Studies show that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for baby’s nutrition needs, but sometimes new moms need assistance getting the process underway. In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month, we asked members of The Lactation Club (TLC) at Parkwest Medical Center to share their stories.
Sarah Saxton had wanted to be a mother for as long as she could remember, but trying to feed baby Reed was a bigger challenge than she expected. There were times when she considered giving up and just bottle-feeding him.
“Don’t be afraid to try different positions from the get-go!” Sarah advises. “Reach out to a lactation consultant, even if you think you’ve got it down pat.”
Sarah says The Lactation Club at Parkwest gave her the instruction she needed to make breastfeeding more effective. She also received support from other moms. Sarah has built friend- ships and found a place for some “adult time” amid the chaotic baby days.
“Two of the girls who have been there since I started have kids the same age as my son -with- in a-week-and-a-half,” Sarah says. “Seeing other moms that are going through the exact same stuff as you is amazing for your self-esteem!”
Sarah’s baby boy is growing and going, from learning to roll over to cutting his first tooth. She is savoring every mo- ment.
“The first time your child smiles at you be- cause he recognizes you is about the best thing ever,” Sarah says. “I can’t wait to watch him experience all the new things as he grows!”
Successful breastfeeding requires trust. A mom has to trust that she is producing enough milk and trust that her baby is getting enough of it.
When there’s no way to keep track of that at home, the uncertainty can be scary. Joining a support group like TLC can take some of the guesswork out of breastfeeding.
“My favorite part was putting Logan on the scale every meeting to see how much he weighed and how much milk he was getting,” says Jennifer Capezza. Jennifer hadn’t been excited about nursing her newborn. She viewed it as an obligation, and it was even harder when she realized baby Logan wasn’t gaining weight the way he should.
“In desperation, my 5-day-old baby and I went on our first outing to the TLC meeting,” Jennifer says.
TLC gave her confidence, support, friendship and empowerment to breastfeed and make the most of her new role as a mother. Jennifer says the lactation consultants are patient, knowledgeable, relatable and empathetic.
“I would never have been successful at breast- feeding without them,” Jennifer says. “You’ll hear that breastfeeding is
hard and in my experience, no truer words have been spoken — but once you find your new normal and confidence, it gets so much better!”
Jessica Huffman always knew she wanted to nurse her baby, but when the time came, it was difficult.
“The first three months were very emotional,” she says. “I was about to give up on nursing until I started going to the group. They helped me overcome my obstacles and we got the hang of it!”
Little Emerson is a toddler now, and Jessica has become a mentor to new moms in TLC. She tells them to be prepared for an emotional ride, but that it’s worth it.
“Nursing is a natural thing that your baby will know how to do, but that doesn’t mean it will be perfect from the begin-
ways be easy, it’s a wonderful way to bond with your baby.
“Have patience,” she advises new moms. “Don’t automatically blame yourself for doing something wrong. It will get easier, and when it does you will forget all about how hard it might have been. You will be celebrating the success you and your baby are having.”
You’d think if anyone would be capable of nursing, it would be a nurse who works with babies.
“I have literally coached people in breast- feeding,” says Rachel Tabor, RN. “However, when they told me I could go ahead and feed my baby, I was clueless!”
Encouragement from her nurse at Parkwest Medical Center got her started feeding baby Garrett. Then Rachel was feeding but until I took a class, I didn’t realize just how amazing those benefits were,” Rachel says. “It’s nice to have peer support as well. We are able to talk about the funny things motherhood brings, and I think that helps keep mamas sane.” Rachel has also gained more confidence. She says it’s good to know that most nursing moms are just average women who are trying to meet a very basic need.
“We are just trying to feed our babies,” Rachel says. “My body makes exactly what Garrett needs. That in itself is empowering.”
To learn more about resources for expectant and new moms, The Lactation Club or classes offered through Parkwest’s Teddy Bear University, visit treatedwell.com/childbirth, or call (865) 374-PARK.
The Other Kind of TLC
Parkwest Medical Center provides a little extra TLC for new moms. In this case, those three letters stand for much more than “tender loving care.”
The Lactation Club helps new mothers with breastfeeding during a time that can be trying both physically and emotionally. Lac- tation consultant Michelle French, RN, IBCLC , says it’s a time when women may find themselves feeling overwhelmed and a little isolated.
“They are away from work or their other daily routines as they recover from delivery and adapt to life with a new baby,” French says.
TLC lactation consultants and nurses offer gentle instruction and advice. They also encourage moms to bond with each other.
“We facilitate ongoing relationships between these mothers,” French says, “and witness friendships develop as mothers naturally fall into mentoring roles for one another.” Research indicates that women who have a good support system are much more likely to be successful in breastfeeding, long term.
“TLC is a very unique group and I feel honored to be a part of it,” French says. The Lactation Club at Parkwest is for new moms who have delivered their babies at Parkwest. It’s part of Parkwest’s Teddy Bear University, which offers classes to give parents knowledge, skills and confidence as they make the most of creating a new family.
For a complete list of classes or to learn more about TLC, visit www.treatedwell.com/childbirth or call (865) 374-PARK.