Passing Along Breastfeeding Wisdom

Do you ever wonder how your great-great grandmother learned to breastfeed before there were lactation consultants, breastfeeding classes and the Internet?  I sometimes dream of a machine that would temporarily take me back to see how women birthed and breastfed (I’d be invisible, of course).  I would record everything.  I would listen closely to what all of the women in her life were saying–what advice and “words of wisdom” they were imparting on her.

I would also take note of how they were helping her.  What were they feeding her?  Did she become engorged?  Did she have sore nipples?  Did she ever need to leave her baby and manually express her milk?  What happened when a baby didn’t latch?  What did they do about inverted nipples?  I have read stories about breastfeeding in history, but I’d love to learn more.  I just ordered some books on Amazon, and will regale you with interesting stories soon, I promise.

But for now….I need your help.  My goal is to help educate other women about breastfeeding so that they can feel equipped, in turn, to help their fellow nursing sisters (the way it used to happen so many years ago…since the beginning of time, really).  Not everyone has fast and easy access to a lactation consultant 24/7.  It would be ideal if ALL women felt equipped and comfortable helping out with breastfeeding.  I know not everyone wants to be a lactation consultant, but you’d be surprised how much of a difference a person can make with just a small suggestion and some encouraging words.  The support means more than you can imagine to a mom who is just about ready to give up.  Isn’t it time for all of us, as women, to reclaim the rich, lost wisdom of our female ancestors?  And reclaim our breasts for their mammalian purpose?  They don’t have to be used primarily to sell beer, porn and cars.  They can be used for our babies (and ourselves).  We can try to recall the words of our female ancestors and tap into the exquisite wisdom that is ours to claim…one story at a time.

For anyone who has either attended my breastfeeding class or has seen me for a lactation consultation. I’m sometimes left curious as to how things turned out, and although some of you I’ve connected with to get the full scoop, I know many others I have not heard “the rest of the story”.   I now want to know “the rest of the story”. I am curious about:

What approximate date/year did you seek out my help? How old was baby at that time?

What was the breastfeeding issue/question you had at that time?

Did your issue resolve, and were you able to meet your breastfeeding goal?

What did it take to resolve your issue?

Is there something that was later revealed to you (either an issue about you or your health, or something related to the baby) that put the pieces together for you?

What thoughts/reflections do you have about your breastfeeding experience(s)?

And finally, what would have been helpful to know ahead of time (like, before you had your baby), and do you think knowing this would have helped you avoid your issue?

Also, I’d love your full name so I can access your chart to review my notes. If you don’t feel comfortable sending that info, you could also snail mail it anonymously to: Kelly Emery, 335 Bridge St. NW, #1202, Grand Rapids, MI 49504. Alternatively, you could email it to me but leave off your name and any identifying information. Your name and any identifying information will always be kept confidential, although I may use your response (with any identifying information modified) for Case Study purposes when educating others about breastfeeding issues. If you prefer to NOT allow your specific breastfeeding story to be shared, just let me know in your response and I will respect this choice completely. I will appreciate (even for my own learning) any information you share.

What if I didn’t actually see you for a consultation?  Maybe you used a different lactation consultant along your journey?  Or none at all.  That’s OK.  I’d love to hear your story, too.

Your responses will not only help ME be a better lactation consultant, and give me insight so that I can make suggestions to future mothers, but it will also help me as I work toward training/mentoring women to help breastfeeding mothers.

I know you’re busy. I appreciate ANY time you could devote to this. I appreciate any feedback, even one-word answers.  Thank you in advance, and I promise, I’ll post about the historical breastfeeding books as soon as I read them.

Here is my email:  [email protected]


Kelly Emery