Monday, October 31, 2011

Changing the way we talk about breastfeeding... a controversial subject?

I'm constantly reminded of a speaker that I listened to at a International Breastfeeding conference last June when I read breastfeeding research articles and updates. Diane Wiessinger spoke about watching your language... In her speech she addresses how we approach breastfeeding and that our language may in fact be detrimental to our cause.
Take "Breast is Best" for example, of course the breast is best but by saying it this way we emphasize that it is superior when in fact it is normal. Formula is inferior! We often say things like, "the advantages of breastfeeding are..." and "by breastfeeding your baby will have less risk of..." Diane discusses how, though sometimes hard, we need to change our language to... "the disadvantages of formula feeding are...." and "by formula feeding, your baby will have an increased risk of..." Below is a copy of her article...
Globally we become so used to formula feeding as being the norm. In fact when we see moms breastfeeding in public we are shocked and apalled. It should be the other way around! Bottle feeding should be shunned and breastfeeding should not turn a head. Women should not be relegated to private areas, such as public bathrooms, when nurturing their child. Women should not be questioned about how old their child is and why they are still breastfeeding. Our society needs to embrace and support women who are breastfeeding not ostracize them.
I recently read an an update sent to me by UNICEF about research conducted at Oxford University in The United Kingdom about the reduced rates of diarrhea, lower respiratory tract infections, higher IQ and lower behavioral problems in those babies who are breastfed. This is very good and positive information but may be delivered in the wrong way. By saying it in this way we glorify breastfeeding. If we said it the other way around I'm sure that we will get the attention of many!
Take these ads for example...

"The original ad campaign was sponsored by the department's Office on Women's Health and developed by the Ad Council, a nonprofit group that produces public-service TV commercials. One spot shows a pregnant woman riding a mechanical bull while a voice-over says, "You wouldn't take such risks while you were pregnant -- why take them afterward? Babies were born to be breast-fed." Another ad features a hypodermic needle lying alongside a nipple-topped insulin bottle -- and states that formula-fed infants are 40% more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes. The ads aimed to shock women into an awareness that the risks of not breast-feeding their infants were real.
According to Gina Ciagne, a former public affairs specialist in the women's health office who worked on the campaign: "Very soft campaigns had always been used for breast-feeding. These weren't resonating. We needed something to break through the clutter."
Formula companies got wind of the ads on the Ad Council's website and immediately tried to kill them. Powerful economic interests were at stake. For Abbott Laboratories, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Wyeth Nutrition and Nestle Nutrition, feeding babies is big business. For instance, in 2006, according to public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Abbott Nutrition, a division of Abbott Laboratories and the industry leader, sold more than $1 billion worth of these products in the United States alone. "

Here is another one...

Interestingly enough, these ads were pulled. They were deemed too controversial. But that's the point, right? To raise awareness? I'm sure that this would get people's attention and maybe that is just what we need!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yay.... I passed my test. I'm now an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant!

So now what? I have been planning on becoming a lactation consultant for over a year now so you would think that I have a plan. Wrong! I guess I put it off just in case I didn't pass. That would have really put a damper on things.
Unfortunately, the economy doesn't really support the use of Lactation Consultants in hospitals as much as they should. In fact they are one of the first professions to experience cutbacks in the hospital. Its unfortunate because breastfeeding should be a high priority. If we could get more babies breastfed the health care costs in the long run would be dramatically affected. It's a known fact that breastfed babies have less risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, certain cancers, etc. I truly believe that we are seeing the ill effects of increased formula feeding throughout most developed countries. on a tangent.
So, do I pursue a private practice? Will it ever replace my nursing salary? Will it ever give my family the health benefits? So many questions at hand... With health care in the US due to drastically change in 2014 who knows whats going to happen.
For now I think I will explore my options and see where this new adventure leads me. I will continue to help the new mommy's in the NICU successfully breastfeed their babies and rest in the fact that I have made a difference in a few lives.
I must also say a big congratulations to two close friends who also passed the boards. May we be there for each other as we experience everything booby!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Labial adhesions...ever heard of it?

I know sounds odd... but until my daughter was diagnosed with it at her 1 year appointment I never knew it existed. I'm sure she is really going to appreciate the fact that I blogged about this when she gets older but I feel that there may be a good educational opportunity here.
Labial adhesions effects approximately 4% of little girls and is relatively benign (harmless). In fact, if the pediatrician hadn't spotted it I would have never even noticed. Basically, adhesions of the labia is where the labia minora begins to grow together; in a sense closing up the opening to the vagina and urethra. Medicine is not really sure why this happens but it may be due to low estrogen (once levels from the mother drop) and/or to a moist environment created by diapers. If left alone it usually corrects itself once the child is potty trained or once she reaches maturation and estrogen levels normalize. This is all great news unless the opening to the vagina and urethra are completely obstructed thus trapping urine. This could lead to further infection and increased rate of urinary tract infections.

As a mother, I hated the idea that my daughter may have some sort of "problems" with either elimination or sexual intimacy in the future. As a mother, you generally excessively worry anyhow :) So, how is it treated? There are different schools of we soon learned. Our first pediatrician (since changed because of this) advised us to slowly massage the tissue open every evening. In fact, she tore it open slightly during the office visit without even consulting us first. As you can imagine, this led to miserable diaper changes as I'm sure it was painful. As a mother and a nurse I felt immensely wrong about the entire process. I was sure that there was an alternative, after all, the tissue was going to have to heal and I knew that it was likely to heal back upon itself. After discussing with doctors (neonatologists) at work and doing some of my own research I eventually decided to find a new pediatrician and get a second opinion. I stopped massaging the area and monitored it as we noticed that the hole was getting smaller and smaller. When we finally saw the new doctor the hole was just big enough to squeeze urine through. This time around we were given much more reassuring news. Our doctor prescribed an estrogen cream to be applied daily and it would slowly open up again with minimal pain and/or side effects. Whew... that was a relief!
I'm here to say that at our 15 month check up today, Paige is free from adhesions and diaper changes are much more bearable. She is prone to get them again, but for now the cream is discontinued and we will have to keep a close eye on it. I'm just happy that she should no longer experience any pain associated with that region of her body and that she shouldn't have any residual effects into adulthood.
Moral of the story... always trust your intuition.
For further information regarding labial ahdesions check out....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thinking of Hiring a Doula?

When I decided to become a Birth doula the most commonly asked question was,  "What is a Doula?"
Doula Services

A doula is a woman who supports another woman and her birth partner during the birth process. She is there to support a woman physically and emotionally, collaborate with the healthcare team, and encourage and support the birth partner. She gives undivided attention to the mother, thus never leaving her side, while providing educated answers throughout the labor process. She is there to help with positioning, pain relief, massage and many other techniques such as hypnotherapy and aromatherapy.
There is a lot of great studies done on the outcomes of those who choose to hire a doula and this is why more and more women are choosing to work with a doula today.
  • 50% reduction in the cesarean rate
  • 25% shorter labor
  • 60% reduction in epidural requests
  • 40% reduction in oxytocin use
  • 30% reduction in analgesia use
  • 40% reduction in forceps delivery
Information was obtained from Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can HelpYou Have a Shorter Easier and Healthier Birth, Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus (1993).

I considered hiring a doula when I was pregnant with Paige but i had this notion that I only wanted my husband and I to be present during this special time. We looked into it but eventually decided against it as financially it wasn't feasible. Looking back I would have to say that my birth experience was amazing and went exactly how I wanted it to. I contribute that to several different factors. The main factor being that I was assigned a midwife and she never left my side. I didn't have to worry about getting a new midwife half way through as I wasn't laboring during a change of shift. She gave me her undivided attention and my mother-in-law (whom I invited to join us late in the game) reminded me that I focused on my midwife intently. She was my doula. I was also very fortunate to have a husband who was very actively involved. He felt every contraction with me, catered to my every need, breathed alongside me and even joined me in the tub for the entire 2 hours of pushing. Without all of these factors, the birth of my daughter could have very well been a different outcome.

I decided to become a doula because childbirth has always fascinated me. As a nurse I get to work with infants and their families, but it's often a very different situation when the babies are ill or premature. Being there to support a woman during one of her most vulnerable, fragile, life changing moments is a gift. Each birth I attend continues to amaze me as I see the transformation of a woman to a mother. To witness life firsthand is such a miracle and I look forward to many other lives that I hope to embrace.

All in all, I encourage everyone to research what a doula is and to explore the benefits to you and your family. It's important to get the laboring woman and her birth partner involved in the decision making as having everyone on board will reduce the amount of stress in the labor room and won't impede on the pending labor.

Women have been supporting women during childbirth since the beginning of time, it isn't until within the last half century that our current practices have started to take place. There is something to be said about having someone there who knows what you are experiencing and can lend a hand through her experience.

Below is a POWERFUL message from One World Birth!!!