Lactation education

Lactation counselors guide new moms through the challenges and stigma of breastfeeding

The joys of motherhood aren’t always so joyous, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. This is where lactation consultants come in, acting as hidden heroes for new mothers.

This isn’t Jaryn Bassett’s first rodeo.

Jaryn Bassett

“My eldest is super sweet,” the mother-of-three said. “So he’s been through this before, and he loves holding the baby in his arms and he really understands the process… My second, my middle child, his name is Trip, and he’s really crazy, so this is really funny. He likes to hold the baby for about a minute or less and then he, he’s done.

She gave birth to her youngest son, Trent, on August 6.

Three babies breastfed three times. Jaryn says that each time she learned something new.

“With my first two, I was overproduced,” she explained. “So I made a lot of milk, and I pumped for both, and I was able to feed other children. So with my first I was feeding my child full time, I was feeding the child of a full-time friend, and another part-time friend’s child… For my second, I was feeding a baby full-time when I was feeding my own.

Although it may seem natural, breastfeeding is not always easy. This is where lactation consultants come in.

“There are so many different reasons why breastfeeding can be difficult or it can be something we have to adapt to,” said Arlyn Johnson, lactation consultant at AdventHealth. “So it’s definitely not I have a breast, I have a baby, boom we’re breastfeeding. It’s not that simple.”

“Breastfeeding is kind of a learned process,” said Maria Tillinghast, International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant at Baylor Scott & White. “I tell my patients all the time that it was a bit like learning to tango and every time you give birth, mom has a different partner. And so even though mom has had success breastfeeding in the past, sometimes the next partner she aura won’t be as good as the first, or as the second was.

There is a lot of benefits of breastfeedingboth for mom and baby.

Breastfed babies have a reduced risk of asthma, obesity, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and more. As for moms, breastfeeding reduces the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, as well as ovarian and breast cancer.

Although the physical benefits are many, there are often mental challenges when it comes to breastfeeding.

“I feel like it’s as much mental and emotional as it is physical,” Johnson said. “I mean it, I will always preach it religiously in the hospital, take care of yourself. Take care of yourself. Take a moment to take care of yourself. Breathe. Allow yourself to feel what you feel, because the hormones that control stress and the hormones that control breastfeeding work a little against it.

For Johnson and Tillinghast, breastfeeding and helping new moms, both physically and mentally, is a personal mission.

“When I had my first baby, it wasn’t really a second thought that I was breastfeeding, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be,” Johnson said. “When you don’t have any education, real education on it, you think yes, I have a breast and I have a baby, it’s going to work, and it didn’t happen that way.

“I wanted to breastfeed my own child,” Tillinghast said. “However, when he was born, I found myself with cracked and bleeding nipples, and I wanted to cry every time he came near me, and I, as a result of that, decided I didn’t want to. another mother going through what I went through because I knew it could be better. Matthew and I ended up breastfeeding for 16 months. We got over that, but that was because I went to see a lactation consultant and that I got help afterwards that I was able to continue my breastfeeding relationship with him.

Like parenthood as a whole, every day is different. But at the end of it all, Jaryn says the struggles of breastfeeding are well worth the benefits.

“A lot of mental things just make you like, why am I doing this?” she said. “Or, you know, just say it would be so much easier if I didn’t have to do this. But you know, I kept going because I really believe in it.

If you or someone you know is having difficulty, help is available. You can contact a lactation consultant through your hospital or through government programs, such as Texas WIC.