11 October 2009

66 at 6 in 2

Once it was a million dollars, but heck if there was only a half a million there are better things to do with it than give it to Rolls-Royce or any other company that could get along without it and still create jobs in Mount Pearl.

And heck, I wouldn’t be pumping cash into getting more women to have babies

I’d put the money into looking after the ones we have and are having. Your humble e-scribbler would support breast feeding in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It’s good, preventive health care.

It helps change attitudes toward women way better than being crude and beating the crap out of Randy Simms for something he didn’t say.

There is a campaign apparently, as this story from The Aurora notes.

"We are launching this campaign in Labrador-City Wabush to highlight the success this region has had in promoting breastfeeding," Ms. Murphy Goodridge said during the launch. "Labrador-Grenfell Health is the first regional health authority in the province to implement a comprehensive regional breastfeeding policy based on international standards. Breastfeeding rates throughout Labrador have always been higher than the rest of the province, so I am here to recognize Labrador-Grenfell Health employees and their community partners on their tremendous success and to encourage them to continue to strive to improve breastfeeding rates. Other areas of the province are looking to replicate your success."

According to the article the province-wide initiation rate is a mere 64%.  That’s up a mere 1.3% since 2006. The old article had an old link to the Breastfeeding Coalition:  here’s the new one.

And initiation isn’t the telling factor.  Three years ago only 11% of mothers who started breast-feeding were still breast-feeding six months later. Women aren’t sticking with it. The rate by 2008 was a mere 12%.  That’s basically no change.

Whatever the ponderous government agencies have been doing ain’t enough.  Maybe we need to free-up the people actually running the programs and get a lot of that health care bureaucracy and stodgie government-ish thinking get out of the way.

And lookit, nothing would work to start our children out healthier than to encourage breastfeeding.

The BFC has a campaign to boost breastfeeding but frankly a few posters ain’t gonna do the job.  The campaign needs to have a much higher profile.  For one thing, there could be a group of prominent local someones in addition to all the other stuff outlined in the BFC strategic plan to help reinforce the message about breastfeeding.

And rather than just talk about the need for supportive environments, people need to start initiating action.  There needs to be a concerted effort to make the workplace more tit-friendly, for example.  There needs to be a much wider effort to make more parts of society accepting of breastfeeding.

So there’s an idea.

mom-breastfeeding Rather than kick Randy Simms in ‘nads for something someone misheard or deliberately misrepresented, maybe someone could have done something positive like asked him about the City of Mount Pearl’s breast-feeding policy. 

Are women councillors who are breastfeeding their children able to do so during a council meeting or a committee meeting? 

What about the provincial government?

Was Charlene Johnson able to get her little one to latch on while Danny was in full rant around the cabinet table?   Not ideal for the digestion, admittedly, but still,  you get the point.

And what was all that with her having to get back to work a mere month after giving birth supposedly – and the emphasis is on supposedly – because there was no maternity leave policy in the House of Assembly?


Talk about your unfriendly work environment for women.  Now I may have missed it but I don’t recall anyone from PACSW championing that cause at that time.  There’s one for the government appointed pseudo-bureaucrats to tackle.

But there’s an example of simple issue that directly affects the ability of women to get involved and/or stay involved in many more aspects of life outside the family once they start having children.




And everyone wins in so many ways.

People in Newfoundland and Labrador need to get involved in an effort to dramatically increase the breastfeeding rates in this province.

What’s been going on already is great but it isn’t enough.  Clearly.  Not enough.

So on this thanksgiving weekend, let’s applaud the efforts of the provincial Breastfeeding Coalition.  Let’s applaud Labrador West with the highest initiation rate – 75% – in the whole province.

But let’s recognise that that 75% is still 15% below the national average.

And we need to get some kind of “66 at 6 in 2” drive going to ensure that  within two years, we have 66% of mothers in the province still breastfeeding their infants six months after giving birth.


Some ideas for 66 at 6 in 2

A better website.  It’s do-able and younger families are more likely to use the Internet for information.  The current one is buried away and it doesn’t have the kind of simple stuff you’ll find elsewhere.  A good example of a BF supportive site:  the US government one.  There are lots of others.

-  Paul Daly’s shot is great but there is a need to use a much more aggressive approach with messages tailored to different audiences.  And for mercy sakes don’t post the poster as a pdf.   You can get some ideas from this approach mapped out by students in the UK.

-  Nothing work better at changing attitudes and behaviour than making it clear that the dominant attitude has shifted.  People openly supporting breastfeeding – highlighted by some prominent locals – would start the ball rolling.

-  And just do it.  Nothing will work better than having the women who are breastfeeding just doing it.


Anonymous said...

Halloween costume suggestion for humble Hollett -- a nipple hat.

That way people who don't waste their time reading this drivel can tell you are a fucking tit.

Anonymous said...

yep, it sucks to be ed.

Anonymous said...

Barefoot and pregnant comes to mind...

Nancy Crozier said...

Thanks, Ed, for posting on such an important, yet under-rated subject.

Edward G. Hollett said...

You're welcome, Nancy.

It is an important subject. I used it as part of assignment for some PR students once. Not sure how they felt about it but it is a subject I am keen to see promoted more.

Unfortunately, as you can see, there are a great many people with underdeveloped senses of humour.

Pretty childish actually, but then again, that's why they post anonymously.

Anonymous said...

Ed Hollett calling other people childish. Now there's a funny bit.

Ah, Ed, please don't ever fuck off and die.

Edward G. Hollett said...

And people wonder why I allow anonymous comments 1725.

In the old days, they would put people in stocks and let them wander around the village to be mocked for their ignorance. Today we have anonymous comments on the Internet.

I prefer this since it is less it allows the rest of us to laugh while no having to know you personally. It's less cruel for us. Of course odds are your friends and co-workers already know but sadly they must deal with that burden on their own.

Anonymous said...

The only women I know who have breastfed for 2 years have been able to take off a couple years without full-time income. Public education and breastfeeding friendly policies aren't going to change the fact that most women can't do that.

This is a public health issue, granted.

But it's not specifically a women's issue. Women have to make choices, and should be supported in them, even if their choice is to breastfeed for 6 months and then go back to work.

Edward G. Hollett said...

You are absolutely right, 2108 about the need to make choices and that breastfeeding involves more than women.

Let me clear up any misunderstanding, though. I am not suggesting women should breastfeed for two years.

Right now only 11% of the women who start breastfeeding are still breastfeeding six months later. That is horrendously low.

What I am suggesting is that we set a goal so that two years from now at least 66% of the women who start breastfeeding are still doing it six months later.

The only way we will see the health benefits of breastfeeding is by an aggressive campaign to promote it and to change the attitudes and behaviour that may be making it difficult right now for women to start and continue long enough for it to be of real benefit.

Nancy Crozier said...

Six months is an important benchmark in breastfeeding. My son is enrolled in a multi-year, multi-national study examining the possible positive effects of 6-months exclusive breastfeeding on the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes.

The theory is that until 6 months of age, the infant gut is not mature enough to handle cow's milk or its derivatives, and the immune system reacts to the foreign protein (with possibly negative consequences for those who are genetically susceptible to Type 1 diabetes).

This theory is yet to be proven/disproven, of course, but it's backed by some interesting science.

babe in boyland said...

excellent post, ed! THAT is the kind of thing that is an intrinsic feminist issue. i breastfed my kids for 2+ year, and NO, i didn't take years off to raise them. i worked from home as much as possible, i brought them to work and breastfed them there. i arranged childcare on or close to my place of work. i took as many minutes of breastfeeding breaks a day as my colleagues did smoke breaks. i pushed the envelope of what what "permitted" - at work, in church, in restaurants, in grocery stores, if it wasn't forbidden to bring your child, i assumed it was permitted and forced everyone else to make the case that it wasn't. same with breastfeeding.

BUT - the resistance i met, from men AND women, was INCREDIBLE. i was DRAGGING my children around, i was SLUTTY and DIRTY for breastfeeding UNDER A RECEIVING BLANKET (but hey, the KNEW that naked tit was THERE, and i was FLAUNTING it).

breasts and breastfeeding are real and concrete. there's an issue that feminists, government and society as a whole can come to grips with. just make it explicitly legal to breastfeed in public. communicate that it is right, healthy and normal (after all, we wouldn't be here without the two million years of hominids and 10,000 years of half civilized homo sapiens who have done it). make sure that corporate execs and cabinet ministers can do it while dicussing policy at the big table - it is more than possible, if you can talk to your friends or read complex documents, as I did while breastfeeding, you can do it while discussing policy. make the REST of the world make themselves comfortable (or not, that's their problem) with the fact that you are undeniably a woman, doing one of the things that is a defining female characteristic, and you are STILL a valuable leader and an effective decision-maker.

THAT's a REAL issue, not bullshit (yes, i agree with randy) about some radio host using a not-offensive stereotype (that women are determined and get their way when it is really important to them) in good humour, and refusing to promise to self self-censor and cripple his real communication with women and others in future.

stop fighting shapeless shadows of problems, and take up a concrete cause that has a concrete solution. if you want people to stop smoking around others - ban smoking in public. if you want to make it possible for women to breastfeed anywhere but a lightless locked room, explicitly legalize it and then endorse it.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Funny things about tits, Babe.

They are just lurking there.

Beneath blankets.

Or clothing.

Just waiting to be exposed, or at least that's what repressed English-speaking wankers think.

Thanks Nancy and Babe for the insights. It's a huge help. Maybe I have found my cause.

babe in boyland said...

and you, you first anonymous shite - you're part of the problem. by using tit head as an insult, you are equating breasts with the stupid and nasty. after all, if ed is a tit head, and you clearly don't like ed or his ideas, you are associating tits with the stupid, nasty or negative.

but hell - it was only a joke, and so apt you couldn't resist it, huh?

Anonymous said...

The elephant in this chat-room is in the report you cited, Ed.

Women who do successfully breastfeed tend to be of higher socioeconomic status.

Most women don't have the choice of working at home, or taking their baby to work, or getting daycare nearby, or taking breastfeeding breaks. Most women don't attend meetings regularly, and breastfeeding means stopping what you're being paid to do.

You should take on this issue, Ed. It's time men took more responsibility for issues affecting children. But public education without significant changes to public policy -- to economically support new mothers and legislate regarding the workplace -- isn't going to make a big difference in the real choices most women are faced with when it comes to breastfeeding. - 2108

Edward G. Hollett said...

Well, 1534, I have been taking it on in my own way and in my own time.

What's interesting, however, is that organizations that are very quick to tackle other stuff that is essentially bullshit won't dare speak up about an issue like this which is substantive.

Socioeconomic status is not merely related to having a job where certain types of activities are possibile. It also has to do, I suspect, with perceived status and the perception that breastfeeding is something poor people do.

There is not just one elephant in the room. There are several. They need to be tackled by a wide range of people and organizations.

Imagine what could be done with a half a million.

Imagine what could be done with the bootie call cash.

As for the line about "it's time men", how about just saying it is time we all took it on as a social issue?

Not everything needs legislation. in fact, it's far more effective to make the shift between people's ears than try and pass a law making something obligatory.

And none of it will get changed as long as:

a. people talk about while not putting themsevles on the line (hey there, yet anonther anonymouse with bright ideas, and

b. as long as the same anonymice suggest it is someone else's responsibility.

I am doing my bit.

Who are you and what have you done to move the issue along?

Anonymous said...

"Research findings consistently show a positive association between breastfeeding
and higher socio-economic status..." BF Strategic Plan II p.4

I posted anonymously for reasons of internet security. But since you're hostile to Anonymous posters, I won't any more.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Yes, I read the report, but thanks for the quote.

Internet security? Interesting excuse given that I write this with my name and picture out there for all to see and so far haven't had a problem.

But it is even more interesting that you wouldn't even give any sense of your own background or interest in this issue.

People who are that paranoid are usually hiding themsevles for a reason and the reason is seldom good.

Allan said...

Good post Ed, as evidenced by the large number of comments.

Low levels of nursing in Newfoundland are part of a wider set of problems the province has with diet, nutrition, etc. Salt is seen as one of the five food groups. Most grocery stores have a tiny fruits and veg section which is positioned as a preview to the massive section of sweets, candies and pastries.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Absolutely Allan.

There's more on this to come.

babe in boyland said...

i want to make something clear - i was not of a "socio-economic status" or "job-status" that was in any way priviledged. i was 19. i was in university - before university daycare for students. my childcare arrangements were dad and sisters and friends and aunts and anyone who didn't charge me money. i was desperate to finish university, because i knew it was the only way i'd provide a half decent life for my child.

it would have been easier if there had been student daycare programs. it would have been easier if there had been public support rather than harsh criticism for my "dragging around" my child and "showing tits in public". but longer or better maternity leave wouldn't have helped me - i wasn't in a job at that time. it would have been easier if ANYONE had advocated for me - but nobody did, even the status of women council.

that last one would have been really nice. but it wasn't on their radar. when is it going to get on?