Thursday, 31 July 2008

18 Hours and 3.7 miles


Whereby we tell the tale of Baby C.
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12 weeks old. Faltering weight gain since being detained in Yarl's Wood. Detained as baby and mother and sisters were too risky to be left in the community; they might run off from their GP, nursery, school and health care providers. And disappear without food or accommodation the second they did that. Yes, of course they would! *facepalm*
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Locked up in there, with her 4 and 6 year old sisters, and her mother. Her mother had been advised not to breastfeed, by her local NHS consultant. Something which pained the mother, who had breastfeed the elder two.
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Baby C, despite having excellent health prior to being uprooted from her home and driven in a minivan to Yarl's Wood, suffered from repeat bouts of gastroenteritis and her weight gain faltered dramatically whilst in the compound. She was, finally, seen by a paediatrician at Bedford Hospital, on Monday June 30th.
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And who was placed on special, prescription only, elemental formula.
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And who then returned to Yarl's Wood.
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And who then, two days later, was left without food for over 18 hours.
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No, you read that right. When the hospital supplied formula ran out, UK Borders Agency healthcare, provided by SERCOHealth, left the baby unfed for over 18 hours.
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18 hours.
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Imagine how you'd feel, without food, for over 18 hours? Like Baby C, you could have as much water with salt/sugar as you could tolerate. (Blackcurrant flavour, if you want to know the exact details.)
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So won't be suffering from thirst, just hunger.
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How would you feel? How do you think Baby C, felt?
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Want to know what's really shocking about this?
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It's not the fact that the nearest tin of formula, was at Bedford Hospital, 3.7 miles away.
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It's not the fact that they had over two days, and two overnight order opportunities, to order it from their nearest chemist, only 1.9 miles away.
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It's not the fact that by 8.30pm, the night it had run out, they'd given up trying to get it, and said "Let it drink salty sugar water!"
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No, the really shocking fact.. is that they've accepted this happened, and that it was perfectly reasonable. And good standard of care. No problem here, pass along. We took perfectly good care of this baby in our charge.
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So go away and stop annoying us.
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No, seriously.
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That's what your Government officials have said, in writing. This baby, already ailing, was left unfed for over 18 hours, and that's perfectly okay.
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If you have an infant feeding qualifications, and your professional opinion differs from that of the experts employed by the UK Border Agency, Alison Blenkinsop, IBCLC would like to hear from you, pronto. The facts of this case are being circulated, and a towering rage of protest building - add your voice!
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If you are a UK citizen, and you have an opinion about this standard of acceptable care, please write your MP. If you're not very good at letters, you may wish to have a look at the one below.
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And if, like me, you're sitting here with tears in your eyes, wondering what that poor mite went through, with over 18 hours of salty sugar water with a fake blackcurrant taste... rest assured Baby C and her family are now out of Yarl's Wood, back in their home town (although now homeless thanks to Borders Agency keeping her in Yarl's Wood for over 28 days). We're hoping to see her weight gain recover, and will keep you posted.
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I checked the Human Rights Charter on the right to food, you know. It doesn't mention a thing about you being allowed out of it if the chemist is shut.
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Dear
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I'm writing to protest in the strongest possible terms about UK Border's Agency views, expressed by Brian Pollett, Head of Detention Services, that it was perfectly acceptable to leave a 12 week old baby without food for over 18 hours at a recent incident in Yarl's Wood IRC. I don't care how much salty sugar water Yarl's Wood supplied to this poor baby, not feeding it milk at all during this time was a completely unacceptable standard of care. I feel very strongly that UK Borders Agency should accept that this was a terrible incident, and should promise to ensure that it never happens again. As my MP, I'm asking you to contact Liam Byrne's office and pass on my complaints directly. It is totally unsupportable that Government agencies should defend the indefensible in this manner. I look forward to an early reply from your office.
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Yours
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with profound apologies to xkcd.com

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Lactavist/Lactivist

Daily Mail July 2012
Spelling is what you make it.

When it first occurred to someone to put "L" in front of "activist", to create a word that suggests you are campaigning actively for lactation issues... it must have seemed a stroke of genuis!

Which, I think, it was. L-activist.

However, we 'lactate'. Not 'lactite'.

So I use 'lactavist'. Lactation.

So do others. Sometimes, is seems like we're all making a spelling mistake. Sometimes, it seems like we're on a more authentic pathway, linguistically. Lactation Activist.

It's something I've mused on often, as being dyslexic, I have to pay attention. And I have, before now, gone back and rooted out all "lactavist"s in my writing, and replaced them with "lactivist".

No more. This is the Freedom For Lactavist post.

We are active about lactation. We can be lactavists. Use it enough, it will be listed in the dictionary as an alternate spelling.

Are you listening OED?

Sunday, 20 July 2008

How Stupid Do They Think We Are?




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This is why we are celebrating breastfeeding in Parliament Square tomorrow. Because women like Emily Pulling, photographed above, are left unprotected from harassment whilst their children breastfeed. As Emily sits in the park, today, and smiles hello for us, her son has a lovely milk feed. In Scotland, if you went over and told her she was disgusting, or asked her to stop, or voiced your opinion that she should hide her son from your view... you would have committed an offence. Emily could call the police, and they would protect Emily by dealing with your harassment and moving you on.
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In England and Wales, Emily and her son have no such protection. In England and Wales, she is left unprotected from the harassment and the bigoted ignorance of others. If you doubt this exists, please peruse the comments section of this article, promoting the Bournemouth picnic. The police will now have an obvious presence in Bournemouth, to protect the mothers and their children.
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There has been quite a controversy about the proposed Single Equalities Bill, and breastfeeding protection this past month. The most damaging aspect of it being comments, by reputed journalists, that mothers like Emily are breaking the law here by allowing their children to breastfeed in public in England and Wales. This is simply not true, and Barbara Follett, Harriet Harman's deputy at Woman and Equalities has finally come out and said so:
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"The law is not as clear as it could be. People are unsure of their rights and their responsibilities in this area. Some people also think that women can be charged with indecency for breastfeeding in a public place. This is utter nonsense and completely wrong."
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It will be interesting to see how many of the journalists correct their misrepresentations in the next few days.
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The BBC acknowledged this inaccuracy a couple of weeks ago, and have been updating old stories on their web sites to remove all reference to breastfeeding in public coming under the Indecency Act. What a pity the message hasn't got through to everyone there 'tho. For only on Friday, a BBC news crew asked a breastfeeding baby and mother to remove themselves from the sight of a camera, in case the BBC news viewers were offended by them on the Six O'clock News. And the mother was not protected from this request, whilst she and her baby sat in the shadow of The Mother Of All Parliaments.
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No news crew would have addressed her in such a way in Scotland. In Scotland, they would have known they were committing an offence.
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Comments upon the conduct of the BBC in this matter, can be addressed here.
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There has been some reaction to Barbara Follett's comments, as they also appear to break down the nonsense of the reported six month protection under Maternity provision. Thankfully, Follett appears to have admitted that maternity protection has no age limit. This is a nice step forward, in dealing with overall ignorance. It makes no difference at all to the issue of mothers and children being left unprotected.
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We all knew it wasn't illegal to breastfeed in public. Making a big show of saying such in the wake of media reports that it was, media reports linked to Downing Street media briefings, is damage limitation, not news!
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And it's still ridiculous to suggest that Maternity provision under the Sex Discrimination Act is protection at all. Being able to sue cafe owners AFTER they have thrown you out, or harassed you, is not protection. Protection is preventing it happening in the first place. All the original objections still stand - how on earth can any mother prove this in a court of law? Why should she? Why should the burden be placed on her, the victim?
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And Emily, sitting up there in a park, isn't covered by this presumed 'right to sue' in any event.
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She's in a public space. No one to sue on discriminating against her on right to equal service.
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And if she's in a cafe, and another customer comes over and harasses her, she has no right to sue them either.
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Not to mention that maternity wouldn't protect a father feeding breast milk from a bottle, or a grandmother feeding formula from a bottle. Hungry babies needing milk aren't protected by Maternity law saying you can sue a cafe owner for throwing you out of the premises for breastfeeding!
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They are protected by legislation stating it is an offence to harass or try to stop any caregiver feeding a child milk, in any place the child has a right to be.
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It's all nonsense.
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The whole "oh we didn't mean that, let me assure you..." is just more smoke and a bigger mirror.
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Still no proper protection bill planned. Still no assurance that they are listening, and proper protection is a priority.
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Still no protection.
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So join Emily at the picnic tomorrow, and help us celebrate that breastfeeding is both normal, and extraordinary, and every day and miraculous. And that hungry babies have a right to food, where and when they are hungry.
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Monday, 14 July 2008

Invite Your MP to the Picnic

If you'd like to support "Protect My Baby, Protect Me", please invite your MP to the picnic being held on Monday July 21st.

You can find out who your MP is, and send them an email, by putting your postcode into this link. You will then be given a contact page, which will include a single click to open up a letter to them.

You then fill in your details, and invite them to the picnic. If you don't feel confident about letter writing, you could use this proforma: (This is much easier if you open two windows!)

A second version posted by a father, is in the comments section.

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Subject line:

Protect My Baby, Protect Me

Message:

As a constituent, I'm writing to invite you to attend a breastfeeding picnic being held on Parliament Square, Westminster on Monday July 21st, between 12 noon and 4pm.

The picnic is to raise awareness of the lack of protection for hungry babies and their mothers in England and Wales. We need to make sure that as a very basic minimum, legislation is brought in to safeguard hungry babies as has been done in Scotland.

Hungry babies require milk when they are hungry. Mothers, fathers and caregivers need to feel safe in feeding hungry babies.

A hungry baby needs milk, be it from a bottle, or the mother's breast.

Scotland has recognised this, and the rest of the UK should receive the same protection. Please seriously consider this issue as you enjoy the Summer Recess. The mothers and children at the picnic will be happy to discuss it with you over tea and cakes. There are regional picnics if you are not in Westminster on that day. Kind regards...

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Organising details of Parliament Square (maps, toilets, etc) are now being added. We're still finalising police permission for Oxford, but otherwise, Durham, Birmingham, Hinckely and Bournemouth are all up and running. Details here.