Tag Archives: breastfeeding support

To “Our” Mommas

16 Mar

ImageIt never ceases to amaze us how quickly trust is established as we cross the threshold of your sacred space.

Such a tiny moment in our lives, we feel privileged to join you in such a big part of your life.

You may be feeling vulnerable, unsure of yourself, desperate for help and reassurance that you are “doing things right.”

You have cried tears of joy and tears of frustration…and sometimes we have cried with you.  

A bond of friendship has formed in many cases, and you’ve paid us the highest compliment of

inviting us back with the birth of your next sweet baby.

Little do you know how much we think of you and sometimes agonize over our inability to “fix” things for you.  

But we know our most important job is to empower you, and we will walk along side of you for as long as you need us.  

We are overjoyed when you reach out to us down the road to let us how things are going

regardless of your ultimate feeding decision.

Often we live vicariously through you, remembering our own days as new mommas and the

feelings we had as we snuggled our own soft, warm little bundles, only wanting to give our very best to them.

We learn from you everyday, and you allow us to share your struggles so that others may learn, too.

When our feet cross that threshold, we have nothing but

respect for your space.

We honor your courage and commitment.

We stand in awe of your strength.

And we marvel at the bond that has so quickly formed between you and your baby…

A true picture of perfection.

We love you and your baby.  

Thank you for allowing us to play a small part in your mothering journey.

image: www.freedigitalphotos.net, moggara 12

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Take Off the Gloves: It’s Not The Boob Bashers Vs. The Lactation Snobs

13 Aug

boxing ring“In one corner, we have Fanny Formula-Feeder,

and in the other corner stands Betsy Breast-Feeder.”

Ding, ding, ding!  Who will you bet on? 

Who will get the KO and leave the other walking down the path of shame?

Sounds very corny, I know…but isn’t that what we as moms are doing? 

Duking it out over each other’s pregnancy, birth and parenting decisions?

Technology has enabled us to share our opinions with virtually the whole world.   Perhaps two of the hottest topics of discussion among women of childbearing age all over the world are how you feed your baby and breastfeeding in public.  These may be as common as such topics as your due date, your baby’s gender, and whether or not you will have an epidural.  Moms flock to Facebook pages and groups seeking advice on all their parenting decisions from pregnancy to preschool and beyond.  Unfortunately, there will always be those who seem to cast judgment on moms who choose options that are different from their own.  Often, instead of encountering support, moms come across discouraging comments leaving them confused and unsure of their choices.

Moms who made the decision to formula feed from birth feel they are being judged.

“Why didn’t you at least give breastfeeding a try?”

Moms who made the decision to exclusively breastfeed from birth feel they are being judged.

“You know you’ll get less sleep.  Your baby will just use you as a pacifier.”

Moms who tried breastfeeding and then switched to formula feel they are being judged.

“Breastfeeding was tough for me in the beginning, too.  But we hung in there and made it work.”

Moms who choose baby-led weaning feel they are being judged.

“You haven’t weaned that baby yet?  There aren’t any benefits past a year.”

Moms who decide to pump exclusively and feed breastmilk in a bottle feel like they are being judged.

“Bottle feeding breastmilk isn’t the same.  Babies don’t bond with moms the same way that babies fed at the breast do.”

Moms who decide to cover up while nursing in public are judged. 

“Covering up sends the message that it’s not appropriate to nurse uncovered.”

Moms who decide not to cover up while nursing in public are being judged.

“No one wants to see exposed breasts in public; cover up.” or “Can I show you a more private place to feed your baby?”

Regardless of whether statements made are fact or not, words, spoken and/or written, can have an enormous impact.  “Well, we have the choice whether or not to be offended and can choose to ignore,” you say; however, first-time moms early in their experience are vulnerable and may be teetering on the edge.  Confidence levels are shot, decisions are second-guessed.  They may hole up in their homes to avoid scrutiny and depend on the internet for socializing. ( I wonder if there may be a correlation here between isolation and post-partum depression?)

I don’t believe comments are made maliciously.  Often moms are simply voicing their struggles, seeking to justify their decisions, and looking for support without condition.

How a mom feeds her baby is a personal decision.  Isn’t that what our culture encourages?  Choice?  You don’t know the whole picture.  You can’t see the whole picture on social media sites like Facebook.

Bay Area Breastfeeding & Education wholeheartedly supports breastfeeding as nature’s way…what our bodies are made to do.  But we aren’t the momma, and the baby is not ours.  Leah and I are advocates for more moms breastfeeding and more babies getting breastmilk; however, we work for the whole family and moms and their goals.  Our practice is evidenced based, and we provide accurate information.  It is then up to the mom to make the choice.  The BABEs pride ourselves in meeting moms where they are on the breastfeeding spectrum.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  There will be be no judgment cast on moms who decide to exclusively breastfeed or exclusively pump and bottle feed breastmilk or moms who breastfeed part-time and formula feed to meet baby’s need or moms who formula feed exclusively.

So, are you a boob basher or a lactation snob?  Strive to be a Mommy Advocate instead:

                       

Respect other moms’ choices.

Realize that words can make an impact.

Provide support to all fellow moms regardless of their decisions.

Be confident in your decisions.

Realize you are making the best choice for yourself and your whole family.

Remind yourself that often you don’t know the mom personally and can’t see the whole picture.

Choose to offer support without condition.

This doesn’t mean we back down from our convictions and opinions.  This doesn’t mean we ignore or water down the facts.  We can be radical in a way that is respectful.  Let’s spend our time being Mommy Advocates and finding ways to educate families prenatally instead of spending time arguing amongst ourselves.  Breastfeeding support should start before pregnancy.

 What are some other ways you can offer unconditional support to moms?

Round Two: 10 Tips for Nursing Your Newborn While Chasing a Toddler

7 Jun

Tears streamed down my face

as I sat in the recliner nursing my one week old son, holding my 18 month old daughter and watching my mom drive away.   Though breastfeeding was much easier the second time around, I was unsure how I was going to manage with a toddler and a newborn.  I had visions of my busy toddler coloring on the walls or playing in the toilet while I was sitting every 2-3 hours (or more often) nursing my son.  How I wish I knew then what I know now!

“Breastfeeding the second time around was SO much easier. Probably because I had the confidence. I breastfed my first for 2 years, so I ‘knew’ I could do it again. I just felt way more comfortable, and I knew the early pain was normal and would get better in a few days. It’s been tough because my toddler still needs attention, but the baby needs to eat! So we’re working on it and figuring it out together. But overall, it has been way easier and more comfortable the second time around.”   Beth, pictured above

  1. Prepare them.  Depending on your toddler’s age, consider taking her to a sibling preparation class.  Classes vary but usually include watching a video about becoming a big brother or big sister, diaper changing and swaddling practice on dolls, a craft project and sometimes a visit from a real newborn.  Read more about preparing your child for baby’s arrival here.  This is a great list of books geared toward sibling prep, and click here for children’s books about breastfeeding.
  2. Feed them.   Have healthy finger foods available for your toddler to snack on during some of your nursing sessions.  Put together little baggies of their favorites that are easy to grab and go.
  3. Surprise them.  How many times have you remarked your toddler has too many toys?  Pack some of them away in plastic tubs for awhile then pull them back out during the times you are caring for the baby.  Designate those as the breastfeeding toys.
  4. Contain them.  As I remarked above, I was concerned what my toddler would get into while I was nursing.  Create a nursing nest in a safe space where you can keep an eye on your toddler.  Installing a gate is an easy way to create a boundary.
  5. Include them.  Encourage visitors ahead of time to make sure and pay special attention to your toddler as the baby is a magnet!  I even suggest in my sibling class that visitors bring a treat to big brother or sister.
  6. Involve them.  Making the baby off-limits to big brother or sister will only cause them to resent the newborn.  Show them how to be gentle while staying close to prevent any accidental head bops or eye pokes.  Let them “help” with diaper changes, baths, retrieving clothes or your nursing pillow.
  7. Spend quality time with them.  Your time will be divided but your love is not.  Steal lots of moments to hug and kiss on your toddler.  When your partner gets home, hand over the baby and take big brother or sister aside to read a book with them, play a game, take a walk around the block or start their bedtime routine.   Plan toddler “dates,” such as a trips to the park or library, where the whole family can get out and brother or sister understands that the baby can be fun, too.
  8. Pack for them.  Take a trip to the dollar store, and pick up a few items like stickers, notepads, colors, pens, etc, and a little bag or basket to pack them in.  Make it the special bag that only comes out at nursing times.
  9. Expect regression from them.  For reasons they don’t even really understand, your toddler may regress to more baby-like behavior after the new baby comes.  If they are potty-trained, they may even regress in that area.  Refrain from disciplining this behavior and understand it is temporary and perhaps the toddler’s way of expressing “I need an extra, extra hug so I can feel like I am still important.”
  10. Embrace flexibility.  Learning to be flexible is a requirement for motherhood as our kids don’t always fit into the neat little boxes our culture creates for them.  Anticipate the diaper blow-outs right before you walk out the door.  Be ready for the toddler melt-down in the store.  Carry an extra shirt to change into after the unexpected spit up.  And most of all, look forward to the intangible rewards being a mom brings, whether you have one, two, or five!

What other tips can you share for moms going from one to two?

Lactation Derailment Can Begin in the Hospital: 10 Tips for Avoiding a Trainwreck

29 May

I must preface this blog by explaining that

fourteen years ago I became a mother/baby nurse, and ten years ago I became the resident childbirth educator and “breastfeeding counselor” on staff at a local hospital.  We did not have an IBCLC on staff, so I was IT until we hired another educator.  My training as a nurse, some time as a member of La Leche League and my own personal breastfeeding experience was all I had in my arsenal.  Though I wasn’t “official,”  I worked the position of a lactation consultant.  And it wasn’t easy…so many moms…so little time…so many interventions.  That being said, please read the following with the understanding that I have been “on the other side,” doing my best as a nurse to help fresh babies latch…bending over beds as an educator positioning babies and sandwiching breasts for moms who were too sleepy on pain medication post-cesarean to do it themselves.

A week ago, I had the privilege of visiting a new family in the hospital to provide assistance with breastfeeding.  She has given me permission to share my observations.

When I arrived, I had dad undress baby down to diaper and in skin to skin with mom.  The baby was only 36 hours old and very sleepy after a long labor and difficult delivery.  Mom, Dad and I chatted for a moment then got to the business of latch.  The baby would not wake up.

A nurse came in to give mom pain medication.

Though I was not surprised at the baby’s behavior, he appeared jaundiced, and I knew it was important to get colostrum into him.  So, we proceeded to hand express and collect colostrum to spoon/syringe feed him.

Then the baby photographer came in to show the picture previews.

Mom asked her to come back later.  (Reminder:  Mom is sitting in hospital bed with her breasts exposed.) We continued hand expression and then fed the colostrum back to the baby.  He began to exhibit some hunger cues, so we put him back to the breast.

The OB came in to check on mom.

Once again, latch attempt without success.  More hand expression.

Knock, knock? Have you had a chance to look at your pictures? Baby photographer again. (Are you kidding me?)

More teaching, more skin to skin….fed baby more colostrum.

A different nurse came to check on mom.

Another latch attempt…

The first nurse came back to tell mom the baby’s procedure had been delayed.

We wrapped up latch attempts (and the baby) as we knew the nursery nurse would be coming to get the baby soon.  He was happily sleeping in Grandma’s arms as we discussed a care plan.

Persistent photographer, back again, insisting on showing the pictures.

I wrote out mom’s care plan.

Nursery nurse came to retrieve baby.

I ensured mom had my number for questions, planned to follow up with a home visit, and I made my exit.  Did you count the number of interruptions?  How long do you think I was there?

Eight interruptions in one hour and fifteen minutes. 

I left there concerned about derailment and feared I would encounter a trainwreck at her home visit.  Fortunately, when I arrived, breastfeeding was going well and she needed very little assistance from me at the follow up.

Now, I realize everyone that came in just saw me as a visitor.  They weren’t aware of who I was or why I was there.  However, my presence aside, feeding her newborn was mom’s priority, but what was the priority for the people that kept interrupting?  Definitely not feeding a 36 hour old, sleepy newborn who appeared jaundiced.

How can a mom even think about getting breastfeeding established when she is being bombarded by staff from all sides?  It’s sensory overload.  As a private practice lactation consultant, I see the outcome of this all the time….the trainwrecks…the result of the cascade of interventions.

What steps can you take to avoid the trainwreck?

  1. Take a prenatal breastfeeding class so that you know what’s normal for the early days of breastfeeding.
  2. Hire a Doula to minimize birth interventions which can lead to troubles breastfeeding.
  3. Find a breastfeeding friendly pediatrician who will support your breastfeeding goals.
  4. Research local resources for breastfeeding help that are available to you once you get home such as La Leche League or private practice lactation consultant that is an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).
  5. Prepare your partner to be the gatekeeper after delivery to minimize interruptions in your breastfeeding. You may also want your partner to accompany your newborn to the nursery to keep watch and ensure your feeding preference is respected.
  6. Hand express your colostrum and feed back to the baby. Doing this up to 6 times a day can increase and speed copious milk production.
  7. Reinforce your desire to breastfeed without any supplementation to every nurse that you have contact with.
  8. Room-in with you baby to keep your baby close and to learn his hunger cues.
  9. Better yet, keep your baby “on” you to facilitate skin to skin contact which has been shown to stabilize temperature,
    heart rate and oxygenation. You are your baby’s best habitat!
  10. Ask to see the lactation consultant…and keep asking….getting help early is so important!

A “Time” To Celebrate

16 May

Molly at 24 Months

I didn’t need to read the article featured on the cover of Time  magazine to predict the tone of the piece, and it was obvious that the intent of the photo accompanying the article was to ruffle feathers not encourage educated, non-judgemental discussion.  Fact is, how you feed your baby and for how long is a personal decision. As mothers, we should have the freedom to parent our children without fear of judgement.  Any woman who takes hold of the responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of her children is

mom enough.”

Bay Area Breastfeeding and Education supports breastfeeding as the biological norm, and we would love to see exclusive breastfeeding rates at 6 months increase (currently only 14.8%)…

  • Katherine Dettwyler’s anthropological research shows that the minimum predicted age for natural weaning is 2.5 to 7 years.
  • The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, then to 2 years or beyond.
  • Here in the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics “reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.”

…However, though our goal is more moms breastfeeding and more babies receiving breastmilk, we support moms where they are and work to help them reach their goals.  The mom is the mom…we are not; the baby is hers…not ours; the baby has to eat…it’s mom’s decision not ours.  We educate, we practice using the evidence, we encourage breastfeeding, we support with compassion, we foster empowerment.

  • The mom who breastfeeds is mom enough.
  • The mom who formula feeds is mom enough.
  • The mom who home schools is mom enough.
  • The mom who has her kids in public school is mom enough.
  • The mom with one child is mom enough.
  • The mom with five kids is mom enough.
  • The mom who wears her babies is mom enough,
  • and the mom who doesn’t is mom enough.

So, we celebrate moms of all walks of life, everyday, everywhere.  And in celebration of the 100 strong moms and 101 beautiful babies BABE has had the privilege of walking along side of, we are giving away a beautiful Moby Wrap (pictured).  Here’s how to win:

  • Click the “Follow” button and enter your information to subscribe to our blog.
  • Comment on this blog post by responding to: “We know you are mom enough….tell us how.”
  • Share our post with someone.

The winner will be selected in a random drawing out of the pool of blog followers and will be announced on June 1, 2012, in a blog post.

More Than Meets the Eye: How Doulas Help Moms Breastfeed

12 May

May is International Doula Month…

Source Unknown

As lactation consultants, we are thrilled to work along side our local Houston area doulas.  It is well-supported by research that labor and birth interventions can interfere with the natural course of breastfeeding, and it is also well-supported by research that the incidence of birth complications is reduced by having a doula present at your birth.  However, a doula is more than just “present” at your birth, patting your hand through contractions.  She

  • is passionate about coming along side you during one of the most important and special times in your life,
  • meets with you throughout your pregnancy and builds a relationship with you and your partner to establish trust,
  • provides ongoing education on the labor, birth and postpartum process,
  • assists you in creating a birth plan,
  • actively networks, seeking out the best resources for you,
  • advocates for you at a time when you are most vulnerable,
  • supports you during your labor and birth,
  • acts as a gatekeeper for mom, partner and baby after the birth, and much more…

Doulas are in a unique position to recognize early on any potential breastfeeding challenges.  They understand the importance getting help early.  In our experience, moms with doula support are extremely committed to pursuing breastfeeding even through tough issues.   Cole Deelah, a South-Houston doula, childbirth educator, and midwife apprentice, describes perhaps why we have found this to be true:

“A doula can oftentimes be the mother’s first exposure to breastfeeding education. I encourage the moms that I work with to attend a La Leche League meeting, refer them to area breastfeeding workshops and classes, and offer breastfeeding books from my library, including The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Breastfeeding With Comfort and Joy, and others. A doula also has a lot of time during the prenatal period to educate moms on different helpful positions, what a successful latch and nursing looks like/feels like, local resources, products that might help in the journey, and what is normal/not normal when breastfeeding. And finally, in those first few moments after birth, a doula can help protect the new parenting space, help with initial latch-on, and minimize outside distractions and interference from others. In the first few days after birth, a doula is completely accessible to the new family and can oftentimes be whom the family calls when something doesn’t seem right with the breastfeeding relationship. The doula then has the opportunity to offer additional resources, like a lactation consultant, so as to ensure to the best of abilities, a successful breastfeeding relationship!” (Read more about Cole on her blog, Wonderfully Made Bellies and Babies.)

Three other doulas join Cole in the Houston Doula Cooperative, Nicole Yunker, Lourdes Resendez, and Kimberly Foster.  Read about their co-op here.

Also serving the greater Houston are are the TLC Doulas.  This group is made up of Kathleen Wilson, Dorin Jordan, Amanda Moore, Jessica Gonzales and Rowan TwoSisters.

Now hear from a mom about how her doula helped her breastfeed:

“Hi! I’m LaKendra a proud supporter of breastfeeding, midwives, doulas and all those great non intervention assets surrounding pregnancy and birth. I’m sharing my experience with you regarding Lourdes Resendez who is not just a doula but someone who has really become a special person to me and my 8 month old daughter! Growing up, I knew absolutely no one who breastfed and my family did not support me saying negative things like I’m starving my baby, I’m not producing enough milk, I need to let somebody else feed her, my milk doesn’t have everything she needs like formula, only”white” people do that, I could go on and on about the ignorance and negativity that surrounded me but you get my drift. Kennadi latched on great right after birth and Lourdes took us in for about 3 weeks as I established a great milk supply with her support, I had me a few cups of mothers milk tea on a daily basis which actually was sort of tasty to me, but she gave me that extra boost I needed to get going and staying confident in my decision!! And because of that great start, she’s still exclusively breastfed! Which as a working mom I take to heart because you really have to be dedicated pumping on lunches and breaks, but it’s been a great journey and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!”

…How are you celebrating your doula?

Who’s Feeding Momma? 10 Ways to Support a Breastfeeding Mom

16 Apr

1. Share your successful breastfeeding stories and experiences and leave the negative experience or breastfeeding “horror stories” for another person……a new mom is already emotionally full as she processes her birth experience and contemplates motherhood…she is full of desire to be successful at breastfeeding and bonding with her new baby.  Offering stories of challenges may not fill her with the inspiration she needs, especially if she is struggling…..certainly let her know she is not alone even if there are struggles but adding to the list of “what if” and “could that happen to me” worries is probably going to have a negative effect.

2. Bring her food!! And NO it does not have to be bland and boring just because she is breastfeeding. Most nursing babies have no problem with any foods a mother eats even spicy or bold flavors. You could ask a mother about her preferences but don’t hold back on foods she enjoys. Or make her easy-to-grab, healthy snacks that she can store in her nursing nest and can eat while she feeds the baby!

3. Pamper mom!! Bring her some flowers to brighten the room, offer a foot rub or shoulder massage or bring her some chamomile tea to relax. Fill Momma’s love tank so she can fill baby’s!!!

4. During a feeding help her relax.….if you are present for a feeding, and you see mom getting tense, some gentle relaxation reminders can be helpful! Sometimes her shoulders creep up to her ears. Reminding her to relax and encouraging a few deep breaths can even help with the milk letting down!

5. Ask her what tasks around the house would help reduce her stress.….often times offering to hold the baby or take the baby so she can rest will only stress the mom more or make her feel inadequate as a mother. What may enable her to relax and focus on the baby is clearing the kitchen sink or doing some laundry. Straightening a room or walking the dog? Ask her!!

6. Be the gate keeper…..the early days of learning to breastfeed are usually filled with fumbling and adjusting as mom and baby learn the dance of latching. Mothers may find it hard to manage and focus if there are many visitors stopping in. Help decrease visitors, and you may also want to hold off on long visits until she requests it or feels up to them!

7. Send encouraging texts and emails….let her know how proud you are of her efforts to breastfeed, her dedication to breastfeeding, her amazing mothering abilities…….a simple text like ” You are an awesome mom and every drop of breastmilk you give your baby is a precious gift!” can carry her to through a long feeding at 2 am or a round of evening cluster feedings!

8. If she needs help…help her find good help…..IBCLC’s are the gold standard for  lactation care, bring her a list of local IBCLC’s to call on if she is having any issues!

9. Look up her local chapter of La Leche League and help her get to a meeting! Mother to mother breastfeeding support is invaluable…..she needs to feel like she is not alone…..even if everything is going well, it is good to meet other like-minded moms doing all the same things she is!

10. Help educate others around the new mother about ways to help support her! If you are reading this blog, there is a strong likelihood that you have a new mom in your life…..pass this blog on to others in her life as well.  Create a “village” around this new mom to inspire and support her on the journey of breastfeeding her baby.  Each child we see breastfed in this generation will contribute to a healthier and happier world in the next!!

Meet the BABE IBCLCs…Misti Ryan

22 Nov

For as long as I can remember (early childhood), I have been fascinated with mommas and babies.  My earliest memory of this fascination is when I was about 4 years old after I must have seen a mom breastfeed…I tucked myself in a little corner of our living room with a blanket and my baby doll and proceeded to nurse my doll!

These early experiences fostered a desire to help mommas and babies in my adult years as I attended nursing school and specialized in obstetrics after I graduated.  My career was my passion.  Once I had my foot in the door, though, I plunged head long into my primary goal in life: getting married and having a family of my own!

My wonderful husband and I were married in 1999…baby number one was born the summer of 2001.  My sweet little daughter was born at home with the assistance of my now life long friend and midwife, Jackie Griggs.  She nursed right away.  I was in mommy heaven!  Then, day #3 hit…the challenges!  Nothing was going to keep me from nursing my baby, so I persisted through, and by 6 weeks we were nursing comfortably, and it was pure bliss!

As a labor and delivery nurse, I knew that after my own personal breastfeeding experience I was in a unique position to help moms avoid the problems I had in the beginning of my breastfeeding journey.  I took the childbirth educator position when it became available and added a breastfeeding class to the repertoire soon after.  My job evolved, and I gradually began counseling inpatient breastfeeding moms as an educator.  I made it my personal mission to educate myself on all things breastfeeding and the dream of becoming a lactation consultant was born.

La Leche League played a big role in my breastfeeding success as well as my dream.  I became a leader shortly after the birth of my 2nd daughter in 2004 and have been co-leading the Pasadena group since then.

My family grew rapidly, a son in 2003, another daughter in 2004, third daughter in 2006, and a surprise daughter in 2009…all natural births and all breastfed.  Needless to say, I stayed busy, and each year that passed I patiently postponed making the commitment to apply for the IBCLC exam.  Then, in the fall of 2010 I met Leah Jolly while working on our La Leche League groups’ treasuries.  The rest is history, and here I sit…my dream realized.

I believe mommas are strong.  I believe babies are smart.   I believe birth is a dance.   I believe breastfeeding is natural.  And I am so excited to be a part.  Let the adventure begin!