Jennifer Thomas, MD, MPH, IBCLC, FAAP, FABM                         www.drjen4kids.com

4202 West Oakwood Park Court, Suite 200 Franklin, WI  53132   drjen4kids@gmail.com



Breastfeeding and Epigenetics

We know that our babies are created from genetic material provided by both the mother and father and that our genes are inherited from our parents. Some of the most exciting research being done today is focusing on what regulates the work done by our genetics. “Epigenetics” is the study of how proteins are made or not made, how those changes can be altered through factors like diet, and even how those factors can and be inherited by our grandchildren! We will take a look at the basics of epigenetics and then explore the (unsurprising) critical role that breastmilk plays not just for that baby but for that baby’s descendants.

The Normal Newborn and Why Breastmilk is Not Just Food most requested

Many women do not believe that the body that created their beautiful baby is capable of feeding that same child and we are supplementing more and more with infant formulas designed to be food.  In this session we explore why breastmilk is more than just food, knowledge which we can use to empower mothers who believe they cannot satisfy their baby. A baby at the breast is getting their immune system developed, activating their thymus, staying warm, feeling safe from predators, having normal sleep patterns and wiring their brain, and (oh by the way) getting some food in the process. 

Working Together: Communicating with Physicians about Breastfeeding

Many providers learned surprisingly little about the medical benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of helping breastfeeding mothers meet their breastfeeding goals.  Can well-intentioned but poorly-trained doctors actually derail a new mother’s breastfeeding efforts?  This session will examine how important a provider’s guidance is to new nursing mothers, especially during those difficult first weeks and months of breastfeeding. 

Navigating the First Two weeks: The Normal Newborn and Appropriate Supplementation most requested

Every species has instinctual behaviors that allow the little ones to grow up to be big ones and keep the species going.  What is a normal term human infant supposed to do?  Our babies are born into the world needing protection — protection from disease and protection from predators.  This session examines and explains how a newborn baby at the chest gets both and why we need a good reason to supplement the newborn.

Birth Weight, Bilirubin, and Blood Sugar: What Do the Numbers Mean for Newborn Care? most requested

Blood sugar, bilirubin and birth weight are among the most common reasons babies get supplemented with something other than their mother’s own milk.  But without context, they are nothing more than random numbers flying through the air.  In this session, learn why health care professionals should avoid acting on these numbers without first learning what they mean for each baby in context of their clinical picture.

The Case Against Breastfeeding: evaluating the evidence

It’s frustrating to hear people treat breastmilk as a magical potion that confers special abilities on mom and babe, or proclaim, “Breast is best,” without instruction or support for the breastfeeding mother.  And it’s important to acknowledge these frustrations.  But how to respond to those who go further — devaluing breastfeeding itself and asserting that the science behind it is sticky? In this session, we discuss how to evaluate their science, while remembering: lactation is a physiologic process. 

Breastfeeding Strategies for a Successful Practice

Providers make a significant difference in the feeding choices made by new mothers. This session will outline the changes — big and small —providers can make in their practices to guide, protect and advocate for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

An Approach to the Fussy Breastfed Infant (Reflux, Colic and Breastfeeding)

Why do babies cry?  That’s not an easy question. Crying is a means of communication from the newborn that says, "I need something." And the most important cause of crying in an otherwise healthy newborn appears to be being alone.  In this session, we explore common concerns like reflux, allergies, food sensitivities and colic, and learn how to think about crying in the newborn nursing infant. Most importantly, we will discuss evidence-based ways to help parents understand their fussy breastfed infants.

Breastfeeding: Medications, Including Illegal Substances

One of the top reasons mothers stop breastfeeding is because of concerns about a medication they need to take while breastfeeding and the lack of good information available to her to help make an informed decision about that medication. We are also facing increasing numbers of babies exposed to opioids and marijuana during breastfeeding. In this session, learn how medication gets into breastmilk and resources for good information about medication and breastfeeding. We will also look at what we know about and how to counsel mothers on drugs like methadone and marijuana.

The Intersection of Community and Technology: Using Social Media to Connect Your Practice to Your Families

Social media represents a critical resource which impacts and influences behavior, policy and culture. This session will help you learn how to incorporate social media into your breastfeeding advocacy, promotion and support. We will talk about the basics of Facebook and Twitter and how to use those platforms to share your message.  We may even have a Twitter party!

 Why Not Just One Bottle? The Science Behind Exclusive Breastfeeding most requested

Exclusive breastfeeding is a priority for many organizations, yet nearly 25% of infants are supplemented in the first days of life. This session will discuss the role of breastmilk in the development of the neonatal immune system and why exclusive breastfeeding is critical to that process.

Myth Busters

The conference committee picks the most common myths in their community and we spend 45-60 minutes discussing the validity of those myths. “Myths” that have been discussed in the past include subjects as: foremilk is better than hindmilk: you can’t eat (insert food) while breastfeeding: vitamin D is important for breastfeeding babies; you can’t get pregnant when you are breastfeeding; beer is a good galactogogue; one bottle won’t hurt.

Using a Physiologic Approach to Help Mothers with a Low Milk Supply: The amount of products available to mothers that promises to increase milk supply is staggering. But how many really work?  With every product that does not increase milk supply as promised, a mother may become discouraged and her confidence shaken. In this presentation, we take a look at the different stages of milk production and then explore the reasons that milk supply may be affected. The presentation addresses everything from congenital abnormalities of the developing breast, to medications, to endocrine issues (like PCOS and obesity) to approach low supply in a manner which may deliver results.

Making Breastfeeding Work as You Return to Work: Women with small children are the fastest growing segment of the United States workforce. In this presentation, we will not only discuss practical strategies for returning to work but explore the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (and then how to help a mother to get a pump), the impact of our short maternity leave, and how businesses benefit from having breastfeeding mothers in the workplace.

Empowering the Breastfeeding Mother: The Impact of Hospital Practices: Maternity care practices have been the focus of lots of research and public health policy.  In this presentation, we will discuss the evidence for Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and how each step helps the new breastfeeding mother.

Using Skin to Skin to Impact Breastfeeding and other ways to decrease the use of formula supplements given to breastfeeding babies: The title sort of speaks for itself.  We will look at skin to skin, biological nurturing, baby led attachment and the first hour after birth- all the evidence that helps us learn that the best latch is one where we as health care providers are "hands off."

The Unique Characteristics of the Late-Preterm Infant: The late preterm infant is a challenging infant to care for. Often, we treat them as if they are term infants, and we run into complications. In this presentation, we define the late preterm and explore the important differences from term infants. We will explore the evidence in caring for these infants to determine the best practices to support breastfeeding while avoiding the potential problems we know they  have.

New Talks:

Breastfeeding the Baby with Special Needs: Babies with Down Syndrome.  We will learn first about normal muscle tone and see what a normal a swallow looks like, and then we will explore the challenges that infants with low muscle tone may face when feeding.  We will look particularly at the challenges faced by families feeding a baby with Down Syndrome and how we can help.

Synthesis and Regulation of Human Milk (great review or introduction to the subject)

The Sensory Experience of the Newborn and How it Impacts Breastfeeding

The Ingredients in Human Milk (great review or introduction to the subject)

Tongue-tie: Sometimes we feel like the pendulum is swinging too far. Sometimes we just want practitioners to notice there is a pendulum at all. We will take a look at practice, data, and the difference between the two and try to make sense of what the right treatment is with respect to what we know about the process of effective breastfeeding.