…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle

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Conscious Breastfeeding is Integrative Nutrition

Geneen Roth, author of ‘Women, Food and God‘ recently featured on Oprah has a philosophy about food that is very much aligned with Conscious Breastfeeding. She has been teaching here in NYC at Integrative Nutrition and describes why this is a good fit in the video below.

A comment thread to my post: Breastfeeding Relationship Status Update: It’s Complicated made me reflect upon these very points.   Breastmilk technically is a food. The natural delivery system is breastfeeding.  In modern times, the relationship inherent in breastfeeding has taken a backseat to it as a nutritional commodity.  An integrative nutrition view blends these two, the  relationship to mother and spirit with the quintessential food for human babies.

Ms. Roth speaks of  “Looking at food as a way of exploring the health and happiness of our entire lives.”  This is my view of Conscious Breastfeeding.  It is feeding with intention and attention; being fully in the moment and as a consequence developing a very powerful. intimate relationship with your baby that informs every aspect of his/her developing life.

Breastmilk  is the conduit for this energy exchange.  Thus, even when apart from the baby, the expressed milk maintains the connection literally and figuratively.  It is quite understandable that food is often equated with love, especially in breastfeeding circles.

Both integrative nutrition and conscious breastfeeding take a holistic view of  mind, body and spirit in relationship to the experience of eating.  Balancing the sum of these parts can help us to set the tone for health and well-being in our lives.

What do you think?

August 30, 2010   No Comments

Breastfeeding and Human Resources

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This New Yorker cartoon was photocopied and sent to me around the time I began my private lactation practice. (Issue unknown)  It still remains very funny after all these years.

Fast forward to today and this highly competitive job market…what if playing the “I was breastfed” card made you stand out in a crowd of applicants?

You could mention how breastfed babies are smarter. In fact, countless studies have shown that breastfeeding not only enhances IQ, but also the health of both the mother and her baby.

In keeping with the growing trend to protect and preserve the environment, being breastfed would mean that adventures in being green began at the start of life.  The carbon footprint would have been minimized by the mothers who breasted exclusively for as long as possible. By extending breastfeeding and judicious use of pumps, those moms would have provided their raw natural resource of breastmilk with minimal environmental impact.

Consuming organic, whole foods early in life, breastfeeding, is aligned with the eco-friendly movements such as sustainable farming and permaculture.

Imagine that…the human resource provided to you by your mother as you were breastfed comes full circle to make you a smart, robust, environmentally conscious candidate for employment!

Conscious Breastfeeding rules!

August 30, 2010   No Comments

Conscious Breastfeeding: Avoiding Assumptions

Your input… thoughts and questions are invited.

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My friend Chip was an eye-catching man when I met him many years ago. He stood out and was literally above the crowd… 6′ 5″ and elegantly dressed in clothes and shoes made for him in Hong Kong. We have not seen each other for many years. Our paths crossing at that time probably was a subtle catalyst pointing me toward Japan. I visited him there on his own turf several times in the intervening years.

Early in our friendship he had shared a comical story with me. He was born in Tokyo and was an avid runner. He told me that even though their were quite a few foreigners or “gaigin” visiting and living in Tokyo many Japanese still assumed they did not understand Japanese. He told me one day he was running along his usual route and overheard a bunch of runners talking to each other about him. To their surprise… this giant, Chip, turned around and spoke to them fluently in perfect Japanese. They were mortified to say the least.

All of us can get caught in this same trap if we are not careful. We are constantly making assumptions on a daily basis…not all of them serve us.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson says…

“The assumption that seeing is believing makes us susceptible to visual deceptions”

This is so true with breastfeeding. This week I have encountered several different scenarios which illustrate this very point.

The size of your breasts does not tell you anything about your ability to produce milk. It is a function of genes and fat distribution. It is not how your breasts look, but rather how you use them that will impact your milk supply.

Another assumption is that if only one breast is being used to feed you will have an inadequate amount of milk. It just means that if you have one breast activated for milk production and the other is not that you may have a “visual imbalance” in the size of your breasts.

There are women in Vietnam who only breastfeed on one side for convenience while they work in the rice paddies. Mothers of twins are essentially sustaining each baby on one breast. If you have only one baby, you have an extra breast and a surplus of milk. Using only one breast requires that attention be paid to optimizing the latch and removal of milk at every feeding.

Nearly every mother, and most doctors and nurses believe, that what a mother pumps is what her breasts produce. This is absolutely not true. If you are breastfeeding well… the amounts will be much less than what the baby can get through direct breastfeeding. It always depends on when pumping is done in relation to breastfeeding.

If the breastfeeding is not optimized or your baby has a smaller appetite the amounts pumped may appear to be larger. However this volume will diminish over time as the quality of breastfeeding and your baby’s appetite improve.

Don Miguel Ruiz on Page: 78
of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book), reminds us…
“The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions.”

Much of the Conscious Breastfeeding approach is predicated upon the fact that what we see is not necessarily telling us the whole story. Relying mainly on what we see can lead us down the wrong path and cause us to supplement and may lead to early weaning.

As Conscious Breastfeeding mothers I encourage you to focus upon the quality of your breastfeeding connection with your babies and not allow assumptions to guide your experience of Breastfeeding.

August 29, 2010   No Comments

Breastfeeding: Caution Bumps Ahead

Most experts agree that it usually takes a minimum of 3 weeks to change a pattern.  When this principle is applied to a  breastfeeding relationship, thankfully, the baby takes much less time to adopt a new behavior.  However, the same cannot always be said about the mom and her support team who must orchestrate that shift…Expect Bumps Ahead.

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Behavior modification requires consistency. The first order of business should be to ensure that the baby is drinking breastmilk and preferably via direct breastfeeding.  It is not the frequency, but rather the quality of the feedings which will set up comfortable digestive rhythms.  The focus needs to be on optimizing the latch rather than on watching the clock.

Babies are sensational human beings.  They share our dislike of change.  Their mothers are the thinking partners in the breastfeeding relationship.  Because the babies are not privy to the long range plan, they do much better when little steps are taken toward any goal.  I encourage  moms to go slowly when making adjustments.  Too often rushing ahead leads to frustration and often the adults end up taking steps backward to a previous comfort zone.

This can be a real challenge for a mom who has gotten out of synch with her breastfeeding baby.  The longer a problem persists, the more worn down she will feel.  The key is to patiently work within a framework that capitalizes on each of their strengths and capabilities.  Breastfeeding is a skill that can be learned and taught to the baby.  Managing breastfeeding well relies on a fundamental of a great latch and creating rhythmic feeding patterns that sustain growth and mutual comfort.

Did you encounter speed bumps on your breastfeeding journey?  What tips, tricks or approaches helped you to stay the course?

August 29, 2010   No Comments

Breastfeeding: The Long and Winding Road

I often compare breastfeeding to a journey that a mother takes with her new baby. That is why I call it the Tao of Conscious Breastfeeding.  It can be a long and winding road.  My goal is to help moms to find their bearings and enjoy themselves along the “Way”.

The shortest distance  between two points is a straight line.  When it comes to breastfeeding the closest to this would be latching on during the first hour after birth.  Ideally the connection would be deep and pain-free for the mom.  A synchronicity between the breasts and baby would develop and foster a comfortable pattern of feeding that could be further optimized over time.

Unfortunately few moms get to take this path. The majority are faced with roadblocks to reaching their goals.  Some detours will point them to breastfeeding success, while others point them toward weaning.

The thing to remember is that with a road map you can usually find your way.

Plug the following points into your GPS:

  1. It’s all about the latch.
  2. Babies learn through feelings and repetition.
  3. Pumps are never as good as your baby when latched well.
  4. Supply is related to your baby, not a machine.
  5. Managing pumping is not the same as managing breastfeeding.
  6. Breastfeeding is the natural extension of pregnancy.
  7. Breastfeeding is the biological norm for mammals.
  8. You can get to your destination easier and faster with a tour guide (LC).
  9. Lighten your load. Less is more and gets you farther down the road.
  10. Breastfeeding is natural, but it is also a skill that can be mastered!

Success does leave clues.  What  helped or hindered you as you moved on down the road toward empowered Conscious Breastfeeding?

August 28, 2010   No Comments