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
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:
- It’s all about the latch.
- Babies learn through feelings and repetition.
- Pumps are never as good as your baby when latched well.
- Supply is related to your baby, not a machine.
- Managing pumping is not the same as managing breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding is the natural extension of pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding is the biological norm for mammals.
- You can get to your destination easier and faster with a tour guide (LC).
- Lighten your load. Less is more and gets you farther down the road.
- 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
Today is the end of World Breastfeeding Week 2010.
As it ends I invite you to contemplate this Celtic Mandala of Anu or Aine, The Great Mother. She is the womb of life and and through her breasts she passes on its spark and vitality in the form of mother’s milk.
In my world, where I am a community-based registered nurse and lactation consultant, protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding will continue on a daily basis.
I’ve been privileged to help so many moms and babies to join our global breastfeeding family. Over the past 24+ years, it’s testimonials and feedback like this that have kept me going.
Although, I still feel at times like a salmon swimming up stream, I embrace being called a “Breastfeeding Mary (aka Máire) Poppins”
Just the other day, during this week of breastfeeding celebration, I ran into a mom and her daughter that I had helped about 14 years ago. Mana Allen re-introduced me to Molly who had gone on to breastfeed for many years in an extended breastfeeding relationship that they had both relished. They thanked me yet again and Mana commented this week here on the blog.
Someday soon I imagine that I will have the honor and pleasure of helping Molly or another graduate of my practice to become a breastfeeding mother.
That will be a full circle moment!
August 7, 2010 No Comments
Mothers are literally buying into the idea that pumping is the magic ticket for breastfeeding success. Thanks to the ‘pump pushers’ it is a rare woman who actually believes that she can only breastfeed. I have written about this “Pump Mania” extensively in Are You All Pumped Up?
Many lactation consultants and health professionals are encouraging a dependence upon pumping. They have been sold on the notion that the pump is as good, if not better than a baby feeding directly from the breast. They tell mothers, “Pump to see how much milk you are making.” Another common piece of advice is “Pump after every feeding to increase your milk supply.”
Clinical evidence shows that pumping is always second best when compared to direct breastfeeding with an excellent latch. What is obtained from pumping is only a percentage of what the baby can get when properly positioned on the breast.
The impression of increasing the milk supply often comes from the fact that the breast seems fuller with the combination of breastfeeding and pumping. Assessing the quality of breastfeeding is essential because the appearance of fullness can be misleading.
- If the baby has a poor latch and the mother is relying more heavily on the pump for removal of her milk, the breast will build up its storage capacity.
- An excellent latch leads to a breast in equilibrium rather than having a leaky, full and uncomfortable breast.
Pumping most definitely has a place in the breastfeeding experience of some, but not all, new mothers. Those mothers who encounter challenges due to prematurity, maternal/infant illness or those who work outside the home, will most likely need to pump if they are to maintain their milk supply.
It is both ironic and disturbing that such a profound lack of confidence in milk supply by mothers has grown in an environment where there are legions of lactation consultants and breastfeeding advocates now among us. It turns out that the allied health profession of lactation consulting (IBCLC) and Medela, the leading manufacturer of pumps world-wide, have been closely linked throughout the past 25 years. (I don’t seem to be alone in voicing my concerns.) Read more here.
- A rise in individual pump ownership and use since the mid-1990’s is directly proportional to this increased focus on breast milk supply versus direct breastfeeding.
As far as I can tell, mothers do not lose sleep worrying about how many ounces of amniotic fluid their placenta is making for their babies. They trust in the wisdom of their bodies to manufacture what is needed to get the job done. Before the advent of routine sonograms, “the bag of waters” was not even on the radar until time for labor.
Breasts would be see-through or come with alarm systems if the volume was the critical factor to be considered. The notion of volume being important comes from a formula feeding model-nothing changes in that processed food save for calories delivered by the ounce.
This collective obsession, pun intended, with proving how much breast milk we have, makes me think of the biblical figure, Doubting Thomas.
Why do we need to see our milk in order to believe in the ability of breastfeeding to nurture our babies?
June 27, 2010 6 Comments
October 17…an important day for breasts, breastfeeding and babies has just come to a close.
Here in the States, midway through Breast Cancer Awareness month, this day had been designated as National Mammography day.
For those of you who are currently breastfeeding, mammograms are usually delayed, so you would not have been able to take this call to action. However, regular self breast exams should be done while lactating. You know the landscape of your breasts intimately as a nursing mother and will generally notice even more subtle changes as you handle your breasts on a daily basis. Pick a day, the first, the 15′th, 30′th or any day you fancy, and do a thorough exam on that day each month until you wean.
I rather like the synchronicity that this day also marked the beginning of women banding together to support one another breastfeeding their babies. La Leche League was founded on October 17, 1956. It has grown over these past 52 years, from that small group of Illinois women, to a membership in excess of 8,000 mothers the world over.
As a daughter of that revolution, I applaud the efforts of those first five La Leche League moms who took a stand for the health and well-being of themselves and their babies.
Breastfeeding has been shown to be protective against contracting breast cancer, but is not fool-proof. Due to environmental, genetic and other yet unknown factors, even women who have breastfed are at risk of developing this disease in their lifetime. Thus, regular self breast exams, and mammograms when you are finished breastfeeding, are important because early detection saves lives.
Enjoy your breastfeeding journey and use it as an opportunity to maintain the health of your breasts now and in the future.
October 18, 2008 No Comments