Body Changes

I was a distance runner when I had my first baby.  I ran throughout pregnancy, and started running about 2 weeks after he was born (I DO NOT recommend that, BTW).  It was important to me.  I was a little surprised when I got pregnant with Nathan, and I was determined to keep life as “normal” as possible.

If I only knew then what I know now.  Famous last words, right?  Now I know that body changes happen, regardless of how you treat your body during and after pregnancy.  Body changes happen even if you didn’t gain much baby weight and are able to lose it quickly.  Body changes just happen.

I was talking with some new mothers at Breastfeeding Bootcamp, my support group for breastfeeding moms.  The conversation started because of nursing bras, and what to do about sizing. Breast size increases for most women during pregnancy, and even more after the baby is born and the milk comes in. A good fitting nursing bra can be a hot topic of conversation.   From nursing bras to new clothes – and the mothers got into a conversation about finding comfortable pants that fit after baby.  One mother, whose baby is 5 months old, confided that she is at her pre pregnancy weight, but her pre pregnancy pants don’t fit.

Body changes.

Things happen during pregnancy.  Body parts expand and grow and stretch to accommodate a growing baby.   Sometimes things don’t quite go back to where they were before pregnancy.  Hormonal fluctuations can bring on changes too.  This is a very normal part of having a baby.

Remember how I said that I was running again pretty quickly after I had Nathan?  Well, within a year and a half I found myself pregnant with twins. I was told that I could not run during my pregnancy this time.  I am blessed with big babies, and the twins were no exception.  By the time they were born, I was so big and stretched out. This is the conversation I had with my doctor at the 6-week checkup:

Me:  “where is all this extra skin going to go?”  I seriously felt like I could remove the skin that had stretched on my belly and build a new person with it.

Dr. V: “hmm.  Maybe no bikini this year”.

Seriously?  No bikini THIS year?  How about ever?

For years after having my kids I had that desire to look just like I did before I had kids.  Even now, there are days when I think about that. But the desire is not as strong as the love I have for my kids.  I worked hard for those body changes.  I am proud of that.  I want every mother to be proud of that.

For more on all kinds of body changes during pregnancy and post partum (I am sure there are more you have never even heard of!) check out the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast this week. Dianne and Abby will break it all down for you.  Don’t miss it.



A few weeks ago I received a random text from Missy.  Missy has been my bestie since we were in Girl Scouts at the age of 8.
“Matthew is trying to tell me that we are NOT the only species that drinks a different species’ milk. Tell me he’s wrong”  the text read.

“Matthew is definitely wrong” was my response.  Knowing Missy as I do, I imagined she was enjoying her victory at that moment.  Matthew, her (usually) very knowledgeable husband, had to accept his defeat with this one.

When I first started to learn more about breastfeeding, I remember hearing someone say this exact thing. We are the only species that drinks a different species of milk. At least intentionally.  I really had to give this consideration at first – think about other mammals, whether or not I had ever heard about them feeding from other species. When you really look at it that way, it seems kind of strange to think that we are the only species that intentionally and willingly drinks the milk of another mammal, and consider it normal. Yet, feeding the milk that our body creates especially for the baby that we birthed is strange to some.  Am I the only one who sees this as odd?

I have no idea what sparked the discussion between Matthew and Missy about this very topic. Honestly, I have known Missy for so long that I didn’t even ask why they were arguing about human milk when their youngest child is a teenager and had weaned long ago.  This week on the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast, Abby and Dianne talk more about milk because this is a question we get quite often. Not just about human milk, but about when to start babies on another species of milk and how to go about making that switch. Or do you even have to? Want to hear more about that? Tune in this week!


Traveling with the Breastfeeding Baby

Sometimes we get some pretty great questions from listeners of the podcast. Recently we had a mom email us with questions about traveling with a breastfeeding baby. This is a pretty broad topic – there are a lot of variables here. We covered several, but I really think this is one of those things that you really don’t consider at first. I mean, you just had a baby…are you planning a trip? Probably not. However, 6 months later you may decide to pack up the car and hit the road. What will you need? What should you expect? Maybe it’s not a road trip, but you’re flying somewhere. Can you get past TSA with breastmilk (yes you can, but we talk about that on the podcast) or breastfeed the baby on the plane sitting next to a complete stranger?

We have said it over and over again; breastfeeding is not a deal breaker for living your life. You can absolutely take trips and do whatever you want to do. The bigger consideration is that you now have a baby, and that will complicate any kind of travel – it’s not breastfeeding that is a problem. You would still have to feed the baby. Could you imagine trying to find a place with clean water to make a formula bottle while running through an airport or stopping at rest stops?

As we get closer to vacation season (isn’t it always vacation season though?) you may be starting to think about these things. Check out this week’s podcast for more information and some tips on how to make traveling a breeze.


Breastfeeding Stories

I have been a lactation consultant for about 10 years now. More than that if you want to count the years I was working towards my certification. I have talked to so many mothers and heard so many stories about childbirth and breastfeeding and extended nursing…some heartwarming and some heartbreaking. I feel so honored when a mother trusts me with her story, this is information that will always sit close to her heart and live forever in her memory.

My son is 17 and my twins are 15. I remember the nurse who first helped me latch my son. 17 years ago. I remember the words she said, the encouragement she gave and how she did not breastfeed all 4 of her kids but she wished she had. I remember my twins’ cluster feeding in the hospital on night 2, and the nurse who came in to help me because I couldn’t figure out how to calm them both at the same time post cesarean section.   I remember my dr telling me that I didn’t have to try breastfeeding both babies, I could alternate breast and bottle. I remember feeling defeated because I wanted help, and she was offering me an out that I did not want to take. I remember thinking “well, I guess I will figure this out on my own”. And I did. I remember the lactation consultant in the local hospital who handed me a pack of lanolin and sent me on my way when I went in looking for help with a bleeding nipple.   These are memories that will stay with me forever, because these people were in my life during a very vulnerable time.

When new mothers tell me their story, it is usually in great detail, with emotion.   Sometimes these stories haunt me for a long time. Sometimes I find myself so angry, angry at society for misunderstanding how important breastfeeding is. It is this that makes me a lactation consultant. It is my own experience that led me in this direction. I have told mothers that their experience will make them breastfeeding advocates as well, and to tell their story to everyone.

This week’s podcast is Part 2 of a story that came to us via email. Don’t miss hearing what this mom experienced during her breastfeeding journey.



Skin to Skin and Breastfeeding

Skin to skin is a practice that has become so widespread in the last few years. When I first started working with moms and babies, skin to skin after delivery wasn’t a “thing”.   In fact, I remember attending a birth as a doula several years ago and I requested that the baby stay with mom and the response I got from the nurse was “she can have the baby when we are done”.

Going from that, to encouraging skin to skin as soon and often as possible is a big jump. The benefits of skin to skin are just amazing, and I am disappointed that this isn’t something we have been doing all along. I mean…really…it’s so natural. When you think about it, as adults we like to be skin to skin with our partner if we can. It’s such a calming, comfortable place to be. Why wouldn’t your newborn baby want to be skin to skin with mom? It’s the next best thing to being in the womb. Babies that are skin to skin with mom after delivery are calmer babies overall, their body temperature regulates easier, respirations are even, breastfeeding is easier and oxytocin is flowing. If mom cannot be skin to skin with baby right away, this is a good time for partners to step up and tuck that baby into your shirt.   Sometimes called “Kangaroo Care”, skin to skin has been known to save the lives of preemie babies in the NICU. This is one of the most important things you can do for your baby in the first weeks of life (and beyond).


This week on the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast, Dianne and Abby talk about the benefits of skin to skin. Check it out here:

You can also check out this link on 10 benefits of skin to skin (there are more than this, but you have to start somewhere!)




Breastfeeding in the Medical World

I have told my story about how I got into the world of birth and lactation many times. If you don’t know, I’ll summarize for you – it was completely an accident. I didn’t know anything about lactation when I had my kids. I learned a lot when I was a new mother, and then when my marriage broke up my twins were just 2 years old, so I had to get some kind of job. I started as a peer counselor and the rest is history.

I wasn’t used to rubbing elbows with hospital staff. As a breastfeeding peer counselor who was trying to learn, grow and succeed, I did many hospital visits, networked with different groups and learned as much as I could. It worked. I learned a lot, gained a ton of confidence, and went back to school for my bachelors and then a masters. I became very comfortable interacting with doctors and nurses, medical directors, professors…anyone and everyone who happens to find themselves in the lactation and birth community. Some became very good friends; good enough to interact socially and spend time together outside of work.

Every once in a while I still come across a medical professional who doesn’t seem to accept “Lactation Consultant” as a professional title, let alone one that has years of education behind it and even more clinical experience. It doesn’t happen often anymore, but when it does it still catches me off guard. I am one of those personalities that finds good in everyone, so when I feel insulted, it is especially hurtful. Besides, doesn’t everyone have worth? If there is one thing I have learned in my years of becoming who I am, I have found that everyone has worth; everyone has something to bring to the table. If someone acts as if they do not need anyone else for anything, they will soon figure out why that is the wrong attitude to have.

Check out this week’s episode of the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast. Dianne and Abby will talk about Dianne’s recent interaction with a doctor, and Abby will tell stories about her interactions with authority figures. You don’t want to miss this one!



Returning to Work and Breastfeeding

Returning to work after having a baby is difficult. Overwhelming in many ways. Mentally you are responsible for doing your job, whatever that may be, when your mind seems to stay with the little bundle of joy that was left behind for the day. Physically you are still in a state of recovery (unless you are going back a year after the baby was born, but many in our society do not have that benefit) you are feeling sleep deprived and your breasts will fill with milk every few hours. Getting milk stains out of your work clothes might be a new skill you never realized you’d need. Not to take away from spouses who most definitely hold down the fort while mom is on maternity leave, being a working mother is a whole different routine. Babies miss having that bonding time, and some mothers find that babies will spend the duration of the evening wanting to nurse. Babies that were sleeping longer stretches at night might wake more frequently again, trying to make up for lost time during the quiet hours of the night.

Yet as mothers, we do this. We stay dedicated to both employer and family. We are able to multi-task in new, imaginative ways (raise your hand if you have ever pumped milk while driving). I am beyond proud of the women I meet who are returning to work. The challenges of figuring out how and when to pump milk, worrying about milk supply. Afraid to upset the delicate balance of work life and family life, concerned that colleagues won’t understand the distraction.   Add in figuring out child care for your baby, how much milk to leave and how to get out of that meeting that was scheduled during your afternoon pump…it’s just too much.

We are here to help you. Often mothers are worrying about all of this before the baby is born.   I get questions about pumping before the baby is born. What kind of bottle to give…and what is paced feeding anyway?? This week’s Badass Breastfeeding Podcast  will cover all of that, and more. If you are planning to return to work at any point, you don’t want to miss it.