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No Apologies for Passions, Part II of CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed

I haven’t written anything since my last article, CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed, because I didn’t want to go overboard on the topics of cannabis and breastfeeding and bore my readers.  I was apologizing before I even got started for the passion I have to speak on these issues.  How’s that for female socialization?!

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So fuck it, and fuck you if you are already sick of my articles on these two issues.  I don’t want to be that cutie pie.

I’m happy, and I want to tell the world what I have discovered but always knew deep inside!!  That there are women all over the United States (and world) ready to come out of the cannacloset.

I never expected the reaction I received from my last article.

I thought I would receive hate mail, and sure, there were plenty of people that disagreed, and some even made nasty remarks on Facbook (oooohhh!), but the overwhelming majority of messages I received from women were expressions of gratefulness.  Message after message I received were from women who thanked me for speaking up and taking a stand.  They called me brave, one after another.

I’m not brave!!  I was terrified to hit the publish button on that post, but I am fed up.  In a matter of days, hundreds of women reached out to me.  They wanted advice and help.  This made me angry to see so many women hurting and afraid.  I have now focused most of the fucks I have to give on cannamamas.  After seeing the help one single article could do to end the negative stigma of cannabis, I feel reaffirmed in my convictions.  I am more determined than ever to help end cannabis prohibition.

I want to share some of these women’s words that touched my heart and fuel my fire.

You’re amazing, and what you’re doing by posting about breastfeeding and your cannabis use is so important and brave! I’m 20weeks pregnant with my first here in Denver, and I hope can be as open and honest as you seem to be. More power to ya, keep doing what you’re doing!” Denver, Colorado, USA

Hi Jeanna! I read your article and as a cannamama who has a bachelors in poli sci and used to work in dispensaries and agrees with everything you wrote I just have to say you are my hero for writing it. You are doing everything I am dreaming of doing, only I live in NYC again (I lived in Colorado for five years) and our MMJ is just starting to happen… Anyway, I just wanted to tell you I loved your article a lot!” Vlada Vik, NYC, USA, 08/04/2015

I’ve been DYING to talk to you ever since you posted your article on Twitter. I just have a few questions. What situations would cause a pediatrician to test a baby? How often do you smoke/consume? And about how much? I haven’t smoked since my morning sickness went away with my youngest because I’m so afraid of losing my kids. I took a bite of an edible a few months ago and it didn’t affect my daughter at all. But that’s all I’ve had and I just want to know what I can do to be safe / a little more informed.” Hope Smith, Tuscon, Arizona, USA, 08/04/2015

I just read your article on BFMT.. I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!! I’m so tired of mothers and parents in general being threatened over cannabis! It took so much bravery for you to come out fighting and tell it how it is, and I’m so glad someone is finally calling out all the bullshit surrounding this PLANT. I hope eventually it will be completely legal in every state. I rarely smoke, but it absolutely has no influence on my parenting. My children are clean, fed, played with, and loved! I’m pretty sure some states have passed laws where they can drug test and jail women for failing I’m not sure if it includes cannabis, but that is scary to me!!! I’m not saying leave a child with a heroin addict, but there is no reason to put a child in the system and strip a woman of her rights because of a plant that grows out of the ground. It’s out of control! Don’t worry about the negative comments. Those people must have never smoked or they have just been duped by the governments “reefer madness”.”  B. R., Nashville, Tennessee, USA, 08/04/2015   *BFMT is Breastfeeding Mama Talk, an excellent resource for breastfeeding support.*

I wanted to thank you for your article that I just read via badass breast feeders. I was an avid marijuana user prior to my pregnancy. I also smoked everyday while losing 60lbs, obtaining my masters in educational leadership, and teaching high school. I was so scared about smoking with my pregnancy that I quit and have not started again. My daughter is 1 now and still nurses 2-4 times a day. I want to start smoking again as it helps with migraines, stress, and my anxiety. My mind isn’t made up yet but you definitely bring up a number of good and valid points.
Thank you for your honesty.” C. S., Baltimore, Maryland, USA, 08/04/2015  *shout out to the Badass Breastfeeder mentioned above. Thank you for sharing my article and doing what you do.*

I have no idea who you are or where you are from but I just read the article you had written and I can’t be anymore grateful to you for being so brave. I myself used “cannabis ” during my pregnancy with my son ( it was the only way I could eat or drink) – like you said it literally saved my pregnancy and from me going insane lol ! — I also used cannabis while breastfeeding my son for the first year of his life ! … He is now two And I shit you not EVERY mother that comes in contact with my little guy literally says to me ” wow he is speaking in full sentences already” his day care lady compliments all the time on how developed and smart he is. Thank you for speaking out ! Because through that whole time I remained silent and hidden incase of being called a drug addict ! Hats off to you girl ! Totally joining your secret group !!! Keep doing your thing !! And thanks again! S. M., Pennsylvania, USA, 08/04/2015

This IS a movement.

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CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed

A couple of weeks ago, after speaking with a handful of receptionists in an effort to find a new primary care physician, I realized there must be a large number of people who are unaware cannabis is the technical term for marijuana.  I discovered this when I asked for the doctor’s stance on cannabis use, and the reply from the other end of the line was “huh?” or “what?” followed by a short explanation from me.  I’m still surprised physician staff in a legal state do not know, and do not use scientific terminology.

Proper term use helps combat the stigma associated with cannabis consumption.  This is important for a number of reasons, one highlighted in mid July by the Colorado Board of Health’s failure to add Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to the list of debilitating conditions accepted for medical marijuana prescriptions despite the recommendation to do so from the Chief Medical Officer.  Preconceived notions should not dictate law or interfere with personal medical decisions, but they are exactly what caused the Colorado Board of Health to decline the addition of PTSD to conditions treated with medical marijuana, or simply cannabis.  Otherwise, the board members would have listened to the research that shows remarkable results.  Too often when lawmakers and people outside of the cannabis community hear “marijuana”, or even “medical marijuana”, images of “reefer madness” are conjured up.  The stereotypes, and frankly threats, follow.

This decision to ignore the recommendations of medical professionals and patients already has a serious impact on women and particularly mothers because according to the US Department of Veteran affairs, women are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD than men, and half of all women experience a traumatic event which results in PTSD.  The United States Census figures 81% of women were mothers by age 40 to 44 as of 2010.  

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The consumption of cannabis is taboo, but no group of people are more hesitant to discuss their use than pregnant and breastfeeding women, a class of people who already face extreme challenges.  The reason we are hesitant is we face more than snide remarks and “side-eyed” looks.  We face more than discrimination.  We face the fear of losing our children.  Yes, I said “we”.  I am a cannamama that currently nurses my eighteen-month-old daughter, and used cannabis for about nine months of my breastfeeding relationship with my ten-year-old son.

Mothers should not fear losing their children because they choose cannabis to treat their ailments.  Months of government involvement in personal lives is not a good use of limited and precious resources meant to protect children.  Arbitrary rules and the whims of individuals should not rip families apart, but this is the current system that deals with reports of mothers that use cannabis.  I speak with women often about their experiences with child protective services (CPS) and the investigations that begin moments after giving birth.  Many of the stories sound familiar to my own.

I was handed a urine analysis cup before I was taken to recovery after the birth of my daughter in January of 2014.  I returned my cup to the nurse full of blood.  Meanwhile, another nurse rushed my newborn’s meconium to a lab to be tested as well.  Parental consent is not necessary.  Our bodily fluids and the bodily fluids of our children do not belong to us according to hospital staff.

The following day, a hospital social worker invaded my time with my family and new baby to spread propaganda and fear.  It was all very shady.  My husband and I were questioned at length, but kept in the dark as to what would happen next.  On the day we were to go home, a nurse told us that we would have to wait to be discharged until after we saw the social worker again.  All I wanted to do was get home and snuggle in my bed with my newborn, but instead we waited in fear.  We remained in a state of apprehension before a nurse came in and said we could leave.  It was horribly weird.

My husband remembers feeling uncomfortable and threatened.  It was clear they were ready to rip a newborn from a mother’s arms for using cannabis although I had refused pain medicine during labor, delivery, and recovery.  I didn’t have more than Ibuprofen and maybe a single Vicodin (I’d have to check my medical records to be exact) to relieve the pain from second degree tears and a hemorrhage the doctors had difficulty stopping, but the state was worried I was a druggie because I use cannabis.  It was quickly apparent to us that my husband’s sobriety, my insistence to protect my rights, and dedication to our baby’s health were top factors in the social worker’s choice not to pursue an investigation.

I’m not telling my story for sympathy.  I’m over it.  I have my precious daughter and CPS left us alone after the initial visit.  We are happy as can be.  However, this is not the outcome for every cannamama, and stories like mine are common.  These experiences should not happen to any woman that has just birthed new life simply because they chose cannabis as opposed to a prescription drug especially when the majority of these women, myself included, disclosed our choice of our own volition.

It’s not the best policy to treat honesty so harshly.  Because of my experience and the experiences of other cannamamas, I recommend lying where this matter is concerned when pregnant cannamamas ask my advice.  Women are afraid of their healthcare providers.  These are the same women with doctors who thrust Phenergan, Zofran, Reglan, Meloxicam, Flexeril, Vicodin, Oxycodone, Percocet, Fentanyl, Procardia, Amoxicillin, Prednisone, Tramadol, Dilaudid, Morphine, Celexa, Valium, Lexapro (need I go on?), and endless other pharmaceutical medications plus over-the-counter drugs at them.  I mean, not to get stupid, but cannabis has caused less deaths than Tylenol.

Stop treating us like chronically addicted drug abusers.  We aren’t, and our children are not in danger.  Most of us are good parents invested in raising quality human beings.  We get on the floor and play with our kids, we interact with them and enjoy watching them grow.  We worry about their health and education and all the other things good parents that don’t use cannabis worry over.

People seem to be under the impression that I have just done a hit of acid. I don’t know how to explain to the general public I’m totally normal other then my bullshit tolerance has gone WAY up.” – Elizabeth S., Denver, CO

A couple of days ago, someone in my secret Facebook group for cannabis-consuming peaceful parents shared a recent Cosmopolitan article written by cannamama, Lea Grover.  I agree with her, but she only admits to using occasionally when she is stressed as if to appeal to her readers and prevent harsh judgement.  I’m putting it all out there.  I “wake and bake“.  Using cannabis is part of my daily routine like brushing my teeth and flossing, and has been for more than half my life.

Cannabis saved my pregnancy with my son, made my pregnancy with my daughter tolerable, and helps me in my day to day life.  I don’t care if you believe me.  I care that you leave us alone.  I know what cannabis has done for me, and I know women that credit cannabis as their savior too.  I also know women forced to stop breastfeeding.  I know women forced to take parenting classes.  I know women that have had their children removed from their home.  I can’t remain silent any longer. The misplaced judgement must stop.  I expect critics, but I’m tired of hiding.  I know a slew of women tired of hiding too.  I come out of the cannabis closet for them.

If you are a nasty critic you may be wondering how my ten-year-old son, product of my first pregnancy in which I chose cannabis over Phenergan and Zofran to treat hyperemesis gravidarum, turned out.  I am proud to report this year he enters fifth grade and beginning his fifth school year as an HGT-identified (highly gifted and talented) student.  This means he is part of the one percent of the district’s student population that qualify based on “demonstrated achievement”.  He plays tackle football, performed in several Disney plays with a local theater troupe, gets along well with his peers, enjoys golf and reading…he’s already completed the Harry Potter series and read over a million words last year (that’s just what they tracked at his school and gave him an award for)…he loves math, and wants to pursue a STEM career.  I could go on and on.

As I have said many times in many conversations, I wish my son was involved in a study on the effects of cannabis on children exposed in utero and through breastmilk in order to help debunk the myths.  My daughter could be studied too as she currently exhibits similar attributes.  She amazes me daily with her abilities at this young age.

Coming out of the cannabis closet as a mother that uses cannabis and breastfeeds will impact my life professionally and personally.  My Grandmother-in-law is already concerned my husband and I will get another visit from CPS followed by threats of taking our children.

If you are a nursing cannamama, please know that you are not alone.

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***The website – www.poliscimommy.com – may provide general information about cannabis use. I am not a doctor or a lawyer. I cannot give you medical or legal advice. I do not warrant or assume legal liability or responsibility. If you, the reader, or anyone else has a medical or legal concern, I urge you to seek professional care from a licensed individual.

Again, the information on my website is not intended to provide diagnoses, prevent, or cure any disease. In case of any health concern, you should always consult a licensed doctor or trusted health care provider.

i encourage people to change the law as opposed to break it. If you are not in a location where cannabis is legal, I do not warrant or assume legal liability or responsibility for your actions.

These are my opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints. I make no warranties or guarantees, expressed or implied.***

 

 

 

Creeps, Leave Nursing Mamas Alone

Social media is such fun.  It’s where we get to share pictures, call each other names, and it is another place where women encounter abuse.  I have been incessantly harassed and trolled for a year now, one troll after another, people who report me for violations of Facebook’s community standards intended for “encouraging respectful behavior” with regards to nudity.  They are offended by pictures of my child nursing, and call it “pornographic”.

Since my story about Facebook deleting my account over a breastfeeding photo went viral in June of 2014, photo reports are a regular event in my social media life.  I am an activist, and I use social media to speak out about issues important to me, so I expect some level of backlash; however, it amazes me that the number one reason I am trolled and harassed is over my “lactivism”.

Yesterday, I decided to open my “Other” mailbox Facebook has for private messages.  Checking my “Other” mailbox gives me anxiety because I frequently receive messages like this one:BrianWatkinsHarassmentPM

https://www.facebook.com/poliscimommy/posts/10205282407752066?comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22O%22%7D&pnref=story

Unfortunately, I am not alone.  The online harassment of women is nothing new.  Women report abuse of this nature daily.  This has been a hot topic for a while with celebrity women such as Jennifer Lawrence and Nicki Minaj who spoke out against the abuse they have endured.

The harassment of nursing mothers is its own level of creepy.  Here’s a disturbing comment left on one of my breastfeeding pictures this week.TravisSearles

 

Here’s the jewel he left in my inbox.Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 11.23.02 AM

 

Brian Watkins (the first creep) tells me that he has been harassing me for some time now.

 

We aren’t friends, guy, stop coming to my page and looking at my pictures if you find children eating so offensive.  You don’t need to report my pictures.  You aren’t saving the “children”.  You’re just being a pain in my ass because Facebook’s algorithms still haven’t figured out that my photos do NOT violate their community policy even though Facebook has repeatedly stated these removals are mistakes.

 

I have been locked out of my account multiple times since the news story aired because of creepy trolls like Brian and their relentless reporting.  As recently as last month, Facebook blocked me from posting content for a total of 3 days because I posted a breastfeeding picture of another mom.FromBellyToBreastBan

https://twitter.com/PoliSciMommy/status/609059527833456640

Now, the inability to post content on Facebook, while frustrating, is not the grand offense.  It is the treatment of women, and the shame associated with our bodies versus the normalcy of breastfeeding.  Nursing mothers have enough struggles just trying to feed our babies.

We do not need the objections, the looks, the stares, the rude photos posted to social media mocking us, the trolls, the reports, the bans, and the nasty messages and comments to go along with the already difficult task of breastfeeding.  Let us feed our babies in peace and comfort.  These are important elements to a healthy breastfeeding relationship.    If pictures of babies breastfeeding bother you, perhaps you need to look inside yourself and question why exactly you find it so objectionable.

Our breastfeeding community is strong.  We will not allow bullies to intimidate us from nurturing our children normally.  We will not be deterred by creeps from posting photos to support, encourage, and normalize breastfeeding.  I reported the private message above to Facebook for harassment, but Facebook denied Brian Watkins’ message violates community standards.  What does it say when ongoing harassment and intimidation do not violate community standards, but a photograph of a woman and child does?

Even if Facebook doesn’t have our backs, nursing mamas have each other’s.  Breastfeeding Mama Talk posted Brian Watkin’s private message to me, and women rallied against his behavior.  We know what harassment is, and we will not tolerate it any longer. We will not be sexually objectified while we nurture our children.  We will not be shamed. https://www.facebook.com/bfmamatalk/photos/a.471668436214912.96317.411182815596808/888259534555798/?type=1

Feeding children can never be “pornographic”, Mr. Watkins, and if seeing a child nursing sexually stimulates you, please seek professional help.