Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Biohazards at Daycare?

Two stories have surfaced recently about moms having problems with their breastfed children in daycare.

In Ohio, a daycare provider demanded an extra $50 a week to feed a baby expressed breastmilk. Robin Neorr of Columbus was told that her breastmilk is a "hazardous body fluid" and therefore had to be handled differently than bottles of formula. The CDC does not list human breast milk as a body fluid requiring special handling precautions and states on its web site that, "Occupational exposure to human breast milk has not been shown to lead to transmission of HIV or HBV infection." The daycare insisted that it had to use a separate refrigerator and bottle warmer for expressed breastmilk and even went so far as to put biohazard stickers on the bottles! As it turns out, Jennifer, over at The Lactivist, found that Ohio's daycare regulations stipulate more precautions be taken with the handling of formula than of breastmilk. For an update on this story and information about contacting the daycare center in question, see The Lactivist.

So, just up the road in Michigan, a mom was told to take her child out of his regular classroom and to the infant room to nurse. In fact, she says when she sat to nurse her son in his classroom, "The lead teacher ran to tell the director, and the other teachers evacuated the children." The scene of children being evacuated from a classroom to avoid seeing a classmate breastfeed would be funny if only it weren't such a sad statement about our culture. For more details on this story, see Breastfeeding 1-2-3.

Both these moms tried to reason with the management of the daycare providers, to no avail. Both are now trying to get laws changed in their states so that other families are not faced with such discrimination in the future. There is an effort to get these stories into the national media, who would like to hear from one or two other moms with similar stories. If you or someone you know has had breastfeeding-related problems at daycare, please contact me.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Breastfeeding Etiquette on the Today Show

This morning, Anne Curry's interviewed Susan Kane of Baby Talk magazine about attitudes toward breastfeeding in public. Curry starts by asking why 70% of new mothers start to breastfeed, but only 36% are still breastfeeding at six months, despite the AAP recommendation to breastfeed for the first year of life. Kane touches on the benefits of breastfeeding to baby and mom and the fact that 90% of mothers quit breastfeeding when they return to work. When Curry asks when is it appropriate for a mother to breastfeed, Kane rightly answers, "Whenver her baby is hungry." Wonderfully, Curry says at the end I think when it comes to making the decision between upsetting people and your baby's health and intelligence, choose your baby."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Support Oregon Moms Who Pump at Work!

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Diane Garrett, the Nursing Mothers Counsel's legislative lobbyist (a volunteer, mind you!), Oregon has a new bill that would require employers of 25 or more employees to provide time and space to employees to express milk. You can read House Bill 2372 here. If enacted into law as it is written, this would effect 10% of businesses employing 70% of Oregon workers.

On January 31st, Diane and I met with House Speaker Jeff Merkley (D-East Portland), as well as aides of Representative Carolyn Tomei (D-Milwaukie) and Speaker Pro Tempore Representative Diane Rosenbaum (D-SE Portland). We had a great conversation about deflecting opposition to the bill as well as seeking broader support from the business community. The House Human Services and Women's Wellness Committee may hear testimony on the bill as early as next week. We are looking for moms who are willing to share their "pumping at work" stories, good and bad, with the committee. If you've always wanted a chance to get involved in the legislative promise, here's your chance! Contact Chris

We also need you, as constituents, to contact your representatives and ask them to support this measure. You can send an email. This is an quick, easy, and important bit that everyone can do to help get this measure passed. You can be sure lobbyists for business interest will be working against this bill--make sure your voice is heard in favor of it!