Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Great Holiday Gift Ideas for your Favorite Childbirth Educator

December 16th, 2014 by avatar

SandS Great Gift IdeasAs the gift giving season is fast approaching, I wanted to put together some great gift ideas that any childbirth educator would love to receive this holiday season.  Stocking a childbirth education classroom with useful items can be expensive and even overwhelming for the educator just starting out.  Here are some must-have items that any childbirth educator would appreciate now or anytime during the year. Childbirth educators – what might be on your list that I did not included here? And, go ahead and print this list out or share online with friends and family,  so you can receive a CBE gift to warm your heart and that demonstrates how much your efforts to help families have a safe and healthy birth are appreciated.

A pelvic model

Having a pelvis on hand to demonstrate how the baby moves through the pelvis, rotating and descending during labor is a key part of any childbirth class.  Your favorite CBE will appreciate having one to use and they are often an expensive purchase.  I like this one for both it’s price, quick delivery and excellent reviews.  This is one of my most valuable teaching aids.

A knitted uterus

Having a knitted uterus is helpful for demonstrating how the cervix thins and opens during labor and birth. A knitted uterus can be purchased through various stores that sell childbirth teaching aids, or even on Amazon.com and often come with special features like detachable vagina and zippered uterine opening to represent a cesarean incision. If you are in any way crafty, you could consider knitting your own, using one of the many patterns that are available on line and customize it using the childbirth educator’s favorite colors.



A fetus

Having a fetal model to fit into the uterus and move through the pelvis makes for a great visual aid.  Childbirth Graphics sells one that fits through the standard model pelvis and holds up well through years of use.  You can also look around at some of the other sites listed below for comparison.

Bluetooth speakers

I am always grateful for my small, portable  but powerful rechargeable bluetooth speaker that I can connect to my phone, my tablet or my laptop for quick and easy sound projection.  I have had a few over the years and am currently thrilled with the Jam Classic in a color to match my classroom.  I previously owned this one until my teen daughters snatched them away. Buy your favorite, just make sure they are lightweight, rechargeable and work over bluetooth.

A subscription to “Up to Date”

I would love to be gifted a subscription to the research website “Up to Date” which provides current evidence based information and practice guidelines at your fingertips.  When a childbirth educator wants quick and easy access to all the most current information on treatments, protocols and recommendations for maternity care, s/he can quickly access this highly current resource.  While we are not clinicians, it is so helpful to be able to see the most current research as it is made available.  This gift would thrill me to no end.

Lamaze membership

Your favorite childbirth educator would love to have his or her Lamaze membership paid for!  S/he will get all the benefits of being a Lamaze member, including significant Kinkos/FedEx discounts, a year long subscription to the Journal of Perinatal Education, access to community boards on the Lamaze website and so much more.

Peanut and/or birth ball

peanut ballNo childbirth class is complete without a peanut or regular birth ball for the educator and students to use during classroom demonstrations and practice.  Lots of different sizes to choose from, but I recommend the 45 CM peanut ball and the 65 CM birth ball, likely to be the best size for many of the students.  Make sure the ball you buy is burst resistant.  You can get them on Amazon or at local sporting goods shops as well.  Here is some information on using the peanut ball during labor.

Unscented massage lotion or oil

Hand massage is often taught in childbirth classes as a form of relaxation.  Keep your favorite childbirth educator well supplied with a large bottle of a quality unscented lotion or oil.  Consider adding in some small plastic or glass bottles that s/he can fill an  handout during practice time and you will have a sure winner!

Newborn dolls

ikea dollIt is always fun to have a collection of newborn dolls to hand out when talking about life with a newborn, to practice swaddles with or to use during breastfeeding practice.  My favorite doll is the soft dolls available at at Ikea.  They are lightweight, about the right size, and at $10/each, very affordable, so I can purchase enough for every family to have one to practice on. I also like that they have different races, so my dolls can reflect my class members.


I like to teach engaging and interactive childbirth classes and many of my activities involve cards as part of the learning.  I love having my own laminator so I can whip up new teaching tools and ideas right in my own home.  This affordable laminator has been a reliable workhorse for me for several years now without fail and I love making  professional looking materials to use in my childbirth class. I like to have two size lamination sheets – full page and quarter page.

Astrobrights colored paper

My handouts and laminated activity cards look fantastic on this super bright, super fun colored paper.  I love having a ream around the house for all my signs, projects and creative ideas. I also find the heavier cardstock useful at times too.

All kinds of markers, crayons and pens

There is nothing so sad as having a box of faded out, washed out permanent or low scent dry erase markers in my teaching supply box.  I love when the markers are bold and the dry erase/white board markers are strong and vibrant.  I always appreciate having a new supply on hand of both kinds of markers. I also use crayons in my classes and they get broken and used up!   A huge box of crayons would be super.  Even a jumbo box of pens – as students are always asking to borrow them and I never get them back.

Knitted breasts

knitted breasts

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by seniwati: http://flickr.com/photos/seniwati/3182485430

If the childbirth educator on your list also teaches breastfeeding , she will want to have a nice collection of knitted breasts on hand for her classes.  This model is nice but rather expensive, It is nice to have one for each family.  Here is a pattern if you have the skills to make them yourself.  Or you can often find them on Etsy Remember, breasts can come in many different skin tones and all kinds of nipple, areola and breast sizes.

Swaddling blankets, cloth diaper samples, baby carriers

These may be things you have access to from your children as they have grown out of them, or you can take up a collection of used items from friends and family or even hit up the thrift shops.  Get a whole bunch together and gift them to the childbirth educator to use in class.  S/he will appreciate the variety and feel confident that s/he has enough for everyone in class to try some.

Gift certificates

If you are not sure what your childbirth educator needs – consider a gift certificate to one of the companies that sells teaching aids and instructional materials, and let the educator decide for him or herself what they can use.

Cascade Healthcare Products

Childbirth Graphics

Injoy Videos

Plumtree Baby



Childbirth Education, Social Media , , , ,

Lamaze International Educator Updates: Twitter Chat, Parent Survey and 2015 Conference

September 23rd, 2014 by avatar

Conference Update

I am just back from attending the Lamaze International/DONA International 2014 Confluence in Kansas City. I had the opportunity to connect with many Lamaze Educators who also participated. Both the plenary sessions and the concurrent sessions offered lots of learning opportunities and Kansas City was a great location to connect with colleagues. The Lamaze International board of directors welcomed new President Robin Elise Weiss to the helm along with three new board members, Kathryn Konrad, Alice Turner and Mary Regan. The board spent many hours before and after the conference discussing business and the continued implementation of our new strategic plan. A huge thank you to the conference planning committee for all their hard work and effort. It was a huge success.  Also thank you to the staff of Lamaze International who worked registration and took care of all the details on site.

2015 Conference

Planet-Hollywood-Hotel-Las-VegasPlease put the next conference on your calendar – September 17-20, 2015 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, NV. The 2015 conference will be a joint conference with ICEA, similar to the megaconference five years ago in Milwaukee, WI. Consider submitting an abstract to speak and watch for deadlines and other important information on the Lamaze International Events webpage.

Parent Satisfaction Survey

You may have heard about the Lamaze International Parent Satisfaction Survey that is currently open and collecting responses. Lamaze International believes that a quality childbirth education class helps parents to “push for their baby” and have the safest and healthiest birth possible.

Lamaze International has been working over the past year to map out ways we can assess and evaluate the impact of Lamaze childbirth education classes on women and their birth experience. We have spent several months working with volunteers to establish and test Lamaze’s first-ever organization-wide parent satisfaction survey. Now we need you to spread the word in your childbirth classes and encourage your parents to participate and share their childbirth education experience and how they feel it impacted their birth.

We can never become complacent in striving to best serve pregnant families and maximizing their ability to navigate a safe and healthy birth. In an environment where all stakeholders are seeking better information about the value of health interventions, we know that having this survey information in hand will give Lamaze educators a way to tell the story of our everyday impact on birth, engage with important stakeholders and communicate around the value of childbirth education.

When your childbirth class students take this short survey, they will received a coupon that can be redeemed for a Lamaze toy. Lamaze International will be able to use the information received in the survey to plan parent programs that meet the needs of today’s parents. We will also be able to use the data to look at the impact of childbirth education on birth outcomes. Please encourage your class members to participate. Every family’s voice matters.

Lamaze International has prepared a webpage where you can find out more information about how to promote the survey- including samples emails to send to your students, talking points to share in class on the survey, and social media material (Facebook, Twitter and blog posts) about the survey to make it very easy to promote and encourage parent participation.

Your parents can access the survey through this link and if they are subscribed to the “Your Pregnancy Week by Week” emails, they will also be invited to take the survey through that subscription.

Upcoming Twitter Chat

twitter chatLamaze International’s board president Robin Elise Weiss will be leading a Twitter Chat on September 23rd at 9 PM EST. The topic “Due Dates and Inductions” is on the schedule and parents (and educators) are invited to participate in what surely will be a lively and fast moving discussion.  Access the event on Twitter using #LamazeChat and join in the fun, along with families and educators around the world.



Childbirth Education, Conference Calendar, Lamaze International, Social Media , , , ,

Copy Right! Using Images in Your Presentations and Teaching Materials Appropriately

December 3rd, 2013 by avatar

Today on Science & Sensibility, contributor Andrea Lythgoe, LCCE, birth doula and photographer shares information about using images and text in your work as a birth professional – for teaching, marketing or other purposes.  Using images and other works responsibly is the right thing to do, but you may be confused on how to go about it.  Today’s post will help and on Thursday I share information on how to locate materials that you are free to use. – Sharon Muza, Community Manager

Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/

Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/

When you are a childbirth educator or other birth professional, you may find yourself teaching a class, giving a presentation, designing a website or making attractive handouts and marketing materials. You take great pains to make sure that your work is visually pleasing and attractive.

You may be inclined to find images for your work by quickly searching online for exactly the right picture to get your message across.  It’s easy, it’s quick and free.

Photographs, drawings, paintings, music, writing and all other artwork are protected by copyright laws, and you cannot use them without the permission of the artist. Ever. It does not need to say “copyright” in order to be copyrighted. It does not need to be watermarked. It does not need to say “All Rights Reserved.” The copyright exists the moment the work is created. There are serious consequences for taking others’ work without permission.

When you are producing something that will be used for educational purposes, you might wonder if the laws allow you to use copyrighted images under those circumstances. There is an exception to the copyright law called “Fair Use” where it might be acceptable to use them without permission or payment. But what exactly constitutes “fair use” can be very complicated and hazy. I’m not an attorney, but I do have some suggestions to keep you firmly in the realm of safe use.

Don’t use images without permission for commercial use

Don’t use images without permission for anything remotely commercial, unless they are images you acquired under a Creative Commons license.  (See this Thursday’s post for more on Creative Commons.)  If your web site, blog or social media site is promoting your childbirth classes, you’re advertising a commercial venture. If your handout is used during classes that you’re being paid to teach, that’s profit making and probably not OK. If you’re presenting at a conference and being paid to present – ask permission. Even if you are not being paid, check to see if the conference is going to be selling a recording of your presentation. At the most recent Lamaze International conference, a company recorded audio that was synced to the presenter’s Powerpoint, which was then made available for purchase. Any images in those presentations are therefore being resold for profit. This means you need permission for commercial use of those photos, diagrams, and graphics.

Don’t modify anything without permission

Modifying includes cropping, removing a watermark, turning it black and white, making it part of a collage, adding text to turn it into a meme, or anything else you might be tempted to change. As a birth photographer, I am very careful of my client’s privacy and want to make sure that their family’s personal moments are only used in the ways they are comfortable with. I may turn down a request to use a photo in a meme because the parents declined to allow me to give third parties a right to use it. I might not allow you to use it in a poster because the parents would prefer limited exposure. Imagine how upset the parents could be to come across it somewhere they did not expect it. Consider the difficult position that puts me in – it appears that I have violated their trust in allowing me to share their images at all.

Credit appropriately

When you are using images with permission, inquire from the photographer or artist how they would like to be credited.  Most people will be happy with their name and website (linked if possible) near the picture, so people are aware of the source.  Find out how to type the “©” symbol for your particular keyboard/computer/software and use it. Alternately, in your presentation, be sure that the owner of the image is credited on the slide where the image is placed.  Printed marketing materials can include information close to the image or in a discreet location at the bottom if appropriate.

Share on social media appropriately

When you see something you want to share on social media, make sure you share rather than download and post as if it were your own. If sharing is blocked, there’s likely a reason! Don’t share from someone who has obviously uploaded other’s content as their own already, either. As a photographer, I’d love it if my images are seen by a wider audience, but I want that audience to be able to know who created the work. I often see beautiful paintings or photos shared without that connection to the artist maintained.

Do not copy and paste text

When it comes to text, don’t ever copy and paste. Writing your own content is crucial to having your own voice. Plagiarizing content is not a victimless offense. I will never forget an experience I had earlier this year when a woman I had been mentoring posted a link to her new web site asking for feedback on the template she used. The wording was mine. It was the wording I’d spent weeks working on to get just right. And just when I thought I had it perfect, I’d had friends and family read and give me feedback. This triggered another round of edits.

And with a simple copy and paste, this woman had stolen my hard work. I must be honest and tell you that it hurt.

Even if you plan to change a few words here and there, that is probably not enough to make it your own. If you’re using enough of someone else’s words that you need to copy and paste, it’s likely too much.

You can quote someone – no more than a paragraph or two – but it needs to be clearly attributed as a quote and should be in the context of your own writing. The OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Perdue University suggests:

“Use quotes that will have the most rhetorical, argumentative impact in your paper; too many direct quotes from sources may weaken your credibility, as though you have nothing to say yourself, and will certainly interfere with your style.”


As you create your web sites, presentations, class materials, marketing pieces and illustrate your own writing with visuals, please remember that artwork, including photographs, is still work, and that the artists have families to feed and clothe as well. They deserve the respect of honoring that work with a respect of their copyright and payment if they request it.

Please don’t look at copyright law as “Can I rationalize this as an acceptable use?” but instead think in terms of “How can I make sure I am using this appropriately?” – As an artist, my livelihood depends on it.

When in doubt, leave it out!

Check back on Science & Sensibility on Thursday, when Sharon Muza will share information and resources on how to find and access Creative Commons images and other works that you might be able to use freely or even modify if needed for your purpose. Let us know in the comments section what challenges you have faced in creating your own presentations and teaching materials, and any solutions you might have found.


Childbirth Education, Continuing Education, Guest Posts, Science & Sensibility, Series: Finding and Using Images and Copy, Social Media , , , , , , ,

Purchased Breastmilk Overflowing with Bacteria? The Facts Behind the Sensationalistic Headlines.

October 22nd, 2013 by avatar

 By Suzanne Barston

Suzanne Barston, author of Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t and blogger on topics related to infant feeding discusses the new study that examines bacterial levels found in breastmilk purchased online.  Did you bother to look beyond the headlines to see what the research showed.  How will you respond to clients, patients and students who ask you what you think and wonder how safe it is to feed their babies purchased or donor milk?  Suzanne points us toward some great information and takes a level-headed look at what this study actually tells us.  To learn more about Suzanne, please read Walker Karraa’s interview with Suzanne for Science & Sensibility here.- Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.

© http://bit.ly/Hc2W86

As someone who supports formula feeding parents, I’m used to sensationalized media coverage of studies that confuses real risk with relative risk. It’s taught me to look at research with a critical eye, rather than accepting what the reporters (or even the study authors, at times) claim is absolute truth. 

This week’s splashy headlines involved breastmilk, not formula, but the end result has been quite familiar: frightened parents, frustrated advocates, and confused bloggers. Everyone’s talking about a new study published this week in Pediatrics, which according to its authors “documents the potential for human milk shared via the Internet to cause infectious disease by estimating the extent of microbial contamination among samples purchased via a leading Internet Web site.” Some took the findings of this study – the discovery that most of the obtained samples contained pathogenic bacteria – to be proof that milk donation is a risky business. Others insinuated that this was a social problem; that puritanical/paternalistic attitudes towards breastfeeding and feminine bodily fluids cast unwarranted suspicion on milk sharing, and provoked a dire dismissal of relative risk (after all, formula is subject to bacterial contamination as well).

The “absolute truth”, I believe, is floating somewhere in the middle. As Alison Stuebe, MD, points out on her Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine blog, this study was limited by its methodology. The breastmilk samples were obtained through an online site where milk was not “shared” but rather sold per ounce. In order to maintain anonymity, the researchers only corresponded with donors via email, and cut off communication if the seller asked too many questions. Stuebe explains:

 “It’s highly plausible that milk sent with no questions asked, via 2 day or longer shipment, and (in 1 and 5 cases) without any cooling whatsoever, was collected with less attention to basic hygienic precautions. The bacterial load in study milk samples therefore doesn’t tell us about the relative safety of milk obtained following a conversation between buyer and seller about the recipient baby and then shipped overnight on dry ice in a laboratory-quality cooler. Indeed, when the authors compared online milk purchases with samples donated to a milk bank after a screening and selection process, they found much lower rates of bacterial contamination…”

The other important factor to consider is that we can’t know if any babies would’ve necessarily become ill after ingesting this milk; all we can be sure of is that milk transported across the country from anonymous encounters online has a good chance of containing nasty bacteria. This was an in vitro study of a biological substance – not a study that involved actual cases of sickness caused by contaminated breastmilk.

And that is what is so beautiful about it. This was an in vitro study of a biological substance. It looked at breastmilk unemotionally, separate from the individual producing the milk or receiving it. No babies were harmed or even affected by this research. We don’t need to have a defensive reaction to the results, any more than a formula feeding mother needs to have a defensive reaction about a formula recall due to bugs in the powder. 

Food preparation, storage and safety don’t need to be a personal or political issue. I doubt the local grocer feels offended when spinach gets recalled, but she probably feels concerned. Unlike guilt or shame, concern is a healthy emotion, because it allows for a solution to be found. That’s why this study should be viewed as useful information rather than an indictment on milk sharing as a practice. From it, we can learn that more stringent practices are needed to ensure safety – parents can be informed that there are some risks involved in anonymous online purchase of human breastmilk.

The real difficulty, here, is that the issue of breastfeeding balances tenuously between the medical, the personal, and the political. It may be hard to make peace with the fact that obtaining breastmilk might need to become a sterile, regulated activity, prone to corporate involvement (because anytime money is involved we run that risk, especially when it comes to infant feeding), when breastfeeding is such an intimate, personal act. Ironically, the only other solution offered in response to this study is to make milk sharing more personal – that we urge parents to get to know donors, discuss how the milk will be pumped, stored, and transported, and share locally whenever possible. This certainly might cut down on the risks, but the fact remains that unless the donor is a close friend or relative, you are still asking parents to implicitly trust someone they don’t know very well. 

© http://bit.ly/GZhyXz

Rather than angrily striking out at this research, or accepting it as the final word on milk sharing safety, we could simply use it to ask more questions. How, exactly, should milk be pumped, stored, and transported? There’s been some interesting research on how the freezing process affects the antioxidant and vitamin content of expressed breastmilk, for example – should babies fed expressed, donated milk only be given vitamin supplements? How does this affect infant health in the long term? What about ensuring that foremilk and hindmilk are balanced, by giving donating moms guidance on the best pumping practices? Does the milk of a mom nursing a toddler provide the best nutrition for a newborn, or should donations partnerships be based on age?

Lastly, rather than assuming other modes of milk sharing are safer (even if we intuitively believe that they are), can we study samples obtained from other types of donation arrangements, to put parents’ minds at rest? Do women who pump and store their own milk need to be concerned about bacterial contamination? (The lead author of the study, Dr. Sarah Keim, actually did offer some concrete suggestions to Medical News Today on improving the safety of pumped milk – things like sanitizing all containers and pump parts and freezing or refrigerating the milk within 6 hours.)

We cannot be scared of research, and we can’t get angry at it. But we can get angry at a media that grabs sensational headlines and runs so fast with them that we can’t catch up; we can be scared of an atmosphere that makes moms feel that their choices are limited to the lesser of two evils if they are unable to breastfeed. It’s our job, as advocates and care providers, to ensure that women aren’t given false ideas about risk in either direction, so that their “informed choices” can truly be informed.

Suzanne Barston is a maternal health advocate and freelance writer specializing in parenting, women’s interest, and science/health topics. She is the author of Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t and blogs as her alter ego, the “Fearless Formula Feeder”. She’s currently at work on an initiative to improve the perinatal experiences of women by addressing infant feeding intention and outcomes in an evidence-based, holistic manner.


Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Guest Posts, Newborns, Research, Social Media, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , ,

Milkscreen Breastfeeding Assessment Calculator; Reducing Mothers’ Breastfeeding Confidence?

April 23rd, 2013 by avatar

Press time update: Over the course of my research on Monday 4/22/13, I noticed that by the end of the day, Milkscreen’s main website no longer shows links to the Breastfeeding Assesment Calculator. The Facebook page for this product has also been removed.  An email received from the company confirms that the product has been removed from the website and retailers have been instructed to pull the product from the shelves. I can only speculate that this is due to pressure from social media. ~ Deena



© Deena Blumenfeld

I recently became aware of a new product, the Milkscreen Breastfeeding Assessment Calculator by Upspring Baby, designed to help new breastfeeding mothers be more confident in their breastfeeding abilities. This product tells them whether their milk supply is “low, normal or high” and how they can correct problems.  

This product assumes that many mothers are worried about having a low milk supply and therefore this product will reassure mothers that they are normal. To use this product, a mother must pump her milk. Additionally, this product assumes that pumping breastmilk will yield the same quantity as when a baby nurses.  We know: what a mother pumps is not indicative of what she may be producing to feed her baby. 

From the product description: 

“The Milkscreen Assessment home test determines daily breast milk supply. It was created to address the common concern many moms have: how much breast milk do I make and is that enough for my baby? Milkscreen Assessment gives mom confidence to keep breastfeeding by telling her how much breast milk she makes and how that relates to baby’s growth, identifying possible breastfeeding issues and providing recommendations on how to overcome these issues.”

This description may play directly into a mother’s fear that she isn’t making enough breastmilk for her baby. 

From the product box:

“Problem: About 50% of moms stop breastfeeding because they are concerned they don’t make enough milk for their baby. Solution: Milkscreen Calculator”

How do we know that this percentage is accurate? 

The company does not cite a source for this statement. Moms cease to breastfeed for many reasons, including, but not limited to; going back to work, pain while breastfeeding and personal preference. 

The real data on low milk supply

 An estimated 5% to 15% of all mothers experience either primary or secondary lactogenesis failure, with the actual numbers being unknown. 

Hypoplasia or Insufficient Glandular Tissue is a rare condition that some women may have. and it needs a clinical diagnosis to confirm. Many women with this condition supplement with donated breastmilk or formula while continuing to breastfeed.

I believe that the Milkscreen Calculator doesn’t help to eliminate low production worries, as advertised. I believe that it promotes this fear! 

How does Milkscreen test the breastmilk?

After scouring their website, I am not able to find any information on what nutrients they are testing for or what testing procedures they use because they don’t actually test the breastmilk! A mother doesn’t send the breastmilk to their lab for testing. A mother fills out a questionnaire and enters the amount of milk pumped in three pumping sessions, one hour apart. Milkscreen looks at a mother’s production level as “low, normal, or high” and gives her results and recommendations as to what to do if she’s having a problem, and then makes suggestions as to their other products she might like to purchase. 

From Milkscreen’s FAQ

How accurate is this test?

Milkscreen Assessment is modeled after a scientific paper, published in a peer-reviewed journal, and interpretation and recommendations provided in report are based on published scientific literature found in our list of references. However, each woman will respond differently to pumping breast milk. If a woman gets a result that shows low production, it’s possible that pumping was not as efficient for her as feeding at the breast.  In this case, the report will suggest to explore this possibility with a Lactation Consultant.

When I took a look through their references list, I was unable to find the paper they referred to.. They do offer useful citations and background information, but nothing supports the need or usefulness of this product.

From the video with breastfeeding expert Dr. Landers:

This test is based on data that are normative. Hundreds of mothers have had very special calculations of daily milk supply. Our test takes an estimated amount of breastmilk supply over a shorter period of time and lets a mother know if she’s low, normal or high. Milkscreen calculator is an estimate of the day’s milk production, but in a scientifically studied, peer reviewed paper it’s actually a good approximation….. This test is an accurate estimate of daily milk supply…. It is the growth of the baby that is the most important thing. Gives mom an idea of whether baby’s weight gain is low, normal or high. (Uses the WHO growth chart)”

If the growth of the baby is “the most important thing” why don’t we weigh and measure the baby. That would tell us if the breastmilk supply is adequate.

This product oversimplifies the issue of low milk supply. “Low, normal or high,” doesn’t give a mother any real data to go on.

How do others test* for nutritional quality of breastmilk?

The Mayo Clinic provides us with some insight as to how breastmilk is tested and what it is tested for. They use thin-layer chromatography (TLC)/colorimetry/spectrophotometry (SP)/other methodologies as appropriate. With their testing, they use samples that are 4-5ml of breastmilk.

From the Mayo Clinic:

“The nutritional content of breast milk changes considerably from day 1 to day 36 postpartum. Subsequent to that time the nutritional content is considered to be stable.

Measured nutritional components are glucose, lactose, triglyceride, and protein. Deficiency of any of the measured or calculated parameters is suggestive of decreased nutritional quality of human breast milk.”

Mayo Clinic, Breast Milk Nutritional Analysis

“Several different methods are used in the analysis of human breast milk. The sample is analyzed for triglycerides using an enzymatic method. One aliquot of breast milk is tested for total protein using biuret reagent and titration methodology and for measurement of glucose using a glucose oxidase method. A second aliquot of breast milk is pre-incubated with beta-galactosidase and glucose is measured. Lactose is calculated using results obtained by the methods listed above.”

*These tests are not FDA approved.

What is the rate of false positive / false negative results from the Milkscreen test?

An incorrect assessment can have a huge impact on the mother’s breastfeeding relationship. If a mother is led to believe falsely reassured that she is making enough milk, she may not seek appropriate help from a lactation consultant or other breastfeeding professional and her baby may suffer, Alternately, a mother may choose to supplement with formula when in fact, there was no issue or her supply could have been corrected with professional help.

Breastfeeding confidence 

In the video explaining the science behind Milkscreen, Dr. Landers states;  

“Anything we can do to help a new mom, especially a first time breastfeeding mom, to have confidence in her body’s ability to make milk and nourish her baby would be a huge, huge addition to our tools to help breastfeeding moms and babies. We know from clinical studies that moms stop breastfeeding because they think they don’t have enough breastmilk supply. It’s the mother’s perception of an inadequate supply and that she doesn’t know what she’s doing… Modern women don’t have confidence in that process (supply and demand). So one of the reasons this product is so important is that it is a huge confidence builder for the average mom.’

Phrases like  “they think they don’t have enough milk” and “mother’s perception of inadequate supply” or “doesn’t know what she is doing” reinforce the idea that women are not capable of being knowledgeable or confident about breastfeeding. 

© Deena Blumenfeld

Milkscreen Assessment also claims that if a mother has too much milk, she will likely have growth issues with her baby as well. They attribute this to the foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, including the problem of ‘loose stools’ with the infant.  Current research no longer supports the foremilk/hindmilk theory, and exclusively breastfed babies normally have loose, mustardy stool.  According to Kellymom.com, “Your breasts don’t “flip a switch” at some arbitrary point and start producing hindmilk instead of foremilk. Instead, think of the beginning of a nursing session as being like turning on a hot water faucet.” In other words, there is always fat in breastmilk but the quantity varies dependent upon how long baby nurses. Feeding from a relatively empty breast will yield a higher fat content in the milk. However, it’s the fat over the course of the day, not just in a single feeding which is important.

As educators and professionals, we know to refer a mother who is questioning her milk supply to seek help from a qualified lactation consultant or other breastfeeding professional.  Additionally, we can be sure that our breastfeeding and newborn care classes are evidence based, offer useful information and instill confidence in new mothers so they can start their breastfeeding relationship off on the right foot.  We also make sure that new mothers are aware of support groups and local resources that can help them if they run into problems and concerns. 

Lamaze’s Healthy Birth Practice #6: Keep Mother and Baby Together– It’s Best for Mother, Baby and Breastfeeding is a great resource for parents and includes a wonderful video for use in class. 

Resources and References:

 AAP Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk (2012) 

American Academy of Pediatrics, Adequacy of Milk Intake During Exclusive Breastfeeding: A Longitudinal Study, (2011)

Butte NF, Garza C, Smith EO, Nichols BL. Human milk intake and growth in exclusively breast-fed infants. J Pediatr. 1984 Feb;104(2):187-95.

Daly SEJ, DiRosso A, Owens RA, Hartmann PE. Degree of breast emptying explains changes in the fat content, but not fatty acid composition, of human milk. Exp Physiol 1993;78:741-55.

Highlights of, and thoughts regarding the AAP’s Policy Statement “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk”

Hurst, N (2007) Recognizing and Treating Delayed or Failed Lactogenesis II, Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health

“Hypoplasia/Insufficient Glandular Tissue.” KellyMom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

“I’m Confused about Foremilk and Hindmilk – How Does This Work?” KellyMom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.
 “I’m Not Pumping Enough Milk. What Can I Do?” KellyMom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.
“Is Baby Getting Enough Milk?” KellyMom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.
Mayo Clinic, Mayo Medical Laboratories Test ID: BMNA Breast Milk Nutritional Analysis
“What Affects the Amount of Fat or Calories in Mom’s Milk?” KellyMom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

 World Health Organization on Breastfeeding

Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Evidence Based Medicine, Guest Posts, Healthy Birth Practices, Healthy Care Practices, informed Consent, Newborns, Social Media , , , , , , ,

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