I often ask women who are expecting if they have prepared for breastfeeding. Sometimes I get “I took a breastfeeding class at the hospital” or “I read a book,” but often I just get a blank stare. Prepare for breastfeeding? Why prepare for breastfeeding? It is natural, right? Yes, breastfeeding is instinctual for babies, but babies don’t breastfeed by themselves and many things happen to get in the way of their instinctive behavior. In that light, I would like to share some of the most common pitfalls that de-rail even the best of breastfeeding intentions.
- We are living in a bottle-feeding culture. Women have been imprinted from infancy with the sight of babies being fed by bottle. Most of us grow up having rarely (if ever) seen anyone breastfeeding. When most women begin to position their babies to breastfeed, they instinctively move the baby into a bottle-feeding position. Why? Because that is how we have always seen babies fed. In order to combat that, it is a great idea to visit with groups of breastfeeding mothers during pregnancy so that you can begin to see babies breastfeeding. Groups like your local La Leche League group, Breastfeeding USA group or independent breastfeeding groups, like For Babies’ Sake, are a wealth of real-life information. In my experience, women who attend breastfeeding groups on a regular (or even semi-regular) basis during pregnancy experience far fewer problems and are more likely to meet their breastfeeding goals. There are also websites that discuss breastfeeding issues, including positioning, like Biological Nurturing and Dr. Jack Newman’s videos.
- Modern birth and post-partum practices interfere with baby’s and mom’s instinctive breastfeeding behaviors. The current practice of induction of labor, often for reasons that are not medically indicated, as well as scheduled c-sections prior to 39 weeks can lead to complications, such as more difficult labors and delivery by forceps or vacuum extraction, respiratory distress syndrome, poor suck reflexes, excessively sleepy babies, etc. These complications have a big impact on how well baby is able to breastfeed. I believe that it is no coincidence that a large portion of the clients that I see for breastfeeding difficulties were either induced or had scheduled c-sections prior to 39 weeks gestation. As anxious as you are to meet your little one, and as uncomfortable as you may be in the last weeks of pregnancy, resist the temptation of early delivery, unless there is a true medical need. Babies who aren’t quite ready to be born are much more difficult to breastfeed.
- Aside from the birth, routine separation of infants from their mothers, whether it is for a mandatory “observation” period in the nursery or spending the night in the nursery so that mom can get more sleep, interferes with breastfeeding as well. Babies experience significantly more stress when separated from mom and often are so exhausted by the time they are reunited with mom that they just want to shut down and go to sleep in the safety of mom’s arms. If you are planning to give birth in a hospital, find out what the hospital policies are regarding routine post-partum care. The ideal is 24-hour rooming-in with mom, no routine separation for non-medical reasons. Look for a hospital in your area that is part of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative or the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative. Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC has written a great article about how birth affects breastfeeding.
- Misinformation and lack of support are often the final nail in the coffin. Many women express frustration at the conflicting information they are given regarding breastfeeding. This is a very valid frustration. Women are told “feed baby for 10 minutes on each breast every three hours” or “feed baby on demand.” They are told “only feed one breast per feeding” or “always offer baby both breasts.” They are given so many “orders” that they become more and more confused. So, how is a mother to know which advice is the best?
- The first thing to do is realize that each mother and infant pair is unique. Some mothers’ milk flows very fast, some slower. Some babies get down to business and eat very efficiently, while others are little gourmands, taking their time and savoring every moment. They do not feed according to a clock, but according to their own pre-programmed biological cues.
- The second thing to realize is that anyone can give breastfeeding advice. In order to determine its validity, you need to consider the source. How much experience or training has this person had with breastfeeding? It might surprise you to know that most doctors and nurses get very little training on breastfeeding during medical/nursing school. Some care providers who work with mothers and their infants take the time to find out more about breastfeeding but many do not. If it is a friend or family member giving advice, find out the source of their information. Is it a “they say” statement or first-hand experience from someone who successfully breastfed their own child? The best source of information on breastfeeding will usually come from those specifically trained in breastfeeding support – the IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.) IBCLC’s spend several years studying breastfeeding and training to support breastfeeding women before they can take a certifying exam. They must maintain that certification by continuing education in breastfeeding related studies. There are a myriad of good books written by IBCLC’s, such as Breastfeeding Made Simple by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC or The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger, Diana West & Teresa Pitman. My favorite on-line source for reliable, well-researched breastfeeding information is www.kellymom.com. If you are enrolled in a Birth Boot Camp class, you will receive a comprehensive breastfeeding class on DVD. Take the time to watch it with your partner and support team.
- For the second piece of the puzzle, line up your support network before baby arrives. Make friends at a local breastfeeding support group or La Leche League; share breastfeeding information with your mother, husband, mother-in-law or anyone else who will be supporting you after baby’s arrival. The more information your support team has, the better they will be able to support you, especially if the going gets tough. Have you chosen a pediatrician? How supportive is he or she of breastfeeding? What about your obstetrician or midwife? Here is an article by Dr. Jack Newman that might give you a clue: How to Know a Health Professional is Not Supportive of Breastfeeding. The last trimester of pregnancy is also a good time to make contact with a lactation consultant (IBCLC.) You can take the time to see if her teaching style suits you, find out what her qualifications are, find out if she makes home visits or if she is based out of an office or hospital. Having your support system in place before baby comes will ease your mind greatly if you do experience difficulties with breastfeeding.
In short, preparing for breastfeeding during pregnancy paves the way for a successful breastfeeding experience. Enjoy this special time in anticipation of the many joys that will come with the arrival of your new baby, including the special bond of breastfeeding.Mellanie Sheppard, IBCLC, RLC, BBCI For Babies Sake www.forbabiessake.com
Breastfeeding is one of the most important things you can do for your child. We can learn a lot from other mammals.
As part of #GivingTuesday, Birth Boot Camp® will be donating $75 from every online childbirth education class sale to Best for Babes from Tuesday November 27 through Tuesday December 4.
The Best for Babes Foundation is the only mainstream non-profit cause dedicated to helping women overcome the many barriers they face that end their breastfeeding journey too early. Their mission is to help moms Beat the Booby Traps®-the cultural & institutional barriers that prevent moms from making informed feeding decisions and from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals, whether that’s 2 days, 2 months, 2 years, or not at all; to inspire, prepare & empower™ moms; and to give breastfeeding a makeover and give moms the solutions they need to make it work and feel fabulous!
They are harnessing the power of celebrities, the media, advertising, corporations, health-care professionals, health and disease foundations, moms and breastfeeding advocates to put positive pressure on the Booby Traps® to increase breastfeeding rates and improve the health of moms and babies.
Birth Boot Camp is committed to training couples in natural birth and breastfeeding through accessible, contemporary education and offers online childbirth classes.
Birth Boot Camp makes childbirth education easy, effective and accessible with live or online classes to best fit your needs and desires. Our unique and fun curriculum is geared towards couples working to have an unmedicated natural birth.
With the passing of Thanksgiving we welcome the beginning of the holiday season! In the spirit of giving, Birth Boot Camp is offering a ONE DAY $75 off promotional deal on Cyber Monday. (Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving when companies all over the internet offer the best deals of the year.)
To celebrate, we are offering an automatic $75 off of the entire online class on Monday, November 26th, 2012.
The purchase of the class gives you ten fabulous, documentary style online video classes that you can watch at your own pace. (You will have 3 months of unlimited access.) But there is more! We also include a DVD for you to keep full of in-depth breastfeeding information from respected lactation consultant, Mellanie Sheppard. This is an invaluable resource that we provide because of the overwhelming need for greater breastfeeding information. You also receive our full color workbook/Field Guide that you and your partner can use to work, learn, and keep track of your progress.
When it comes to birth, it really is worth the time you invest in it.
And…this makes a great Christmas present! Give the gift of knowledge. (Or tell Santa that this is what you want for the holidays! Hint, hint.)
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Sometimes, it seems like the only holiday that has been left relatively untouched by the overarching, plastic coated, consumerism that has slowly overtaken every other celebration. But Thanksgiving is still a holiday about a virtue – gratitude, thankfulness, noticing the good and being grateful for it. What can be more wonderful than that?
Today I am grateful for so many things.
Birth What other gift is more wonderful than this one? The ability to grow closer together as a couple and as you welcome a bundle of pure innocence.
Education I am so grateful for the quick and easy access to knowledge that we have in this day and age. I am especially grateful for the education that helped make all my birth experiences wonderful.
Motherhood It isn’t always easy, but every mom must admit that being a mother is simply amazing. You spend the journey of motherhood thinking that you are giving and sacrificing only to one day wake up and realize that you have received more than you could ever give.
Family Family is what it is really all about, isn’t it? Growing babies and raising children and being happy together.
May your Thanksgiving holiday be filled with happiness, good food, friends and family and may we all be a little more grateful for the many gifts we have been given.
Pregnancy is a time when most every woman decides to start taking prenatal vitamins. But there are so many choices out there. How do you decide WHICH prenatal vitamin to take?
Of course, you should consult your health care provider first.
Many woman prefer to take a prenatal that is whole food based and doesn’t upset their stomach. Pregnant women need extra iron but sometimes iron supplements or prenatal vitamins with cheap iron in them cause nausea or abdominal discomfort.
Looking for a vitamin that has absorbable iron in it and is whole food based (rather than chemically manufactured) can help you find something that is easier on your body and more likely to be used .
Some other whole food supplements that pregnant women report improve their pregnancy well being include:
- Brewers yeast- Brewers yeast can be purchased in bulk at your local health food store in flakes. It tastes great on air popped popcorn with a little melted butter or olive oil. It adds flavor, amino acids, protein, and B-vitamins.
- Vitamin C Powder- Many pregnant women experience symptoms during pregnancy such as varicose veins or bleeding gums that can be an indication of a vitamin C deficiency. A good quality vitamin C powder can be mixed into your morning orange juice right along with your yeast supplement for a powerful morning start.
- Blackstrap molasses- Unsulphered Blackstrap molasses is full of iron and potassium and can naturally increase your intake of these important vitamins in pregnancy. It can be poured on top of cornbread or biscuits or mixed in milk instead of less healthful chocolate for a protein and vitamin rich snack.
Eating well through pregnancy includes not just prenatal supplements but a nutritious diet rich in naturally occurring vitamins.
Doulas have proven to be a great way for the entire family to have a more wonderful birth experience. A doula assists the mother and father to get the birth that they desire. An experienced doula will feel comfortable doing everything from navigaing the procedures in the hospital to showing dad how to comfort mom.
But how do you find the right doula for you?
A good first step is to ask your natural childbirth teacher. She should be familiar with the local doulas in your area and can help you find someone who can best meet your needs.
Talking to other women in your community who have used a doula is another great way. When it comes to your birth, the experience of another mother who has been where you are can be very helpful.
If you prefer or need to use the Internet to help in your doula search, Doulas.com is a great resource which has listings for doulas certified by various organizations. You can also simply do an Internet search for doulas serving your area.
Taking the time to find a great doula is certainly worth it. Both moms and dads report increased satisfaction with their birth and are more likely to achieve the natural birth they desire.
Does protein matter in pregnancy? Many women and care providers feel that it does. Any body builder knows that to build a healthy body he or she must get adequate protein. Some feel that the same is true for a woman building a baby body.
Many women report that when they get adequate protein in pregnancy (about 80 or 90 grams) that they feel much better. Some things that they report: decreased nausea, increased energy, fewer or no headaches, less sugar cravings, healthy but not excessive weight gain, and much more.
But how do you get enough protein in pregnancy if you are used to only eating 30 or so grams a day?
Childbirth educators recommend the following to their students:
- Snack healthy- Pregnant women get hungry often. If you have healthy snacks with you at all times, then you are less likely to get junk from a vending machine. Healthy nuts, trail mix, celery and nut butter, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, and dairy in any form are all ways that experienced mothers sneak protein into their everyday snacking.
- Record your eating- Many people simply have no idea what they eat in a day. Often a good birth class will incorporate a dietary journal into the curriculum because they know that how you eat while pregnant can impact the birth itself. Start recording your food and your protein intake to see where you stand and what you need to work on.
- Get your protein early in the day- Starting your day with a protein rich breakfast can make all the difference in the world to how you feel and how you eat for the rest of the day. A boiled egg, a small bowl of oatmeal with some raw sunflower seeds and fresh berries and a small glass of milk is a healthy, tasty, and protein rich way to start your day.
Educating yourself about proper pregnancy protein intake can have an invaluable impact on your labor and birth. You and your baby are worth it.