…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle
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Conscious Breastfeeding: Ultimate Blog Challenge Completed

It has been an interesting journey blogging about breastfeeding this past month. My experience has been quite good.

Although I had been blogging since 2007, I had not really focused on a regular pattern of writing, nor paid much attention to stats. I knew that someone must be reading and hopefully inspired, but did not have a clue about my readership other than most likely they would be mothers or family members of mothers who were breastfeeding.

Coming from over 42 sources or mediums. my blogosphere has expanded exponentially during this period. The power of Facebook and the likebutton became self evident. A full 3/4’s of the visits were from “friends” or “friends of facebook friends”. The three most popular posts were liked and shared there in what would be the third largest country of the world . Social media and word of mouth cannot be underestimated.

They are here, in the order of their popularity, if you missed them on the blog roll:

Breastfeeding Postcard Speaks Volumes

Breastfeeding on Reality TV

Breastfeeding Status Update:  It’s Complicated

I have appreciated all the comments, many of them from my fellow participants in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Your support keeps me inspired.

This is not an ending, but rather a beginning. With your help…I will continue contemplating the core elements of a modern breastfeeding lifestyle.

August 31, 2010   No Comments

Breastfeeding: The Long and Winding Road

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:

  1. It’s all about the latch.
  2. Babies learn through feelings and repetition.
  3. Pumps are never as good as your baby when latched well.
  4. Supply is related to your baby, not a machine.
  5. Managing pumping is not the same as managing breastfeeding.
  6. Breastfeeding is the natural extension of pregnancy.
  7. Breastfeeding is the biological norm for mammals.
  8. You can get to your destination easier and faster with a tour guide (LC).
  9. Lighten your load. Less is more and gets you farther down the road.
  10. 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

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

Breastfeeding: The Law of Simplicity

Your input… thoughts and questions are invited to podcast/post below.

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A core concept of Conscious Breastfeeding is Simplicity…Getting Back to the Basics.

Contemplating what Simplicity means in our daily lives reminded me of my own search for a zen simplicity during my travels throughout Japan.  Fascinated by the hot springs or onsens that dotted this volcanic country, I bought a book “A Guide to Japanese Hot Springs” that led me on  an adventure moving through roads less travelled in search of the most rustic springs I could find.   I was especially fond of the rotenburos which were set in the mountains and were outside in nature.  I stayed in Minshukus or family run bed and breakfast establishments. This was the most authentic experience of what life used to be like in Japan and was a far cry from the crowds and neon of Tokyo and the other large cities.  Being one with Nature was extremely peaceful and relaxing.

One one occasion, when my language skills were rudimentary at best I was served the traditional Japanese breakfast of a small fish, miso soup, nori seaweed rice and a raw egg.  Thankfully the hostess asked first.  The nurse in me could not find much appeal in that raw egg and I tried to decline.  At first she didn’t understand me.  With very simple logic and equally simple Japanese I created a new expression:  Tamago is egg and Sashimi is raw fish…so I called it “Tamago Sashimi” and she got my meaning.

That experience taught me a valuable life lesson…distilling language, ideas and information down to simpler forms makes for better communication.  It has powerfully informed my practice with moms and their babies over these past 22+ years.

Albert Einstein is credited with having said…
~Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler~  I fully agree.

As a breastfeeding mother you are travelling in new circles…not necessarily a foreign land, but there are certain parallels.  You are learning to interpret the communications from your baby as you teach them your own formal language. Breastfeeding itself has its own lexicon of terms with which you are becoming familiar:  latch-on, rooting, hunger cues, hind milk, foremilk, let-down, pumping, growth spurts etc. Add on the endless array of gadgets and the stress of weight checks and percentiles and you are a far cry from experiencing the simplicity which is supposed to be found in a breastfeeding relationship.

The elegance of the female body is that is designed to both grow your babies and sustain them beyond their time in the womb…one stop shopping if you will.  Unfortunately, we live in a culture that places such a high value on technology that over reliance on pumping, etc. can diminish our confidence in our bodies and over-complicate the entire experience of breastfeeding.

The inherent simplicity of breastfeeding should afford you quality time with your babies.  Cherish this unique opportunity to be quiet in the course of your day.  It is breastfeeding, not pumping, that connects you with your body’s inner wisdom. Your milk supply is developed in direct response to actually feeding your babies.

Pumping does have a place, but in the beginning of your breastfeeding journey the primary focus should always be on relishing the profound simplicity of just breastfeeding.  Build your milk supply and experience on a solid foundation.

When you reduce the complications and distractions and are focused on your connection with your baby, you will find the simplicity that is…Conscious Breastfeeding.

August 23, 2010   2 Comments