Nursing in Public

Woman, Uncensored has an excellent post on the topic. If you’re easily offended by certain images or words, be forewarned that it is a rant. If you’re more world-hardened (i.e., you’ve been down the checkout aisle of the grocery store with all the women’s magazines and tabloids with their offensive pictures and suggestive titles), you won’t have a problem with this. For the most part, it’s G-rated, but there are a few words and pictures that aren’t. (Although I’ve seen worse pictures at the grocery store and on regular TV.)

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Human Milk for Human Babies — IdeaBlob

Someone left the following comment on my blog, and I like the idea. Considering that low-income women are the ones most likely to have health problems during pregnancy (which also tend to affect their babies, particularly making them more likely to be born early or at low weight, etc.), their babies stand to benefit the most from breastfeeding… but these women are also least likely to breastfeed, so their babies get a double-whammy, which costs everyone in society.

Hello!

My name is Leslie Ott & I am a certified lactation educator, pursuing my ongoing education and hours to become an IBCLC. I currently provide breastfeeding education to women in my community but I am actively pursing a different venture to begin a non profit organization to provide breastfeeding education, resources, lactation consultant services & support, breast pumps and supplies at little or no cost for low income & disadvantaged mothers. Our goal is to raise & extend the incidence of breastfeeding in the socioeconomic group with the lowest rates by providing everything to ensure breastfeeding success.

I have submitted my idea to the popular website http://www.ideablob.com who gives away $10,000 to the idea with the most votes that month.

You can view my idea at http://ideablob.com/ideas/5227-Human-Milk-for-Human-Babies

Would your blog allow the promotion of my idea to solicit as many votes as possible??

Any promotion would be appreciated!!

Thank You,
Leslie Ott

Go vote! 🙂

“Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy” — a review

Wonderful!

Beautiful photography!

Excellent advice!

It’s hard to top the words of praise Dr. Christiane Northrup and others — both doctors Laura Keegan has worked with and mothers she has helped — have given:

like having a wise and loving grandmother show you exactly how to nurse your baby… Laura has created a manual of wisdom and celebration… what you need to know to get started in establishing a comfortable breastfeeding relationship and to solve problems should they occur… Before this experience, I never would have believed that learning the correct latch in this book meant that I would spend less time nursing my twins than I did nursing my firstborn and without the pain of sore nipples…

Plus there are many, many more in the opening pages of the book — a variety of mothers who had difficulties nursing for many different stated reasons (one mother was told that her baby had an “abnormal suck”, one baby was slow to gain weight, several mothers had cracked nipples), who resolved all those difficulties with the techniques brought forth and beautifully illustrated in this book.

Once you go past the introductory words of praise and the table of contents (which you can see by going to BreastfeedingwithComfortandJoy.com and clicking on “click here for excerpts”), there are beautiful photographs on every two-page spread — usually one large picture on the left-hand page with explanatory text on the right-hand page, but frequently a series of smaller pictures (for instance, several photos taken just seconds apart showing a baby properly latching onto the breast). These pictures show a variety of babies, from the tiny, still-wrinkly newborns to those oh-so-chubby babies of several months old, with several “milk-drunk” babies who have fallen asleep while nursing, and smile that sweet, satisfied smile. The pictures primarily show good latches and good positioning, with only one “what not to do” picture — this is important, because it is much better to show what to do rather than what not to do. In this way, women get strong and repeated correct images of how to properly breastfeed.

One thing that struck me the strongest while reading this book is the statement she made about how that women in this country often “automatically hold their babies and their breasts in ways that work for bottle-feeding since that is what most of us have imprinted in our minds” — as opposed to women growing up in cultures where breastfeeding is the norm. And it is this “incorrect imprinting” that is the root of so many problems with breastfeeding.

I remember my Daddy kind of poking fun at organizations like La Leche League, or wondering out loud why it was that women should have such problems with nursing their babies when animals don’t have that problem. To be honest, I never had any problems with nursing either. The only times it hurt were when my children got to that stage (about 6 months old?) where they are easily distractable and frequently turn to see what made that noise without letting go of the breast first; and also a couple of times when I was pregnant and nursing, my 10-month-old son would occasionally latch on incorrectly (I don’t know why — we’d obviously been nursing for quite some time), and it would hurt, so I would take him off and start him again (and I couldn’t tell you what was the difference), and it wouldn’t hurt the second time. And sometimes when I hear stories of women who have had just dreadful pain while nursing — like my sister-in-law whose nipples cracked and bled the whole time she nursed her oldest child, and she had terrible pain with every feeding (I give her full kudos for sticking with it for 11 months — I think I’d’ve given up much sooner!) — when I’d hear stories like that, I’d sometimes wonder why it is so hard for some women, when it was so easy for me. Now, I think I know most if not all of the answer.

The next several pages go into detail (in words and in pictures) about the differences between both maternal and baby positioning with breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding. And it is this that makes all the difference in the world. When the breast and baby are not in proper alignment, the nipple is subjected to abuse which causes pain initially, and if not changed, can lead to cracked and bleeding nipples. I’ve not had that, but I can imagine it to be not fun in the slightest. Yet, often women are told that even when they are in pain that there is nothing wrong — that happened to my sister-in-law I just mentioned. (Just for background, she didn’t tell me about her problem with breastfeeding until well after she had weaned her daughter — she first mentioned it a couple of weeks after I had my first son, when she asked if I was having any problems with pain, cracking, or bleeding. I think she was a little jealous and quite astounded when I said ‘no.’ She may have been a little perturbed at her “bad luck,” but I don’t think “luck” was the problem.) Anyway, when she was in the hospital after having had her baby, the nurse told her that she was doing everything right — despite the pain she was feeling. Because this “authority figure” (I believe she called her a “lactation consultant,” but I’ve heard that sometimes nurses are given that appellation or a similar one when they’ve had little or no training in breastfeeding, but they may be the only L&D nurse with breastfeeding experience, so they are the “go-to person” whenever a mom has a problem) told her that there wasn’t a problem, she persisted with an incorrect latch through months of pain and bleeding. It shouldn’t happen.

There are other sections (see the table of contents in the excerpts of the book) that deal with several other common problems or areas of concern — including many, many pictures of mothers breastfeeding twins, showing different positions for the babies to be in — as well as skin-to-skin contact, kangaroo care, colic, engorgement, etc.

Again, the pictures are just beautiful and both pictures and text are quite informative. It’s a must-have for any woman who has problems with nursing, or anyone who has contact with such women (midwives, doulas, nurses, childbirth educators…). I’m going to loan my copy to a woman at my church who is expecting her first baby any day now. I hope I get it back!

“Like having a wise and loving grandmother show you exactly how to nurse your baby”

The title quote is from Dr. Christiane Northrup about the book Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy: A Photographic Guide for Mom and Those who Help Her. The author is Laura Keegan, mother of four and Family Nurse Practitioner.

She says, “My mission is to bring breastfeeding back to humanity with a new comfort zone to promote both peace and health.”

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You can visit www.BreastfeedingwithComfortandJoy.com for reviews, excerpts, and orders; and also the Dec. 12th post at the Motherwear blog, for a review and the comments which follow.

Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy is not only extremely practical with a long history of successful use in its pre-published form since 1999, being circulated by patients and colleagues to women all over the US having significant breastfeeding problems; it is also beautiful.  The images of breastfeeding mothers and babies have been described as stunning and evocative.

This sounds like a wonderful gift to give a woman who is currently pregnant or has just given birth and may or may not have a circle of breastfeeding friends to help her should she need it.

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Colostrum production during pregnancy

Someone used the search term “how soon before labor begin lactating”. I’m afraid she may have been looking for a way to tell when she was going to go into labor — that’s pretty typical when you get “great with child” to be on the lookout for some sign — any sign! — that you will soon be having your baby out of your body and into your arms. (While there are some indications, there is no fool-proof sign, unfortunately.)

Your body begins the preparation process for breastfeeding, actually as part of your normal menstrual cycle, but it doesn’t really “kick in” until you get pregnant — that’s why one of the earliest signs of pregnancy is more-sensitive nipples and larger breasts. (The areola — the brown portion around the nipples — also gets darker brown when you’re pregnant, and this starts early in pregnancy too.) There may be a “range of normal” for when you start producing the first colostrum (the earliest milk, packed with calories and antibodies), but it varies even different pregnancies for the same woman. When I was pregnant the first time, I noticed that I could express some colostrum a few weeks before I gave birth; the second time, it was a few months prior. It may be that I just noticed it earlier the second time; although it’s equally possible that since it was my second time, that my body started making it earlier. Both my babies were born on the exact same day of gestation, so this cannot possibly be a “marker” for when you’ll go into labor.

This is actually pretty cool, because if your baby should happen to be born premature, then you can still give him or her breastmilk — and that milk is specially designed for premature infants — it actually differs in make-up from the breastmilk of a full-term infant. While your infant may be too premature to suckle, if s/he can take any nourishment by mouth (as opposed to requiring IVs), then you can pump the milk and feed it to the baby.

Lactation Amenorrhea

That’s just a fancy term which means “no periods while breastfeeding.” It refers to the natural infertility that many women experience after birth for as long as several months after their babies are born. I never had it.

Some people will swear by “lactation amenorrhea” as a sure-fire solution at “natural” pregnancy prevention, or “natural” child-spacing. It does work for some women, but not for all. On an email list I’m on, we recently got into a discussion about this, and several women noted that one or more of their children were conceived when they were supposedly infertile in the months after birth, and ended up with children 10-15 months apart in age, without having had a period in between. One woman I remember in particular said that since she had conceived one child like they, she and her husband were determined to wait to have sex until she got her period back, just to make sure they didn’t conceive again. Well, after a few months of no sex, and no period either, they had a bit of “marital enjoyment”… and ended up with yet another baby on the way.

Many sources will say things like “most women will experience a natural cessation of periods while they are exclusively breastfeeding” and that “many women will have one or more anovulatory [infertile] cycles before they return to fertility.” That may well be, but you shouldn’t bet on it!

I’ve theorized this, but have no way of drawing any firm conclusions — it just makes sense in my mind — that heavier women will get their periods back sooner than normal-weight or underweight women. First, I remember it said several Olympics ago that many of the girls on the gymnastics team didn’t have periods — they were too small and/or underweight to do so. They simply didn’t have enough body fat to support a fetus, so they didn’t ovulate or menstruate. So, I do know that at one end of the spectrum, not having enough weight can lead to not having a period. I started both my pregnancies at the same (over)weight, and gained 10 lb. more with my second than with my first. After I had my first baby, I started my first period at 6 weeks postpartum, the second was 5 weeks later, and then they continued at my usual “every 4 weeks”. After my second baby, I hadn’t even finished with the lochia and I had my first period at 4 weeks postpartum! Then I had a pregnancy scare (that I’ll get to in a moment) with no period at 8 weeks pp, then regular periods after that. One of my sisters-in-law, who is normal-to-thin (and exercises much more religiously than I do), didn’t have a period between her two children born 19 months apart. Even though she was no longer exclusively breastfeeding her son, she was still nursing for several months, and didn’t have her period.

This also shows that you can get pregnant without having a period. Although some women will have one or more infertile cycles in which they do not ovulate (release an egg) while they are breastfeeding or soon after the birth of their baby, not all women will. Although you typically start counting your cycle from the first day of your last menstrual period, ovulation is what really starts the process — you ovulate about 14 days before you start your period. If your first cycle is a fertile cycle, you can get pregnant even if you haven’t had a period since you gave birth. This doesn’t happen a lot, but it can happen, so you need to be aware of that.

I exclusively breastfed my children for the first 6 months, and didn’t experience amenorrhea, so I get a little irritated sometimes when people so blithely assert, “If you breastfeed exclusively, you won’t get pregnant.” Bull. For many women, I’m sure that’s true; but not for all women. Breastfeeding may reduce but does not necessarily prevent fertility. There are biological forces at work when it comes to getting pregnant, and one of those forces is that if a woman cannot support a pregnancy, she tends not to have periods — this is why the Olympic gymnasts many times do not menstruate; and it may also be a factor in why many other women are infertile — whether overweight, underweight, or normal weight, there may be many health issues that make pregnancy not a good idea biologically speaking. Obviously, there are many reasons other than this for women to have difficulty becoming or staying pregnant, and I’m not doing an exhaustive post on that, but only talking about it as it touches this subject, with the idea of perhaps enlarging on it a little. So, if you are one of those women who does not have periods for several months after having a baby — congratulations! But if you’re about to have a baby or you just gave birth, and you’re expecting to be naturally infertile while you exclusively breastfeed — be careful!! I wouldn’t bet on it, that’s for sure.

Oh, and my pregnancy scare at 8 weeks postpartum? When my younger son was 3 weeks old, a friend adopted a newborn baby, and I pumped milk for her. I got up to pumping 25 oz. per day by the time the baby was 6 weeks old, and she decided to just go to straight formula, rather than have me expend all that time. So I theorize that if I had had twins, exclusively breastfeeding them of course, I would not have gotten my period back as soon as I did. This tends to bolster my weight-breastfeeding-amenorrhea theory, because I skipped a period when I was at the height of my milk production, so I assume that my body said, “Ok, we can handle breastfeeding two kids, but we can’t handle growing another young ‘un, so let’s put the baby-making machine on hold for a while!” When I stopped pumping, I started my periods again, every four weeks, just like clockwork.

What about breastfeeding and taking birth control? I don’t know. There are a lot of birth control pills on the market, and some may by safer to take while breastfeeding, but that’s something to discuss with your doctor and pharmacist. I’m pretty sure that if you start on birth control, you will get a period on your placebo-pill days, and also that the hormones that get in your system will get into your breastmilk. There are low-dose pills available now which may not interfere with breastmilk production, but I think the older pills may cause problems in that department.