How to Prepare to Breastfeed | Katie Clark (The Breastfeeding Mama)
Thanks for joining me today at MomTalks with Christa. I'm so excited today, we have Katie Clark of Breastfeeding Mama on Instagram. And we're going to be answering tons of your breastfeeding questions and so much more. So welcome, Katie. And thanks for coming out today.
Christa: So just to get started, can us tell us a little bit about you and what you do?
Katie: I've been a professional blogger since 2013. That's what my husband and I have been doing. For our full time job, for I guess eight years now. And in 2015, that's when I had my second baby. I had all sorts of issues breastfeeding him. And it was really hard. And through that, I discovered what a lack of support there is for breastfeeding moms and families. And so, I started a Facebook group, because I was like, Oh, I just want to help other moms that are struggling. And we grew a group really quickly. And through that I just gained a huge passion for breastfeeding and breastfeeding education, and helping people that may not have the support that they need or deserve. And so from there, I became a certified lactation educator, a certified breastfeeding specialist, and now I'm training to be an IBCLC. And I just love sharing information about breastfeeding on my website and on Instagram and Tikor, and I have classes that are online classes that I've created. And I have three little boys, a nine year old, a five year old, and a one year old. And I love them. They're the best, and we live in Colorado.
Christa: So for any moms listening, that are currently pregnant, that are like I want to breastfeed, what are your main tips for getting them prepared and ready to start that journey?
Katie: I think one of the biggest things is having a support network. And for some that's easier than others. But thankfully, with, you know, the internet, there's even more options. And you have to be careful, obviously, with what groups and what pages you follow, because there's a lot of not great information out there. But finding a group of people that you can rely on for breastfeeding support and that you know, there's different layers of that there's professional. So finding a lactation consultant that you trust and you really like to work with, or you know, a breastfeeding friendly pediatrician and care providers that are going to be supportive and seeing like if your hospital has a pre has a group that you can go to after a lot of hospitals have breastfeeding groups you can go to for free. And then there's other local ones like Lolita Elite groups. And so I think that that's really important. I also think getting a prenatal console can be really, really valuable. I think a lot of people don't even know that those exists, but a lot of IBCLCs I am training to be one and I do consults with my mentor and we do the prenatal ones and they can be super, super beneficial to kind of preempt any issues you might have, any health issues, you know that you may not have realized, like a lot of people don't realize that PCOS can cause issues with milk supply or you know, getting a breast exam because IGT Insufficient Glandular Tissue is one of the leading reasons for not producing not physically being able to produce a full milk supply. So, working with a lactation consultant to kind of answer all your questions can be super valuable. And then from there, education, like you can, you know, take all the classes and read all the books and things still know how breastfeeding works, just the basic processes of milk supply and supply and demand, because a lot of people don't even realize how whole milk is produced. And that feeding frequently is the best thing you can do in most situations for your milk supply, or what to do right after the baby's born or what to do, what alternatives there are, if you are having milk supply issues, or you need to supplement. So, prenatal education is so important. And I obviously have classes, I have online, but in person class can be fantastic as well. So, I just think learning all you can, and getting those, getting that support before the baby comes is really important.
Christa: Awesome. And how soon do you think someone should start preparing? Like, is it as soon as they find out they're pregnant? Is it in the second trimester? Like, when do you think it's time to really start narrowing down your providers and the education support around you?
Katie: You could really do it at any point. But I think second trimester is kind of the sweet spot where, you know, you've kind of gotten past that initial for most people with a sickness and the exhaustion from the first trimester and is before the exhaustion from the third trimester comes where you're trying to get everything ready for baby. So, I think second trimester is a great time to find your providers and start asking around, asking in Facebook groups for people. Because there's so many wonderful pediatricians and family doctors out there that are so great, but not all of them specialize in breastfeeding. And it's important to find one that totally does, because most of them fail, say they love breastfeeding. And, you know, they support you, but finding someone who really understands it, and understand your goals to breastfeed is really, really valuable. So, I think second trimester is great, especially for the education, it'll be more fresh in your mind, then, if you take it, you know, during the first trimester, whatever. So like, if you take an online class, you usually will have access to that forever. So you can always reference back but if you're taking an in person class, second trimester to early third, I would say is best for taking a class in person.
Christa: And you made a post about this, I thought it was super helpful, because I hear a lot of times with breastfeeding, especially the mom, you know, has to, the husband can you know, help during while breastfeeding, obviously. But there are so many other ways that a husband can help. So, what are some of those ways that a partner or spouse can help if the mom is breastfeeding?
Katie: I get this question all the time. So, many moms are like Well, my partner, my husband, he really wants to help. So, should I just pump and bottle feed so he can bond with the with the baby. And whenever they say that I said, you know, it's up to you. But I find that it's really important to realize that feeding is not the only way to bond with a baby. And so having them be involved in the breastfeeding process, having them take a class, having them understand why breastfeeding is important to you, can be a great foundation for that. Having a special routine that's just for them so having them really involved with diaper changing and with you know, different things that don't necessarily involve feeding, just having them you know, when you are feeding the baby, have them bring you snacks and your water or things like that. And just being there to really encourage you and help you feel empowered, and like you can do it and sometimes just sitting there next year as the baby breastfeeds can be really beneficial for everyone involved.
Christa: And so, I know a lot of a lot of concerns, but like, questions I see around breastfeeding have to do with, you know, when you or baby are sick. So, to kind of start, how do you breastfeed a baby with RSV or a cold some I know there might be some, you know, congestion, and some differences with how they should be breastfed.
Katie: I don't know if you know, but I've had three kids with RSV. So, I know firsthand the experience of breastfeeding a child that is super, super sick. So, with RSV, it's more than just like the sniffles. They are just so congested, it's just all the way down into their lungs. And it can be really hard to feed them and it can be difficult to maintain your milk supply if they're not eating, but you can do it. I was able to successfully breastfeed through, three bouts of RSV in the hospital. And the biggest thing I think is making sure that they're keeping them a section. So you know, we all see those little bulb aspirators or even the nose Frieda. And those can be helpful kind of for that like the surface congestion. But with RSV, those often aren't going to be super beneficial. So, if you're in the hospital, if your baby's been hospitalized, then you're definitely going to want to have them come and suction baby right before you be because it kind of replenishes really quickly. So, having them stuck to a deep section, it's really helpful. But at home, I actually have, it's like, it's a pretty heavy duty one, it's called the baby smile or something like that. And it's similar to the one in the hospital. So that's what I've used just because my kids, I know that they get these really bad reactions to it. But there's also one that you can actually I think you can hook it up to a vacuum, it's like $20 and it can be a lot more powerful for suctioning a baby to make it so that they can breastfeed because if they can't breathe through their nose, they're not going to be able to breastfeed or feed at all successfully. So, I definitely recommend making sure that they're cleared out as well as you can get. And then different positions can be helpful. So, laid back nursing can be really valuable for a baby that's really congested. And I think that the football position can be helpful as well. So, just trying different positions, and you want to just focus on keeping them hydrated as much as possible, because they can get dehydrated super quickly and if they're not eating frequently, that can really go downhill quickly. And if they aren't feeding as they normally would, if you feel like your supply is going to take a hit, then you should definitely be pumping, especially if they're not taking full feeds. But if you can focus on even just small feeds more frequently, that can be beneficial. And just trying to keep them as hydrated as possible. RSV can be really scary. And a lot of times you can feel kind of not even in control of what's going on. So just focusing on you and focusing on your baby and making sure that they're getting the treatment they need. And if something does happen, where you aren't able to breastfeed or your milk supply does take a dip, there's almost always a way to recover from that. So, try not to beat yourself up.
Christa: So, on the other end of that, I should have stopped posts recently where a mom got diagnosed with strep. And so, she was worried then about breastfeeding her son while with strep. So, what do you recommend if the mom is sick and needs to breastfeed?
Katie: Yeah, that's very common question. And I, in most situations, I will say continue to breastfeed because you are creating those antibodies to keep your baby from getting sick. And if they do get sick, it can help them fight it off more. So, really just use good hand hygiene. And some moms will wear a mask if they are super concerned. But if you just kind of like do hand good hand hygiene and have someone else taking care of the baby beyond when you're breastfeeding, that can be really beneficial. But I never, there's very rarely a situation where I'd recommend stopping breastfeeding because you're being sick, because you can usually be through that successfully.
Christa: We also get a lot of questions too, from moms that want to keep breastfeeding, you know, post 12 months, and there could be a lot of a lot of changes will supply around that time. So, what do you suggest for moms that want to keep breastfeeding for the long haul, like any other tips or suggestions that might be helpful to them?
Katie: A big one is support surrounding yourself with other people in that situation, because a lot of people find that, you know, the more they breastfeed, like the longer on, the less the support gets. So because it just isn't. It's not as accepted in our society to breastfeed past one even though many, many people do it. And it's very normal. So surrounding yourself with other people going through that, and kind of getting their opinions about what's normal and what's not, and just continuing to determine what your goals are. So, if someone wants to stop at you know, 18 months, then they might have a different approach to someone that wants to stop when the baby's like three years, whatever. I think just letting your baby continue to nurse as much as you feel comfortable with. Obviously, after a year, they need to start having more solid foods as they're in their diet. But breast milk can still be a great part of their diet. I think it's about on average, about 30% of their energy intake for breastfed toddlers comes from bread generally comes from breast milk. So, just if you've noticed a dip in supply, just I mean, you just keep nursing as much as you can as much as your baby is willing. So the issues that people have where they do notice a drop in supply is you know, they have to go back to work it in different ways that they weren't doing before, or they don't feel like that they can pump after a year, which it I'm not sure if the laws passed a year. That might vary from state-to-state but just be if you're going back to work being on the same page and some people don't want to pump after the year. They're like I just want to nurse in the morning, and the aft, in the evening but I don't want to pump and so coming up with a plan with that can be beneficial. I find that most moms after a year can come have cut back as much as they want and kind of nurse, you know, during you know, naptime and at night, and they can still generally maintain that supply. That's always been my experience with my kids, you know, whatever the demand is, it's usually there. But I think just deciding what your goals are, and realizing, you know, if your baby's getting older, they might be more distracted, they might go through different stages where, you know, they don't want to nurse as much, and then other times where they want to nurse all the time. So, just being aware that there's lots of ups and downs, but it's great to keep going. And if they want to continue breastfeeding, that's awesome. That's a big thing I feel passionate about is helping moms with older babies and toddlers, because like I said, they don't have as much support. So that's something I'm working on my end, where I'm trying to develop some more courses for people that are have older baby because there's not as much information and support for that demographic.
Christa: So, you kind of talked earlier about how there's different things that can affect milk supply, as well as you talk about PCOS and glandular issues.
Katie: Yeah, insufficient glandular tissue, there's a big definition behind it. But in general, you don't have enough glandular tissue to produce all the milk that you need to. And that can happen for various reasons, but it is one of the more common reasons we see a low milk supply.
Christa: Okay. And so what do you suggest for someone with that? I mean, what can be what can be done? Do you recommend they have a different approach than someone with something else?
Katie: I think that a lot of that comes from having a good support network and working with a lactation consultant that is familiar with IGT, because not all a specialized in that, or are super familiar with it. So, having someone come up with a plan with you to help you determine what your goals are, and to give you the different options. And so you if you're pregnant, and you know, you have IGT, kind of having a different approach when you start like I think adjusting your expectations and knowing you may not make a full supply of milk, but any amount that you're able to make is amazing. There's a fantastic low supply, or low milk supply community out there. One of my favorite Instagram accounts is the Low Milk Supply Mom, I think that's what her count is. And she has done so much for advocating for that community, especially those with IG. So, finding just the different stories out there, because a lot of times you might feel like Oh, I can't produce enough milk so what's the point but knowing there's so many options, there's combo feeding is awesome using an SNS to give any supplements at the breast can be helpful. And knowing that there's different varying levels, some people with IGT will be able to produce enough milk for their baby or, and others may only be able to get a couple of ounces and deciding what you want. Like if you are like well, if I'm not going to produce enough to feed for all my feeds, I don't want to do it, that's okay. But if you're like I want to be able to produce as much as I can and just be able to continue doing that, that's great, too. So, finding people that support that and aren't like, oh, why are you doing this? That's like so pointless or whatever, like just fighting again, going back to finding the support.
Christa: Alright, so I always like to end these interviews with funding questions I like to call them. And if you could have a billboard made today where you could share one tip with moms everywhere, what would you have it say?
Katie: That's a hard one. I would say probably you are enough. I know that's not really a tip that I think that that is really, really important for people to know that they what they are doing is enough and or every drop counts. Because I think that that is also a really valuable thing to know that, because some people are like, Well, I have people ask me all the time. Well, if I can only you know, give half defeated breast milk, is it even worth it? do they even get benefits? and breast milk is valuable and beneficial no matter how much you give. So, I think realizing that the amount that you're able to produce for your baby is fantastic. And knowing that every job that you pump is valuable and worth doing if it's worth doing to you.
Christa: Amazing. And for moms that haven't followed you yet working moms find you and what kind of courses do you offer?
Katie: Yeah, so I am at my website is the BreastfeedingMama.com. I also have another website called Clark's Condensed.com where we have breastfeeding information as well. But I am very active on Instagram and Tikor. On Instagram, just go to the top breastfeeding Mama. And in the Tikor, I'm at the bf Mama. And right now, I just have my basic courses. So, there are more classes for people that are starting to breastfeed. We will be we are starting the Breastfeeding Mama Academy in the near future which I'm really excited about. It's going to be a resource that I feel is unlike any other where it guides you from pregnancy through weaning and it will have a bunch of mini courses which you can buy separately, but you'll be able to buy it be able to be involved in it also comes with printables and lots of great support. So, that'll be coming soon. And that will have classes for older baby so about solids and going back to work and weaning. So, I'm really excited about that. But right now, we have those classes, smaller classes, and we'll be releasing more soon.
Christa: Awesome. All right, cool. Everyone, definitely go check out the Breastfeeding Mama on Instagram. She has the most amazing posts, super informational and helpful. So, thank you so much for coming on Katie, I really appreciate you coming on. It was awesome.
Katie: Yes. Thank you so much. I'm so glad to be here. And I've loved connecting with you have a great company. And I just think that any company that you know, supports breastfeeding moms is amazing. And so you guys are doing great too.
Join our private Facebook Group - New Moms - Breastfeeding & More Support Group by Mommy Knows Best: https://bit.ly/3gQIF9z
*Mommy Knows Best is committed to providing informational, motivational, and inspiring videos to all moms. Statements in this video are for informational purposes only and are not to be taken as medical advice or recommendation. Any health concern or condition should be brought to the attention of your doctor.