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.
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.
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.
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?