August 1st-7th marks World Breastfeeding Week, so today we welcome Jenny Hamilton from our Grande Prairie Mamas for Mamas branch to provide you all with some timely information to help you along your breastfeeding journey. 
          Hi!  My name is Jenny Hamilton and I am a Registered Nurse (RN), Mama Coach and mama of two little people, ages 7 and 5.  My training as an RN – beginning in 1999 – led me to have a very strict view that “breast is best” – no exceptions.  Because of the world view I held, I was adamant that the only way to feed our son, Caleb, born in 2013 was by exclusively breastfeeding him.  I have to say it was an extremely challenging experience for both of us.  Caleb had an undiagnosed tongue and lip tie, which at the time I had no idea how impactful that would be to the success of our journey.  I didn’t understand the basics of breastfeeding because I thought it was natural and assumed my inner instincts would take over.  I honestly thought you just put your baby to the breast and the magic happened i.e. perfect latch, no pain, amazing milk supply, happy mom and babe, choir of angels singing, etc.  I experienced low supply, and what I recognize now was a hungry baby that never slept more than 2 hours at a time and barely held to his growth curve.  Holy man was I exhausted, defeated, depressed, and then feeling guilty about how much I was NOT enjoying my experience of motherhood.  We found our groove in time and I exclusively breastfeed till 11 months, but I still have scars both mentally and physically.  Looking back I wished things had been different – hindsight is 20/20 as they say!
          Fast forward 21 months to the birth of my daughter – my world view had changed to “fed is best” and I understood all the ways I could give my baby breastmilk.  I had done a ton of research and this time around I knew the mechanics of breastfeeding and understood how important a deep latch was.  I knew to have Olivia assessed for a tongue / lip tie right away.  I knew to ask for help and support as soon as possible so we could set ourselves up for success.  I had heard of galactagogues and knew how important nutrition and water intake were to our journey.  I understood that certain medications could help or hurt my milk supply.  I had a double pump and was excited to start building a freezer stash right away.  Most importantly, I felt less stressed about the whole experience, and had taken the immense pressure off my shoulders of being the only one who could feed my daughter.
Here are my top tips for successful breastfeeding:
  • Educate – arm yourself with as much knowledge about how to achieve successful breastfeeding before your baby comes.  Have your partner participate in the learning with you so they can provide support to you as well – especially in the middle of the night!
  • Support – know who the supports are in your community as well as virtually, and reach out early – before your nipples are cracked and bleeding! 
  • Practice – keep in mind that neither you nor your baby have done this before.  Breastfeeding is a learned skill, and nailing it down can take time.  The more you practice, the quicker things will fall into place for both of you.  I suggest bringing your newborn baby to the breast at least every 3 hours in the beginning.  
  • Grace – give yourself grace – grace to learn this skill and the space to make a different choice if you need to.  Maybe you thought you’d love breastfeeding, but you don’t.  Ditch the guilt and embrace your options:  pumping your breast milk and giving it to your baby by bottle; using donor breast milk; using a combo of breastmilk and formula; or switching to formula altogether.  Only you can make the best decision for your family.
For more information on breastfeeding, Jenny has also provided her favourite some of her go to resources. 
Articles on breastfeeding from our site:  https://themamacoach.ca/?s=breastfeed
The Canadian guru on breastfeeding – Dr. Jack Newman – videos on his site: https://ibconline.ca/breastfeeding-videos-english/
This is one of my fav articles “Why mental health trumps breastfeeding” – https://themamacoach.ca/mentalhealthtrumpsbreastfeeding/. The pressure that women put on themselves is enormous.  If we can set them up for success and support their choices vs. shaming them things are so much better for the families!
For more information, or to follow along with Jenny you can find her on Instagram @jennythemamacoach

Mamas for Mamas is a national charitable organization that supports mothers and caregivers in crisis by providing ongoing support to individuals and families facing various poverty-related struggles. Our mission is to change the landscape of poverty through innovative approaches to financial barriers faced by struggling families. We envision a future where no Mama or child is left behind. The most recent statistics from Citizens for Public Justice reports that a staggering 5.8 million people in Canada (or 16.8%) live in poverty ( https://cpj.ca/poverty-trends-2018/). We are committed to giving a hand up, not just a hand out to those struggling by providing them with essential needs. We are actively engaging with multiple levels of government and non-profit agencies; together we are working to change the systems that contribute to the vicious cycle of poverty, mental health issues, housing, and food insecurity and have recently expanded digitally across Canada. We provide a space where our Mamas and their kids feel safe and comfortable when they come in for poverty relief support. We refer to all existing community programs when available and fill the gaps in service when the need is higher than the resources available. Unfortunately, this is often the case, as evidenced by the need for our rapid program development. At the head office in Kelowna, BC, we offer a beautiful Karma Market where struggling families can access anything they need at no cost; the only currency we request is, kindness to your fellow neighbor. In our free store, we provide clothing, shoes, seasonal wear, and through our intake process Mamas can also access formula, diapers, baby furniture, and gear. We also offer individualized help navigating the available resources for food security, affordable housing, education, and access to our in-house mental health team where counselling is available at no cost for those who qualify. Community-based sharing economies are available for families not in Kelowna, with a resource coordinator available for preventative and intervention based poverty relief. It’s hard enough being a parent without the stress of clothing or food insecurity, lack of appropriate mental health care, and everything else that can easily fall through the cracks in our busy society. Mamas for Mamas is there for those parents who need help navigating eligible resources, applying for social supports, and getting direct intake support while joining this Mamas community that genuinely looks after each other. ( https://cpj.ca/poverty-trends-2018/ )

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