Many people, even mothers, even breastfeeding mothers, cannot, so here is our explanation of the code. Psst! This is really important, so pass it on!
The WHO Code includes the below 14 important provisions (let’s see how many infractions we can find in our daily travels shall we?). Why are there so many infractions? Well, because in North America, The WHO Code is voluntary – and thus it has no teeth. Some countries, such as Iran, have adopted The Code as law and now infant formula is available ONLY by prescription and comes in a can with a generic label. I sure would like to see that day in both Canada and the US I tell ya!
Oh, and one more thing… did you know that the USA was the ONLY country out of 189 that voted “NO” to adopt The Code in 1981? SHAME.ON.YOU! Let’s kick those formula company dudes OUT of the government’s bed NOW.
Here we go…
1. No advertising of products under the scope of the Code to the public.
Products “under the scope of the code” include breastmilk substitutes, including infant formula; other milk products, food and beverages, including bottle-fed complimentary foods, when marketed or otherwise represented to be suitable, with or without modification, for use as a partial or total replacement of breastmilk; feeding bottles and teats. So basically, infant formula, follow-up formula, bottles and nipples. Nope, I’ve never seen these types of products advertised publicly ANYwhere (eye roll).
2. No free samples to mothers.
How many new moms (including yours truly) have been given free samples at the hospital, in their doctor’s office, at a “baby/pregnancy” fair, even through the Welcome Wagon? According to a recent CDC study, nearly 2/3 of first-time mothers received a free sample of infant formula in the mail. The formula companies will market directly to moms, against The Code, every.chance.they.get.
3. No promotion of products in health care facilities, including the distribution of free or low-cost supplies.
Have you seen pads of note paper or posters “sponsored” by a formula company at your doctor’s office or hospital? How about the infamous formula company diaper bags given out at so many US hospitals? (read about it at Ban the Bags). In fact, studies show that formula marketing bags shorten exclusive breastfeeding duration, even when the formula samples are removed from the bags. To quote Dr. Alison Stuebe, the woman behind Ban the Bags, “No for-profit company gives anything away for “free”. Formula companies give these bags to mothers as a marketing tool and their goal is to have the hospitals actually hand the bags to the moms because that implies that the hospital is endorsing a particular brand of formula. If this wasn’t going to sell more of a particular brand of formula, it would be against the interest of the shareholders of these companies to let women have these bags.”
In fact, according to a recently-released Canadian study from the Toronto Department of Public Health, “Of 1,500 first-time mothers surveyed, 39 per cent were given formula at hospital discharge. As a result, many of these women stopped breastfeeding sooner than those women who weren’t given formula. Women who didn’t receive the free samples were 3.5 times more likely to be breastfeeding exclusively after 2 weeks.”
“The impact of promoting formula as they leave the hospital gives off mixed messages to new mothers”, says Linda Young, director of maternal newborn and child health at Toronto East General Hospital. “They give it to the women ‘just in case’,” she said. “But the real message is that you will probably fail... and one bottle leads to another.”
Listen ladies, by accepting this “formula company swag”, you are lining the formula companies’ pockets AND more importantly sabotaging yourself. Just.Don’t.Do.It.
4. No company representatives to advise mothers.
Last summer, I participated as a vendor in a baby fair. Our table was located about ½-way around the perimeter of the venue. To the immediate right of the entrance door (like that wasn’t planned) was a formula company’s table. They were giving out FULL CANS OF FORMULA! Every person who came by our table had the bag that they were given upon entry to the fair with a can of formula sticking out the top. I took off my badge and went by their table, posing as a consumer. I asked about the cans of formula. Boy were they friendly! They told me that all I had to do was to sign-up for their “program” and I would get the kit which included the can of formula (I can’t remember what they called it – something obnoxious though, like “breastfeeding support kit”, because what I do remember is cringing to myself). Signing-up for the program included handing over my email addy (of course). Yup, that’s right! Get the mom-to-be on your mailing list so you can inundate her with emails right after she has her baby, when she is sleep-deprived, vulnerable and in a hormone-induced, emotional state. And make sure she has a big can of your formula in the cupboard so that when the going gets tough around 4-5 weeks and she is wavering with the whole breastfeeding gig, it is there at the ready to taunt her! These companies undermine women’s confidence by making them think they won’t be able to breastfeed and then guess what? That notion manifests and they cave. Don’t listen to anyone that tells you, “One bottle of formula won’t hurt your baby.”, (even if it is your own mother). Perhaps it won’t hurt your baby, but it will hurt the breastfeeding relationship you have with your baby and it will hurt your supply. Trust me, it happened to me, “way back when” before I knew any better.
Today, I know to ask whether a consumer baby fair complies with The Code BEFORE I sign any contracts to participate as a vendor. Not.Going.There.Ever.Again.
5. No gifts or personal samples to health care workers.
Please see #3. This practice is rampant. You can find extensive and truly interesting information about it here, here and here (and that was just a quick Google search). It is high time health care workers AND HOSPITALS told the formula companies to go away, no thank you to your freebies and don’t come back. EVER!
“There has always been controversy about hospitals receiving free formula. It is why Toronto East General Hospital – the only Baby Friendly hospital in the city and among about two dozen in (Canada) – cancelled its contract in 2005”, said Linda Young, director of Maternal Newborn and Child Health.
“When the formula companies put together a contract, they list all the things that they give – the formula, the nipples, and the bottles, and it comes up to a big number,” Young said, adding there is sometimes a signing bonus of anywhere between $130,000 and $150,000 which hospitals can use for other programs and services.
The only other GTA hospital that Young knows of that is buying formula instead of getting it free is Lakeridge in Oshawa. “Any kind of money is hard to give up for a hospital,” she said.
6. No words or pictures idealizing artificial feeding, including pictures of infants, on the labels of the products.
OK, so “most” of the formula companies have switched to little duckies, bunnies or hearts on their labels in lieu of baby images, however, there are still many infractions. For example, Enfamil’s Enfagrow Premium Next Step Lipil has an image of a baby and a toddler on the label and is marketed towards 9-24 month olds. Of course aside from images, the infant formula labels are chock-full of skewed half-truths, scientific-sounding jargon and warm & fuzziness that the formula companies are hoping will be (mis)interpreted as idealizing artificial feeding. Believe you me, they spend plenty of time and money writing the copy “just so” to convince parents to buy.
7. Information to health workers should be scientific and factual.
The information coming out of the formula companies “looks all scientific and factual” but their claims are taken out of context, skewed and again, worded “just so” by their high-powered marketing departments to brainwash you into thinking their products are “as good” as breastmilk.
8. All information on artificial feeding, including the labels, should explain the benefits of breastfeeding and all costs and hazards associated with artificial feeding.
So I haven’t read an infant formula can for a while now, however, I do know that most formula companies include the disclaimer, in very small print, stating “breastmilk is best for your baby”. But do they detail the costs and hazards associated with artificial feeding? Hmmmm?
9. Unsuitable products such as sweetened condensed milk should not be promoted for babies.
OK, I’m at a loss on this one. Are there people out there that give sweetened condensed milk to their babies? So I Googled “sweetened condensed milk for babies” and got just 4 results, mostly blogs talking about “way back when” when our mothers or grandmothers did just that, or forums asking if they can do it now. I guess it is safe to say that if there are people asking if they can do it now, then there are others that haven’t bothered to ask.
I do know that in 3rd world countries, where they often enjoy a strong breastfeeding culture, after the formula companies have given out enough free samples so that the new mother’s milk has dried-up, she, who can’t afford to buy more formula, may substitute (sweetened) condensed milk or other milk products to feed her starving baby. She may also mix the formula with a higher ratio of water to make it last longer. Oh and that would be mostly unsanitary water. This practice by the formula companies has killed millions of babies.Yes. MILLIONS.
10. All products should be of a high quality and take account of the climatic and storage conditions of the country where they are used.
High quality? Riiiiight. You know that $20-30 can of formula that you’ve seen on store shelves? Well the contents are worth about a quarter. Yes, that’s right. Twenty.Five.Cents. The rest of the money is spent on marketing. But wait! There is a CODE prohibiting the marketing of breastmilk substitutes. How can formula companies be spending millions, perhaps billions on marketing when this is against The WHO Code?
Not to mention the 57 product recalls of artificial foods from 1982 to 2007 – that’s over 9 MILLION units. Ahem… breastmilk is NEVER recalled.
11. Promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for six months as a global public health recommendation with continued breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond.
I think a good first step is to prohibit the marketing of formula to under 6 month old infants. Just take it off the market. Period. For the 5% of woman that can’t physically breastfeed, they can get it by prescription. Then let’s watch our breastfeeding initiation rates and the rates at 6 months postpartum rise meteorically.
As for the promotion and support, it is mind-boggling and heart-breaking to hear the countless stories from moms - the misinformation, the contradictions depending on who was working the ward that night, the lack of training in medical school and it goes on and on. We are working on it though! Organizations like Best for Babes, for example, are working tirelessly “to help moms beat the “Booby Traps” – the cultural & institutional barriers that prevent moms from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. To inspire, prepare & empower™ moms. To give breastfeeding a makeover and give moms the solutions they need to make it work!”
12. Foster appropriate complementary feeding from the age of six months recognizing that any food or drink given before nutritionally required may interfere with breastfeeding.
It’s really quite simple: babies don’t need ANYTHING but breastmilk for the first 6 months of life. From 6 months onward, it is recommended that you continue to breastfeed while providing nutritious complimentary foods for up to two years or beyond.
13. Complementary foods are not to be marketed in ways to undermine exclusive and sustained breastfeeding.
Just as infant formula is marketed to undermine exclusive and sustained breastfeeding, so are complementary foods. Being aware is half the battle. Educate yourself and spread the word!
14. Financial assistance from the infant feeding industry may interfere with professionals’ unequivocal support for breastfeeding.
We all know that the formula companies are in bed with the government. How else have such initiatives such as the 2004 “Babies Were Born to be Breastfed” public service ad campaign, launched by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Ad Council, been kiboshed at the last minute by formula company lobbyists? Yes, that’s right, they made them water-down the ads to the point that they were mostly ineffective, then turned around and doubled their marketing budget to $50 million. And breastfeeding rates went down again.
It is a sad state of affairs when profit and political gain are placed at an exponentially higher level of importance than the health of our own children.
Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear is PROUD to be a WHO Code compliant company and vows to never knowingly do business with any company that does not comply. We are also dedicated to raising awareness of The Code and to educating others about its provisions.
If you weren't aware of the provisions of the WHO Code, will you now be watching for infractions? Will you report them? Please share!
Testimony presented in infant formula antitrust litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee, June 2, 1992.
Some corroborating evidence about the cost of producing infant formula appears in an unpublished USDA study conducted by the Research Triangle Institute in Apr. 1992 (Josephine Mauskopf and Nancy Dean, “WIC Program Rebates: An Economic Analysis,” Final Report. Contract, # 53-3198-0-033, Task 6.1. Center for Economic Research) in which the cost of producing a can of infant formula was estimated on the basis of the ingredients that went into it. However, USDA officials expressed concerns about the validity of these cost estimates because of methodological limitations, including the unavailability of firsthand data on the procedure for manufacturing infant formula.
Neifert et al. 1990. The influence of breast surgery, breast appearance, and pregnancy-induced breast changes on lactation sufficiency as measured by infant weight gain. Birth 17(1): 31-38
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."
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."
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!
"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!)
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Today we updated our Fitting Room with a great video, that you can view below (and you're not allowed to laugh about the still image, ahem), demonstrating the correct way to take an overbust measurement. About a month ago we also added a
third size chart containing the measurements between the horn openings on the different sizes of PumpEase. You asked, we delivered.
It IS all about YOU, our customer (and no, I'm not being corny). Our goal is to make your visit to our website as enjoyable, informative and satisfying as we possibly can. So take another look around and don't forget to leave a comment with your feedback about what you DO see/like/dislike and also about what you WOULD LIKE to see... so we can make PumpEase.com even better!
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When I see a woman that is clearly wearing a) the WRONG bra size or b) a bra that should have been incinerated years ago, I have to admit, I visibly CRINGE!
Why do women do this to themselves, and to "their girls"? WHY ARE 80% OF WOMEN WEARING THE WRONG BRA SIZE?
I think a big chunk of the reason is that women buy bras from stores where, if you can actually find a person to help you, said person knows NOTHING about fitting a bra. Ladies, you are NOT saving any money buying cheap, crappy bras! Well, maybe you "think" you are if you wear them until the spandex is completely rotten and your puppies are hanging down to your belly button (sorry for that visual), but you're not.
I am a firm believer in the mantra that you get what you pay for. If you buy a bra from a department store for $25, $35 or even $45, that is what you will get - an ill-fitting $25, $35 or $45 bra. Now if you go to a specialty boutique and get professionally fitted for a bra, you will probably spend around $100, but it will FIT YOU and last two, three, even four times longer! You do the math!
For example, the last bras I purchased were from La Jolie Madame in Pacific Centre in downtown Vancouver. La Jolie Madame have been in business for 25 years and the owner and staff will not sell you a bra without properly fitting you. They carry bras sized from 32A to 46H and feature Vancouver's best selection of the finest European labels like Chantelle and La Perla (drool) that are drop-dead gorgeous (see pics to the right and below)! You will just LOVE slinging your bosoms into these delectable pieces of art every morning! And I don't know about you, but wearing a really stunning piece of lingerie under my clothes - as my little secret - makes me feel faaaahbulous! And yes these are my "everyday" bras. I deserve it and so do you!
It's not just about looking and feeling great either (although that is VERY important to us women)! There are health problems associated with wearing the wrong bra size. According to this article, it can harm the actual breast tissue, cause poor posture and produce neck and back pain. And this article talks about how effective breast support can relieve the pain associated with sports, PMS and hormone problems. I found this point to be particularly interesting: those "compression-type" sports bras are not the ticket after all. You are better off with a bra that encapsulates the breast like the Playtex Cross Your Heart designs. Who Knew? And to think I ran a couple of 1/2 marathons wearing my compression sports bra. (oops!)
Another great place to shop in Vancouver is Diane's Lingerie, a fixture on South Granville for over 25 years. Owner Diane Thomson describes her store as "your gateway to BC's greatest selection of quality bras and beautiful lingerie." Diane's carries sizes 32AA to 56JJ (wow!) She also states in her Bra Fit FAQ that women should be fitted twice a year for a bra and that throughout your lifetime you will wear six different bra sizes! Weight gain, weight loss, puberty, gravity, pregnancy - all these things will affect your bra size on an ongoing basis. You also won't necessarily wear the same size in different styles of bras either - balconette (my personal fave), push-up, strapless, demi cup, full cup, halters, minimizers, the list goes on. Colour and brand can also make a difference! So don't make the mistake of finally getting professionally fitted and think that you are going to be a "36C" until the end of time.
While I have mentioned only Vancouver stores in this post, most cities will have at least one bra/lingerie boutique that has staff trained to provide a professional fitting. Look in your local Yellow Pages under "Bras" or of course, online.
It was over 4 years ago that I last visited La Jolie Madame (I think I'm going through withdrawal). I bought 4 bras and I admit, dropped a few bills. BUT they are just starting to wear out NOW. Say it with me... YOU DO THE MATH!
Now, there is a commitment when you buy high-end bras - you must take care of them (don't worry - you will WANT to take care of them because they are so beautiful). I hand-wash the really fancy lace ones (well I soak them in the sink - pretty effortless) and others go into mesh lingerie bags before going into my washing machine on the gentle cycle. I use "Zero" or a comparable fine-washables soap (make sure the soap you choose is spandex friendly) whether I am washing in the sink or the machine. But they NEVER and I mean NEVER go in the dryer. EVER!
It is no coincidence that bras are referred to as FOUNDATION GARMENTS. What is a foundation? According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a foundation is "an underlying base or support; especially the whole masonry substructure of a building". Also "a body or ground upon which something is built up or overlaid".
In other words, get a well-fitting bra or your clothes and your boobs will fall down - and it won't be pretty.
In a properly-fitted bra, you will look thinner, taller and your cupcakes will look perkier. And for those well-endowed ladies out there, you won't have backaches or grooves in your shoulders anymore. In fact, if you can "feel" your bra when you are wearing it, you are wearing the wrong size. Other signs of an ill-fitting bra are:
the back rides up
the straps dig into your shoulders
you have red marks on your body after you take it off
you tug at your bra throughout the day
you have bulges at the tops and sides of the cups
you have bulges on your back
So what does this have to do with breastfeeding? Well if there is ONE TIME in your life that you should get properly fitted and spend some extra dough on a bra, it is when you are pregnant and/or nursing!
Another reason that I am writing this post (other than my inherent desire to accost people in public and drag them off to get properly fitted for a bra) is because of our product - PumpEase™ hands-free pumping supports. Our size charts tell our customers to choose their PumpEase™ size based on their maternity or nursing bra size. Considering the "80% statistic", this can be challenging at times. Having said that, we get very few returns for sizing because we encourage our customers to contact us for help if they are unsure of what size to buy.
Still, it would be sooo much easier if there was a Bra Police that enforced the "Professional Fitting Before Purchase" law across the land. Then I would see perky boobs everywhere and that would make me a very happy camper!
Have you ever been professionally fitted for a bra? Were you surprised at what size you actually turned out to be? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!
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Since few people have experience with exclusively pumping breast milk, it is often difficult for a woman who is exclusively pumping to find understanding and sometimes even acceptance. Women who breastfed without difficulty often do not understand how difficult and emotionally trying it can be when breastfeeding problems are encountered and some may believe a woman who is exclusively pumping did not try hard enough or gave up too early. Women who chose to formula feed often do not understand why a woman who exclusively pumps would not choose to feed formula if breastfeeding is difficult or not possible.
The reality for most women who end up exclusively pumping in order to provide their babies with breast milk is that they experienced difficulty attempting to breastfeed and reached a point where they needed to make a change in the way they fed their babies. Yet, given their strong belief that breast milk is the best food for infants, they dedicated themselves to providing expressed breast milk. Sometimes, there has been a lack of support or access to qualified lactation consultants and this has made a difficult situation even more challenging. But often, women who end up exclusively pumping have consulted and worked with lactation consultants. However, the stress and challenge of a situation often compounds until a change must be made in order to remove the pressure from an increasingly stressful experience. The breaking point for every woman is different, and the challenges are different for every woman.
The option of exclusively pumping as an alternative to formula feeding is one that is usually not discussed in prenatal classes or pregnancy magazines; indeed it is an option that is largely unknown and greatly misunderstood. Yet even though many women make the choice to exclusively pump when breastfeeding has not worked out, women who are exclusively pumping often feel alone and isolated. Feeding expressed breast milk by bottle falls between the two most commonly known methods of feeding an infant -breastfeeding and bottle feeding formula- and therefore leaves mothers who are exclusively pumping between the two groups without a clear source of support or information.
Ways to Support Exclusively Pumping Mothers
Educate, educate, educate! Women need to be educated about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding needs to become common place, expected, and supported. New mothers need to know others who are breastfeeding or who have breastfed and have the opportunity to watch babies breastfeeding. The best support is to provide the assistance and education necessary to remove the need to exclusively pump for as many women as possible. The vast majority of women who exclusively pump would breastfeed in a heartbeat if it were possible for them.
It is important to let women know that breastfeeding can require work and dedication. While it is normal and natural, it is a learned skill for both mother and baby. All too often, breastfeeding is given cursory attention or the difficulties that can occur are never mentioned to new or expectant mothers. As a result, if a new mother, already tired and likely overwhelmed from having a newborn to care for, faces difficulties trying to establish breastfeeding, she may simply give up under the mistaken belief that breastfeeding is normal and natural and should therefore also be easy, and that somehow, she has failed or isn't capable of breastfeeding. This education and support needs to be given in both the prenatal and postpartum periods.
Of course there are situations where breastfeeding is just not possible or complications arise which make breastfeeding difficult. In these situations, it is vital that women who must exclusively pump be given accurate information and unwavering support.
Give credibility to exclusively pumping as an alternative to formula. Share the option of exclusively pumping breast milk with women as an alternative to formula prior to the birth of their baby. Some may be concerned that talking about exclusively pumping as an alternative method to provide breast milk may cause some women to choose it as an alternative to breastfeeding or quickly give up trying to establish breastfeeding if they are having difficulties. This concern is understandable, but with proper education and an honest discussion of the requirements to initiate and maintain lactation with a breast pump very few women will choose to express breast milk instead of breastfeed when breastfeeding is possible. And indeed, without the option presented to women before they experience difficulties, there is the very real risk that new mothers will turn to formula when they experience troubles, diminishing their milk supply, and making it all that more difficult to breastfeed. When presenting the idea of exclusively pumping, it is important that it be discussed as an alternative to formula feeding and not an alternative to breastfeeding. There is absolutely no equal to breastfeeding, but there are far better alternatives to feeding formula.
Acknowledge the tremendous emotional impact breastfeeding can have on a woman, and even more so, the emotional impact of not breastfeeding. It is often difficult to come to terms with the reality of your experience compared to the expectations you had for it. Many new mothers expect to breastfeed, yet we know that breastfeeding is not always easy and does not always work out as planned. It is important to recognize the emotional toll this lost expectation can have. Comments such as "You just need to keep trying a little longer", while sometimes true, do not take into account the tremendous emotional load a new mother may be straining under. Simply acknowledging the loss, grief, and disappointment a woman feels can be important. A simple question such as, "How can I help you?" can mean a lot. Validating her feelings and encouraging her abilities are also extremely important. Comments such as "I understand why this is so upsetting for you" and "You are a good mother" can provide the boost that is needed to continue persevering.
Often prior to making the decision to exclusively pump, women are in an unending cycle of breastfeeding, bottle feeding to supplement their baby's needs, and then expressing their milk with a breast pump. This cycle is exhausting and almost impossible to continue for an indefinite period of time- especially without support. Add onto this cycle the stress of having a premature baby or ill infant, or other complicating factors, and a new mother can easily and quickly become overwhelmed. Be prepared to offer not only a listening ear but to also offer concrete support to assist in all other aspects of her life. Many women who end up exclusively pumping turn to it as a means of self-preservation after becoming overwhelmed with the cycle of breastfeeding, bottle feeding, and pumping. Sometimes the emotional price of continually trying to breastfeed and not having the situation improve is enormous and overwhelming; sometimes a woman needs to move on. Support her decision. Recognize it as her decision. Acknowledge the fact that her baby is still receiving breast milk. Provide information and support if breastfeeding is still desired. Again, acknowledgement and support can go a long way.
Help exclusively pumping women connect with others for support and information. There are numerous internet discussion boards and mailing lists dedicated to exclusively pumping moms and many others available for women who are generally expressing breast milk whether it be exclusively or while they are at work. The benefits of sharing with others who are going through the same experience as you, and feeling the same emotions as you, are enormous. Women who are exclusively pumping often think that they have invented the idea and feel as though they are the only woman in the world doing it, but this is far from the truth.
Family and friends must provide support and encouragement. The importance of breastfeeding and breast milk must be understood by everyone supporting a new mother. The time requirements and schedule of a woman who is exclusively pumping is extremely challenging and will not only affect the mother, but will affect everyone in the family. Help with the new baby, older children, and household work is often necessary in order for the mother to be able to dedicate the necessary time to milk expression. In addition to practical support, it is also very important that family and friends support the efforts of the woman to provide breast milk for her baby. Questioning the importance of breast milk, suggesting the baby be fed formula or asking why she doesn't "just breastfeed" undermines a mother's efforts, does not acknowledge her struggles, and gives her yet another obstacle to overcome.
There is no doubt that the option of exclusively pumping can be a difficult path to choose, but the value and benefits of breast milk are undeniable, and, when breastfeeding is not possible, exclusively pumping breast milk, as the World Health Organization recommends, should be seen as the next viable option for feeding a baby. This alternative can be made much more viable for a new mother with support, understanding, knowledge, and acknowledgement from those who surround her.
Stephanie Casemore is the author of Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk: a Guide to Providing Expressed Breast Milk for your Baby. For more information on exclusively pumping or to purchase Stephanie's book, visit www.ExclusivelyPumping.com