August 2nd, 2012 • Comments: 0 • by Amy West • In the NewsWHO Code

Is Mayor Bloomberg "Banning Formula" in NYC?

A baby formula ban in New York City?  With the media in a frenzy over the issue, it's tough to keep the facts straight.  Amy West, our Social Media Diva, lays out the real deal.  

Mayor BloombergIf you think Mayor Bloomberg is "banning formula" in NYC, you are mistaken.

Right now, formula companies give hospitals all manner of free crap (nipples, bottles, formula, very expensive preemie formula) in exchange for exclusive marketing agreements (along the lines of "all moms who pass through labor & delivery WILL leave with a formula swag bag").  Research shows that moms are extremely likely to (A) stick with the brand presented to them in the hospital and (B) not meet their own personal breastfeeding goals based on the interference of this marketing.

Mayor Bloomberg is seeking to end this predatory marketing. In doing so, formula makers will no longer be able to strike these agreements with hospitals and hospitals will have to pay for the things they currently get for free (from formula companies).

So formula isn't being banned or even restricted. Just like Tylenol or any other pharmaceutical in the hospital, formula will be purchased, tracked, and given out upon request. The difference is that instead of moms who are trying in earnest to breastfeed going home with formula that's been proven to sabotage breastfeeding relationships, only moms who are actively choosing formula will receive it.

Why would we begrudge hospitals for tracking the use of something they now have to pay for?  Why would we begrudge Mayor Bloomberg for ending what has been a long-standing unethical marketing practice that has such lasting and sweeping effects?

Please leave your comments below and ask your friends what they think.

{"World Bank Group President Kim and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Headline Plenary on "Shaping the Future of Urban Transport"" by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0}

June 28th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Breast is BestGiving BackIn the News

Best for Babes Debuts Game-Changing Breastfeeding Ad in USA Today

Mark Friday, June 25, 2010 on your calendars.  Why?  Because years from now we will be looking back at this date as THE turning point for breastfeeding in our culture.

Best for Babes Miracle Ad in USA TodayLast Friday, the USA Today Pregnancy & Wellness Report, produced by Media Planet, will reach 2.2 million readers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.  It will be distributed to ob/gyn offices and physicians through the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, will be carried in all Destination Maternity stores, will be distributed at March of Dimes events, will be circulated to 25,000 members of the United States Breastfeeding Committee and all member organizations, and to all physician members of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.   

The ad was the brainchild of The Best for Babes Foundation, whom I am extremely proud to be a sponsor of at the Silver level.

Why is this ad different from others?  Why did I support this unique, groundbreaking ad?

Bettina Forbes, co-founder of Best for Babes explains:

No scare tactics: There are no pregnant moms riding mechanical bulls or participating in log-rolling contests, unlike the government's ad campaign, which was criticized for a whole lot of things, including succumbing to formula lobbyists and making moms feel guilty if they couldn't breastfeed.  Breastfeeding rates actually went down after that campaign.  (Too bad we don't have the $3 million to spend on our campaign!)

It has mass-market appeal:  Unlike the Ohio billboards that got flak for showing a black baby drooling breast milk that looked really unappealing, the ad urges all moms to find the right support, whether they breastfeed or not!  THAT is truly a first.  We're taking the pressure OFF moms and putting it on the "Booby Traps".

Highlights donor milk:  Most moms don't know that donor milk is the 2nd best choice to breastfeeding, and don't have access to it.  Formula is 3rd.

Raises awareness of the WHO Code:  The WHO Code was designed to protect moms who WANT to nurse from being derailed by aggressive formula marketing (like doctors giving mom free samples, which have been shown to decrease breastfeeding duration) but which NOBODY in the mainstream knows about.  There is NOT ONE formula ad in the issue, unlike practically every high-circulation, mainstream pregnancy & parenting magazine and website, which we worked very hard to persuade Media Planet to uphold.  All of the sponsors in our ad are WHO Code compliant, including Evenflo, the only WHO Code compliant bottle maker (and parent company of stellar breast pump Ameda) - we think they deserve kudos for that!

It's positive!  Just like with parenting, we have to be careful not to only react to bad behavior but to recognize and reinforce good behavior.  We need to create as much media attention and buzz for ads or marketing campaigns that get it right as we do for those that get it wrong.

While Best for Babes has already experienced tremendous support and kudos including feedback from actress Alysia Reiner...

"The ad is so fantastic, so hip but informative, warm but also sassy & smart, LOVE IT!  So proud to be involved with you guys." ~ Alysia

I'd like to appeal to you to help them raise further funding to roll-out this campaign on billboards, bus stations and doctors' offices around the country.  Please help to spread the word about it via Facebook, Twitter, email and by simply talking to others.  (To make it easy for you, there are quick links to share on Facebook and Twitter at the top of this post... click away!)

So did you get your copy of USA Today on Friday?  If not, you can download the Pregnancy & Wellness Report here.  Tell us what you think of the ad, the report and let us know if we can count on your for support of this very important initiative.

Tags: 'best for babes', 'breastfeeding versus formula', USA Today

January 27th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Giving BackHuman Milk Banking In the News

Breastfeeding is the First Line of Defense in a Disaster


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The United States Breastfeeding Committee issued the below updated press release today.  Please donate milk via an HMBANA milk bank (and that includes our milk bank here in Vancouver, BC) and/or continue to donate funds to HELP HAITI!  Here at Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear we are proud to donate $2.00 from every PumpEase sold to Doctors Without Borders until February 14th (which will then be matched dollar for dollar by the Canadian Government).

United States Breastfeeding Committee

January 27, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UPDATED STATEMENT:

Breastfeeding is the First Line of Defense in a Disaster

Washington, DC--The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), International Lactation Consultant Association/United States Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA/USLCA), and La Leche League International (LLLI) strongly affirm the importance of breastfeeding in emergency situations, and call on relief workers and health care providers serving victims of disasters to protect, promote, and support mothers to breastfeed their babies. During an emergency, breastfeeding mothers provide their infants with safe food and water and disease protection that maximize their chances of survival.

This week, the International Milk Bank Project and Quick International Courier coordinated a shipment of milk from the HMBANA member banks to supplement a mother's own milk for the premature, medically fragile, and orphaned infants aboard the U.S. Navy ship Comfort stationed off the coast of Haiti. This milk will help this small group of infants. In this highly unusual circumstance the infrastructure associated with the Comfort's resources allows U.S. sourced donor milk to help fragile Haitian babies.

Donor milk, however, is not a solution for the large number of infants and young children affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Members of the public who wish to promote the survival of mothers and babies in Haiti can donate money to the following organizations: UNICEF, Save the Children Alliance, World Vision, and Action Against Hunger. These organizations are using best practice to aid both breastfed and non-breastfed infants. Members of the public can be confident that donations to these organizations will support breastfeeding and help save the lives of babies.

Interventions to protect infants include supporting mothers to initiate and continue exclusive breastfeeding, relactation for mothers who have ceased breastfeeding, and finding wet nurses for motherless or separated babies. Every effort should be made to minimize the number of infants and young children who do not have access to breastfeeding. Artificially fed infants require intensive support from aid organizations including infant formula, clean water, soap, a stove, fuel, education, and medical support. This is not an easy endeavor. Formula feeding is extremely risky in emergency conditions and artificially fed infants are vulnerable to the biggest killers of children in emergencies: diarrhea and pneumonia.

As stated by UNICEF and WHO, no donations of infant formula or powdered milk should be sent to the Haiti emergency. Such donations are difficult to manage logistically, actively detract from the aid effort, and put infant's lives at risk. Distribution of infant formula should only occur in a strictly controlled manner. Stress does not prevent women from making milk for their babies, and breastfeeding women should not be given any infant formula or powdered milk.

There are ongoing needs in the U.S. for human milk for premature and other extremely ill infants because of the protection it provides from diseases and infections. If a mother is unable to provide her own milk to her premature or sick infant, donor human milk is often requested from a human milk bank. American mothers can help their compatriots who find themselves in need of breast milk for their sick baby by donating to a milk bank that is a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

For more information about donating milk to a milk bank, contact HMBANA at www.hmbana.org. Additional information for relief workers and health care professionals can be provided from the United States Breastfeeding Committee at www.usbreastfeeding.org, ILCA/USLCA at www.ilca.org or www.uslca.org, or La Leche League International at www.llli.org. A list of regional milk banks is available on the HMBANA Web site at www.hmbana.org/index/locations.

USBC is an organization of organizations. Opinions expressed by USBC are not necessarily the position of all member organizations and opinions expressed by USBC member organization representatives are not necessarily the position of USBC.

United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC)

The United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) is an independent nonprofit coalition of 41 nationally influential professional, educational, and governmental organizations. Representing over half a million concerned professionals and the families they serve, USBC and its member organizations share a common mission to improve the Nation's health by working collaboratively to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. For more information about USBC, visit www.usbreastfeeding.org.

###

________________________________________

United States Breastfeeding Committee

2025 M Street, NW, Suite 800

Washington, DC 20036

Phone: 202/367-1132

Fax: 202/367-2132

E-mail: office@usbreastfeeding.org

Web: www.usbreastfeeding.org

Have you donated to the relief effort in Haiti?  If so, tell us to which organization you donated and why you chose that particular one.  If you have any other thoughts about what is happening in Haiti, please share.

January 2nd, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • In the NewsResources

Single-Use, Ready-to-Serve, Formula-Filled Baby Bottles - a "Green" Idea?


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Ready Made Single-Use Ready-to-Serve Bottles
A few months ago, I stumbled across a press release entitled "Ready Made Inc. debuts new disposable baby bottle prototype at Smart Baby Expo."

And I quote, "The new biodegradable paper based design was a major selling point for parents who are concerned with the environmental impact of plastics and the threat of Bisphenol-A in plastic baby products."

You have GOT to be kidding me.  Talk about a green wash!  How on earth can this company tout this DISPOSABLE, FORMULA-FILLED bottle as "green" (and keep a straight face).

Now that 2010 has arrived, this product is going to be hitting the shelves, or to quote the manufacturer, "will be sold in stores throughout the US and be available to global humanitarian markets" (excuse me while I vomit).  And so I thought I had better make you aware of it...

A fellow mompreneur summed up the carbon footprint of infant formula production quite nicely in a recent blog post:

"Think about all the consumption of natural resources, landfill space, etc. that goes into the production, packaging and delivery of formula, a completely derived and unnatural product that, with adequate support and education, should be very rarely required. Consider this quote:

"If every child in America were bottle-fed, almost 86,000 tons of tin would be needed to produce 550 million cans for one year's worth of formula. If every mother in Great Britain breastfed, 3000 tons of paper (used for formula labels) would be saved in a year. But the formula is not the only problem. Bottles and nipples require plastic, glass, rubber, and silicone; production of these materials can be resource-intensive and often leads to end-products that are not-recyclable. All these products use natural resources, cause pollution in their manufacture and distribution, and create trash in their packaging, promotion, and disposal."

Source:  "Mother Nature Loves Breastmilk" by Dia Michels

Plastic bottles and nipples are rarely recycled, take over 200 years to break down, fill up landfills and when burned, release toxic pollutants into our air... that we breathe... that our babies breathe.

Then, let's talk about the dairy industry. Most breastmilk substitutes are made from cows milk. The biological equivalent of walking up to a cow in a field and sucking on her tit. The mass factories that produce this milk contribute to a polluted environment in a myriad of ways. Here's a few:

  • Cows excretion and flatulance produce 100 million tons of methane every year, which equals 20% of the earths total emissions. (Methane is the second most problematic gaseous contribution to the greenhouse effect and global warming).
  • The fertilizers used to grow feed for dairy cows pollute rivers and groundwaters.
  • The ammonia from cow pastures and slurry tanks cause acid rain.
  • The clearing of land for pasture means deforestation, an increase in greenhouse gases, the destruction of animal and plant species and erosion of the soil. For example, each kilogram of baby milk produced in Mexico "costs" 12.5 square meters of rainforest.

Think Soy is better? Even the production of soy based formulas are detrimental to the environment:

  • Soy formulas require just as much natural resources and energy to produce and package.
  • In Brazil, forests are cleared and burned to create soy plantations. The soya beans are then used to feed cattle and as the base for soy based formulas.
  • The growing of soy beans requires a high input of fertilizers and irrigation."

Source:  Breastmilk: A World Resource by Andrew Radford

Sadly, according to Ready Made Inc, 85% of consumers surveyed at the Smart Baby Expo, a consumer trade show, said that they look forward to using the Ready Made bottle, with 20% of them stating that they would use them DAILY no matter what brand of formula came inside!    Good GAWD people - the last thing we need is more disposables in our landfills!  I mean convenience is one thing, but convenience to the point of drowning our planet in garbage is certainly another!

What I find most disturbing however, is that this bottle is also being targeted towards the developing world - to prevent the spread of HIV no less!  Ready Made states in their press release that, "One-third of children in Africa with the AIDS virus contracted the disease from breastfeeding."

This is NOT TRUE.

According to Wikipedia, "The transmission of the virus from the mother to the child can occur in utero during the last weeks of pregnancy and at childbirth. In the absence of treatment, the transmission rate between a mother and her child during pregnancy, labor and delivery is 25%.  However, when the mother takes antiretroviral therapy and gives birth by caesarean section, the rate of transmission is just 1%. The risk of infection is influenced by the viral load of the mother at birth, with the higher the viral load, the higher the risk. Breastfeeding also increases the risk of transmission by about 4%.

4%. Four percent. Not 33-1/3%. Not one-third. FOUR PERCENT.  I guess they just got there numbers mixed-up there, right?

They might as well just climb into bed with Nestlé as far as I'm concerned.  And I won't be the least bit surprised if the brand of formula that indeed ends up in those bottles IS Nestlé!

The truth is, on December 1, 2009 the World Health Organization (WHO) updated their HIV recommendations on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.  Tanya from Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog explains...

"In the past, it's been the recommendation that women who are HIV positive not breastfeed as long as formula feeding is "acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe".

Many women in developing countries don't have access to clean water, much less the resources to purchase formula, and not breastfeeding puts their infants at a high risk of death and disease. In one recent study of 14 developing countries, not breastfeeding resulted in over 325 deaths per 1,000 births compared to 35 deaths per 1,000 births among breastfed babies.

That's why breastfeeding, even though it may mean that a child becomes infected with HIV, is considered safer than not breastfeeding in much of the developing world. Both feeding options carry significant risks, but a child is far likelier to die early in life if he is not breastfed.

So, until today, the recommendation has been that women in developing countries feed their babies breastmilk substitutes only if it is "acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe." Otherwise, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended during the first six months of life, to be discontinued as soon as is feasible thereafter.

This has been a really difficult recommendation to follow, for several reasons. Exclusive breastfeeding (considered the safest method) is relatively rare. Weaning from exclusive breastfeeding to no breastfeeding at six months, as you can imagine, is extremely difficult. And women face significant stigma when not breastfeeding. Unlike the US, many developing countries never lost the "breastfeeding culture", and not breastfeeding is considered a give away that a woman is HIV positive.

But recent research has shown that when HIV positive mothers take antiretroviral drugs while breastfeeding, it reduces the risk of transmission dramatically. Access to ARVs has increased significantly in recent years. Accordingly, the WHO has changed its recommendation:

WHO now recommends that breastfeeding continue until the infant is 12 months of age, provided the HIV-positive mother or baby is taking ARVs during that period. This will reduce the risk of HIV transmission and improve the infant's chance of survival.

"In the new recommendations, we are sending a clear message that breastfeeding is a good option for every baby, even those with HIV-positive mothers, when they have access to ARVs", said Daisy Mafubelu, WHO's Assistant Director General for Family and Community Health."

I for one would NEVER buy a disposable baby bottle.  If people say that it would be convenient "on occasion" to use such a product, then I say it wouldn't be too inconvenient "on occasion" to use a reusable and recyclable BPA-free plastic or better yet, glass baby bottle and wash it and dry it and use it again and again and again.  And then I would pass it on to another mom.  I really have a hard time throwing anything in the garbage.  I donate clothing and household items that we no longer need or want; I have made the switch to LunaPads reusable menstrual products and the Diva Cup; we are avid recyclers and composters; we use reusable grocery bags and stainless steel water bottles; we buy organic as much as we can; and the list goes on and on... Then you hear about a company like Ready Made and it undermines you and everyone else that is trying to make a difference in our society... in our world.

And now that I'm researching this further, I've found many other companies selling pre-sterilized, single-use, disposable baby bottles - albeit not filled with formula - such as Steribottle and Vital Baby, to name just two.  I had to stop searching as I kept finding more and more!

I also had to laugh that the Vital Baby bottle was labeled "from 0 months" and yet had a fast flow nipple.  And then parents wonder why the baby has "reflux".  But I digress...

Please know that I am not attacking mothers that formula feed, whether it is by choice or by necessity.  Rather, I am upset with companies like Ready Made that skew the facts and bring questionable products to market all in the name of the allmighty dollar.  They simply don't care about anything else than their bottom line, but try to make you believe that they are being socially responsible.  If they really want to help the HIV pandemic, why don't they develop a truly green product and then donate a percentage of their profits to purchase the ARVs that these HIV positive mothers so desperately need?  Nestle?  Did you hear that?

So tell me how you feel about single-use baby bottles, either empty or filled with formula.  Tell me what you think about these companies that attempt to green wash us.  Tell me all about what you're thinking.  (And if you see the Ready Made bottles in stores, please let me know!)

February 16th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • In the News

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Appeals to Facebook to Change their Policy

I'm a little late posting this, but regardless I believe it is important to share.  I think everyone who reads this blog has heard about the 'Big Brother' Facebook issue by now (or maybe I should say Big Mother)?  What I find particularly ridiculous is their reactionary stance on the removal of these so-called 'obscene' breastfeeding pictures.  So, you can have a breastfeeding picture on your profile as long as no one complains about it.  Hmmm... I've seen pictures that barely show the breast let alone a nipple that have been removed by Facebook and yet there are others showing "everything" that haven't.  If Facebook has policies in place, then they should be upheld across the board, not just when the wheel squeaks.  It is discriminatory.

It reminds me of a job I had about 20 years ago (yes I was a victim of child labour).  The employee parking lot accommodated only a fraction of the people who worked in the building, therefore some of us had to park on the street.  There was a 3 hour parking bylaw, but it was only enforced (with a parking ticket) if a resident complained.  Needless to say, we quickly got to know which addresses NOT to park in front of due to them housing particularly 'grumpy' homeowners that had nothing better to do but to call the city to give us a ticket.

So Facebook, I appeal to you as follows:  If you are going to pull pictures and cancel accounts, then each and every picture posted to Facebook MUST be screened using identical criteria.  Therefore, if a picture of a mother breastfeeding her baby, with the baby's head positioned in such a way that no part of the areola is exposed, is considered obscene, then so is a picture of a burlesque dancer wearing pasties.  It is as simple as that - the same rules MUST apply to all parties.

Here is a copy of the press release issued by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine last month.

Facebook flack regarding breastfeeding mothers

New Rochelle, NY, January 12, 2009 - "The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine feels that the social networking website, Facebook, would be well advised to review its policy banning photographs of breastfeeding mothers. Such a policy perpetuates the notion that breastfeeding is an unseemly bodily function best kept from public viewing, a misguided and antiquated concept that has no place in contemporary society. It further perpetuates the idea that formula feeding is normative when breastfeeding is, and should be considered, normative infant and young child feeding. Health professionals widely acknowledge that breastfeeding is biologically unique and appropriate for the mother and infant.Giampietrino - The Virgin Nursing the Child with St John the Baptist in Adoration

Throughout most of history, breastfeeding, whether performed in private or otherwise, has been regarded as a natural and wholesome aspect of daily living. In fact, some of the greatest works of Renaissance art dealt with the theme of the Virgin Mary breastfeeding her infant son (the Madonna Lactans).  Note from Wendy - no less than 47 images, in Wikipedia alone, appeared when I Googled "Madonna Lactans".  I have incuded one such image to the right - and a stunningly beautiful one at that.  And yes that is a COMPLETELY EXPOSED areola (gasp! - what were they thinking back in the 16th century?)

So important is breastfeeding for the well-being of infants, mothers, and society at large that no less than forty four states have enacted legislation safeguarding the right of a mother to breastfeed in public. The Surgeon General's Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding encourages "images of breastfeeding as the normal way to feed infants in most places women and their infants go." Facebook should certainly be considered one of those places."

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine is a worldwide organization of physicians dedicated to the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding and human lactation through education, research, and advocacy. An independent, self-sustaining, international physician organization and the only organization of its kind, ABM's mission is to unite members of various medical specialties through physician education, expansion of knowledge in breastfeeding science and human lactation, facilitation of optimal breastfeeding practices, and encouragement of the exchange of information among organizations.

Very well stated.  OK, Facebook... are you finally going to step-up to the plate?  Tell me what you think - will Facebook ever eat their words?