Saturday, November 10, 2007

LLL of MO Conference

Last weekend I attended the LLL of MO conference (the lovely conference logo to the right was designed by the talented Summer Hill). I was thrilled to attend several presentations by Diane Wiessinger. Diane is a gifted speaker with lots of powerful insights about birth and breastfeeding (or, as the other headline speaker, Dia Michels, said "we should have a new word--birthandbreastfeeding"). The two are inextricably linked and it DOES matter how and where you give birth. As Diane said, "It's the birth, silly!"

With regard to birth and the impact of birthing practices on breastfeeding Diane makes comparisons to other mammals. Human mother and baby pairs are also mammal pairs and are biological primed to expect certain things and to thrive in some circumstances and not in others. One of her analogies is of moving a mother dog to another setting to give birth:

"Your pet dog is in labor. Instead of leaving her in the quiet corner she has chosen, you bundle her into the car and take her to a strange, brightly lit house bustling with strangers who keep poking and peering at her. As each puppy is born, it is positioned at one of her teats for a few minutes to see if it will latch on. If it doesn't latch immediately, it's washed, wrapped, and put in a separate box until later."

Would we expect this dog mother to have an easy labor and birth? Would we expect her well-wrapped baby to suckle well when returned to her after several hours of separation? Would we be the best people suited to determining when and how often the puppies needed to nurse and how often their mother should be with them? NO! The mother's biology and the puppies' biology are what facilitates smoothness in birth and breastfeeding, NOT the things that are done to them by others.

Diane also shared the following description of why your baby's birth matters:

"A trip to a strange place with strange smells. Bright lights, busy people. Numbness. A carefully cleaned and wrapped baby who doesn't stay with Mama. Any other mammal would reject her baby after a beginning like that. Which means that most American mothers have to welcome their newborns with their heads and not their hearts. Not the best start for confident mothering. Not the best start for breastfeeding. Not the best start for love."

She also says, "Don't be fooled by the Birth Channel. A normal birth is not a medical event or a source of horrible pain. It happens on its own, with the woman moving in whatever way feels right to her, feeling the labor and feeling--being--in charge. Find someone who will support this." (Hint: A provider who practices The Midwives Model of Care supports normal birth like this!)

An interesting new website called Conscious Woman has recently been launched. This site is a source for interactive online workshops. If you are interested in hearing and seeing Diane Wiessinger speak for yourself, her session "What Would Mammals Do?" is one of the upcoming workshops available from Conscious Woman! How neat to have a site available like this to bring important speakers and sessions right into the comfort of your own home.

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