March 16th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Customer ServiceInside SnugabellMedia & Marketing

PumpEase Wins PTPA Award "Because Parents Know Best"


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Parent Tested, Parent Approved Seal of Approval!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 awardsPumpEase converts any pump to hands-free! 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?

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

Breastfeeding is the First Line of Defense in a Disaster


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

United States Breastfeeding Committee

January 27, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UPDATED STATEMENT:

Breastfeeding is the First Line of Defense in a Disaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC)

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

###

________________________________________

United States Breastfeeding Committee

2025 M Street, NW, Suite 800

Washington, DC 20036

Phone: 202/367-1132

Fax: 202/367-2132

E-mail: office@usbreastfeeding.org

Web: www.usbreastfeeding.org

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

December 30th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Fabulous Finds

Nursing Mother Goddess Pendants are Here!


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In the summer of 2008, I exhibited at the DONA Conference here in Vancouver, BC.  As we all filed-in to set-up our wares for the vendor area, my eyes kept wandering over to my neighbour's table.  If you don't already know this about me, I am a jewelry FREAK!  My neighbour was ceramic artist Susan Kirk and her beautiful, hand-crafted Nursing Mother Goddess Necklaces had caught my eye.  I'll admit that by the end of the 2-day conference, I left with several of her pieces.

ivory nursing mother goddess pendant

A Nursing Mother Goddess Pendant celebrates and honours breastfeeding, thus making it "the" perfect gift for new mothers and their families, doulas, lactation consultants, midwives and ob/gyns.

These stunning hand-crafted ceramic pendants are available in four non-toxic, low-fire glaze colours - Stone Turquoise, Ivory (shown left), Ebony and Terra Cotta - effortlessly coordinating with anything and everything in your wardrobe!

Understated yet eye-catching, she will be a conversation-starter every time you wear her!  I can't tell you how many people have commented when I wear mine.

The Nursing Mother Goddess Necklace measures 2" tall (pendant portion) and is carried by a 25" black satin cord that is easily adjusted to be shorter if desired.

Tell us what you think about these necklaces.  Would you like to see more of this type of product in our online store?  Leave a comment below to share!

{Photo credit: Susan Kirk}

November 3rd, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Inside SnugabellPumpingResources

How to Take an Overbust Measurement


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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!

xo
Wendy

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}