Saturday, August 7, 2010

Prescription Milk

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Guest post from Kathy.

There is no substitute for breastmilk when it comes to health, and premature babies are particularly at risk. While many mothers pump for their own babies, some women have trouble making enough milk. If you have "enough and to spare," I'd urge you to look into donating your milk to a milk bank or local hospital if possible. Even though all babies benefit from breastmilk, premature babies are more vulnerable to the side effects of formula, with formula-fed preemies having something like double the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (compared to their breastmilk-fed peers), which can be fatal. By donating breastmilk to a baby who needs it, you can literally give the gift of life.

Soon after my younger son was born, a friend adopted a newborn, and I pumped extra milk for him. Even though the baby was a normal, healthy newborn, and didn't "need" breastmilk like some of these babies in this video, I felt wonderful about giving him the gift of breastmilk that neither his birth mother nor his adoptive mother were able to give*. Yes, it took time, but it was worth it. If I ever have another baby, I will definitely donate extra milk if at all possible.

*[I feel the need to qualify what I mean when I say that his adoptive mother "wasn't able" to give the baby breastmilk. It is important to note that adoptive mothers can breastfeed at least partially, even if some are not able to fully feed their infants. However, this particular adoption was actually a surprise (long story, but they found out about the baby one day before he was born and took him home one day after he was born), so she didn't have time to prepare prior to the adoption.]

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Giveaway in honor of World Breastfeeding Week

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World Breastfeeding Week started this Sunday, August 1, and runs through Saturday, August 7. The event is a world-wide effort at promoting breastfeeding, with the following objectives:
  • Draw attention to the role of the Ten Steps in improving breastfeeding rates.

  • Renew action by health systems, health care providers and communities to make breastfeeding the easy choice for women.

  • Inform people everywhere of the risks of artificial feeding, and the role of breastfeeding for children’s development and lifelong health and the health of mothers.

  • Enable mothers to enjoy full support for breastfeeding in health care systems and beyond.
While I of course support all of these objectives, it is the last that is especially close to my heart -- so much so, that the subtitle of my book, Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy, is "A Photographic Guide for Mom and Those Who Help Her." While often "those who help her" are the mother's family, friends and community, whose support can be most important to her, her help does not necessarily begin and end there. Doulas, midwives, childbirth educators, lactation consultants, physicians, WIC offices, breastfeeding cafes, and hospitals have bought cases of my books to give to new moms, and often become part of her "community of support."

In fact, the Herkimer and Madison County WIC offices in upstate NY have bought cases of Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy so that they can give a copy to any woman who needs it. Mothers there are saying that the book is helpful when they need reassurance on how to hold the baby and help the baby take the breast. When moms are overwhelmed by breastfeeding problems they have been helped by the reminders of the benefits of skin to skin provided in the many images. By having this book in the home of more women, breastfeeding is being seen as normal by fathers, children, grandparents and friends. Fathers and grandparents are saying they feel more comfortable helping mom. Since women who are most likely to qualify for WIC are also statistically least likely to initiate or continue breastfeeding, this makes WIC's work even more important in improving breastfeeding rates and infant outcomes.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I am going to give away two copies of Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy... with a twist. One copy will go to one lucky fan from the facebook fan page, and the second copy will go to the library of her (or his) choice. This will allow a wider audience access to the images and information in my book. After the winner receives her (or his) copy of Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy, she will need to show the book to the library to make sure that it will accept the donation by contacting me, and then I will mail the book directly to the library. If you are already a fan on facebook, you don't have to do anything -- you're automatically entered. If you're not a facebook fan yet, click here to become one; and if you're not on facebook at all, you can leave a comment below and I'll put your name in the drawing. The drawing will be held on Saturday, the last day of World Breastfeeding Week, and I will be picking a name at random from all the names of the facebook fans.

[Giveaway open to residents of the United States and Canada.]

Update: We have a winner! [click here]

I'd like to give a big thank-you to all the fans for their support of Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy. By being a fan and inviting others to become fans you are helping me let communities across the nation and around the world know about this book that has helped countless women breastfeed their babies "with comfort and joy."