Tag Archives: breastfeeding

SIDS and Breastfeeding and Mamatoto

Mamatoto: mom and baby are one.

I was just looking at a blog called Analytical Armadillo. She speaks of a meta study in which 19 of 23 studies done on SIDS showed that formula-fed babies were twice as likely to die of SIDS as breastfed babies. A postmortem diagnoses of SIDS means that they couldn’t find out why a baby died. They did see twice as many deaths in formula-fed babies.

I haven’t been able to get at the original study to access it for myself. It is a good hypothesis and it makes sense.  Studies on kangaroo care and breastfeeding are showing us that the mother and infant should be considered as one. Both mama and baby are healthier when they are together. In La Leche League we call it a breastfeeding “dyad”. Some call it a “nursing couple”. In Swahili, it is called “mamatoto”.

We should know by now that mamatoto does better than mama and baby separated. Breastfeeding encourages togetherness. Formula does not.

Who is a Breastfeeding Mother?

Humans like to make categories. Maybe it feels comfortable or scientific. So when we ask ourselves, who among us is a breastfeeding mother, who should we include? This is World Breastfeeding Week, so it seems like a good time to answer this question.

Many moms would agree that every drop of breastmilk is precious. So I would suggest that a mother who gave her baby at least one single drop of breastmilk is a breastfeeding mother. If we do that, then all the women who tried to breastfeed and felt as though they failed, succeeded. They are all breastfeeding mothers. We should honor them this World Breastfeeding Week. Give them a smile or a hug! Luckily, this includes me because I like hugs.

What Nursing Means to Me

Tomorrow is the first day of August and the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week. I was just thinking about what nursing my son meant to me. Before my son was born I planned to nurse him. My mother had nursed me and I knew a lot about the benefits of breastfeeding, not just to my son, but to me. I felt that I had carried my breasts around all my life and I wanted to get some good use out of them. My attitude was that nursing would be a chore, but a chore I was willing to do, like changing diapers.

What I found was that nursing was an interaction between my son and me. This is why in La Leche League we call a mother with a baby a nursing “dyad”. We started off with some difficulties in nursing, but once we had overcome them, we both enjoyed nursing.

Before you have children, people tell you things will be different with your own child. That’s the way nursing was. It wasn’t an endless painful austerity. It wasn’t painful. It was joyful. You get to snuggle your own baby and nurse him into drowsy, happy sleepiness. Then perhaps, you can take a nap together. It is a blissful time in a mother’s life. It is a magical time. That is the experience I am trying to help other mothers have. A joyful time with their own beautiful baby.

Nighttime Parenting and Nursing

Babies need to eat around the clock and will get the sleep they need. Moms and dads need their sleep, too, and are used to sleeping at night. So what did I do when my son was a baby? I called it “trial and error”. Here are a few things I gleaned from my experiments:

— Resolve together not to make any important decisions at 2:00 AM. Things always seem more difficult and emotions are running higher. My husband came up with this rule for us. Because of this rule, I persevered until morning and in the light of day I could get help and things were not so impossible.

— Practice nursing lying down during nap times until you are an expert and can do it at night. Once you have mastered the skill of nursing lying down, you don’t have to wake up nearly so completely to nurse. I found that my sleep was more connected and I didn’t remember how many times I nursed. I felt better rested.

— No one solution works for every family. I have strange sleep habits (I need moving air and white noise, etc.) and my husband can sleep standing up. My sleep can be disrupted for weeks (not a happy thing) while my husband literally fell asleep walking the hallway with the baby. What works for us is not for everyone. That is why Dr. Sears book: Nighttime Parenting is helpful. It gives you various different options to try. La Leche League meetings are helpful, too. You can ask other mothers what they have tried and try what makes sense to you.

— Every stage of your baby’s development is brief. If you are having trouble now, things will change soon.

— Nighttime made me really appreciate breastfeeding. It is so much easier to get a baby to the breast than to have to make up and warm a bottle. You have fewer minutes of crying (if any) and more contentment. During the night, breastfeeding is really fast food!