the irs fails

December 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

An article in The New York Times reports that the IRS “has ruled that breast-feeding does not have enough health benefits to qualify as a form of medical care,” and therefore breast pumps and other breastfeeding supplies do not qualify for tax-sheltered health care accounts.  “I.R.S. officials say they consider breast milk a food that can promote good health, the same way that eating citrus fruit can prevent scurvy.”

You can sign a petition at to urge the IRS to reverse this unfortunate decision.



September 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have a hard time with moms who choose to formula feed.

Websites like this and this make me want to scream.

Every time there’s a story in the news about breastfeeding, there’s an uproar from moms who tried but were unable to breastfeed and are sick and tired of being made to feel guilty.  I’m not talking about those women.  My heart breaks for those women who tried until they were bleeding and wrecked, but, in many cases because they weren’t getting the help they needed, they were not able to be successful, and I hate that they are down on themselves for it.  (I get frustrated when those women become upset any time breastfeeding is featured in a positive light, as though they are being personally attacked, but I know they tried and struggled and some are still grappling with that.)

In fact, the whole issue of making moms feel “guilty” is missing the point.  We shouldn’t make anyone feel guilty, because we all love our kids, and we’re just trying to do our best.  Moms carry too much guilt about raising their kids as it is.  We shouldn’t even really be talking about the “benefits” of breastfeeding, as though there are different options and some are just better than others.  As though there are disadvantages.  If all women had access to the overwhelming amount of evidence-based information about breastfeeding and had proper support and resources to help them overcome any hurdles they encounter, we wouldn’t be having this discussion about guilt.   There would simply be no question.  It would be a non-issue.

What we’re dealing with is institutional and cultural and market-driven bias against breastfeeding in favor of formula.  But honestly — who cares?  It doesn’t matter what your friend did or your mom did or what the Enfamil commercial tells you — you have to do what’s right for your baby.

I spoke with a mom today who is going to formula feed.  She’s already decided.  She says she doesn’t have time to breastfeed because she’ll be working full time, and I talked about how breastfeeding actually takes less time than sterilizing and cleaning bottles and mixing formula, and how she could consider pumping at work, or, if she can’t do that, then at least breastfeeding the baby while they’re at home together, and only using formula while she’s away.

She said, “I’m really not interested.”

Not interested?  That’s what I told the telemarketer trying to get me to join the Allstate Motorclub for $1.99 a month.

We’re talking about feeding, and caring for, and bonding with your baby.  We’re talking about preventing disease, in the mother and the baby.  We’re talking about saving $1,200 to $2,500 a year.  We’re talking about 101 other reasons to breastfeed.

And yes, sure, plenty of babies — millions of babies — were raised on formula and turned out just fine.  Others, however, contracted meningitis from contaminated infant formula; many died and those that survived suffered brain damage.  We’re also talking about unethical corporations preying on developing nations and causing the deaths of millions of babies.

I just don’t get it.  If you can explain it to me — civilly and respectfully, of course — please do.

saudi adult breastfeeding

August 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

I don’t like to call another culture weird…but this is just weird.

The strict Wahhabi version of Islam that governs modern Saudi Arabia forbids women from mixing with men who are not relatives; however, if a woman breastfed a male child before he was 2 years old, when he grows into a man, she is permitted to come into contact with him with her face uncovered, because he is considered a relative.  It is not uncommon for sisters, for example, to breastfeed their nephews so they and their daughters will not have to cover their faces in front of them later in life. The custom is called being a “breast milk sibling.”

Well, a fatwa was recently issued stating that women who come into regular contact with men who aren’t related to them — such as colleagues or acquaintances — ought to give them their breast milk so they will be considered relatives, in order to establish “maternal relations” and preclude the possibility of sexual contact.

One sheik says the milk should be given in a glass; another says the man should suckle directly from the woman’s breasts.

Um.  What?

Read the full article here.

another missed opportunity

June 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

We watched the movie “Legion” a couple of nights ago.  Aside from a couple of good thriller scenes (all of which were shown in the trailer), it was a lousy film — bad acting, worse writing — but we expected as much.  I would try to explain the plot to you, but it literally didn’t make any sense.

The biggest bummer was that a baby was born in the movie — a perfect opportunity to show a mother breastfeeding!  But of course not.  I guess I shouldn’t expect too much, especially considering that the baby was apparently not attached to the mother by an umbilical cord (another character caught the baby as he was born, wrapped him in a blanket, and walked away), there was no after-birth, and shortly after giving birth, the mother climbed a mountain.

Maybe next time, Hollywood.

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