The birth story of Stella as told to me by her mama, Kristin
To see the birth story book, watch the slideshow. Read the full story below.
I was due on October 5th. That day, I had asked Hazel what she wanted to do. I wanted to have a day of mommy-daughter time, and just let her pick. So we spent the day at the park, and we went to Tim Hortons and got some Timbits and had lunch together.
“We just enjoyed each other because I knew that time was short at that point, and soon it wouldn’t be just me and her.”
I came home, and I was very tired and uncomfortable. We had supper, and I just rested. All night long I had to pee: I kept getting up to pee, and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I was in pain, not with contractions, but just with a full bladder. I’d pee and the pain and discomfort would go away. I was getting up probably every hour and a half to go to the bathroom.
Chris was normally off on Fridays, but that day he had been asked to work overtime. He was getting up to go to work at about quarter to five. I was up at 4:30 to go pee. He asked if he should go, and I said yes, I figured I just had to pee lots, and that if something changed, I’d get someone to drive me to the hospital. I was saying this going into the bathroom. I went pee and came out and suddenly had a bad back pain and bent over the bed. He looked at me quite sceptically, like ‘Should I be going?’ I thought I was fine.
We were trying to talk quietly so we wouldn’t wake up Hazel, who had joined us for snuggles at around 4 a.m.
“Are you sure that wasn’t a contraction?”
“No, it didn’t feel like a contraction.”
A little time went by and another hit, and I admitted to myself, ‘Okay, maybe this is a contraction.’
Then another one came. I was much louder getting through that one.
Hazel woke up. At that point, I thought, ‘Oh yeah, this might be labour pain’, and I was trying to get dressed, trying to get my pants on but having a lot of trouble doing it because I was nine months pregnant and in pain!
I remember thinking to myself, “Well, fuck…I thought I had more time!” For whatever reason, I had been certain I was going to be way over due.
Chris tried to put my pants on, and I got mad at him: “Don’t touch me, I can do it myself!”
He said, “I don’t think we have a lot of time.” He called his mom, and by then Hazel was quite concerned as mommy was making some odd sounds. I think I was quite snarky with Chris multiple times. He was trying to rush me into the kitchen and somewhere around there (around 5 a.m.), his mom showed up.
By then I had made it out to the living room, but it was still 5:30 or 5:45 by the time we got out of there. Chris was so panicked. For whatever reason, he knew it was happening faster than I did.
Unbeknownst to me, every time I had to pee may have been labour pains, but I slept between each time, so this didn’t occur to me until later.
I had to have two more strong contractions before I made it to the car.
If he could have picked me up and put me in the car, he would have.
“We need to go!”
“I cannot stand up right now, therefore I cannot walk to the car. If that means I’m going to have a baby in the porch, then I’m going to have a baby in the porch.”
We made a very mad dash to the city and had a couple really good contractions in the car. Then we got to the maternity ward and didn’t realize ahead of time that no one would be in the old building on the main floor, so we went to Emergency. They got me in right away and wheeled me along.
I remember getting into the wheelchair and thinking, ‘Oh, thank God.’ They wheeled me all over the place, and I didn’t have to walk. They wheeled me up to Labour & Delivery and did my assessment. They wanted to check how far dilated I was, and I didn’t want them to touch me. It must have been about 6:15 at that point.
I was 9 cm dilated, but they were having trouble getting the heart rate from the baby, and they wanted to do an internal fetal heart check with the electrode through the uterus to the baby’s scalp. I said, “Nope, you’re not doing that to me, she is fine, I know she is in there.” I just wanted to sit on the birth ball and labour there because that’s where it felt good.
I remember being both simultaneously terrified but also knowing that I could do this, that I knew what I was doing this time, and I was prepared. I was going to have a better birth than the first time, and I was ready to fight for the things I wanted this time. Which is why there was only a nurse and a doctor in the room when I delivered: I didn’t want ANYONE there. No extra fluff or distraction. Though I didn’t realize I was gonna be done in 45 minutes. But having soooo many people in my room with Hazel when I was labouring was so distracting and annoying and frustrating and unnecessary. So I was ready to fight anyone who didn’t listen to me.
I remember telling the nurse and doctor,“Fuck off, there’s no way you’re making me labour on that bed,” when they asked me to get up there so they could check me.
The on-call doctor came in, and it wasn’t even a doctor from my clinic, because the doctor on-call from my clinic couldn’t make it in time. The nurses told her how far along I was and the doctor wanted to check me. I finally said yes, she could look, mostly because Chris was persistent and worried.
I got back up on the table, she said she wanted to break my water, and I said no, because with Hazel it made it hurt more and didn’t help. She said, “We need to put the electrode in (for fetal heart monitoring), and we can’t do that unless we break your water.” I said no again, and she replied, “I can almost 99% guarantee you that if we break your water, this baby will be here in 5 minutes.” Chris convinced me, so I let them do it.
She broke my water, and they put the probe in and found the heartbeat, and she was fine, just like I said she was. Three real good pushes, and she was out. She was born at 6:55 a.m. I think we got to the hospital at 6:15 a.m. They didn’t have enough time to admit me or put an IV in. She was in a hurry.
They put her on my chest right away and I got to cuddle her and hold her. That feeling. I don’t have words for that feeling. Does anyone? But I can say that I knew her. I knew my baby and I knew she was mine and that she belonged to me. (When I had Hazel, I felt like someone had placed a stranger on me. There was no instant bond or love at first sight. It took me a year to get that bond.)
That feeling, it never gets old. She was all squishy and covered in white and adorable. We asked for delayed cord clamping, so we probably sat there for a good five minutes.
They asked Chris if they wanted to cut the cord and he said no. I gave him hell.
“I shoved a baby out my vagina, you can cut the damn cord.” So he did.
They took her and weighed her. She was 7 lbs 8 oz and 21 ¼ inches long and healthy and happy. We were in there for probably half hour, maybe even longer, skin to skin. They were stitching me up. My legs wouldn’t stop shaking, coming down from the adrenaline, and they brought me toast.
They gave her back to me. We got the placenta packaged up and our gal came and picked that up for us.
I got to just lay there and hold her and cuddle her. She slept tucked in against me. I just got to sit there and get to know her a little bit and soak it all in. Chris got to stare at her and hold her and cry. After half hour or 45 minutes, they had a room ready, so I showered, and they wheeled me up to my room and just spent the day recovering and getting to know each other.
When Hazel was born, we had around 30 people in our private room, people coming and going all day. I remember being exhausted, so this time around, I wanted a lot less chaos. We had a lot of time to ourselves, getting to know the new baby who remained nameless until the next day. It took us 24 hours to name her.
We had a list of names and just kept going through until we had one that we felt was hers. I knew that I wanted Esther in there for my great grandma, but other than that we had lots of names that we liked but couldn’t agree on. Eventually we agreed on Stella Rose Esther. She felt like a Stella.
Stella is funny – like has a sense of humour already at one-year-old. She is goofy and fun and has no fear. She is fierce and adventuresome and smart and crafty and even a little bit manipulative. She knows how to get what she wants! She’s perfect. I love watching her and her sister together: no one can make Stella laugh like her big sister.
This time around my postpartum experience has been totally different than the first time around. I suffered postpartum depression with my first, who was also a hard baby with colic and reflux. We also had breastfeeding challenges. Wanting this experience to be different, I surrounded myself with support. It certainly helped that I had an easier baby this time, but it also helped knowing I had family to help me, friends, a nanny, and a postpartum doula.
I didn’t realize the first time around how isolating motherhood could be, and I wanted to make sure I was well prepared this time. One of the best baby gifts I gave myself was hiring my postpartum doula, Darla, from Postpartum Darla. Having her come once or twice a week was amazing. It gave me someone that I could leave Stella with while I took Hazel for some much needed Mom and daughter time, someone to ask questions about breastfeeding or baby carrying, make sure I got fed or got a shower or a nap if I needed it! She encouraged me and gave me confidence, supported me no matter what, and just held space for me when I needed it. I can’t say enough good things about her; best gift to myself ever!
A Warman mom and doula recently saw first-hand the contrast and importance of available birth education, especially around breastfeeding, when she supported new moms in another continent.
This past spring, Lindsay Bitner travelled to a town near Monrovia, Liberia for missionary work. She and five other members of the Awakening Church in Warman joined two others from Winnipeg, and formed a team with a medical doctor, three nurses, and two support people from British Columbia.
The team set up a clinic that was based out of an orphanage, using the school on the compound. There were separate rooms for registration, nurses, treatment, the doctor to see patients, prayer, and then one set aside for long-term care. Many people who needed IVs stayed in that room, but it was also where Lindsay did breastfeeding education.
“Once they (the team) found out I was a doula, they were like, ‘OK, all the pregnant moms, all the newborns, are coming to you.’”
Lindsay, who is a mom herself with three young children, saw any new mom that came through, offering her breastfeeding tips and education, including checking their latch. A big part of education was talking about mom’s nutrition. She says many moms were only eating once a day and often only drinking two cups of water a day, so we had to see if they could eat or drink more.
The struggle there, says Lindsay, is that the country has 80 per cent unemployment, so sometimes eating more food just isn’t an option.
Many moms asked for formula or hinted about it (at least 80 per cent, but she says it could have been almost 100), noting the baby would cry after a feed and worrying they weren’t getting enough, and if a baby was malnourished, they were given a bottle of formula.
“There were maybe 2 or 3 moms who were confident they were feeding their baby well. I did see ads for formula, which really broke my heart, because there’s no advertising for breastfeeding.”
As a mom and doula, Lindsay ended up providing a great deal of breastfeeding training to moms on a recent mission to Liberia.
Given the unemployment situation and concerns around safe drinking water, the big concern is formula isn’t a sustainable option for many.
“I did make sure to tell every one of them that what they were eating was really important to make the best milk for their baby. I made sure to emphasize that if you keep nursing and if you’re eating and drinking enough, your body is gong to make exactly what your baby needs, and formula can’t do it. And also making sure they understood that as soon as you stop nursing, it’s really hard to get it going again.
I explained it as a vitamin for them versus a dependency on it for all of their meals in hopes that it would last.”
“Trying to educate them that if you only do this, then you won’t have milk left, and you won’t be able to afford formula,” explains Lindsay.
“I taught a lot of moms that: if a baby looked malnourished, we would give formula, but encouraged them to keep breastfeeding and more often, because it is clean and affordable. The hygiene of it and affordability of it are the important factors, whereas here it’s not as big of a deal.”
A couple stories really stood out for Lindsay. The first woman she saw had her seventh baby with her, who looked undernourished.
“The mom said, ‘I can’t feed her because it’s so painful.’ Her nipples still looked really raw and awful even though the baby was four weeks old. I showed her how to get a wider latch.”
And even though many patients spoke English, the team often had a translator – a 22-year-old guy.
“By the end, he had a breastfeeding education and could tell the moms what to do without me explaining first for him to translate,” laughs Lindsay.
“Once this particular baby got a good latch, the mom exclaimed, ‘Wow, that doesn’t hurt as much,’ and that felt really good because I was helping one mom.”
Anyone I taught, I said, ‘Make sure you tell everyone you know that you need to have the areola in the mouth!”
A heartbreaking story that stood out was an auntie who brought in her three-month-old niece, whose mother had passed away two weeks ago. The baby was being fed water and glucose.
“We made up formula for baby, who took the bottle well. In the hour that she was there, she brightened up a lot. We sent that auntie home with four cans of formula in hopes that that would tide them over until they could get some money to get some formula.”
One of the interesting parts of her experience was hearing the moms talk about their birth experiences. She noted many aren’t afraid to have a home birth, and was fascinated because their rates of epidurals versus not were the exact opposite as here.
“I talked to a midwife and we were talking about the differences, and she said they have a 15% epidural rate (only for emergencies), whereas I heard a nurse say with a client of mine that there is an 85% epidural rate here.”
Lindsay says some of the teen moms who came through the clinic were afraid of birth and labour, so she did a mini prenatal prep class for them, but she says any mom who had had a baby wasn’t as worried.
Lindsay admits that while the experience was enriching and rewarding, it was also heartbreaking.
“We had seen the community Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and it got pretty overwhelming because by Wednesday, it was the people who were pretty desperate. I had to take a longer lunch, I just wanted to do more. ‘Can I not eat today so they can eat?’ I asked. Our team leader said, we are doing the best we can, we have to help the one person in front of us, we have to love the one person in front of us, and hope that it goes beyond that.’
“I clinged to that because what else can you do? There is nothing else you can do.”
I’m proud to share this guest post from a fellow mom who is so articulate and strong, her words need to be shared far and wide. Enjoy. ~ Darla
Prior to becoming pregnant, I had put a lot of time and energy into myself, especially my body. I did yoga daily, was on a diet that I was eating primarily vegetables, went for runs, and spent a lot of time being concerned with how I looked. Were my muscles showing? How did these clothes fit? What size could I fit into? As I look back on old pictures and try and fit into old jeans, I can only see in hindsight just how tiny I was. I can remember having tricked myself into thinking that I was finally confident in my skin, but would then be so self-critical every time I stepped in front of the mirror. I was strong and healthy, but I wasn’t comfortable and I wasn’t happy.
During my pregnancy, maintaining that active lifestyle became too much to handle. Physical activity gave me anxiety and I worried that I would hurt the baby. Eating felt good so I caved into every craving that I had. I kept telling myself that I was young and would want my old routine back once I had my baby and would “bounce back”. The result? I gained 90 pounds in 9 months.
Once Neera was born, I quickly realized that falling back into my old workout routine wasn’t going to be an option. I needed to recover from my delivery. I was exhausted and sleeping whenever she was. Breastfeeding tired me out. Breastfeeding also made me want to eat everything in sight. Sure, breastfeeding helped in shedding some of the weight I had gained, but not all of it, and it didn’t “fall off” like articles I had read said it would. Instead, it stuck. It stuck to my hips and my thighs and my belly and my love handles.
The only part of my old routine that I maintained was the self-critical stares in the mirror.
When would I “lose the baby weight”? Would the stretch marks ever fade? Would my body ever look like it used to? When would I get to reclaim the body that my baby had taken over for nine months?
Pretty sad thoughts to be having.
What I should have been asking myself is, “When will my perspective change? When can I learn to love myself?” I don’t know what sparked it, but eventually I looked in the mirror and decided that I was going to love that reflection. I decided that I was going to focus all of my attention on being a good person and a good mom, not a “good” body – because every body is a good body! I decided I was going to celebrate my body for bringing the greatest thing that ever happened to me into this world. And I decided I wanted to talk about why I felt any of this in the first place, and why many mommas do.
All too often, on top of all of the other new pressures and expectations when you become a momma, there is an unfair focus put on your body. What was my body before? What is it now? What did it go through? Will it ever be the same?
When I search #postpartumbody on any social media platform, the majority of photos are regarding what it took to “loose the baby weight” or tips to get fit quick.
I’m sorry, but this just isn’t real for me. It is hard enough for me to find time to make a healthy meal, let alone get to the gym multiple times a week. And you know what? We shouldn’t feel like we have to do any of that!
Don’t get me wrong, I still strive to be a strong and healthy momma, but I think it is well past time time that we start to shift the conversation about what that looks like, sounds like, and feels like. The size of clothes that fit you does not mean strong and healthy. The number on the scale does not mean strong and healthy. Limiting your diet so you feel guilty every time you want a cheeseburger does not mean strong and healthy. “Losing the baby weight” does not mean strong and healthy. To me, strong and healthy means balance: fuelling your body with good food but not feeling bad about the wine and chocolate – trying to get outside for walks but not feeling bad about binge watching Netflix while you cuddle your baby – having goals for living more actively but not being self-loathing about where you’re at. Be a rebel and love yourself, as you are, where you are, for all the glorious things you are!
I “lost the baby weight” the moment that Neera entered the world. I love my body, as it is, for being capable of such an indescribable, miraculous feat: creating a human life. The extra skin, the push and pull, the scars; they all serve as reminders of what my body is capable of and the space that it gave me to grow a new life. My focus, now, is on the love and connection I have with my child. My focus is on the light and love I see in her eyes every time she looks at me, and how much easier it is to manifest that love for myself than it ever was before.
I think one of my friend’s kiddos said it best. Every time she is in her bathing suit her son points to her tummy and asks, “Did I do that, Mommy?” And she responds, “You sure did buddy.” Then he smiles at her like he created the most beautiful piece of forever artwork. And you know what? He did. They do.
I hope that one day, all of us can look at ourselves the way that children do. I hope that one day we can search #postpartumbody and see mommas who are celebrating their bodies as they are and not attempting to live up to some ridiculous body ideal that the rest of the world has. I hope that mommas can be the ones to shake the way we see one another in the world, because body positivity doesn’t just affect mommas; body positivity affects us all.
So here is me and my daughter, stripped down and as real and raw and honest as we can be. This, to me, is what really matters. Let’s start filling our social media feeds with photos like this; with photos of reality and of love.
**these wonderful photos were done by molly.jeanine.photo – check out her amazing work on Instagram**
This post originally appeared on The Momma Moments blog, and it was shared with permission. Read more about Jess here: she is a mom, daughter, partner, sister, teacher, writer, yoga enthusiast who uses her talents to help break down the stigma around mental health. She is part of a revolution to normalize talking about our struggles as moms. You can find more of her work on the Mothers Empowering Mothers Blog.
Who better to tell you the benefits of postpartum support than a mom who has experienced it herself? Below a mom gives feedback on her experience of having a postpartum doula.
Why did you want to hire a postpartum doula?
We wanted to hire a postpartum doula so that we would have as much support possible for mom and baby and help give them the best start possible.
Did I meet your expectations of what you had in mind for a postpartum doula?
Oh my gosh YES! You were so supportive and encouraging and having you with us as we became a family of 4 was so reassuring. It was such a comfort having you in our home and I always looked forward to your weekly visits.
You brought a calm, caretaker presence that just wrapped us up in gentleness that we so needed as we adjusted to life with a baby again.
Did anything I do stand out to you?
Well, I think that everything you did for us was wonderful. But I was always amazed at the amount of stuff that you knew, and I loved that you always had such awesome information. And if you didn’t know something, you sourced out the information. I loved that you were never pushy, just gave me everything you had and let me decide what I wanted. You were gentle and supportive in a way that was comforting and helped boost my confidence as a new mom again.
What would you say to families not sure about investing in postpartum care from a doula?
Hiring a postpartum doula is investing in your self-care at a time you may forget to look after yourself. A new mom needs just as much care as a new baby, but the new mom often gets overlooked. A postpartum doula makes sure the new mom is nurtured so that she can better care for herself as well as her new family.
You can find more testimonials from moms here.
Recently I was asked by a mom of a newborn and toddler what exactly is it I do as a postpartum doula. The conversation made me think this would be a good time to do a blog post! While I list what I do here on my website, I thought I’d write about what I’ve specifically provided for different clients, because everyone’s needs are different, and I tailor my services to their needs.
I recently served a couple who had their first baby. They did not have a lot of family living nearby, but saw the benefits of mom taking it easy after birth, like moms do in other cultures. When I would visit their home, I didn’t actually spend a lot of time with mom, who had created her own little nest for her and their baby upstairs in their home. If she and baby weren’t resting when I arrived, I would check in with them to see if she needed any help or a drink or snack. Then I would spend the majority of my time in the kitchen, where I cooked meals: I would make recipes we had agreed upon before my arrival, and often more than one, so that there were both meals and snacks available to mom and dad. I would also then clean the kitchen, I often cleaned the upstairs washroom, and I would take out the garbage and recycling when I left. During one visit, I cleaned out the fridge and threw away any condiments that had expired (I joked to my husband that in the three years we’ve lived in our current home, I’ve never done that!). Over the course of my visits, I helped with breastfeeding, bathing the baby, sterilizing breast pump and bottle parts, and I put together a Mamaroo.
Mmmmm banana walnut muffins. Easy to make and great for moms to have on hand. One of the snacks I made for a client.
Another client I served gave birth to her second baby, who arrived earlier than expected (aside from being early, baby was and is healthy and continues to do well!). While I normally visit clients once a week, she and her family had more immediate needs in a shorter time period, so we made arrangements for me to do multiple visits during a week. On my first visit, my main task was to rearrange the living room furniture to accommodate a bed so mom wouldn’t have to go upstairs. During another visit, I picked up groceries and a prescription for mom. (Kind of funny story here: she gave me her card to pay, and when I went to tap it, it didn’t work. Since I didn’t know her pin, I pulled out my debit card. The clerk was looking at me strangely, asking, “You don’t want to try your pin?” Um, no, I don’t….!) During another visit, I played with her toddler and organized all of the new baby’s clothes and folded and put away laundry. I probably did other household tasks I don’t recall: I always try to take out the garbage when I leave and to leave the home tidier than when I arrived, even if it’s just something small like wiping down counters or picking up toys.
This mom had support: her husband is extremely helpful in that he does a lot of the cooking and laundry. Her mother was also visiting for an extended period of time. After my first visit, mom texted me to say she could just feel the relief in her partner and her mother. During one of my visits, the grandma called me an angel. I was touched beyond belief! Sometimes I wonder how much I am helping people, but help comes in many forms, and you can never have too much support. Everyone needs a break at some point and having a new baby is mentally, physically, and emotionally draining on everyone to some degree.
Here is another scenario: mom and dad are having their second baby, and they know from their first experience that they would like some additional help for mom, who suffered from postpartum depression. I met with them in advance of baby being born, and we actually talked through and developed a postpartum plan. I really recommend this. As the dad said, it helped keep him accountable for what he said he would do, but it also meant mom couldn’t get upset with him if he wasn’t doing another task. It puts mom and dad on the same page, and it provides them with resources ahead of time so if mom is having a bad day after baby comes, there is no scrambling for help: resources and numbers to call are listed in the plan.
My visits with this family are different each time. I have sat with mom and listened to her share her birth story; I have held her newborn so she could take her older child and one of their dogs for a walk, so she could take a blissfully hot shower and do her hair, so she could take her eldest trick-or-treating, or so she could run an errand child-free; I have showed her how to use her wrap (I can show you from my own experience as a mama, but like this mom, you can always bring in someone who is certified for more help and to try different carriers!); I have done laundry; I have cleaned the bathroom; I have played with the older child.
Win-win: I get baby snuggles, and mom gets some time to herself or time with her older child. Photo used with permission.
For both of the two previous moms I’ve mentioned, I brought them different teas to help with breastfeeding. And even though I may only see a client once a week, I am in constant touch with them if they need and want it: I try to balance being helpful without being a pest! I am always available for questions. I find mom evidence-based articles when she does have questions, I point her to more resources if she needs them, but most importantly, I am a non-judgemental ear when she needs someone to listen and to reassure her that she is not alone and that she is doing a great job. Family is a great support, but a postpartum doula is great because I have no ties to your family, I’m not part of the family dynamic, so there is no baggage or opinion there. I also don’t give unsolicited advice and frankly try to give little advice: instead I try to offer support and resources so mom can make the decision best for her.
So what I do a postpartum doula really varies, depending on what mom needs. We work that out in advance of baby being born, or if baby surprises us and comes earlier than expected, we go with the flow and plan in advance of each visit!
If postpartum support is something you or a friend or family could benefit from (postpartum support would make a great baby shower gift!), please get in touch. I would love to hear from you and hear how I could best serve you and your family. Every woman can benefit from some form of postpartum care and support.
[contact-form][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”1″ /][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”1″ /][contact-field label=”Postpartum support inquiry” type=”textarea” required=”1″ /][/contact-form]
Melanie Flett knows first-hand what it’s like to want to breastfeed a baby, but to not have the support that makes it easier.
“I was surrounded by family who didn’t know much about it,” the 22-year-old mother from Red Earth Cree Nation says as she looks back on her experience nursing her son. “But I was determined to exclusively breastfeed him.”
That’s why Flett is taking training to become a peer support for other nursing moms on Saskatchewan’s First Nations.
“The lack of support I had being a new mom…it was overwhelming. Support is very important. I would love to be there and support other moms.”
Thanks to funding from the First Nations Inuit Health Branch, Flett is participating in one of four peer support trainings offered across the province. Around 50 moms will be taking the training between Prince Albert, Onion Lake, Okanese, and Treaty 6.
Melanie Flett (right) is training to become a peer support for other breastfeeding moms. Jana Stockham, lactation consultant with Cindy & Jana and one of the facilitators of the Prince Albert conference, is one of the facilitators providing the training.
Kelsey Ring is a registered dietician with the Prince Albert Grand Council, and one of the facilitators of the training.
“During university and my first year of work, I realized that I had a passion for infant nutrition and the special bond that breastfeeding creates between mom and babe.”
According to Statistics Canada, 89 per cent of Canadian mothers in 2011-2012 initiated breastfeeding soon after their child’s birth. Six months later – the length of time the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding – 26 per cent were still breastfeeding. The WHO recommends continuing to breastfeed while foods are introduced up to 2 years and beyond. In addition to many health benefits breastfeeding provides mom and her baby, which adapt to a child’s needs as they grow or get sick, it also meets many emotional needs of a child.
Some barriers breastfeeding moms can face include lack of knowledge, social norms (some communities see bottle feeding as the norm), poor family or social support (spousal support is key to breastfeeding success), embarrassment (such as being shamed for nursing in public), or lacking access to support – exactly what this training hopes to combat.
In addition to Ring, the other facilitators are lactation consultants from Saskatoon and Prince Albert, as well as public health nurses, including retired RN Georgina Quinney. She started a very successful breastfeeding peer support program in Shoal Lake and ran it for 15 years. She is the inspiration for expanding training to multiple First Nations, says Ring.
“I facilitated a training session with Georgina about two years ago and saw what a difference it was making in Shoal Lake and surrounding communities,” notes Ring. “When an opportunity for funding came up, we submitted a proposal to host the training (which has never been done on this scale here before).”
The training follows the American WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Breastfeeding Peer Support Training program quite closely – with adaptations for First Nations women living in Saskatchewan.
The goal of the conference is to build confidence and empower First Nations moms to support and promote breastfeeding within their communities.
“All of these moms have the knowledge through their own breastfeeding experiences. We just want them to feel comfortable and confident talking to other moms about it,” explains Ring. “We also realize that the support provided by peers is unique and, in combination with support from their health care providers, plays a key role in breastfeeding success.”
Flett also encourages moms to empower themselves before their baby is born.
“Attend prenatal classes. Read the books or pamphlets about pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding just so you gain some understanding. Because being a new mom can be overwhelming. Reach out for help when needed.”
Note: I originally wrote this article for Eagle Feather News.