Jennifer Davidson, RN, BSN, IBCLC is a Los Angeles based Pediatric Nurse, Lactation Consultant and breastfeeding expert of nearly 30 years. She is a visionary in the field of breastfeeding, as well as the co-creator and producer of “The Milky Way” movie. She does house calls, and also works in the office of pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon. Jennifer is passionate about helping mothers, babies and breastfeeding.
I met Jennifer five years ago during my son’s long stay in the NICU; she was instrumental in supporting me in being successful breastfeeding a premature baby. I refer Jennifer to my clients who want to breastfeed and find her expertise and positive outlook to be both comforting and confidence building.
Hi Jennifer, so, tell me… what’s in it for the mom while breastfeeding?
A mother is flooded with natural hormones during and after birth. These are her most marvelous gift. They come from within and provide for her a sense of wellbeing, strength, and calm. They impart an inner knowing, so she can begin to trust herself and her instincts.
Then why do some moms find themselves uncomfortable with a baby at the breast?
Not all women want to breastfeed, and that’s ok. But for those who do, I think society sends a lot of mixed messages regarding breastfeeding, this can create doubt and discouragement which can cause her to distrust her instincts, and often a reduction in milk supply.
What we value in our culture is not very supportive of a breastfeeding mother. In our western world, using our breasts for feeding our babies is in conflict with breasts being seen primarily as sexual objects. In movies and television the thought process often boils down to: “We need to make a lot of money so let’s show some breast.” Consumerism, sexuality, and productivity are often placed above family and babies.
The problem is that women are not respected and elevated for the most vital job in the world, mothering. When mothers have to go back to work, they are eager to provide milk for their babies, but they don’t feel supported by the overall attitude toward breastfeeding in our culture, especially in the work place, and it is very undermining. Women literally have to steal away into bathrooms or closets to pump, feeling shame and guilt for this most incredible, life-giving miracle that they alone can provide. Is it any wonder that so many women say they couldn’t provide enough milk for their babies? There is a terrible lack of cultural support. This has to change!
What are some things a mom can do to create an optimal environment for breastfeeding?
Spend as much time as possible at home with your baby, skin to skin, especially in the first 6 weeks. We have been taught that babies belong swaddled in blankets with hats on in their own basinet. We have to change this cultural image of mothering. Our babies belong on our bodies, skin to skin, wrapped in the comfort and warmth of a mother’s arms. Lay your baby on your body and get to know him or her. Become attuned with one another.
It’s a big transformation from being one person who doesn’t have anyone to be responsible for and now here you are 24 hours a day being responsible for someone else. Your body transforms from who it was to what it is now… making milk, breastfeeding, and having every single minute of your day being demanded of. You need to be able to relax so your hormones will flow, which brings a feeling of contentment. It’s not just a big chore, It’s a gift and a joy.