The Breastfeeding Initiative

I have been remiss in blogging over the last few weeks, company always gets in the way of my sewing endeavors. In addition the garden work stares me in the face every time I venture outside. Also this is National Volunteer Appreciation Week and I am, as usual, busy volunteering in my community schools and hoping the people I help learn the skills they need to move forward in their lives.

As many of you know our Sew For Kids volunteer group is working on items for kids and we invite you to volunteer and help us with our projects, especially if you love helping children. If you are interested in joining our “Sew For Lakota Kids” yahoo group go here and sign up. Although sewing is our main theme we welcome other crafts and skills as well .

Our group is working along with the Rez’s Shining Start Program” (formerly known as Wanblee Community Health and Education Project), which is an incentive program to get pregnant women, parents and kids using the resources available in their local community so children get a good start from conception through the formative years, providing them with a good, healthy foundation for their future. Members of the “Shining Start Program” include folks from Oglala Lakota College (OLC), Baby Face (a teen parenting program), the clinic/hospital, and Head Start program. The group focuses on parents hoping to get them involved in the health and education of their children and also themselves. Our group helps this process along by providing items or “incentives” that Shining Start needs for their program.

We’ve been discussing some of their needs in our recent blogs but today we want to concentrate on another need, getting moms to breastfeed, which provides benefits to both mother and child. Only about 25% of moms breastfeed and those that bottle feed never have enough formula to get through the month despite the food programs available. Reservations across the country have accepted the breastfeeding initiative set forth by First Lady, Michelle Obama as a part of her “Let’s Move” campaign that’s helping fight childhood obesity. With this initiative in place hospitals will no longer be able to accept formula and other incentives from pharmaceutical companies that sway moms away from breastfeeding but instead will have to buy their own formula.  Not all women are able to breastfeed because of medical issues, jobs, etc, so formula will still be provided but breastfeeding is to be the first option. Breastfeeding education given through lactation specialists is to be provided to pregnant women so they learn the benefits and are prepared to breastfeed at birth.

So, our next bag project involves making/purchasing items that can be used for the new breastfeeding initiative or “IHS Baby Friendly Initiative”  as it’s known on the Rez.  They hope to get more moms breastfeeding from day one continuing as long as they can (or will,) hopefully at least a year, two would be wonderful . The items will be given to moms after giving birth in the hospital or at the 2 week postpartum nurse’s visit . Having resources available  when breastfeeding begins means a greater likelihood that moms will continue with the program.

The first item I made for the bag is a nursing pillow. Some of you may remember I wrote a blog on the “boppy” or nursing pillow. If you read the blog you’ll see how I made it and where I found instructions to follow. They really don’t take a lot of time nor are they costly, especially if using what you have on hand and what you can find on sale, such as the stuffing for the pillow. So far I have made 19 pillows and will continue to make more as I acquire the materials.  As you can see from that blog, the pillow has many functions so will get plenty of use not only by mom but by the little one as he/she works on his/her developmental skills.

Another item I have been making for the bag are cloth nursing pads. Not only is this Volunteer Appreciation Week but it is also Earth Week. We all need to be as ‘green “as possible if we are to save our earth.  Following sustainable practices will help. Disposable nursing pads not only are costly but they also fill our landfills with unnecessary waste.

I made 6 pads for each little bag that will house them, using this pattern which is a contour pad and molds better to the breast inside the bra. Nursing pads catch those milk leaks frequent because of the let-down response.

I had scraps of flannel and cotton knit from other projects so this project cost very little and takes very little time. Even though I have a serger I did not use it as the thread kept breaking as I went around the circle. Instead I put my 4 pads together, with 2 darts  on one side of the diameter of the circle and the other 2 darts on the other side of the diameter, following her directions for placing the pads in the circle. This made it less bulky to sew.  I sewed a straight stitch around the perimeter of the circle  to hold the layers in place , evened out the edges and then ziggzagged around the outside of the pad.

This pad is a contoured pad but you can simply zigzag 4 layers of fabrics in a circle and it will work just as well. This pattern demonstrates that design.

Both the pads and nursing cover can be washed in a sink with warm soapy water and air dried, another sustainable practice.

I made a little velcro closed bag to house the pads but a small drawstring bag will work just as well. I wanted to have a place to keep the pads clean, easily found and easily thrown into a diaper bag. You can also make a bag to house the nursing pillow which can be converted into a baby laundry bag.

A tube of lanolin used for nursing moms to heal raw and cracked nipples that can occur with frequent nursing and some alcohol sanitizer to wash the hands before feeding will be added to the small bag.  A receiving blanket to breastfeed discretely and a few burp pads would also be handy for the spit ups so common in those first 6 months. And last of all a nursing bra will be purchased for moms.

WIC will provide a mom with a nursing pump if it is needed such as might be the case when a baby is admitted to the ICU unit. A pump will allow the mom to keep milk production going, provide nutritious milk for the baby through a feeding tube and allow the mom to freeze the excess so that she can leave some at the hospital if she needs to return home to care for other family members.  Freezing some of the milk also allows another caregiver to feed the baby so a tired mom can from time to time get a good night’s sleep.

If you do not sew or craft, donating a small sum to the Sew For Kids Paypal under Special Programs on the Hearts of the Sacred Spirit website would help us purchase the bra, hand sanitizer and lanolin cream. When you donate please state that your donation is to go towards buying items for our program. All donations, material or monetary, are tax deductible.

So Happy Earth Week and A BIG THANK YOU to all you volunteers who make the world a better place because of your efforts.

Thanks from Sew For Kids.

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