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To “Our” Mommas

16 Mar

ImageIt never ceases to amaze us how quickly trust is established as we cross the threshold of your sacred space.

Such a tiny moment in our lives, we feel privileged to join you in such a big part of your life.

You may be feeling vulnerable, unsure of yourself, desperate for help and reassurance that you are “doing things right.”

You have cried tears of joy and tears of frustration…and sometimes we have cried with you.  

A bond of friendship has formed in many cases, and you’ve paid us the highest compliment of

inviting us back with the birth of your next sweet baby.

Little do you know how much we think of you and sometimes agonize over our inability to “fix” things for you.  

But we know our most important job is to empower you, and we will walk along side of you for as long as you need us.  

We are overjoyed when you reach out to us down the road to let us how things are going

regardless of your ultimate feeding decision.

Often we live vicariously through you, remembering our own days as new mommas and the

feelings we had as we snuggled our own soft, warm little bundles, only wanting to give our very best to them.

We learn from you everyday, and you allow us to share your struggles so that others may learn, too.

When our feet cross that threshold, we have nothing but

respect for your space.

We honor your courage and commitment.

We stand in awe of your strength.

And we marvel at the bond that has so quickly formed between you and your baby…

A true picture of perfection.

We love you and your baby.  

Thank you for allowing us to play a small part in your mothering journey.

image: www.freedigitalphotos.net, moggara 12

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Jenny’s Story

5 Aug
Jenny and Mia

Jenny and Mia

I always knew I would breastfeed my baby. I believe breastfeeding is how our babies were meant to get nourishment – of course if there was a reason I couldn’t then I was willing to accept that, but I come from a long line of very maternal women so that, coupled with my dedication I knew we would make it.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how difficult the first month is. One would imagine that if we are equipped to feed our babies and that is how they are meant to survive then it would be a no brainer right?

Well I was one of the more fortunate ones, one of my dearest friends had a daughter a few years before me and insisted we use her birth doula – and that is where the knowledge began to flow. One of our birthing classes was dedicated to the BABEs and it was more material than I ever thought would be needed. I was grateful, I felt as though I was now armed with information, and that alone can be a savior.

As my pregnancy progressed I was feeling ready and calm and excited to be a mother. The 36 week ultrasound arrived and we found out our little girl was breech – I always knew she would walk to the beat of her own drum but didn’t think it would happen that soon! I started to fear, since I had never even had a tooth pulled up to this point, and I was now facing major surgery. I was worried about breastfeeding and latching and all those other fears that I never thought about. All I knew were two things – whatever we had to do for my baby to arrive in this world healthy we would do, and we were breastfeeding.  Armed with knowledge and commitment as well as an extremely supportive OB, I asked my birth doula to help me latch the second we came out of surgery.

Mia arrived in a hurry ready to meet this world. I was able to hold her within minutes while they stitched me up so we started right away with skin to skin. Our doula was waiting in the recovery room and swooped in to latch Mia on, and we were in business. Or so I thought… all I can say is breastfeeding the first month is HARD! The first few days are a blur – I was recovering from major surgery and I had a tiny baby and huge boobs. The BABEs were called immediately for an in home consultation. She latched well, but I positioned her poorly due to my immobility in the beginning, so my nipples got pretty damaged. I stayed positive and dedicated. Once we got home Mia decided she didn’t like my left nipple so for a while I would always offer both but she only ate the right, and I pumped the left every time she ate the right – sometimes every 2 hours. Then of course she damaged my right nipple and thankfully took the left but then I pumped the right every 2 hours for about a week.  Through it all we persevered. Mia is now five months old healthy and happy and taking both boobs. I have a stash of about 200 ounces in the freezer, and I am back at work pumping as much as she is drinking while at daycare.

Breast feeding is about devotion and awareness- if you want it badly enough you two will work through it. I make lactation cookies, drink 5 liters of water a day and have mother’s milk tea. I still wake up once at night to pump if she sleeps through, but I know this is the best start I can give her along with love and affection. I still worry all the time about being back at work, but feeding my child the best possible trumps all. Every day is different and some days are hard still, but I just take it one step at a time and look at the bigger picture.

My dear friend just had her first baby less than a week ago in France, she texts me constantly for advice which I gained through my experience and through amazing support like the BABEs. I like to explain the first month this way – though you imagine that you and your baby will just know what to do, in reality, you two are meeting for the first time, you haven’t learned each other’s manner or personality and that takes time. Breastfeeding is a relationship you build with your child – be patient and positive and loving and open you two will find your own unique way to nourish and love.

-Jenny

My Breastfeeding Adventures: Nursing E in The Early Days

29 Jul

Cristin and E

Cristin and E

Breastfeeding was the least of my concerns while I was pregnant with E. I had already done it for 15 months with my first, we battled food sensitivity, flat nipples and nursed half way through my pregnancy. Should be no problem the second time I thought. Well, I was wrong. It took many attempts to get the first latch. When she did finally latch it hurt. Breastfeeding should not hurt, I remembered. I told my doula and my midwife as they were trying to help me, “She’s not latched right. It hurts. It’s not supposed to hurt.” I always had an initial pain when my first baby latched, but then all was well. This was worse at the beginning, but hurt all the time. I took her off then tried and tried again until she was finally back on. It was better this time, but still hurt. I wanted my baby to get what she needed, so I stuck it out. Our second night home it took 3 hours of trying to get her latched before I rummaged through the old baby things to find a nipple shield. It worked, thank goodness!

Over the next 3 weeks E grew thinner and thinner. E’s weight was now 8 ounces less than her birth weight, at 3 weeks old. I was in so much pain sometimes I wanted to cry. I relied on the nipple shield at night especially. There were times where I thought I couldn’t take the pain. I went to a LLL meeting, our second. We learned how to use the sandwich technique and got E’s weight to go back up again. Finally a week later, at 1 month old, she was back to her birth weight.

I started APNO and went to the ENT at the suggestion of BABE. The ENT found a lip tie and a tongue tie. He clipped both. For the first time ever, I had a pain free latch!

I stayed on the APNO for quite some time, had mastitis once, thrush once. After each remedy I felt, better, but not completely. I was sure my midwives thought I was nuts or something, but I knew something was wrong so I persisted. I always had redness, swelling, vasospasms and pain following the vasospasms for 4 mos. I contacted BABE again to pick their brains. I tried another treatment for thrush with no success, but something they said got me thinking. I wondered if it was a food sensitivity on my part. I quit drinking almond milk and within 2 days I felt much better. After about a week I tried some and the pain was back. Since then I have not had any almond milk and very little pain after 4 ½ months of constant pain. E still needs assistance with her latch, but her weight is near the top of the charts again.

Megan and Charlotte

22 Jul
Megan and Charlotte

Megan and Charlotte

Let me start by saying that breastfeeding is hard. Really hard. But is also insanely rewarding. And it absolutely got me through the first three months that were filled with sleepless nights, colicky cries, self doubt and depression. That connection to my little one was like a life raft in a very stormy sea.

Breastfeeding is a commitment; it’s a lifestyle really. It doesn’t come easy. It comes with practice, which is a good thing since we get to do it 10 to 12 times a day in the beginning, or in my case every 45 minutes to 1 hour or so. Honestly I had to stop clock watching. You see Charlotte was a colicky (reflux?) baby who needed to nurse constantly. And she was dairy intolerant. And she was tongue and lip tied. And then we got thrush. And had a bout of mastitis. It seemed we had every roadblock in front of us to overcome in order to successfully nurse. Not to mention I struggled with a less than ideal birth that left me feeling inadequate, as well as having none of my family nearby to offer support, and post partum depression.

As a first time mom I could have easily given up. And I wanted to, many times. But I was committed. Fully. I knew that if I could just keep going, I could at least control my ability to give Charlotte the best nutritional start in life. So I enlisted the help of our wonderful LC with the BABEs for support and I just.kept.going. And let me reassure you it DOES get easier. It won’t happen over night. But one day you’ll be sitting there, enjoying the way your little babe curls into you, and you feel the warmth of your letdown, you hear that blissful sound of your small one taking in deep gulps of your milk, and you’ll know it was all worth it in the end. You see, your hard work pays off in ounces and pounds as you weigh your babe. You see them grow strong and healthy. It fills me with pride to see those things in Charlotte. We are now 6 months into nursing. She’s growing day by day. And our emotional bond is amazing. There really is nothing greater.

Breastfeeding…On My Heart, In My Soul…Through My Eyes

13 Aug
Beads of sweat forming on her forehead and tears streaming down her face, a sweet momma looks up at me briefly in between long, loving gazes at her newborn.  No words were necessary as her face wore the expression of gratitude and elation.  We sit in silence for a moment listening to the rhythmic thup, thup, thup of that sweet baby at the breast.  I stroke baby’s soft, little head, careful not to disturb the latch that took so long to achieve.  Inside, my heart is floating, and relief floods my soul…

…and in that stillness, I am reminded of the weighty responsibility my work carries with it.  Time and time again I am invited into homes, entrusted with the management of one of baby’s most important basic needs.

Who am I?

What makes me so special?

Nothing.

I don’t carry a magic lactation wand or a pouch of latch dust.

I am simply a lactation consultant who

simply loves moms,

simply loves babies,

simply loves breastfeeding,

and has simple goals:

meeting moms where they are,

helping more babies get breastmilk,

helping more moms breastfeed.

Short of my family, nothing gives me more satisfaction than knowing I have helped one more baby get even one more drop of breastmilk, empowered one more mom to push through even one more feeding…

…. respected the mom who decided whole-heartedly to throw in the towel, supported the mom that had no idea what to do when milk came in after the birth of her stillborn.

Where has our reverence gone? Despite recent efforts, our culture continues to struggle with promoting and supporting breastfeeding.

  • Pregnancy and birth are perpetually medical-ized, squelching what should be a natural progression.
  • Well-meaning but erroneous information is passed along serving to confuse moms rather than encourage them.
  • Younger generations have lost their models after decades of the suffocating marketing ploys of formula companies.

The right message has been all but extinguished: Breastfeeding is not the best way to feed your baby…it is the way to feed your baby.  The tasks ahead are not for the faint of heart:

  • Normalize pregnancy and birth.
  • Standardize evidence-based breastfeeding education for health care providers.
  • Nurse in public to model breastfeeding.

What can you do today to promote and support breastfeeding?  Let’s celebrate breastfeeding everyday!

Eyes close, tiny fists open as baby falls off the breast, signaling a full tummy.  Momma wipes away a dribble of milk from the corner of the baby’s mouth.  “Thank you,” she says quietly, “I was going to quit.”  I think out loud, “It’s not me, it’s all you, momma.”

 For baby, every drop counts…For momma, every minute is worth it.