Like last year, I've put together some highlights of this year in breastfeeding-related news, in no particular order. Hope you enjoy this summary!
Nationwide nurse-ins held at Applebee's. Applebee's set off a national furor after instructing a nursing mother in Kentucky to cover up, a violation of Kentucky law. When confronted with the issue Applebee's proposed that all of their restaurants be stocked with blankets for covering nursing mothers. Protests were held in 43 states. Thanks to Hathor the Cowgoddess for the use of the Applebee's cartoon at right!
Sophie Currier vs. The National Board of Medical Examiners. Harvard MD/PhD candidate Sophie Currier asked for extra time to pump during her medical boards. Without it she would have had a total of 45 minutes per day of testing to eat, pump, and go to the bathroom. Her request for an additional 20 minutes per day was denied by the board, but she won in court on appeal, and was granted the extra time.
La Leche League turns 50. Who knew that seven pearl-wearing mothers at a picnic in 1957 would change the world? They did, and this year La Leche League held a huge conference in Chicago to celebrate. They released the book The Revolutionaries Wore Pearls to commemorate the anniversary, and one TV station produced a great video tribute.
My Space, Facebook, and You Tube remove breastfeeding images. Social networking sites this year sent the message: breastfeeding is indecent - but bring on the porn! The image to the left is one of the breastfeeding photos removed from My Space. Friends of breastfeeding set up petitions on My Space and Facebook in protest. The jury isn't quite in on You Tube.
Formula companies try to pit moms against each other, while actually trying to protect marketing in hospitals. This year the formula industry created what appear at first to be grassroots websites representing a breastfeeding version of the mommy wars. But anyone who dug just a little deeper could easily see that the sites were an attempt to rally mothers behind the formula companies' ability to market formula in hospitals - a practice which some hospitals are now curtailing. These websites earned the industry a bronze "Falsie" award.
Legislation on breastfeeding introduced in many states. Legislation was introduced in many states to protect the right to nurse in public, require that employers accommodate pumping moms, exempt mothers from jury duty, and improve access to breastfeeding support. There were rallies to support both state and federal legislation. So far the states of New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Kentucky, California, Oregon, and Wyoming have passed breastfeeding-related legislation, and there are probably more I've missed.
Bisphenol A raises fears about baby bottles and formula cans. A federal study and lots of press attention around the issue of plastics used in baby bottles and formula cans got lots of us taking a hard look at our Avent bottles. The focus is on Bisphenol A (BPA), a component of some polycarbonate plastics that appears to leach out of bottles and can linings and into breastmilk or formula. BPA acts like estrogen, and has been linked to impaired hormonal function, cancer, developmental toxicity, learning problems, hyperactivity, and insulin functioning. The plastics industry stands by its claim that BPA is a-okay, but mothers trying to play it safe are switching to glass and plastics without it.
TSA changes its breastmilk on board policies. No more dumping milk at the security checkpoint! The skies got just a little friendlier to pumping moms this year when the TSA lifted its restriction on carrying pumped milk on board, allowing mothers traveling without infants to carry on milk in quantities greater than three ounces as long as it's declared at the security checkpoint.
Federal study quantifies the health benefits of breastfeeding, is then squashed. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a major study showing how much breastfeeding helps prevent certain diseases and health conditions (i.e. breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS by 36%). Then, according to a report in the Washington Post, the study was promptly buried. The Washington Post also reported on the ugly history of the last breastfeeding promotion campaign.
Philippines wins major battle to protect breastfeeding. The battle over formula marketing in the developing world focused on the Philippines this year, with a challenge (supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) to the Philippines' "milk code." Unicef Philippines argued that 16,000 babies die each year in the Philippines because of formula use, and produced a video to make its case. The Supreme Court sided largely with Unicef, allowing much of the code to take effect.
Oh, let's squeeze in one more: More celebrities talk about breastfeeding. You can check out Kelly's round-up on this topic, and for my favorite moment, check out this clip of Julia Roberts (forward to 1:20). You can even test your celebrity breastfeeding knowledge with this quiz!