…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 Connections: A 21 Day Productivity Challenge

March 7. 2012 is World IBCLC Day

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I have decided to join Connie Ragen Green’s 21 Day Productivity Challenge leading up to this occasion. It will give me an opportunity to review how I can better serve and foster conscious breastfeeding connections here on the blog and through The Breastfeeding Salon.

Teaching prenatal classes and coaching mothers after they have begun to breastfeed has been my passion for more than a quarter century. Sadly, breastfeeding remains a challenge for many modern moms, despite the ever increasing number of lactation consultants. Ironically, for many of these new mothers, their “productivity” is often at issue.

It takes approximately 21 days to install a new habit or change a mindset. Thus, I am doing this challenge with high hopes for my online/offline business makeover. What makes it even more powerful for me is the awareness that this is the same timeline during which a pregnant woman makes her transformation to becoming a breastfeeding mom.

I invite you to join me on this journey of growth and change and be here to celebrate with me and my fellow IBCLC’s in early March.

February 16, 2012   No Comments

Got Milk? Part 3: Let’s Pump and See

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

Retro Breastfeeding: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Retro breastfeeding…now there’s a concept.  It could be viewed in many ways, both positive and negative.

Retro is a prefix from the Latin meaning backwards.  Retro, in the common vernacular, refers to the way things were.  Be it a noun, adjective or adverb it describes something from the past. 

For purposes of this post I am drawing on an expanded definition found in Wikipedia, ”a term used to describe, denote or classify culturally outdated or aged trends, modes, or fashions, from the overall postmodern past, but have since that time become functionally or superficially the norm once again.”

Breastfeeding has been around since the dawn of time.  It is the way human babies were meant to be nurtured after birth.  Nonetheless, it fell out of fashion in the 20′th century. 

You could say that the first wave of Retro breastfeeding began with La Leche League in the late 1950’s.  Against much resistance, mothers banded together to support one another and breastfeed their babies.  They were viewed as reactionaries as they seemed opposed to the progress offered by the medical model of birth and childrearing that relied on the drugs and formulas of big Pharma.  Going back to the “basics” was their call to action.

In 1985, the inception of the allied health profession of Lactation Consulting, born out of  La Leche League roots,  fanned the flames of that Retro breastfeeding comeback.  The job of the IBCLC’s (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) was cut out for them.  In those days, breastfeeding meant timed feedings and supplementation with water or formula.  Those consultants entered in to the fray and began working to change the standards of practice in Western hospitals.  They set out to educate and support women so that breastfeeding would be the rule rather than the exception.   At first there was resistance from some in the medical community who were accustomed to managing infant feeding by manipulating formula intake.   Gradually it became politically incorrect to advocate against breastfeeding.

As we approach the 25′th Anniversary of Lactation Consulting as a profession we are entering yet another wave of Retro breastfeeding.  However, this one merely pays lip service to what began in La Leche and the early days of lactation consulting.   It is a weird amalgam of dogma and old practices, that fundamentally do not support breastfeeding,  blended with touches of tech and pseudo-science.

What is most ridiculous and ironic is that this latest version of Retro breastfeeding can be traced to the the practice of many lactation consultants. Those that have begun to rely too heavily on managing pumps and gadgets and less on the art and skill of breastfeeding have changed the focus from breastfeeding to human milk feeding.

Give me the music any day, but spare me this techno version of breastfeeding from the 1970’s!

July 17, 2009   2 Comments