the breast crawl

October 3, 2010 § 2 Comments

I’ve been reading Karin Cadwell and Cindy Turner-Maffei’s fabulous book Continuity of Care in Breastfeeding: Best Practices in the Maternity Setting.  Here’s a little of what I’ve learned:

Because our system sees the newborn as a pediatric patient and the mother as an obstetric patient, the urge is to care for them separately and reunite them when both are deemed stable.  Nothing could be further from the biologic imperative.  In order for baby and mother to recover from the birth and stabilize, they should do so as a unit. … When allowed to lie skin to skin with their mothers for the first hour or 2 after birth, newborn babies can find the breast and initiate suckling without any help from their mothers.

This is known as the breast crawl.  They quote this excerpt from Marshall and Phyllis Klaus:

There is something special about the first hour of life. Parents have waited many months to see their baby and surprisingly when the baby is born, he or she is in a special state of alertness — called State Four, the quiet state of consciousness, ready to meet its parents, and is especially interested in the mother’s and father’s face.

In this special state, the baby’s eyes are wide open, the baby is quiet. The baby has heard and remembers the mother’s voice from uterine life and will distinguish her voice from other women’s voices, and 80% of babies remember the father’s voice. The baby is warmed by the mother’s chest and soothed by the mother’s touch. This quiet time together helps the transition from uterine life to the outside world.

This special state in the infant lasts for 30 to 45 minutes or longer. All sorts of exchanges between the mother and infant are going on. The baby is taking in the mother through many senses as is the mother learning about her baby. The baby is becoming familiar with the mother’s smell and within a few days will pick out his or her mother’s breast pad from other women’s breast pads. This is related to the particular smell of one’s own mother not her milk.

As the baby gazes in the mother’s face he is recording a memory of her face so that if he is tested with a picture of his mother’s face and other women’s faces four hours later, he will choose his mother’s face over and over again.

The mother is taking in her baby also, by touch, smell, as well as sight. Curiously, if she is tested a few hours later to pick out her baby from two others, she will know her baby by touch and smell within one day.

Read more about the breast crawl here.



September 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have a hard time with moms who choose to formula feed.

Websites like this and this make me want to scream.

Every time there’s a story in the news about breastfeeding, there’s an uproar from moms who tried but were unable to breastfeed and are sick and tired of being made to feel guilty.  I’m not talking about those women.  My heart breaks for those women who tried until they were bleeding and wrecked, but, in many cases because they weren’t getting the help they needed, they were not able to be successful, and I hate that they are down on themselves for it.  (I get frustrated when those women become upset any time breastfeeding is featured in a positive light, as though they are being personally attacked, but I know they tried and struggled and some are still grappling with that.)

In fact, the whole issue of making moms feel “guilty” is missing the point.  We shouldn’t make anyone feel guilty, because we all love our kids, and we’re just trying to do our best.  Moms carry too much guilt about raising their kids as it is.  We shouldn’t even really be talking about the “benefits” of breastfeeding, as though there are different options and some are just better than others.  As though there are disadvantages.  If all women had access to the overwhelming amount of evidence-based information about breastfeeding and had proper support and resources to help them overcome any hurdles they encounter, we wouldn’t be having this discussion about guilt.   There would simply be no question.  It would be a non-issue.

What we’re dealing with is institutional and cultural and market-driven bias against breastfeeding in favor of formula.  But honestly — who cares?  It doesn’t matter what your friend did or your mom did or what the Enfamil commercial tells you — you have to do what’s right for your baby.

I spoke with a mom today who is going to formula feed.  She’s already decided.  She says she doesn’t have time to breastfeed because she’ll be working full time, and I talked about how breastfeeding actually takes less time than sterilizing and cleaning bottles and mixing formula, and how she could consider pumping at work, or, if she can’t do that, then at least breastfeeding the baby while they’re at home together, and only using formula while she’s away.

She said, “I’m really not interested.”

Not interested?  That’s what I told the telemarketer trying to get me to join the Allstate Motorclub for $1.99 a month.

We’re talking about feeding, and caring for, and bonding with your baby.  We’re talking about preventing disease, in the mother and the baby.  We’re talking about saving $1,200 to $2,500 a year.  We’re talking about 101 other reasons to breastfeed.

And yes, sure, plenty of babies — millions of babies — were raised on formula and turned out just fine.  Others, however, contracted meningitis from contaminated infant formula; many died and those that survived suffered brain damage.  We’re also talking about unethical corporations preying on developing nations and causing the deaths of millions of babies.

I just don’t get it.  If you can explain it to me — civilly and respectfully, of course — please do.

breastfeeding and ppd

August 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Unfortunately, postpartum depression may be the ONE ailment that breastfeeding does not prevent.  More research is needed on the link between depression and breastfeeding (does depression cause weaning or does weaning cause depression?), but the research so far seems to indicate that moms who are successfully breastfeeding are less likely to be depressed than those who are not.

saudi adult breastfeeding

August 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

I don’t like to call another culture weird…but this is just weird.

The strict Wahhabi version of Islam that governs modern Saudi Arabia forbids women from mixing with men who are not relatives; however, if a woman breastfed a male child before he was 2 years old, when he grows into a man, she is permitted to come into contact with him with her face uncovered, because he is considered a relative.  It is not uncommon for sisters, for example, to breastfeed their nephews so they and their daughters will not have to cover their faces in front of them later in life. The custom is called being a “breast milk sibling.”

Well, a fatwa was recently issued stating that women who come into regular contact with men who aren’t related to them — such as colleagues or acquaintances — ought to give them their breast milk so they will be considered relatives, in order to establish “maternal relations” and preclude the possibility of sexual contact.

One sheik says the milk should be given in a glass; another says the man should suckle directly from the woman’s breasts.

Um.  What?

Read the full article here.

breastfeeding fun facts

August 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s time for another installment of Breastfeeding Fun Facts!

Today’s facts come from Pamela Wiggins’ useful little book Why Should I Nurse My Baby?

1. Breastfed babies have stronger and straighter teeth.  They probably won’t need braces.

2. A mother’s milk helps to promote better vision for her baby.

3. Because of the special way they suck on the breast, breastfed babies have fewer speech problems.

world breastfeeding week

August 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s World Breastfeeding Week 2010!

This year, the focus is on 10 steps to successful breastfeeding, with more emphasis on the role that healthcare providers play in a mother’s success at breastfeeding.

The 10 steps are as follows:

1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated.
7. Practice rooming-in — allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

Learn more at the website:

if breastfeeding is creepy, then i’m a creep

July 5, 2010 § 4 Comments

There’s a great article in The Telegraph condemning (albeit gently) Kathryn Blundell’s article in Mother & Baby, wherein she stated she bottle fed her babies because: “I wanted my body back … and some wine,” and she wanted her breasts: “on my chest, rather than dangling round my stomach.”  She also called breastfeeding “creepy.”

Rowan Pelling, the author of the Telegraph article, says that in the Western world, “the porn and fashion industries have conspired to strip the bosom of its maternal function.”  This is probably an oversimplification of the problem, but it’s certainly a starting point.

Now, the question remains, how do we fix it?