…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle
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Breastfeeding Success and Gratitude: Priceless

Almost Wordless Wednesday…

I am digitizing over 25+ years of memories.  Today I came across one of my favorite thank-you cards.   The layers of meaning were not lost upon this mother, or me, her lactation consultant.   Tongue-in-cheek, but so powerful.  Her cups, her breasts and both of our hearts runneth over.

There are so  many challenges that face modern breastfeeding mothers; quality lactation support can make such a profound difference.

Your successes are what keep us going.  We are here to assist you.  Getting “feed”-back from families is priceless for those of us who have dedicated our lives to protecting and supporting breastfeeding!

Your positive stories and comments are welcome here.  And…

Don’t forget to let your IBCLC know she/he made a difference for you!

February 22, 2012   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

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

The Nipple Monologues: Part 2: Points of View

To spare nipples pain and trauma during breastfeeding, it is essential that we re-examine our view of the latch. We must keep in mind that it is Breastfeeding and not Nipplefeeding!

The human nipple is comprised of responsive, erectile tissue which carries messages to the brain. However, unlike other body parts with such traits, it does not lengthen that dramatically if there is a great latch during breastfeeding.

The nipple should never be the focus of attention. It is just the exit through which the milk fl0ws.

During breastfeeding, it should be the bottom of the breast, rather than the edge of the nipple/areola, which is actually on top of the baby’s tongue. This is described in some circles as a “sandwich” of breast tissue which needs to be deep in the babies mouth.

I am happy to report that there are thousands of breastfeeding pictures now posted on the internet. You would think that they might add some dimension to the teaching toolbox. However, there is a big difference between an artistic shot of breastfeeding such as this, by Marga Serrano,

FOOD TIME!!

and one that is instructional for a new mom with sore nipples!

Many of the photos that I found depicted babies that are clearly older, experienced breastfeeders. It would be fair to assume that sore nipples would no longer be an issue for their mothers.

Those shots that portrayed newborn babies were vague at best. Varying latches were seen from different angles; the details of each latch were unclear. Most of these breastfeeding photos were understandably focused on the baby and gave no clue as to the mother’s experience of the latch.

Unfortunately, the conventional wisdom is that the baby knows what it is doing and that an attachment of any sort is acceptable. Most people, health care workers, family members and the mothers themselves, believe if it looks like breastfeeding, then it is breastfeeding.

I beg to differ. Breastfeeding should be evaluated by how it feels and how well it works, rather than merely upon how it looks.

Please share your points of view.

June 22, 2010   1 Comment