I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time; since I read the little white tag attached to my nursing pillow. Unfortunately, I was prompted to read this tag long after I stopped using a pillow to nurse my son. What I read horrified me. I was distraught and defeated and felt so betrayed. I cried for 2 hours straight. My husband did all he could do to console me. What could be so bad about a nursing pillow? They are wonderful aids to one of the most sacred acts between two human beings. My tiny little baby, fresh and new to the world laid trustingly upon the baby-blue velour; soft against his tender cheek as he suckled vigorously until completely satiated. His eyes rolling back, mouth open in a drunken milk-induced state, trusting that I would keep him safe.
My baby slept in organic pajamas on an organic crib mattress (after co-sleeping with us), was swaddled in organic cotton blankets, is not vaccinated, drank only breast milk, then organic homemade baby food, and has never been on antibiotics, yet he has been exposed to toxic flame retardants from contact with MY NURSING PILLOW! California Technical Bulletin 117 which covers home furnishings flammability requirements includes foam nursing pillows and padded foam high chairs. I hardly see, (through my bleary, teary, bloodshot eyes) how a nursing pillow is a “home furnishing”.
The first tag reads:
That’s not the offending one. Here it is:
You mean to tell me that my baby and I were exposed to toxic chemicals to protect the babies of smoking mothers?! Mind you, I believe in protecting all babies – even those whose mothers choose to enjoy a Virginia Slim or Marlboro Light while nursing their wee one. But, the word “cigarette” should never be connected to anything related to babies and nursing! Are you as shocked as I? Do you really think that mothers who would actually smoke while nursing would choose to breast feed in the first place? I mean, most nursing mothers choose health reasons as one of their main reasons for breast feeding. Smokers obviously don’t care about their health. But, to be fair, I guess they may care about their child’s health. So, good for their babies, if an ash or fully lit cigarette should slip out of a sleep-deprived new mum’s mouth and accidentally drop onto their “My Brest Friend” nursing pillow, their tender babe won’t go up in flames. And the rest of us who care about our own health, as well as our baby’s, get a nice dose of flame retardant at each nursing session. (Which, may I remind some of you, is 8-12 times each day for newborns!) No wonder flame retardants are found in increasing amounts in breast milk! Here is an excerpt from the EWG:
Our tests found fire retardants called PBDEs in the breast milk of every one of 20 first-time mothers who volunteered for our study, at average levels 75 times higher than those found in breast milk of women in Europe. These fire retardants can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones that are critical to the proper growth and development of the brain, nervous system and many other organs and systems in a baby’s tiny body. Breast milk is still near universally considered a better food for babies than formula. But breast milk free of toxic industrial chemicals is better still.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also studied mothers and their children ages 1-4 and found 3 times the levels of flame retardant in toddlers than in their mothers. This is a reason for concern. I realize this law isn’t specifically protecting smoking persons, but c’mon! The word ‘cigarette’ is on my freakin’ nursing pillow. I can’t get over it! I have two nursing pillow covers for changing out when washing. Each time I removed the cover I was exposed directly to the treated foam. @#%$! What’s a mom to do?
Well, last year I wrote a scathing passionate letter to the company to get more information and reveal my indignation displeasure about their product. I am being completely honest and copying it exactly the way I wrote it. I am a bit embarrassed, as I was fuming mad and very distraught when I wrote it. It was a bit like drunk dialing. I am more tactful in my approach when contacting companies now.
“I have one of your pillows and used it to nurse my baby after a lactation consultant recommended it over the Boppy. I have been reading about PBDE’s and discovered that they are not just used in mattresses and electronics, but some home furnishings, like padded high chairs and gliders. An article mentioned nursing pillows and I thought – of course, no one would put toxic flame retardant on a nursing pillow used for one of the most pure and sacred acts between a mother and baby. And lo and behold I pulled mine out of the closet and read the tag to find that the foam inside is indeed treated with flame retardant! Why would a pillow need to be treated? Of course, I disagree with anything being treated with it. Just because something is made of foam it shouldn’t need to be treated. A nursing pillow of all things shouldn’t have toxic chemicals in it. It’s bad enough that PBDE’s are found in breast milk in increasing quantities. Your pillow may be better support for a baby, but the Boppy and other similar pillows are not made of foam and therefore not treated. I am getting rid of My Brest Friend pillow and will order an organic nursing pillow in the future! I will also let my pregnant friends know, as well as all the moms in the 3 mom’s groups I am in NOT to use your brand.”
Their first repsonse:
First I would like to thank you for your concern; it is a big area of concern for us too. While we are required by law (CA TB117) to treat our products with fire retardant, we do so without the use of PBDEs. Please let me know if there are any other questions that you have about our products.
And my reply:
How is nursing pillow considered a home furnishing? I’ts more of an accessory. I don’t see why it falls under 117 at all. Are you using phosphorus-based flame retardants?
Unfortunately Customs considers it a cushion, thus falling under 117. The flame retardant is anti-blaze V6, the most user friendly retardant we could find, and I’m not sure about phosphorus.
Here is some information about Antiblaze V6:
ANTIBLAZE V6 flame retardant is a high-molecular-weight phosphate ester for polyether, high-resilience and molded foams. It is particularly suited for automotive and furniture applications where resistance to migration after ageing is a flammability standards requirement.
Well, I am somewhat relieved that they don’t use PBDE’s and have opted for the version used more widely in Europe. Those Europeans seem to care a little more about the health of their nations’ people. And after I calmed down I realized I can do something about some of the toxins in my environment. I can become politically active to help make changes. I can support organizations, like the EWG who work to get legislation passed to protect us. And, at home, I can just eliminate environmentally-unfriendly foam products. I sold my Peg Pereggo foam high chair that had the same offending tag and switched to a booster seat for my son to join us at the big table. I will be donating my nursing pillow and next time (if there’s a next time ) I will opt for an organic nursing pillow. The My Brest Friend is a great design with more firm support than others. Maybe one day someone will make a latex nursing pillow. I think the same result could be achieved without the use of toxic chemicals.
Ahhh. Breathe in. Breath out. That feels better. I got it off my ‘brest’.