Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Have a Dream - Black Breastfeeding Week

August is breastfeeding awareness month because although the US has come a long way in supporting mothers, there is still a long road ahead of us. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for infants and is good for the new mother as well. This year, nearly 77% of infants were ever breastfed. At 6 months, 49% were still breastfeeding and only 27% at 12 months.(a) Not a bad start, but not a very good one a year later.

Today, on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, I wish I could say his dream has been reached. As of 2008, although nearly three quarters of US babies have ever been breastfed, only 59% of black babies have.(b) That compares to 75% of white and 80% of Hispanic (non-white or black) babies. I'm not going to pretend I know why black communities aren't supporting each other to breastfeed or don't have the support from lactation consultants. I think it's a complicated issue that could pull many reasons from many ideas. Whatever the underlying cause, it's a fact. Black babies are not getting as good of a start as their white and Hispanic counterparts. We need a month for breastfeeding awareness, how much more so do we need this week to help black babies and their mothers increase the support and knowledge to give all Americans a better start?

Kimberly Seals Aller over at proposed such a week. This week, the last week of August, breastfeeding awareness month, that happens to coincide with Dr. Martin Luther King's famous speech. While I don't necessarily agree with everything she wrote, you should definitely check it out and think about what she has to say. Why do so few black women choose to breastfeed?

From my limited personal experience, I can tell you it is harder for most black women than for us white women to start and continue breastfeeding. Growing up in an area that was more than 50% black, riding the bus every day to work with mostly black people and attending a breastfeeding support group for months when only 1 black women attended, and only a couple of sessions at that, I am positive the support is not there. The black woman who did attend two or three classes came with her questions and looking for support from the other mothers. Her husband didn't even want her to nurse. She said he kept asking her when she was going to stop because it's gross, not natural, those aren't for the baby. Although she had a pretty good response ("When formula is free!"), it shows what is most important for some. What if formula was free? Breast is still best for more reasons than the cost.

I dream of the day when we don't need a Black Breastfeeding Week. When all new mothers have the support they need to successfully breastfeed if they want to and have the knowledge and understanding of why it is so important to do so.

How are you going to support ALL mothers in their quest to give their babies the best start possible?

(a) CDC Breastfeeding Report Card 2013
(b) CDC Report. February 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

Birth Story - Part 3

In fact, all night long, I walked, lunged and plie-ed. Happy Sunday! My first full day of labor…

Monday morning came and went while I continued to walk the halls, get checked only to hear there is no more progress and then continue walking.

I mentioned previously that I wanted to meet every midwife in the practice before going into labor and managed to do so for 6 out of 8 of them. The midwife on duty when I got there was one of the women I had not met yet. There was a staff change while I was walking the halls and a new midwife came on duty then. She was the other one I had not yet met. Good timing on my part I guess! Both of them were nice, understanding and good at their job so that all worked out fine.

Sometime in the late morning or early afternoon the midwife started to suggest getting pitocin to get things moving. My contractions would be 3-4 minutes apart for a while and then slow down. I wasn’t progressing very much. I did not want pitocin. It doesn't always work, increases ones risk for a c-section and can cause very intense contractions that are not always productive. I just kept walking.

The midwife finally told me that they either have to do something or they’ll send me home. I was a little worried that if I went all the way home, then getting close to rush hour, that I wouldn't make it back to the hospital in time. I allowed them to break my water.

I got back up to walk, made it to one end of the hall and felt an immediate need to vomit. I just made it back to my room and got sick several times in the next hour (or 2? I didn’t look at a clock and didn’t really have much sense of time by then). My contractions very quickly got closer together and they hurt a lot more. I tried different positions that I learned in my Hypnobirthing class and that my mom and midwife suggested. Some of the ones that are supposed to be better for back labor just made it worse.

I was pretty nauseous and in pain during this transition period and then I felt like I had to push. They brought in the midwife and it was time to go! My mom said it took about 25 minutes to breathe out the baby. I listened to my body. When it told me to push, I pushed.

The midwife caught the baby, showed The Hubs and he exclaimed, “It’s a BOY!” We had a perfect little boy, 6 lbs, 9 oz. 20 in. long. I was able to do kangaroo care immediately and he latched on right away. The Hubs and I got a few minutes alone with our new little Buddy before being transferred from the birthing room.

After some time with all 4 grandparents, The Hubs’ brother and my sisters, we were finally alone for the night. As The Hubs got freshened up in the bathroom, he yelled to get the nurse. The faucet broke and there was water everywhere! I asked for the maintenance staff to be sent in and we needed towels and a mop. A nurse came in with a towel or two. The water was already creeping into the room so she ran out to get more help. Baby Boy was rushed to the nursery, I was rushed into a wheelchair and The Hubs grabbed all of our stuff and we sloshed out the door. Lucky for us, this meant instead of our small single room, we had a double room to ourselves. The Hubs got his own bed and we had our little Buddy back with us and he never left our side again.

I am so happy I brought my 3 support people into the birthing room with me. They all brought something different to help. Thank you mom for helping me find different positions to make the pain less intense and for rubbing my back through the contractions. Thank you to my older sister for walking the halls with me for hours, doing plies and lunges for hours and being my voice so I could focus on giving birth. And thank you especially to The Hubs for being with me throughout my entire pregnancy, supporting me and making sure I had everything I needed. Thank you for being my rock through the entire process and for helping me bring our precious little man into our lives. I could not have done it this well without any of you.

Blogger Support!

One of my favorite blogs is i am baker. She has so many amazing ideas for cakes, cookies, cupcakes and other delicious desserts. I have used this blog for inspiration for many of my treats. The author also happens to be a very sweet woman.

She posted a blog about lactation cookies that she made and got a lot of flack for it. I think posting about lactation cookies, that can be eaten by anyone and are actually relatively healthy as cookies go (they contain oatmeal, flaxseed, cinnamon and cocoa), is perfect for this blog. It's also a cookie that happens to help lactating mothers. And as any woman who has breastfed knows, it is hard work, frustrating, painful at times and we all need support every once in a while.

When baking meets motherhood we should all support each other. Please head over to i am baker and leave some love and support! There is nothing gross, perverse or negative about nursing one's child or blogging about a cookie that could help increase one's milk supply.

Click here to show your support!!!