Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mothers Yearn for Their Babies at Birth - A Resource for Moms Revisited

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Awhile back I posted Mothers Yearn for Their Babies at Birth. I created the post as a resource for moms to share with their health care providers to encourage skin to skin contact at the moment of birth even for a Cesarean birth. It is a comprehensive presentation with a video and photographs documenting the joy and safety of immediate skin to skin contact at Cesarean births when the babies and moms are medically stable; moms'reports on its importance; documentation of its success; and even a link to a research paper presenting modifications of Cesarean birth procedures with a description of how to do skin to skin in the operating room.

I receive countless inquiries on this topic and encourage moms to view and share Mothers Yearn for Their Babies at Birth

This true story Miracle mum brings premature baby son back to life with two hours of loving cuddles after doctors pronounce him dead shows just how life saving and life giving skin to skin contact at birth is. It is THAT IMPORTANT. It is no wonder moms yearn for their babies at birth.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Kelly Rutherford loves gift book: Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy

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Kelly Rutherford praises Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy on her GIVING page. “I love the book Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy by Laura Keegan. It is beautiful.”

When Kelly's daughter, Helena, was just a baby she expressed what Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy meant to her as a gift that was both "an extremely practical breastfeeding guide" and "a gift that touched my heart."

"Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy is amazing. I received the book while I was pregnant with Helena, and it was a gift that touched my heart. This book could be given at baby showers and available at every place we bring babies. I would like to see it at hospitals caring for moms and babies and at every pump station in LA!!

"Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy celebrates our ability to nurture our children. The book is an extremely practical breastfeeding guide, but also gets us back to what it means to nurture through its words, images, and helpful ideas. It teaches women about breastfeeding in a non-threatening way, respecting that every breastfeeding mother and baby pair is unique, facing different circumstances in their lives.

"All of the women in this book are different, but all are nurturing their babies; some with babies feeding at moms’ breasts, others just cuddled close to mom (or dad). When we come from a place of nurturing our babies without guilt, mothers and babies find their way and feel beautiful." — Kelly Rutherford, of Gossip Girl

Friday, September 24, 2010

Breastmilk is saving this baby's life

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Click here to read this story about the amazing power of breastmilk to save a baby's life (and hearing, and eyesight)! Baby Jayden was born with congenital syphilis, blind, deaf, and addicted to alcohol and cocaine. Unable to tolerate any formula well, her foster mother fed her the formula that was "least bad" for her, but she was never healthy, and often was close to death. Then they tried breastmilk, and what a difference it made!

Because of her multiple food intolerances and health situation, as a toddler she is still very much in need of breastmilk, so if you live in Southeast Michigan and have any breastmilk in the freezer, or are currently breastfeeding and able to pump extra, you can help to keep this baby alive [see the website for more details, including drop-off points].

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Prescription Milk

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Guest post from Kathy.

There is no substitute for breastmilk when it comes to health, and premature babies are particularly at risk. While many mothers pump for their own babies, some women have trouble making enough milk. If you have "enough and to spare," I'd urge you to look into donating your milk to a milk bank or local hospital if possible. Even though all babies benefit from breastmilk, premature babies are more vulnerable to the side effects of formula, with formula-fed preemies having something like double the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (compared to their breastmilk-fed peers), which can be fatal. By donating breastmilk to a baby who needs it, you can literally give the gift of life.

Soon after my younger son was born, a friend adopted a newborn, and I pumped extra milk for him. Even though the baby was a normal, healthy newborn, and didn't "need" breastmilk like some of these babies in this video, I felt wonderful about giving him the gift of breastmilk that neither his birth mother nor his adoptive mother were able to give*. Yes, it took time, but it was worth it. If I ever have another baby, I will definitely donate extra milk if at all possible.

*[I feel the need to qualify what I mean when I say that his adoptive mother "wasn't able" to give the baby breastmilk. It is important to note that adoptive mothers can breastfeed at least partially, even if some are not able to fully feed their infants. However, this particular adoption was actually a surprise (long story, but they found out about the baby one day before he was born and took him home one day after he was born), so she didn't have time to prepare prior to the adoption.]

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Giveaway in honor of World Breastfeeding Week

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World Breastfeeding Week started this Sunday, August 1, and runs through Saturday, August 7. The event is a world-wide effort at promoting breastfeeding, with the following objectives:
  • Draw attention to the role of the Ten Steps in improving breastfeeding rates.

  • Renew action by health systems, health care providers and communities to make breastfeeding the easy choice for women.

  • Inform people everywhere of the risks of artificial feeding, and the role of breastfeeding for children’s development and lifelong health and the health of mothers.

  • Enable mothers to enjoy full support for breastfeeding in health care systems and beyond.
While I of course support all of these objectives, it is the last that is especially close to my heart -- so much so, that the subtitle of my book, Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy, is "A Photographic Guide for Mom and Those Who Help Her." While often "those who help her" are the mother's family, friends and community, whose support can be most important to her, her help does not necessarily begin and end there. Doulas, midwives, childbirth educators, lactation consultants, physicians, WIC offices, breastfeeding cafes, and hospitals have bought cases of my books to give to new moms, and often become part of her "community of support."

In fact, the Herkimer and Madison County WIC offices in upstate NY have bought cases of Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy so that they can give a copy to any woman who needs it. Mothers there are saying that the book is helpful when they need reassurance on how to hold the baby and help the baby take the breast. When moms are overwhelmed by breastfeeding problems they have been helped by the reminders of the benefits of skin to skin provided in the many images. By having this book in the home of more women, breastfeeding is being seen as normal by fathers, children, grandparents and friends. Fathers and grandparents are saying they feel more comfortable helping mom. Since women who are most likely to qualify for WIC are also statistically least likely to initiate or continue breastfeeding, this makes WIC's work even more important in improving breastfeeding rates and infant outcomes.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I am going to give away two copies of Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy... with a twist. One copy will go to one lucky fan from the facebook fan page, and the second copy will go to the library of her (or his) choice. This will allow a wider audience access to the images and information in my book. After the winner receives her (or his) copy of Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy, she will need to show the book to the library to make sure that it will accept the donation by contacting me, and then I will mail the book directly to the library. If you are already a fan on facebook, you don't have to do anything -- you're automatically entered. If you're not a facebook fan yet, click here to become one; and if you're not on facebook at all, you can leave a comment below and I'll put your name in the drawing. The drawing will be held on Saturday, the last day of World Breastfeeding Week, and I will be picking a name at random from all the names of the facebook fans.

[Giveaway open to residents of the United States and Canada.]

Update: We have a winner! [click here]

I'd like to give a big thank-you to all the fans for their support of Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy. By being a fan and inviting others to become fans you are helping me let communities across the nation and around the world know about this book that has helped countless women breastfeed their babies "with comfort and joy."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What Can We Do Right NOW to Make Breastfeeding Easier for Moms?

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Best for Babes Foundation is a non-profit organization that is raising awareness of the "Booby Traps"(TM) facing breastfeeding moms. They are committed to "giving breastfeeding a makeover," and sharing critical information with the public; and supporting moms so that they can make informed feeding choices and receive support whether they choose to breastfeed, formula feed or both.

Their work requires financial support. Without donating any money yourself, you can help them meet their financial goals. Right now Best for Babes is in the running to receive a $20,000 donation from the Chase Community giving campaign on Facebook. They only need to be in the top 200 to win. Voting ends July 12th, and winners are announced on July 13th! You can vote for them HERE. You have to be a member of Facebook to vote. Don't be confused by all the voting options (ie., receiving gift votes for voting for other charities); the priority is getting each person to vote one time for Best for Babes (; Facebook: If you are not a Facebook member, please share this information with those who are.

Here is a short video that provides a quick view of the "Booby Traps"(TM) Best for Babes is committed to minimizing to help moms overcome barriers to breastfeeding.

For a short video highlighting the people and organizations involved with Best for Babes in helping breastfeeding moms, view Best for Babes breastfeeding nonprofit for Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" Obesity Campaign.

I believe removing our culture's squeamishness around breastfeeding is one of the most important actions Best for Babes is taking. They share information and positive breastfeeding images and stories, including those of celebrities, bringing these into the mainstream. Mothers, their friends and families, community members, AND their health care providers are commonly uncomfortable around breastfeeding.

Discomfort around breastfeeding is a huge cultural barrier and personal barrier for many moms. Minimizing it is a crucial first step to helping moms breastfeed with ease. Sharing vivid breastfeeding images that evoke positive emotions has been central to the success of Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy in helping moms prevent and solve breastfeeding problems. Sharing positive images, "giving breastfeeding a makeover" is central to the work of Best for Babes.

Removing our society's discomfort around breastfeeding could be incredibly helpful for the learning curve of breastfeeding because as Robert Schiller, MD says in his foreword to Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy learning to breastfeed is like learning to ride a bike. Children often find success in learning to ride a bike because they and those around them have SEEN the joy bike riding brings and that it works! The child and teacher are both comfortable with the learning process required for successful bike riding. The child is comfortable getting on the bike for multiple attempts; because he trusts the process, believes in himself and feels the support of those around him.

This learning process ideally unfolds at birth as is noted in one Best for Babes "Booby Traps"(TM) regarding the impact of birth on breastfeeding. For more information about breastfeeding and birth, see the previous post here Mothers Yearn for Their Babies at Birth.

When our image driven culture is immersed in positive breastfeeding images, it will help our culture more easily embrace breastfeeding. This will give mothers the clear message that breastfeeding their babies is fully supported, not just by data on its benefits but by a societal comfort zone that is consistent with what moms are being told about breastfeeding's importance in their health and their babies' health.

Check out Best for Babes recent full page ad in USA Today (see p. 23 of this document) putting out that much needed positive breastfeeding image and message for the public to embrace! "The miracle isn't the bra. The miracle is ....."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mothers Yearn for Their Babies at Birth

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I have been caring for newborns for over 20 years. I make a point of asking moms about their babies’ births and listening to their stories when we meet. The long term relationships I have developed with many of these families has led me to conclude that birth has a profound impact on the ease with which a mom adjusts to mothering her new baby.

Mothers are usually eager to share and process their birth experiences. Moms speak of their emotional responses as well as the basic descriptions of interventions and types of births. The emotions around birth range from blissful pride and awe to profound sadness and disappointment, even when the moms’ feelings have been dismissed because their babies are healthy. A common theme in all of these stories has been the shock from the denial of contact with their babies or the importance of having that yearned-for close contact at birth. I have noticed the hugely positive impact of keeping moms and babies together at birth on breastfeeding, bonding, and mom’s self-confidence and emotional state.

How many breastfeeding problems could be prevented if we facilitated this close contact at birth?

Dr. Michel Odent, a French obstetrician and author of such books as Birth Reborn observes, “It has been my experience, in thirty years of obstetrics, that when a mother and her baby are allowed to be alone together in the first two hours after birth the mother will learn how to put the baby to her breast correctly, without anyone’s help.”

Most of the time moms and babies have been separated at birth for routine procedures. Progress has been made in many settings where routine procedures are delayed but often only when the mom knows and remembers to request it. Far more progress has been made in this area for vaginal births than for Cesarean births over the years in my community. With approximately one-third of all births being by Cesarean, mom-baby contact needs to be optimized in our operating rooms as well as our birthing rooms.

I would like to emphasize the role of the doula in keeping mom and baby together at birth and after. A doula is there for mom, believes in mom and supports mom in all her efforts and supports those present at her birth. Doulas have been found to positively impact labor, birth and breastfeeding. I believe this is because of the combination of their steadfast belief in mom, expertise, and focus on mom’s needs, and the ability to follow her lead and not to interfere with her unique process.

I have found myself incredibly frustrated and saddened by the unnecessary separation of mothers and babies at birth. Skin to skin contact at birth is what mothers desperately want and I have wondered why they have been denied this immediate skin to skin contact that is so beneficial to both mom and baby.

In terms of hospital staff I want to respect the huge demands on their time and the need to complete the overwhelming number of tasks at hand. In terms of surgeons and anesthesiologists, I want to respect their comfort zone as they have a huge responsibility and must dictate policy. So how do we convince these incredibly overworked professionals to make difficult adjustments in the way they have been practicing for years?

I have thought: Seeing is believing. Listening to moms will speak to their hearts. They can adjust and will be motivated to make it work.

So I began my search for images of moms and babies skin to skin and/or breastfeeding in the operating room. Recently, with the help of Preparing For Birth, Mother’s Utopia, and Amy Romano of Science and Sensibility, I was alerted to a blog post with a photograph and a mother’s story of meeting her baby in his "birthday suit" in the operating room, and the video below that shows a baby skin to skin with his mom and feeding at birth in the operating room. I posted these and asked for moms’ comments. I am hoping that the images and comments help moms get that yearned-for closeness at birth when possible and that health care personnel become comfortable with the adjustment in procedures necessary to make this happen.

For more information:

A research paper presenting modifications of Cesarean birth procedures with a description of how to do skin to skin in the OR: “The natural caesarean: a woman-centred technique

For more beautiful images of babies and moms skin to skin at birth, its benefits and to hear from moms about what it meant to them, check out this video:

Keep Your Baby With You After Birth – Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice 6

Here is a sampling of some of the comments from moms about skin to skin contact at birth.

This one from a dear friend and colleague Anne Samojedny, PT cranial sacral therapist. Our professional relationship began after finding ourselves together in our first course in cranial sacral therapy together over 10 years ago. We co-treat patients and find that the birth experience has a huge impact on breastfeeding and much of our cranial work is devoted to healing birth trauma.

I sent her the video and her response was:
“This is really beautiful. I can relate. When my C-Section experience came up during a cranial session, my therapist asked me what the experience was like. I said I felt like I had been crucified. It was frightening and humiliating to be "tied up" on the arm boards. My experiences certainly have influenced my practice.”
These comments from Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy facebook page:

Katherine Sims Roberts -
… needing an emergency C-section, something that I had not prepared for at all. To this day, the thing that still pains me the most is that so many other people held/touched him before I did. ... I absolutely believe that had I been allowed to have skin to skin contact right away instead of delayed by 45min to an hour or more, our nursing relationship would have been much easier from the very start, and that the memory of those early minutes/hours would not cause me so much regret and pain.
Anne DeAtley
… right after the surgery they held Alex over the curtain and b/c they hadn't restrained my arms I reached up to touch my baby and was quickly yelled at "Don't touch him!" and he was whisked away. …
Carrie Lyn Woods-Bryant
I had 3 c-sections and had trouble getting breastfeeding started with all three. Especially my third. I did go onto breastfeeding successfully and for extended time with all 3. But I feel that had I been allowed to have skin to skin and be allowed to breastfeeding on the table, I would not have had such a difficult time getting started in addition to having a difficult time with bonding. My c-sections were extremely emotionally painful for me and if only doctors would get on board with just how important it is for the woman and the baby to have this first very important contact.
Tracye Kingsley Mason
Skin to skin is divine perfection.
Babies Fouroneone:
What a great video! Thanks so much for sharing this! Will show to our director and hope to implement this!
Sarah Stoddard-Gunn:
What a beautiful video. The most painful part of my daughter's delivery was being unable to see, touch, or breastfeed her. She was perfectly healthy, yet I was told that skin-to-skin contact was "impossible" until I was in the recovery room. I may send this video to my old providers.
Stork Stories post: Skin to Skin Minutes after C/S in OR … Speaking Up and Making it Happen (A must read: An ob nurse with 35 years experience shares her efforts in keeping moms and babies together at birth in the OR with an amazing story of a mom, vocal and adamant about what she wanted, ensuring her baby was ON her at the moment of birth.)

Comments from the Stork Stories post:

from Mamalade: I had a c-section 8 months ago and had this been me I would have avoided many many months of painful flashbacks, therapy, and nightmares. You probably single-handedly turned this scary and deeply traumatic event into a wonderful, if disappointing, birth story. I wish more medical “professionals” were as wise and caring as you. Please continue to speak your truth and help women bring their babies into the world as they were meant to.

from VK: I wish you had been at my section. I argued for skin to skin until they let my baby get cold and then they had an excuse to put him in an incubator and call him ‘ill’. I didn’t see him again for 6 whole hours. It was agony and it still gives me nightmares where he dies and they give me a different baby because I am screaming and screaming for him…Even poorly babies do better on their mums, so why is our birth culture so barbaric?
As a final note, I want to emphasize that we must make every effort to keep moms and babies together not just in the immediate postpartum time, but also in the days and weeks after the birth as well, so that mom can recover and she and her baby can establish breastfeeding with the greatest ease possible. Ideally, moms’ responsibilities should be limited so that they can be with their babies and not distracted by household duties, child care, and dressing for visitors.

In support of this practice, Camila Alves speaks at Celebrity Baby Blog about the tradition in Brazil of allowing for downtime after giving birth: “We call [it the] 40-day break after the baby.”

And also from producer, the story of his baby with the inability to move his facial muscles, being able to establish breastfeeding after weeks of mom and baby working together on their own. It speaks to the expertise of parents and the importance of keeping mom and baby together after birth.

Update: This blog post is part of the Healthy Birth Blog Carnival #6 MotherBaby Edition. For more insight and information on keeping mothers and babies together at birth hear from other bloggers at the carnival here.