In October of 2017, I was skimming Facebook and came across a question in one of my favorite Infant Safe Sleep support groups. A new mother was having a hard time with breastfeeding and was looking for an evidence-based breastfeeding group that supported safe sleep for infants. When she got very little feedback, I began to think about creating a Facebook support group for safe sleep practices and breastfeeding because I knew there were plenty of mothers who wanted to exclusively breastfeed while practicing safe sleep.
As a mother of exclusively breastfed twin girls, I practiced the ABCs of safe sleep according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and I felt confident that I could provide current evidence-based resources while providing practical tips and support, but the only real experience I had with breastfeeding was with my twins. I began to search for like-minded group moderators who wanted to help compile up-to-date scientific resources for which we called Breastfeeding Without Bedsharing & Evidence-Based Feeding.
We quickly learned that the scientific evidence cited to back up most of the breastfeeding claims were inaccurate and commonly blown out of proportion, and I was mystified as to why. We found pseudoscience rampant in mommy groups and blogs, hatred for formula milk, dangerous suggestions, and anecdotes—even from lactation consultants (IBCLCs), such as putting breast milk in babies’ eyes to cure infections and encouraging unsafe sleeping practices while breastfeeding.
Most of all we found countless women feeling confused and defeated thinking they couldn’t breastfeed and practice safe sleep.
In my support group we care dearly for infants, but I am of the belief that you cannot have a thriving baby without a happy mother. When it comes to supporting new mothers, the best thing you can do is just that—support the mother. We work to dispel breastfeeding and formula feeding myths while supporting all feeding types. We respect a woman’s choice to breastfeed and support their nursing goals with diligence and scientifically sound advice. I myself exclusively breastfed twins and continued to nurse for over two and a half years. My mod team is made up of mothers who have used many different feeding methods.
Aside from being mothers, we all have one thing in common: we believe that a well-fed baby is the best kind of baby.
We were thrilled when we found the Fed Is Best Foundation’s infant feeding resources. Their resources helped us quash common misconceptions and unsafe feeding practices. We have helped women breastfeed, supplement, combo feed, pump, and formula feed. One of my favorite things that our group does is to help mothers realize that there is no reason to feel guilty for giving their babies formula.
I have no doubt that, with the help of the FIBF, we have improved the lives of at-risk infants and their mothers.
I have learned a lot from the Fed is Best Foundation. My only regret is not finding them sooner. I would have loved their resources in my early days of breastfeeding, especially concerning baby-friendly hospitals. The policies in place made it impossible for me to get any sleep to recover from labor and birth. Cluster feeding my twins the night before leaving the hospital left me exhausted and completely vulnerable for our first night home. I was completely exhausted and sore when my milk came in that evening that I had to step out on my front porch, leaving the girls with their father, while they screamed (and I wept) before heading back in for another night of almost constant nursing.
I needed rest and nurturing for myself, and none was offered during my stay at the hospital. No one had prepared me for the first few days at home nursing twins.
I was able to breastfeed my twins exclusively for six months and continued for two and a half years when they finally self-weaned. I never would have been able to do it without the love and support of the Fed is Best Foundation. Their kind words and evidence-based information gave me the strength and knowledge to stick with it, especially when obstacles (like painful vasospasms) arose. They provided me with educational resources and treatments that eased my nipple pain, which allowed me to enjoy breastfeeding my girls instead of being in awful pain.
My breastfeeding journey is something I’m able to look back on fondly and proudly, but I want all women to feel that way, no matter how they feed their child. Mothers need accurate educational resources and support that is not conditional on how they are feeding their babies. Before starting my group, I was caught up in some of the myths surrounding breastfeeding. Though I held beliefs that were false, I chipped away at my own misconceptions with the support and help of my team. I will always be proud of keeping babies safe and fed. I couldn’t do that without the Fed Is Best Foundation, and I am forever grateful to them.