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Insights from a Lactation Consultant in Quarantine

2020. The year-we-wish-we-could-burn-in-a-dumpster-fire.

What a weird time.

Even more so if you’re pregnant or have had a baby recently. I bet it’s not what you expected.

Your birth plan with sisters, friends, your mom present. Your woodland animal themed baby shower. It was going to be adorable.

The gorgeous belly photoshoot in a meadow..

Maybe not. Not now.

You might be scared, you might be sad. Guess what?

IT’S OK NOT TO BE OK right now.

I just recently hosted an evening postpartum support group with a lovely and brilliant friend who is an accomplished and in-demand Perinatal Mental Health Specialist. She reminded us that NONE of us are operating at 100%. No one. And it’s ok to grieve the losses you’re experiencing. And my favorite quote of hers… GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE.

Moms are notorious about this; giving themselves some slack, even when it’s not a shitty, scary Pandemic time. Especially concerning breastfeeding. I’m sure that's making you nervous, too.

I’m here to tell you… it’s going to be ok. Repeat this often.

And I have to report to you from the frontlines of new moms and babies. Most are breastfeeding ok. Lots better than OK. I think we’re all surprised.

The visitors you were expecting to converge after the baby was born? We in Lactation Land have always bristled somewhat from the myriad of interruptions posed from loving, well-meaning visitors after an infant's birth. Photographers in the room when parents should really be sleeping, Aunt Lucy from Pittsburgh who drove ALLLL night to come see the baby and hang out for hours in the hospital. We love Aunt Lucy, but she was probably interfering (unintentionally of course) with tired new parents getting the early education and breastfeeding support they need. Aunt Lucy isn’t visiting right now. Which gives mom and baby lots more time for skin to skin.

And with less distraction, parents are able to focus and spend the time on best early practices to ensure a robust milk supply, like skin to skin, frequent hand expression and caring for themselves with sleep (, as you can get it), food, water and snuggles.

And I’m seeing it. Without back to work, away-from-baby mandates for some parents looming, we’re seeing lots of milk. Not in every situation, but low milk supply worries in the face of other issues are...less.

And many International Board Certified Lactation Consultants are doing telemedicine online visits, all over the country. Some are covered by insurance. All totally worth it. Mental Health care professionals are offering online help, too, again with lots of insurance coverage. Even postpartum and breastfeeding support groups have gone virtual. Mine included. So… that means even if it’s a provider you’ve never been able to have access to, you can now via the magical internet!

So maybe the baby holding you expected isn't happening. But what is happening is creativity, ingenuity and Love. Love hasn’t been quarantined. Do a drive by, or host a drive by baby shower! Have Aunt Lucy (remember her?) whip up her famous lasagna for you. Have her visit at the door, across the lawn.

And we don’t mean to discount all the pain and awfulness out there. If someone has lost their job and income has dropped, PLEASE call your state's access number, (ours in CT is 211) look into WIC support, or local food pantries. Mental health concerns are real right now, and isolating from family can be hard. Make informed decisions about distancing with your health care providers and family.

Look, we can’t change what’s happening. But we might be able to glean opportunities from this quiet, nervous time we hadn’t imagined.

Go make some milk.

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