What can an IBCLC do for you?


“An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) is a healthcare professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. An IBCLC is certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®), independently accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). An IBCLC works in a wide variety of settings, providing leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research in the lactation field.”   * http://www.ilca.org/main/why-ibclc/ibclc

As an IBCLC, I am humbled and grateful that so many loving families entrust me with such a delicate time in their lives. They are relieved to find support that comes to their door, in the privacy and sanctuary of their own home.  Education and consultations can be both prenatal and postnatal, as well as during special times such as starting employment or weaning.

  • Health and lactation history for parent & birth and medical history for baby/child
  • Functional breastfeeding assessment – Assess latch – Observe infant regulation
  • Pre weight and post weight – Evaluate milk transfer using scale, senses and diaper counts
  • Pumping and flange fit for supplementing baby or parent choice
  • Parent education on normal infant needs and expectations
  • Teaching of paced bottle feeding, feeding and stress cues (hunger & full)
  • High needs – fussy baby support
  • Feeding plan for short-term and long-term goals
  • Discuss home routines and help for parents, including sleep cues
  • Communication with your child’s health care provider
  • Community referrals – OT, PT, SPL, etc.
  • Follow-up via email, text or phone at parent preference
  • Encourage self-advocacy – empowering parents is my main role!!
  • Sleep expectations vs. realities – Infant 24 hour needs
  • Transitions and milestones – changes over time
  • Dealing with sleep deprivation
  • Breastfeeding or pumping at night
  • Milk supply concerns
  • Back-to-work/school
  • Weaning information, safely weaning, emergency weaning
  • Special situations – adoption, re-lactation, surrogacy
  • Special needs – muscle tone, torticollis, sensory integration, etc


Google Voice 843.732.2916   Cell 845.661.2491



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Latching and Positioning Links for Support

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding 8th Edition

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding 8th Edition

When someone tells you that your “latch looks good” …ask yourself these questions.

Are you feeling comfortable?

Does your baby seem comfortable?

Do you hear and see signs of milk moving from your body to baby?

There are so many good resources for help with latch and positioning.

Relax, get comfortable, get practice and know when to get more help.

Here are several to start with.

Breastfeeding Today (La Leche League magazine)


La Leche League International


Breastfeeding USA


The Leaky Boob


The Latch Looks Good…Really?!



Biological Nurturing


Newborn latch (15 minute helper)


DIY Breastfeeding YouTube


Nancy Mohrbacher YouTube


Dr. Newman (links & videos)


Global Health (self attachment)


Also, I’d encourage you to go to free or low cost breastfeeding meetings and groups in your area. They may be La Leche League, Breastfeeding USA, Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association, WIC or others with similar names. They may be at hospitals or birth centers in your area.

From there, the next step would be to see an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for more support. You can often find an IBCLC by going to www.ilca.org or asking around your town for recommendations and references.

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Life With a Newborn

I am often asked to give a few links to new parents or parents-to-be. New parents are often too tired to sort through a full book though I do suggest that you just try to take it page by page with some good ones!  No one can really prepare you for the days ahead. But there are some things that you can read or listen to in those early weeks that can help to support you through the newborn days and nights.



Dear New Mama & Papa


Why it is so hard to take a shower (neat video from a doula)


Rules for Visiting New Mom


4th Trimester


What Mothers Do  **My favorite book for new moms!!**



Getting supply off to a good start


Normal Newborn Behavior


Early Weeks info



Returning to work – good pumping ideas


Pumping Strategies for the Working Mother


Babies at Work




Gentle Sleep Resources


Essentials for Baby Sleep


Sweet Sleep Tear Sheets


Sweet Sleep Love Notes


Crying and Responding to Tears



If you need an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant


The Landscape of Breastfeeding Support



Is this safe?


Finding support on your medical team



List of some I’ve tried out


Sleep (the only one I’ve found I like so far!)


Mommy Meds


Moms all rave about this one too


This is by no means an exhaustive list.  I think I find new ones all the time that I love!

If you like these, check out my facebook page as well. I post links I find interesting for discussion often there as well. Enjoy!



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Is your baby gassy? Is your baby crying often? Is your baby spitting up? Does your baby need to be held a lot?? These are all NORMAL things about having an infant and yet in our culture, we have turned what is commonplace infant behavior into “disorder”. Often, in our concern and care to help mothers and babies, it is suggested that we give a baby something to “help”. We often look for the “cure” for the disorder but we don’t always make sure to see the whole baby and the whole family dynamic.

Gripe Water?

Gripe Water?

I question whether gripe water or other “supplements” suggested do actually help.   What a baby typically needs most is simply to be snuggled and breastfed.

I have been there! I recall my daughter at about 4 months, crying in my arms. I had offered to nurse her, changed her diaper, tried baby massage, walked the house and then finally sat back down and cried with her. I called a friend and she suggested I try a brand of gripe water that she used. And I did. And I wonder looking back if it led to more of her challenges and impaired her gi tract? She ended up having more issues that had nothing to do with using gripe water or not. And I really wasn’t sure if it worked at all.

A little human baby needs nothing more than their parent’s own milk for the first 6 months (They do also need vitamin d http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/vitamin_d.htm). This is not because something is wrong with our milk but because we don’t spend enough time in the sunshine and we don’t have the best nutrition either. Both breastfed and formula fed babies need this.

Did you know that in the USA gripe water used to be sold as a “drug” and in 1982 it was BANNED? Now it is sold in the USA as a “supplement” as a way to get around the medical ban. Some forms are alcohol free but others are not. It was assumed the alcohol is what helped the colic but it is most likely the sugar or sweetener added…(breastmilk, especially colostrum is VERY SWEET and comforting too btw). Bicarbonate has a neutralizing effect but remember that this impacts baby gi tract and pH level and may even cause alkalosis if used too often.   “Alkalosis is a condition in which the body fluids have excess base (alkali).” http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001183.htm

There have even been recalls of gripe water for things like parasites, which cause intestinal infections. Just because something is made from herbs or nature, doesn’t make it safe for a baby. “Gripe water” is now a generic term but each brand has different formulations of ingredients. A recall of one brand in 2005 had horrible consequences for babies. “The most common symptom of infection is watery diarrhea. Other symptoms can include dehydration, weight loss, stomach cramps or pain, fever, nausea and vomiting.” http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ArchiveRecalls/2005/ucm112282.htm

There are also questions about allergies to gripe water. Why risk adding something to your baby’s body that they don’t need and that isn’t proven to work? Gripe water is heavily used because of word of mouth. And that is because we all want to help our friends out. We all know how hard those early days are! Many families consider trying solids one item at a time but usually gripe waters have many different ingredients depending on the brand and pure water isn’t one of them. When prompted about if it really worked to help things such as colic (what is the reason behind the colic) or gas (gas is normal for all humans and not a health problem), it seems most people don’t feel it works all that well anyway. So why risk it?

The best information you can share with your friends and family who are having challenges with fussy baby (breastfed or formula fed) is helpful information on how to soothe crying and what normal nights are like.

This link can be helpful and healthy. Sometimes it helps to know that it isn’t anything wrong we are doing or something wrong with our milk or our baby! “Fussing and crying are the most important means by which an infant communicates needs and desires.” http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201301/simple-ways-calm-crying-baby

Another key to know is that a baby spends a lot of time each day needing to be held. Babies who are not held often, cry more. And babies who are responded to quickly and routinely, cry less. Baby wearing can really help a parent to tune into their child and can help immensely with crying and fussiness. For more information on baby wearing check out http://www.babywearinginternational.org.

So, what if you’ve already tried gripe water? Ask yourself if you feel it is really working. Ask your baby’s health care provider about it as well. Ask them for studies because often they suggest gripe water too because they are trying to be helpful…or they tried it themselves. Do they feel it works? Gripe water is so common! I am not trying to scare parents here. The American Academy of Pediatrics has this information on Herbs & Supplements on their website http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/Committees-Councils-Sections/Section-on-Integrative-Medicine/Documents/GI_Disorders.ppt and lists gripe water as “Generally Recognized as Safe”. http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/. I personally feel the benefits don’t outweigh the risks in most situations, especially when we are talking about a baby under 6 months of age (or longer if your baby was born early). If your baby seems to be in pain or have more issues than the typical “fussy” baby, then it is helpful to get to your healthcare provider sooner than later. You can work to uncover the real issue that may be going on rather than using gripe water and holding off on that. If you are using gripe water and feel it works, you know your baby best. There may be exceptions to everything but consider your baby’s age and stage carefully.

For more information and the resources used in this blog please see below:

“…newborn infants should not be given food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated”


The Gripe Water Story


FDA Recall of Baby’s Bliss Gripe Water


Alkalosis: Medline Plus Definition


CDC Cryptosporidium


Consumer Products Safety Commission


US Food and Drug Administration


Pseudomonas aeruginosa septic shock secondary to “Gripe Water” ingestion

Sas, David D.O., M.P.H.; Enrione, Maria A. M.D.; Schwartz, Richard H. M.D.


Large numbers of babies are given gripe water for no valid reason or for only trivial symptoms


A gripe about gripe water


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Sweet Sleep LLLove Notes

Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family

Authors: Diane Wiessinger, Diana West, Linda J. Smith, Teresa Pitman


Sweet Sleep

Sweet Sleep LLLove Notes!

This book is like a love letter to new parents. It is full of affirmations and support in a nonjudgmental way without being apologetic for what newborns and children truly need from us. It is chock full of internet links for further ideas, side bar quotes, charts, diagrams and best of all, supportive wording that encourages families to adapt the skills taught in the book to their own situations and personalities.

You will hear terms like frontloading, pack the crack, nudging and un-nudgeables, sleep stealers, sleep consolidation, sleep temperaments and more…all ideas that you just can’t find in any other book! And most importantly of all, you will be encouraged over and over to listen to your heart, your baby and your own parenting instincts and “mother-wisdom”. There are no rules in this book but there are a lot of facts on what normal human biology is and on the safest ways possible to get the best sleep you can in realistic, common sense terms.

Part 1 SLEEPING BETTER is full of information to empower parents on safety with the research to back up the claims.   It is quick and to the point to help tired new parents who don’t have time to read an entire book! The Safe Sleep Seven is information that can be used “just for tonight” or in daily life. It is a way to plan ahead “just in case” or a way to make sure that your solution is the safest possible for you and your baby.


Part 2 MOTHERS AND BABIES TOGETHER entrusts mothers with awareness of what is “normal” and the honest expectations we need to instill into days and nights with babies. It holds information that is key to understanding the “hows and whys” of new baby sleep, growth, tummy size and a lot more! For adults to understand REM sleep of infants and when to expect circadian rhythms to mature is crucial for parents. They know they are not alone!

Part 3 SLEEP AND BEDSHARING PRACTICALITIES gives valuable ideas and strategies for napping, nights and making decisions around bedsharing or alternative routes that work in your own home. You will find the charts on “sleep personalities” so useful. The chapter on working outside the home and taking care of yourself while trying to also take care of a little one is written in such a tender way. I think my favorite part of this section was the “nudging” idea. I love that we are encouraged as parents to give our children reliable nighttime parents but also encouraged to watch both our own limits and our little ones. I think most new families will be so appreciative of the reality scoop given and the reassurance of flexibility in making changes that work for US where we are in our parenting journey.

Part 4 SLEEP AGES AND STAGES is such a great “go to” section. It is broken down by the first few days, weeks, and months and into and beyond toddlerhood. If you already have a little one, you know that there are expectations and there are realities. This book is an honest picture of what to expect and how to cope with the challenges of lack of sleep while adjusting to the changes that come in time. It really helps you keep your sanity and includes great techniques on calming and comforting as well as when to consider asking for more help or support. There are lots of practical tips for making it through the “nighttime daze”.   There are helpful ways to carve out self-care included often in this part of the book. I especially loved reading the chapter on toddlerhood and beyond. I have some very fond memories of those days nursing and the special bond it brings to lay down and chat with my little ones at nap or bed times. It really gave wonderful hints for keeping sleep at this age about a sense of peace and calm when this stage has so many transitions and anxieties for little ones.

Part 5 SAFE-SLEEP SCIENCE gets to the full of the cold-hard-facts. It was honestly the hardest part of the book to read in terms of my own parenting emotions but also gave quite a bit of reassurance that my heart and the science are in line. It was also a very thorough and complete look at the past and the current research and information on attachment theories, on sleep science and concerns around sleep training and the stress it puts on babies and parents. It also was very clear about the differences between Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID), Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation (ASSB) and what the real causes and risks of these are in our lives as breastfeeding families with breastfeeding babies.

Part 6 HELP is the exactly that! Helpful ideas for the criticism or questions you or others may have. Their explanation of the “RRID Response” (Respect, Reflect, Inspect, Deflect) is going to be helpful for communication in many aspects of parents lives, not just with regards to sleep. The FAQ section here is great for all the typical situations that arise during the first few years, and include illnesses, medications, reflux, overnights and weaning. Don’t miss the last chapter on getting and giving help. It has some wonderful ideas for all types of parents so you know there is always a way you can find support and also BE support.

Below are some of my favorite love notes from the book!! You will surely find some of your own when you read your copy. I am sorry I don’t have the page numbers next to each of them. But you can have fun finding them as you read the book yourself and add to this list!! These authors really have a love for babies and it shines throughout Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family.

I am a breastfeeding support person so I plan on using them often in our groups when we discuss sleep and include this book each time! I truly hope you get as much out of this book as I did!

Love, Naomi

“Let go of perfect. Nobody gets there anyway.”

“Your breastfeeding relationship is communication, long before your baby can talk. It’s gentling her down to sleep, long before she can understand bedtime stories. It’s even being silly together, long before she can deliver the punch line. Breastfeeding is an intense relationship with great food on the side, not a perfect infant food that may include a relationship.”

“You’re built strong, and you’re built competent. You’re going to find happiness and skills that you never knew you had in you. Even if it doesn’t feel like it yet.”

“Babies aren’t interested in schedules and plans. They live moment to moment, without clocks or calendars. There needs are immediate and strongly expressed.”

“Nudging toward more mature sleep is all about letting it happen or helping it happen, but recognizing that it’s not always best to make it happen.”

“Maybe your love affair with your baby hasn’t even begun yet. Love comes as a tsunami for some, a gently rising tide for others. “

“A planned ahead bed is just like a seat belt.”

“…adapt the information to your own circumstances. Love and common sense are a highly protective combination!”

“When you start developing quirky routines that aren’t in the books, your definitely sliding into motherhood.”

“Even if fussy evenings continue for weeks on end, it might help to know it’s normal, it’s common, and it ends.”

“Hunger isn’t always the problem, but nursing is almost always the solution.”

“You need someone who’ll support breastfeeding, not compete with it.”

On the subject of back to work: “…you’re in the tough position of balancing a pattern-based baby with a schedule-based workplace. Remember that perfect isn’t possible or even healthy.”

“You learn motherhood on less sleep than you’re used to, and you learn it every day of the week, every hour of the day. You’re amazing! Your baby is amazing too, and the team you make together is amazing. “

“And of course nursing is more than food and drink and antibodies. It reassures a baby who is feeling lonely or scared or who’s uncomfortable for some reason; it helps him get to sleep when he’s tired or wired; it’s even a painkiller!”

On the topic of big developmental changes… “No one sleeps very well when there’s a big project in the works.”

“We often get to where we are one night at a time, and we often don’t end up where we thought we would.”

“We do much better with examples than rules… Whatever helps all of you get more sleep and feel connected is good.”

“Routine? No routine? Whatever works, it will probably change over time, so it helps to be flexible.”

“Responding to your baby isn’t weakness. It’s an important, powerful, healthy protective instinct.”

“Breastfeeding is a take-and-make arrangement: if your baby doesn’t take much milk, you aren’t going to make as much milk.” …with regards to skipping nursing sessions for “sleep training”.

“Babies do need a certain amount of sleep in order to grow their bodies and brains, but they’re born knowing how and how long to sleep.”

“There is a wide range of normal, and your baby will let you know where his “normal” is.”

“Model kindness, and children learn kindness. Model distance, and they learn distance. There’s a time for kind limits and boundaries, but not in infancy. If you model empathy, responsiveness, trust and kindness, and compassion, there’s a good chance that’s what you’ll get when you’re elderly and dependent on him.”

“It’s the rare parent who doesn’t look back, years later, and regret some decisions. We all do the best we can with what we know at the time. But normal parenting is neither boot-camp sleep training nor total self-sacrificing attention. “

“Responding to your baby through the night helps build an emotionally strong and resilient personality – the kinds of person you’ll like to have around when you grow old.”

“Children don’t need perfect parents. They just need to be loved and respected around the clock.”

With regards to “bad habits”… “The child who feels more secure usually sleeps more soundly. And that’s a sleep habit worth cultivating!”

“Sharing sleep with a loving parent can make a child more self-confident, happier, and better able to make friends.”

“Mothers have protected their babies by sleeping near or next to them since time began, and most nursing mothers today do it at least some of the time. You have the company of billions of mothers all over the world. Picture all of those women, all those babies, all those beds. They’re cuddling, snuggling, touching, nursing, and snoozing together at this very moment. It’s an old image, it’s a modern image, and it’s rooted deeply in the instincts and biology of mothers and babies.”

“It’s okay to love your baby – to hold and snuggle and nurse without anyone else’s permission or approval. If someone’s advice makes you uncomfortable, trust your instincts and trust your baby.”

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At-the-Breast Supplementing

Using a feeding tube at the breast to help a baby learn to nurse at the breast can be a helpful tool but also a tricky thing to learn to use. Babies learn how to breastfeed best by being at the breast. But will you have the most stimulation at your breast by using a supplementer or by pumping and bottle feeding or by a little of each?

Mixing with HOT water

Mixing with HOT water

This can be a TEMPORARY solution in the early weeks and should have a plan for both starting and weaning off or cutting down on supplementation. Or this may be a LONG TERM solution for moms with low supply from specific situations such as thyroid challenges, breast reduction or mammary hypoplasia/insufficient glandular tissue among other reasons.

It is important to know that the first thing you will want to do is speak with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to help you make up a plan of use. It may be that simply getting help with latching on the breast is what you need.  They are the highest credentialed person qualified to help you in your situation and for your goals.

It may be that you don’t really need to supplement at all? See:

Perceived Insufficient Milk?


It may be that you are trying to re-lactate because you weaned and want to retry to nurse. Or perhaps you have adopted or had a surrogacy or other situation that leads you to want to try to breastfeed. There are plenty of great reasons to nurse your baby at the breast!

It may be that your baby was born with a special need, low muscle tone, tongue tie, cleft palate or other physical circumstance that they need a little extra help in getting nursing going. This can be a temporary help or a permanent tool for you.

Your situation makes your plan individual. It may be that you supplement with Mom’s/Parent’s Own Milk (first choice) or with donor milk or formula. You will need to work on how much and how often with your IBCLC and baby’s health practitioner. When you use human milk, you can easily warm it on your own body when using the tubing. If you use formula, you may need to be sure to keep it from clumping a little in the tubing. Please understand using formula safely https://a2zlactation.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/preparing-infant-formula-safe-water-guidelines/

An IBCLC can also make suggestions on the best way to use the supplementer and where to position it well so baby can latch on your breast and not just sip from the tubing like a straw. If you are working on getting a baby to work harder as they nurse, you may lower the container at times during the feeding. But, if you are working at getting a baby with low muscle tone, thin fat pads in their cheeks or down syndrome to nurse at the breast, you may want to raise the supplementer up a little to let gravity help your baby out at some points during the nursing session. This should all be worked out in a feeding plan for your situation with an IBCLC and your baby’s pediatrician.

Two wonderful books that are helpful for using a supplementer and working on milk supply are:

The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk by Diana West and Lisa Marasco.   http://www.makingmoremilk.com

Breastfeeding Without Birthing by Alyssa Schnell.   http://www.breastfeedingwithoutbirthing.com/index.html

Some considerations for you…

Is this for home or use out and about as well? Take it one day at a time.

Will you need more than one set of kits/tubing? Cost is a factor.

How comfortable are they to use? There are varying tubing sizes and equipment that is soft or hard.

Is at-breast supplementing helping to support proper suckling & latch? Is baby latching well when using the tubing?

Is the at-breast supplementer helping you in your positions to nurse – laid-back, side lying, clutch hold, etc?

Cleaning… time/tools required?

Support – an IBCLC, friends, family?

Taping? Using bandages to hold tubing in place or surgical tape – in baby’s way or irritating to skin?

Wearing under clothing or over clothing? Or with a cover or without?

Mobility of containers – bottles with lids, hard plastic or soft? Keeping supplement safely stored while out and about.

Cost – short term & long term $ and emotional.

Here are some great websites for tips on comparing brands and daily use.



At Breast Supplementers (and adoption)


Dr. Newman Lactation Aid (buy your own tubing and use any container for milk)


Dr. Newman – inserting lactation tubing while nursing


Know that it takes some practice to use a supplementer and not every situation is right for them to be used in. For example, if you are working on supply because your baby isn’t latching well at the breast or staying on strong enough, then the supplementing can be a nice way to help them learn WHILE AT THE BREAST but you will still need more stimulation via a breast pump or other means of expression so that you keep giving your baby the right milk making signals for the time when baby IS strong enough to nurse without being supplementing. On the other hand, you may have exhausted all means of working out your supply and know how much you need above what you are making and this is the situation that you are considering long term… then you may find that supplementing at the breast is a way to cut down on other pumping/expressing. The bottom line is you know your body best!

And what if you do have low milk supply?

Check out the books I mention above! I can’t say enough good things about them!!

Low Supply – links


I’m Worried My Milk Supply is Drying UP – What Can I Do?


Are There Differences Between Breastfeeding Directly And Bottle-feeding Expressed Milk?


Brands – you can buy some of these or simply make your own by buying the tubing. Ask at your local birth center/hospital about local options for buying tubing. Know that you can simply buy quality food grade or medical grade tubing and make your own versions, especially if you are thinking in terms of short term use.





Other links for supplementing:

Tools for Feeding: Bottles & More


Bottle feeding the breastfed baby… paced and baby-led bottles.


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Low Milk Supply? A Tale of Two Mothers  


Once upon a time, there were two pregnant friends. The friends were so excited about having children together. I will call one friend FA as in Friend A one FB as in Friend B. J Of course, I am rooting for FA and FB to have wonderful pregnancies, births and breastfeeding outcomes that they feel empowered and successful with. They are also hoping for the same.

Both FA and FB were planning on having a child. They both were very educated women and planned on doing more education while pregnant. They both had ideas on what it would be like to have children. They were both very happy about having new babies in their lives. They had watched friends have babies and they felt strongly on how they could do things similar or different from their friends.

FA and FB started out with the same OB/GYN. At about 20 weeks, their OB gave them a “gift bag” which included marketing pamphlets from many sales companies for formula, diaper, clothing and more.  Most of the “information” was lacking or misleading and was mainly passed out by the OB because they wanted something free to hand out and not because the staff had actually screened the flyers. 

FA decided she would get more information and so she read many books on pregnancy. She had over 6 books on pregnancy on her nightstand! She was so excited to learn more about what was going on in her body. She went regularly to her OB and felt comfortable there.

FB decided she would get more information and so she asked a friend who was a midwife what books she might suggest. She decided to read the book The Healthy Pregnancy Book and then do some more research. She then decided she would read a few books on birth since she was half way through her pregnancy. FB decided to read books that leaned towards empowering birth and to leave her options open. She knew that the OB practice she attended had a high rate of surgical birth but maybe that was because they had a Level 3 NICU so they had more complicated cases. She decided to ask them at her next appointment. She was also happy with her practice but thought she’d start interviewing Birth Centers and Midwives and maybe even hire a Doula.

It came time to take hospital tours. FA and FB went together to the classes. One of the hospital classes was on breastfeeding. The nurse who had taken a Baby Friendly course told them that breastfeeding was important. This was a short introduction to breastfeeding. FA and FB talked about breastfeeding after the class. FA and FB were both excited and a little worried about how that would go. FA decided she would try to breastfeed and see how it went when baby was born. FB decided she would try to breastfeed so she bought Breastfeeding Made Simple and went to the library to look for a few more books on breastfeeding. She made sure to look up the authors and make sure that they were Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants so that she could trust that the information in the books was accurate and not just opinion. She started to keep a list of the local IBCLCs in case she needed them when the time came and decided she would start looking for breastfeeding support groups in her area. She found both a local La Leche League and Breastfeeding USA group and she decided to ask FA to join her at one of the meetings. FB did attend one or two meetings and started to make a few new friends. Some of them were nursing toddlers, which she felt was a little different than her goals but they assured to her “take what works for her and leave the rest”. FA felt support groups were more something she’d consider going to if there turned out to be a problem and kept the flyer FB gave her.  

FA and FB had due dates that were only two weeks apart. The OB where FA went told her that her baby was “measuring big” so they would have to induce if she went past 37 weeks. She knew the importance of going the full forty weeks but also figured that her OB knew what he was talking about and trusted him. FB was due before FA but her Midwife told her there was a range of “normal” that was from 38 to 42 weeks and that as long as everyone was doing well, they would watch and wait. Both friends had vaginal deliveries. Both friends were very happy with the outcomes even though neither of them would have liked the way the other’s birth occurred. Both babies were born healthy and strong and started out nursing well. 

FA had her baby and was told by the night nurse that she shouldn’t let her baby use her as a pacifier. She was told to time her nursing sessions per side to 10 minutes even though adults don’t time their own meals. FA nursed every 3 hours in the hospital, timing from the start of one feeding to the next and made sure to switch sides after 10 minutes. Her mom came to visit and was worried she wasn’t making much milk yet so suggested that they give baby a bottle of formula. FA was worried about her baby and if she was making enough milk. Her baby was crying or sleeping in between the 3 hours and FA was very tired, especially on the second night. FA asked if the baby could go to the nursery so she could rest.

FB had her baby and reminded the nurse that she wanted to have skin-to-skin time and nurse in the first hour after birth. Her nurse told her not to let her use her as a pacifier but she reminded her nurse that since colostrum comes in tiny amounts and baby’s tummies are so small, her baby needed to nurse. Anyway, she didn’t mind comforting her baby this way and she knew her baby was having a lot of changes to deal with, just as she was. FB nursed on and off as baby would and when she noticed time go by, she stirred baby to nurse and snuggle. Her mom came to visit but since she attended one of the breastfeeding support meetings with her, she knew that the best way to be supportive would be to offer help with positioning or to call the hospital LC on staff if she had concerns. The hospital was a Baby Friendly one so they educated families on rooming in and FB kept her baby in the basinet next to her so she could get rest.

FA went home with her baby. She posted her “baby stats” on social media and everyone was excited for her. She tried to keep to the schedule she started in the hospital but sometimes it was harder than others, especially with so many visitors. In a few weeks she started going out more and getting together with some of her friends from her organizations and clubs. Of course, everyone asked her if her baby was sleeping through the night yet. Sometimes she told them no and other times she lied because she felt like she was doing something wrong. A few of her friends were following a sleep training book and they added her to their facebook group so that she could start learning about how to follow the program. She read about how hard it was for these moms to hear their baby scream and cry at night but how it was the right thing for their babies because they would be more disciplined and independent. She felt in her gut that babies under a year were really not meant to be independent yet but they all seemed to be more experienced than she was so she started to let her baby cry if it was dark out and nurse in the daylight.

FB went home with her baby. She covered all the clocks and changed the message on her answering machine so that it said that she’d call back when she could. She also put the “baby stats” on the machine and on her facebook page and everyone was excited for her. When people came by, she kept visits short and only really let them come after week of babymoon time. She had a diaper log for a few days and when she saw that her baby had nice mustardy yellow stools 3 or 4 times each day, she stopped logging them and realized she was learning her baby’s nursing and sleeping cues. It was rough at first but when she felt she had questions she turned to the reputable breastfeeding sites and organizations she knew in the area. She had requested to join a facebook group that was connected with breastfeeding and she learned who there were the trained counselors and who was not. She had learned that her baby needed to nurse at least a dozen times in 24 hours, day or night. She remembered that when she was pregnant, her baby would kick a lot around 3 am. It was funny how now at 3 am her baby was most active and seemed to get the most milk at 3 am!

FA and FB were both so tired! It is amazing how little sleep new parents can run on. 

FA was really getting depressed and overwhelmed. She was up a lot at night with her crying baby. She had now moved her into her own crib down the hall and it was hard to wake up and then fall back asleep so many times each night. She talked to her doctor and started going for walks daily with FB. She started supplementing with formula because she wasn’t sure if the medication she was considering was “safe” while breastfeeding.

FB was tired so she made sure to set up a nursing station for herself with water and healthy snacks so that she got more calories. She was up a lot nursing her baby when she stirred. She knew that the AAP recommends keeping baby close to prevent SIDS and that it is important for baby to hear you so that they wake often. She had the crib next to her bed so that she could nurse and then go right back to sleep.   She was starting to feel a little depressed and overwhelmed so she talked to her doctor. She started taking walks daily with FA. She considered taking medication, which she looked up with her Mommy Meds app. 

Both FA and FB are now nursing babies who are 4 months old. Four months seems to be a really active and alert time. So many changes are happening.

FA has gone to the pediatrician and the doctor is worried that baby is falling out of their percentile on the growth chart. FA has been swaddling at night and she has finally gotten her baby to sleep through the night. She is disappointed that she isn’t making enough milk and feels it is something to do with her body. She nurses her baby 6-8 times in the day, every 3 or 4 hours. Maybe she will start taking fenugreek pills and pumping more? The doctor recommends rice cereal and suggests adding more formula. FA remembers that flyer FB gave her so she calls one of the numbers. She isn’t sure about what to do and is certain that she has low milk supply issues and that something is wrong with her baby or her. Can she relactate?

FB has gone to the pediatrician. Her doctor says that the baby is too low on the growth chart percentile but she remembers that her baby has always been on that range and that her baby is growing in both length and weight so she is discusses this with her the pediatrician and asks to see the WHO Growth charts they have been using. She knows from reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding that babies tend to have growth rates that slow at this time. She nurses her baby about 10 times in 24 hours, sometimes less but usually more. She also knows that the AAP suggests waiting 6 months for solids and so when the doctor suggests she start purees, she asks about waiting that out and starts reading about Baby Led Weaning and Baby Led Solids.

Both FA and FB are moms of 6 month old babies now.

At 6 months, FA has completely weaned her baby and is very proud of herself for making it this far. She had a lot of obstacles in her way. Her baby is doing great on the jars of solids and formula she is using now. FA is happy for the most part and starting to feel like she is bonding with her baby more and more each day. However, she believes her body didn’t make enough milk and she is unsure if she will breastfeed again or not.

At 6 months, FB is starting the weaning process by introducing new solids. So far her baby has tried avocado and squash. Her baby loves to lick her apples too! She always nurses before introducing any solid because she wants to make sure her baby gets the good stuff first. Food is really fun so far and it is funny how it comes out in chunks sometimes!   She is proud of herself for making it this far. She is considering changing her goals now to a year, maybe more? If she ever has another baby, she is thinking this can really be something she will do again.

IF you have gotten this far, you know the following… Both of these mothers love their babies dearly. Both of these mothers are smart and capable. In this case, both of these mothers’ bodies had capability of making a full milk supplies when their babies were born. Both of these mothers could nurse for any length and any goal they chose because their bodies work just fine. Both of these mothers read books. Both of these moms reached out. Both of these moms had health care teams. Both of these moms looked forward to being mothers. Both of these mothers are happy that they nursed for their goal. Both of these mothers should be proud of getting as far as they have. Both of these mothers can be experts when it comes to their own children. Both of these mothers will gain confidence in their parenting abilities but it will happen at different rates and has happened more so for FB than FA. Both of these mothers tried very hard and did their very best and don’t deserve judgment. One of these mothers educated herself on natural biology of babies. One of these mothers felt really empowered in her choices.

One of these mothers is getting more rest and making more milk.



Posted in Body Awareness, Breastfeeding, Child Development, Cue Feeding, IBCLC, Logs, Medications, Milk Supply, Newborn, Nighttime, Parenting Books, Pumping, Solids, stools, Weaning | Tagged | Leave a comment

Why I am happy to be a Lactivist

There has been a lot of backlash the past decade about what lactivism or breastfeeding advocacy is and isn’t.  There is often the idea that being proud about breastfeeding is at the same time shaming or making other parents feel guilt.  What I am proud about doesn’t have to take away from what you are proud about. All parents have a steep cliff to climb when it comes to new parenting.  All parents who are trying hard to care for our children deserve support.  I really don’t know a lot of true advocates who are into making people feel bad.  Most of us are working too hard at dispelling myths and helping parents work towards making informed decisions and giving support. I listen to a lot of moms cry.  I am usually the one who helps them feel better, not the one who tore them down. 

For myself and a lot of people I know, breastfeeding empowered us as new parents. This reason I am a breastfeeding advocate in the first place. Breastfeeding my little ones helped me get to know them.  It helped me to feel proud of my body and my own sense of the natural in me.  It helped me to be in sync with my children when they were young and to find rhythms in day and night.  We learn about how our body works.  We learn about how baby and mother and our biology work.  Knowledge is power and we have that power when we inform ourselves.  Breastfeeding is our human biological NORM.  I often do a lot of informing on that idea itself as I advocate and support parents for the length of THEIR breastfeeding goals. I feel lucky to get to watch a transformation in many new parents when they find that power and capacity in themselves.  

Celebrating Breastfeeding

Celebrating Breastfeeding Goals

There are so many articles about “pressure” to breastfeed. I wonder if we can reframe that to really talk about what is going on? Formula companies want to sell us their product to replace something we have the POWER to use ourselves. I feel like there is more pressure in the bottle-feeding culture to relinquishing the power we hold in our own body for FREE and buy replacement products. I think it is more about MARKETING to new parents and less about pressure from other moms. I know that I have wonderful friends who are terrific mothers and fathers who also take different parenting paths than I do/did. We each have different obstacles and options. However, I often see the idea that moms have to cover or hide while they breastfeed or pressure to use bottles in public (with either pumped milk or formula in them). I see a lot of pressure put on breastfeeding moms to conform to bottle-feeding culture standards when it comes to how they act both in public space and with regards to things like schedules and sleep as well. I feel that that is even more enhance when a new parent has less options when it comes to employment as well. 

So, when it comes to advocacy and lactivism, try to think of it this way… you discover a new exercise program or healthy food or interesting book and you want to share it.  You are so excited about it.  You know it was something you enjoyed.  You know it made you feel healthy or strong.  You want your friends to feel happy, healthy and strong too.  You want to invite the old and the young to join in.  This is not because you want them to feel bad that they didn’t know about that game or book or exercise.  This is because you care about them and you know that a new skill or healthy option can then be passed on.  

The same is true for those of us who are happy to tell about natural birth options, breastfeeding options, sleep information, and how our bodies and breasts work.  It is sad to me that so many of us don’t know about our own biology. I hear a lot of fear and confusion in questions about breastfeeding.  I so often get calls from new parents asking about basic things. When they have accurate information, they are able to work towards their goals.  This information should really be taught in middle and high school Science classes.  People should know about how they get pregnant, what happens during pregnancy, and that MOST women will lactate unless they choose not to… as Ina May Gaskin has been quoted, “Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”

Human Breast

Human Anatomy Breast Model

There are far too many Booby Traps out there set up as a blockade against breastfeeding.  I know many parents who feel guilt.  Or rather, they feel regret.  There is a difference.  Guilt is something we feel that can make us also feel shame.  It is something that can hold us back. Regret is something that we can also feel.  We can allow ourselves to feel regret about something and also forgive ourselves or even make changes to move forward with growth.  I am not implying anyone should feel guilt or regret about their decision to breastfeed or introduce formula but I am making clear that advocates can’t make someone feel guilt or regret.  This is something we choose and not something that is brought on by advocacy.  I hope to legitimize and acknowledge  feelings here and not to make anyone feel they purposefully choose guilt.  *Please do read my blog post on Wanting to Breastfeed before you consider this entire guilt/regret idea I am putting out there. 

I personally know about guilt and regret too. I am a mom after all of 3 little ones myself after all.  I know that not all parents have the same support, healthcare, and information and have written about this previously. I know that we all start out with different goals and ideas of what success is.  I know that most of us feel pressure to do better and try harder and really don’t give ourselves credit for the good we do. But I feel that most of that pressure is not put on us by advocates (supporters, allies, friends) but rather by antagonists and those who feel competitive. I know that this is why I am and always will be an advocate.  I am advocating for better health care, better education systems, better maternal and child outcomes, better birth options, better support for breastfeeding and better family working situations, better maternity/paternity options, more options and more information.  I take the idea of “personal is political” to heart. We can’t wait until all the other things are fixed or things are perfect to then advocate and support breastfeeding.  We can continue to advocate for better choices and options all around. I sure will.  

Posted in Body Awareness, Bottles, Breastfeeding, Employment, Formula, IBCLC, Milk Supply, Newborn, Staying Home | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sleep Books and Fear

What do you think all these SLEEP books have in common?

Terrible Sleep Books

They all have the same advice that goes against basic human BIOLOGY and tell parents to ignore baby over their OWN needs. They all seem to have nice advice about how to take care of babies but their sleep ideas are FEAR BASED because they imply that this time is how it ALWAYS will be if you don’t FIX something. The thing is, there is nothing wrong with your baby! There is no magic fix for what is NORMAL and there is not only ONE right way (their’s alone). Books like these give parents false hope and often make them feel like failures if they follow the book’s rules and things don’t CHANGE (because baby will still need to wake up to eat, nurse and snuggle – they have one job right now after all!!) Sometimes these books, when followed EXACTLY as they say, can even put baby’s life in danger! 

Take what works for you and leave the rest. Remember you are your child’s parent, teacher, and first love. You also know your child BEST. You are the REAL expert.  

Here are some of my favorite links:












Watch this too! 

There are better books out there…


Sweet Sleep

Sweet Sleep

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Depression, Anxiety and Parenting

Depression, Anxiety and Parenting

Before a baby or child comes into a family, there is usually much excitement and preparation. Yet, we are never truly prepared for how that change is going to impact us emotionally or physically. For some parents, the transition seems to go smoothly at first but then the toll of being on 24/7 for months starts to wear them down. For others, they feel surprised that they are not “happy” right away while they find things get easier over time. The cliff seems steeper for some of us to climb than it does for others.

Finding support with groups, friends, doctors, or counselors is so helpful. Taking care of ourselves with regular exercise, nutrition, sunlight, and naps is something that is vital for us to do. It is essential to listen to our bodies and to find balance in our new normal.

I am by no means an expert but I find it helpful to read and listen and to have good resources on hand. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. So I have compiled some of my favorite links all in one place so they are accessible.

So what does PPD or anxiety look like? It may be different than you thought. Each person’s experience can be distinct because of our own personalities, child’s personality, backgrounds, situations, support and so forth.


Plain English – symptoms (I love this one for the basics!)






La Leche League International (specifically breastfeeding related)


Postpartum Support International


Postpartum Progress


PPD handouts and information (Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC, FAPA has wonderful books and research information as well)


Postpartum Support Charleston (this is for my families in SC)


Women’s Health.gov Depression During and After Pregnancy Fact Sheet


There are different support groups in place for women, men or other types of parents or those supporting their loved ones. Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues are not gender exclusive.


Dads at Risk Too


Postpartum Men


Postpartum Dads / Partners


How Ryan Heffernan Beat the Blues after his Son’s Birth



There is wonderful data out there that exercise and omega 3’s are paramount to our health, especially in the case of depression or anxiety. Talking to a nutritionist and starting exercise (especially with a friend or two for support) can really help get us started on the road to healing. Some people find that they do need herbal or medical options. Breastfeeding should not be a reason NOT to seek medication or support. There ARE plenty of reliable sources for information that you can speak with your health care team about as you decide what treatment plan will work for you.

Infant Risk (medications)


Depression and New Mothers:

Although there is some risk associated with antidepressant use, the risk of untreated depression may be even greater. And all risks and benefits must be carefully weighed for each mother. – See more at: http://www.infantrisk.com/content/antidepressant-usage-during-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding#sthash.AYzSww1o.dpuf

Is this Safe while Breastfeeding?


Postpartum Depression Treatment: Medication



NPR show – findings and treatments


Safe Space Radio (I love this session – it is great for all breastfeeding supporters to listen to!) 



Some parents feel depression or sadness around weaning. Some feel pressure to wean when they or their child are not ready. There is no reason to wean if you are depressed or need medications. Know that if you do decide to wean, doing it gently and with love is best for both your baby AND you.

Weaning and Depression


Comfort Measures during Weaning


Native Mothering Guide to Weaning



There are a lot of myths around sleep, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. It is helpful to understand what is working for you in your home and situation. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, there are often those (well meaning though they may be) who offer the suggestion of weaning at night, CIO (Cry It Out) or other ideas that are actually counterintuitive of helping the family get real rest.

The Effect of Feeding Method on Sleep Duration, Maternal Well-Being and Postpartum Depression


Exclusively Breastfeeding Mothers Get MORE Sleep


Sleep Management and PPD


Secrets of Baby Behavior – Dealing Realistically with Postpartum Sleep Deprivation


10 Things NOT to Say to Sleep Deprived Parents  


Breastfeeding Today – Nighttime Breastfeeding


How “Never Bedshare” Leads Breastfeeding Moms to More Dangerous Behaviors



These tools and links are not meant to be a substitute for real, in person, counseling. They are however, helpful in getting those you love or yourself help and support. They are shared here to help you move forward in getting more mental health service with a trained professional on your team.

Edinburgh Scale


Anxiety and Depression Association of America


Out from the Shadows


Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine – Establishing the Fourth Trimester



Guilt is one of those things that seem to come with parenting. And many of the decisions we face, only seem to have clarity after the fact. We can’t “shoulda, coulda, woulda” ourselves. Know that you are doing the best you can at the time and feel proud that you are reaching out for support.

PPD and Breastfeeding Challenges: The Connection


5 Things Not to Say to a Woman with Postpartum Depression and What to Say Instead


Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine – Shame, Guilt and Common Ground



How to Protect Yourself in the Workplace if You’re Suffering From Postpartum Depression




TWITTER: #ppdchat


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline



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