The not-for-profit Family Health and Birth Center, housed in a former supermarket and located in a low-income area of the District, provides gynecological and obstetrical services, as well as parenting advice to women and general health services to children, the Post reports. An increasing number of women are giving birth in the center's birthing rooms, while other women give birth at Washington Hospital Center accompanied by one of the center's seven on-staff midwifes, the Post reports. Preliminary data for 2006 indicate that the center might have delivered a "record number" of infants -- more the 153 last year, as well as the highest percentage ever delivered outside the hospital -- the Post reports. Of infants delivered through the center through mid-October, less than 5% were delivered before 37 weeks' gestation, 2% were considered low birthweight and 7% were delivered through c-sections. Citywide rates for those measures are in the double digits, according to the Post. According to an analysis conducted by Lubic based on an estimate in a recent Institute of Medicine report, the center saves $567,000 annually by reducing the number of preterm deliveries. Using the same formula, Lubic calculated that the center saves almost $285,000 in c-section costs.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
A female inmate housed at the George Allen [Dallas, Texas] Jail Infirmary went into labor early Friday morning and delivered her child before paramedics could arrive. At about 5:25 a.m. the woman, 23-year-old Ada Hernandez, told officers that she was in labor and was escorted to a nurse's station. Medical staff determined that Hernandez needed to be transferred to Parkland Hospital in Dallas to deliver the child. Before the ambulance arrived, Hernandez's labor intensified and she delivered the baby boy in the elevator at 5:43 a.m.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Although one could argue (I am not making a case either way, as I was not there and do not know what happened) that Ms. Dentice was somehow culpable in the death of this baby - and certainly she did not meet the requirements for certification of midwives now in place in Wisconsin - the Mommy Blawger would like to point out that the acts for which she was convicted are perfectly legal and/or regulated in most of the 41 states which authorize direct-entry midwifery, including my home state of Texas.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
[Emily] Gillette is arguing that her civil rights were violated because breast-feeding is a right protected by Vermont's Public Accommodations Law.
Freedom Airlines argued in a Monday letter to the Human Rights Commission that the federal Airlines Deregulation Act trumps Vermont's human rights law, because state law cannot interfere with air carrier service.
In this case, the plane was on the ground so there is (apparently) no jurisdictional or choice-of- law question. If the plane was in the air, however, what then? Sounds like a law exam question to me.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
According to UNFPA, half of the world's pregnant women are without access to skilled care at childbirth. The health of pregnant women and their infants has improved in Costa Rica, Egypt, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tunisia because of the countries' investment in midwives and related training, the agency says. In addition, significant improvements in maternal and newborn health have been seen in Northern Africa, eastern Asia, Southeast Asia and Latin America, UNFPA reported.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Prosecutors filed a felony charge against [Julie] Thao, igniting a debate over whether medical professionals who make unintentional yet deadly mistakes should face criminal charges, on top of civil punishment from victims and regulators.
Officials say the charge against Thao reflected a series of dangerous decisions she made that led to the July 5 death of 16-year-old Jasmine Gant, an expectant mother whose 8-pound baby boy survived.
Gant died after Thao mistakenly gave her a dose of epidural instead of penicillin to treat a strep infection during labor. The epidural, a potent pain reliever used during child birth, caused Gant to go into cardiac arrest and die within hours.
Thao told investigators she was in a rush to treat Gant and inadvertently scooped up the bag containing epidural instead of penicillin. Both medications were on the counter in the birthing suite at St. Mary's Medical Center in Madison.
The case has alarmed groups representing medical professionals who say punishment for unintentional errors should be left to regulators and the civil court system.
While calling the death tragic, they say the charge sends the wrong message at a time of nursing shortages and attempts to improve self-reporting of medical errors.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
I arrive at 10:30am. As I pull into a parking space, I notice two women in the car next to me unloading small children - one is wearing a sling. I think, "they're with me". And they are. As we head inside the terminal, we look for the Delta counter. One of the women spots the group - "I see baby carriers," she says, and we head that way. And indeed, although this is a nurse-in, it looks more like a baby-wearing conference. Ring slings, pouches, Mei Tais, simple pieces of cloth, shawls, you name it. In fact, there are nearly 30 children under the age of 5, and only 3 or 4 strollers.
Someone comes around with stickers featuring the new international breastfeeding symbol, and a sign-in sheet. Later I learn that a total of 27 adults signed in, although it looked to be more than that. There are a couple dads and a few women without babies. When I arrive, there are two camera crews, CW33 and another one, NBC5 I think. The around 10:45, Jeff Brady, the anchor from WFAA 8, shows up. All of the reporters and crews shake hands and say "hi there" like they are best buds.
The news teams do a bunch of interviews. The only disconcerting thing is that whenever a cameraman spots a baby starting to nurse, he comes right over for a close-up. Nothing screams "look at me, I'm breastfeeding!" like a news camera parked six inches from your boob.
Really, nothing much happens. We have no contact with airport police or Delta employees, except one official who will occasionally come by and remind everyone to keep the walkway clear. Mostly we just stand around and chat like mothers of young children are apt to do. I run into women I know from our local homebirth organization, a woman I met at CAPPA CBE training this summer, a woman whose garage sale I went to a couple months ago, and women I know online but have never met in real life. There were La Leche League people, attachment parenting people, homebirthers, and babywearing gurus. Younger moms and older moms. First-time moms and moms with a bunch. Crunchy and not-so-crunchy.
At about 11 am, the power goes out. I sense hopes for a top news spot vanish as the story shifts to "breaking news! power outage at DFW airport strands travelers". Thankfully, the power comes back on after 15 minutes or so. My milk lets down, and I take advantage of the distraction to nurse Andrew, completely unnoticed. Although I do breastfeed in public, and have ever since my first was two weeks old, it has taken me three babies and 4 1/2 years to become entirely comfortable with it. I don't really want to do it on camera.
Perhaps because I am standing towards the end of the long row of moms & babies, or perhaps because I just look approachable, passers-by keep asking me what is going on. One asks if this is a convention; another says excitedly, "is this a nurse-in?" I don't think anyone would have taken much notice if it weren't for the cameras and reporters hanging around.
By 11:30, cranky toddlers hit "meltdown" and folks start to leave. Jeff Brady has, apparently, contacted DFW Airport for a statement. Speaking with four of the women who were at the first nurse-in, he says that a spokesperson for the airport claims that they were passing out literature and holding signs, both activities which require permits, and that is why the police intervened. The women disagree, and are filmed giving their version of events. None of this is going to make the evening news, of course.
Later, I wonder what all the fuss was about. We made a point. We'll probably be on t.v. I met some interesting people. I talked to four or five strangers who know more about breastfeeding laws than they did before. Maybe we educated some people. Maybe we offended some people. No one got arrested.
In the afternoon, mom and I went for haircuts. When we told mom's stylist about the nurse-in, she related an incident that happened here in the North Texas area. She was at a restaurant, and a woman was feeding a small baby in the waiting area. She was totally covered by a blanket, and in fact the stylist and her husband were not aware she was nursing at first. Then another man in the waiting area began telling the woman she "should not be doing that". Next his wife started in on her. Finally the manager of the restaurant came out and told the woman she should either finish up in the restroom, or out in her car. The stylist and her husband were appalled that people would be yelling at a woman holding a small baby, nursing or not.
Then it struck me. For every Emily Gillette who is strong enough and educated enough to stand up for her rights - get a lawyer and file a complaint, know the right people to contact to inspire over 700 people in 40 cities to show up at their local airports two days before Thanksgiving garnering national and international media coverage - there are countless others who are intimidated, harassed, or embarrassed, and do nothing. Worse, think of the mothers who never breastfeed because they are daunted by the thought of nursing in public and want to have a life. Think of the babies whose hunger cries are ignored because they come at an "inconvenient" time or place, impairing the nursing relationship and reducing their mom's milk supply.
Modesty, or "discretion", is a red herring. I see women and girls all the time dressed immodestly. I would love to ask a woman with a lace thong peeking out of her ultra-low-cut jeans to just wrap a sweater around her waist. I don't want to see that, and I don't want my husband or young boys to see it either. What would be so hard about covering up a little? But I don't, because she is free to dress how she wants, and so am I. We invaded Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban (and their oppressive treatment of women), but some misinformed people here at home still try to dictate what a mother and baby can do in public.
This battle is about raising awareness of the law. Until policemen, flight attendants, restaurant managers, store owners, movie theater ushers, and last but not least the mothers themselves know that a baby has the right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere, and its mother is not legally required to be "discreet", the Nurse-in will continue to be used until society as a whole, "gets it".
To borrow a famous quote about childbirth, if you don't know your rights, you don't have any.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Seeking to codify a concise, easily understood document, State Senator Liz Krueger has introduced the Breastfeeding Mothers' Bill of Rights. The legislation, S8511, draws upon New York State Rules and Regulations, the Best Hospital Practices and the World Health Organization Baby Friendly guidelines.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The nurse-in which took place nationwide last Tuesday - but only for fifteen minutes or so at the Dallas/Ft. Worth International airport - has been rescheduled. The press release reads, in part:
Breastfeeding Rally To Take Place At DFW Airport
Nursing mothers and their supporters will be gathering on Friday, December 1 at 10 AM, at the Delta ticket counter in Terminal E of DFW airport.
On November 21, mothers and other advocates took part in a nation-wide nurse-in at roughly 40 U.S. airports. Like all of the rallies across the country, the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Nurse-in supported the right to breastfeed in all public and private locations, anywhere a mother and child might be, regardless of any issues of discretion. There was no formal national organization sponsoring this event, but amazingly, hundreds of mothers and other supporters turned out nation-wide. Unlike the rest of the nation, however, the supporters at the DFW Airport rally were harassed, insulted, and threatened with possible arrest by members of the DFW police (Department of Public Safety officers), and then asked to leave.
Though the right to breastfeed already exists, many people are unaware of this right, or may choose to challenge this right, or otherwise intimidate and cause discomfort for nursing moms, posing a great threat to the continuation and exclusivity of breastfeeding relationships and compromising the health of mothers and children, and the economic well-being of the society.
The issue of breastfeeding rights goes far beyond a woman’s right to nurse - it also encompasses a basic human right for children, the right to eat and to receive comfort and nurturing at the breast.
The Nurse-ins have been coordinated by volunteers.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Motherwear's Breastfeeding Blog has a very good summary of the incident and the coverage. I just want to point out that the event was covered on NPR's All Things Considered and ABC's World News Tonight. Locally, CW33 covered the nurse-in - or lack thereof.
And now we come to the part of the post where The Mommy Blawger gets very angry and walks around the house aimlessly, muttering to herself.
At the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport this morning, six women and nine children arrived at the Delta ticket counter area for the nurse-in. After about 15 minutes - and, they say, after only one baby had been breastfed, as if it matters - they were approached by a police officer and asked to stop. While discussing the finer points of Texas law with the officer, she reportedly told one of the women that what she was doing was horrible, indecent, offensive, awful, obscene, reckless, and disorderly. One officer quickly became three, and the women were told they could be arrested for indecent exposure or disorderly conduct.
Texas Penal Code § 21.08. INDECENT EXPOSURE. (a) A person commits an offense if he exposes his anus or any part of his genitals with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, and he is reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by his act.
Texas Penal Code § 42.01. DISORDERLY CONDUCT. (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly:
(10) exposes his anus or genitals in a public place and is reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by his act;
Texas Health & Safety Code § 165.002. RIGHT TO BREAST-FEED. A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.
After being informed that they needed a permit to hold a demonstration, the mothers packed up and hiked over to Administration, where they obtained said paperwork.
There will be more blogging on this topic. Much more.
Monday, November 20, 2006
The spokesman was quoted as saying:
A complaint against two airlines was filed with the Vermont Human Rights Commission, although Executive Director Robert Appel said he was barred by state law from confirming the complaint. He did say state law allows a mother to breast-feed in public.
Elizabeth Boepple, a lawyer hired by 27-year-old mother Emily Gillette, confirmed that Gillette filed the complaint late last week against Delta Air Lines and Freedom Airlines. Freedom was operating the Delta commuter flight between Burlington and New York City.
A Freedom spokesman said Gillette was asked to leave the flight after she declined a flight attendant's offer of a blanket.
"A breast-feeding mother is perfectly acceptable on an aircraft, providing she is feeding the child in a discreet way," that does not bother others, said Paul Skellon, spokesman for Phoenix-based Freedom. "She was asked to use a blanket just to provide a little more discretion, she was given a blanket, and she refused to use it, and that's all I know."
Mesa Air Group, Inc. would like to issue the following clarification following media reports regarding difficulties experienced by a passenger aboard a Freedom Airlines flight. The statement by our Company spokesman on November 14, 2006 incorrectly described the Company's position regarding passengers' breastfeeding their children on Company aircraft.
Ms. Gillette was interviewed on Fox's The Big Story w/John Gibson and by Mothering Magazine, which is providing ongoing coverage.
Hawthor the Cow Goddess did a comic.
Logo above courtesy of Daddy Types, snarky comments no charge.
A boycott is rumored.
A nurse-in took place last wednesday at the Burlington International Airport, and a nation-wide nurse-in at Delta and Freedom Airlines counters is sceduled for Tuesday, November 21 at 10:00 am local time. I'll update tomorrow.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
The state Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque [New Mexico] is reporting the fetus found Friday in the bathroom at Diné College in Shiprock was not a fetus after all.
The material found was actually the placenta from a childbirth, according to OMI.
Investigators believe a woman gave birth, possibly at home, then delivered the placenta at the school.
While no one has come forward reporting a problem giving birth, there is no longer a criminal investigation in the case.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Immigration officials are to be ordered to stop separating breastfeeding mothers from their babies in the drive to deport failed asylum seekers after the government was told that the practice flouts UN conventions.
In August, Guardian Unlimited revealed that in at least two cases earlier this year mothers had been detained in immigration and removal centres away from their pre-weaned children.
So I know it's too late now, but if you are as fascinated as I am by the idea of having a Reformation Day Fair/"Faire", you can start planning now for next year. Other ideas for celebrating the holiday are here and here and here. My favorite: crumbled oreos + gummy worms = diet of worms. Cute!
Friday, October 27, 2006
The Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law blog links to me this week, as well. I've been keeping an eye on this blog for a while; it started out slowly but has become quite a good resource.
Today my kids wanted me to buy a pumpkin, and I said we could get one to decorate for Thanksgiving with, and then make it into a pumpkin pie later. Honestly, I had no idea what to do with pumpkin that doesn't come in a can, but the folks at this week's Carnival of the Recipies do.
WorldNetDaily covers German homeschooling, too.
HT: Spunky Homeschool
My husband would like me to take this opportunity to remind everyone that Tuesday, the day before All Saint's Day, is Reformation Day - the anniversary of Martin Luther's (supposedly) nailing the 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg in 1517.
Monday, October 23, 2006
French mothers challenge taboo at 'Big Breastfeed' demo
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Midwifery judge defies bail order
If Linda McGlade, 54, and her daughter-in-law, Tanya McGlade, 27, were released from prison, the local court cannot guarantee it could keep them from other "underground births," Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas wrote on his denial to grant the release.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Link: States Target Raw-Milk FarmersThe Family Farms Co-op thought it had dealt with the Michigan prohibition against retailing raw milk, which is similar to prohibitions in many other states, four years ago, when it set up the co-op. Under the arrangement, the co-op leases cows from the dairy farm and then sells shares in the herd to co-op members, each of whom pays $20 a year for their share. The co-op members purchase milk for $6.50 a gallon, which goes back to the dairy farmer in the form of a boarding fee for the cows.
"It has to be this way, because it's illegal to sell raw milk retail" in Michigan, says Hebron. Michigan law allows for people who own and board dairy cows to consume their milk, though.
After I listened to Hebron tell his story about the state police and agriculture inspectors refusing to let him make a call home after confiscating thousands of dollars worth of fresh farm products from his truck, and then serving a search warrant on his wife and rummaging through the farm family's home, I asked him, "Could you believe this was happening in the United States?"
"No," he said. "I have a customer in Chicago who says he's from Russia. He thinks this is worse than what happens in Russia."
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
From the New York Law Journal, Baldwin Midwife Wages Legal Battle to Upend Suspension of Privileges:
A Baldwin midwife is waging a legal battle for restoration of her privileges at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow that were suspended after she removed a placenta from the hospital to bury it in her garden.
Jeanette Breen, 60, who has been delivering babies at the medical center since the early 1990s, was suspended on Nov. 9, 2005, shortly after she left the hospital with the placenta.
The patient gave Ms. Breen, who is a registered nurse and a licensed midwife, permission to take the placenta. However, Ms. Breen did not seek prior authorization from the medical center, which claims that she violated the hospital's policy and state law for the disposal of regulated medical wastes.
Many patients of midwives view placentas as natural products of conception that should be given a proper burial instead of being discarded as medical waste.
The article notes that the hospital had an unofficial policy of allowing patients to take home their placentas when they make a personal request.The hospital contends that Ms. Breen's removal of the placenta violated the state Public Health Law, which prohibits the improper disposal of medical waste. According to Section 1389-aa, that includes any "tissue, organs and body parts," except teeth and contiguous bone and gums, removed during surgery or other medical procedures.
Ms. Breen's lawyer notes that the law does not specifically mention placentas. Moreover, he argues that her actions fall under an exception that allows patients to retain body parts removed during surgery if they have a religious reason for doing so. Mr. Reiser said that his client had a "cultural" justification for removing the placenta from the hospital.
Previous Placenta Posts:
Placentas in the News
Placenta Found At Wellesley College
Update: Placenta Found At Wellesley College
Monday, October 09, 2006
However, via the Gothamist, Tracy Connor of the New York Daily News tests the response of New Yorkers to nursing in public:
In the back of an aisle at [Toys "R" Us'] Bay Parkway, Brooklyn, store, I feed my child quietly for five minutes - until a worker spots me.
"Excuse me, ma'am," she bellows. "We have a room where you can do that."
I explain that I had checked out the "mother's room" and found the sofa dirty, but she's undeterred.
"It's not good in the open like this...for the other people who can see," she presses.
When I remind her that I can legally breast-feed wherever I want, she changes her tune. "I just think you would be more comfortable," she says. "If you're comfortable here, that's fine."
Moments later, another clerk sees us and says, "Oh Lord!" She scurries off, perhaps to speak to a manager, and I brace for a new confrontation. But when she returns it's with the offer of a chair to use in the aisle and when I refuse it, she leaves us in peace.
Quite fashionable all 'round.General manager Benito Sevarin tells me I'm hardly the first woman to breast-feed over four-star cuisine.
"In fact, a few days ago we had a woman - a very famous woman, I won't tell you her name - nursing her baby," he says. "There's nothing wrong with it."
(follow-up to: ACLU Goes After Toys "R" Us)
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Ms [Sam] Ball [administrator of Kawartha Community Midwives] says Ontario was the first province to regulate midwives and consider them part of the medical system. The services of a midwife have been covered by OHIP since 1994.
She says midwives are able to do clinical care and order blood work and ultrasounds.
There are more and more midwives coming into the system, says Ms Ball. Every year, 50 new midwives enter the field, she says. Despite the growing numbers, Kawartha Community Midwives have to turn about 40 women away.
link: Midwives ready to deliver at Ross Memorial Hospital
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Q: How many midwives does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two. One to sit there and wait for the old bulb to fall out of the socket naturally with no intervention, and one to give emotional support.
It has been reported (actually, he announced it on Larry King Live) that the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby is none other than her lawyer, Howard K. Stern. Which, if nothing else, explains why he was spending the night in the Nassau hospital room with Smith and was there when her son passed away. I mean, I spend lots of postpartum time with my lawyer, but I happen to be married to him. Otherwise, that's a little freaky, don't you think?
I know that the first thought all you lawyers had was "Sex with a client? What jurisdiction is he licensed in?". Yah, admit it, you're a law geek too. Stern is licensed in California, which frowns upon attorney-client relationships but does not prohibit them.
And (because it's hard for me to blog about anything that can't be related to childbirth, breastfeeding, or midwifery) I will point out that Dr. Cyril Wecht, the infamous coroner who performed a second, private autopsy on Daniel Smith, was also in charge of the investigation into the childbirth death of Issac Daley and subsequent prosecution of Judy Wilson. Small world, I know. In that case, Dr. Wecht has opined (outside his area of expertise, something he seems to do often) that "laboring women are unable to think rationally and thereby make decisions about their own care."
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Last Thursday the German police arrested Katharina Plett, a homeschooling mother of twelve. Yesterday her husband fled to Austria with the children. Homeschooling is illegal in Germany since Hitler banned it in 1938. The Plett family belongs to a homeschooling group of seven Baptist families in Paderborn.
And homeschoolers in Belgium are experiencing a similar crackdown, thanks to the UN Convention on Children's Rights.
Links courtesty of Spunky, my new go-to gal for homeschooling legal stuff. She comments here and here.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
In a letter to the company sent today, the NYCLU sought a meeting with Toys "R" Us officials; an apology; appropriate compensation for Meyerson; and a written guarantee that Toys "R" Us would permit breastfeeding in its stores and would train its staff about the policy.
Galen Sherwin, Staff Attorney for the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project, added: "This is about public health, not public morality."
Twelve years ago the NYCLU lobbied for and secured the passage of a law that specifically establishes the right of all New York mothers to breastfeed in public. That statute, a section of New York State's Civil Rights Law, provides that "a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be."
"Prohibiting public breastfeeding is bad public health policy -- and it's also against the law," said Elisabeth Benjamin, NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project Director. "Health care providers and the law agree that families who choose to breastfeed their children should be able to do so whenever and wherever necessary."
But if I were Ms. Meyerson, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for any "appropriate compensation".
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
link: Charges Rejected for Moms Who Bear Babies Exposed to Illegal Drugs
The New York Times ran a not-to-be-missed article, On the Job, Nursing Mothers Find a 2-Class System, which describes the obstacles some women face when pumping at work:
But as pressure to breast-feed increases, a two-class system is emerging for working mothers. For those with autonomy in their jobs — generally, well-paid professionals — breast-feeding, and the pumping it requires, is a matter of choice. It is usually an inconvenience, and it may be an embarrassing comedy of manners, involving leaky bottles tucked into briefcases and brown paper bags in the office refrigerator. But for lower-income mothers — including many who work in restaurants, factories, call centers and the military — pumping at work is close to impossible, causing many women to decline to breast-feed at all, and others to quit after a short time.
It is a particularly literal case of how well-being tends to beget further well-being, and disadvantage tends to create disadvantage — passed down in a mother’s milk, or lack thereof.
Nearly half of new mothers return to work within the first year of their child’s life. But federal law offers no protection to mothers who express milk on the job — despite the efforts of Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York, who has introduced such legislation. “I can’t understand why this doesn’t move,” she said. “This is pro-family, pro-health, pro-economy.”
Meanwhile, states are stepping in. Twelve states have passed laws protecting pumping mothers — Oklahoma’s law, the newest, will take effect in November. But like Oklahoma’s, which merely states that an employer “may provide reasonable break time” and “may make a reasonable effort” to provide privacy, most are merely symbolic.
Public health authorities, alarmed at the gap between the breast-feeding haves and have-nots, are now trying to convince businesses that supporting the practice is a sound investment. “The Business Case for Breastfeeding,” an upcoming campaign by the Department of Health and Human Services, will emphasize recent findings that breast-feeding reduces absenteeism and pediatrician bills.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Group Urges Disaster Planning for Pregnant Women, Babies
Missing New Orleans
Hurricane Rita was disappointing for those of us in drought-ridden North Texas who were hoping for rain, and got none.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
In New York, a Nurse-In was planned this week after a woman at the Longwood Public Library was asked to "cover up":
New York State law on breast-feeding established in 1992 "guarantees a mother the right to breast feed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother's breast is covered during or incidental to breast feeding."
"I explained to her I wouldn't cover up and that she was being unlawful," Ms. Neary-Wood said. "I told her that now when people complain [about women breast-feeding in the library], she'll have something to tell them and no other woman will be harassed or asked to leave a program."
Library director David Clemens told The Sun Thursday "the library follows the law."
But Ms. Neary-Wood and friend Kristen Ferrara of Rocky Point, who was also breast-feeding at the class, say that's not what Mr. Clemens told them June 30.
The two allege Mr. Clemens told them "we don't have to follow the law" and that the public library is "not a public place." His explanation of this statement, they say, is that the library is governed by a board of directors.
In Buda, Texas, Breastfeeding fans still want apology:
During the citizen comment period, Michelle and Jason Hickey and many others spoke about the breastfeeding incident at Kyle Pool.
"All my wife was doing was breastfeeding her child," Jason Hickey said. "The people that were involved basically looked for a reason to tell my wife, 'Oh, you were in the wrong,' when she was never in the wrong."
At least five other citizens said they felt Hickey was treated unfairly and deserved an apology.
And close to home, a Dallas mother was kicked out of Gutmann's Home Furnishings on Inwood Road for breastfeeding. Worse, when she called the police, the officer sided with the furniture store owner. The Dallas Police Department is reviewing the case. A Nurse-In took place on Saturday, and you can watch the Fox News Broadcast online. Double kudos to Fox4 News for not only showing the mom discreetly breastfeeding, but also for quoting the Texas statute in their coverage.
Related post: Lactivism, Nurse-ins, and Victoria's Secret
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the lack of emergency preparedness guidelines for pregnant women, infants and new mothers in the United States became apparent.
"Pregnant women face greater risks -- like premature births, low-birth-weight babies and infant deaths -- during the stressful conditions of a disaster. This can make delivering a child difficult and potentially life-threatening," said Theresa Shaver, executive director of the District-based White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.
The alliance believes that disaster situations call for a shift in the thinking of American women, who generally expect to give birth in a hospital or clinical setting. In the early phase of a disaster, officials said, births will often take place outside a health facility and without the assistance of trained health personnel.
"We will be in situations where there are no health-care facilities. In fact, if there is a pandemic flu, a hospital is not where you take a pregnant woman or an infant to," said Robbie Prepas, a certified midwife who heads disaster preparedness at the American College of Nurse-Midwives. During Katrina, Prepas helped many pregnant women with deliveries in airports and ambulances.
"We will have to retrain care providers to be comfortable with assisting deliveries outside hospitals," she said.
BanTheBags.org has an interesting post on "Commercial Discharge Bags" (you know, those free diaper bags with a can of formula in them that they give you when you have a baby in the hospital) in relation to Healthcare Laws, Regulations, Guidelines, and Compliance. Included is a discussion on the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute, Federal Antitrust Laws, the PhRMA Code, and HIPPA.
Judge tells midwife to stop practice (Reporter-Times)
Midwife ordered to stop delivering babies (Indy Star)
"a woman experiencing contractions is in true labor unless a physician, certified nurse-midwife, or other qualified medical person acting within his or her scope of practice as defined in hospital medical staff bylaws and State law, certifies that, after a reasonable time of observation, the woman is in false labor."Previously, a physician's certification was necessary to determine that a woman was not in "true" labor. The new regulation acknowleges the role of midwives in hospital-based maternity care.
Link: U.S. Newswire
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Legalization and licensure of CPM practices in all these states would represent a massive legislative victory for advocates of traditional home birth.
It would also be a startling rebuke to the many physicians who have long maintained that such practices are unsafe, despite growing statistical evidence that suggests CPM-supervised home births are as safe – sometimes safer – than hospital births.
Well-organized opposition within medical lobbying groups makes such a one-sided result unlikely within the next two years, Ms. [Ida] Darragh says. But, when asked if the flurry of activity in the nation’s statehouses is indicative of a national trend in support traditional childbirth methods, she adds: "We certainly hope so."
As with many health issues, the debate about CPMs may seem arcane to non-experts. The debate is a minefield of acronyms, and home births account for just 1 to 3 percent of all births in an average year, with similar percentages in each state.
Yet the debate casts in sharp relief a philosophical tug-of-war over the nature of childbirth that powerfully affects how expectant mothers approach the ordeal of birth.
Asked to provide any statistical evidence contradicting such studies, for the sake of this story, ACOG sent none but e-mailed two policy statements further explaining the organization's position on the certification of midwives.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
A Deerfield Beach lawyer is on a letter-writing campaign after, he says, a restaurant employee asked his breastfeeding wife to "take it outside."
Geil Bilu said that he and his wife and children, ages 19 months and nine weeks, were at Westside Bagels in Coral Springs Saturday morning when his infant daughter began to fuss. Bilu said his wife began to discretely nurse the baby, when a man, who Bilu said he believes was a restaurant manager, came over and asked her to leave.
Bilu said when his wife told the man that she was nearly done feeding the baby and would leave as soon as she was done, the man stood by the table and stared until the family packed up and left.
And of course:
Since there is no criminal offense involved, Geil Bilu said he may pursue a civil case against the restaurant in order to raise public awareness of mother's rights to nurse.
A 1976 rule change effectively ended planned home births in Alabama by limiting the practice of midwifery to certified nurse midwives - registered nurses with extensive childbirth training. They can deliver babies only at a hospital and must be supervised by a doctor.
Because Alabama does not sanction CPMs, they can be charged with practicing certified nurse midwifery without a license if they are caught delivering babies here. That has happened at least twice since 1995.
"For many people, midwifery is a calling, and here's the state saying, 'Oh no, you can't do this,' " said [Chloe] Raum, who is apprenticing at the Ardmore birth house. "They can't recognize that birth can be managed in a dramatically different way (than hospitals) and have just as good or better outcomes.
"We try to be very respectful and nice and quietly educate people."
While state health officials say a hospital is the safest place to have a baby and the vast majority of parents are happy to go that route, midwife births are slowly gaining in popularity. According to government statistics, midwives delivered 328,153 babies in 2003 - about 8 percent of children born in the United States that year. That's up from 7.4 percent of all births in 1998.
The trend is being fueled in part by a study published last year in the British Medical Journal that concluded planned home births are as safe as hospital births for healthy women, with less chance that the labor will end in a Caesarean-section surgical delivery.
Monday, July 24, 2006
While traditional medicine says that chemotherapy, radiation, and stem cell transplants are the only options available to treat cancer, there are a number of alternative treatments that some say are successful, too.
Some of these methods include diet management, electrode therapy, herbal and plant extracts, supplements, and oxygen treatments.
If an adult were to choose one of these, a physician would acknowledge that decision and uphold it, even if it meant his or her patient could die.
When a teenager wants to do the same, it can quickly become a legal battle between the teen and his doctors.
Is that fair?
Some medical ethicists, however, believe that some older teens are capable of making informed, life-or-death decisions for themselves. But their parents, who are legally able to make those decisions for themselves, are not able to make those decisions for their children. Sorry if I seem to be repeating myself; I am trying to wrap my brain around this. Instead, it is better for doctors, judges, hospital ethics boards - strangers, essentially - to make these decisions for them.A month later, Billy returned home with his parents' promise that he would not have to continue the chemo.Instead, the family came together and chose to turn to alternative therapies. This family decision prompted Billy's physicians to report his parents as unfit to the authorities.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Saturday, July 22, 2006
The City Council [of Burlington, Vermont] decided at its last meeting not to involve the city in encouraging breast-feeding. Some councilors said it is not a "core mission" of the city.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Ms. Howell is widely credited with coining the term "blawg", a fact for which I and my three blogs are eternally grateful.
P.S. There is no Wiktionary entry for "blawg", and no definition on Wikipedia, either as its own entry or on the "blog" page. Someone want to take care of that?
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
In 1999, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) issued new, restrictive guidelines for physicians and hospitals that handle vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). At first small, rural hospitals stopped offering VBAC; then larger, metropolitan ones followed suit. Now over 300 hospitals in our country no longer allow women to choose their method of birth.
3. File a complaint with your state medical board against the physician. Again, if the hospital where he/she has privileges meets the ACOG guidelines, then use the standard of care argument. Also point out that your physician is violating your right to refuse treatment. For more information on these rights, see the essay created by Katie Prown based on her research of the illegality of VBAC bans, at www.birthpolicy.org/primer.html.
Katie also covers how denying a patient the right to refuse treatment violates ACOG's own ethics guidelines. Throw that in, too!
In situations where you were literally forced into surgery, use the blue pages of the telephone book to contact your state's attorney general and pursue criminal assault and battery charges against the physician.
4. File a complaint with your state agency that regulates hospitals. In Maryland, this is the Office of Hospital Quality Assurance (comes under of Department of Mental Health and Hygiene). They have an official complaint process for consumers. Again, use the ACOG standard of care argument if your hospital meets the VBAC guidelines and include that you are being denied your right to refusal of treatment. Then, pull a copy of your hospital's patient bill of rights (found on many hospital Web pages) and see if the ban is a direct violation of their own document! In Maryland, all hospitals are required to have a bill of rights.
She later explains:
7. Find a lawyer who will help you sue your banning hospital. Make sure you give him or her the link to Katie's essay because most lawyers don't seem to know the ins and outs of the patient rights issue. Tell them about the violation of standard of care if that pertains. To find a lawyer, write to your state chapter of the ACLU or contact your local law school and ask for someone who deals with health law. Try your state's bar association for referrals as well. In a case from Massachusetts a woman was awarded $1.5 million for the post traumatic stress disorder and medical complications resulting from her coerced cesarean.(Meador v. Stahler and Gheridian (Middlesex Superior Court C.A. No. 88-6450, Mass. 1993)) Many lawyers won't know about that case until you tell them.
Interesting. Any takers?
Saturday, July 08, 2006
While of course no one thinks it is a good idea for pregnant women to use illegal drugs, it is quite ironic that society and the medical profession frown on drug use, legal or illegal, during pregnancy, but once labor starts we encourage the use, sometimes without informed consent, of all kinds of drugs which have not been proven safe for the unborn baby.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Sunday, July 02, 2006
At last count, 39 states (and a few cities) have enacted legislation protecting the right of mothers to breastfeed in public. Usually this legislation exempts breastfeeding from public indecency laws, with language stating that a woman has the right to breastfeed "anywhere she is legally allowed to be" or something similar. Federal legislation on the topic ensures the right to breastfeed on federal property. None of the legislation, to my knowledge, has any "teeth"; that is, there is no fine (so far) or remedy in tort for a mother who has wrongfully been asked to move, cover up, or stop breastfeeding (but see Scotland, which levies a fine).
One could argue that there is an inherent right to breastfeed in public without legislation, but that is beside the point.
Lactivists, however, have developed their own disincentive for businesses who give nursing moms a hard time: the Nurse-In. Basically, it works like this: You own a business. One of your employees asks a customer to stop breastfeeding in your place of business, otherwise open to the public. Or cover up. Or go to the restroom to nurse. Either on their own whim, or at the request of another customer. Regardless of how the situation is resolved, mom goes back home, and complains of the incident on her blog, on her email and discussion groups, at her La Leche League meeting, etc. And the news will spread like wildfire. Promom will start a letter writing campaign. The incident will be discussed to death on Mothering Magazine's discussion forums. Hawthor the Cow Goddess will write a cartoon about you. Your business will be on the evening news.
If you act quickly, offer an apology, and promise to change your company policy and educate your employees on the law, you may be able to avoid the Nurse-In. Maybe not. What will happen is that on a given day, at a given hour, anywhere from two to a hundred women with nursing infants (and some without) will come to your establishment and nurse their babies. If, by the time of the Nurse-In, you have apologized and made nice, the lactivists will eat at your restaurant, shop in your store, and be friendly. If you are stupid enough to still profess to be in the right by this point, they will stand on the sidewalk, or across the street, carry signs, and eat at your competitor's restaurant.
On June 21st and 22nd, there were two separate incidents (in Boston, MA and Burlington, WI) where women who were shopping at Victoria's Secrets were asked to use a public restroom instead of a changing room or nursing in the store. In case you miss the high irony of the situation, here are some quotes from the Blogging Baby article:
[S]he had been asked "to nurse in the restroom because the sight of her breasts might offend a customer."Imagine, Victoria's Secret customers offended by the sight of breasts!
When she refused to nurse in the bathroom, she was told that "it was unsanitary for her to nurse in the dressing room because people change in them."And restrooms are more sanitary?
If this had been the first such incident for Victoria's Secret, it might have been forgivable, but sadly it is not. After you get some bad press on this once, you think you'd get the word out to your managers and employees. Also, Victoria's Secret does not carry nursing bras (although I do own two of their bras and manage to nurse in them quite comfortably), even though sexy fashionable nursing wear is quite hot right now.
Anyhow, these two women started a nationwide protest - yesterday at 1:00 pm Nurse-Ins were taking place at VSs across the US. (I tried to blog about this two days ago but ran out of time. If you wanted to go and were depending on me to give you the heads up, you need to get out more often). They were met with varying degrees of response from the VS employees, from complete ignorance of the Nurse-In, to a pleasant "yes, we have been told to expect you" welcome. A couple minor run-ins with mall security, but no arrests as far as I know. Also clear from the post-Nurse-In debriefing; the problem with scheduling these things is, sometimes babies just don't want to nurse at 1pm on a Saturday in the middle of a mall. It's hard to have a protest when half your participants don't feel like participating.
I hope, by the tone of this post, I don't seem unsympathetic to, or critical of, the Nurse-In as a form of social protest. I actually think it is quite effective and might have joined had my domestic schedule been otherwise. But I am looking at it from the point of view of the business owner, for whom it is a major, yet very avoidable, public relations fiasco. On the other hand, as they say, there is no such thing as bad press.
I have two pet peeves, one for each side. I hate it when businesses say "our company policy permits nursing in our store." I want to scream when I hear that. In a state where breastfeeding in public is permitted by law, it is not up to the business to "permit" or "forbid" breastfeeding on their premesis. They can be welcoming or not, educate their employees or not, but it is not up to them to "allow" it.
On the other side, almost all of the articles about the Nurse-In will quote someone saying something like "you see more in their magazines and store windows than you do when a mother nurses". While technically that is true, and I am in no way defending Victoria's Secret's (and popular culture in general's) abhorent lack of modesty, it is all about nipples. In our society, you can show all of the breast but that. Any any woman who claims that all of the nipple is in the baby's mouth while breastfeeding in public is either lying, or has unusually small nipples (or a baby with an unusually large mouth) . Ok, sorry to be so blunt, and please don't leave me nasty comments, but it's the truth.
Here are a few links, and I'll update with some of the better news items as they trickle in:
Breastfeeding Moms Blast Victoria's Secret in Nationwide Protests
Victoria's Dirty Little Secret
CITIZEN-TIMES.com: Breastfeeding mothers to stage protest at Asheville Mall
Fox 42 Nebraska
The Cleveland Plain Dealer published a truly sensational and bizarre article:
Lactation and lacy lingerie were the subjects of a national nurse-in Saturday as breast-feeding mothers across the country let their kids chug-a-lug in front of Victoria's Secret stores.
Fifteen mothers armed with hungry babies gathered on the sidewalk outside the Crocker Park Victoria's Secret store in Westlake where scantily clad mannequins seemed delighted by the peaceful, half-hour demonstration.
"It's kind of ironic that Victoria's Secret, which plasters breasts everywhere, is offended at seeing breasts used for their intended purpose," said Anna Mauser-Martinez, who organized the local nurse-in and volunteered that she happened to be wearing a pair of Victoria's Secret underwear.
Back on the sidewalk, the mothers caught Aaron Bonk's eye. A juggler and stilt walker, he towered over them on 4-foot stilts. "Oh," Bonk said, sounding surprised. "You're nursing right here? Good!"
Looking up from her suckling child, Amy Klomfas said, "It'd be fun to breast-feed on stilts" - a notion that Bonk advised against.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Saturday, June 24, 2006
I think this guy could probably sell anything.
Some people might ask what good a 14" Apple iBook with no hard drive and a faulty motherboard is.
Those people lack imagination.
Those are the kind of people who wouldn't buy a car that lacked an engine. They'd forsake a book without pages. They'd probably toss out a perfectly good non-definition TV.
I'm not selling to those people.
I'm selling to the kind of person who wants a 14" Apple iBook with no hard drive and a faulty motherboard. The kind of person who thinks differently.
She is not charged with practicing midwifery without a license? How odd, since she was clearly holding herself out to be a midwife, not a doctor. Although prosecutors may believe her actions meet the legal definition of "practicing medicine", I would think that the "practicing midwifery" charge would be easier to prove. My guess (without looking it up) is that one is a misdemeanor and the other a felony. But why not charge both? Even though Wisconsin recently legalized CPMs, Ms. Dentice, if I understand correctly, is not one.
Friday, June 16, 2006
The defendants said they never claimed to be midwives, a profession regulated by the state. They said they merely attended an unassisted home birth, which is legal.
But Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas noted that they checked the heart rate of the fetus, delivered oxygen to the mother and examined the placenta.
In Indiana, Jennifer Williams, CPM, pled guilty on Wednesday to a charge of practicing midwifery without a license ("Ind. midwife pleads guilty in infant death"). As part of the plea deal, the charges of practicing medicine without a license were dropped. No charges were brought in connection with the death of the baby. Ms. Williams' case gained national notoriety after she was featured in a New York Times article ("Prosecution of Midwife Casts Light on Home Births"). In May, she brought suit against the Attorney General of Indiana, requesting that the state clarify the definition of midwifery. Indiana regulates nurse-midwifery, but has no statute regarding the practice of direct-entry midwifery.
From Ms. Williams' press release:
I am a Certified Professional Midwife which means that I am a fully trained and fully educated midwife and credentialed through the North American Registry of Midwives. There are two types of certified midwives in Indiana, and elsewhere in the United States - Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives. In many other states across the country Certified Professional Midwives practice legally, with the sanction of the state. CPMs in these states are able to accept insurance and Medicaid reimbursement and interact fully with the medical establishment. Indiana chooses to prosecute these same CPMs with felony charges, instead of utilizing CPMs in the maternal child- health care system, which desperately needs support and re-enforcement.
Prosecuting CPMs is a short-sighted waste of money, time and effort. CPMs are not criminals or felons. They are well-trained professionals who practice with the highest of standards, who pass academic and clinical skills board exams, and undergo peer review and continuing education, just as any other health care professional does. Indiana should be incorporating these midwives into the health care system, rather than prosecuting them.
State questions legality of midwifery
Trying to boost at-home births
Midwives fight to practice in Indiana
Kemplog - Midwives vs. State and Midwife Takes Plea
**Updated 6/17/06 to add: Legal Status of Unlicensed Midwives in Indiana
Belly Tales - Homebirth Prosecution
Chai There - Calling my elected official
5 Dollars - Midwife charged in Edinburgh case