By Jeanette McCulloch, IBCLC
In the introduction of Linda Smith’s book, “Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding,” Diane Wiessinger aptly sums up how we can help get breastfeeding off to a good start:
“It’s the birth, stupid!”
As lactation consultants, we know both anecdotally and through research the impact on breastfeeding of common birth interventions in the U.S, including: non-medical inductions; certain labor drugs; lack of freedom to eat, drink, or move about as needed; and unnecessary surgical delivery. While interventions can be lifesaving when medically appropriate, the number of routine interventions has meant an unprecedented impact on healthy, normal birth.
The result? According to Amnesty International: “It’s more dangerous to give birth in the United States than in 49 other countries. African-American women are at almost four times greater risk than Caucasian women.” And what do we know as lactation consultants? The same routine interventions that are impacting birth safety are also creating breastfeeding challenges.
Three leading midwifery organizations in the US formed a partnership to create educational materials designed to help those who are pregnant – or planning to become pregnant – learn about how a normal birth process can improve health of both mother and baby.
The International Lactation Consultant Association has signed on as a supporter of the project’s first handout, which guides women through the process of learning about normal birth and the choices they can make to increase the chances of a physiologic birth.
The handout is available as a PDF download here or you can purchase pre-printed packs at minimal cost here. The materials can serve as a helpful reference in your prenatal breastfeeding class packets. You can also share the link to the PDF widely on your own social media, helping as many mothers and mothers-to-be learn about normal, physiologic birth.
The handout was created in partnership between the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM), the Midwives Alliance of North America, and the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives. It has received endorsements from many of the leading organizations working towards increasing normal birth options, including Citizens for Midwifery and the International Center for Traditional Childbearing. For more information, visit the ACNM’s consumer education project here.
Jeanette McCulloch, IBCLC, is a lactation consultant in private practice in Ithaca, NY. She is also the co-founder of BirthSwell, which is improving infant and maternal health through digital skills for birth and breastfeeding pros and volunteers.