Breastfeeding Rocks, Part 1


I am truly a novice when it comes to lactation counseling. I have nursed my own child, I have done coursework, but every single Doula client I have worked  with has taught me something profound. I will never be an expert, because there are always new discoveries about the wonders of breastfeeding and breastmilk- and I’m still learning the foundation work to boot!
Counseling is like being a milk sleuth- sometimes it’s straight forward, and other times support requires tackling a number of potential barriers. I take a holistic approach, offering encouragement ,my limited advice, and if need be, I refer out to specialists like an IBCLC. Collaborating with the Mother and her Healthcare Provider, I have been able to assist in some pretty awesome cases that have left me knowing that I have a hell of a lot more to learn.

The best way for me to learn is to summarize. I am reviewing my Lactation Consulting Training Coursework, and as I do so, I thought that my Blog Readers may find some tidbits interesting. Im going to begin posting under “Breastfeeding Rocks”, because, as a Lactating Woman, you are AMAZING.

First Installment: Your Milk is a Super Power
 
Disclaimer: I am not a biologist, a chemist, or any other type of "ist", so for those who are, forgive my rudimentary explanations.

Your Milk is a living colloidal suspension of nearly 100,000 components, most of which cannot be replicated in artificial milk, aka, formula. Want to know why breastfed babies are typically healthier than their formula fed counterparts? Here are some cool facts about Breastmilk:

  • You have smart bomb in your boobs: Immunoglobulin, found in breastmilk, essentially identify a kill bacteria.
  • Holding the Cootie Hostage: Oligosaccharides, a carbohydrate, encapsulates a pathogen until it is shed from the baby’s body.
  • Cancer Commits Suicide: Alpha Lactalbumin can also cause cancer cells to turn on themselves .
  • Milk Starves out Bacteria! Lactoferrin is a protein that competes with E-Coli and other pathogens.
  • Reagan Cells: Lysozyme is an enzyme breaks down a bacterial cell wall! (if you get this than we share a birth decade)
  • Move Over Jamie Lee,  Colostrum is the original probiotic.  It establishes lactobacillus  and bifidus
  • What an Acid Trip! Lauric and Capric Acid provide protection against many bacteria, virus and protozoa including HIV, Herpes and Heliobacter. You can increase these acids from 3-4% to upwards of 25% by introducing coconut into your diet!
  • Size Does Matter The Thymus gland, the hub of the immune system of a breastfed baby grows twice as large as her formula fed counterpart.
  • That Slime does have a Purpose! Milk Mucins (that film you get when you drink milk) helps to bind viruses and stop them from replicating. It’s especially effective against rotavirus
  • From Sips to Shots: Protection continues throughout breastfeeding and your body generates roughly the same amount of these components in early and weaning milk- it just becomes more concentrated the less often you breastfeed.  
I am now humming “Your Body is a Wonderful Land”. Don’t Judge Me.

 

You are not alone!

"No one told me it would be this hard", a New Mom recently confided. She continued that she wouldn't have believed the stories anyhow- and how could she have even understood until she was in the thick of it? Soon after this conversation, a friend hosted a lively debate about putting your best face forward on social sites such as Facebook, and whether or not it is a disservice to the Mothering community at large.Some respondents contended that incessant cheerful posts simply set an unachievable standard for New Moms to aspire to, or more dangerously, it isolates those who are having a trying time. Others believed that it was essential to share the beauty of Motherhood in order to combat the media's portrayal of it, which, much like birth, is negative.

My friend, who is a seasoned Doula, and IBCLC did make a very good point that has had me thinking for the past few days : if we don't share the good with the bad, then why would anyone possibly reach out to us for help? I don't know about you, but that rings true to me. Someone has to have some street cred if I'm going to be venerable with them.

I truly believe that every Mother has a challenge that she must face. For some, it is a struggle with fertility;others, pregnancy; for many, it is facing the journey of birth. For some, it is breastfeeding or redefining ones self in Motherhood. There are so many variables that I could list, but the point is, we are fierce because we have met our challenge. Your challenge, though unique, is natural, and YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

This is where creating a Tribe is so beneficial. I joke that pregnancy and birth (or the grueling process of adoption) is our sorority hazing. Once you are in, you have access to generations of knowledge. It may take meeting a few groups, but eventually, you find a tribe where you can ask questions, feel validated, and most importantly, know that you are not weird, crazy, or bad.

Here are some nuggets from groups :

  • "If I were a hamster, I'd eat my young"a frazzled Mother exclaimed one afternoon. 
  • Keep expectations low for the first year and you'll be less disappointed in yourself.
  • The first bowel movement after birth usually hurts. Stool softeners are your friends.
  • One could be ready for sex right away, or it could take six months.
  • A Mother loves her kid, but may not like them all the time.
  • No one on Facebook is THAT perfect. Promise.
Finding A tribe can be awkward, yes. Here you are a grown woman and literally asking folks to be your friend. I felt like the playground was a pick up scene when I first had Cora. I'd scout out women, strike up a conversation, and see if there was chemistry. I can guarantee that  almost every other Mom is at that playground to socialize- especially if they have a newborn. Mothers are not taking babies with no head control or depth perception to story time for the babe's sake- they are looking for fellow Mamas.

Attending a La Leche League (www.lllofnc.org to find one near you) or a Moms group, is a lower pressure way to meet Mothers, as you can participate as little or as much in the conversations as you wish. The groups are designed for New Moms, and you can arrive in pjs, your kid can scream, your boobs can leak and no one will bat an eye.

A tribe can consist of two or ten, or twenty, or two hundred. It can be online, in a church or at a shop. 
We are social animals, and by nature, we need to connect. I know that I am a far better Mother because of my group of Friends. It takes a village to raise a child and to support a Mother. 

Side note: After reconnecting with old friends and learning that no one has it figured out, the Mother above felt a whole lot better and is growing confident in her Mothering. I, a Mother to a toddler, am now meeting my challenges as my daughter grows into a wonderfully stubborn opinionated child who refuses to poop anywhere but in her pants. I would venture to say that my Mother has similar challenges ( sans poop. I'm potty trained). You are not alone.


Comfort Measures Class This Week!

Comfort Measures, A Refresher Click Here to Register
Location: Triangle Physicians for Women
Cost :$50 per couple
Dates:
Thursday Oct 10, 6-8pm, 2 Spots Left!

 
Summary: This is a great supplementary class for those who have attended a childbirth program and wish to delve further into ways a Partner can assist Mom. It's also a perfect refresher for seasoned parents.