Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Welcome to our Quandary - REVISED

By Wendy Haldeman MN, RN, IBCLC, Co-Founder of The Pump Station & Nurtury™

We are delighted with the success of our first two sizzling hot topics held at the Aero Theater. The feedback for the attendees has been very positive and we feel confident that our speakers had much to share with the audience. Our third and final afternoon should also prove to be valuable to new parents; however, the topic may prove to be a bit controversial.

Those of you who attended Dr. Karp’s and Dr. Stamm’s talks may recall that Harvey said he was not really in favor of sleep training and Jill stated, “I would never Ferberize a child”. Several of you have approached me and asked if The Pump Station is not being hypocritical in presenting a session on helping a baby to learn positive sleep habits.

Corky and I have wrestled with the concept of sleep training for years. As breastfeeding advocates, we are very conflicted with the idea of total night weaning, particularly in a baby less than 6 months of age. Our general philosophy and experience is that exclusively breastfed babies will often need at least one middle of the night feeding, regardless of the age and weight of the baby. We have sometimes had to counsel mothers who night weaned their baby only to discover that their milk supply had been significantly reduced and the baby was no longer gaining the proper amount of weight. This is more common when the baby is under 6 months in age. Admittedly, we are aware that many babies are able to nurse enough during the waking hours to maintain proper weight gain. We have discussed these issues in depth with Sleepy Planet and they are always careful to encourage parents to discuss any potential night weaning with their lactation consultants and to avoid weaning too quickly if there are milk supply, weight gain or medical issues of any kind.

The other burning question addresses the “emotional safety” of learning how to sleep by “crying it out”. The professional opinions on this vary greatly. Corky and I are also confused and conflicted by the whole concept. We work daily with mothers who are in true crisis due to sleep deprivation. (Isn’t this a tried and true method of torture?) Exhausted parents are not effective parents and sometimes attachment can be compromised when parents are too tired to function. We have seen sleep training completely turn families around to the benefit of everyone. But, is it a responsible technique to practice on an infant, particularly one under the age of 6 months? Sleepy Planet is very careful to present a gentle perspective on crying and gears its program to keeping crying to a minimum. However, they are respectful and nonjudgmental in this arena and encourage parents to do what feels right to their hearts. Parents can still implement many of Sleepy Planet’s recommendations, even if they choose not to do any kind of formal sleep training (i.e. creating a good sleep environment, well timed sleep schedule for night and naps, excellent bedtime routines, incorporating transitional objects into sleep, etc.)

In order to gain a better perspective on this subject, I turned to the magnificent mothers in my Hollywood breastfeeding support group. These moms are currently raising infants of ages ranging from 4 to 9 months. Sleep and the lack there of, is the constant subject of every group meeting. The mothers reminded me that The Pump Station is about presenting choice. The consensus was to definitely go forward with our sleep program and the parents can then decide what is best for their own families.

So, to continue our path of excellence, we can’t think of two better, more qualified women to present sleep training than Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack. They are the co-founders of Sleepy Planet and have helped hundreds of families to achieve peaceful, heavenly, sleep filled nights. Jennifer and Jill are kind, caring, nonjudgmental women who will share their techniques and speak about the new research in the area of sleep. They are respectful, first and foremost of what feels right for each individual family and they offer alternatives to their methods including co-sleeping options.

Please join us on November 22nd at 1 pm. The program generally lasts for 90 minutes. Tickets are $25.00 per seat and all the proceeds go to charity. You may purchase tickets ahead of time at The Pump Station (by phone) or simply show up at the Aero Theater on Montana Ave. in Santa Monica the day of the event. We hope to see you there and we would love for you to share your thoughts with us regarding sleep or any other topics you would like to hear discussed.