How can Doctors know how to help a Mother with breastfeeding issues when they only briefly touch on the topic during their training? Perhaps we should be asking how this is possible when so much disease can be prevented by a Mother breastfeeding her child? The benefits to the Mother include decreasing the risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer as well as diabetes and obesity. A breastfed baby has decreased risk of Upper Respiratory infections, Middle ear infections and obesity and diabetes later in life. There are also the benefits of antibodies passed from Mother to baby so they don’t catch everything that’s going around. A premature baby needs breastmilk so much – often determining survival – that donor breastmilk is in demand to help supplement his own Mother’s milk.
I recently attended an education session for Medical Students, given by a fellow Lactation Consultant. I was amazed that the content had to be squeezed into 2 hours (reduced from 4 hours previously), so you can imagine the content was very limited and the Educator told us she had selected things she knew would make impact. Some of these were:
- Breastmilk is NOT the same as formula!
- A Mother makes the unique milk HER baby needs.
- There is a list of “Acceptable Medical Reasons for use of Breastmilk Substitutes” – become familiar with them.
- Refer to a Lactation Consultant or a Child Health Centre if the Mother needs help.
- You DON’T need plastic surgery to fix your breasts after breastfeeding.
- You don’t need to poke holes in the nipple for the milk to get out.
- When prescribing medications for a breastfeeding Mother – DON’T routinely tell the Mother to stop breastfeeding. Seek help with decision making, there are many texts available, specific to Medication and Mother’s Milk.
Some of these topics were introduced to answer questions from previous students????? I hate to think how this lack of information impacts the vulnerable and desperate Mothers who seek out their GP or Paediatrician for help. It is obvious that nobody can know enough about breastfeeding in 2 hours to actually offer the support these Mums and babies need so please, please, please SUPPORT them and refer to the experts who can help them continue their very important breastfeeding journey.
In the words of a wonderful lady:
“I am Audrey Hepburn. I am a mother. Mother’s milk is the best gift that any mother can give to her child. It’s for his whole life.”
Ever wondered what a Lactation Consultant (LC) does?
This is my official title and my qualification is International Board Certified Lactation Consultant or IBCLC. Every year the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) hold an exam all around the world. First of all, a candidate must have applied to sit this exam, showing proof of recent and up-to-date study as well as many hours of experience helping Mothers and babies. It is really tough to qualify but then you have to sit the exam which runs for 2-3 hours in the morning then another 2-3 hours in the afternoon. Phew, it sounds huge, complicated and difficult.- and it is all of those things. I studied really hard, even though I had years and years of experience working with Mums and babies. I had heard it wasn’t easy to pass the first time but I did and I’m really proud of myself.
As an IBCLC or LC for short, I help Mothers with breastfeeding their new babies. Sometimes these little ones are full term and sometimes they are very premature. There may be one baby or there might be two or three. The Mother might be experiencing pain or feel that she has inadequate supply. Baby might have sucking issues, tongue tie or be a bit overwhelmed by breathing and feeding at the same time. There are thousands of Mothers and babies and each dyad is unique, so not surprisingly, there can be an equal number of issues to do with breastfeeding and early Motherhood.
Apart from being qualified to help Mothers with breastfeeding I am also certified as an Infant and young child feeding therapist. I have studied with Kay Toomey from the USA who runs a huge food therapy clinic to help with all types feeding issues from birth to 18 years.
Many of the Mums I have worked with refer to me as the “baby whisperer” but I think I have just been taught really well by all of the babies I’ve cared for. My son passed away when he was 6 days old but that’s a story all of it’s own. I also have two grown daughters and I absolutely love being their Mother. I loved Motherhood from the first second and feel very blessed to have this relationship with my girls. My Mum died after my son – so she never got to meet my daughters. Another story to come later.
So, I suppose having always loved babies, it was inevitable that I would work with them. I considered being a school teacher or a child care worker and have even spent some time as a nanny. I was drawn to nursing though and worked mostly with babies during my hospital career. A few things happened which will be yet another story and here I am as an LC and loving it.
I really want to write lots of helpful articles about how to care for a new baby and a new Mum. I might even add some videos so it’s easy to see what I’m talking about. One thing’s for sure – I’ll never be bored and hopefully you won’t be either. Watch this space, there are great things to come.
One thing that struck me throughout my nursing career was that looking after a sick baby meant looking after very very anxious parents. Understandably, when a tiny baby is unwell and then ends up in hospital, the parents are thrown into a whirlpool of emotion. At first they really don’t know what’s happening because often if the baby is quite unwell, the medical staff are completely focused on sorting him/her first. They fire questions at the parents and whilst they are acutely aware of the pain on their faces, they have to get the information they need to help the baby. There are administration staff popping in to get paperwork filled in, nurses bustling around sorting bloods, fluids, medications and filling in observation charts: all while the Doctors are poking and prodding their precious little baby. I’m surprised such fear doesn’t escalate til the heart just stops. I have been on both sides of the emergency room and it is terrifying.
When there was a new baby admitted to our ward I tried really hard to reassure the parents as soon as they arrived. One look at them told their story of a very long day or night in the children’s emergency. They looked deflated, like an airbed the morning after a restless night camping. I could tell they hadn’t slept a wink for days and probably hadn’t eaten, too scared to take their eyes from their sick baby. I imagined they were so relieved to finally be in the ward and before their eyes the poking and prodding starts all over again. Ward Doctors needed to admit the baby and blood ladies arrive again and nurses attach oxygen and fluids and and and………………the baby is crying and the parents dissolve – defeated, their hearts might not be able to take much more.
Amazingly, at this point in time, if a very kind, gentle person offers them reassurance and explains everything that is going on, they can be persuaded to follow that kind, gentle person out of their baby’s sight and enjoy a short but desperately needed cuppa and something to eat. It may only last 10 minutes but it is enough to witness something incredible. The second the distressed parents leave the room – the baby calms and goes to sleep – also incredibly exhausted. You see the baby feels the parents distress just as the parents feel their baby’s distress and the tension is palpable. When the baby can no-longer feel that in close proximity, he/she can calm and settle. One of the nurses always stayed until the parents returned. It was really helpful to explain the importance of trying to be calm and relaxed around their sick baby. The proof was there in front of their eyes. Their baby had settled and when he/she opened her eyes and saw Mum and Dad looking a bit calmer and feeling a bit calmer – they too relaxed and became CALM.
This is an extreme example but even on a day to day basis babies feel what their Mums and /Dads are feeling and reflect this back. If you can find any way to relax yourself – perhaps using music or walking or even having a nap when your baby naps – you will find your baby relaxing too.
Posted in For the love of babies
Tagged babies, baby help, birth, calm, children, fathers, jm lactation services, joanna molloy, mothers, newborn, parents, pregnancy, relax, skin to skin
I sometimes try to imagine what it feels like to be a newborn, exhausted from the effort of birth, awakening to a strange world. He would leave the warmth of his Mother’s body and enter a lottery of possible new beginnings. He could slip peacefully into a warm watery sensation before being lifted to take his first breath or he could pass into the waiting hands of a midwife and then find himself next to a familiar sound, his Mother’s heartbeat as he is gently placed on her chest skin to skin. I like to think of this as the “norm’ but we all know many, many babies don’t have this beautiful, nurturing experience. Some are lifted to life through their Mother’s open bellies while others are pulled urgently from the dangers of distress. Some breathe quietly, some scream and others have to be encouraged to take their first breath with some or lots of help. Tragically, for some it goes terribly wrong.
Mothers-to-be often have no idea of what lies ahead as they grow this new life within them. For some it will be what they dreamed it would be, with an on-time labour and an “easy” birth. Expectations are high, there’s lots of information confirming the path a pregnancy and birth should take. We’ve all been to baby showers where horror stories abound and Mothers share all with the Mother-to-be. I’m sure it’s not meant to be harmful or hurtful but nobody can know what’s in store for that Mother-to-be before her time comes.
I do know this: all Mothers deserve knowledge and all babies need Mothers who feel capable and supported. I have read many parenting/baby books recently and there is a common theme amongst them. Babies need someone to respond to their needs and care for them gently in order to grow into adults with the same ability to nurture. Mothers need to be able to talk and share their feelings with other Mothers without fear of insult or injury. It is so important for Mums to know there is help when they need it, or maybe just a kind ear listening to them over a cuppa, so they don’t feel alone.
There will be lots of information posted here over time. If you need a personal consultation don’t hesitate to contact me Joanna Molloy.
Posted in For the love of babies
Tagged babies, baby help, birth, children, fathers, jm lactation services, joanna molloy, mothers, newborn, parents, pregnancy, skin to skin