I got an email recently from Laura Maxson, an old La Leche League (LLL) friend, who has been instrumental for decades in breastfeeding support and homebirth advocacy in Santa Cruz County, California. I first met Laura in the 90s at a LLL conference in California organized by Janacki Costello and Barbara Emmanuel, and all three are consultants on a new breastfeeding film, BabyBabyOhBaby: Nurturing Your Brilliant and Beautiful Baby Through Breastfeeding. The film received a standing ovation at a recent International Lactation Consultants Association (ILCA) conference.
BabyBabyOhBaby:Breastfeeding, about 30 minutes long, is beautifully produced by David Stark, producer of BabyBabyOhBaby: Infant Massage. The film includes expertly edited vignettes of mothers alone, and mothers breastfeeding babies, nearly all dressed in white clothing set against a white background. A good racial mix of families is portrayed. Music by Adam and Jez Burns complements the calm demeanor of the film.
The film is not intended to give medical advice nor does it suggest that all nursing couples filmed are demonstrating “perfect technique.” However, it does show many successfully nursing couples.
Chapters of the film include: Birth Day, Before/Just Before, So Many Good Things, The First Few Weeks, Comfort is Key, Positions, On the Job Training, 2nd Most Important Job, Q&A, You’re Never Alone, When Mom’s Away, and Weaning.
Alternating among simple statements by breastfeeding moms, shots of moms and babies breastfeeding, and illustrations, BabyBabyOhBaby does an outstanding job of conveying the complexity of breastfeeding in an encouraging and straight forward way. In fact, perhaps its greatest contribution is that after decades of breastfeeding advocacy and the increased sophistication of our collective breastfeeding knowledge, the film makes breastfeeding look as simple as it really is.
The first chapter, “Birth Day,” emphasizes the importance of skin to skin contact and shows a new baby using the Breast Crawl to initiate breastfeeding. The Breast Crawl was originally described in 1987 by Dr. Ann-Marie Widström, Dr. Anna-Berit Ransjo-Arvidson, Dr. Kyllike Christensson, Ms. Ann-Sofi Matthiesen, Dr. Jan Winberg and Dr. Kerstin Uvnäs-Moberg from Karolinska Institute (Sweden).
I first heard of the Breast Crawl from Kittie Frantz at an Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) conference in San Diego years ago. Kittie’s film, First Attachment, includes a section in which a baby self attaches to the breast. I cried when I saw it; it was as if I were seeing my own species for the first time.
BabyBabyOhBaby: Breastfeeding does an excellent job of describing how breastmilk changes minute by minute to meet the needs of the individual baby. A very helpful chapter shows both illustrations and real-life examples of different types of breastfeeding positions: Cradle, Cross-Cradle, Football, and Side Lying. The overall message though is not complicated: what’s best is what is most comfortable for baby and mom.
One of my favorite sections of BabyBabyOhBaby: Breastfeeding, is the Q&A. Questions like “How do I know if my baby is hungry? and “How do I know if my baby is getting enough?” are answered by real breastfeeding moms. In the case of “How do I know if my baby is hungry?” the mom’s descriptions of their baby’s cues are interspersed with the babies “demonstrating” the cues. Very effective for helping new breastfeeding moms see that crying is the last of a baby’s many hunger cues.
The Q&A section ends with “What Do I Do?” and includes a dramatic segment in which a mom conveys how much the help of a lactation consultant meant to her. Suggestions for reaching out to a lactation consultant, La Leche League Leader, a breastfeeding support group, class or the internet are included. 1972 research by Alice Kahn Ladas showed the importance of information as well as social support in successful breastfeeding outcomes. The film includes suggestions for partners and for working moms and shows excellent demonstrations of hand expressing, using a manual pump and using an electric breast pump.
BabyBabyOhBaby: Breastfeeding is the best breastfeeding film in decades. Classy cinematography silhouettes the experiences of articulate, passionate and beautiful breastfeeding mothers. Alyson Steel does a superb job of narrating Charlie Pearson’s finely distilled words.The film will encourage pregnant women to breastfeed and help moms already breastfeeding to persevere. It could be shown at a class, given as a gift or bought for your own personal use. You can watch a preview at babybabyohbaby.com