Support for breastfeeding during month of raised awareness

My baby nurses her baby.

My baby nurses her baby.

Even though I am way beyond the early years of having and raising babies, breastfeeding remains a frequent topic of conversation in my home. Of course, my line of work lends itself to friends and family sending me breastfeeding stories in the news, or social media posts by celebrities making statements around their choices to breastfeed (or pump) whenever and wherever they choose. But the conversations are also sometimes like this…

During a recent discussion about my line of work with my daughter’s boyfriend, I asked him if he was breastfed. “No,” he replied and quickly added, “but I turned out just fine. And look at Olivia,” he continued, “she’s great, too.” To which Olivia piped up, “Uh, I breastfed for three years.” That tidbit of information didn’t appear to phase him. In fact, it reminds me of when I first started learning about breastfeeding relationships and how they could look, which was much different than my limited exposure imagined. 

Mom pumps milk in the middle of Laguardia airport before installation of nursing pods.

Mom pumps milk in the middle of Laguardia airport before installation of nursing pods.

I recall being at a La Leche League meeting with my 5 week old baby and seeing a toddler nursing in his mother’s lap. I had never seen a child that age nursing (until I had my own I had little experience with babies breastfeeding) and it took some getting used to on my part. Clearly, I made it past all that considering my own breastfeeding journey and later profession. 

Do I think breastfeeding is the only way to feed a baby? Absolutely not. I’ve seen far too many situations where breastfeeding was not working for one reason or another. We aim to support mothers and families where they are. However, I do believe breastfeeding is a human right, and that it saves lives and helps communities. I desire to see mothers supported to successfully breastfeed, and I want negative beliefs that undermine their success to be challenged. 

NationalBreastfeedingMonth.jpg

August is National Breastfeeding Month in the US, which is celebrated in order to support and increase awareness of breastfeeding and its benefits. World Breastfeeding Week was the first week of August and commemorates the Innocenti Declaration On the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding, signed in August 1990, by government policymakers, the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF to promote and protect this important first food. 

Making nap time a positive event

Ready for nap with lovey in hand!

Ready for nap with lovey in hand!

While hiking in Black Mountain, North Carolina last summer, my friend of 25+ years and great aunt to the (overtired) little ones with us asked, "Do any children want to take a nap?” She assumed all children resisted nap time. I assured her, many children do enjoy their naps and will ask for one when they are sleepy.

My experience of working with families shows that a positive attitude toward sleep starts with putting healthy and appropriate routines in place, as well as making sleep a restorative — not punitive — experience. A client with two young children who love their naps said she is careful to present sleep in a positive light and never uses it as a negative consequence. Normalizing times for sleep and helping little ones see the benefits can create a different perspective on taking time out for rest.

First Daze & Nightzzz sleep consultant Kara Curtis recalls when she was a child her mother would tell her, “those sheets are going to feel so yummy” and she’d sign off with “I love you. Happy Nappy.” Kara says, “There is something so comforting about that little special family phrase. She definitely cultivated the idea of sleep as a wonderful luxury that was going to feel so fantastic. And I still feel that exact same way every time I get into my bed as an adult — so delighted to be crawling into my yummy sheets!”

Janet Lansbury, the author of Elevating Childcare, says there are three essential elements to a baby’s or young child’s sleep routine. She calls them the three Ps — peaceful, participatory and predictable. The environment should be peaceful without stimulation from toys, screens, light, and exterior noise. The parent should be relaxed and focused on the matter at hand, giving undivided attention to the sleepy child. Allow the baby or child to participate in preparations which can be as simple as pulling down shades, choosing a book or turning on a white noise machine. All of these steps should be predictable, “so that our children can anticipate the ritual and even lead when we invite them to make choices. Predictability breeds security, which leads to calm, which is the gateway to relaxation and sleep,” Lansbury says. 

Did you read that? Predictability breeds security. Our children feel more secure (hence, less anxious) when they know what comes next. Less anxiety equals calmer child which means easier to fall asleep.

Understandably, young children may feel like they’re going to miss out on something if they stop to sleep. While winding down for nap time, talk about what you will do after their body and brain rests. Let them know they have something to look forward to and with renewed energy to do it. 

sleepingtoddler.jpg

A former client relayed a story about her then 3-year-old daughter. She napped a bit later at home on the weekends than she did at daycare during the week. One Saturday while Mom was busy with household chores, her daughter came to her and said, “I’m ready for my nap.” This was music to the mom’s ears. “She loves sleep and told us so herself. If we don't remind her it's nap time she usually reminds us,” the mom said. 

Another former client emailed to tell us how, after using our services when her little one was an infant, the now 4 year old comes to get them when she’s ready for her nap if they get busy and miss it. “She still loves an early bedtime and gets about 11-12 hours of good sleep each night,” the proud (and well-rested) mom said. 

We love working with families early on whenever possible to establish good sleep from the start. If you need help establishing healthy sleep habits, and perhaps revamping attitudes toward sleep, get in touch. And if you already have good sleepers, tell us what worked in your home to create happy and healthy sleep habits.

To pump or not to pump, that is the question...

To pump or not to pump, that is the question...

Mother’s Situation: I’m six months pregnant with my first child and I’m planning on trying to breastfeed. I’ll be returning to work, though, and I think it might be difficult. I’m considering breastfeeding just until I return to work because I don’t want the hassle of pumping and storing my milk. What inspires other mothers to keep on breastfeeding or pumping even after they resume working? 

As a postpartum doula who works with mothers in their homes after they’ve had their babies, I am inspired by the thought you are putting into this important decision. Many of my clients return or will be returning to work, and most of them choose to breastfeed. Many plan to breastfeed until they return to work, and some plan to continue pumping while they are working. 

Quite simply, what inspires them to continue are their babies! 

Read More

Timing and technique are important when introducing a bottle

Timing and technique are important when introducing a bottle

It happened again. Another parent of an almost 4 month old called in a panic because their baby refuses to take a bottle. 

These kind of calls typically come around 10 to 16 weeks when Mom is nearing her return to work. Sometimes it’s from a stay at home parent or from a mother who just wants to be able to get away for a few hours without worrying if her baby is going to be hungry. 

So, what can parents do to avoid this situation? …

Read More

Pets and babies: Making it work!

Pets and babies: Making it work!

Here's question I got from a past client after coming home with their newborn.  

I am thinking of getting rid of my dog and cat. I just can’t handle them with our new baby. Have you had other parents who felt the same way during these early weeks and then things got better?

My answer: I appreciate your honesty. A new baby in the house is a huge adjustment for everyone, including our pets!

I worked with a family and their 3-week-old recently, and it was obvious how much their family dog means to them. The house is decorated with professional photos of the dog, comfy pet beds fill the corners and soft blankets cover special chairs. The dog had still not eaten her breakfast by the time I arrived at noon, causing angst in the mom. …

Read More

Plan ahead for smooth summer travel with children

Plan ahead for smooth summer travel with children

Summertime is almost here and that means many of you will be traveling with your little ones. Some of my clients get nervous about traveling with their babies and toddlers for fear of upsetting well-established eating and sleeping routines, which is certainly understandable. My phone tends to ring a bit more than usual after holiday or summer travel with families at their wit’s end from lack of sleep. However, with a little forethought and planning, and some extra attention paid to your child’s needs, summer travels will yield treasured times with family and friends. …


Read More

Birth of a Doula

Birth of a Doula

A brand new mother sat at home in her living room with her baby boy a couple of days after giving birth. She had done so much preparation leading up to her birth - she and her husband attended a childbirth class that focused on having the partner as coach to the laboring mother. Even so, she had hired a birth doula to support them both through the process. As part of her childbirth class she attended a breastfeeding support group to learn about feeding her baby once he arrived. She had her music picked out for her birth, lined up her photographer, and packed all the special items she wanted to bring with her to the birth center. 

Things didn’t go as planned. …

Read More

We were all thumbs, or, what to do about thumbsucking

We were all thumbs, or, what to do about thumbsucking

Q. My baby used to love her pacifier, but now she’s found her thumb and there’s no looking back. Should I worry about the problems we’ll have breaking her of this habit in the future?

You’ve certainly asked the right person - I had a thumb-sucker myself. (Notice the emphasis on “had.”)

Sucking is one of the most common ways babies and toddlers comfort and settle themselves. Many – like my daughter, Olivia, for instance – start in the womb. According to Cary lactation consultant Cindi Freeman, “Sucking is a normal and necessary biological activity for young children that can last well beyond their weaning from the breast and bottle.”  And sucking on a thumb has several advantages over a pacifier. ...

Read More