If you're not sure if you can be fired for pumping at work, or even for saying you're a breastfeeding mom, you'll want to listen to this interview!
If you're not sure if you can be fired for pumping at work, or even for saying you're a breastfeeding mom, you'll want to listen to this interview!
I've seen a lot of breastfeeding videos, and have helped two hospitals choose videos to use in their breastfeeding classes. And I can say that many breastfeeding videos are outdated, clumsily made, or (this might sound like a funny critique of an educational video) overly pedantic.
So I approached watching BabyBabyOhBaby: Nurturing Your Gorgeous and Growing Baby with Breastfeeding with a little trepidation. But I was far beyond relieved when I watched it. What makes this DVD special?
Simply put, this is the most beautiful educational breastfeeding video I've ever seen.
The clean, minimalist, high definition images are just stunning. The moms and babies are adorable and of mixed ethnic backgrounds, and the narration is modern-sounding. The close-up confessional-style segments of moms telling their stories are honest, intimate, and captivating. The stripped down, white background and clothing allows you to zero in on the mothers and babies, and the filming is so intimate and clear you can almost feel the babies' soft skin. It's big on breastfeeding bliss, but still seems grounded in reality.
Because the wardrobe and furnnishings are very basic (clothes, furniture, and background are all white) and classic, there isn't any danger of the images seeming out of date over time. This is a big problem with other videos - old hairstyles and clothing are very distracting and make the information seem similarly out of date.
When a video is this gorgeous, it's inspirational. Aspirational, even. I can see pregnant moms watching it thinking, "I want that to be me."
I think that this film is representative of a trend toward simplicity in breastfeeding instruction. When I first started teaching classes at our local hospital eight years ago the video seemed interminable. And my class reflected this, too - I tried to cram every last bit of information into a two hour class, and it still felt like I was leaving things out. The class always got good reviews, but I knew that I was bombarding everyone with more information than could really be absorbed.
More and more I see educational materials which approach teaching about breastfeeding by reducing the number of messages. I think it's no coincidence that this is concurrent with the rise in popularity of Laid Back Breastfeeding (Biological Nurturing), and a shift in counseling techniques to an approach which emphasizes mothers' and babies' own instincts and wisdom. As a strongly left-brained person neither of these shifts have been that easy for me, but I know that they are the right direction to be moving in.
But back to the content of this film. This film is up-to-date, covering the breast crawl, laid-back breastfeeding, and baby-led breastfeeding. The topics covered include breast changes, early breastfeeding, positioning, feeding cues, sources of support, partners, working, and weaning. Is every topic covered in a lot of detail? No, and I'm sure that this wasn't the creators' intent. It's the perfect jumping off point for further investigation, whether a mother sees it in a class or support group setting, or on her own.
So, knowing that this film isn't supposed to be encyclopedic, are there any basics left out? There are two things which I think could have used a little more emphasis: feeding frequency and latch. Feeding frequency is addressed indirectly, through a strong discussion of feeding cues, and mention of it taking a lot of hours each day. If a mother took this to heart and followed her baby's feeding cues (assuming a healthy, full term baby), she would most likely end up feeding in the 8-12 times/24 hour range. So is it important to mention the normal range? For some women, I think so. The other issue, latch, could have used some direct discussion. What should it look like? How should it feel? What should a mom do if she's having pain with latch? Even in the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, which in its latest edition takes a similarly "laid back" approach when it comes to positoning, discusses what to look for in a good latch, both in terms of attachment and comfort. And when I talked with Suzanne Colson about this she said that mothers using Laid Back positions still often need to help their babies achieve a good latch.
But these are topics which could easily be covered in more detail in a breastfeeding class, and the trade off for such beautiful production and up-to-date information is one I'd happily make. If I were still teaching breastfeeding classes, this is the video I would show.
A companion DVD, Bonding with your Beautiful and Brilliant Baby through Infant Massage, is similarly gorgeous and inspiring!
*I was provided with a review copy of these DVDs.
I'm writing today to see if any of you can help find a small group of women whose milk might hold particular value in unraveling the mysteries of breast cancer: women who have had, or currently have, breast cancer.
We're looking for women who can provide breastmilk samples - either fresh or frozen - and who have had breast cancer (not other cancers).
If this is you, please contact Beth at (413) 545-0813 or email her. If not, please help by spreading the word however you like - Facebook, Twitter, etc. Thank you!
You might think that I wouldn't like a book entitled Boob Hell.
I would, too, especially if it has a cover like the one to the right. But I have a real appreciation for this breastfeeding memoir, self-published by Rebekah Curtis.
Boob Hell is a story, too familiar to some of you, about breastfeeding and pain. The author writes about her struggle with pain that lasted for months, a nipple so atrociously cracked it practically becomes a character, and the pain of suffering in relative isolation.
But as I read it it became clear that the author's story is largely about the pain caused by what the Best for Babes Foundation would call "Booby Traps:" institutional and cultural barriers to breastfeeding which make it so hard for us to meet our breastfeeding goals.
From her 8 week obstetrical appointment, at which she's handed a formula "gift" bag, to health care providers who fail to give her good treatment, to discomfort nursing in public, to family members who tell her that she should toughen up her nipple with a toothbrush and that her pain is a result of her fair complexion, Rebekah bumps up against these barriers again and again.
As I read it, I got more and more angry in particular at the health care providers (from physicians to lactation consultants) who repeatedly fail her. In the end, it's another mom who provides the breakthrough advice. No mother should have to suffer like Rebakah did, but I'm afraid that it happens all the time.
Rebekah is a smart, and saavy woman who has resources a lot of women would envy, but even as she recognizes the barriers she encounters, she's mostly powerless to break through them. I've been writing a long series for the Best for Babes Foundation about the Booby Traps. The more I write about them, the more I think that we place far too much responsibility on mothers and far too little on our providers to prevent stories like Rebekah's from happening.
In spite of my frustration, I found this book a really enjoyable read, largely due to the author's sense of humor and writing style. The only other breastfeeding memoir I know of, How My Breasts Saved the World (after reading it I still wasn't sure how), isn't much of a comparison in those areas. If a book about pain can be fun, this is one of them.
The only thing I would have liked more of in this book is a bit more reflection about the experience. What did she learn about herself - in particular, why didn't she stop? What did she think, looking back, about the support that she got? What should have been different? Knowing what she knew, why on earth did she sign up to breastfeed her second baby? And if, as the cover states, it was worth it, how?
In spite of this, Boob Hell is a good read and, in my mind, a call to action to work to eliminate the Booby Traps. I'm happy to recomend it.
* I received a review copy of this book.
The Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition has announced that, as of July 1st, 2012, all 49 of the state's hospitals have gone "bag free," making it the second and largest state to end their distribution in hospitals.
The bags in question are the formula company promotional "gift bags" given to new mothers as they leave the hospital. Rhode Island announced last year that all their hospitals had gotten rid of them.
Not sure why these bags are harmful to breastfeeding? Check out this podcast with Dr. Alison Steube I posted a few years ago. I have new one on this topic coming out in August at the Motherlove Blog - an interview with Marsha Walker.
This is great news because the bags have been shown in multiple studies to negatively impact breastfeeding, but also because getting rid of them is one (very challenging step) in the process of becoming a Baby Friendly hospital.
Relactation is the process of resuming breastfeeding or breastmilk feeding after stopping.
I'd love to hear from some moms who have attempted it - with any outcome. If you or someone you know has a story to share please email me!
From the lists of traditionally "prohibited" foods (you know that something's up when the list varies dramatically by culture), to the more modern confusion over omega 3's and vitamin D, it can be hard to figure out what to eat.
And the advice about when, what, and how to feed babies once they start solids is changing, too. And moreover, most books present food in a very isolated way: here's what the nursing mom should eat, here's what the kids should eat, and the partner...I guess it's pizza again.
Having read some bad food advice in books for breastfeeding moms I'm always a little wary of the topic. That's why I was pleased to see this new offering from La Leche League International - a name you can trust for breastfeeding-friendly feeding advice.
Feed Yourself, Feed Your Family by La Leche League International, presents food from pregnancy through breastfeeding and weaning, and is addresses these needs in the context of the whole family. That, in itself, is pretty refreshing.
The advice about nutrition during breastfeeding is up-to-date and evidence-based, though not preachy or presented in an overly complicated manner. The information about starting solids reflects the current trend toward "baby led weaning (solids)." The recipes look healthy and the accompanying images are beautiful, and many are La Leche League member favorites - including a generic starter mix. I'm planning on trying a number of them.
In the Omega 3 and Vitamin D sections the information is slightly different than what I've seen some of the experts recomend. The book suggests a level of DHA (200-300 mg) that is lower than what Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett recommends. In the Vitamin D section the book suggests that 4000 iu during breastfeeding may ensure adequate levels in milk to eliminate the requirement for Vitamin D supplementation of the baby, but Dr. Carol Wagner and her colleagues are suggesting 6,400 iu may be the appropriate amount.
In a culture of frequently bad breastfeeding advice, you can trust this book to be breastfeeding-friendly: from the time-saving nature of the recipes (they know you're going to make some of these "one handed"), to the statements about how your diet affects your baby's health and tastes, to the information about weight loss during breastfeeding. To not have to be on guard for bad information - that's worth the price in itself.
* I was provided a review copy of this book.
When I posted about getting together some Asian/Pacific American breastfeeding supporters I heard from Amber, a photographer in Hawaii.
She shared this story and photo. I'm a bit biased because I have lots of family connections to Hawaii, but isn't it just beautiful?
I am a member of our local LLL group here in Hawaii. A couple of years ago, we were looking for art for posters for World Breastfeeding Week to help promote breastfeeding to local moms. We noticed that most posters and artwork depict Caucasian women and babies.
I offered that local moms are proud of their heritage and that we should do something relating to Pacific Islander culture. One mother knew a hula dancer who was breastfeeding and I happen to be a professional photographer. I contacted the mom and we met at the beach and shot this beautiful photo. It has since been sent to and featured in our local WIC offices and clinics.
I'm very pleased to share a guest post today from Ann, a nursing and working mama of two. She blogs about sewing, fashion and thrifty shopping.
You may remember Ann's prior posts: How to become a nursing fashionista, and The essential summer packing list for nursing fashionistas, and The nursing mother's guide to escaping fashion purgatory.
This time Ann has put together some great ideas on how to put together a nursing wardrobe for work. Enjoy!
Working moms, we know going back to work without your baby (and having to pump) is as much an emotional as a physical challenge. You'll be going to work with spit up on your clothes, so you should carry some wet wipes in your purse.
Then, build on a nursing and easy to pump wardrobe by investing in two nursing dresses. These can be further dressed up by wearing a suit jacket over the top, or a cardigan, with a belt. Use your workday to wear all the fancy jewelry your baby will break (and bring a small bag to take it off and remove it before picking your baby up from day care.) A great pair of shoes and a roomy bag adds style. Change up the accessories and you can get away with the same dress twice in a week. Or try a leather jacket, in an edgy style, and pair with a nursing dress, and short boots with bright tights. It's a modern look that goes great to an evening event.
Extending your nursing wardrobe with a few nursing tops or button front blouses with nursing camisoles paired with suit separates also works. Casual workplaces call for polished suit jacket or cardigan, nursing tee, dark denim jeans with scarf and jewelry.
Invest in a few pairs of dressy suit pants in your 'new size’ (if you're still between sizes, shop a consignment boutique for the larger size till you lose the weight). Pre-pregnancy jackets and cardigans can probably still be worn, left open. Wear these with a nursing top, scarf and jewelry to work. A wardrobe of 2-4 tops and 1-2 dresses can get you through a week of work. As you lose the postpartum weight you can add back your pre pregnancy wardrobe. If some things never fit again, give yourself a pat on the back - you created an entire human being in that body! And you're feeding him too! And then treat yourself to new things in your new size.
I found a clutch purse to be very handy for work - when I dropped off my children at day care, I'd take my clutch out of the diaper bag and voila, I was mama, solo. An oversized clutch can carry a smartphone, wallet, and lipstick as well as even have room for a MP3 player (for when you're pumping).
We hope you have a place to pump discreetly at your workplace, if not see these resources for how to make the business case for workplace lactation support.
Pretty mamas are happy mamas, and it's important to acknowledge the need for purchasing a few things so you feel more polished at work, or even pretend you got more than three hours of sleep last night!
I wrote about this film a while back when it was still in development, but it's now here!
For those of you who live in the Portland, Oregon area, see this site for information on an upcoming screening.
I provided a sample of my milk to the UMass Breastmilk Lab last week so they could test out some methods of preserving cells in the milk they receive.
They take shipments from around the country by overnight mail, and the time between pumping and analysis takes a toll on the number of cells they can examine.
Here's a picture of the cells in my milk - all cells, not just the ductal epithelial cells they study. This was after the milk was combined with a preservative and set out on the counter for about five days. Looks like the Milky Way, right?
The Supreme Court is expected to rule as early as today on the federal Affordable Care Act - apparently not today.
The Court might leave the law alone, might eliminate the insurance mandate only, or might invalidate the whole thing. If it chooses the latter, the workplace pumping law is will go away. Not something that makes the news, but it would be a pretty big reversal for working/pumping moms.
I've been wanting to do a little bit of organizing of Asian/Pacific American breastfeeding supporters for a while.
Why? Because I think that there is a need for better understanding of Asian/Pacific American mothers' perspectives and support needs when it comes to breastfeeding. We* have a high breastfeeding initiation rate compared to other ethnic groups, but I do hear uninformed comments from breastfeeding support people about Asian mothers and breastfeeding. African American moms and support people are starting to organize and advocate, I think there's a need for Asian/Pacific Americans to do the same.
I was thinking of a very simple project to start: A website which has 1) links to breastfeeding materials in Asian/Pacific lanuages, 2) compiles the available research on Asian/Pacific American mothers and breastfeeding, and 3) provides contact information to some people who can speak knowledgeably about Asian/Pacific American moms and breastfeeding. It would demonstrate how diverse our communities are, and provide a little historical context. I'd also like it to form a connection between Asian/Pacific Americans involved in breastfeeding support.
So, if you're an Asian/Pacific American mother, breastfeeding support person (i.e. lactation consultant, La Leche League leader, WIC peer counselor, health care provider), or just interested, please email me! I'm looking forward to getting started on this project.
*I'm Japanese American, though you can't tell from my name!
I'm so happy that many WIC programs are now offering breastpumps as one of their benefits. Programs in my area now offer loans and in some cases free pumps to moms who are separated from their babies for work or medical reasons.
This short video provides a bit of an explanation, but if you think you may qualify you should check with your local WIC office!
Many of you know how vital WIC breastfeeding peer counselors are to supporting breastfeeding for many, many mothers. This support is extra special because it comes from mothers who have participated in WIC and are members of the same community as the moms they help. And this model has proven to be effective at keeping moms breastfeeding.
That's why its worrying to hear that a House Appropriations Subcommittee has defunded the WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselors program in its proposed budget. This budget still has many steps to go, but once something is defunded in at least one version of the budget it takes a fight to get it reinstated.
So the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee is urging us all to tell Congress to reinstate funding for the program. You can do so using their online form, which will get your commens to your representative.
I have a new podcast interview up on the Motherlove Blog on "extended" breastfeeding (and it starts with a discussion of why that term is problematic!).
I intereviewed Ann Sinnott, author of Breastfeeding Older Children, about many aspects of nursing past infancy.