This separated immigrant mom hasn’t been able to breastfeed her baby for 2 weeks

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For most breastfeeding mothers, being away from your baby means lugging a breast pump with you to work or through airport security and painstakingly packing up your milk to bring or send back to your baby. But a mother who made headlines this week can't take her milk to her baby because she doesn't know when she will see her again.

Maria Domingo-Garcia is among the hundreds of workers picked up by ICE at food processing plants in Mississippi on August 7. When she left for work that day she said goodbye to her husband and three children, including the 4-month-old daughter she was nursing. All three children are U.S. citizens, CNN reports.

Mom's lawyers say she was not able to nurse or pump since being detained 

Earlier this week, when Domingo-Garcia had been separated from her daughter for 12 days, her lawyers told media that she was in a lot of pain as she had not been able to breastfeed or pump for nearly two weeks.

Not being able to drain one's breasts can lead to engorgement, which can lead to mastitis. Both engorgement and mastitis are painful, and mastitis can even be deadly if mothers cannot get medical help.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated that a nurse had examined Domingo-Garcia and that she's not producing milk. Her lawyers say they were not present for or aware of this examination, and one of them, Ybarra Maldonado, suggests that the stress Domingo-Garcia is under may have impacted her ability to lactate.

"If during a test she didn't produce milk, perhaps it's because she's been detained for 12 days and going through a horrible situation," Maldonado told CNN.

Indeed, it is possible for a mother to stop lactating if she is separated from her baby for as long as Domingo-Garcia has been. Diana Spalding, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor, says that "the process by which lactation ceases varies so much. It depends on many variables including how long and how frequently a woman was breastfeeding or pumping, how slow or fast she stopped, her emotional state, and simply her individual anatomy. It is 100% possible that Domingo-Garcia had been lactating prior to being taken by ICE."

While attorneys and ICE officials continue to debate whether or not this mother was lactating, her husband continues to try to bottle feed their daughter, an American citizen who is now going without her mother and without breastmilk.

The children are being hurt

One in four children in America has immigrant parents, according to a recent report by the Urban Institute. What's more, 75% of those children (including Domingo-Garcia's) have parents who have been in the US for more than 10 years. Like Domingo-Garcia's kids, 91% of the children of immigrants are citizens. But only 61% of the parents in these families can say the same.

That means there are more than 7 million kids in the US (most of whom are American) who have non-citizen parents and are extremely vulnerable to the same kind of trauma Domingo-Garcia's children are going through. And to call it trauma isn't speculation—it's science. We know that separating children from their parents does long term damage to kids.

"The effect is catastrophic," Charles Nelson, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School told the Washington Post last year. "There's so much research on this that if people paid attention at all to the science, they would never do this."

That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stands against the detention of immigrant children, who may soon be detained indefinitely if a plan announced Wednesday proceeds. The AAP also warns against separating children from their parents or primary caregiver unless that person is abusing the child.

"It is the position of the AAP that children in the custody of their parents should never be detained, nor should they be separated from a parent, unless a competent family court makes that determination. In every decision about children, government decision-makers should prioritize the best interests of the child," the APP noted in its 2017 policy statement Detention of Immigrant Children.

Domingo-Garcia's children are not being detained, but they are being hurt by their mother's detention and child advocates say far too many children know their pain.

​When mom or dad is taken

Domingo-Garcia was far from the only immigrant parents working in Mississippi food processing plants the day of the ICE raid that changed her family's life. There were so many more parents who didn't come home that day. The day that also happened to be the first day of school in Scott County.

School superintendent Tony McGee told The Clarion Ledger his staff were working hard to help the children who were displaced or impacted by the ICE raids, and he acknowledged that the situation will impact students' academic abilities. "We'll worry about the school part of it after we get all this sorted out," he said. "You can't expect a child to stay focused on the schoolwork when he's trying to focus on where Mom and Dad are."

Indeed, research links parental incarceration with children developing attention deficit disorders, developmental and speech delays, learning disabilities and behavior problems.

And yet, in some ways, parental incarceration may be better for children than parental detention, which is what Domingo-Garcia's experience is defined as. Incarceration is something that follows a conviction and is a long-term thing. Kids whose parents are convicted of a crime and sent to prison often know where mom or dad is and may even get to maintain a relationship with them.

Detention, on the other hand, is a temporary, more slippery state. The children of those in ICE facilities don't know when or if they are coming home or if they will be deported.

There are other ways in which having a parent incarcerated in prison is different than having one detained in an ICE facility. In some American prisons, moms are permitted to nurse their babies. If Domingo-Garcia had gone to prison in New Mexico she would have the right to breastfeed and the right to pump milk for her baby. But she went to work in Mississippi instead.

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Back in August the the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Contigo announced the recall of millions of Contigo Kids Cleanable water bottles—about 5.7 million of them.

Now, the CPSC and Contigo are recalling millions of water bottles and the replacement lids that were given to consumers as part of the August 2019 recall.

"Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled water bottles and the replacement lids provided in the previous recall, take them away from children, and contact Contigo for a free water bottle. Consumers who received replacement lids in the previous recall should contact Contigo for the new water bottle," the CPSC states.

Millions of Contigo Kids Cleanable water bottles were originally recalled after it became clear the silicone spout could pose a choking hazard.

"Contigo identified that the water bottle's clear silicone spout in some cases may detach from the lid of the water bottle," Contigo stated in a notice posted to its Facebook page back in August.

According to the CPSC, "Contigo [had] received 149 reports of the spout detaching including 18 spouts found in children's mouths" before the original recall.

Now, the CPSC reports "Contigo has received a total of 427 reports of the spout detaching including 27 spouts found in children's mouths."

All of the recalled water bottles have a black color spout base and spout cover.

This week Contigo expanded the recall. The original date range was for Contigo Kids Cleanable Water Bottle from April 2018 through June 2019. Now it is for bottles purchased through February 2020, and all the replacement lids.

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If you are looking for some alternative water bottles, here are a few of our favorites:

Hydro Flask

Hydro Flask features an easy-to-drink (and clean) top, a silicone bottom that won't scratch your furniture.

Motherly has tested these with a two-year-old and an eight-year-old and found these bottles are perfect for Pre-K to elementary school.

$29.95

CamelBak

The CamelBak is a big hit with little kids as it is easy to maneuver and it's a big hit with moms because it is easy to clean in the top rack of the dishwasher. CamelBak Eddy 12 oz Kids Vacuum Stainless Water Bottle

$14.99

Skip Hop

The designs on the Skip Hop stainless steel bottle keep kids happy and the silicone sleeve keeps the bottle from falling out of little hands! Bonus points for a flexible straw that is easy to clean!

$17.99


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

{A version of this story was originally posted August 27, 2019. It has been updated.]

News

Most parents want to leave the planet a little better than we found it for our kids. But the urge to go green can sometimes clash with the reality of bringing up babies—it sometimes feels like you go through enough disposable diapers and wipes to fill up a small landfill on a monthly basis. But for parents who don't have the time or energy (or desire) to commit to cloth diapering, one company is offering a new alternative.

DYPER—an eco-friendly diaper subscription company—is launching the first ever compostable diaper service called REDYPER. Instead of ending up in a landfill (with 20 billion other diapers per year, according to the company), your baby's dirty diapers will be put to good use—such as helping to grow vegetation in highway medians, for example.

FEATURED VIDEO

Here's how it works: Along with your monthly shipment of diapers, subscribers receive bags and a specially designed box (one that the company says was engineered to Haz Mat shipping standards set by the United Nations). You'll fill up that box with your baby's dirty diapers, and when it's full, you send it back to the company with a prepaid shipping label. And don't worry—even the environmental impact of the shipping process is mitigated by carbon offsets purchased by the company.

From there, DYPER partners with TerraCycle to compost them. The company notes that its diapers are compostable at home—but that's a DIY project busy moms and dads might not be able to take on. REDYPER is a convenient solution for parents who want go green—even if they don't have time or space to do so.

And for parents mourning the loss of the company Brandless, DYPER represents a new way to do diaper subscription services. If you've got a DYPER subscription, you can opt into the new REDYPER program for free for a limited time (after that offer, it'll cost $39 a month).

You can learn more about the program on the company's website at dyper.com/redyper.

News

Having a C-section may not have originally been part of a mom's birth plan—but they are often necessary, with nearly a third of all births in the United States classified as Cesarean deliveries.

C-section births are different than what many moms picture when they first learn they are pregnant, but they are also incredibly beautiful. C-sections save lives and should be celebrated. And whether a mom's C-section is an emergency, planned or elective it is still a valid and important birth experience.

That's why we at Motherly are committed to sharing C-section stories—so that mothers know what to expect and society learns to support women who are recovering from surgery while caring for a newborn.

These are the C-section stories the #TeamMotherly community loves and we are so grateful to the mamas who shared them.

1. This video perfectly explains the anatomy of a C-section 

This video shows you just what C-section surgery entails: cutting through seven layers of skin, fat, muscle and more to reach the baby. It's an incredible depiction of one of the most physically challenging moment's of a mama's life.

The creator of this viral video is Jesse Franks, a blogger, International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) advocate and mom of three. She previously discussed the video's popularity with Motherly and says she was inspired by a childbirth education tool she came across years ago .

"People have said that they are thankful it exists, that the actual surgical videos have been too gory for them to watch. One mom said that it was the first time she smiled while imagining her child's birth," Franks explained.

This video is incredible.

This video shows babies really do recognize mama right away 

If you've ever wondered whether newborns really know their mothers when they're born, this video will erase all doubt. It captures the magical first moments between a mom and her brand new baby girl. That little tiny arm clinging to mom's face is enough to melt your heart.

That baby knows her mama.

​The beauty of postpartum bodies is on full display in this brave post 

Whether you're rocking stretch marks, a C-section scar, a lingering linea negra or anything else, they're all just proof of one thing: you're one strong, courageous mama bear.

The caption says it all: "This is my postpartum. Some of you may see this and think, "Why is she sharing this", and others "Wow, thanks for sharing" and I'm sure lots of other thoughts in between. Want to know mine? "Wow, she has the courage to share a TRUTH so many different women face. Dealing with a scar of victory and loss." My staples are out now, but as you can imagine the healing and pains are not."

This post shows the beauty in a mama's C-section scar

"How can we teach our children to love themselves if we ourselves are constantly putting ourselves down?" It's not always easy, but being a powerful example of self-love and self-acceptance is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids.

This mama is making sure her children (and fellow mamas on Instagram) know that a scar is nothing to hide.

"Teach your children that scars and marks are beautiful, and that they aren't to be ashamed of. Ever since she could point and touch, my daughter has always loved feeling my #csection scar," she writes.

Motherhood is a miracle, as we see in this photo 

Moms who've had C-sections often feel guilty and ashamed, but this gorgeous post has an important reminder: "However motherhood comes to you, it's a miracle." And perhaps an even more important reminder? Your baby won't care how they born—just that they're loved and cared for always.

"My scar may fade or it may not, but honestly, I don't mind. I hope it doesn't completely. It's a special reminder of just how lucky I am," this mama writes.

She continues her caption: "There are a few things I am incredibly passionate about, and helping other moms-to-be feel empowered about their c-section birth is one of them. I constantly receive messages and emails from moms who are scared, ashamed or overwhelmed about their c-section delivery and have only ever heard horror stories or been met with negativity. I feel so sad that they feel this way when they should be proud, excited and feel like the badass woman they are. I hope one day women everywhere don't have to feel the need to justify their birth and can proudly say they are a C-section mama without any guilt or shame."

"When I look at my scar now, I see my body's ability to heal, to survive." 

A C-section scar serves as a visible reminder of what can be one of the best and worst days in a mother's life. But this mama wants it to serve as a powerful reminder for something else: the physical ordeal you've overcome, and the path to accepting what led you there.

"When I look at my scar now, I see my body's ability to heal, to survive," this mama writes.

"I see journeys of both the physical and mental variety, with success waiting at the end—even if it wasn't the end I expected. More than anything, though, I see grace. The grace I finally learned to give myself when plans changed and I adjusted accordingly, emerging stronger than ever before."

This photo post tells a twin mama's surprise C-section story 

C-sections are common with twins, and this mama shows the pure joy that comes with holding two healthy newborns in your arms—even when you've just undergone a grueling surgery.

What started out as a regular appointment turned into a trip to the operating room and a healthy delivery, in all about three hours. Joyful posts like this one could go a long way toward easing the fears and disappointments of mom's who've been told they'll need a C-section.

"Before I knew it, I went from having 3 hearts beating inside me to the 3 of us bundled up enjoying skin-to-skin before we even rolled out of the O.R.," this mama writes.

​C-sections can be serious, but are seriously beautiful 

This mama shared the story of developing a life-threatening infection that could have killed both her and her baby had she not been whisked off for an emergency C-section in the nick of time. Your birth plan goes out the window when lives are on the line—but it's all worth it in the end.

"This photo is the only one taken that day. Definitely not the gorgeous birth photography I had planned for, but beautiful and special to me none the less," this mama writes.

It wasn't her plan, but it is still a beautiful birth story and a photo worth sharing and celebrating.

Clear drape C-sections are so powerful 

More and more hospitals are stepping up their efforts to make C-sections a better experience for moms. Some are using clear plastic sheets to keep the environmental sterile, while also letting parents get to experience the magical moment of their baby emerging from the womb.

As Motherly previously reported, photos like this one are "showing the world that this new kind of Cesarean delivery can be absolutely beautiful. By posting these pictures, mothers and birth photographers aren't just proving that C-section births are just as Insta-worthy as every other way women deliver, but they are also spreading awareness about clear drape C-sections, which are also known as "gentle Cesareans."

"Birth can bring a lot of big emotions." 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but it might as well be a million when you're looking at a gorgeous birth photo.

This is a moment in time we need to see and celebrate, because "just because a baby needs to be born via cesarean doesn't mean mama can't be a participant in her birth experience," says Motherly's Digital Education Editor, Diana Spalding, a midwife, pediatric nurse and founder of Gathered Birth.

According to Spalding, author of Motherly's upcoming book, The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama (April 2020), making C-sections personal is important: "We need to bring birth back to women. Women need options and choices, autonomy and respect. Becoming a mother is one of the most momentous events in a woman's lifetime—she deserves to have it be her best birth."

"This is 9 days into being a mother of two and it wasn’t by any means easy." 

There are lots of different reasons a mama-to-be might want or need a C-section. But they all share one thing in common: those reasons are no one's business, and they're certainly not up for judgment or discussion. This new mom-of-two had a condition that made a vaginal delivery impossible, and a C-section was far from "the easy way out."

A C-section is a birth, just like any other.

"You are unique and your story makes you who you are today. Your fertility, pregnancy, birth story and parenting styles are your decisions and experiences and no one else's," this mama writes.

Looking back on a C-section birth story 

What does this mama see when she looks at this photo? Not her scar, but the love and beauty between a mother and child. A scar may or may not fade over time, but that love only grows more visible.

"Instead of a smiling portrait of us, it's just a photo of me cradling you gently next to the stitched up #Csection dressing you came from. And here we are now. The C-section scar may still be there, but now I can barely hold you in my arms. You are so busy these days and even more beautiful as I've gotten to know you this past year. That smile of yours will change the world," this mama writes.

You are a warrior, mama

This video captures the joy, the fear and the love and the incredible strength woven into all these C-section stories,

Having a C-section is an incredibly emotional experience on a lot of different levels, but we hope that love, pride, and happiness outweigh anything else. Whether it was in your plans or not, you are absolutely a warrior.

News

Shannon Bird is a well known mom blogger and influencer with more than 100,000 Instagram followers. For years she's been known for her style and for her family's quirky adventures, but in 2020 the mom of five became internet famous for something else.

This mama called 911 in the middle of the night because she ran out of breastmilk and asked the police to bring her formula.

The criticism was swift, but Bird's story isn't just about when it is appropriate to call emergency services—it's about who has the privilege of being able to call 911, the lack of support for mothers in America, gender roles and the erosion of the village. In short, this isn't just a story about Shannon Bird calling 911. It's a story about a society that is failing mothers.

Here's what you need to know about this viral story:

This week Bird appeared on Fox News Channel's Daily Briefing, but the 911 call happened in January 

It's been weeks since certain corners of the internet blew up after literally watching Bird (via Instagram stories) call 911 because she ran out of breastmilk and had no formula. To Bird's followers, this is old news, but it's been making the news in recent days.

On February 17 Bird appeared on Fox News Channels' Daily Briefing with her youngest child to talk about why she called 911 when she ran out of breastmilk (and had no formula in her home). As the Utah mom previously told Fox 6, "I've never not had food for my newborn. It was really scary for me."

How this mom ended up calling 911 for formula

Those watching Bird's Instagram Stories on January 28 saw this unfold in real-time. Bird was recovering from some postpartum complications at the time and a medication she was taking may have been a factor in her declining milk supply.

She found herself home alone (her husband was out of town) with her infant and her four other young children (one of whom had a cast on a broken leg). She thought she had enough pumped breastmilk in the freezer to get her though the night, but eventually realized she didn't. She also didn't have any baby formula.

In her Instagram Stories she detailed how she called friends and family for help around 2 AM but no one picked up the phone. Eventually, she called 911, telling the operator she was scared and had no way to feed her 6-week-old baby.

"I've been calling neighbors and no one will answer," she said on the call. "I've never been in this predicament ever. My milk just literally dried out. This is my fifth kid and this has never happened."

Soon, the police were at her door.

The police brought this mom milk + formula in the middle of the night

After the 911 call, Bird posted video footage of police arriving at her home to her Instagram Stories (as her doorbell cam had captured the footage). It shows Officer Brett Wagstaff of the Lone Peak police department arrive at Bird's door with a gallon of milk.

Bird explained that what she needed wasn't regular milk, but baby formula. "We'll be right back with some formula for your baby — she's adorable," Wagstaff told Bird.

Soon enough he came back with baby formula from Walmart, telling Bird, "That's the same stuff we gave my daughter when she was first born, so hopefully it doesn't upset her stomach."

Officer Wagstaff and his fellow officer Konner Gabbitas have been hailed as heroes in the recent news coverage of this story (and they are) but many critics pointed out that Bird had the privilege of being a wealthy, white mom when she called 911, and wonder if the response would be the same from mothers of color or lesser means.

The backlash over privilege + a need for postpartum support 

Twenty-four hours after posting the Instagram Stories showing the police delivering baby formula, Bird announced she was taking a break from social media (she's since returned) which isn't surprising when you look at the comments on her accounts.

People were upset with her for using 911 the way she did, and upset with her husband for leaving her alone with five kids while he went out of town. When Fox News picked up the story the criticism continued.

"This is not what 911 is for... In some places, you'd get a ticket for misuse of emergency services. But, here is everyone enabling some more. Saying how heroic and brave this was. I can't even handle it," one Instagram user commented.

"Flip this narrative and you would get a drastically different response. #whiteprivilege," another noted.

That does need to be part of this conversation. There are many mothers in America who would not feel comfortable calling 911 during a parenting emergency due to institutional bias and racism. And that's not fair, because all mothers should be able to get help when they need it.

Many people have pointed out all the things Bird could have done differently in this situation—maybe she could have gotten her kids up and driven to Walmart herself, maybe she could have used Uber Eats or Instacart to order formula for delivery—but at that moment she couldn't. She was in crisis.

Calling 911 is an act of desperation, and it's a sign that the cultural expectations on women are causing a lot of maternal stress.

It takes time to recover from birth (especially if you have postpartum complications).

Breastfeeding can be very difficult (even if you've breastfed before with ease).

And when your baby is crying and you can't help them, that's terrifying.

Many commenters suggest this is a story about a woman abusing the 911 service, but maybe it's a story about a country where mothers in crisis feel they have no one to call. Maybe it's a story about how when the "village" erodes, mothers suffer the most. Maybe it's a sign that we need more postpartum supports, more education and more empathy for mothers.

[Motherly reached out to Shannon Bird for comment and will update this post if we receive a reply.]

News
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