BFing mom and staff member, Leah, answer a few questions she’s received about milk banking.
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BFing mom and staff member, Leah, answer a few questions she’s received about milk banking.
With frigid temperatures blowing across the Midwest, The Milk Bank offers a few suggestions on breastfeeding during colder months and the presence of illness.
Since 2014, Lasley, an IBCLC and Indianapolis resident, has done something she calls her birthday quest. Instead of receiving gifts, she has opted to help others by raising money for organizations that have had an influence in her life. This year she chose The Milk Bank.
When I first heard the noise, I thought it was a figment of my imagination. After all, I was a week postpartum and sleep had packed its bags and left without warning. But I kept hearing the noise over and over. Could it…
We are proud to announce the addition of FREE Lactation Services to our programs starting in Spring of 2016. The 2014 CDC Breastfeeding report card shows Indiana behind the national average for both the initiation of breastfeeding and exclusively breastfeeding at three months. With…
Breastfeeding in public is a woman’s right, it is supported by law in 48states, but the practical side of this can be a real issue and many new mothers worry about negative reactions to feeding their baby in front of strangers.
Part of the convenience of breastfeeding is that you have all your equipment right there, milk at the perfect temperature, ready at any time! To be able to leave the house and feed your baby wherever you like should be easy, right? In Theory. But not everyone is comfortable with breastfeeding in pubic, so here are some practical pointers that may ease the anxiety felt by so many new Mothers.
The more we can normalize breastfeeding, the more it will be accepted as part of our culture for feeding and nurturing our children.
"A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three". ~Grantly Dick-Read
As the State Breastfeeding Coordinator, I am privileged to travel around Indiana, getting a real “birds eye view” of what is going on in breastfeeding. I can assure you that if you could see what is happening in breastfeeding, in its entirety, you would be as excited as I am about how much is being done and the momentum for change that exists. Great change is happening on many fronts.
To name a few:
If you care that every mom and baby in our state experiences the best opportunity to successfully breastfeed I urge you to get involved where you live. Join a coalition, start a coalition, volunteer at a drop-in center… There are many ways that you can make a difference in your communities and in the lives of moms, babies, and families by getting involved on the grassroots level. I look forward to meeting you in my travels.
You might remember a few months ago, we asked our Facebook friends what kind of blog posts they would like to see from us and a few of you asked specific questions. Once a month, a Breastfeeding Professional will address these answers. Feel free to follow up with comments or additional questions below. Happy Reading! Carissa Question from Rachel
“How to explain your breastfeeding goals to family and friends who don't understand! (Thinking specifically of child-led weaning/full-term breastfeeding vs weaning at a specific age).”
Melissa Smith, RN
People seem to be surprised that I’m still pumping milk for my 2-year-old. I’m often asked when I’m going to stop; sometimes out of pure curiosity and sometimes accompanied with a look of disbelief. I always try to answer like its no big dea… “Of course, the minimum recommendation is 2 years.” It seems that when I treat it as completely normal, the person asking me about it becomes less judgmental. They may not understand it still, but when I don’t become offended and remain open to their questions/comments, whether nice or mean, it tends to end well. To each their own! Friends have asked me why I didn’t stop at 1 year or how long I plan on pumping…and honestly, it’s become a lifestyle and I’m not sure how to quit. I’ve been exclusively pumping since Collin was 4 months old. When the time comes to pump, I pull out my nursing cover and just pump away! I’ve pumped at a Cubs game, in the car, at parties, and out by the pool.
I’ve heard: “You’re still doing that?!” and “I feel like you should be done with that by now.” And I reply with: “Of course I’m still doing that! I’ll be done when Collin is done!” Putting an age limit on receiving the best possible nutrition just doesn’t seem right. There are times when Collin barely eats his dinner and people will ask, “Well, what are you going to do? He has to eat something.” I nonchalantly reply that he can just have some milk and when he’s ready to start eating well, he will…and he is…slowly but surely he is eating everything that my husband and I eat!
What I Want You To KNOW About Breastfeeding
By: Ali Kulenkamp, Breastfeeding USA Counselor
You already know the drill—breastfeeding is good, and it’s healthy for both you and your baby. One more person saying “breast is best!” is NOT what new parents need to hear. Because what comes next? Yes, breastfeeding is the biological norm, but that doesn't mean it comes easily or automatically to all mothers. For the best chance of meeting your own breastfeeding goals, reach out for support early on and learn how to avoid the Booby Traps.
Perhaps the most important thing to know about breastfeeding is that it’s completely normal to reach out for help and support while you’re getting the hang of nursing your baby. You are a strong mother for asking for help! Call, text, email, send a smoke signal—get help early, before those little questions become bigger ones, weighing heavily on your mind and causing you stress and anxiety. Mother-to-mother support groups are proven to help new moms achieve their goals—mothers even attend breastfeeding support groups while they’re pregnant so they can see other mothers nursing their babies and ask questions. If you don’t make it to a meeting before your baby is born, it’s okay to bring your tiny newborn with you, even if you just want to get out of the house for a little while. (And you have my blessing to show up 20 minutes late in yoga pants and unshowered in your new-mom bliss—we've all been there!) If you’re worried about germs, consider wearing your baby in a sling or wrap since most people are less likely to touch a baby in a carrier.
You may have been told, “Breastfeeding is natural! You’ll just fall into it with your baby as your instincts kick in!” This is one of those white lies, where yes, breastfeeding is natural- but it doesn't come naturally to every mother. In fact, breastfeeding problems are really common! There are a wealth of people in your local community who are there to support breastfeeding mothers—Breastfeeding USA Counselors, IBCLCs, WIC peer counselors, LLL Leaders, doctors, midwives, doulas, nurses... There wouldn't be much of a need for support if everyone was successful with breastfeeding right off the bat! You might even be surprised that even in the most complicated breastfeeding problem that may arise, there is almost always a breastfeeding-friendly solution available. Turning to a support person who is well-educated about breastfeeding and uses an evidence-based approach is something so important that I can’t stress it enough! If the person helping you is outwardly supporting your breastfeeding goals and actively seeking up-to-date resources for complex problems, you’re probably in the right place. If you’re being told that you may not breastfeed while taking a particular medication or after an X-ray, get a second opinion from your local mother-to-mother support group or breastfeeding friendly doctor. Don’t know how to find a breastfeeding-friendly care provider in your area? Seek out moms groups online and in person while you are pregnant!.
Research shows that most mothers start out breastfeeding or at least intend to.
What I want you to know is this: most mothers are weaning their babies, or stop breastfeeding, much earlier then intended. These Booby Traps™ are where mothers are being sabotaged unfairly by the cultural biases and lack of evidence-based care in our healthcare system. When your trusted OB GYN knows you want to breastfeed, but hands you a “gift” bag full of coupons and bottles, especially for the infant formula their pharmaceutical rep recommends, you’re being Booby Trapped! When you have a sinus infection and your doctor says you absolutely cannot breastfeed while taking the medication you’ve been prescribed, you’re being Booby Trapped*! When your mother-in-law absolutely insists that you may not feed your baby during the family dinner she’s hosting, you’re being Booby Trapped (and that’s just rude!) These hurdles are contributing to early weaning and lack of confidence in breastfeeding moms.Get help when you need it, and if something is getting in the way of your goals, ask for the supporting evidence!
Get help when you need it, and if something is getting in the way of your goals, ask for the supporting evidence!
Read up on the most common Booby Traps so you can either avoid them entirely or know how to handle yourself when faced with something that feels wrong.
I want you to know that there are people rooting for your success who will do whatever it takes to help you meet your personal breastfeeding goals— whether that’s breastfeeding for three days, three weeks, three months or three years.
*most medications are compatible with breastfeeding, and there is free help on medications and research at infantrisk.org.
“What are the Booby Traps?” Best for Babes Foundation. Retrieved April 8, 2014, from http://www.bestforbabes.org/what-are-the-booby-traps
Rebecca N. Ruhlen, IBCLC, Breastfeeding USA Counselor: personal communication
by: Kathy Mason, RNC-NIC, BSN, IBCLC, Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health
Mothers who are pumping breast milk for a baby in the NICU encounter many barriers and stressors that can affect and cause problems with breast milk production. Some of these barriers include separation of mother and baby, travel to and from the hospital, mom’s physical issues related to just giving birth, food and accommodations, and possibly the care of other children at home, various financial stressors, and the support mom has from dad and other family members or friends.
It is important for moms who are separated from their babies to start pumping breast milk within two to six hours of delivery if possible. Double pumping with a multi-user or hospital grade pump is recommended. At Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, moms usually arrive two or three days after delivery. To help them adjust to the demands and stressors associated with providing milk for a baby in the NICU, a comprehensive team of professionals -- social workers, a financial counselor, and lactation consultants -- work with moms to provide assistance. Riley Hospital’s private NICU rooms allow moms to stay in the baby’s room with the option to sleep and pump there. If moms prefer, they may obtain a room at the nearby Ronald McDonald House.
To effectively establish an adequate milk supply, moms need to pump every two to three hours, or eight to 10 times a day. This includes pumping at least once in the middle of the night. Frequent pumping in the first two weeks is necessary to mimic the natural rhythms of a breastfeeding baby, so that even if baby is not able to eat at the time, mom will have adequate milk supply for later. Some interventions important for new moms are holding their babies skin-to-skin if possible, pumping close to the baby, and using breast massage, breast compressions and hand expression during the process.
Moms with babies in the NICU face many challenges – they are tired and stressed, and they need comprehensive support from a team of experienced professionals. With the appropriate assistance, more and more moms are able to provide milk for their babies in the NICU setting, giving their babies all the advantages that human milk provides. This is especially important for premature and sick infants to obtain the best health outcomes.
by Amber McCann, IBCLC
As a very young International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), I encountered a family with a very ill child. They contacted me to see if I might help them locate some breastmilk, which they believed could radically impact their child's health. As I began my search, I learned, for the first time about donor milk and HMBANA milk banks. In addition, I was introduced to the world of mother-to-mother milk sharing. I came away from the experience completely overcome with the deeply held belief that all babies, even babies whose families were not able to provide human milk, should have the right to access their biologically normal food.
As a part of my journey, I began to connect with the Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank on Facebook and Twitter. I consistently found them to be my "go to" milk bank when I had questions about how to connect families who either were in need of donor milk or who wanted to become donors. So, when the stars aligned for me to take a visit to Indianapolis to speak at the Midwest Lactation Conference , I quickly reached out to see if I might be able to come tour the facility and gain a stronger understanding about how the whole breastfeeding community, and especially IBCLCs, could increase donations to HMBANA milk banks.
I was welcomed with open arms and what I learned greatly expanded my understanding of what goes into the donor milk process. I was moved by the wall of acknowledgement of the bereaved families who have given in their days of grief. I wanted to jump up and down and cheer loudly when I saw the freezers FULL of milk donations...the oxytocin was flowing.
I cried tears of gratitude when, in the room where the milk is processed, Carissa Hawkins, IMMB Communication Coordinator said to me, "It smells like love in here."
Donor milk radically changes the path so many families are on. I’m proud to work with families who reap its benefits and I’m crazy excited that in Pittsburgh, where I live, the Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank is in development. Soon, families in my hometown will cheer right along side me as we say “Donor Milk Saves Lives!”
Premature infants tolerate human milk better than cow’s milk based formula because they have less emesis, less diaper rash and most important, less necrotizing enterocolitis. Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious and sometimes fatal intestinal complication of very low birth weight infants. The frequency of NEC ranges from 4 to 18% and depends on an individual NICU’s feeding practices. Since changing to an exclusively human milk diet, the rate of feeding associated NEC in our NICU has declined to 1%.
We use donor human milk when a mother’s own milk is not available in order to achieve an exclusively human milk diet. The amount of donor milk needed depends on the mother’s ability to provide milk. We always prefer to use a mother’s own milk ahead of donor mother’s milk. Mothers that intended to breast feed before delivering prematurely typically need about a half-pint of donor milk while waiting for their milk to come in. Mothers that planned to feed formula before delivering prematurely typically provide less of their own milk; we use about a half-gallon of donor milk to feed their babies.
Our donor human milk comes from the Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank. When we recommend using donor milk, most of the mothers tell us that they do not know about milk banks. They often wonder about the donor mothers. Similar to blood donation, donor mothers are screened for health safety. The donors are required to avoid most medications and a list of foods and drinks. The typical donors are highly educated professional women, often employed in health professions. Milk donors are not paid for their milk.
While breast feeding is a labor of love, the donor mothers labor above and beyond to provide a precious gift.
Mothers of infants that receive donor milk often prefer that their babies receive only their own milk. “I want my baby to have my milk.” However, when mothers consider the health advantages of human milk they prefer donor human milk to formula. When a mother cannot provide enough of her own milk, we recommend using milk from the Indiana Mother’s Milk Bank.
In a digital age where we are connected to one another through Facebook, Twitter, and countless other methods of communication, why is it so important to find mother-to-mother breastfeeding support in person?
There are some amazing connections being made online, and I see a great deal of growth happen in our local chat group for Indy Breastfeeding Moms: a Chapter of Breastfeeding USA. New mothers post photos of their babies, sharing their joy with other mamas. I see images of beautiful, happy babies each day and am comforted by the thought that these are compassionate parents who are doing their absolute best. But I often wonder how isolated new parents really feel with the digital degree of separation.
Venting about a lack of sleep the night before via a Tweet or Facebook update isn’t the same as a friend dropping by your home and bringing you a latte while you chat about the hardships of motherhood. Personal, one-on-one connection is vital to new mothers! This is especially true when moms are trying to get the hang of breastfeeding. The first six weeks are hard, and often times very confusing!
“Is my baby eating enough?” “Is my baby eating too much?” “Am I making enough milk?” “How to I prepare to return to work?”
The questions and self-doubt are almost always best answered by mothers who’ve been there. Being in a room with other mothers as you nurse your babies together makes getting support for those burning questions much less daunting and scary.
While there are some great evidence-based and support-driven online resources available when you have questions at 1 a.m., getting out of the house with your baby to meet other women who are in a similar phase of life is priceless. Making face-to-face connections with moms is so important! You can show up to a breastfeeding support group in yoga pants, unshowered, and running on fumes, but still leave that meeting feeling as though you’re on top of the world.
You’re not alone, mamas! Find a group of breastfeeding mothers, and give yourself the gift of mother-to-mother support.
IMMB Staff share their breastfeeding stories.
I have lot of thoughts on breastfeeding. Mostly though, breastfeeding has opened doors for me that I could never have anticipated when I was pregnant and expounding my thoughts and fears about using my breasts for something other then pure pleasure.
I had an easy pregnancy and an easy comfortable birth, except for the whole miconium stained waters that challenged my immediate plans for skin to skin. Instead, Berkeley was taken away immediately by the NICU team to be sucked and cleaned up. Eventually, she was brought back to me and there began our breastfeeding, snuggling relationship.
Berkeley was born in the very early hours of a Sunday- Mothers' Day. I asked for an IBCLC, there were none in sight. I was having some pain when Berkeley latched and the eventual IBCLC who visited us, promptly gave me a nipple shield. The next few IBCLC's who treated us, helped me feel confident that I didn't need that nipple shield. They taught my husband how to look for a good latch. They boosted my confidence.
Of course, everything changed when we got home and my milk came in. I didn't have any other tools aside from that nipple shield to help my sweet girl latch well enough to transfer milk well. We eventually weaned off the nipple shield after a few weeks but looking back I'm almost confident, I could have done with out it all along. Instead, I wish that first IBCLC has looked into Berkeley's mouth for a lip or tongue tie.
I'm still nursing and after all this time -27 months- and I'm pretty sure my girl has some ties that were creating that initial pain, we have just learned how to deal.
I never could have anticipated how important breastfeeding has become to my parenting and my life. I found this job because I breastfeed, pumped when I returned to work and donated my excess.
When I was pregnant with my son I made the decision to breastfeed. At that time it was solely because it seemed natural and most economical. After Cameron was born at 35 weeks weighing in at a mere 4 lbs. 2 oz. it went from natural and economical to necessity both in my mind and heart.
My precious gift from God not only deserved but needed the most valuable nutrition available to him—mommy’s milk.
For such a tiny baby he surpassed all expectations from doctors and nurses and was able to go home with us just days after birth despite being only 3 lbs. 14 oz. Developmentally he was always ahead of the expected milestones with complete disregard for adjusted age. He simply never knew that he was premature and so small.
However, by six months old he had suffered through bouts of reflux, numerous sinus infections, recurring bronchitis, and asthmatic symptoms. Cameron is now almost three, and I have no doubt that our 19 months of breastfeeding played a vital role in combating his health issues. He outgrew the reflux and rarely needs his asthma medications because it is so well managed. His successes with breastfeeding and overcoming the odds that were stacked so high against him have always been an inspiration to our family, friends, and medical staff.
IMMB stories of "Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers".
I was 17 before I saw anyone breastfeed. I was living with a faculty couple, and being the teenager that I was, I was mortified to watch. Over the weeks and months that passed the mother, Annie, educated me regarding breastfeeding. During the course of my time there, what once seemed so embarrassing and uncertain to me became natural and preferable. I saw firsthand that breastfeeding was so much more than simple nutrition—calories in and calories out. Breastfeeding was baby Dylan’s quiet time with his mama. It was his comfort and pain reliever when sick or hurting. It was his way of winding down after a long, hard day of playing, and drifting off to sleep.
Ten years later I was I pregnant with my first son. My experiences with Annie and Dylan made me certain that breastfeeding was the path that I wanted to take with my own child. Unfortunately, although breastfeeding itself is a very natural process, it did not come naturally for me. It was 1989. There was very little in the way of breastfeeding support in the community. Nurses kept telling me that my nipples were flat. My nipples seemed perfectly fine to me. I had no idea what they were trying to tell me, but it sounded like an insult. My milk came in -copious amounts of milk that made me rock hard and exacerbated my already existing difficulties with latch. Despite all the challenges, my baby flourished. Sheer determination got us through.
I went on to nurse two more boys. Each son weaned around 2 years. old. Simple math says that I devoted six years of my life to breastfeeding my three sons; however, my heart tells me that many more years of our relationship have been impacted by my choice to breastfeed. As the mother of young adults and a teenager I’ve entered a very different realm of parenting. There are a lot of emotional challenges that make my early breastfeeding struggles seem simple. The years that I spent breastfeeding, the wonderful memories that I have of each child, sustain me. That bond that we developed in the first two years of their life is like a wonderful healing balm that gets us through the trials of young adult life.
There are so many reasons to breastfeed, i.e., nutrition, immunology, decreased risk of obesity later in life, increased IQ, visual acuity, speech, fewer allergies, the list goes on… But as a more mature mother, taking a longer view, breastfeeding set the stage for the relationship I continue to share with my sons throughout every phase of their life.
It's hard to explain how important breastfeeding has been to me. It has meant so many things to my family.
I spent the third trimester in tears over the decision to breastfeed. Sure I knew it was the best, but it still made me ball my eyes out. We can blame the hormones for that.
I had the chance to breastfeed my daughter, and have skin to skin contact, just minutes after she was born. And it was the first and only time we had the opportunity to do that in her first crucial 24 hours of life. Just a few short hours after my cesarean delivery, my world was rocked. The pediatrician on duty sent my daughter to the NICU and ordered a CT scan. Then it was decided that she needed to be sent by ambulance the next morning to the local children's hospital.
I held her three times in the 14 hours that we shared a hospital. My husband went with our baby to the hospital, and an hour or so after they left, the lactation consultant finally came to my room. I was all alone, and she taught me how to pump. And pump I did. Every little milliliter of colostrum was collected into tiny bottles. I knew that I had to do something to help my poor helpless baby.
I was released from the hospital that afternoon, 2 and a half days early (which was a huge deal after a c-section) and my husband promised to make sure I followed my doctor's orders so that I stayed healthy too.
When I finally made it to my daughter's bedside in the Infant ICU, my husband asked for a rocking chair, and breastfed my daughter. It was a simple action that help to heal my daughter after having brain surgery at just 16 days old. Her doctor felt confident that she was healthy enough to handle it. Breastfeeding led to a speedy recovery, and we were home just 4 days after the surgery. We breastfed for the first 22 months of her life, and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. Not every moment of it was easy, especially being wheeled around to various hospital pumping rooms every three hours, or having to be wheeled around at all. However, my family benefitted from more than just the health aspect. It made us all closer and stronger.
By Janice O'Rourke, MPA, RD, IMMB Executive Director
My first memory of Betty Ann Countryman was when, during my interview for the Executive Director position at the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank, she asked me if I breastfed my children. I saw her then as a feisty older woman with a very strong belief in how children should be fed. It wasn’t until later, after taking the position, that I discovered just how strong that belief was.
Betty Ann was one of the founding Board members of the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank. She was a nurse, but not just a nurse. She was one of the most impressive women I had ever met. Betty Ann graduated from Harvard University (Radcliffe College, cum laude) and received her Master’s Degree in Nursing from the Yale University School of Nursing. She was a member of Mensa, of Alpha Chapter of the Nursing Honorary Society Sigma Theta Tau, of the Yale and Harvard Clubs of Indiana.
For fifty years Betty Ann devoted much of her professional life to the well-being of mothers and children. She was a founder of La Leche League of Indiana and a former chairperson of La Leche League International’s Board of Directors. In the 1970s she was a consultant to the World Health Organization, the Caribbean Food & Nutrition Institute, and the Public Health Department of Jamaica. With a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development in 1978, she established El Centro de Apoyo de Lactancia Materna in El Salvador, the first Latin-American center for support of breastfeeding and maternal/child health and nutrition. For over 30 years she wrote and spoke about the importance and value of breastfeeding in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. She was a member of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, of Methodist Hospital’s Baby Friendly Task Force, and of the Board of Directors of the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank.
Betty Ann Countryman passed away yesterday at the age of 92. The Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank has lost a supporter, mentor, and friend. She will be greatly missed.
Like most of us in the nonprofit world, IMMB Pasteurization Coordinator Terry Jo Curtis, IBCLC, wears many hats. In addition to working hard every day to ensure the safety and quality of pasteurized donor human milk provided by IMMB to hospitals and outpatients, she founded the Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition (IBBC) in 2007 to help support and promote breastfeeding in the African-American community. Since 2007, Terry has grown IBBC into the thriving organization it is today, all on her own volunteer time.
IBBC was recently recognized and awarded the prestigious opportunity to contribute to the Landscape of Breastfeeding Support project, an effort of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the United States Breastfeeding Committee to create a library of images depicting how communities across the US support breastfeeding.
With the help of photography Anne Schollenberger Photography, whose beautiful work is pictured on this site, IBBC organized and completed the project, resulting in over 2,000 images about breastfeeding support in the African-American community. These images are being used by breastfeeding organizations throughout the country, including IMMB, to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding and the use of human milk.
As if pasteurizing thousands of ounces of milk per month and running a volunteer-based coalition wasn’t enough, Terry Jo recently received certification as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Terry Jo’s contribution the breastfeeding and human milk banking worlds is vital and serves as an example for how to change our culture’s viewpoint on breastfeeding and the use of human milk. As Terry Jo always says, “Together, we can – and will – make a difference.”