Coping with COVID-19

Let’s just cut to the chase, these are unusual times so of course I've been fielding scores of texts and emails from confused and concerned clients. Globally, babies are needing to feed constantly, being unusually fussy and clingy, seeming to require additional comforting for longer periods than usual. It is such a recurring topic that I posted what’s become a really popular video about it earlier this month on Social Media. Here however, I want to explore this issue in a bit more depth.

Babies and adults all over the world are feeling anxious due to the current global health crisis; the specter of COVID-19 looms over all our lives in the media we consciously consume, and for many of us unconsciously when we dream at night or daytime because really, is anyone sleeping as well at night? 

Breast fed babies react to adult stress levels by wanting to nurse more frequently and exhibiting the need to be held even more than usual. Reasssuring Families to whom I provide continuous care, that this behavior is completely normal, particularly given the current environment is key. This is the natural way for babies to cope with the stress surrounding them. Research into how human babies handle stress shows how hormones released while breastfeeding, like oxytocin, lead to stress and anxiety reduction for both mum and nursling, so it’s an actual win-win for everyone.


For adults however, it may not always be so straight forward. It was helpful to reach out to a couple of New York based psychotherapists and ask them to share some wisdom and general coping strategies. Both Diane Barnes LCSW-R MBA and John P. Pasagiannis Phd recommend limiting our news and social media intake, checking in with accurate fact based sources of information, and limiting these checks to once or twice at the same time of day. To that end, Diane had a simple suggestion that I immediately followed and have found to be extremely helpful. A wall calendar for noting important events and appointments has helped me dramatically reduce the amount of times I’ve had to look at my phone to keep up with my work schedule. I'm already so much less stressed as I'm less tempted to get sucked into the sad rabbit hole of social media or news updates and stories from well meaning friends and family. Accepting that it is indeed normal to 'feel' anxious is a step in the right direction of stress reduction. Both Diane and John suggested incorporating meditation and mindfulness practice into our daily routines. Because this may be new to many, John recommended using a meditation app like Calm or Headspace to get started and Diane suggested a guided meditation.

 

 

Meditation and mindfulness practices or just taking the time each day to focus on our breathing should help to calm us, keeping us all in good stead even after the current crisis has abated. Ultimately they suggested that we do our best to treat ourselves with as much kindness and patience as possible. By doing so we make it easier to project that kindness and patience toward our babies and others around us.

Kindness and patience, we will all need a lot of both as we forge ahead and create the new normal.

MAY WORKSHOPS ARE ALL VIRTUAL


Wednesday May 20th 530pm-7pm:Caring for a Newborn Baby
Thursday May 21st 630pm -8pm: Caring for a Newborn Baby
Wednesday May 27th 530pm-7pm: The Ancient Art of Breastfeeding: How to Breastfeed Naturally  (Breastfeeding Prep)

 

FREE BREASTFEEDING* LIME 

The Manny Cantor Breastfeeding Support Circle meets 2 Wednesday afternoons monthly: 3pm-5pm on Zoom

May 20 & 27

Summer Dates TBA

Join me to have your breastfeeding questions answered from the comfort of your own home!


*LIME. Verb/Noun - Trinidadian slang for hanging out, socializing, usually including eating and drinking with like minded folks. 

Stream Baby in the Family Caring for a Newborn Baby workshop here!

Baby in the Family has you covered! Based on our popular workshop this streaming film features real newborn babies being bathed, dressed etc.  
Contact us to gift it to your expectant friends- it's the Essential baby shower gift!

BitFam Collaboration with Bodily

A comfortable bra paired with healthy nipples is imperative while nursing. Try The Insider Bra, it's buttery soft and loved by so many nursing (and non-nursing) mums! The nipple protection and recovery system is100% organic, plant-based and literally yummy!!

breastfeed-care-plan-kit-bodily-landscap
It's our 14th Birthday!

We couldn’t be more excited as today March 18 2020 marks the 14th year of Baby in the Family LLC and as well befits Spring time, we've had and continue to experience incredible growth and development every year.

Have you ever simply marveled at the way everything you've learned over the years, unrelated as each may have seemed, has proved useful to your present?

When I first moved to New York, a wise gentleman whom I'd met here, advised me to embrace and learn everything, no matter how disparate it seemed, as this knowledge would coalesce and inform what I was to become in life. He encouraged me to remain open to gaining new knowledge while reflecting and connecting it with things already learned. I was in my early twenties, and had no immediate understanding of the depth of his words, however, I took his advice. 
Thirty plus years later, I get it. In fact any fellow sci-fi literature fan (particularly of Heinlein) will follow when I say, I grok it.

Before qualifying to become an IBCLC, my years of baby nursing, along with many other experiences, have formed the basis of how I choose to conduct my private practice over the decades. For example, studies are now providing strong evidence for what I have observed and practiced: the importance of providing longer term support for breastfeeding mothers and families.


In fact, my clients understand that my policy of long term care and support until their baby is weaned, is my commitment to them. As daunting as this may seem to many, the level of intensity gradually changes over a family’s lactation journey.
Initially, families need frequent follow up and support as mum and baby are becoming more adept at breastfeeding naturally. Eventually follow up conversations become more focused on lifestyle concerns such as traveling with baby, returning to a hard earned career and teething. Finally, the day comes when weaning strategies are discussed. 

My years of baby nursing around the clock also impressed upon me ways to mindfully tread the line of providing active support, simply listening, translating baby’s communications and even when to step back and enjoy watching new parents’ discover their innate ability to understand and interpret their own baby’s cues and behaviors. 

I learned too that molding the way I relate my recommendations to the occupation of my clients, using imagery or language that is more common in their sphere of knowledge or experience, is usually most helpful and clear. 

Now as Baby in the Family LLC looks to the future, I recognize that progress will come through communication technology and just as the advent of the internet has had a profound impact on us all, it has become an integral part of my practice. 


More clients are comfortable requesting virtual consultations, and prefer text instead of phone conversations for support. What began with repeat clients who moved to other cities and countries reaching out for continuous care with their new baby, has expanded to new clients who live in other parts of the world finding me through family, friends and referrals from social media contacts.

Daily, I'm in awe that this ever-evolving technology, which until a few decades ago didn't exist (except as science fiction!), helps me to communicate breastfeeding guidance and support; a skill and behavior that existed before we were human. Do you remember Dick Tracy's communicator watch? Well that's no longer Sci Fi.
 

These advancements luckily coincide with my desire to fully expand this area of my practice and I am not alone. The growth of online healthcare through companies like Parsley Health is an inevitability as the millennial generation becomes the parents of the generation we have yet to give a catchy nickname. 

So glad I followed that wonderful gentleman's advice;  keep my mind open to learning, reflect upon and incorporate what had come before (was he psychic?!) The next stages in the evolution of Baby in the Family LLC should be more than just interesting but indeed exciting and completely different from what can be projected- who knows there may even be a Holo Office in my future!
I’m so down with that and look forward to grokking it!!

FEBRUARY IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH

After living in NewYork for over three decades, February has proven itself a pivotal month. Pushing through the long and usually brutal cold of January with dogged determination, shivering shoulders and a clenched jaw, it has always signaled to my mind the promise of the coming spring. A short month with the official celebration of romance and love in the middle, and here in the U.S. where Black History is also recognized and celebrated, February helps us all acquire new knowledge about the African experience on the North American continent.

I particularly enjoy discovering the many fascinating connections between the diaspora here and the Caribbean where I was born and raised, in Trinidad and Tobago. We are a truly diverse family, rich in culture, innovation, and historical contribution to the new world across a variety of areas from sciences and technologies to multiple arts and the humanities.

The enslavement of African people here in the New World has influenced many aspects of life in our diaspora, including our attitudes and practices around breastfeeding our own babies. The low rates of breastfeeding mothers in the Black community across the U.S. have root causes in some of the deepest trauma experienced by African women here in the Americas during this period. 

 

The deliberate separation and sale of enslaved infants from their mothers combined with the forced wet-nursing of the slave masters’ offspring is the tragic and toxic brew from which some of our attitudes were born, and sadly still exist.

The current political season has brought some attention to the grave statistical outcomes for black women in America across many aspects of motherhood from prenatal through to postpartum care and infant mortality rates. 

Thankfully deeper and more meaningful connections to our collective history, the wisdom of our ancestors , a general resurgence of interest in good health and natural lifestyles has led to a steady increase of breastfeeding rates and duration in our community.

Thus, in the more recent decade, in my private practice,it has been extremely heartening to see even more women of color embracing ‘long term breastfeeding and seeking my support. As a fierce advocate of Breastfeeding Naturally, I feel deeply privileged to be a small link in this chain of women who bring and share the ancient and successful way of breastfeeding babies back into focus for our modern world

One of my favorite reggae bands Black Uhuru, has a song titled Whole World Is Africa, it is the cradle of humanity from which we all come and when I celebrate Black History month, this thought always comes to mind. To witness the positions and techniques for helping babies latch on (attach) to breastfeed that I observed in the homes of family, close friends, and in the marketplaces and other public areas while growing up in the West Indies, become increasingly common here in North America is euphoric and in my heart of hearts,I consider it the biggest part of my mission as an IBCLC.

Research studies are now validating the efficacy of these practices that have always been used in the truly ancient parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Australia in modern and indigenous settings. I feel quite sure that broader acceptance of these baby-led, easy latch on styles will result in more mums breastfeeding for longer durations with less discomfort or other challenges which seem to occur more commonly in the western world. In fact, it's what my private practice is known for and Baby in the Family remains deeply committed to this path of knowledge! 
 

So as you enjoy your sweet baby snuggles today, Valentine's Day, know that your ancestors are smiling- you're not alone. Have a lovely Valentine’s Day, and I hope that Black History Month continues to be a reflective and edifying month for us all.

WOW 2020!!

The new year has begun and with it comes fun new opportunities and perhaps some not so fun challenges... 

"Will I ever sleep again?” is the question I’m often asked by new mums and expecting parents, and my half-joking answer is 

Some background, as a lactation consultant in private practice and a newborn care educator, I facilitate educational workshops on breastfeeding for expectant families and this question is often asked at prenatal workshops and consultations.

Before becoming a lactation consultant, I was a baby nurse in New York City and spent countless hours up at night with mums and babies who were bottle or breastfed.
Even morehours were spent sitting on the floor of dimly lit rooms with nursing mums and their babies, once my focus on breastfeeding families narrowed.

I understand that sleep is a truly precious commodity, something longed for which at times may seem elusive. The old adage “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is easier to say than it is to consistently achieve.
So when I give my clients the answer that they don’t want to hear, it’s initially for effect, the deeper answer always follows. 

Your relationship with sleep will change by necessity. In the last trimester of pregnancy, many mums experience a baby who becomes extremely active at night just when mum is finally able to become comfortable enough to get some rest. Newborn babies tend to carry on this behaviorasthey need no concept of day or night so they request to be fed, changed, and cuddled, with immediacy. Needing to be fed about every two to three hours in general, the care of a baby particularly in the newborn stage is extremely time-intensive and consuming. (aka bonding!) There is little chance for the six to eight hours in a row of sleep that we may be used to, and those days are honestly not coming back anytime soon for new parents.

What to do? First, go through the stages of grief for the sleep routine you once loved and have now lost; move from denial to acceptance as soon as you possibly can, that acceptance will come in many forms and is key to moving forward. Once you’re there, accept help from those on your team, the people you trust to be with your baby so that you can have the peace of mind needed to get some rest. Understand and accept that you may not always fall asleep when the opportunity arises, but at least you’ll rest.

When your baby is sleeping try to put your feet up and relax. The adrenaline and discomfort from birthing may still be with you and you may also have a personality that demands puttingthings in order around your home. Do your best to resist this feeling- really! This is where your team comes in. Partners, parents, close friends, postpartum doulas are the folks you may rely on to do chores or cuddle baby while you recover, rest, and maybe even actually nap.

Consider bed-sharing, the evidence shows that babies can safely sleep with parents so this may be an option that works for your family.

Thank goodness babies grow up and your old friend sleep will become a more regular companion. Sleeping 4-6 hours in a row at night is considered sleeping through the night for younger babies. There will be progressions and regressions in your child’s sleep patterns due to growth and developmental leaps like teething, but things will become far easier and even more fun, no worries you too will survive! 
Then one day......they’ll get their drivers license!

January Events

  • Breastfeeding Support Circles -Jan 15 & 29 3:30-5:30 pm 

  • How to Breastfeed Naturally (prenatal breastfeeding workshop)  - Jan 15. 6:30pm-9:00 pm

  • Caring for a Newborn Baby - Jan 29, 6:30pm-9:00 pm

Click here to sign up and attend!

Stream the Baby in the Family Caring for a Newborn Baby workshop

ANDY side pic.jpg

Baby in the Family has you covered! Based on our popular workshop this streaming film features real newborn babies being bathed, dressed etc.  
Contact us to gift it to your expectant friends- it's the Essential baby shower gift!  

Collaboration with Bodily


A comfortable bra paired with healthy nipples is imperative while nursing.

 

Try The Insider Bra, it's buttery soft and loved by so many nursing (and non-nursing) mums! The nipple protection and recovery system is100% organic, plant basedand literally yummy!!

Halloween is in the rearview and there’s more than just a chill in the air here in NYC and the Northeast; it’s happening folks

 ​

A Season OF FIRSTS

So many of us really look forward to this time of year, reconnecting with family and friends through our holiday traditions. For families with new babies, this will be a season of many “firsts” with an extra sense of renewal. There is much to anticipate, preparations to make and with a new baby comes a few new considerations.

TRAVELING

When traveling long distances with your new baby it’s important to remember to give yourself rest breaks for feedings and diaper checks. With newborns (babies under 30 days of age) it’s important to not exceed 90 minutes of driving without a break. You want to be well versed on the installation and proper use of your chosen infant car seat. 

If you’re flying, be sure to familiarize yourself with TSA traveling with breast milk or formula. In fact, print out the rules and have them with you just in case. Remember that feeding during take-off and landing can help your baby ease the discomfort of air pressure changes.

INTRODUCING BABY

Holiday parties are a major part of the season and the opportunity for families to introduce the new baby to the world. If your baby is a newborn, try to limit the amount of time they spend in small crowded spaces. Better to bring the baby out for a general introduction then back to a more private space where small groups of family and friends can have a bit more time with your newborn - after washing their hands thoroughly and swearing a solemn oath on pain of extreme bodily harm that they do not have a cold or flu. I’m sure the shudder-inducing image of your constantly sniffling cousin or uncle just popped into your mind!

DRINKING AND BREASTFEEDING

With all that out of the way, it’s time to get on with what we do most of at these events, eating and drinking.

In my homeland of Trinidad and Tobago, and indeed much of the Caribbean we look forward to drinking Sorrel and Ponche de Creme. The former is a drink made from a flower in the hibiscus family with spices like clove and allspice depending on the family recipe and particular country. The latter is similar in look to egg nog and they both usually have a very generous amount of that very West Indian secret sauce (drum roll please) Rum! Whatever your libation of choice go ahead and enjoy it... in moderation.

If you’re breastfeeding, try to time your tipple for after a feeding. Only a small amount of the alcohol in your blood gets into your milk so there is no need to pump and dump, just HONESTLY assess your level of tipsy and wait until you are sober enough to drive to feed your baby or pump. If you find yourself on the kitchen counter slurring the words to Santa Baby, definitely skip the feeding and use the pumped milk that you smartly set aside before the party, then just wait until you are completely sober and probably hungover to resume breastfeeding.

Eating and Breastfeeding

At the dinner table, it’s time to enjoy all the specialities of the season some of which you had to avoid when you were pregnant at the last holiday gathering. Things are easier here as there are only three ingredients to scrupulously avoid if you are breastfeeding, parsley, sage and mint.

This is due to their effect on your milk supply. Avoid the mint candy canes and peppermint coffee drinks. Ask your host if the stuffing or the poultry is seasoned with parsley and sage and minimize how much of those herbs you actually eat or push it off to the side. If you can, ask your relatives to skip those ingredients if at all possible or if they are truly kind or really, really love you, (looking at you GrandMum/Auntie) make a bit of the whatever it is you have been craving, without the parsley or sage.

Breastfeeding in Comfort

With all the changes and adjustments in your typical routine with your baby, you may delay or skip a "feeding" by using pumped or expressed milk. Be sure to pump or hand express instead (or as soon as you can/ remember) this will help to avoid later discomfort, clogs and mastitis. In addition, avoid tight garments that may constrain your breasts.

There are comfortable bras that are supportive without the agony of an underwire. I have helped in the design process of the one HERE.

So there you have it, just a few adjustments for the season, and with your new baby here finally, it’s shaping up to be a memorable one! Enjoy yourself, your baby, and the wonderful (no politics!) time with friends and family. I wish you all the very best for the season and the coming New Year in 2020!

Cheers,

Andrea