We support fed babies, happy mothers, and content families.
Personally Carol Anne and I both bottle and breastfed our children. As doulas we support nursing, pumping and formula feeding families with equal non-judgmental support. That being said, why do we teach a Breastfeeding Class and why are we celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in Canada?
Because statistics (and our experience as doulas) show us that mothers who want to breastfeed their babies are struggling.
A recent study done in Canada reveals that while 89% of women start out breastfeeding only 26% of them make it to baby’s 6-month birthday exclusively breastfeeding which is the recommendation of the WHO (World Health Organization), UNICEF, Health Canada, and other infant health organizations globally*.
What is happening between baby’s birth and 6 months?
The most common challenges are linked to improper technique leading to issues like sore nipples, low milk supply, clogged ducts and hungry, fussy babies. While breastfeeding is considered “natural” it is a skill that both mother and infant have to learn. There is a steep learning curve clouded with sleep deprivation, healing from a birth as well as (more often than not) bad breastfeeding advice from well-intentioned but misinformed friends, families, and even health care professionals.
What most families do not realize is that there is a serious lack of training on up-to-date breastfeeding knowledge among health care professionals.
Some women who turn to their doctors, obstetricians or midwives for advice on breastfeeding at their follow up appointments are walking away with conflicting pieces of information or even worse, feelings of self doubt, guilt and anxiety about their ability to care for their child. A study done in 2007 found that only 39% of nurses and 9% of other healthcare practitioners were given breastfeeding training. *
So, why do we offer a Breastfeeding Basics class?
We found that once we started teaching mothers proper latch and how to overcome common challenges while they were still pregnant left our clients and students feeling better prepared in their infant feeding choices and in turn had an easier time breastfeeding and more importantly knew where to turn for additional help if needed.
Our clients, students and their partners became empowered.
As doulas & mothers we speak honestly about the joys and struggles of nourishing your baby with your body and what that means in our society today. Most importantly we let our clients set their own breastfeeding goals. Some women only want to nurse for those first few days so that their baby benefits from colostrum; others want to pump milk or do a combination of breast milk and formula because they are going back to work soon; and there are also women who want to breastfeed their child until that baby weans themselves at 18 months or older.
Whatever a parent wants for themselves and their child is what we support.
As we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week in Canada (Oct 1-7) we wanted to acknowledge all of the incredible health care professionals and collaborative members in our area who are working hard in their efforts to normalize breastfeeding and create support systems within their communities.
Thank you to our amazing community of local moms who so graciously shared their photos with us – we received many more than we could possibly fit into this blog post. These photos have been used with their permission and we cannot thank them enough.
For more details on the statistics cited in this blog, please visit: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-624-x/2013001/article/11879-eng.htm
Sarah Baker is a the co-owner of Lifetime of Love Doula Services. She has been supporting families for almost a decade as a birth doula, postpartum & infant care doula and childbirth educator. She is mom to three boys, twins and a singleton.