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The International Breastfeeding Symbol

World Milksharing Week 2011

September 17th, 2011 by MamaBear

World Milksharing Week, what’s that?  It’s a week to celebrate milksharing, a week to affirm that human milk is the biological norm for babies.  This year sparks the first-ever World Milksharing Week, created by the incredible Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network administrators.

frozen breastmilk

Mark your calendars, ’cause it’s coming fast.  In just seven days, World Milksharing Week (September 24-30) starts!  All over the world, several celebrations have already been planned.  You can join one or create your own.  Check out WMW’s Facebook page and “like” it to show solidarity.  How will you celebrate?

world milksharing week Pictures, Images and Photos

No one said it was easy to walk the walk…

September 13th, 2011 by MamaBear

My previous post was about how and why Emma Kwasnica retracted her “momination” from babble.com’s “Moms Who are Changing Your World” contest.  Now babble.com has responded to this news through this post by Catherine Connors titled “Shame and the Mom:  On Formula, Lactivism and Why, it Seems, we Can’t Just all get Along.“  In the response, Connors starts off by saying she’s a former breastfeeder, former (and current) breastfeeding activist, and lists all the ways she has helped with the cause.  Then she explains that she is paid by babble.com and acknowledges that babble.com uses formula advertising to make some of its money (which eventually helps to pay for her salary).  So far, I understood and had no reason to disagree…  And then she writes the following:

“The money that I earn is, on this view, ‘blood money,’ because it comes from a company that accepts such advertising. Formula advertising is, after all, indisputably evil, because formula itself is evil.”

Stop right there.  Formula advertising IS evil, but it does not follow that the advertising for it is evil because the formula itself is evil.  Formula is simply a product, one that is sometimes necessary.  It is not inherently evil.  It is inferior to what it is trying to replace (FAR inferior) but that does not make it evil.  No.  What makes ADVERTISING formula evil is that because formula is so inferior, the marketing has to be so dang deceptive that it needs to dupe the consumers of said product that it’s “almost as good” as what it’s trying to replace.  The marketing tactics need to hoodwink vulnerable populations (more about this term later) into believing that formula is somehow necessary.  This advertising must be so subtle and so pervasive that it needs to pull the wool over the eyes of not only the direct consumers of this inferior product (mothers, fathers and their babies), but also society as a whole (doctors, hospitals, John Q. Public).  It has to convince humanity that not only is formula “okay” it’s “healthy,” even.  It has to convince women — mothers — to forgo feeding their babies what they know to be biologically appropriate, high-quality nourishment and replace it with low-quality artificial slop.  Formula advertising is, by its very existence, a LIE.

Step back for a minute…  Imagine a totally different world than the one we live in.  Imagine that formula were not used except in cases of rare metabolic disorders.  What would we as a society do?  Well, for starters, most women would breastfeed.

breastfeeding

There would be no controversy with breastfeeding in public or extended nursing.  Everyone would intuitively understand that babies and toddlers need to be fed, and this is how you feed them, with mommy’s breasts.  Hand-expression would almost certainly be commonplace.  Pumping as well.  Doctors and other health professionals would be well-versed in troubleshooting breastfeeding problems (instead of encouraging moms to give up).  But what about women who didn’t have breasts?  Or who had insufficient glandular tissue?  Or couldn’t produce enough milk (for whatever reason)?  What about their babies?  Well…  What’s the next best thing?  Another lactating woman, of course!  And since most women who have babies would be breastfeeding their own, there would be plenty to choose from, should a family need to hire a wet-nurse (the term used to describe a woman who nurses another person’s child).

In a world like the one I just described, an alternative to breastmilk would only be truly necessary for those babies with metabolic disorders (galactosemia and PKU), less than 1/100 of 1% of all babies born.  Formula would be necessary for their survival, yet it’s easy to see that advertising for it would be completely unnecessary.

In fact, formula advertising is unnecessary NOW in our current world.  Everyone knows formula exists.  Everyone knows where to buy it.  Everyone knows what it’s for, and anyone who is curious can read the ingredients list to see what’s in it.  There is no need whatsoever for advertising for this product, and in fact, advertising this product has shown measurable harm (reduced breastfeeding rates in entire populationsinfant death, etc.).

Remember that term “vulnerable populations?”  It conjures up images of third-world countries and starving people with no access to safe drinking water with which to mix their peddled formula.

Nasty

That is ONE interpretation.  Here’s another (just as legitimate):  newly post-partum mothers, exhausted, unsure, delirious with sleep-deprivation, and extremely sensitive to any suggestion that their baby might not be thriving immediately at their breasts.

tired mom

This describes very nearly 100% of all new moms.  It’s an extremely vulnerable population.  And it also happens to be the primary target demographic for formula advertising (along with pregnant women, of course — gotta get ‘em thinking about it early).

Formula is not evil.  Formula advertising is.  Check out Jodine’s new post about her take on Catherine Connors’ babble.com defense.  The screen shots of the advertisements on babble.com are enough to make your skin crawl.

Before I forget, I’ve gotta say this:  Connors implied that Kwasnica was somehow “shaming” mothers who formula feed.  How is that, exactly?  She started a worldwide network to connect moms who need breastmilk for their babies with those who have extra breastmilk to give.  How is that shaming?  She found an elegant, real-world solution for the problem of attaining breastmilk for those babies whose mothers couldn’t produce enough for them.  No one else before her had done anything like this.  She’s STILL working tirelessly every single day, so that more communities around the world are connected and more babies are getting the human milk that is their birthright.  She does it for free, because it’s the right thing to do, because it makes the world a better place.  She’s not taken any money from any formula company, and I’ll bet she sleeps very well at night because of it.

 

“Momination” retracted by “Mominee”

September 12th, 2011 by MamaBear

Remember my last post?  In it, I talked about Emma Kwasnica, how awesome she is, how she was “mominated” for an award by babble.com.  Turns out babble.com has lots of formula ads.  So, the money that Emma would have won, had she won, would have been, in part, funded by formula “blood money.”  When Emma found out about this, she decided to take a stand and retract her “momination,” even though she was in the top ten and a solid contender for the win.  So the links to her babble.com “momination” in my previous post don’t work anymore.

Ph.D. in Parenting wrote an excellent piece about this.  Go read it.  Jodine Chase, the fabulous woman who “mominated” Emma Kwasnica in the first place, also wrote about it from her perspective.  The consensus all around is that Emma’s actions solidify why it is we love her:  she lives her principles.  We salute you, Emma Kwasnica!   Keep being awesome.

Emma Kwasnica

Mominations: Emma Kwasnica

August 26th, 2011 by MamaBear

Emma Kwasnica

Hello, world!  It’s been a while since my last blog post, but that’s because I do most of my interaction via Facebook.  Today, though, I felt it necessary to blog because there is a very special lady who I want to write about.  This lady is Emma Kwasnica.  I know, I know, I’ve talked about her before.  But she’s worth talking about again.  Let me tell you why.

Emma Kwasnica is making the world a better place.  Each and every day, she helps families around the world get breastmilk for their babies.  She does it all for FREE.  She does it out of the goodness of her heart, her sincere love of babies, mothers, families… humanity.  She created the wildly successful Human Milk 4 Human Babies GLOBAL network to help connect needy families with families that can spare the breastmilk.  She enables and inspires community-building, healthier families, more informed birth choices, and yes, even world peace.  How many people do you know who do that?  She is the Earth-Mother-rock star you’ve never heard of (well, maybe you have ;)), the Mother Theresa of the mommy world.  Remarkably, she’s also really very humble about it.

Emma Kwasnica has rightfully been “mominated” for a babble.com prize.   Please, if you haven’t already, vote for her.  I guarantee you she will do good things if she wins, because she will do good things even if she doesn’t win.  Whatever she does will benefit humankind as a whole.  Even if she decides to spend all the prize money on herself, she would still deserve it.  But she won’t, because she’s Emma, and she basically dedicates her life to helping others.

To vote, please click on this babble.com link.  Then click on “like” where it says “click ‘like’ to vote for me” to vote for Emma.  It’s very simple.  You need to be logged into your Facebook account in order to do so.  Please do it and please share the link with all your friends so that they can vote for her, too.

If you are reading this, Emma, please know I fervently hope you win.  You are beautiful inside and out, and an inspiration to (surely) thousands of women around the world.  Thank you for all you do!

Nurse-in in Georgia. Be There.

May 18th, 2011 by MamaBear

A city just outside the metro Atlanta area called Forest Park has recently made it illegal for children over 2 to nurse in public.  You heard that correctly.  Illegal.  As in, can be fined for it.  Or possibly even put in jail.  For nursing.  A toddler.

There is no shame — or at least, there shouldn’t be any shame — in breastfeeding a baby or a toddler in public.  This is what a toddler nursing looks like:

 

New Zealand PSA

  And this:

Lesotho toddler

And this:

Jesus nursing

It should be obvious to everyone that a law like this one is hostile not only to those who breastfeed a toddler of 2+ years, but to every breastfeeding dyad.  Why?  Well, if a mother is breastfeeding a baby of any age (even younger than 2) in a place where a law like this is in effect, this means that legally, she can be harassed for breastfeeding her baby.  She may not be fined or jailed for breastfeeding a baby that is under 2, but she could be questioned, pestered, bullied, and shamed into early weaning because of it.  A law like this could make it a cinch to drive the already floundering breastfeeding rates in the United States all the way to the floor.  It needs to be NIPped in the bud. (Pun totally intended.)

A breastfeeding-supportive father, This Daddy, called John Parker, City Manager of Forest Park, GA, and one of the creators of this asinine law.  Here’s This Daddy’s entry about the phone call, which reveals a lot about John Parker’s priorities.

There will be a nurse-in to peacefully protest this harmful law.  KellyMom on Facebook has all the details.  If you live in Georgia or in the surrounding area, please try to make it there, Monday, May 23rd at 10:00 A.M. Here’s the address:

745 Forest Pkwy, Forest Park, GA 30297

If you can’t attend the nurse-in physically, at least write Forest Park and tell them you think this law is harmful for babies and their mothers, and why.  Use this contact form.  If you prefer to use your email or snail mail a letter, or if you’d like to call or fax John Parker’s office, here is the information necessary to do so:

Office of the City Manager
745 Forest Parkway
Forest Park, Ga. 30297
Phone: 404-366-4720
Fax: 404-608-2343 

John Parker, City Manager
Email address - jparker@forestparkga.org

Angela Redding, Management Analyst
Email address - aredding@forestparkga.org

Jan Young, Executive Assistant
Email address - jyoung@forestparkga.org

Last but not least, there is a petition you can sign called “Repeal restrictions on breastfeeding” to help with this cause.  Please do.

Comment on my Facebook page, please:

Breastfeeding Symbol Facebook Page

Shipping with UPS could cost you a lot more than money

May 11th, 2011 by MamaBear

I was shocked recently when I read about a terrible shipping fiasco with UPS.  A shipment from a breastmilk donor was sent out via UPS and paid for by the recipient, but the recipient never received it.  Furthermore, all UPS told the recipient was that the package was “damaged in transit” and “discarded.”

If you have Facebook, you can see for yourself the thread here on the Washington HM4HB page.  The donor shipped over FIVE HUNDRED OUNCES of breastmilk from Washington State to Virginia.   All 500 oz were “lost” by UPS.  That’s almost exactly four gallons of human milk.

Picture four of these (containing breastmilk, not cows’ milk):

One gallon of milk

Fifteen liters (15 L).  I’m writing the different conversions to help you wrap your head around just how much milk was discarded by the shipping company like so much trash.  These five hundred ounces of milk represent HOURS of this donor’s, this woman’s, life.  Hours of effort, love, and care that she painstakingly packaged to gift to a baby and mama in need living across the country.  She donated the milk in good faith and probably never imagined UPS would treat her efforts with such disregard.  Now, because of UPS’s unbelievable irresponsibility, a donor’s efforts have been literally dumped who knows where and a recipient family has been left without human milk.

I wonder how UPS will handle this.  Will they recompense the donor for her milk?  Will they recompense the recipient at least for the money she paid to have her package shipped?  I cannot imagine the agony both mothers must be experiencing right now.  I don’t understand why UPS discarded the package instead of at least showing it to the recipient.  Why did they keep it?  What do they have to hide?

I am sharing this story so that UPS will wake up, and so that if they choose not to respect these two families and milksharing efforts, the milksharing world will take notice and recommend that UPS not be used for any shipping (not just shipping that involves breastmilk).  What do you think?  Please comment on my Facebook page.

International Breastfeeding Symbol FB Page

Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network is Six Months Old!

April 27th, 2011 by MamaBear

Today on my news feed on Facebook I noticed Emma Kwasnica, lactivist extraordinaire, posted this:

Six months ago TODAY, I launched a global breastmilk sharing network right here on Facebook. Known now as Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB) Global Network, it has over 280 volunteer page administrators in charge of 130 pages representing more than 50 countries. Check out the website to find your page: http://hm4hb.com/communities.html

HM4HB Logo

Happy Half-iversary, Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network!  You have helped so many human babies get the human milk they deserve… and in the process helped entire families, in communities all around planet Earth.  Thank you, HM4HB, for being the change you want to see in the world.  (And thank YOU, Emma Kwasnica, for starting it.) I can’t wait to see what the next six months will bring.  It’s going to be great!

Human Milk 4 Human Babies

March 15th, 2011 by MamaBear

In January 2010, Emma Kwasnica, of Montréal, started using Facebook to help
families who needed breastmilk for their babies by connecting them with other
families with breastmilk to spare.  Emma was making connections all over the world, and she soon found that managing several different requests all over the world, and their corresponding donations, was becoming overwhelming.  She decided to organize her efforts by country for those countries outside Canada and the U.S., and by province/state for Canada and the U.S., respectively.  She found a kindred spirit in Shell Walker, an Arizona midwife who was doing something similar on a more local level.  Shell had created her page in July of 2010 for a close, tight-knit community in Phoenix, AZ.  Shell had named her local network “Eats on Feets.”  They decided to join forces in October 2010 and call the worldwide network Emma created “Eats on Feets GLOBAL.”

All went well for a few months, with “milky matches” (as the milksharing connections are known) being made worldwide.  The media attention was amazing, and “Eats on Feets GLOBAL” was becoming a household name in breastfeeding advocacy circles.  Human milk that would have otherwise gone to waste was getting to human babies that needed it.  “Eats on Feets GLOBAL” was working.

Then, toward the end of February 2011, something happened.  There was an uncompromising change of opinion in how the network should be managed. Shell filed an application to trademark the name “Eats on Feets,” and started dictating “terms of use” for the volunteer administrators of the pages that weren’t in keeping with the spirit of the network. The growing pains became too much, and the name of Emma’s original vision of a worldwide, milksharing network was changed to protect the network from becoming something different from its original intention.  The new name is Human Milk 4 Human Babies.  Its pages on Facebook are run by the same hardworking administrators that ran the “Eats on Feets GLOBAL” pages.  There are new pages being added every day, in fact, so the network is still growing to accommodate needs in different regions.

Please visit the Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB) website to find your local page.  If you have breastmilk to spare or if you have a baby in need, please “Like” your region’s page and make an offer or a request.  It is YOU that make this network possible. If you do not find your region’s HM4HB page, consider starting your own HM4HB page on Facebook.  Contact Emma Kwasnica for details.

If you know someone who could benefit from this network and would like to participate in HM4HB (as a donor or recipient), but that person does not have a Facebook account, please post on their behalf.

Human Milk 4 Human Babies is called “Lactancia Solidaria” in Spanish.  You can find Lactancia Solidaria on Facebook for Puerto Rico, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Panama, and Venezuela.

Because of the recent disaster in Japan, I am sharing the link for the HM4HB Japan page.  If you are in Japan, and can, please help.

Facebook Page and new “like” button

February 16th, 2011 by MamaBear

Hello everyone.  If you’re logged onto Facebook, you can “like” this page by clicking the “like” button to the right underneath where it says “about.”  You can also friend Mama Bear (me!) by searching for “MamaBear Lactating.”  I will try to do a better job of updating the Facebook page than this blog, as it is much easier to keep up with.  I hope to see you there!

Milk Sharing Made Better — Eats on Feets

February 16th, 2011 by MamaBear

I have not posted anything on this blog for a very long time.  I don’t even want to think about how long.  However, what I am posting today cannot wait.  It’s too important.  There is a new way to share breast milk with those in need, in addition to MilkShare, and it’s also directly mother-to-mother.  It’s called Eats on Feets (http://www.eatsonfeets.org/), and it’s fabulous!  There is no charge for this service, and since it’s connected through Facebook, it’s almost immediate for both potential donors and their recipients.  Please, if you have extra human milk to give, check out Eats on Feets.  There is one for every state (sometimes more than one for each state), and it’s available in several countries as well!  I cannot say enough good things about Eats on Feets!  It is seriously making the world a better place.