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Policy for COVID-19   Updated 3/14/2020 by Donna Bruschi

Breastfeeding is the best way to protect your baby or child during this pandemic. There is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted through breastfeeding. Appointments to help breastfeeding challenges are available 7 days a week.

  • Video chat is an under-utilized option. It is a completely safe and confidential way to get breastfeeding help. I recommend it for all families who need breastfeeding advice.
  • In my office, I have taken extra sanitizing measures. This option is low risk due to the nature of my services.
  • At your home, I wash my hands and wear gloves. Most appointments are "no contact" consultations, anyway. If you desire, I will wear a mask.

Three astonishing facts about breastfeeding!


1.  Your body already knows what to do.

Your breasts will learn how big your baby is and how much milk they need. Your breasts can make specific antibodies for specific illnesses based on what your baby’s saliva communicates to your breasts. Your breasts keep fresh, perfectly-designed-for-your-baby-milk ready to consume in a sanitary way, at any hour of the day or night. 

If you are ever caught in one of life’s minor or major upsets, or even a disaster, your breasts are ready to feed your baby.  You can be sitting on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck, or flooded out of your home in a Red Cross shelter, and your baby will still have all the comfort, closeness, nutrition, and immune protection they need.

Making milk for your baby requires only about 300 calories a day. About as much as can be found in a glazed donut, a baked potato or a bowl of soup. In dollars and cents that’s like spending a dollar a day for milk tailored to your baby’s needs instead of $25 or more a week on artificial formula designed for generic babies. It gives you the option to bank the money, work less, or even treat yourself to something nice. 

2.  Your baby already knows how to breastfeed.

There is a sequence of instinctive, repetitive reflexes that every baby goes through. Once you learn about the reflexes, your baby’s seemingly random movements suddenly make sense. You can support them learning breastfeeding without getting in their way. You can build a solid foundation of healthy parenting on things you learn in your breastfeeding relationship.

You and your baby both have innate reflexes for breastfeeding. You can learn to work together and breastfeeding will become nourishing, comfortable, satisfying and truly enjoyable.

3.  Your health care provider may not be the best person to give you advice.

All major medical organizations have policy statements stating that babies should be exclusively breastfed until they are 6 months old, unless there is a good reason not to.

In spite of this, you will find health care providers (HCPs), who believe that many mothers can’t make enough milk, and that formula in a bottle is just as good as breastfeeding. 

In addition most physicians, including pediatricians, receive very little education in breastfeeding and no supervised practical training when they go to med school. Pharmaceutical companies know this and provide infant feeding education through samples of formula, gifts, golf vacations and expensive lunches. Similac has even put their formula sales pitch onto an iPad that they give to doctors, so they have a script to follow.

Another challenge you will face is that many people, including pediatricians, lactation consultants and maternity nurses, believe they know about breastfeeding and will give you outdated or wrong information. They may share information that creates problems for both of you. 

If you have an HCP who understands and supports you in breastfeeding, that is wonderful! If your HCP is able to answer all your questions about breastfeeding, then you have found a real treasure. Appreciate them! 

But if you can’t find that perfect practitioner, then this website is designed to help you and your baby, when you need it most.

So-called Breastfeeding Fail

Moms can’t believe how quickly the first 2 months go by, but that only happens after the first two months are over.

Make a long term commitment to breastfeeding by focusing on one day at a time. Try not to quit on your worst day, because it can take a two or three months to get comfortable breastfeeding. While it's true that some moms hit their stride early on, it still takes awhile for their milk supply to even out and for them to feel really confident that they are breastfeeding well.

There’s a wide, wide range of normal.

Breastfeeding takes many forms. Some women breastfeed exclusively, but in the USA, many more do not. Some women express and breastmilk feed. Some women make enough milk for three babies and their baby won't latch comfortably. Some women use donor milk or formula in a supplementer. Some alternate bottles of formula with breastfeeding. 

When you are in the thick of it, days last forever --you may dread feeding your baby.

You can hate breastfeeding and your baby may even refuse to breastfeed.

When you are facing one challenge after another and its affecting your physical, mental or emotional health, its healthy to re-evaluate how committed you are to breastfeeding or breastmilk feeding.

Before making the decision whether to continue or to stop, you need to look at how much support you have and what resources are available to you for continuing. If you don't have the support from your family to continue, or you don't have information and guidance from professionals, it's going to be very, very hard to breastfeed successfully when you reach a certain point. 

If it isn’t working, it's healthy to accept that it isn't working.

In your life, you will have to find ways that work for you and your family not only with with birth and breastfeeding, but with sleeping, foods, vaccines, discipline, friends, school, and more. There’s more to life than breastfeeding, even though in the beginning, it feels like there is ONLY breastfeeding.

There are many, many reasons why breastfeeding doesn’t work out and you may never know exactly why.

When breastfeeding goes off the rails, almost nobody will sit down with you and explain why. There are only a few professionals who will give you a full report of why its not working. It's not like infertility where you get a lab report with numbers and diagnoses. You get a 6-pack of formula and a shrug, "It doesn't work for everyone..."

But even if you do know why, it’s still not what you wanted.

It’s sad and even devastating, when you have to stop breastfeeding before you are ready to. And, it takes a while to grieve your loss even if you feel relieved that you stopped. It’s normal to have mixed feelings about ending breastfeeding. You may feel angry, defensive or resentful and relieved and happy, all at the same time. It's normal to cry and be weepy and then feel better when your baby gives you a goofy grin.

Feeling your feelings doesn’t mean you are a bad mom, it means you are a healthy mom.

Give yourself time to be angry; to rage at yourself, your doctor, the hospital, the world, or even God. Anger is expression of an injustice that has been done and its a force for positive change. You may fill a journal full of venomous thoughts. And, you may also find your life’s purpose through your anger and need for change.

Accept it, grieve your loss, and make time to also enjoy your life and enjoy your baby.

Once you make the decision, you will have energy to discover other things that make you and your baby feel good and connect with each other. In the end, what matters most is that you love and accept yourself and your baby.

Everyone deserves to feel successful. When moms don't meet their breastfeeding goals, many women shift gears, expanding into an area of their life where they do feel successful.

The breast is half full, not half empty.

I hope you create your own positive way of thinking about your experience because any amount of breastmilk and breastfeeding helps you and your baby. Know that however long you nursed and however much milk your baby received, you gave them a wonderful start in life with life-long benefits.

When people who didn't see the cascading chain of events leading to weaning, judge you, it can be helpful to use statements like “I made an informed choice.” and “I didn't plan this but its working for our family.” Statements like, “I didn't get the right information and support.” can lead to productive conversations.

Whatever you do, just don’t think, or say, you failed. Maybe you didn’t breastfeed as much as you wanted to, but you tried and in trying, you got to know yourself and your tremendous courage, strength and love.

Everyone has insurmountable challenges in life and this is yours right now.

You are going to know babies with disabilities, kids with life-threatening allergies, teens who die in car crashes, parents who lose their jobs or divorce, and so much more.

This is your challenge right now. It's not an easy one but you will find the strength to get though it because you love your baby. One day, you will be on the other side of this and you will see, that in the end, there really is more to life than breastfeeding.

Your Baby Is Using You As A Pacifier


A pacifier by any other name is a 'dummy' -- a fake.

Pacifiers don't have any milk. They are something to suck - an object to suck. A firm object that in the same category as hard candies, lollipops, popsicles, pens, spoons, and straws to name a few others. Generic, easily lost, easily replaced.

That's not you, not any one of them.

The biggest difference between you and a pacifier is milk. You may feel drained as your baby is lazily flutter sucking, not just pacifying but also getting everchanging droplets of milk. Milk specially designed for your baby's age and gender, full of antibodies, hormones, nutrients, probiotics and things that we don't even know exist. That, in itself, should encourage you to let your little one suckle.

Suckling is so important -- suckling relieves pain and anxiety!

In an adult, the need to suck is clinically, and jokingly, called an oral fixation. It's so pervasive that there are thousands of jokes and beliefs about it. It's a habit that is hard to break because it is not a habit. It is a need. Humans are born needing to suck. It's how we survive as infants. We eat and we soothe ourselves by suckling. If we suck our thumb or a pacifier or breastfeed until we wean ourselves, the need is integrated and we grow out of it. If we don't integrate this reflex, it lingers as an 'oral fixation.'

There are a hundred good reasons to let your baby suckle at your breast.

Hunger and thirst are obvious. But what about being too cold or hot? Overwhelmed by noise and lights? Bored because you are busy? Lonely, distressed, disturbed, tired and upset? Maybe you are stressed and your baby picks up on it? Your baby might be startled or scared or worried? Worried? Why would a baby be worried? Because he has asked to breastfeed and you haven't let him yet. That's an excellent reason to worry!

Even when you don't know why your baby is needing to nurse, breastfeeding your baby or child will solve a multitude of woes.

Intertwined with feeding is our need for attention. It is through communicating with other humans, especially our mother that we learn everything we need to know in the early years. Breastfeeding engages all five of the baby's senses at once. There is a constant interaction between mama and baby gazing at each other, talking and listening, touching and stroking. Every single interaction fires neurons in the brain and makes connections. This is one of the reasons breastfed babies have higher IQs.

What it really means.

In its primal way, your baby is saying, "Mama, I need you. I need you, the life giver, the one who nurtures me best. I need you to comfort me. I need you to help me through this time, until I feel good again. I need you to nurse me while I feel uncomfortable. Someday I will be able to tell you I'm sad, hungry, lonely, angry, hot, cold, lazy or that I just don't know what's wrong, but I can't do that yet.

"I need your milk. It's made just for me. I need your eyes looking into mine, to know that I am safe. I need to know that you are near. I need to hear your reassuring voice soothing me back into happiness. I need to taste your milk that leads me drip by drip into comfort and contentment. I need to feel your skin, your touch, your grounding presence bringing me back when I fly off into the unknown.

"Most of all, I just need to know that you are with me, human being to human being."

Why is pacifying at your breast so hard to do?

The challenge I see in my work with moms is that parents feel overwhelmed at the duration and intensity of all the caring that newborns require. It's easy to breastfeed for up to a point, but sometimes, babies ask endlessly. If you don't nurse them, they cry and a crying baby can cause you to feel all kinds of horrible feelings.

When you are upset, it is very hard for your baby to calm down. When you feel overwhelmed, you will try anything to stop your baby from crying. As a result, you rush through one thing after another trying to solve an unknown problem and upset the baby even more by overwhelming them with even more sensations and processes.

Learning to be still and present with an upset baby is partly instinctual but mostly it's a learned skill. The first step is to understand that humans usually only need to be listened to and comforted when they are upset. They don't always need a problem solved in order to return to happiness.

Back to pacifying. If suckling at your breast works, then use it.

What better way to teach your child to calm by connecting with other humans than by offering comfort and company of breastfeeding during the challenging time of life called infancy? Offering (or forcing) a baby to use a pacifier teaches them to look for comfort from objects, not humans. When you hold your baby and let them suckle, they learn empathy and compassion. They learn how to help others in times of suffering. Nature has something for you in return. You get a blast of oxytocin, the love hormone, and you calm down and return to your calmer, more generous self.

For what is the purpose of our ability to ask for help, if we can not connect with another in our darkest, most painful hours?

My love to you and your family....


Something Has To Give.

Simply being the mother of a breastfeeding infant is overwhelming.

Your day to day list of things to do is already long. Feed the baby 10 times, change 10 diapers, eat 3 meals + 3 snacks, pay bills, buy groceries, cook them, clean te floors, wash the clothes, put them away, get the car fixed, and more! It's a monster! Then when you go back to working and subtract 8 or 10 hours from each day, you either surrender or go crazy. Something has to give.

The first thing to go should be zealous perfectionism.

Perfectionism is not a bad thing. The pursuit of the highest, finest verison of anything has led to many of the wonders around us. It's fine to strive for an A in college. It's wonderful to lead your team to be the best in your company. Bringing your home from Foreclosure Fixer-Upper to Architectural Digest is a worthy accomplishment.

Don’t compare your “insides” to someone else’s “outsides”.

When you look at Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, you may think everyone lives in super-clean houses with perfectly cooked and presented dinners and wonder why your family is having pizza on paper plates for the third time this week.

It takes a lot of time, energy and domestic help for a family to live in a showcase style. When you work full-time and have a baby, your free time or energy are fully engaged. Now that you are working, maybe you can hire domestic help. If deep in your soul, you need to live a showcase lifestyle, it’s possible.

What probably bothers you the most is the chaos.

The opposite of perfection is chaos and babies are the epitome of chaos: wet, messy, everchanging, rapidly expanding and unpredictable. And in that chaos, what makes you love them most is their potential! That smile! Those two, tiny budding teeth! The discovery of their hands! The rolling! The pushing up, reaching, stretching, pulling, crawling, talking and walking potential! 

Your baby's going to be a Rockstar, or an Olympian, or Something!

And that is why you have to let go of perfectionism and learn to relish chaos. Because perfection has no potential. It's dead, and without tremendous energy, your perfect thing starts to decay...into chaos, back into something that is pure potential.

Don't make choices you will later regret.

What babies need most is your love and your undivided attention. Your baby will grow. And in the future, you will find you have time and energy to reclaim the parts of yourself you are missing and mourning right now.

Nobody ever looks back and says, I wish I had spent less time cuddling and nursing my baby.

In fact, its usually the opposite. Most moms say they wish they had spent more time responding to their baby's need for one-on-one attention. In hindsight, you realize how short a time babies are babies. It's really just a few months of intensity before you get organized and prioritize how you want to mother.

I encourage you to sit with the intense feelings about your current life.

Turn off your TV. Put down your phone. They take too much time. Get rid of things that use up your time. Put your earnings into savings instead of shopping for more clutter. Streamline your chores by organizing them better. Think about this.

Rush right home after work, put some pizza on a paper plate and breastfeed your baby. Look at their potential and ignore the crumbs on your floor. They will still be there on Saturday when you have an extra hour to clean.


Birth and breastfeeding are meant to go together.

new mother and newborn in hospital

"I spent most of my pregnancy studying labor and birthing. In one course, there was a page on latching your baby for breastfeeding. I didn't really pay attention because I was worried about handling contractions during labor. I didn't even think about breastfeeding."

Read more ...

The 5 warning signs you NEED help.

mother and baby

"Everyone says its really rough in the beginning...I don't want to give my baby formula...I just have to tough it out for two weeks...the Pediatrician said I was starving my baby.....Everyone is telling me something different!"

Read more ...

Aren't All Hospitals Baby Friendly?

You may have heard that Health Alliance (Kingston) Hospital is a Baby Friendly Hospital.

You may have questions about what that means. Aren't all maternity hospitals "baby friendly?" While the health care workers, staff and executives at your nearby hospital may love babies and be friendly, "Baby Friendly" means something deeper and different.

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was formed to increase awareness and educate parents about the importance of breastfeeding, especially in the first hour after birth; to protect parents from predatory marketing and mis-education from hospital staff; to give parents all the professional support they might need as they begin their breastfeeding relationship; and to link families to breastfeeding support systems when they return home.

BFHI is founded on the ideal that all babies have the right to begin their life breastfeeding.

If after educating parents, allowing babies to initiate breastfeeding, and helping families breastfeed through their early days, the family decides to wean, then that is absolutely acceptable.

The Initiative decided on 10 principles which became "The Ten Steps To Successful Breastfeeding." and is adapted into "The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding for Hospitals," as outlined by UNICEF/WHO.

The steps for the United States are:

1 - Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
2 - Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
3 - Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4 - Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
5 - Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
6 - Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.
7 - Practice rooming-in-- allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
8 - Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
9 - Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
10 - Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic

A hospital goes through a several year process of adopting the "Ten Steps" in coordination with BFHI.

When they have made all the organizational and structural changes needed to adopt these principles, they become a "Baby Friendly Hospital."

In New York State, these hospitals have earned the Baby Friendly designation:

Bellevue Hospital Center
462 1st Ave & 27th Street
New York, NY 10016

Brooklyn Birthing Center
2183 Ocean Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11229

Coney Island Hospital
2601 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11235

Elmhurst Hospital Center
79-01 Broadway
Elmhurst, NY 11373

Flushing Hospital Medical Center
4500 Parsons Blvd.
Flushing, NY 11355

Harlem Hospital Center
506 Lenox Avenue
New York, NY 10037-1802
(2008) Re-Designated 2018-2023

HealthAlliance Hospital – Broadway Campus
396 Broadway
Kingston, NY 12401

Jacobi Medical Center
1400 Pelham Parkway South
Bronx, NY 10461

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
8900 Van Wyck Expressway
Jamaica, NY 11418

John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital
818 Ellicott Street
Buffalo, NY 14203

Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center
234 East 149th Street
Bronx, NY 10451

Long Island Jewish Forest Hills
102-01 66th Road
Forest Hills, NY 11375

Long Island Jewish Medical Center
270-05 76th Avenue
New Hyde Park, NY 11040

Metropolitan Hospital Center
1901 First Avenue
New York, NY 10029

Montefiore Jack D. Weiler Hospital – Einstein Campus
1825 Eastchester Road
Bronx, NY 10461

Montefiore Medical Center – Wakefield Hospital
600 East 233rd Street
Bronx, NY 10466

Mount Sinai South Nassau
One Healthy Way
Oceanside, NY 11572

New York Presbyterian/Queens
56-45 Main Street
Flushing, NY 11355

New York-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital
1980 Crompond Road
Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567
(01/13) Re-designated 2018-2023

Newark Wayne Community Hospital
1200 Driving Park Avenue
Newark, NY 14513-0111

NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx
3424 Kossuth Avenue
Bronx, NY 10467

NYU Langone Hospital
550 First Avenue
New York, NY 10016

NYU Winthrop Hospital
259 First Street
Mineola, NY 11501
(12/14) Re-Designation Pending

Phelps Hospital
701 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591

Queens Hospital Center
82-68 164th Street
Jamaica, NY 11432
(05/14) Re-Designated 2019-2024

Richmond University Medical Center
355 Bard Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10310

Rochester General Hospital
1425 Portland Ave
Rochester, NY 14621-3001
(2000) Re-Designated 2015-2020

St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center
50 Rte 25-A
Smithtown, NY 11787

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center
301 Prospect Ave
Syracuse, NY 13203
(2009) Re-Designated 2019-2024

St. Peter’s Hospital
315 South Manning Blvd.
Albany, NY 12208

United Memorial Medical Center
127 North Street
Batavia, NY 14020

Unity Hospital
1555 Long Pond Road
Rochester, NY 14626

Woodhull Medical & Mental Health Center
760 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11206

What to Expect at a Baby Friendly Hospital
HealthAlliance Hospital’s Family Birth Place

Why "Fed is Best" is not best.

"I tried breastfeeding and it didn't go well. My doctor said that I didn't have enough milk and I knew I would be going back to work eventually. She took a bottle right away. I'm angry, sad and disappointed I couldn't breastfeed, but after all, 'fed is best'."

Read more ...

Breastfeeding in America

"I had never seen a mom breastfeed her baby in real life. I babysat and bottlefed when I was a teen. I have several nieces and nephews but my sisters didn't breastfeed. So there was my son and me, with no idea how it all worked. I wasn't just scared. I was terrified."

Read more ...

A Five Step Cure For Breastfeeding Ignorance

glasses and newspaper

"I thought breastfeeding would be easy because it's how our species has survived for like, forever. How hard could it be if a baby's survival depended on it? It didn't take me long- maybe a day- to figure out how dangerous that thinking was."

Read more ...

Not breastfeeding when you go back to work?

mother and newborn baby hands

"I've thought about breastfeeding. I have to go back to work 6 weeks after my baby is born. It just doesn't seem worth all the aggravation that I've heard about. I want to spend the few short weeks I have recuperating and enjoying my baby."

Read more ...

Do I need a class for breastfeeding?

You may wonder if you need a class for breastfeeding?

A breastfeeding class prepares parents for the fundamentals of breastfeeding.

In an ideal world, you would have breastfed, watched your siblings breastfeed and all your sisters, aunties, co-workers and friends would have taught you a bit about normal breastfeeding throughout your life.

In a traditional culture, your mother, or mother-in-law, would move in after your birth for a month or two, bringing her knowledge about breastfeeding, traditional foods to support lactation and plenty of elbow grease to keep your little household running smoothly during your recovery.

In lieu of that, a two-hour course will cover the following. It can help give you a good start whether or not your mother is coming to live with you.

Preparation during pregnancy

You will learn how to receive a breastpump through insurance and what you need to do, so it's ready to go if you need it.

Pregnancy is also the time to talk to your employer about your plans to return to work and what kind of accomodations you will need if you're pumping. In New York State, the law protects your right to pump at work until your child is three years old.

Somebody probably told you how to toughen your nipples by rubbing them with a washcloth. Rather than doing this, learn to massage your breasts to wake them up. You also learn about expressing your colostrum prenatally so you have supplemental food should your baby need it in the hospital. 

And you will hear about how wonderful (and how awful) breastfeeding can be.

Beginning breastfeeding

The first five days are challenging and many parents are overwhelmed by their new responsibilities. You will learn how to negotiate the first hour of your baby's life and why it's important to keep your baby on you skin-to-skin, even though not every hospital allows it. The law protects your rights to have this, and you will learn how to advocate for it.

In addition, you may not have access to a Lactation Consultant in the hospital because either your schedule and hers don't line up. You will watch and receive a short list of excellent videos that can help you through this time. 

Common problems

In the first five days, there are four common problems: sore nipples, engorgement, baby not latching well and feeling like you don't have enough milk. All of these problems have simple solutions that are not commonly taught by hospital staff but are covered in breastfeeding class. For instance, simply leaning back into a reclining position can make sore nipples vanish and cause babies to open their mouth wide. 

Solving breastfeeding problems in a hospital often takes breastfeeding away from mothers and substitutes it with pumping and formula. Breastfeeding classes not only offers you simple solutions that keep you breastfeeding but also teach how to advocate for your baby's needs.

How to know when you need help

There are four barriers that keep women from getting the help they need.

  1. Stubbornness and the belief that they can power through it.
  2. Not knowing where to get help, or what kind is needed.
  3. People or places to get help don't exist.
  4. Not knowing the warning signs and red flags


It may seem strange to talk about ending breastfeeding before it's even begun, but it's important.  Weaning always takes time -- weeks or months, not days. Sudden weaning can make you painfully miserable or even sick. You will learn strategies for every age when weaning might happen.

Support groups

A class gives you information on local and online support groups. The easiest way to prepare yourself for breastfeeding is to attend breastfeeding support groups while you are still pregnant. It's also important is to talk on the phone or meet with at least one International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC.)

If you are surrounded by women who breastfeed, they can cheer you on and model what's coming up in your future. When you don't have the perspective from shared experiences, its easy to magnify your problems in your head. And that leads to anxiety, stress, feeling discouraged and not meeting your breastfeeding goals.

How Partners and Grandparents fit into breastfeeding

While you might be the rebel of the family already, it's a lot easier if your significant-other and parents support your breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding involves some bare breasts in the beginning. You will probably feel self-conscious and the last thing you need is family members acting all self-righteous and shocked. Or making snarky comments about boobs. Or trying to be "helpful" by suggesting the baby needs a bottle.

A class prepares you to tell them and you can bring them to the breastfeeding class so you are all on the same page. 

Remember, this is your baby. You are the mom, and Gramma is not. She may have some feelings about this, but she had her baby and this is yours!

Selecting a breast pump and essentials if you are returning to work.

Call your insurance company to see what they offer in breast pumps and how to receive one. Insurance companies and pumps all work a little differently and it can take some time, so don't leave it to the last minute. If you need one in the hospital, a hospital grade pump will be provided for you.

The class gives you reviews about different pumps and how to select the right one for you.

Pacifiers, safe bottle feeding, & suckling

When a person of authority insists that you stop breastfeeding when you are learning how to breastfeed, and you aren't ready, you need a solution. There is a time and a place for pacifiers and bottle feeding and there is almost always a breastfeeding solution, if you want to do that.

Breast compressions can replace pumping and keep babies awake. A spoon can replace a bottle. Breastfeeding can replace a pacifier. 

These are all components of a good breastfeeding class. It gives you a good foundation for learning what to expect and how beginning breastfeeding can be a wonderful thing.

Why do women fail at breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding Infant

"I gave birth on Friday. There was no lactation help over the weekend. A pediatrician would only discharge us if we fed the baby 4 oz. of formula. I was anxious and I didn't know what to do, and ultimately, I failed at breastfeeding my baby."

Read more ...

When Baby Stops Nursing, it's a Strike!

"Hey, so all of the sudden my three month won't eat. He won't take my breast and if he does, it's a very short feed. He screams if I even put him in the position. I have milk and it's leaking out-- even shooting out now--because I'm so full. I tried a bottle with a slow nipple -- he took some and then started crying. 

He has NEVER been like this before. He loves breastfeeding and his weight is great - 20 pounds at 3 months. He is an awesome eater and I'm worried. Should I call the pediatrician? He's arching his back, do you think he has reflux? I'm worried because he hasn't had many wet diapers. He needs to eat and I feel like I am going to burst!"

Read more ...

Why “Self-Soothing” is a Bad Idea

Long ago in the time of the sabertooth tiger, we developed a survival tool -- the “fight or flight” responses.

And we still use them today. Briefly, when faced with danger, humans get a burst of adrenaline that switches off less important body functions like digestion or lactation, and prepares them to fight an attacker, or flee dangerous situations with superhuman amounts of strength and energy. But just in case this doesn't work, we also developed a back-up response.

We learned how to freeze.

The “freeze” response shuts down the whole body so as to appear dead. This is an attempt to become less visible, or to fool a predator into thinking that the victim is inedible because they are already dead. It may also serve to make the victim numb in the event they are eaten.

Also way back when, mothers carried her baby all the time.

Humans did not always live in relatively safe shelters like houses and apartments. Babies are helpless for quite a period of time and dependent on their parents for food, safety and protection. If you set your baby down and walked away, there was a good chance your baby would not be there when you got back. So families kept babies close and responded to their signals quickly so as not to attract the attention of predators looking for an easy meal.

Baby has a need--mom responds--need is met--baby survives.

So first, they coo or whimper, if there is no response, they cry. Mothers are made to respond to their baby’s cry. You probably can’t stand to hear your baby cry and that’s how it's supposed to be. Babies also have no sense of time. When a baby is separated from his mother, he can’t know she is coming back “in just a minute”. 

If the mother doesn’t respond, the baby gets scared.

Feeling scared activates an adrenaline rush and escalates baby's response. Now they cry louder and harder. They are incapable of fighting or running without his mom. Baby is certain she is gone, because if she was near, she would have responded to their cries. When a baby reaches a certain level of stress, he gives up. He goes into the freeze response. By dramatically lowering his heartrate, breathing and digestion, he appears dead to predators and has a greater chance of surviving. It also conserves energy.

The freeze response is mistakenly called “self soothing.” 

When parents ignore their baby, what baby hears is this: “I am going to ignore your needs.” and “Stop asking for help.” And many babies do just this.

Some babies don’t give up. This is the fight response.

You may know a baby that will not stop crying if left alone. He eventually teaches you to respond to his needs because they are just that: Needs. They might not be hungry, but the need for survival and protection is hardwired and requires you to stay close. Whatever the underlying need, he relies on you until he can think and act for himself and meet his own needs. When baby is old enough to understand that they are safe, only then, can he ‘self soothe’.

Humans are hardwired to connect with other humans

Maybe you can remember a time as an adult when you were in pain, scared or lonely. Maybe you were even frustrated, tired or hungry. Maybe just bored. If you were alone, how did you sort it out? Were you able to self soothe? Or did you handle it in some other way, maybe eat chocolate, watch TV, smoke a joint or have a glass of wine?

A healthy way to deal with pain is to receive empathy through connection with other humans. This is why support groups and therapy work. If you have a healthy relationship with your parents, it's because they offer empathy when you are frustrated.

You can't undo what is hardwired.

One of the traps new parents fall into is thinking they have to teach their baby to self-soothe.  Infants are too young to consciously self-soothe.  You probably know some babies who do “self-soothe” and you may wonder why your baby does or does not. If your baby does, it's because they are easy-going and trusting by nature. If your baby does not, holding them and responding promptly to their needs will build that trust and feeling of safety. It may take a few years before they are comfortable being alone, but you can trust that time will come when your child feels safe enough.

The Bad Birth That Started it All

“We have to do a C-Section.”

The words shattered all my dreams and expectations of a natural childbirth.

I had tried so hard to relax and open up in the hospital and it had not worked. I was stuck at 6 or 7 cm and just not comfortable in the hospital. In hindsight, it was a typical progression for a hospital birth. At the time it was traumatic. And it set off a series of unfortunate events that culminated in the person I am today.

I came out of Labor and Delivery very sad.

When my baby and I were separated for 4 hours, I got very angry and rollercoasted between the two for the next year. Nursing got off to a bad start and took about two weeks to get comfortable. I spun into Postpartum Depression. I cried all the time. I lived in a half woken state. I thought about putting my baby in the oven. I hid the knives and then moved them again and again. I knew it was a bad idea to kill him, but the thoughts haunted me.

My family organized.

My mom got me breastfeeding help. She and my sister came over to help with the baby and take me out for lunch and shopping. My husband called La Leche League. He made me come back to work in our business, so I wouldn’t be unsupervised and tried to distract me. He called therapists and got me a physical. We started going to therapy as a family.

“Have you had thoughts of hurting your baby?”

“NO!” I lied. I thought they would separate me and my baby and probably hospitalize me. Whether or not this was true, it is what I believed. Separation would end our nursing relationship and THAT was the only thing going well. At that time, anti-depressants were untested on nursing mothers. I refused them, preferring to nurse. Over time, we now know that not only are they safe for breastfeeding, but exercising is shown equally as effective as drugs in studies of nursing mothers.

My baby was a fussy baby who didn’t sleep.

He was a 2.9 in the “Colic Rule of 3″ which was still enough to rattle anyone. And nursing was The Way To Soothe. I thought if I could just keep nursing and get some sleep, I would be OK.

Then, I did what turns out to be a key piece in overcoming depression.

I joined a playgroup. When my baby was six months old, I met 4 women at La Leche League and we (very shyly) agreed to meet weekly. This, more than anything, pulled me out of the hole. By one year, I still felt tired and angry, but only sad intermittantly.

It was at that time, I was invited to be a La Leche League Leader. I started the application process and the rest is another story.

Painful Breasts = Mastitis

"I had a c-section. Surprisingly, I felt pretty good during the first week, except for my nipples, which felt like hot coals. I thought that that was the worst thing that could happen until one morning, I woke up with incredible pain in my breasts as well."

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