Sunday Spam: apple and cinnamon risotto

Apple and cinnamon risotto is one of Matthew Evans’s recipes in The Weekend Cook. I have some quibbles with that book, mostly that if anyone tries to romance me with the things listed under “romantic weekend” their expectations will be dashed, but this sounded ambitiously tasty.

In other news, I’m enjoying the Instaright Firefox add-on, which adds an address bar button and a right-click menu item for sending a link to Instapaper. Still liking Instapaper just fine except that it will only ever send 20 articles to one’s Kindle, and one day I managed to queue up close to 40 articles.

It would be kind of cool if Instapaper let me put out Sunday Spam as an instapaper. (I believe the ability to instapaper things to other people is an often requested feature.)

The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy

Linked in several places, this is an article about selective reductions (ie, aborting one fetus in a multiple pregnancy) from twins to singleton pregnancies. I’m not really sure why I was so interested in this—I’ve read several articles on reductions over the years and they’re all pretty similar—but I was. Perhaps it’s just that I definitely share the public fascination with twins described in the article.

Jenny is an asshole, and so, of course, am I

Infertility blogger Julie of A Little Pregnant shares her thoughts on Two-Minus-One: again nothing ground-breaking, but I enjoy Julie’s blog so have a link.

Jailhouse phone calls reveal why domestic violence victims recant

Phone calls between alleged perpetrators of domestic violence and their victims (which were known by the parties involved to be being recorded) show that the typical strategy for getting the victim to recant is getting their sympathy for one’s terrible situation facing trial and jail (rather than, at least in these cases, of threats of more violence).

Are software patents the “scaffolding of the tech industry”?

Counter-arguments to pro-software-patent positions, largely stressing that these particular pro-patent positions are concerned with the ability of the first inventor to profit from their invention, rather than with encouraging innovation in general.

Top 10 Things Breastfeeding Advocates Should Stop Saying

From earlier this year, includes “formula is poison” and “Moms who use formula don’t love/value their babies as much as moms who breastfeed”. I know people who have been hurt badly by statements this strong, in one case seriously considering giving up all plans for future children because of a failed (and mourned) breastfeeding relationship with her first child.

HPV: The STD of a New Generation

I’m pleased to have found Amanda Hess’s current online home again. Here she is on the interesting status of HPV: the STI that so very many people have, with attendant interesting interpretations by everyone from vaccine manufacturers to social conservatives.

What if Publishers are right about eBook prices?

Arguing that there’s a strong case that ebook prices will go to $0, and that this would not be a public good. Interesting, undoubtedly highly arguable. (Does not answer the question about why digital music prices haven’t and thereby make the required distinction between the two arguments.)

You Do Something with Your Hair?: Gender and Presentation in Stillwater

Gender presentation in Saint’s Row 2 is pretty unrestricted, and the game has gone out of its way to avoid using pronouns to refer to your character.

Crashing the Tea Party

David E. Campbell, an associate professor of political science at Notre Dame, and Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard, argue that their research shows that the Tea Party brand is getting toxic in the US, together with some data showing how closely Tea Party affiliation/identification corresponds with Republican Party membership and belief in a less strong church-state separation. Perhaps not a very exciting article for people who follow US politics more closely than I do.

11 Percent

11 percent of housing in the US is unoccupied, s.e. smith writes. In addition to the good of housing people, wouldn’t fixing this housing up stimulate demand in construction?

Breastfeeding anti-discrimination changes passed at the Federal level

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

Via the Australian Breastfeeding Association on Twitter, this press release from the Federal Attorney-General:

A pale skinned woman reads 'Breastfeeding: A Parent's Guide' while nursing a baby

Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Minister for the Status of Women Kate Ellis today welcomed the passage through Parliament of the Sex and Age Discrimination Legislation Amendment Bill 2010.

The new law will provide greater protections by… establishing breastfeeding as a separate ground of discrimination, and allowing measures to be taken to accommodate the needs of breastfeeding mothers…

Here’s the text of a Senate review of the Bill as regards breastfeeding:

Creating a separate ground of discrimination for breastfeeding

2.9 Item 17 of Schedule 1 of the Bill would insert a separate ground of discrimination in relation to breastfeeding into the Sex Discrimination Act, to implement Recommendation 12 of the Senate Report. The Senate Report recommended that a separate ground be created because:

…the intent of the Act is to protect women from discrimination based upon them breastfeeding. This is achieved by providing in subsection 5(1A) that breastfeeding is a characteristic that appertains generally to women. This seems a somewhat circuitous path. It would be desirable for the Act to provide for specific protection against discrimination on the ground of breastfeeding.[17]

2.10 The separate ground of discrimination, provided for in proposed new section 7AA, only applies to women who are breastfeeding. ‘Breastfeeding’ would be defined as ‘the act of expressing milk’; ‘an act of breastfeeding’; and ‘breastfeeding over a period of time’. The inclusion of a reference to ‘breastfeeding over a period of time’ would ensure that a respondent cannot claim that a discriminatory act was lawful because the complainant was not actually breastfeeding at the time the act occurred.

2.11 The protections against discrimination on the ground of breastfeeding would be extended to both direct discrimination and indirect discrimination, under proposed subsections 7AA(1) and (2) respectively. Under subsection 7AA(1), direct discrimination would occur if a person treats a woman less favourably than someone else, ‘in circumstances that are the same or not materially different’, by reason of:

…the woman’s breastfeeding; or

…a characteristic that appertains generally to women who are breastfeeding; or…that is generally imputed to women who are breastfeeding.

2.12 The EM also provides an example of both direct and indirect discrimination in relation to breastfeeding:

  • direct discrimination would occur where an employer refuses to hire any woman who is breastfeeding, or a restaurateur declined to serve a breastfeeding patron; and
  • indirect discrimination would occur where an employer imposes a requirement on employees that they ‘must not take any breaks for set periods during the day under any circumstances’, which would have the effect of disadvantaging women who ‘need to express milk’.

2.13 The Bill provides that discrimination on the grounds of breastfeeding is also prohibited in the following areas of public life (subject to certain exemptions in Division 4 of the Sex Discrimination Act):

  • education;
  • goods, services and facilities;
  • accommodation;
  • land;
  • clubs; and
  • the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs.

2.14 Item 60 of Schedule 1 would prevent a man from bringing a complaint of unlawful sexual discrimination on the basis that a person grants to a woman rights or privileges related to the fact that they are breastfeeding. This amendment recognises that breastfeeding may ‘give rise to special needs, such as for private areas for breastfeeding, or hygienic areas for storage of expressed milk’, which should not be subject to complaints of discrimination.

I am assuming that the wording that regards all people lactating and feeding a baby as women is a pretty pervasive problem in this area? Otherwise this seems like very good news on a number of fronts.

The bill also has provisions about discrimination on the basis of family responsibilities, and increased protection for students who are harassed, including provisions about the harassment of a student by others from a different institution (I’m recalling now the University of Sydney strengthening their internal provisions regarding their residential colleges), and harassment of students under the age of 16.


Image credit: the image of the woman nursing and reading is Breastfeeding on a park bench by space-man on Flickr, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike-Non Commercial.

Life at 1: breastfeeding

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

The longitudinal television program Life at 5, following from Life at 1 and Life at 3, is now showing. This is a series of programs following the development of eleven children, returning to them at intervals. It’s associated with Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children: the parents of the eleven take the survey and the producers of the television program use the survey to inform the documentary, at least loosely, and experts in child development comment on the children.

If anyone who reach ABC iView (location locked to Australian residents) wants to catch up, and it’s accessible to you, Life at 1 and Life at 3 are currently available, as is part one of Life at 5. Presumably the second part will go up this week after it airs on Tuesday.

The whole thing has my Hoyden antenna up a bit, so I am going to post a few discussions of some of the aspects of the show I was less impressed by.

Today: breastfeeding.

Feeding choices and necessities are not discussed for most children in Life at 1 (in which individual children seem to range in age from birth to about 15 months old, rather than all being 12 months), which would be the only episode where the Australian breastfeeding numbers suggest we’d be likely to meet a breastfeeding dyad in a sample of eleven children.

The major exception is Loulou, the child resulting from an IVF pregnancy of Louise, a mother in her forties who the narrator says has been trying to have children for ten years. Louise has a negative breastfeeding experience. (Transcript from Life at 1, Part One, this transcript begins at 24 minutes 28 seconds in.)

[Large black dogs approach a locked screen door from the outside.]

Woman’s voice: OK.

[Cut to a close up of a pale skinned newborn with closed eyes and a protruding tongue, rooting. Part of a breast appears in the shot held in a adult hand wearing a ring. The nipple, areola and surrounding area are moved towards the baby.]

Woman’s voice: Come on. Come on darling.

[The hand moves the breast around, teasing the newborn. The shot cuts to Louise, a pale skinned woman with light brown hair. Louise is wearing a pink top, and has lifted it up to expose her left breast. Her right hand is supporting the head and neck of Loulou, a pale skinned light haired newborn clothed in green, in the cradle hold near her left breast. Her left hand is holding her breast and squeezing it just above and below the areola. Her posture in general, and her left arm in particular, look tense, and her facial expression is concerned and determined.]

Narrator: Louise has been told that in the early weeks of life breastfeeding is the most important experience that a mother can give her newborn baby.

[Louise teases Loulou with the nipple, but Loulou does not latch.]

Voiceover by Melissa Wake: breast milk is tailored for human babies, it’s tailored for their maximum cognitive growth…

[Cut to Melissa Wake, a pale-skinned woman with light curly hair, in a studio speaking to the camera calmly and authoriatively. The screen identifies her as “Assoc. Professor Melissa Wake, Paediatric Consultant, Longitudinal Study of Australian Children”.]

Melissa Wake: … so growing their intelligence, it contains immune substances so it protects against infection, it’s believed to protect against conditions such as asthma…

[Cut to a high shot of Louise and Loulou. Louise is continuing to tease Loulou with her nipple.]

Melissa Wake: … so you’re giving your baby the best start to life you can if you can breastfeed them for a substantial time.

Louise: [sigh, sounding as if she is either exasperated or in pain. She addresses Loulou, who is grunting, in an upset but not angry-seeming way.] We haven’t been having a good time have we?

[Cut to a close up of Loulou’s face. Her eyes are opening and closing and she is grunting and crying softly. She moves her head from side to side and then seems to be attempting to latch.]

Louise: I know we’re both learning this thing. It’s so hard.

Narrator: In the first six months of life the recommendation is that breastmilk is the only food that should be given to a baby and it should be part of a baby’s diet until they’re at least twelve months old.

[The scene changes. It is a large white walled and floor room filled with colourful children’s toys. Many of all the eleven children are in the room with most or all of the parents. They are largely playing and talking cheerfully. Brief close ups of various faces are mixed with the wide group shot. The sound of chatter is heard indistinctly.]

But it seems we’re ignoring this advice. When the ten thousand mothers in the study were asked how long they breastfed ten percent said they didn’t breastfeed at all and another twenty percent had stopped before their baby was even three months old. So why are women struggling with the most fundamental task of motherhood?

[Head shots of individual mothers of some of the other ten children are seen.]

Kathy [mother of Anastasija]: I wasn’t producing enough and she was still screaming for food.

Kathryn [mother of Daniel]: I stopped breastfeeding because my milk ran out.

Steffi [mother of Joshua]: I think it’s… not enough food.

Kim [mother of Declan]: My milk… virtually dried up at three months.

Tamara [mother of Wyatt]: I didn’t breastfeed at all because I wouldn’t have time in the day to do it if I went back to school.

[Louise is shown pushing a pram up to a building. Loulou is asleep in the pram. Louise’s footsteps echo as the narrator speaks.]

Narrator: Louise knows that breastfeeding will establish the strongest bond between mother and daughter, that it will stimulate growth and intelligence. Her goal is to breastfeed Loulou for at least a year, but after only three weeks she’s on the verge of giving up.

[Cut back to the original scene with Louise wearing a pink top. She is leaning Loulou over her shoulder.]

Louise [crying]: I feel a bit like a failure. A sense of failing. With this. [It’s/Is] really big and I really don’t want to.

[A pale skinned late middle-aged woman approaches a door labelled “Day Stay Clinic” and enters. From here on, this woman, who isn’t introduced by name or given a title, is called Nursing Coach in this transcript. The scene changes to Nursing Coach and Louise in a dim room. Nursing Coach is standing facing Louise, who is seated holding Loulou in a cradle hold. Nursing Coach is moving Loulou with her hands.]

Nursing Coach: [unclear] Now see what happens there. So her [unclear] is free to move

Louise [voiceover]: If she got sick or ill in some way I seriously think I would blame myself because I couldn’t breastfeed her and maybe that’s why

[A third woman is observing Louise and Nursing Coach from about one metre to Louise’s side. She is not introduced and does not speak in any part of this segment. Nursing Coach moves Loulou into position and she latches onto Louise’s breast.]

Louise: [gasp and grimace of agony]

Nursing Coach: Now, have you got your toes curled?

Louise: Yes.

Nursing Coach: OK, does it still hurt?

Louise: Yes, yes it does.

[Nursing Coach begins to touch Loulou and Louise’s breast, seemingly trying to show her how to break the latch.]

Nursing Coach: OK we need to take her off. So you need to get this thumb…

Louise: But I can’t, I’m just stuck.

Nursing Coach: Let her go, let her go, let her go, let her back. OK, finger in there somewhere. Now finger in that somewhere, to push that jaw so she…

[Loulou’s latch is broken and Louise rolls her eyes.]

Narrator: Loulou is not attaching properly to the breast. Louise’s nipples are cracked and sore. The pain is excruciating.

[Nursing Coach again moves Loulou into position, and while it’s not totally clear what is happenin, appears to jerk Loulou forward to encourage a latch.]

Louise: [yell of pain]

Nursing Coach: Uh uh uh uh uh. [To Loulou, lifting her up and away from Louise] Up you come.

[Loulou is crying loudly and frantically. Louise puts her own face in her hands for a moment.]

[Another latch is shown.]

Nursing Coach: Good. Now. Just relax your fingers if you can.

Louise: [gasp of pain] Come on darling.

[Cut to Louise’s partner and Loulou’s father Shannon, who is driving and speaking to a camera in the front passenger seat. Neither Louise nor Loulou seems to be in the vehicle.]

Shannon: I think there’s a little bit of post natal depression happening. I think it’s… it’s a whole new adventure that neither of us have ever experienced before. Louise likes to be in in control of things even though she’ll debate that with me. Um, and this is something that she can’t control. A child… I must admit that I was ignorant. I thought here is breast, here is child, put child on breast, job’s done. But I never knew that it’s not all like that for many women.

Nursing Coach: Want to try the other side?

[Loulou is shown latching.]

Louise: [extended cry of pain]

[The camera pans back. Louise is arching her back with pain.]

Nursing Coach: [exasperated voice] What do you need to do now Louise?

Louise: Remove her.

Nursing Coach: Take her off. Quick sticks! Your fingers! Quick sticks!

[Loulou cries.]

Nursing Coach: Enough.

[Louise stands and cuddles screaming Loulou.]

Narrator: Louise struggled with breastfeeding for six more days.

[The scene cuts to Loulou sleeping in a cot.]

Narrator: The dream for a nurturing and intimate experience with her baby is shattered.

[The camera pans to a single couch, in which Louise is sleeping under a cotton blanket marked “PROPERTY OF [text hidden]” and the cuts back to Loulou, now awake and calm in the cot]

Narrator: For Louise, it feels like she’s failed Loulou in the first weeks of life. Time will tell if the enormous expectations that Louise heaps on herself will play a role in shaping the personality of her daughter.

Watching this was upsetting for me. I had a painful start to breastfeeding that became very upsetting. In my case, my son’s latch was judged good and his weight gain indicated that his consumption was fine, so I was advised to wait out the pain. It disappeared when he was about 14 days old. But there were definitely moments that I did the equivalent of sitting in his room wrapped in a blanket feeling like I sucked as a mother. I reacted very badly to the exasperated “Quick sticks!” sequence in particular. It was hard not to see it as some kind of punishment: if you can’t breastfeed well, you will be trapped in a room with no natural light and a breastfeeding coach who will eventually get pretty sick of your whining.

There are of course reasons why this portrayal of breastfeeding might have ended up being negative. It’s possible that the intention was that Louise, who seems to have been cast as the late-life IVF mother with high expectations who wants everything perfect for Loulou (a problematic framing in itself) was the mother whose breastfeeding story they’d decided to tell, and it happened to turn out badly.

I certainly don’t say that Louise’s story shouldn’t be told: it looks terrible and she grieved for the loss of the breastfeeding relationship. It’s one of the ways breastfeeding can turn out. But it wasn’t contextualised with much successful breastfeeding. The only other child mentioned or shown breastfeeding in Life at 1 is Shine, who is seen latching once soon after her birth. (Shine and Loulou are the only babies seen as newborns, other than Ben, who was delivered at 28 weeks with his quintuplet siblings and who is shown as a newborn only in a couple of still shots from his lengthy NICU stay.) Later, in Life at 3 Shine’s parents mention in passing that “boobie” is her favourite word, so it can be presumed she was breastfed as a toddler, but she isn’t shown nursing, and that snippet is in the context of the obesity episode. (We’ll come to it.) That’s not a lot of airtime compared to the “I didn’t have enough milk” sequence above.

The show as a whole is generally more observational than it is directly educational, so it is not a surprise that they do not offer breastfeeding resources on air (eg, the ABA hotline, or mentions of lactation consultants and how to find them); the series doesn’t, say, talk about how to find help when it addresses poverty either. There’s a very small set of breastfeeding links on the ABC website. But considering the amount of time that is spent having the experts interpret footage of experiments being run on the children (things like how they interact with a new toy, or a stranger), it would have seemed reasonable to have Melissa Wake or another paediatric or lactation expert push back a little bit about why breastfeeding isn’t as common as they recommend. As it stands, the portrayal is of breastfeeding failure being the usual case, and of long term milk supply problems being typical.

Update: Y points out in comments that there are Life at 2 videos on the website, and if you view Shine’s video you will see some discussion of baby led weaning, breastfeeding on demand and footage of toddler Shine nursing.


See other Life posts at Hoyden: Life at 3: obesity, Life at 1, 3, 5: disability, Life at 1, 3, 5: general discussion

Ask Auntie Hoyden: get your dog outlines here, and other search engine queries

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

an on-set photo of Katharine Hepburn, with overlaid text reading "Ask A Hoyden?"auntie hoyden

Why, I enjoyed those posts (1, 2, 3) in which Lauredhel tried to answer search queries as questions too! So much so that I show up in this site’s logs looking for them. So today, I too become Auntie Hoyden.

Frankly, it appears to me that most people stop here on their way to I Can Haz Cheezburger (funny cat pictures, captioned cat pictures, supernatural macros funny, funny pics), but they also appear looking for soylent green simpsons, any medicine for truth speak and, in considerable numbers, anal sex diagram. (Which is a bit odd, Google finds plenty of considerably more helpful sites for me on that term.)

But let’s see what I can do for you all today, although my specialities are more in the computer line than the sexual health and breastfeeding line that is traditional for this.

pluralising names

Lauredhel observed in 2008 that there’s a construction in Australian English (among others) that allows you to use things like “the Marys of the world” to mean “people like one particular Mary” rather than necessary literally multiple people named Mary.

But if you’re simply interested in how to add a suffix to a proper noun in order to indicate multiple things with that name, here’s a style guide’s answer.

dog outline png

I like openclipart.org for this sort of thing: it’s public domain clipart, take it, use it and modify it without credit. (Not that I don’t also love various Creative Commons licences that do require credit, but dropping that requirement makes using many pieces a lot easier. I’ve seen people who use CC images from Flickr need to put a credits roll at the end of slide presentations.)

Plus! openclipart.org provides SVG as well as PNG. SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) is a free image format which allows pictures to be scaled up in size without loss of quality, as well as down in size. This is accomplished by describing an image in terms of lines or curves (hence, vectors) rather than in terms of individual coloured dots. It’s not very useful for photos, but it’s great for clipart (and fonts, which are generally described in vectors and thus can be scaled up).

openclipart.org has hundreds of drawings of dogs. I’m not sure if this person was looking for a silhouette of a dog, which I couldn’t find on a very brief look, or simply a line drawing of a dog, of which there are many. Here’s a cute one.

snuggle otter

Don’t. We love ’em but that doesn’t make them domesticated pets.

mother sprays milk

Does she ever. I breastfeed a ten month old baby. When he was little I had a supply suitable for twins, or perhaps sextuplets, and milk was everywhere. Then things balanced out and we had a nice interlude of not spraying. Then he got a bit more distractible, which resulted on the weekend in him getting a letdown, pulling off and slipping so that he headbutted me in the breast and milk shot out for the best part of a metre.

If anyone else wants to grace the Internet with a milk spray story, feel free.

australia’s prime minister 2010 smiling

On the 25th June 2010, one day after becoming leader of the government and being sworn in as Prime Minister, Julia Gillard smiled in the presence of the US ambassor to Australia, Jeff Bleich. This is important, because it was photographed by embassy staff, and as a work of the US Federal Government, it is thus in the public domain and you can get it from Wikimedia Commons.

anti filter

That’s us!

Can you help out with these?
squirrel give thanks
the worst shoe eveeeer
placenta accreta deathrate
crivens!

Reading the policies: the Coalition’s parental leave consultation document

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

My attitude to the vast bulk of elections, including the 2010 Federal election, is “I don’t like any of this, please get me out of here”. I usually intend to make an informed decision based on policies and then have trouble even following the news coverage. So, in the spirit of public acts helping enforce private commitments, I’m going to review a few policies for Hoyden.

a screenshot of the title page of the Coalition's consultation document titled Direct Action on Paid Parental LeaveFirst up, Direct Action on Paid Parental Leave, the Coalition’s consultation document: a final policy is yet to come.

This has been fairly well publicised, but the basics are that it provides paid parental leave for 26 weeks following the birth or adoption of a child. The leave will be subject to a work test, and be paid ranging from the minimum full-time wage, for any person paid at or below this rate, to a maximum of matching a $150 000 per annum salary (that is, a carer will receive somewhere from $14 000 to $75 000 gross while on leave depending on their previous earnings). The current Baby Bonus will be paid to carers who don’t meet the work test, or to anyone who chooses it over the Paid Parental Leave scheme. It will be funded by an additional corporate tax on a small set of seemingly unidentified companies.

The big news about this policy yesterday (Coalition accused of leaving dads out of parental leave plan, pressured on costings, Dads cut out of full-pay parental leave scheme) was that male primary carers would be paid their female partner’s (presumed) lower wage if they took the leave. This was quite incoherent, and evidently is going to be a change in the final policy, because in this document, fathers weren’t going to be eligible for more than 2 weeks of leave at all. The document itself is a little internally inconsistent, beginning with a nod to primary carers in general:

The Coalition’s Paid Parental Leave scheme will provide primary carers (in the vast majority of families, mothers) with 26 weeks paid parental leave…

But later, the “carers (let’s face it, probably mothers)” phrasing is dropped, in favour of:

… fathers will be able to use two weeks of the 26 weeks of Paid Parental Leave that will be available, either simultaneously with the mother’s leave or separately.

A family can lose one of its two incomes for a period of time as the mother gives up or reduces paid employment to care for the child.

The Coalition is committed to protecting and improving the well-being of families, particularly that of the mother and child, by ensuring a mother can afford to stay at home during the early stages of her child’s development… In recognising this, the Coalition’s Paid Parental Leave scheme will assist mothers to take the recommended minimum of six months leave.

I’m genuinely unclear from this about whether they originally intended provision for fathers or any other primary carers to actually take the leave.

They have quite a few nods to postpartum recovery and especially the need for mother-child contact to establish breastfeeding:

The proposed Paid Parental Leave scheme will enhance child and maternal well-being by providing financial support to mothers while they are outside the paid workforce recovering from childbirth, establishing breastfeeding and bonding with their newborns… Six months is also the minimum period of exclusive breastfeeding recommended by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the World Health Organisation.

But it’s a long way from separating the idea of paid parental leave into maternity leave for recovery and establishing breastfeeding and primary carer leave for, possibly, a different carer.

Purely in terms of entertainment, we have some Labor’s-big-debt snark:

The Coalition would prefer to fund our Paid Parental Leave scheme from a Budget surplus, but this is not possible due to the large debt and deficits run up by the Rudd Labor Government.

And is this some WorkChoices nostalgia I see before me?

The [Howard Government] also supported women’s choice by… introducing more flexible workplace conditions which provided parents, particularly mothers, with the choice of working part time or flexible hours.

Observations:

  • This is a generous scheme, as the document points out, both in comparison to Labor’s scheme, which has a maximum payment of under $10 000 gross and which does not provide any option to share even 2 weeks of the leave with another carer, and in comparison to most other schemes worldwide, which mostly are either shorter or pay less.
  • It’s especially generous to carers already earning a higher income, although this is fairly typical of worldwide schemes: either you get a payment linked to the minimum wage, or you get a payment linked to your recent income.
  • The implementation of the policy in the context of any family that’s not built around a female-male couple who are both legal parents of the child is not at all clear from this document. It’s especially unclear how the payment works if the baby care is shared by more than one household.
  • I do not know why it is emphasised that a carer who passes the work test could still choose to receive the Baby Bonus. The current Baby Bonus is valued at just over $5000 tax free, and is no longer paid as a lump sum, but is also paid over 26 weeks.The only case I can come up with where that’s going to be better than the Coalition’s scheme involves higher order multiples (since the scheme will not pay multiple times for a multiple birth).

On breastfeeding

I don’t intend to post a lot of parenting stuff here, but I wanted to make some notes about breastfeeding activism (‘lactivism’) for the geekosphere, as Brenda Wallace has done in talking about her decision to do mixed feeding.

A couple of preparatory notes:

  • The compulsory Mary notice: I am not looking for advice. I am not lacking personally for professional support for my breastfeeding difficulties. It is easier for me to rely on that support than it is to filter through the advice of millions of onlookers. Thank you for your concern!
  • I am a whole week into parenting and have exclusively breastfed to date. I feel quite committed to continuing such to the recommended six months of age and then continue partial breastfeeding for some time thereafter. But. One whole week. And it’s been really hard, actually, even with a good supply from me and a good suck from him and fairly good institutional support from my hospital. I’ve had a middle-of-the-night visit from a locum already to treat mastitis. One whole week. I’m not here to tell you how easy it is.
  • I do not have personal experience of feeding-related persecution or even hassles. (I’ve hardly left the house, I could be not feeding him at all and no one would hassle me.)
  • I really do not mind about your feeding choices for your infant or child, in the sense of exclusive breastfeeding, mixed feeding or exclusive formula. The hassling in the street goes both ways, and in many areas (especially, I gather, the US) the hassling from medical staff sure runs both ways too. I am generally uninterested in person-to-person shame advocacy. More on this later. It’s demeaning, insulting and counterproductive. Lose, lose, lose. Feed your baby, I’ll feed mine, who am I to tell you how?
  • Purely as a terminology thing, formula feeding is not the same as bottle feeding: you can put human milk in bottles and many people do so. (It’s not functionally equivalent to breastfeeding though, because it’s harder to establish and maintain supply, and the correct handling of the bottles is a nuisance as Brenda notes.)

So, why lactivism, a kind of 101:

Consider areas without safe water supplies, that is, most of the world (and this includes major cities of Western nations in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, New Orleans was an example). Formula feeding, or anything other than extended exclusive breastfeeding, is really really dangerous without a safe water supply. Gastric illness kills babies. Lots and lots and lots of babies, many of whom would not have died if exclusively breastfed. Unless there’s a safe water supply mothers with HIV are currently encouraged to exclusively breastfeed, as the risk of the baby contracting HIV is less than the risk of her or him dying of gastric illness related to substitution.

There are several problems with promotion of formula in such areas, or any economically disadvantaged area, a non-exhaustive list includes:

  1. correct preparation of infant formula, including sterilisation of bottles and correct dosages is not trivial and not always (I suspect, not even often) communicated in a manner appropriate to, for example, illiterate people or even people literate ‘only’ in their local language
  2. correct preparation of infant formula is expensive
  3. weaning to formula creates dependency on the product, or at least on milk substitutes: women can restore their own milk supplies (at least sometimes?) some time after weaning to formula, but it’s not especially easy. Without support they’re stuck with a major hole in the household budget, or with dangerous feeding, ie, watered down formula or homemade milk-ish substances.
  4. Per lauredhel here, for many women exclusive breastfeeding is the only reliable contraceptive they have access to (exclusive breastfeeding on demand is more reliable than you’ve been led to believe as a contraceptive) and the use of formula therefore imposes a potential burden of very closely spaced pregnancies.

Right upfront I’ll note that I am far from the most ethical consumer in the world, I have not a shred of pedestal to proclaim from. But. Formula producers are involved in aggressive marketing in exactly these circumstances, in addition to marketing to new mothers in the Western context who are in the often difficult phase of establishing their desired breastfeeding relationship. I’ll note again that in a Western context and in a proclaimed pro-breastfeeding medical environment, I have found aspects of establishing nursing hard. Really hard. If I’d had formula in the house last night it would have been very likely to have been used. (Again, not that there’s anything wrong with that morally, but as a practical matter supplementing is not exactly helpful in further establishing nursing. Or for that matter in dealing with mastitis.)

So, I support very strong institutional focus on establishing breastfeeding in Western countries, and particularly strongly oppose marketing attempts to establish formula feeding as desirable in developing countries. That is my lactivism.

Now to the horrible shaming mothers thing. This sucks. My take on it is that it is two way, like a lot of Mummy Wars. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Telling formula feeding mothers that every breastfeeder [is] a better mother than any formula-feeder? Spew. Using the power of the state against breastfeeding mothers? Unspeakable.

I only wish Chez Miscarriage had left her archives up about (some) reproductive choices: no kids? selfish non-Mummy. biological kids? selfish narcissistic eco-raider Mummy. ART biological kids? selfish rich narcissistic eco-raider Mummy. adopted kids? selfish, also rich, Mummy. etc. (Incidentally, re reproductive choice, go be challenged, you’ll gain more there than here.) None of that is the argument I want to have or the people I want to have it with.