Archive for the ‘Breastfeeding’ Category

Book Review: The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby’s First Year

September 3rd, 2015 by avatar

By Anne M. Estes, PhD

Today on Science & Sensibility, Anne M. Estes, PhD reviews a new book – The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.  Lamaze International and Science & Sensibility are all about providing families and professionals with evidence based information that can help inform decision making.  Seems like this book might fit in nicely with the philosophy that Lamaze has held for decades.  Regular contributor Anne M. Estes, PhD shares her review on this new book and lets us know if it might be something to add to our resource list for new parents.  See the end of the review to learn how you can enter to be chosen for a free copy of this book courtesy of the author,  Alice Callahan. – Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility. 

Science of Mom Cover HiDefMitchell Kapor once said, “Getting information off the Internet is like drinking from a fire hydrant.” New parents and child care professionals are certainly easily drenched by all the information that can be acquired on the internet from a variety of sources. As newly minted scientist-mom seven years ago, I was frustrated at the number of opinion and experienced-based baby books that lacked scientific support. The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, now fills that gap. Alice Callahan, a PhD in nutritional biology and mom of two, systematically examines common questions and concerns about infant care from a scientific perspective. In each chapter, she discusses the historical practice of the question, recommendations of different organizations, the current research, and the risks and benefits of a practice. Dr. Callahan does an excellent job presenting the strengths and limitations of particular studies and the logic behind different recommendations. Although The Science of Mom is science-focused, it is well-written and easy to read. The style of the book is personal and conversational. Personal experiences are intermingled with the science to illustrate her points well. A list of both the references used for each chapter and recommended books and websites are also given to help parents identify credible resources instead of getting lost in the fog of Internet “experts”.

Potential readers

For childbirth professionals and parents or parents-to-be interested in evidence-based practices for birth and an infant’s first year, The Science of Mom is a new and invaluable resource. Questions covered include: When is the right time to cut the umbilical cord? Which newborn treatments are necessary? How do newborns experience and explore their world? What are the differences between breastmilk and formula feeding? Where and how can babies sleep safely? What is the evidence for vaccinations? When and what kinds of solid food are best for babies?

Importance of evidence based decisions

Perhaps it’s also my bias as a scientist, but I greatly enjoyed reading such an insightful description of the process of science, the importance of scientific consensus, differences in quality across studies, and how scientific data can assist families in making informed decisions. Though readers of an evidence based blog like Science and Sensibility may already understand these points, the introduction could be helpful when introducing the rationale behind evidence based practices during child birth classes. It also serves as a guide for anyone who wants to research their own questions in the scientific literature.

I was particularly surprised to read about two instances where changes to medical practices in the early to mid 1900s had occurred without any evidence based support. One example was timing of cutting the umbilical cord. The author speculates that perhaps due to efficiency or convenience, the umbilical cord began to be cut before all the blood was pumped into the newborn. This practice is now being reconsidered due to the increased iron stores in the first 6 months of life of infants when cord clamping is delayed. Such an example certainly reinforces the importance of having evidence of benefit before new procedures are introduced or changes are made in traditional birth procedures.

Filling a gap in the bookshelf

In science and medicine there are no borders and no “right” answers. The Science of Mom is the same. Throughout the book, the author explores how a variety of countries and cultures deal with issues from giving Vitamin K to newborns (oral vs injected) to sleep practices (bed/room sharing vs separate sleeping arrangements). Different personal health conditions and prevalence of disease differ across the globe, making the need for some newborn treatments, such as eye prophylaxis, less clear. Dr. Callahan provides the data and information for people to make informed choices for their own family’s practices and situations. I found the honest, open, and nonjudgmental tone throughout the book refreshing.

Callahan author photo

Author Alice Callahan and her newborn © Alice Callahan

What a scientist-mom adds to the conversation

Each profession trains people to strengthen different skill sets. Training in the life sciences, especially at the PhD level, encourages a person to gather resources, sort through different quality data, synthesize data, and reach a conclusion based on that data for a given situation. Add to that training first-hand experience with raising two kids – knowledge of what it’s like to be in the parenting trenches, experience the “mommy wars”, and feel the exhaustion and yet love and concern of being a parent – and you’ve got a winning combination. The author is not a medical professional and most likely has only attended the births of her own two kids. However, in Science of Mom, Alice Callahan, PhD combines the critical eye of a scientist with the heart of a mother to create a helpful resource for all people interested in evidence based infant care and parenting.

What is missing?

What The Science of Mom does not do in general is to give you prescriptives for answering many of the parenting questions she poses. Data are still being collected and debated for many birth and parenting questions. There simply may not be one “right” way. In these cases, the scientific data are presented, the pros and cons of the different perspectives are addressed, then Dr. Callahan recommends following your baby’s lead and doing what feels best for your own family. After all, parenting is an art as well as a science.

In situations where scientists have reached a consensus, such as with the benefits of vaccines or back sleeping for infants, the author provides insight into how and why that consensus was reached by the scientific community. In such cases, Dr. Callahan provides additional information such as the role of each ingredient in the vitamin K shot in order to provide additional comfort to worried parents.

The Science of Mom is an excellent new addition to the bookshelves of any birth professional or parent who is interested in evidence-based parenting practices. Although the copy of The Science of Mom that I reviewed was complementary, I have given copies to several scientist-mom friends with newborns who also enjoy the nonjudgmental and objective tone of the book. For those wanting to read more of Dr. Callahan’s excellent commentary on the science of parenting, you can find her writing at the blog, The Science of Mom.

Enter to win your own copy of The Science of Mom

Have you had a chance to read this book?  What did you think of it?  Does this sound like a book that you would like to read?  Would you consider adding it to your resource list?  Share your thoughts about the book, how necessary or needed a book such as this might be, or other favorite resources for families to get evidence based information in understandable and easy to digest formats in the comments section below and include your email address.  All comments will be entered in a drawing for your own copy of the book.  The winner will be announced next month when Anne Estes interviews Dr. Callahan about her book. – SM

About Anne Estes

AnneMEstes_headshot 2015Anne M. Estes, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Genome Sciences in Baltimore, MD. She is interested in how microbes and their host organisms work together throughout host development. Anne blogs about the importance of microbes, especially during pregnancy, birth, first foods, and early childhood at Mostly Microbes.

Babies, Book Reviews, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Evidence Based Medicine, Guest Posts, New Research, Newborns, Parenting an Infant , , , , , , , ,

Black Breastfeeding Week – “Lift Every Baby” Supports Breastfeeding Black Families

August 27th, 2015 by avatar

BBW-Logo-AugustDates-300x162August 1-7th was World Breastfeeding Week, and the entire month of August was National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.  Science & Sensibility shared information and resources in two posts; Breastfeeding and Work – Let’s Make It Work! Join Science & Sensibility in Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week and Happy World Breastfeeding Week! The Celebration Continues with More Free Resources, along with a “Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators: Nine Ideas for Using Knit Breasts in Breastfeeding Classes” post for those who teach expectant families.

This week we want to recognize and honor Black Breastfeeding Week (August 25-31, 2015) and share information about the “Lift Every Baby” awareness campaign that is the theme of this year’s program.  Black Breastfeeding Week is designed to raise awareness and provide support in black communities.  Both the initiation rate and the duration rate of breastfeeding in black families has been lower than the rates in white families for more than four decades. Low birth weight, preterm deliveries and maternal complications such as preeclampsia are all higher in black women and the black infant mortality rate is more than twice that of white babies.  Breastfeeding and the important benefits it provides can help all babies, but for the most vulnerable and the sickest, breastmilk is a critical component that can mean the difference between life and death.

black breastfeeding mother babyBlack Breastfeeding Week was established three years ago by three women, Kimberly Seals Allers, Kiddada Green and Anaya Sangodele-Ayoka, all leaders in the field of maternal child health, with a focus on families of color.  In the past three years, attention, discussion and events focused on supporting Black Breastfeeding Week have only grown as people of all colors recognize the health disparities that exist right here in the United States, between white families and black families that have lifelong impacts, simply due to the color of one’s skin.

Kimberly Seals Allers wrote an excellent commentary on why there is a need for Black Breastfeeding Week.

There are many activities around the country to support Black Breastfeeding Week.  A full event list can be found here.  On August 29 at 3 PM EST the first nationally coordinated “Lift Up” will be held in various cities across the United States.  Black families will join together at different meeting points across the country to “Lift Up” their babies, regardless of their size or age, to recognize the importance of community support for children.

There will also be the first ever Twitter chat (#LifeEveryBaby) in honor of Black Breastfeeding Week, scheduled for tonight, August 27th at 9 PM EST that you are invited to participate in.

Cara Terreri, from Lamaze International’s blog for parents, Giving Birth With Confidence, has compiled a list of  black breastfeeding resources that you should be aware of:

Black Breastfeeding Week website & Facebook page

It’s Only Natural,” – CDC & Office of Women’s Health breastfeeding guide for African American families

Normalize Breastfeeding

Black Women Do Breastfeed website & Facebook page

Mocha Manual

Your Guide to Breastfeeding for African American Women

You can also find more information and resources on the Black Breastfeeding Week Resources and Toolkit page.

Additionally, I would like to refer you to two previous posts in our “Welcoming All Families” series, written by Lamaze educator and lactation consultant Tamara Hawkins, discussing welcoming families of color to your classes.  Working with Women of Color and Working with Women of Color – Educator Information can help educators create and provide applicable classes and information to the families of color joining their classes.

Black Breastfeeding Week is an important event that can help create awareness for the importance of culturally relevant and accessible breastfeeding support and information for black families.  Childbirth educators and other birth professionals should be ready to provide resources that can help close the gap to the families they work with.  Are you participating in any Black Breastfeeding Week events?  Let us know in the comments section and please, let us all join together to “Lift Every Baby.”


Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Infant Attachment, Newborns, Push for Your Baby , , , , ,

Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators – Nine Ideas for Using Knit Breasts in Breastfeeding Classes

August 20th, 2015 by avatar

babe breastfeedingAugust is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month (and August 1-7 was World Breastfeeding Week) and Science & Sensibility covered the WBW theme “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work!” in a post earlier this month.  August’s Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators will continue to increase the awareness about breastfeeding and breastfeeding education.  I would like to talk about how I and the families in my class use a set of  wonderful knitted breasts when I cover breastfeeding topics in my childbirth class.  You can find all the Brilliant Activities for Birth Educator posts here.

I currently teach a seven week series and cover the majority of  the breastfeeding topics on the last week.  The entire series is rich in information about breastfeeding, skin to skin, safe and healthy birth options, and other choices that support getting breastfeeding off on the best path possible.  Week seven is the nuts and bolts of breastfeeding, covering topics like latch, how the breasts make milk, positions for breastfeeding, is your newborn getting enough milk and common problems that new families experience as well as other information.

For the breastfeeding class, I use these wonderful handknitted breasts that I purchased from a talented colleague here in Seattle.  You can find similar patterns to make your own in the links below.  Each breast is unique in skin tone, nipple and areola size, overall size and weight.  Every family receives one breast and one baby. (I use these Ikea dolls, for their affordability, size and softness.)  Using these knitted breasts and dolls allows the families to experience common breastfeeding situations in a comfortable and humorous way, while gaining experience positioning themselves and their babies for comfortable and supportive breastfeeding.

Nine Breastfeeding Teaching Ideas Using a Knitted Breast

1. Having different size breasts with different size nipples and areolas gives me an opportunity to share that breastfeeding can be successful no matter the size of a person’s breast tissue or breast anatomy.  Large and small breasts can both feed a baby quite satisfactorily.  My collection is quite varied.

2. When a person uses their finger to press in on the tissue around the baby’s nose in order to “make space for air”during breastfeeding, it can change the angle of the nipple in the baby’s mouth and create unnecessary discomfort.

3. Supporting the breast with the “c-hold” and placing the fingers well back from the areola will help the baby to have a deeper latch and pull more breast tissue into their mouth.

4. Shaping and supporting the breast “like a hamburger” so the baby can get a good latch can reduce nipple pain and help the baby to transfer milk.

5. The five most common positions to breastfeed – laidback breastfeeding, cross cradle, cradle, football and side lying can feel awkward, but with practice will become second nature.  Everyone gets to try them using their “breast” and “baby”.  They can practice holding and positioning the knitted breast in the best way for each position.

6. Placing lots of pillows for proper support for the dyad can help keep breastfeeding comfortable.

7. A baby can nurse “around the clock” on the breast, with sometimes subtle position changes that allows the baby to stimulate and remove milk from all parts of the breast.

8. There is a small bead sewn into each of these weighted knitted breasts.  I can ask the families to find the little pea sized lump and can discuss how this might be a sign of a clogged duct, and how to resolve it.

9. Hand expressing milk if parents are separated from their baby after birth, can help with overall supply and volume while supplying valuable colostrum for their baby.  They can also use this skill to increase supply, or if they are experiencing engorgement.  Learning this skill on the knitted breast in class is great.

Open Mouthed Ikea Doll

If you are extra creative, there is a great “hack” that can be done to the Ikea doll to make the mouth open and include a tongue, (which can even be “tongue-tied”) to make the knitted breast/doll demo even more realistic.  Find this clever idea created by Tova Ovits, CLC here on Galactablog.

Bonus Diaper

© Sharon Muza

© Sharon Muza

I also use a knitted diaper that shows how a newborn baby’s stool changes over time from dark meconium to mustardy breastfed baby stool. A great visual aid and always gets lots of comments from families.  Thanks Betsy Hoffmeister, IBCLC,  for making me such a great tool to use in my Lamaze classes.

Family Reactions

At first, families may feel a little awkward handling the knitted breast, and may laugh if it is particularly large or small, or as an unusually large nipple.  But over the course of the night, they become comfortable in handing the breast, confident in finger placement and are eager to try different positions and experiment with their own additional suggestions for comfortable and useful techniques.  We all have fun, they leave class excited and ready to get breastfeeding off to a good start and knowledgeable in some of the basics to help them do so.

Knitted Breast Patterns

LCGB Knitted Breast Pattern

Breastfeeding Network Pattern

What interesting techniques and tools do you use to help your families during your breastfeeding instruction?  Share your ideas and resources in our comments section below.

Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators , , , , ,

Happy World Breastfeeding Week – The Celebration Continues with More Free Resources!

August 6th, 2015 by avatar

JHL august 2015

Resources continue to be made available during World Breastfeeding Week that will benefit the childbirth educator, doula, lactation consultant, midwife and other professionals as they educate, support and provide assistance to families who are planning to continue to breastfeed and return to work.  Check out today’s resource list.

Free Journal of Human Lactation articles

In honor of worldwide celebrations of World Breastfeeding Week and the theme “Breastfeeding and Work- Let’s Make It Work, the Journal of Human Lactation has made the following ten research articles available for free during the month of August 2015 to anyone interested in reading them.

The Journal of Human Lactation is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal publishing original research, insights in practice and policy, commentaries, and case reports relating to research and practice in human lactation and breastfeeding. JHL is relevant to lactation professionals in clinical practice, public health, research, and a broad range of fields related to the trans-disciplinary field of human lactation.

Hat tip to Lactation Matters for the heads up on this generous offer from JHL..

Screenshot 2015-08-05 20.22.25Free iMothering Webinar with Nancy Mohrbacher

Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, an expert in the field of breastfeeding, and author of several books on breastfeeding including Breastfeeding Solutions: Quick Tips for the Most Common Nursing Challenges, (which was reviewed previously on Science & Sensibility) has a free online webinar for families and professionals on on iMothering.com titled –  Working and Breastfeeding Made Simple.

© Nancy Mohrbacher

© Nancy Mohrbacher

Free Downloadable Resource for Caregivers of Breastfeeding Infants

Additionally, Nancy has shared a super resource that breastfeeding families can share with the caregivers of their nurslings, to help them understand how they can best help and support the breastfeeding working parent when they are watching the child as the caregiver. Check out this printable For the Caregiver of a Breastfed Baby and let families know they can share this with their child’s caregiver to provide accurate information on how best to feed the breastfed baby while s/he is with their caregiver.

Do you have any resources that you have found helpful during this WBW celebration?  I invite you to share and link to them in the comments section so we can all benefit.  Thanks in advance!

Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Newborns, Push for Your Baby , , , , ,

Breastfeeding and Work- Let’s Make It Work! Join Science & Sensibility in Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week

August 4th, 2015 by avatar

wbw2015-logo-purpleAugust 1-7th, 2015 is World Breastfeeding Week and is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).  WABA is a global network of individuals & organizations concerned with the protection, promotion & support of breastfeeding worldwide.  World Breastfeeding Week is traditionally celebrated annually the first week of August and this year’s theme – “Breastfeeding and Work- Let’s Make It Work!

As childbirth educators and birth professionals, we are working with expectant families in the weeks and months leading up to birth, and then often in the early weeks of parenting.  During that time, returning to work is often a distant thought, as families struggle to navigate the labor and birth experience and transition to life with a new baby.  Most of the breastfeeding topics we cover in class and one-on-one with families are of the need to know variety that helps them get breastfeeding off to a good start.  If there is even enough time to touch on returning to work as a breastfeeding parent, it is brief and quick due to time limitations and current concerns.

The reality is that most breastfeeding parents return to work.  This return to formal or informal work may occur earlier than parents would have liked due to financial concerns, lack of paid (or unpaid leave) from employers, professional pressures and expectations, as well as family and society demands.  The struggle to maintain an adequate supply of expressed breastmilk and to continue to breastfeed is real and affects many, many families worldwide.  Issues include an unsupportive workplace, insufficient time  and an inadequate or inappropriate place to express milk that can be bottle fed to their child, and an unwelcome environment to be able to nurse their child, if the child can be brought to the workplace.

Childbirth educators may not have time in our routine breastfeeding class to address many of the issues and concerns that these families face when they return to work.  The typical breastfeeding class is geared for the initial days and weeks with a newborn.  Educators can provide take home resources in the form of handouts and useful links that can help families to navigate returning to work successfully, minimizing impact on the breastfeeding dyad.


Additionally, you might consider preparing a stand-alone class that runs a couple of hours geared specifically for the parent who is returning to work  and hoping to continue to breastfeed.  This might be offered for families to attend while still pregnant or after their baby arrives and they are facing the fact that they are going to be returning to work sooner rather than later.  Do you currently already teach such a class in your community?  How do you market it?  How is it received?  Can you share some of your objectives and favorite resources for the Return to Work class that you teach in our comments section below?

© Helen Regina - Policial WABA 2015

© Helen Regina – Policial WABA 2015

Continuing to breastfeed after returning to work benefits businesses as well as mothers, babies and families by providing a three to one Return on Investment (ROI) through lower health care costs, lower employee absenteeism rates due to babies that are healthier, requiring less sick leave, lower turnover rates, and higher employee productivity and loyalty.

Here is some useful information and resources that I have gathered in one location that you may want to share with your students and families, in order to help them make a smooth transition when they return to work as a breastfeeding family.

Many of these websites also provide information in Spanish and other languages as well.

Lamaze International President Robin Elise Weiss has created a new “From the President’s Desk” video – “Tips for Breastfeeding Success” that you can share with parents. While not specifically about breastfeeding while working, helping families get off on the right foot with a solid breastfeeding relationship can help parents to feel confident that they are meeting their baby’s nutritional needs right from the start and that can continue once they return to work.  You can also direct families to Lamaze International’s online breastfeeding class, where additional information and resources can be found.  Finally, consider encouraging parents to download our new free Pregnancy to Parenting app which contains evidence based and easily accessible information on many topics includingbreastfeeding as well as useful app features like a breastfeeding and diaper log and additional resources.

How are you celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in your community? Share your activities and ideas in the comments section below and thank you so much for all you do to support breastfeeding with the families you work with.

Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Infant Attachment, Lamaze International, Newborns, Push for Your Baby , , , , , , ,

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