Bullies and breast-feeding

I love when local moms write to the newspaper to talk about topics of direct interest to us. Today’s Opinion pages have a letter from a Missoula grandparent concerned about bullying in schools.

We always think this kind of thing happens to someone else’s kid. Maybe we even have personal prejudices about the “type” of kid this happens to be or the kind of family he or the bully came from. I am telling you, it could happen to your beloved child.

The letter encourages parents to research laws and policies regarding bullying.

And yesterday’s Opinion page brought us a letter from a Missoula mom who decried the common practice of including formula in hospital’s take-home bags for newborns.

Hospitals giving away free formula definitely undermines a new mom’s determination to breast-feed. It’s hard enough to nurse your baby, it’s even harder when it’s 2 a.m. and the formula is so close by. I wish I had never had formula in my house.


Were I to write my own letter today, it would would be one advocating a playground on every block – a swing for every child! Case in point is today’s Hall Passages in which the folks at Lewis and Clark Elementary talk about the marked decrease in students’ behavior problems, thanks to the schools’ new playground.

Plus, as this photo demonstrates, play structures can pull double duty as public art.

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How to help Jake Massman and his baby boy

Jake and LucasOn Sunday, the Missoulian brought readers the story of Jake Massman, whose wife Teresa Veltkamp died shortly after giving birth to their son, Lucas.

Most striking, to me, is how Massman’s positive attitude shines throughout this tragic story. For instance, consider these words from Massman, talking about spending time with his newborn son:

I’ve cried myself to sleep a number of times; but during the day, when I’m here with him, it’s amazing how that’s not overwhelming. He doesn’t need me feeding him sadness and anger and resentment. It’s really easy for me to be who I need to be with him. In the end, I feel like I’m getting more from him than he’s getting from me.

Anyone who feels moved to help this new father and his baby – or to do something in Teresa Veltkamp’s memory – should consider making a donation to the Teresa Veltkamp Memorial Fund at the Missoula Federal Credit Union, or check out http://www.indiegogo.com/Fund-for-Lucas-Hiram-Massman.

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Community Medical Center breaks ground on new Women’s and Newborn Center



If you happened to visit Community Medical Center yesterday, you would have noticed the giant poster of a baby hanging over the side of the building.

The poster was unfurled to help announce CMC’s groundbreaking of its long-awaited Women’s and Newborn Center, which will add 22,000 square feet to the hospitals’ existing obstetrics and newborn care unit. The construction is expected to take about a year to complete – during which time fundraising to pay for the $17.8 million wing will continue.

– MM

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Local blogger writes about personal experience with Missoula’s birth options

4 & 20 Blackbirds contributor “Lizard” has a great post up about his wife’s recent birth experience, which involved both the Birth Center run by certified nurse midwife Jeanne Hebl and Community Medical Center.

“The reason I am choosing to share this story is because I believe there is plenty of room for both natural and medically assisted births,” Lizard writes.

Thank you, Lizard, for sharing your personal experience on this important topic. I wish a speedy recovery to your wife, and offer hearty congratulations to you both on the birth of your healthy baby boy.

– MM

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Breastfeeding in bathrooms a thing of the past?

A little-discussed nugget of law tucked into the federal health care reform act directs businesses that have more than 50 employees to give lactating mothers a private space in which to pump milk or breastfeed, as well as a “reasonable” amount of (unpaid) time to do so.

This Free Press article forwarded to me this morning discusses it in more detail, and got me reminiscing about all the gross places in which I struggled to pump milk for the short six weeks I breast-fed my newborn baby girl.

Bathrooms, mostly. I was struggling to wrap up my journalism degree at the time, and if the University of Montana had a dedicated lactation room, I was not aware of it. I was also working at the Kaimin, and have fond memories of sitting with my back against the door (because it didn’t lock) of the old editor’s office – a room so filthy I had to scrape what looked like crusty old macaroni and cheese off the windows just to get a little natural light – praying no one would barge in.

The article also got me looking around the Missoulian, pondering places I might pump if I were lactating now. Hmm. Looks like the bathroom again.

Which brings me to my favorite quote from the article. Here’s what Michigan Breastfeeding Network cochair and Children’s Hospital of Michigan pediatrican Rosemary Shy had to say about breastfeeding in bathrooms: “I want every employer who says (pump in a bathroom) to be forced to eat his lunch in the bathroom for a month.”

The law creates a lot of questions – how will this work for non-office staff? – and will no doubt lead to many more as the details are hashed out. But I think it’s a positive thing that the nation is acknowledging its lactating labor force at all, and I, for one, welcome the long overdue discussion.

– MM

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