…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle
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Breastfeeding Office Memorabilia

It has been many years since I first donned this button from the Florida Lactation Consultant Association (FLCA).  I found it doing the August Cleanup suggested by Dr. Jeanette Cates on her blog.

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I wore it on my lab coat while I was the first lactation consultant at a major NYC hospital.  It was a conversation starter.  People were intrigued and wondered what it meant.  The nurses thought it was a great button for me to wear as the representative of breastfeeding on our maternity unit.

I have to laugh as its message was unclear to anyone who was unfamiliar with my passion for breastfeeding promotion and support.  One day on the elevator a man asked me, “Are you a vegetarian?” His companion chimed in, “Are you Hindu?”   My Irish eyes were smiling as I explained to them the meaning of my button.  “Human babies should not drink cow’s milk which is for cow’s.  They should be breastfed by their mothers.”

Believe it or not, not long after that comical incident, I was called into the office of the Director of Maternal Child Health.  She told me that I was offending formula feeding families with my FLCA pin and demanded that I should remove it from my lapel.  I explained  its purpose in detail, but my protests fell upon deaf ears.

It should be of no great surprise that I resigned soon after that encounter to go into a full time private lactation consulting practice.  I figured I would be better able to help new moms and breastfeeding families on the “outside”.

To still keep a foot in the system, I  moved to another hospital to teach all their prenatal breastfeeding classes.   I felt that empowering mothers with information before birth, one of the Ten Steps, would be the best way to set them up for success.

What continues to distress me after all these years is that there still seems to be a need. here in NYC, to temper the endorsement of breastfeeding when dealing with the consumers of maternity hospital services.

You’ve come a long way baby or NOT?

Is this an only in New York phenomena?  Or have you also received  mixed messages about breastfeeding in the hospital or from members of your health care team?

Can you share what approaches helped or hindered you as you began your journey as a breastfeeding mother?

August 15, 2010   5 Comments

The World Cup and Breastfeeding: Making Enduring Connections

I have been in my element these past few weeks blogging intensively about breastfeeding and watching the World Cup, the largest sporting event on our planet earth.

Every four years I overdose on watching the ‘Beautiful Game’; it is called soccer here in the U.S. and football (futbol) in the rest of the world.  The  coverage of  the 2010 World Cup from South Africa has been amazing.  In the past, I had to watch most of the matches on my local Spanish language channel or at a bar with closed-circuit tv because they were not aired in English until the semi-finals.   

This year, I have watched it not only in pubs or my home, but also on my phone at Starbucks. Twitter and Facebook have allowed me to share the experience in real time with family, friends and fellow fans all over the world.  Social networking in its most pure form.

It has struck me on more than one occasion during this marathon of writing and sports watching that my two passions have things in common. 

  • Global Reach
  • Really beautiful use of human body
  • Entry to experience is free or very low-cost
  • Avid Fans
  • Teamwork necessary for success

ESPN has developed a series of promotional videos on a variety of themes that are raised by this global sport.  A shorty funny one refers to the mini baby boom noted in Germany 9 months after the previous World Cup in 2006.  Since the Germans are not in the finals, it will be interesting to see what, if any, impact this has by the end of April 2011. 

Who knows maybe there will  be a mini baby boom the world over of passionate  new soccer fans who are breastfed!

FIFA , the international governing body of football, is supporting an important global initiative during this 2010 World Cup, Football For Hope.

The object of Football For Hope is to bring together, support, advise and strengthen sustainable social and human development programmes in the areas of peace, children’s rights and education, health, anti-discrimination and social integration as well as the environment…

Over the past 25 years, the profession of lactation consulting has worked hard to shine the spotlight on breastfeeding.  World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated each year from August 1-7.  It would be amazing if these two groups would unite forces and make some enduring connections for the good of our global community.

It is my fantasy that someday soon, breastfeeding will garnish some of the same economic clout and mass appeal that continues to grow for the ‘Beautiful Game’.

Viva España!  Breast is Best!

July 10, 2010   No Comments

How to Win by Quitting: A Model for Breastfeeding Advocacy

I was privileged to attend an amazing personal transformation workshop led by Jerry Stocking, Embracing Being,  Held in early June, this is an on-going course that he brings to New York City several times a year.

A group of us participated in an impromptu sales exercise.  We were sent out on the streets of Manhattan in the Herald Square area.  Each of us was asked to sell one copy of a book from Jerry Stocking’s catalogue of books  to a complete stranger.  Each book was to be sold for $10, which we were told was the price of re-admission to the morning session of the workshop in progress.

The Herald Square neighborhood around Madison Square Garden, Macy’s and Penn Station is usually full of pedestrians, especially on a warm Saturday morning.  People were in motion-many of them were rushing to a  destination or had time constraints needing to catch a bus or train. 

Enter our band of itinerant sales people.

To be successful, we had to break through our personal fears.  We had to confront our fears of approaching strangers, of being rejected, of not being fully conversant with the product we were asked to sell.

There are no accidents.  The book I chose, “How to Win by Quitting” was more fitting than I could have imagined at first glance.  I had chosen it thinking it would apply to giving up substances (smoking, alcohol, etc.) or resonate with folks trying to find their passions in this new global economy.  Actually, it spoke to the fundamentals of this “cold call” sales exercise.

Fear can stop us from attempting anything.  Be it sales or breastfeeding.  As the lotto motto reminds us, “You’ve got to be in it, to win it”.  By quitting my fear, I was fully able to engage in the experience and win big.

The basic secret of successful sales is that you must be able to put your attention on the recipient of the goods or services being offered.  It turned out that the objective of our morning exercise was not to merely sell a book.  It was to observe a process.

The win was not in selling the book as much as it was being fully engaged and attentive.  A personal, authentic human interaction was to be experienced.  Selling the book was just the icing on the cake.

If you are able to align yourself with the dance of communication, you experience life fully in the moment.  You can have fun and both sides reap a reward.

This is as true for breastfeeding advocacy as it is for successful sales.  Passion and playfulness need to to be the order of the day!

June 28, 2010   1 Comment

How My Father Made Me a Breastfeeding Advocate

Today is Father’s day. It is a day where we express our gratitude to our dads. For those of us whose fathers are no longer living, it could be a bittersweet occasion. Rather than be sad, I choose to celebrate my dad, Arthur Clements, by dedicating this post to his memory.

I was always a daddy’s girl. Being the first born of five children, I was extremely close to both of my parents. That had its moments. They ushered me into this world and I ushered each of them out.

Dad came to the United States from Ireland in his mid-twenties. He ultimately married my mother, his first love, after a decade of courtship. Those were the real days of “Mad Men”, when the culture was especially sexist and much more formal than it is now. Dad had lost his own father when he was eleven and spent much of his time with nannies or in boarding school. He relished being a father and, later in life, becoming a grandfather.

In many ways my dad was ahead of his time. He was very hands-on, especially when we were babies. My mother had many health challenges over the years, so by necessity, in addition to night school and a full-time job, he did a lot of things that stay-at-home dads do now. He was very comfortable with my mother breastfeeding all of us in a culture that did not support that as normal. His positive attitude toward women being empowered by their bodies and being educated and treated as equals set him apart from many men of his generation.

Brazil is playing this Father’s Day in the World Cup. My dad was so passionate about football and made us fans long before soccer moms and dads became a demographic. Growing up we went to all the matches of the Cosmos with Pelé. He would be thrilled to see the US holding their own and with a great shot to move on to the round of 16. More so to see his eldest daughter such a rabid fan!

My dad Art was very friendly and was a consummate broker. Passion and playfulness were his secret weapons. He had tons of energy for things he believed in and enjoyed. He encouraged me and my siblings to pursue our dreams with the same gusto and urged each of us to make our avocations into our life’s work.

Taking this advice to heart, I have blended all of my life learning and fashioned a new model of conscious breastfeeding. It is my joy to empower mothers and families through an optimized experience of breastfeeding which fits their modern lifestyle.

Thanks to you dad I am a passionate advocate for women. Even if I won the Lotto, I would always keep this passion alive a la your example.

June 20, 2010   1 Comment