Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The best investment you will ever make are your employees. Support SB 937 today!

Peter Drucker, the management consultant who contributed to the practical foundations of the model business corporation, once said, “The best investment you will ever make are your employees.”

So true. Loyal employees are the most important asset of any company. Good employees turn bad ideas into good ones.

Good employees follow the process. Great employees fix the broken processes. Exceptional employees create new processes. They re-engineer broken systems, and repair relationships with clients.

To unlock the full value of such employees, there is one thing you can do today: support SB 937.

SB 937 addresses the barriers working parents face to continue breastfeeding. Under SB 937, employers would be required have a written lactation policy and providing employees with a safe and comfortable lactation space that meets minimum requirements. SB 937 also requires newly constructed or renovated buildings of a certain size to include lactation spaces, and requires that the State develop a model policy. These supports will ensure that working parents never have to choose between continuing to breastfeed and returning to work.

Because of your past support, SB 937 successfully passed out of the California State Senate and has moved to the Assembly side of our state legislature.

Now SB 937 will be heard on Wednesday the 20th in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee. It is critical that we all send a new letter of support to this committee today!

What you need to do today:

  1. Download the sample template letter of support from California Breastfeeding Coalition.
  2. Send the letter of support to Assembly Member Tony Thurmond, chair of the committee, by email today to: Lorie.Alvarez@asm.ca.gov 
  3. CC a copy of the letter of support to: ann.fryman@sen.ca.gov and jgerry@legalaidatwork.org

In a recent interview with Today Show, actress and nursing mom Ann Hathaway said the Ocean’s 8 coasters stopped filming so she could pump breast milk. Unfortunately, not all the mothers get that kind of support.

Many mothers have difficulty pumping breast milk while at work. With not designated mom’s room, lucky mothers have to book conference rooms or borrow office’s to in order to pump, though the conference rooms don’t always have locks and usually have windows. Not-so-lucky mothers have to pump in the bathroom.

I have first-hand experience. When I returned to work from my maternity leave, I had to pump in the bathroom stall. I had to use communal kitchen to clean my pump and to store breast milk. And since breastfeeding wasn’t well understood or supported in the company culture, I was harassed for washing pump parts in the kitchen.

Every nursing mother, not just Hollywood stars, should get support at work, no matter where they work or who their coworkers are.

Good employers listen. Good employers make employees feel appreciated. Good employers invest in people, first. Making all Californian companies better employers, SB 937 is a good start.

And your voice can make a difference! Please be part of the change we want to see for a healthier California.

*This is an original post for San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition by To-wen Tseng.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Canada Paid for Separating Children from Families. America Cannot Repeat The Mistake.

Do you remember Canada’s infamous Sixties Scoop?

As part of the practice, more than 20,000 indigenous children were taken from their families between 1955 and 1985, to be either forcibly adopted into white families or to live in foster care. These children lost their names, their languages, and a connection to their heritage. Sadly, many were also abused and made to feel ashamed of who they are.

In 1985, Justice Edwin Kimelman released a review of Indigenous child apprehension called No Safe Place. The Kimelman Report marked the end of Sixties Scoop era.

Thirty years later, Canadians were finally beginning to acknowledge the harm caused by the Scoop. In 2015, Manitoba issued a formal apology to Scoop victims in that province. Last February, an Ontario judge presiding over a class action suit ruled that the federal government failed in its “duty of care” for the 16,00 Indigenous Ontarians who were separated from their families.

The Sixties Scoop was a tragic mistake. It stretched well beyond the ‘60s. During that period of time, children were often removed from stable, loving extended families. Canada paid for the mistake—last October, an $800 million Canadian settlement was announced.

Unfortunately, America is now repeating the same tragic mistake on our Southern border. Since Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy was announced in May, more than 500 children have been separated from their parents within the last month, according to CNN.

Some parents who are under arrest tell public defenders they don’t know what happened to their children. Some parents said they have been told their children are being taken to be bathed or cleaned up, then the adults don’t see them again.

It is even reported that breastfeeding infants being taken from mom’s arms while nursing. The undocumented immigrant from Honduras sobbed as she told an attorney how federal authorities took her daughter while she breastfed the child in a detention center, where she was awaiting prosecution for entering the country illegally.

On June 15, the U.S. House of Representatives further released the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act. Instead of putting children first by ending the harmful policy of family separation at the border once and for all, the legislation strips children of protections designed for their safety and well-being and exposes more children, net fewer, to detention, including long-term detention.

Since then, experts have repeatedly spoken out against the detention of immigrant children. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a state and strongly opposed the Act. United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA) called for immediate and rapid reunification of families separated at the US Border.

I imagine that one day America will have to pay for the act, just Canada had to pay for the Sixties Scoop. But we can’t wait for that long. American taxpayers, including you and me, are funding this operation, so each one of us has a stake in how these children are being treated and how his policy is enacted.

Please join me and tell the government to stop separating families. Sign the petition here or, if you live in San Diego, go to one of the local events:

11 AM – 1 PM
ACLU Border Rally with Kamala Harris
Otay Mesa Detention Center 7488 Calzada de la Fuente San Diego 92154
ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties will rally supporters during Sen. Harris’ visit to the detention center to view the impact of the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance Policy”.

3:00 – 4:30 PM
“Keep Families Together” Nurse-In
Schwartz Federal Building 880 Front Street San Diego 92101
Hosted by Independent Indivisible and Together We Will, nursing mothers and their infants will gather with families and other supporters in opposition to the Trump policy of removing migrant children from parents seeking asylum in the United States. Speakers include a nursing mother, a pediatrician and a faith leader. Family friendly event will engage children in song. Event inspired by the reported removal by US border agents of a Honduran infant from her mother while nursing in a detention room in Texas. See news story: https://tinyurl.com/yc4avb2d

6:30 PM
Interfaith Service and Call to Action
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church 2020 Alaquinas Drive, San Ysidro 92173
San Diego Organizing Group, an affiliate of Faith In Action, kicks off a weekend of action with prayers for migrant families and for the soul of our nation.

10 AM – 12:30 PM
Let Our Children Go!
Interfaith Training and Orientation for Day of Action
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church 2020 Alaquinas Drive, San Ysidro 92173
San Diego Organizing Group, an affiliate of Faith In Action, will prepare activists, then leave to protest at the Otay Mesa Detention Center, 7488 Calzada de la Fuente, San Diego 92154.

10 AM – 12 PM
Families Belong Together March
San Diego Civic Center 202 C Street San Diego 92101
San Diego Indivisible hosts a rally against the Trump Administration’s family separation policies. Protesters will march 3 blocks from the civic center to the local headquarters of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the federal building. This event is endorsed by San Diego ACLU, California Teachers Association, local border organizations, Democratic clubs and local unions. Indigenous dancers will do a cleansing ceremony.

10 – 11 AM
Families Belong Together Rally
Westfield North County Mall, Overpass at Via Rancho Parkway
272 E Via Rancho Parkway Escondido 92025
Indivisible groups in North County host a rally in support of migrant families and in opposition to the Trump policy of family separation and warehousing of immigrant children.

7 PM
Let Our Children Go!
Interfaith Vigil at Family Separation Zone
San Diego Organizing Group, an affiliate of Faith In Action, will hold a vigil at the border.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Resolution to Declare August Breastfeeding Month

California WIC Association and the California Breastfeeding Coalition have jointly introduced ACR 234(Rubio) to declare August 2018 as Breastfeeding Awareness Month in California!

This resolution is important for three reasons.

First, it will coincide with National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August to recognize the unique benefits that breastfeeding provides.

In spite of the backlash sparked by the once breast-is-best dogma, science continues to approve that breastmilk does provide babies with the best nutrients that they need. Breastmilk contains antibodies that help babies fight off viruses and bacteria; it also contains other elements that protect babies from illness and chronic disease. Breastfeeding lowers babies’ risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. Additionally, mothers who breastfeed experience their own benefits, including convenience and reduced stress. Research shows that breastfeeding helps prevent postpartum depression. Breastfeeding also provides a unique emotional experience for the nursing mother and the baby.

Second, it would affirm that the State of California should work to ensure that barriers to initiation and continuation of breastfeeding are removed.

Many mothers experience barriers to initiate breastfeeding. Building an environment supportive of breastfeeding, such as implementing the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, can make a positive impact on breastfeeding outcomes.

Even more mothers experience barriers to maintain a breastfeeding with their babies upon returning to work. Current California law requires employers to provide reasonable break time and space to nursing employees, but too many mothers don’t know their rights, and too many employers ignore their obligations. Nursing moms deserve supports and we as a society should at least remove these barriers for them.

Third, the measure would also encourage the State Department of Health Care Services, the State Department of Public Health, the Department of Industrial Relations, the California Breastfeeding Coalition, and other stakeholders to work together to explore ways to, among other things, improve women's access to breastfeeding support services in medical, social, and employment settings.

Breastfeeding is team work. Mom needs support and encouragement to reach her breastfeeding goals and everyone can help making breastfeeding easier.

Supporting breastfeeding is also team work. Maternity care practices, professional education, access to professional support, peer support programs, and support for breastfeeding in early care are equally important.

ACR 234 is currently In the Assembly Health Committee awaiting action--Resolutions do not need to be signed into law by the Governor. Let’s celebrate breastfeeding!

*This is an original post for San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition by To-wen Tseng. Photo credits to Mu-huan Chiang.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Happiest Place on Earth

What is the happiest place on Earth?

According to a 2017 United Nations agency report, it’s Norway. According to a 2015 film, it’s the new house you just bought. And according to my 5-year-old, it’s Disneyland. After all, it’s the theme park’s official tagline.

He pleaded to go to “the happiest place on Earth” for his birthday back in late April, so we planned a trip for him and his 6-month-old baby brother.

While Disneyland is almost tailor-made for 5- to 8-year-olds, I was told that taking a baby there can be a challenge. To make sure we have a happy family memory, I did lots of preparation: I stuffed my mommy bag with diapers, wipes, sunscreen, and other supplies. I marked the park's Baby Care Center location on the map and master the route from every attraction to the nursing room. I made a list of all the rides that babies can get on.

But my preparation was not super helpful. While our 5-year-old was very excited, the 6-month-old didn’t care much about the rides or the attractions. All he wanted was to be fed and take breaks whenever he liked. The Southern California sun was strong even in spring, which made him thirsty and demand to nurse even more often.

I’d rush to the nursing room located in the Baby Care Center whenever he showed the hunger cue, but it was not very practical. Disneyland does have great Baby Care Center with nursing rooms, but there are just two of them in the entire 510-acre park: one located at the end of Main Street in the Disneyland Park, the other one located at Pacific Wharf in the Disney California Adventure Park. Often by the time I got there, my baby has lost patience, got extremely fuzzy, and was crying like a…baby. And my 5-year-old was certainly not happy about the fun being interrupted by his baby brother!
I gave up the thoughts of rushing to the Baby Care Center just after two attempts. I just breastfed wherever the need came up.

So we breastfed on roadside benches...
On a bench in front of the sleeping beauty's castle.

When watching parades...
Watching the Pixar Play Parade.  

On rides...
On Flik's Fly in a bug's land.

When moving around...
Somewhere in the California Adventure Park.

In a restaurant. Of course, babies get to eat, too!
At Flo's V8 Cafe in car's land.

And when watching fireworks!
Watching "Believe...in Holy Magic" Fireworks.

It was actually easier to do it then I expected. I wore a regular T-shirt with a nursing tank underneath, and whenever my baby needed to eat, I just pull up my shirt and pull down my tank, brought him up to my breasts, and continue whatever I was doing. People rarely noticed that I was nursing. And once my baby got what he needed, he was much more calm and we all got to enjoy what Disneyland has to offer!

It turned out the happiest place on Earth is mom’s boobs and arms. And to those who told my 6-month-old to eat in a bathroom, this is how he responded.

This is an original post for San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition by To-wen Tseng. Photo credit to Mu-huan Chiang.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A New Bill Will Improve Requirements for Workplace Accommodations in CA!

To CA working moms who wants to breastfeed, a new bill will help you do it!
Current California breastfeeding law requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time to employees desiring to express milk for their infant child. Current California breastfeeding law also requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide the employees with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employees’ work area, for the employee to express milk in private.

Now, SB 937 would require a lactation room or location to include prescribed features and would require an employer to provide access to a sink and refrigerator in close proximity to the employees’ work space.

This is important because in spite of the current California breastfeeding law, many working parents don’t have access to workplace breastfeeding support, including proper lactation accommodations. California Department of Public Health data indicates that, currently, only half of working parents have workplace breastfeeding support.

When I returned to work three months after giving birth to my first child, I had to pump in the restroom. When there was a line in the restroom, I pumped in my car. When the weather was too warm or the pump battery was too law, I sat on the floor under my office desk to pump, covering by a jacket. Some male colleagues claimed that I distracted them by sitting under my desk. Later a female colleague helped me to hide in the company storage to pump. It’s dirty in the storage and there were dead cockroaches on the floor, but I am forever grateful for her help.

What I don’t appreciate was that my previously employer shamelessly claimed that the storage with dead roaches was “a separate office that the company arranged for nursing moms” when I alleged them not providing reasonable breastfeeding accommodation. That just disgusted me.

SB 937 would prevent things like this by requiring “the lactation spaces shall be at least 50 square feet, have at least one electrical outlet, have access to a sink with hot and cold running water, and shall be located no more than 500 feet from the farthest employee workspace or within two adjacent floors.”

There were hearings for the bill April 11, 17 and 24 in Sacramento. According to Legal Aid At Work, a non-profit organization sponsoring the bill, the bill has made it out to all committees, but still have a long way to go.

California Department of Public Health data shows that parents with support are two times more likely to exclusively breastfeed at three months. Evidence shows that prolonged breastfeeding benefits both maternal and infant health. New parents should not have to give up breastfeeding in order to return work. Women who choose to breastfeed should not have to worry about access to a clean, private space to pump milk. No mom should have to fear negative consequences at work just to feed their babies. Let’s support SB 937 for the health of California families!