Written by MaryAnn Martin of La Leche League
Many of us are accustomed to finding help and information on the internet. This winter, my son and I used an online resource to figure out how he would safely and smoothly get on and off a chairlift on his new snowboard. It is amazing to have such a wide array of resources available in an instant. But as you know, one must be careful about who is providing the information and what their motivation for doing so is. With health-related information for ourselves and our children, we want to be especially careful.
As a La Leche League Leader, I am often asked what websites I recommend for breastfeeding and mothering information. There are a number of great resources available but it is also easy to find yourself at websites sponsored by companies who produce products marketed to families, including breastmilk substitutes, or by people who are motivated for various reasons to give their particular opinions and experiences. In the first case, the information often is not accurate because many companies may benefit from mothers making choices that lead to not breastfeeding at all or not breastfeeding exclusively. In the second case, the information might be helpful if you share many similarities with the person providing the information, but chances are most women would benefit from resources reflecting a broader set of experiences. Usually, the most helpful and accurate websites provide information that is evidence-based, i.e. reflects the outcomes of research studies and observation of many individuals, and are geared toward public health education for mothers/families to make informed decisions. Below, I present some good resources on the web but hope that if you are having a breastfeeding problem or concern, you also consider giving a call or visit to an LLL leader, WIC peer counselor, IBCLC, physician, etc., to discuss your specific circumstances.
At the La Leche League International website, www.llli.org, one finds useful information on a wide variety of breastfeeding and mothering topics – you name it, they have it! If you click on ‘Resources’, you will find the ‘Answer Pages’ link which leads to over 75 topics as you scroll down the page – when you click a topic, it will bring up a page with related links to: 1. Frequently Asked Questions on that subject; 2. articles from LLL’s New Beginnings magazine which include individual mothers stories; 3. articles from Leaven, the LLL leader magazine, containing more detailed information; 4. books reviewed and recommended by LLL; 5. podcasts from experts in that field; 6. links to other useful sources. You might be able to find some of this information at other websites but the added value of LLLI.org is finding a mother story reminiscent of what you are going through – this can be powerful, especially when you need a moral boost or glimmer of hope that you are on the right track in solving a problem.
Also on the main LLLI Resources page, you will find links to online publications of LLL – all are free, bimonthly, online magazines for mothers that use an easy reader format. For example, New Beginnings Magazine is published by LLL USA and in addition to mother stories, always has a longer article by an expert on lactation, women/infant health or parenting. Current and past issues are available.
Getting back to other evidence-based sources of breastfeeding info, one of my favorites is www.kellymom.com. It is created and maintained by Kelly Bonata, an IBCLC from Florida. You can look though her topics (upper left hand side of home page) or type in a key word in her search box to come up with well organized, clear, concise information on all things breastfeeding including latch, milk supply issues, drug/herb safety, extended nursing, starting solids, nutrition, infant growth and development and tons more.
Sometimes we need information to discuss a breastfeeding-related issue with a physician. While LLLI and Kellymom definitely have resources for doctors, some doctors prefer to get information from other doctors…that’s where the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine can help. ”ABM is an international multi-specialty physician organization, with more than 500 members from more than 50 countries.”, says their history link. They have written protocols for clinical practice on over 20 topics which are available as PDFs in English and other languages, http://www.bfmed.org/Resources/Protocols.aspx, for you to read/print and discuss with your doctor. They are as follows:
Hypoglycemia; Going Home/Discharge; Supplementation; Mastitis; Peripartum BF Management; Cosleeping and Breastfeeding; Model Hospital; Human Milk Storage; Galactogogues; Breastfeeding the Near-term Infant; Neonatal Ankyloglossia (Tongue-Tie); NICU Graduate Going Home; Contraception and Breastfeeding; The Breastfeeding-Friendly Physicians’ Office Part 1: Optimizing Care for Infants and Children; Analgesia and Anesthesia for the Breastfeeding Mother; Breastfeeding the Hypotonic Infant; Guidelines for Breastfeeding Infants with Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate, or Cleft Lip and Palate; Use of Antidepressants in Nursing Mothers; Breastfeeding Promotion in the Prenatal; Breastfeeding and the Drug-Dependant Woman; Jaundice.
These clinical resources also bring to mind that it is World Breastfeeding Week (Aug 1-7, 2010) (see www.waba.org.my and http://dev.lllusa.org/wbw/ ) and the topic this year is “Breastfeeding – Just 10 Steps! The Baby Friendly Way”. These 10 steps (see below) relate to how all birth settings should create an environment that promotes breastfeeding. I’ll leave you to review them as a lactivist resource from the web for this WBW 2010 . Peace, MaryAnn LLL of Bloomington, IN
Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
Every facility providing maternity services and care for newborn infants should:
1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
3. Inform all pregnant mothers about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.
6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk unless medically indicated.
7. Practice rooming-in – allow mothers and infants to remain together – 24 hours a day.
8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
10.Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.