Tag Archives: breastfeeding

My Thesis as a Blog Post. Part I.

As a now supposed academic this should appall me, reducing a 100 page tome that represents a year of my life into a blog post. But it doesn’t. As proof, I just started a sentence with a conjunction, so there!

If grad school taught me anything, aside from research methodologies, medical statistics intrepretation, ethics in healthcare models … I digress. Let’s try that again. If grad school taught me anything, it’s that there’s a shocking amount of information garnered from published studies that everyday people don’t know about. This upset me a great deal.

Based on that, I composed a thesis proposal for “dissemination of academic information to expectant women”, that my thesis mentor, god-bless-her, Dr. Anna Blair, kindly laughed at and told me sounded like a PhD proposal. And so it was with my next three proposals. Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew, like having my own thriving business, a 3.5 year old, a 6 month old, and applying for grad school … huh, go figure.

Then she said words I literally wrote down they were so awesome: “Why are you in this program?” 

She was right. I had abandoned almost 500 hours of internship hours in a different Pathway before switching to an academic Pathway for my IBCLC. (This is nerdy lactation speak – there are 3 Pathways to apply to sit for the board exam. Doula support and teaching hours don’t count. You have to follow around a mentor for documented hours, and I was lucky enough to have 4 mentors in NYC.) I switched because I wanted to know what would really help women breastfeed. That, and I was already reading so much research on a weekly basis, I knew I could do more with it.

Accordingly, she encouraged me to work backwards.

Research stats show us that attending a Prenatal Breastfeeding Class has less impact* than prior exposure to breastfeeding, partners being supportive, and maternal-influence.

*Gives you real faith to want to take a breastfeeding class now, doesn’t it?! Sign up now!

Getting back to it – to influence breastfeeding outcomes, I needed to understand those who wanted to breastfeed, as well as those who did not. After all, the women who called me for individual support or hired me for birth services because of my CLC, really wanted to breastfeed, struggles or not.

Thus my topic was born!

“Choices in infant feeding:
Why women choose to breastfeed or not to breastfeed, and when.
A crystallization method approach to existing research.”

Sounds super fancy, right? It’s basically a large scale literature review. More on that in Part II, I’ve babbled on long enough for a blog post.

 

 

Open Letter to the Client who Didn’t Want to Breastfeed

An Open Letter to the Client Who Didn’t Want to Breastfeed,

This story is a long time coming, because at the time I was a newly trained doula. I was only in your apartment two minutes for an interview, your toddler enjoying her nap, when you looked at me with worry, and said “I don’t want to try to breastfeed this baby. Is that OK?”

I’m sure the pause that followed was perceived as me struggling to answer, but in truth it was my mind reeling (selfishly, with unknowing) on my own journey, my own struggle of breastfeeding, the things that inspired me to do the work I was doing now, here. You didn’t know my goal was to one day become an IBCLC, that breastfeeding defined my birth journey. Nor did I want to give you a blanket statement. So I leaned towards you, met your eyes intently, and said what was in my heart, “Of course. It’s your decision.”

But the look on your face was unsettled . . . 

So, perhaps too quickly, my mind racing ahead of my better judgement, I asked “Have people told you that’s not OK?” It came out incredulous; it was probably too much. And you cried. You told me of the multitude of providers and doulas you had interviewed, who all immediately tried to encourage you otherwise. You knew they meant well, but because of your own awful experience with your first child it was heartbreaking for you.

I never asked you why you didn’t want to, it honestly didn’t matter. In those moments, we switched from interviewer and birth professional to two moms, two women, devastated at a loss so simple – that of people respecting your decisions about your own body.

After hiring me, you went on to have such an incredible experience, and honestly, I can’t remember when it was that you told me of your reasons: a botched breast reduction as a young women in Europe, a complete restructuring of the breast, giving birth in another country years later where they said breastfeeding would be no problem, watching your baby lose weight for weeks as you pumped, and fed, and struggled, bouts of masitis as the milk was unable to leave your breast. It sounded horrific. It sounded like a physical barrier to breastfeeding.

But those reasons aren’t what mattered. They are irrelevant against a backdrop of personal experience, a loss of enjoying those weeks with your first newborn, the fear of not feeding the baby you loved, and of course, the judgement you already knew you’d face with this pregnancy.

To self: Exhale.

I see your face sometimes, in my work now.

It inspires me to remember that what you were truly asking for was real support – the kind that doesn’t ask why’s, or look for justifications. The kind of support that says – “OK. You’ve made a decision for you, OK.”

I see it when a lactation client calls and says she just can’t anymore, or when writing a care plan for a client, I’m reminded to make it realistic. I see when women feel guiltly for a choice they know is better for their family, but is one they already know they’ll be judged for.

So I just wanted to write you, and tell you thank you.

Thank you for such a wonderful lesson. Thank you for sharing your birth with me. Thank you for the years of photographs of your girls, who also remind me that one day they’ll need support too. Real support, the kind that doesn’t ask why’s or look for justifications.

The kind of support that says – “OK. You’ve made a decision for you, OK.”

 

Comprehensive Childbirth Education Series

Next Series:

Saturdays, February 17th – March 24th
1:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Saturdays, April 7th – May 12th
1:00 PM – 3:30 PM
at 5011 Kenwood Road

Gillian uses her background of teaching childbirth education for the past seven years combined with a strong love for current research, to look beyond method-based approaches, and instead bring something completely new to you in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

What is a Comprehensive Childbirth Education Series?

In this six week comprehensive class, we explore the myriad of topics you’d expect including: nutrition, positions, labor stages, anatomy, coping skills and strategies, breathing, and partner support. However, we will also delve into the intricacies of mental imagery, the emotional (i.e. hormonal) component of birth, as well as postpartum preparation and recovery.

Further, we’ll explore what the difference is between an intercession and an intervention. That is, we’ll explore epidurals, inductions and augmentation, and family-centered cesarean births.

Therefore this class is appropriate for homebirthers and planned natural births alongside planned medicated or high-risk births. You’ll make friends in a supportive environment without judgement to birth labels and instead focus on your birth outcome.

In Class 6, you’ll take a full Breastfeeding Class, which has also been designed based on research into best possible outcomes and input from years of students, by an IBCLC (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant).

All students will have access to a password-protected portion of this site with extra information, articles, and videos.

*All classes need a minimum of 3 families / couples enrolled, or they will be cancelled. So share online and spread the word.

 

Register for Comprehensive Childbirth Education Series

The six-week group costs $275. A $50 deposit is due upon registration. You will be directed to Paypal after clicking on "Register" below

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