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 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:
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 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.
It’s one of the most common parenting suggestions around. I think every family I have worked with has reported hearing it at least once…maybe from a family member, friend or a provider. Parents look on in fear, their minds racing. “What if it already happened?” They are thinking. “What if I ruined everything?”
Spoiling your baby.
It doesn’t even matter in what context it’s suggested in. Feeding? If you breastfeed too much or too long, you risk spoiling. Nurturing? If you hold your baby too long or too often, you can spoil your baby. Responding? If you pick your baby up when he/she cries, you are spoiling them. Parents are left wondering what they should do, how to avoid this obviously terrible fate of a spoiled baby and how much is really too much. I’m here to set the record straight.
You can’t spoil a baby. Pretty crazy, huh? Truth be told, feeding and nurturing and responding to your baby are necessary in creating security and trust with your baby. Your baby needs you, they depend on you. As newborns, babies aren’t hardwired to manipulate you into picking them up when they cry. Instinctively, babies cry because there is a need to be fulfilled. That need may be feeding or it may be comforting. It’s quite possible that your baby doesn’t even know what he needs, he just knows that he wants his mother or his father, and that is all that matters at that moment.
This week on the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast, the hot topic is spoiling your baby. Want to hear more about that? Check it out here:
Milk supply. The dreaded nemesis of every breastfeeding mother. It seems like milk supply dominates the thoughts of breastfeeding women everywhere- and not just low supply. I get questions about low supply and oversupply, concerns when supply is perfect. Usually when supply is perfect, mothers are worried that it’s still not enough. Milk supply issues, real or perceived, are one of the main reasons mothers stop breastfeeding altogether.
Where did this fear come from? Whenever anything happens, mothers question the milk supply. Baby didn’t sleep well – must be supply. Baby didn’t poop today – must be supply. Baby is fussy at the breast – must be supply. Baby is fussy after feeding – must be supply. And on and on and on. Truth be told, it is rarely a supply issue at all. There are only a small number of women who legitimately cannot make enough milk. The rest CAN and WILL make enough, but confidence (or lack there of) along with the naysayers will kill it.
So what is the problem? It has been my experience that several things can happen. Babies aren’t always efficient at getting the milk out in the beginning. If the milk is there and they are having a hard time getting the milk, this can be perceived as a supply issue. If the baby seems unsettled after a feed and it is assumed that the baby didn’t get enough to eat, this can be perceived as a supply issue. Often these babies will be given a bottle, which will take time away from the breast and lead to a supply issue. It was never a supply issue, but more of a learning curve for parents who are misreading cues. Babies that do not feed well from birth can have a hard time stimulating supply from the start. This can cause a supply issue, but can usually be resolved when recognized and if mom is getting the help she needs to get baby on track.
If you are concerned about supply for any reason, or just need reassurance that supply is fine, a lactation consultant can help with this. The peace of mind that can be gained in just talking this over can be invaluable.
For more insight into milk supply, check out week 6 of the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast!! If you love it, leave a review. Reach out to us with your stories and suggestions; we would love to hear from you!
I saw one of my favorite babies the other day (who am I kidding?? I adore all my mamas and babies). Mom reached out to me because her little one was changing up her nursing routine, acting fussier, and mom was pumping less volume. Baby is almost 5 months old. The first thought for this mom was that her supply had dropped and baby was not getting enough milk, which is why she was fussier at the breast.
As soon as I saw the baby nursing, I knew what was happening. She was so distracted. Typical of a baby her age. She was whining and wiggling and would only nurse for a minute or two before pulling away. Mom did her best to keep her focused, switched her from side to side and talked to her. After only a few minutes, it was obvious that baby was done. Mom admitted to me that when she is feeding at home, after a couple minutes of this routine she would give in and just give her a bottle. We weighed this little girl before and after the feeding. Mom was shocked to see that baby was 2 ounces heavier after the feed than she was before. This changed everything. It gave mom the confidence she needed to feel positive about her milk supply and her baby’s ability to get that milk. It helped her realize how much her baby is developing and how she is changing.
Well what about the pumping? Mom had returned to work about 6 weeks ago. Her pumping output has dwindled. It is not unusual for that to happen, but it doesn’t mean baby is getting less when they feed at the breast. We discussed her pumping schedule and switched things up to include a few shorter sessions. All in all, a pretty successful day.
What’s the moral to this happy ending? Trust your baby and trust your body to provide for your baby. Babies become very distracted around 4 months and things become very exciting for them! Developmentally so much is happening for them. This doesn’t mean the baby doesn’t want to breastfeed anymore, but we may need to change how things are done. Don’t just throw in the towel mamas…call in the professionals.
Here’s more on feeding a distracted baby and what to expect when your baby hits this magical age.