Senate Bill 87 is moving its way through the legislature. Missouri should be commended for being one of 45 states that has breastfeeding protection laws in place. HOWEVER, some legislators believe that the “discretion” clause should be kept in. It’s important to note that we are the ONLY state which includes this. It reads:
191.918. 1. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary,
2 a mother may, with as much discretion as possible, breast-feed her child or
3 express breast milk in any public or private location where the mother is
4 otherwise authorized to be.
Now, perhaps you don’t see a problem with “discretion”. That sounds reasonable, right? BUT…who defines discretion? What I think is discreet is most likely different from what you think is discreet. How will this be enforced? If I’m nursing my baby in Wal-Mart in the carrier using two shirts (one lifted up and one folded down, ensuring minimum skin showing), and someone notices what I’m doing…is that discreet? This actually happened!
Other incidents include mothers being asked to cover up (or leave):
Where does it end? If we would not ask a bottle-feeding mother to cover up or move someplace else, then we can not ask a breastfeeding mother! We can not limit where or how she nurses…not all babies allow covering up and it is completely impractical in 100 degree weather.
It’s time for the legislature to quit being so stuffy and think about what is really workable for motherbabies.
It’s important to note that only ONE of the pictures above involved breastfeeding in public. Proof that even the most brazen mother uses “discretion” when out and about….even though we shouldn’t have to!
If you’re feeling brazen, want to jazz up your wardrobe or show your support for public breastfeeding, click below to order your own “Discretion Can Kiss My Breast” tee shirt. Proceeds go directly to community breastfeeding support.
I’ve been working on a post for several days now. It is, at the core, a criticism of a response from a legislator to citizens who contacted him about midwifery. I’ve been writing only bits at a time, partially because I have too much on my plate to sit and write it all at once and partially because I have to take time to get to a less emotional place in order to write with any amount of clarity.
However, my news feed is filled with the very human responses to a horrible tragedy and I can’t help thinking how trivial it is to be dealing with birth rights when people are dying/dead.
But is it trivial? Are women and babies not dying/dead because of the decades-long fight over birth rights? No one, on either side of the debate, NO ONE can deny that our maternity care system is broken. It’s a fact. Why is it broken? Why has it only gotten more broken instead of being fixed? Why does it take twenty years for good, evidence-based practice to take hold? Why are women coming from their birthing times broken, battered, bruised, traumatized or worse….why are they not coming out at all? Why are babies being cut out of their mothers at alarming rates? Why are they being poked, prodded, put on schedules, given substances against their parents express wishes? Where is our humanity in birth?
I’m tired of the fighting. I’m tired of watching women, babies and families be mistreated, of bearing witness to their very real abuses, of listening to their stories of horror. I’m tired of trying to appeal to the humanity of people who seem to forget that not only are they human, but I am as well. We all are.
I don’t know what the answers are. I only know that right now, today, I can’t come up with any kind of an argument about anything. Instead, I see before me the very real human-ness of each of us. I see you. I see me. I acknowledge that you are doing what you think is right, as am I. I hope that we can see each other and find a common ground in our shared humanity, a way to respect each other even though we may disagree.
Maybe tomorrow I can compose a different response, state the facts, find rebuttals. But not today. Today, I only have a human response.
Pardon the crappy photo…my professional photographer seems to think she has a real job that doesn’t involve hopping over to my house whenever I need a good picture taken. ;)
It’s hard to believe the time has flown by so quickly. My “baby” is two! The hours, the days, the nights…they drag on and on, but the months and years zoom past. Isn’t that strange? I think all parents understand this time conundrum.
If you’re new to my corner of the web, you can read all about Milo’s birth. Last night, I was laying in bed reflecting upon it. I was thinking about how awesome the birth part was, but also about the almost-crippling anxiety that has persisted throughout his life. I realized, as I was thinking about the seemingly forever moments when his head was the only part born and I convinced myself that his cord was out on top of it, that the anxiety is actually not something that began with his birth, but the moment I thought I might lose him when I was around nine weeks pregnant. For the most part, I think I keep it in check (although I did much better when he was still inside me!), but it is an ever-present part of our lives now.
Experiencing that, one would think I am forever grateful for each day with him, right? Nope! I still get annoyed when he whines on and on about watching another episode of “Wonder Pets” or get frustrated when he refuses to stay in the cart at the store. Apparently, being infinitely aware of just how fragile life is does NOT mean that I am also infinitely patient. *Sigh*
Did you see the picture at the top? Oh my goodness! Grandma really scored big time with hooded bath towels, a la Batman, for the little ones at Winter Solstice. Capes are pretty much a daily occurrence around here, either Batman or the homemade-from-tee-shirt ones (check them out on Pinterest). Some days, he’ll even wear a cape to playgroup or his friend’s houses. He also likes to run into a room, put his hands on his hips and say, “Daaa da-da” in his gruff superhero voice.
His teeth are awful. Seriously. I HATE teeth. HATE THEM! I don’t care that they help us chew are food and talk and whatever…they suck. We did notice a halt in the crumbling of them when we removed gluten from his diet, so I guess that’s something. Unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough and he needs work on several teeth. Fortunately, we are smarter than we were with his brother and now know to find out about charges/billing ahead of time so we can avoid the $10,000 bill (in case you’re wondering, we don’t have $10,000).
I know you can’t see the hair in the picture above, so I took some pictures just for you to see the awesome curliness that makes up his little mop. It’s one of my favorite features about him.
What else? Oh! He’s sort of brutish! He is somewhat massive for his age and has no bones about throwing his weight around. He’s not mean, just knows what he wants and goes for it with gusto. Lots of gusto.
He calls both himself and his brother “Lilo”, which I think is incredibly adorable. He likes to tell me which side he wants to nurse by poking it and saying “sis side!” When he gets mad, he furrows his brow and speaks to me with a deep, grumbly voice. When he gets tired, he pulls me into the bedroom to lay down and nurse to sleep. *heart melts*
I guess that’s it. He’s two. TWO.
It goes by too fast and not fast enough, all in one breath.
I can’t decide whether to pound my keyboard into oblivion with anger or to drown it in tears of frustration. Today, a bad, bad, BAD bill (HB308) was brought up in the House Health Insurance Committee. This bill is BAD for midwives, BAD for mothers and BAD for babies. It is discriminatory against women, lower-income families (who are already discriminated against and under served) and small business owners. Furthermore, it is an obvious ploy by the medical lobby to bar midwives from practicing. If that doesn’t make you mad and want to take action, consider the following:
This bill would require midwives to carry $1,000,000 in malpractice insurance. Sounds great, right? All health care providers have to carry malpractice insurance, right? NOPE!
*According to the Missouri Department of Insurance, ”Missouri does not require physicians to carry medical malpractice insurance unless they are on staff at urban hospitals. In that case, they must have $500,000 in coverage. (p. 45)”
*Malpractice insurance is only just becoming available to Certified Professional Midwives and is exorbitantly expensive (estimates are AT LEAST $18,00/year). Many midwives would be unable to afford the rates and would have to stop practicing.
*The midwives who wanted to try to keep practicing would most certainly have to raise rates and severely limit their clientele. Rate spikes limit the kind of clientele who can afford midwifery care, most likely cutting out low-income families entirely. Other restrictions might involve situations such as VBAC. Since many hospitals are still running VBAC bans, women might be forced to go it alone or drive hundreds of miles to a facility that offers that service.
Those are the practicalities of malpractice insurance, but here’s another thought to consider, from a Citizens for Midwifery blog post based on a Midwifery Today article by Judy Slome Cohain:
Mandatory malpractice insurance does not enable a person to sue for malpractice. Any midwife or citizen can be sued at present–insurance or no insurance. Mandatory malpractice insurance can only do one thing: increase the profitability of lawsuits.
I made my obligatory calls to the legislators on the committee (see below for the list of whom to contact), politely but firmly requesting they oppose HB 308. I jotted down a couple of notes so I would sound eloquent, but I kept stumbling because what I really wanted to say was, “This bill is dumb and if you support it, you’re dumb.”
It is just so damn frustrating to hear legislators say they “care” about mothers and babies, that they want “safety” measures and that this is “good public policy”. (By the way, there were NO consumers, the people this measure is supposed to “protect”, to speak in favor of the bill today. ALL the supporters were medical providers and/or lobbyists. ALL OF THEM.) Anyone with half a brain knows that this is simply not true. Bills introduced by lawyers and physicians are NOT about safety of motherbaby, nor are they about continued access to legal midwifery. They are about shutting down midwifery. End of story. If they truly cared about safety and motherbabies and wanted transparency in maternity care so we could see data on how well midwives do, they would support a different bill. That’s right, there’s already a bill in the house that DOES everything they say they want to do. Their lack of support for this bill, and the audacity of introducing their own horrible bill, is further proof that the real concern is the continuation of the medical monopoly over birthing women’s rights.
Please take a few minutes to contact the members of this committee and let them know that you oppose HB 308. In-person visits are best, phone calls are next best and emails will work if it’s all you can do. Thank you!
Molendorp, Chris, Chair
Lichtenegger, Donna, Vice Chair
(Rep Burlison is a huge supporter of ours – please thank him for looking out for midwives!)