…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle
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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

Breastfeeding Reality Check: Bethenny Frankel vs. Gisele Bundchen

Breastfeeding Awareness Month 2010 has found its way into the news cycle.

The media and many blogs have taken up the mantle to feature breastfeeding on a regular basis throughout this month.  Sadly, their focus has not been on the theme of  promoting, protecting and supporting it through the Ten Steps.

Controversy turns out  far more sexy content.  Supermodel Gisele Bundchen’s comment that there should be a law that mothers breastfeed for 6 months, like her, most definitely has long legs.

Not to be left out of the mix, Bethenny Frankel, the reality tv personality from Bethenny Gets Married, has now added her two cents to the fray.  She has apparently told US weekly,  “It’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard.”   A breastfeeding mother herself, she added this politically correct disclaimer.  “Breastfeeding is one of the most rewarding experiences, but it isn’t for everyone.”

Ironically, The Dish Rag blog used these two women as examples of why it takes money and a staff to breastfeed.  How ridiculous.  One of its selling points is that breastfeeding is much less expensive.   Gisele and Bethenny may live in a more luxurious fashion but that has little to do with their being able to breastfeed.   The dish rag author has chosen to ignore the very real cost of not breastfeeding.

A dad in my prenatal breastfeeding class had taken notice of all the buzz around this topic.  He felt that most of the furor was being voiced by those who had challenges with breastfeeding, or those who had chosen not to breastfeed.  He shared that he thought it was just a personal opinion and one most likely taken out of context for effect.  He didn’t really get all the fuss.

I tend to agree with him.  Gisele and Bethenny are both in the public eye.  They are both vocal new mothers who represent aspects of a modern breastfeeding experience.

We need to focus less on the semantics.  Rather than “milking” such a trumped up controversy to get  negative attention, we  need to be facilitating breastfeeding success.  That’s a model that should be copied!

What do you think?

August 12, 2010   No Comments

The Zen of Conscious Breastfeeding

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It was a hot day like today when I was last at the famous Zen Rock Garden of the Ryoan-ji Temple  in Kyoto, Japan.   It was a very still and peaceful place, save for the other tourist moving about and inserting herself into my photo.

I sat at the edge and contemplated my breath while gazing  at the gently raked rock garden gleaming brightly in the heat of the day.

I am often reminded of this feeling when I am in the presence of a Conscious Breastfeeding mother and baby.  There is a stillness that descends upon the nursing couple.  A rhythmic sound of breathing and soft swallowing comes from the baby while it is feeding.  The mom looks serene and comfortable as she is very much in the moment.

In this fast paced world in which we live, each breastfeeding session offers an opportunity to become centered and quiet.  A mother can connect deeply with her baby, both literally and figuratively.  She is sharing her physical and emotional space, as well as her milk, with him or her during this time.

The sales pitch for breastfeeding is that it can be done on the go- anytime, anywhere.  Although this may be true, I strongly encourage moms to explore the benefits of  a more zen experience.

A Conscious Breastfeeding mom creates a sacred space in her home where she is able to focus fully on breastfeeding her baby.  Ideally she will be using a high-backed chair.   Seated with both shoulders resting against the chair, she will draw her baby deeply onto her breast for a pain-free latch.  A secondary benefit of  her good  posture is that she will be facilitatating a sense of comfort and calm in both herself and her baby.  Feedings done this way become a form of zazen, or sitting meditation.

In Zen Begin, Live Your Life the Zen Way, this Zen-Meditation is explained…

Zen is all about focus. Meditation or zazen is an exercise in creating a one- pointedness of mind. The comparison with muddy water is often made. In calm water the mud sinks to the bottom and the water becomes clear.

A Conscious Breastfeeding mom puts her baby to her breast in an intentional manner; she maintains a calm pose and deep rhythmic breathing throughout each feeding session.   As a result, she and her baby come away feeling rested and fortified.  The baby will be in quiet alert and receptive to socialization and interaction with her and other family members; mom’s mind will be more clear and focused.

This mother and child statue was at the edge of a hot spring in the Japanese Alps.   May she inspire you to embrace the the Zen of Conscious Breastfeeding.

What has been your experience of this special breastfeeding time with your baby?

July 21, 2010   No Comments

Your Breastfeeding Journal: A Legacy for Posterity

One of the items I recommend to moms for their Conscious Breastfeeding tool-box is a journal. 

I am one of the Kodak generation.  In large families, the  number of photos taken of you were often a function  of where you fell in the line of children.  The moments of our babyhood were not nearly as well catalogued as those of modern babies. Thanks to the digital revolution, the potential exists that every detail of their lives will be captured in vivid detail.

A hard-copy memoir of your time as a breastfeeding mother should be part of the time capsule of your baby’s life.  It will give them insight and understanding into your life as a mother, wife, partner,worker and of their development as a unique individual.

It is remarkably revealing to read my mother’s letters written, in her own hand, to my father before they were married.  Those were the days when people really wrote letters.  Separated by an ocean and without the luxury of cheap phone calls, those missives were their only means of communication.  There, in my mother’s handwriting, I am able to read of how much she was looking forward to having her first baby.  She hoped it would be a girl and was right; I was born the following year.  I wish that the trail didn’t end there.  I would love to know how she felt in those early days as a wife and mother raising me in a new country.

We have all heard of how having a baby seems to alter our ability to remember things.  Your journal will ensure that those precious memories will never fade.

Although it could be kept in a digital form. I recommend that mothers do this the old-fashioned way. 

On the most practical level, you will observe the patterns of your babies life.  You will be looking at feedings and how the breastfeeding is unfolding.  Knowing when and how well feedings are going will give you information to help you optimize your breastfeeding experience.

1. Pick a notebook, album, scrapbook that is beautiful and durable.  You will be filling this with your memories of this time in your life.  It will be a window into how you were growing and feeling as a mother and of the changes you observed in your breastfeeding baby.

2. It might be a great practice to begin writing a note or letter to your baby on a regular basis.  The art of writing can connect us more deeply with our creative, authentic selves.   

3. Take tons of photos of course.  Print some and include them in the pages.  Cut out photos that appeal to you in magazines and periodicals.   You will be creating a sort of vision board for your life as a mother as you document the memories of  breastfeeding your baby .

4. Include inspirational quotes and what you are grateful for on a daily basis.  You will be able to expand upon these ideas as your child grows up.

5. Include calendars and and document important occasions that were experienced during this time.   

6. Include locks of hair, etc. as the mood strikes.  Audio and video (cd/dvd) can be added to supplement the written word. 

Your breastfeeding journal can be so much more than just a way of managing and gaining  insight into your breastfeeding experience.   It can be an opportunity to engage in a creative expression of your life with your baby.  It will capture your  unique handwriting, thoughts and memories for posterity. 

It will serve as a legacy- a time capsule item to share with  future generations of your family. 

Such provenance is priceless!

July 15, 2010   No Comments