You can get your copy of Milk Boss 101: The Modern Breastfeeding Journal & Guide here.
As I planned for my initial entrance into motherhood over four years ago there were really only two things that I knew I wanted to be prepared for, they were birth and breastfeeding. My mom had given birth to all four of my siblings and I vaginally and without pain meds. She also chose to breastfeed us all for some period of time, even as a full-time active duty member of the military. From my perspective, natural birth and breastfeeding weren’t seen as tough or overwhelming. But what I’d come to discover during my pregnancy as I scrolled through popular birth and postpartum forums, that wasn’t the case for many mothers today. They were all telling horrific birth stories and tales of breastfeeding difficulty.
I quickly decided that I might need to find a few books to help me prepare. Thankfully I’d also hired a fabulous doula who took us through the gamut with all the information we needed to be informed patients pursuing natural birth.
The few books I chose to read (by read I mean skim through) were Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Beyond the Sling by Dr. Mayim Bialik, and excerpts of Penny Simkin’s The Birth Partner. For some reason I just didn’t feel any affinity to the popular breastfeeding books being offered. Frankly, they all looked quite the same and seemed to be saying the exact same thing…things I could find out through a few simple Google searches and by a simple scroll through Kelly Mom.
What I came to learn after giving birth to my first daughter was that in all actuality the moms who did choose to read those popular books on breastfeeding ran into the very same troubles that I did, if not worse. The books weren’t the key to breastfeeding success. The key thing that changed my experience and that of every other successful breastfeeding mother I met was a person who stepped in and made the difference. Someone who took time to teach that mama how to properly latch her baby, how to properly manage engorgement so that it didn’t last weeks and months, someone who answered that mama’s seemingly insignificant breastfeeding questions, and treated her with respect and dignity.
It was an intimate experience between a new mother and a knowledgeable and caring person that resulted in a postive experience, and triumph over her particular breastfeeding struggle. This is what I came to discover was missing from most women’s prenatal breastfeeding education and subsequent postpartum support. In fact, most mothers I’ve met (who were not my clients) did not have a skilled person to call after birth and speak to directly about her particular breastfeeding concern; not to mention having someone actually show up at her home to help her.
Much of the emphasis on breastfeeding support solely relies on books and group classes provided by hospitals. Now there’s nothing wrong with a hospital provided class– but something that must be pointed out is that a hospital is not in the business of providing individualized care. They are looking to serve a large group of people at minimal cost and effort. And when it comes to breastfeeding, this is a poor model doomed to have poor results.
In order to see increased breastfeeding initiation and continuation rates, breastfeeding support must begin prenatally. The support must involve the mother’s partner, friends, and family. We must also begin offering breastfeeding training to businesses so that once a mother returns to work, she’s not made to train her supervisor, coworkers, and everyone else on what to expect and the importance of breastfeeding–which extends beyond mother and baby, but to our communities and public health as a whole.
If this idea of breastfeeding as a public health issue is new to you, take a look at these facts about breastfeeding and it’s longterm affects on our healthcare system and communities.
I realized that much of the breastfeeding information and resources being promoted focused primarily on the benefits of breastfeeding and telling women exactly how they should do it. I saw very few books that invited women to do their own research, evaluate their own goals, and plan for the experience they wanted, that fit their lifestyle.
I also recognized from serving my own clients in Puerto Rico and Guam that breastfeeding is deeply personal and the way that women navigate the postpartum journey (which often times includes some sort of breastfeeding or a desire to breastfeed) is heavily influenced by the people around her, her community, and her specific lifestyle.
There was nothing I read that pointed this fact out to expectant mamas and provided a framework for her to get the kind of personalized support she would need. Thus Milk Boss 101 was born. Grab a copy today for yourself or an expectant mama in your world.
Please tell me what your experience was like planning for your first child’s birth. Did you plan to breastfeed? Was there someone there to support you? Did you feel alone? I look forward to reading your responses and always reply.