Saturday, September 26, 2009

Historical Breastfeeding Photo: WPA Poster

I found this image in the Library of Congress online archives recently. It was created in 1938 as part of an art project organized by the federal Work Projects Administration. I'm not a fan of this style of art, or the WPA for that matter, but I thought this would make a nice addition to my growing archive of historical breastfeeding images.

The artist was Erik Krause, who did a number of other posters in this same propaganda style. The others carry slightly more socialistic messages, but similar artwork. This one reads, "Nurse the baby: Your protection against trouble. Inform yourself through the Health Bureau publications and consult your doctor."

Before 1930 most mothers breastfed their babies. Artificial formulas were expensive and still in development. Apparently some mothers thought it was more sophisticated to feed their babies from a bottle, so they would give their babies cow's milk in glass bottles. But this would've had to have been transported and refrigerated and couldn't have been convenient or affordable for average families.

According to this article (linked below), by the late 1930s, formulas had become safer and were viewed as more scientific by mothers who could afford them. And then it became a sign of affluence, or for immigrants - assimilation, and quickly became the norm.

I found some very interesting and relevant information about the history of breastfeeding in a preview of this book:

You can see this WPA poster in the Library of Congress here:

Doula Discoveries

Part of the doula journey for me has been learning my way around parts of Austin that I never had occasion to visit before. And I've had to find my way to many a hospital during stormy weather and rainstorms, or in the middle of the night, while it's dark and the streets are empty and the traffic lights are flashing. It always feels surreal, a little bit dramatic. Then it's interesting to see those places again in the daylight when they seem much less exciting and much more average. :)

Besides visiting lots of hospitals and clients' homes, I've also been to a lot of coffee shops. It's funny, because none of these moms are drinking coffee, but it seems that coffee shops are still the best place when you're having a casual, yet professional, low-key, get-to-know-you meeting with a stranger. :)

Today I got lost trying to find Cherrywood Cafe on 38 1/2 Street. I drove right past it and ended up having to circle around and come back the way I came. But it was a nice little place, and really conveniently located for the couple I was meeting.

In recent months I've also met clients at: Thunderbird Coffee on Koenig Lane, Flipnotics on Barton Springs Road, and Jo's on 2nd Street. I also have a doula friend who lives in Round Rock and we've met more than once at the Starbucks in La Frontera.

So maybe, in addition to learning about pregnancy and birth, I'm learning about a good cup of coffee, too. If you ever need to know of a good coffee shop with free wi-fi near a hospital or ob/gyn clinic, give me a call!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another beautiful birth!

I got home at 4:00 a.m. from a long labor that ended with a beautiful birth and a healthy baby. This was my second opportunity to shadow Kristen Downer and learn from her decade of experience. She was really great at handling a nervous mom. and functioning on no sleep!

It was pretty cool that this baby came when she did; the barometric pressure had just made a major shift and it really feels like autumn here in central Texas. The first day of autumn doesn't usually bring such a dramatic change in weather! But it is so pleasant and it made for a beautiful birth day.

I got four hours of sleep and now am feeling refreshed for a day at my "real job." :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blooming Beautiful

I don't own a TV and I have never been particularly interested in the Emmy Awards, but I was pleased to find these lovely photos of Heidi Klum at last night's award show.

Apparently this is the third time she's been pregnant during the Emmys over the past 5 years! Lots of maternity fashion inspiration for the rest of us. :)

"Supermodel Heidi Klum, who is eight months pregnant, proudly displays her bump at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia.
The couple's baby girl is due next month."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Historical Breastfeeding Photo: Prairie Flower

After finding the historic Dorothy Lange photo, I was intrigued to look for other historic photos of mothers breastfeeding their babies. This one isn't as beautiful as the first one I found, but it's much older.

This photo shows Cynthia Ann Parker breastfeeding her daughter, Topsanna (Prairie Flower), circa 1860-1870. In 1836, at about ten years of age, Parker was kidnapped by Comanches from her home in central Texas, along with four others. She went on to adopt Indian ways and married an Indian warrior. She bore one daughter and two sons, one of whom was future chief Quanah. Photo courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.

You can read more about Cynthia Ann Parker here:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Homebirth in the media

This TODAY Show report - portraying homebirth as a particularly risky option - is taking a lot of flack:

It doesn't address the sad reality that sometimes babies die, even in births at the hospital. There is no way to completely prevent infant mortality, but homebirths do result in fewer infant deaths than hospital births. Like the video points out, that is in part because homebirths are low-risk births. But all the more reason to choose homebirth if your pregnancy isn't high risk!

Here are two stories about homebirth on USA Today. These provide the positive coverage to balance out the negative stuff from the aforementioned video!

Study Shows Home Birth with Midwife as Safe as Hospital Birth
by Amanda Gardner

Home Births Get a Bump, Over Obstetricians' Objections
by Rita Rubin

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Historic Breastfeeding Photo: Migrant Mother

I linked to a story yesterday about the influence of formula upon breastfeeding trends. On that page, I recognized the woman in the photograph as the same woman in the iconic Great Depression photo by Dorothy Lange, entitled Migrant Mother. I went to Wikipedia to learn more, which I'm sharing here.

The pictured woman is Florence Owens Thompson, born in 1903 as Florence Leona Christie, died in September 1983. In the well-known photographs, taken in 1936, she is 32 years old.

Florence is nursing her baby, Norma. Her daughter Ruby is hiding behind her. Florence had seven children total. The family were pea pickers in Nipomo, California.

Her gravestone reads, "Migrant Mother – A Legend of the Strength of American Motherhood."

You can read more at Wikipedia:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A historical look at the impact of infant formula on breastfeeding

This column was written a week ago, by Toni Parker of the Houston Examiner.

"There are at least 400 nutrients in breast milk that processed milk cannot duplicate. These nutrients work in tandem, which maximizes their nutritional effectiveness. Conversely, any isolated, synthetic vitamin that is found in infant formulas offers no real nutritional value because they lack the whole food property of breast milk. Hopefully, we will correct the wrongs of our 19th century sisters and revert back to the days of yester year-the days when a human baby received it’s nourishment from another human being. If you are unable to breastfeed, you do have options, such as using a wet-nurse, patronizing a breast milk bank, or making your own healthy, homemade recipe of infant formula."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Support for PPD

Here's a list of 50 blogs and online resources for women suffering from postpartum depression: