Monday, May 31, 2010

My response to BlogHer's Nestle sponsorship

I'm not attending the main New York conference, which is the subject of the controversy, but my mother and I are attending the October food conference in San Francisco, as we co-author Fab Frugal Food. Information about sponsorship for that event has not, as far as I can find, been released yet, so I thought all the better to make my voice heard NOW (though as a member of BlogHer, I feel I'd have a right to my opinion regardless of conference attendance anyway). So, I sent this missive off to BlogHer today:


I'm writing regarding the BlogHer Food 2010 conference, which I'm very much looking forward to attending with my mom and co-blogger, for our joint food blog Fab Frugal Food. It came to my attention today that the main BlogHer conference in New York has Stouffer's - and thus Nestle - as a sponsor. Were I planning to attend this, I would be facing a huge ethical dilemma, as I have boycotted Nestle for years due to their outrageously unethical marketing practices and WHO Code violations. I realize that that it's impossible to please absolutely everyone, but Nestle is absolutely notorious for its flagrant irresponsibility, and is known for being a lightning rod in the blogging community, as we saw with last year's Nestle Family Event debacle (addressed by Annie of PhD in Parenting here).

Some blogging friends who are already registered for the conference still plan to attend despite their misgivings, for many reasons, including the fact that they're already committed to their own ethical, responsible sponsors. Some others may drop out. Whatever their reasons, I can understand their decision either way - but I'm frustrated that they have to wrestle with their principles over this matter in the first place.

I am disappointed in BlogHer for choosing such an unethical company to sponsor their main conference in the first place, when so many of their members specifically reject Nestle advertising themselves and participate in the general Nestle boycott, but I hope it's not too late to have an impact on upcoming conferences, including (and especially, for my own purposes) BlogHer Food. I do understand that it may be too late to drop them from the main conference, but if there is a possibility that they may sponsor BlogHer Food as well, I am asking you to please, please reconsider.


Anne Tegtmeier
Fab Frugal Foodie


Updated to add Annie of PhD in Parenting's full response to this situation.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Back in town and torn between raring-to-go-on and bogged-down-by a jillion projects, all of which are exciting and important and I wish I could devote myself full-time to each one. I'll just have to keep staying up late after Lily crashes for the night (and she's a night owl like me as it is).

Before I resume blogging on a some more serious-like stuff, I thought I'd share with you a friendly slice of topical cake or two. First, courtesy Cake Wrecks:

Not tantalizing enough? Here's another view:

And even more on-typical-topic, a birth cake. Remember these? Via Lamebook, someone just upped the ante:

Further commentary would just cheapen it. I shall say no more.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Our Enormous Balls

This is the brainchild of a Facebook conversation between myself, the fabulous woman behind Thoughts From A Doula. She had commented about her unique requirements for a rental car: "Happy I could find a last minute sitter and a rental car with backseats big enough to fit my balls and gear!"

A friend replied: "The 12 year old boy that resides inside of me just giggled."

Colleen agreed: "I know! So did the 17 year old boys at the rental place who had to measure the doors to backseat to see if 'my balls' would fit! LOL!"

And I chimed in: "I'm seeing classic bumper sticker potential: 'Doulas Do It With Enormous Balls'."

By the next day, an entire line was set up, thanks to Colleen as well as Kelly Book, Tricia Fitzgerald and Amy Robinson Owen Doula. Check out all the gear! Didn't the designer do a kickass job? I know I need a babydoll T, tote bag and, of course, a sticker, at the very least!

And with that, I'm off for a few days, as I'm finally visiting some friends in Connecticut! Hope everyone out there gets to enjoy some warm spring weather.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"First Hug" - Only YOU can prevent . . . uh, whatever this is supposed to prevent?

Remember my April Fool's post? All those baby gadgets that one can hardly believe have even been invented, much less are in regular use? This trumps them all.

Even the car seat "sling" makes more sense.

The site tells us exactly NOTHING. Does anyone have any idea what this is for? Besides another product designed to prey on new parents' fears? I'm genuinely interested in an explanation. Like . . .

Don't you hate it when you're holding a baby and all of a sudden you just throw them in the air? Sudden Adult Spasm Causing Infant Droppage is everywhere, haven't you heard? Holding babies with only your arms and hands and bodies is perilous business. Finally, a product to make it possible! At last, we have the "First Hug"! No longer must we risk holding a baby without having our forearms connected by a piece of cloth. Help fight SASCID today!


Having one's fingers flapping about unrestricted has likely been proven to be riskier to babies. It is statistically possible that someone, somewhere has gouged a baby's eye out with an index finger, but not with a thumb, we don't think. So safe infant holding standards should ensure that only thumbs are exposed. With First Hug, recklessly exposed fingers no longer pose a threat!

Or . . . something like that.

Almost no product is bad if used appropriately, and conservatively; the Zaky in the aforementioned blog post was invented for use with preemies, and is totally understandable in such situations. So . . . exactly what makes this First Hug "the smarter, safer way to share the joy of holding your baby"? Maybe this is a big joke that I'm missing? Tell me this is a big joke that I'm missing.

The grandpa, presumably, in the photo is in a hospital gown, so it seems to suggest some kind of medical condition - but what? Is the concern about the baby or the adult? Is it perhaps specifically for adults with conditions that make it dangerous for them to hold babies somehow? (If so, I would suggest that having them hold the baby seated, with a pillow on their lap to support their arms, is as safe as it gets.) That's the best I can come up with, but if that's the case, why would they not say so? And why would the woman in the main photo appear to be completely normal? The website offers NO information on the reason for this product's existence whatsoever - except that they're giving away a million of them to new moms . . . and coincidentally, they're interested in whatever baby inventions YOU have to share with them!

Medical Safety Solutions is committed to giving away 1,000,000 free First Hug® blankets along with our MOM2B Savings Guide—a newsstand-quality publication full of great deals on the kind of products new parents are looking for.

If you’ve got a great new product for new families, or if you’ve been struggling to get your message heard in this highly-competitive market, we'd like to talk to you.


Maybe I should have my first blog contest. What do you think? Comment with your own baby invention surely invented for the sake of inventing an invention below. Points deducted for usefulness, especially if it promotes actual infant-to-parent attachment and bonding. I'll give away a little something yet to be determined (I literally just though of this this very moment and have nothing to plug). Shall we give it a week?


UPDATE: I contacted the company and asked what in the world was going on with this (in slightly nicer language). They promptly replied:

Hello, Anne. Glad you asked. We're probably going to add some more information to the site, as you're not the first person to ask this question. [Shocked, I am SHOCKED!]

The First Hug® was invented by a paramedic and respiratory therapist after 30+ years assisting in the deliveries and being around newborns. It was conceived as a delivery blanket.

It's not necessarily safer than holding a baby in your arms—if you know what you're doing. Often times, people don't. This is especially true of young people and, sadly, the elderly whose motor skills have deteriorated with time. It's clean, easy to use
and safer to hold a baby with than any loose blanket.

Hope this helps...

The First Hug® Team
So, if you check out the comments below, I think Elita was right on the money. I think they developed this for hospitals, and hospitals looked at it and said "Are you even kidding me with this nonsense?" (I'm channelling Janice Dickinson on ANTM here), so now they're trying to unload the MILLION they had prematurely manufactured. Oops!

The one somewhat legitimate use I had suspected was for the elderly, who may be frail or dealing with Parkinson's symptoms, which is one of the uses they mention. I still fail to see how this is any safer that being seated with a pillow on a lap.

And the whole original concept of using it as a "delivery blanket" is just . . . HOW, exactly? Your hands are both immobilized. How are you to do anything else that might need to be done with a newborn? Leaving aside the fact that the newborn should be with and on the mother if at all possible, let's assume there is some medical reason to take the baby away. Can you suction the baby while using First Hug? Cut the cord? Do anything that involves even one hand? Seems to me that introducing it into the delivery room requires one person to be doing nothing but standing there with their arms extended. How efficient!

Now I'm stuck with the image of someone holding the empty First Hug out underneath the woman's crowning pelvis to actually catch the baby. Still, I am tempted to order one. You know, just to help reduce the surplus.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What Would You Do, Breastfeeding Edition

The net (well, MY corner of it, anyway) has been all abuzz with a few stories the last few days - one being the Dr. Wonderful situation and ensuing #bringbiterback movement I've been posting about. The other is a recent episode of the ABC show "What Would You Do?", which features actors portraying controversial situations in public places, and recording the real-life reactions they elicit. Woman abused by her boyfriend, children abandoned by parent, you get the idea. The latest installment features nursing in public.

A woman (an actor) gets comfortable at a cafe and begins "nursing" her very small "baby" (not an actor, but a doll). The manager (also an actor) begins berating her. What will the other customers do? Though there were a few people siding with the manager, others came to her defense, quite vehemently so, and one even correctly cited the law, pointing out that his actions were actually illegal. They changed basic scenarios twice: How would the reaction change if the mother were black? How about if she were very young?

Turns out that the last of the above scenarios garnered both the most patronizing criticism (how about that guy giving the manager legal advice? "Don't make physical contact!") AND the most vigorous support (I was cheering the woman who stepped up the most; she was great), but then they added a twist to the original scenario. Same white mother of average age, only this time . . . she orders a beer.

I knew what was coming, and though it is generally considered fine for a nursing mother to have a single glass of wine or beer (much more info here), most people don't know this. It was no surprise when a customer joined the manager in condemning the mother. But then the actress makes matters worse, respondingto their condemnations by saying "She sleeps better at night!"

Dou-la-la's face --------> palm. Dou-la-la's head ------> desk.

Thanks, actress. Well, really, thanks producers. A good segment of your viewing audience walked away with the impression that moms who drink minimally are doing so to knock their babies out. I can somewhat excuse the actress for being on the spot and sadly not knowing any better, but that was just plain unnecessary to include without also including any actual information.

FOR THE RECORD: I am not supporting excessive amounts of alcohol. And yes, the threshold for "excessive" when you're nursing is more conservative than when you're not, if you're a regular drinker. Parenting when you're inebriated is risky IN GENERAL. But sending the message to mothers that having A beer once in a while is morally wrong, dangerous, verboten? I feel (and it goes without saying that this is my opinion) that this adds to the impression that the breastfeeding life is unpleasantly and unrealistically restrictive, and I think this is doubleplusungood.

From the trusty link above:
  • Current research says that occasional use of alcohol (1-2 drinks) is not harmful to the nursing baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs classifies alcohol (ethanol) as a “Maternal Medication Usually Compatible With Breastfeeding.”
  • Many experts recommend against drinking more than 1-2 drinks per week.
  • It is recommended that nursing moms avoid breastfeeding during and for 2-3 hours after drinking (Hale 2002).
  • There is no need to pump & dump milk after drinking alcohol, other than for mom's comfort -- pumping & dumping does not speed the elimination of alcohol from the milk.
That pumping & dumping thing is especially pervasive in a lot of circles for some reason, like our breasts are somehow separate from the rest of our interconnecting systems and require us to manually wring the poison from our teats. Simply put, alcohol passes out of our milk the same way it passes out of our bloodstream, with time. We don't need to drain a pint (or so) of blood in order to sober up, do we? Just as laughable with alcohol. Kellymom continues:
In general, if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to breastfeed. Less than 2% of the alcohol consumed by the mother reaches her blood and milk. [Anne notes: in other words, one beer is not going to "help her sleep at night."] Alcohol peaks in mom's blood and milk approximately 1/2-1 hour after drinking (but there is considerable variation from person to person, depending upon how much food was eaten in the same time period, mom's body weight and percentage of body fat, etc.). Alcohol does not accumulate in breastmilk, but leaves the milk as it leaves the blood; so when your blood alcohol levels are back down, so are your milk alcohol levels.
In short, the whole "If you drink it, your baby must be drinking equal or even similar amounts of it" line of reasoning is based on nothing. Again, in no way am I endorsing alcohol abuse. And I do understand erring on the side of caution; I do the same - for all my griping here, the number of drinks I've had since Lily was born two years ago don't even enter into double digits, and I used to be a social drinker. It's just a shame that an episode that was otherwise rather supportive of breastfeeding had to end on such an off note.

Semi-side note:
I wonder what would have happened had they included a toddler variation. Wait, maybe I don't want to know - though I will also say that I actually nurse Lily in public all the time and have detected only two hairy eyeballs, belonging to separate people. And we don't live in a particularly progressive area, to say the least. So there IS hope!

Ultimately, as my wise friend Jennifer observed and thus summarized the whole thing: "When we stop using the phrase 'public breastfeeding', we will have GOTTEN IT!"

I'll drink to that.


Side note that is only a side note because of the general subject range of this blog: If you're up for a real blood pressure elevator, watch one of the other segments of this show, also available from the original link - the one on whether the public will step in with an obviously abused woman.

In the first scenario, a white, modestly dressed woman gets defenders almost immediately, from multiple sources.

Dress the same woman provocatively, and no one steps in.

Dress a BLACK woman provocatively? Not only does nobody step in, she is thought to be a prostitute, and he a pimp. Oh, how I wish I were making that up.

God help us all.

Weekend Movie: "Where's My Midwife?" . . . . and the power of STAYING PISSED.

In light of the recent situation with Dr. Wonderful, this is the perfect time to share this story of how one community rallied around a group of CNMs in North Carolina who were similarly abruptly and unceremoniously dismissed, leaving near-term mothers without care. Take heart, San Diegans! They persevered. And eventually prevailed.

"Where's My Midwife?" from Kirsti Kreutzer on Vimeo.

A key that a woman named Candice mentions, starting at about 4:50. KEEPING PISSED. I do believe that this is crucial. I often see people, and women in particular, shying away from expressing anger. I feel in my heart of hearts that in many cases this is a mistake. There's a difference between destructive, unhealthy, misguided anger and healthy, focused, centered, grounded and yes, constructive anger. I think Candice is absolutely, positively, 100% right, and I think that this was an essential part of the eventual success of this grassroots action.

Stay pissed, San Diego. Don't get sad and wistful about this. Stay pissed. We're with you.

P.S. Here's one news station's coverage of Friday's Bring Biter Back rally. (It should open for you if you have Facebook, I think.) Nice close by the anchor, too.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Extremely Wordy (Dr.) Wonderful Wednesday

Most importantly: The big rally is going to be on Friday, May 14th. Important as the Mother's Day rally was, it was a thrown together quickly in order to make an immediate show of support. The Friday rally will be the real shebang. Click here and here for more info.

Nextly: One piece in the media thus far. No big reveals, but nice to see the coverage.

Finally: ALL of the following is from the organizers of the Facebook page, including more info, details on Friday's rally, and even more things you can do from afar:

Dr. Robert Biter is a unique physician in the San Diego community. He embraces the concept of a woman's right to choose a natural birth. He literally embodies the entire gamut of birthing options that an informed health care provider can offer to a woman and her family in a society that increasingly demands baby-friendly and healthy/organic birthing solutions. In supporting his patients' natural birthing decisions, he also offers the best possible medical and surgical expertise should emergency medical intervention become necessary in the birth process. The patients choose their births, Dr. Biter makes those choices possible as long as the choices are safe, and the patients love him. They call him Dr. Wonderful.

Dr. Biter has held staff privileges at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas in Encinitas, California for the last 8 years. During his time at Scripps, he has held the title of Department Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, as well as having headed up the hospital's ethics committee. He has won Best Doctor in San Diego two years in a row by Ranch and Coast Magazine.

With no warning on Friday May 7, 2010, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas suspended Dr. Biter's obstetrical privileges effective immediately.

Scripps decision to suspend Dr. Biter's privileges has left both Dr. Biter and Dr. Biter's expecting patients reeling and confused. At the most critical time in their pregnancy, Scripps has made it impossible for these women to have the doctor of their choosing deliver their babies; and the likelihood of finding another physician who understands and supports natural birthing is slim to none. The majority of these women would follow Dr. Biter wherever he practices; but for him to establish staff privileges elsewhere is a time intensive endeavor. To make Scripps' actions even more unclear, there have been no claims of obstetrical malpractice filed against Dr. Biter...EVER.

On Mother's Day, May 9, 2010, the local community rallied around Dr. Biter and the message that families want the option to choose natural births in a hospital setting. The result was a Mother's Day rally in support of Dr. Biter held with less than 24-hours notice at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas in Encinitas, California. Approximately 150 people attended.

Scripps Encinitas Hospital has consistently touted themselves as a very holistic, mother-baby friendly hospital. How can they be so mother-baby friendly if they have suspended THE most mother-baby friendly obstetrician in town?

We know that the last couple whose birth he attended had no unforeseen complications that would indicate a need for suspension. The baby had meconium aspiration, which was found only at the time of the c-section. Mother & baby are doing fine. The baby is in the NICU but is breathing & eating on her own. The parents are thrilled with the way that Dr. Biter assisted them during the birth of their daughter & in no way made any complaints against him to bring about the suspension. The father attended the Mother's Day rally even though he had a newborn in the NICU. His wife recuperated in her hospital room while holding a sign that read, "We support Dr. Biter".

Dr. Biter needs to be reinstated immediately so that he can provide continuity of care to his patients that are expected to go into labor at any moment. He is such a dedicated person that he has come up with a backup plan of being an unpaid doula to all his patients that are in labor at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital. Anyone who wants to labor at Scripps Encinitas can change doctors or show up & birth with whoever is on call at the moment, but we believe that most, if not all, his patients will want to stay with him to continue to receive the wonderful care he has provided to them.

Here are the latest things you can do to help:

Please send all letters demanding Dr. Biter's reinstatement to:
Dr. Ronald MacCormick, Chief of Staff
Scripps Encinitas Hospital
354 Santa Fe Dr
Encinitas, CA 92024
His phone number is 760-633-7686 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 760-633-7686 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Ask to leave a voicemail for Dr. MacCormick.
Please CC Chris Van Gorder, CEO at: 4275 Campus Point Ct, San Diego, CA 92121.

Please contact your local & state politicians to bring light to this situation:
Assemblyman, Martin Garrick
Assemblyman, Nathan Fletcher
Susan Davis
Francine Busby
Barbara Boxer
Diane Feinstein

Write letters to the editor to the local news media & newspapers highlighting Dr. Biter's suspension & the travesty of it. Call them to alert them of the upcoming rally this Friday (details below).

Write on your car windows with window paint:
Bring Dr. Biter Back!
The more people that know about this issue, the better! Sheri Menelli will have window crayons at the morning daily vigils in front of Scripps from 9-11 am so stop by & get your windows decorated.

Go show your support at a daily vigil in front of Scripps Encinitas hospital every day until he is reinstated. The vigils will be held from 9-11 am everyday until he is reinstated.

Come to the Bring Dr. Biter Back Rally this Friday, May 14th from 1:30-3:30 pm in front of Scripps Encinitas hospital. We need a lot of people so bring friends, family & neighbors. Kids & babies welcome! Wear green in significance of peace, nature & eco-consciousness, which are all thing Dr. Biter supports. RSVP at the I love Dr. Biter fan page EVENT page. Ricki Lake, author, actress & filmmaker will be there along with Anna Getty, author, actress, great-granddaughter of John Paul Getty III and creator or Pregnancy Awareness Month. There may be other celebrity supporters there as well.

Please sign the online petition at: to help reinstate him immediately.

We have a blog ( or the I love Dr. Biter Facebook fan page that will keep you updated with the latest information.

Time is of the essence. He must get reinstated within the next 9 days or his case will go in front of the Medical Board, therefore, delaying any chance of him getting reinstated in the near future.

Thank you again for your help & support!