November 3rd, 2011 • Comments: 0 • by Denise • Inside Snugabell

Meet the Snugabell Team: Denise - Our Quality Control & Packaging Diva

Dixie, Denise and Olivia (L-R)

Hi, my name is Denise Armbruster and I am responsible for the quality control and packaging here at Snugabell. I have been on the Snugabell team by far the longest. In fact, Wendy has been bossing me around since 1970!! Truth be told, I am her younger sister so it kind of goes with the territory (or so she tells me). :-)

Before having children I worked as a bookkeeper. After over 10 years of that, I decided I needed a change and chose to pursue a career in the food industry. I have always loved baking and did it every chance I could growing up. I think I baked my first chocolate cake all by myself at age 7 and it turned out awesome. Instead of doing the “usual” teenager type stuff on weekends, I would tackle big projects like puff pastry, donuts or endless amount of sugar cookies intricately decorated for upcoming holidays. In the early 90’s I enrolled in both the Culinary and Pastry & Desserts Program at Dubrulle French Culinary School here in Vancouver. I loved it and excelled in both programs. Upon graduation, I was hand-picked by the school for a three-month apprenticeship at a chateau in Normandy, France. I have to admit, those three months are a definite highlight in my life. Have you ever eaten unpasteurized French cheese? OMG so good!!! We totally kill cheese here in North America, sorry! I still do custom cakes for friends and acquaintances out of my own kitchen. I love doing wedding cakes!

Dixie wearing a PumpEase as a sash.

I met my husband Mike shortly after I returned from France. I had my first baby, Olivia, in 2003, and had absolutely no intentions of not being her mom on a full time basis, so I quit my job to stay at home. Sure money has been tight - I have to go without some things - but it is worth it. By the time Dixie arrived in 2008, Wendy had already invented the PumpEase. By that time I was also providing full-time daycare for Wendy's two girls, therefore I was concerned about how I was going to fit it all in! So I promptly went out and bought a breast pump. I was also diagnosed with a low milk supply, something that wasn't an issue with Olivia, and was prescribed Domperidone. Dixie has always been an “easy” baby. She has slept through the night since she was one month old. (Yes I’m bragging!!!) I attribute my success to my PumpEase and breast pump. I would pump once a day around 11pm and then would use that milk to “top her up with a bottle” after nursing her before bed every night. Worked like a charm for me anyways.

I have been doing the quality control and packaging for Wendy since the birth of Snugabell almost four years ago. It is really great because I can do it in my spare time. I am pretty sure I have the most flexible job on the planet! Dixie even likes to “help” me sometimes by passing me the boxes one at a time as I fill them up. She also enjoys modeling the PumpEase pretending they are Brownie sashes! Check her out rockin' the Verry Cherry!

October 22nd, 2011 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Resources

10 Easy (But Often Overlooked) Ways to Avoid Induction

10 easy (but often overlooked) ways to avoid induction"Medical induction of childbirth is on the rise with more than 45% of Ontarian womenʼs labours beginning with induction by cervidil or oxytocin. While there are some circumstances where a medical induction may be necessary or even beneficial to the birthing mother and her baby, it is estimated that 90.8% of women will not need a medical induction for labour to begin. As such, many inductions are avoidable and are thought to be an elective option rather than a necessary procedure based on a medical indication." ~ Amanda Spakowski, Birth Doula and Prenatal Educator

I met Amanda Spakowski in my first year of business and she has been an avid supporter of PumpEase ever since. In 2009 she relocated to Toronto and launched a new business by the name of The Nesting Place. I have watched it blossom into a wonderful community-based venture offering birth and postpartum doula services, prenatal classes, Birthing from Within® classes, infant massage and much more in both Toronto and Peterborough, Ontario.

Recently Amanda introduced me to a wonderful paper that she wrote about Induction and the top 10 ways to avoid it. I highly recommend you read it, share it and bookmark it.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, whether you're currently pregnant with your first child or are finished having your family and have thoughts in hindsight. Please leave your comments below.

You can download '10 Easy (But Often Overlooked) Ways to Avoid Induction' here.

October 16th, 2011 • Comments: 0 • by Jen • Pumping

Pumping While Raking Leaves with Jen from Life with Levi

Jen from Life with Levi pumping while raking the leaves!

You remember Jen - she is the lovely mama that began as one of our wonderful PumpEase customers and shortly thereafter evolved into a true PumpEase Ambassador of her own accord. Jen first sharedwith us, the story of her bumpy road to exclusively pumping and pumping in public (PIP) on Black Friday and now with this post, she shows us how she pumps while raking leaves. You GO girl!

This post is the fifth of TEN in the "What Can You Do While Pumping" video series. Please check back regularly to see where Jen sets up the horns next!

When Jen finally leaked this "pumping while" video and I saw that it was raking leaves, I must admit I was a bit melancholy. You see, we kinda got ripped-off this summer up here in Vancouver, Canada and I've been in denial about it being fall. I looked outside at the leaves on my lawn and reality bit me in the behind. And yes, I realize that this has nothing to do with pumping or breastfeeding. <sigh> I think I need to go book a flight to Mexico or something.

By the way, you can follow Jen on Twitter and "like" her on Facebook if you'd like to catch-up with her one-on-one.

Have you been inspired by Jen to pump in places that you may never have considered previously? Please tell us about it below...

{Photo credit: Jen / Life with Levi}

October 3rd, 2011 • Comments: 0 • by Amy • Health & Wellness

Guest Post: Susan G. Komen for the Cure Isn’t Curing Anything

Susan G. Komen for the Cure isn’t curing anything. This is an organization I used to really support. I have a history of breast cancer in my family and the two naturally met. But the more I’ve learned about Komen, the more upset I’ve become at the way their organization works.

This isn’t going to be an exhaustive list of everything I find to be wrong with Susan G. Komen for the Cure [Komen, herein]. I’m going to touch on a few of the more egregious points and some of the things I’ve learned most recently. A lot of people have rosy Pink glasses on when it comes to Komen; today, I’m asking you to suspend whatever you believe about this nonprofit and think critically about them. If you walk away still liking them, that’s fine. But I hope people will at least be open to the idea that this organization isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

KFC has tons to do with curing breast cancer, right?

Komen and KFC

This obviously has tons to do with curing breast cancer, right?

Yes, as in that KFC, Kentucky Fried Chicken. (Or in its more recent, PC form, “Kitchen” Friend Chicken.) What’s a nonprofit that’s fighting breast cancer doing partnered with a fast-food chicken chain? Good question. The NY Daily News article sums it up well:

“‘So, in effect, Susan G. Komen for the Cure is helping to sell deep-fried fast food and, in so doing, help fuel unhealthy diet and obesity across America, an odd plan given that diet and obesity certainly impact on both the incidence and recurrence of breast cancer,’ Freedhoff wrote [on her Weighty Matters blog]. And suggested that a possible alternative would have been for KFC to just hand over a check for breast cancer research to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.” [bolding mine]

The reason KFC didn’t just give Komen a check is obvious: that wouldn’t sell chicken. KFC needed to be pinkwashed and have the unspoken but very much implied endorsement of Komen. Because surely Komen wouldn’t endorse something unhealthy, let alone something that plays into higher breast cancer rates, right? Right?

Racing for the Cure… but what about Prevention?

Everybody knows about Race for the Cure. Kudos to the marketing machine that is Komen, because people know their brand. But while they’re busy marketing Race for the Cure and the miles-long list of pinkwashed stuff that they co-brand and profit from, you know what they’re not marketing?

They’re not marketing the thing that normalizes a woman’s risk for breast cancer: breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding doesn’t reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer. It’s the biological norm and what female bodies are hard-wired to do. So when we take steps to repress that natural and biologically-expected process, we’re increasing risk. The body is missing out on the changes that happen through the stages of lactation and because that’s been circumvented, risk increases. We don’t fully understand lactation or breastmilk, so it’s impossible to compensate for what happens between childbirth and repressed lactation.

In more common, mainstream terms: breastfeeding reduces risk. In more accurate terms, not breastfeeding increases risk. It’s not a guarantee or a sure-fire mode of prevention, but it’s a big deal. It’s a known factor. So if we know this, why doesn’t Komen talk about breastfeeding as a way to reduce risk?

Here’s some fantastic commentary from a breast cancer and double-mastectomy survivor, Danielle Rigg, Co-Founder of Best for Babes Foundation:

…the Cure is not enough; we need both treatment AND prevention. And that means awareness and action beyond the monthly self-exam for breast cancer, regular visits to the doctor, and yearly mammograms (which are more properly classed as detection than prevention). It means an unrelenting focus on ensuring and educating about real food (whole, unprocessed, organic, fresh and local at best), clean air, clean water, toxin-free products for home and body, and exercise among other things, and it includes emphasizing the miracle milk that jump starts it all! The evidence is clear that breast tissue is less susceptible to aberrations if you exclusively breastfeed: Breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk (a whopping 59%!!) of breast cancer in women who have a family history of the disease and at least a 28% reduction for those without one (me). And it lowers your breastfed baby girl’s lifetime risk getting breast cancer by 25% ! Sadly, millions of people have never even heard of this. Public service campaigns are often outmarketed by industries that are driven by the need to increase profits for shareholders, not by an interest in advancing health.

Business Depends on Not Finding a Cure

To answer the question I posed at the end of the last section, why not talk about it? Maybe because their business model depends on the existence of cancer. Maybe not; maybe there’s another reason or a whole litany of them.

Regardless, at the end of the day, Komen (and all its payees) are left without profits or a Cause when breast cancer is cured. Maybe not immediately, but that’s the deal. There are lots of health problem-related charities in the same boat, so I’m not knocking the entire model. I’m bringing it up here because Komen is particularly rich and stands to lose more than the average nonprofit. There’s a mini-economy surrounding Pink Ribbon sales and a lot of people stand to lose a lot of money when breast cancer rates decline and it’s no longer the Cause du jour.

Hope in a Bottle: Cancer Patients Should Smell Nice

What celebrity nonprofit is complete without their own fragrance line?

Komen released their perfume, “Promises,” earlier this year. Not surprisingly, it’s made with stuff I wouldn’t want around my healthy family, let alone near a cancer patient. Breast Cancer Action sums it up well:

It seems hypocritical that Susan G. Komen for a Cure would create a perfume that contains potential carcinogens while simultaneously claiming to fight “every minute of every day to finish what we started and achieve our vision of a world without breast cancer”? That’s what Breast Cancer Action thinks, too. No amount of shopping for pink ribbon products will rid our world of the breast cancer epidemic. [early bolding mine; end bolding theirs]

Why create a perfume with known potential carcinogens in it? Because it will SELL. Because selling is what Komen does best. They took that perfume on QVC and I’m sure they made a mint; nevermind that there are ingredients in their perfume that are known to be harmful. I guess that’s just not important to Komen for the Cure.

It leaves me wondering: Would Nancy Brinker, CEO of Komen for the Cure, have given this perfume to her sister, Susan G. Komen? Would she have given it to her during her illness? Would she give it to her now, had she survived? What would Susan think of the mass-marketing of products being the focal point of an organization claiming to be devoted to curing her disease?

Reprinted with permission from Amy West 

{"Buckets for the Cure" by Jeffrey is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0}

October 1st, 2011 • Comments: 0 • by Karen • Inside Snugabell

Meet the Snugabell Team: Karen - Our International Business Development Diva

Hello! My name is Karen Hurrell. I have recently joined Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear to manage their International Business Development. I am very pleased to be a part of the team! I owe my introduction into the world of breastfeeding to my dear, life-long friend Lara Audelo of MamaPear Designs. It was at the MamaPear ILCA Conference booth in San Diego this summer that I met Wendy Armbruster Bell.

Karen - SnugabellIn my early career I worked in the student loan industry in Florida. It was a great way to work personally with colleges, universities and students. I spent my last few years in Florida managing the Federal Loan Program for students studying abroad. That position gave me the opportunity to work with universities around the world. I am drawing on that experience to help build international business for Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear.

I am also a musician - I am a vocalist, pianist and I play a little guitar. I enjoy singing with the local symphony chorus and most of all teaching my private piano students. It is such a blessing to watch them discover their own love of music.

In my free time I am an avid reader and I love to knit. I also have a passion for travel. My favorite destinations have been Alaska, France, Prince Edward Island and Australia. I currently live near Chicago and love it! To me, there's no place like the American midwest. My next goal is to start my Master's degree in English this January at Purdue University.

I am very excited about my future at Snugabell. Look out world, here we come!