Breastfeeding and Working Mothers

babies in bloom breastfeeding and working mothersIt’s easy to make plans while you are still pregnant, isn’t it? Like breastfeeding for example.  A lot of moms-to-be will have an idea of how long they want to breastfeed for – that is if they want to breastfeed at all of course.

But you know what they say, life is what happens when you are busy making plans. Sometimes life just ‘happens’ to us and not in the way we first imagined it. Your best laid plans may feel impossible once baby arrives, because babies are simply unpredictable bundles of awesomeness.

Breastfeeding is hard work, long hours and can be determined by so many variables –from a mother’s physical discomfort or baby’s tongue tie, to the level of emotional support. Going the distance just isn’t always that easy. Education and preparation can certainly be key for establishing successful breastfeeding in the early days. In fact, one of our most popular classes is the Breastfeeding 101 at our Boutique. This class teaches techniques to help new moms get off to a good start and avoid common problems – latching difficulties, positioning, pain, plus those endless worries about baby ‘getting enough’ milk, are some of the most common reasons for new moms to quit breastfeeding.

But what if you have survived and triumphed the exhausting early days and now have to face a return to work?

What happens beyond maternity leave?

To many working moms, continuing to breastfeed sounds like mission impossible! In fact, research just out this week suggests a direct impact of work on breastfeeding.

An Australian study of over 2,000 mothers showed that breastfeeding after returning to work may depend on how many hours a mother works. The research shows that working mothers are MORE likely to breastfeed their babies for the recommended minimum of at least six months if they can work less than 20 hours a week.

The findings add to a substantial body of evidence linking more time at home with longer periods of breastfeeding, “Breastfeeding is time consuming, often cumbersome for some employed women, and still not intentionally supported in many work sites,” said Melanie Lutenbacher, a researcher at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville.

60% of mothers in this study, who were working no more than 19 hours a week, were still breastfeeding at six months, where as 39% of women who returned full time were still breastfeeding.

A lot of the reports in the news say ‘just 39%’. JUST!

Well, we say A BIG HATS OFF to that 39% of full time working mothers! Go mamas! You are living proof it CAN be done. Your success will inspire others and see that percentage climb.

Yes, there is a lot to think about, from where and when to pump at work, to transporting and storing breast milk and employer support. Add general work stress to the mix and it can look and sound utterly overwhelming. But it IS possible with the right planning, preparation, determination and support.

In addition to our twice weekly Lactation Lounge support class, we also run Breastfeeding for Working Mothers workshops. It’s a great place to gain confidence and meet likeminded, determined mothers who want to continue breastfeeding beyond maternity. Just keep in mind that 39%, stay positive and check out our event calendar for future dates.

 

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May is Better Sleep Month

BabiesinBloom_KelseySmithPhotography2015(PrintResolution300PPINativeFile)-41“SLEEP?” we hear many of you cry. “What’s that?!”

If you are struggling to get your baby to sleep through the night, don’t worry, you’re not alone. We know it can be HARD. And when you feel like you have tried everything, we know it can feel relentless. You’re exhausted. Defeated. Overwhelmed. You’re just not you.

‘Better Sleep Month’ is all about encouraging people to seek and establish better, healthier sleeping patterns. So what better time is there than now to take a moment and virtually hug, empower and support all our sleep deprived parents out there! It WILL get better, we promise you.

First, stop telling yourself you’ve messed up. That’s just the exhaustion talking, coupled up with the obligatory mom guilt that we all know and hate. Just because your friend’s baby is sleeping 11 hours a night at nine months, doesn’t mean you have done it all wrong. There is no ‘one size fits all’ way to do this. No two babies are wired the same.

Second, it is never too late to fix it. Good sleep habits can be learned at any age says Jen Varela, our wonderful friend and Sleep Coach, be it six months or five years old.

Under the age of six months, we are not talking about sleep training, but sleep shaping. This is all about sleep hygiene and simply identifying the methods used to get baby to sleep. From around three months, small incremental steps can be taken to make adjustments in how your baby sleeps at night – this is because most infants take about 12 weeks to fully produce melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” So for example, instead of nursing him/her to sleep, simply try rocking instead. Don’t worry, baby will let you know if it is too soon to make that change. And if it is, just hit pause on this shift for a little while and then try again.

Sleep training is generally recommended for babies six months or older. This is when you use a specific method, over a period of time, and then start removing ‘sleep crutches’ to enable baby to self sooth and put his/herself to sleep.

Third, let’s be real. There will ALWAYS be tears. There is no getting away from this. But our expert Jen’s goal is always to have as little crying as possible, and to avoid ‘toxic stress.’ She believes there is a big difference between tears in arms and not. If a baby is crying in arms, there is a stress buffer there by way of the nurturing parent, vs. things like the detached ‘cry-it-out’ method. Sleep training needn’t be a battle – it CAN be gentle and successful.

Jen runs regular Gentle Sleep Coaching workshops at our Boutique, so if you feel like you need to get a better idea on methods, or just feel like you need a darn miracle, please register. She may be the Fairy Godmother you have been looking for. We promise you, no question will be a stupid question, and no case is a hopeless one. Stay strong folks – this too shall pass!

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The First Hour

BabiesinBloom_KelseySmithPhotography2015(PrintResolution300PPINativeFile)-1If you take a scientific look at an uninterrupted first hour of a newborn’s life, it’s just mind-blowing. The human body, no matter how big or small, and its instinctual behavior never ceases to amaze.

By uninterrupted first hour, we mean what happens when newborns and mothers are put skin to skin and left to their own devices, without routine health checks, in that very first hour of life (though that’s not always medically possible we know).

There is a fascinating Swedish study that looks at the instinctual behaviors of 28 newborns left uninterrupted, skin-to-skin, on their mothers’ chests for their first hour. The study maps out a typical timeline of that first incredible and hormonally charged hour.

Yes, it’s a small research sample at 28, but what an intriguing snapshot these kind of studies can provide. How amazing is this kind of information for those wanting to know how they could more gently transition their new baby from the womb to life outside? For those wanting to try and get in tune with their newborn’s natural rhythm and better understand their immediate needs?

To save you reading the full report published in the Acta Paediatrica, here’s a quick summary from Science News of that first hour timeline:

  • Minute 0: Babies wail a robust, angry birth cry that helps wake up the lungs.
  • Minute 2: Babies spend less than a minute relaxing, holding perfectly still on their mothers’ chests. The authors speculate that this silent, still break might have evolved to keep babies hidden from predators.
  • Minute 2.5: As they start to wake up, newborns open their eyes for the first time. Babies gradually start moving their heads and mouths.
  • Minute 8: Babies become even more active, keeping their eyes open for five minutes or longer at a time. During this active phase, newborns seem to grow interested in eating, looking at their mothers’ faces and breasts, making sweet little “hungry” noises and moving their hands toward their mouths.
  • Minute 18: Time for another rest.
  • Minute 36: Recharged newborns really kick it into high gear and begin scooting toward their mothers’ breasts, relying heavily on a sense of smell to navigate.
  • Minute 62: Babies nurse, most likely getting small amounts of colostrum, an early milk substance packed with protein and immune molecules. This early suckling stimulates the breasts to make milk and also helps mom’s uterus contract back to its pre-pregnancy size.

With more and more people considering the benefits of delaying medical procedures after delivery (delayed cord clamping for example), there is a growing sense that less CAN be more. That the focus of the first hour should be on baby’s first feed and mother-baby and family bonding. And as this Swedish study suggests, this is exactly what the human body is programmed to do on its own accord without intervention.

There are many more documented benefits to this uninterrupted approach, from it aiding breastfeeding and strengthening bonding, to mom’s own wellbeing. If this natural kind of experience is something you are interested in, make sure you start talking early to your own birth carer about your preference.  They should be able to give you the advice and support you need for planning your new and exciting beginning with your precious new arrival.

We know this kind of approach is not for everyone. And just not possible for some too. We aren’t in any way suggesting this is THE superior way post-delivery, we just found the research findings rather captivating and sharable. You know us, we don’t believe in passing judgement. We believe in you. There is no such thing as the right way, just what’s right for YOU and your family.

 

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National Siblings Day: Friends from Birth

BabiesinBloom_KelseySmithPhotography2015(WebResolution1500pxwide300PPI)-32Sunday April 10th is National Siblings Day. Hooray for siblings and those siblings-to-be out there!

Anyone with a brother or sister will know that a sibling relationship can be the most important, influential, and often the longest relationship of their lives. Siblings know you inside out.  They get to know every quirk, trait and habit you have – like, love or loathe them – and from an early age can also shape how you’ll interact with others. Think about all those fights you had as kids – skills young siblings learn in conflict resolution are valuable life lessons that carry in to other areas of life, from work to personal relationships. So those arguments were really all worth it right?

There are a load of myths surrounding siblings too. I bet you’ve heard a few of these before.

  • Firstborns have an IQ and linguistic advantage thanks to first time parents hyper focus
  • But youngest kids are the smartest in that they are fast to disarm people and develop resourceful strategies to get what they need
  • Younger siblings tend to be more extroverted than older siblings in bigger families
  • Middle children tend to get the least amount of parental attention
  • Siblings can make you shorter. No seriously, a British study of 14,000 kids found that those with three siblings were, on average, around one inch shorter!

How many of the above do you agree with in your experience?

Introducing a sibling/s to a brand new brother or sister for the very first time is a precious family moment – but also a rather nerve racking one. How will they react? Will they be jealous or feel replaced?  These are all valid and common concerns. Change can be upsetting for little ones and preparation is key. But where do you start making siblings friends? We say, it starts well before birth.

At Babies in Bloom we run a Big Brothers & Big Sisters class that supports your growing family. This class helps you figure out how to make your child/children feel included and excited in welcoming a new baby. Our class is designed for three – six year olds that are about to become a big sibling and includes bump introductions, crafts, a short film, as well as role play and new baby themed story time. Each big sibling-to-be gets awarded with a certificate at the end of class – just to get them beaming with big brother or sister pride! Just adorable.

For those interested in this class, check out our Calendar page for upcoming dates.

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