Episode 62: This Week In Breastfeeding - January 19, 2022
Welcome back to another episode of Breastfeeding Talk. I’m your host, Jacqueline Kincer. And first and foremost, I want to apologize for not releasing an episode for a long time, quite honestly, a lot of interviews and things that I had reached out to people for they had reached out to me just got postponed because of the holidays. And then with the Omicron variant of COVID, everyone’s been getting sick. Thankfully, so far, we’ve been safe in my household, but I can’t say the same for everyone, everyone else. So that has all led to finally now this is the first episode of 2022. And we’re already more than halfway through January. So thank you for everyone who stuck around as a subscriber. And if you’re new here, definitely make sure you are subscribed to the podcast. But today, I’m going to do a little episode of This Week and breastfeeding. And I’m going to cover and kind of do a little bit of catch up on news, I’m not going to cover a whole lot of old news, because it’s not really relevant anymore. But I will be kind of going back through and pulling some older things for you. But I want to make sure the content I bring you today is really, you know, available and accessible to you. So I’m gonna start out with an article that I just received the other day. And it was talking about the benefits of breast milk. And of course, the hot topic of the day, we’re all tired of hearing about it, but COVID-19 and antibodies passing from vaccinated mothers to infants. And we just continue to receive more studies confirming that this is happening. So there’s not a single study out there that has said that you know that you don’t pass antibodies to your baby, if you’re breastfeeding or offering pumped milk when you’ve gotten the vaccine. So again, this is just really promising because the trials have not been successful for children under five yet. And I know that there are a lot of mamas out there who are really anxious to have an infant vaccine against COVID. So, you know, this is just great information. Because really what we want to do, regardless of COVID is encourage you to breastfeed for as long as possible to provide the maximum benefit to you and your child. So the longer you do it, the better.
I know there are a lot of mamas out there who right when the pandemic started, but also still today are looking at re lactation, if they’ve had some breastfeeding challenges and stopped breastfeeding for whatever reason, or a lot of moms now are realizing, hey, you know what, there’s actually a huge benefit to nursing beyond a year or pumping beyond a year. And so the length of breastfeeding duration, at least the the amount of mothers who are trying to make that happen is increasing. So that’s really great. And other COVID News, there’s this viral photo that went around. It’s funny to me, because this is like old news to me. But there was a viral photo that went around of a mother’s pumped milk that was green. And it was green because she was you know, positive for SARS, cov two infection. And, you know, breast milk changes colors all the time, by the way, and just because one mother has green COVID-19 positive breast milk does not mean that every mother who is lactating is going to have green breast milk just because she’s infected with COVID-19. So just want to be really clear about that. But breast milk changes color all the time. I suspect quite honestly that the breast milk change color more having to do with what the mother was consuming rather than the infection itself. Green breast milk is usually correlated to higher intake of green foods or vitamins. So just like if you take a lot of vitamins, your body will get rid of the rest of this sort of the extra by turning your yellow or your pea yellow or like almost even like an orange color, drink more water. But it can be like a really neon color. Similarly, vitamins, supplements, foods can also alter the color of your breast milk. So really, you know, there’s just so much sensationalism over it. I hope that the message that came out of this was that How cool are our bodies? Not that green breast milk is bad for your baby because it’s not really the only breast milk that would be a weird color that would not be good for your baby would be breast milk that is a hot pink or sort of a fuchsia color. That’s a sign of a sphere. This bacterial infection and you should not be feeding that milk to your baby, it looks a bit like a bright, bright version of Pepto Bismol. So again, really rare. But that’s the only time that we need to worry about color of your milk. Also, if there’s blood in it, that’s definitely a sign that you need some help. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t feed that milk to your baby, believe it or not. So let me see what else here I can chat to regarding COVID-19 Ah, here’s another one. So this is actually a study that was published January 14 of 2022. And it was asking the question does COVID-19 policy affect initiation and duration of exclusive breastfeeding, a single center represent retrospective study.
And what they found was that they enrolled five sorry, 454 eligible mother infant Diane’s. And, you know, they just kind of assessed for, you know, maternal age, gestational age, birth weight, Apgar scores, things of that most of the mothers 86% had no known chronic diseases had a normal spontaneous delivery. So meaning they weren’t induced, they didn’t have a surgical birth. And then 44.7% of the sample initiated breastfeeding. So either directly at the breast, or they were expressing breast milk during their hospital stay. And then they were looking at just the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding for the first two weeks, three weeks, six months postpartum. And they looked at those rates. So what they found was that the prevalence of breastfeeding initiation, meaning you started it right after you gave birth, and exclusive breastfeeding, and the first six months postpartum, were low among Saudi mothers. However, there were multicenter prospective and cohort studies that adjusted for, you know, typically known factors that might confound the data. And they were exploring the impact of infection control policies on breastfeeding. So they’re trying to take a look at this, but they’re seeing at least in Saudi women, this this was a study done in Saudi Arabia, that the rates were lower. And so there may be, you know, whether it’s just sort of the whole hospital environment and those protocols and things of that nature, that are negatively affecting breastfeeding. And it’s unfortunate, because we don’t want that to happen. Breastfeeding can actually be literally life saving, especially in the midst of this pandemic. I know, there are some people that don’t take it seriously. But I have lactation consultants on my team and many, many colleagues who work in the NICU in the hospital environment and seeing an infant infected with COVID-19 in the hospital is very, very scary, and it is not minor. So I do hope that people take this seriously.
Okay, now, let’s move on to another topic here. So LabCorp is this large company in the US that does a lot of lab work, if you’ve gotten a COVID-19 test, you’ve probably heard of them. But you know, a lot of doctors will, will use this company and whatnot. Basically, they got investigated by the Department of Labor. So we’re talking about people working at LabCorp. Essentially, the Department of Labor in United States found that there were supervisors out of California location that failed to provide pumping space that met the Fair Labor Standards Act requirements. So there was an employee that was interrupted in a private while I guess it wasn’t really a private space, right. So she wasn’t given a private space, she was interrupted twice by co workers. And so now LabCorp has to agree to provide her with a private space, and they actually revised their lactation break policy. So this sounds like a really minor kind of thing, right. But I have to say, good for this employee, because when you utilize the laws and the policies that are in place to protect you, you reinforce the strength of those laws and policies. And when you make a big company like LabCorp take action. It’s something that other companies pay attention to. So it might not sound like a big deal to get interrupted a couple times while you’re pumping milk for your baby. But it is a big deal. And you should take it seriously. And I liked that this person went through the proper channels to initiate change and create protections for themselves. So if you’re not familiar, the fair lab labor and Standards Act requires that any employer knighted states with 50 or more employees has to provide reasonable break time to express breast milk for your child for one year after the child’s birth.
Okay, so it doesn’t cover beyond that if you work for a small company that has less than 50 employees. Sorry, unfortunately, you’re kind of screwed in terms of that. Labor Act protection, but you have ought to be able to private space that is not a bathroom that is shielded from view it’s free from intrusion typically means that there’s a lock on the door. So coworkers and the public cannot access the space when you are using it to produce breast milk for your child. So anyway, I just think it’s great, I think it’s a win. These requirements have been in place for over 10 years. And the Department of Labor does enforce them on a regular basis, whenever complaints are made. So it is up to you to make a complaint. Obviously, you shouldn’t go to the Department of Labor first, you should try to work this out through the proper channels in your company. If you’re not getting anywhere, though, the Department of Labor is absolutely there for you. Bank of America was once kind of caught up in an investigation and had to make some similar changes they actually had. You know, it was kind of a big to do new steel, I suppose. There’s a, you know, other companies sometimes have to pay fines, they have to pay back wages, you know, various various things, right? So you can’t be forced to go and pump in a bathroom or car or, you know, things like that, right. So, just be aware of that. I have a couple of great podcast episodes on returning to work, one with Carly Vincent and win with Debbie Yata Gauri, I will link those up in the show notes if you haven’t listened to those yet. But it’s a really, really important topic. The last thing also I want to include is a link. It’s not really a this week and breastfeeding, sort of a news item per se. But it’s a link from the Academy of breastfeeding medicine. I get this question a lot on Instagram from people, they’ll say, I learned that I am positive for COVID-19. Can I breastfeed my baby? Yes, you can. You absolutely can. Now, there are some things you want to know. Right, though. And so, you know, just if you’re looking for some really good up to date information, the Academy of breastfeeding medicine has an excellent site with resources related to breastfeeding and COVID-19. So I would just say, you know, check that out, they’ve got just, you know, some quick links that you can click on and you can kind of, you know, do a deeper dive if you’d like. But they do update this on a regular basis. If you’re a health care provider, this would be an excellent site for you to go to, they actually have recorded webinars and all sorts of things. Again, it’s from the Academy of breastfeeding medicine. So it’s breastfeeding focused.
Okay, now, this is interesting. This came across the news desk. And I have no idea that this was a thing. But apparently, in the UK, photographing breastfeeding mothers without their consent is a thing. And it’s actually now a crime, or at least they’re in the process of making it a crime. So I don’t know who’s doing this. But I think that’s really messed up. You shouldn’t be taking photos of anybody without their consent, but let alone a breastfeeding mother. So now it’s, it’s a crime. So if if you see someone snapping a photo of you in the UK, while you’re breastfeeding your baby, you can call the police on them. So is this is this a thing? Do I have UK listeners? Like, is this happening? Is this? Is this a big deal? I don’t know what’s being done with these photos. I’m just trying to understand why why this is happening. You know, I think the world has sort of become a strange place as of late. But yeah, interesting news item for sure. So I will jump into this one, which has been covered in a few different news outlets. But there’s a new study that’s been released showing breastfeeding linked to lower heart disease and a lower risk of stroke. So this is really cool. So the study included data from more than 1 million women from eight separate studies. So that’s a lot of data points. And what they discovered is that breastfeeding led to an 11% Decrease in cardiovascular disease, a 12% reduction in strokes, and a 17% reduction in fatalities because of cardiovascular disease. So there’s, you know, Ben, studies have showed an association between breastfeeding and the risk of cardiovascular disease and the mother but they weren’t consistent. There wasn’t a huge, you know, obvious association between the two. So now, they did more in depth studies.
And I think it’s just absolutely amazing. So sometimes we focus on the benefits of breastfeeding or specifically breast milk to infants. But there are benefits to you as a mother. So if you know cardiovascular disease, runs in your family, you know, breastfeeding for as long as you can with each child that you have is going to create a really significant benefit for you in terms of reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, strokes, and death due to cardiovascular disease. So I love that. I love when new data like that comes out. I love when it’s a really large sample size, like more than a million women. Okay, um, let’s see, where do we go next? I like this one. Okay, so I don’t know what publication this is, it’s in Australia. I mean, I know what it is because I’m looking at their website right now, but just say I haven’t heard of it not familiar with it. Maybe if you’re in Australia, this is like a huge sort of blog, publication outlet. It’s called Mamma Mia. And it was actually a really in depth sort of interview, first person perspective. And the headline knows, I thought breastfeeding would be a no brainer, the reality was much more brutal. Well, this is great timing, because today, I made a real basically about on Instagram, if you don’t know what a real is, by the way, follow me on Instagram, I have so much good content over there. If you are not following me on Instagram, you are seriously missing out. And don’t make money from posting on Instagram, by the way. So it’s not like, I’m trying to sell you anything here. But seriously, I put some seriously amazing content out there. And I mean, just go check it out. If you’re not already following me. It’s out holistic lactation gonna be linked up in the show notes, of course. So anyway, I made this real today about how just, you know birth, you know, that breastfeeding? Breastfeeding is natural. Okay, we get that. But like one of my amazing lactation consultants, Gina from Spain says, and I don’t know if I can actually correct her on this quote, because she thinks she might have gotten this from somewhere else. But breastfeeding is natural, like walking and talking is natural. Not like seeing and hearing is natural. Right? So you get the difference, right? Like it’s a process to learn to walk, to talk to, you know, verbalize sound and turn it into something that someone else can understand.
That takes time. Right, it’s a process takes a lot of practice. So does breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not an exception. So I love the the first sentence on this article, it says have boobs will breastfeed at least I thought that would be the case. So this mother goes into all of her expectations of breastfeeding and how those didn’t work out. So she’s 44 year old mother. And she really didn’t give it a second thought. She just thought, of course, I’m gonna breastfeed. Like, she just thought I just make the choice. And making the choice is what happens. And she’s not alone in this, right? There are so many moms out there, I was one of them with my first like, if I just decide to breastfeed, that means I will breastfeed. I really didn’t know. And then we hear this old adage, no breast is best. And so we just think, you know, that’s what we’re gonna do. So this mom had an unplanned C section at 39 weeks. So I mean, she was still full term, right? And but it was in a pandemic. So that’s, you know, not easy, right? Already having a pandemic, baby. So then she had a baby with a poor latch, the feeding wasn’t going well, she had a bunch of visitors coming that she really wasn’t expecting. And there’s just a huge disruption of breastfeeding. By the way, please put visitors off like in those very rarely, early postpartum days, I mean, unless it is someone really significant to you personally, that you really want to be there in your space, make them wait, though, they’ll come in three weeks promise, they’re not going to not want to come. Okay. So the problem is, is a lot of visitors are there to see the baby. They’re not there to see you. Or, you know, they’re, they want to see you right, but I mean, come on, let’s be wrong. They’re there for the baby. No, no.
Early postpartum visitors are there to help you out in caring for your baby. They’re not there to take the baby from you and disrupt breastfeeding, which is usually what happens. So this mom explained that kind of happened. Eventually, the baby ended up dehydrated. I don’t know all the circumstances of this. But I will tell you from reading her story, either. She just had no idea how to get like a proper latch for this baby, which is very common, by the way. Or her baby had something like a tongue or lip tie, because she said the baby was dehydrated. She had to go to the ER on the second day home. Her nipples were on fire. She had mastitis. She had like, she had a huge jump. Right. So that didn’t help either. Right. So you know, it just she then she ended up having a formula to the baby and like this is not normal. Okay, so does it happen? Is it common? Yes. But it’s not normal. It’s a sign of a problem. And what sucks for this mom, is that she didn’t get the right help. So I like articles like this because they bring to light the real challenges that moms face. But I also vehemently dislike articles like this, because essentially what it’s saying is if these things happen to you, then you know, breastfeeding just you know, it wasn’t going to work out for you and that sucks. No, stop this narrative. I am so tired of hearing this. Okay, I am so tired of hearing mom’s sob stories and I’m like, excuse me at what point in your story. Did you meet with a lactation consultants? Oh, you didn’t. Okay, well, no. Not not saying like, you know, oh, it’s the mom’s fault that she didn’t meet with one, right? You don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s fine. But we’ve got to stop publicizing these stories and acting like, there’s no way breastfeeding was ever going to work out for this mom because she was 44 years old because she had an unplanned C section because her baby had a poor latch. None of those things mean that breastfeeding can’t work out for you. Not a single one of those things. I’ve worked with the most horrendous, awful, terrible breastfeeding situations. And you can turn it anything around anything with the right help.
But your I wouldn’t expect you to do it on your own. I mean, you’re already in the midst of it with postpartum and healing from pregnancy and birth and all of these things, right. So anyway, this mom basically went on to say that she sort of internalized this shame that something was wrong with her body. And she hadn’t, you know, done what she needed to do to effectively breastfeed her baby. And, you know, then she says, See, this is the problem, right? You don’t get the right help when you go to the hospital. So the nurse, you know, threatened to put a feeding tube down the baby’s throat if she didn’t start to get with a breastfeeding program. I’m sorry, can you please go make a complaint to that hospital? That is not okay. It’s not okay. First of all, no one should ever talk to you like that. Second of all, you might be exaggerating for, you know, the purposes of making this article a bit more entertaining. But Third of all, why it was the nurse working with you, where was the ibclc. So we’ve got to demand better as patients and unfortunately, it is upon you as the patient, I cannot create systemic change. I do what I can I teach professionally, I do a lot of things professionally, that really aren’t in the public view. I don’t talk about them a whole lot. But I can’t change the hospital system. I can’t change governmental policy, I’m just one person. So I would really encourage you to advocate for yourself and go, Yeah, that’s not that’s not okay. That’s not good care. Let’s help me get better care. So and I know that’s hard to do. So, you know, have a doula do that have your partner to that have, you know, another family member or close friend, someone else kind of helped you with that, because it’s a lot again, to put on yourself. So, you know, here’s the thing, I’m not saying like this mom failed, because she didn’t hire a lactation consultant. That’s not what I’m saying. But what I am saying is that the fact that she didn’t meant that she was very likely to fail, because depending on the medical system to fix breastfeeding for you, they’re not interested in that they’re not they’re interested in getting that baby calories, which of course, every single lactation consultant is to, but we’re also interested in you and your goals for breastfeeding. And it matters not just how much weight your baby is gaining and how much they’re drinking, it also matters that your breasts aren’t in pain, that they’re not bleeding, it also matters that you’re meeting the goals that you would set for feeding your child. Right. And if we have to adjust those goals, we have to but no one worked with this. So I just find this also, you know, disappointing. In the end, obviously, she, you know, kind of came to terms with this.
she ultimately makes it sound like her physical circumstances and her environmental stress were immutable properties that led to the decline of breastfeeding. And I would argue that, yes, sometimes that is the case, especially in a resource limited area. But I would say that, more often than not, it’s not physical circumstances that are responsible for you not breastfeeding, it tends to be systemic ones, it tends to be financial ones, it tends to be, you know, your level of privilege that facilitates that for you. So this mom was actually really lucky in the sense that she was able to access immediate pediatric care, go to the hospital, you know, get her baby fed and back up to proper weight. And a lot of things you know, I didn’t hear any mention here of you know, not getting access to that type of care. So she she did have access to that. And that’s really, really great. At the end of the day, I’m really glad that she got this intervention for her child because could be very damaging if she didn’t, but I would so love to see more articles like this, of like, telling the story of this massive downhill trends. And then I hired an ibclc and she saved the day might be a little biased. Again, we’re not all created equal. Okay? Just like every doctor, every plumber, every cell phone provider, you know, they’re all going to be different, right? There’s good ones, there’s bad ones. But gosh, you know, I just hate to hear stories like this, where a mom has gone through weeks of suffering that was so unnecessary had she just gotten the right support to begin with. So anyway, I wanted to share this. I’ll link it up for you to read. It was very entertaining the way the way she wrote it, and it was very brief. But I just gosh, you know, I just I just feel for these moms. Like, because what ends up happening is that that whole Fed is best argument gets fed, right? Well, Formula saved my baby because they weren’t able to get enough breast milk. No formula didn’t save your baby, per se. I mean, formula was unnecessary way to feed your child. But there are other things that really could have worked. Right. And maybe breastfeeding, you know, wouldn’t have been possible in the end, or it wouldn’t have been able to be what she had hoped it could be.
But I just wish that the mom had other options, besides being forced into something that she didn’t originally intend. So I think it’s just an important distinction to make. And I really wanted to share that with you guys. So that pretty much wraps it up. For today’s episode, I’m going to link up these articles in the show notes if you’re interested in reading them yourselves. Or if you’re looking for references to anything, I really would encourage you to check out the link for the Academy of breastfeeding medicine, if you’re interested in COVID-19, and how that affects breastfeeding and lactation and sort of guidelines of things you should do, should you become infected or have some sort of issues there. Again, it’s something that they update very frequently, and it’s a really great trusted resource. So if you haven’t already, go follow me on Instagram, subscribe to the show. And I promise there’ll be more episodes coming. We’ve got a really cool episode coming up with a pharmacist that specializes in lactation. So for all of you who are wondering how do I find out if a medication or supplement is safe during breastfeeding? If it’s okay to take for my milk supply, things like that. This is going to be the amazing episode for you to listen to. So make sure you’re subscribed so you get alerts for any new episodes that drop.
In the first episode of 2022, Jacqueline is giving a brief update on the latest breastfeeding research and guidance for COVID-19 and breastfeeding.
Stay tuned for some incredible episodes & interviews planned for this year! Make sure to subscribe wherever you choose to listen to podcasts.
- Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine COVID-19 resources: https://www.bfmed.org/covid-19-resource-page
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease for breastfeeding mothers: https://www.ajc.com/pulse/study-shows-breastfeeding-linked-to-lower-heart-disease-stroke-risk/CGPOEFER6FASHJCAUFWT3KREBA/
- COVID-19 hospital policies affecting breastfeeding rates: https://www.dovepress.com/does-covid-19-policy-affect-initiation-and-duration-of-exclusive-breas-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-RMHP
- New law against photographing breastfeeding mothers in UK: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-essex-59982568https://www.ohmymag.co.uk/health/covid-breastfeeding-mums-milk-turns-green-after-testing-positive_art10492.html
- Green milk during active COVID-19 infection: https://www.ohmymag.co.uk/health/covid-breastfeeding-mums-milk-turns-green-after-testing-positive_art10492.html
- One mom’s personal breastfeeding struggle: https://www.mamamia.com.au/breastfeeding-struggle/
- Antibodies in milk from COVID-19 vaccination: https://www.biotechniques.com/immunology/benefit-of-breastmilk-covid-19-antibodies-pass-from-vaccinated-mothers-to-infants/
- Department of Labor & Labcorp breastfeeding break protection: https://www.hrdive.com/news/labcorp-revises-lactation-policy-following-dol-investigation/616955/
- Debi Yadegari podcast interview about working & pumping: https://www.holisticlactation.com/blog/25
- Karlee Vincent podcast interview about working and pumping: https://www.holisticlactation.com/blog/59