…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle
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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.

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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

A Breastfeeding Photo:Tagged with Love

World Photography Day has been celebrated on August 19 over the past 20 years; it commemorates the introduction of photographs to the public in France on August 19, 1839.   On this day everyone is asked to share their precious moments made possible by the invention of this medium.  It is even easier now thanks to the digital revolution.

This was the first breastfeeding photo sent to me after I began my private lactation consulting practice.   It has hung in my office throughout these past two decades.

We do not see baby Austin’s mother in this shot, but can sense from his calm and  tender embrace of  her bountiful breast, that they are sharing a sublime moment of love.   The focus here is on the experience of breastfeeding.  It was an amazing thank you to receive for helping them to establish this amazing connection.

Fast forward to today…

I  googled Austin and found him.  He’s a college student with an interesting facebook profile who is sharing his life with the world.  Unbeknownst to him, this photograph which was taken when he was one month old will now be entering cyberspace, virtually tagged by his mother’s breastfeeding love.

Have you started your own breastfeeding photo collection?  Is it on or off the Wall?

August 19, 2010   2 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

Nipple Monologues: Part 4: A Latch-on Makeover

  
Your Baby’s Latch-On

 

I critiqued the latch-on from a visual perspective in  Nipple Monologues: Part 3:  What’s Wrong with This Picture?    

As promised, I will now fine tune the written directions that accompanied that photo essay.  (read them here).

Step 1:  Get baby to open mouth wide.  Use nipple to encourage him to open wide.

  • Although this has been the party line for years, it is not good advice to use your nipple as bait.  If you position your baby at an incline with your nipple opposite his/her nose they open wide without need of any prompting.

 

  • You just need to be patient as they may open and close their mouth a few times before holding it open wide with a long pause.  Wait for this to happen and notice that the tongue is forward and down.

 

Step 2:  When mouth open wide, quickly pull him onto the breast by pulling the baby toward you with the arm that is holding him.  Make sure you move the baby towards you and not move yourself towards the baby.

  • To ensure a deep, pain-free latch you need to put your baby on your breast with a firm hugging action.  Compact the breast slightly and stabilize with a C-hold or U-hold being careful not to block area above the milk sinuses. Follow-through deeply so that his/her jaws will land farther onto the body of the breast.

 

  • The chin will be deeper than the nose because your baby is fitting snugly into the crook of the supporting arm at a 10-15 degree angle to the plane of your body.  (It would be like pledging allegiance to the flag with your baby inside your arm.)  The energy starts in the elbow and the whole arm hugs him deeply onto your breast.

 

Step 3:  The baby’s gums should completely bypass the nipple and cover approximately one inch of the areola behind the nipple.  Make sure the baby’s lip are everted (rolled out) 

  • This advice makes mothers typically bend the baby onto the breast.  By worrying about covering a certain amount of the areola and/or seeing if the lips are rolled out they create conditions where the baby can focus their gum action on the nipples.  (They either bend them in too much or pull them back down onto the nipple to see their lips.)

 

  • The focus should be to have your baby with his/her head to bottom aligned, at an incline (not level or parallel to your body) inside the supporting arm which will put him/her on the breast.  You do not lift your baby.  You hug him/her deeply against your body.

 

  • Key is to move the baby, not the breast.  Be patient waiting for a wide open mouth with tongue forward and down.  Your baby needs to come on as a unit.

 

 Mother and baby should be calm and comfortable throughout the breastfeeding session.   If there is a shift in comfort, slide your index finger into the mouth beneath your baby’s nose, covering your nipple as you detach him/her from the breast.   A conscious, deep latch puts the mother-in-charge and should always pain-free.

June 22, 2010   1 Comment