Saturday, December 15, 2007

Author Refuses Nestle Prize Cheque

Author Refuses Nestlé Prize Check

December 14, 2007
By Joel Rickett
SOURCE:The Bookseller Author Sean Taylor has refused to accept his prize money after winning the Nestlé Children's Book Prize 2007. Taylor's picture book When A Monster is Born, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, took the Gold Award in the under-fives category. But Taylor said he did not feel able to accept his half of the £2,500 prize cash, citing "questions surrounding Nestlé’s marketing of breast-milk substitutes."At Wednesday's ceremony, the author accepted the award—voted for by thousands of schoolchildren across the U.K.—but refused the check. He said: "When a Monster is Born is a book that has something to do with choices. Some of these choices seem to be life-giving and some of them seem to take life away. I hope that I have made a life-giving choice. I have decided to refuse this check and ask that it goes back where it came from."
Taylor has now released a letter to prize organizer Booktrust, in which he says the decision was taken after consultations with campaign group Baby Milk Action, Nestlé and "an authoritative third party with experience in the field." He says that while "many of Nestlé's controversial activities took place in the past and the company has taken steps to improve its practice," there is still the risk that "profit is put before infant health," and adds that "the actions of some of [Nestlé's] employees on the ground are inconsistent with company policy . . . For these reasons I do not feel that Nestlé are the most appropriate sponsors for this major children’s book prize."Booktrust said it was "disappointed" at Taylor's decision, emphasizing that the 23-year-old prize "recognizes high standards in children’s literature and stimulates a love of reading." It added that in light of Taylor's refusal of the money, "we are surprised to have been approached by his publishers [Orchard] for the Nestlé Gold Award winner sticker artwork to advertise Nestlé’s public endorsement of his winning book."In a statement Nestlé said it "firmly believes that breast-feeding is the best way to feed a baby and we are strongly committed to the protection and promotion of breast-feeding. We were very happy to explain this position to Mr. Taylor at a meeting in November, following which he chose to remain on the shortlist and subsequently accepted his award at the ceremony."The other winners were Matt Haig with Shadow Forest and Chris Riddell with Ottoline and the Yellow Cat.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Breastfeeding Video banned from YouTube

"Dear Friends --Our humble breastfeeding montage (that received several honors and over 90K views) was deemed "inappropriate" by YouTube and was since banned from their site on November 20. We're calling to action those with an interest in this heated topic. We need your support and voice to send a message loud and clear that this is not acceptable! Please visit our site to see how you can participate. "

Friday, November 16, 2007

Good Genes + Breastfeeding = Smart Baby

In my corner of the world, breast-feeding is not really optional. Among the women with whom I talk about babies and kids, I can't think of anyone I know in my approximate age bracket who didn't try. My friends who quit at three months seemed like rebels. And when I cut off my sons, after more than a year each, I felt a little heartless because I know so many kids who zealously nursed into toddlerhood.
Nursing is cozy and nurturing, not to mention remarkably efficient -- never again will I provide for my children's needs so gracefully (OK, that's not the right word for the pumping part of it). But it can also get a little fanatical. Mothers who adopt children are left out. And when breast-feeding doesn't come easily -- an unusual but real occurrence -- women sometimes go to great and uncomfortable lengths involving all manner of awkward contraptions. They do this because they think that they'll be depriving their babies if they give up as nursing failures. Breast-feeding is supposed to protect against childhood cancer, obesity, allergies, infections and global warming (I made up only the last one). Some of the claims, like a lower rate of infant respiratory infections, seem to hold up; others, like reduced odds of adult obesity, probably don't.
Now there's new evidence about the gold ring of breast-feeding benefits -- extra IQ points. It's a finding with a twist. The researchers report that breast-fed babies get an average IQ advantage of 6.8 points -- a nice step up -- but only if they carry a certain genetic variant. If you've got the gene and your mother nurses you, she is making you smarter. If you don't have the gene, the nursing is for naught, IQ-wise. But since 90% of the population has the genetic variant that conveys the IQ boost, the odds are in the suckler's favour.
This is only one study, and there are lots of other reasons to breast-feed (or not to). But as food for thought, this study has all kinds of goodies. It's a pretty riveting example of a dynamic that scientists call "G x E," for genes times environment -- the notion that it's not nature or nurture that exclusively makes people who they are, but nature interacting with nurture.
The new breast-feeding-IQ study was conducted by the lab of Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt, smart and careful scientists whom I've written about before. Caspi and Moffitt looked at two large groups of kids, one of more than 1,000 from New Zealand and the other of about 2,200 from England. They asked mothers about whether they'd breast-fed via questionnaire. In New Zealand, 57% of the kids were breast-fed; in England, 48%. Then the authors looked at a gene called FADS2. It plays a role in regulating the production of some special fatty acids present in breast milk, which may help spark cognitive development (though there is controversy about this). There are three variants of this gene. Two of them include an allele (the "C allele") that conveys a significant IQ boost -- but only in conjunction with breast-feeding. In other words, if you have the gene but your mother doesn't nurse you, you're a bit dumber than you otherwise would be. If you don't have the lucky allele, you don't get the IQ boost however much mother's milk you imbibe.
Previous studies have also linked breast-feeding to higher IQ, but they generally haven't ruled out the fact that breast-fed kids are also more likely to come from wealthier and better-educated families than formula-fed babies. What has looked like a correlation between nursing and smarts might really have been explained by other more predictable factors. Caspi and Moffitt, however, controlled for the confounding factors of social class and maternal IQ. And they still found a pattern of higher IQs in the breast-fed babies with the C alleles. Nor did the advantage seem related to the mothers' genotypes.
Caspi and Moffitt point out that in the earlier annals of human history, when everyone was breast-fed, "genetic variation in FADS2 could have influenced individual differences in intelligence." In this sense, they say, "It is reasonable to ask whether FADS2 is a 'gene for' IQ." Maybe that helps explain why 90% of the population has the C allele-- if it promotes intelligence, then it should win out in the process of natural selection. From a pro-breast-feeding point of view, this is all kind of lovely. Some babies have a gene that boosts intelligence, but only when it's activated by the delivery of mother's milk, and so, over time, more babies have the gene. Nature and nurture working in tandem, and to a good end.
The new research leads to the question of genetic testing. You could test a child for the C allele, and if she has it, feel even better about nursing her. You'd also feel worse if you can't. And if your baby is in the 10% without the lucky gene variant? You can still nurse, of course, but your rationale would be different -- and wouldn't you feel ripped off by nature's grand lottery, and a little bitter about it, at least on a sore-nipple day?
This is the kind of information we may not really want to have. The sinisterish ramifications are even starker in other research that Caspi and Moffitt have done, in which they've found a G × E relationship for a gene that's linked to depression in connection with an experience of serious trauma, like child abuse. Do we want to know who has this predisposition? (A test already exists.) If you were thinking about adopting a child who might have had some hard experiences, wouldn't you choose the child with the protective variant of the gene over the one without it? And what does that mean for the genetically unblessed kid? If you ran an adoption agency, would you give kids the test?
Questions for the near future, or, really, for now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why I Still Breastfeed My Four Year Old

Friends may think it's freaky, says Annalisa Barbieri, but why should I stop when it's good for my daughter?
Published: 13 November 2007
In December 2004, I wrote in these pages about how I found myself "still breastfeeding" a 14-month-old, when previously I had viewed "extended breastfeeders" as a bit odd, needy and, frankly, freaky. When I first became a mother, I had envisaged myself as a mother with a clipboard, with me in charge, not the baby. I never expected to be the sort of mother I am now, breastfeeding a four-year-old on demand. I thought I knew myself, but motherhood introduced me to a self I never even knew was lurking.
To pick up where I left off three years ago: at just over a year old, my daughter seemed to be losing interest in breastfeeding. But as it turned out, that was the lull before the storm. Just as she started walking, at 18 months, she started to feed intensively. This is normal: as babies reach major developmental stages, they need to feed more. Whereas she had never been able to tell me when she was hungry as a baby, now she beat her chest with her fists – like Tarzan's Cheetah – to tell me that she wanted milk. And she wanted milk a lot. I'd be lying if I said there weren't times when I wished I'd weaned her. I found it hard, but I was lucky. Far from being isolated, I co-run a pro-breastfeeding website that has lots of long-term breastfeeders as members. I wasn't going through anything others hadn't previously.
From the age of two, my daughter started to switch breasts – that is to say, she would no longer feed on one breast, then sedately take the other. She would switch, sometimes manically, between the two, because she had learnt that the let-down (the flow of milk) is faster if you stimulate the breasts in this way. It was also about this time that she started a habit I find extremely annoying to this day: twiddling. While she fed off one breast she would twiddle the other nipple, as if trying to tune in to a short wave radio station. Again, this was to stimulate the milk so that when she did latch on to the second breast, it was all ready to go.
I found feeding between the ages of two and four quite hard at times. She needed to feed a lot, sometimes 50 feeds a day, although they were quick. When we moved house, her feeding became almost frenzied, as if she thought I would leave her. Docking on to the "mothership" became vitally important. I'm not sure how I would have met her needs so quickly during this time without breastfeeding. And I'm not sure I could have parented during the terrible twos without it: it was like having an entire cavalry at your beck and call. Breasts are a powerful parenting tool.
Despite this, breastfeeding is often blamed for many childhood malaises. Your baby is hungry/ sleepy/won't sleep/colicky/you're tired? Give up breastfeeding! The very thing that can make life easier is jettisoned, purely out of ignorance. Imagine if every time you said you found parenting a little bit hard, someone said, "Put your child up for adoption." It'd be ridiculous, wouldn't it?
No matter how hard I found breastfeeding, however, I couldn't stop, for two reasons. The more knowledgeable I became, the more vital I knew sustained breastfeeding to be. And, second, because it is obvious how much breastfeeding means to my daughter. There's the beauty in feeding an older child: there is no second guessing – she tells me just how important my milk is to her, how it "makes everything better". When she gets a cold, she tells me that she needs my milk to "kill the cough". One night, she started to run a desperately high fever (104) and I had no medicine or way of getting any. I fed her all night; she injected her germs into me while my body made the antibodies she needed and fed them back to her. We both worked through the night and, by morning, she was better, as if the fever had never happened. Knowing that you have the wherewithal to comfort and cure your child within your own body is hugely magical and empowering. The bonuses that breastfeeding gifts you make the not-so-easy times fade into nothing.
Because we don't have a habit of feeding walking, talking children in this country, I stopped feeding my child in public when she got to be about two. I didn't want anyone else's ignorance to negate something she found so comforting. Now, there's a word: comfort. I remember, pre-motherhood, challenging a friend of mine who was breastfeeding her 18-month-old child. "But isn't it just for comfort?" I said. "What's wrong with wanting to comfort my child?" she said. Now, this is what I tell people, too. We – or rather, not me; not any longer – seem to be terribly afraid of comforting children. Sometimes it seems as if the more hands-off you are as a parent, the more of a success you are deemed to be.
Breastfeeding is about comfort, but it's also about nutrition, and that continues for as long as you breastfeed your child, whatever age they are. My milk is a living fluid – full of enzymes, macronutrients, minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids, T-cells and at least 200 types of immunoglobin. And that's just what's known – there are ingredients in breast milk that we don't even know about yet. My milk changes, hour by hour, to meet the needs of my child. It isn't like any other woman's milk, anywhere on the planet, because my daughter isn't like any other child in the world.
In September, just as my child was about to turn four, I went to Italy with her. I'd been the year before and had encountered gentle curiosity about us still feeding. This time was different. "It's a tragedy," said one aged cousin, "that she's still feeding." "Who," I asked, "is it a tragedy for? Not me and not my daughter."
I smiled and offered tea, but she wasn't able to answer. Breastfeeding is an emotive subject – the most emotive I've written about. It brings up all sorts of stuff in people; even friends that have hitherto been supportive probably think I'm in freak territory now, even though I'm just doing what Mother Nature intended – humans are the only mammals that don't let their offspring feed to term. I can't deny that I like to normalise breastfeeding in a world that sees it as increasingly alien, and I'm also aware that some women don't have the support network I do and feel they need to feed in secret or enforce weaning when they don't really want to, because family and friends put pressure on them.
Naomi Stadlen, a psychotherapist, breastfeeding counsellor and author of What Mothers Do, Especially When it Looks Like Nothing, once told me that she thought people might feel threatened by the intimacy between a mother and her breastfeeding child. An uncomplicated response to the information "Yes, I'm still breastfeeding", might be curiosity; any stronger reaction was likely to be the other person projecting their problem on to you. It was a useful piece of information.
My child turned four at the end of September; her need to breastfeed seems to have dramatically declined, although, yet again, this may change. Feeding her is a wonderful time we have together and no matter how busy I think I am, it makes me sit down and be with her. She has lots of skin-to-skin contact with me, which I now know is important for neurological development. I've learnt that the natural age of weaning is closer to six years – when the first permanent molars appear – than six months. If I have another baby, my daughter may wean during pregnancy as milk supply can dip at that time. But if she continues to feed during pregnancy and beyond – called tandem feeding and perfectly possible – or if I don't have another baby, then she's in charge. She will wean when she is, uniquely to her, developmentally and immunologically ready (a child's immune system doesn't mature until they are about seven); she will then lose the ability to suckle. I'm interested to see where this goes and how much more I can surprise myself. All I know is that I'm glad I've got this far.
Annalisa Barbieri is co-founder of www.iwantmymum.comFurther reading: The Drinks are On Me, by Veronika Robinson, £11.99 Sincott is writing a book on long-term breastfeeding and asks women to compile a questionnaire:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Welcome Wagon Baby Shower, October 28, 2007

This is what the BLISS booth looks like when I set up at the Welcome Wagon Baby Showers. I sell a few breastfeeding onesies and baby t-shirts, but my main goal is to distribute breastfeeding information, and let moms know that support and resources are available. I would deem this baby shower successful, as over 500 pregnant moms were in attendance, and each one received a breastfeeding information package! I am very happy about that!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Royal Canadian Air Farce

Here is the Facebook banned breastfeeding photographs skit that was featured on an episode of The Royal Canadian Air Farce.

supernanny Jo Frost is NOT breastfeeding-informed!

Oh, where do I begin?

I know.....let's start with this complete and total rubish:

(Frost's new book) "Confident Baby Care" recommends breastfeeding mothers consider introducing a formula feed between six weeks and three months - against the Plunket ideal of exclusive breastfeeding at this age - as formula will fill babies up more so they sleep longer.

WTF? Are you kidding me? Why is it that someone who has never raised a child, let alone BREASTFED one, feels knowledgeable enough to hand out this kind of advice?

PLEASE, if anyone can compose a letter addressing this issue, forward it to me to post here!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Virtual Nurse-In to be held on Wednesday, October 10, 2007

From this site:

Activate your wonder powers by pulling out your boobs on October 10, 2007 at 10:00am (mark your calendars!) and showing the world that you're a boobtastic superhero mom and damn proud of it.
We're asking women around the world to speak out - and squirt out! - against the banning of breastfeeding pictures on Facebook, as well as against the constant onslaught of negative attention toward breastfeeding mothers in public spaces and in the media.
That's right. We're staging a virtual nurse-in!
On October 10 at 10am, women around the US and Canada and - we hope - the world will breastfeed for justice. We'll nurse our babies or bottle-feed our babies or reminisce about doing either of those things and we'll post pictures and video, all together, and let the world know that there is no shame, only power, in caring for our children.
Spread the word by placing a button on your blog, and then set up your web cam to live broadcast on your blog on October 10 at 10am (your time). If you don't have a web cam, but have a video recorder, post some breastfeeding video! Load it up on YouTube and tag it "The Great Virtual Breast Fest" on October 10!

If you don't have a web cam/video camera or you are not currently nursing, send us your breastfeeding pictures, along with your blog url (if you have one -- non-bloggers are WELCOME and strongly encouraged to participate!). We'll be creating a video montage of pictures that you can embed onto your blog. (If you've already written a post with pictures, please still send us a photo!)
So not to exclude our non-breastfeeding friends, you can participate by writing a post - even a blurb will do - about why you support women's right to nourish their children whenever and whatever and in whatever manner they wish.
We love your boobs too!
Whatever you're planning on doing as part of the Breast Fest, make sure to let us know how you're participating by emailing The Boob Squad. Want to breastfeed live but need a webcam? Plan on putting video up? Sending us some pics?
We want to know! Are you with us?!And finally, please SPREAD THE WORD. Leave a note on your message boards, tell the moms at your playgroup, or heck, send an email to Oprah! And will someone please load this up over at the Facebook protest group?
This is not a Breast Fest without breasts and lots of them! Swipe a button code, write a post, and let people know we're not hiding under blankets any longer. We'll be adding the links to our sidebar and keeping tabs on our Brest Fest participants!
For more on our Facebook Sucks mission, click here. We're still encouraging people to throw a stone at the big man and deactivate accounts!
And if you know of any potential sponsors - we'd love to get web cams to women who want to join in, but any kind of sponsorship will do! - Please send them our way! Or donate a few bucks in our sidebar. All the proceeds will go towards getting us one step closer to Maternal Justice!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Breastfeeding Challenge on the News Edmonton: Sonia Sunger reports on the awareness campaign&clip_id=ctvnews.20070929.00215000-00215458-clip2&subhub=video&no_ads=&sortdate=20070929&slug=breastfeeding_moms_070929&archive=CTVNews

And from the September 30th edition of the Edmonton Sun

And from Winnipeg

And from Toronto:

Saturday, September 29, 2007


What a fabulous day at the Edmonton 2007 Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge!

There were 2 registered sites in Edmonton this year, and between the two, we had 57 nursing babies and moms! Yay for us!

Here is a link to the current results at the Quintessence Home Page, with more sites still to submit their final tallies.

I will be posting more Breastfeeding Challenge photographs, stories and media coverage as I receive them. As well, if anyone has any photos or stories they would like to submit to this blog, I would love to post them! :D

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Thoughts from a breastfeeding mom....

I for one am sick to death of people telling me what BFing is "like".

BFing is like defecation or urination, because liquid is coming out of your body.
BFing is like picking your nose or scratching your balls in public, because it's rude.
BFing is like masturbation, because it's natural.
BFing is like making love, because it's private.

Let's all shut up about what BFing is LIKE and talk about what it IS: a baby eating! That's it! It's eating! It's like eating! Because it is EATING!!!!

Sometimes I eat alone with my husband and we hold hands and gaze into each other's eyes and it's beautiful.
Sometimes I eat with my parents and my brothers and it's loud and we all talk at once and it's joyful.
Sometimes I eat in a mall food court with a bunch of strangers because I'm famished and can't wait to get home.

And get this: my baby DOES EXACTLY THE SAME THING!!! To everyone who thinks that nursing is gross, or private, or so freakin' special that I have to make it a Hallmark moment every time I do it, think for a minute and realize that it's JUSTFREAKINGEATING!!!!!


If a woman breastfeeds with her whole breast out of the shirt, there's someone in the room wishing she would pull the shirt down a little more.

If she pulls her shirt down a little more, there's someone in the room wishing she would put a blanket over her side boob, or cleavage.

If she blankets her boob, there's someone wishing she would put the blanket over the baby's head.

If she blankets her baby, there's someone wishing she was in the corner.

If she moves to the corner, there's someone wishing she would face the wall.

If she faces the wall, there's someone wishing she would leave the room.

Can't please 'em all, so do what feels right to YOU, I say. But regardless of how you do it, keep nursing, ladies.

by Janet Fuchs Jackson

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nursing Mom Told to Leave Pool

There is talk of a nurse-in, so check back here for more details.

"Born to be breastfed."

"Anytime, anywhere."

"It's your right."

The message from recent public education campaigns is as clear as the cries of a hungry baby. A mother has the right to breastfeed wherever and whenever she chooses.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission said it eight years ago. Health Canada has spread the word for years. And so has the City of Toronto. But somehow, even in major family-oriented community organizations, not everyone hears.

A Pickering mother of three says she filed a complaint with the human rights commission on Monday after a lifeguard at the Scarborough YMCA asked her to move from the pool deck where she was breastfeeding her baby.

Carolynn Prior, a midwife, said the incident occurred on Sept. 1 when she was nursing her 5-month-old son while watching her older children, ages 7 and 9, take swimming lessons. According to Prior, a lifeguard approached her, suggested she would be more comfortable in the childcare facility and said "this is a family place and it might offend someone."

"I was shocked," Prior said. "It felt like a blow. I walked around for the rest of the day in a daze. I felt really singled out and embarrassed."

She refused to leave on the grounds she had a right to breastfeed there but says a prolonged exchange in front of other parents made her feel "that breastfeeding my son was obscene and breastfeeding should only occur away from public areas."

Steven Heipel, vice-president of communications of the YMCA of Greater Toronto, acknowledged yesterday the incident occurred and called it "an error in judgment" by the lifeguard and the supervisor she consulted.

"We are a breastfeeding-friendly and a family-friendly organization. That is not our practice. We are taking this very seriously."

Heipel said an email was sent out to all staff on Monday reminding them that no one should interfere with any woman nursing her child on YMCA premises. He said employees were told that if a member complains about someone breastfeeding, the onus is on staff to address that person's discomfort, and not the nursing mother's actions.

Prior said she wants a public written apology from the YMCA and an assurance that this won't happen to anyone else. She also wants the organization to agree to mandatory education and training for staff so they understand the rights of breastfeeding mothers.

The incident comes eight years after the case of a Newmarket woman, ordered by a restaurant employee to go to the washroom to nurse or leave, went to the human rights commission and won an apology and financial compensation.

As a result of that settlement, the commission launched a public awareness campaign with several other partners, including Toronto Public Health, aimed at stopping discrimination against nursing mothers and babies.

"Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, refusing or denying a service to a pregnant or nursing mother constitutes discrimination because of sex and being in a parent-child relationship," said a news release in 2000. That includes nursing in restaurants, shopping malls and stores, schools, parks and other recreational facilities.

Jeff Poirier, communications manager for the commission, couldn't confirm that Prior's complaint had been filed or comment on the specifics of the case. But he said it's an issue that routinely comes up and the commission's policy is clear.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another Facebook Update

Facebook is still deleting breastfeeding photographs and deleting accounts, which leads me to believe that they're not even looking at all the reported pictures. Facebook claims that they do not specifically remove all breastfeeding photos, but only ones that violate TOS.

The "Hey, Facebook! Breastfeeding is not obscene!" petition reached 20,000 members today! It is amazing to have so much world wide support! I think the group will continue to grow. There are ideas discussed on the forum boards on how to deal with the photo deletions from facebook. Some want to notify facebook's sponsers and advertisers, others suggest a boycott, or mass flooding of mail.

I am proud to be a part of such a group!

Meanwhile, after a flurry of media activity last week, the attention seems to have waned some. I did 3 radio interviews, a television interview, as well as features in the Edmonton Sun and Calgary Herald. Those stories were picked up by other newspapers as well. I was contacted by a gentleman from the BBC and will be returning his email tomorrow.

If anyone would still like to join the facebook protest group, it is at There are now 1000 beautiful breastfeeding photographs posted in the gallery. I browse through the new ones each evening.....there really is a wonderful collection of pictures!
Mommy and Jezek, 20 months, on the front page of the Toronto Star.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Toronto Star Breastfeeding Article

I seemed to have caused somewhat of an uproar....I received an email from The Toronto Star....they wanted to do a story on the whole facebook fiasco! Then, a photographer came by last night to take some pictures of us at gymnastics class. Here is the link to the story:

More than 10,000 so-called `lactivists' have signed an online petition protesting the website's policy
Sep 12, 2007 04:30 AM Andrea Gordon Family issues reporter
Facebook is getting an online scolding after the social networking site deleted pictures of nursing babies it considered "obscene content" and closed the account of at least one Canadian mom.
Breastfeeding activists are emailing, posting and instant messaging their outrage. A new Facebook group set up to petition for a change in site policy – called "Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!" – has swelled from 7,000 members to more than 10,200 in the past few days.
"I was really ticked off," said Karen Speed, 33, an Edmonton mother of three boys, ages 9, 4 and 20 months, after five of her photos were deleted last month and her account shut down.
But she added in a phone interview the reaction from the online community has been gratifying.
"People seem to be coming out of the woodwork in support of this. I had no idea there was so much support for breastfeeding and I'm really encouraged by that."
Earlier this year, MySpace also came under fire for deleting photos of a Tacoma, Wa., woman breastfeeding her baby. But the latest incident on Facebook has sparked a much broader groundswell, from as far away as Australia.
It is being voiced in Toronto by mothers like Sarah Kaplan, owner of the new Evymama breastfeeding and maternity wear shop in the Bloor West neighbourhood. A self-described "lactivist," Kaplan founded her store "to glamorize breastfeeding." She has been spreading the word and encouraging moms in her online mothers' groups to join the chorus of objections.
"The fact is, breastfeeding is supposed to be anywhere, anytime," she said, while nursing her son, 7-month-old Remy, in her shop yesterday. Kaplan says with Canadian physicians and the World Health Organization recommending breastfeeding to 2 years of age, mothers need encouragement, not to be treated as if nursing is offensive.
Speed, who runs breastfeeding support groups for new mothers, decided last April to start an online version on Facebook, inviting women to ask questions, discuss breastfeeding problems and make contact with other moms. Soon afterward, she decided to post photos that had been on the website of her other breastfeeding support group, BLISS. "I always think seeing moms breastfeeding, and especially older kids, is important," she said in a phone interview yesterday. It's not uncommon for new moms to encounter difficulties and give up in frustration without extra support or tips, she said.
This summer, she was one of several mothers who received a standard notice from Facebook that a picture had been deleted because it was considered "obscene." She wasn't told which one, but later realized a photo of her "tandem breastfeeding" her two youngest sons was gone, even though her breasts were not visible.
Within days, she received messages that four more images had been removed.
After responding in an email and asking for clarification of what Facebook considered obscene, Speed says, she could no longer log on to her account.
All discussion threads, details of an upcoming Breastfeeding Challenge event in Edmonton, questions from mothers seeking help and contacts were gone.
"After reviewing your situation, we have determined you violated our Terms of Use," a Facebook customer support representative named Anthony wrote Speed in an email on Aug. 27.
"Please note, nudity, drug use, or other obscene content is not allowed on the website." He informed Speed that "We will not be able to reactivate your account for any reason."
In the meantime, there are still many pictures of breastfeeding mothers throughout Facebook in groups like La Leche League, Canadian Breastfeeding Mommies and particularly the "Hey Facebook" petition site set up since Speed was shut down.
Facebook spokesperson Meredith Chin has reportedly said Facebook did not prevent mothers from uploading photos of themselves breastfeeding their babies, but removed content that was reported as violating Facebook's terms of use.
"Photos containing an exposed breast do violate our terms and are removed," Chin said, according to a recent report in The Sydney Morning Herald.
Kelli Roman, a 22-year-old mother of two from Fallbrook, Calif., started the petition group in the summer after Facebook deleted several of the breastfeeding photos on her personal profile.
"It offended me," she said over the phone from California. "I can't see how anything about breastfeeding could be considered obscene, especially with the other things you see on Facebook ... like scantily clad women and so much sexualized stuff."
In fact, one of the top discussion threads in the "Hey Facebook" group is one that contains links to ``offensive" material on Facebook.
In Toronto, the issue of rights of breastfeeding mothers has had a high profile over the past couple of years, following incidents in which mothers were told to cover up or leave public places while nursing.
In June, the city approved a policy introduced by Toronto Public Health that allows mothers to breastfeed in any public place controlled by the city, including its agencies, boards and commissions.

CTV Interview

I was also interviewed on the CTV 6:00 news tonight, the top story no less!

Here's the link:

Facebook Update

As of now, the "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene" petition group has over 12,000 members. There are almost 700 beautiful breastfeeding pictures posted in the photo gallery, none of them mine. I'm too scared to put them back up, in fear of simply having them deleted again. They are still there, but only in a private photo album that only my friends can view. I'm disappointed about that.

I have not heard from any facebook moderators in regards to this issue, but am curious as to what they think about the whole facebook fiasco.

Here's the link to the facebook group, in case you are not already a member. Please join! :D

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Applebees Nurse-In Request

I received this from another loop:

I am flooded with replys to my earlier email. I regret that I can not speak with each of you one on one but with 8 children I am streched for time so I will send you all this email.Thank you for your concern.On June 14th (my anniversary) a few of my children (I have 8) took me to Applebee's for lunch. For my own privacy I asked for the corner booth. I sat facing into the corner not facing the room. My then 7 month old baby boy needed to nurse so we did. A server (Jessica Balswick) came to me and stated that the manager asked her to come speak to me because she was a female. She said the manager said if we wanted to breastfeed we had to cover the baby's head with a blanket. I told her since it was hot out that I didn't have a blanket. She reiterated so I stopped nursing and asked to speak with the manager.

As we waited the baby cried so I passed him across the table to my oldest son (almost 18 yrs old) so he could help comfort his as I was a bit shook up. The baby was inconsolable so I told my son to take him to the van and I would come to nurse him as soon as I spoke with the manager.

When the manager (Justin Arnolds) came I handed him a copy of the KRS 211.755 law that I keep in my diaper bag. I said "I would like you to educate yourself and your employees of this law that protects breastfeeding mothers." He handed it back to me after glancing over it and said "I know but somebody complained it was indecent exposure so you have to cover the baby with a blanket if you want to breastfeed here". I again held out the paper saying "look at part 3 of the law, it says no person shall interfere with a woman breastfeeding her child". He said the same exact thing as before "I know but somebody complained it was indecent exposure so you have to cover the baby with a blanket if you need to breastfeed here." At that exact moment our server came back with our meal and I said "We can not eat this because I have to go breastfeed my baby." As I exited the hostess asked what was wrong and I told her very briefly and said "I don't see anyone else eating under a blanket in here."

I went to the van, nursed my baby, cried, and called my local LLL leader Karen. She told me to get the manager and servers name. She gave me names and addresses of people I needed to let know about this incident.

Our lawyer wrote a letter on June 27, 2007 to Applebee's restaurant (4009 Nicholasville Rd., Applebee's Corporate Headquarters 249 E Main St. (Mike Scanlon) The Lexington-Fayette County Health Dept. (Doraine Bailey), The KY Breastfeeding Promotion Coordinator (Becky Derifield) and the LLL Karen Brown.

The letter was ignored.

Our lawyer wrote another letter on July 25, 2007.

On August 3, 2007 Thomas & King, Inc. Legal Department finally responded. Mr Jonathan R. Weatherby, Jr. Associate General Counsel wrote "we regret that Ms. Ryan left without being served and would like the opportunity to personally invite her to return" .... "we are also considering keeping blankets in the restaurants for use by breast-feeding mothers that may not have them readily available as a result of this incident."

My husband gasped when he read this response. They just don't get it. It is like saying "Rosa Parks still has to sit at the back of the bus but we will give her a pillow so she is comfortable back there."

My midwife suggested I speak with the Senator that spearheaded getting the KRS211.755 law. I left a message for Senator Tom Buford and the next day he called me back. I asked him what recourse I had. He said "If you take them to small claims court you could get up to $1,500.00" .... "if you take them to a higher court you may not even get enough to cover your legal fees." I told the Senator I was not interested in money. I want things to change. I want public attention on this cause. I have daughters that will someday breastfeed. I want action not money. I told Senator Buford about my nurse in/out idea and he thought it sounded great. In fact he said "let me know the date and I will come by and support you" .... he also said "hold a sign up saying -small children are not allowed to eat in this restaurant." I said "can I quote you on that" and he said "yes!" Senator Buford said "next time any one does this tell them to call the police and get a police report written up on it."

Since August is "World Breastfeeding Awareness Month" I am having one nurse-out at the Fayette Mall just to raise awareness. This is not in any way to attack the mall .... it is just a place to hang out at. I am late arranging this so it will not actually be in August but then again what is one day. It will be September 1st.

The second event is actually to draw attention to Applebee's restaurant. Friends and supporters will decorate posters and display them for all to see.

I will paste a copy of the flyer for each of the two events here for all to copy and share.

Applebee's violated KRS 211.755

Educate Lexington that KY law protects public breastfeeding and mothers should never be asked to move, hide, cover up, or leave.

Decorate posters and display them at a peaceful Nurse-Out.

THEME: Breastfeeding in public is Legal
DATE: Saturday, September 8, 2007(in case of rain date 9/22/07)
LOCATION: 4009 Nicholasville RoadLexington KY
On the public sidewalk in front of Applebee's
Exercise caution and do not block the right of way.
News crews will be reporting.
Do not park in Applebee's parking lot!

I hope everyone can pass this on to as many as possible. Every "quotation" is in the exact wording. I am also willing to share copies of the actual correspondence between our lawyer and Applebee's.

Thank you for your support,
Brooke Ryan

Monday, August 27, 2007

Banned from Facebook permanently-----Facebook will not tolerate breastfeeding pictures

Hi Karen,

After reviewing your situation, we have determined you violated ourTerms of Use. Please note, nudity, drug use, or other obscene contentis not allowed on the website. Additionally, we do not allow users to send threatening, obscene, and harassing messages. Unsolicited messages will also not be tolerated. We will not be able to reactivate your account for any reason. This decision is final.
Thanks for understanding,
Customer Support Representative

Thans for understanding?????????????


Facebook, you're messing with the WRONG lactivist.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Letter to Facebook regarding my account suspension

My fellow lactivist and friend Gen has started a facebook group in regards to my Facebook ban. Please join.

And here is the letter, also composed by Gen, protesting my suspension. Please feel free to copy and paste and send an email to or a snail mail to 156 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301.

Dear Facebook Administrators,

I can only imagine how difficult it must be to monitor and maintain a site as grand as Facebook. With millions of members uploading photos and videos everyday, it must be virtually impossible to police the activity yourselves, hence the reporting system you chose to install. This "Neighborhood Watch" system is an ingenious way to stay on top of any activity that violates the Terms of Use as outlined by yourselves. However, even you must admit that such a broad allowance of watchdog citizenship can lead to all sorts of discrimination and personal vendettas.

Karen Speed is a militant breastfeeding rights activist - she's the first to admit it. But there are far bigger fish to fry than a mother who chooses to post photos of herself breastfeeding in her personal folders andl in breastfeeding support groups. She did not try to force her photos onto anyone who should not have been prepared to see them; after all, a folder labeled "breastfeeding" will contain photos of a mother's breast, and a group in support of breastfeeding will have the same paraphernalia.

Meanwhile, groups with photos of erect penises, exposed labia, and stills from Jenna Jameson movies are allowed to exist, regardless of complaints from persons such as myself.

That, however, is neither here nor there. My actual complaint is regarding Facebook's act of discrimination, intended or not, against Karen Speed. According to law in California, which is where I believe you are headquartered, a woman has the right to breastfeed in any location, public or private, that she is allowed to be in. Breastfeeding is a basic human right of mother and child, and it is protected by civil laws. A photo of a woman breastfeeding is no more scandalous or sensational than that of a woman bottle-feeding or spoon-feeding. In fact, a pair of augmented breasts in a skimpy bikini show more than what most women show while breastfeeding.

Karen Speed simply wants to share her pride and joy of being able to breastfeed her children with other like-minded people; unfortunately, someone who is not of this mind, took it upon themselves to repeatedly report her photos, even though they were posted in her personal folders and in breastfeeding support groups. In other words, this was an act of prejudice, and Facebook's suspension of Karen's account, in its support of such prejudiced ideas, was a blatant act of discrimination.

Please contact your in-house legal team regarding the terms of use, as I don't feel photos of a breastfeeding mother and infant are in any way pornographic, "harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable or which restricts or inhibits any other person from using or enjoying the Site, or which may expose Company or its users to any harm or liability of any type."

Thank-you very much for your time and effort regarding this matter.


"your name here"

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Facebook STILL harrassing me

I received this email today:

Our systems indicate that you've been misusing certain features on thesite. This email serves as a warning. Misuse of Facebook's featuresor violating Facebook's terms of use may result in your account beingdisabled . Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation. If you have any questions, please contact from your login email address.
The Facebook Team


I can only assume that this comes as a result of my continued posting of breastfeeding pictures. The group "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene (Official Petition to Facebook) now has over 6000 registered members. Does this mean nothing? When is Facebook going to GET IT that breastfeeding is NOT OBSCENE!!!!!!

I sent this email in return:

I received this email from facebook today. I am very confused as to which services I have been misusing. On the contrary, I feel that as a contributing member of facebook, I have valuable services to offer, such as a support group for children with cystic fibrosis, an online support group for new mothers having trouble breastfeeding their babies, as well as particiaption in various charities and causes.

I am very hurt that a moderator would accuse me of misusing facebook services, and I would appreciate a reply with a description of how I am doing so.


And received an automated response.

Action has been taken on your account, and Facebook Customer Support has received your inquiry. We will review your situation and get back to you as soon as possible.Thanks for contacting Facebook.-
Facebook Customer Support

I say BOOOOOOOOOOOOO to facebook! Shame on you!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Much Music

This is from a breastfeeding supporter in Vancouver---

Today I was watching MuchMusic (Canada's MTV) with a friend and two of their VJs- one male, one female- started discussing the singer Gwen Stefani. The male said that she "just doesn't know when to stop" breastfeeding her fourteen-month-old. The female agreed, saying that she knew of someone who was still breastfeeding their four-year-old, and that "that's child abuse."Anyway, I don't know if anyone else will care, but I wrote MuchMusic a letter about it. So if anyone is interested, MuchMusic's contact email address is: ... Even if you don't write, I thought you might be interested. I'm really not a vigilante! I just get annoyed when ignorant people make ignorant comments on nationwide television.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007



The site has been registered for Saturday, September 29, 2007.The location will be West Edmonton Mall, from 10:00 to 12:00.For those of you who are not familiar with this event, please check this link:

It is an event for all breastfeeding mothers and babies, gathered in one spot. At exactly 11:00 a.m., we will do a countdown, and all the babies latch on and breastfeed, and the numbers of nursing babies are tallied. This is a world wide event to raise awareness of breastfeeding.There will be vendors, information booths, door prizes and more! Please mark this on your calendar and come out to support and participate in this wonderful event!

Invitation to Join the Breastfeeding Challenge 2007

Join us to celebrate breastfeeding in a fun “competition” where every child “wins” because they are breastfed!!

What: Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge 2007 This fun event is a challenge for which geographic area ( province, state or territory) has the most breastfeeding babies, as a percentage of the birthrate, “latched on.” at 11am local time.

When: September 29th*

Why: to celebrate breastfeeding and demonstrate promotion, protection and support for breastfeeding women and their families. It’s a chance for education and peer support done in a fun social way.
Location: a health unit or hospital, local coffee shop, mall or any other venue.

Numbers: 2-??

“Latch on”: 11am local time. Some sites are a few breastfeeding women who get together to “be counted” and others are much larger events with lunch, raffles, education, speakers, door prizes etc

Registration: online at no cost and submit some simple paperwork to be counted on the big day. Dial up

Background: In 2001 when this event started, there were 856 babies at 26 sites in British Columbia, Canada. Last year there were 4,687 babies at 156 sites across Canada and the US. This year we would love to see that number increase dramatically. Do your part, join us – organize a site – big or small! Every breastfeeding baby counts in the final count.

The 2007 theme for World Breastfeeding Week (celebrated in Canada in the first week of October) is set by WABA and found at
*Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge is usually held on the first Saturday of October but this year that is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Many families are away from their communities on the holiday weekend so the Challenge has been moved back a week for 2007.

© Quintessence Foundation 2002-2007

Monday, August 6, 2007

Friday, August 3, 2007


In the UK, formula advertising is illegal. There are several action groups working to enforce this, and here is their latest effort:

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Breastfeeding Jezek Jericho, age 1 week, December, 2005

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Facebook STILL removing breastfeeding pictures

I received the standard warning email today:


You uploaded a photo that violates our Terms of Use, and this photo has been removed. Among other things, photos containing nudity, drug use, or other obscene content are not allowed, nor are photos that attack an individual or group. Continued misuse of Facebook's features could result in your account being disabled.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact us at from your login email address.

The Facebook Team

The deleted photograph was not my profile picture, this was a picture out of my personal album. The Official Petition to Facebook has over 5100 members.....does this mean nothing????? And I can't even tell which photograph was deleted, because I have over 30 pictures in my album and it's hard to tell which one is gone.

Let's take a look at this now. My photo did not contain nudity (nothing was showing), it definately didn't contain any drug use. It was not an obscene photograph, so perhaps this was a mistake on facebook's part? Maybe I should ask for an apology.

Good grief. Here is the link for the facebook group.....please join!
The breastfeeding picture that Facebook removed from my account.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Breastfeeding Older Children Survey

Ann Sinnott, whose 15 yr old daughter self-weaned at the age of six and a half, is writing a book (publisher: Free Association Books about sustained breastfeeding, defined as: breastfeeding children 3 years and older. She would like long-term breastfeeding mothers, past and present, to complete a questionnaire at the link below. She would also like completed questionnaires from mothers who are breastfeeding children 18 months - 2 years, provided breastfeeding is open-ended [no decision to wean] or continuation to long-term is being considered.

Please click on the link and complete the survery if it is relevant to you. :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007


Facebook, a popular website, has been deleting many breastfeeding pictures, claiming they are obscene.

If you aren't a member already, please consider joining this group and help write letters.

Also, we are reporting as many other photos as we can. There are hundreds of pornographic photos, naked men and women having sex, which are still available for anyone to view. And yet, breastfeeding pictures are being removed????? I don't think so!

Please click on the link and join the official protest to facebook!

Why Moms Can't Do Yoga

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal made news recently by breastfeeding her 7-month old baby Ramona in public. People in the general population were shocked and outraged; revered and admired by the breastfeeding community.
I personally think it's a beautiful photograph and encourage supporters to send her an email thanking her for breastfeeding her baby, and doing it in public!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Encouraging Teen Moms To Breastfeed

I had the priveledge of presenting a breast-feeding class to a small group of teen and pregnant moms at a local outreach school.

There was a wonderful group of pregnant moms, young moms with their babies, and even a teen dad! I was so happy to see him there! One of the moms had an 8-month old whom she was still breastfeeding, and one mom had a one-year old whom she had recently weaned. Very encouraging!

I brought my 16-month old baby with me, and unfortunately, he was not very agreeable. He was very fussy, didn't know what he wanted, and I had a difficult time speaking at times, because he was squirming and shrieking in my lap. Hope I didn't scare off the expectant moms, lol.

Here is a link with further information. Let's encourage our teen parents to breastfeed their babies!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bf'ing article from 1914

This is really cool, although kindof discouraging that people *still* weren't taking it seriously even back then. :(

Monday, April 16, 2007

And the Ronald McDonald House outcome....

The outcome of the Ronald McDonald House breastfeeding meeting. Ok here is the outcome of the meeting. We got out about and hour ago and I have been trying to find time to post here after returning some phone calls. The meeting was about 2 hours long and included myself and my sister, a representative from the LLL, and a doctor from the area who is responsible for some big research on breastfeeding. I will not mention their names as I have not asked them for permission to do that but we thank them both for their support! We could not have handled the meeting without them. I contacted the suggested LLL person in Texas(again no names) and she sent them right out. She was great as well and worked tirelessly for us today.From the RMH Arlene, the Director of Operations, as well as Naomi, the Executive Director, attended as well as a couple of their board members. After a very lengthy conversion with many twists and turns the RMH is allowing us to stay. We are from now on allowed to breastfeeding in the communal areas if we follow some rules they have set forth and not too many people complain about it. They said if just one person complains they will tell them they support breastfeeding and discuss with them why they are concerned. If many people were to complain they will have to deal with that as it comes up, they could not say how as they have not encountered the situation.The rules we are to follow are that we are to be discreet, this is at our discretion, meaning we choose what discreet means but they said they will obviously know if we are not being discreet if people are complaining that they are uncomfortable with us nursing. We are also being asked to inform the people around us before we begin nursing if we think there is anybody that may be uncomfortable with it. We are to tell them nicely that we are going to breastfeed, in case they want to leave or look away.There was alot of discussion about what discreet meant, but after some pretty silly possibilities for discretion they decided it would be up to us as to what that meant. They said they would not bother us about nursing again unless many people complained, which nobody felt was likely to happen.The RMH wanted us to tell everybody that the RMH supports breastfeeding moms...they were VERY adamant about it. You can decide for yourself if that is true, I am only passing on what they said to us. Now, at this point, this only applies to us. When asked how other nursing moms would be treated they said they cannot make any changes right in the room but that they will be examining the practice, or oral guidelines, of asking breastfeeding moms to stop. They said they did not have the power to make policy change, it had to go to the board; which they said they would seriously discuss doing. Obviously alot more was said in 2 hours but this is the gist of the situation. If they really do examine their guideline this could be a really good thing but we will have to follow up to make sure that happened. Please if you decide to write anymore letters(and they received ALOT of letters) please do so to encourage them to reexamine thier guidelines and to thank them for considering it. Although they were not apologetic to us they have agreed to reexamine their stance and this could be really good for alot of nursing moms. If we handle this correctly this could mean national change for the RMH.We will be waiting to find out how this plays out in the following days and will will update as needed. Lots of media have contacted us from all kinds of large outlets and I am still not sure who, if anyone, I will talk to at this point. We are trying to decide how to best help ALL moms.We want this to benefit moms across the board so me and Jessica will be working to change their guidelines as we go. And the LLL says they will continue to offer us support. We are not giving up on a full scale policy protecting moms, but we will have to wait for a board decision on that. This will take time but I am confident that we can make this happen. THANK YOU ALL FOR OUR SUPPORT!!!!! Above all if you all had not done what you have done I suspect we would not have had the outcome we did or even had that meeting. Your advice and input is welcome here as to how we should proceed and we will be checking in. Thank you.

Ronald McDonald House updates

Here is an update...
**Update**..please read Update posts for a more info but as of Saturday Afternoon(4/14) we are still being asked not to nurse anywhere but our rooms and Arlene, who I spoke to today by phone, has informed me that she will be contacting the Executive Director and their attorneys on Monday about the situation before any other decisions will be made. I have been told by Arlene that she will do what she needs to do and that I am to "be very careful" about what I decide to do. We are being told that we are not being asked to leave right now and that they never meant that we should have to...despite the fact that Arlene told my sister in front of another RMH employee on speaker phone that families who could not acclimate to the environment at RMH should find somewhere else to stay. She admitted this to me on the phone today, that yes she did tell Jessica that...but that did not mean we actually had to leave. Also the day after she was asked to stop nursing(yesterday) Jessica's social worker was contacted by RMH and was apparently told that she may need to help us make other accommodations. The RMH actually contacted my sister's social worker who handles Tobin's case while he is in the hospital and got her involved...because Jessica was nursing and they are not ok with that? I guess nursing means not acclimating to their environment and she was just trying to intimidate Jessica into stopping the nursing of her sick son.I do want to say that aside from Arlene, and the original employee who asked my sister to stop nursing, we have been treated very well here and want to say that the RMH has great employees as well as the ones bullying us.

And here is another update...
I am still updating the original thread but someone suggested I also post a new one so that it will be easier to find the new information.I just spoke to Naomi Scott, the Executive Director of the RMH Houston, and we(Me, Jessica, Arlene and Naomi) have a meeting this afternoon (tentatively) at 4pm. She came back from her vacation early to handle the situation. Naomi needs to speak to some people before the meeting she said.Unlike Arlene, Naomi was very pleasant on the phone but she told me that although they are not kicking us out right now that it is a guideline(an oral one) to ask all breastfeeding mothers to go to their rooms to nurse. This is the first I have heard of any oral guideline from anyone. It was never mentioned before. She told me this was because they had multicultural residents here and that they need to protects all the residents from feeling uncomfortable. Because of this they are not changing their stance on us breastfeeding downstairs.She also said that she has received calls from corporate but that each RMH is run independently. They have also received calls from national donors and she said that was uncomfortable and that all of our emails crashed their server(although they have fixed it now) which was costing them money.This is all I know for now but I will be contacting the LLL about representaion of some sort at the meeting and I am going to try and get ahold of corporate myself right now. Thank you all for your continued support..and please keep the pressure coming, we will need it now MORE THAN EVER to make sure all moms have the right to breastfeed at the RMH.Please call or email Naomi Scott at 713.795.3560 or nscott @ rmhhouston.organd call or fax corporate if you feel you can as well.Corporate RMHPhone: 630-623-7048Fax: 630-623-7488Please let them know that their apparent "oral guideline" as Naomi put it, of directing employees and volunteers to ask mothers to nurse only in their rooms is not acceptable and that we should be able to nurse anywhere we are allowed to be at RMH. Especially since bottle-feeding is perfectly acceptable in these same communal areas(there was a woman in the common area feeding a bottle last night).and this...
I called Naomi and she said that they have 50 families from "all cultures" and that some cultures may view breastfeeding as offensive, and that's why they ask breastfeeding moms to go to their rooms. When asked if they would ask the same of bottlefeeding moms, she laughed and asked why would they do that? I said that there are some people out there that are offended when they see a bottle being used, and she gave the guideline of "all cultures" need to be accomodated.She said they wouldn't allow people to smoke in common areas, which I told her wasn't the same as nursing because that's a public health risk, and she said some people don't view it that way (could SHE be a smoker giving THAT stupid of a line?) They don't care about the law.She says that she's gotten soooooo many emails that it crashed the system, they had to pay an IT guy to come up and fix it, and it's taking "donation dollars away from the families." Yeah, not getting any sympathy from me, this is a self imposed "problem" as far as I'm concerned.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Here's a letter worth sending

This story was passed to me by a friend...please take the time to read it and respond accordingly.

Ronald McDonald House asks our family to leave for breastfeeding! --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My sister and I are staying in the Ronald McDonald House in Houston because one of her 17 month old twins had to have brain surgery to remove a tumor last week. The RMH has been great and we have felt so blessed to find such a safe and homey place to take care of her other two children and my daughter while we are here for Tobin's recovery. However yesterday my sister, who is nursing the twins, was asked to stop nursing in the communal area of the Ronald McDonald House and to take it up to her room. She was shocked! After his surgery her son will basically only drink breastmilk and it is the only thing that eases the constant pain and anxiety he feels. She told them that it was illegal, according the Texas state law, to ask a breastfeeding mother to stop nursing in any public or private place. She also tried to explain to them how inconvenient it would be for her to take all her children up 3 floors to their room every time her sick child needs to nurse. Unfortunately after 30 minutes of arguing, and being threatened with being kicked out, she was in tears and they weren't backing down. So I headed down there to talk to the administrator because I am also nursing my three year old daughter. I even pulled up the state law on my laptop and after a lengthy discussion the administrator acted as if she was going to examine the law so she understood it and move on. I thought that was the end of it. Today I find out they may be kicking us out of the RMH because we refused to comply with what they call their "interpretation of the law". Their interpretation is that if they provide somewhere else for us to nurse they don't have to let us nurse in public places. Since when do laws get to be personally tailored to an organizations needs?This is a ridiculous and terrible situation for all of us, I am not sure what else we will do if we can't stay here but we can't just not nurse our children. The Ronald McDonald is such a great resource, why do they have to discriminate against nursing moms? If you would like to send a letter we would appreciate it. Arlene Whatley is The Executive director of The Holcombe location of the RMH where we are staying and one of the people who Jessica spoke to about this. It is Arlene that seems to be making the decision here. Her email is awhatley @ and her phone is (713) 795-3570.This message may also be shared and reposted. Thank you all for your support.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Baby Blues Cartoon

click to enlarge
If you are interested in emailing feedback to the "Baby Blues" website and creators (as I did), here is the adress.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More letter-writing

There has been much discussion at in regards to the shock, discouragement, and even anger we are feeling at the lack of breastfeeding support in Edmonton's hospitals. A fellow LP'er and (dare I say) lactivist, describes it best in a letter to Dr. Jack Newman, one of Canada's leading breastfeeding gurus, voicing her concerns.

Dear Dr. Newman,
Since I had my baby 8 months ago, I have had the opportunity to hear stories from many mothers about their experiences in the hospital after they have had their babies and about the breast feeding help they received from hospital staff. I am quite saddened by many of the experiences as they illustrate the lack of knowledge that exists in maternity wards regarding breast feeding. For example, one mother had a 10 lbs 2 oz baby and was told that she could not breast feed because her baby was too big. I've heard stories of baby's being given bottles without permission from the parents. Just last week this happened to a friend as she had left her baby in the hospital nursery and had a quick shower only to come back and find that a nurse had given her baby a bottle even though the bassinet said "breast fed only". Some mothers are told that there isn't any staff to help them with breast feeding. Mothers are told that their babies must have formula or they'll get jaundiced. And nurses hand out nipple shields like they are the miracle solution to all breast feeding problems. Many of the mothers I've talked to have had a nurse suggest one to them, myself included. The lack of knowledge and education that continues to persist in maternity wards regarding breast feeding is huge and many mothers who set out to breast feed go home bottle feeding because of this.
I want to do something to change this but do not know where to begin. I know that I can continue to offer support to new moms who are trying to breast feed but I would like to do more than just this. I would like to see changes happening, starting with the hospitals and what goes on there. I've thought of compiling a huge list of the stories I have heard that illustrate the anti-breast feeding practices that go on in hospitals because I do wonder if the hospitals realize just what is happening on a regular basis. I've thought of contacting the media as well because I wonder if that'd be interested in a story regarding this, but don't know if that would get me anywhere. I've thought of writing to my MLA but also wonder how far that would get me.
I write to you because you have made such an impact and made such progress with spreading awareness of breast feeding and helping mothers succeed at it. I would like to know if you are able to point me in the right direction or tell me how I can make a difference. I feel that I cannot sit and listen to all these depressing stories but that I must do something to make a change. How can I make a difference? Where is a good place to start?
I know you are busy and I thank you for taking the time to read my e-mail and respond.
Sincerely,R S

And his reply:

Dear Ms. S,
I would encourage the mothers to write to the hospitals as a start. Help them with the letters if they are too busy to write. Send copies to the CEO, the chief of pediatrics and to the vice president in charge of nursing and the head nurse in postpartum. In most provinces, the college of nurses considers the giving of supplements without informed consent as professional misconduct. If the mothers are upset, they should complain to the college, formally, in writing (but they won't).
Yes, write your MLA (what province are you in?). And the minister of health. And the opposition health critic(s). Contact the media, you never know when you will get a sympathetic journalist.
See below my name what I'm trying to get mothers in Ontario to do, but there is not much hope in Ontario. The minister of health just stonewalls.
We now have an instructional DVD for breastfeeding. For a preview and more information, see This website also contains other information about breastfeeding as well as video clips showing breastfeeding techniques such as how to latch a baby on, how to know a baby is drinking from the breast, how to use compression, amongst others.
See also my book, Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding (HarperCollins, 2nd revision 2005) as it's called in Canada, or The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers as it's called in the US (new edition just published in November 2006).
I now also have a new book out, published by Hale Publishing, called The Latch and other keys to Successful Breastfeeding. Ordering information is available at
Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC
We no longer receive government funding for our clinic and are in real danger of having to close. If you value this service, please consider a donation to the Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation (registered charity) and earmark the donation for the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic and Institute. You can donate through their website
If you live in Ontario, please write to the Minister of Health in Ontario, Mr George Smitherman when you get a chance. He says women are getting good breastfeeding help in Ontario. If you don't agree let him know:;; Copy all three of these and past into the To: line.
For good measure, send the same letter separately to the deputy minister of health, Ron Sapsford,; and to the minister of health promotion
And sometimes, if you send it to opposition parties, more might get done. It is always better to send the same email separately to each person.
Leader of the conservative party of Ontario, John Tory, the health critic Elizabeth Witmer and Shelly Martel of the NDP (She is not the leader of the party, but she has been very helpful on this issue)
If you wish, I would appreciate if you send a copy to me as well

This is definately a worthwhile project. And I love the idea of gathering stories together to inform the hospitals on what really goes on. Keep an eye on the BLISS blog: I may put out the official call for stories soon.

And the cookie cutter response is.........

Hi Karen,

Thank you for your feedback - even if it is negative. I certainly respect your point-of-view. We both agree that breastfeeding is the best method of feeding babies.

ParentsCanada Group has a long history of promoting breastfeeding as the best method of feeding through our magazine editorial. We have great respect for Canadian mothers who only use breastfeeding for their children and for those, like yourself, who advocate the importance of breastfeeding to Canadian moms.

That said, we do allow formula advertising in ParentsCanada magazine. The ads from Nestle and Mead both acknowledge breastfeeding as the best form of feeding and make comparative claims of superiority only against other formulas.

I am very familiar with the WHO code directives with respect to the marketing of breast-milk substitutes and I am in agreement with its overall goal to promote breastfeeding. I believe some of the directives are a result of terrible tragedies that have occurred in the third world (for which the formula companies are responsible) but go too far in the context of North American society.

The reality is that formula serves a valid purpose for many women faced with difficult decisions in a complex and busy world. We would certainly welcome messaging from the formula companies that more clearly expressed the superiority of breast milk, but I do believe, in having dealt with many formula marketers for many years, that their goal is not to convince mothers to use formula instead of breast milk. They are, rather, competing in a valid commercial pursuit to increase their share of the market. They have never attempted to influence our pro-breast editorial, nor would we ever allow that to happen.

If you want to give me your address I would be happy to send you samples of the editorial we have produced over the years in support of the cause. Or you can search the ParentsCanada website for much of this valuable information. If you go to the Baby section, for example, the first listed article is "13 Reasons why Breastfeeding is Best" and there are several other articles all written by health professionals explaining the virtues of breast milk and helping mothers with breastfeeding.

I do wish you success in continuing to spread the word about the preferability of breastfeeding over formula. We consider ourselves partners in that message.

I thank you again for your comments. Please feel free to contact me directly if you wish.

David BakerVice President - MarketingParentsCanada Group65 The East MallToronto, ONM8Z 5W3P: 416-537-2604F: 416-538-1794