Interview with Jennifer Laycock of The Lactivist

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Sometimes it’s good to get outside the box of one’s own industry to discover what commonalities we may have with others. Developing a better understanding as to how others perceive your industry can go a long way in finding ways to provide better communications and services. A few weeks ago I came across a popular breast-feeding blog authored by a woman named Jennifer Laycock. While I was reading through some of the posts, I found myself thinking this was the type of blog I’d suggest visitors of Planet Chiropractic read. What I found most interesting though was that until I came across Jennifer’s blog, I had only known her as the Editor of a popular online guide to better understanding search engines.

I interact with people every day, and I am often reminded that we are much more fascinating than our initial perceptions may lead us to believe. Here was someone I’d listened to at Internet conferences, and a person who has authored many search engine related articles I’ve read over the years, leading me to develop an image of Jennifer Laycock as search engine marketing columnist and lecturer. I’ve recently discovered she is much more than that.

This interview focuses on the Jennifer Laycock I didn’t know existed: mother of two and author of a popular breast-feeding blog known as The Lactivist.

What motivated you to start such a blog?

I actually launched The Lactivist as a business experiment back in 2005. I teach small businesses how to market their web sites on a budget and I felt like I really needed to put myself to the test to gain some perspective. I decided to launch an online business without spending any money out of pocket and to write 30 articles covering the first 30 days of the launch. At the time, I was just wrapping up a year of exclusively pumping for my daughter and was looking for a way to promote milk banking and breastfeeding. Little did I know it would blossom into one of the most popular breastfeeding blogs on the web.

From what I’ve read it appears you’ve gone with natural births, did you have both of your children at home?

I actually only had a natural birth with my second child. (A beautiful home birth.) My daughter was a planned Bradley Birth at a hospital in Columbus. Unfortunately, I had a very long (28 hours) bought of back labor in a hospital that was not supportive of natural birth. I eventually ended up with pitocin and an epidural.

If that was the case, what events took place that led to you wanting to do things that way?

I’m a research junkie and copious amounts of reading about risk/reward ratios for birth led me to seek a natural birth with my first child. When things went poorly in the hospital, I started looking more openly into other options. As it turns out, the sister-in-law of my parents’ minister is a homebirth midwife in my area. We met to talk about options and I quickly decided a home birth was the way to go.

I’ve always felt that the less we mess with God’s design, the better things go. Since we leave close enough to a hospital to transfer if we ran into any problems, I felt confident that a home birth would give my son and I the best chance for a safe, healthy and stress free birth.

Did you use a pool, was family present, who was there to help?

I did use a pool, though not for the actual birth. Instead, I used it to relax in during transition and then to crawl back into after the birth to relax. I actually posted the story of Emmitt’s home birth on the Lactivist Blog.

My midwife was there, of course. My husband and best friend were also in the room with me for the actual birth (they were both there for my daughter’s birth as well.) My daughter, mother-in-law, father-in-law and another friend were in the living room.

Would you recommend the approach to others?

Home birth isn’t for everyone. I would never push a mother who felt uncomfortable with the idea or who had a high risk pregnancy to pursue it, but I do wish more women understood the benefits and the safety of having a home birth. Women birth best in the environment in which they are most comfortable. For some women, that’s a hospital, for others, it’s the familiar surroundings of home. Both options carries pros and cons, it’s simply a matter of educating yourself and making the right decision for your family.

Any thoughts on children developing better immune function as a result of breast-feeding?

I’ve not really found much that leads me to believe breastfeeding creates a super-kid in terms of life time immunity, but I firmly believe in the amazing power of breast milk for as long as the nursing relationship lasts. It takes a child’s immune system a good two years to fully develop. During those early years, mother’s milk contains powerful immunities tailored to mother and child’s environment. Without fail, both of my children managed to avoid most of the colds and flu season while they were drinking breast milk.

Any chiropractic care during or after your pregnancies?

Unfortunately, I didn’t visit a chiropractor until after my first pregnancy had ended. I had a long, difficult labor with a posterior baby and ended up doing quite a bit of damage to my back. In fact, I ended up with a bulging disc and had back pain severe enough that I almost couldn’t walk. It took a good six months to go away.

When I got pregnant the second time, that same pain came back full force at about 4 months in. I immediately began seeing a chiropractor (Dr. Bryan at Capital City Chiropractic in Columbus) to help with the pain. I had regular adjustments all through my pregnancy and ended up going nearly every week the last month or two. My chiropractor was experienced in the Webster Technique and his wife had used midwives for their own children’s births. In fact, he gave me his cell phone number and offered to come up and adjust me during labor if I ended up with another posterior baby.

My second labor was immensely easier than my first and I attribute a lot of that to regular adjustments during my pregnancy. I attribute the rest to Hypnobabies.

What’s been the general response in your community towards breast-feeding?

I’ve had nothing but support from nearly everyone I know, despite being the first in several generations on either side of the family to breastfeed. While my mother and mother-in-law haven’t been able to offer much in terms of practical advice (since they bottle-fed) they’ve both been wonderfully supportive of my efforts to exclusively pump for my daughter and directly breastfeed my son.

My industry has been amazingly receptive as well. Since The Lactivist was launched as a work related project, I’ve used it as a case study at several marketing conferences. I’m always astounded as the support and kind words I get from attendees after I speak. I’ve been literally swamped with people wanting to tell me about their own breastfeeding experiences or how long their wife as has been nursing their kids. I’ve also never had anyone bat an eye at me in terms of nursing in public.

I’ve pumped and nursed on planes, trains, in cabs, on the subway, even a rifle range once. I’ve breastfed my son while having lunch with business associates and I once pumped in the backseat of a tour bus on the way to Yahoo! headquarters while taking to a VP from the New York Times.

I know there are still women being hassled every day in this country, but so far, I’ve been blessed enough to experience nothing but support.

Any steps you’d like to see businesses take to provide better services for moms like yourself?

I would love to see more companies voluntarily adopt breastfeeding friendly policies. I’d love to see all new mothers get unpaid break time and a clean place to express milk while they work. I’d also love to see more businesses get creative in how they support families. I have a friend who was able to take her son to work with her for ten full months. She works at a market research firm of about 25 people and the owners are very family friendly.

My own publisher is a work at home dad who understands what it’s like to balance family and work. When I had Emmitt, he worked with me to come up with a creative way to give me ten weeks of fully paid maternity leave. I think that when companies begin to understand and value the mothers in the work force, they’ll make their own moves to better accommodate them.

Planet Chiropractic would like to thank Jennifer Laycock for sharing her experiences regarding breast-feeding, homebirth, and chiropractic, with our readers. @ 11:58 am | Article ID: 1191783528