Category Archives: breastfeeding

Formula Marketed to Moms–For Moms. Really???


This article was recently posted on  Birthing Beautiful Ideas:

[Recently] on Twitter, @heartsandhandss alerted me to a Similac product that has me wavering between disheartened disbelief and cynical outrage:


That’s right.  Formula for moms.

Or as the Similac Canada site specifically states, it’s a “nutritional beverage” designed “for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms.”

Uh huh.  A formula for moms who may be planning to or who are already breastfeeding.

Not surprisingly, after glancing through the site’s information on Similac Mom, I’ve counted more than a few glaring problems with this (patently ridiculous) product.


A badge declaring that Similac Mom is “available in the infant aisle” (or, it suggests, “ask your pharmacist.”)

Riddle me this: why would a product targeted to pregnant women and breastfeeding moms be available in the infant aisle?

It couldn’t possibly be that the proximity of Similac Mom to formula canisters would lead pregnant women to associate their own “nutritional beverage” with Similac’s baby formula!

It certainly couldn’t be that each and every time a pregnant or breastfeeding mother went to pick up her Similac Mom, the Similac brand would become further entrenched in her mind, potentially leading her to think “Similac! Formula!” every time she went for her daily “nutritional beverage.”

And goodness me, it couldn’t be that this “nutritional beverage” for “breastfeeding moms” would thereby insert a well-known infant formula brand into the breastfeeding section of a grocery or pharmacy aisle!

Canadian moms: if you’ve seen Similac Mom in your grocery or pharmacy, is it located near the formula containers or near the breastfeeding products?  Or is it somewhere else entirely?


The product is described as “the first and only nutritional beverage for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms.”

Formula-feeding moms are, it seems, not an important demographic for this particular product.  And why might that be?

It is true that pregnant and lactating women have different nutritional needs than women who aren’t pregnant or lactating.

But I think there’s another reason why Similac Mom isn’t targeted to formula-feeding moms: They’re already purchasing formula!

Similac Mom ensures that all women can be consumers of Similac-brand formulas–even the ones who aren’t buying it for their babies!  (And hey–Similac Mom might just “help” breastfeeding moms to choose Similac infant formula too!)


When combined with prenatal vitamins, Similac Mom could lead to potentially dangerous levels of Vitamin A.

Both pregnant and breastfeeding moms are encouraged to take prenatal vitamins in order to supplement their daily nutritional intake.  Typically, the daily dosage of these vitamins contains 5000 IU of Vitamin A.

But taking too much Vitamin A during pregnancy can lead to birth defects.

Similac Mom includes 1166 IU of Vitamin A.  When combined with a prenatal vitamin and food sources of Vitamin A–especially if one were to drink more than one serving of Similac Mom–this could lead to a potentially dangerous level of this vitamin.

(And this is why the site advises women to consult their doctors if they plan to drink more than one serving.  Yikes!)


The site describes Similac Mom as something women can drink “rather than skipping a meal” and as a “meal replacement.”

I can make this short and sweet: Don’t. View. Similac. Mom. As. A. Meal. Replacement.

Please.  Don’t.

A supplemental snack?  Sure.  But a meal?  No.

225 calories per serving does not a meal make for a pregnant or breastfeeding mom.  (And two Similac Moms is probably not an option for most women, especially if they are also taking a prenatal vitamin with the aforementioned dosage of Vitamin A.)

If you don’t have time to prepare quick meals or snacks as you need them, try and spend one or two mornings or evenings each week making turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread, or apple slices and peanut butter, or cheese and crackers, or bran muffins, or anything that you can store in the fridge during the week and then grab “on the go” when you need them.

If you forget to eat meals (and I never understood this until I had kids), try and store baskets of healthy snacks all around the house and/or on your desk at work.

If friends and/or family members have offered you help, ask them to bring you meals.  They don’t even have to be hot meals!  A basket filled with healthy snacks (that you can combine into a makeshift “meal”) for pregnant or breastfeeding moms is a wonderful treat!

Just make sure that none of those “meals” is Similac Mom.


As if this weren’t all bad enough, the second listed ingredient in Similac Mom is sugar.  And there’s no fiber in it to boot.

On behalf of pregnant and new mom’s bodies (and butts) everywhere, I say no thank you, Similac.



Filed under breastfeeding, From One Mother to Another, General Health, Mommy and Motherhood, prenatal health

Marching Forth: Africa’s Committment to Improve Safety of Moms and Babes

It’s always wonderful to come across stories like this, that highlight successes in the pursuit of improved maternal and infant outcomes revolving around pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.  Congratulations to Rwanda for making drastic changes and improvements, with the plan to meet the Millennium Development Goals of 2015 in regards to maternal and infant mortality.  For a highlight on improvements made toward maternal and fetal/infant/child health throughout many African countries, read this July 2010 article.

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Filed under breastfeeding, Childbirth Issues, family, From One Mother to Another, General Health, pregnancy, prenatal health

Back in the Saddle Again

We moved back home to Montana two months ago.  It has been an amazing home-coming after what now feels like an extended vacation in the SF Bay area.  Our kids are settled into school.  Boxes are unpacked.  Life feels normal again.

But for me, a huge part of life in Bozeman involved my role as a childbirth educator, and Director of my childbirth education program, Pregnancy to Parenthood, LLC.  Since returning home, I’ve had tons of folks ask me if I’m going to start teaching again.

Last night, I had the chance to get back in the saddle again.

My neighbor owns a chic couture baby supply store in town and she’s working on developing a program of bringing various  baby-pregnancy-postpartum classes into her store in a kind of a meet & greet fashion.  Last night’s class was to be on breastfeeding basics and guess who got to run the class?

Boy, do I miss teaching.

With well over twenty interested, motivated, expectant or new moms in the audience, we had a great two-hour class during which we covered everything from how does a new mom continue to nurture her body after baby’s birth and during the breastfeeding time period, to the physiology of breast milk production and let down, to latch-on pitfalls and proper methods…breastfeeding baby positions…products a nursing mom does and doesn’t likely need…warning signs of problems to watch out for and, yes, the legal rights of breastfeeding moms.


Community health education at its’ best, this was a free class delivered to people who had a vested interest in the topic during and after which they could mingle, ask extra questions, and share their thoughts/feelings about this important time in their lives.  I was happy to be apart of a fun evening, and so glad to be putting my teaching skills to use again!


Filed under breastfeeding, Childbirth Issues, friendship, From One Mother to Another, Mommy and Motherhood

Milk Money: The Food is in the Bank

Check out this great article in yesterday’s The Faster Times, by pediatrician Jack Maypole, MD.  It’s a really nice overview about breast milk banks.  Follow the link contained within to an awesome Power Point slide presentation by Susan Landers, MD, FAAP, FABM of Austin’s Milk Bank to learn more about the process of breast milk banking (including pasteurization, insurance of health safety and even the nutritional contents of breast milk!)

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Filed under breastfeeding

Blog Carnival: Stories About Breastfeeding in Public

Check out the guest post Amy Romano, MSN, CNM penned for the Carnival of Nursing in Public on Nursing, along with my comment to follow.

The title of her post?  From Bedroom to the Boardroom:  How I Learned to Nurse in Public.

(You can read my own nursing in public debacles and successes in my book, A Dozen Invisible Pieces and Other Confessions of Motherhood)


Filed under Balancing career and motherhood, breastfeeding, From One Mother to Another, Mommy and Motherhood

Lamaze International Organization’s Healthy Birth Practice #6: Keeping Mothers and Babies Together After Birth

Amy Romano, a Certified Nurse Midwife, mother of two and multiple venue contributor to Lamaze publications, including the blog Science and Sensibility is a fantastic example of a woman on a mission.  In short, she is working to make improvements to the maternity care system in our country.

Amy recently invited me to participate in a Bloggers Carnival regarding the Lamaze International organization’s sixth Healthy Birth PracticeKeep Mother and Baby Together (following birth): It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding

This particular topic reminds me of the dozens of conversations I’ve been involved in–with my own students and with childbirth education colleagues of mine– regarding how to maintain mother-baby contact following a cesarean section birth.

The research on this issue is crystal clear:  babies do better in the first minutes, hours and days, the more time they spend in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers.  Their breathing and heart rates remain more stable.  Their body temperatures fluctuate less.  Ditto for their blood sugar levels.  They cry less and they nurse and sleep better, too.

In her wildly successful book, A Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, birth activist Henci Goer pulls together data from multiple national and international studies that all report similar findings with newborn decreased APGAR scores, respiratory rate variability and poor oxygenation, in the event of a cesarean birth.  Basically, a baby born by c-section loses out on the pressures associated with a normal, vaginal birth–pressures that result in massaging and squeezing excess amniotic fluid from her lungs, enabling improved air flow and oxygenation.

So, if a baby born by c-section is already three times as likely to suffer breathing difficulties than his vaginal birth equivalent, why would we would make it common practice to separate mom and baby seconds after the birth, when maintaining mother-baby skin-to-skin contact improves the very functions threatened by the cesarean process?  Is it not equally possible for someone (dad/partner/nurse/doula/etc./etc.) to lift away mom’s hospital gown and help hold baby skin-to-skin on mom’s chest while the cesarean procedure is completed, thus helping to stabilize the infant in the moments following his birth?

Another hurdle to maintaining close contact between mom and baby following a cesarean is the question of anesthesia.  Depending on the hospital in which a woman is giving birth, it may be very likely a common practice for the woman to receive an IV sedative following her baby’s birth–forcing her into a “twilight” sleep for the remainder of her surgery, and rendering her groggy (and sometimes violently nauseated) for upwards of two hours thereafter.  With mom cast off into la-la land and baby whisked away to the nursery, some mother-baby duos find themselves separated for upwards of two hours after birth–a critical time when skin-to-skin contact would otherwise facilitate stabilization of baby’s vital signs, mother-baby bonding, initiation of nursing (which, by the way, significantly slows mom’s uterine bleeding) and stabilization of the woman’s birth and post-birth hormonal fluctuations.

In the Lamaze classes I taught up in Bozeman, I got to the point that I encouraged expectant parents to ask for several things in the event a cesarean delivery became imminent:

1.  Request baby be placed on mom’s chest following delivery AS SOON AS POSSIBLE and perform any support measures for baby at that location (yes, the anesthesiologist will have his or her space cramped up at the head of the operating table but they can cope if they really want to).

2.  Request that mom NOT be given a sedative of any sort (she will be entirely numb from nipple line down due to a spinal block, anyway) during or following the surgery.  Encourage other relaxation measures if anxiety surrounding surgery should arise:  relaxation breathing, soft music in the OR, partner and/or doula present near mom’s head at all times…

3.  If separation of mom and baby DOES occur for any reason (newborn needing extra resuscitation measures, etc.) request reunion between mom and baby within no more than 30 MINUTES of birth, and make sure baby goes directly to recovery room with mom, rather than to the nursery.

4.  Request two people accompany mom into operating room, such as her spouse/partner and a doula, midwife, friend or other family member so that there is plenty of emotional support and advocacy for maintaining mother-baby contact following birth.

With the national rate of cesareans creeping upwards of 30%, there are a lot of moms and newborn babes out there who are missing out on important minutes and hours of each others’ time…unless educated consumers LIKE YOU start requesting different practices.

Do me a favor, pass the link to this post along to anyone who will at some point, has, or is about to give birth.  Join the conversation.  Make your voice heard.


Filed under breastfeeding, Childbirth Issues, family, From One Mother to Another, Kids, Mommy and Motherhood, politics, pregnancy

Hello, My Long Lost Friend

What better way to start a Sunday morning, than with a warm cup of coffee, peach pie left over from last night’s dinner party, and a return to a long-lost companion…this blog.

What has kept me at bay all these months, you ask?  Life, I suppose.

As you may recall, my family and I underwent a HUGE transition a few months ago–we moved from small town Montana to the San Francisco Bay area on January first of this year.  The ensuring four + months have been full of new school transitions for our three kids (now ages 3, 5 and 7), establishing new friendships, finding a new church to attend, frantically exploring the millions of things to do around here, hosting visitors, working at the co-op preschool our boys attend, getting our youngest started with a new speech therapist, researching grad school options for myself, getting a new puppy and, oh yes, finishing my latest manuscript.

In short, life in the Hull household is the same as always.

Now that spring has finally sprung around here (it was apparently a much rainier spring than normal in these parts) we are enjoying the warmth of the sun, the multi-color floral blooms in our rental house back yard, our frequent visits to the beach, and family life in a new setting.

And now, some photos for you to enjoy:
( I promise, I’ll be back soon…)

See the Pacific Ocean for the First Time

Nursing Mermaid in Ghiradelli Square

Flamingos at San Francisco Zoo

Sand sculpture Buddha

Ano Nuevo State Park


Filed under breastfeeding, family, friendship, From One Mother to Another, Kids, Living, Religion, travelling with kids, Writing and Publishing