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Yes, 'Fed Is Best'. But There's Something Fishy About That Article

MINA BAIE

Many of us have seen the horrifying story of infant loss that has gone viral this week. I've seen posts on it in several parenting groups, where it has elicited outrage, heartbreak, and fear from readers. Losing a child is every parent's worst nightmare, and I can't imagine the added torture of knowing that your child's death was completely preventable. This story makes my stomach turn, partly because it hits a little too close to home for me.

 My daughter was severely underweight for months due to a tongue and lip tie that went unnoticed by three pediatricians, four nurses, a midwife, and three different hospital lactation consultants. As my baby fell further and further off of her growth curve, despite round-the-clock nursing, she became miserable, stressed, frantic. Those months were harrowing, and I will forever be grateful that we finally went to see an IBCLC, who quickly identified several structural issues that were preventing milk transfer. She was our angel. And my daughter began to thrive almost immediately after our first visit. 

The mother who authored this article, Jillian Johnson, was not so fortunate. Help arrived too late. In the article, she describes the guilt and anguish she still carries with her five years after her baby's death. She agonized over what could have been, if she had just given her sweet baby one bottle of formula. All of the doctors, nurses, and- apparently- even an IBCLC around her in the hospital insisted her baby's latch was "great", while missing several major red flags that indicated problems. 

Johnson even dismissed her own gut instinct that something was wrong, because she believed so strongly that 'breast is best' and felt discouraged from supplementing with formula by staff at the "baby friendly hospital". I feel so deeply for this mother, and I hope that in sharing her story, her grief is lifted from her in some small way. 

Still, after reading the article and a few other connected pieces about the Fed Is Best organization, I am left with several questions, and I don't think we have all the information. Some points of the story don't add up, and there is some bad advice and misinformation being given out which makes me question the organization's agenda. 

Was the consultant Jillian saw in the hospital an actual IBCLC, and not just a 'lactation consultant'? There are lactation certifications that can be earned in a single weekend, but the breadth of knowledge attained in these programs pales in comparison to that of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. 

Why was baby released without sufficient diaper output? While the article describes diaper output as inconsequential- wet and dirty diapers are of huge importance and a baby with low output requires careful monitoring). 

If doctors were aware that the mother was pre-diabetic, had PCOS (a well-known and documented cause of low milk supply), and that she had an emergency C-Section (commonly known to delay milk coming in)- Why did nobody check for adequate milk production? 

If baby Landon nursed 9 out of his first 24 hours (!!!), and cried nonstop, why did nobody stop and think, "hey something might be going on here."? 

There were too many risk factors to ignore in this situation. Each of these signs can be normal for a healthy baby, or they can mean something more serious. And when there a whole bunch of raised red flags, the odds are good that a baby is struggling. 

The article asserts that the baby was closely monitored, but that the medical professionals insisted everything was fine, until he quite suddenly went into cardiac arrest due to dehydration. 

I can't help but wonder whether we are being given the full picture, or if this mother's tragedy is being used to spread fear and doubt among new parents. Healthy, full term babies will give pretty obvious signs that they are slipping into dehydration- rust colored stool, lack of wet and soiled diapers, a sunken fontanelle, reduced elasticity of the skin, listlessness, lethargy, lips and mouth that are dry to the touch, reduced capillary refill, and on and on... Healthy babies just don't go down suddenly without warning signs that are clear to qualified, caring medical professionals. So, was there an underlying health issue? Was the staff in this baby friendly hospital grossly negligent? Did this mother and child fall through the cracks of a bad system? I don't know. But I do know that exclusive breastfeeding did not cause this tragedy. And the suggestion to follow each nursing session with a bottle, as this organization advocates, IS bad advice for almost all parents who choose to exclusively breastfeed. The practice of 'topping up' can undermine the breastfeeding relationship, and is simply not necessary for the vast majority of breastfeeding parents. Situations like these are in the extreme minority, and shouldn't be used for an anti-breastfeeding agenda. 

This is the fact: parents who are committed to breastfeeding should be seen by an IBCLC at the VERY FIRST SIGN of trouble. Unless baby is nursing like a champ, putting out plenty of wet and dirty diapers, sleeping well, and appearing content and alert while awake, a visit from an IBCLC should be- and needs to be- standard procedure. If the nursing parent experiences misshapen nipples, mastitis, chronic engorgement, or severe pain that goes beyond mild discomfort in the first week of nursing, a visit from an IBCLC needs to be standard procedure. 

Unfortunately, doctors, nurses, and hospital lactation consultants are notorious for missing issues that undermine a successful breastfeeding relationship. 

Solid breastfeeding support is part of good perinatal care, and we need to demand it. The US is sorely lacking in this area compared to other developed nations, and sadly, our babies ultimately pay the price. 

But there was something else at play in this situation that I want to address. Something that imposed pressure on this mom to ignore her instincts and push on with exclusive breastfeeding when her baby was clearly distressed. We in the breastfeeding advocacy community need to get a handle on our messaging, and stop moralizing infant feeding methods. Breast is not best for everyone! I think we can safely say that it certainly wasn't best for this poor mother and her newborn, but yet partly out of fear and shaming, she waited to supplement until it was too late. Breastfeeding is the baseline for mammals- in fact, we mammals are even named after our practice of nursing from Mammaries! And this very normal, nourishing act should be supported and celebrated publicly. But! formula is a perfectly good option as well. And it saves lives. And we should all be very grateful to have this source of nutrition readily available- instead of calling it inferior, dangerous, and even poisonous, as I've heard from some in the 'breast is best' movement. You can't continuously call something inferior and then be surprised when stressed out new parents hesitate to feed it to their hungry newborns... you just can't! And as long as supplementing is taboo, there will be babies who go hungry because of it. 

To new parents: if your baby is crying constantly- especially in the first few days- something could be very wrong. Please seek help from an IBCLC, and above all else, feed your baby. 

I sincerely hope that the Great Infant Feeding Debate can be laid to rest soon, so that we can all just get on with it and focus on what's best for our families. 

What are your thoughts on infant feeding support in hospitals and in parenting communities? Did you feel supported? Judged? Fearful? Let us know in the comments section! 

Check out this link for more information on the Fed Is Best organization: 

http://www.acsh.org/news/2016/10/05/fed-best-great-message-not-so-great-science-10240

#fedisbest #breastfeeding

How To Make Valentine's Day Meaningful And Magical For Your Children, In 13 Fairly Simple Steps!

MINA BAIE

LOL. I'm just kidding. I'm not even doing 2 steps to make Valentine's Day special for my kid, let alone 13. Why? Because I don't want to. I used to stress out over making cute little crafts and cookies and things for my daughter, and then I was miserable and exhausted on holidays that she won't understand for years. Years!


Nowadays, I'm much more selective with how I spend my precious time, and I realize that Valentine's Day is not about children (unless we're talking about making them, amiright?!🖐🏼). As we all know by now, it is a holiday mostly designed to make us buy stuff. And it's also to make single people feel bad about themselves...


Hey, I'm still on board with the chocolate-eating, the champagne-drinking, and the flower-receiving. And if we all take an extra moment each year on Valentine's Day to appreciate and adore our Significant Other (or our Significant Self)- that's great. Our lives are often so hectic and full that we are too exhausted to treat ourselves to regular time alone with our partners. So ladies, let's make those dinner reservations, buy that champagne and do the thing! Yes! Or if that's not your style and you'd rather just get the kids off to bed early so you can lounge on the couch and order pizza- Go You! Whatever makes the day special for you, and your partner (if you have one).
And if you *want* to get up early and make heart-shaped pancakes with organic cacao nibs for your children, then Go You! Do it if you love to cook breakfast foods. Do it because your children's smiles are the only gift your heart desires. Whatever. Just don't do it out of fear that you'll mess up your kid's childhood or be judged by the Pinterest moms. I promise, the Pinterest moms don't care. And I also promise that your babies will be totally fine without any special treatment on Valentine's Day. All they need is a box of those little cards with the perforated edges and Disney characters on them. You know the ones I'm talking about. Just make sure they come with the good candy- I'm talking Nerds and Blow Pops. Don't let your kid be the one giving out Good 'N Plenty at the class party.

How do you plan to spend Valentine's Day?

#valentines #designerdiaperbag #momadvice #workingmom #celebritydiaperbag #celebritystyle #streetstyle #momstyle #baby #babybag #babylife #momlife #celebstyle #celebmom

The Momtra that Saved my Sanity: Less is More

MINA BAIE

So in my last post, I talked about becoming a Minimalist Mama and the method that I used to get rid of all my crap. That was fun, wasn’t it? But honestly, minimalism is about so much more than just owning less stuff; It is a mindset that permeates all aspects of your life. It is the pursuit of FREEDOM from excess baggage, literally and figuratively. So many women find themselves stretched so thin they’re on the verge of disappearing entirely- between the rigors of work and family life, women today need minimalism more than ever!

Here are three lessons the minimalist lifestyle has taught me:

Apply simplicity. Don’t do stuff you don’t have to do.  I know how “Duh” this sounds, but as business owners and designers, Jenna and I learned that this it’s not as obvious as one might think. It is really easy to get pulled in fifty directions, but that leads to chaos and confusion. Especially as a mom, there are SO many things that we are ‘supposed’ to do, that create a culture of busyness and disconnectedness in our lives. Holiday cookie baking! Perfect Halloween costumes! Special birthday parties! Cute stuff like happy face sandwiches for school lunches! We have been sold a huge lie that children need constant activities and entertainment to have a special childhood, when in fact the opposite is true. So go ahead and skip that event you were dreading and let your kid play in the dirt all weekend instead. Sit around, recharge your batteries, enjoy your family. Aaaah, minimalism.

 Apply intention and focus to the things that do matter. When Jenna and I started Mina Baie, we had a pretty clear vision, in an overarching ‘this is who we are’ kind of way. But as we got going, it was shockingly easy to get hung up on things that didn’t really contribute to the vision. We began the process of designing our bag, and I cannot even begin to tell you how many suggestions we entertained. People were all like, “Put 36 pockets on the front!” “It needs backpack straps!” “It’s going to have a zip-off changing pad, right?!” We tried to listen to all of the input, and the bag really started to go a direction we didn’t want it to. At one point, I looked at a sketch and wondered who the hell had designed this bag, because it sure wasn’t what I had envisioned. So we stripped it all away. We refocused on what we really wanted to accomplish with the bag, and put all of our energy into those few things. And when people asked if the bag came with this or that or included this bell and that whistle, we remained confident with our design, because we know that the bag does what it does perfectly, and doesn’t do what it doesn’t do at all.  As the great Ron Swanson says, “Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing.” With each new product that we design, we create focus points to really hone in on what we want the product to do well. That has helped us maintain both cohesiveness and versatility in all of our products, without sacrificing our vision.

Get to know yourself and what really works for you. Ditch everything that doesn’t. Even if your methods are unorthodox or straight-up weird, just embrace who you are as a businessperson (or a parent, or just person!), and create systems that cater to you! As a mom, this looks like me making the same thing for breakfast every single morning. I save time and mental energy, and that is what works me. In the work arena, Jenna and I quickly realized that we were utterly incapable of working at the house. Children and the hubbub of children and children stuff just rendered us completely useless. So instead of straining to create systems that would allow us to limp along, we just said, “screw it.” And in doing that, we discovered what Does work for us- and you know what that is? Working in bars. Pretty awesome, right? Minimalism.

How have you applied minimalism to your lifestyle? What have you gained from doing less? We’d love to hear from you below! 

XOXO,

MINA BAIE

#designerdiaperbag #momadvice #workingmom #celebritydiaperbag #celebritystyle #streetstyle #momstyle #baby #babybag #babylife #momlife #celebstyle #celebmom