Best for Babes had a chance to catch up with busy mom and author Andi Silverman to talk to her about her personal experiences that led her to write Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide to Breastfeeding, for sale on Amazon.com. We give the book a “thumbs up” for hip design, engaging and witty prose and “no holds barred” honesty. It’s a great little introductory book to get you pumped up and psyched up, and a super baby shower gift for a chic mom. We especially love “From the mouths of moms”: quotes from real moms that tell it like it is, and will leave you laughing and feeling connected.
Did you always know you wanted to breastfeed? If so, why? If not, what changed your mind?
What kind of advance preparation did you do? Had you seen anyone nurse? Were your husband and family supportive? How about your ob/gyn and pediatrician? Did you encounter any barriers to breastfeeding while still pregnant and how did you deal with them.
I actually convinced my husband to take a breastfeeding class with me before our son was born. What a sport he was! He was the only guy in the room. We paid attention, asked questions, and even took notes. But beyond that, I didn’t do much else to prepare. I wasn’t reading parenting books. I was more focused on the pregnancy and how lousy I felt. I didn’t even ask my family, friends or obstetrician anything about breastfeeding. I naively thought that it couldn’t be all that hard.
Did your actual breastfeeding experience meet or differ from your expectations? How so?
Once our son was born, I soon realized that I didn’t remember much at all from that breastfeeding class. I had forgotten that babies ate around the clock, every two to three hours. And because I hadn’t done any advance reading, I was in a bit of shock about the intensity of caring for a newborn. I was very overwhelmed by the lack of sleep. I wasn’t using bottles of formula or pumped milk, so it was all mom, all the time. I remember thinking, “When will this cycle slow down? Will I ever sleep again?”
What was the biggest breastfeeding challenge you faced and how did you handle or overcome it?
I got pretty lucky in the breastfeeding department. Both of our sons latched on easily and grew well. My biggest (pun intended) “problem” was that I had very severe engorgement. With our first son, I was pretty shocked when my milk came in and I got rock hard watermelons on my chest. I remember standing in the shower and weeping in disbelief. I had no idea what to do about it, so I had to get advice from a lactation consultant. She told me to use hot wash cloths to get the milk flowing, pump a little to relieve the engorgement and feed as frequently as possible. And lo and behold, it worked!
What motivated you to write Mama Knows Breast and start your online blog? What has the reaction been so far?
I looked at the other breastfeeding books on the market, and while there were a lot of great ones, they all seemed fairly serious, and medically oriented. I didn’t find what I could have used– a practical, concise and hip guide to breastfeeding. I wanted a breastfeeding book that would be fun to read. So, I set out to write “Mama Knows Breast” and started my blog www.mamaknowsbreast.com. Along the way, I’ve been in touch with moms who have so much to share about their breastfeeding experiences. Everyone has stories to tell. Stories about successes, challenges, and even failures.
Best for Babes Comments: Okay, first of all, we think Andi is awesome! And so is her husband for taking a class—it’s so important to include spouses/partners. One of the smartest things Andi did was to get the advice of a lactation consultant. Getting qualified help early can make the biggest difference in avoiding or solving problems. For help finding a lactation counselor in your area, check out www.ilca.org which lists lactation counselors by zip code. For engorgement, another alternative is to lower your boobs into a basin or sink of hot water and hand express to relieve the pressure—takes less time than a shower and gentler on the nipples than pumping! By the way, breastfeeding for birth control is just as effective as the pill (0.9-1.2%), provided 1) the baby is 6 months or younger, 2) is being breastfed exclusively on demand (i.e. not overly scheduled) and 3) is not relying heavily on artificial nipples or pacifiers. World-wide, more babies are kept from being born (which increases child survival) through breastfeeding than all other birth control methods (Thapa et. al., Nature, 1988)!