Monday, March 21, 2011

Mommy Feeds Baby

I am creating this post in order to receive feedback from individuals who have read Mommy Feeds Baby.  I sent out a link to this blog along with the pre-orders so others can hear what readers think of the new children's breastfeeding book. Please feel free to share opinions, comments and suggestions through this blog.

For those of you who know me, you already are familiar with the journey I have been on to promote breastfeeding, to my newer friends, let me take a minute and share why I wrote a children's book.

I went to college to become a teacher.  I loved writing and children, so the most appropriate goal seemed to be to earn a teaching degree with an emphasis on English.  I taught and administrated for seventeen years and loved every minute of it.  Since I was the head of the English Department, I also got to oversee the Yearbook Class and Journalism Club.  I learned about photography and layout design by attending conferences and training I took my students to.  I was learning skills and techniques right along side of them and didn't know how valuable this information would be years later when I wanted to author a book.

After giving birth to my first child, I continued to work part time.  I was able to work mornings and breastfeed during my prep period and after work.  My second child was born in October, and I began teaching the second semester.  I absolutely hated leaving them with someone else during the day.  My third child was due in May and although I would have the summer off to spend with my kids, I began looking for something else for the fall. Teaching, administrating, coaching, attending Open Houses, field trips and fundraising caused me to be away from home too much.

When my third child was born, I encountered every problem I could in regards to breastfeeding.  Of course, she came the weekend of the La Leche League Conference and LLL was the only breastfeeding resource I had heard of.  I called my doctor, the pediatrician, the lactation consultant--no one was available on the weekend.  My condition turned into full-blown bi-lateral mastitis...then I added in thrush, combine that with a dysfunctional suck and my scenario was complete.   Eventually, I received help from WIC.  Someone recommended the WIC clinic to me and in my ignorance of the program, I replied, "Why go to WIC?  I don't need milk or cheese."  Fortunately, WIC was willing to help me regardless of my ignorance.  I went on to breastfeed for two years and the problems that led me to WIC allowed me to forge a relationsip with the program.  I was offered and accepted a job at WIC helping other moms.  My trials have become my greatest asset in helping others solve their breastfeeding problems.

I continued learning about lactation and after working as a breastfeeding counselor and health educator for seven years, I decided I would follow the steps to become an IBCLC.  I read all I could on the subject, researched the exam and the disciplines I needed to master, worked on my counseling skills, developed prenatal curriculums and studied.  I sat for and passed the exam several years ago and since then have been asked by others how the exam was, what I studied, if I thought they could do it, etc.  That's what prompted the Grow Our Own Program to be conceived.  Laurie Haessly, my supervisor who mentored and encouraged me, found a grant opportunity and asked if I would like to help write a grant to take others down the path of becoming an IBCLC.  Of course I was ecstatic!  We worked on the grant, received the money, and the rest is history.

One of the GOO annual class projects has been to help plan and execute a breastfeeding celebration.  Last year we took on World Breastfeeding Week celebrations at WIC.  When it came time to use the money that had been budgeted for breastfeeding promotion students went to Google to look for items.  I suggested a book.  Since WIC serves pregnant moms and children 0-5, I thought literature would be fitting.  I know how much I enjoyed reading to my children and from my college education and child development classes, I knew the importance of early introduction to books.  The breastfeeding shelves were rather bare.  There were some books of mammals feeding, a few books with a picture or two of well-concealed breasts, some cartoon drawings of moms--but not what I was hoping to find.  I wanted pictures of real moms feeding their babies.  I wanted a book that presented breastfeeding like it really was--unique.  I wanted a book that incorporated moms of different ethnicities, feeding babies of different ages, in different positions and with family members present.  I couldn't find the book I wanted, so I made it.  That is how Mommy Feeds Baby was birthed.

I have been at annual WIC celebrations since 2001 and have often photographed moms breastfeeding their children in order to present them with a keepsake photograph.  I often displayed the pictures to encourage other moms and highlight the beauty of the bond created through the experience.  With this tradition in mind, I decided to make a blank page in the back of Mommy Feeds Baby so a keepsake photograph could be attached, and so moms would remember to take a photo and document this special time.  I only have a breastfeeding picture of myself with one of my children although I breastfed all three--it never occurred to me to photograph the older two.  Now with Facebook, maybe I would have thought of it, but that was fifteen years ago and there were not a lot of breastfeeding pictures circulating.

Well, this is the condensed version (I know it doesn't seem too condensed) of my involvement with breastfeeding and the evolution of the book, but my ultimate goal is to promote breastfeeding as normal and expected.  I hope someday people are surprised or taken back a bit when they see a baby being bottle fed or at least assume that there must be breastmilk in the bottle.  I want children to chant the phrase "Mommy feeds Baby" when asked how an infant eats, I want to change the world!

Hope you have enjoyed reading Mommy Feeds Baby as much as I have enjoyed creating it.
The book is currently available at Jadabug's Baby Boutique or

Thank you, Christy Jo

As a side note:
I wish you knew the moms photographed in the book....  Each picture tells a story.  Some of the moms in the book have overcome great obstacles, some are single moms, some are working moms, some are young, some older, some are professionals, some are feeding their first child, some their fifth --they are you and me and they are breastfeeding!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Breast Anatomy and Physiology

Breast anatomy should be very familiar to anyone sitting for the Exam.  Not only is it crucial to understanding lactation, but it is also good testing ground for the IBLCE board since anatomy is the same internationally.  Although breastfeeding requires breasts and they have been used throughout the ages, breast anatomy is remarkably understudied (well, by the scientific audience, I should say).  I am amazed at the history of how we originally learned, evaluated and understood the mammary gland.  In case some of you haven't heard the lecture on the breast anatomy's history, I'll give a quick synopsis.  Medical professionals, biology students, lactation experts--all based all their information, decisions and future studies based on breast anatomy research that occurred over 160 years ago.  

Sir Astley Paston Cooper, M.D., FRCS, Bart., (1768-1841) published his findings in On the Anatomy of the Breast in 1840, just before his death.  This publication demonstrated Cooper's mastery of breast anatomy through outstanding illustrations. His findings were never collaborated or even verified by additional trials.  His pictures were widely circulated.  Unfortunately, these early illustrations showed some findings that were later proven false.  The discrepancies were created by the procedure Cooper used to trace the ducts that terminated at the nipple.  He laid out the breast from a cadaver in a asymmetrical way to best suit his study (one reason it is not accurate). Next, he injected dye into each nipple opening to better understand the labyrinth of ducts in the breast.  The initial injection caused a bubble to form when the pressure first entered the breast.  The best way for me to describe this is when a long balloon for making animals is blown up, the first big breath creates a bubble at the front of the balloon before filling the rest of it with air.  A similar phenomenon occurred with the dye in the breast. A bolus of dye created a "bubble" which were named "lactiferous sinuses."  

Finally, in 2006, Peter Hartman began anatomy studies that used ultrasound to trace milk ducts.  From this recent study the earlier depictions of breast anatomy were proven inaccurate.  
The point needs to be made that anyone who has had their anatomy training between 1840 and 2006 needs a refresher course.  A link to a journal of the breast's history and current research is . This journal article can be printed and shared.  Medela also has free illustrations of the old and new anatomy on their website  

There still needs to be much more research on lactation, physiology of lactation and anatomy of the breast.  I am constantly amazed that so little has been done to study the number one way to sustain the life of a child...hope someone gets motivated to tackle this huge project.  In the meantime, take this quick study module as a refresher on anatomy  The site has some other beneficial modules as well.  Hope this quick blog gets the mind thinking.  I know this is just a jumping off point.  I would also recommend reviewing the hormones that aid in lactation and do a "Google search" on "the lactating breast."  Just check the date on your research...prior to 2006, the research may have been based on faulty findings.

Lactation information, theories and protocols are changing all the time...keep "abreast" of what's new in the field!