Connection after breastfeeding

One of the finer things in life is to be able to enjoy some luxury when you rest, and for human beings, rest is a necessary thing when we want our bodies to recharge and operate in an optimal capacity. That is why there really is no limit to splurging on stuff when you want to be comfortable in your bedroom. In fact, one of the things that you can splurge on is a back rest pillow that is not only practical, but luxurious in its capacity.

There are many kinds of backrest pillow available. You can take your pick among Amazon’s many choices. However, for the purpose of achieving a dual goal in comfort and therapeutic benefits, then the typical back rest pillow will have to have more features built into it.

One kind of backrest support that you can opt for is the one specifically designed to help improve your backs condition by ergonomic design to help with your posture and support your lumbar region. There are many people who suffer from chronic back pain, mainly due to poor posture, and sometimes from injury. Much of the advice a therapist or chiropractor will give to a patient will mean having to adjust previously unfitted pillows, beds, and cushions that do not provide support, to orthopedic pillows and mattresses that support the joints and the natural curvature of the body. The perfect backrest support with can mean that people can actually relax and not feel bodily pain after resting for a while, as well you can use stretches and movements to reduce you body pain, for this you can check Erase my back pain reviews and with the help of the professionals find the right technique to solved you body pain.

My 3-year-old daughter recently found our old nursing pillow from this pillow collection in the closet. It had been about a year since we finished nursing, so I was surprised when she said, “Remember I used to lay on this?”

She didn’t remember actually nursing, though, and when I told her that’s how I used to feed her, she had a lot of questions like, “Was the food on the floor?” I explained what nursing was, and she smiled and asked sweetly, “Can we do that now?”

While we couldn’t nurse, I did set the pillow on my lap and let her climb up on it. She lay there smiling up at me and started twirling my hair, her favorite relaxing activity.

I hear a lot of moms who are starting to wean worrying that they’ll be sad once they’re done nursing, or that they’ll miss this time for connection.

My daughter and I have found many other ways of bonding as she’s grown older. There are more “I love yous” and kisses from her and more time for playing her favorite activities one-on-one. We still lie together often and bedshare part of the night. While these activities aren’t quite replacements for nursing, they are wonderful ways that we can keep a strong attachment.

After she laid on the nursing pillow on my lap, we were able to play together for about 30 minutes while her brothers were playing on their own. She created a game for us where she’d pretend that it was nighttime and we would pretend to sleep, sharing a pillow and cuddling under the same blanket.

It’s nice for us to reminisce about the time we nursed and to remember that it was one of the ways that our attachment developed in her earliest years, but we’re still enjoying other opportunities for connection now. And I know that even when she’s older and these games are over, there will be other things to replace them, such as times where we can talk about her day at school or other one-on-one activities we can do together.

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Inspired to read more about breastfeeding?

API’s Breastfeeding Library

Nature’s Case for Breastfeeding

The Real Breastfeeding Story

A story of working and breastfeeding, and staying determined

Editor’s pick: To promote breastfeeding is to promote Attachment Parenting

4 ideas for gentle weaning

Morning cuddles: a story of child-led weaning

When Your Partner Wants You to Wean: Heart Advice for Nursing Mothers

5 tips for a strong nursing relationship while working away from home

10 tips for nurturing attachment during the holidays

pixabay-tips-for-attachment-parenting-during-holidaysThe holidays are an exciting time for children. The gifts, the lights, the decorations, the food, the family gathering — the list goes on and on. But in the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to lose sight of the values we want to pass down to our children, such as strengthening and maintaining a strong parent-child attachment.

Here are 10 tips to nurture attachment with our children during the holidays:

  1. You are the best gift“Living in a split-attention society, many children have rarely experienced the full, uninterrupted attention of a parent.” Stacy inspires us to give our children what they really want: Our time.
  2. Emphasize family time “The best present we are getting each other this year is time together.” Scylla encourages all of us to intentionally spend time together as a family in our annual holiday traditions.
  3. Santa or not, don’t use gifts as a bribe“Our family does Santa, but we don’t use him as a discipline tactic. The kids have no idea of the notion that they ‘must be good’ so Santa will come.” Sarah suggests that we keep the spirit of the holidays without any of the shame.
  4. Protect your child’s sleep“Don’t disrupt your normal sleep arrangements. If you normally cosleep, continue to do so.” Especially while traveling, Jasmine reminds us to continue nighttime parenting and safe infant sleep guidelines despite the holiday.
  5. Inspire the spirit of giving“For the first time ever, the school-aged children beamed with pride over the effort put into their gifts and the expectant joy when the receiver opened them. The emphasis was now on the making and giving rather than the receiving.” Judy offers a list of gifts that children of all ages can make and reclaim the spirit of the holidays.
  6. Rethink holiday treats“Many of my holiday memories revolve around food. Now that we are starting our own family traditions, I am trying to incorporate the fun and pleasure of holiday goodies without the overload of sugar. As a parent, it is my responsibility to nurture a taste for nutritious foods.” Dionna inspires us with tips to make holiday treats that are both special and healthier.
  7. Strive for balance“Especially going into the holidays, I find that it’s easy to lose days to errands, decorating, and purchasing presents. I get to the end of the day and feel like it was lost.” API Leader Sonya Feher reminds us to take some down time for ourselves.
  8. If you’re breastfeeding, take advantage“The holidays can be overwhelming to little ones, so time spent breastfeeding can be like a retreat. It’s a quick and easy way to reconnect and helps restore calm and reduce overstimulation. When I’m nursing, I also get the chance to sit down, put my feet up, and let some other folks do the work for a bit.” Amber encourages breastfeeding mothers to make the most of breastfeeding, both for their children and themselves, during the overstimulating holidays.
  9. Model discipline“Christmas can be a tricky season as far as discipline goes. There are presents stacked under the tree. There are cookies and sweets everywhere. There is constantly family, noise, and activity. It is very hard to stay disciplined ourselves, and it is the same for our children.” Jasmine reminds us to teach our children through example of how to navigate boundaries during the holidays.
  10. Plan on growth — “I resolve to practice positive discipline, not to spank or use rewards or punishments to coerce behavior.” Never big on making New Year resolutions, Christina explains why she had a change of heart.

Nurturing parenting is an essential basic need of all children

“There is a sensible way of treating children. … Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit in your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say good night. Shake hands with them in the morning. Give them a pat on the head if they have made an extraordinarily good job of a difficult task. Try it out. … You will be utterly ashamed of the mawkish, sentimental way you have been handling it. … When I hear a mother say ‘Bless its little heart’ when it falls down, or stubs its toe, or suffers some other ill, I usually have to walk a block or two to let off steam. Can’t the mother train herself when something happens to the child to look at its hurt without saying anything…?” ~ Psychological Care of Infant & Child by James B. Watson, Norton Press, 1928

Reading this excerpt of a wildly popular parenting book from 1928, as you breastfeed your baby or cosleep with your toddler or cuddle with your preschooler or hug your preteen or put your arm around your teen’s shoulders, how do you feel it was like for your great-grandmother to be admonished for instinctively loving her child, only to be told that her instinct is exactly what would damage that child?

Parenting has come along way since 1928. john bowlby with richard bowlbyBy the time our grandparents were caring for their babies in the 1950s, psychoanalyst John Bowlby was making great strides in scientific circles with research demonstrating the enormous impact that nurturing — and lack of nurturing — had on child development. This important body of research has since greatly influenced parenting advice.

Eventually Bowlby’s work would be integrated into the ever-expanding domains of research, including breastfeeding science, that has sent a shock wave of nurturing-oriented parenting around the world.

In 1994, as our parents were caring for us at home, La Leche League Leaders and schoolteachers Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson cofounded Attachment Parenting International as a way to educate and support parents in raising children with abundant warmth and nurturing. The tide was still changing then, but today, we are free to nurture our children without a feeling of shame. We can kiss and hug them. We can let them sit on our laps.

best-gift-yourselfThe child-rearing “experts” just a few generations ago would be appalled at how today’s parent educators encourage affection, nurturing touch, and comforting of our children. Research has since established how incredibly beneficial — in fact, absolutely critical — to child development that we are nurturing toward our babies and children.

But the impacts of the hands-off approach to parenting that our great-grandmothers experienced has had far-reaching effects. Remnants survive still today. They’re there whenever someone asks us if our baby is sleeping through the night yet, or suggests we try “cry it out” to teach our baby to self-soothe, or warns us that holding our baby too much will spoil her, or insists that babies be weaned by their first birthday, or maintains that children be spanked, or advises any parenting approach that promotes so-called early independence and obedience over normal, healthy child development and sensitively met needs.

We hear it from our family members, our schools, our pediatricians, our politicians, parenting books that continue to be published influenced by this old-fashioned thinking despite the mountains of research to the contrary — ideas of how children should be raised, based on personal opinion rather than research-backed fact, subtle revelation of how our society is still scared of giving “too much” nurturing to our children. It’s a pervasive situation that still needs to be addressed.

janetThe fact is, nurturing isn’t damaging. Babies and children need nurturing like they need food or shelter — nurturing is an essential basic need — and they are biologically designed to expect and receive nurturing.

Nurturing parenting is actually easier in the long term than the hands-off approach first touted to our great-grandmothers and continued to be promoted in widespread advice, not only because responsive parents are not constantly fighting their own instincts and therefore undermining their confidence, but also because responsive parenting prevents future parenting lornaissues, like behavior problems, that arise from not meeting our babies’ and children’s biological needs. A child who grows up learning that his biological needs for nurturing will go unmet or be misunderstood is a child who will increasingly develop ways of communication and interaction that are less healthy in future relationships.

Nurturing parenting is an early investment whose payoff continues well beyond the short term. When a child’s biological need for nurturing is consistently met, positive discipline naturally emerges. The trust that children develop 865056_grand_mother_and_childas a result of having their emotional needs met sets a foundation of parent-child interaction that doesn’t have to rely on threats, shame, punishment, rewards, or other forms of coercion for behavior control.

Research and children unanimously agree that warm and nurturing parenting is not only optimal, but required for healthy development. The child’s brain develops in response to the care received, so children with less optimal caregiving are more likely to experience challenges not only in their childhoods but across their lifetimes.

Reams of research tell us the obvious: that high levels of family stress can contribute to profound effects on a child’s ability to learn, remember, emotionally self-regulate, and succeed in adulthood.

Many parents carry with them the unaddressed traumas of childhood with limited nurturing or harshness, passed down through the generations since their great-grandparents’ time. This trauma legacy may show up in subtle, or obvious, over-reactions or under-reactions to normal, healthy child behaviors. We silently pass the legacy to our children and their children when we fail to observe the effect on our families and instead find confirmation and justification in the surviving remnants of 1928 child-rearing advice still popular today.

Research is continually finding new ways to illustrate the impact of abundant nurturing on our children. Brain scans show physical differences between the shape and connectivity of different areas of the brain involved in socio-emotional and cognitive functioning. Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) studies outline shockingly common, everyday interactions and events that are processed, but remain unrecognized, as traumas that can increase risk of not only mental but physical illness. Tests on heart function and hormone levels reflect how the body reacts to emotionally stressful events that were previously assumed limited to our thoughts.

Increasingly, we are learning that our emotional psychology has as physical roots as our bodily health — and how much our experiences as babies and young children, especially, form a foundation that can either be stable and secure, or predispose us to a susceptibility of lifelong difficulties.

Attachment Parenting International works to bring a wide body of authoritative, decades-worth of scientific evidence, as well as emerging research, to support parents and influence professionals and society. The common theme of this research clearly points to the critical importance of nurturing our children and describes behaviors that can provide this type of caregiving.

The research calls for parents to examine their assumptions, expectations, and thoughts regarding child-rearing and to then make changes to how they view themselves, children, and parenting to better reflect their goals, values, and healing. Many parents choose not to do this — to instead parent on autopilot, which is easier than parenting with intention — but our unexamined, default modes of parenting are how family legacies of pain pass silently from one generation to the next.

support1Our children are worth the effort to do the best we can. They’re our future, and we want them to be ready and excited for that future, free of emotional traumas borne of parenting ideas of nearly a century ago. Your donation helps Attachment Parenting International support parents. Every dollar counts.

Breastfeeding bliss

Attachment Parenting International is pleased to announce that we are taking part in World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), August 1-7. Check daily for posts about breastfeeding.

The 2016 theme of World Breastfeeding Week is “Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development” and centers on how breastfeeding is not only the cornerstone of a child’s healthy development, but also the foundation of a society’s healthy development. This annual observance is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, which has granted permission to reprint the following post:

Many great things emerge from ideas born in basements, there will also be the option to find the multi-award winning breastfeeding covers from Bebitza, an item you need for your breastfeeding experience.

Once upon a time, 25 years ago, in the basement of the UNICEF building in New York City, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action was formed. A year after the Innocenti Declaration of 1990 formally recognized the unique nature of breastfeeding, came the call for concerted global action. So in 1991, a consensus was reached on the need for a global secretariat to coordinate collective efforts.

WABA is now a global alliance with more than 300 organizational endorsers and works across the spectrum to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding — from United Nations institutions to mother support groups, with physicians, midwives, and healthcare professionals, to health ministries, from academics to activists. Over the years, the variety of actions at all levels — from global to local — has contributed to positive change in policy and practice.

WABA today strives to live up to our name:

World — we are global in our ambitions and reach.
Alliance — we work in cooperation with like-minded people and organizations.
Breastfeeding — is basic to human well-being and sustainability and cuts across very many important issue. And finally,
Action — because for change to happen, we need more than just the head and heart to engage in the process. We also need the hands.
Through the annual flagship program, World Breastfeeding Week, WABA has made a significant contribution to keeping breastfeeding on the global development agenda. WBW themes are always relevant and popular, involving established and new partners that make up this movement.

Global breastfeeding rates have stagnated for decades. But some countries and regions have made significant progress. Where coordinated action is at several levels, positive change is not only possible but remarkable.

Globalization and urbanization have brought not only positive effects, but also challenges. Inequities, unemployment, poverty, ill health, war and violence, humanitarian crises, climate change, and environmental degradation have accelerated and are exacerbated. Too many countries face the double burden of both under- and over-nutrition.

The 2016 Lancet series on a review of evidence about breastfeeding dispels any doubt that the key actions to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding are still valid. They are valid in all settings regardless of socioeconomic status. The UN-initiated Global Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative is actively demanding a priority spot on the political agenda for breastfeeding. In celebrating our Silver Anniversary, WABA has a golden opportunity to galvanize more coordinated and innovative actions to deal with the changing landscape.

At the center of WABA’s work are the mother and child. They should be surrounded by a warm chain of support for breastfeeding from the husband or partner, extended family and friends, community, health care workers, employers and workplaces, policy makers, and institutions. Empowerment is essential.

Every mother and child should find themselves in an environment that is supportive and enabling toward breastfeeding. WABA believes this is possible, now and for the future of this planet on which we live.

Let’s work for this together!

 

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A Post We Love! I breastfed my preschooler for (somewhat) selfish reasons

Blog post we love badge jpgEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) is so grateful to the parents who share their experiences on this blog. Many of our writers have their own personal blogs where they share more about their unique brand of Attachment Parenting. We want to take the opportunity to highlight blog posts beyond API that capture the essence of API’s Eight Principles of Parenting:

Today, we want to recognize a post written by Krystal Newton, a stay-at-home mom to 2 boys, on her blog, Mommy Laughs:

“I have been parenting the only way that feels right, and it just so happens to fall into the Attachment Parenting message. When I wrote this blog post, I wanted to reach out to women struggling with making the decision to breastfeed long-term. I want them to see that it’s a beautiful relationship and an opportunity to just take a step back, to settle down, and to have a few peaceful moments with your child.” ~ Krystal

krystal newton, mommy laughs, preschool post highlightI Breastfed My Preschooler For Selfish Reasons

… I don’t breastfeed my 3 year old for the nutritional benefits (though those are a plus) or to make a statement. I don’t breastfeed him, because it’s the only way I know to comfort him or because I refuse to let him grow up. I breastfeed my 3 year old, because in those short quiet moments, I have the ability to pause my hectic life and love him, snuggle him, and reminisce on our journey. It forces me to slow down and notice the little things: How his hair sweeps over his eyebrows, how the dimples in his hands are disappearing, how he smirks in his sleep, and how beautiful he is. These quiet snuggles are less frequent as he grows so incredibly independent. While the benefits of extended breastfeeding are endless, my reasoning for choosing to let Colton decide to wean are somewhat selfish in that I love nursing him just as much as he does…

Read the entire post here, and enjoy!

WBW 2016: A story of working and breastfeeding, and staying determined

wbw2016-logo-textEditor’s note: Yesterday, we read 5 tips for breastfeeding mothers returning to work outside the home. For this day of World Breastfeeding Week, we share another breastfeeding mother’s story of working and child-led weaning:

My daughter recently weaned after 3 and 1/2 years of nursing. We did baby-led weaning, so there were no tears shed — on either side. That I was set for failure to begin with in so many ways makes me want to share my story with others, especially working moms.

A Hard Start

As an older parent, with a cesarean birth, I was faced with the same struggles so many new moms struggle with: no to little milk supply for the first few weeks…no milk reflex that every breastfeeding book and counselor tell you about, for weeks…advice about pumping, giving formula, different nursing positions, and so on. But I stayed determined to breastfeed my baby!

My daughter spent some time in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). We were given the option of giving her donated breastmilk instead of formula, which we chose. Later, I found out that the breastmilk came from the first milk bank in Oregon, started just 3 years earlier!

At home, I did have to supplement with formula, but before every formula-feeding, I nursed her until she wouldn’t take more. Eventually after a few weeks, my milk supply did improve.

Returning to Work

After 8 weeks of maternity leave, when I got back to work, initially I tried to get to my baby to nurse her once during the day, but it affected both of our day time routines so much that I started pumping while at work instead. Before you return to your work, make sure your child safe with the nurse. It has seen many times nurses, neglect the baby, or abuse them or make them starve while parents are not around. Make sure the nurse don’t abuse your kid or neglect your kid. If any kind of abuse or negligence happened, protect your kid by engaging with the nursing home abuse lawyer Boston MA.

This is usually the time that babies develop a nipple preference — the breast or the bottle. In order to mitigate that, we followed a persistent routine with another caregiver offering her pumped milk and I always breastfed her on demand when home after work and on weekends.

At work, I exchanged notes with other moms who had done this before me. Every bit of encouragement and advice went a long way in taking us through the first year.

Somewhere along the way, during the 4- to 5-month mark, I had more milk than my baby needed and I made sure I froze the extra.

Breastfeeding Beyond 1 Year

The cultural expectation to wean around 1 year was a huge shocker. Most moms, family, and friends I interacted with thought 1 year of breastfeeding was enough and sufficient. Breastfeeding a baby on demand, especially at night, does take a toll on moms and this, I heard, is a big reason why many decide to wean at around the 1-year mark. But the ignorance, for a lack of better word, on why one would breastfeed beyond infancy took me some time to understand.

divya singh 1I educated myself and my family about the benefits of breastfeeding beyond infancy. This was especially important since my own parents had brought me and my siblings up in India in the late 1970s and ’80’s when formula and bottle-feeding were marketed as the pathways to “better nutrition” and “women’s empowerment” for middle-class families. I have lost count of the number of arguments I had with my own mother about why it was so important for me to take breastfeeding into my daughter’s second year.

Nighttime Nursing & Workday Mornings

As a family, we transitioned our daughter from her bassinet to cosleeping as soon as she was done with swaddling and had figured out the night-day difference around 3 to 4 months old. Nighttime and early morning nursings became a lot easier as a result.

My workday mornings were playful, fun, and challenging at the same time, especially to get out of the house. Breastfeeding in the mornings is not easy and for obvious reasons not workable for many working families. My mornings had to start at least 2 to 3 hours before I had to leave for work, so I had enough time before my baby was up to take care of morning chores, not rush her through nursing, and get an early start to work.

During a critical phase of a project at work, for months I would use alarms to wake myself up in the middle of the night after few hours of sleep. In all those moments, I just had to remind myself that even this would pass, to stay determined on my breastfeeding goals, and to keep going.

Our Marriage

At nights, nursing to put her to bed meant often that the dishwasher wasn’t loaded and the kitchen was a mess. Nursing on demand also meant that my husband had to pick up on chores where I left off. What resulted was a true partnership.

A Change in Jobs

When our daughter was born, my husband and I had jobs in different cities. We had figured our leave schedule so we were together the first year. After that, while we were still figuring out how to work it all out, there was an academic semester of my husband’s that I had to manage as a single mom with some domestic help and baby in daycare. It was one of the toughest times I had managing work and home and gave me a better appreciation of what was needed for my family.

At that point, I decided to change my job to one where the immediacy of deadlines was less intense. Leaving a project and team I loved dearly was not an easy decision, but something had to change.

Soon afterwards, as luck would have it, my husband was able to move his academic job to a branch campus much closer to home. All in all, it meant that it was only after her second birthday that we both could see her go to bed and get up in the morning every day of the week. Separation from her father for extended periods of time in the first 2 years also meant that our daughter grew much more attached to me then her father and her need for attachment and comfort with me would have made it very hard to wean her earlier.

Weaning

Two years and counting, I wondered when I was going to get my full night uninterrupted sleep. This is when I reached out to other moms at work who had followed baby-led weaning to hear their stories and experiences. We have this amazing working moms network where members respond to questions on a variety of parenting topics. We also have a moms mentoring program. This is especially important in a workplace that operates around the clock and therefore is obviously fraught with challenges for young families. Hearing from others that every child does wean themselves with some support from the moms when they are ready made all the difference for me.

Another big change was I had a job that offered me much more flexibility in the hours I spent at work or doing weekend coverage. Once we made the decision about following baby-led weaning, I had to come to terms with our nursing routine. By this time, I had nursed her wherever we traveled in India and the United States, from trains to buses, flights and metros, and all kinds of public spaces. We had managed 2 tough winters of daycare infections coming home and the long night nursings that come with a sick baby. By the third winter, however, I could already see the benefits of stronger immunity that my daughter developed due to extended breastfeeding.

And here we are. My daughter has weaned. All in all, my breastfeeding and baby-led weaning experience has given me confidence in my parenting journey.

WBW 2016: 5 tips for a strong nursing relationship while working away from home

wbw2016-logo-textEditor’s note: Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals central to World Breastfeeding Week this year is a call for better workplace support of breastfeeding women. Certainly employers have a large part to play in meeting this goal, but women also need step up to advocate for themselves, their babies, and their right to express breastmilk while at work:

It’s that day…the dreaded day that no new mother wants to face — the last day of maternity leave.

For a mother able to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave afforded by the Family & Medical Leave Act, the last 3 months in baby bliss may instead feel like 3 short weeks, but regardless of the maternity leave length, the end of that special period arouses many emotions, especially for a nursing mother.

Naturally, a nursing mother’s mind becomes occupied with fears and questions:

  • How will I be able to provide enough milk while I am away?
  • What if my baby refuses a bottle?
  • Where will I find enough time to pump while I’m trying to work?
  • How will my boss and coworkers feel when I need time to pump?
  • What will happen to our nursing relationship?

This uncertainty creates even more stress and anxiety for the breastfeeding and working-away-from-home mother for she knows the important role breastfeeding plays in a secure attachment in addition to the numerous health benefits.

Mommy Kissing Baby LContinued nursing after the maternity leave period helps maintain a strong attachment between mother and baby. In his book, The Attachment Parenting Book, Dr. William Sears includes a chapter entitled “Working and Staying Attached,” in which he points out that giving your baby your milk is a very important way of staying attached to your baby after returning to work. Expressing milk for baby to drink during the day allows mother to, in a sense, be with baby while she is away at work. When mother and baby are reunited, their attachment through breastfeeding can resume as if she never left.

Nursing beyond maternity leave not only helps strengthen attachment but also provides numerous health benefits for the nursing mother and her nursling.  In 2012, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published their policy statement, “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk,” in Pediatrics. In this document, the AAP notes the numerous benefits of nursing, including those of nursing beyond 3-4 months. Some of these benefits for baby include a lower risk for developing serious colds, asthma, and other allergies; Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; and childhood and adult obesity. For the nursing mother, benefits include a lower risk of diabetes for mothers not diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a lower chance of arthritis, and breast and ovarian cancers. Essentially, the longer a mother can provide her baby with mother’s milk, the more health benefits received by both mother and baby.

In order to continue a secure attachment and experience the health benefits of breastfeeding, nursing mothers can maintain a strong nursing relationship while working away from home by following a few simple tips:

  1. Know your breastfeeding rights — Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, many U.S. employers must provide a nursing mother with break time and a place to pump for up to 1 year after the birth of her baby. It is to be noted that companies with less than 50 employees are exempt from this law and instead offer pumping breaks at the discretion of the employer. Information, along with instructions for filing a complaint, can be found through the United States Department of Labor. Many other countries have generous allowances for nursing mothers at work, so be sure to check with your nation’s laws.
  2. Plan a pumping schedule — This schedule will differ from mother to mother. Planning to nurse right before being separated from baby and as soon as mother and baby are reunited can help reduce the amount of pumping sessions needed at work. While at work, a mother should try to pump about every 3-4 hours. For a mom working an 8-hour shift, she might pump once in the morning, once during her lunch, and once in the afternoon. The idea is that for each time baby receives expressed milk from his or her care provider, mother is pumping. In doing this, mother should be able to pump the amount of milk that baby will consume the following day. Talk with a local breastfeeding specialist for a pumping schedule tailored to your work environment and other needs.
  3. Discuss needed accommodations with employer — When a mother meets with her employer, she should be prepared by knowing her legal rights. A working-away-from- home mother should inform her employer of the needed accommodations before returning to work. The employer may need some time to make changes in order to accommodate the nursing mother. When the mother meets with her employer, she should provide her employer with a copy of her nursing schedule. This may also include pumping space accommodations. For example, the room where milk will be expressed needs to have an easy-to-access electrical outlet and should be heated and cooled.
  4. Nurse on demand — Although a working mother must have a pumping schedule while at work, at home, she can nurse her baby on demand. Nursing on demand means that a nursing mother nurses when cued by the baby. This might be every 30 minutes or every 2 hours. Since how much milk produced is based on demand, a nursling can help increase a mother’s supply by nursing frequently. Nursing on demand also allows baby to re-establish the nursing bond that was missed during the day. Nursing on demand can continue during the night. Frequent night nursing may lead to reverse cycling, meaning the baby will nurse more frequently during the night than he or she does during the day. Some mothers who encourage reverse-cycling find that they don’t need to pump as much while at work during the day. For example, a baby may only drink 4-5 ounces of milk while his or her mother is at work, but the remaining amount of milk needed will be attained during the evening and all through the night. Essentially, in 24 hours, the baby will have consumed his or her total amount of milk needed.
  5. Get support — Most nursing mothers need support throughout the breastfeeding journey, and nursing mothers that work away from home are no exception. La Leche League International and other nonprofit organizations provide local and online opportunities for mothers to connect and support each other.

While the end of maternity leave marks a transitional period for mother and baby, a strong nursing relationship can be maintained by carefully preparing for this changed and remaining dedicated to the desire to nourish baby with mother’s milk.

WBW 2016: Historical trauma, breastfeeding, and healing with Camie Jae Goldhammer

wbw2016-logo-textEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International hopes you enjoy this throwback Thursday post, originally published August 7, 2015. It remains a great example of breastfeeding as part of sustainable development, the theme of World Breastfeeding Week this year:

It is often noted that part of what makes breastfeeding so challenging at times is that in our Western culture, we just don’t see breastfeeding happening on a regular basis.

Nursing in public is still a rare occurrence relatively, especially without a nursing cover. Breastfeeding mothers are still getting kicked out of restaurants and stores. A photo of a breastfeeding baby with more of the breast exposed than a tidbit between folds of fabric can result in an entire Facebook page being shut down. Children are still encouraged to feed their dolls with a bottle, rather than at the breast, in public places like childcare centers and preschool. Working mothers, at many places of employment, continue to be directed to broom closets and bathrooms to pump…if they are allowed adequate pump breaks at all. The working and breastfeeding law doesn’t cover everyone!

Even with all the advances our medical community has made in promoting and supporting breastfeeding, our culture remains woefully behind in some ways. What shame there is in strangers’ claims of indecency!

camieIn May of 2015, I attended a portion of the Standing Bear Symposium in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, to hear Camie Jae Goldhammer, MSW, LICSW, IBCLC, present “Mitakuye Oyasin: Health and Healing through Motherhood.”

Camie is a clinical social worker and lactation consultant, the founder and chair of the Native American Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington, a founding member of the Collaborative for Breastfeeding Action and Justice, and a member of the Native American Women’s Dialogue on Infant Mortality.

As a Native American herself — Sisseton-Wahpeton — she is intimately aware of the challenges of breastfeeding women among Native Americans. It helps put non-Native American cultural challenges surrounding breastfeeding into perspective and can give us understanding of why culture can seem to be so slow to change on the view of breastfeeding. Let’s look at the very critical factor of historical trauma.

What is Historical Trauma?

We understand what trauma is: something horrific that happened, that has lasting, often debilitating, effects collectively known as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Symptoms can include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Disturbing dreams of the traumatic event
  • Emotional distress
  • Avoidance of places, activities or people that remind of the traumatic event
  • Becoming emotionally numb or inability to feel happiness
  • Negativity toward self or others
  • Amnesia about the traumatic event
  • Difficulty in close relationships
  • Irritability and aggression
  • High anxiety, particularly a feeling to always be on guard for danger
  • A sense of overwhelming guilt or shame; and others.

Historical trauma is when the same traumatic event happens to an entire generation of people. Because it happened to the entire generation, there was no guidance within that generation as to how to heal from the trauma so that the PTSD behavior is transferred inter-generationally through the the parents’ thinking and behavior. And the same PTSD behavior continues to be passed down through the family tree, when healing has not occurred, with the trauma showing up generations later in certain stereotypical mannerisms attributed to that particular culture.

Camie shared an example of the Jewish people, in whom traits like high anxiety, overprotectiveness, and extreme frugality are seen as the stereotypical traits of this culture. These traits are also documented byproducts of the Holocaust among survivors. Without knowing it, Holocaust survivors passed these PTSD behaviors as family values to their children in how they coped with their trauma. And their children passed them to their children as part of their lifestyle, and so on and so on…to a point in their family tree where people with no firsthand exposure to the Holocaust continue to display the same PTSD-like behavior generations later.

That’s historical trauma.

Camie gave other examples of culture suffering from historical trauma: the peoples of Cambodia, Russia and India as well as the Native Americans.

How Does Historical Trauma Relate to Breastfeeding?

Among Native Americans living on a reservation, breastfeeding rates are extremely low. Statistics depend on the exact location, but here are the breastfeeding hurdles common to most reservation, to give you the big picture:

  • High teen pregnancy rates
  • No local obstetrician services so most women do not receive any prenatal care and therefore no breastfeeding education
  • Very few local lactation specialists, especially among peers
  • Low pump-at-work support from employers
  • Access to free formula through federal nutrition programs.

But these are surface symptoms of the real problem: The historical trauma of generations of oppression of native parenting, including breastfeeding.

Camie detailed 6 phases of unresolved grief through the generations of Native Americans:

  1. Colonization by white people – Besides introducing disease and alcohol, there was much death among native peoples at this time, including genocide.
  2. Economic competition – Native peoples began losing their ability to be self-sufficient, beginning to rely on trade with the white people for supplies.
  3. Invasion and war – White people begin exterminating native peoples, and those who don’t die become refugees.
  4. Subjugation through reservations – Native peoples are confined to locations often very different than their homelands and are forced to depend on their oppressors.
  5. Boarding schools – Native children are forcibly removed from their birth families to be educated in a foreign religion and customs, and were severely physically punished as they were forced to conform. This generation is called the “lost generation,” as 70% of native children were taken from their families and culture.
  6. Forced out of reservations – After the boarding schools were closed, white people resorted to forcing adolescent native youth to live off the reservations in what they called “red ghettos” in U.S. cities, away from their families and culture as an attempt to give them a better life than on the reservations.

From generation to generation — because each of these traumas were happening to all the peoples of each generation — there have been terrible, widespread effects on Native Americans, particularly those who live on reservations. The poorest areas in the United States — some without running water, even — are located on reservations. The generational response to this succession of historical trauma has resulted in:

  • Clinical PTSD
  • Depression
  • Unidentified/unsettled emotional trauma, which is displayed through mental illness, anxiety disorders and anger issues
  • High mortality rates, including suicide and murder
  • High rates of alcoholism, domestic violence and child abuse.

What’s more, there is also a prevalent discouragement from bettering oneself, because it feels like a betrayal of past generations that suffered and lost so much.

Women, specifically, have lost confidence in their bodies and their ability to mother, and have learned to defer their decision-making potential to a male-dominated culture. Native women see menstruation, childbirth and breastfeeding as shameful. The generational wounds of native women include:

  • Loss of empowerment in the mother role
  • Devaluation of native parenting, which embodies a feeling that parenting is a sacred responsibility, that children have wisdom, that children are the future of the Nation and therefore need to be raised with a sense of incredible value.

Because breastfeeding equals maternal power, how do we expect a native woman to breastfeed if this — disempowerment and devaluation — is what she feels like?

Breastfeeding Can Heal Generations

In her private practice, Camie works off the 7th Principle, meaning that whatever a person’s choices, that person’s actions have a ripple effect to the next 7 generations. Camie believes that breastfeeding can change everything…in how we view children, mothers, families, parenting, community, generations and humankind overall.

Breastfeeding is a statement: that a mother, family, community and culture is willing to give the best to their children. Breastfeeding is a protest to a culture that devalues children and families.

Breastfeeding is an act of power. The top causes of infant mortality among native peoples are Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infection and influenza. The risk of each can be lowered through breastfeeding.

Camie’s great-great-great-grandmother was the last generation since Camie to breastfeed her children. This relative had 5 sons and all were forcibly removed one day by the U.S. government to grow up in boarding schools. How they each coped with this separation and loss of culture rippled through the generations until it seemed that the knowledge and art of breastfeeding, and mothering, had been lost.

But it was not lost on Camie. She breastfed her oldest for 4 years, and is currently breastfeeding her 3 1/2 year old. Camie seemed to be born with the desire to always question the status quo.

Camie talked about how trauma, historical or individual, will always be passed down through each generation until someone is able to step back and question why their family does things a certain way and is willing to look deeply into that family’s trauma to heal.

Cultural Changes Helping Mothers to Breastfeed, Too

The culture has changed its attitude toward native mothers, too. Western culture has worked to help heal the emotional wounds of Native Americans, though there is still so much work to do. Camie identified these needs among native mothers to improve breastfeeding rates, which are not so different than what we all — Native American or not — need from Western society:

  • Support from peers, especially those trained as lactation specialists
  • Prenatal education specific to breastfeeding and emotional barriers, such as not wanting baby to be physically close, a sign of unidentified trauma
  • Targeted breastfeeding education to mother’s support persons, especially grandmothers, sisters, aunts and other women who the mother relies on for emotional support.

The Strength of a Breastfeeding Mother

After Camie’s talk ended, several native mothers shared their amazing stories of breastfeeding success against all odds. One woman told of how her boyfriend threatened to beat her if she continued to breastfeed past 6 months, so she would sneak the baby into the shower and other out-of-the-way places in the home to breastfeed until she was able to get out of that abusive relationship. It took months, but she is still breastfeeding — now tandem-nursing that older child alongside a newborn.

Another mom told of how she gave birth to her first child when she was still a high school student, but the school wouldn’t allow her to pump, so she hand-expressed breastmilk in the school bathroom. She talked about how she would leak breastmilk during the day and would have to put up with negative comments from peers and teachers about that.

The undercurrent through both of these and other stories is women finding their power as mothers, reclaiming their confidence as women.

White American Mothers, Historical Trauma and Breastfeeding

161052_1659While Camie’s presentation was directly related to the Native America culture and breastfeeding, I think it can be easily applied to any population of women living in a culture struggling with supporting breastfeeding.

I am not Native American, but as the typical white American, I can look back in my family tree and see the history of breastfeeding is much the same as it was for my white American friends: After World War II, formula really took hold as the “best” way to feed babies, so much that the medical community was recommending formula over breastfeeding. The only families that were breastfeeding for any length of time typically were the poorest families, those who couldn’t afford the cost of formula. Formula also gave mothers the choice to be able to work outside the home, a freedom of choice that coincided with the feminism movement. At the same time, however, our white American mothers were losing the significance of breastfeeding — that is central to not only infant and child health, but also the mother-infant bond and the beginnings of secure family attachments.

I was discouraged as a new mother to my first child, by a nurse at the hospital, to exclusively pump unless I didn’t qualify for free formula through the federal nutrition program. I chose to listen to my instinct instead: Breastmilk was something I could give to my baby that no one else could.

Breastfeeding empowered me to embrace the role of mother, despite strong discouragement at times from Western culture. For me, as a white American who is overcoming historical trauma placed on generations of white American mothers who were discouraged from breastfeeding and Attachment Parenting, breastfeeding is a statement: that I, as the mother, know what was best for me and my children.