Diane Wiessinger holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Cornell University. At her first La Leche League meeting in 1980 she saw a roomful of women all focused on their children, and thought to herself, "There is more to me than this." However, she went on to become a La Leche League Leader in 1985 and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 1990. She has a private practice in Ithaca, NY, has written many breastfeeding resources, most recently co-authoring La Leche League International's 8th edition of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. She has spoken across the English-speaking world. Apparently there isn’t any more to her than this! She is the mother of two breastfed sons, mother-in-law of two wonderful young women and grandmother of two beautiful breastfed children.
Diane's website is http://normalfed.com/
Diane will be presenting the following talks at the 2013 conference:
Watch Your Language
An old stand-by of mine. I've been playing with the language notion since 1987, and keep digging up little subtleties (like the word "committed." Would a doctor ever say, "Nurse, nurse, come quickly! There's a woman here having a terrible asthma attack, and she says she's very committed to breathing!"? Why not?) The basic premise of this talk has stayed the same: that we all need to treat breastfeeding as if it's the biological norm, which of course it is. But most important, we need to change the way researchers frame their work. Right now, most studies still focus on breastfeeding, which ought to be the inconspicuous control group rather than the focus of attention. Formula is the experimental group, and that's the group any scientific study is supposed to focus on. When the researchers get their focus right, the media report the studies that way, and a gentle, persistent message goes out to everyone that formula is linked to problems. We really need to be pressuring journals and researchers to use breastfeeding as the study norm. In the meantime, there's a lot we breastfeeding supporters can do with our own language to make sure it's supportive of breastfeeding and not subtly endorsing formula-feeding. In the talk, we play with words like "but" and "still" and “ideal”, and look at the importance of humor in "marketing."
What Would Mammals Do?
My background is in animal behavior, and for years I've compared human mothering to mothering in dogs, gorillas, mice, and so on. But when I put this talk together and looked at the "breastfeeding literature" for other mammals, I realized that there’s really very little. The talk goes over mother-baby recommendations from the horse, dog, sheep, goat, deer, gorilla, and chimp literature. The surprise conclusion (and why did it take me almost 30 years to spot this??) is that in other mammals, if the birth is left alone nursing almost always just… happens. Animal husbandry people worry about is the birth, not the nursing; if there are too many interventions in the birth, the mother rejects the baby, there is no nursing, and there's just not much we can do about it. Interventions can include a change of location, a laborless birth, the removal of normal birth smells, stress, and more. If we want breastfeeding to go well, we really need to start with the other end of the mother! The talk ranges over issues from "he looks just like his dad" as an infant survival strategy, to whether we have any urge to lick our newborns, to the biology behind a mother drowning her toddlers in order to keep a boyfriend. The solemn and strong message is: "It's the birth, silly!" It pairs really nicely with the latching talk.
Tigers Through Hoops - The Baby Who Won't Breastfeed
This is not about the baby who can't breastfeed for physical reasons, though I spend a bit of time on that, but about the baby who's been traumatized in some way so that he won’t latch. I talk about some really unusual things that have worked besides time and patience and skin-to-skin, and I'm reassured by the notion that if we can get a tiger to jump through a hoop - something it's absolutely not designed to do - then we can certainly help babies begin to breastfeed, since they're absolutely designed to. Mostly, we lack confidence and an adequate selection of tools from which to choose. Where are the “nipple shield weaning kits,” the silicone strips to hold tubing in place, the at-breast supplementers without tubing? This talk could be expanded into a workshop to allow the audience to tell their own standard and unusual stories about "psychological non-latchers" and the innovative tricks and tools that can help them.