Guest Author - Nicki Heskin
The Breastfeeding Basics DVD by Mother of 7, Inc. is an excellent visual resource for breastfeeding educators or for mothers who may not have access to breastfeeding classes in their community. Mother of 7 video creator Stephanie Scholz Neurohr provided me with a copy of this DVD at my request for the purpose of reviewing on this site, because I am interested in the quality of potential information available to mothers who may lack resources in their local area. The video focuses on exactly what it promises – basics – with a focus on latch, along with positioning, letdown and infant state. It is about 20 minutes long and by no means a "comprehensive course" on breastfeeding.
That said, the DVD definitely covers a great deal of very important information and key messages for mothers that provides a great base for preparing a mother to work with lactation consultants or other helpers for successful establishment of breastfeeding.
The DVD contains the following chapters:
-- Introduction (2:07) – a basic welcome and introduction to the value of breastfeeding
-- How to Breastfeed (12:24) – basic information on positioning, significant detail on latch (which is definitely the topic worthy of the most time and discussion), as well as an introduction to milk ejection reflex or letdown, signs of milk transfer and infant state
-- Mother of 7 to Mother (5:17) – a lovely little section that offers tips and perspective from mothers of many races and situations
-- Close/Credits (2:29)
The introduction and mother to mother sections are quite lovely. They promote the principles of attachment parenting and babywearing and feature many benefits of breast milk. The video features many leading figures in breastfeeding and attachment parenting including Dr. Bill Sears, Dr. Jay Gordon, Dr. Paul Fleiss and Chele Marmet.
The critical part of the video is, of course, the "How to Breastfeed" section. The basics that are covered are positioning, latch and letdown along with a few other tips and smaller topics. The latch information is simply outstanding. Unlike many videos I have seen, the producers do not shy away from the images that will be the most helpful in order to preserve any sense of modesty. In addition to the high-quality computer graphic simulations, there are many excellent angles demonstrating proper and improper baby latch and details such as flanged lips, tongue position and more.
The information on milk ejection reflex (MER or "letdown") is one of the strongest parts of the video, making it visually very clear what a letdown is like and how to determine if letdown has occurred. A good amount of time is spent on nutritive vs. non-nutritive suck and signs of milk transfer. This is such a critical bit of information for mothers to understand to help avoid the issue of mothers thinking that baby is breastfeeding when in fact they are not adequately removing milk from the breast.
The weakest part of the instruction is the positioning section. Clutch/football, cradle, side-lying and cross-cradle (which they cleverly call transition but never fully explain why) are described, but there is no real detail on the mechanics of each position. There is some time spent on alignment of the baby against the body and alignment of the head at the breast. The information is not *bad* in any way, but is quite incomplete. As presented, the positioning information is good to introduce language and concepts that can then be used as an introduction by a lactation consultant or educator prenatally or in the hospital for in-person and/or hands on positioning instruction.
I was hoping to be able to recommend this video as a shower gift or instructional video for expectant moms as end-users, but because of the limited positioning instruction, I think it would be most appropriate in breastfeeding classes or childbirth education classes where additional positioning demonstrations and details will be provided. This doesn't really bother me as much as one might think though because even if more time were spent on this in the video, I personally think that positioning can't be done comprehensively without some hands-on instruction or at least practice by the mom.
In summary, I think this video is an excellent teaching tool to provide wonderful visuals and a basic framework and language to build on with expectant or new moms learning to breastfeed. For a new mom looking for a video to provide primary breastfeeding instruction, I would strongly encourage her to locate a breastfeeding educator or at least a veteran nursing mom who can provide more details on positioning and help with practice with pillows and a baby doll.
Breastfeeding educators/lactation professionals seeking a video as a teaching aid would find this video useful if needs are limited to these subjects. If additional video material is desired (e.g. common concerns or anatomy), or for a mother with no other access to breastfeeding education, the more extensive but significantly more expensive "Breastfeeding Comprehensive" video might be more appropriate.