9/26/18

Breastfeeding struggles extend beyond finding a place

Women share stories of how to make it through labor and delivering babies. They talk about the rewards and the pain being worth it when the baby arrives. How many open up about the pains and challenges of breastfeeding?

“It’s a natural and normal thing, but it’s actually really hard. I just want to feed my baby,” said Savoy mom Tania Swigart.

Following the birth of her daughter, Talia, she sought help because she faced difficulty with her first child, Lukas.

The Carle Breastfeeding Clinic supports moms before, during and after pregnancy. Resources and appointments are open to the community regardless of where they receive care. Find Carle’s breastfeeding clinic at:

  • South Clinic (first floor) by appointment only
  • Urbana on Windsor, Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Champaign on Curtis, Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Appointments are open to the community regardless of where they receive care.

“With my son, I didn’t produce enough milk, and he never actually latched, even with support. With Talia, I wanted to try again,” Swigart said. “They reassured me that I would be successful. The support and resources from people who know what they are doing are the sole reasons I am able to breastfeed.”

Karima Isberg, lactation consultant, said breastfeeding offers a host of health benefits, too.

“For baby, it reduces risk of SIDS, childhood cancer and diabetes. For Mom, her body recovers more quickly from pregnancy, and breastfeeding reduces risk of cancers,” she said.

At 2 months, Talia’s weight dropped dramatically. Using a super-sensitive scale, they weighed her before and after feeding, measuring the nourishment she received.

“Bottle feeding provides peace of mind. You can see ounces. With breast feeding – you can’t. Tools like this arm me with knowledge and confidence,” Swigart said.

Many women face challenges and pitfalls, including Sohni Singh with her second child, Agam.

“A lot of women give up because of challenges and pitfalls,” she said, adding, “Not every hospital has these resources. I didn’t with my first.”

Support comes from professional consultants, but from other moms as well. Carle offers a breastfeeding support group the first Thursday of the month from 10 a.m. – noon at The Forum at Carle.

“Moms are open about pros, cons and difficulties. They can safely vent to each other and share successes,” Isberg said. “Perhaps most importantly, they reciprocate the feelings and emotions.”

Reassurance she’s doing the right thing made all the difference for Singh.

“Nothing beats the hands-on experience from the consultants. Their guidance helped me through choosing a proper technique and ensuring I had the right equipment – properly fitting nipple shield and pump,” she said.

Like Swigart, Singh kept contacting the clinic as her son grew. Following a terrible car accident, her milk dried up.

“I was encouraged to start again and ensured my pain medications wouldn’t affect Agam,” she said.

Many factors affect milk production including stress, blocked ducts, engorged breasts and some birth control.

“I’ve been through the ringer, facing a lot of them,” Swigart said. “Some are painful, uncomfortable. Without proper support, it’s frustrating and discouraging.”

Returning to work brings new challenges for breastfeeding moms. They ask – is it time to transition to bottle-feeding or continue with pumping?

Working mom Swigart shed a few tears after losing stored breast milk.

“It was heartbreaking. Breast milk is liquid gold,” she said. “Life happens, and help was just a phone call away.”

The clinic provides support for all women – pump, bottle or combination – whatever they choose.

“While we want everyone to understand the benefits of breastfeeding, we’re firm believers that fed is best and honor the mother’s choice,” Isberg said. “If it’s medically necessary or a mother chooses formula, we provide education on safe formula preparation.”