October 3rd, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Breast is Best

Driving Without a Seatbelt - The Blinders of Our Cultural "Norms"


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I was recently in Las Vegas and took the Zappos.com tour.  When their bus came to our hotel to pick us up, I was both surprised and pleased to see that it had seatbelts (and yes I put one on)!  I can't remember ever riding on a bus with seatbelts and in fact, I always wondered why they didn't have them especially when you hear of the busloads of school children seriously injured or killed after being involved in an accident.smoking in the car with your kids in the back

This got me thinking about an oft-discussed, "remember when" conversation amongst my sisters and I... "Remember when we were kids and Mom and Dad both smoked in the car WITH THE WINDOWS ROLLED ALL THE WAY UP?  And remember how we used to tuck the seatbelts in behind the seat because no one wore them?  And remember how mothers used to ride in the front passenger seat with babies on their laps? And remember when Dad used to go out for drinks with the guys after work and drive home drunk all the way from downtown Vancouver?"

IT ALL SEEMS SO WEIRD NOW.  I feel quite uneasy if I ever ride in a motor vehicle without a seatbelt (e.g. in a taxi, bus or limo).  Our babies are in 5-point harness, rear-facing car seats.  My Mom NEVER smokes in the car - in fact, she doesn't even smoke in her own house, or anyone else's for that matter (even if the homeowners themselves do)!  In fact, many US States and Canadian Provinces (BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia) have passed laws prohibiting smoking in your car if you have children with you.  And who risks driving drunk anymore?  Not I, and I'm sure, not you either.

It's all what we're used to - the cultural norm.  These changes didn't happen overnight.  When the change first occurs, people resist because generally, people don't like change.  I remember HATING to have to wear a seatbelt when it became law.  Today, when I get into the car, I couldn't imagine even backing out of the driveway without a seatbelt.  It feels weird NOT to have it on!  So gradually things change and then everyone thinks back to "remember when" and how, in contrast, their past behaviours feel so odd and distant and CRAZY today!why do humans drink another species' milk?

And speaking of "what we're used to", what other mammals do you know that drink milk from another species?  And what other mammals do you know that drink milk past infancy?  The fact that we have been brainwashed by the Dairy Industry to think we should ingest cow's milk as the "norm" is a perfect example of the blinders we wear in our culture.  When you REALLY sit down and think about this, humans drinking cow's milk is NOT NORMAL.  Yet many of us do it without ever questioning it.

The same goes for the Formula Industry and their marketing campaigns that have brainwashed both health care professionals and consumers to really believe that artificial feeding is as good as breastmilk.  I believe that formula should only be available by perscription and in a tin with a generic label - no brand names, pictures or promotional messages such that it is in Iran.  But I digress.  That is a whole other post.

Another example is fashion, albeit a bit less significant societally, but may resonate with some readers all the same. Do you remember when skinny leg jeans came into style? (yes I know I am dating myself).  I remember thinking I would "never" wear them.  Yuck! I loved my bell bottoms!  But there we were a few months later enmasse.

So why then, when we hear of a woman cross-nursing a baby, something that was a cultural norm only a little more than 60 years ago, are we squeamish or worse, even mortified?

My sister sent me an article that she had ripped-out of the October 2009 issue of Canadian Family magazine entitled "Bunch of boobs".  It is a true story by Catherine Connors, citing a situation she found herself in - with painfully engorged breasts, sans a breast pump and an offer to nurse another woman's hungry baby - an act that would solve both problems - settling the hungry baby and relieving her painful engorgement.  The article also appears on her blog bearing the title, They Shoot Wet Nurses, Don't They?

I think Angie Felton of ParentDish sums it up quite nicely in her article, Cross Nursing - Natural extension or disgusting and weird?, in which she writes, "When I was in the midst of my own nursing years (I nursed all four of my kids) nursing a friend's baby wouldn't have been more intimate to me than giving them a bottle, simply a means to END THE CRYING. However, I was in a completely different mindset where breasts were purely utilitarian baby feeding devices. I'm no longer at that point, and can understand people being grossed out at the thought of breastfeeding someone else's child."

But shouldn't we all take a step back, adopt a similar mindset and realize that breasts ARE utilitarian baby feeding devices?  I know it is hard to wade through all the sexual images we are inundated with in our culture to achieve clarity on this, however, this is the reason women have breasts and men don't.  Think about it.  I also realize that this task may be more difficult for non-moms - I didn't become a mom until I was 38 years old and thus had formed opinions (albeit misinformed ones) about many subjects around breastfeeding and motherhood.  For example, my opinion about the length of a mother's breastfeeding relationship with her child was summed up in a statement such as, "If they're old enough to ask for it, then it is time to wean."  How naive was I?  Today I am quite irritated by the term "extended breastfeeding" because it labels it as an "outside the norm" activity.  How can we view breastfeeding a toddler as "weird" when the experts at the AAP, the AAFP, Health Canada and the WHO all recommend exclusively breastfeeding your baby for the first six months of life and continuing to breastfeed for up to two years and beyond?  I was wrong.  I was misinformed.  Educate yourself.  It's your responsibility to do so before voicing an opinion.

I too am finished breastfeeding my children, however, if I had milk today and found myself in a situation similar to Catherine's, I'm certain I would partake.  As far as how I would feel about it, I think it "could" feel a little weird, almost illicit (only because of the cultural perception) to breastfeed another mother's child, however, I don't think that feeling would last more than a few seconds before it changed into exhilaration, empowerment and inspiration!  I believe I would actually feel quite proud - as though I was a trailblazer for all women!

With regards to HIV and other communicable diseases, the "knee-jerk" reason most commonly heard in opposition of this issue, I trust that the mothers of today are intelligent women and will use her common sense in choosing a wet nurse or a cross-nursing partner that she trusts.  I simply don't accept that as a valid reason not to cross-nurse.  Mothers will protect their child in every aspect of parenting including this one.  Case closed.

So the next time you witness or read something in the media that makes you feel uncomfortable or upset, perhaps take the time to do a little research.  Find out the where's and the why's; if it has ever been the "norm" in the past, find out WHY it went "out of fashion" (for lack of a better word) and decide for yourself if that reason is something you agree with or if its the result of unfortunate shifts in our cultural thinking.  Change isn't ALWAYS for the better.

So would you nurse another woman's baby?  Tell me about it below.

{"easyJet Seatbelt" by Christopher Doyle is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0}

{"Cow-Milking Demonstration" by Judy Baxter is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0}

September 27th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Stephanie • Breast is BestInside SnugabellPumping

Guest Post: What's that Noise? *or passing the time while pumping*


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Anyone who spends any amount of time pumping breast milk for their baby realizes quickly how mind-numbingly boring it can be.  One of the biggest let-down killers is bottle-watching: waiting for the bottle to fill and only getting the drip, drip, drip...  Be one of the many women who exclusively pump (EP) and you quickly realize that these hours of your life must be filled with something other than waiting for the oxytocin release.  After I finished my year of EPing, I calculated that I had spent approximately one entire month of my life with my breast pump.  And while I never question or regret the choice I made to express milk for my son, I also know that this time was not always relaxing or enjoyable.  Finding something to do while pumping, however, can help make the experience more enjoyable.  So what are your options?

There is (excuse the expression and the pun) the boob tube.  During my midnight pumping sessions I became a connoisseur of late night and late, late night television.   I truly believe David Letterman and I had a personal relationship.  (Note to self: I must reconnect with him.)   Emergency 51, Marcus Welby, and Quincy were all on in the wee hours of the night and got me through many 2 a.m. pumping sessions not to mention teaching me all about emergency medicine and autopsies!

Sleeping of course can not be discounted as an option.  Yes, it can be done!  While usually not a planned activity during pumping, you will be equally surprised as I was the first time you wake up, milk overflowing the collection bottles, and a sense of disorientation overflowing you.  While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend sleeping as an option, it is possible, does happen, and when it does happen to you, know you are not the only one!

Talking on the phone can be a very pleasant way to pass the time (as long as it’s not your nosy mother-in-law you are talking to) and keep your mind off the bottles.  However, you might want to carefully consider who you are talking to so when the inevitable question of “What is that noise?” arises, you can answer without embarrassment or at the very least have a quick, and perhaps distracting, response preplanned.

One of the most common methods to pass time while pumping is to surf the web.  With countless hyperlinks to follow, filling fifteen to twenty minutes of your time is quite simple.  Catching up on posts on the many discussion boards focused on expressing breast milk helps to build community, camaraderie and support which is so critical in what can be a very isolating activity.  On the downside, you have to avoid the many opportunities available on the internet to spend money!

What else can you do?  Really pretty much anything.  I have even heard of women who drive their car while expressing!  And when you start to consider all the possible ways to pass the time while pumping, you begin to wonder, “Just how do you manage all these things while trying to operate the pump, hold the collection bottles, do breast compressions, deal with the overflowing bottles...?”

Well, watching television can be done without the need of hands.  Sleeping can easily begin without a need for hands, but pretty much anything else will require an extra set of hands- or the use of the ones you already have.  For me, this was accomplished through my wonderfully short stature.  In most cases, this is a detriment, but when pumping, my short stature allowed me to precariously perch the collection bottles on my knees with one forearm pressed against one bottle and the hand on the same arm holding the other bottle.  This of course only frees up only one hand making very slow work of typing and requires everything be within close reach.  For women nursing at the keyboard they have come up with the acronym “NAK” (nursing at keyboard) to explain poor keyboarding or spelling.  I have yet to see anyone use “PAK” (pumping at keyboard) but perhaps it is time it is used as well.

hands-free pumpingSince I was pumping, more than five years ago, there have been a myriad of products come to market that allow for hands-free pumping.  Hands-free devices provide a certain amount of freedom impossible without them.  While not necessary, a good hands-free bra can allow women to focus on something other than the bottles and the milk being expressed and actually help to improve the volume of milk expressed.  Using a hands-free bra can actually reclaim some of the time spent pumping and turn it into something that you can use for yourself.

So, what do YOU do while pumping?  Drop us a line below and tell us about it!

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

August 8th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • GeneralResources

Why are 80% of Women Wearing the Wrong Bra Size?


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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!Chantelle

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.

ChantelleIt 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.before and after a properly-fitting bra

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!

{Photo credit: Hotmilk Lingerie}

{Photo credit: The Bra Lady}

June 30th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Breast is BestMedia & MarketingPumping

This Breastfeeding Ad is a Ripper!


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As you may or may not know, I feel very strongly about a woman's right to breastfeed in public.  I saw this ad and thought it was brilliant.  Or in Aussie lingo, a R-I-P-P-E-R!


So who has a connection at INFACT Canada or the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada or better yet, at the Department of Justice of the Government of Canada - the department responsible for the upholding of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?  Specifically Section 15(1) and Section 28.  Let's lobby for some breastfeeding ads like this one!  Short, sweet and OH SO to the point!

You like?  Leave me a comment with your opinion!

June 20th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Breast is BestGiving BackInside Snugabell

Help Give Breastfeeding a Makeover!


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I was reading the Motherwear Breastfeeding blog the other day, as you know I so often do, when I followed a link in one of Tanya's posts and ended up on this site.  I have to say that I thought I'd died and gone to heaven!  The concept behind Best for Babes has lived in my head for some time now.  I always thought that I would find the time to start something like this (I know my friends and family are rolling on the floor laughing right now).  Having said that I am absolutely thrilled that it has already been brought to fruition!

Best for Babes - Breastfeeding FriendlyThe attitude, the approach, the images, the sass and their slogan - "Giving Breastfeeding a Makeover" totally resonated with me.  I immediately emailed the founders, Bettina and Danielle, and we scheduled a conference call to discuss how I could get involved!

To start we are proud to announce that $1 from the online sale of every PumpEase™ will be donated to the Best for Babes Foundation to help moms achieve their personal breastfeeding goals.

Here is a glimpse of the Best for Babes Mission Statement...

To give breastfeeding a makeover - to market, brand and mainstream it, acting as a catalyst to elevate this cause on par with Komen, Juvenile Diabetes, (Red)™ and others.

To shift the focus and pressure off moms and onto the “booby traps” - the cultural and institutional barriers to breastfeeding successfully - and to helping to remove those barriers through positive social pressure.

To harness the power of celebrities, corporations, foundations, fashion, advertising, the medical community and the media to bring about a cultural change that embraces, celebrates and supports breastfeeding moms.Best for Babes - Economic Stimulus Packages

I encourage you to visit their site and find out how you can get involved.  Donate, follow them on Twitter, join their Facebook Group and tell everyone you know about them!  Anything and everything you do will help.  It is an especially vital time with the recent introduction of the Breastfeeding Promotion Act in both houses of Congress as well as the Breastfeeding Petition to President Obama to make breastfeeding a high priority in his adminstration - to promote it as preventative care to save lives, reduce disease and save the US Health Care system billions if not trillions of dollars.

"Hey!" you say, "Are you not Canadian?"  Yes I am, born and raised.  However, it has to start somewhere and like it or lump it, we all look to the US for direction sometimes.  The situation in the US is critical with the skyrocketing Caesarian rates, the plummeting breastfeeding rates after moms and their babes leave the hospital and the lack of education and support for the breastfeeding mom.

Besides, I love my US customers and Best for Babes will help women worldwide, not just in the good ole USA.

So please visit the Best for Babes site and then come back here and tell me what you think!