Nat, mama to a 17 month old nursling, Isaac, and the woman behind Monkey Mama Necklaces says:
“My little boy is a twiddly little monkey, which can drive me craaaaaaaaaazy, but I’ve turned it into a positive by using him as inspiration for a range of baby safe necklaces, specifically designed with nursing and babywearing in mind.
I took ages to find the right beads for these necklaces. I wanted them to be non toxic, because invariably, they will end up in the mouths of our little ones, particularly when we’re babywearing. I came across lots of non toxic acrylic beads mass produced in Chinese factories, but wasn’t comfortable with building a business on that kind of exploitation. I finally found gorgeous resin beads that are handmade in a cottage industry in Java and fairly traded to the ‘West’. They’re so lush, plus they’re robust, lightweight and non toxic, and make lovely ‘grown up’ looking jewellery. I’ve yet to find another nursing necklace that meets all those criteria. Each necklace is strung onto robust cotton thong and designed with a series of secure knots. The necklaces are also adjustable in length so that you can adjust for style and function – shorter or doubled for babywearing/general wear, and longer for nursing.
Monkey Mama is a very young, but growing business. My necklaces have been met with great enthusiasm – you can read how happy my customers are on the Monkey Mama facebook page. By far the most popular range is my ‘twiddle buster’ pendants, which are specifically designed to occupy twiddly fingers. This was the original Monkey Mama design, created out of necessity to save my sanity! After a few prototypes, I reached a design that uses twiddly twistable beads inside highly ‘grabbable’ frames that are on the perfect scale for little hands and fingers. These necklaces are the only thing that my little monkey is happy to twiddle other than me. It’s made NIP with a toddler a much more pleasant experience.’
Beautiful * Functional * Safe * Ethical
Beautiful: Each necklace is created with handmade resin beads, with the lush colours of a candy store and the visual softness of seaglass.
Functional: Originally designed for nursing and babywearing mamas, Monkey Mama Necklaces are perfect for any mama who wants jewellery that offers style, safety and durability. The length of the necklaces is adjustable for style and function, and the lightweight nature of the resin beads makes the necklaces easy and comfortable to wear.
Safe: Monkey Mama Necklaces are created using super tough cotton cording and incorporate strong knotting techniques for extra security. The feature resin beads are completely non toxic and highly durable.
Ethical: The beads that make up Monkey Mama necklaces are handmade in a small Indonesian craft business. They are fairly traded on every step of their journey to you. Monkey Mama necklaces were inspired by my own little monkey, Isaac, born February 2010. They are stylish, safe, grown up necklaces, designed with nursing and babywearing mamas in mind.
You can find Monkey Mama on etsy, and I also have an active facebook page, so please drop by and take a look.
Advertising on www.lactivist.net costs from as little as £5 a month – for more details please visit – http://www.lactivist.net/?page_id=1735
This Hotmilk Harmony In Chaos Nightie is possibly the most glamorous thing I have ever seen for breastfeeding mums and I”ve just noticed that Born have a sale on HOTmilk nightwear and it’s reduced by £12!
HOTmilk bras and nightwear are very supportive and perfect for when breastfeeding has been established, so after the yo-yoing in size you get when you are first breastfeeding.
They have drop down cups and under bust elastic, so they are comfortable as well as practical. I love the colour too!
Go on, treat yourself! Or better still get someone else to treat you
I’m sat typing this out next to the most incredible smell coming from a box of Neuners Nursing Tea.
Nursing tea or breastfeeding tea has been used by breastfeeding mothers for hundreds of years to help nurture and support them during this important stage.
Neuner’s Breastfeeding Tea is a traditional herbal tea made from organic ingredients, including fenugreek seeds and fennel.
Along with advice on correct positioning, frequent nursing and a healthy lifestyle, it can help to quickly increase your breastmilk supply and is a soothing and relaxing drink for you.
Winner of Best of the Best, Best Breastfeeding Tea and Best Range in the TIPS Parent tests.
Fenugreek seed are known to support a healthy lactation. Fennel, caraway and anise are pleasant for both mother and baby and may help to relieve colic and wind.
Ingredients: Anise (30%), fennel (27%), verbena (18%), caraway (14%) and fenugreek seeds (11%)
Every order of pro breastfeeding or cloth nappy t-shirts or bags from www.lactivist.co.uk will get a free sample of Neuners Nursing Tea while stocks last!
If you want more than one tea bag the Natural Nursery have this tea on sale until the end of July 2011. It is £3.95 instead of £4.95!
This amazing story is by Noelia Valdez who was born in Argentina, moved to America at 15 and had her first baby at 16 years old.
My breastfeeding story, struggles, determination and love
I always knew that I want to breastfeed my kids, in fact I never think in other way to feed a baby. I remember when I was a little girl, while my friends bottle feed their dolls I breastfeed them. It seem to easy at that moment I always say “oh I can’t wait to have my baby and breastfeed him or her” and I’ll never forget how I tell everybody ” I going to have five kids”. At that moment (about 6 or 8 years old) the fact that my mom was a teen mom, it was normal to me, later on she told me about this and who much she struggles with me.
All my mom speaks go to the trash when I get pregnant at 16 years old, But even that I knew is not right, even that everybody tells me that I can’t, I was determinate to rise this child, to breastfeed him, to love him with all my heart and even more. I know thats is not the best to have a child at 16, but he didn’t ask to come, and is on his way now, so I deside to give him the best of me.
During those 9 months I read as much as posible to prepere my self, that was hard because I came from a family who asumme that they know everything and never take the time to learn something new. I keep reading and learning about almost everything, I went to a natural child birth clases all by my self, I read about vaccines, how to bath my baby, who to know if your baby is ready for solid food, even potty training. I never read or recived any information about breastfeed a baby. No body tell me how hard or how many struggles I could have. I asume it was easy, just put the baby on the breast and he do the rest…OMG!!! I wasn’t preper me for that.
On September 14th 2001, I was 2 weeks over due, so my ob-gyn send me to the hospital for induction, my natural child birth plan was ruin, but the health of my baby was more inportant. When I get to the Hospital I was 3cm dilated, oh I was so happy that lavor start on his own, I breath on every contraction but I knew this was the lavor that I dream about, but I never feel so scare in my life.
On September 15th 2001 at 1:20pm. My son Lautaro born on a drug free delivery, beautiful baby boy, he weight 9lb 2oz. My most beautiful wish came true , may be he came a little early in my life, but after all this is what I dream of since I was a little girl. Oh gosh my heart was bumping so hard, “he is perfect, I can’t wait to breastfeed him” I tell my mom. But the nurses take him, they say “we need to check him and then we bring him back” ok I say, I was so happy and I didn’t know what to expect, what are the rules on this hospital and I was scare to ask.
I take a shower and wait for my son in the room, 2 hrs later I was worried so I ask was going on, I call the nurse and ask for my baby. I wasn’t prepare for what comes next. They bring my baby, he was sleeping, I carry him in a football position and take my breast out “he already eat” say the nurse “what, what he eat? why?” I reply, “we give him formula, there is a pack under his crib” I just cry and say again “why?” she replay in a very mad way “because your baby needs to eat”.
How hard was this to me, I was sad, I was mad but more than ever I was determinate to breastfeed my son. I start by holding him close to my breast, alot of skin to skin contact. No body tell me that, it was just instict I gest. He was very sleepy the first day, any way I attemt to breastfeed him every hour without any success. He already had a very bad nipple confusion and I didn’t know what to do, no body in that hospital wants to help, in fact they were pushing me to use formula. Ten years ago I even know that lactation consultant exist, I realy feel hopeless, my mom didn’t breastfeed me and my aunts who both had infants at that time bottle feed them.
I never understood why they give him formula, I was so frustrated that I forget about my fears and call the nurse again, she give me the most stupid excuses “oh because you are so young, we think that formula it was the best for you and your baby, is hard for a young mom to nurse”. Oh realy?, so because a woman is 4 or 6 years older that me thats make breastfeeding more easy? that frustrate me more, why they assume that I don’t want to breastfeed? in what way formula was better for me and my baby? it was very confusing to hear that from a health professional. To make the thing worse my nipple were flat, my milk was already there and my breast was sore.
The next day my mom bring me a breast pump, I start pumping no only to give my baby “My Milk” but for my effort to give my nipples in shape. While I was puming another nurse came in and told me ” if you can’t breastfeed, give him a bottle, his starving” ohh how mad I was, but at that moment I knew it I can’t let him get between my determination on breastfeed my son, they no going to understand me. So I smile and say “ok give me the formula” as soon as she left I throw it to the trash.
Once at home, I was so engorged, the pain was afoul every attemt to nurse him frustrated me more.
Any way I keep trying, I didn’t know how to hold him, who to make him latch correctly. He only was able to take a tinny part of my nipple and that was very painful. I cry for 2 days straigh, more than once feel to give up, but I couldn’t fail my son, he deserve the best and I deserve this beautiful experince in life, at that moment I didn’t know that breastfeed my son could be so beautiful. It was just the right natural way to feed a child. Women breastfeed their childrens for years, even before the formula was invented, so why not me? what is the different between those woman to me? even many years ago woman has childrens very early in life, be a teen mom is not a reason for not breastfeed.
I keep pumping, “at least he has mine milk” that was enough for me I want to do what nature make me for, nourish my child.
Day number 3 came and after taking a shower to relief my breast it came to my
mind “a nipple shield” I scream calling my mom, she say “what? what is that?” “a nipple shield is a silicone nipple to put in my nipple, that may be work”. She went to buy one, two hours latter finaly I was breastfeeding my son from the breast. How beautiful, oh gosh all my life I was having this picture in my head and it was finally happend. That day I understand that breastfeed my son is more than feed him, is a conection that I never had with other human being, is pure love.
Weeks fly fast and a 8 weeks old we wean the nipple shield and both master the art of breastfeed. Soon enough to start school, at that moment I’m even care about nurse in public, I was doing the most natural so what my school mates think of me to be honest I do not care, no person in this wolrd could be more inportant that my
son, there is no person in this world that I could love more than my son.
I was happy and sad at the same time. Leave my son when I go to school, the absent of my baby’s father, the lack of support from my family who always was telling me “you can’t graduate, you are ruin your life, you don’t know how to raise a child, you this, you that…etc”. All this take me to a deep post partum deprecion. To make everything worse, the idea to let my mom take care of my son while I go to school kills me. Don’t take this in a bad way, I love her, but the true is that she never take care of me, she didn’t have any experience with babies and she was telling me to give
my son yogurt at 2 months old. But I didn’t have a choise and I realy apreciate her help.
For this 2 months I pump for my son, so he can have my milk (not yogurt) while I’m at school, everything was going great and I was prepare to start my senior year. But more barriers came to my right of breastfeed my son.
Here comes my new challenge in motherhood, school was from 6am to 2pm, take my pump with me for pumping sessions between clases or at lunch time. Soon I found out that my school not allowed me to pump, if I want to pump must do it in the bathroom sitting on the toilet, what of curse was very disgusting.
The pain of my congestion breasts was terrible and I have embarrassing leaks all day, and the nursing pads fail to handle it. Hopefully my mom agree to take my son to school at lunch time for a feeding. Oh how thankful I was with her, I couldn’t survive the other way. It was hard, no only because I was a student and a mom, but also I was a inmigrant from other country learning a new lenguage trying to finish high school so my hard work was doble.
Months past fast and then I remember what the nurse told me ” we think that formulait was the best for you and your baby, is hard for a young mom to nurse” wow!!! I can’t imaging me with all the work that I had, getting up to prepare bottles. I was realy happy for my determination to breastfeed, now I just take my breast out and continue sleeping or even do my homework with him in the breast.
I finish high school then I start a my nursing carrear, while having a part time job selling newspaper on the miami streets, and of curse continue with my ESOL clases. I did it!!!, life was very busy but when I was breasfeeding my son life stop and I was able to breath again, to take this time to enjoy our self, that was my break my reward
for a long day of hard working finaly my tight body can relax with a warm hug.
Breastfeeding my son was the picture that I had in my mind when I was a little girl, but I never knew how inportant can be this to me. To be honest I was depress, very depress and this wasen’t something new, I didn’t have a nice childhood, my mom was a teen mom, my dad leave when I was 1 year old, I meet him for the first time when I was 13 years old and my mom had a hard time keeping a relationship, many mens enter and leave our life all the time, it was a very disfuntional family. But the idea of having someone to love, have a unconditional love in my life help me, I have to admit after 3 attemt of suicide, the birth of my son save my life. When I was 14 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post traumatic streess disorder (something happend to me when I was 5) with severe depretion I always try to hurt my self, I was hateing my life, before my son came to this world all my sky were very cloudy. Those bad memories it seem to no matter any more since I saw that pregnancy test.
Now I have this little person to love, to give the best of me, breastfeed my son was more than feed him, it was pure love. I never felt that way before, his eyes looking at me with a thankfull expresion, everytime he smile at me with my nipple in his mouth it was a life saver therapy.
He change me, breastfeed him change me. I feel proud of me for never give up, for trust my body and my maternal instit. If I have to past all my bad experience in childhood to have him at the end I do it again.
I may be feel sad or depressed sometimes, life isn’t perfect. But when I looked at my son and start remember those days, his smell, oh how beautiful. Dosen’t exist any anti-depressed more efective than breastfeed my son. Is hard to put in words how our heart feels, but if someone ask me what its feel when I nurse my son I say ” I feel like my heart is trying to get out from my breast, as a milk”.
I breastfeed him for 24 months untill he wean him self, no body can take that away from me now, that beautiful picture is going to be with me until I say my last good bye. No body take never a picture of my son nursing in my peaceful arms, in my gentle breast. But I remember every little second, I no have it in my mind, I have it in my heart. Now I know what nature put our breast close to our heart.
Ten years past from those days, Lautaro is an amazing almost 10 years old now, very kind, always trying to help others. He is in 3 grade with a 6 grader level, very responsable with his school work.
His teacher just told me:”he is amazing, is a joy having him in my class, he is very polite and always volunteer to help his peers. He love you to dead, in one of his redactions he wrote how inportant you are for him, and how him wants to make you proud”. I was in tears when she told me that.
I can’t be more proud of him, and you can see it in my face. He is an awesome big brother, he care about his sibling so much, he teach them, and he always was there to help me, or just give me a glass of water when he saw me breastfeed his little sibling. Last week I was breastfeeding my 4 months old and Lautaro say ” Wow mama he is getting so big and he is so healthy because you give him your milk, you give me your milk too, good job!!! and by the way thanks mama”. you no have any idea how my heart start jumping in my chest to hear that from my son.
People can say, that teen moms, are iresponsable, they can say teen mom can’t finish high school , that they marriage fails, that their kids are bad behaved or fail school, they can say we are to young to take good care of our kids, even say that we can’t breastfeed.
Well I’m the proof that all this is wrong. I’m not saying “is easy” because is not, in fact is realy hard, now with my 4th son I’m a stay at home mom, I been married with a wonderful men for almost 8 years now, I own a home and Im just enjoing taking care of my kids full time.
Motherhood is not easy, not only for teen moms, for all new moms. But at the end we realize that we can do it and is the most rewarding career of our lifes.
Milk Share are a recently founded site, set up with the intention of highlighting awareness to the fact that Infant Formulas are not the only option mothers have when they find themselves unable to breastfeed their children.
Our aim is to promote safe breastmilk sharing in the UK and to raise awareness that formula is not the only option for mothers who are unable to breastfeed. The Share Milk forum allows potential donors and recipients from all over the UK to connect and help each other. Milkshare is supporting mothers to make a positive change and improve the health of babies one drop at a time.
Many of you will already have heard about Eats on Feets, a growing facebook network, which promotes the same cause. It is becoming clear that women all over the world are rising up in their thousands to say no to infant formulas and are opening themselves up the possibility of other women’s breastmilk.
According to the World Health Organization, if you are unable to nurse your baby directly and you are unable to express your milk then the next option for your baby is the milk of a fellow lactating mother, before Infant Formula.
Anyone concerned about the already minimal risk of HIV infection and other infections should watch the following video about flash heating and how it kills the HIV virus:
Flash heating breastmilk kills HIV
So, if you or anyone else you know can donate then please get involved in the Milk Share forum and tell everyone you know, that way women who really need your help can find you. Together we can vastly reduce the need for Infant Formulas, smash the taboo that women’s breastmilk is an undesirable bodily fluid and unite mothers globally in the fight against the largest uncontrolled human experiment in history.
Aunty Lactivist is all of us, the idea being that we can help each other with our experiences and knowledge.
So please comment below and help this mum.
“Dear Aunty Lactivist,
T is 13 months. Up til his birthday he was still breastfeeding in the day time, about once in the afternoon but he seems to have dropped that feed somewhere along the line. So now he feeds on waking in the morning and at bedtime or at least he did til last night.
Last night he wouldn’t breastfeed, latched on had a little suck but came off and wouldn’t go back on. I think he’s teething and I’ve given him calpol at bedtime as that seems to be the time he is most distressed. Last night he cried but not too much after I sang to him and he went off to sleep without the boob. I ended up picking him up at around 8.30 and doing a dream feed and then he went all night til 6 when he woke for the day and had another feed.
Tonight he did the same but screamed and screamed when I put him in his cot, I kept going back and offering the boob but he kept pushing me away and crying more.
He finally settled after a sip of water and me singing again
Is this him weaning? With my daughter the bedtime feed was the last to go. I’m not ready for this to end, he’s just a baby.
Do you think it might be his teeth hurting? He’s been wearing an amber teething necklace and is absolutely fine during the day but I have to take it off when he goes to bed.
Any advice welcome please. x”
A boobylicious ‘Breastfeeding Roadshow’ to promote and raise public awareness about breastfeeding hits Derby, early December.
A fun-packed, FREE event with breastfeeding related stalls, café and space for mums to relax and breastfeed, with an area for children to play.
Lyndsey Page, author of “Just Call Me Daisy: Breastfeeding Mothers’ Stories”, will be signing copies of her book, and local businesses, organisations and other national breastfeeding product retailers will be present.
Whether you are a new mum, family member, friend, Health Professional or just interested in finding out more, then this event is for you. Alongside freebies, different Christmas gift ideas and lots of breastfeeding info, please add your support and keep breastfeeding in the public eye!
With FREE parking, EASY access and CAFÉ, this roadshow is taking place at:
YMCA – The Campus, 770 London Road, Wilmorton, Derby, Derbyshire DE24 8UT – http://www.ymcaderbyshire.org.uk
Saturday 12 December 10.30am – 2.30pm
Do you make or sell breastfeeding products? Then why not get in touch and have a stall for just £10! This event expects to welcome 200 visitors, with media coverage and support from recognised organisations.
For further details please contact Lyndsey on 07811 268951 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
With kind permission of Lisa, MooMum, also see
“Things We Like” section, for more details:
run via Me – Pip aka Boobie Buddies Ltd &
Sharon Trotter – TIPS website,
to promote National Breastfeeding Awareness Week 2009.
WIN – WIN – WIN – WIN
A BOOBIE BUDDIES DOLL SET – for NBAW – May 2009 !!
visit Sharon Trotter – TIPS website
click on the “stop press area” and follow instructions!
1 x Boobie Buddies doll set (of your choice) worth £40.00p
Winner drawn on May 22nd 2009!
Please spread the Breastfeeding word! –
feel free to browse my website for more information, and offers.
Kind Regards Mrs Pip Wheelwright
Boobie Buddies Ltd. The “NATURAL” way to role play!
I wrote this post over at my personal blog, but I think Lactivist readers might find it of interest. It’s called “I’m sick of discreet”, and here it is:
Discreet: careful not to attract attention or cause offence (according to the Oxford English Dictionary).
Well I’m sick of discreet. Absolutely sick to the back teeth of discreet.
Think of things you’re told to do discreetly. Normally things that are a bit “naughty”, not really allowed. You’d meet an extra-marital lover “discreetly”. You’d slip a few extra bits and bobs from the supermarket into your pocket “discreetly”. Oh, and… that’s right, you’re supposed to breastfeed in public “discreetly”.
Thing is though, I wouldn’t mind so much if this edict only came from the usual misogynistic culprits like the Daily Hate et. al. (And it does, oh it does). But it actually comes from the very people that are supposed to be supporting breastfeeding.
NHS literature tells us “it’s perfectly possible to breastfeed discreetly”.
Shops that sell nursing tops and clothing tell us they are especially designed for “discreet breastfeeding”.
People who think they’re being tolerant and understanding say “I don’t actually mind breastfeeding in public… as long as its discreet.”
Even- sometimes – other nursing mothers tell us that they managed perfectly discreetly so why can’t we?
Okay. First of all, even if it was desirable to be discreet, I have a newsflash for you: it’s not always possible.
I’m a 32HH bra size. Not nice Loaded mag-friendly pneumatic titties, but matronly, floppy, cushion-like, drop to my tummy as soon as the bra strap is unhooked 32HH bosoms. Seriously, the whole boob falls out of my bra when I’m breastfeeding. The whole milky orb. So getting my child latched on showing as little boob as possible? No can do.
Newborn to about two or three month old babies are not so much of a “problem” in the discretion stakes. Attach them, and there they stay put until they’re finished, or fall asleep, sometimes both. But once they get a mind of their own, they start to look around! In the middle of feeding! And leave the heinous crime of exposed nipple! Oh noes, won’t somebody think of the children!1!!!!11 (Oh, that’s right, someone was thinking of the children.)
In my time as a peer supporter this was actually one of the main “problems” I was approached about. Sometimes I’d sit Mum down with a brew and we’d talk. When she finished her brew I’d ask her why she didn’t just down it all in one, why did she pause in between sips, why did she take her hand off the cup sometimes? Babies aren’t much different. Why should they want to stay put in between sips of milk? They’re out having a meal. So like adults, they want to chat, to look around, to stare. And that means coming off the boob sometimes and leaving Mum exposed!
And if you’ve ever tried to be discreet with a verbal toddler or child who announces “milk!!” – or “boobie!” – very loudly as soon as you’ve sat down and pulls up your top to help themselves… you’ll know that discretion is neigh on impossible.
If you’ve ever tandem nursed, or nursed twins or multiples – basically if you’ve ever nursed more than one child at a time… well, you have to lift both sides of your top! That means exposing an awful lot of breast and… even… stomach!
Anyway, secondly, why is it desirable to be discreet? Well, I could rant and rave about why it shouldn’t be, but I’ve done it before, and other people have said it better than me, so I’ll leave it to them. Suffice to say that there is no genuine reason why mothers should have to be “discreet”.
However, we live in the real world. The reason breastfeeding mothers often want to be “discreet” is not often out of some sense of “modesty” but because they want to protect themselves and their children from nasty comments, the embarrassment of being asked to move and what (I think it was) Morgan calls that very British protest, the tut and head shake (I’ve had more than my fair share of those).
I understand that need. I’ve felt it myself. The older my son gets, the more I feel it, as normal-term nursing is still misunderstood and stigmatised, sometimes even to the point of it being labelled “child abuse”.
But I really would like to lose the word “discreet”. It implies breastfeeding is something to be ashamed of. Something to hide away because it is disgusting. Whereas, the real reason we’re hiding it away is fear of all kinds of harassment. In fact, I think that hassling a nursing mother is a form of “street harassment”, although normally it happens indoors. In fact, it’s a particularly nasty form of street harassment, in that because the mother has a young child or children with her, she feels even more vulnerable than she would were she on her own, as she has not only herself to protect but also her charges.
Suggestions for other words? Morgan I think has used “camouflage” in the past, which I like. (So, “our nursing tops are designed facilitate camouflaged breastfeeding”). I’ve used “comfortable” myself. Or maybe we could just come out and say what it is: protection. “Our nursing tops help protect against stupid sexist smegheads.” Now that’s a nursing top I’d buy! Especially if that was the slogan written across the top!
And why did I write this post?
Yet another mother been shown to a completely unsuitable place for breastfeeding. If we didn’t have such a hang-up about being “discreet” she would have been able to sit wherever she liked. But for her own camouflage, her own protection, she asked to be moved to another room. And was given a storage room, full of medical equipment – including needles! Way to go, NHS!
And we wonder why breastfeeding rates are so low in the UK when the very people who should be supporting breastfeeding are undermining it!
[I wonder what it is about the NHS? My two most ridiculous breastfeeding moments also came in hospitals. The first, in St Helens Hospital with my husband and baby. I was nursing him happily in the waiting room when a nurse came up to me and said, "I can show you where the disabled loo is if you like." Seriously. I told her I was fine, thanks.
Second time was when I was in hospital with my baby after he fell down the stairs. Nursing him was such a comfort to him. Or at least, it was, until (a) a Doctor brusquely walked past and pulled the curtains around us without even asking and (b) I overheard the nurses talking, when they thought I was asleep, about how odd it was to be breastfeeding a year-old baby and how if he were their baby they'd nip it in the bud. I did actually complain about (b) afterwards and was informed they'd been told not to talk about the patients again.]
This week’s subject was: ‘Examining Our Attitudes Towards Other People’ – the last module of the course. This was a very interactive session, involving us all in several activities which provoked further discussion.
Firstly, we looked at how we label ourselves and how we might label others – according to the various social groups people appear to belong to. So we made a list, including age, gender, race – of course – but also: habits, behaviour, politics, health, occupation and several more.
We then looked in more detail at the assumptions and stereotypes we might make about individuals, on the basis of these group labels.
Looking at how we label ourselves, it becomes quite obvious that we find it more comfortable to interact and communicate with those that we identify with. It is easier to be open in these circumstances.
When faced with unknown cultural traits, communication is much more of a challenge. We feel less comfortable with the situation and it is even more important that we recognise the need to be non-judgmental and open-minded. This became even more apparent to me in the next exercise, when we role-played the interaction of two culturally different people.
I played an individual for whom it is: impolite to look people in the eye, discuss personal things and sit near someone, or touch them, unless I am married to them; and, for me, nodding expresses everything.
My partner was to be as friendly and open as possible, trying to establish common experiences and to make me feel comfortable.
Throughout the exercise, I found it extremely difficult to find anything to say. I could also feel that my partner wanted me to look at her and I felt quite uncomfortable about denying her that. In fact, I felt so uneasy about it, that it was still affecting me later on in the day.
As I reflected on this session on the way home, it really began to make sense to me. I thought about any scenarios which might leave me finding it difficult to communicate. I realised that if I was met with some quite judgmental attitudes – perhaps a mother who felt very negatively towards a midwife that I know, or perhaps a mother with racist attitudes – then I might find it very difficult to overcome that. My reaction to that, even though it might remain unspoken, might hinder any further communication – because I could be thinking about that, and all that implies, instead of really listening to the mother.
When those thoughts occurred to me, I think I realised what the session was really about.
So how do we overcome cultural differences and avoid feeling uncomfortable or being judgmental ourselves?
We were given lots of pointers towards this and it all seems to come back to ‘being present’. By ‘being present’ I mean being open to the unfolding dialogue, without holding on to any preconceived ideas and without trying to predetermine the outcome.
In practising that open attitude, we will find it easier to learn about individual and cultural differences in a positive way.
Part of that is also letting go of our personal need to establish our own identity – feeling that we must express who we are when we are speaking to someone. One of the pointers described this really well – ‘Refuse to get offended – don’t take it personally’. Of course, that is easier said than done sometimes, but there is no real purpose to being defensive when trying to counsel and support someone else.
We also discussed ways of learning more about different cultures and, in particular, religious attitudes to babycare and breastfeeding. I feel fairly ignorant on this subject, so I wondered if there is a book out there? Surely there must be, somewhere!
It was reassuring to be advised by our instructor that we could ask the mother about her customs if we are not sure what they are and to acknowledge our ignorance and/or discomfort in certain situations.
It was also very useful to discuss the process of reflecting on any negative experiences we may have. This process is very important, to ensure that we don’t carry those negative feelings with us when we encounter similar groups of people. The process goes through an analysis of what happened, to ideas for doing things differently in the future.
I found this session really interesting and I have thought about it a lot since. There has been a lot in this training that has had a positive impact on the way I think about and communicate with people generally and I have really enjoyed that.
This was the last training session of the course. Next week’s session is a review (which I am unable to attend) and then we have a graduation ceremony – with the mayor and the local paper in attendance! So I’ll be trying to get a good night’s sleep before that session then!
If you are interested in training to be a Breastfeeding Supporter yourself, then it is worth asking your local midwife or health visitor if there are any courses in your area. Alternatively, you could contact La Leche League on 0845 4561844.
Thank-you for reading!
Wow! It’s hard to believe that we are already at week 10. It’s almost the last week, as week 12 is a review session – and I am unable to make it to that one. After that, we have a graduation!
This week’s session was a bit odd. There was a lot of material that the instructor was expected to cover, but much of it we have already covered. One aspect for discussion today was, ‘making breastfeeding work in everyday life’, which was actually the title of week 8.
However, we did have another lively and informative discussion and I am finding myself more confident about asking our instructors for more detailed information. It’s as though I have a small foundation of knowledge and experience, now that it has been organised and digested, and I am ready to build upon that.
This week’s session was titled ‘Breastfeeding in Different Situations’, so we were looking at some of the circumstances that can arise unexpectedly and others that it may be possible to prepare for.
Firstly, our instructor emphasised the importance of new mums finding out as much as they can about breastfeeding antenally and seeing a mother breastfeed if possible. It is also important that new mums are aware of the choices and support available to them in those first few days of their baby’s life. This requires good antenatal care, perhaps with classes in breastfeeding. Our Sure Start centre now offers specific breastfeeding information sessions for antenatal parents, because the 4 antenatal classes just don’t give enough time to devote to breastfeeding.
Armed with this knowledge, mums are better able to understand how breastfeeding their newborn might work, but of course not everything can be planned for.
A few of the unexpected scenarios we discussed were:
Separation of mother & baby and the importance of breast pumps, rest and fluids for mum;
Jaundice in the newborn and the knowledge that breastmilk is superior to formula for treating jaundice, despite the perception of hospital staff;
Illness in the mother and the necessity to keep mum & baby together as much as possible;
Cleft lip and/or palate and Down’s syndrome and learning to breastfeed. These conditions present quite a challenge to breastfeeding, though, as always, breastmilk is superior to formula for feeding babies. Down’s syndrome babies are often able to breastfeed successfully and mums can look for the usual indicators to assess the progression of breastfeeding (changes in stools over the first week, weight gain, wet nappies, content baby).
Cleft lip and/or palate can cause serious difficulties for any method of feeding and cleft palate may make breastfeeding directly impossible. However, expressing is the very best a mum can do for her baby in these circumstances and mums should be given the facilities and encouragement necessary to express in hospital.
It is common now for mums to be aware of cleft lip and/or palate from their ultrasound scan and by the time baby is born, mum will already have received the date for the baby’s first operation. This gives the mum the opportunity to plan a little.
If expression and feeding by bottle, syringe or cup is initiated at birth, it may still be possible to begin breastfeeding directly later on – after surgery. Our instructor mentioned how it is still important for these babies’ mums to know that skin-to-skin contact benefits their baby and that they can offer their breast for comfort, even if they are not actually breastfeeding. I thought that was a great idea, though something I would never have thought of!
Here is another great cultural obstacle in breastfeeding – parenting even – I think. It would seem strange, maybe unacceptable, to offer our breast to our non-breastfeeding baby to comfort them, but why should it? Why is that any different to offering our little finger to suckle on, or to cuddling?
It was interesting to discuss some of the situations that are new to me, but I think what I really got from this week’s session was the need to empower us all.
Many of us will have experienced being told by a doctor, or other health professional, that we must do a particular thing, without being told the most important thing of all – that we have a choice.
My partner and I certainly went through this when our eldest was born. We felt pushed into allowing procedures to be carried out that we weren’t comfortable with and we didn’t think were necessary.
However, four years ago, our second son was seriously ill with meningitis. We were fortunate to have a patient paediatric consultant who wanted to inform us at every step – nevertheless, he had procedures which he felt were necessary. My partner & I found confidence and support in each other and we asked questions frequently and held up procedures when we were not convinced, or when we saw that our son was distressed. Our consultant was very surprised by our attitude, but also very supportive.
The end result was that our son probably went through as many procedures as he would have anyway, but we understood why each one was being performed and when we took our son home, we knew that we had done the best for him.
I would like everyone to be aware of their choices – and to be aware that most decisions don’t need to be made instantly. Feeling part of the decision making process has helped us to overcome the trauma of what happened to our son, leaving us without feelings of guilt.
This week’s session was about ‘Understanding Baby Needs from Infancy to Toddlerhood’ and it was reassuring to realise that we were all aware of almost all the information that we discussed – particularly regarding new babies.
However, there were a couple of points raised that I found especially interesting and I would like to learn more about.
Firstly, the subject of weaning onto solids. Having had five children over a nine year period, I can vouch for the fact that recommendations on weaning have changed dramatically! With my eldest, I wanted to exclusively breastfeed for as long as possible, but I found an overwhelming amount of advice to begin solids, to help my baby sleep better. The earliest recommended time for weaning then was 14 weeks and so that is what I did. Well, my boy loved food, but he didn’t sleep any better! You’d think that I would have learned from that experience, but I ended up following the same advice not once, but twice, more – with no.s 2 and 3! With my third, I had already heard that WHO were advising six months exclusive breastfeeding and I was crushed when the GP advised weaning at 4 months to help his reflux (as well as his sleeping, which it didn’t).
With no.4 I dug in my heels. Despite poor weight gain and reflux which put no.3 in the shade, I breastfed exclusively for six months – and I did the same with no.5.
So I was really pleased to find that the current Health Authority advice is a definite trend towards ‘baby-led weaning’. That sounds more natural to me, although I hardly know what it means. Wait til six months, offer finger foods (if baby will take them)…. This is all so different from the advice in baby books 11 yrs ago! Can anyone out there tell me anymore?
I had a bit of a Eureka! moment when I was thinking about this the other day. When I began this course, I didn’t think that I had had any particular difficulties breastfeeding. However, I have come to a realisation. It’s been a long time since I felt the need to ask advice about parenting – mainly because I have found I can quietly discover things within a book, without having to consider refusing the advice of the person I have asked, if I didn’t like the sound of it. Thinking back to that time when my eldest was not sleeping well and I was looking for a solution, I was met with the advice to begin solids from both health professionals and relatives and, although I wasn’t happy about it, I followed that advice (and actually felt more disappointed when it failed). It only just occurred to me this week that that advice is the same as saying that my breastmilk was not enough for my 3 month old baby and that if I had stopped to think about how capable my body would be at providing milk for twins, I would have seen how ridiculous that was. I never really saw that as a breastfeeding difficulty, but of course it was. In fact, the difficulties with sleep and my eldest became such a problem for me that I embarked on sleep-training when he was 5 months old. He slept through the night within 3 days and I was incredibly relieved, but that, combined with his early weaning and love of food, led us down the path of reducing my supply. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but when I fell pregnant when no.1 was eight months, he no longer showed any interest in breastfeeding – although I would have happily continued through my pregnancy.
The other discussion I found fascinating was about ‘nursing-strikes’. I have read a little about this. On occasions a baby may refuse to breastfeed – and this may continue for up to four days! This is obviously very distressing for the baby’s parents and we were given some advice on how to support a mother through a nursing strike:
We must reassure mum that it will pass;
Bottles and dummies should not be offered (in fact, nipple confusion can be the cause of a nursing strike);
Mum should express, to keep up her supply;
It is important that mum rebuilds her baby’s trust with calm, peace & quiet, skin-to-skin contact and avoiding separation from her baby, if at all possible.
There may be other ways to get the baby interested in feeding again, for example: attempting a feed when baby is very sleepy, trying different positions and walking with or rocking the baby.
There are many things that can cause a nursing strike. For example: fright, illness, teething, distractions/interruptions, long separation from mum, a change in routines and arguments or disruptions in the house.
Have you experienced a nursing strike? Did you manage to overcome it? Please write a comment if you can.
Finally, we talked about instances where we had met a new mum experiencing difficulties and had not found a way to help (or, had been that new mum and had not been able to get help from other experienced mums).
I fall into the first category, as I found it extremely difficult to pinpoint the problem when my relative was having difficulties breastfeeding – and my frustration was compounded by the huge changes that would occur in just 24hrs. 24hrs is such a long time in the life of a newborn and his mum, but a mere blink of an eye to the rest of us!
Our instructor reassured us by saying that for breastfeeding difficulties involving newborns, it is vital to spend lots of time with the mother. Only by doing this will we develop a full awareness of the difficulties the mother and the baby are experiencing.
I am sure I must be more prepared for my role of supporting breastfeeding than when I began this course, but I still worry that I might be met with that situation again – where I don’t know what I can offer to help. At least I am aware now of the team of people who can be called upon to help alongside myself.
We’re two thirds of the way through the course now and I am a little clearer on what will be expected of me in my role as Breastfeeding Peer Counsellor.
Last week I attended a one day training workshop in ‘Foundation Skills for Helpline Workers’, with the Telephone Helpline Association (THA), for a role that I have taken up with another organisation. It was a fascinating day, but I was surprised at the great difference between my helpline role and my Breastfeeding Peer Counsellor role, which became apparent throughout the day.
The biggest difference is that it is not considered good practice to talk about yourself in the helpline world – and this is something I can very much understand. In a role-play exercise where I did exactly that, it became obvious to me that my focus had shifted from the caller’s story to my own. My mind was thinking of responses before the caller had finished speaking. I was no longer listening.
The expectations of Breastfeeding Counsellors are quite different. Research consistently says that the best people to support mums in breastfeeding are other mums – women who have experience of breastfeeding, who have developed confidence and have ‘mother wisdom’ (in the words of La Leche League) to share and reassurance to give.
We are actively encouraged to share tips and stories, in support of keeping mums breastfeeding – and there the line is drawn in a slightly different place to the helpline worker. In my role as peer counsellor, I need to develop the skills to offer my experience as information where necessary, but to hold back from being pushy, emotional or overloading the mum with too much information. This support is reassurance, sharing, kindness – without persuasion.
This difference of skills is reflected in the title on my ID card:- Breastfeeding Supporter. Not Counsellor, not Peer Counsellor even, because the role isn’t exactly counselling.
And this week’s session was a discussion of the information we have to share (our ‘mother wisdom’!) on ‘Getting Ready for Baby and Ideas to Make Breastfeeding Work in Day-to-Day Living’. It was fun to discuss our stories and I would also love to read yours – so please add a comment if you can think of any really useful tips.
Our instructor encouraged us to become familiar with the latest practices in birth-care and in the latest items available for babies and mums in the shops.
She also passed around some fabulous teaching aids, some of which you may have come across:
Now I have a couple of these, bought from Lisa at Lactivist.co.uk, but we were also advised to obtain a puppet (or a pattern for knitting one perhaps?) of a baby, whose mouth will open wide – like a sock puppet. I have searched around, but I can’t find one. If anyone knows of any that are suitable, please let me know.
-Marbles, illustrating babies’ tummy sizes;
These are fantastic! Very simple, but they illustrate perfectly the size of a baby’s tummy at four ages between birth and 10 days. They were free from the Medela website, but that was some time ago and they may not be available anymore. I want some!
-Breastfeeding dolls and breasts;
I wasn’t so keen on these. The breast was quite good – and it was possible to feel a lump and show how to massage it – but the doll was quite rigid. I didn’t think it would be that useful to show different positions.
We then went off into groups to discuss our practical tips for making those first few days of breastfeeding as easy as possible – and there were many! It made me realise how much easier it is when you’ve done it before and so how useful it could be to a new mum to know some of what might help.
I think my favourite (which I’d never heard before) is to stay in your pyjamas, because it sends a message to older children and visitors that you’re not available for household chores, making cups of tea, etc. – that your focus is on your baby. I suppose it might prompt a visitor to offer to hold the baby whilst you have a shower, but then I guess you could accept and then put on a fresh pair of PJs!
Mummy is breastfeeding me because she knows it’s best
But I expect you’re wanting to help her get some rest
I’m very time consuming because I am so new
I know how much you want to help – there’s lots that you can do
Washing, cooking, ironing – you can think of more
Let Mummy do the feeding ‘cos that is not a chore
Both Mum and I need practice until we get the knack
So please don’t say “Good gracious! Another little snack?”
Granny, you’ve got lots of tips – for you are very wise
We welcome your suggestions – but please don’t criticise
You were once like Mummy and now her turn has come
With your love and patience she’ll make a smashing Mum!
Gill Rapley, 1995
This week we had a lively discussion about ‘Barriers to Breastfeeding’. This is obviously a topic of wide-ranging issues and many of the issues raised struck a chord with one or more of the mums in the group.
What sorts of things prevent mums from having a positive experience of breastfeeding? I suppose a large proportion of them can be seen as cultural (in some ways all of them can). For instance: formula and baby-bottle marketing; attitudes of hospital staff; lack of positive role models in the media; attitudes of work-mates and, that old chestnut, ‘Old Wive’s Tales’ (how many have we heard?).
The influence of society and culture around us is so strong though, that it is almost impossible not to internalise the attitudes and the words of those around us. Many fears are instilled in women which become a real barrier to breastfeeding ’successfully’. For example: a fear of pain; of losing freedom; of a change in body-shape; or simply a fear of failure.
For any woman about to become a mother who fears the changes that are inevitable, some sort of support is essential.
If difficulties do arise in the first few days or weeks of breastfeeding (and for many they do), some women find that the solutions offered to them in our culture do not involve continuing breasfeeding. Family, friends and the media may convince the mother that she will have less pain, more sleep, more normality, if she bottle-feeds her baby.
Again, this led me to think that this is about more than just breastfeeding. As one mum told me about formula milk cartons, I found myself thinking, ‘How convenient!’ – then stopping myself with a huge red light: ‘What am I thinking?! What could be more convenient than breastfeeding?’
This culture, that we are a part of, is so wrapped up in consumerism that we can be easily convinced that we need this, or that, to help us fit into our societal roles. So many things come in a package to make our life easier that we have forgotten one of the most important skills that we have as human beings – adaptation.
The instructor told us that she has visited many mums who have asked her, ‘When will life get back to normal?’ Maybe they haven’t realised that what they are describing as ‘normal’ is actually ‘life without a baby’. Life with a new baby hasn’t met their expectations, because those expectations have been shaped by our modern culture.
Of course, having a baby (especially the first time) is a shock to us all – and so we all need support to embrace the change, adapt and find our own parenting style.
It doesn’t help when a midwife on the post-natal ward tells you your baby needs a bottle of formula, because he is hungry, and then presents you with said bottle and the expectation that you will give it to your baby – the experience of at least one mum in our group.
Or when a new mum is told by hospital staff that her baby must experience a bottle before he is a few weeks old, or he may never take one (and you wouldn’t want that, would you?).
Fortunately, our local hospital has now begun UNICEF training programmes, to work towards the ‘Baby-Friendly’ status. This should make some positive changes to delivery, baby, post-natal and children’s wards. Let’s hope that someone sees the sense in passing that information on to all hospital staff. They must remember that all mothers in hospital for non-infectious conditions have a right to breastfeed too.
For some mothers, the choice to breastfeed couldn’t be more difficult. Medical opinion may strongly advise against breastfeeding for mothers who are HIV positive or who are taking medicines or drugs, but it is still the mother’s decision to make.
Our instructor explained that she feels her position, as a medical professional, is to give information to the mother (or parents), so that they can make their own decision. Then she (our instructor) will respect and support that decision, even if she feels it is not the decision she would have made herself.
The exception to that would be where an issue of child protection exists and I asked if, by choosing to breastfeed against medical opinion when HIV +ve, would that be considered a child protection issue? We were told that only evidence of child abuse occurring – not ‘potential risks’ – would be an issue for us to report.
I also asked if any changes had been made to the level of support given to antenatal women undergoing a HIV test in pregnancy. None have.
Many years ago, I had a HIV test in a London clinic, because I was travelling to an Israeli kibbutz and I knew I would be tested there. In the London clinic, I was given counselling before the test (which reassured me that the behaviour which I had perceived as high risk was, in fact, quite low risk), followed by more counselling before receiving the results and after receiving the results. This high level of care really helped me to deal with the anxiety involved in taking the test.
In current ante-natal screening , mums-to-be receive no counselling at all – unless the test comes back positive, then they are referred to the hospital (but, by then, they have already been given the awful news).
I wonder if this procedure is regional?
Another aspect of parenting that some mums in the group felt the medical establishment needed to catch up on was that of co-sleeping. Although our instructor explained that many professionals accept that mums choose to sleep with their babies, the information given out remains extremely cautious on the subject. My favourite warning is: ‘Do not sleep with your baby if you are excessively tired’ – surely that is exactly when most parents begin co-sleeping!
The implication of the information is still that every parent’s aim should be to have a baby safely sleeping all night through in their cot, even though there is much evidence to suggest that co-sleeping encourages breastfeeding and attentive parenting – particularly in the work of Dr.Sears.
This has been a very long blog this week – following some really enjoyable discussions in the group. If you still have a few moments left, it would be great to see your comments.
Many of the mums in the group have said that they wish they had been on this course when they started breastfeeding and I wondered:
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started out on your breastfeeding journey?
The subject for this week’s session was ‘The Composition of Human Milk’. In many ways, this subject is quite scientific, which is a challenge for me, as I am inclined to be happy with the thought, ‘Well, it’s natural so it must be good.’
There is also a big overlap between this subject and ‘The Benefits of Breastfeeding’ and I found that this week we revisited a lot of the information we looked at in week 3 – so I shall try not to repeat myself!
In common with looking at ‘The Benefits…’, our discussion of composition led to comparisons with formula milk.
We began by looking at colostrum, which is unique in its make-up and, as I understand it, impossible to copy – even remotely – with current technology.
As well as being a natural laxative, high in protein, low in fat and carbs, high in zinc, vitamin E and salt, colostrum is full of the ‘magic’ ingredients: macrophages and immunoglobulins.
The macrophages digest disease organisms and the immunoglobulins coat the baby’s gut, protect the baby from infections in the environment and (wow) stimulate the baby to produce his/her own antibodies.
Looking at a comparison sheet (sorry, it isn’t dated), immunoglobulins are virtually absent in formula, whereas they are present in colostrum ‘in abundance’.
I have spent some time this week reading a little about human milk composition in La Leche League’s book, ‘The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding’ – a copy of which we have each been given as part of the course. On the topic of immunoglobulins in colostrum, the book states: ‘This is one of the many reasons for insisting that your baby get nothing but your colostrum and milk in the first days of life. Those first doses of colostrum are designed to gently introduce baby’s immune system to the world outside the womb.’ (2004).
As the milk matures, it remains high in these ‘living cells’ – even containing significant amounts of immunoglobulins after baby turns one year.
In looking at mature milk, it can simply be said that the balance of whey, casein, other proteins, enzymes, amino acids, fat and carbs (lactose) are all designed to protect the human infant and feed the growth of the very unique human brain. Not only that, but the complete package is also 100% digestible, resulting in soft stools with a smell not unlike yoghurt or buttermilk (which, like breastmilk, are high in friendly bacteria).
Our discussions during the session veered towards other aspects in breastfeeding:
from the sweet taste of breastmilk being in synch with the baby’s immature tastebuds (babies have sweet tastebuds from birth, with the other 3 tastes following at around a year);
flavours from the mother’s diet affecting the taste of the milk and the mother’s diet also affecting the baby’s wind – foods which can make us all ‘windy’ being the biggest culprits;
to the possibilities of breastfeeding whilst having breast implants – I didn’t think it was possible, but apparently it is, if the implants are on top of the breast;
and the experiences of breastfeeding in unexpected circumstances – our instructor told us of the relief breastfeeding gave her when her car broke down on a long journey and she was still able to feed her baby. I also described feeding my two year old when he was very poorly with a tummy bug and unable to digest anything but breastmilk – an experience shared by another group member, who found that her son recovered really quickly when he went back to exclusive breastfeeding for a couple of days.
We went on to discuss breastfeeding in public. Touching on that Supernanny programme again, the instructor said how the mother had fed her child in the car, but wondered if she would have felt as comfortable feeding her in the supermarket. I said that I have become less comfortable feeding my son in public as he has got older (although, in some repects, feeding him in front of some family members can be more of a challenge!).
We talked quite a bit about how we might have considered ourselves to be rebellious in the past, or in other ways, and then found that that sense of rebellion has abandoned us when it comes to breastfeeding in public.
It is almost as though we carry around with us a feeling of what is culturally acceptable and I wonder if we would be less concerned about breastfeeding in public if we didn’t feel a public scrutiny on our ‘success or failure’ of our parenting skills and style?
This week I settled my youngest two in at Nana’s (thanks Mum!) and managed to arrive at the Sure Start Centre early enough to catch a cup of tea before we began. I can’t say I was bright-eyed & bushy-tailed though, as I had been up at 5am feeding my two & a half year old. This was the morning our ID card photos were taken and there was nothing I could do about the bags!
Unfortunately, the session began with an informal chat which left me feeling quite alienated for a few moments. Our instructor this week was chatting about a recent episode of ‘Supernanny’ which had involved the abrupt weaning of a three and a half year old breastfeeding girl and commented on how Supernanny, Jo Frost, had stated that there was no need for a child to breastfeed after the age of 3, as there is no nutritional benefit in it, and that the little girl was controlling and manipulative.
I suddenly felt quite alone in my feelings about – and experience of – breastfeeding toddlers. I have recently read the wonderful book by Norma Jane Bumgarner, ‘Mothering Your Nursing Toddler’, which is a very positive, empowering book about the mother-toddler breastfeeding relationship. The book confirmed what already felt right to me – that a mutually agreeable relationship between the breastfeeding child and mother has a myriad of benefits for both.
Although I didn’t watch Supernanny, I really wonder what is the benefit of a TV programme which encourages us to look at breastfeeding as only being beneficial in a nutritional sense and to consider children as young as 3 to be controlling and manipulative?
Unfortunately I found myself unable to express my upset on Monday (and so it has been saved for this blog!), although I do hope that breastfeeding toddlers will be discussed again at some point.
Given my lack of sleep and my initial upset, I found this week’s subject quite a challenge: Anatomy of the Breast and Hormones of Lactation. We were given lots of handouts and diagrams detailing the many parts of the breast and the ways in which both pregnancy and baby’s sucking stimulates the production of the hormones required to stimulate milk production (commonly known as ‘the Let-Down Reflex’). As we discussed these physical processes, some interesting points came up.
It is the nerves in the breast which make it sensitive and the instructor explained that, in some women, stress and anxiety can inhibit this sensitivity (which is essential to stimulate milk production). We were warned not to underestimate the power of this very real, and debilitating, difficulty that some women experience.
At the opposite end of the scale, one of our group members described having a near-constant flow of milk. Although that may appear to be a godsend to some, it made breastfeeding in public and at night especially awkward and she felt unusual for never having experienced the feeling of milk let-down.
I explained a technique, which I picked up from somewhere, of applying pressure to the breasts to stop the flow of milk when it was not required (the basis of the design of Lilypadz) – although we all thought that applying pressure might not be advisable in the first few weeks, or at anytime when engorement might develop, as it could lead to a blocked duct.
Another member of the group said that she had experienced excruciatingly painful let-downs and warned us to be aware that a mum who described the sensation as painful may in fact be suffering from the condition which she’d had – ‘deep thrush’. It took many years (and a few babies!) for her to discover the cause and find a treatment for it, as there were none of the common visible symptoms associated with thrush.
We had all had different experiences of after-pains as well. Some women had experienced none at all, one had experienced less with each baby and others, like myself, had experienced the classic increase of after-pains after each successive birth. I explained that these pains had been so strong after my 4th child that I involuntarily physically shook with them and couldn’t hold my baby. I felt thoroughly miserable about it and within days had resorted to keeping myself topped up with painkillers, which I had promised myself I would avoid. When I was pregnant with no.5, I researched some alternatives and used the homeopathic remedy Arnica (in tablet form) – one tablet half-hourly for the first 4 hours, hourly for the next 8 hours, etc. – and I was amazed to have hardly any pain at all.
It was really interesting to hear such different stories from the mums in the group – all the time reminding me that everyone is different and I couldn’t possibly predict the difficulties a mother might come to me with as a counsellor. I would really like to hear more stories from you. If you have anything you would like to share, please leave a comment.
Bebe Cannelle offers stylish and practical nursing tops for hip mums who want to breastfeed their baby no matter where they are.
The Milkbands breastfeeding reminder bracelets and the colourful nursing necklaces collections are popular breastfeeding aids which meet all of a breastfeeding mother’s needs.
Once upon a time there was a French woman married to an American man, and they had their first baby in Berkeley, California, one of the breastfeeding capitals of the world. The French woman conscientiously tried to follow all the instructions and advice she had received to start off breastfeeding correctly, but she still ended up with painful crevasses due to baby’s not being in the right position for latch-on. All this made the first few weeks of breastfeeding very difficult. She was saved from suffering only by her valiant husband, who went out to buy her the latest innovation in breastfeeding accessories : the My Brest Friend™ nursing pillow. After a few days using this nursing pillow, baby was in the perfect position for latch-on, the crevasses disappeared, and mommy was radiant ! Later the young woman, naturally style-conscious and wanting to get out of the nightgowns that she had spent most of her time wearing since the birth, went on the internet and ordered a nursing wardrobe that delighted her. She was able to nurse with style and ease for many, many months to come. Two years later, the second baby arrived, but this time in France. To her great surprise, the young woman discovered that breastfeeding wasn’t as widely practiced in France as it is in the United States. What’s more, not only was the My Brest Friend™ pillow not available, but nursing garments were practically unheard-of. Two of her close friends borrowed her My Brest Friend™ nursing pillow and were delighted with it. Another of her friends borrowed her nursing clothes, and ordered even more directly from the United States.
The young woman and her husband said to themselves : things can’t go on this way! It’s up to us to let French women benefit from the wonderful nursing clothes, nursing pillows, and accessories that women already enjoy in many other countries. So in mid-2005 they launched the French version of the mamaNANA website. An English-language version was launched in early 2007.
Thank you for visiting our website. We would love to hear from you, so feel free to contact us with any questions, comments, or suggestions you may have.
Best regards, Ségolène and Drew