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
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
Breast milk is a bioactive fluid that contains so many amazing and dynamic constituents that it is impossible to memorize all of them; it packs food and fluids into small amounts and cannot be exactly duplicated in a lab or from one mother to the next. Formula, although the name sounds scientific, is just a processed food. It is always the same. Whether you give one ounce or 20, the only thing that changes is the calorie count.
Dr. Sears, a renowned Pediatrician and advocate of Breastfeeding, has a very helpful chart on his site comparing some of the key constituents of Breast milk and Formula.
Breastfeeding without any supplements is a very different experience for the baby and its parents than when formula supplements are added. Unfortunately, breastfeeding mothers are often encouraged to add supplements of formula by health care workers and family members. This suggestion is especially common during the early days of breastfeeding when the milk supply is being established.
Although no harm is intended, most parents do not realize that implementing this strategy, without any restrictions, can negatively impact the breastfeeding dynamic of supply and demand. Supplementation changes the timing and frequency of feedings and can adversely affect the quality of direct breastfeedings. To further complicate matters, giving different milks and using different delivery systems can skew the perception of what satiety looks like in a baby.
When assessing if a mother has enough breastmilk, these facts need to be considered.
- Human milk is an energy-rich, bioavailable milk which nourishes and hydrates the baby in smaller volumes.
- Attempts at pumping human milk, especially in the early days, will yield misleading results. What is pumped does not correlate directly with what the mother is making and what is available to the baby with direct breastfeeding.
Formula, on the other hand, is a processed food. It is always the same except when the “additives” and “chemical formulations” are periodically changed to generate some kind of brand loyalty among members of the medical establishment and consumers.
- Breast milk and Formula are very different foods; they each impact digestion, gas formation, appetite and linear growth and weight gain in differing ways.
- When both milks are mixed together in the same stomach any negative reaction will generally be blamed on the mysterious Breast milk, rather than on the cow or soy based artificial baby milk.
Comparing the two milks is like trying to compare apples and oranges. They are both fruit, but the taste, texture and impact on digestion will vary. You could never tell if you were allergic to apples by eating oranges. However, an analysis of breastfeeding is often based upon how the baby takes formula when offered.
Formula is often added because it so readily available and convenient. Marketing 101.
- If the baby needs to have its appetite stimulated by giving it supplements, the first milk of choice should always be human milk.
- Even if only small amounts of extra breast milk are available at first, the biological impact is far more powerful than that of formula.
Technically, whenever formula is added to a breastfeeding relationship, it is the beginning of the weaning process. If more women were truly aware of this fact, I believe the use of formula by breastfeeding mothers would be far more judicious.
Mothers cannot help but question their own milk supply when the analysis is too often based upon adding in a different milk.
In Got Enough Milk? Part 2, we will examine how style of feeding and delivery method of the extra milk provided will further impact the mother’s confidence in her milk supply and breastfeeding success.
June 25, 2010 1 Comment
I spend a lot of time at my local Starbucks. It is a very spacious, well-appointed location on the upper westside of New York City which attracts a diverse crowd from all walks of life. It is a common meeting place for many who live in, or are passing through, my neighborhood. On any given day there are various business people, artists, writers, moms with babies or children, students and tourists conducting business or socializing within my Starbucks.
I particularily liked the Starbucks “The Way I See It” cups from a few years ago. They featured inspirational or thought provoking quotes to add a jolt to the java.
“In my career I”ve found that ‘thinking outside the box’ works better if I know what’s ‘inside the box.’ In music (as in life) we need to understnad our pertinent history…and moving on is so much easier when we know where we’ve been.”
~Dave Grusin, Award winning composer & jazz musician
Starbucks has become my incubator where I research, hatch, and often demo, my conscious breastfeeding marketing ideas. I strike up conversations with fellow bloggers, tech-savvy guys, other self-employed regulars, or virtually any friendly soul I meet on line or seated near me. Invariably they are curious and intrigued by the “business of lactation”. We open a dialogue where “Isn’t it natural?” is a common question. Many of them share with me some of their own personal breastfeeding stories or those of their relations or co-workers.
These coffee “klatches” are a fun way to do research and marketing. I get a pulse on what the locals and tourists are currently thinking about breastfeeding. I can plant seeds or add a different point of view that may empower a current or prospective breastfeeding family. What I learn from these encounters become the fodder for future articles, blog posts and are woven in as anecdotes during my breastfeeding classes. They ultimately become user, or potential user, generated content.
So I invite you to think outside the box on your next trip to Starbucks and view it as a marketing opportunity.
June 20, 2010 2 Comments
It is fitting that we begin this journey of contemplating the Way of Conscious Breastfeeding on Earth Day 2008.
I am here to help you learn more about how Conscious Breastfeeding fits into modern life and can foster positive connections with your baby, family and greater community.
Breastfeeding is literally organic… the original Green Food. The intentional nature of the Conscious Breastfeeding lifestyle lends itself to being quite eco-friendly.
All the experts agree that we have no hope of salvaging our planet without each one of us taking incremental steps, at the very least, to stop adding to the problem of excessive waste accumulation which is polluting and destroying our beautiful earth.
We are what we eat and how we live. Conscious Breastfeeding raises this vibration and empowers us to make decisions that honor our bodies, our babies and our world. Thus, the greening of our world view truly begins at home.
These topics were discussed at length today on The Breastfeeding Salon Show.
As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world”
Join in the conversation and find out how Conscious Breastfeeding can connect us all in so many meaningful ways!
April 22, 2008 No Comments