Letters

Virtual Motherhood
As a mom who loves computers almost as much as books, I was delighted to see your cover story "Virtual Motherhood" (May). However, I was disappointed that you didn't include any Minnesota-based sites in your article. My own newly launched site, Minnesota Mom (www.minnesotamom.com), is an example of one mom's effort to supply information of local interest. I invite your staff and readers to visit and check out my articles and links geared to families in the Twin Cities.
Small local sites can't begin to duplicate the resources of immense sites like Parent Soup or ParentsPlace, of course. (Especially when they're a one-mom operation like mine, which is designed and maintained entirely in my almost-nonexistent spare time!) However, local sites do have the advantage of being able to provide information specific to our part of the state or world--something that's often lacking on bigger sites that try to be all-encompassing resources to parents everywhere. I hope you'll stop by!
Jaye Lawrence
a.k.a. "Minnesota Mom"

Been There, Done That
I cried as I read Meryl Dorey's article "Over the Edge and Back" about colic and postpartum depression in the May issue of Minnesota Parent. And I share her anger. You see, I too had a baby who nursed constantly. I too, had an undiagnosed staph infection for months.
My firstborn daughter arrived four hours after labor started. She latched on easily. I was delighted. I'd read all the books and knew how good breastfeeding was and how it can be difficult to get the baby to latch on properly. But I didn't anticipate a baby that would latch on and nurse for seven hours straight. Every time I commented that it hurt, the nurses checked her latch and told me not to worry. After seven hours without stop (every time I tried to remove her she'd cry, so I'd switch sides and keep going), I finally wheeled the bassinet down to the nurse's station and, nearly in tears, begged them to keep her for me so I could get some sleep.
I sympathize so much with the author. My baby continued to nurse almost constantly. If she was awake, she was nursing. And she wasn't a sleepy baby. We had few problems until about six months after she was born, when I started having what we thought at first was chapped nipples--red and sore-looking. My daughter had diaper rash in spite of regularly changed cloth diapers. I asked La Leche and the nurses and pediatricians, and they all told me she must not be latching on even though she looked fine when they checked. It was so frustrating. In the meantime, my nipples went from sore to cracked and bleeding. Nurses suggested creams and moisturizers. It didn't help. On a well-baby checkup, the pediatrician decided it must be thrush. She prescribed a yeast medication--the next day, the red, raw patches that covered my nipple and aureole had doubled in size. I went in and cried and screamed at them to take a test--to find out what it really was. They discovered staph. I was given an antibiotic for both my nipples and my daughter's diaper rash. Within days, the three-month ordeal was finally over.
For women who are having pain with breastfeeding and have been checked for proper latching on, I beg you to do two things:
1) Insist that your doctor take a simple swab test to find out what's really wrong. Staph seems to be much more common than most breastfeeding mothers think it is. (They don't warn you about staph in all the books.)
2) Stop guilt-tripping yourself over natural feelings of anger and hurt and resentment, including those you feel toward your baby. As long as you don't express those feelings by abusing or neglecting your baby, you have nothing to feel guilty about. In fact, give yourself the kudos you deserve for handling such a difficult situation without resorting to abuse.
Thank you for the article.
Anna Ravenscroft

Virtual Hug
I was just thumbing through Mothering and saw that they have acknowledged Minnesota Parent as being in compliance with the WHO code. I think that's just wonderful and am very proud of you! Anyway, I just wanted to give you a virtual hug :)
Lori Thompson
Ridgecrest, California

Advertising Age
I would like to respond to Tami D. Sanberg's letter in the May edition. She felt that you should accept formula advertising for the sake of those women who cannot breastfeed, and that the advertising and marketing of breast-milk substitutes was a valuable source of information for those women.
First of all, I empathize with Ms. Sandberg. To be educated about the benefits of breastfeeding and then not be able to provide this source of nourishment for your baby must be heartbreaking, especially after experiencing the close bond of breastfeeding your first child. It is true that a very small percentage of women in special circumstances cannot breastfeed and must turn to formula for their babies. They do need accurate information to make an informed decision about their babies' nutritional needs. However, when did advertising and marketing become information? When a company markets or advertises its product, it's only concern is to induce the consumer to buy this product. Advertising is supposed to be persuasive, it is often misleading, and it is never an objective source of information. If a mother needs advice on how best to feed her baby, she should consult her health-care provider.
I applaud Minnesota Parent's compliance with the WHO Code, and I wish the United States would join with the many other countries around the world in enforcing the Code.
Lisa Andersen
Eden Prairie

Worth the Trouble
I read with interest the letters from two readers who felt formula advertisements should continue as a source of information to parents who have to resort to formula. Big advertising is not information, it's promotion. Its goal is to expand the market for its product. Formula promotion is designed to turn breastfeeding mothers into formula buyers. For every mother who already uses formula and is persuaded by an ad to switch to Brand X, there are many other people getting the advertiser's fundamental message that breastfeeding is like sewing all your own clothes--nice if you can do it, but probably not worth the trouble. If your readers want actual information about different kinds of formula, then an article on the subject might be appropriate. Formula advertisements still do not belong in your publication and I am among the many who applaud your decision.
* Elise Morse-Gagne
Swiftwater, New Hampshire

Don't Feel Guilty About Your Best
I read of your new policy in Mothering magazine, and applaud you for your stance in supporting the WHO code, and not accepting advertisements for breast-milk substitutes. This letter is in response to Tami Sandberg's letter in the May issue, regarding this policy.
Tami states that "the benefits of breastfeeding were communicated to me during each pregnancy by doctors, nurses, parenting publications, and others." While I think this is wonderful, Tami should realize that this is not a common experience. Most women are simply asked if they're going to breast- or bottle-feed, and unless she says breastfeeding, the subject is usually dropped.
Tami describes how she was unable to breastfeed her son, and says, "The guilt and pain in not being able to accomplish this were overwhelming." I completely understand this, as I had difficulty breastfeeding my firstborn, and he weaned much sooner then I would have liked. However, guilt is not something that one person can make another person feel. Guilt is internal, it comes from knowing that you could have or should have made better choices. If Tami was truly unable to breastfeed, she should not feel guilty. She did the best she could, and that's all any of us can do. Guilt comes only from knowing you should have done something differently.
Tami says, "Through the efforts of doctors, nurses, parenting publications, and organizations such as WHO, we all know that breastfeeding is best." The message that most people actually get is that while breastfeeding may be best, it's really not necessary, and formula is just as good. The truth is that breastfeeding is not "best," it's normal, and it's what babies need and expect. Formula is inferior. Women need to be informed when they choose something that is not anywhere near equal to breast milk. According to the WHO, formula only ranks fourth on the list of what is best to feed babies.
Tami says that the "information provided through advertising and marketing is invaluable," and that "Doctors, nurses and parenting publications are not providing any information on breast milk substitutes. . . ." This is simply not true. Open up any mainstream parenting magazine, and you'll see ad after ad for formula. Turn on the TV and see commercials for formula. The overwhelming majority of OB/GYN's and pediatrician's give out free samples of formula along with all kinds of literature, free calendars, diaper bags, and other goodies to new mothers (other violations of the WHO code). They are paid to do so by formula companies. Formula is everywhere. Women such as Tami, who are truly unable to breastfeed, can and should get their information about infant feeding from their health-care provider, not from a slick ad in a parenting magazine.
You're doing a fabulous job with Minnesota Parent. Keep up the good work!
Angie Jacobsen angie@norrail.com
Rogers, Minnesota

There's No Place Like Home

I just wanted to write and applaud you for no longer running ads for breastfeeding substitutes! I was reading my issue of Mothering when I ran across the info. I am originally from Minnesota and cannot wait to return for reasons just like this. Thank you!
* Laura Wahlert
Washington D.C.

Birth is NOT PG-13
In her recent letter to the editor, Ms. Disney expressed concern about toddlers being old enough to understand the process of birth ("They Saw It All," January). This is an issue that we struggled with, and our discussion was based on our feelings of our own daughter's capability to deal with the whole birthing process. Obviously each child is different, and I think that each family must decide for themselves who they want to witness a birth. But I also feel that Ms. Disney is way off base in saying that a child will be afraid that her mother is dying. With proper preparation--watching videos, practicing birthing noises, explaining the various instruments used--they are just as capable as everyone else of understanding. The fact that birth is scary is something that society teaches us. At a young age children don't have preconceived notions, and in my humble opinion, are much more open minded than most adults.
I worry that in an effort to "protect" children from birth we are protecting them from life. Viewing birth as a natural process, one to be embraced and not feared, sounds like a radical step--one that many people are not willing to take--perhaps out of their own misconceptions surrounding childbirth. Birth is not necessarily painful and bloody as Ms. Disney suggests, although many outside interventions make it so.
Having siblings attend birth can be an incredible bonding experience, one that I think is worth consideration. Allowing parents to choose what is best for the whole family is essential, and blanket statements about those who make choices that differ from your own is insulting and saddening.
Elisabeth Pletcher-Harincar
Minneapolis, MN

Ritual Circumcision
As a health-care provider and a parent I am a regular reader of Minnesota Parent. I applaud you for often including topics of a sensitive and controversial nature such as the two separate articles on circumcision which appeared in your February edition. Having read them I feel compelled to comment.
Ritual or routine circumcision continues today among Jews, Muslims, and North Americans. In "Circumcision Times Two," the writer states that the surgeon who performed the second operation informed her that twenty percent of his surgical cases were circumcision revisions. According to the findings by the National Organization for Circumcision Information and Resource Center, many circumcised males suffer from extensive scarring, skin tags and skin bridges, tearing and bleeding at the scar, curvature of the penis as well as sexual problems. In the book Say No to Circumcision by Doctors T. Rilter and B. Denniston, urologist Jane Snyder notes, "Most often a poor surgical result is not recognized until years after the event."
The writer also states that the operation usually "falls" to the OB on call. Why are obstetricians performing circumcisions? Children are not their patients. It behooves expectant parents to explore this subject, especially because very little is offered to them by most prenatal care providers and educators. It can take considerable courage by those who are circumcised or whose partners and/or son(s) are circumcised, or who have been involved in the circumcisions of other peoples sons, to approach this subject objectively. But of those who do, a majority decide against it in the future. Others feel more comfortable clinging to the medical and social excuses used to support circumcision, however irrational these may be.
Two years ago the Canadian Pediatric Society conducted a painstaking review of 671 articles on circumcision published in the medical literature since 1982, with the final conclusion that circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed. Following this, the Canadian circumcision rate is expected to fall rapidly from twenty-five percent. Many health-care providers carefully avoid sounding opinionated, stating that it is a personal or parental decision. The parents, however, don't perform the operation--doctors do. A number of doctors across the country take a stand and refuse to perform it. They realize that it violates the first rule of medical care, Primum Non Nocere ("First, Do No Harm"). To take the normal, healthy, and perfectly formed penis of a newborn and attempt to redesign it surely represents the most extreme form of arrogance. Hopefully, the American Academy of Pediatrics will soon follow the Canadian Pediatric Society, but presently almost sixty percent of our American-born boys still leave the hospital stripped of their sensitive and protective prepuce. There should be no place for ancient blood rituals in 21st century medicine, no matter how highly medicalized.
Opposing circumcision is not anti-Semitic nor anti-anything, but is pro-human rights. Every child deserves the right to an intact body.

Parents requesting further information may contact:
NOCIRC of Minnesota P.O. Box 2144 Burnsville, MN 55337
National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC) P.O. Box 2512 San Anselmo, CA 94979-2512 (415) 488-9883 http:/www.nocircorg.
Circumcision Information Center Ronald Goldman, Ph.D. P.O. Box 232 Boston, MA O2133 (617) 523-0088
Doctors Opposing Circumcision (D.O.C.) George Denniston, M.D. 2442 NW Market St. #42 Seattle, WA 98107 (206) 368-8358 http:/weber.u. washington.edu/-gcd/DOC/.
* Cherida McCall
R.N. Certified Nurse Midwife
St. Paul

Violence in Arkansas
I am writing in regard to the two boys and the violence that took place in the Arkansas public school system. Everyone is asking the same question: Why, why, why did these boys mercilessly gun down their teachers and classmates? I even heard on television that we must pump more money into the public school system, and how that will make it all better again. No one wants to get to the root of the problem. As long as you have parents divorcing one another and leaving the television on as a babysitter, when you kick God out of the public school system, and give children an ungodly curriculum, this kind of violence will continue to happen.
Not until families stay together, love their kids, spend quality time with them, and train them in principles of the Bible, will these problems in society go away. It's time we stop and smell the coffee. Put God and the Bible back into the public school system were He belongs!
Roger McCombs
Plymouth

Dangerous Seat Belt Law
The legislators have proposed a bill to distribute free Minnesota highway maps to Chambers of Commerce and Tourist Information offices in other states.
I truly hope that they have the conscience to include a warning with their invitation to inform possible travelers of the huge risk involved in crossing our state lines.
Minnesota is the only state in the country that has a "gag rule" on seat belt law. If you or someone you love is injured in Minnesota and it has anything to do with a faulty seat belt, there is no recourse in the court system. There is no way to even get to court to have justice prevail. It is automatically dismissed!
Insurance companies and automobile manufacturers are endangering Minnesota citizens and travelers. There are many used cars on car lots with known restraint-system problems. The legislature has allowed Minnesota to become the dumping grounds for substandard or poorly designed motor vehicle equipment. It's a cheap fix for the automobile manufacturers to lobby the legislature to delay clarification of the ambiguous wording of a 1964 law (see Senate File #877 for clarification of the law).
The Supreme Court Justices have stated in their briefs that they are looking to the legislature to clarify the wording of the law so that the gag rule can be lifted. Our legislature says they are too busy with other issues to bring this up this year. The gag rule has been in effect since 1995. I feel that Minnesota highways are like a spider's web to attract travelers, and if an accident occurs, the travelers' lives become a living hell, if they survive at all.
I suggest that our lawmakers do their job and lift the gag rule on the seat belt law. If you agree with me, call your legislator.
* Jeanne Engen-Duranske
Bemidji

Call for Submissions
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