Friday, October 30, 2009

Study on Health of Mothers and Newborns Throughout H1N1 and Cold/Flu Season

My friend Rachel, author of The Beginning of Motherhood blog and Labor and Delivery Nurse, is conducting a survey about the outcomes resulting from current CDC recommendations regarding H1N1 and new mothers and babies. She needs study participants from three groups of women:
  1. Those who have symptoms and have been isolated from their baby but continue to feed breast milk,
  2. Those who have had no symptoms, were given baby within 2 hours after birth and breastfed,
  3. Those who have no symptoms, but were not with baby within 2 hours after birth and breastfed or expressed milk for infants.
All of these should be full terms infants (37-42 weeks) . They can be born at the hospital, or alternative birthing area. She is hoping to follow these babies for six months to see who is getting sick.

For more information, please see Rachel's blog: The Beginning of Motherhood

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Father's Role in Breastfeeding

A friend of mine referred me to this wonderful blog post about the role of fathers in breastfeeding.

Fathers play a vital role in supporting the mother in breastfeeding. I know that my husband has been instrumental in helping me breastfeed our 5 babies successfully. His conviction that breastfeeding is best, along with the support he's given me to allow me to nurse our babies has made a huge impact for me.

Here are some tidbits from the post:

"Babies benefit just as well from close, personal and warm shirtless affection from dad too! This can be a crucial aid in helping babies "connect" so to speak, with their dads and learn to recognize him quicker than just by his voice"

"Many times, mothers and fathers underestimate the essential role of the partner. As the aforementioned demonstrated, a father's presence and support is one of the biggest determining factor on whether mom continues to breastfeed. What I find so lovely is when I do house visits by mothers experiencing breastfeeding problems, I sometimes hear "the baby's father said I must persevere with breastfeeding". This is not a harsh, domineering stand, rather it is a much needed "pillar of support" that comes from the man's side. These moms experience relief of having their partners back them up and may give them added determination when problems threaten the breastfeeding relationship."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Position Change, McRobert Maneuver, Corrects Shoulder Dystocia

The McRober Maneuver is a position change technique which is used when a baby's shoulders are stuck behind the pubic bone. The maneuver helps free the shoulders and allow the baby to be born. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

10 Great Reasons to Breastfeed Your Baby

As published by the Public Health Agency of Canada

Click here to download or print a free pdf copy of this pamphlet

"Today, most mothers are choosing to breastfeed their babies. As more Canadians understand just how much of a difference breastfeeding makes to the health of both the mother and her baby, more families are supporting mothers to breastfeed longer, up to 2 years and beyond. Here are 10 Great Reasons to Breastfeed your Baby:

1. Nutrients and Protection

Nutrients and ProtectionBreast milk is the best food to help your baby to grow and develop. It is custom-made by each mother for her own baby, and contains the perfect amount of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals. Remarkably, as your baby grows, your milk will also change to keep up with your baby’s needs. Human milk is also easier than formula for your baby to digest, which means less mess and fuss!

Breast milk contains valuable antibodies that help prevent disease and may reduce the risk of your baby developing allergies. After birth, your first milk, called Colostrum, offers vital early protection and helps to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria by coating your baby’s digestive system. This early protection is even more important if your baby is born prematurely – Colostrum protects!

2. Brain Power
There is strong evidence that children who were breastfed score higher on IQ tests, as well as on teacher ratings of their academic performance.

3. Convenient and Portable
Breast milk is always safe, fresh and exactly the right temperature. It’s ready for baby at a moment’s notice, and you don’t have to heat it, boil water, or sterilize bottles. This makes night time feedings a lot easier. Since breast milk is always with you, travelling and shopping with your baby is simpler, with no equipment to carry or refrigeration needed.

4. Size Doesn’t Matter
The size of your breasts doesn’t matter. Big or small, they will produce milk for your baby. Breasts begin to prepare for baby very early in pregnancy and are able to produce Colostrum (the first milk) from about 24 weeks of pregnancy. As soon as your baby is born, hormones begin to activate the breasts to make more milk for your baby. You will continue to produce milk through the wonderful partnership of supply and demand – the more your baby breastfeeds – the more milk you will produce!

5. Benefits Mothers Too
Research suggests that breastfeeding provides a measure of protection against breast cancer, ovarian cancer and weak bones later in life. Your body uses calories to produce milk, so breastfeeding can help you to gradually lose weight gained during pregnancy. Exclusive breastfeeding may also delay the return of menstruation for at least a little while.

6. Continues the Special Relationship
The closeness and comfort of breastfeeding strengthens the bond with your baby, as one part of all the things you can do to build a secure, loving relationship. Dads and moms can’t spoil a baby, so give your baby all the cuddling she or he wants.

7. Benefits Don’t Stop
Research shows that breast milk is so important that it is the only food or drink your baby needs for the first 6 months of life. Beginning at 6 months of age babies need a variety of foods in addition to breast milk, which continues to provide nutrition and protection. Many mothers continue to breastfeed until their babies are two years old or more, as recommended by Health Canada – any amount of breastmilk is always good for babies.

8. Easy on the Budget
Breastfeeding saves you money! Without question, breastfeeding saves hundreds – even thousands – of dollars.

9. Works for Working Mothers
Your baby can have all the benefits of your milk even if you plan to go back to work or school. You can express milk by hand or with a breast pump and leave it with your caregiver to feed the baby. Breast milk can also be frozen for future use. Some mothers have childcare facilities at their place of work, school, or nearby, so they can breastfeed during their breaks.

10. Good for Environment
Breastfeeding is good for your baby, for you and the environment! Human milk is produced and delivered to the consumer – your baby - without any pollution, unnecessary packaging or waste.

Ask for Breastfeeding Advice and Support – it is worth it!

Breastfeeding is natural, but learning to breastfeed can sometimes take a little time and patience. There are many groups and individuals available to help you, including: public health nurses, lactation consultants, the La Leche League, your doctor, midwife, family members or friends who have breastfed.

For more information on where to get breastfeeding advice and support, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada at the following web address: Also available on this website, is the 10 Valuable Tips for Successful Breastfeeding, a guide to help make your breastfeeding experience successful and enjoyable."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How Do You Feel About Hospital Policies Regarding H1N1 (Swine Flu)?

The policy at some hospitals right now is to take the baby away from mom after they are born if the mom is showing symptoms of H1N1 (swine flu). They get the baby back if they have been on Tamiflu for 48 hours or if they get test results back that they are negative. They are allowing quarantined breastfeeding mothers to pump colostrum for the hospital staff to feed to the baby. I want to know what you think. Would you be mad, understanding, frustrated?

I would love to see what people think about this policy. I've posted a poll on the right side of this page where you can cast your vote anonymously, or please feel free to post your opinion in a comment on this post.


Recommended Breathing Techniques for Labor & Childbirth

Focused breathing helps a woman work with her body to birth her baby. In my 3 unmedicated births I have used focused deep breathing, in which I inhale through my nose and exhale through my mouth. As the contractions grow more intense, I give my breath a voice by moaning as I exhale. Giving your breath a voice is both comforting and empowering. It works wonders, and I recommend it for every woman, whether or not she plans to have medication during labor. It's a good idea to practice breathing throughout pregnancy. It helps relieve stress and prepares you for labor.

The following breathing techniques are also recommended for childbirth. I haven't tried these specific techniques, but many women have found them to be helpful during labor.

"There are three kinds of breathing exercises that you will want to practice during the last weeks of pregnancy and use during the first stage of labor. These are variations on the classic Lamaze-prepared childbirth breathing.
  • The deep cleansing breath. This is a simple breath. Sit with your spine comfortably straight. Put your hands on your abdomen. Slowly inhale as you watch your belly rise. Slowly exhale. Let out a sound as you exhale. Use this deep cleansing breath at the beginning of each contraction to help focus you and then begin the chu-chu or moan-pant.
  • The chu-chu breath. This breath begins to sound like a steam engine chugging along. Inhale and exhale slowly, then quicker and quicker. Breathe at a pace that parallels your contraction. Use this breath with early contractions. Some women prefer to go directly to the moan-pant.
  • The moan-pant. Begin using this breathing technique when you’re afraid you can’t stay on top of the contractions—when the big waves come and you just need to stay in the present moment—and use through the delivery, if you like. The moan-pant consists of three or four rhythmic pants followed by one blow, which can be a real release. As labor progresses and you get more focused, you can turn the pants into moans, and even into sounds that feel like singing."
As published in Mother Magazine: Body Wise: breathing exercises in labor

Monday, October 19, 2009

Co-Sleeping, Share Sleeping & Family Bed

C0-sleeping is when parents sleep in the same bed with their babies. It is also sometimes called share sleeping or family bed.

My husband and I have co-slept with each of our 5 children so far, and I would have it no other way. Our youngest is 2 months old and sleeps with me every day and night (including a nap each day, which I love). Particularly when the baby is very small, I find it very comforting to have my baby next to me where I can hear and feel his breathing and movements and know that all is well.

I've also breastfed all of my children, and night feedings are so much easier when I can just nurse the baby in bed with me. The baby never has to wake enough to actually cry because I am tuned in to his hungry cues even when we're both sleeping, and can simply put him to the breast and we both fall back asleep easily. I never have to get out of bed to go to the baby or prepare a bottle, and we both sleep better because of it. My baby nurses longer at night time feedings, but I think it's because he nurses less often during the night than during the day (about twice each night), and it doesn't bother me at all because we are usually just sleeping through the feedings anyway.

My babies have never slept well in cribs. They always sleep more soundly and longer when they sleep with me. On the few occasions I tried putting my baby in a crib with my first baby, I would wake up worrying about whether or not the baby was breathing, and would have to get up just to check, and it interrupted my own sleep quite a bit.

I've always been a deep sleeper, and as a teenager it took a huge amount of effort just to wake me. However, when I sleep with my baby I am always aware of where the baby is and instinctively know how to lie with him. I usually sleep on my side with the baby in front of me, and I feel like I'm being a protective shell as I can curl my body around him.

The following article in Mothering Magazine explores the cultural impact of co-sleeping:
The Complexity of Parent-Child Cosleeping: Researching Cultural Beliefs

An interesting discussion of individual viewpoints and the safety of co-sleeping:
Breastfeeding Discussion from Milkalicious on My Best Birth

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Latch On Breastfeeding Instructional Video

This video shows how to latch your baby on for successful breastfeeding.

A good latch is essential for ease, comfort and success with breastfeeding. The video is very well made, by a company that makes breast pumps, and it's only 5 minutes long. I hope you take some time to watch it.

For more about the benefits of breastfeeding, and breastfeeding support, please visit La Leche League

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baby Wearing, Kangaroo Care, Baby Carriers, Wraps and Slings

When I started having kids almost 10 years ago I bought a baby carrier with buckles and straps that can hold the baby either in front or on the back. It worked pretty well, but it wasn't very comfortable with the stiffness of the harness, and I didn't like how my baby's legs always stuck out of the leg holes at the bottom and often got cold (especially in the winter) even if they were covered up.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my fourth child, some friends threw me a baby shower because it was my first baby girl. My favorite gift of all was my
Maya Wrap baby sling! Compared to the carrier with the buckles and straps, this baby sling is so easy to use and very comfortable! I can carry my baby in a variety of positions and use it until my child weighs 35 pounds. I like to go on walks with my kids often, and it was so easy to just slip my little girl into the sling and go! She was always the most content when she was in the sling, and would often simply fall asleep as I walked. I used the sling until I was too big with my next pregnancy (when my daughter was about a year old) and couldn't comfortably wear it anymore. Now that I have a new baby, I am using my wonderful baby sling again, and loving it! My favorite thing about using the sling is that it saves my arms from fatigue and keeps the baby snug and secure against me. It's also machine washable and takes up very little space to store it.

I recently started looking up more websites about slings and wraps and refreshing my memory on how to use it, and I decided to share some of these sites with you.

  • The Baby Wearer - This is a fantastic site with all kinds of information about every kind of baby carrier out there, including product reviews, instructions, and more! Whether you are new to baby wearing, or an expert, this is a great resource.
  • Baby Sling Sewing Instructions - This shows how to make a Maya Wrap baby sling.
  • Sewing and Improvising Baby Carriers - This is on The Baby Wearer. If you are handy at sewing, or would like to make even a no-sew baby sling, this has a whole list of links to helpful websites.
  • No Sew Ring Sling - This has simple instructions on how to make a ring sling that requires no sewing!
My Maya Wrap is a ring sling that incorporates metal rings with fabric threaded through for a secure sling with no bulk. I can fold up my sling and fit it into a purse or diaper bag. There are lots of other types of wraps and slings available to choose from. I would recommend checking out The Baby Wearer if you want to see what types there are and which one would best fit your needs. Since I got my baby sling I have not gone back to using my old baby carrier, not even once!

This photo to the right is of the first time I put my daughter in the sling, and I soon learned that it was much too low to wear comfortably. I learned how to cinch up the fabric to wear her higher so we were both much more comfortable.

If you have a favorite baby carrier, please let me know, and I would be happy to post about it!

For more information about baby wearing:
Mothering Magazine: Hold Me Close: The Many Advantages to Wearing Your Baby

Monday, October 12, 2009

Duggar Family's First Grandchild is Born at Home

"Mackynzie was born at the home of her parents, Joshua and Anna, with a midwife and doula attending the birth. 'Josh was excited to participate in the birth as well,' says a family friend. 'They are both so happy.'"

Click here for the story on

And below is the story from the TODAY Show:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Doctors Okay Clear Liquids in Labor

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recently decided to allow laboring women in hospitals to have clear fluids. Until now the ACOG has restricted laboring women to ice chips only. They still don't allow food, because there is a fear that if a woman were to need general anesthesia for an emergency cesarean there would be a possibility of aspiration if she didn't have an empty stomach. Still, I think the decision to allow fluids is a good step.

Giving birth is like running a marathon, and a woman's body needs as much healthy nourishment as it can get during such a physically demanding time. I ate and drank as much as I wanted to during the recent birth of my baby at home. It was a really nice change from the old ice chips I had in the hospital with the births of my other children.

I'd like to point out that this is simply a recommendation from ACOG, and individual care givers will still vary in their practices. It's important to have open communication with your doctor or midwife about your birth wishes. If you would like to have liquids while in labor, ask your care giver if he or she would allow it. Also keep in mind that you are in charge of your own birth, and you can change care givers if you are not comfortable with the one you are seeing, for any reason.

Here is an editorial on the matter: Doctors okay liquids in labor; woman imprisioned for disobeying doctor's orders

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Breastmilk Changes During the Day and Helps Infants Sleep at Night

"Breast milk should be drunk at the same time of day that it is expressed. Credit: SINC.

As reported on

"The levels of the components in breast milk change every 24 hours in response to the needs of the baby. A new study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience shows, for example, how this milk could help newborn babies to sleep.

"Breast milk contains various ingredients, such as nucleotides, which perform a very important role in regulating babies' sleep. The new study, published recently in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, confirms that the composition of breast milk changes quite markedly throughout the day.

"The scientists looked for three nucleotides in breast milk (adenosine, guanosine and uridine), which excite or relax the central nervous system, promoting restfulness and sleep, and observed how these varied throughout a 24-hour period.

"The milk, collected from 30 women living in Extremadura, was expressed over a 24-hour period, with six to eight daily samples. The highest nucleotide concentrations were found in the night-time samples (8pm to 8am).

"'This made us realise that milk induces sleep in ', Cristina L. Sánchez, lead author of the article and a researcher at the Chrononutrition Laboratory at the University of Extremadura, tells SINC.

"'You wouldn't give anyone a coffee at night, and the same is true of milk - it has day-specific ingredients that stimulate activity in the infant, and other night-time components that help the baby to rest', explains Sánchez.

"In order to ensure correct nutrition, the baby should be given milk at the same time of day that it was expressed from the mother's breast. 'It is a mistake for the mother to express the milk at a certain time and then store it and feed it to the baby at a different time', points out the researcher.

The benefits of breast milk

"The World Health Organisation (WHO) says breast milk is the best food for the newborn, and should not be substituted, since it meets all the child's physiological requirements during the first six months of life. It not only protects the baby against many illnesses such as colds, diarrhoea and sudden infant death syndrome, but can also prevent future diseases such as asthma, allergies and obesity, and promotes intellectual development.

"The benefits of breastfeeding also extend to the mother. Women who breastfeed lose the weight gained during pregnancy more quickly, and it also helps prevent against anaemia, high blood pressure and postnatal depression. Osteoporosis and breast cancer are also less common among women who breastfeed their children.

"More information: Sánchez, Cristina L.; Cubero, Javier; Sánchez, Javier; Chanclón, Belén; Rivero, Montserrat; Rodríguez, Ana B.; Barriga, Carmen. "The possible role of human milk nucleotides as sleep inducers". Nutritional Neuroscience Vol. 12(1):2-8. 2009.

"Source: FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology"

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The International Breastfeeding Symbol

Mothering Magazine held a contest:

"The image of a baby bottle on an airport sign announcing the location of a 'parents lounge' infuriated us and got us thinking: Isn't there an international symbol for breastfeeding? We called around. Spoke to lactivists and breastfeeding organizations all over the world. No one had seen or heard of an international symbol for breastfeeding. This is our official call for entries. The women's bathroom sign . . . the handicapped parking sign . . . the no-smoking sign. So we put out a call: How would you like to see your breastfeeding design up there with the greats?"

They received over 500 entries from artists everywhere, and from those chose 13 finalists, and eventually one winner. Here is the winning piece:
It's clear and concise. I've been using it as my profile picture on Facebook, and it's been wonderful to help spread the breastfeeding support.

Click here to read the article about the winning artist, and

Click here to download the symbol for free.