…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle

Random header image... Refresh for more!

Beached Lactation Consultant vs. Baby “Nurse Ratched”

This photo was taken in Ibuski, Japan. I had sought out this detox spa adventure by the sea, but nonetheless felt stressed by the actual feeling of being beached and helpless. The smile on my face belies the sense of entrapment that I felt buried beneath the hot sand. I calmed myself by focusing on the cool breeze and the occasional ships that I could see in the distance.

This image popped into my mind last night while supporting a mom in baby nurse hell. Ironically, she is at the beach this week with her baby, toddler and “nurse” Ratched.


I felt just about as helpless as I did in my photo listening to her saga of her breastfeeding relationship being continually sabotaged by a superstitious and obstinate baby “nurse”. This mom is being followed around and told her baby is hungry and in need of bottles of breastmilk. Icing on the cake would be comments like, “A two-1/2 month old baby should have formed stools.” In an email where she is sharing her efforts to observe the patterns of her son and focus on direct breastfeeding, the mom writes, “she [the "nurse"] is annoyed and told me she is getting a headache over this-”

I feel a migraine coming on and a panic attack. Is she kidding? How could this mom and baby ever get in synch with one another with this kind of stress and interference. It doesn’t seem to be cost effective on any level to have someone like this around.

I’m about to fly over the cuckoo nest myself if she doesn’t take my advice… LOOSE THE “NURSE”.

Am I crazy?

August 28, 2010   No Comments

Conscious Breastfeeding: Honoring Your Rhythms

Dedicated to Liz-a special mom in my practice.  She will be honoring her rhythms with her baby this weekend and reestablishing their conscious breastfeeding relationship.

Your input… thoughts and questions are invited.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

A wonderful summer…it is now when most of us allow ourselves to relax and spend more time outside in nature.  Typically it is when we plan our holidays and look forward to getting away.  Travelling requires us to make subtle or not so subtle adjustments in our daily routine.  We may be completely out of our comfort zone trying new foods and activities or doing similar things in different surroundings.  We may find that our digestion and sleep are altered…

I am reminded of one of my many trips to Japan.  It is a long plane ride and a half a day time difference which poses a big challenge of jet lag.  On my third trip, I decided to just go straight to bed on arrival so that I would wake up with the dawn and be in fine fettle.  Although it was not yet dark outside, I tucked myself in and fell into a deep sleep.  Suddenly I was awakened by what I thought was a bad dream.  I thought I was in my NYC apartment with someone trying to break down the door.  I soon realized that I was not in the States, but in a business man hotel in Tokyo.  The noise I had attributed to robbers was the clanging of the steel door and the shaking of my bed.  Still disoriented I jumped out of bed to try and look out the window.  This was my first and hopefully last earthquake… thankfully it was  very short, although it seemed a lot longer as it was happening.  I later learned that one should avoid windows and doors on such an occasion.

Segueing from my earthquake moment…Giving birth is intense and can also be a bit disorientating.  Typically there will be a disruption in the diet, sleep and many other changes going on in a mother’s body that will precede meeting her new baby or babies.  Having co-existed as one unit, she must now get to know her baby as a separate and unique individual.

For babies it is an even bigger shock… to be suddenly thrust out into a new world.  They have been in relative darkness for 9 months and have been experiencing gentle, steady motion throughout their time in the womb.  Mother’s heartbeat and body are intimately known to them.  Now they are on their own.

-As Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance notes…”Restoring a sense of rhythm to our lives is crucial to discovering Wholeness.”

This is echoed by the Wise Earth School of Ayurveda, Ltd., the first school for Ayurveda education in the USA  established in 1981, which recommends that…

… cultivating inner awareness and reclaiming our connections to nature’s rhythms (cyclical, daily, seasonal, lunar, and solar), carries the potential for self-healing and profound peace.

In other words… the Wise Earth (Sadhana) path of practice is embracing the integration of body, mind and spirit through nature’s nourishers of Food, Breath and Sound.  Each of these is integral to our existence:  we literally cannot function without breath; we are immersed in the sound of our mother’s heartbeat and rhythms from the moment of conception; we are dependent for sustenance and growth on the bounty of nature’s food…which of course includes breastfeeding.

So take time to rest, eat plenty of fresh whole foods and get outside often with your baby.  Wearing your baby will gently transition them into our world.  The gentle motion of walking with them close to your heart is comforting and grounding; it will help your baby to relax and will create natural intervals between their feedings.  Exposure to the light stimulates their pineal gland and establishes circadian rhythms that will set your baby up for healthy sleeping patterns.

Honoring our rhythms throughout life and especially during this important life passage is imperative…and fundamental for you becoming a Conscious Breastfeeding mom.

August 27, 2010   1 Comment

Breastfeeding Status Update: It’s Complicated

Breastfeeding is just like most modern relationships, sometimes it is difficult to define.

More often than not, the romantic ideal of a blissful nursing couple is threatened by the addition of pumps and bottles. These artifacts alter the experience greatly for both the mother and her baby. She is likely to feel overwhelmed.

Breastfeeding Status: It’s complicated.

Tongue-in-cheek, my green logo above and query are inspired by Facebook.   The irony is that it has, on several occasions, banned breastfeeding photos.

What is your Breastfeeding Status?

Do you exclusively breastfeed your baby?  Do you breastfeed, then pump, then feed a bottle of your expressed milk?  Do you breastfeed, then offer a formula chaser? Do you pump exclusively?

Ideally breastfeeding should be a relationship with your baby, not the pump.   Couple therapists typically recommend banning the computer and television in the bedroom in order to foster greater intimacy.  In the same vein, focusing on direct breastfeeding will enhance both bonding and the milk supply.

There is a time and place for the gadgets, but in the bloom of new love or breastfeeding it is best that the focus be on the partner.  Being in the moment and keeping things simple can help lay down the most solid foundation for long term success.

It is all about making positive, conscious breastfeeding connections and upgrading your status to: In Relationship with your breastfeeding baby.

August 26, 2010   8 Comments

Conscious Breastfeeding: Being in The Moment

Maggie left a comment on the post/podcast The Law of Simplicity sharing her journey of becoming a breastfeeding mother.  She has been relishing the simplicity, but also expressed most eloquently her experience of …

“Being in the Moment”…a key fundamental of the Conscious Breastfeeding approach.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Indeed, at almost every prenatal class that I teach, there are expectant mothers who are concerned about weaning before they have even begun breastfeeding. Having heard the “rules” and stories from other mothers, they are anxious about entering into an intense breastfeeding relationship which will to take up much of their waking day. They are looking for an exit strategy before they have even seen how their own experience will unfold.

Too often in the early days of breastfeeding mothers will fret that they cannot maintain the initial patterns “forever”. I remind them that their breastfeeding relationship will evolve. It is dynamic. Being pro-active rather than reactive, it will be optimized over time. This does not happen in the past or future but rather very much in the present…taking in the details of each Conscious Breastfeeding Connection.

I have been thinking about this idea of “Being in the Moment”

…this “Being in the Moment” with your breastfeeding baby. The intention and attention, the hallmarks of Conscious Breastfeeding, allow each time you breastfeed to be special. It is different from the one done a few hours earlier and will be different from the next.

Being present, in the moment, is mindfulness and is a simple, yet powerful form of meditation. Just notice the rhythmic jaw movements of your baby. The breathing and swallowing are synchronized and at the same time there is complete stillness in the rest of his or her body. The cadence of breastfeeding is like the pulse of a beating heart. Allow your awareness to follow this rhythm of your baby’s breastfeeding. Observe the patterns. Be in the moment. You are meditating without effort. The calm that descends upon you will be restorative and connects you to yourself and your baby on a very deep level.

Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book, Wherever You Go There You Are  Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life says, “I like to think of mindfulness simply as the art of Conscious Living.”

What better way to begin than in the sublime moments you share with your baby as a Conscious Breastfeeding mother?

August 26, 2010   No Comments

The Tao of Conscious Breastfeeding

The ba gua above is often used to depict the Tao and its pursuit.  This lactation consultant sees a breastfeeding baby in its center.  In reality, it is the yin-yang symbol which represents the duality of opposites, male and female energies, inherent in the natural order of the universe.

According to wikipedia, the word Tao is most often defined as a path or way, but can also be defined as to guide or lead.  Thus it perfectly describes the ongoing process of how a new mother learns to breastfeed and teaches it to her baby…the Tao of Conscious Breastfeeding.

There are several basic learning styles: audio, visual and kinesthetic.  To climb the conscious competence ladder and gain mastery of the skill of breastfeeding will take differing amounts of time for each nursing couple.  Finding the right combination of learning styles will help them to reach competence much faster.

Babies are sensational beings. They learn through repetition. They are hard-wired at birth with basic reflexes which assist them to adapt and thrive outside the womb. They draw conclusions on a primal level from what happens when they do certain things; if it is associated with a pleasing outcome they will repeat the action to get the same result.  It is quite Pavlovian.  Over time they begin to gravitate toward a learning style that may be preferred as they mature.

Adults have the ability to analyze more information and understand more complex causal relationships. They are capable of establishing new neural pathways at any time by intentionally repeating new behaviors which will replace those that no longer serve them.

A Chinese Proverb reminds us:

I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand

What is your learning style?  How has it impacted your breastfeeding journey?

As a Conscious Breastfeeding mother, you will be teaching your baby to breastfeed and ultimately establish rhythms in all areas of his/her life.  You can draw on these insights to assist your child to develop the muscles of learning which he/she will be using throughout life.

The Tao of Conscious Breastfeeding is a truly foundational experience.

August 25, 2010   No Comments