Posted by: Admin | November 27, 2014

The song says it all!

For all breastfeeding mothers out there. Enjoy.


Posted by: Admin | November 10, 2014

Breastfeeding and Early Supplementation

I have learned from sharing circles, home visits, Cree friends I share with and from health care workers that most Cree women start to breastfeed at the hospital but that formula (artificial baby milk) or water is introduced during the hospital stay. Mothers worry that their baby is not getting enough milk. Colostrum is normally produced in small quantities and in the perfect amount for the baby but the normal weight loss of the baby after birth and the mother’s insecurity coupled with the lack of information, makes way for formula.

As the milk supply needs a good six weeks of “priming” to adapt to the baby’s needs, this early introduction of artificial baby milk or water can affect the milk supply and the mother might think she is not “capable” of producing enough milk. The baby has to ask for the amount of breastmilk he needs for the breasts to produce it. If the baby receives artificial baby milk or water instead, he is not “asking” for the breastmilk so the breasts will “think” they do not need to produce more. As time goes by, the baby receives more and more bottles of artificial baby milk and breastfeeds less and less. He can even become upset at the breast. The mother will end up weaning her baby prematurely.

Avoid supplements at the hospital

Usually, the baby is sleepy during the day following his birth and starts to wake up after 24 to 48 hours. He will then ask to breastfeed often, sometimes even constantly. He might cry often as he is not used to the environment outside of his mother’s womb. He will also lose some weight. It is normal for him to lose up to 10% of his birth weight before his mother’s milk comes in. It is easy to count this 10% from his birth weight as you take the first 2 digits of his birth weight and add a zero. If a baby weighed 3 210 grams at birth, he can lose up to 320 grams. This weight loss is normal and is due to the water he accumulated in his body tissues while in his mother’s womb. Also, the colostrum the breasts produce for the baby in the first few days provide just enough calories to keep him going but they do not always allow him to put on some grams. This is normal. Colostrum is there to open up the baby’s digestive system and to give him a good dose of protection against illnesses. It is not meant to have him put on weight.

Even though there is only a few drops of colostrums per feeding, it is exactly what the baby needs and the more he will breastfeed, the more colostrum will be produced until the day the mother will feel her breast a little fuller and notice the breastmilk becoming lighter in color. We call this the “milk coming in”. It is from that point on that the baby will start to put on some real weight but it will still be a touch and go process. He might put on a lot of weight one week and less the other week. That is OK. Many Cree Elders encourage mothers to drink fresh fish broth to increase their milk supply. The first few weeks after birth are a good time to ask gookoom to make some.

For the “supply and demand” process to work well and to allow nature to follow its course, it is important not to confuse the milk supply by giving artificial baby milk or water to the baby. Whatever he takes from a bottle or a gavage tube (an alternative to the bottle provided at the hospital), he will not ask from the breast. It is a little bit like waiting to receive a meal at the restaurant but never having ordered it…You get what you order! When a baby breastfeeds, he gets the milk he needs AND he orders his next meal.

If you wish to breastfeed for a few months and more, please avoid giving your baby water or artificial baby milk, at least for the first six weeks. Have his weight checked regularly but not every day and be confident in yourself. All mothers produce breastmilk. It is our super power.

Posted by: Admin | October 15, 2014

Our breastfeeding story

by Paula Rickard

Dear Nikamuwin, we welcomed you into the world at 5:37 am on August 3, 2011. I already knew that I would breastfeed you. I had no experience in breastfeeding and throughout your first day I tried with the assistance of your Daddy and the nurses. Your Auntie Juanita arrived later that day and helped me figure it out some more. You were healthy and there we no complications with your delivery so we went home on August 4th. Sometime in the evening of August 6th, I realized it had been hours since you wet your pamper. I called your Auntie Juanita who is a nurse and our cousin Rita was with her. Rita is a nurse too! So the two nurses made a personal house call and gave you a quick check-up. They suggested that we supplement you with formula to get more liquids in you. Off they went to the store to buy formula that was closest to breast milk. Once they returned, they sterilized bottles, boiled water and prepared your formula. You drank one ounce of formula and we were relieved to know that you had more liquids in your little belly. Later that night, you soaked your pamper and threw up the formula. That was the one and only time you had formula.

As time went on, I tried to express my milk with breast pumps. Two manual pumps and one electric pump did not express my milk at all. I tried on different occasions with the same result. So I kept juujuuing you and we tried formula again a few times later. You just wouldn’t take the bottle. Not even a soother. We agreed the only thing we could do for you was to keep breastfeeding you. You were growing nicely and stayed healthy – that was all that mattered to us. This also meant that my time away from you was very limited. I would go to the grocery store while you were sleeping and rush to get back home to you. Sometimes, Daddy would call to tell me you were crying and I would rush home. Some of the rushing stopped when you started eating baby food at eight months old. You also preferred juujuuing over drinking water, which we first gave to you at the age of five months. You drank from a sippy cup because you refused to take a bottle.

When you were a tiny baby, I would use the football hold to juujuu you. You enjoyed your feedings and you would make us laugh when you would pant once my breast was exposed to your little face. A couple of times, you dove onto my breast. Those were funny moments and they bring a smile to my face when I think about them. We spent many moments cuddled up with the breastfeeding pillow and it was washed many times because you would spit up on it. The pillow is still here in our house because your Daddy and I are sentimental that way.

Breastfeeding wasn’t always easy. I felt my breasts engorged and painful the morning after you slept all night for the first time. And you know what, that was the only night you ever slept all night! Then the cracks came and thankfully they were at different times. The first crack was on my left nipple, which was your favourite side. It seemed more milk came from that breast. I consulted with fellow mamas and my childhood friend told me about this cream that she used when she had a crack from breastfeeding. It was a blend of ointments and needed to be prescribed by a doctor. She gave me some while I waited for my prescription. It didn’t take much cream to heal the crack. The pain while breastfeeding with a cracked nipple was excruciating. You would latch onto the cracked nipple and I would inhale deeply, stretch my leg and tap my foot until the pain became bearable. The pain that came from breastfeeding with cracked nipples did not once make me think about not breastfeeding you.

When you were three weeks old, you became a little traveller. Travelling meant breastfeeding you in public places. At first, I was self-conscious about it, but then quickly changed my feelings and thinking about it. I was taking care of you and in order to do that, I needed to feed you. Sometimes I would use a receiving blanket to cover myself. I would never cover your face. I would use the blanket to make sure no part of my breast was exposed. I became good at using my sweater to cover myself while breastfeeding. During these times, Daddy would sit beside us to help in any way or he would be busy close by. No one ever said anything to me about breastfeeding you in public. I was proud to breastfeed you because I knew it was the best thing I could give you.

I thought about weaning you when you were about 18 months old. It didn’t work. Part of it was because you used breastfeeding for comfort. I also enjoyed being able to comfort you when you had your meltdowns. I would say, “let’s juujuu” and your tears would stop. You were two years old when I spent the night away from you for the first time since you’ve been with us. We were so happy that we all survived that one night apart. It was only recently that I spent the second night away from you. And now since you had your last juujuu on October 1, 2014, I think I can be at ease when I am away for the night and leave you at home with your Dad.

You were such a healthy baby and toddler and we honestly believe that it was because of breastfeeding. We also gave you Vitamin D on a daily basis, which also helped boost your immune system. You would still get a cold now and then, but it would never get really bad to a point where you had green, bubbly boogers or a bad cough. I share our experience with other mothers from time to time and now I can also tell them that I breastfed you for 3 years and 2 months.

Not too long ago, I realized I was the only one who fed you for the first eight months of your life because you were exclusively breastfed. Now, as our story comes to an end, I am teary eyed knowing that I will never again say “juujuu baby juujuu”.







Editor’s note:
Artificial Baby Milk manufacturers often market thier product by saying “the formula closest to mother’s milk” or something similar. No formula will ever be even close to mother’s milk as it is a “living food” that contains protective factors against illnesses while formula is “inert” and offers no protection against illnesses.

The medicated ointment mentionned in this story is commonly called “Dr. Newman’s cream”. It has antibiotic, antifungal and antiinflammatory properties and is obtained only with a prescription.

Posted by: Admin | September 18, 2014

What is a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)!

Creebreastfeeding has not published frequently lately. It is not for lack of ideas, but for lack of time. Creebreastfeeding is in fact one person, myself. I work for the Public Health Department of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. I love my job, although it does get kind of hectic at times. As a PPRO (Planning, Programming and Research Officer), I am asked to collaborate on many different files. My main file is breastfeeding because I am a Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). This means that I hold a diploma in Human Lactation from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). We are presently 1632 IBCLCs in Canada. We are not to be confused with breastfeeding advisors or volunteers. We do not work in a support group setting (although some of us do a lot of volunteer work). Being an IBCLC is a profession with its own Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. We have professional associations. ILCA is our international one, CLCA our Canadian association and QCA, is at the provincial level.

Even though there are more and more IBCLCs in Quebec, there are still not enough of us to fully support all breastfeeding mothers. Also, many regional agencies, hospitals and clinics do not have the budget to hire an IBCLC. They usually ask their nurses to support breastfeeding as well as doing all their other tasks. We do know our health system is stretched thin and even though the workers do their best, it is difficult for breastfeeding mothers to get timely and adequate breastfeeding support. Presently at the CBHSSJB, there is one nurse who is also an IBCLC working locally at the CMC in Waskaganish. A dream of mine would be to have one IBCLC per community. Even better would be for this IBCLC to be Cree. It takes time and commitment to become an IBCLC but if anyone is interested I am available to mentor and train that person towards the certification.

If this is something you would consider or if you know someone would be good at this, write me an e-mail at or contact me via the Creebreastfeeding Facebook page.

Enjoy your day!

Dany G.

Yes! It is normal. Humans have the facial mechanical structure to allow for this, right? Our jaws can close together to allow us to bite off our food and chew it. Biting is, in fact, a survival mechanism! But should babies bite their mother’s breast? They “should not”, but some babies do it anyway.  The following information should help you avoid this.

Why does a baby bite while breastfeeding?

There are a multitude of reasons why babies bite: a baby will practice every new ability he acquires until he masters it. Biting is no different. Ideally, he will bite his teddy bear, his teething rings and his toys, but biting is sure fun and babies will bite anything they can get their teeth on. Ever try putting your finger in a baby’s mouth to check on a new little tooth? Ouch!

Note: Be careful what you let your baby put in his mouth. Some things are toxic, even if they are marketed as made for babies.

So, when comes the time to breastfeed, it is completely natural for the toddler to want to see what biting his mother’s breast feels like. He has no idea that it can be painful to her. In the beginning, it is an experiment for him. Then, depending on how his mother reacts, it will transform into a game, defiance or simply a refusal gesture.

Babies are more likely to bite when they are put at the breast when they did not request it. For example, you look at the time and realize your 1 year old child has not breastfed for over 6 hours, even though he ate a good lunch. Your breasts are also telling you he should be breastfeeding, as they are full and feel uncomfortable. He is busy playing with a new toy and you are talking on the phone, but you scoop him up, lift your shirt and offer him the breast while continuing your conversation. He opens his mouth, breastfeeds a little and then clamps down. It is his way of saying: “Hey, I was busy. I did not ask to breastfeed…oh, and by the way, you are on the phone and not even looking at me!”
Some mothers will make a “hurt” face, but most will let out an outraged cry of pain: “NO!”. Even though this reaction is completely normal, it might frighten your baby. He might pull away and start crying and it might be a little while before he wants to breastfeed again.

We know babies will bite when they do not want to breastfeed, when they are not hungry anymore, when they are upset, when they want attention, or simply when they want to test their mother’s reaction. Here are a few tips to avoid this painful experience.

How do I prevent my baby from biting me?

As soon as your baby has teeth and shows you he could try to bite you, try following these guidelines:
-Breastfeed your baby only if he shows he needs to.
-Make sure he is calm and that there are no distractions.
-Avoid doing something else at the same time; children need our full attention!
-When you see he has almost finished, take him off right away and hug and kiss him to show him you are not taking him away because you do not love him.
-If he tries to bite, even a little, take him off from the breast right away. Tell him he cannot bite you because it hurts. Offer him something to bite on. Always keep him on you with hugs and kisses to show you will always love him. It is the behavior you do not like, but him, you will always love.

What to do to treat a bite wound?

If your child bites you but the teeth do not pierce the skin, it will be sensitive like a bruise for a little while. Changing position is a good thing to do until the bruise heals. If the teeth pierce the skin, it is considered a cracked nipple. Here’s what to do:

-wash the wound with soap and water;
– try to keep your baby’s teeth from digging into the wound. You will achieve this by changing position to one where the baby’s teeth do not press on the wound. The teeth have to touch an intact area of your breast;
– if the wound does not improve in a few days, and if the area around it is swollen, red and burning, you will need to go to the clinic. They will prescribe an antibiotic ointment to help heal it.

It is not necessary to wean your baby because of biting. Babies go through phases and this one will pass, just like any other. Furthermore, if you follow the information above, the wound can heal even if your baby breastfeeds on that breast. 🙂

Posted by: Admin | January 13, 2014

My wish for the New 2014 Year

Do you know that undernutrition is associated with 45% of child mortality? That, globally, 162 million children under five have been estimated to have growth delays, and that almost 100 million had low weight-for-height, as a consequence of poor feeding and repeated infections? Do you know that about 220,000 child lives could be saved every year with the promotion of optimal breastfeeding until 6 months and continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond, with the addition of appropriate complementary foods?

Many children get sick every day from preventable diseases such as diarrhea, gastroenteritis, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, eczema and more. You must have had, seen or have heard about a child with severe eczema, a severe respiratory illness, etc? Being breastfeed or having been breastfed gives children a strong protection against illnesses. I do not mean they will never get sick, but that they will be sick less often and the illnesses will be less severe. In many cases, they can avoid the illness altogether.

Promotion and prevention are very important mandates of the Public Health Department (PHD) of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (CBHSSJB). Healthy living habits promotion and disease prevention gears the population towards Myupimaatisiiun (global health). Groups of all ages profit from the work of the professionals in the PHD. Breastfeeding, along with the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Intiative, are my main concerns. Breastfeeding is under the wing of the PHD, as it is a proven way to prevent illnesses and its promotion as well as its protection needs to be addressed in Eeyou Itschee. Breastfeeding is a Cree tradition, but rates of mothers breastfeeding their babies are currently lowering. We need to find new ways to remind everyone of its importance and support the families that wish to practice this important life saving Cree tradition.

As the Public Health Program Officer in charge of promoting and protecting breastfeeding, I try to find new and creative ways to reach the population. Social media is very popular among Crees of all ages. I even saw some Elders receiving cellular phones or tablets for Christmas . This Blog, Creebreastfeeding, is a good promotional tool and is part of my operational planning. It kills two birds with one stone: it promotes breastfeeding and gives out important information as well. I also like to use Facebook, and has a Facebook page which directs the reader to evidence-based information and “In the news” type of posts.

Facebook is also popular among the health care workers on our territory. Health care workers need to abide by their work ethics even if they think they are only using Facebook for their personal use. For example, everyone knows that I am the writer behind, and it would violate my profession’s Ethics Code to promote anything unhealthy on my personal Facebook page. It would not be correct for me to be posting images of artificial milk nor trying to offer it, free or at a low cost, from a Buy, Sell, Trade Facebook page. In social media, the line between the individual and the professional is absent! We are what we do and in a very small village or community, this becomes even more evident. We are role models to everyone out there!

As a woman and a mother, I have many New Year wishes tied in with my family life, but as a professional my wishes are simple and tied in with the very essence of my job for the CBHSSJB’s Public Health Department’s mandates. I wish for health care workers and families to encourage and support women to exclusively breastfeed their babies until they are 6 months old and to encourage and protect this important relationship until the child is 2 years old and beyond.

Happy New Year everyone! I do hope my wish comes true 🙂


Posted by: Admin | December 20, 2013

A Word of Advice at Christmas Time

Many mothers are breastfeeding and trying to make it work through a very difficult time right now. The Holidays period is definitely not an easy one. Breastfeeding and taking care of a baby is a full-time job. It is hard just to find time to clean up the house, cook and do some washing. Imagine when we add to that the extra activities tied to Christmas and New Year? It’s a complete overload. I remember trying to adjust my baby’s schedule to allow for some Christmas shopping without skipping a breastfeed. I also remember well that I ended up using nighttime for housework, cooking, decorating and gift wrapping. Although it is the only way to fit all the extra activities in our daily maternal schedule, missing important sleep can lead to over tiredness, illness and, most often, a decrease in milk supply for the breastfeeding mother.

Many times I have heard mothers say they will start weaning because they are overwhelmed with all the chores or they do not want to miss out on all the parties. This is also when many breastfeeding support volunteers and clinic workers receive calls concerning low milk supply.

Leaving your baby more often to go shopping or partying will in fact result in a decrease in your milk supply, but if this happens, do not worry, your milk supply will go back up once you stay with your baby and resume breastfeeding as you were before. Also, it is very important not to wean on a whim or for a temporary situation. Breastmilk is the most important food in your child’s life. Artificial milk (or formula) is not equivalent in any way or form. Stopping breastfeeding, especially during the holidays when your child will be often exposed to other people and their illnesses, will take away to best protection against illnesses he will ever have. It also depletes him of all the benefits he can obtain later in life from being breastfed, as the longer and the more intensive the breastfeeding, the more protection will be given and received.

If you have decided or are encouraged to stop breastfeeding because of the Holidays, or if you have already stopped, please reconsider! Also, do not forget that breastfeeding also helps your baby to bond with you. Last year’s post mentions how to get your milk supply back.

The World Health Organization (WHO) often produces public service announcements to promote health and to encourage people to move towards a healthier way of life. WHO produced a short video on the normalcy of breastfeeding for all species. Enjoy this little Christmas gift from ended its week with a visit to Waswanipi. The taxi traveled at a steady speed amongst the white covered spruces. The roads were slushy as the mild snowy weather kept an above zero temperature that melted any newly fallen snow.
Int BF Loga
I arrived too late for the brunch and bingo activity so the Awash Coordinator and I went to the Cultural Village for a delicious heart-warming bowl of moose soup and bannock. We chatted and drank tea while waiting for the afternoon activity of baby blanket making to start. This gave me the time to settle and observe my surroundings. The Cultural Village lodge in Waswanipi is a beautiful log cabin. The CHRs had prepared a beautiful booth on breastfeeding and I was able to take a few pictures of it.
Ceciclia making bb blankets
When the participants arrived, they finished the baby blankets they had started at the beginning of the week. We were also able to observe the agile hands of Cecilia who guided everyone’s work. We were able to admire all the other baby blankets made for the gift basket to be handed out by the soon-to-come Niishiyuu program.
Healthy Snack
A nice fruit salad and yogurt snack was served to everyone with coffee or the traditional tea. Everyone chatted while working.
It was a beautiful relaxing afternoon in good company. Thank you Marlene E. Dixon, Nathania Happyjack and Desire for the company and a big thank you to Cecilia for the soup 🙂
Marlene, Desire and Nathania
Vanessa and bb Lisa-Kitta
BFWeek Booth

Boob hat
BF Books
It was a mild day and time went by quickly during the taxi drive from Mistissini to Ouje-Bougoumou. I was warmly greeted by the Awash team of the Ouje Healing Center, Joceline Piche, nutritionist, Weena Bosum, CHR and Lisebeth Doyon, the psychoeducator.
BF Booth
Also present were Minnie Wapache, many times a mother who breastfed her children, Janie Wapache the Awash Coordinator ,presently on Maternity Leave, who had just come back from the daycare where she breastfed her baby, and Suzanne Rousselle, the Awash nurse.
As I entered the conference room, I was amazed at the amount of work the team had done on setting up the booth with breastfeeding pamphlets, reference books, accessories and posters. A long banquet-type table was set up to receive a dozen guests. The smell of whole grain bannock and moose stew permeated the room.
Our table all set and ready
We chatted away as mothers and babies arrived. I was introduced to Riley (3 months), Sarinah (2 weeks) and Shawanahan (9 months), whose name means South Wind in Cree. All around the table there was talk about babies, breastfeeding and how good the food was. Mothers ate while holding and breastfeeding their babies and there were no crying babies. It always amazes me how quiet babies are when they are breastfed and when their needs are well met by their moms.
Second on the day’s well planned activities was a walk to the Cultural Village, where we would all sit around working on baby moccasins and exchanging stories on breastfeeding.
In my 5 years working in Eeyou Itschee, I have been in many teepees and shaptuans (long houses), but the Ouje Cultural Village’s shaptuan has a very traditional feel with its log beams, walls and furniture. The 2 wooden stoves made the place very comfortable for everyone, including the babies, and the smell of burning wood mixed with the smoked moose hide made the whole scene feel as if we were in the past. It was a perfect setting for all! Many new mothers and babies joined the group and we all started to look for perfect patterns for the little ones’ feet. Minnie and Janie’s mom, Hattie Mark Wapachee, was there to help all of us learn the perfect stitches for the perfect ripple edge of the moccasin’s top part and she advised on patterns and sizes.
Cultural Village_Ancita
Anna Bosum made us some fish broth (a preparation believed to increase the milk supply in breastfeeding mothers). I had heard and written about this brew many times, but this was my first time tasting it. I was a little leery at first as I had also heard many didn’t like its taste. I was surprised by its tastiness and comforting smell and warmth. Ancita, from the museum, and Katherine Salt, from HeadStart, talked a little about their experiences with breastfeeding.
Fish Broth
Mothers asked questions and chatted while working on their project. I shared with them the normality of breastfeeding and the fact the children not receiving breastmilk live their first 4 months without any protection against illnesses.
Thank you Ouje-Bougoumou for your wonderful hospitality and great sense of team work.

Posted by: Admin | November 18, 2013

Breastfeeding Week 2013 Activities in Mistissini

On Tuesday November 12, the Mistissini CMC Awash team organized a wonderful sharing activity. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers were invited to attend a short presentation on the Benefits of Breastfeeding given by

Participation was great but not exactly what we expected. The weather was bad; heavy snow with wind gusts probably scared new mothers and they were not inclined to get out of the house with their new babies. We had a pregnant mom, an Elder, a nutritionist, two Community Health Representatives, two nurses in training and their nurse trainer, two HeadStart workers and their coordinator, the community organizer and myself.
BF Pamphlets

The topic being the Benefits of Breastfeeding, I suggested that we each take turns trying to find arguments that would “convince” our pregnant mom to breastfeed. Many items came out such as the importance of bonding, the lifelong protection that breastmilk provides, the convenience of breastfeeding, the benefit for the land, etc. Our Elder really went deep into her past experiences with breastfeeding, explaining how the mother’s love would flow through her milk, and talking about the magic properties of breastmilk and its use as a medicine to treat snow blindness and skin ailments. She also mentioned that she believed children suffered more from skin problems these days as a consequence of not breastfeeding.
BF Benefits Handouts

After sharing, we mingled and chatted with our plates full of healthy foods Sonia the nutritionist had provided: fruits, vegetables, crackers and soy beverages everyone tasted and liked.
Healthy Snack with Sonia

The Mistissini CMC Awash team also prepared nicely wrapped little gifts for pregnant and breastfeeding moms: a sticker on breastmilk storage, small mason jars to store expressed breastmilk, and baby facecloths. Some information sheets on breastfeeding were also handed out.
Group Pic
In all, a well organized and very pleasant gathering!
Thank you Mistissini CMC Awash and HeadStart teams.

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