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A Mothers’ Breastfeeding Struggles Are Not Her Fault – Blame Society

By Dee Merrit

Mothers are warriors.

If you look back on the history of birth in the U.S., 95% of infants were born at home with midwives. Promptly after birth, the child was placed on the mothers’ breast to nurse. Today, many women seem to doubt their ability to give birth naturally and breastfeed. Often society does little to support them.

Many women desire to breastfeed and though the rates have slowly been rising research shows there is still a decrease in breastfeeding rates from birth to one-year. A quick google search will show you why there is a decrease. What is not listed amidst the CDC research is how women have been taught to not trust their bodies.

In America, it is more common (and comfortable) to see women advertised in lingerie and skimpy clothing. At the same time, a woman nursing in public can publicly shamed or experience feelings of discomfort, or be judged critically. Nursing mothers are still evicted from public spaces, restaurants, and they encounter rude comments when strangers express they do not want their child(ren) exposed to breastfeeding. Although breastfeeding is what our bodies are designed to do, it can be awkward and has been referred to as something to be socially discreet about.

As a mother of three boys, I would rather have them grow up knowing breasts have a purpose. Women’s bodies are uniquely formed to feed babies and also to comfort them. Additionally, nursing a newborn helps with psychological development (and so many more other beneficial things).

In some communities, mothers have access to breastfeeding help through groups like La Leche, as well as breastfeeding cafes and mother support groups. Still, some mothers struggle. It could be that many mothers continue to get false information from health care professionals who are not educated about lactation, and though health care professionals mean well, they sometimes insinuate that mothers should not trust their bodies.

All breastfeeding mothers should have access to local references from lactation professionals and be free of cruelty and judgment. If an advisor is not available, then there are other ways to connect to professional consultants including email, phone, and video chat. Unfortunately, these options are not always promoted. Many health care professionals unintentionally perpetuate myths about breastfeeding. For example, I have heard of women being told that breastfeeding can hurt; NO! Breastfeeding should not hurt! If it does, then it is a signal that something may be wrong and the nursing mother should seek help from an IBCLC. There are so many myths that continue to be perpetuated. Here are a few listed online courtesy of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF [LINK].

Even with available resources, some mothers of young children struggle just getting out of the house. They’re tired, overwhelmed, and are dealing with a  mixed bag of emotions. If they have a messy house on top of that, they may not want to entertain visitors. Believe me, no one coming to support or assist a mother with nursing is spending their energy judging a messy home. (My own kitchen has been not been cleaned since I had my first son 8 years ago and yet, I continued to have more children)!

In this shared graph from Katie Hinde, an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Senior Sustainability Scientist at Arizona State University, and a researcher of lactation, she shares on this brief clip on Ted Talks what little we know about breastmilk compared to other subjects.

She shares this powerful message, “Many mothers do not reach their breastfeeding goals, that is not their failure, it’s ours.”

Do nursing mothers have rights? Yes, they do. But in 2019 some mothers still struggle with being told they can not nurse in public. As recently as this summer, a woman in Texas was told she could not nurse her baby at the public pool. Even though this mother knew hew rights, this issue escalated quickly and police were called to the scene. A breastfeeding mother has rights for a reason. These rights should not only be known by mothers but by public servants as well. Government employees as well as other facilities that say they support breastfeeding mothers need to be required to read and understand breastfeeding rights for customers, as well as their employees. This can vary from state to state. Mothers nursing in public helps to expose the general public to an infant’s needs as well as the very natural act of maternal nursing.

Even though some people in the general public may be hurtful, many other breastfeeding advocates will support you. We are mothers, we have the right to feed our babies as we choose, and we will not be silenced for choosing to breastfeed whenever and wherever our child is hungry outside the home.

Sources:
https://sites.google.com/site/historyofchildbirthinamerica/historical-resources/historical-timeline
https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/nis_data/results.html
https://www.unicef.org/parenting/food-nutrition/14-myths-about-breastfeeding
https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/11/health/texas-breastfeeding-pool-trnd/index.html

Deann’s Other Blogs at MOM: 

Why Don’t IBLCLCs And Dentists Agree
How Income and Insurance Can Affect Breastfeeding Support For New Moms
Breastfeeding Education Might Not Be What You Think It Is
Gender Disappointment

Recent Press: Cayuga News about Dee Merrit at MOM

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Sleep Training For Infants Online and In the Tampa / St. Pete Area

You kiss your baby on the forehead, tuck the baby in, and wish the baby goodnight. Sounds simple right? But, getting a baby to sleep can prove to be a frustrating challenge for many parents. Some experts believe this process can be simplified through sleep training. In some cases, sleep training can help your baby sleep independently as well as acquire healthy sleep habits.

Though for most of us, sleeping comes naturally, this is not the case for babies, especially newborns, who have to adjust to the new phenomenon of life outside the womb. On top of not knowing when to sleep, babies do not have an idea of how to sleep. This is where sleep training might be beneficial. Sleep training can help a baby get the proper amount of sleep. Over time, if the training is effective, the baby will start to get used to the routine and will eventually be able to sleep independently.

Sleep training should begin when your baby is four-six months old but can change depending on individual development and needs. There are many effective sleep-training methods. One is the check-and-console method, which involves continuously checking on your baby at your own set intervals but not feeding them or rocking them if you find them awake. Instead, if the baby is awake at your interval check, reassure the baby with a phrase of choice or a reassuring gentle pat or rub on the head.

A second method involves letting the baby cry it out. After leaving your baby in the crib at night, leave the room, and do not return until the morning. This may often result in the baby crying for long intervals of time, so it is a bit controversial. It is okay to comfort your baby for a minute or two when using this method if the crying won’t stop. A third method is the chair method, which can prove to be quite difficult. After putting your baby to sleep, sit in a chair next to your baby. When your baby falls asleep, leave the room, but every time your baby wakes up, sit back down in the chair until they fall back asleep. Every couple nights, transfer the chair to a location slightly further from the original position and keep doing this until you’re out of the room. This method is only useful if the parent has the time to do this through the night.

A fourth method, called bedtime-routine fading, involves using a bedtime routine of choice, such as rocking a baby to sleep, nursing, or gentle patting, and slowly decrease the time spent doing this until you don’t do it at all. A fifth method is bedtime-hour fading, which involves slowly moving up the time you place your baby in a crib to sleep until you reach the desired time you want them to sleep.

Sleep training comes naturally to some parents. Some use pacifiers, white noise machines, specific bedtime routines, and an assortment of things. But all babies are different. Some babies can be more difficult to establish a bedtime routine with. This is where professional sleep training might be beneficial. Sleep trainers have experience with parents in need of assistance making their baby sleep at the proper time and independently. Different sleep trainers use different methods to help parents.

In the Tampa Bay Area, The Tiny Human Sleep Coach, founded by Marilyn Banse aims to educate and supports parents of babies and children under the age of 6 years on sleep, the benefits of sleep, how much sleep each child needs for their age, and how to help them get the sleep they need. Marilyn is a certified pediatric sleep specialist and currently the only certified sleep consultant in Pinellas County as of now, so quality is assured.

Another organization that offers sleep-training services is Nannies Who Care, a full-service nanny agency that provides peace of mind to families with safe, stress-free sleep-training methods. Their caregivers have noticed first-hand the effects of a missed nap or delayed bedtime. They are proud of teaching parents how to have improved sleep experience with their child.

Also, some free national resources to help you and your baby sleep successfully and healthfully are available online:

Sleep resource from the NCDHHS Division of Public Health [LINK] and a Sleep Safety Brochure [LINK]
Johnson & Johnson has a free infant sleep phone app [LINK]
Multiple blogs and magazine articles online [LINK]

If you want to reach organizations in the Tampa/St. Pete area for hands-on help try these local resources:

Marilyn from The Tiny Human Sleep Coach:
Phone: 727-210-5743

Nannies Who Care:
Phone/text: 727-784-8868
Email: marketing@nannieswhocare.com

Websites viewed:
https://www.nestedbean.com/pages/sleep-training-guide
https://www.todaysparent.com/baby/baby-sleep/most-popular-sleep-training-methods-explained/

This article was researched and made possible by Bhavana Madhu as part of a service-learning internship with USF. Read more below or click the image to find out more about our student authors:

https://motherhoodfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/usf_interns_2019.pdf