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Details are the key in breastfeeding class
Demonstrate with dolls and video clips
At St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT, the prenatal education tries to deliver "consistent and positive messages about breastfeeding," says Laurie Mastrone, RNC, IBCLC, a lactation consultant.
Each two-hour class includes lecture and video with illustrations given with the aid of an anatomical breast and doll. Her class outline includes the following topics:
exclusive, frequent breastfeeding with no supplementation;
non-pharmacological pain relief for labor;
the importance of the early first feeding within the first hour of life, skin-to-skin contact, and 24-hour rooming in;
baby-led feedings, feeding cues, and hunger signs;
how to position and latch an infant;
importance of exclusive breastfeeding for first six months and continuing after other foods are introduced to baby;
the benefits of breastfeeding for mother and newborn;
anatomy, nutritional properties of human milk, how the breast makes milk, and establishing a milk supply;
challenges to successful breastfeeding, such as returning to work and pumping breast milk;
appropriate use of breast pumps;
milk handling, storage, and alternative feeding methods such as soft cup feeders;
milk supply with growth spurts;
available community support and resources;
The DVDs shown as part of the curriculum vary depending on whether most of the participants have taken the prenatal class. One of the DVDs sometimes shown is titled "Delivery Self Attachment" by Lennart Righard, MD. This six-minute video shows how the uninterrupted mother/baby skin-to-skin contact within the first hour of birth helps establish breastfeeding, explains Mastrone.
More often she shows portions of "A Visual Guide to Breastfeeding" by Jack Newman, MD, and the entire video titled "Breastfeeding: the Why to, How to" produced by Vida Health Communications.
Prepare women for success
Good curriculum on breastfeeding is important because many women have heard horror stories about breastfeeding situations that don't work out or about moms having problems, says Pam Chay, RN, IBCLC, patient care coordinator for Multiple Births and Education at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
Information in the three-hour class she has developed is delivered via verbal lecture and a computerized graphic presentation with short video clips to show techniques, such as a proper latch. Also couples practice proper positioning with dolls. The topics covered include the following:
The benefits of breastfeeding, focusing on benefits not commonly known. These include lowering a woman's risk for ovarian cancer, pre-menopausal breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Babies have lower incidents of respiratory infections if breastfed for at least six months.
Basic anatomy and physiology of how the breast works and changes during pregnancy. This topic includes a discussion of how the baby gets milk out of the breast and the importance of a good latch and how to achieve it.
Breastfeeding myths. This topic covers myths such as the need to time breastfeeding, with the idea that once a specific time limit is reached feeding is completed.
Taking cues from the baby, such as knowing when the baby is hungry and allowing the baby to eat until he or she is done.
This topic covers signs the baby is getting enough to eat, such as putting out enough wet and dirty diapers.
Steps to take immediately after birth, such as skin-to-skin contact, and information on what the baby will be like immediately after birth.
For example, the baby is awake, alert, quiet, and receptive to learning, so it is a good time to initiate breastfeeding. After a couple hours, the baby goes into a deep sleep for a few hours.
The importance of frequent feedings the first few weeks. Chay explains that babies need frequent meals because they have small stomachs and breast milk goes through their bodies quickly. Babies need to nurse 8-12 times in 24 hours.
Information on how fathers can be helpful, such as bringing the baby to the mother for breastfeeding, burping the baby, and changing him or her after feeding.
Dads also can investigate the baby's latch if there is biting or pinching, and they can provide ongoing encouragement.
Resources to support breastfeeding such as the La Leche League and a government web site on women's health that has information on breastfeeding: www.womenshealth.gov. (For more information on these resources, see below.)
DVD: Breastfeeding set: How to, Why to produced by Vida Health Communications, Six Bigelow St., Cambridge, MA 02139. Telephone: (800) 550-7047 or (617) 864-4334. Web: www.vida-health.com. The cost of the DVD is $295 plus shipping and handling. It is located in the product section of the web site.
DVD: Dr. Jack Newman's Visual Guide to Breastfeeding. To order, go to www.drjacknewman.com and click on "DVDs & Books." Jack Newman, MD, is a Canadian physician specializing in breastfeeding support and advocacy. The DVD costs $30 plus shipping and handling.
DVD: Delivery Self Attachment by Lennart Righard, MD, produced by Geddes Production. Web: www.geddesproduction.com. Click on "DVD/Videos" and then "Delivery Self Attachment." The DVD costs $22.95 plus shipping and handling.
La Leche League, 957 N. Plum Grove Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173. Telephone: (847) 519-7730. Web: www.llli.org. The web site has a directory for local La Leche chapters.
www.womenshealth.gov. This is a federal government source for women's health information sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Women's Health. Telephone: (800) 994-9662.