Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Who's WHO?

Since taking my Medela Pump in Style apart yesterday (looking for mold and milk residue), I have not been able to stop obsessing over the issue of open-system pumps. I read a lot of comments about Medela not being compliant with WHO Code. Well, what is WHO code?  I didn't know.

First of all, WHO is the World Health Organization. In May 1980 at the 33rd World Health Assembly, WHO and UNICEF adopted an international code for the marketing of infant forumla and breast feeding substitutes.  The thirty-six page pdf file of the document can be found in its entireity at the WHO website. While well-intentioned and certainly important, WHO code is not law. Granted, any company wishing to promote itself as concerned with the health of its customers would want to comply. 

Medela is considered non-compliant with WHO code. 

Given the fact that mold issues have been found in some of Medela's open-system pumps, this really looks bad, but it's not the reason Medela was found non-compliant.  According to a 2009 position statement presented by Medela Chairman of the Board, Michael Larsson, the reason was that they marketed BPA free bottles and nipples. The full document and other position statements are available at Medela.com (Direct Link).

I am not siding with Medela. I am just trying to get the facts straight because, until yesterday, I did not know about any of this. It really opened my eyes because I am an educated woman living above the poverty line, and yet I have been completely ignorant. I use Medela products because they are what was recommended to me by my IBCLC. I thought I was being given the best information from a trustworthy source. After all of my reading and personal research, my view has changed. I still don't think Medela is the devil, though. I do still think that some lactivists go very far overboard on what they call advocacy. The way to promote breastfeeding is not to alienate mothers by shaming them for their choices. I think anyone who truly supports breastfeeding should start by actually being supportive. We could all stand to be a lot more supportive as a community.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Breast is best, especially if you don't stress...

It looks like a bit of a ruckus was started over the entry: "Why you shouldn't buy, sell or borrow a secondhand Medela Swing Pump," posted on the Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths blog. The author took apart her Swing pump to show what looked like mold and dried milk inside. It is not the first blog entry of its kind that I have seen on the 'net. The blog entry was re-posted by well-intentioned women who run breastfeeding support sites and facebook pages. A lot of mothers were rightfully concerned. The majority of commenters said they wanted to stop using their Medela pumps.  There were also commenters who said Medela didn't care about anything but making money.

My comment on the facebook wall of The Leaky Boob was: "I think that post is overkill. My pump has been used in pumping for three babies over the course of 4 years. I honestly have never seen milk back up into the tubing (when I overflow, it goes onto my clothes). It's probably 'dirty' inside, anyway. I'm not going to freak out about the possiblity of particles blowing into my milk from inside the pump though. Me and my family are healthy and no one is immunocompromised. I just don't think it's worth getting that worked up about unless you are dealing with a sickly infant."  So far, over a dozen mothers have "liked" my comment, which is encouraging.

Despite my outward confidence, curiosity got the best of me.  Before I even had a chance to leave work for the day, I started to pull my breast pump apart. I just had to know...  Was there mold growing in my pump?  As stated in my comment above, my breast pump is over four years old and has been used to pump for three babies. I have a Medela Pump 'n Style. I couldn't find one on the Medela website for comparison, so I don't think they are made any longer. Still, for the benefit of any mothers out there who are still using one of these (and are quietly freaking out inside), I give you my photos:

A photo of the front casing of my pump with tubing and power cord attached.

This is what the back of the cover plate looks like on the other side. Those tiny little holes are the other side of where the tubes attach. The round white rubber piece covers the pump mechanism inside. It's not waterproof around the edges and probably isn't airtight either, but doesn't seem easily penetrable. I didn't clean anything before I took these pictures. If you click to enlarge them, you will see that there were some fibers there. It looked like fabric fiber or maybe some dust, but no dried milk and certainly not any mold.

This is what the inside looks like behind the membrane on the left side. Nothing nasty there...

And the other side. Still nothing scary.

But then I saw something black.

Oh no...

But it's probably just some lubricant or something. This is a machine with moving parts, after all.

The point is... it wasn't mold.

Getting the pump back together was interesting.  I had to use one of those key-cards you get from the grocery store to help me squeeze the lip of the rubber cover back into the groove it came out of. That gave me further reassurance that things weren't going to be going into or out of my pump very easily.

Here's a video of my pump in action (without the faceplate on). The rolling action of the diaphragm is what creates the suction. I went ahead and tested it on myself too, just to be sure I hadn't ruined it. It still works.

So, that's my filthy dirty four year old Medela pump. It may not perform as well as it once did, but it still gets the job done.  It's no monster.  I hope that helps dispell the myth that all open-system pumps are unsafe for repeated use. I just don't think it's true.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bottombumpers One Size Side Snapping All in One Diaper Review

Our custom embroidered Bottombumpers diaper

For my very first cloth diaper review, I've chosen my Bottombumpers one-size side-snapping all-in-one diaper. I have a fairly sizeable stash and this is certainly our most beautiful diaper. Since I can't narrow down to just one favorite, I'd have to say it's in my top five. I've done a lot of research into different brands of cloth diapers and I bought this one because of it's uniquely ingenius design. Well, ok... and because it's cute. They also offer customization with wide selection of embroidery and choice of snap color. My diaper is lilac with lime green snaps and a cheerful floral peace sign embroidered on the back. Before ordering, I was concerned with wetness wicking through the embroidery. I asked about it and was assured by Bottombumpers that the embroidered area is wick-proof. They use rayon thread and sew an extra layer of waterproof fabric over the embroidered area. I have been using my diaper for several months now and have never had a leak of any kind.

I admit I am becoming a bit of a diaper snob. I am not a fan of one-size diapers with external front rise snaps. There are ways to make them look cute (using rainbow colors, for instance), but I think snaps take away from the overall appearance of a diaper at its largest setting. For that reason, most of my new diaper purchases have been from brands that feature adjustable leg elastics. Bottombumpers one-size diapers have rise snaps, but they are tucked away in the back of the diaper under the snap-in soaker. They are even color-coded so that there is no guess work in sizing the diaper. Sizing charts are available at the Bottombumpers website.

Bottombumpers are made with a side-snap closure. I wasn't always a fan of side-snaps because they are a little trickier to get on a wiggly baby. You have to bring the soaker up between baby's legs, fold the wings in and then snap the front of the diaper to the wings.  With practice; it gets easier. I have found that they make for a wonderfully smooth and trim fit across baby's belly. My Bottombumpers is not my trimmest diaper overall, but that is common with one-size diapers; especially on smaller babies.  My daughter is 6 months old and close to 16lb, so we are still on the smallest rise setting and second-to-smallest row of waist snaps.

Bottombumpers' inner is made from organic cotton and organic bamboo velour. These fabrics are soft, absorbent and easy to care for.  They do feel wet on baby's skin, but do not have the same issues with repellancy that synthetic microfibers and stay-dry fabrics have. And because the soaker unsnaps from the shell, I have more versatility in how I choose to dry my diaper. I can line dry both or dry them separately. I personally like to line-dry my shells to preserve their elastic and waterproof laminate coating. Drying time is exceptionally good on Bottombumpers diapers because the soaker is sewn in two "flaps." This allows water and air to flow through the diaper more easily during washing and drying.

Best yet, Bottombumpers are made in the USA. I've seen so many of my favorite diaper companies outsource to China and Egypt over the past few years and it's disappointing, to say the least. Especially since it was not followed by any reduction in the retail price of their diapers.  Bottombumpers are competetively priced and are no more expensive than other leading brands on the market.  Customization does run extra, but in my experience, it is well worth it to get a diaper that you will love.