Getting through the week can sometimes be so challenging. For new parents the week can seem to drag on forever. Having something to look forward to can really keep you going. I can't remember how we decided to host our Breastfeeding Support Group on Friday afternoons but it was a great idea!
What do we talk about during our Friday Support Group? I wanted to share a sample of last week's topics...
One of our Mamas asked how everyone enjoyed Mother's Day. No one seemed to do anything overly special but it was a nice way to start our chat.
Another Mama asked about feeding older breastmilk to her baby. This Mama will be enjoying a special event with some friends in the fall and was wondering if milk she pumps now will still be good to leave. Breastmilk is always good even though the composition changes as baby's grow. We suggested leaving a mixture of fresh and frozen milk for baby.
We discussed spit up and babies who are happy excessive spit-uppers. We talked about the lovely odor after you have been spit up on and how spit up down your bra gives off a nice cheesy smell by days end.
One of the babies had a tongue and lip tie revision that week so we asked how he is doing and discussed the procedure and changes in latch.
Birth control came up which led to discussing the lack of sex after babies and to a description of lactational amenorrhea.
Many of our parents will weigh their babies on our scale when they are at the Support Group. It helps them to keep a track of their baby's growth and development. We love providing this service at no charge.
Other random topics....super random :)
Natural cleaning products
The meaning of "Seventh Generation"
Cloth menstrual pads
Family cloth (look that one up yourself)
Healthy foods and your babies
This particular Friday we had a nice group of parents with babies in tow and a Grandmother was in attendance too! Our Group is casual and lively. The parents look forward to having a safe space to share and discuss their questions and concerns. Ginger and I look forward to seeing these parents and their babies too. Seeing the babies grow and change is so lovely.
If you have been on the fence about whether or not to attend a MILC Breastfeeding Support Group maybe this will make you feel more comfortable. We hope to see you soon!
Find our Schedule of Events here.
The topic of increasing iron intake for toddlers comes up often in our Support Groups. This recipe for a yummy quick bread was mentioned so I typed up the recipe for everyone to have. One tbsp. of blackstrap molasses provides 3.5 mg of iron. This provides half of the recommended daily intake for toddlers, and 13 percent of the recommended daily intake for pregnant women.
Ginger and I are so blessed to meet a huge variety of women in all stages of their breastfeeding journey. We are proud and humbled to be able to support them and to hopefully provide them some guidance along the way. Today I was reminded of something so very important. Breastfeeding is so much more than feeding at the breast.
Let me back up to say that having a baby is hard! Getting pregnant for some women is a huge undertaking. Many women wait years to see those two lines appear on the pregnancy test while others are lucky on the first try. What I have found during my time working with women who are breastfeeding or trying to breastfeed is that if getting pregnant was a challenge then they are hoping that the labor will be easy. If the labor is a struggle or doesn't go as expected then they hope that breastfeeding goes better. Many women arrive at the beginning of their breastfeeding journey with all of their hopes pinned on this going well.
I was once attending the birth of a client who had struggled to get pregnant with her first baby. Her doctor recommended an induction of labor and she and her husband had agreed. During the induction her water broke on its own. I remember the joy she showed that something had happened on its own and that she wasn't "broken." It was so eye-opening to see her joy in something that many women take for granted.
Today while working with a lovely first time mother and her baby she spoke of her birth experience and described it as "traumatic." I voiced for her what I have witnessed, that when a mother's birth experience doesn't go as planned breastfeeding often becomes more important. She was choked up while she nodded her head in agreement.
It is difficult for loved ones to understand. So often we hear loving partners, friends and relatives telling a mother whose birth did not go as planned that, "at least you have a healthy baby." Yes she has a healthy baby but is she ok? Is she emotionally ok? So many mothers have their feelings discounted because their baby is "healthy" and so what more can she ask for.
Why can't she ask for more? Why is it not alright for her to want an easy pregnancy, a smooth birth and a perfect postpartum experience? There is no reason that she can not ask for that. We should help to support her at whatever point along the way that we encounter her.
This brings me back to Ginger and I and to her breastfeeding experience. Breastfeeding is so much more than just feeding at the breast. Breastfeeding is love. Breastfeeding is comfort for the mother and baby. Breastfeeding is about bonding. Breastfeeding is about empowerment and seeing our baby growing from the food that we provide. Breastfeeding is about our experience as mothers.
The next time that you hear a mother speak of her struggles with fertility or her traumatic birth experience I hope that you will provide support and when she gets to the part about breastfeeding....remain a positive voice. Support her. Love her. Provide her with resources if she needs them and above all else honor her experience.
This week I had the pleasure of meeting with a local San Antonio pediatrician. Her office had contacted us and asked for a meeting. We were pleased that they had reached out but also wondered what they would want to chat about.
Since we started The MILC Group late last year we have worked hard to market the business to local health care providers as well as the families that we serve. We strive to have professional integrity and we want the families that we work with to know that we represent them and not the interests of any particular care providers. We LOVE that our location is not affiliated with any particular medical practice and we don't pander to any certain medical practices. When asked if we can recommend a pediatrician we give out several names often based on location but always based on our knowledge of how supportive those doctors are of breastfeeding.
Our chat with the local pediatrician went really well! Ginger was not able to make it because it was smack dab in the middle of her busy time of day shuttling her kiddos around. I was rushing that day from one thing to the next and came directly from the elementary school track meet so I was sweaty and feeling sunburned...lol. At first it seemed like it might be a short chat and she asked me a few pointed questions. We then started a more casual conversation about birth, her own breastfeeding experience, her own children's oral issues (or maybe what I thought they might be from hearing her descriptions of nursing issues), her desires for her patients, etc. It turns out we are very much on the same page. Bottom line...we both care about the health of our client's children. We both feel that breastfeeding is extremely important in the development of that good health. We both want to make sure that babies are being fed adequately. I explained what we do during a consult and how we strive to educate our client's on the importance of the baby transferring milk well and what factors can impede that. I talked about our desire to keep baby at the breast while still providing the baby with the proper amount of nutrition and if supplementation is necessary then supplementing with their own breastmilk is our first choice. It was refreshing to hear a health care provider express such a clear interest in the care of her patients beyond the hot topics like vaccines, etc. Our chat led me to want to write this little post and stress the importance of finding a supportive health care provider for your baby.
Questions to ask when looking for a breastfeeding-supportive Pediatrician/Health Care Provider:
1. What are your thoughts about breastfeeding?
2. What are your thoughts about breastfeeding beyond 6 months? beyond a year?
3. Do you have referrals to offer if I am in need of breastfeeding assistance? or are you an IBCLC?
4. Do you have a list of local breastfeeding support groups that you could give me?
5. If my baby needed to be supplemented would you go first to breastmilk or formula as a supplement?
6. What percentage of your patients are breastfeeding exclusively at 1 month?
How to know if a Pediatrician/Health Care Provider is NOT breastfeeding friendly:
1. If they give you formula samples when you meet with them.
2. If they tell you that breastfeeding and bottlefeeding are the same.
3. If they advise you to stop breastfeeding because baby is sick or if they give outdated information about breastfeeding.
4. If they act shocked that you are "still" breastfeeding at six months.
5. If they tell you not to allow baby to fall asleep at the breast or if they push rigid sleep scheduling early on.
6. If YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BREASTFEED IN THEIR OFFICE OR WAITING ROOM.....RUN THE OTHER WAY!!
We are so happy to have many supportive health care providers here in San Antonio but are always looking for more. If you have a great one, let us know!
There are times when you may need to contact and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and other times when your La Leche League Leader, Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, etc. may be the right person for the job. So when SHOULD you contact an IBCLC?
When you have concerns about breastfeeding due to:
To find an IBCLC in your area you can search the International Lactation Consultant Association website here.
What is the role of your Doula in supporting your breastfeeding relationship?
I was reading a Facebook post recently about a mother's first birth/breastfeeding experience. She made a comment similar to, "I did everything right. I hired a doula, had a natural unmedicated birth, etc. and still had breastfeeding issues." I thought to myself...what do mothers expect from their doulas in regards to breastfeeding support?
Doulas are Childbirth Professionals which doesn't actually mean that they are Breastfeeding Professionals. In San Antonio I am currently the only Doula that is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Many of my fellow Doulas have made the effort to obtain additional breastfeeding education which is something I applaud them for and support them in doing. I love being a resource for my fellow Doulas who come to me asking which programs I recommend or ask for guidance on their road to becoming more breastfeeding proficient.
Two weekends ago my business partner Ginger and I taught a class to a group of newly trained Doulas on Breastfeeding. We loved working with these new Doulas and we loved putting together the class. Here is some of what we shared with those Doulas regarding the Role of the Doula in regards to Breastfeeding:
At your prenatal visits your Doula should...
At your birth your Doula should....
At your postpartum visits your Doula should....
What your Doula should NOT do....
Make sure that your Doula is covering the topics that we suggested and that they are not working outside of their Scope of Practice. Working with babies is a delicate thing. A newborn baby can start to go downhill pretty quickly if they are having issues with milk transfer or if you are having issues with your milk supply. You should always consult with your Health Care Provider as well as with an IBCLC when you are experiencing breastfeeding difficulties.
~Tina & Ginger