MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center

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Why Don’t IBCLCs And Dentists agree?

By Deann Shaffner

It can be very frustrating for parents to hear from a dentist, that breastfeeding at night, or night-nursing, caused your child to have cavities. The health benefits of breastfeeding are widely promoted, but information that it might cause cavities isn’t forthcoming. That’s probably because it is may not be true. It can be confusing for a parent to hear from a professional that has studied lactation to hear from a professional that has studied teeth that they simply do not agree. One argues that night nursing isn’t a valid reason to wean, and the other insists on weaning at night because prolonged night-nursing might cause cavities.

I’d heard rumors about people who experienced situations where the dentist suggested weaning at night, but when it came time for me to experience this first-hand, I was shocked. During a tooth brushing wrestling match with my youngest son who had recently turned 2, I noticed, not just 1, but 3 dark spots! There were THREE cavities on his front teeth. I instantly felt pangs of guilt. How could I have caused this? Then, I questioned if I was brushing his teeth enough? Was he getting too much sugar in his diet? Did I not have a good brand of toothpaste? Whatever it was that caused the cavities, I had to get him in to see a dentist immediately so we could understand our options and treat the problem.

When Liam’s father came back from the dentist, he told me, “Well, Liam has cavities because he breastfeeds at night, so you have to stop nursing him at night or brush his teeth when he is done. I guess breastfeeding is just as bad as drinking a soda before bed.”

I felt so angry, I yelled, “I AM SO GLAD I AM NOT A FIRST TIME MOTHER! THAT IS NOT TRUE!”

Of course, his father looked at me like I was crazy. I was just a mom saying that my dentist, who is well educated in the study of teeth, had no idea what he was talking about. Who the heck am I to question what my dentist said? I knew from all the books I had read, podcasts of IBCLCs I had listened too, that this was a topic brought up often, and it was always discussed as a myth. I knew the resources I had to navigate, to share with other mothers stating that this was not true (like here on Kellymom.com.)

I just kept saying to myself, “breastfeeding does not cause cavities!” But again, how could I KNOW this, but my dentist did not? I knew I had an appointment for myself in the upcoming months and I decided that would be the time for me to address all my questions and offer the information I had at my disposal. I liked and respected my dentist a great deal, even though I was angered by what he said. In the past, he had made our family feel comfortable, even though he was a very young dentist.

I asked my dentist a variety of questions on the day of my appointment. First, I inquired about what sources for education on breastfeeding and tooth decay he had access too. Then, I asked how he knew exactly what caused my son’s cavities? Lastly, I wanted to discuss why IBCLCs and dentists don’t agree.

Before answering my questions, I could interpret that he felt uncomfortable and that he was not expecting this kind of conversation. The direct questioning of his authority surprised him. He explained to me that he did not have any lactation education. He then shared a brief description from a study in 1984, of the relation of night nursing and cavities in the book Dental Caries: The Disease and It’s Clinical Management on pages 344-347. Then, he then also explained that when my son nurses at night, the breastmilk may sometimes pool around the front of the teeth, which may lead to the cavities.

breastfeeding baby

I knew what he was describing was baby bottle rot. This is because when breastfeeding, the nipple goes far enough to the back of the throat, which does not leave much room for breastmilk to go anywhere but down the throat. But, before I could say anything else, he quickly reminded me that he supports breastfeeding and that I just had to brush my son’s teeth throughout the night when he nurses. With my last question on why IBCLCs and Dentists don’t agree, he simply did not have an answer for me. This upset me because I felt concerned about other new parents (this was my second child) might interpret the conflicting information available to them.

The 8th edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding states, “There is no evidence that nighttime nursing causes cavities. Other mammals with teeth nurse day and night, and they don’t get cavities.

Dr. Brian Palmer studied children’s skulls that were thousands of years old. These skulls were preserved prior to the invention of toothpaste. He found almost no evidence of cavities. Why would this be? One reason is that “human milk does not pool around the teeth during nursing; it is pulled instantly toward the throat and swallowed,” (Pg. 241).

A lot has certainly changed over millennia of human life, including diets and how we live. But, what hasn’t changed is a baby’s wiring to breastfeed, and to receive human milk. Can breastfed children get cavities? Of course, but saying breastfeeding alone is what causes problems, is incorrect. In my own experience, my breastfed son, who was also introduced to a variety of milk including soymilk, almond milk, whole milk, and was also eating whole foods, I probably did not brush his teeth as often as I should have been. My other son had nursed for almost 2 years and at 5 he never had a cavity. My Dentist did not ask me about Liam’s diet, but as soon as breastfeeding came up, the issue of cavities was blamed on that. I do not accept that reasoning.

I’m sure in both the professions of IBCLC and of dentistry, the newest scientific information is relevant and accessible. But, how often do dentists actually get updated on lactation research? And, how often are we studying this issue? There are breastfeeding-friendly dentists sprinkled throughout the U.S., but not everyone has the means to visit with one.

If you’re experiencing a recommendation to night-wean in order to avoid cavities, it might be best to look for the most recent research. Then, as with everything else, make as informed a decision as possible. Evaluate what works best for you and your family, and make sure you’re wiping your child’s teeth twice a day, especially at night. No matter how you feed your child, you cannot 100% protect them from cavities. But, you can help prevent them as much as possible. Cavities can happen to any child, but breastfeeding alone is not the answer to why children may develop dental problems.

Congratulations to Deann for a recent press article at Cayuga NewsDecorative Image Only

Deann’s Other Blogs at MOM: 

How Income and Insurance Can Affect Breastfeeding Support For New Moms

Breastfeeding Education Might Not Be What You Think It Is

Gender Disappointment

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Sociology Opens Our Eyes to New Ways of Seeing the World!

This summer, extreme weather rocks America and pundits debate while August arrives all too quickly. Since July 1st, accounting majors, economics majors, and students of literature have been increasing their knowledge and vocabulary about important issues that affect us all by studying sociology. These students are hard at work exploring theoretical assertions about race, class, and gender in an online summer intensive Introduction to Sociology course, specifically framed around the Sociology of Family.

Using texts that explore gestation, birth, and caregiving, authors Barbara Katz Rothman, Phyllis Chesler, Patricia Hill Collins, and Keisha Goode (to name a few), explore women’s experiences, racial disparities, and gendered labor. This week, we read the latest media stories on wombs, trans-birth, uterus transplants, and self-identified men as mothers. We have all been scrambling for new definitions and fresh ways of thinking about gestation as well as parenting.

As part of a service-learning portion of an Intro to Sociology class, students were asked to take a piece of construction paper or plain white paper and mark in bold words a minimum of 5 words that best describe “mother” and “father”. We have been complicating those basic notions ever since.

Thinking about the authors we are studying assert about biology and gender, coupled with recent medical and policy developments, motherhood is more complicated than ever! The students were invited to revisit their original posters and articulate some of the information that has influenced their perspective in recent weeks. Some of their notes are below:

Words Added:

–       Gender Neutral:

·      The readings from this week highlighted the problems associated with gendered parenting

·       Mothers struggle with work because of the perception that they are obligated to care for their home and children

·       Men do not feel obligated to do any parenting work but feel an overwhelming obligation to provide economically for their families

·      Both genders are equally capable of parenting in the form of motherhood and fatherhood

·      everyone including children would be better off if parental duties were split equally

·      All other words on the poster represent things my mother, grandparents, and stepfather did and that I wish my father had participated in

·      Not parenting is a personal choice not a gendered choice

–       Parent:

·      Added for reasons listed above

·      Parent should imply the same duties regardless of the parent’s gender

       Present:

·      Being present is an essential part of parenthood that I did not think about until I watched “Glen Henry got his Superpowers Through Fatherhood”

–       Care:

·      “Mothering is most likely done by a female due to our society’s definition of the word ‘mother.’ The action of mothering however is simply caring for another.” [Castaneda and Oware]

–       Guide

–       Educate

·      Guide and educate were both terms I did not think to put until I though in the context of parenthood rather than motherhood

·      Gendered expectations affect us all and are very pervasive

Assertion Statement:

Replace motherhood and fatherhood with parenthood

Father
• Tenderhearted
• Empathetic
• Compassionate
• Honest
• Supportive
• Sacrificing
• Wise
“A healthier masculinity can only be achieved if we acknowledge that “Tough” and “Strong” aren’t the only 2 characteristics men can be.”

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Black Maternal Health Week – Black Mamas Matter Alliance


Black Maternal Health Week – Join in on events this week ! Advocate & educated about the issues facing mothers today. #BMHW19

https://blackmamasmatter.org/bmhw/

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MOM Conference 2019 – April 5-6 – The Public is Invited

April 5-6, 2019

FULL CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

Rewriting Trauma & Visibility: Motherwork, Pregnancy, and Birth

Keynote presentations with Khiara M. Bridges and Roksana Badruddoja. See the schedule for more information.

GENERAL INFORMATION

The international MOM Conference is an annual event that features research, scholarship, and creative collaboration in the area of Mother Studies. Each year, the academic committee organizes university experiences that are interdisciplinary and highlight scholarship in the area of reproductive justice, maternal health, feminist theory, gender studies, literature, and the arts. The conference is organized through the Museum Of Motherhood (M.O.M.) and has partnered with multiple institutions throughout the years (2005-present), including Manhattan College, USF Tampa, Marymount Manhattan College, Columbia, ProCreate Project, Mamapalooza, and ARM now renamed MIRCI to name a few.

Activities are open to the public at no cost by RSVP only: info@MOMmuseum.org.

On Saturday evening we will induct Sara Ruben into the Motherhood Hall of Fame on behalf of her work which has brought hope and healing to so many.

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Support For All Mothers – Last post by Shauna Ricketts

The goal of this project was to support ALL mothers, regardless of their family form or personal circumstance. Stories and faces negate stereotypes and disprove assumptions that accumulate as a result of societal reflections. This project has demonstrated that funding and programming are not the only expressions of positive community support. Demand for mental health resources and emotional support exists among the single mother population. Mothers are more than results of their situations they are valuable agents of change and offer perspectives that hold the power to improve the systems that they are assumed to abuse. Governmental programs fulfill material needs, but do not address emotional needs or desires. Classism and racism have ruled over our country and have seeped into the culture of motherhood, shaping how we see mothers who do not “fit the mold”.

Shauna_Final_3The piece featured is a tribute to the identity of mothers. After interviewing several mothers throughout the course of this project, I have uncovered the variety in perceptions between societal views and self-views of single mothers. Traditional family forms have been adopted as societal norms, yet many families do not abide by this societal standard. Despite the diversity of form among my target population, the standards of motherhood were not compromised or diluted. Self-love and positivity transcend boundaries that are socially constructed through identity. Not meeting societal standards does not demonstrate neglect it simply constructs a different setting for the development of family, mother and child. Identities are socially assigned with rigidity. The distinctions between societal, social and true identities are expressed in the following artwork.

Included in this post are two collages that express clashes in expectations between communities and the individual needs of the mothers in those communities. These collages emphasize the centrality and connectivity of social groups in relation to the wellbeing of individual mothers. Additionally, I have included photos of the mothers and children whose stories I have told throughout the past weeks.

Shauna_Final_1

NOTE FROM M.O.M. – The Museum of Motherhood sincerely thanks Shauna Ricketts for her dedication and insight during this summer’s internship. Working remotely can present challenges. Yet, Shauna conducted her interviews, created art, and fulfilled her commitment to M.O.M. by submitting interesting and captivating content. Thank you for your great work over the last several weeks. We wish you every ongoing success ~ M. Joy Rose

*SEE ALL OF SHAUNA’S POSTS HERE [LINK}

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Jubilant, Yet Real – By Shauna Ricketts

This week I interviewed Jess who was accompanied by Addy, her jubilant one and a half year old daughter, during my time with her. As a straight A student at the age of 19, Jess did not intend to have a child but her journey of motherhood has provided her with lessons in love and self worth. Jess left an alcohol dependent partner to escape the “ugliness of drinking” and the environmental impact that alcohol use and abuse pose on the development of self in a child. Faced with custody battles, traditional values, the expectation and desire of earning an education and her age, Jess voiced the stresses that existed in her life as the result of her transition into motherhood. After the initial reactions of her family, the dust settled and support and comfort from her family eventually followed, specifically her older sister who bore her parent’s their first grandchild. The social pressure to have an abortion presented itself, but Jess did not allow society, her family or her partner dictate the future of her body or mind.

Shauna Ricketts ArtJess expressed thoughts and difficulties associated with single motherhood and the absence of a father figure in her child’s life. “Fatherhood is not solely focused on the father himself, but rather the father-child relationship,” stated Jess over our conversation and coffee. The day created to honor fathers does not consider those who lack a father figure in their lives, but rather the father void is highlighted. Jess aims to enforce an optimistic position for males in the eyes of her daughter, which is evident in the emphasis she placed on Addy’s first Father’s Day being a time to establish a positive space in Addy’s memory. Addy’s father though estranged, agreed to see Addy for an hour on Father’s day, but unfortunately he decided for personal reasons to not attend the meeting. In this moment of silence, Jess had the realization that the title of father and mother do not validate love. As the daughter of a divorced couple, Jess reflected on her memories of tension and the comparisons she drew between herself and other families, but comparison, which fills the eyes of many with tears, leaves the heart too heavy to focus on the light that exists regardless of family form. “When I had her (Addy) my eyes were opened to the support that I needed,” and for Jess this meant genuine care, love and responsibility for her child, not necessarily a family with a perfect and present father figure.

Balance was a topic of repetition throughout my conversation with Jess. Emotional and mental health in her life is achieved in the moments when she focuses on not only the well being of her child, but her personal happiness. As a server for a catering company, Jess is able to have a more concentrated workweek that allows her to have more flexibility. She uses the extra time to decompress and to spend time with her daughter. An aspect of finding her personal balances in life involve moving forward in her education each day, which is reflected in Jess’ online class work and the consistent expression of her goal of becoming a nurse one day.

After speaking with Jess and Diana (who I interviewed last week) it has become even more apparent to me that colleges need more resources to support single mothers in their educational pursuits, which should involve mental health services. Jess and Diana both spoke on behalf of financial assistance provided by WIC, however this service did not compensate for emotional and mental taxes that are the result of motherhood. The experiences of these women solidify the notion that compensation for the “Mommy Tax” is not provided or acknowledged within our society. Ann Crittenden coined the term “Mommy Tax” in the book The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued which draws attention to the lack of societal value that is put on motherhood and the centrality of motherhood to the progression of society.

“Young mothers should not let people influence their decisions or force them into discomfort.” Jess advises mothers to “feed off their intuition” and not the pressure to live up to expectations or images of the ideal and normalized mother or family form.