For Breast-feeding Teen Moms, High Schools Don’t Make the Grade

Norma Acker hangs out in the kitchen with her mom and her daughter. (Alice Daniel/KQED)

Norma Acker (right) hangs out in the kitchen with her mother and her daughter, Samantha Grace. She breast-fed her for eight months. (Alice Daniel/KQED)

By Alice Daniel

Norma Acker’s 3-year-old daughter Samantha Grace has opened a bottle of bright red fingernail polish without anyone noticing. Now it’s everywhere.

California has strong employer laws to accommodate breast-feeding mothers, but high schools are different.  

“Oh Gracie!” says Acker. “Let me see. Give it to mommy. Go wash your hands.” She then laughs the laugh of a mother who has had many a day like this.

Parenting is hard, Acker says. Being a teen parent is even harder. Acker was barely 15 when she had Gracie.

Even though she was a young mother, she’d heard about the benefits of breast-feeding and decided she would try to breast-feed while attending her local high school in the Central Valley town of Reedley. Continue reading

Put That Baby Spoon Down: Doctors Say Infants Fed Solid Food Too Soon

Forty percent of mothers surveyed reported giving their baby solid food before the baby was four months old. (Andy Peters/Flickr)

Forty percent of mothers surveyed reported giving their baby solid food before the baby was four months old. (Andy Peters/Flickr)

A new survey from the Centers for Disease Control finds that mothers (the CDC surveyed only mothers) are giving their babies solid food too early, despite guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In the survey, or more than 1,334 women, just over 40 percent of mothers gave their babies solid food before they were four months old.

For years, the AAP had recommended that babies be at least four months old before being given solid food. But last year, it recommended that babies be breastfed — exclusively — for six months, before “complementary” foods are given. Now we see that many mothers are not even waiting the full four months.

From USA Today:

Understanding parents’ motivations is important, because a number of health problems are associated with the early introduction of solid foods, says study co-author Kelley Scanlon, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These findings “don’t offer a full understanding why, but they give us some insight,” she says.

Continue reading

Hospital Policies Dramatically Improve Breastfeeding Rates

By Alice Daniel, California Healthline

(fikirbaz: Flickr)

(fikirbaz: Flickr)

Patti McCowan was fairly new to her job as director of perinatal and pediatric services at Tulare Regional Medical Center when statistics came out showing the hospital had the worst rate in the county for exclusive breastfeeding.

That was four years ago and only 15 percent of new mothers were exclusively breastfeeding — meaning they weren’t giving their infants any supplemental formula — while in the hospital. But 80 percent of women coming in to give birth said their goal was to breastfeed exclusively, McGowan says.

“We were not doing something right,” said McCowan. “We were letting 65 percent [of babies] have a bottle. We realized something had to be done.”

Jump ahead to 2012, and Tulare Regional Medical Center has one of the highest rates for exclusive breastfeeding in the Central Valley– nearly 62 percent, according to the California Department of Public Health — and the highest in Tulare County.

The county’s other two hospitals had much lower exclusive breastfeeding rates; one was 27.9%, the other was 38.5%. Continue reading