Breastfeeding: It’s Your Right

DeLorenzo_forBlog Listen to the podcast “Know Your Breastfeeding Rights”
Read Jill DeLorenzo’s story. Her big “offense” was breastfeeding her child in Gold’s Gym. Note that Jill was a paying member of the gym, and had breastfed there before. But apparently on this occasion, doing so was an “offense.” Some unnamed person at the gym was offended that Jill was so bold as to feed her own children from a body part that is designed for that purpose, and so two high-ranking members of the gym administration (including the executive vice president of the management company) told Jill to move. Although they could have suggested that the complainant shift his or her gaze in a different direction, gym leadership chose to act in favor of that party’s feelings rather thanJill’s right to breastfeed.

All too often, people in positions of authority think they can strong-arm a mother with such tactics as intimidation, threats of legal action, and references to an un-posted (and likely nonexistent) policy about breastfeeding in public. In Jill’s case, the vice president noted that since the gym “is private property, we can do what we want to here.” He dodges Jill’s question about how he feels about breastfeeding in public, noting that “I’m protecting rights for our members—and how our staff feels as well.”

Without question, it would have been easier for Jill to relocate to the women’s locker room to continue breastfeeding. But she didn’t. It wasn’t convenient for her, since she had two children along—and, anyway, she knew that she shouldn’t be shamed for breastfeeding her child. She remained glued to the chair and fought for every minute her baby needed to feed. When she left the gym, she didn’t quit fighting; she took the fight to a bigger stage! She joined efforts to push for legislation to protect a woman’s right to breastfeed in the state of Virginia.

I hope every woman understands that it is not illegal to breastfeed in any US state, and nearly all states have laws specifically protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed. Personally, I think it’s silly that we need a law to protect the right to breastfeed—generations of Americans breastfed without them!—but obviously, we do need such a law!

Change can and does happen with each woman who refuses to be intimidated. Join me on the show while Jill is my guest, and find out you how to help women in the US to have their right to breastfeeding protected.

Related resources:
National Conference of State Legislatures: Breastfeeding State Laws
Women’s Law Project: Breastfeeding and Pumping Laws
BreastfeedingLaw.com
Normalize Breastfeeding: A Breastfeeding Awareness Media Campaign
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Woman, write your own story!

Listen to the podcast “Hypnobirthing”

These days, we hear so much about empowerment. We hear women proclaim the importance empowerment; they emphasize their need to become empowered; they help other women to become empowered. But honestly, I’ve never heard a woman say, “I know that my birth experience could empower me more than any other event in my life. How can I maximize that opportunity for empowerment?”

The media repeatedly tells us that labor and delivery is a painful, panicky process. With that in mind, women have already entered the fear-tension-pain cycle, and seek relief. Most turn to drugs (often those given as epidural analgesia) to minimize or eliminate what they assume will be unbearable pain. I remember the first time I asked an expectant couple why they had decided to use epidural anesthesia as soon as labor began. They  quickly responded, “Why would you have pain if you could completely avoid it?” I stood there, dumbfounded, trying to figure out what to say. I’ve never come up with a response.

I always want to blurt out, “So that you could be fully present in the moment! So that you could feel the power of pushing a baby out into the world! So that you could savor the moment of feeling for a few moments as though you were a goddess, suspended between heaven and earth!” Having assisted hundreds if not thousands of laboring women, I completely acknowledge that there’s a time and a place for medication; I’ve seen some really rough labor/births. But I try to help women consider all options, because I know that some of them are missing that truly empowering opportunity.

With so much emphasis on how hospital practices—including medicated labors—can impact breastfeeding, I asked my guest, Robin Frees, to talk about hypobirthing in this episode. She talks about how “feel-good” hormones help you to have a good labor and a good experience breastfeeding, whereas stress hormones set you up for something very different. She talks about the value of writing your own birth story and practicing self-hypnosis. She talks about using imagery, visualization, and positive affirmations, and the power of our subconscious. She tells us that we can create our own birth experiences. How empowering is that?

As Deborah Day observed: “Rewriting the negative beliefs you have learned is the essence of becoming the director of your life.”
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Parents’ Best Gifts for Their Children

The Best Gifts Listen to the podcast “Parents’ Best Gifts for Their Children”
I have never met her. Yet over the past 17 years, we have talked (via email) many, many times. Some letters have been exchanged over the miles, snail mail providing an assist to our communication as letters I wrote were postmarked in my country and delivered in hers (and vice versa). I have seen pictures of her, but I have never seen her. Once, she chatted with me by phone. Tonight, she came to me by Skype. Always, during those 17 years, this woman has come to me through her book.

Books are funny things; they aren’t people and yet they introduce us to people. They introduce us to their characters—real or fictional. They introduce us to the character’s family and friends, and sometimes to our own friends. Often, they cause us to see parts of ourselves that were previously unseen. And, of course, books introduce us to their author.

I often like to describe how I met my guest for a particular episode, and I can tell you that I met award-winning author Marsha Skrypuch through her second book, The Best Gifts, shortly after it was first published in 1998.

Read Marsha’s book, and you’ll begin to know Marsha. Having written 19 books for children and young adults, Marsha is committed to sharing a view of the world as children see it, rather than as we adults do. This alone tells us so much about how important it is to her that children feel respected. Marsha’s message that breastfeeding is the ultimate gift of love and presence tells you so much about her values. The way she concludes the book helps you to understand that Marsha has a long-term view of the world and its families and communities. (No spoiler alert here. I encourage you to go read it yourself!)

During my “Born to be Breastfed” episode with Marsha, many things she said rang a proverbial bell with me: · She immediately thanked me for pronouncing her name correctly. Yeah, well, when you have a last name like “Biancuzzo,” you know that’s an important point! · Marsha mentioned her desire for parents to enjoy the book and not dread reading it again—as parents ultimately must read favorite books time and again. I was reminded of an earlier guest on the show, musician Laurie Berkner, who said she always tried to create kid music that adults would like! <br /><br />

The fact that her original cover for the book (featuring a naked, nursing breast) drew such a negative reaction from American booksellers reminded me of Rachelle Lestishen’s blog at iMothering.com describing the “Cyberbullies” who took down a Facebook post of a woman who was breastfeeding. Yikes. Rachelle’s issue, 17 years after Marsha’s book was published, is the same story, different day. Sigh…

I’m glad to have gotten to know Marsha as the result of her book, and I’m glad to be able to introduce her to you through this show. After listening, be sure to visit her web site to learn more about The Best Gifts and her many other fantastic books.

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Exercise for Health

Listen to the podcast “Exercise — Before, During, and After Pregnancy”
pregnant_exerciseWhat if I told you that by doing just one thing, you could become a rich person?  Let’s say I told you that by doing this one thing, doing it well, and doing it every day, you’d be a rich person within a short time. I would again emphasize that it takes only one thing to achieve that rich-person status. You’d probably want to know how such a simple thing would work. I’d explain that this one thing is a catalyst—a substance that increases the rate of a reaction. Maybe you’re already wondering how to achieve great wealth using this one thing—and only one thing, this catalyst—to accelerate your desired outcome.

OK, honestly, I don’t have the remotest idea what one thing will make you a rich person or even just a bit wealthier than you are now. But I do know the one thing that will make you healthier!

Exercise.

As famed American fitness and nutrition icon Jack LaLanne said, “Yes, exercise is the catalyst. That’s what makes everything happen: your digestion, your elimination, your sex life, your skin, hair, everything depends on circulation. And how do you increase circulation?”

Exercise.

Certainly, we can do a number of things to improve our appearance and all of our bodily functions: eating better foods, getting better sleep, and many other good habits. But if you’re looking for a catalyst—something that will accelerate the change—exercise is the one thing you need. That’s true even whether you’re preconception (planning a pregnancy), pregnant, or postpartum (recovering from pregnancy). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that healthy women engage in 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity during and after pregnancy. And, women who are already involved in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity can continue to do so, with a physician’s guidance.

By the way, if you’re looking to be a rich person, you might try exercise to achieve that, too! Certainly, no one would trade wealth for health, but the two are not entirely unrelated. Many studies (such as this one) show that exercise improves cognitive function. I don’t think it’s a far leap between a better, clearer brain and a bigger bank account.

What other one thing can you name that brings about such diverse improvements? I’ve never heard anyone put the cure for improving her skin and hair into the same sentence with how to improve her sex life. Yet because exercise is such a good catalyst, it improves all bodily functions, and has also been shown to improve mood disorders.

Do just this one thing—exercise. Do it well, do it every day, and within a short time you’ll be a healthier person. Yes, continue doing all of the good stuff you’re doing to promote your good health, but if it’s going more slowly than you’d like, try using the catalyst—the one thing—that will accelerate your outcome: exercise
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Stop the Biting: Top Tips for Breastfeeding Moms

Barnett 13 mo b cropSometimes, babies who are getting their teeth bite. It doesn’t actually happen while your baby is nursing–the motion of baby’s mouth when biting is different and incompatible with the motion of nursing. Rather, it tends to happen when the baby is put to the breast for a feeding, or at the end. Whenever it happens, it hurts! If your baby bites, try these strategies: 

1) Watch for a baby who is “reaching” when latching on. If your baby is straining his neck and reaching to get a deep latch, it’s a big clue that he is headed for slipping down on the nipple later. Slipping sets him up for biting.


2) Watch for “changing gears.” After your baby has suckled happily with long, slow, rhythmic sucks to get all the milk he wants, he will begin to make faster jaw motions that are not rhythmic, and do not compress the nipple and areola. This is a sign that he is nearly finished, which can be a clue that biting may follow.

3) Watch for signs of satiety, including distractions. Older babies are naturally more social and more curious about their surroundings. If you baby starts moving his neck and turning his face (often taking your nipple with him!) he may bite without meaning to.

4) Be alert for signs of baby’s mouth slipping onto the nipple. That tends to be a place babies bite. Slip a finger into the corner of his mouth to break any suction, and remove him from the breast right away.

5) Offer a teething ring when the baby bites. He may be biting because he has teething discomfort, so help him to find the right thing to bite on–a chilled teething ring or something similar, not you!

6) Try not to scold him when he bites. Sure, it’s natural to react, but mothers who respond with “NO!” can find themselves in a bad predicament if the baby interprets this as “no nursing.” Some babies refuse to nurse for many days afterwards, which can be hard on baby and mom! Instead, have the teething ring and different words ready. Offer the teething ring and say, “Bite this, not Mommy.”

7) Offer positive and negative feedback appropriately. Break the suction and let him know he should not bite Mommy. Offer an extra hug or nuzzle when the baby takes the teething ring.

8) If he does bite, push his head towards your breast for a second or two. His nose will become occluded, and he will open his mouth; quickly remove him. Although it seems intuitive to pull the baby away, it doesn’t help him to release the nipple, which only worsens the biting problem. If you try this approach the first time he bites, you may find that he quickly realizes that he shouldn’t bite. This strategy doesn’t work as well after the baby has gotten into the habit of biting. Also, don’t use this approach if the baby has a stuffy nose or any breathing difficult.

9) Be consistent with your approach. Babies are smart. They soon get the idea of what the boundaries are. 

10) Be positive. Although biting can be a challenge, breastfeeding is good for you and your baby. 
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