By Karen Garloch, Charlotte Observer
Jan Ellen Brown has been a Charlotte lactation consultant for 20 years. She's helped countless women learn how to breast-feed their babies.
Now, she's also an author.
Brown and longtime friend Kathleen Huggins, author of “The Nursing Mother's Companion,” have collaborated on a new book, “25 Things Every Nursing Mother Needs to Know” (Harvard Common Press, $12.95).
It's an easy read, devoted to making the nursing experience fulfilling for both mother and child.
The authors combined their 45 years of experience to write 25 essays on topics ranging from “Getting the baby latched on takes practice” to “Weaning can be a long, slow process.”
Their small, square book with pink and purple trim would be a “great shower gift,” Brown said. It offers a new mother “something that isn't overwhelming that hits the high spots and gives her some idea of what she could expect.”
Brown, 55, was a dental hygienist until 1991 when she switched gears and became a board-certified lactation consultant. She has worked at Charlotte Pediatric Clinic since 2008, following 16 years at The Nursing Mother's Place at Presbyterian Hospital. Much of her advice is based on “things I hear from mothers every day in my practice.”
Here's a sample of chapter titles and content:
Babies are born to be breast-fed. “Although breast-feeding is a basic maternal instinct, mothers and their babies must practice together – sometimes quite a bit – before nursing becomes second nature. … Both of us had less than perfect breast-feeding beginnings with our own babies, but in the end we were glad we waded through the doubt and fatigue.”
Homecomings are happy but hectic. “I wish I had a dollar for every mother that said to me they had their days and nights mixed up,” Brown said. “This is normal.”
She advises mothers to discourage casual visitors, both in the hospital and during the first days at home. After the life-altering experiences of labor and childbirth, new mothers are tired, but their babies still need to be fed and changed. “Your first days at home with your new baby may be rocky as well as exhilarating,” she said. “It's a very tiring, demanding time.”
If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Most mothers are “self-sacrificing. We all feel guilty. But you can't take care of anybody else until you take care of yourself,” Brown said.
The authors urge mothers to seek help if the clash of hormones and sleep deprivation leads to postpartum depression, a syndrome widely recognized today. “Mothers used to just suck it up and not mention it,” Brown said.
Some mothers combine breast and bottle. Working mothers especially may want to breast-feed and use bottles of “expressed” milk or combine breast milk with formula. “That's certainly OK,” Brown said. “Any amount of (breast) milk they get is a plus. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition.”
You can mentor other mothers. Many new moms live far away from their families. Even if they are nearby, mothers from past generations may not have tried breast-feeding. Brown encourages “sharing the wealth” and fighting to help other mothers get extended maternity leave and private, comfortable settings for pumping breast milk in the workplace.
“These mothers, going back to work and breast-feeding, can mentor other mothers and also be good listeners for mothers having problems.”