapers at these other great cloth diapering resources:

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Milk Bank Scams to Watch Out For

July 18th, 2007 by MamaBear

I did a quick Google search to see if Prolacta Bioscience was up to its usual shenanigans again. Apparently, it is. In addition to soliciting breast milk donations directly on through, creating the National Milk Bank to funnel all the milk donated there into Prolacta, and hijacking the International Breast Milk Project so that 75% of all donations to the IBMP go to Prolacta, they’ve got yet another scheme. They “partner up” with a birth center or lactation center so that breast milk donors are duped into trusting Prolacta.

The donated milk gets processed as human milk fortifier (a product that has not been proven safe yet; published medical journals regarding its safety either do not exist or are very obscure) and the recipient gets charged $184.83/ounce.

Here are some examples of organizations that sell their their milk to Prolacta, same as the National Milk Bank and International Breast Milk Project do:

If you donate to any of the above places, to or the National Milk Bank, know that your all your milk will go to Prolacta Bioscience. Prolacta will then process and sell the milk for $184.83/ounce. If you donate to the International Breast Milk Project, 75% of your donated breast milk will stay in the United States to be sold for $184.83/ounce.

Edited (7/26/2007): Please read or listen to this public radio report on Prolacta that confirms much of what I’ve already written.

If you want to donate to someplace where your milk will actually help a baby (and not a for-profit corporation), consider donating to a HMBANA bank. They have no affiliation with Prolacta Bioscience, and can only charge recipients what it costs to process the milk, which is usually around $3.50/ounce.

If you’d like to donate your breast milk directly to a baby in need, join MilkShare. Milkshare is a group created by Kelley Faulkner in 2004 to hook up women with surplus breast milk with women who would like donated breast milk for their babies. It is a low-cost alternative to milk banks for the recipients, as they only have to pay for shipping for the milk. For donors, it can be very satisfying to be able to know exactly who the recipients of their milk are.

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