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A Summary of the WHO Code
(International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes)
World Health Organization (WHO)
Geneva, Switzerland, 1981, 1986, 1994, 1996, 2001
Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí por favor.
Have you heard of “The Code”, aka “The WHO Code” aka “The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes”? If the answer to that question is “yes”, do you know what the WHO Code says? Could you explain it to someone?
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.
Think about it. Talk about it. Do something about it. Today.
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
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It was a little less than two years ago that I quit my job of almost 21 years at a large telecommunications company to accept a position in the BCIT Entrepreneurial Skills Training (BEST) program - a government sponsored self-employment program. The program consisted of 10 weeks of classroom training and another 38 weeks of support from a business advisor, to whom we had to submit monthly reports, and a little bit of monetary support via Employment Insurance.
The program was one of the best things I've done for personal and professional development in recent years, but the PEOPLE are what I remember and value the most! There were 17 of us "budding entrepreneurs" accepted into the program and I'm still in contact with more than 10 of them while three have become good friends whom I see or talk to on a regular basis. We also keep in touch with our business advisor who joins us for coffee from time to time.
It was during the BEST program that I was reintroduced to the show Dragons' Den on CBC (I had heard of it, but had never seen it). We watched a few episodes as part of our classroom training. I was intrigued.
Dragons' Den originated in Japan and versions of it have emerged in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, The Netherlands, Finland, in the Middle East and of course our own here in Canada. More information can be found on Wikipedia. There is also a similar show in the US by the name of Shark Tank in which Robert Herjavec and Kevin O'Leary also appear. (I watched this show once, but didn't like it nearly as much).
This is how it works in a nutshell... you pitch your business to five self-made millionaires/billionaires in the hopes that they will invest in your company in exchange for a stake in it. The catch is, you have to leave with at least as much money as you asked for. Therefore, if you over-value your business, they will have to take a larger stake to give you the money that you're asking for. Capisce?
Back to the classroom... so the Dragons' Den audition tour came through town and our business advisors and instructors encouraged us to apply. I considered it... briefly... and promptly chickened out. ;-)
Fast forward to the Fall of 2009. I generally don't watch TV, but I am now ADDICTED to Dragons' Den on CBC, Wednesday nights at 8 pm. My husband is too. I now feel like I'm ready to apply but according to the website, "Applications are currently closed. If Dragons' Den returns for another season, applications will open in spring, 2010. Please subscribe to the newsletter for audition announcements." What do they mean "if"? I start visiting the website regularly only to see the same message over and over.
Now it is, I believe, February 2010. Mike and I are in our usual spots on the couch snuggling on a Wednesday night when "the Den" breaks for commercial and they announce the audition tour! I immediately go online and sign-up for an email alert that will advise me of the date(s) for Vancouver.
The dates are set within a few weeks - I can audition on March 13th or March 27th. I ask my friend Donna to model for me. She says yes (YAY!) but can only do the 27th (I am relieved that I can procrastinate until then). You may remember Donna from our How to Take an Overbust Measurement video. Donna had her baby just a few days after that video was shot - a little girl named Serenity who is now almost six months old! Honestly, it feels just like yesterday that we shot that!
It is now a few weeks before my audition. My "BEST" gal pals Pauline Siu of flora and fauna and Kathy Day of Earthly Presence and I decide that a "dry run" is in order. Kathy recruits Ethical Bean's owner Lloyd Bernhardt to participate as well (thanks Kathy!). We scramble to find a time that works with everyone's schedule. Another date set - whew! Finally the day arrives and I head over to EB at an ungodly hour with my homemade banana cake (it was the least I could do). Let me say once again - THANK YOU ALL for participating. The feedback that I received was invaluable. Really. Oh and if you haven't tried a Chai Tea Latte from Ethical Bean. Oh my GAWD you haven't lived yet! (and I'm a Starbuck's Toffee Nut Latte die-hard). But I digress...
Up to this point, I hadn't allowed myself to TRULY think about the audition or the possibility of me ACTUALLY going to Toronto (if I was chosen to go to tape) and thus I was pretty non-chalant about this whole "Dragons' Den thing". But when I got to the EB boardroom last Wednesday morning, I got nervous! I realized after the fact, that I was nervous for a couple of reasons. First, I wasn't prepared enough. And second, it was now REAL. Probably the biggest thing that I took away from those couple of hours, aside from all the great advice and feedback that I received, was that in order to get through this audition, I had to prepare, prepare, prepare and then prepare some more!
I know my product inside and out, I know my numbers inside and out. But when I get frazzled (yes I DO get frazzled sometimes), I forget everything. And then some!
So true to form (I'm a master procrastinator), there I was on Friday night - AFTER movie night with my daughter - re-writing my pitch, timing my pitch, editing my pitch and practicing my pitch while folding the laundry (so that I had clean clothes to wear to the audition). I was feeling pretty good about it when I turned in around midnight and quickly hoped to myself that I didn't dream about the audition ALL.NIGHT.LONG.
Mission accomplished - no dreams about Dragons. :-) I got up early and decided to see how much of the pitch I had retained overnight. It must have sunk-in overnight as I felt pretty confident and decided to jump in the shower (where I practiced my pitch some more). Then Donna arrived and I ran it by her, Mike, Antonia and Michaela. Oh no! Feeling a bit nervous again. Well, no time for that - off we went to hook-up with Leslie Cairns - founder of the Buggy Bag - who was also auditioning.
We had previously discussed going down early - around 8 am - to beat the line-up. Then we heard from someone that auditioned last year who said not to bother going down early as they scout the line-up and pull people randomly (my girlfriend that works in film had told me they might do it this way, so it sounded legit). So we showed up right at 11 am... aaaaaaand there were already 37 people ahead of us. Yup, first come, first served. They told us to put our name up on the board and allow 15 minutes per person. Quick calculation...... that's 9+ hours. GROAN!
I texted Mike to let him know that I may be a little later than I had originally thought. And I updated all my friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.
We found some seats and tried to digest the fact that we may be spending the next nine hours in this room. I tried to practice my pitch some more, but it was pretty noisy in there with more than 50 people, plus they were playing last season's episodes of the Den. So we started chatting with people to pass the time. I met the owners of Pee-pee Teepee. I was familiar with their product but didn't know that they had diversified to include other products like shoes, blankets and clothing. So awesome! We'll see them in Vegas this year at the ABC Show. And Jamie from S2S Nation (his website isn't quite live yet) - cool, limited-edition, custom-designed, bamboo and organic cotton t-shirts.
A couple of hours in, they were only at #11, so we decided to refuel. I had been craving sushi for a couple of weeks so we headed across the street to a Japanese restaurant. I eyed the Starbucks on the opposite corner for my "dessert". After stuffing ourselves with yummy sushi and then grabbing a Chai Tea Latte (not nearly as good as EB though), I was totally recharged and feeling über confident for the first time since arriving!
When we got back to the room, the board was a mess - there seemed to no longer be any semblence of order with names crossed off randomly all over the place. So Donna went up to the fellow holding the "official list" and asked him where we were at. Donna came back and I asked her what the verdict was. She said, "I'm not telling you." I said, "We're next?" She said, "Pretty much!" I was ready! Woot!
The next thing I knew, we were in the next room pitching! I started my shpiel when about 1/2-way through they interrupted us to say, "Show us how it works." So we jumped to the demo portion of the pitch and they started firing questions at me, all of which I answered. :-) Then they took a picture of Donna with the PumpEase on and asked if they could take two samples back to Toronto with them. And then they told us we did a great job and we were done!
After we left the room, Donna said, "You are SO going to Toronto." and promptly offered to be my model there as well. I was so focused on my pitch that apparently I missed a bunch of stuff - whispering, body language, eye contact. But I'm not counting my chickens just yet...
We walked back into the waiting room and everyone asked how we did. I said it was awesome (because it was) and I tell ya, if it hadn't been 4:00 already, I would have dragged both Donna and Leslie off to the bar for a double! We were definitely on a "high"! As it was, had to get home to Mike and the girls for dins. However, we did head out that night to a local pub with a bunch of friends including Angie, whose hubby was playing in the band. I had a coupla Caesars, danced a coupla songs, caught-up with a coupla friends and had a great night! Cheers Dragons! I'll catch-up with you in T.O.!
Are you a fan of Dragons' Den? Do you have a favourite pitch? Please share it with us below...
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We are excited and honoured to announce that earlier this month the PumpEase hands-free pumping bra was named a winner of the Parent Tested, Parent Approved (PTPA) Seal of Approval!
After our last attempt at being recognized for our product, you may think we were a glutton for punishment, wouldn't you? Well, I dusted off my pants, dried my tears and did some extensive research on the other programs out there before I got back on my horse. And I am pleased to share with you that, after doing said research and narrowing my choices down, I found myself chatting with the people at PTPA Media (before I submitted my product), and my faith in these "awards programs" was somewhat reinstated. At least enough to give it another go.
During my "pre-submission" chat with PTPA Media, they were completely up-front about ALL the fees involved to be evaluated by their product testers as well as the licensing of the Seal of Approval if you indeed are named a winner. Everything we discussed was also clearly outlined on their website on an easy-to-find page.
Let's be blunt here. These awards programs are a business, plain and simple. They are out to make a profit just like the rest of us. Having said that, there are businesses out there that provide a good product/service/customer care and then there are others that.. well.. don't. Guess which one I am going to choose to deal with?
However, I'll admit that I was nonetheless expecting the worst (still licking my wounds I suppose), but was pleasantly surprised with the level of customer service that I received from PTPA Media. Every email, every phonecall, every voicemail and every letter that I was promised, I received. There were no surprises, no delays and no misunderstandings. Everything that I paid for, that was CLEARLY explained to me, I received. This makes Wendy a happy girl! (I love happy endings!) :-)
As you may already know, I am a huge proponent of extraordinary customer service. Not just good, not just excellent, extraordinary. And if you've ever had the occasion to deal with me on a customer service issue, then you already know that I won't stop until you are happy. Really happy. I want to make you say, "Wow!". Aside from the obvious reasons that customer service is so important to us, I believe that this, along with web 2.0 practices (I'll quote Peter Shankman here) transparency, brevity, top-of-mind and relevancy, FLATTENS THE PLAYING FIELD for smaller companies like ours to compete with the "big guys". This is the beauty of doing business in today's world. And I love it!
But let's get back to the award! We received some great feedback (both positive and not so much), all of which is super useful for us going forward with new product development and current product improvements. I will now share some of the accolades with you... *blushing*
"This product more than met my expectations. At first, when wearing the hands free pumping support, I was very stiff and slow in my movements as I was unsure how supportive the product would be in holding my breast pump. In a short period of time, I realized that the breast pump was secure and I was able to move normally without worrying about my breast pump falling off. I inserted batteries in my breast pump so as to not be restricted by the cord length and then attempted various activities. I was able to clean my house, prepare meals, surf the internet, type emails, read books, knit, and interact and play with my 2-1/2 year old and 6 month old, all while pumping. In addition, I pumped with the PumpEase hands-free pumping support while nursing on the other side. With all these activities undertaken while wearing the support, the breast pump was held securely. At no time did it feel like the breast pump felt loose or in danger of falling off. The hands free pumping support held the breast pump on my breast with evenly distributed pressure in such a way that was more consistent and secure than holding the breast pump by hand, resulting in an increased amount of milk being expressed."
"The quality met my requirements. The product appeared very well made and was very easy to care for. It cleaned up very well and dried quickly. I wore the product for lengthy periods on its own and with the breast pump in order to see if it would begin to sag or stretch out. After lengthy and day to day use, the support maintained it's shape, and comfort without stretching out or becoming loose."
"The hands free pumping support is very comfortable to wear. It is supportive enough to hold the breast pump in place securely, while not feeling restrictive. There were no parts of the support that scratched, poked, pulled or pinched the skin. I wore the support both alone and over my nursing bra. The product was just as effective either way."
"I received the "Tuxedo" style which is black with white trim. It is very appealing and classy looking. For others that enjoy more colour, there are other prints available which are just as fashionable."
I could include more, but don't want to bore you.
And here is some of the constructive criticism...
"There were a lot of latches on the front of the bra to close it. Too many for my liking."
"I didn't really care about the style and colour because no one sees it but me."
"Taking the equipment out and apart was a little challenging and sometimes my milk would leak onto the bra as I was taking the equipment off."
"I found it took extra time to set up to pump rather then just pumping like I normally do, it took me some time to get comfortable."
"I think the product is over priced. I think that $30-ish would be fair. I think that the competitors are over-priced as well."
At this point, I'd like to thank all the product evaluators for their thorough and honest opinions. As I've said many times before, we LOVE feedback because that is one of the many ways that we can make things better for YOU, our customer! And isn't that what it's all about?
So keep your eyes peeled for further announcements about PumpEase as this marketing campaign unfolds. If you have any feedback about PumpEase, please leave it in the comments below. Bring it on!
And for the record, I have STILL yet to hear from iParenting Media. I guess they're not calling me back huh?
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Have you been wondering where we've been hiding since the end of January? We do apologize... we've been JUST a tad busy!
What with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and the pending launch of our new product on May 1st, we admit we have fallen quite behind!
Let's start with the Olympics. I have to be honest with you - I wasn't that jazzed about the Olympics coming to town. I'm a bit of a control freak (shhhh!) and the thought that our city was going to be "invaded" (for lack of a better word) by essentially the world, well... disturbed me. I was checking my calendar and planning any trips into the city BEFORE and AFTER the games. It was the unknown. How crazy would it be? I didn't want to know. And I don't think anyone really DID know.
And then of course there is the money that we have spent for the last SEVEN YEARS getting ready for this world-class event. There has never been an Olympic Games, from what I understand, that broke even, let alone made a profit... so obviously as a taxpayer, I was concerned about that as well.
BUT (and this is a big "but") then there were those Opening Ceremonies. I actually missed the better part of them as I was out to dinner with my girls, my mom and my sister's family for my niece's 7th birthday (DH was working afternoon shift). Afterwards, EVERYONE was talking about how fantastic they were. Twitter and Facebook were all a-buzz. No matter where you were, you heard about them. AND.I.MISSED.THEM.AND.I.WAS.STRESSING.ABOUT.IT. Ya, I know, I'm a geek. For the record, I bought both the opening and closing ceremonies on iTunes a few days back so now I have them for all prosperity. So there! But I digress... They were touting our Opening Ceremonies as one of the best in the history of the Olympic Games and Canadian pride swelled in everyone's hearts - I didn't have a chance - I was HOOKED! You see, I am a pretty proud Canadian anyways. I have a big Canadian flag on my house 24/7/365. When I travel, I wear a Canadian pin on my person. And now I have not one, but TWO Canadian flags on my car. And although I would like to experience living in another country at some point in my life, I would always, ALWAYS come back to Canada... Vancouver, Canada - my home!
So we decided, after swearing up and down that we were going nowhere near downtown Vancouver between February 12th and 28th, that we would check it out. Mike and the girls and I ventured downtown on Sunday, February 21st with my sister and her family. We caught the Skytrain as we had NO IDEA what the parking would be like (turns out that because so many people were scared of the parking situation and thus took transit, there WAS actually parking throughout (most of) the Olympics! Who Knew?). We headed to see the cauldron first. There were wall-to-wall people so we didn't wait in line for the viewing platform. And despite the gorgeous sunshine, it was COLD and WINDY down at the waterfront, and in general, that day... BRRRRR!
Then up Burrard to Robson Street. We window-shopped and people-watched. We saw the zip line and its 6+ hour line-up. We cruised past the flower-bedecked Vancouver Art Gallery (aka The BC Pavillion). We met up with my good friend Vici and her dog Max... We saw street performers and tons of people, people, people! And it was SO COOL to see the "sea of red" - almost everyone was wearing red for Canada! After a quick lunch we walked some more, checking out the amazing transformation of the beautiful city that we call home. The Residences on Georgia (corner of Georgia and Howe Streets) were wrapped in a HUGE Canadian flag. I wonder how many millions of people took this pic?
We then went to the Olympic Store at The Bay. I had to eat my words because I had already told my sister that I was NOT going downtown to go "shopping". But we were both SO JONESING for the zip-up hoodies with "CANADA" emblazoned across the front that we totally went tourist. First we went inside only to find out that the only way into the Olympic Store was via an outside entrance. And yes, there was a line-up. Keep in mind that you don't get anywhere "quickly" on a weekend during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, let alone with eight people including three kids under 8 and a 14-month old. So off we went to go back outside. The line-up looked L-O-N-G (over a block and 4-5 people deep) but was only about a 20 minute wait. Did we get our hoodies? NOPE. We found out later that they were sold out pretty much everywhere. I even asked my cousin who lives in Regina, Saskatchewan to check there and in Saskatoon where she just happened to be the following weekend - NADA! BUT they're on Craig's List for $300+ if you REALLY want one. I REALLY want one, but not "$300 want". We did get a couple more things for the girls though and they were pretty stoked about that!
It was a good day - and I hope the girls will both remember "the day they went to the Olympics". Here we are on the Skytrain home. As you can see, the girls are pretty tired and so is Mom and Dad.
But Mama wanted to check out the Olympics "adult-style" so off my friend Vici and I went the following Thursday, February 25th! It was the evening of the day that the Canadian Women's Hockey Team had won the Gold Medal (for the third straight time by the way... ahem). We didn't have a clue how "nuts" it was going to be downtown, so we started out in Yaletown and after kyboshing waiting in line to go into LiveCity Yaletown, we decided to check out some of the False Creek pavillions. There were line-ups everywhere, but most of them moved fairly quickly. Many of the pavillions had free admission and I had "heard" which ones were especially good and which ones were sleepers - but I soon found out it just depended on the night and who (athletes, celebs, media) were inside. The Saskatchewan Pavillion* was our first stop ... meh. Had a drink and got our pics taken with two RCMP officers decked out in their red serge. Off to Ontario House. Again, not quite the "party" we were looking for (yes, we was lookin' for a PAR-TAY). Had a drink and off we went. We went by Molson Canadian Hockey House and tried to get in there. Ahem... private event - $900 to get in (no joke). Well, I guess that's where the women's hockey team was hangin'! They obviously had no idea who we were. I mean, look at my boots! How could they NOT let me in in those boots!
We then headed back to Yaletown and went to the Yaletown Brewing Company. They had a rockin' live band and the place was packed! SCORE! We miraculously found a couple of seats and started chatting with our neighbours. EVERYONE was in a great mood! We met some lovely people from all over the world including Kimmy and Hannu from Finland (I had never met a Finn before - too cool!). That's Kimmy with Vici and I below. I was having fun "discussing" (read bragging) about how Canada was going to "whoop their @SSES" in Men's Hockey. Hannu and I texted each other over the next few days - teasing each other to the max - after Finland's loss to the USA (I have to apologize to all my American friends as I was rooting for Finland. After that initial Canada-USA game, I'll admit I was trying to avoid you!) and right up to THAT NAIL-BITER GOLD MEDAL GAME! My goodness, Mike and I were GLUED to the TV that day - I nearly had a heart attack! I think Mike's poor thigh was bruised from me hitting it everytime we scored! Now please look the other way while I gloat... CANADA RULES HOCKEY! Not to mention the records that we broke: Canada won more gold medals than any host nation in Winter Olympic history AND it also marked the most gold medals Canada has won at any Olympics — winter or summer. Finally, Canadian WOMEN were first in GOLD overall! LOVE IT!
But I must say, meeting people from all over the world and listening to them "gush" about our city was right up there with all the medals and the broken records. Their words acted as a MIRROR, so as to remind us, when we are "too close" to all this fantasticness (is that a word?) and taking for granted where we live, that we really DO have the pleasure of living in one of the greatest cities in the world! Needless to say, I was feeling pretty proud to be Canadian that night too!
We danced, we drank, we got home at 3:30 am... groan! I was soooo dragging my butt the next day (but it was worth it!). Then two days later, I did it all again - this time with my hubby Mike. We walked Granville Street, checking out the cool art installations, we hooked-up with friends and we ate pizza-by-the-slice at the wee hours of the morn' after leaving Doolin's Irish Pub - part of Irish House. Guess what time we got home... yup 3:30 am. Thank goodness Grandma had the girls overnight and we could sleep-in a teensy bit past their normal wake-up time of 8 am. Twice in one week and I was thinking, "I'm too old for this". Then I came to my senses and realized that I'm just out of practice. Yup, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!
And here it is the middle of March already, a full 2 weeks after the closing ceremonies, and I am just getting to this blog post. So yes, we are still behind, however, the good news is, we've FINALLY hired an office assistant (official trés cool title TBA) so we hope to be back to posting a little more regularly going forward. Her name is Rebekah and we're counting down the days until she starts (this Friday, March 19th - T minus 5 days and counting woot!), so please watch for our blog post introducing her - she is quite an interesting gal!
And we promise to really try not to go MIA ever again...
I almost forgot! If you want to hear more about the other reason that we are so far behind - our fantabulous new product, ETA May 1st - you will simply need to keep coming back here to check. But I WILL tell you this... you are going to love it!
So what did you do during the Olympics? Were you lucky enough to go to any actual events? Any victory ceremonies? The opening or closing ceremonies? Tell us about it below!
*I am linking to pages that were live during the Olympics as well as at the time of posting, however there is no guarantee how long they will stay "live". I apologize in advance for any dead links.
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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).
January 27, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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
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.