August is National Breastfeeding Month and many weeks during this month are dedicated to bodyfeeding and lactation through many different lenses and cultures al around the world. This month’s Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators activity can be used in your lactation classes both virtual and in-person. To find all the Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators activities accessible for free, follow this link.
In perinatal classes, it is important to provide information and present bodyfeeding as a normal event that occurs ideally within the first hour after birth and continues for as long as both parent and baby desire. In reality, I often say that bodyfeeding is the next big challenge after birth. We know that while “natural,” it is often something that a new baby and a new parent need to learn as a dyad and there can be challenges during the early days and weeks.
Some of those challenges require the use of specialized equipment or tools, while other situations may arise where new parents find it helpful to have some things on hand to help things go more smoothly. Many of these items are completely unfamiliar to parents especially those having their first baby. Families appreciate the Lactation Station activity and leave with more familiarity about what items might be handy to have around when lactation is getting started or facing some hurdles
An assortment of bodyfeeding and lactation equipment that lactating people might receive from a health care provider, a lactation consultant or purchase independently. Items that you may want to consider include:
When to conduct this activity
I prefer to do this activity toward the end of of my bodyfeeding class, and often consider it a fun closing activity. We have already talked about initiation and early feeding and covered some solutions to common problems.
How long to allow for this activity
This activity takes about 10 minutes if it is done at the end of class, when families have some familiarity with potential issues and concerns that may come up in the early days. You will have ideally covered those topics earlier in class.
How to conduct this activity
Introduce the topic that some items may help make lactation more comfortable, more efficient, easier or reduce pain and discomfort. Inform families that many products are not necessary or should only be acquired if a situation arises that requires a certain solution. Let them know the expectation is not to have all these items on hand “just in case.”
Pull an item out of the “grab bag” and hold it up in front of the camera and turn it around for everyone to see well. Ask for a volunteer to identify what the object is and what it is for and when it might be used. What problem does it solve? Continue on, removing each item Individually and after the families respond, adding any further information that might have been left out.
An alternative when teaching virtually would be to ask all families to take a guess at what the item is and what it is used for and place their answer into chat.
Put all the items in to a fun bag or box, and pass it around for every family or person to pull an item out. Invite them to take a guess as to the purpose and use of the item they grabbed.
At the end of the activity, be sure to stress that people should not rush out and purchase or acquire anything until there is a clear need to do so.
What families say about this activity
Families really enjoy this activity and have a lot of fun trying to identify the more “unusual” items. They also contribute with a lot of information sharing about what they have heard and learned from other sources.
This informal and fun activity is a great way to close a bodyfeeding class and leave families with some familiarity about products and tools that may be helpful to them on their lactation journeys. You should feel free to add or remove items to the grab bag based on your experience and expertise.