10 Questions with a Homebirth Midwife

1) Moms planning a home birth are planning for a low intervention birth. Is the same true for their breastfeeding goals? Do women delivering at home plan to exclusively breastfeed and avoid formula intervention?

Yes. Most women who are planning natural birth also plan to exclusively breastfeed. However, there are situations where a mom chooses not to breastfeed. She may be a victim of sexual abuse or was unable to breastfeed a previous child. We ultimately want women to make the decisions they are most comfortable with after having been provided with as much education and support as possible.

2) What kind of support can a homebirth midwife provide to breastfeeding mothers that is different than a midwife in a hospital or birth center setting?

We offer a lending library that includes breastfeeding books. We offer a one hour prenatal visit so the mother has ample time to discuss her questions, goals, and fears about breastfeeding.

3) What role do you take in prenatal breastfeeding education?

In addition to the support and information provided prenatally, we also suggest the utilization of outside resources like breastfeeding classes, lactation consultants, and La Leche League meetings.

4) What aspects of homebirth uniquely facilitate breastfeeding initiation and establishment?

We are adamant about the necessity of skin to skin contact between mom and baby, with as minimal interruption as humanly possible.  Every aspect of the postpartum experience works better when you just leave them alone. Moms heal faster and babies want to nurse when they are not being poked, prodded, and taken away from mom for reasons that could, in most instances, wait.

5) Describe your breastfeeding-specific training. Does it differ from the training hospital midwives have?

I am not familiar enough to speak on the training of hospital midwives. My experience has grown through living and learning. I nursed all four of my babies at various lengths, based on my education and abilities at the time. I am learning all the time through my clients’ experiences ranging from no intervention to the necessity of an IBCLC or pediatric ENT. I also continue to learn through the support of my peers.

6) Describe the well baby care homebirth midwives give in the first 48 hours. How does this care screen for breastfeeding obstacles?

We usually stay with the mother after birth until baby has latched and is nursing well. If this doesn’t happen for some reason, we are in constant contact until it does. We listen to what moms are describing and make the call for further help based on what they are reporting. We may make another trip back to the house, or, if it seems like an issue that is out of our scope of knowledge, we will refer first to an in-home lactation consultant who is willing to assess mom and baby while maintaining the need for skin to skin contact in their own environment.

7) Do women with gestational diabetes, PCOS, or other endocrine disorders birth at home? What special feeding support do these dyads receive from a midwife?

Yes, and we don’t tend to do anything special unless we are finding it to be an issue. The premise is that it is normal and natural unless it’s not. We aren’t in the business of fixing things that aren’t broken. If we need to refer out for these things, we will.

8) Do Homebirth midwives facilitate informal milk sharing between clients? Why or why not?

Yes. However, not all moms are comfortable with that and we support that, too.

9) What signs or symptoms of feeding challenges do you refer out to an LC?

Baby not gaining weight, latch that just isn’t getting better despite our suggestions of different feeding positions,  mom in extreme pain with cracked, blistered, and bleeding nipples.

10) If a client chooses not to breastfeed, what alternative feeding do you recommend and why?

I usually don’t do much recommending of formula, but I suppose an organic formula of some type if they must. It is extremely rare that a client of ours comes to their six week postpartum visit and is not still exclusively breastfeeding. If they are supplementing with formula, they have already been working with a lactation specialist and have made those decisions together.

Bonus question 11) Share your favorite nursing memory.

I remember a moment nursing my last baby. I nursed all four, but I think I was in a hurry for a lot of that time. Hurry up and quit nursing. Hurry up and walk. Hurry up and potty train. With number four, I knew she was my last and I was thankfully in a place in my life where I didn’t want to hurry anymore. I wanted everything to slow down. I am grateful that I was able to have the awareness to enjoy every single stage with her. I squeezed every last drop. Nursing her one afternoon, she was holding my finger and resting her hand on my chest, while staring into my eyes. I felt in the depths of my being, at that very moment, what an amazing gift to be given the ability to nurse my baby, and I wasn’t going to hurry.

 

Rachel Hart I am a traditional midwife and CPM. I moved to Atlanta from Las Vegas with my husband and four children in 2008. I am a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a Bachelor’s degree in English. I began my midwifery journey through an apprenticeship training program in 2005 and began my own practice in 2007.  All four of my children were born at home, the last birth unassisted. I joined Beth at Birthing Way in 2010.

Helping women realize their true power and potential as a woman and mother through the birthing process has been a privilege. I have really enjoyed attending births with the lovely families here in Georgia. I also support the birth community as Secretary of the Georgia Midwifery Association and as Membership Director of the Georgia Birth Network.

 

www.birthingway.com
rachel@birthingway.com
770-597-4478
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Breastfeeding is MORE than Milk

 Breastfeeding provides perfect nutrition for infants, but it also does much more! Direct nursing at the breast has a whole host of benefits that are easily overlooked in a culture so focused on the milk. Nutrition is only one aspect of infant feeding that leads to growth and development.

Muscle Mechanics:

  The muscle mechanics involved with nursing facilitate optimal cranial-facial development. You’ve probably heard about importance of “tummy time” for the development of head control. Nursing your baby in a laid back position is tummy time made easy! Breastfeeding also coordinated the right and left hemispheres of the brain because the baby is moved from left to right on the mother’s body. This brain development is critical to other developmental milestones like crawling, walking, and later reading. The developing infant palate, mouth, and skull are shaped by feeding. Feeding at the breast helps the baby achieve normal oral motor function and growth.

Skin to Skin:

    Breastfeeding inherently provides the skin to skin contact newborns need for early neurological development, body temperature regulation, and blood sugar regulation. The mother-baby bonding that occurs while a baby is at the breast is unparalleled. Studies show held babies have lower stress hormones.

Increased Maternal Rest:

    Exclusively breastfed infants who sleep in close proximity to their mother replicate their mother’s REM cycles.  Since their sleep is in sync, the baby is more likely to wake for nursing when the mother is not in a deep sleep state.  Maternal sleep is a crucial part of postpartum recovery. Studies show that breastfeeding moms actually sleep about 45 minutes more per night than formula feeding moms.

Better Maternal and Infant Mood:

    Breastfeeding facilitates the release of the “feel good” hormone oxytocin in the mother during “let down” or milk ejection reflex. Mothers of breastfed babies experience less postpartum depression.  Breastmilk contains multiple hormones that promote happiness and relaxation in infants. Breastfed babies also are less likely to have colic.

Infant Sleep/Wake Cycle Regulation:

    When babies are first born they do not make their own sleep hormones. The newborn receives the sleep hormone melatonin directly from breastmilk. The act of suckling at the breast releases a hormone in the baby called CCK, which makes him or her feel full and sleepy. Nursing to sleep is good for babies!

Protection from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome:

    Frequent night wakings to nurse are a large part of normal infant sleep, and serve as nature’s protection against SIDS. Bottle feeding human milk through the night has not shown to be as protective in preventing SIDS as direct nursing at the breast.

The American Association of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding with complementary solids until at least age 1. Continued support is a huge factor in long term EBF success. A prenatal visit with a lactation consultant or lactation counselor is the first step. An LC can answer your questions and assist you with formulating a breastfeeding friendly birth plan.  If you have already had your baby, schedule a home visit or clinic visit with your LC for an in depth consult that can help your family realize all the benefits of breastfeeding.

Top Tips for Top Milk Supply

By far, the most common concern about breastfeeding is adequate milk supply. Here are the top evidence based recommendations for ensuring your short term and long term production.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1. Bring your baby to the breast as soon as possible after birth. Babies are born alert and ready to feed. Babies nursed in the first 2 hours after birth are more likely to be exclusively breastfed.

2. Feed often and on cue. Crying is a late sign of hunger. In the first weeks, babies nurse all the time. This establishes long term milk supply and helps the stomach grow. Expect your baby to nurse at least 12 times in 24 hours, often more. All health organizations recommend “on demand” infant feeding. No health organizations recommend scheduled feeds.

3. Hold your baby. Skin to skin contact is proven to facilitate better breastfeeding. You can’t “spoil” a baby. Holding your baby has other health benefits for non-breastfeeding families as well. Babies in close contact with an adult care provider are better able to regulate breathing, metabolism, heart rate, and temperature.

4. Sleep near your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies room-in with an adult care giver for the first 6 months of life as a protective measure against SIDS. Room sharing also facilitates easier night feeding. It’s normal for babies to nurse at night well beyond 6 months of age.

5. Do not introduce formula, water, juice, or other solids unless medically indicated before 6 months. Exclusive breastfeeding provides everything a full term healthy baby needs. Giving a formula supplement “just in case” can cause milk supply to drop. Combination feeding of breast and formula leads to decreased milk supply as well.

6. Ignore the clock. Allow your baby to nurse as long as he or she wants. Some babies will finish a feed in 7-10 minutes while others may take 40 or more. Just like adults sometimes want a full meal and other times just a snack, babies feel the same way. Put your baby to the breast and nurse until the baby comes off naturally. Offer the other breast. Your baby may or may not want both breasts per feed. Always follow the baby’s cue.

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