Archive for the ‘Breastfeeding’ Category

Back at it

November 27, 2011

Wow. A whopping four months since my last post. I’m hoping this quick “I’m still here and I hope you are too!” post will be the first of many more to come! I’ve enjoyed blogging and love all the feedback I get from you out there who like to check in every once in a while!

I’ve had several posts started in the last several months, but I haven’t seemed to be able to concentrate on anything for very long. I blame the darkness. It’s been an long uphill battle, always feeling like I’m going two steps forward, one step back. Or, on a really bad day, five steps back!  After months of therapy, extensive medical testing, and enough supplements to choke a horse, I am finally starting to feel like myself again (*touch wood!*)  But that’s a whole post all in itself.

I’ve started back at the breastfeeding drop in clinic one afternoon a week, and am really enjoying my time there with the mommies and babies. I know enough now that my mentor actually trusts me working with the mommies on my own (still under supervision of course!) but I love the feeling of realizing that I know enough to help a lot of these wonderful women.

Today marked the last Sunday in November. It was another lazy day filled with a leisurely french toast breakfast and playing with the boys in the living room, all while still cozily nestled into our pj’s. I’m usually a “Christmas-decor-and-music-does-not-come-out-until-Dec-1″ kind of girl, but today felt like a good day to bring it all out.

Tristan and I started to get the place looking festive, Christmas tunes making the soundtrack to our afternoon. Some good quality time with my boy and feeling the spirit and excitement of Christmas – now that’s as good as any therapist. :)

My Big Boy

June 14, 2010

I don’t know where the time is going but these days it seems to be travelling at mach speed. Somehow my precious little baby boy has morphed into an intelligent, independent little toddler, seemingly overnight.

For the past few months,  Tristan has been enjoying mama’s milk once a day before his nap. As I fretted over whether or not I should wean him, he slowly started doing so himself, cutting out a day here and there. After learning so much about the value of breastmilk, I finally made the decision to let him self wean, on his own schedule. As soon as I made that decision, Tristan apparently made his, and slowly but surely he went from nursing once a day, to once every couple days, and has not now had any in the last two weeks. I guess he’s done, and it feels right because we were both ready.

I *almost* wasn’t quite ready…

In the couple of weeks leading up to his weaning, I knew it was coming and desperately wanted a photograph to remember this period in our lives. I haven’t had one taken of Tristan and I nursing since he was an infant.  One weekend afternoon, I called Luc upstairs as I was putting Tristan down for his nap and asked him to bring his camera. He spent ten minutes taking pictures from various angles, getting artistic with his shots.

I came down stairs afterwards and Luc said, “I got some really great shots!” I excitedly picked up the camera to have a look only to find that THERE WAS NO MEMORY CARD IN THE FREAKIN’ CAMERA!  Of all those shots Luc had proudly taken, not one of them was actually captured.

Time went on and the following weekend (the only time I have a photographer in the day!) I put Tristan down for his nap and he didn’t ask for milk. Desperate for my picture, I asked him if he wanted any… to which he replied, “No.”

I came downstairs and cried. I cried not because he was no longer interested in mama’s milk, but because I didn’t get that darn picture.

The next day, Tristan asked for milk for the last time. Luckily for me, Luc was home and I called him up right away. I didn’t get the passionate photography session I got the first time around… but I did get my one picture. Now I can happily store the mammaries away for baby #2, feeling very confident that I did the very best I could for my little boy.

Around the same time that Tristan decided that he didn’t need mama’s milk anymore, his big boy bed arrived. I had nightmarish visions of my super sleeper returning to the routine of getting up several times a night, unsure about his new sleeping arrangement. Happily, I could not have been more wrong. Every day at nap and bed time, Tristan excitedly heads for his “big boy bed”, jumps right in, and goes to sleep! I couldn’t have dreamed of a smoother transition.

Saying bye-bye to the crib and to the milk has opened the doorway to another routine…. bedtime songs. We’ve always sung a lot but now Tristan specifically asks to be sung before he goes to sleep. His favourite at the moment is “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts, also the song I danced with my dad to at my wedding. The first few times I sang it, I seriously couldn’t make it through without crying. :)

My Wish

I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow
And each road leads you where you want to go
And if you’re faced with the choice and you have to choose
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you

And if one door opens to another door closed
I hope you keep on walkin’ till you find the window
If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile
But more than anything, more than anything

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold

And while you’re out there gettin’ where you’re gettin’ to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish

I hope you never look back but you never forget
All the ones who love you and the place you left
I hope you always forgive and you never regret
And you help somebody every chance you get

Oh, you find God’s grace in every mistake
And always give more than you take
But more than anything, yeah more than anything

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold

And while you’re out there gettin’ where you’re gettin’ to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish.

Liquid Gold

May 25, 2010

I just finished my very first lactation consultant course, Breastmilk: Function and Composition. I was absolutely enthralled with all of the material I was learning and enjoyed sitting down at night to study. I am happy to report that I did very well (98%, 100% and 98% on the three tests!).

It is recommended that you have six base courses before starting the LC courses. I had most of them, but was missing out on the anatomy/physiology and medical terminology. I figured I would be just fine…. so I didn’t take the ones I was missing. OOPS. I think my brain was strained a little more than it needed to be, so before I continue on I am going to take the couple of courses that I am missing. At least it will save me having to be so dependent on Wikipedia for the next courses!

So about this course…. I always knew that breast milk was the best possible thing a mama could give her baby, and of course everyone has heard the phrase, “breast is best” I just never realized how dramatic an effect breast milk can have. And it’s not just while the baby is nursing;  there are effects from being breastfed (or not) that can continue on into adulthood.

Here are a few of the points that had me most amazed:

  • Breast milk contains hormones which continue to develop an infant’s digestive  and respiratory systems AFTER birth! The extra cool thing about this is that mothers who give birth to premature infants will have MORE of these hormones in their milk!
  • One of the proteins in breast milk (alpha-lactalbumin) takes a form that has demonstrated the ability to kill every tumour cell against which it has been tested. WOW. This may explain why children who are formula fed have higher incidences of cancer. It also may explain why breastfeeding women have lower rates of pre-menopausal breast cancer.
  • I was amazed by the immunological properties of breast milk. When the mother is exposed to a virus or bacteria, her body makes antibodies against the “bug” and IMMEDIATELY sends it to the breast (and hence into the baby.) It is so awesome how fast it happens!
  • On a related note, infants who have been introduced to formula before 6 months of age have a 6x higher rate of pneumonia. They will also have, on average, 3 more ear infections than their breastfed counterparts.
  • Being fed breast milk is the most important preventative factor for MS. This really interests me because I have two aunts living with the disease. I am very curious to find out if they were breastfed or not.
  • Children who are not breastfed are more likely to grow into overweight adults. I had heard this before but never understood the science behind it. Simply put, we have a hormone in our bodies called leptin. It’s job is to regulate food intake and metabolism. Infants who are formula fed have half the normal levels in their bodies! Again… WOW.

The more I read and learn about pregnancy and childbirth and breastfeeding, the more I come to understand that a woman’s body is really a miraculous thing!  I’ve just got to write it one more time…. WOW!  :)

The Big Conference!

April 27, 2010

I sat down in my seat, surveyed the room full of two hundred lactation consultants, doulas and public health nurses, and felt…right. I belonged there. THIS is where I was supposed to be! I’m sure raging pregnancy hormones *may* have had a tiny role, but I actually felt tears prick my eyes as I realized that I have finally found my calling.

I learned so much, and it was reaffirmed to me just how much there is still is to learn. I am looking forward to being in a role where my sole responsibility is to help mothers and babies. I am certain challenging times will present themselves, but I imagine it will be a rewarding career.

My most favourite presentation was by Diane Weissinger. She gave a presentation which was focused on what we, as humans, can learn from other mammals about the birth process and breastfeeding.

I was fascinated the entire time she was speaking and am not sure if I can do justice to the gist of her message here.

She began her career as an ethologist – someone who studies animal behaviour. She studied the “sand bathing rituals of the brown quail”  – or something of the sort – which when she announced that at the beginning of her talk brought several snickers from the crowd. We were wondering how THAT exactly brought her to be speaking at a breastfeeding conference…

Well, she eventually did go on to become a certified LC, but there were experiences from her first life with quails that taught her a lot about humans.

She told us a story of when she would be observing these birds in a lab setting. When the study first started, her bird blind  had not yet arrived so she crouched in the corner of the room to observe the bird’s behaviour. She was astounded by the strength of the pecking order that existed. There were very clear boundaries and roles within the bird’s flock. Her bird blind eventually arrived and once she was undercover and no longer noticed by the birds, an astounding thing happened: the pecking order completely disappeared. She realized that it was her mere presence that was causing the birds to act a certain way.

She went on to talk about birth and always came back to the example of the quails. What smalls things are we doing with births that are unknowingly altering it’s natural course?

She discussed the “birthing practices” of several mammals. Pick a mammal. The literature for every single of  them  tells owners/vets to make sure the mother is in a comfortable, familiar place. Lights should be dim and the room should be quiet.  You are never to move a labouring mammal… she should be left to position herself as she pleases. Interrupting her can stall her labour….

So here’s the big lightbulb… WE ARE MAMMALS!!!

Think back to the quails…. what interferences are we lending to the birth process by continually checking dilation (the cervix knows how to dilate – it doesn’t need help!), telling women when to push (again – women know how and when), and having women lie down flat on their backs (women who are allowed to position themselves almost always squat when giving birth…)

Somehow through the medicalisation of birth, women have learned that we don’t know how to give birth and to breastfeed, when our bodies and our babies know exactly what to do.

I remember moments after Tristan was born, asking my midwife if I should try to nurse him. She told me to go ahead and I clearly recall looking up at her with anxious eyes as I replied, “But I don’t know how….”

The truth is, if an (un-medicated) baby is left to lay skin-to-skin on his mothers chest, he will find his way to the breast all on his own. When he is only minutes old. Amazing! (You can see an example of it here and an interesting study here). Of course, it is common for help to be needed with positioning and latch, but the point is that it is natural and instinctual for both mama and baby.

Anyways, just some food for thought. It’s really making me think about how I would like my upcoming birth to unfold.

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My first course, Breastmilk: Composition and Function starts this week. I know, sounds thrilling doesn’t it?

To me, it actually does! :)


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