Time to Get Your “Big Latch On” On!

World Breastfeeding Week is almost here!  August 1 – 7, 2012 marks twenty years since the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action introduced this week-long call to global advocacy for breastfeeding education and support. There are abundant global, regional, and local events planned to honor and promote this world health initiative, but there is one local community level event I am particularly stoked about: The Big Latch On.

Breastfeeding mamas from over 11 different countries and 218 locations are gathering together on either August 3 or 4 (depending on your location) this summer to rock some serious NIP (nursing in public) and hopefully break a world record for most women breastfeeding simultaneously while we’re at it.  I enthusiastically signed up for the St. Louis The Big Latch On event, which is actually being held in my ‘hood this year.

The Big Latch On describes its aims this way*:

  • Support for communities to identify and grow opportunities to provide ongoing breastfeeding support and promotion.
  • Raise awareness of breastfeeding support and knowledge available in communities.
  • Help communities positively support breastfeeding in public places.
  • Make breastfeeding a normal part of the day-to-day life at a local community level.
  • Increase support for women who breastfeed – women are supported by their partners, family and the breastfeeding knowledge that is embedded in their communities.
  • Communities have the resources to advocate for coordinated appropriate and accessible breastfeeding support services.

I mean, who can’t get behind that? You can find your local event location here. Don’t see an event listed in your area? You can host one! The Other Baby Book’s own resident breastfeeding badass, erm, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Molly deGroh, is hosting one in her area. Pretty nifty, right?

I would love to know how many of friends of TOBB are planning to attend their own local latch-fest.  Molly and I both plan to take pictures and share our experiences here on the blog, and we’d love it if you’d join us! We’d love to hear about your experiences and even share some of your pictures in the blog space, if you’re open to that. We’ll send out a call for your stories and pictures on Facebook after the event!

Will you be there? Ever attended The Big Latch On in the past? Tell us about it!

Follow The Big Latch On on Facebook here. Follow World Breastfeeding Week on Facebook here.

*Information copied directly from The Big Latch On website.

Breastfeeding totally handed Rhianna her ass that first month, but she and her 18mo son are still nursing strong. She thanks the stars for the breastfeeding badasses, erm, lactation consultants, who gave her the strength and hope to keep latchin’ on.

Toddler Nursing, Through Sickness and Health

Enjoying some time together at the park

Have you ever nursed a toddler? If you haven’t, just ask someone to poke your eyes, stick their fingers in your mouth, and repeatedly pinch you as their “soothing mechanism.” The only thing soothing about nursing a toddler is that when the wind is blowing just right and all the moons align, I can sometimes catch up on a half episode of “Property Virgins” on HGTV. Sometimes it still surprises me that we’re going strong with nursing at 15 months, an age when most little ones have ventured into cow’s milkland, never to return again. Alas, my little one is hooked on the boobjuice.

When my daughter was 7 months old, I experienced a nasty breast yeast infection (in medical terms, candida). Painful, raw skin was my burden and every nursing session was equal parts patience and mild torture. My husband said I should stop nursing. My mom, a lactation consultant, even gave me “permission” to supplement. I dreaded nursing, but hated the idea of giving up more. All I can say is that I pray my daughter doesn’t inherit too much of my stubborn streak.

After a couple of months (and a bout of mild eczema, thank you very much), it magically went away. OK, well it went away after I tried every natural and not-so-natural method under the sun. Let’s just say, if you experience thrush, let me know because I’ve got the lowdown. I sampled every method out there: elimination diets, coconut oil, grapefruit seed extract, antibiotics, garlic, APNO (all-purpose nipple ointment), prayer, etc. God help me if I ever get it again!

So we stuck with it, my little nipple biter and I. And it hasn’t been all “suffering.” Nursing a little one is a pretty sweet gig, and might I say a very useful tool when sickness invades your home as I found out all too recently. You see, my little peanut caught strep and a bacterial infection, one after another, and was sick for nearly two weeks. She was miserable, feverish, and crying for nearly that entire time. And there was one thing that was her nearly constant comfort. No, it wasn’t fruit popsicles (which did help, by the way) but nursing.

Good old mom and her battle wounded “nanees” (her word, not mine) saved the day. The combination of comfort, nutrition, and hydration helped heal my little girl (OK, along with some antibiotics). For a brief period, I felt like I was nursing an infant again with our round the clock sessions. I’ll admit, I felt slightly frustrated with the (nearly) nonstop nursing she needed over the past few weeks. But I am so grateful I didn’t give up on nursing months ago and could be there for her in such an intimate and loving way.

My little girl and I have come a long way in our nursing relationship, and I’m not sure when the ending point is. But really, does it matter? Every day with her gives me incentive to continue for now, pinching, giggles, and all.

 

 

Kate keeps a secret stash of APNO in her bathroom drawer “just in case” and will, without a doubt, attempt to nurse any future nipple pinchers that may or may not be in her future. When her little one isn’t nursing, they enjoy reading books together, making farm animal noises, and playing with the dogs.

5 Ways to Make Pumping at Work Easier

Heading back to work as a new mom isn’t easy. Heading back to work as a breastfeeding mom can be even more challenging. Exactly five years ago, I was days away from returning to work as a new mom. I had a pump, I knew how to use it, but I had concerns. Would I have enough time? Would I produce enough milk? Where would I store it all?

Luckily, another nursing mom had paved the way for me at work. From there, I built a “friendship” with my pump and a good supply of milk for my little man.

Two kids and many ounces of “liquid gold” later, I’m happy to say that pumping at work (or school, or traveling) is worth it! I found my way through trial and error, but here’s how I came out smiling in the end.

1. Think of your pump as a friend…and treat it that way!
If you can’t be with your baby 24/7 and you want to breast feed, chances are you’ll need a pump. The pump of choice for me and many of my coworkers was the Medela Pump In Style – it came in an inconspicuous black bag with room for everything we needed. Yes, pumps can be pricey, but there are plenty of options out there. One friend preferred a very effective, but less expensive hand pump; another needed to use a hospital-grade pump, which she rented. Find what works best for you, and be sure to keep the manual close by. Months down the road when something doesn’t sound right or seem to be working, you’ll want easy access to directions. A few minor adjustments and you’ll be back in business.

2. Join the team (and help out the rookies!).
If there’s another nursing mom at work, seek her out. Chances are, she’ll be more than happy to show you the ropes. And, if you run into a problem, like when my AC adapter stopped working, there’s bound to be someone who can help you out.  Also, try to coordinate schedules if there’s only one spot to pump. There’s nothing worse than having to pump, getting all the way to “the room” and finding it occupied. Once you’ve settled in, be sure to welcome new leche mamas. Whether it’s someone you’ve worked with for years or someone like the contractor who just started at our office, if you see the black bag, say hello! You just might make it easier for her.

3. Bring pictures and a blankie (Yes, a blankie.)
Pumping is certainly not entertaining—you do it because you have to. But a little motivation never hurt anyone. A picture of your little one smiling can improve your milk flow and make you smile. There’s a fridge in the nursing room of my office covered with baby pictures. Not only was it great seeing how many nursing moms worked with me, but adding my little one’s picture to the mix served as a great reminder of who it was for. After a few spills, I decided to bring along a receiving blanket. The swaddling days were past us and the blanket served a great second purpose—not only was its “baby” smell nice, it was a very convenient cover-up for my pants.

A first smile like this made pumping a breeze.

4. Make lunch dates.
It’s not always easy, but if you can, a lunch break with your little one makes all the difference. With my previous job, I was able to run home and nurse my son on my lunch hour. With my current job, my husband and daughter would meet me and, depending on the weather, we could spend time at a local park or I could nurse her in our car. In both cases, it made the workday easier to manage and it meant I had to pump less, which is always a bonus!

5. Take this time to relax.
Between work and being a mom, you don’t have much time to just sit and breathe. Pumping may not be the most fun thing to do, but it gives you a chance to clear your mind.  Be sure to take a moment to breathe. Let go of frustrations and worries, even if it’s just for a few minutes, and focus on good things. It will be great for you and your milk supply! Sometimes I would just pump, other times I would read a book or magazine (always a great thing to share in a nursing room). As long I let go of the things that were bothering me and focused on the positive, I had success.

Working moms, what ways have you found to make pumping easier? What have you done if your work environment isn’t as welcoming to pumping moms?

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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Kristen is the proud mom of two, Will (5) and Joy (almost 2), and still can’t believe how fast five years have passed. She feels lucky to work for a company that let her pump in peace and hopes that soon every breastfeeding mom who works has the same opportunity.

In Case of Emergency–A Nursing Mom’s Backup Plan

Kristen and Joy, both happy and healthy

There’s no doubt about it, becoming a mom brings unexpected adventures. You try to be as prepared as you can, but you never know what’s around the corner.

A few weeks after my daughter Joy was born, life as a mom took me for quite a ride. It all started with abdominal pain. At first it was no big deal, but then it just wouldn’t subside. Eventually it felt like an inner tube was blowing up in my stomach and it wouldn’t pop.

My husband Bill knew something was wrong even before I did, “Hun, do you need me to call a doctor? You’re going into Hypnobirthing mode!” It was true, only there were no surges, no highs and lows—and no beautiful baby to meet at the end.  Something was really wrong.

An emergency room visit was in order. Several hours, multiple tests and a not-so-fun introduction to lactation risk categories, we found the source of my pain—gall stones.

A few days later we met with a surgeon, who encouraged me to wait it out. It could be years before I had another attack and that gave me hope, but the following weeks proved difficult. There was daily back pain, which I hoped was from breastfeeding. There was exhaustion, but what new mom doesn’t feel tired? I found every excuse in the book, but after talking with moms who had been through this, I knew surgery wasn’t far off and I had to prepare.

As I met with doctors and nurses, I realized not many were 100% sure what was right and what was wrong.  I was turning to professionals, but when it came to breastfeeding and surgery they were just as uncertain as I was. What was certain was that I had to take initiative. I started with a call to the hospital’s lactation specialist. If there was anyone who could guide me in the right direction I knew she could — she gave this advice:

Choose the right medication
Wary of pain medicine, I was nervous. These guidelines helped me make the right decisions.

Build a stockpile of frozen milk
While my surgery was an out-patient procedure, she encouraged me to have a good supply—just in case. Each day I would pump enough to fill one bag.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and provide suggestions
She encouraged me to be candid with medical staff. There was a lot of talk about pumping and dumping, some said to do this until 24 hours after the surgery, but she assured me this wasn’t necessary.  Dr. Bill Sears provides the same advice here. Just like his wife, I chose to pump and dump once a few hours after the surgery.

If you aren’t comfortable with something, call the hospital’s lactation consultant.
In her words, “That’s what I’m here for!”

A few days before my scheduled surgery, I had a second attack. Tests revealed a stone or two had escaped my gall bladder and wreaked havoc. Instead of an outpatient procedure, I had had to have an ERCP and an overnight stay at a different hospital.

I was heartbroken to leave my children’s side, but extremely grateful for my lactation consultant’s advice. It gave me the confidence to question uncertainties and get the answers I needed. My husband and pump were right by my side, and a wonderful nurse (a new mom herself!) brought a refrigerator to my room.

The gall bladder removal went well a few days later and, after some rest, I felt better. Not just physically, but also as a mom. I had more energy, more patience—I was enjoying the moments vs. trying to get through them.

In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor problem. Day after day, I’m amazed by the perserverance of nursing moms who’ve faced worse. But no matter how big or small, I hope we can all have a backup plan. Consider who you’d leave your children with in an emergency, keep breastmilk stored in your freezer and don’t be afraid to ask questions—it can all make a big difference.

Kristen is a happy—and healthy—mom of two, who is forever grateful to her mom and her dear friend Patrice for taking care of her little ones when she couldn’t. She was surprised and happy to learn that she’s not the only new mom who used Hypnobirthing practices during a gall bladder attack (Thank you, Marie Mongan!).

Have you had an experience like this? What advice do you have?
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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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Part I–(Postpartum) Depression: Let’s Talk

Wordle: Let's Talk PPD

No one wants to talk about depression.  In all of my talking with other moms, in all of the threads on all of the mother- and baby-boards I’ve visited, I’ve encountered little discussion of depression of any sort.   Why don’t we talk about it?  Perhaps it is because depression has no measurable, tangible or visible symptoms, like high blood pressure, a cough or a rash, so why go to the doctor if you’re just in a funk?  Or maybe it’s because so many people, including some of those with depression, feel that it’s just a bad mood, and it should simply be a matter of “snapping out of it”.  But that just isn’t the case.  Depression (see also “clinical depression” or “major depressive disorder”) is a very real and very serious illness affecting millions of people around the world, and is especially prevalent among women.  For example, an estimated 13% of women will experience postpartum depression (PPD).  Think of all the women who gave birth in your town, on the same day that you (or your partner) did.  More than one out of every ten of those new mothers experienced PPD.

Postpartum depression is a particularly nasty bit of work.  Unlike “the baby blues”, which are comparatively mild and last only a few weeks, postpartum depression (or PPD) is an episode of true depression occurring in the first year after pregnancy and lasting more than two weeks.  In addition to the normal run of symptoms associated with depression, a woman experiencing PPD may also feel a lack of interest in her baby, or even have thoughts of hurting her baby!  Then there’s the guilt for feeling that way, or having those thoughts.  And all of this is at a time when the mother is already exhausted, drained, and sleep deprived.  It’s a nightmare, and can definitely interfere with the mother’s ability to care for her child.

I can tell you from first hand experience that depression is a bitch, and PPD is even worse.  I have struggled with depression intermittently since I was a pre-teen.  I can’t tell you how many trips we made from my small hometown to near-by Orlando, visiting different doctors: a child psychiatrist, a counselor, an eating disorder specialist. I’d been on three or four different antidepressants by the time I graduated high school, during which time I acquired a new doctor and a new therapist.  I went off the meds in college, but saw the on-campus counselor for several months.  I went back on the meds after moving to Germany with my husband,   but improved enough during my first pregnancy to leave off of the antidepressants completely. That only lasted until my baby was about a year old, at which point I had my doctor put me back on Zoloft.  A few months after that, I became pregnant with my second child and my doctor switched me to Prozac.  I had a bad spell during the pregnancy, but it was smooth sailing in the months after my second daughter was born.  I stayed on a low dose of Prozac throughout*.

Now, I’m still fighting it.  It can still creep up on me, slow and subtle and insidious.  Life will start to lose its luster, activities that I enjoy will start to lose their appeal.  I start letting the house work slide, and the meals that I prepare become simpler and simpler.  I play with my children less, and lose my temper more.  I lose the ability to moderate my emotions, so that I fall apart at the slightest bump in the road.  Even the simplest tasks begin seem overwhelming. I find myself ruled by lethargy, sadness, frustration, and guilt that I’m not doing what I know I should.  Then I start to realize that I’ve been living for weeks in a gray murk.  I begin to recognize that things are not as they should be, and at that point, I seek help.  That is the important thing, especially now that I’m a parent.  I go back on the meds, or I raise my dosage, or I go back to counseling, and the murk begins to clear.

That’s where I am now in my fight against depression.  I’m clearing the murk and wondering, how many other women are walking this path with me?  How many women are not seeking and receiving help, because they don’t know that they should, because they are ashamed, or because they don’t know who to turn to?  Those are the women who break my heart, and those are the women I want to be talking to right now.  Take a look at some of the links below for information about depression in general, and PPD in particular. Try to evaluate your recent feelings and behaviors.  If you are depressed, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.  (Should a diabetic be ashamed that he needs a doctor to help him manage his blood sugar?)  If you don’t know where to start, ask your doctor or try talking to a loved one.  But please, do something.  There is no reason for you to suffer.

In addition to being a veteran of PPD, Adrienne is a craft junkie, Navy wife, and stay at home mother to two beautiful little girls near Norfolk, Virginia.  She blogs about it all at http://the-green-world.blogspot.com/ .

*According to the Ask Dr. Sears article on PPD, either Zoloft or Paxil would have been safer during breastfeeding, but I’d not heard that until now.  I plan to ask my current doctor about it at my next appointment.

Sources:

The Mayo Clinic on PPD

Dr. Sears on PPD

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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3 Money-Saving Tools for New Parents

Growing numbers of new parents gaining access to tools that have been used across time to save money and raise thriving babies. Check out the baby registries  of these mavericks (if you can find them, because they recognize that few items marketed as “baby essentials” are necessary or even useful), and you won’t find the funtime froggy bathtub, a baby swing, and most notably a crib. Usually, that is. It’s important to recognize that every family is different and while sweeping generalities can be used to give you a sense of their typical lifestyle choices, every family makes its own decisions independently, based on its own needs and preferences.

Anyone who’s purchased baby food, including infant formula, baby cereals and purees, not to mention all those fun teething biscuits and snacks with cartoons on the boxes, will tell you—they cost a pretty penny. But they’ve been around so long—and, more importantly, marketed so successfully—you’d never know they weren’t necessary to feed your children.

If foods like baby formula are such staples, then why aren’t babies born with a bottle and can of formula? Because they are born with something even easier to access, healthier, and cheaper. We humans are called mammals because our bodies are genetically equipped to feed our babies with human milk, and we begin making milk in preparation for the baby’s birth. It’s true, not all women make enough milk for their babies. I know—I  was one of the few who didn’t, at first. But it’s far less true than we’re led to think. More than 90% of women have enough milk, or can make enough milk to feed their babies. It’s just that new moms don’t get all the support we need to do it, in the form of skilled professionals like Lactation Consultants—or better yet, a wise community of elders—who can help us through the early days and the inevitable bumps in the road.

While we’re on the topic of baby food, I’m excited to share a revelation that changed my life, and kept our bank account healthy. Babies don’t actually need baby food! Really. I know what you’re thinking—here’s one of those blender ladies who is going to tell me to puree my own baby food. Actually, no. It’s much easier than that. Our babies—beginning around age 6 months and older—can eat the vast majority of foods that we eat. Things like whole fruit, cooked veggies and whole grains such as rice, quinoa, beans and even meat.

Not only can babies eat our food, they can also feed themselves. This is where the real fun comes in. Maybe you’ve seen a parent feeding their baby, or maybe you’ve been that parent airplaning mashed bananas into his mouth. You know that it takes both of your hands and your complete attention. You’re spooning the mush out of the jar, aiming it into the baby’s mouth, possibly making sound effects while encouraging him to eat it, then cleaning up when he’s done. Picture this instead. Cook dinner as you normally would, then put some food on his tray or plate. Let him practice picking it up, aiming it towards his mouth or just playing with it. Then clean up when he’s all done. What’s the difference between these two ways of feeding babies solid foods? In the second scenario, the parent can actually eat and enjoy the show! Chances are she has many comical pictures of her baby wearing his dinner, what with her hands free and clear. The long-term outcomes are even more impressive, though. Babies who are self-fed are less likely to overeat or be obese later in life. Not bad for budget-friendly dining.

Another top money saving baby-care secret is called Elimination Communication (EC), or infant pottying. Yes, really. Infants can be taken to the bathroom, and, in fact, they really want to be. No one wants to sit in their own filth, not even babies. Most parents who potty their infants notice that babies stop pooping in their diapers within a week or two. By tuning in to our babies’ cues, we’re able to better meet their needs. ECing parents also report less incidences of unexplained crying. You know those times when you fed, clothed, napped and changed your baby, and he still wouldn’t stop crying? Millions of parents chalk it up to a mystery of babyhood. But it just might be that your baby wants you to take off his diaper so that he won’t have to soil himself. It sounds crazy at first, I know. But pottying is fun for everyone – the baby who doesn’t have to poop in his diaper, and the parent who “catches” his eliminations and doesn’t have to change her baby’s diaper—not to mention pay for all those expensive Pampers!

We’ve all heard about life in the trenches – the first three months of a baby’s life when he’s crying all the time, waking up multiple times to feed and needing to be swaddled, rocked, pacified, sung to, driven in the car, or shushed to sleep. I’ve been there, and they were the longest and most miserable three weeks of my life. But thanks to conversations with parents in-the-know, I learned that I didn’t have to keep muscling through, all three of us miserable as my baby cried her way through the nights. I learned that I could bring her into bed with me – that bed-sharing wasn’t unsafe, as my post-partum hospital nurse had told me, as long as it was done safely. Safe co-sleeping is one of the best-kept secrets in Western society, even though it’s practiced across the rest of the world. The U.S. government in particular has done an impressive job publicizing the perils of bed-sharing, citing many tragic deaths from co-sleeping, without mentioning that they are actually 46 times less than crib deaths over the same time period.

What’s so great about co-sleeping? For nursing moms, sharing a sleep surface enables a baby to feed quickly and easily, without mom’s feet once touching the ground. (Babies who aren’t nursing are safest on a separate sleep surface, close to their parents.) For babies, who have spent 10 months in utero, co-sleeping allows them the nearness to their moms, making the world less scary and helping them relax and sleep! Also, while the baby’s lungs are developing, nearness to his mom helps him to regulate his breathing, resulting in fewer instances of apnea and SIDS.

As one who has tread both worlds with the same baby, I can tell you that the tools in our parenting toolkit have fattened our bank account, built a close intuitive relationship with our daughter and increased our sleep. Taken together or separately, the experience has been priceless.

Miriam is a fun-loving mama who literally can’t stop kissing Dalia, her delicious 2 year old.  She loves reading, yoga, crafting and helping others find their paths through life coaching. She is co-author of The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year.

What about you? What are your top money-saving baby-care tools?

We are all Habiba – standing up for a nursing mother’s right to her baby

 

This post was reprinted with the support of Amor Maternal.

Eleven days ago, on May 31st, a Morrocan mother known as Habiba had her child taken away from her without her consent, allegedly because she breastfed her child on demand. Due to her dire financial situation, Habiba had been living with her 15 month old daughter in a women’s shelter in Madrid (Instituto Madrileño del Menor y la Familia- IMMF-, which roughly translates to Madrid’s Family and Children’s Institute).

In later declarations and radio interviews, Nacho de la Mata, her lawyer, informed the media that Habiba had left her child at the facility’s daycare center as usual, and that the child was taken away immediately from there. She was then notified that she could no longer live at the shelter, for this facility only took on the care of mothers and she no longer had a child.

Fundación Raíces, a humanitarian organization, immediately took on Habiba’s care, providing psychiatric evaluations, performed by well know birth rights activist and author Dr. Ibone Olza, along with legal services, healthcare and financial aid.

According to anonymous information released in the press, supposedly coming from the IMMF, Habiba’s child was taken away from her due to her failure to comply to the center’s “Psychotherapy and Maternal Habilities Program”, allegedly because she was “a violent person”, although there are no records of this alleged violence.

Dr. Olza, the psychiatrist who evaluated Habiba, as well as a psychologist, whose name has not yet been released coincide in their impressions on Habiba:

“I’m under the impression that [Habiba] is a sensible and loving mother, with a healthy attachment to her child.”

“It is obvious that this separation is highly stressful for the nursling and I can easily predict oncoming symptoms of psychic distress if the physical and emotional bond with her mother is not immediately restored”

“Based on Habiba’s thorough psychiatric evaluation I have reached the conclusion that this woman does not suffer from psychiatric disorders nor does she have a drug habit. In my opinion, she is a very capable, loving woman who is now suffering enormously from having been abruptly separated from her child.”

“As a child psychiatrist, I know that suddenly separating a fifteen month old child from her mother, transfering her to a government facility with no one the child is familiar with present, causes great damage that could have enduring psychological consequences, if not reunited as soon as possible.”

Habiba is not only suffering emotionally but also physically. The day Dr. Olza took on her care, she was suffering from engorgement and was on the edge of developing mastitis. Dr. Olza helped Habiba express her milk and took a half liter of breastmilk to the IMMF. After a lot of persuasion, and arguments about how it would be a crime to waste this mothers “liquid gold”, the IMMF accepted the milk although that poses no guarantee upon the child ever being fed it, as Breastfeeding is strictly forbidden in all child welfare group homes.

This news appears to contradict the strong support of breastfeeding in Madrid’s breastfeeding and parent-child bonding programs for health professionals. Thus the IMMF’s attitude on breastfeeding, and their opinion on it, calling it “chaotic and damaging to children” has caused great alarm among mothers everywhere, not only the breastfeeding community. According to declarations in the newspaper, allegedly coming on behalf of the IMMF, the reason for separating mother and child has nothing to do with their breastfeeding relationship, yet after saying that the child was removed from her mother’s care “temporarily and the case would be reevaluated”, they warned Habiba beforehand that nursing her child during their one hour weekly visit was absolutely forbidden supposedly because “it would be contrary to the child’s institutionalization”.

On Saturday June 4th, Dr. Olza decided to seek public support for Habiba’s case, and started a Facebook Group called Que el IMMF permita que Habiba amamante a su niña YA (IMMF please allow Habiba to breastfeed her child right now). In less than 24 hours, the group grew to over 2000 members, and currently has over 3500 (and continues growing by the minute).

Yesterday, Habiba was allowed to visit her child, for only an hour. After nine days of being apart, they were reunited for only sixty minutes.

Since information on this case became public, other similar cases of women being forced to wean their children upon threats of their custody being taken over by the state have been brought to light. A public petition in Spanish was signed by over 3500 people, and another 5200 have sent personal letters to the IMMF and other Spanish authorities, as well as Save the Children, Amnesty International and other NGOs to express their support for Habiba and request her to be reunited with her child as soon as possible.

This morning, a Spanish newspaper published further declarations by Dr. Olza about Habiba’s impression upon meeting her child briefly yesterday:

“My little girl is no longer the child I knew, at first she wouldn’t even look at me… she has lost half a kilo, she looks very thin, this is not proper childcare, she had circles under her eyes, she started crying as soon as I picked her up but then she would stop immediately as if she didn’t have the physical strength to cry any longer, she didn’t seem like my daughter, she looked like a dead child, a doll”.

Dr. Olza explained to the Spanish authorities that the child’s reaction was perfectly predictable under the circumstances:

“She wouldn’t look her in the face, she looked at her as though she was a complete stranger, not wanting to go near her, [another possible reaction could have been] the contrary, not wanting to let go of her mother afterwards.”

“… it was absolutely predictable that the child wouldn’t seem happy upon seeing her mother given the circumstances,” which is something that an untrained observer could [but should not] interpret as “the child not loving her mother, or that [Habiba] was not a good parent”.

“On the contrary, the fact that she reacted this way is proof that the child has suffered enormously from this deep feeling of abandonment”

Not only has the child been traumatically separated from her mother, but there also aren’t sufficient caregivers to provide children with the nurturing that they need. After visiting the shelter at which Habiba’s baby is being held, Fundación Raíces told the press that during night shifts, there are only two caregivers for 42 children under the age of six.

Minutes ago, Dr. Olza, published the following urgent request, asking all supporters currently residing in Madrid to please protest in front of the IMMF right now:

Less than one hour ago, a representative of the IMMF in charge of Habiba’s case has verbally accepted that she sees ” her child one hour a week in order for her to maintain their breastfeeding relationship” to which the president of Fundación Raíces has replied that he obviously has absolutely no knowledge whatsoever about breastfeeding. His response was that the IMMF would evaluate the possibility of more generous visitation rights. We ask you all to please go stand and protest in front of the IMMF building right now to request that this institutional abuse upon Habiba is put to an end immediately. The address (in Madrid) is Calle Gran Vía 14. The following is extremely important: please take the picture above printed on paper to use as masks during the protest, Habiba does not wish for her face or anyone else’s to be displayed in the media. We will all wear this drawing as masks because We are all Habiba.

I’m perfectly aware that this story seems very much like a hoax, but with well know professionals such as María Teresa Hernández, member of the Spanish Pediatrics Academy’s Breastfeeding Commitee, award-winning lawyer Nacho de la Mata, well reknown authors and birth activists Isabel Fernández del Castillo and Ibone Olza, among others backing the information and giving their personal impressions on the matter publicly, things seem greatly believable.

If this story has touched your heart, if you wish to help in any way, please share this post. If you have a blog, please re-publish this information, if you know anyone in the press, anywhere in the world who could help in any way, please do contact them.

If you know some Spanish and would like to read further about Habiba, please refer to the following articles, with more detailed information:

* Madre lactante separada de su bebé de 15 meses por negarse a destetarla injustificadamente ¡Hagamos algo!
* Habiba, aún separada de su bebé. Esto es lo que podemos hacer por ayudar
* Todas somos Habiba
* Que el IMMF devuelva a Habiba su niña ¡ya!
* Habiba ha visto a su hija una hora, ¡tan solo UNA hora!

If you wish to support Habiba on Facebook, please join this group in Spanish, or this international page with other translations, including English and French.

Please sign the public petition in Spanish, or in English (rough translation).

Please click here, for printable posters and peaceful protests for Habiba scheduled worldwide.

Thank you!