…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle
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Breastfeeding and Human Resources

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This New Yorker cartoon was photocopied and sent to me around the time I began my private lactation practice. (Issue unknown)  It still remains very funny after all these years.

Fast forward to today and this highly competitive job market…what if playing the “I was breastfed” card made you stand out in a crowd of applicants?

You could mention how breastfed babies are smarter. In fact, countless studies have shown that breastfeeding not only enhances IQ, but also the health of both the mother and her baby.

In keeping with the growing trend to protect and preserve the environment, being breastfed would mean that adventures in being green began at the start of life.  The carbon footprint would have been minimized by the mothers who breasted exclusively for as long as possible. By extending breastfeeding and judicious use of pumps, those moms would have provided their raw natural resource of breastmilk with minimal environmental impact.

Consuming organic, whole foods early in life, breastfeeding, is aligned with the eco-friendly movements such as sustainable farming and permaculture.

Imagine that…the human resource provided to you by your mother as you were breastfed comes full circle to make you a smart, robust, environmentally conscious candidate for employment!

Conscious Breastfeeding rules!

August 30, 2010   No Comments

Breastfeeding: Caution Bumps Ahead

Most experts agree that it usually takes a minimum of 3 weeks to change a pattern.  When this principle is applied to a  breastfeeding relationship, thankfully, the baby takes much less time to adopt a new behavior.  However, the same cannot always be said about the mom and her support team who must orchestrate that shift…Expect Bumps Ahead.

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Behavior modification requires consistency. The first order of business should be to ensure that the baby is drinking breastmilk and preferably via direct breastfeeding.  It is not the frequency, but rather the quality of the feedings which will set up comfortable digestive rhythms.  The focus needs to be on optimizing the latch rather than on watching the clock.

Babies are sensational human beings.  They share our dislike of change.  Their mothers are the thinking partners in the breastfeeding relationship.  Because the babies are not privy to the long range plan, they do much better when little steps are taken toward any goal.  I encourage  moms to go slowly when making adjustments.  Too often rushing ahead leads to frustration and often the adults end up taking steps backward to a previous comfort zone.

This can be a real challenge for a mom who has gotten out of synch with her breastfeeding baby.  The longer a problem persists, the more worn down she will feel.  The key is to patiently work within a framework that capitalizes on each of their strengths and capabilities.  Breastfeeding is a skill that can be learned and taught to the baby.  Managing breastfeeding well relies on a fundamental of a great latch and creating rhythmic feeding patterns that sustain growth and mutual comfort.

Did you encounter speed bumps on your breastfeeding journey?  What tips, tricks or approaches helped you to stay the course?

August 29, 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

Beached Lactation Consultant vs. Baby “Nurse Ratched”

This photo was taken in Ibuski, Japan. I had sought out this detox spa adventure by the sea, but nonetheless felt stressed by the actual feeling of being beached and helpless. The smile on my face belies the sense of entrapment that I felt buried beneath the hot sand. I calmed myself by focusing on the cool breeze and the occasional ships that I could see in the distance.

This image popped into my mind last night while supporting a mom in baby nurse hell. Ironically, she is at the beach this week with her baby, toddler and “nurse” Ratched.

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I felt just about as helpless as I did in my photo listening to her saga of her breastfeeding relationship being continually sabotaged by a superstitious and obstinate baby “nurse”. This mom is being followed around and told her baby is hungry and in need of bottles of breastmilk. Icing on the cake would be comments like, “A two-1/2 month old baby should have formed stools.” In an email where she is sharing her efforts to observe the patterns of her son and focus on direct breastfeeding, the mom writes, “she [the "nurse"] is annoyed and told me she is getting a headache over this-”

I feel a migraine coming on and a panic attack. Is she kidding? How could this mom and baby ever get in synch with one another with this kind of stress and interference. It doesn’t seem to be cost effective on any level to have someone like this around.

I’m about to fly over the cuckoo nest myself if she doesn’t take my advice… LOOSE THE “NURSE”.

Am I crazy?

August 28, 2010   No Comments

Conscious Breastfeeding: Honoring Your Rhythms

Dedicated to Liz-a special mom in my practice.  She will be honoring her rhythms with her baby this weekend and reestablishing their conscious breastfeeding relationship.

Your input… thoughts and questions are invited.

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A wonderful summer…it is now when most of us allow ourselves to relax and spend more time outside in nature.  Typically it is when we plan our holidays and look forward to getting away.  Travelling requires us to make subtle or not so subtle adjustments in our daily routine.  We may be completely out of our comfort zone trying new foods and activities or doing similar things in different surroundings.  We may find that our digestion and sleep are altered…

I am reminded of one of my many trips to Japan.  It is a long plane ride and a half a day time difference which poses a big challenge of jet lag.  On my third trip, I decided to just go straight to bed on arrival so that I would wake up with the dawn and be in fine fettle.  Although it was not yet dark outside, I tucked myself in and fell into a deep sleep.  Suddenly I was awakened by what I thought was a bad dream.  I thought I was in my NYC apartment with someone trying to break down the door.  I soon realized that I was not in the States, but in a business man hotel in Tokyo.  The noise I had attributed to robbers was the clanging of the steel door and the shaking of my bed.  Still disoriented I jumped out of bed to try and look out the window.  This was my first and hopefully last earthquake… thankfully it was  very short, although it seemed a lot longer as it was happening.  I later learned that one should avoid windows and doors on such an occasion.

Segueing from my earthquake moment…Giving birth is intense and can also be a bit disorientating.  Typically there will be a disruption in the diet, sleep and many other changes going on in a mother’s body that will precede meeting her new baby or babies.  Having co-existed as one unit, she must now get to know her baby as a separate and unique individual.

For babies it is an even bigger shock… to be suddenly thrust out into a new world.  They have been in relative darkness for 9 months and have been experiencing gentle, steady motion throughout their time in the womb.  Mother’s heartbeat and body are intimately known to them.  Now they are on their own.

-As Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance notes…”Restoring a sense of rhythm to our lives is crucial to discovering Wholeness.”

This is echoed by the Wise Earth School of Ayurveda, Ltd., the first school for Ayurveda education in the USA  established in 1981, which recommends that…

… cultivating inner awareness and reclaiming our connections to nature’s rhythms (cyclical, daily, seasonal, lunar, and solar), carries the potential for self-healing and profound peace.

In other words… the Wise Earth (Sadhana) path of practice is embracing the integration of body, mind and spirit through nature’s nourishers of Food, Breath and Sound.  Each of these is integral to our existence:  we literally cannot function without breath; we are immersed in the sound of our mother’s heartbeat and rhythms from the moment of conception; we are dependent for sustenance and growth on the bounty of nature’s food…which of course includes breastfeeding.

So take time to rest, eat plenty of fresh whole foods and get outside often with your baby.  Wearing your baby will gently transition them into our world.  The gentle motion of walking with them close to your heart is comforting and grounding; it will help your baby to relax and will create natural intervals between their feedings.  Exposure to the light stimulates their pineal gland and establishes circadian rhythms that will set your baby up for healthy sleeping patterns.

Honoring our rhythms throughout life and especially during this important life passage is imperative…and fundamental for you becoming a Conscious Breastfeeding mom.

August 27, 2010   1 Comment