Ok, the headline is a little misleading . . . I think it’s good for pregnant moms to attend breastfeeding support groups, but not as their only breastfeeding preparation.
As a leader of peer-to-peer breastfeeding support, I’ve seen a trend of childbirth educators assigning La Leche League or Breastfeeding USA meetings as homework for their students. Yes, those meetings are free and expecting moms (and sometimes partners) are welcome. Yes, those meeting leaders are knowledgeable. Yes, peer-to-peer support has been shown to increase breastfeeding duration and satisfaction (which is pretty cool). As wonderful as a peer-to-peer meeting can be, it is NOT a class and is not intended to be.
A prenatal breastfeeding class presents the information for expecting parents in an organized format with an emphasis on the most common challenges and best practices to set up the breastfeeding mother and baby for success. A support meeting addresses the issues in response to the moms who show up, which may not be typical.
Meetings tend to be focused on the mother baby dyad and, for the comfort of self-conscious new moms, may not even allow male partners to attend. Classes tend to be targeted to both parents as a team!
Meetings tend to be focused on supporting moms and babies from 2 weeks to 2 years postpartum. This is well after the critical first hours and days for establishing breastfeeding. A class can can lay out a set of landmarks for expecting parents as those first hazy days with a newborn and need to know if things are going well or if it’s time to get help.
A good class addresses the critical questions parents have in the early days: How much milk does your newborn actually need and how do you know if he is getting it? How often should your baby nurse and for how long? What is engorgement and what do you do if it happens? How do you know your milk has “come in”? What do you do if you aren’t sure if it has? Are the considerations (tips) different if you have a c-section birth? An early baby? A really large baby? What can your partner do to help? A peer-to-peer meeting might touch on all of these things, but it might not.
I don’t intend to start a firestorm since I strongly support mother-to-mother breastfeeding networks. I recommend attending even when everything seems to be going fine with nursing. Group leaders are usually experienced breastfeeding mothers, sometimes very skilled facilitators, and are extremely well educated on breastfeeding. Unlike a class, a meeting provides an valuable opportunity to hear first-hand about struggles and overcoming them and simply hanging out with other new moms is good for mental health during what can be an isolating postpartum period.
However meeting discussions are driven by the individual needs of the participants and can be very stream-of-consciousness. That can be hard for an expecting mom or dad to follow when breastfeeding and newborns are still very abstract.
I’d love to see expecting moms moms attend both organized breastfeeding education and peer-to-peer support before baby comes, but if they have to choose, I’d rather see them do a class designed especially for them.
“For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
– Brother David Steindl-Rast
We are encouraged by culture and media to be joyful and grateful during the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Years. Sometimes that comes easily, sometimes not so much. For those of us struggling, a gratitude practice can be powerful.
We often visit this theme in kids yoga classes, but simple practices can be incorporated into home routines as well. A colleague of mine recently described her family’s simple routine. She uses her 10-minute school commute for their practice with a few simple rules: Everyone must share sometime, anything, no judgement, so long as it’s not what they shared the day before. She finds that simple routine gets everyone’s day started on a positive note and brings her family closer together with a daily check-in.
These practices can be especially helpful during the holiday season, which encourages us to spread love and joy but also can seemingly revolve around what we want and do not have, something known to make us less happy!
One of our favorite practices in kids yoga is gratitude relaxation. We listen to a guided meditation while remembering all our gifts and advantage and the people who support us and love us. Thanks to Childlight Yoga, the program that Jen uses to teach kids yoga teacher trainings, you can now listen to audio recording of the gratitude relaxation from Yoga for Children, by Lisa Flynn. Find a comfortable position (instructions for the one on the right are posted on the CLY blog too).
At Breathing Space, we are grateful you have chosen to share your family time with us through classes and workshops. We are looking forward to seeing you this holiday season and in 2018.
People are sometimes surprised when I tell them I teach yoga to 2 year olds. “My toddler would never sit still for a yoga class,” they say.
I hope no one ever suggests that they should!
Preschooler, Little Families, and Tot Yoga classes incorporate lots of playful yoga poses, gross-motor activities, and age-appropriate games, kid-friendly songs and rhymes, and breath awareness exercises, and a little bit of relaxation for both little ones and their parents. We move all over the room, we use props in fun and creative ways, and we engage toddlers and preschoolers in developmentally-appropriate fun.
Sure stillness happens, but we measure that in sweet moments (not minutes).
We often here from parents that they are hesitant to enroll if they aren’t sure their child will enjoy a class. We get it. That’s why we have our:
No Risk Refund Policy – Not sure if a kids & family series class will be right for you or your child? Register and come to the first class. If you notify us in writing within 48 hours after the first class that you will not be able to continue the session, we refund all but $2o for that first class.
We are also very flexible about switching classes for students who have nap time shifts during the course of a series. For example, if your child is enrolled in an 11 am class and starts napping at that time, we’ll happily switch her into one of our 9 or 9:30 am classes instead.
Yep. We move a ton.
Generally, if you are enrolling in a class for your child’s age, we are prepared for your child to behave in age-appropriate ways.
For Little Families Yoga (2-4 yrs), we don’t use yoga mats and instead move all over the room. Some of our students are always on the go and that’s really quite alright. Some toddlers seriously need to move in order to pay attention. Those are the students parents assure me do the yoga poses at home, just never in class. Sometimes those students join in briefly whenever their favorite activities come up and then go back to running in circles. It’s all good.
For Kids or Family Yoga (ages 3-6, or 4+), we do use mats and are beginning to learn to be on the mats for much of the class. Class is still super active, we move off mats for all sorts of games, and we don’t expect stillness from young children.
If your child has special needs, it is helpful to check in ahead of time so the instructor can be prepared and think through lessons and activities with your child’s needs in mind. We are happy to have you enroll and decide after the first class or two if it is the right fit. Again though, check in with the instructor. Parents are typically more worried about possible disruptive behavior than our yoga teachers and will work with you on strategies to help your child succeed in class.
Absolutely. Your child is welcome to bring any grownup they want with them to class. Up to 2 caregivers may attend class on a weekly basis. Additional visitors may attend occasionally and are encouraged to participate. Please be considerate of space constraints when bringing guests.
Nope, sorry. We don’t offer drop-in options for classes for crawling or older children or trial classes during the regular session. Children really do need the consistency of a weekly class both for comfort and so they can best learn and drop-ins can be disruptive to the class routine. Read more.
Since it often takes several classes for a child to settle in, dropping in once is not really the best indicator of whether your child will enjoy class. However, we get that it can be tough to commit to a class when you can’t imagine what happens or how your child will react, so:
We also understand that life is unpredictable and have a generous makeup policy for families that wish to commit to a series but know they will miss a class or two.
Absolutely. It sometimes takes a few weeks for our more reserved students to get comfortable enough to participate. That’s one of the reasons we offer classes in 6-10 week series rather than drop-in. Toddlers especially need time to get used to a space, a group of people and an instructor.
Even once they are comfortable, some more reserved little ones may be more watchers than doers in class. That doesn’t mean they are not learning and they may be more inclined to practice at home.
We do expect parent participation. The more yoga you do in class the more your child will do.
While parents should expect to move quite a lot, we will be doing yoga appropriate for the child’s age range, so it’s probably not a workout for the grownups as compared to an adult class.
Poses and activities are designed with toddlers/preschoolers in mind. While your instructor will likely be able to make suggestions, we expect adults to take care of their own bodies during class.
It’s rarely a problem. Pregnant moms often skip or modify belly-down poses and anything else that doesn’t feel right and adults with special conditions adjusting accordingly.
The biggest challenge is probably for adults who have significant difficulty getting up and down from the floor. I’ve had mobility-challenged caregivers, usually older nannies or grandparents, do very few of the poses with no problem. My suggestion is to try it and see how it goes.
Do note that several of our class venues are down a flight of stairs (strollers can be left locked outside). Our Saturday and Sunday class venues are handicap accessible.
Thank you so much for sharing your kids and family yoga experience with us. We’re having a wonderful summer so far and hope you’ll be joining us for great classes and camps we have planned.
The biggest change for Breathing Space in coming months is that we’ve decided to let go of the 1123 Penn location at the end of the summer and go back to a mobile program format.
We are excited to work with community partners again to offer classes and camps in a variety of locations around the Hill, both SE and NE!
Breathing Space started as a mobile program and the model makes a lot of sense for us given the limited hours needed for children’s and family programming. We took the 1123 Penn lease in the fall of 2014, starting classes there in 2015, because we had seemingly reached our limit for growth at our class spaces at the time and were anticipating our summer camp venue to be unavailable in 2015. The neighborhood yoga and wellness landscape has changed quite a bit in the past two years, with many more options for adult yoga and new opportunities for partnership locations for our family programming. As much as it is nice to have complete control over a studio space, it simply make better business sense to let go of the full time location.
What’s more, community is a defining characteristic of family yoga and we’ve missed being a regular member of our partner communities over the past two years. By returning to a mobile model, we are excited to be able to reach further on Capitol Hill and are launching our first Northeast location classes at the Parish of St. Monica and St. James in September! If you have connections to community locations or ideas for classes not on our upcoming schedule, please let us know.
Babies thrive on loving touch. Parents and caregivers have known the importance of skin-to-skin contact for millenia, but it’s only been in recent times that science has begun studying and trying to quantify the amazing power of massage and other touch techniques:
Improved Sleep Patterns
Infants who were massaged before bedtime adjusted to a more favorable rest-activity cycle by the age of 8 weeks and produced more melatonin, a sleep regulator, during the night by the age of 12 weeks.
– Ferber SG, Laudon M, Kuint J, Weller A, Zisapel N. Massage therapy and sleep-wake rhythms in the neonate. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 2002;23(6):410-415.
Reduction of Stress
Cortisol levels, a stress indicator, was significantly lower after infant massage.
– White-Traut RC, Pate CM, Modulating infant state in premature infants. J Pediatr Nurs. 1987;2(2):96-101.
Improved Interaction in Families
Fathers who used massage techniques with their infants experienced increased self-esteem as a parents. The babies greeted their fathers with more eye contact, smiling, vocalizing and reaching responses. The fathers were more expressive and showed more enjoyment and more warmth during floor-play interactions with their infants.
– Cullen, C., Field, T., Escalona, A. & Hartshorn, K. (2000). Father-infant interactions are enhanced by massage therapy. Early Child Development and Care, 164, 41-47.
Support of Mother’s Mental Health
Learning the practice of infant massage by mothers may be an effective treatment for facilitating mother-infant interaction in mothers with postnatal depression. Edinburgh Postnatal Depression scores improved for the mothers who learned massage, as did their video-taped mother-baby interactions.
– Onozawa k, Glover V, Adams D, Modi N, Kumar RC. Infant massage improves mother-Infant interaction for mothers with postnatal depression
Increased Weight Gain for Premature Infants
Premature infants that were massaged regularly had higher daily weight gain, increased motor activity, and better Brazelton neonatal behavioral assessment scores. They had a better conversion of calories to weight gain.
– Field TM, Schanberg SM, Scafidi F, et al. Tactile/kinesthetic stimulation effects on preterm neonates. Pediatrics. 1986;77(5):654-658.
– Phillips RB, Moses HA. Skin hunger effects on preterm neonates. Infant Toddler Intervention. 1996;6(1):39-46.
Please join us for light refreshments, yoga-inspired and open play, coloring, arts and crafts at this casual reception.
When: Sat Dec 20 2014 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Where: Breathing Space! 1123 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, WDC 20003, 2nd Floor
Please RSVP so we can plan for refreshments and activities. No charge to come and play but A Space of Our Own $75 or higher campaign contributors are invited to decorate a “gratitude wall” tile for our entry way. Campaign contributors will also be able to pick up t-shirts and stickers.
During our Winter Solstice Open House from December 19-21, join us for any of our usual weekend schedule classes for $15 per class in advance ($20 in person, makeup credits and class passes accepted). Great opportunity for new students to try a class before registering for the January session.