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Video Reviews:
Getting Started with Breastfeeding
by The Northwest Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition
and
The Benefits of Breastfeeding
by Eagle Video Productions

Getting Started with Breastfeeding by The Northwest Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition
2003, 10 minutes
Available from LLLI
1434-30 VHS, $14.95 (English)
1742-30 DVD, $18.95 (English and Spanish)

The Benefits of Breastfeeding by Eagle Video Productions
1999, 21 minutes
Available from LLLI
842-30 VHS, $59.00 (English)
973-16 VHS, $59.00 (Spanish)

reviewed by Christine McNeil Montano
Easton CT USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 5, October-November 2005, pp. 114-115.

More and more educational breastfeeding video resources are now available. La Leche League International has selected some to sell in the LLLI Catalogue. What are these videos like and how would an LLL Leader want to use them?

I tried to view these videos with the eye of a new breastfeeding mother or father. It was not as easy as I thought it would be to watch the videos in order to review them because my LLL Leader perspective kept kicking in with different thoughts such as, "I would have said (or shown) this...." Then my artistic eye took over to ponder style issues. What were the ages and ethnicities of the nursing couples? Were fathers shown? Did they make breastfeeding seem too easy, too hard, or just right? Was the video too sketchy or too detailed or just right?

It seemed to me that a video should first present breastfeeding in a positive manner, as desirable for both mother and baby. The positioning and latch-on techniques depicted should be correct so as to not make nursing uncomfortable or inflict harm. Some factual information about why nursing is best for mother and baby should be given, but not too much so as to bore the viewer or make breastfeeding seem over-medicalized or difficult. Some warm and fuzzy thoughts and reflections on nursing should be stated but only as much as necessary to get the points across, as precious video time needs to be dedicated to basic "how to" information. Both of these videos accomplished this.

Getting Started with Breastfeeding was produced by the Northwest Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition. Video clips of mothers telling why they love breastfeeding start off this program. We hear a narrator's voice quickly going over some basics such as how to recognize hunger cues, and warning that crying is considered a late indicator of hunger, while video footage is shown to support the statements. There are a lot of images of babies at the breast at both close up and far away angles. Images run the gamut from babies at a very exposed breast to mothers nursing discreetly with no breast showing.

One mother tells about the option of using nursing tops and explains (very quickly) how to nurse discreetly with regular tops. Sling use is briefly mentioned as a way to nurse discreetly and an easy way to handle a baby who falls asleep at the breast. The positioning with mother lying down as well as sitting up is quickly reviewed.

Overall, this inexpensive video is very good, but its short length doesn't allow for more thorough discussion of some basic topics such as latch-on or positioning. At the end, viewers are encouraged to contact a lactation consultant or LLL for help, if needed.

A video that is twice as long (at 21 minutes) is The Benefits of Breastfeeding by Eagle Video Productions. This video does a good job of covering a lot of information in a short amount of time. It has a nice balance of factual information of what medical studies reveal about the benefits of breastfeeding as explained by Dr. Ruth Lawrence. Having medical information given by Dr. Lawrence might give viewers the impression that the information is more credible and believable than if it were spoken by an unseen narrator. References to the 1997 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Breastfeeding Policy lent an even more authoritative and professional opinion. Quotes from the 1997 AAP Breastfeeding Policy Statement are still current, even though that policy was revised in 2004. The factual information is well balanced while sentimental thoughts are shared by experienced breastfeeding mothers, and their joyful reflections on nursing are evident.

The viewers see a range of mothers and babies; there is a span of ethnicities from Caucasian, Asian, African- American, and there is one Spanish-speaking Latino mother. Breastfeeding mothers range in age from younger to older. There are many beautiful scenes of mothers nursing their babies and mothers happily holding their babies. There are also numerous scenes of the father, mother, and baby together.

Common questions and answers are addressed and breastfeeding is stated to be a learned skill that is worth the challenge. The video ends with the statement that "breastfeeding is just what the doctor ordered." Mothers are encouraged to contact a lactation consultant or health care professional if they have difficulties.

I think The Benefits of Breastfeeding video would be better for use in settings such as breastfeeding or parenting classes because its longer duration allows for more information to be presented in a short amount of time. However, if the instructor wanted a shorter video, Getting Started with Breastfeeding is a better choice. A pregnant woman contemplating breastfeeding may want to purchase a copy for herself from the LLLI Catalogue or she may want to borrow a copy if you have this in your Group Library if she wants some quick, general breastfeeding information. Reading THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING would provide the reader with more detailed and thorough information, but it is nice to have a video option available. Experienced breastfeeding mothers may not see a need to watch these videos.

These videos could be used by Leaders at baby fairs and other outreach events that LLL Groups in the US participate in, showing on a television monitor near their LLL table. (Editor's note: copyright laws may differ for LLL Groups outside of the US. Please check with your LLL support person before planning an event where these videos will be shown.)

Both videos are high quality and provide accurate information. Perhaps each Leader and health care professional has a different idea of what the perfect video is; I hope this video review will help you decide which of these videos is best for your intended purpose.

Christine McNeil Montano has been a Leader in Connecticut, USA since 1999. She and her husband, Tony, have two boys (ages 8 and 5). Christine is the LEAVEN Book Review Editor, is on the LLLI Book Evaluation Committee, and is active in the Connecticut Area Council. Send your comments to her at cmmontano at snet.net.

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