The Milky Way- Every Mother Has a Story

I am happy to share this guest post from Chantal Monal, RN MA IBCLC.  Chantal partnered with friend Jennifer Davidson, RN BSN IBCLC to produce a film about breastfeeding, society, and the incredible power of breastmilk.  The Milky Way film reveals the real power vested in women’s bodies and how that affects their babies – even the tiniest of preemies.  Chantal shares how breastmilk and babies at the breast make a difference for preemies in Berlin.  The film is in the final stages of production and the film making team needs more funds to finish their post production work.  You can be a part of their project and supporting others in reaching their breastfeeding goals by helping to normalize breastfeeding through participating in the kickstarter campaign to finish the film.  It ends at midnight on July 10, 2013, so only two days to help them reach their goal.  Your pledge will make a difference.

milky way collage

The nursing mother is truly a phenomenon. Not only does her body produce milk for her baby that is specifically designed for her baby(ies), the milk is alive with immune qualities, stem cells, growth factors, and much more, but her body provides habitat for her very immature and needy baby. Placing a baby on its mama’s chest immediately after birth triggers primitive neonatal reflexes that express the breastfeeding program that is vested in the baby.  Lying skin-to-skin activates a feeding sequence that results in a baby finding and often self-latching to its mother’s nipple.

At its mother’s breast, a baby is at home. This is where all things begin. Our babies learn to socialize, their brains develop, their little bodies learn to regulate temperature, breathing, and heart rate, and their physiology stabilizes. All this happens on the chest.

Babies who are kept in a mother-environment, with baby-wearing and co-sleeping, learn to synchronize their breathing and heartbeat with their mothers’.  All babies fall out of synchronicity periodically, but babies who are nursing and in close proximity to their mothers, develop the ability to re-synchronize, which is a protective factor against SIDS. These babies become very competent and self-reliant. They know where their food comes from and can navigate in the dark to their food source. How many of us have awakened to a latched-on baby?  That is a baby who feels secure and in control of his environment.

This stabilization and development is illustrated beautifully with premature babies. The Milky Way team traveled to Berlin to film this phenomenon in action with preemies in a very special NICU. We had the opportunity to film the power of Kangaroo Mother Care, which is care at the mother’s breast. Instead of a room full of incubators, where mothers have to sit in a chair and visit their baby, this hospital provides a room for each family to stay with their baby for its entire stay.

Each room has a bed big enough for mom and dad, a warmer and incubator, and some comfy chairs. There is a large common room provided as well, where parents can gather with their families and have a meal, or just visit.

The mothers keep their fragile babies on their chest for about 19 hours a day. They are taught to hand express colostrum, which they give through a feeding tube until their baby can latch and suck. Babies are at the breast frequently, nuzzling and licking until they naturally begin to suckle. In this setting, the authority is with the mother and father, the medical and nursing staff are there to “stand behind” the parents and to assist them as they are the primary care-givers of their own baby. This kind of care results in 3 pound babies being discharged home, fully breastfeeding, with confident parents.

MOM PREEMIE the Milky Way Film

The Milky Way is a film to empower mothers. The Milky Way reveals the extraordinary power vested in women’s bodies and how that affects their babies – even the tiniest of preemies. Nursing is so much more than food. The profound capacity inherent in a woman’s body has been ignored, overlooked and dismissed for far too long.  It is time that we collectively see nursing as the profound act that it is and place value on the product, the process, and recognize the mother as a powerful phenomenon.

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 Here at The Leaky Boob we know that every mother has a story and believe that sharing those stories provides mom-to-mom support in the wide variety of breastfeeding journeys women experience today.

We want to hear your story.  Share in the comments your breastfeeding story.

Did hearing the stories of others encourage and inspire you?

Did sharing your own story help someone else?

Has breastfeeding helped you to develop confidence and see how your body is a powerful phenomenon?

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Comments

  1. Before I had kids I never thought much about breastfeeding although I do remember as a child pretending to nurse my baby dolls (which is interesting given I wasn’t exposed to it much if at all then.) I worked a lot with women from around the world and was always disturbed by their prolonged practice of breastfeeding. I remember when I was pregnant with my first I thought I’d nurse until baby got teeth and bit me. I started off kind of rocky as my first child had really severe jaundice and was so sleepy it was hard to get her to latch on for long so I was encouraged by doctors, nurses, etc to supplement with formula which I did and then became afraid to stop lest baby stopped gaining weight. Somehow we managed through, and for some reason I became really interested in breastfeeding and doing more research. I ended up nursing my daughter until she was about 20 months give or take due to pregnancy. I ate some humble pie when it came to my previous feelings about extended BFing!! Ha! With my second child I was armed with more knowledge and confidence (I think I was just beginning to find out about this Facebook page). However my second child had jaundice and I’m ashamed to admit it but I was misled again into believing he needed supplemental formula. I hate that when you are at your most vulnerable and hormonal state all it takes is for a “medical professional” to make you believe they know best. Anyhow, I only did it a few times and then thought to myself, you know what I know my body can support my son so I’m not going to do this anymore. We’ve been nursing for 2.5 years now! If I have another child I am very adamant that I will not be bullied into formula feeding again. Also, coming into contact with breastfeeding advocates and just other BFing moms I have been exposed to new ideas about other things related to babies and parenting in general such as natural childbirth (something I want to aim for next time), peaceful parenting, etc. I attribute a lot of that to the Leaky B@@b page!

  2. I had a 2lb 6oz baby born 9 weeks premature. It was a scary period in our lives and it was very hard to leave our son in the NICU at night, not knowing when we’d finally be able to take him home. After 6 weeks, at 4lb 2oz, we were able to bring our son home. The NICU in the article sounds AMAZING. We would have loved to have been able to spend all day every day with our little miracle in this kind of a room. The NICU and NICU nurses were amazing – they helped me learn to pump and all about breastfeeding and milk storage, etc. – and gave us a lot of information that we really appreciated as first time parents. But getting to spend that much time with our son would have really been great…

  3. I absolutely love this!! I had my baby in Weiden in Der Oberfalz- about 3 hours from Berlin! The care here is so different. A really GREAT different. They don’t bring babies to the nursery, in fact… They WANT a new mom to hold the bub and promote breast feeding! As a young (24) brand new mom who is American living here in Germany they thought I was going to choose formula. They were enamored with my choices and so VERY supportive! We were in the hospital for 10 days (I was septic from a bladder infection), at times nurses would come in and hold baby to my breast when I was to weak to hold her! It was a great experience!

  4. Amy Lehman says:

    This is amazing! So happy that this place exists. Breastfeeding is so natural and so amazing for momma and baby. I did a LOT of skin to skin time with my little girl when she was a newborn, when we were nursing and when we were just hanging out. She had a low temperature the first 12+ hours after she was born and this momma gladly held her on my chest continuously. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything!

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