Birth & Family Life
A blog about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding,
parenthood & everything in between...
parenthood & everything in between...
Breastfeeding Support & Challenges: The Milky Way Movie
UPDATE: Another screening of the movie is happening in Calgary on October 6 2015! Find out more details and purchase your ticket here: http://cbmg.ca/
Earlier this month, the Calgary Breastfeeding Matters Group screened a documentary called The Milky Way Movie. There were a collection of breastfeeding businesses and organizations on hand before the screening and a great panel discussion that followed the movie.
I was very impressed with this documentary. The last one I had seen on the topic left me saddened and unsure of how I could help the women with breastfeeding. The Milky Way left me excited to share with women that there are serious flaws in our systems and to not take the blame or feel shame if you did not breastfeed.
"Conflicting advice abounds, leaving new moms bewildered and wondering if they are doing it “right,” and often wanting to opt out entirely. Countering nearly a century of medical procedures that separated babies from their mothers and medical advice that informed women that their milk was not good enough, The Milky Way captures how mothers can access their inner knowledge and trust their own body’s wisdom, and why they should. Women’s stories, leading lactation professionals, archival footage, religious iconography, and formula advertisements, tell the story of how mothers relinquished authority to medical professionals, and succumbed to cultural pressure to forfeit their nourishing breasts in favor of a highly sexualized model." ~ The Milky Way
I found the movie inspiring. They talked about what other countries were doing, why it was working and how it could work in North America. There were discussions on root causes of why the number of women breastfeeding (in the US) was so low. Sadly, there is a lot of similarities with the US and Canada regarding breastfeeding rates. Granted we in Alberta (Alberta breastfeeding statistics) are not as low as the US, but there is much room for improvement.
The panel discussion after was so knowledgeable and covered many aspects of the population: mother, nurse, La Leche League (LLL) Leader, father, grandfather, lactation consultant...really...wow! Their thoughts on the film were aligned with many of my own as well as adding other great thoughts that my brain lacked the ability to think of on my own.
The sad part is only a handful of people got to see this great movie and experience the panel discussion. We have a big community here in Calgary, but how to bring everyone together? I've already contacted the filmmakers regarding obtaining a licenced copy to share with my Birth Boot Camp students. I want people to see this movie BEFORE baby comes along, before they experience the set backs set-up along the way so that they are prepared. Breastfeeding has become this difficult experience. Its tricky. And its not because of the parents not wanting to breastfeed.
There are many system failures in place. How can we remove them?
We need to share our stories!Here's a brief recap of my own personal experience. Both of my babies were born in Fort McMurray where there are 3 choices for birth: in hospital with a very small number of OBs, travel to Edmonton or Calgary a minimum of 1 month before the EDD for midwife care, or an unassisted home birth. Not great choices to say the least. I had a rough time with our first daughter. After a medicated birth and a terrible hospital experience, she was readmitted to the hospital on day 5 due to jaundice. She was having great difficulties eating and staying awake. The nurse in the ER took her and fed her a bottle of formula telling me that I was starving her. I was a failure as her mother by day 5 in my mind. They put her under the lights and I was told to supplement her with formula then to pump and feed her my milk through the bottle. I had a lot of milk yet I was told I could try breastfeeding her only every third feeding. I was so disappointed in myself but I didn't see how giving her formula would be helpful. If I was pumping, she'd be feeding from the same bottle, so she should be able to drink it just as easily right? Her nurse was wonderful and encouraged me to not feed formula but to breastfeed and bottle feed the breast milk I pumped. I pumped while she slept in her warm, blue bed as her numbers decreased throughout the night. After 18 hours, her bilirubin level was normal and we were released. I told the doctor what we had done and she was impressed.
Our troubles weren't over as I seemed to have an abundant supply and there was not great access to help. I used a nipple shield for several weeks and eventually she started to feed without it. She was a pro by 3 months and I have no idea what I would have done if breastfeeding hadn't work out for us. I struggled with PPD and was diagnosed around 6 months with several forms of treatment given. We chose not to cosleep for 6 months, thinking that's not what everyone else is doing. It was awful, so many nights up with a crying baby until we brought her into our bed and we could finally all sleep. I chose to stop breastfeeding at 16 months as I felt this immense pressure that she didn't need it and was too old. We were both brokenhearted for many months and I still regret it.
We do what we know and can only make changes once we know more. With knowledge comes the power to do better!
Cut to baby number 2. I had a wonderful doula and took classes from the local doula association. We had a simple and quick unmedicated birth with only a few hours in the hospital. We went home to the comfort of our bed, coslept from the start and I wore her for many hours everyday. She had breastfed within 30 minutes of her birth and we got to enjoy her company for an hour uninterrupted after the placenta was birthed. We breastfed until 24 months when I chose to stop as I needed a different medication that was not safe for breastfeeding. It was a hard choice but one I made willingly and consciously with my family doctor. Her story is so simple in comparison to her sister's story.
Birthing Magazine is an Alberta magazine that is is packed with birth stories, research articles, news and events, resource information and much more. The Winter 2015 edition has a lovely story in it this month about one woman's challenges with her milk and her struggle to love herself and her milk. Pick up a copy, read it and then share with a friend!
What was your breastfeeding experience? Positive? Negative? Sharing our stories, especially our positive ones can help those feeling left without support. Have you written your letter to your MLA? Join MCAN on Facebook or MCAN on Twitter if you haven't already to see how you can be involved!
Why is Maternity Care in Alberta in the news?
On November 5, a very important report was released by the MaternityCare Consumers of Alberta Network (MCAN). MCAN advocates for Alberta women’s rights to make informed choices and have equal access to publicly funded, quality maternity care of their choosing in their community (whether provided by midwives, physicians or obstetricians).MCAN conducted an online survey garnering over 1200 responses, organized and ran 9 focus groups as part of our listening campaign, and held our annual Face-to-Face with MCAN's Leadership and stakeholders.
What was the outcome?
The highlighted portion of report’s Executive Summary reads:
The MaternityCare Consumers of Alberta Network (MCAN) conducted a Listening Campaign from April through August, 2014, involving almost 1,400 Albertans and found that:
Alberta spoke and maternity care in Alberta is in crisis. Women are unable to choose the providers they wish as well as where they want to birth freely. Rural Albertans are much more limited services than urban although all of our systems are under stress. Without more low-risk care providers, more women are forced to see high-risk caregivers who are then carrying much fuller patient loads. Low risk pregnancies under the care of high-risk providers lead to higher numbers of interventions during pregnancy and labour.
What can you do?
Read the full report!! Respond to the report! Share your thoughts, experiences and solutions with your MLA. MCAN has done a phenomenal job making it very easy for you to do this. On their website is a template letter as well as a link to find who your MLA is if you don’t know. Send in your emails and letters now while the report is fresh. CC our Premiere, our Minster of Health and MCAN.
Join the MCAN Facebook group and follow @MCAN_Tweets #MCAN on Twitter.
Share your story!
There are many amazing care givers in all fields of maternity care as well as some that are not. I personally gave birth to both of my children in Fort McMurray. I had no choice of care provider either time and both resulted with an OBGYN for prenatal care. I spent a minimum of an hour to sometimes 3 hours waiting for my prenatal appointments. Both of my babies were delivered by wonderful nurses as the on-call OBGYNs was either not at the hospital or busy. I spent a wonderful hour with my second before any procedures on my newborn occurred. Sadly, it was spoiled somewhat by an out of town doctor yelling at my nurse because he missed the birth of the baby as I birthed the placenta. With our first baby, we had no knowledge of doulas. We took a basic Alberta Health childbirth class. I knew what an epidural was, but I had no idea about what went along with one. I struggled with breastfeeding our first. I struggled with post partum depression (PPD) for over a year. A public health nurse was helpful in identifying the PPD, but not until about 6 months. I did receive lovely treatment. Our second birth was so different as we empowered ourselves with knowledge from outside of the health system. We took back control. My only regret is not being part of a mother focused prenatal care system.
In order for change to happen, for a mother focused care system to become part of the foundation of our health care system, we need to speak out. We need to ask for change. We need to ask for help. The more support from Albertans that MCAN receives, the more powerful their voice becomes. We each have a voice, let’s use it in unison for change.
We'd love to hear your thoughts! Have you sent a letter? What was your response to the report? Please comment below and continue the conversation!
With Love and Light,
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.