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The ten barriers of breastfeeding

Moms and babies breastfeed within a complex web of history, culture, family and intimate relationship with each other.

There are 10 barriers or challenges in breastfeeding that can get between a breast and a baby. The Big Latch On is a worldwide event that addresses most of these issues.

1. Communities that don't breastfeed. If you have seen other women breastfeed, you are more likely to start and to continue when you have difficulties. The New Paltz Big Latch On brings people together who live near each other, who breastfeed and those who support breastfeeding, even if they aren't breastfeeding.

2. Breastfeeding difficulties. If you are having trouble, you may need a greater perspective and some support to continue. The New Paltz Big Latch On brings professionals and peers together to share and help each other.

3. Embarrassment. When you see other mothers nursing and living life at the same time, by talking, eating, shopping, laughing and telling their "embarrassing moments of breastfeeding" stories at The New Paltz Big Latch On, you can get over your shyness, anxiety, and embarrassment.

4. Innocence and Ignorance - Many women go into mothering their new baby assuming that breastfeeding is natural and will come easily and instinctively. And, for many women, that is true. Many more are blindsided by their lack of knowing about breastfeeding. The New Paltz Big Latch On  educates about the many ways that breastfeeding can happen.

5. Healthcare professionals - You may know a very good Lactation Consultant, ;-) or you may not be so lucky. I am hosting The New Paltz Big Latch On  because I want people to know who is around to help.

6. Working is a reality for many breastfeeding moms, so The Big Latch On is held on 2 days. The New Paltz Big Latch On is SATURDAY August 5 at 10:00 am.

7. Family and friends don't want you to suffer and may suggest weaning out of concern for you. The New Paltz Big Latch On is a way for them to see the bigger picture of normal breastfeeding at all ages and stages.

8. Beyond the pain threshold. Girls and women are taught to suffer in silence. Pain is a big reason why women quit nursing. It's also a way women delay getting help because painful feeds are promoted as a right of passage. PAIN IS NOT NORMAL. Don't suck it up or tough it out. Please. At The New Paltz Big Latch On, you will meet many women who suffered and had immediate relief as soon as they got help. (Disclaimer, you will meet a couple who are still suffering. Know that I never tell you to continue if nursing is painful.)

9. Illness and injury are confounding and unpredictable factors. Childbirth can be a rough and physically challenging experience. Moms and babies get sick or injured and breastfeeding can be the last thing on anyone's mind. This is beyond the scope of The New Paltz Big Latch On, but we can share war stories in the grieving circle.

10. The true cost of failure is never discussed. More than money, quitting breastfeeding may eat at you. At The New Paltz Big Latch On we will have a closed door grieving circle and share stories of breastfeeding and grieving.

If you are needing some breastfeeding support, education, encouragement or coaching, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to schedule a free "Needs assessment" session to help you discover ways to make breastfeeding better and what local resources are available for you.


DonnaDonna 2016 200

Parenting is like perfection

Perfection, the board game

Easeful parenting...

I was thinking last night that easeful parenting involves quickly and effortlessly matching up the right solution to your baby's needs. For example: a wet diaper is uncomfortable and leads to fussing. Put on a dry diaper and the fussing stops. When a baby has a rumbly tummy and you take too much time to feed them, you have a howling baby. When you do fill their tummy, the howling stops.

Parenting really is a lot like Perfection, the game.

Each child has at least 25 little keyholes that need to be filled. In real life, those keyholes are things like love, security, comfort, connection, protection, humor, service, satiation, attention, justice, relaxation, contentment, and energy. Your job as the parent is to fill those keyholes with the matching piece in 60 seconds or less......If you don't.... "POP!!!!" Your baby starts inconsolable crying.

Enough rounds of Perfection in a day and you start feeling frustrated and incompetent.

It is nearly impossible to fill those keyholes each and every round. Luckily, babies don't expect you to be perfect. They are happy if you try and keep trying. Your job as a parent is to become aware of your baby's needs and find ways to fulfill them. With each growth spurt, the number of needs increases. Some keyholes may change with time. When you fill keyholes consistently and often, your baby learns how to fill them himself.

When you respond to your baby's needs, you are not spoiling, you are teaching. You are not being manipulated, you are learning more about your baby.

While it can feel like Perfection, the game, it is impossible to be a perfect parent.

Every person has their own preferences and ways they like to be treated. You will make mistakes and inadvertently hurt your child. You will be so frustrated at times that you may purposefully hurt your child with unkind words, a spank on the bottom or ignoring their demands.

What happens if you ignore the need?

And, you will. You will be tired or miss your baby's cue. In addition, every parent has some part of their baby that they just can't understand.

Your baby will keep asking, non-verbally of course, for a while and if you keep ignoring the need, they will start to compensate for the unfilled need with an alternate behavior. Common behaviors we see in babies is over or under-sleeping, crying that goes from 0-60 in a second, refusing to breastfeed or biting your breast to get your attention. When you experience repetitive behaviors that you don't like, it is a sign that a need that isn't being met.

You might use a little creative thinking and try to imagine what it is your baby might be needing. Some of these needs are real mysteries that take years to figure out, so don't think of this as a one time thing. Some will remain mysteries for your child to learn in their lifetime. Some you will just outright be unable to fulfill.

Consistency breeds consistency

On the other hand, children have pretty consistent personalities. When you get 'it' right, all you have to do is keeping doing 'that' again and again. A baby who is a "huggy bear" will always be a "huggy bear". When you hold a huggy bear, hug and gently stroke them. Watch them melt into bliss. You will find that doing this consistently shortens their periods of upset.

A baby who likes to be around people will always be the life of the party. Make sure they get lots of social time. Sing songs and play interactive games like peek-a-boo. Plan at least one errand every day so they get the stimulation they crave and then bring them home for some down time.

Some babies are introspective and need peace and quiet. They break eye contact and refuse to look at you when they are tired or overwhelmed. They may prefer to be laid down and left alone to sleep. Make sure you spend quiet time together every day.

"If only I had instructions!"

Many parents lament that babies don't come with an instruction manual. I think that this shows a loss in how to use our inner knowing. When we pay attention to our inner knowing and our feelings, we learn to read our babies and trust our judgement. Books, videos and articles are helpful when you use the information to confirm what you are feeling and also to broaden your perspective on what your baby needs. When we try to make our baby conform to a mold that is unlike them, it only makes everyone unhappy.

Keep filling your baby's or child's needs. If you would some assistance, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to schedule a free "Needs assessment" session to help decipher why your baby or child is acting the way they are.

What is a Good Latch?

What a "Good Latch" is...

(And is not!)

A good latch is a mouthful of breast that positions the nipple far back in the baby’s mouth, behind the hard palate. The baby’s face, nose, chin and both cheeks are evenly pressed against the breast. The baby’s cheeks are relaxed, not dimpled. When the baby sucks, their jaw moves from front to back, with a visible wave that starts at the chin and ends at the ear. You feel a rhythmic tugging on your nipple. 

A good latch is comfortable, in the "I could do this all day" kind of way.

A good latch is not sucking on the nipple like a bottle nipple.

While your baby is nursing, watch their cheek. Sucking in and dimpling means that the baby needs better positioning.

Sucking only on the nipple won't provide much milk because breastmilk is not removed by suction, but by ejection which happens with compressing, massaging or 'milking' the breast and nipple together.

You might be suprised to learn that a breast pump doesn't work by sucking out milk. Yes, technically pumps suck, but they also release which causes a different response from your body.

Vacuum stretches, and then releases, your nipple stimulating a release of oxytocin, which signals the smooth breast muscle to contract, ejecting the milk. The diaphragm inside the bottle opens from the pressure of the milk to collect it in the bottle, then closes with the next suction cycle of the pump.

 You may have difficulty ejecting milk when you are in pain, compounding low supply, weight gain and latch issues.


Here are some actions that aren't helpful and may cause more harm:

1. Latching and unlatching repeatedly will hurt your nipple and cause bruises, cracks or bleeding. Each time the baby clenches your nipple, it injures it more.

 2. Focusing on whether baby's lips are "flanged" or "not flanged". 

3. Pushing your baby's mouth or jaw open. This action triggers a fight response and your baby clenches their mouth tighter. Nobody likes being forced to have stuff put into their mouth. Your baby has probably already had this experience and is learning each time how to prevent it from happening again.

4. Touching your baby's face, top and back of head. All these touches trigger pushing and turning reflexes which moves baby away from your breast, not toward.

5. Hunching forward. This puts your baby in an unstable position and they will clench your nipple for stability, causing you pain and injury.

 6. Using a Boppy, My Brest Friend or other nursing pillow. These are convenient once you and your baby learn how to nurse, but will get in your way right now.


How to get a "Good Latch.”

The easiest way to get a good latch is to lean back into a reclining postion, let the baby find your nipple, self-attach and relax into suckling and swallowing. This is also called 'the breast crawl,' 'biological nurturing' or 'laid back nursing.'

If you have tried that and it isn't working, there are probably some good reasons why. You can come back to it when your baby learns how to breastfeed a little better. 

These instructions work for any nursing hold: Cradle, cross-cradle, football and side-lying.

Help the baby take the nipple in any of the dozen ways you've been shown. If it hurts, brace yourself until, and while, you make these adjustments in positioning and posture. As soon as you and the baby are positioned correctly it will stop hurting, or at least hurt much less. It may take 10 seconds or up to a minute. Each time you feed, good postioning will be more automatic.

1. With your baby attached to your breast, lean back into a reclining or semi-reclining position

2. Roll your baby until you are "belly-to-belly"

3. Pull the baby in close with most of their body pressing into you and your belly

4. Wait for the baby to start suckling. If it hurts, even if it hurts a lot, breathe through the pain until they start to suckle rythmically.

5. While the baby is focused on nursing, start to move the baby's body into alignment. You can make as many of these adjustments as you need for comfort.

  • belly to belly (not belly up)
  • ear, shoulder and hip aligned
  • face pressed in with nose, chin and two cheeks all touching the breast
  • chin level, not tipped or tucked
  • spine straight, not in a side-to side "C"
  • baby's hands on each side of their mouth, holding the breast

Gravity holds the baby in a stable position so your baby can relax. A relaxed baby opens their mouth, drops their lower jaw and allows a mouthful of breast and your nipple to be positioned deeply in their mouth. This eases nipple pain for you.


Still not comfortable?

 Check your posture:

  • Leaning back, fully supported by pillows or furniture
  • Shoulders square and level, supported by the chair, bed or couch.
  • Legs parallel, not crossed
  • Feet resting on a footstool, ottoman, bed, pillows, coffee table or floor
  • Arms resting on your belly or pillows

Posture for side-lying:

  • Lie on side with a pillow under your head, behind your butt and between your knees
  • Baby lies on side, belly to belly, facing you. Roll a receving blanket and tuck it behind their back.
  • You will probably need to attach the baby while propped on your elbow, before sliding down onto your pillow

Still not comfortable?

This positioning and postural alignment improves 98% of all latches and reduces pain for most mothers. If it doesn't:

1. It may be something you and your partner are not understanding. Written words are not as clear as coaching. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2. It may be that you or your baby have tension, injury or asymmetry strains, like back strain in you or jaw misalignment or tortocollis in your baby, from pregnancy and birth that can be relieved with some physical therapy, osteopathy, chiropratic, cranio-sacral therapy or massage. 

3. There may be physical tethering of the tongue, lip or cheeks (tongue tie) that can be revised with scissoring or lasering by a qualified professional such as a pediatrician, ENT or dentist.


Reading articles is a great way to become more educated about breastfeeding. Because nursing your baby is a learned skill, you may find some coaching helpful. Please call or text Donna Bruschi at (845) 750-4402 if you would like additional help with your latch. 


Understanding Temper Tantrums

Temper tantrums are a cry for help.

A child is totally overwhelmed and needs support. Unfortunately, few parents received support for their strong feelings as children or learned basic skills for working through a tantrum. The opportunity during a tantrum is to develop an understanding of what the child is experiencing.  Children have their own perspective on any event. A parent’s job is to help them cope with the crushing frustration and disappointment inherent in life.

The life cycle of a tantrum:

The child is trying to say, hear, receive, give, or do a certain thing.  If he is unable to complete the action he may get frustrated and start to show signs of distress. When a parent is  in tune with their  child they will pick up these early cues and help the child complete the action. If the parent misses these early cues, the child will amplify the frustration into crying, yelling, hitting or other obvious demonstrations in an attempt to get help.

In an infant, this might be a fussy baby.  The mother notices her baby squirming and fussing and starts to nurse the baby.  The tantrum is averted.  For a toddler, there might be a staircase that is attracting his attention.  The toddler can’t quite negotiate the stairs and starts to get frustrated. His dad stands behind him and directs his feet until his son is climbing safely. In a school age child, an older brother teases his younger sister, who can’t keep up with his verbal gymnastics.  She starts to yell, their mother steps in between them and affirms that the sister is furious because she is being teased. She holds a safe space and waits until everyone is calm. Then, she deals with the brother’s inappropriate behavior.

When the pre-tantrum cues are missed

The parent can still handle a tantrum with love and support. It can be a challenge to negotiate the strong feelings that come out in a tantrum. Tantrums can trigger the parent’s un-met childhood needs and can result in parents acting like children. When a parent is aware of this phenomenon, she can step back, center herself and resume the appropriate adult role. 

Step by step, here are some things parents can try: 

Stay calm, detached, and nearby--offering support as needed. (as well as protection from sharp edges, siblings, traffic, etc.) the parent may have to physically restrain or remove the child to prevent him from hurting himself and others. If the parent finds herself getting upset, it is better to make sure the child is safe, leave the room and calm down. If this is not possible, she should stop talking and breathe deeply. If this is not possible, she should try again next tantrum. She will handle tantrums better with each attempt.

The parent can reassure the child that she really wants to understand what is wrong. Help him to calm down. Only when he is reasonably calm should the parent continue. If he gets upset again, return to calming techniques.

Ask him what happened, and listen.

Listen for the facts (the situation) and listen for the feeling (the emotion.)

If he can't verbalize it, make suggestions and watch his body language for cues that you are on the right track. It may help for the parent to imagine herself in the child’s place.  Once the parent has identified the trigger, she can help the child to understand it. Common triggers are the inability to do a task or loss of a favorite toy. Other triggers are fears, punishment and separation from the parent. Aggravating factors can be exhaustion, hunger, and loud public places.

Once it seems like the parent has figured out what caused the tantrum, she can help her child to say, hear, receive, give or do what he was unable to pre-tantrum or help him work through his disappointment at not being able to say, hear, give, receive, or do it.

Babies and children have the same feelings as adults.

They want things they can't have and suffer disappointment. They are put in situations where they are scared and can't leave. Life is not perfect; some things in life are necessary and painful. It is the parent’s job to put that suffering into a context the child can understand. Parents can help their children share a negative feeling before it turns into negative behavior. 

It is important for children to learn that all feelings are appropriate and negative behaviors are not. Hitting and scratching are never acceptable and the limit must be set firmly by the parent. While some kids take a lot longer to learn how to do this, they learn because the adults in their life remind them and model this behavior. 

When a parent models great behavior, it is her opportunity to shine as a human being. Her child will learn how to behave like a better human being. Children watch their parents like hawks, mimicking their every action. A conscientious parent will attend first to her own actions and words when she witnesses her child doing something inappropriate. Her calmness will automatically help her child to behave appropriately without punishment or bad feelings.

Originally published in “Blender” La Leche League of New York-East

Are Baby Slings Safe

Are baby slings safe? The short answer is "Yes." Slings have been safely used for thousands of years.

According the the Consumer Products Safety Commission, in the past 18 years, 14 babies have died in slings. 3 of those babies died in the Infantino Sling Rider, which was recalled in 2010. Over 1 million slings from this company were taken off the market. This sling style is a "bag sling" and it is different from a "ring sling". 

This is a picture of the Infantino Sling Rider.
Infantino Sling Rider






The problem with bag slings is that babies can easily move into unsafe positions.
Unsafe bag sling positions








This diagram from the Consumer Products Safety Commission shows how the sling is unsafe for an infant. Babies can slide into postions where there airway collapses or is blocked. They are also in positions where the adult can't see their face or feel them breathing.

They further explain it in this video. Consumer Products Safety Commission video

They do not recommend the use of a sling for infants under 4 months.

There are safe ways to carry a baby in a sling from birth up. Use the following guidelines for safety.

1. Baby's belly is towards the adult.

2. Baby is in the frog position or "M" position with their butt lower than their knees.

3. Baby's head is close enough to kiss

4. Baby's face is visible at all times. 


The following video shows how to safely wear a baby in a Sakura Bloom ring sling from birth up.

Proper Infant Positioning in a Baby Sling