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breastfeeding

Baby Shower Gifts

[un]common sense: Buy them what they asked for

[un]common sense is a blog about navigating through everyday life, using some common sense tips to make it just a bit easier, and sometimes a little more fun. Alyssa is a wife, mother, and postpartum doula who has some tricks up her sleeve and wants to share them with the world. Well now, don’t you feel lucky?

I recently attended a friend’s baby shower; the first I’ve been to in years. I was surprised to see that not much had changed since I had my own (over five years ago). The mother was showered with gifts alright, most of which she did not register for.

There’s nothing more annoying than opening boxes and gift bags filled with presents that your Aunt thinks “Is just the most adorable outfit ever” or your Grandmother says,”I just couldn’t pass up when I saw it!”

They have the best of intentions, but when it comes to having a baby, or babies, you don’t need extra stuff just because it’s adorable. You need practical, useful items that will make your life easier, not just make the baby or nursery look cute.

I remember after my baby showers having a pile of baby blankets, toys, and stuffed animals. What the heck was I going to do with all of it? I didn’t register for any of them, most of them were hideous, newborns don’t play with toys, and most importantly you can’t put any of that stuff in a crib, so why in the world would anyone think a baby needed all this stuff?

I returned what I could (blankets, onesies with silly phrases, gigantic toys, fancy pacifiers, stuffed animals) and donated whatever came without receipts and the stores wouldn’t take. I wonder how many hundreds of dollars were spent on those gifts, wasted. Wasted because it was not what I asked for! People took it upon themselves to decide what I needed for my baby instead of buying what I requested. It made all the time I spent researching what I needed, then registering for it, seem pointless.

So, I watched in agony as my friend opened up gift after gift that she did not register for. I watched as the mound of “Oh my god, it’s sooo soft!” blankets grew, the pile of “So stinkin’ cute!” stuffed animals overflowed, and the boxes of expensive newborn outfits began to stack up.

I wonder when people will get it? Baby showers are about the Mom and baby, not about them.

In-home support from a postpartum doula is the most wonderful gift you could give to new parents. If I could have taken the hundreds of dollars wasted on fuzzy leopard print blankets and extra large stuffed animals and put it toward a doula, you better believe I would have! My friend ended up getting a very generous amount gifted toward postpartum help because she requested it in her baby shower invites along with her registry.

If you are pregnant and planning to have baby showers, contact Gold Coast Doulas about a customized invitation stuffer. It’s an easy way to ask your friends and family for postpartum support.

The most common question I get asked as a Postpartum Doula is “What do you do for families?” It’s hard to answer because I consider my work to be fluid. It will change from family to family, and even day to day with the same family. One day a mother might need a nap, so I make sure the baby is cared for while she lies down, and maybe pick up the house a little or do some meal prep while she sleeps. The next day the same mother (because she got a nap) may be full of energy so we take our first outing together, be it to the grocery store or a walk around the block. If the mother has older children, she may feel like they’ve been neglected and want to spend some quality time with them; so again I will care for the newborn so she can focus on the older siblings.

Our services allow a mother to a nap or shower, drink a cup of tea, or finish her thank-you cards. We offer local resource suggestions for health care providers, chiropractors, mother’s groups, kid-friendly restaurants, or maybe the best place to buy a bottle of wine. We are also there for emotional support. We let her talk, cry, whatever she needs to do. And we make sure she is heard. A Postpartum Doula is an expert voice of reason that will not offer opinions or judgment.

Oftentimes new parents just need someone to guide them through the first few weeks or months with a newborn. Breastfeeding is often harder than expected. Parents finally understand what sleep deprivation means. They may be scared to give the first bath or clip baby’s nails the first time. A Postpartum Doula’s role is so very important. We are your village. We are here to support you and your family, judgment-free with no hidden agendas.

Contact Gold Coast if you have interest in any of the services we offer.

Bedrest Doulas, Birth Doulas, Daytime and Overnight Postpartum Doulas, Customized Baby Shower Stuffers, Lactation Consultations, or any of our classes including HypnoBirthing, Newborn Survival, Breastfeeding, Preparing for Multiples.

 

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Breastfeeding

Can My Body Make Enough Milk?

Fact: Most breastfeeding mothers, at one time or another, worry about their milk supply. They wonder whether their body will make enough milk for their baby; if their supply will last.

Not surprising, since most of us have heard stories about moms who, despite wanting to breastfeed, reported not being able to; their milk dried up, baby refused the breast, they were told their milk wasn’t good, etc. Many mothers head into breastfeeding with an expectation that milk production will be a struggle, due in part to these stories that are shared widely by well-meaning strangers, friends, family members, and even healthcare providers. But the reality is that most mom’s bodies can make plenty of milk. The fear of low supply is much more common than the reality!

Before I go on, let me be clear that not all women who want to breastfeed can make enough milk to sustain a baby. There are many physical conditions that potentially impact milk production including birth complications, thyroid conditions, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and other hormone conditions, anemia, retained placenta, breast or chest injuries/surgeries, various illnesses, medications or hormonal birth control, or Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT – the technical term describing when breasts contain less milk-making tissue).  It’s important to recognize that low milk supply is a very real scenario that many struggle with, and it’s a serious topic that deserves a lot of attention of its own. But here we will focus on milk production in mothers with no prior physiological limitations; specifically on how low milk supply is less common than people think, and that it is much less common than “perceived low milk supply”.

Perceived low milk supply, or Perceived Insufficient Milk, is when moms are making enough milk but think that they are not. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is. Why? Because, despite having no physiological basis, perceived low supply is one of the most frequently-reported reasons for early weaning! And it’s a very stressful thing to worry about.

The good news: Perceived low supply does not equal actual low supply.

The bad news: Perceived low supply is very common, and, in addition to the fact that worrying is no fun, perceived low supply can cause low supply!

How can perceived low milk supply cause actual low supply?

When moms believe their supply is low, the way they feed changes, and how we feed has a strong influence on milk production. For example, moms might introduce supplemental formula if they perceive baby to be dissatisfied or hungry after nursing, or if baby is nursing more often than they expected or is waking frequently at night. It’s easy to assume that low supply is the cause of these things if we aren’t familiar with normal breastfeeding behaviors (especially when formula-feeding culture perpetuates unrealistic expectations for breastfed babies). Feeding on a rigid schedule, sleep training a young baby, or otherwise altering baby’s feeding routine can impact milk supply very easily, so understanding the nuts and bolts of milk production, baby behavior, and growth patterns is important. All of the conflicting advice we receive from family, pediatricians, and friends is confusing! Knowing how to tell when things are going well gives parents confidence to keep going through the ups and downs. Since perceived low supply is not a physical issue, it is totally avoidable, as long as parents have support and access to good information.

How does milk production work?

Milk production begins as a hormonally-driven process, initiated by hormone changes at birth. Over time, it becomes a supply and demand process (meaning that, ideally, the body will adjust to make exactly what baby needs – no more, no less). The baby communicates how much it needs by eating exactly what it needs! If it needs more, it will suckle more, sending hormonal signals to mom’s brain, which in turn tell her body to make more milk. This is one reason babies might seem to nurse around the clock during growth spurts. Not only are they trying to eat more, they are also instinctively “putting in the order”, so to speak, for more milk to be made to accommodate their increased needs. Simply put, the more milk is removed, the more milk the body will make. Milk can be removed in a number of ways: directly feeding baby at breast, or expressing with a pump or by hand. If milk isn’t removed regularly, milk production will be altered. This is how extra pumping can increase supply, or how skipping feeds or going long stretches between pumping at work can decrease supply. This also explains why babies who struggle to transfer milk can result in decreased supply over time, even if they are at the breast a lot! (There are many reasons why a baby might struggle to transfer milk effectively. Their feedings might take a very long time, or they may fatigue easily at the breast. If you suspect this, it’s a good time to call a lactation consultant). But, compared to pumps, babies are usually more efficient at removing milk, due to the additional stimulation, warmth and eye contact inducing more milk-making hormones. Expressing milk, however, is very effective for some, and is a necessity for breastfeeding moms who work out of the home or are separated from their babies.

For more about milk production, look for a future post all about how to maintain a good milk supply!

If you need support in the meantime, an IBCLC, Board Certified Lactation Consultant, can help answer your questions about supply, foods and herbs to support lactation, help you determine if baby is getting enough, or troubleshoot concerns even before your baby arrives!

Author: Shira Johnson, IBCLC

 

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Grandparent

The Modern Grandparent

Understanding the Modern Parent

First of all congratulations on becoming a Grandparent! Whether this is your 1st or 5th, it is a very excited time for the whole family.

Gold Coast Doulas offers in-home private classes for The Modern Grandparent. We are not currently offering group classes.

This 2 ½ hour class will break down the generation gap, giving soon-to-be grandparents the most up-to-date information while dispelling myths in a non-threatening, engaging way. Health and safety recommendations are always evolving and many things have changed since most grandparents had their own children.

Topics include:

  • Caring for the family after baby arrives
  • Handwashing, bathing baby, diapering, etc.
  • Car seat safety
  • Baby technology and gadgets
  • SIDS
  • Formula feeding and breastmilk
  • Babyproofing
  • AND MORE!

A particularly interesting topic that we cover in the class is, Understanding the Modern Parent. Here’s a brief snippet of what we talk about for this portion of the class.

Understanding your adult children and their choices can be a challenge at times, even during the best of times. One of the keys to understanding the choices your adult children make is understanding the differences between the generations and how they view the world. In 2002 Landcaster and Stillman published “When Generations Collide”. This paper took a look at inter-generational differences in the workplace.

Many of the grandparents who take this class will be the parents of those who are considered late Generation X or Millennials. These generations tend to have differing views than previous generations when it comes to Communication, Money and Authority. Being aware of the attitudes and approaches of the differing generations will help you to understand the choices your adult children may make and where they are coming from.

Sometimes it’s as simple as understanding these differences that avoid many family conflicts as families grow. Grandparents have to realize that their children deserve the respect and have the right to raise a family (their grandchildren) however they choose.

Today’s parents face different challenges than their parents faced, and even more different ones than their grandparents faced. The balance of work and family life can be very stressful. Thankfully there are grandparents like you willing to help relieve some of these stresses by simply not judging them. Your compassionate support allows your children to raise your grandchildren properly and also maintain a healthy relationship with their spouse.

Many parents today appreciate the help from their parents and welcome the non-judgemental support. While you are visiting ask, “What can I do to help you today?” There might not be anything needed other than holding the baby while mom showers or playing with a sibling while mom is breastfeeding; but by just asking, you are showing you are supportive and that will go a long way with your children. Asking what they need instead of offering what you think they need is critical.

Interested in becoming a Modern Grandparent? Contact Gold Coast Doulas about a private in-home class today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The BIG Latch On 2017 Logo in color

The Big Latch On – Grand Rapids 2017

 

World breastfeeding week is coming up! Why do we care?  

Each year, World Breastfeeding Week presents many opportunities to celebrate and promote breastfeeding. From August 1-7, this global movement strives to support breastfeeding by cultivating awareness and cooperation within and between communities worldwide. One big way we come together during World Breastfeeding week is with The Global Big Latch On.

The Big Latch On: 

The Global Big Latch On was started in 2010, and has since taken place annually during World Breastfeeding Week every August. Big Latch On events are held in communities throughout the world, with the shared goal to protect, promote & support families, strengthen support for breastfeeding, and improve the health of children and women around the world.

The Global Big Latch On reports that these events are “community initiatives that raise awareness of breastfeeding, encourage the formation of support networks between breastfeeding persons, and aim to normalize breastfeeding as a part of daily life”.

What to expect when you attend a Big Latch On Event:

Families with breastfeeding children (this includes all forms of providing breastmilk, including pumped milk, supplemental nursing systems, etc.) gather together to show support for our breastfeeding community, and to be counted for the Global Big Latch On count – where we strive to break the record numbers that were set the previous year. When you arrive you’ll be asked to sign in, get comfortable, and then at the same time, all the nursing babies/kids at each event location will be instructed to “latch on” (or otherwise demonstrate their means of receiving breastmilk), the organizers will count each participant, and send those numbers in to The Global Big Latch On headquarters be tallied with the numbers from other events all over the world.

Often there are snacks provided, fun giveaways, and an opportunity to connect with other families as well as some local family-friendly businesses and services.

Since 2010, attendance to these events has skyrocketed. In 2010 there were 147 total locations with ~2,000 babies counted. Just 6 years later in 2016, there were 758 locations in 21 countries, with nearly 18,000 nursing babies/children counted! Last year in Grand Rapids we had 45 nursing babies. We’re sure 2017 is going to be even bigger. Come help us break some records!

More information is available here.

With events planned for all around the world, including multiple locations in Michigan, we excitedly prepare to come together in Grand Rapids at our own local Big Latch On Event on Saturday, August 5th 10:00am-11:30am at Briggs Park in NE Grand Rapids. Make sure to sign in before 10:30am to be counted! Bring your picnic blanket and get comfy, mingle with other families, or just come to show your support.

Global Big Latch On objectives:

  • Provide support for communities to identify and grow opportunities to provide ongoing breastfeeding support and promotion in local communities.
  • Raise awareness of breastfeeding support and knowledge available locally and globally.
  • Help communities positively support breastfeeding in public places.
  • Make breastfeeding as normal part of day-to-day life at a local community level.
  • Increase support for women who breastfeed – women are supported by their partners, family and their communities.
  • Ensure communities have the resources to advocate for coordinated appropriate and accessible breastfeeding support services.

Other related World Breastfeeding Week Celebrations include Express Yourself (for all those women who provide breast milk to their child/children without latching them and those that donate milk either formally or informally) and Selfies Sunday (a count of all breastfeeding or expressing selfies posted on Sunday, August 6th with the hashtag #mybiglatchon).

Why is this important? Why do we participate?

Breastfeeding around the world deserves recognition and celebration! Some people don’t understand the hype around breastfeeding promotion. After all, we each have the right to feed how we choose; why all the attention for breastfeeding? Well, while I agree that parents should never be bullied or shamed about their feeding choices, I believe (and research consistently supports) that most parents, to varying degrees, want to breastfeed. We know this because the vast majority of families in the United States start off breastfeeding, or at least make an effort to. But despite this obvious desire to provide breastmilk, there remains a wide discrepancy between what is recommended, parents’ reported goals, and what is actually being done.

And we know that breastmilk is not only valuable to individuals for optimal nutrition, immune properties, and more, but many don’t realize how much breastfeeding is also an important and growing public health issue, as breastfeeding is associated with lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and many other health concerns that extend beyond infancy.

In the United States, breastfeeding initiation rates are quite high (80-90+% in many states), but quickly decline within the first 3 months (despite recommendations by both the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics to provide breastmilk exclusively for 6 months).

We are not meeting our national breastfeeding goals, and in many cases not our individual goals either. Reasons for this vary from family to family, but three big ones are:

  1. Lack of breastfeeding education: Lack of understanding about normal breastfed baby behavior, lack of understanding about how breastmilk production works, lack of information and resources for troubleshooting issues when challenges do arise.

Studies suggest that more than 90% of breastfeeding moms report having struggled or encountered a challenge during the early weeks of breastfeeding. This statistic isn’t intended to be discouraging, but rather to normalize the experience of struggling to breastfeed, to say, “just because you experience a problem doesn’t mean breastfeeding isn’t right for you or isn’t going to work for you”. Often it’s just a matter of having access to good information and support to get through the rough patches.

  1. Going back to work or school: Poor maternity leave rights and lack of options put most U.S. women in a position to return to work in the early months of life, often sooner than they may want to, which can disrupt the breastfeeding relationship.
  2. Lack of community support: Breastfeeding in the U.S. has been on the rise since the early 1990s, but we still don’t have a deep breastfeeding culture. Formula-feeding is still very much a cultural norm in many parts of the country. We no longer live in villages with extended family and other parents caring for babies in community. We suffer from a deficit of breastfeeding normalization, meaning most of us in the U.S. don’t experience many opportunities to witness, watch and learn from other breastfeeding moms when we are young. Many modern parents enter their own breastfeeding relationships in relative isolation, with little understanding of breastfeeding norms, and oftentimes less than adequate support to meet their own goals.

In many parts of the world, including the United States, breastfeeding can really benefit from more attention and support.

2017 marks World Breastfeeding Week’s 25th year. This year’s theme is about working together for the common good! Working together to “call on advocates and activists, attract political support, media attention, participation of young people and widen the pool of celebrants and supporters”.

Let’s come together in West Michigan to support one another, support healthy babies, and strengthen our breastfeeding community locally and globally!

Author: Shira Johnson, IBCLC

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HypnoBirthing

Kerry – A HypnoBirthing Birth Story

We love hearing birth stories from our HypnoBirthing students. Kerry had a rough ride but made it through three days of labor in the hospital, smiling in the end because of the tools and techniques she learned in Ashley’s HypnoBirthing Classes.

“I just wanted to shoot you a note thanking you so very much for all your help before we went through our birthing process. I went into the hospital on Sunday and gave birth to our boy on Tuesday. There were some complications so the birth was pretty tough, but I did get to do it vaginally despite quite a bit of c section discussion amongst the doctors. Ryan was a great coach and, despite my strict instructions to not look where the action was, he was super interested and watched basically the whole time!

At 20 inches long, 7lbs 12 oz at birth, little Benjamin Martin Racicot made his way into the world in a dramatic way. We were in the hospital for days while they tried to induce my labor. We went in on Sunday as the doctor told me there was some concern for still birth so she wanted to induce before I hit 40 weeks. They gave me three sets of pills to try and dilate me as I came in at zero cm throughout the night on Sunday. Monday morning I was still at zero cm so they inserted a balloon which was completely horrid, perhaps the worst part of the entire birthing experience. I started to have contractions right after insertion, but not before I told Ryan to go run to the cafeteria to eat something and assured him I would be fine. So there I am, all alone, experiencing contractions for the first time. Monday night I was at 4cm, and by 6:00 Tuesday morning I made it to 10 cm.

I was in active labor for about 12 hours on Tuesday and eventually had to push for 3 1/2 hours. Ben’s heart rate kept dropping with my contractions so there was some concern, and when he started to make his way into the world we found out why. We saw the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck… twice! The doctors made me stop mid push to cut the cord to prevent strangulation. Then he got stuck two more times while I was pushing. To make matters worse, my contractions became farther apart until they were about 15 minutes apart. I had him hanging out of me for about 45 minutes and would just have to wait to push! It was insane!

In the end, he burst into the world and has been a happy and healthy baby. A bit of a night owl, but we are finding our rhythm. Breastfeeding has been tough; I’m in an intense engorgement period at the moment. I look like Pamela Anderson circa Baywatch and am just wildly uncomfortable. They are hard as rocks and nothing I have fits. I basically look like a porn star with a baby. So that’s cool. The healing process has been tough enough as it is without having to carry around boulders on my chest.

Ryan has been waiting on me and the baby hand and foot. It has been a remarkable experience and really brought us even closer than before. Ben has been an incredible reward as well. Not to mention I haven’t changed a single diaper since the birth and, while I am sure that will change soon enough, it hasn’t been a bad deal so far!

Anyway, hope you are doing well, and again, thank you so much for all you did. Without the tools we picked up in your class, I’m not sure I would have made it through this crazy process!

All my best,
Kerry”

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Am I producing enough breastmilk

Can My Body Make Enough Milk for My Baby?

We are pleased to present a guest blog by Shira Johnson, IBCLC.

Can My Body Make Enough Milk for My Baby?

Fact: Most breastfeeding mothers, at one time or another, worry about their milk supply. They wonder whether their body will make enough milk for their baby, if their supply will last.

Not surprising, since most of us have heard stories about moms who, despite wanting to breastfeed, reported not being able to; their milk dried up, baby refused the breast, they were told their milk wasn’t good, etc. Through no fault of our own, many mothers head into breastfeeding with an expectation that milk production will be a struggle, due in part to these stories that are shared widely by well-meaning strangers, friends, family members and even healthcare providers. But the reality is that MOST moms’ bodies can make plenty of milk. The fear of low supply is much more common than the reality!

Before I go on, let me be clear that not all women who want to breastfeed can make enough milk to sustain a baby. There are many physical conditions that potentially impact milk production (including birth complications, thyroid conditions, PCOS -Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome- and other hormone conditions, anemia, retained placenta, breast or chest injuries/surgeries, various illnesses, medications or hormonal birth control, or Insufficient Glandular Tissue -IGT- the technical term describing when breasts contain less milk-making tissue).  It’s important to recognize that low milk supply is a very real scenario that many struggle with, and it’s a serious topic that deserves a lot of attention of its own. But here we will focus on milk production in mothers with no prior physiological limitations; specifically on how low milk supply is less common than people think, and that it is much less common than “perceived low milk supply”.

Perceived low milk supply, or Perceived Insufficient Milk, is when moms are making enough milk but think that they are not. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is. Why? Because, despite having no physiological basis, perceived low supply is one of the most frequently-reported reasons for early weaning! And it’s a very stressful thing to worry about.

The good news: Perceived low supply does not equal actual low supply.

The bad news: Perceived low supply is very common, and (in addition to the fact that worrying is no fun) perceived low supply can cause low supply!

How can perceived low milk supply cause actual low supply?

When moms believe their supply is low, the way they feed changes… and how we feed has a strong influence on milk production. For example, moms might introduce supplemental formula if they perceive baby to be dissatisfied or hungry after nursing, or if baby is nursing more often than they expected or is waking frequently at night. It’s easy to assume that low supply is the cause of these things if we aren’t familiar with normal breastfeeding behaviors (especially when formula-feeding culture perpetuates unrealistic expectations for breastfed babies). Feeding on a rigid schedule, sleep training a young baby, or otherwise altering baby’s feeding routine can impact milk supply very easily, so understanding the nuts and bolts of milk production, baby behavior and growth patterns is important. All of the conflicting advice we receive from family, pediatricians and friends is confusing! Knowing how to tell when things are going well gives parents confidence to keep going through the ups and downs. Since perceived low supply is not a physical issue, it is totally avoidable, as long as parents have support and access to good information.

How does milk production work?

Milk production begins as a hormonally-driven process, initiated by hormone changes at birth. Over time, it becomes a supply and demand process (meaning that, ideally, the body will adjust to make exactly what baby needs – no more, no less). The baby communicates how much it needs … by eating exactly what it needs! If it needs more, it will suckle more, sending hormonal signals to mom’s brain, which in turn tell her body to make more milk. This is one reason babies might seem to nurse around the clock during growth spurts. Not only are they trying to eat more, they are also instinctively “putting in the order”, so to speak, for more milk to be made to accommodate their increased needs!)  Simply put, the more milk is removed, the more milk the body will make. Milk can be removed in a number of ways: directly feeding baby at breast, or expressing with a pump or by hand. If milk isn’t removed regularly, milk production will be altered. This is how extra pumping can increase supply, or how skipping feeds or going long stretches between pumping at work can decrease supply. This also explains why babies who struggle to transfer milk can result in decreased supply over time, even if they are at the breast a lot! (There are many reasons why a baby might struggle to transfer milk effectively. Their feedings might take a very long time, or they may fatigue easily at the breast. If you suspect this, it’s a good time to call a lactation consultant). But, compared to pumps, babies are usually more efficient at removing milk, due to the additional stimulation, warmth and eye contact inducing more milk-making hormones. Expressing milk, however, is very effective for some, and is a necessity for breastfeeding moms who work outside of the home or are separated from their babies.

For more about milk production, look for a future post all about how to maintain a good milk supply!

If you need support in the meantime, an IBCLC, Board Certified Lactation Consultant, can help answer your questions about supply and foods to support lactation, help you determine if baby is getting enough, or troubleshoot concerns even before your baby arrives!

 

Can My Body Make Enough Milk for My Baby? Read More »

breastfeeding class

Why Take a Breastfeeding Class?

Why Take a Breastfeeding Class?

We are pleased to present a guest blog by Shira Johnson, IBCLC . 

Breastfeeding is natural, right? Well, yes… But it doesn’t always come naturally!

Just like parents educate themselves about pregnancy and birth, it’s valuable to have basic knowledge about breastfeeding before baby arrives (we don’t read up on childbirth while in labor, after all). Breastfeeding is a relationship, a complex dance between mom and baby, and many factors influence how each pair works together. Even if mom knows just what to do, it might not come as easily for baby (or vice versa!). Getting off to a good start begins at birth, and in the hours and days following. Having resources and realistic expectations can help.

Facts about Breastfeeding Education

  • Parents who receive prenatal breastfeeding education have more successful breastfeeding outcomes
  • Fears about breastfeeding? Have you heard horror stories from well-meaning friends or family members? Are you worried you’ll have to restrict your diet, worried about making enough milk, or about breastfeeding in public? You’re not alone! These unknowns and concerns are common, and they undoubtedly influence our expectations! It’s no fun to head into something feeling nervous or skeptical. Having a basic understanding and being prepared with tools and resources can set the stage for success.
  • Many parents who start off breastfeeding don’t meet their own breastfeeding goals. Many stop breastfeeding before 6 months, despite health guidelines (by the American Association of Pediatrics, as well as the World Health Institute) to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, and provide breastmilk for a minimum of 1 to 2 years. Yet in 2016, only 22% of babies were exclusively breastfed for 6 months, and only 50% were still received any breastmilk at 6 months. Most parents start off breastfeeding, but many stop before these suggested guidelines.
  • The most commonly-reported reasons for early weaning (such as concerns about milk supply/production, pain associated with breastfeeding, and going back to work) are typically addressed in a breastfeeding class, preparing parents with information and resources to successfully troubleshoot these most common challenges and obstacles.
  • What’s so great about breastmilk, anyway? Most of us have heard “breast is best” and similar hype about the magical health benefits of breastmilk. Well, there’s a reason for this. New research continues to come out every year about amazing discoveries around the functions and content of breastmilk. While formula might be nutritionally complete (and is an invaluable tool, when needed), the nutrients in it are not as bioavailable (not as easy for the body to access or utilize). Also, formula does not have the amazing protective and immune functions that breastmilk has. Breastfed babies are less likely to be obese or have diabetes later in life, and breastfeeding reduces risk of cancer not just for baby but also for mom! Breastfed babies tend to get sick less often, and recover from illness more quickly than their formula-fed peers. The majority of parents who sign up for a breastfeeding class are often already planning to breastfeed, but if you’re on the fence about breastfeeding, or are concerned about whether it is worth the effort, these cool facts might inspire you. A breastfeeding class can help you weigh your baby-feeding options. There is certainly no shame in feeding your baby in any way you choose to. But having more information can help this choice be an easier one to make.

 

If you are a parent who plans to breastfeed or just wants more information, if you’re curious about how it all works, how to do it, whether or not it’s “for you”, how to return to work as a breastfeeding mom, or if you have any concerns, fears or simple curiosity and a desire to learn more, then a breastfeeding class is for you!

 

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Postpartum Doula

What does non-judgmental support mean?

Author: Alyssa Veneklase, CD

 

I was recently asked if, since I’m a doula, I tell clients not to vaccinate and make them feel guilty if they don’t breastfeed.

What??!

If you had a doula that made you feel this way, I apologize on behalf of them. That is the opposite of what a doula is meant to be.

Since there’s obviously still a lot of confusion about the role of a doula, I will try to clear up most of the common misconceptions briefly and simply.

A birth doula is not a midwife. We do not deliver babies; we are there for the physical and emotional support of the mother and even the father.

 

You do not need to have an all-natural home birth to use a doula. We support women  no matter how and where they deliver.

We realize that breastfeeding doesn’t work for every mother and every circumstance. We are there for guidance and support of breastfeeding, pumping, and bottlefeeding (breast milk and formula).

When clients ask us for guidance regarding topics such as vaccines and circumcision, we offer resources, but never tell a client what they should do. We want our clients to make informed and educated decisions, but the decisions are all their own.

Bottom line, a doula is a non-judgmental support person. And by non-judgmental I mean we never judge a mother, father, or family based on the decisions they make.

Ever.

Telling a client not to vaccinate their child would be judging those who do vaccinate.

Telling someone we won’t work with them because they have a scheduled c-section would be outright, in-your-face judgment.

Telling a client that she’s a bad mother because she can’t, or chooses not to, breastfeed is yes, full of judgment.

As a postpartum doula, I am passionate about supporting families, wherever they’re at in their journeys. I serve families who co-sleep for months and those who use a crib from day one. I serve families who breastfeed and those that bottlefeed formula.

I serve mothers who had all-natural deliveries, mothers who delivered early and their baby was in the NICU, and mothers who had scheduled c-sections. I serve families whether they vaccinated or not, circumcised or not.

I serve families where the mother goes back to work full-time after a few weeks, and families where the mother never goes back to work. I serve mothers with postpartum depression and I serve mothers who are the happiest they’ve ever been.

In every single scenario, the client knows I am there for them. I have no agenda of my own. It doesn’t matter what I did with my child or what “most people” do. I want each of my clients to feel confident that they’re making their own informed decisions. And I’m there for them, no matter what the decision is.

What does non-judgmental support mean? Read More »

kelley emery IBCLC

Your Confusing Little Mammal

We are honored to feature a guest blog from Kelly Wysocki-Emery, RN, IBCLC from baby beloved, inc. Kelly went to college to become a  psychologist, but after the experience of birthing and breastfeeding her first baby, she was “hooked” on the incredible miracle of it all.  She decided that she wanted to help other mothers with breastfeeding struggles (as she faced many of them with her daughter) and in 1994, Kelly became certified as a lactation educator and postpartum doula.

Over the next decade she gained experience (as well as a nursing degree) and started helping moms in the hospital, where she earned her IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) credential. She subsequently ventured out to create a place where mothers could come once they were discharged from the hospital (the time when most problems rear their ugly heads).  baby beloved, inc. was born December 1, 2004.

At my last breastfeeding class, I set out popcorn and Hershey’s chocolate kisses for the attendees to enjoy. The class started at 6:30 pm, so I asked them whether or not they had time to grab dinner after work before getting to class. All of them had eaten dinner, as had I. I had a huge, satisfying dinner at Blue Water Grill. I was stuffed. But wouldn’t you know it, I probably had 4-5 of those kisses, and the attendees of my class ALSO had ample popcorn and chocolate kisses. So what gives? If we were all just coming from dinner, and were presumably full, why would we grab popcorn and chocolate?

Turns out, we humans eat for comfort. And social bonding. And boredom. And pleasure (the chocolate kisses were quite pleasurable to me, I assure you). As new breastfeeding mothers, it’s helpful to remember this when baby is wanting to nurse again 1.5 hours after you fed him. I know it’s frustrating. Some day he will be able to walk to the refrigerator himself, but for now, his only way of communicating his needs is to cry and reach out for you. He is a little human who can’t walk or open his own bag of chocolates. YOU are the chocolate kiss in his life.

Babies have desires and preferences and irrational behaviors just like we do. If we just presume this from the start, it will make our lives as nursing mothers much more relaxed and understandable. I see mothers sometimes stressing about a baby’s 3 hour feeding schedule. Baby wants to eat at the 1.5 hour mark perhaps, and mothers get thrown off because the books, and the doctor and the Internet all say babies should eat every 2-3 hours. Conversely, I see mothers sometimes get concerned if baby sleeps a four to five hour stretch without eating. Now in the beginning, before baby is back to birth weight, it would be prudent to wake any baby who is sleeping longer than 3-4 hours, but a month old baby who is gaining weight well is probably just fine to be left sleeping (maybe not FIVE 5-hour stretches….but one stretch would probably be OK for a full-term, healthy newborn who is gaining gangbusters).

I know as a lactation consultant that when a baby wants to cluster feed, a mother (who is exhausted and perhaps “touched out”) may reasonably wonder to herself “But my baby just ate an hour ago. I must not have enough milk, otherwise why would he be wanting to nurse again?” Reasonable enough question. But if you substitute your baby for me (or yourself) and ask why a perfectly, well-fed, recently-fed woman would want to reach for 4-5 chocolates (when clearly my stomach was full), you might start to understand. If I were a dinner guest in your house, and I had just finished a fantastic, plentiful meal but then 45 minutes later I accepted your offer for dessert, would you find that odd? Or would you accommodate me?

I know it can be frustrating when you can’t measure what is in the breast. It’s reasonable for a new, “rookie” mother to be confused and worried. And unfortunately, we as lactation consultants and nurses sometimes set you up for all of this measuring the minute your baby is delivered (at least in the hospital) when we give you “feeding charts” so you can record the minutes you feed on each side and the number of wet/dirty diapers baby has so we can “tell if baby is getting food from the breast”. I totally understand that WE set you up to be anal about measuring things. I am constantly conflicted about having to do this, but as a new mother, I know you are looking for guidelines to ease your worry. You are looking for the guardrails so you can know if things are normal or not. If a baby is having lots of wet/dirty diapers, then chances are they are getting plenty of milk—and that is really what I want to drive home to parents so they can reassure themselves at 2 a.m. when I’m not there. So they can walk themselves down off the ledge when worry and sleep-deprivation kick in. And always know you can go to your pediatrician’s office for a weight check ANY time. Your doctor will let you know if the growth is normal or not. It might be a growth spurt, or a cluster feed, or any number of things, but please don’t automatically jump to the conclusion you don’t have enough milk. And if baby is not gaining well, then that is the time to reach out for help from a qualified lactation professional to help troubleshoot what might be going on.

But if the weight trend is good, and diapers are ample, your baby might just need you a little more at those times. If you are “touched out” and need a break, don’t hesitate to ask for help from husband or family, of course. You deserve a break, too, and you are not expected to do this all alone. Everybody needs space and time to rejuvenate and replenish. It’s not selfish, but rather a beautiful example to your baby or child of lovely self-care.

Kelly’s next breastfeeding class is on March 7th. Register at Renew Mama Studio today .

Your Confusing Little Mammal Read More »

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