Archive for the ‘Push for Your Baby’ Category

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 , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , ,

Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators – The Six Ways to Progress in Labor – Making It Memorable!

July 30th, 2015 by avatar
© Sharon Muza

© Sharon Muza

Time for another post in the “Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators” series.  The purpose of this monthly series is to share engaging, interactive and effective teaching ideas that childbirth educators can use in their classes.  We know that when families are participatory, engaged and interacting with their partners, other class members and the instructor, real learning (and retention) happens!  Today, I share an idea I modified from an activity that I originally saw Michele Deck, former Lamaze International President and exceptional trainer, share at a the REACHE conference in Tacoma, WA several years ago.


In my childbirth classes, I like to have parents understand that there are many ways that their bodies are preparing for birth. Changes happen in the weeks, days and hours leading up to the moment of birth.  I feel that if parents understand the six ways to progress in labor, they can appreciate that at times, cervical dilation (the most “well-known” of the six ways to progress) may not be changing, but other changes may continue to show that their body and baby are working towards the big moment of birth. Parents leave class understanding that labor progress is a coordinated effort by the parent’s body and the baby that incorporates many different changes.

The six different ways that progress is assessed include:

  1. The cervix is moving forward
  2. The cervix is ripening
  3. The cervix is shortening/thinning (effacement)
  4. The cervix is opening (dilating)
  5. The baby is descending (station)
  6. The baby is rotating


At the end of the activity, class members will be able to describe the six ways that labor progress can be measured and explain why the focus should not just be on dilation, but rather on the synchronized way that change is happening throughout the pre-labor and labor period.  My hope is families will recall this information during labor, if the cervix is measured and the cervix has not dilated significantly since the last exam.

© Sharon Muza

© Sharon Muza

Supplies I use

The supplies for this activity are very simple.  I tape a large piece of newsprint at the front of the room, which has a rectangle drawn on it, divided up into a “table” of 2 squares x 3 squares with a colorful marker. I give each class participant a similar table, on a regular 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, and make sure they have a pen.  I have several different color markers for them to use in front of the class. I also use the standard childbirth class teaching tools – the fetal model, a knitted uterus, and a pelvis.

How I teach it

I cover the six ways to progress after we have discussed the events of late pregnancy and before the stages of labor. When I start the activity, I share that we will be discussing the six ways to progress in labor and that many people, parents and health care providers alike, focus on dilation, but there are many ways to assess progress and it is important to understand all of them.  After I cover the first way to measure progress, the cervix moving from posterior to anterior (which you can teach using your favorite technique), I ask them to draw a simple symbol (“like a kindergarten student might draw, quick, simple and without words”) in the first square.  The symbol that they draw will help them to remember what happens first.

After they have drawn their first symbol on their own paper, I ask for a volunteer to come up and draw it on the class sheet up front.  Everyone “oohs and aahs” at the class drawing and then all share what they drew.  We move on to the cervix ripening.  Again, I teach this in my typical way and ask them to draw another drawing on their own paper to represent ripening in the second square. Another volunteer comes up to draw for the class and we all share what everyone drew. I repeat this process for all six ways to progress.

Maximum Retention

So that they can really solidify and remember each of the six ways to progress, after we discuss and draw a new square, I go back, and while pointing at the specific square, ask – “what happens first? and second?  and next…?”  The class repeats back what is happening.  After all six ways are completed, I ask them to turn their papers over, and ask randomly – “what happens fourth?”  “and sixth?” “first?” without looking at anything but pointing on the wall, where the squares were located before I took it down.  Every single class member is able to a) identify what happens in each step and b) what that means for the labor, even after I have removed the newsprint.

I let them know that I will randomly ask them this information sometime later on in the series and the person who can answer all six correctly, gets a prize.  A week or so later, in class, I ask for someone to recall the six ways to progress and award a prize to the first person who correctly names them all again! Class members enthusiastically compete with each other to be the first to recall all six ways to progress.

© Sharon Muza

© Sharon Muza


This method of using the squares, both at their seats and in the front of the class, really helps the families to remember the six ways to progress in labor.  There is lots of laughter and admiration for everyone’s clever ideas on how to represent each method, they really remember what the symbols stand for (and the actual action that happens in labor) and they are still remembering it several weeks later.  This activity is always a lot of fun to do in my childbirth classes and appreciated and enjoyed by the participants.

How you can modify this activity?

This activity reinforces retention and can be modified for many purposes in your childbirth classes.  You could do a similar activity for talking about safe sleep, how to tell if baby has a good latch during breastfeeding, or even apply it to Lamaze International’s Six Healthy Birth Practices.  By using the idea of drawing a simple symbol to represent a fact, and being asked to recall it several times, people really find that the information worms its way into their memories, and they can recall it later when it is needed.  After all, several weeks or months can pass from childbirth class to the big event, and anything we can do as childbirth educators to help families retain information for their recall when they need it down the road is a big win!

An invitation

I invite you to draw your ideas for the six ways to progress in labor, or conduct the same process for another childbirth class topic and share it with all of us. What topic ideas do you in mind to try with this method? Send me a picture of what you or your families have drawn, along with your contact information and website, and I can put them all up in another post.  We can even try to guess the topic being discussed from the drawings – and you can see how effective this technique is. I am excited to see what you all come up with.  Send them to me using this email address.


Note/Disclaimer: The use of the acronym “BABE” (Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators) is not affiliated with, aligned with or associated with any particular childbirth program or organization.


Childbirth Education, Healthy Birth Practices, Push for Your Baby, Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators , , , ,

Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators – Cesarean Section Role Play Helps Prepare Families

April 30th, 2015 by avatar

apron and babyToday, in our monthly series “Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators,” I would like to share one of the activities that I do in my Lamaze class to help families feel prepared for a cesarean section. Most families in my classes are planning a vaginal birth, but it never hurts to be prepared should plans change.  One in three pregnant people will birth by cesarean in the USA.  April is Cesarean Awareness Month and that is why I am sharing this activity at this time.


My objectives for this specific activity are threefold – 1) to share how the procedure is done 2) to offer different options that might be available for the family to request (skin to skin in the OR, delayed newborn procedures, etc., and 3) brainstorm the role of the support person during a cesarean and what kind of support the pregnant person will find comforting and helpful.

This role play is done in the fifth week of a seven week series. We have just covered variations in labor (induction, augmentation, EFM, AROM, pain medications, assisted second stage and more). They have heard about the hard and soft reasons for a cesarean and now I hope that they will understand the procedure and the choices and options they might have at the time.

Supplies for the activity and the setup

  • Cesarean apron
  • surgical masks
  • drape
  • soft baby
  • hair nets
  • scrubs
  • surgical clothing
  • laminated labels for each role
  • optional – IV bag, BP cuff, EKG leads, etc
up close cesarean apron

Up close of four zippers on cesarean apron

My main prop in this activity is a “cesarean apron” handmade by Kris Avery, a fellow LCCE here in Washington State. The apron has breasts, a belly button and some pubic hair painted on it, but what makes it special is a series of zippers that correspond to the different layers of a person’s body that will be cut during the cesarean procedure. Each zipper is sewn into a different layer and opens to reveal the layer underneath. The skin is represented by the apron, and then there is a layer of fat (yellow felt) that zips open, revealing the uterus (red felt). There are no muscles to “open” because as we know, the abdominal muscles are retracted and not cut. Finally, underneath the uterus, is the amniotic sac, represented by a thin white nylon material.

I ask a partner to come with me out of sight of the class and place the cesarean apron on them. All the zippers are closed. I place a soft baby doll (I use the baby from IKEA) underneath the apron with the head positioned right near the inner zipper.  Sometimes I place the baby in the breech position and plan on having the bum be removed first. When the partner is ready, we walk together back into the classroom and I ask them to lay on a table, where I have placed a pillow.

How I conduct the role play

I invite two class members to come up and hold a drape at chest level, just like it might be positioned in the OR.  I hand out laminated cards to all the other class members. Each card has the role of someone who might be in the OR during a cesarean section – surgeon, baby nurse, anesthesiologist, surgical tech, respiratory therapist, and so on.   I ask the pregnant person who is partnered with my “cesarean person” to play the role of “partner.”  I invite the partner to get into the white “moon suit” that is normally provided to family members during a cesarean.  I hand out hair nets, scrubs, face masks, surgical gowns, to all those who will be in the OR and everyone suits up.  I position all the “actors” in the appropriate spot.  Some go by a pretend “baby warmer” and others stand around the birthing person while others go where they might be in the real operating room. I talk about how hard it is to tell who is in the room and what their role is, when everyone is wearing scrubs/gowns/hats/masks and suggest that they ask people to introduce themselves.  I discuss strategies that the birthing person can use if they are temporarily separated from their support person.  I bring the support person over and seat them at the head of the OR table near the “anesthesiologist” and discuss how they cannot see over the drape for both the patient and the partner. The partner can stand up at the time of birth if they wish, or together they could ask for the drape to be dropped at that moment.  I ask the pregnant person how they are feeling as the surgery is about to begin.FullSizeRender

I walk everyone through the procedure step by step and describe what is happening.  I share what noises they might hear, and what sensations the pregnant person might “feel.”  (Tugging, pressure, pulling, but no pain.)  I try and give a sense of how long it takes for each part of the operation, (prep, incision to baby, closure)  I ask the surgeons to begin to open the zippers, and talk about each layer that they come to.  Finally the surgeons are through the amniotic sac and they reach in and remove the baby’s head through the opening. It is a somewhat tight fit and we discuss how that might benefit the baby.

The baby is delivered, shown to the parents and taken over to the “warmer” where the baby team is waiting.  I encourage partner to go over and see the baby, initiate talking to the baby and start sharing information with the birthing person – what the baby looks like, how s/he is doing, and so on.

cesarean apronWe go on to discuss how the partner can facilitate having the baby brought over to the birthing person ASAP, skin-to-skin, what might need to happen if baby is moved to the special care nursery, and more.  Throughout all of this, the class participants are role-playing through all of the likely activities and people are stepping up to help the family to have a positive experience, within the scope of their assigned role.  The surgeons close (zip up) the different layers and close the outer zipper on the skin.

I am leaving out much of the detail, as I am confident that you can fill in the activities that happen when a person is prepped, taken to the OR, has the cesarean surgery and is then taken to recover.  My hope is to have parents aware of some of the major points of the overall procedure.

Processing the activity

The class members take off the “costumes” and return to their seats.  I feel it is very important to debrief this activity.  It can be overwhelming to some. We debrief further, discussing any observations they had, how they felt as our role play was happening. I ask what are the values that are important to them and their family, if a cesarean should be needed.  A discussion also takes place about what a cesarean recovery plan might look like and how the family’s needs might change if they do not have a vaginal birth.

How is this activity received?

IMG_0116During the activity, class members are usually very engaged and creative in answering questions, acting out their “roles” and brainstorming solutions to the situations I present.  The real magic happens when we debrief.  I can see the wheels turning as families articulate what they will want and need should they have a cesarean birth.  They learn that they have a voice and can share what is important with their medical team.

Time and time again, I receive emails and and notes from class members who ended up having a cesarean. They share how “accurate” our role play was and how it helped them to understand the steps involved with their cesarean.  They were able to speak up in regards to their preferences and felt like their class preparation helped to reduce their stress and anxiety.


This activity takes time and I often wonder if I should replace it with something much shorter that covers the same topic.  But, I continue to do this role play activity because I see how it really helps families to understand how to play an active role in the birth of their baby, even if it is by cesarean section.

Other resources that I share with the class are the following links:

How might you make a “cesarean apron” that you could use for this activity?  Do you have ideas on how you could modify this activity for your classes?  What other things do you do to help your families to be prepared for a cesarean birth?  I would love to learn how you cover this important topic.  Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Note/Disclaimer: The use of the acronym “BABE” (Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators) is not affiliated with, aligned with or associated with any particular childbirth program or organization.


Babies, Cesarean Birth, Childbirth Education, Medical Interventions, Newborns, Push for Your Baby, Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators , , , ,

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