Spoiling Your Baby…True or False?

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:







Coming Home

It’s your first day home with your baby. Could anything else feel more terrifying? I don’t think there is a new parent out there who didn’t say to themselves “I am not qualified to take care of a baby!” at some point in those early days. When you are in the hospital (if you gave birth in a hospital setting) there are nurses and doctors checking on you, visitors coming to see you and the baby, help with diaper changes, bathing, changing clothes. Even your meals are brought to you. Everything you need is just one push of the call button. It’s blissful. Then you’re discharged.

This is when all the chaos starts. The first night home can be challenging. In all the preparation families do to bring a new life into the world, I don’t know how many actually prepare and learn about HOW baby will react to coming into this world. It’s cold and loud and bright – babies are used to a cozy womb. Overstimulation is common during the newborn period. Reading baby behavior can be difficult, especially if this is a foreign language to you and you are sleep deprived. Maybe you envisioned yourself holding your sweet baby, breastfeeding, and setting your baby down to sleep. Everyone sleeps for a few hours and then up again. In reality, the baby wants to eat every 30 minutes, cries if you put her down and no one is sleeping. And it’s all perfectly normal. In fact, I would expect nothing less.

This week’s Badass Breastfeeding Podcast is all about the first few days home, what to expect, and how to survive. Don’t miss it!





Babies who Bite – What to do when baby is teething?

I have noticed over the last several years that breastfeeding problems seem to come in waves. I might have one month when most of the issues are sore nipples and latch problems. Other months I might see more babies with slow weight gain. More recently, I have had several mothers complain about teething and biting babies.

During pregnancy, when a woman is asked about breastfeeding often the answer I hear is “I will breastfeed until the baby gets teeth”. Well, babies do still have to eat even when teeth start coming in. Once you are aware of what to look for with your teething baby, the whole idea doesn’t seem quite as dangerous.

One of the difficult ideas behind teething is that you don’t really know when it will start, and it is different for every baby. Have 5 babies? Experience teething in 5 different ways. It’s hard to get around that. Babies can also show signs of teething for months before you actually see that little tooth come through. As uncomfortable as this may be for you and breastfeeding, it is probably worse for your little one. In addition, nursing may bring your baby comfort if teething is uncomfortable, or help him back to sleep if he wakes during the night with teething pain.

Not every baby will bite when breastfeeding. Some may bite once, and the shriek of pain that comes from their mom may be enough to put a stop to it. The one thing to remember is that if baby is biting, she is not feeding. Let me repeat that – if baby is biting, she is not feeding. For a baby to feed effectively, her tongue must be over the gum line (and the teeth) and that is not possible when nursing.   I have found that by the time a baby gets to the stage where they are teething, most mothers are comfortable enough that they are not watching their baby as closely as they did when they were newborns. You may need to limit all the other distractions and go back to looking at only your baby. Once the nursing slows down, take baby off before he can start biting.

Check out this article for more ideas for babies who might be challenged with feeding and teething. It gives more great suggestions for getting through this developmental period comfortably…not only for your baby but for mothers as well.


The Road Less Traveled



I was a mom with 3 young children and a piecemeal education when I began working with breastfeeding mothers.  My first son was born on the heels of my Army experience (born in an Army hospital, actually), so this should put into perspective what a different direction I had been in when I started my family.  Breastfeeding my children was such an inspiring experience that I decided to stick around and see if I could help others.


I decided to plan a future in lactation. When I had my babies I didn’t know anything about lactation.  I remember standing in my mother’s kitchen when I was pregnant with my first and saying “I think I’ll breastfeed”.  My mother responded with “well, it didn’t work for me, it probably won’t work for you”.  I decided at that moment that it would work, and now I was making it a career.  My oldest child had just started kindergarten, my twins would start pre school in another year, my marriage had just broken up, and I needed a direction.  Lactation just felt right.  I had a couple of wonderfully encouraging mentors who helped to guide me as I prepared for the exam.  I had GI Bill money to use and I enrolled in school to put together the fragments of an associate degree.  Because I did not have a college degree when I began to prepare for the exam I had to log an abundance of clinical hours to prove eligibility.  The clinical time gave me confidence and exposed me to learning experiences that I would have never known before.  I did not consider going to nursing school.  A couple colleagues made the suggestion, but at the time I did not conceive of why nursing should be the goal.  I have nothing against nurses; my sister is an amazing nurse with a great career, my stepdaughter is in her final semester of nursing school, I have several friends who are nurses.  That wasn’t for me.  I wanted to be a Lactation Consultant.  Not a nurse.


I successfully became a certified Lactation Consultant the same year I finished my Associate degree.  I became a trained doula.  I decided to go on to the next level.  Why not?  Feeling empowered and encouraged, and with the help of a wonderfully close friend I enrolled in a Bachelor level program.  Even more exciting was that the program was focused on lactation, so I was able to study what I was most interested in.  I loved it.  I thrived while I was in school.  I had the opportunity to read books about human lactation that I have always wanted to read but never took the time.  I wrote papers that were based on situations I saw at work and new mothers that I was working with.  I learned something new everyday.  I felt even more confident working with new mothers, educating pregnant women, analyzing breastfeeding problems.  I finished my BS in the spring of 2011.  I was working at a busy hospital, but the word in the field was that without an RN, I would be considered obsolete.


Fast forward to early 2012.  Master’s degree, here I come.  I was on a roll now.  The BS didn’t seem like enough anymore, and I needed more education to prove my worth.  I wanted to show the world that I didn’t need a nursing degree. I was setting an example for my children, building a life, building a legacy.  I heard more whispers about the lactation consultant who was not a nurse and I became even more determined to make a name for myself.  After all, wasn’t I the girl who decided her whole future based on something her mother said she couldn’t do? 

I finished my MA this past fall.  I still hear quips about how I will be turned away from jobs because I do not have a nursing degree.  Families that I have helped have never asked me if I am a nurse.  Nurses have asked for my input with difficult breastfeeding situations, and I feel very confident assisting them due to my extensive education in lactation and clinical background.  None of the nurses I have worked with have ever felt that I was not qualified enough.  I feel successful in my field, and I worked hard for that.


I have met many women over the last few years that have had some of the same experiences as I have.  They became so passionate about breastfeeding due to their own experience that they want to work with other mothers as well.  They are motivated and energetic about what the future could bring for them.  When they ask about being a lactation consultant but not having a nursing degree, I have to be honest with them and tell them that it is not the easiest road to take.  I felt that it was right for me, because nursing was not my calling.  There is definitely a place for lactation consultants who are not nurses, and we are needed. The post partum period for new mothers is a delicate and emotional time full of changes and uncertainty.  Yes, hospital based lactation consultants are a necessity in every hospital where maternity care is offered.  However, once those mothers are discharged, they need to have a support system at the ready.


It has been my experience that it shouldn’t be just one way.  Some of the best and most knowledgeable lactation consultants I have met and admired have not been nurses.  In working together, we can learn so much from each other, and teach so many others.