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.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/116924/658187-episode-29-laura-s-email-part-2

 

 

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Breastfeeding and Wine…(or beer…or, well, alcohol)

I know I have mentioned this before, but I knew absolutely nothing about breastfeeding when I had my kids. It was probably better that way, to some degree. One thing I do wish I had known about was food consumption, caffeine and alcohol.

It wasn’t like I wanted to go out and get trashed. That wasn’t it at all. However, I remember being at a winery and was offered a taste and declined because I was breastfeeding. I remember not drinking anything with caffeine for the same reason.   And food…well that’s a whole other story for a different day. But really, the alcohol. This is one of those questions that I get so often, that I am almost surprised people don’t already know the answer. Quite the contrary, most new mothers (and their support person) are under the impression that you CANNOT have a drink for the duration of your breastfeeding relationship with your child. That’s simply not true. Alcohol is safe, just like most other things, when done in moderation. What is not safe is what happens when you are under the influence of alcohol. It is a bigger problem to drink and make poor decisions involving you and/or your baby – such as bringing the baby to bed with you or driving your babysitter home. Having a glass of wine pales in comparison to something like that.

Breastfeeding is not a deal breaker for living your life. You should be able to get back to things that are enjoyable.   I get this question most often during the summer months when families are going to graduation parties, weddings and picnics and just want to know that they are safe to drink if they want to. The other time I get this question is during the holidays, when it is not uncommon to have a drink while at holiday gatherings.

If you decide to have a drink, be sensible. There are no set-in-stone guidelines for how long to wait (if at all) before breastfeeding. Basically, if you feel ok and you do not feel drunk, you are fine to breastfeed. Since everyone metabolizes alcohol at different rates, recognizing how you feel is the best way to determine if you should breastfeed.   I can tell you t his – it would take quite a lot of alcohol to really make a difference.

Want the numbers? Abby and Dianne break it all down for you this week on the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast. You don’t want to miss it!

https://www.buzzsprout.com/admin/episodes/636754-episode-24-alcohol-consumption-and-breastfeeding

 

Breastfeeding and Milk Supply

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!

https://www.buzzsprout.com/admin/episodes/563712-episode-6-milk-supply

Pass it Forward

I am not the most tech savvy person around.  I had to call the support number for my website today and ask a question.  The woman I had on the other end of the phone politely took my information and asked if she could access my site so she could look into the problem.  She gushed as she saw the pictures of the babies, and began telling me how wonderful she thinks my services are, and how she wished that I was around when she had her baby.  “I struggled for 3 days” she said, “and then I gave up”.

I really didn’t know anything about having kids when I had my first baby.  I had an idea of what I wanted, but was not educated enough about it to know how to get it.  I was sure I wanted to breastfeed, despite some discouraging words from friends and family.  Even though it wasn’t that long ago, lactation consultants were not as plentiful as they are today…and that is if you consider lactation consultants plentiful.  That really left me to reading whatever I could find, and constantly second-guessing my every move.  I am so grateful that I did not have any problems serious enough to make me want to give up, and there was no cheerleading section to encourage m e to continue.

Still I pursued.  I discovered that many of the struggles I did have were more to do with recovery, hormones, and learning how to adapt to life with a new baby.  It wasn’t necessarily about the feed itself, but about knowing when to feed, when the baby had enough to eat, and how to calm a fussy baby.  When I work with new mothers and babies, I see this cycle repeating itself.  I have learned that whether or not it’s a young mother or seasoned mother, first baby or 5th baby, African American, white or Hispanic, upper, middle or lower income, the questions and concerns are the same.  No matter where we come from, we want to do the right thing and make the right decisions regarding our baby.

So why do so many women abandon breastfeeding?  The benefits of breastfeeding are indisputable, that has never been the concern.  So why is it a struggle to get breastfeeding rates to rise and exclusivity rates to extend to 6 months?  I’ve been trying to figure this out for quite a while.  Can it really just be about the lack of support?  It seems like that would be easy enough to fix, so why are we fighting the same battle?  If you see a breastfeeding mom, praise her.  If you see a pregnant mom, encourage her.  Share your knowledge, your resources, and your time.  You will make an impact that will last a lifetime.