…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle
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Musings of A Breastfeeding Mary Poppins

Today is the end of World Breastfeeding Week 2010.

As it ends I invite you to contemplate this Celtic Mandala of Anu or Aine, The Great Mother.   She is the womb of life and and through her breasts she passes on its spark and vitality in the form of mother’s milk.

Anu or Aine-The Great Mother

In my world, where I am a community-based registered nurse and lactation consultant, protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding will continue on a daily basis.

I’ve been privileged to help so many moms and babies to join our global breastfeeding family.  Over the past 24+ years, it’s testimonials and feedback like this that have kept me going.

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Although, I still feel at times like a salmon swimming up stream, I embrace being called a “Breastfeeding Mary (aka Máire) Poppins”

Just the other day, during this week of breastfeeding celebration, I ran into a mom and her daughter that I had helped about 14 years ago.  Mana Allen re-introduced me to Molly who had gone on to breastfeed for many years in an  extended breastfeeding relationship that they had both relished. They thanked me yet again and Mana commented this week here on the blog.

Someday soon I imagine that I will have the honor and pleasure of helping Molly or another graduate of my practice to become a breastfeeding mother.

That will be a full circle moment!

August 7, 2010   No Comments

My Breastfeeding Article in the UN Chronicle

World Breastfeeding Week 2010 is drawing to a close.  The focus has been on the Ten Steps of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative which aims to have health professionals and health care facilities promote and support breastfeeding.

In August of 2009, I was honored to have my article Breastfeeding: the Mother in Charge published in the UN Chronicle.  (click on cover)

It poses the following question…

When cultural anthropologists of the future look back on this moment in human history, what will they find? Will they see a tipping point in breastfeeding advocacy where we were able to successfully support and preserve breastfeeding?

The Ten Steps can help move us in the right direction.   Ultimately, our actions must speak louder than our words or policies. We need to teach mothers the fundamentals of how to achieve a deep, pain-free  latch.   Conscious Breastfeeding will put them in charge of their breastfeeding outcomes.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change we seek.”
~ Pres. Barack Obama

I invite you to read my article and share your thoughts.

August 6, 2010   No Comments

Breastfeeding: It’s A Hot Topic

It’s World Breastfeeding Week 2010. Today, on day 4, the midway point of the 19′th annual celebration, breastfeeding was a hot topic on The View in more ways than one.

Super model Gisele Bundchen has made tongues wag by talking about the importance of breastfeeding in the first months of a child’s life. “Some people (in the US) think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think, ‘Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?’” Bundchen says in the magazine’s September issue. In that interview she did with the UK edition of Harpers Bazaar, she called for a worldwide law requiring all mothers to breastfeed for 6 months.

Giselle had a home birth and has a diaper free baby. She is expanding beyond lingerie to become a breastfeeding role model. She ignited a furor with her comments, but they were not intended to offend, but rather to inspire other new mothers in their quest to do the very best for their babies. I admire her passion and how she models a conscious breastfeeding lifestyle.

Clearly, she has hit a nerve as evidenced by this clip from The View. What do you think?

August 4, 2010   1 Comment

World Breastfeeding Week 2010: Health Care Worker Call To Action

This is the 19′th annual celebration of World Breastfeeding Week.  The Theme of 2010 is commemorating the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

In the past 20 years there has been some progress in the rates of  initiation of breastfeeding.  Yet, only 28% of Maternity facilities world-wide have fully implemented the Ten Steps and have been certified by the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.  Were this an analysis of anything else, this would not be a passing grade.

 I’ve been in the trenches throughout this period and beyond.  At first glance, it appears as though we have made great strides.   According to the NYC Dept. of  Health and Mental Hygiene report put out in April 2009,  an impressive 85%  of women initiate breastfeeding.  However, after 2 months the number falls to 32% who are still exclusively breastfeeding their babies.  Surveys reveal that the top two reasons for stopping were related to concerns about the milk supply either having enough (39%) or that it was adequately satisfying their babies (39%).

The fall off rate here in NYC is quite dramatic, but not surprising to me.  Despite health code regulations that prohibit formula discharge packs, many families will leave the hospital with generous samples of formula in tow.  Mothers who have had cesarean sections report that their babies were given at least one bottle, if not more, of formula during the first few days after delivery.  

Many of the New York hospitals have lactation consultants on staff or nurses “trained” to support breastfeeding.  Nonetheless, their focus seems to increasingly be on feeding a measurable amount of fluid to the newborns.  They get  moms to sit on the pump getting drops of colostrum and encourage them to give their babies formula until the “milk comes in”. 

 Using the pump as a  first line of breastfeeding support relegates direct breastfeeding to the back seat.  New mothers leave the hospital knowing how to pump rather than how to achieve a deep, pain-free latch.

New parents are set up to believe that artificial baby milk or formula and human milk can be exchanged ounce for ounce in bottles without consequence .  Unwittingly they are weaning from the beginning or setting themselves up to experience the top two reasons many of them will choose not to breastfeed beyond two months.

Without a doubt, the Ten Steps are a helpful tool to focus our attention on the importance of consistent breastfeeding education and support.

To pack a punch and ensure successful breastfeeding beyond the first few weeks, the Ten Steps must be embraced by unequivocal  and truly breastfeeding-friendly health care workers:  nurses, doctors and lactation consultants. 

To be continued…

August 2, 2010   2 Comments

Breastfeeding and Inception: My Dream Within A Dream

Inception” (2010) is a must-see movie, completely original and thought provoking.

 

It captured my imagination when I saw it this week. I found myself having lucid dreams about the potential of inception.  I was mulling over in my head the fact that subliminal messages enter our minds on a daily basis. Advertising campaigns deliberately harness the power of suggestion to drive our product allegience. Ideas that have found their way into our subconscious are digested and interpreted during our dream life.

Although  it is not yet possible to share actual dreams in the fashion of the movie “Inception”, we often speak of having a shared dream in our conscious life. 

I started to think how marvelous it would be if inception were possible.  World Breastfeeding Week begins today.  It would be awesome if a universal subconscious brand loyalty for breastfeeding would have a viral inception.  To create a model where the dream of all human babies being breastfed, as nature intended, was indeed the reality. 

Edgar Allen Poe

‘All that you see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.’

Sometimes, I feel caught in a dream within a dream.  A place where there is a lack of belief  in a woman’s body being able to nurture her baby after birth and a need to continually prove that human milk is superior to artificial baby milk. I feel like Cobb in the movie trying to instill an idea that breastfeeding is the biologic norm against these objections implanted by the marketing geniuses of Big Pharma.

Inspired by ”Inception” the movie, and the definition of the word according to the World English Dictionary:  the beginning, as of a project or undertaking…

During this month of August, I will be participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  On a daily basis, in my waking life, I will promote conscious breastfeeding and plant the seeds to share the dream of living in a breastfeeding world.   

Won’t you join me and share the ride?

August 1, 2010   No Comments