Families in the Mid-Ohio Valley supported over 200 competitors in Esali Birth's 10th annual Mother's Day 5k and many more in the River City Kids race that followed.

Proceeds from the 5k help to support Esali Birth's mission in the Mid-Ohio Valley through workshops and outreach.  The 2017 esali5k helped to fund the Esali Birth Pregnancy Bags for expecting mothers in the MOV.  We are looking forward to seeing where the 2018 race will allow us to help the most.

We are so thankful for the participants, volunteers, and sponsors that make this happen - we absolutely could not do this without the people behind the event!

It is always a joy to see so many families, babies in strollers and carriers, children running and walking alongside their families, and their support team cheering them on and helping raise awareness for Happy Healthy Birth and Breastfeeding throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.

What do we know about Happy Healthy Birth in the MOV?

  • Until 2017, West Virginia had ZERO Baby-Friendly hospitals.  O'bleness is the closest Baby-Friendly hospital to the Mid-Ohio Valley.  The Baby-Friendly designation means a hospital has followed steps to support things like skin-to-skin care immediately after birth and other factors like qualified breastfeeding support to help with breastfeeding outcomes.  Did you know?  Parent companies of formula companies are the ones that make hospital machinery like X-Ray and MRI machines.  When hospitals give out free formula from those child companies, they will receive kickbacks for other areas of the hospital.  Some hospitals refuse to give up this part of the Baby-Friendly requirements to avoid losing those kick-backs.  The Mid-Ohio Valley doesn't have any Baby-Friendly Certified hospitals.
  • As of 2013, CCMH had a 40% cesarean rate. ALMOST HALF of women stepping into this hospital for childbirth are having surgical births; most, of which, could be prevented.  Half of these were primary cesareans and half were repeat cesareans.  In the past ten years, this rate has increased significantly.  Did you know the World Health Organization considers a cesarean rate between 10-15% ideal and states, "Two new HRP studies show that when caesarean section rates rise towards 10% across a population, the number of maternal and newborn deaths decreases. When the rate goes above 10%, there is no evidence that mortality rates improve."
  • Marietta Memorial Hospital has an official VBAC ban - Vaginal Birth After Cesarean is refused.  This not only means they will refuse to grant the request of a mother to labor without resistance if she has had a previous cesarean, but also that they will exhaust all means of a mother laboring that has never had a cesarean (but that may need a cesarean) to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a cesarean was the last resort to support their VBAC ban.  Sounds ideal at first, except when interventions and risks are unnecessarily increased in the process.
  • Some birth locations are changing their policies to support parent's wishes as well as improve skin-to-skin time after birth and connection during the first few days postpartum.  Some are not.  The most important thing to remember is that knowledge is power.  By learning about ALL your options and getting connected with your holistic resources throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley, you can make better informed decisions for a more well-rounded confident birth.
  • Home birth (including VBAC (or HBAC), twin birth, and breech birth) is a well supported option in and surrounding the Mid-Ohio Valley.  You can find some providers that offer these services by checking out the MOV Birth Workers page.
  • The MOV Breastfeeding, Birth, and Parenting Social is similar to La Leche League - though in addition to breastfeeding education and support for moms and their support system, we also enjoy birth and early parenting education and support.  Come say hello from pregnancy through early parenting on the 4th Saturday of every month (except December).
  • Doula care prenatally, during labor, and postpartum is known world-wide to support mother's experiences including supporting spontaneous labor, biological breastfeeding, and postpartum healing, but also providing families with the confidence and knowledge to make informed decisions no matter where they birth or what decisions need to be made through the perinatal period.  The Mid-Ohio Valley is now thriving with doulas and perinatal mentors.  All a family has to do is a simple internet search and holistic care is at your fingertips, including through #MOVdoula right here on Esali Birth.  Learn more about what a doula does from pregnancy (or pre-conception) through postpartum including supporting unassisted births, supported at home births, birth centers, hospitals, medicated births, 42+ week births, home birth transfers, preterm births, breech birth, twin birth, cesarean birth, assisted birth, birth plans, no birth plans, change your birth plans, and #ALLthebirths in between.  A doula supports YOU.

Want to know more of the ins and outs of Happy Healthy Birth in the Mid-Ohio Valley?  Schedule some mentoring, take a birth class, find a doula, and let's chat about all the holistic support options you have available to you right here in the MOV.

Read the Parkersburg News and Sentinnel write-up.

2018 MD5k Results


Place Bib Name Time M/F Age Group Run/Walk
1 187 Harrison Potter  0:18'50.33 Male 30-34 Run
2 214 Nathan Cunningham  0:19'10.49 Male 25-29 Run
3 161 Joe Wiltsey  0:20'32.02 Male 45-49 Run
4 119 Robert Boston  0:21'12.52 Male 50-54 Run
5 193 Johnathan Haddox  0:21'24.49 Male 20-24 Run
6 159 Teddy Menisher  0:21'50.11 Male 45-49 Run
7 190 Yvonne Gilders  0:21'55.55 Female 35-39 Run
8 212 Steve Osborne  0:22'23.70 Male 40-44 Run
9 120 Andrew Essig  0:22'39.74 Male 20-24 Run
10 200 Quentin Corbitt  0:23'22.83 Male 20-24 Run
11 211 Steve Beck  0:23'29.33 Male 30-34 Run
12 178 Kaylor Offenberger  0:23'30.45 Female 13-19 Run
13 138 Nathan Jones  0:23'58.05 Male 30-34 Run
14 219 Nathan Plotner  0:23'59.24 Male 12 & Under Run
15 109 Dominick Walleshauser  0:24'15.55 Male 13-19 Run
16 218 Ashley Becker  0:24'16.36 Female 30-34 Run
17 162 Patrick Cathey  0:24'20.02 Male 65-69 Run
18 155 Johm Toomey  0:24'47.58 Male 30-34 Run
19 168 Erin Stanley  0:24'53.27 Female 35-39 Run
20 202 Ryan Martin  0:25'25.39 Male 12 & Under Run
21 207 Chris Hackney  0:25'36.08 Male 35-39 Run
22 147 Brian Seeley  0:25'45.92 Male 50-54 Run
23 112 Anna Vanderlaan  0:25'56.49 Female 50-54 Run
24 180 Taylor Bowers  0:25'58.24 Male 13-19 Run
25 149 Lindsay Hill  0:26'00.17 Female 25-29 Run
26 191 Katie Vickers  0:26'08.30 Female 30-34 Run
27 173 Desirae Caplinger  0:26'10.30 Female 12 & Under Run
28 217 Candy Bailey  0:26'34.92 Female 40-44 Run
29 182 Kenneth Angle  0:26'53.86 Male 50-54 Run
30 194 Virginia Haddox  0:27'03.74 Female 12 & Under Run
31 123 Sullivan Wilson  0:27'21.64 Male 13-19 Run
32 183 Kayla Suoler  0:27'41.36 Female 20-24 Run
33 192 Robert Sheridan  0:28'25.61 Male 55-59 Run
34 157 Jaime Ford  0:28'36.92 Female 40-44 Run
35 156 Aaron Ford  0:28'37.33 Male 40-44 Run
36 134 Joe Mills  0:28'39.27 Male 40-44 Run
37 206 Gatlin McLain  0:28'42.61 Male 12 & Under Run
38 204 Drew McLain  0:28'42.83 Male 35-39 Run
39 201 Mike Brown  0:28'46.77 Male 45-49 Run
40 139 Haley Church  0:28'56.30 Female 13-19 Run
41 189 Josh Windland  0:29'38.92 Male 20-24 Run
42 143 Donald Lane  0:30'52.95 Male 60-64 Run
43 125 Stacy Wilson  0:31'21.58 Female 35-39 Run
44 114 Rod Cummings  0:31'29.80 Male 45-49 Run
45 148 Amanda Richards  0:31'30.14 Female 25-29 Run
46 169 Emma Stanley  0:32'05.49 Female 12 & Under Run
47 170 Becky Poling  0:32'13.52 Female 50-54 Run
48 151 Ethan Lamb  0:32'17.77 Male 25-29 Run
49 127 Rob Law  0:32'31.58 Male 40-44 Run
50 380 Jason Mader  0:32'35.17 Male 45-49 Walk
51 146 Savannah Jarvis  0:33'00.14 Female 13-19 Run
52 133 Johathan McCarthy  0:33'05.02 Male 25-29 Run
53 165 Kevin Allen  0:33'10.55 Male 45-49 Run
54 144 Diana Cline  0:33'23.70 Female 55-59 Run
55 228 Erica Ash  0:33'34.05 Female 30-34 Run
56 312 Sharon Marks  0:33'48.99 Female 60-64 Walk
57 223 Joshua Eddy  0:33'50.11 Male 12 & Under Run
58 221 Jillian Eddy  0:33'50.83 Female 35-39 Run
59 210 Jackson Fallon  0:34'02.70 Male 12 & Under Run
60 209 Seth Fallon  0:34'03.14 Male 30-34 Run
61 140 Ivy Linger  0:34'45.61 Female 13-19 Run
62 181 Mindy Bowers  0:35'07.05 Female 30-34 Run
63 105 Erick Braniff  0:35'11.89 Male 30-34 Run
64 142 Pamela Addis  0:35'19.05 Female 55-59 Run
65 129 Megan Law  0:35'32.49 Female 20-24 Run
66 117 Bernard Bookman  0:35'39.39 Male 50-54 Run
67 128 Linda Law  0:35'45.77 Female 40-44 Run
68 196 Waylen Jarvis  0:35'55.95 Male 12 & Under Run
69 227 Kim Williams  0:35'59.70 Female 35-39 Run
70 126 Wendy Mick  0:36'00.52 Male 30-34 Run
71 226 Braden Williams  0:36'06.92 Male 12 & Under Run
72 195 Shawnna Jarvis  0:36'08.99 Female 35-39 Run
73 308 Brenis Phillips  0:36'35.30 Male 60-64 Walk
74 371 Ray Poling  0:36'36.36 Male 60-64 Walk
75 171 Christian Clatterbuck  0:36'54.99 Male 13-19 Run
76 160 Charlie Pickens  0:37'04.74 Male 70 & Over Run
77 152 Jackson Carroll  0:37'10.89 Male 12 & Under Run
78 172 Elsie Horton  0:37'14.02 Female 40-44 Run
79 374 Karen Meeks  0:37'17.67 Female 60-64 Walk
80 135 Summer Mills  0:37'19.45 Female 40-44 Run
81 222 Jalyn Eddy  0:37'36.80 Female 12 & Under Run
82 145 Lynn Stroble  0:37'38.74 Female 40-44 Run
83 185 Michelle Gibson  0:37'45.70 Female 25-29 Run
84 158 Megan Mahoney  0:37'50.30 Female 30-34 Run
85 188 Jennifer Lackey  0:37'54.45 Female 30-34 Run
86 213 Jack Lane  0:38'00.42 Male 65-69 Run
87 354 Vicki Williams  0:38'13.52 Female 50-54 Walk
88 208 Mary Beth Bauman  0:38'32.08 Female 55-59 Run
89 370 William Cunningham  0:38'34.42 Male 70 & Over Walk
90 113 Lyra Su  0:38'51.11 Female 25-29 Run
91 376 George Welch  0:38'57.36 Male 60-64 Walk
92 381 Linda Arnold  0:39'04.55 Female 60-64 Walk
93 378 Kim Windland  0:39'12.21 Female 55-59 Walk
94 167 Tabitha Tanner  0:39'30.11 Female 30-34 Run
95 224 Misty Sims  0:39'32.39 Female 40-44 Run
96 361 Barbara Jahn  0:40'03.52 Female 70 & Over Walk
97 110 Peggy Grimm  0:40'10.05 Female 70 & Over Run
98 320 Michelle Buckner  0:40'16.08 Female 40-44 Walk
99 186 Larry Atkinson  0:40'33.89 Male 55-59 Run
100 150 Melanie Lamb  0:40'34.08 Female 25-29 Run
101 301 Bob Heddleston  0:40'56.92 Male 55-59 Walk
102 225 April Terrell  0:41'07.08 Female 40-44 Run
103 303 Joan Smith  0:41'13.17 Female 65-69 Walk
104 315 Nancy Goff  0:41'16.77 Female 40-44 Walk
105 362 Martha Marks  0:41'23.80 Female 65-69 Walk
106 372 Erica Baker  0:41'29.02 Female 45-49 Walk
107 353 Joseph Morris  0:41'58.02 Male 35-39 Walk
108 230 Kris Casto  0:42'30.55 Female 50-54 Run
109 137 Lane Wasson  0:43'00.49 Male 12 & Under Run
110 136 Denise Wasson  0:43'00.83 Female 40-44 Run
111 199 Ty Starkey  0:43'21.58 Female 30-34 Run
112 383 Ernie Doll  0:43'25.70 Male 70 & Over Walk
113 111 Brianna Cross  0:44'06.67 Female 35-39 Run
114 363 Cherrie Cowan  0:44'34.92 Female 60-64 Run
115 313 Deb Patrick  0:44'45.89 Female 60-64 Walk
116 153 Vanessa McCrady  0:44'49.08 Female 30-34 Run
117 342 Kim Holdren  0:44'56.99 Female 60-64 Walk
118 229 Jace Riffle  0:45'00.83 Male 12 & Under Run
119 216 Jessica Riffle  0:45'01.17 Female 30-34 Run
120 215 Becky Offenberger  0:45'02.11 Female 55-59 Run
121 220 Pat Letson  0:45'36.58 Male 50-54 Run
122 205 Courtney McLain  0:45'38.80 Female 35-39 Run
123 339 Kathleen Ervine  0:45'44.36 Female 60-64 Walk
124 384 Tonya Venham  0:45'45.89 Female 40-44 Walk
125 203 Slaten McLain  0:45'46.39 Male 12 & Under Run
126 154 Bill Toomey  0:46'08.21 Male 65-69 Run
127 141 Jeanette Linger  0:46'13.64 Female 45-49 Run
128 375 Tiffany Jones  0:46'33.36 Female 35-39 Walk
129 382 Jim Arnold  0:46'35.45 Male 60-64 Walk
130 330 Megan Proctor  0:46'42.58 Female 20-24 Walk
131 329 Jennifer Yerex  0:46'43.33 Female 50-54 Walk
132 328 Renee Ellenwood  0:46'47.05 Female 55-59 Walk
133 340 Renae Duncan  0:46'55.61 Female 40-44 Walk
134 341 Shelby Enoch  0:46'55.86 Female 25-29 Walk
135 175 Angie Board  0:46'58.83 Female 45-49 Run
136 233 Harley Woodward  0:47'26.27 Male 12 & Under Run
137 302 Kim Bradley  0:47'29.55 Female 55-59 Walk
138 314 Misty Mason  0:47'30.21 Female 30-34 Walk
139 346 Mike Chevalier  0:47'30.83 Male 55-59 Walk
140 116 Gabriel Bookman  0:47'32.21 Male 13-19 Run
141 107 Daniel Braniff  0:47'32.77 Male 12 & Under Run
142 176 Chase Board  0:47'33.11 Male 12 & Under Run
143 106 Carmen Ezell  0:47'33.64 Female 12 & Under Run
144 104 Eva Braniff  0:47'34.02 Female 30-34 Run
145 311 Brian DeLong  0:48'38.83 Male 35-39 Walk
146 338 Lisa Null  0:48'57.67 Female 50-54 Walk
147 337 Maggie Starkey  0:48'58.86 Female 25-29 Walk
148 377 Scott Simonton  0:49'12.24 Male 50-54 Walk
149 322 Mandy Amos  0:49'20.11 Female 35-39 Walk
150 327 Tammy Theobald  0:49'21.08 Female 55-59 Walk
151 385 Angela Plotner  0:49'40.92 Female 40-44 Walk
152 319 Connie Porter  0:49'43.70 Female 70 & Over Walk
153 386 Todd Plotner  0:49'52.45 Male 45-49 Walk
154 359 Kari Brown  0:50'31.11 Female 30-34 Walk
155 177 Tommy Nichols  0:50'45.30 Male 70 & Over Run
156 321 Joyce Cunningham  0:51'13.67 Female 60-64 Walk
157 166 Nancy Carpenter  0:51'24.92 Female 55-59 Run
158 118 Connie Bookman  0:51'35.36 Female 50-54 Run
159 174 Karen A. Caplinger  0:51'43.08 Female 45-49 Run
160 184 Shyanne Fury  0:51'43.67 Female 13-19 Run
161 325 Sandy Colvin  0:52'02.64 Female 60-64 Walk
162 326 Patty Metz  0:52'03.05 Female 50-54 Walk
163 163 Cindy Daniel  0:52'56.39 Female 55-59 Run
164 101 Nicole Gaines  0:52'58.74 Female 30-34 Run
165 323 Daryl Jones  0:53'16.70 Male 30-34 Walk
166 324 Elisabeth Jones  0:53'17.49 Female 30-34 Walk
167 355 Angela Johnson  0:54'17.05 Female 30-34 Walk
168 197 Caleb Sutt  0:54'37.11 Male 13-19 Run
169 179 Baili Matheny  0:54'37.36 Male 13-19 Run
170 198 Kadon Messanger  0:54'37.61 Male 13-19 Run
171 309 Candy Jones  0:54'47.67 Female 60-64 Walk
172 108 Peggy Murphy  0:55'01.86 Female 40-44 Run
173 388 Crystal Woodward  0:55'06.30 Female 13-19 Walk
174 365 Kahle Mahoney  0:55'11.83 Male 30-34 Walk
175 231 Zoey Morris  0:55'56.92 Female 12 & Under Run
176 232 Leah McFann  0:55'57.77 Female 12 & Under Run
177 373 Lisa Hinsly  0:56'02.80 Female 35-39 Walk
178 103 Kaitlyn Thom  0:56'21.61 Female 25-29 Run
179 318 Adryanne Garrett  0:56'26.49 Female 30-34 Walk
180 379 Emily Teuanger  0:56'28.24 Female 25-29 Walk
181 316 Melissa Barth  0:57'36.70 Female 45-49 Walk
182 317 Kelie Barth  0:57'37.02 Female 20-24 Walk
183 306 Tonya Newell  0:57'41.33 Female 40-44 Walk
184 307 Tina Brucker  0:57'41.80 Female 45-49 Walk
185 358 Kathleen Lanham  0:57'52.80 Female 55-59 Walk
186 387 Zach Lanham  0:57'53.17 Male 25-29 Walk
187 115 Owen Bookman  0:58'07.24 Male 12 & Under Run
188 350 Brianne Moore  0:58'12.05 Female 35-39 Walk
189 335 Brooke Wasson  0:58'39.61 Female 12 & Under Walk
190 336 Sandy McCroskey  0:58'40.74 Female 70 & Over Walk
191 334 Jeff Wasson  0:58'41.92 Male 50-54 Walk
192 344 Penny Morris  0:58'43.27 Female 60-64 Walk
193 345 Milt Morris  0:58'44.36 Male 65-69 Walk
194 368 Johni Wigal  0:59'04.67 Female 55-59 Walk
195 367 Leah LaPrade  0:59'05.11 Female 25-29 Walk
196 348 Alexis Gilbert  0:59'07.77 Female 20-24 Walk
197 349 Nicole Venuso  0:59'08.99 Female 20-24 Walk
198 347 Angela Fluharty  0:59'09.89 Female 45-49 Walk
199 305 Laura Wolfe  1:02'45.92 Female 30-34 Walk
200 304 Jeffrey Wolfe  1:02'51.99 Male 35-39 Walk
201 364 Rina Goins  1:03'38.89 Female 50-54 Walk
202 360 Sue Mahoney  1:05'24.83 Female 50-54 Walk
203 366 Scott Mahoney  1:05'29.70 Male 55-59 Walk


Male Overall Runner
Place Bib Name Time
1 187 Harrison Potter  0:18'50.33
2 214 Nathan Cunningham  0:19'10.49
3 161 Joe Wiltsey  0:20'32.02
Female Overall Runner
Place Bib Name
7 190 Yvonne Gilders  0:21'55.55
12 178 Kaylor Offenberger  0:23'30.45
16 218 Ashley Becker  0:24'16.36
Male Overall Walker
Place Bib Name Time
50 380 Jason Mader  0:32'35.17
73 308 Brenis Phillips  0:36'35.30
74 371 Ray Poling  0:36'36.36
Female Overall Walker
Place Bib Name Time
56 312 Sharon Marks  0:33'48.99
79 374 Karen Meeks  0:37'17.67
87 354 Vicki Williams  0:38'13.52
Male 12 & Under Runner
Place Bib Name Time
14 219 Nathan Plotner  0:23'59.24
20 202 Ryan Martin  0:25'25.39
37 206 Gatlin McLain  0:28'42.61
Female 12 & Under Runner
Place Bib Name Time
27 173 Desirae Caplinger  0:26'10.30
30 194 Virginia Haddox  0:27'03.74
46 169 Emma Stanley  0:32'05.49
Female 12 & Under Walker
Place Bib Name Time
189 335 Brooke Wasson  0:58'39.61
Male 13-19 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
15 109 Dominick Walleshauser  0:24'15.55
24 180 Taylor Bowers  0:25'58.24
31 123 Sullivan Wilson  0:27'21.64
Female 13-19 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
40 139 Haley Church  0:28'56.30
51 146 Savannah Jarvis  0:33'00.14
61 140 Ivy Linger  0:34'45.61
Female 13-19 Walker
Place Bib Name Time
173 388 Crystal Woodward  0:55'06.30
Male 20-24 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
5 193 Johnathan Haddox  0:21'24.49
9 120 Andrew Essig  0:22'39.74
10 200 Quentin Corbitt  0:23'22.83
Female 20-24 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
32 183 Kayla Suoler  0:27'41.36
65 129 Megan Law  0:35'32.49
Female 20-24 Walker
Place Bib Name Time
130 330 Megan Proctor  0:46'42.58
182 317 Kelie Barth  0:57'37.02
196 348 Alexis Gilbert  0:59'07.77
Male 25-29 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
48 151 Ethan Lamb  0:32'17.77
52 133 Johathan McCarthy  0:33'05.02
Female 25-29 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
25 149 Lindsay Hill  0:26'00.17
45 148 Amanda Richards  0:31'30.14
83 185 Michelle Gibson  0:37'45.70
Male 25-29 Walker
Place Bib Name Time
186 387 Zach Lanham  0:57'53.17
Female 25-29 Walker
Place Bib Name Time
134 341 Shelby Enoch  0:46'55.86
147 337 Maggie Starkey  0:48'58.86
180 379 Emily Teuanger  0:56'28.24
Male 30-34 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
11 211 Steve Beck  0:23'29.33
13 138 Nathan Jones  0:23'58.05
18 155 Johm Toomey  0:24'47.58
Female 30-34 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
26 191 Katie Vickers  0:26'08.30
55 228 Erica Ash  0:33'34.05
26 191 Katie Vickers  0:26'08.30
Male 30-34 Walk
Place Bib Name Time
165 323 Daryl Jones  0:53'16.70
174 365 Kahle Mahoney  0:55'11.83
Female 30-34 Walk
Place Bib Name Time
138 314 Misty Mason  0:47'30.21
154 359 Kari Brown  0:50'31.11
166 324 Elisabeth Jones  0:53'17.49
Male 35-39 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
21 207 Chris Hackney  0:25'36.08
38 204 Drew McLain  0:28'42.83
Female 35-39 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
19 168 Erin Stanley  0:24'53.27
43 125 Stacy Wilson  0:31'21.58
58 221 Jillian Eddy  0:33'50.83
Male 35-39 Walk
Place Bib Name Time
107 353 Joseph Morris  0:41'58.02
145 311 Brian DeLong  0:48'38.83
200 304 Jeffrey Wolfe  1:02'51.99
Female 35-39 Walk
Place Bib Name Time
128 375 Tiffany Jones  0:46'33.36
149 322 Mandy Amos  0:49'20.11
177 373 Lisa Hinsly  0:56'02.80
Male 40-44 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
8 212 Steve Osborne  0:22'23.70
35 156 Aaron Ford  0:28'37.33
36 134 Joe Mills  0:28'39.27
Female 40-44 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
28 217 Candy Bailey  0:26'34.92
34 157 Jaime Ford  0:28'36.92
67 128 Linda Law  0:35'45.77
Female 40-44 Walk
Place Bib Name Time
98 320 Michelle Buckner  0:40'16.08
104 315 Nancy Goff  0:41'16.77
124 384 Tonya Venham  0:45'45.89
Male 45-49 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
6 159 Teddy Menisher  0:21'50.11
39 201 Mike Brown  0:28'46.77
44 114 Rod Cummings  0:31'29.80
Female 45-49 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
127 141 Jeanette Linger  0:46'13.64
135 175 Angie Board  0:46'58.83
159 174 Karen A. Caplinger  0:51'43.08
Male 45-49 Walk
Place Bib Name Time
153 386 Todd Plotner  0:49'52.45
Female 45-49 Walk
Place Bib Name Time
106 372 Erica Baker  0:41'29.02
181 316 Melissa Barth  0:57'36.70
184 307 Tina Brucker  0:57'41.80
Male 50-54 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
4 119 Robert Boston  0:21'12.52
22 147 Brian Seeley  0:25'45.92
29 182 Kenneth Angle  0:26'53.86
Female 50-54 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
23 112 Anna Vanderlaan  0:25'56.49
47 170 Becky Poling  0:32'13.52
108 230 Kris Casto  0:42'30.55
Male 50-54 Walker
Place Bib Name Time
148 377 Scott Simonton  0:49'12.24
191 334 Jeff Wasson  0:58'41.92
Female 50-54 Walker
Place Bib Name Time
131 329 Jennifer Yerex  0:46'43.33
146 338 Lisa Null  0:48'57.67
162 326 Patty Metz  0:52'03.05
Male 55-59 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
33 192 Robert Sheridan  0:28'25.61
99 186 Larry Atkinson  0:40'33.89
Female 55-59 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
54 144 Diana Cline  0:33'23.70
64 142 Pamela Addis  0:35'19.05
88 208 Mary Beth Bauman  0:38'32.08
Male 55-59 Walker
Place Bib Name Time
101 301 Bob Heddleston  0:40'56.92
139 346 Mike Chevalier  0:47'30.83
203 366 Scott Mahoney  1:05'29.70
Female 55-59 Walker
Place Bib Name Time
93 378 Kim Windland  0:39'12.21
132 328 Renee Ellenwood  0:46'47.05
137 302 Kim Bradley  0:47'29.55
Male 60-64 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
42 143 Donald Lane  0:30'52.95
Female 60-64 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
114 363 Cherrie Cowan  0:44'34.92
Male 60-64 Walker
Place Bib Name Time
91 376 George Welch  0:38'57.36
129 382 Jim Arnold  0:46'35.45
Female 60-64 Walker
Place Bib Name Time
92 381 Linda Arnold  0:39'04.55
115 313 Deb Patrick  0:44'45.89
117 342 Kim Holdren  0:44'56.99
Male 65-69 Runner
Place Bib Name Time
17 162 Patrick Cathey  0:24'20.02
86 213 Jack Lane  0:38'00.42
126 154 Bill Toomey  0:46'08.21
Male 65-69 Walker
Place Bib Name Time
193 345 Milt Morris  0:58'44.36
Female 65-69 Walker
Place Bib Name Time
103 303 Joan Smith  0:41'13.17
105 362 Martha Marks  0:41'23.80
Male 70 & Over Runner
Place Bib Name Time
76 160 Charlie Pickens  0:37'04.74
155 177 Tommy Nichols  0:50'45.30
Female 70 & Over Runner
Place Bib Name Time
97 110 Peggy Grimm  0:40'10.05
Male 70 & Over Walker # in Group
Place Bib Name Time
89 370 William Cunningham  0:38'34.42
112 383 Ernie Doll  0:43'25.70
Female 70 & Over Walker
Place Bib Name Time
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increase milk supply breastfeeding Esali Birth

Many breastfeeding mothers of the western and modern world wonder how to increase milk supply.  Maybe you were given a nipple shield quickly after birth or you use a pacifier (for any reason).  Maybe you're just trying to keep baby on a routine schedule, night weaning or feel overwhelmed and need a break.  These are some of the most common reasons for a decrease in milk supply.  Increasing milk supply is often a matter of putting baby on the breast at the first sign of hunger.  However, sometimes for known or  unknown reasons you need a little support to increase milk supply, especially when time is of the essence.

Is my Breastmilk Supply Low?

So many moms not only feel like their baby's need to nurse regularly is an indicator of low supply, but that comparing to bottle-fed babies, they might be pumping much less.

  • Breastmilk supply is an average of 2 ounces between BOTH breasts per feeding.
  • Pumping is NEVER an indicator of the storage you have nor the supply you can create - no matter how good your pump.  (Sometimes manual expression works more efficiently than pumping, but it still doesn't compare to baby at the breast).
  • Some moms can store more milk than others (like having a smaller cup of water than someone else).  A mom with a smaller storage tank will need to refill more often, but the source of the supply is still the same amount.  So, some babies will need to nurse more often to be satisfied with the flow.
  • Breast size is NOT an indicator of storage capacity or supply you can create.  Some moms have more or less breast and fatty tissue, which can vary widely.
  • Breastfed babies rarely every drink more than 4-5 ounces at a time.  (Even during growth spurts, a baby will temporarily increase milk supply because they need the extra nutrients for whatever developmental change they are experiencing, but after this, the supply goes back to the normal average - no matter how old their baby is - 4 months, or 4 years)
  • Babies will drink more from a bottle, especially if bottle feeding isn't mimicking the breastfeeding relationship (lots of breaks, switching sides, bottle parallel to the floor just enough to fill the nipple)
  • Babies like flow.  If there is a concern for supply, it is often related to latch, positioning, and flow of the milk.  Rarely would it be the supply itself, especially in the early weeks when the supply is getting established.

Causes of Decreased Milk Supply

In cultures where breastfeeding is not the norm, especially beyond 3-6 months - low milk supply quickly becomes a common reason mothers stop breastfeeding.  In reality, low milk supply is rare when we're talking the biological function of making milk and otherwise is often birth and provider caused through lack of knowledge, lack of biological birth support and overall lack of adequate care for breastfeeding families.  Breastfeeding is a biological function that was typically shared through visually seeing others breastfeed and listening to the stories of your culture.  When your culture only knows bottle feeding and pacifiers, it makes it really hard to have this innate understanding of breastfeeding and breastfeeding remedies.  Decreased milk supply is often caused from the following:

  • Engorgement surrounding the birth where adequate latch was not achieved
  • Early supplements surrounding the birth
  • Stressful birth
  • Stressful postpartum/life (including simply lack of a LOT of help)
  • Returning to work (early or later)
  • Limited Nursing (length of feeding and extending times between nursing especially over 2-3 hours)
  • Nipple Shields
  • Pacifiers
  • Bottles & Supplements (including formula samples, pacifiers and nipple shields handed out in hospitals)
  • Thumb Sucking
  • Less than ideal pregnancy and birth position of the baby (baby's development influences how their soft and hard tissue develops which can not only cause baby to not be able to move their head or jaw/tongue in the necessary positions, but may also mimic tongue tie)
  • Tongue and/or Lip Tie
  • Plugged Ducts
  • Unbalanced Food Choices
  • Dehydration
  • Low Food Intake

Lifestyle Choices to Increase Milk Supply

  • Eat within 30 minutes of Waking (this can be an herbal cup of tea and then a full meal within an hour)
  • Hydrate
  • Eat in general to be sure you have enough sustenance to make the milk (which takes about 500 extra healthy calories - more than what you needed during pregnancy)
  • Eat plenty of greens, including wild foods and herbal foods.  Nettles is excellent for tea and soup and omelets and any way you would use spinach (only more nutrient-packed).  Red Raspberry Leaf and Strawberry Leaf are other great green herbal teas.
  • Lactation Cookies I will note here because they are heavily marketed.  While they can be tasty many boxed options and recipes are loaded with sugar, and not what we're looking for with health.  They aren't really going to do a lot for supply, unless you don't eat well, you don't eat fiber, or you don't eat enough in general.  So, if this is how you eat healthy, then by all means find a low-sweetened option, or just go for a bowl of steel cut oats, nuts, seeds, and fruits and wash it down with a few glasses of water.  You can also use these banana-sweetened recipes to get in some healthier snacks if you need to improve your nutrition.
  • Move daily - Movement gets blood (nutrients) flowing where it needs to go.  Don't overdo it in the first few weeks, though
  • Rest.  Be sure you've planned, or change your plans, to allow for 3-4 weeks after birth of nothing but rest and breastfeeding.  Have a friend or family member live-in (dad needs rest, too) or hire a postpartum doula, or give people tasks to feed and clean for you or throw a frozen pre-prepped meal into a crock pot.  Be skin to skin as much as possible with baby to regulate baby's temperature, stress levels, and allow baby to be close enough to be properly positioned.  You can throw a picnic blanket outside or rest on the sofa, but you are healing from blood and fluid loss, a "wound" the size of a dinner plate on the internal part of your uterus, and learning a new task.  Exhaustion is stressful and reduces necessary hormones.  Rest is vital after birth, and anytime you're struggling with milk supply.
  • Do not limit nursing at any time.  If you need to stop a session to go pee or take a break, do so - but as soon as baby cues that they want to nurse, offer the breast or two, or three or four or however many it takes until they're satisfied.
  • Eliminate or significantly limit the coffee (even decaf), black tea and any other foods high in acids and tannins.  If this sounds like an issue for you, determine your stress load and adrenal health as both the stress and the coffee/black tea can be contributors to low supply.
  • Bed share.  Not just room sharing, not just co-sleeping with a co-sleeper.  I'm meaning actually sleeping right next to your baby.  Your baby's breathing and stress levels regulate when they are right next to you.  They will snuggle up close to you.  They may even latch on all by themselves without you even waking up, eventually.  This means everyone from baby, to you, to Dad sleeps much better.  Baby doesn't totally wake up to nurse.  You don't totally wake up to nurse.  Baby nurses longer at night when your prolactin levels are highest allowing you to make more milk (score for growth spurts!).  You can read this article for specifics on safely co-sleeping.

Physical Methods to Increase Milk Supply

Ways to increase milk supply can sometimes come from manual support.  Here are a few options:

  • Shake and massage your breasts before/during nursing.  This is especially helpful if your baby has a tongue and/or lip tie or you deal with plugged ducts.
  • Use breast compression while nurse and while pumping where you squeeze your breast to help increase the flow of the milk (not necessary if baby is choking during nursing due to forceful letdown)
  • Get baby Osteopathic Therapy, Massage Therapy, and/or Cranio Sacral Therapy early and often (once is not usually enough). This helps baby's soft and hard tissue move into a supportive place so baby's jaw muscles can work the way they're intended and baby's tongue can reach the necessary milk sinuses.  Also seek support of a qualified provider than can assess for tongue and/or lip tie (not just your pediatrician, and not just any IBCLC - know their history of diagnosing this issue).  If a revision is necessary, be sure to continue the bodywork as the tie will only release tissue - it will not fix underlying osteopathic/tissue complications.
  • Pump one breast while nursing the other or pump between nursing sessions.  Follow these breast pumping tips for more guidance.  Hands-free nursing bras and pumps like the Freemie are great for being more discrete while pumping in any location.  If  pumping full or part-time, always pump as much as baby drinks from a spoon/SNS/cup/bottle in a 24 hour period.
  • Hand express your milk which may be helpful especially when engorged or when you aren't responding well to a pump (or don't have one nearby and need to prevent too much milk from building up in your breasts).
  • Remove (or significantly limit) artificial nipple use including pacifiers, nipple shields and thumb sucking.  Artificial nipples change the latch (hard and soft tissues of the facial structure) which reduces baby's ability to efficiently drain the breast causing the supply to drop.  Additionally, if baby wants to suck it means they actually want to be at the breast or comforted by you/someone in some way.  When there are milk supply issues, at least, all sucking/nursing should be at the breast.  Perfect way to increase supply.
  • Nurse when baby has a cue (long before crying) like smacking lips, putting their hand towards their mouth, turning their head towards your breast.  In the early weeks, and during developmental changes like growth spurts, teething and learning new things, this will feel like it is all the time.  Get emotional and house support to help you through these times.  The longer milk sits in your breast, the more proteins, that signal the body to slow production, are present.  Going longer than 2-3 hours between nursing sessions (especially in the first 3 months) can significantly decrease supply and effect the rest of breastfeeding making it more difficult to increase supply as needed later.
  • Reduce stressors.  Get more sleep.  Get more help for you AND dad.  Say "No" more to scheduled tasks.  Go to bed, nurse all day, take an herbal lavender bath, rest and drink tea.  Oxytocin is the love, calm, and trust hormone and is also the hormone that causes contractions (which you likely remember from birth and after).  Stress hormones (like adrenaline) suppress oxytocin.  Stress of any kind - from doing too much to going back to work or feeling depressed will decrease oxytocin.  Oxytocin allows the alveoli that hold the milk in the breast to contract and express milk through the ducts as baby stimulates the breast or you are otherwise triggered to release oxytocin (such as orgasm, strong feelings of love and intimacy, or hearing a baby coo or cry, for example).

Herbs that Increase Milk Supply

Other than food in general and herbs like nettles and red raspberry leaf to increase milk supply (which can often be enough on their own due to nutrient content) other herbs are considered specific galactogogues - milk producing - herbs.  These herbs can be used on their own, though as with most herbs their effects are enhanced when blended together.  Note that the first three herbs can be blended together to total 5 ml per dose (plus additional Avena Sativa) which may enhance their efficacy.

  • Goat's Rue - Galega officinalis - *May increase the strength of hypoglycemic medications.  Otherwise, Infuse 1 tsp. per 1 cup of water.  Steep 10-15 minutes.  Drink 1-2 times daily.  Alternatively, take 1-2 ml of a 1:10 in 45% tincture three times daily.
  • Fennel - Foeniculum vulgare - *Slightly crush seeds.  Infuse 1-2 tsp. per 1 cup of water.  Steep10 minutes.  Drink 1-3 times daily.  Alternatively take 1-2 ml of a 1:5 in 40% tincture three times daily.
  • Blessed Thistle - Cnicus benedictus - Infuse 1 tsp. per 1 cup of water.  Steep 10-15 minutes.
  • Oat Straw - Avena sativa - This is useful for stress and nutrient-related low milk supply to be used with other supporting galactogogue-specific herbs.  *Infuse 1-3 tsp. per 1 cup of water.  Let steep 10-15 minutes.  Drink 1-3 times daily.  If you know nursing is linked to stress (busy schedule, working, exhaustion...etc.) use the tincture of Avena sativa when tinctured in its milky form - this is crucial.  The milky form is the only form of Avena sativa that actually provides direct calming support.  In this case, take 1-5 ml of a 1:5 in 25% solution three times daily.
  • Fenugreek - This is not one I typically recommend since it is not really indicated as a galactogogue and with its other effects on the body (particularly those with thyroid complications) it isn't my first choice.  However, it can be helpful so I am including this here for information sake.  You typically need to take enough to start smelling like maple syrup which is a surprising amount.  This is a demulcent herb which increases mucous and soothes the nervous system (like oat straw).  May lower blood cholesterol.  This herb should be taken in capsule form or tincture.

Infusion - Pour hot/boiling water over the herb - do not heat the herb in the water.  Cover.  Let steep (sit unbothered) as directed.

*Dosages from: Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine by David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG.

Prescription Medications to Increase Milk Supply

According to Dr. Jack Newman, Domperidone (a category L1 and a drug used to increase intestinal peristalsis) is the most useful prescription medication to increase milk supply.  Though not its direct-use, off-label Domperidone does increase prolactin levels - the hormone needed to produce milk.  This is not a first-approach and often not easily available in the US.  In fact, it typically has to be purchased online from international pharmacies as it is unavailable through your provider in the US - which is unfortunate.  For more specific information about Domperidone safety and dosages visit the Dr. Jack Newman website.

Reglan (a category L2) is the prescription medication typically used in the United States to increase milk supply, according to  Unfortunately Reglan has strong links to severe depression.  Sulpiride is another option in some countries with limited safety data.

Have you managed low milk supply?  What did you use to increase milk supply for you and your baby?

Looking for breastfeeding support via web or locally in the Mid-Ohio Valley?  Check out my breastfeeding support services or attend the monthly Breastfeeding, Birth, and Parenting Social.

Thrush Esali Birth

Thrush is an overgrowth of yeast in a baby's mouth which often transfers onto mom's nipples.  For a breastfeeding mother, this can mean a lot of discomfort and often an end to the breastfeeding relationship if it doesn't get diagnosed or remedied.  It is quite common for providers lacking breastfeeding skills to improperly diagnose thrush and many moms are told to not treat it or that the white in the baby's mouth is from milk.  This is unfortunate as many thrush treatments are available without any harmful side effects that can be utilized in a just-in-case fashion.

Symptoms of Thrush

Keep in mind that some thrush symptoms mimic symptoms of other circumstances like poor latch and tongue tie.  It is usually helpful to have multiple symptoms and sometimes why providers misdiagnose thrush.  If you're not quite sure and your case is mild, start with the mild treatments of thrush immediately to avoid worsening.

  • Nipple discomfort like a feeling of irritation, burning or sandpaper while nursing (especially after a period of no breastfeeding discomfort).  Nipples are often more pink or more red than their normal appearance
  • Burning and shooting pain within the breasts (ducts) during and between nursing sessions
  • Cracked or bleeding nipples (especially after a period of no breastfeeding discomfort)
  • White coating or spots inside baby's mouth (especially that don't come off when rubbing with your finger)
  • Diaper rash (especially one that is splotchy and very irritated)
  • Baby popping on and off the breast when coupled with other symptoms

Causes of Thrush

Thrush is caused when yeast overgrows in the baby's mouth and/or on mom's breast (often these are coinciding even when all symptoms are not present).  Yeast infections are not actually "infections" as yeast is present in all humans - so this "infection" is simply an overgrowth caused from imbalances.

  • Gut health and general imbalances of food intake (the real underlying cause of most yeast overgrowth) prenatally and postpartum
  • Medications in labor, especially antibiotics for Group B Strep causing yeast overgrowth in mom and baby
  • Vaginal yeast infection not treated in pregnancy (also a contributor of early rupture of the membranes)
  • Vaginal yeast infection not treated in early postpartum
  • Poor latch (position, depth, tongue or lip ties, pacifier or bottle use) causing nipple damage and/or plugged ducts
  • Overuse of lanolin or other moisture barrier nipple salve
  • Dairy or other food allergens

Treatment of Thrush

In much of western medicine, prescriptions like Nystatin and Diflucan are often used for thrush treatment, but without good or consistent results.  In any thrush or yeast treatment case, focus on gut health to ensure overall body balance is achieved or you're likely to have recurring thrush and yeast overgrowth (including diaper rashes and vaginal yeast infections).  The following treatments are listed with mild treatments at the top and stronger treatments at the bottom.  Most can be combined using multiple methods.

When treating for thrush, treat your nipples and baby's mouth at the same time.  Treat all pacifiers, bottles, and toys that are in baby's mouth at the same time as well by boiling/sterilizing between uses.

Balance Your Lifestyle

Bacterial overgrowth is often a direct result of other imbalances in your life.  No matter the treatment of thrush you select, this must be a part of your thrush protocol.

  • Eliminate processed sugar (reduce to the absolute minimum you can handle)
  • Eliminate excess of bread, dairy, pasta, crackers, pancakes, muffins, and any processed item similar to these
  • Eliminate allergen foods (often dairy, strawberries, citrus - especially undiluted juice)
  • Increase dark leafy greens
  • Increase all the colors of the rainbow in vegetable and fruit form
  • Balance meat and grain intake
  • Reduce stress (i.e. schedule overload, work load, family stress, lifestyle stress).  Stress wreaks havoc on bacterial balance due to hormonal and acidic changes within the body, immune system, and sometimes simply decreases your ability to choose healthy foods

Natural Thrush Treatment

  • Air & Sunshine - Oxygen and sunlight will kill bacteria.  Go braless to let your nipples breathe and avoid compressing your milk ducts too much which can cause plugged ducts and encourage not only yeast overgrowth, but mastitis as well.
  • Raw (or pickled) Garlic - Garlic has great bacterial balancing qualities excellent for any infection.  Cut up garlic cloves into pill-size pieces and swallow 3-10 cloves daily.  You can also just increase your intake of raw garlic in your foods like pesto or guacamole.  Garlic oil can be rubbed on the nipples and a diaper rash.  Some baby's may not like this treatment in their mouth, though some do like the taste of the breastmilk so still receiving the benefits.
  • Herbal Infused Oil or Herbal Wash with at least Calendula in the ingredients.  Other herbs beneficial with Calendula are Lavender and St. John's Wort.   This is *not* a pure or diluted essential oil.  While essential oils may be of benefit (like lavender or tea tree in some cases, but not internally for a baby especially), the essential oils of plants are the volatile oils which do not contain all the healing constituents as the whole plant and are not as safe to put in a baby's mouth.  Also, keep in mind, this is not a salve.  While salves can be healing - when it comes to thrush, items like beeswax and lanolin seal off the nipple from oxygen which is needed to kill bacteria and traps moisture which makes bacteria grow.  Salves can be helpful when bacteria overgrowth isn't a problem; however, here you're looking for herbs infused in quality olive oil or coconut oil or a wash made with herbal tinctures and diluted or infused in Apple Cider Vinegar (or other live culture vinegar).
  • Probiotic Paste - Probiotic powder mixed in olive or coconut oil to make a paste is great for nipples, diaper rash and eating.  Baby can suck off probiotic powder from your finger (no paste or yogurt needed).  Some moms prefer to use plain yogurt for the same reasons.  Plain is key here.  Keep in mind, though, dairy can contribute to yeast overgrowth - but sugar imbalances - especially processed sugar - is a food that yeast loves.  Plain yogurt can be soothing topically.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar - While it doesn't have to be ACV specifically, you want to avoid white or distilled vinegar.  You're looking for a live culture vinegar which has both probiotics and can be taken internally.  Vinegar is helpful for soaking into the skin for ease of application in the diaper region (dry bum usually equals a bum without rashes - no diaper creams needed so be sure to completely dry the entire diaper region and folds before putting on diapers if you're not using EC) or when clothing is a must, but be careful not to overdo it on the nipples.  Adding an herbal infused oil over the ACV gives you both properties without over-drying and cracking or creating a moisture barrier.
  • Oil of Oregano - This is the whole oregano herb infused into oil NOT the essential oil of oregano.  Big difference - be mindful.  This infused oil can help topically after a nursing session or on the diaper area, but I would advise against using this in baby's mouth as it is a hot oil that can be very irritating to mucous membranes (whole infused herb included but definitely a no on the essential oil for a baby).  Some moms rub this infused oil or diluted essential oil on the bottom of a baby's feet (and despite what oil professional you may know, this isn't actually the best place for oil application and absorption - but does help keep baby's hands away from it and then rubbing it in their eyes... ouch!).  Not a wide range of positive outcomes with this treatment, but I'm adding it here for information's sake.

Intensive Thrush Treatment

  • All Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO) - Dr. Jack Newman's Candida Protocol is helpful when there is nipple pain and the previous treatments (AND food balance) doesn't work or you've found out you're dealing with thrush when it's an intense case (or really for anyone that just wants a more western medicine approach that actually works).  Like the natural remedies, this can be used from the beginning for any nipple discomfort until latch is managed or if you're not sure if its thrush or not or if it is another type of infection.  Keep in mind, this blend often prescribed by Dr. Jack Newman's International Breastfeeding Centre is really mostly for reducing pain, and may not support healing thrush because the best way to heal thrush is really to fix the latch.  The treatment the clinic uses to really treat thrush specifically, see the next bullet point.  The basics of this treatment are having a compounding pharmacy blend: Mupirocin 2% ointment (15 grams), Betamethasone 0.1% ointment (15 grams), and then add miconazole powder so that the final concentration is 2% miconazole. This combination gives a total volume of just more than 30 grams.  See Dr. Jack Newman's site for more thorough details as needed.
  • Medical-Grade Honey - This is NOT raw honey, despite its benefits.  Medical-Grade Honey is a form of manuka honey that has been pasteurized to remove the risks of botulism and other bacterial spores.  This removes the risks of infant botulism that comes along with store-bought and other raw honey forms that should not be fed to an infant less than 1 year of age.  Medical-Grade Honey is the form of treatment Dr. Jack Newman's International Breastfeeding Centre recommends for specific treatment of thrush (despite how much his APNO is used, see previous bullet point).  One brand of Medical-Grade Honey is called MediHoney and can be purchased on Amazon, among other health food stores and OTC pharmacies.  This is great for just about any scrape, cut, or burn so its great to have in your medicine cabinet and diaper bag.  For thrush on the nipples, simply coat between nursing sessions and keep the breasts exposed to air for oxygen flow, or a dry breast pad to avoid the sticky ointment getting on your clothes.  While Medical-Grade Honey provides moist-wound treatment excellent for nipple damage, this ointment is mostly natural and does not create a barrier where bacteria grows, so it is often a better treatment than many of the commercial herbal-based treatments sold in many health food stores.
  • Gentian Violet - Let me start this off by saying this is NOT a natural treatment despite what your mommy friends may tell you or what you read on mom blogs.  Gentian Violet is a dye used in surgical treatments among other scientific applications as well as to make black ink - among other things - but has been used for many years as a topical antibiotic.  A dilution of 1% can be painted on the nipples, then nurse, and touch up any uncoated spots after nursing.  Everything will be stained a bright plum purple for the duration of the treatment and a few days after.  This usually washes out of clothes, but not often so keep this in mind.  Coconut or olive oil can be rubbed on the baby's cheeks to prevent some facial staining.  Despite this not being a natural treatment, GV works very well and fast.  Many moms report relief within the same day.  If the pain has stopped after 3-4 days, discontinue use.  If not, continue for no more than a week for two reasons.  Too much GV may cause mouth ulcers (though this is typically from moms using a 2% dilution instead of a 1% dilution).  Also, because if it hasn't worked yet, it probably won't.  It may not be thrush and you could be dealing with a different kind of infection.  Gentian Violet can be found OTC in some pharmacies and, ironically, some health food stores.
  • Citricidal Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) - Again, this is NOT a natural treatment despite what your mommy friends may tell you or what you read on mom blogs - or even some physician sites.  While some forms of GSE may truly be the extract of grapefruit seed, the real extract of grapefruit seed has been shown not to be effective on its own and there is a lot of controversy surrounding this treatment for breastfeeding and any other bacterial imbalance.  This is also NOT Grape Seed Extract.  Grapefruit Seed Extract sounds like it is an extract from the grapefruit seed - but it is actually a concoction with various processes that has virtually no grapefruit seed extract remaining.  It is, nevertheless, often useful for thrush treatment in the same application manner as gentian violet after diluting 5-10 drops per ounce of distilled water.  GSE can be found OTC in some pharmacies and, ironically, some health food stores.


Remember to get treatment for latch and positioning and any other possible breastfeeding concern while treating for thrush.  Many times there are underlying causes that need addressed so recurring thrush doesn't damage your breastfeeding relationship.  Also keep in mind that other breastfeeding infections exist like mastitis (which is NOT the same thing as plugged ducts, though may be caused from them).  If these treatments don't improve your symptoms within a few days to a week, consider other causes and seek the help of a qualified breastfeeding professional.


plugged ducts treatment photo from FreePik

Plugged Ducts Prevention and Treatment Tips

The best remedy for plugged ducts is prevention which starts with the first latch in the first hour or so after birth, adequate support during those first days, and no practices that limit the baby's time at the breast.  Moms need to understand basic milk removal early in the breastfeeding relationship to prevent plugged ducts, prevent mastitis, and prevent various common breastfeeding issues such as milk supply and nipple pain.

Causes of Plugged Ducts - Plugged Ducts vs. Mastitis

This is a peeve of mine... just about every case of plugged ducts is diagnosed and treated as the bacterial imbalance [infection], mastitis.  While they can coincide, they are not the same thing.  They may both show similar symptoms of pain and discomfort, sometimes fever (though rare) - plugged duct symptoms tend to be localized to the one area that is plugged.  You most certainly can have plugged ducts without causing an infection and you most certainly can get a mastitis infection without a plugged duct (and without even breastfeeding or being a woman because men do have milk ducts).  As with most western approaches, everything is treated as an infection or an infection waiting to happen.  Antibiotics are prescribed even when not necessary, increasing things like yeast infection, thrush, and overall body imbalances and negative impacts on gut health... the snowball just keeps getting bigger...

Plugged ducts are when the breastmilk, basically, doesn't stay mixed well (breastmilk is not homogenized) and the fatty parts of the milk plug up a duct and prevent milk removal.  Removal of the plug can take one nursing session or it may take a few days.  The longer the plug remains, the more of a chance a mastitis or other breast duct infection may occur.

Plugged ducts are often caused from:

  • Inadequate milk removal
  • Breastfeeding latch
  • Breastfeeding position
  • Artificial Nipple use such as pacifiers, nipple shields, and bottles or thumb sucking - all of which reduce the time at the breast and change latch
  • Limited nursing
  • Separate sleeping spaces (which reduces night time nursing and milk removal)
  • Breast pressure such as underwire, sports bras, sleeping positions...etc.
  • Less than nourishing food choices, particularly those low in vegetable and unbalanced starches, breads, and sugars or other processed foods

Generally, if one area of the breast feels a smidge tender, treat it like a plug and start massaging and using the following methods.  Nip it in the bud and don't let it progress into something more and don't wait to try anything.

Latch & Position

The baby's ability to efficiently transfer milk from the breast to the baby and swallow is the biggest factor in preventing and remedying plugged ducts.  If the breasts aren't being adequately removed of milk, they can get clogged up.  If nipples are damaged, milk may not flow as effectively.  Have tongue ties assessed by someone that knows how to properly assess them (and understands their connection with breastfeeding) and remedy these through massage, cranio sacral therapy, adjustments, and revisions as necessary.  Bodywork is often an important part of newborn care, especially if there are latch issues and after tongue or lip tie releases.  If baby's nose touches the breast, improvements can be made.  Get in touch for Skype sessions to help with specifics.

Dangle feed with you hanging over the baby to let gravity support.

Move baby's chin near the plugged side, and all around, to let baby work the plug out.  Try various different positions when nursing as the ducts aren't perfectly lined up in your breasts and that web may cause a plug anywhere.

Shake 'em & Massage

Between nursing sessions, breastmilk fat separates a bit.  The longer you go between nursing sessions, the more this will separate.  You also tend to see less separation throughout the day after you've been nursing on and off all day.  Shake your breasts.  Grab them, and shake them... before a nursing session, after, and in between.  Though there aren't really studies that back this up - many cultures have done this as a traditional breastfeeding practice historically.  It can't hurt, and it may help, so why not.  If you feel like you have "foremilk hindmilk inbalance" (despite the inaccuracies of that term), shaking your breasts may help.

Some moms find plug relief through this same concept by using an electric toothbrush or other vibrating mechanism over top of the plug while nursing and throughout the day to help move the plug out of the ducts.

Massage the breasts towards the nipple.  Get in a hot shower or bath with the water running over your back and massage your breasts.

No Artificial Nipples

Artificial nipples change latch. Period.  Please.... PLEASE... stop perpetuating the myth that this is not so.  If you use artificial nipples of any kind and experience pain or milk supply issues PLEASE STOP avoiding that detail when describing your issues, sharing your story, or telling other mothers that it's going to hurt for a while until baby's mouth gets bigger or that its tongue tie...etc...etc.  Choosing to use artificial nipples and bottles is your choice but having the correct information helps OTHERS make their own informed decision as well.  Artificial nipples - including pacifiers, nipple shields, and bottle nipples and even thumb sucking - cause shallow latch, change palette structure, increase gumming of the nipple and increase nipple pain through damage from latch and suck mechanics that literally change the structure of the baby's face.  All of this decreases milk transfer and nipple damage leading to increasing plugged ducts.

Unlimited Nursing, Rest & Co-Sleep

Take a day, lay down in bed, and nurse.  Many times being on the go reduces the amount of time you're nursing which causes slight engorgement and more chances for plugged ducts.  If you're limiting nursing time lengths in anyway (separate sleeping spaces, pacifiers, timing each breast...etc.) - stop. Baby will regulate their intake - but they need unlimited access.  This is beneficial to their development and if there are any latch issues going on, limited sessions will reduce your supply.

Oversupply Treatment

Sometimes, after a growth spurt when babies no longer need the extra energy, you may experience engorgement which may lead to plugged ducts.  Follow all the remedies and if this is a recurrent issue *after* a growth spurt, a cup of sage and peppermint tea 1-3 times per day may help reduce the supply created during the growth spurt.  Just please be careful and don't overdo it - you don't want to reduce your supply too much!  Having someone guide you may be necessary.

If your oversupply issues are not related to growth spurts, various oversupply remedies may help including balancing breastfeeding between both breasts, block feeding in some cases, or the previous recommendation of tea.  Please get in touch for a Skype session or contact your local recommended breastfeeding professional to work with you through this process.

Fibrocystic Breast Treatment

Sometimes, fibrocystic breast conditions will cause plugged ducts.  Fibrocystic changes are typically hormonally influenced causing fluid and tissue build up in the breasts.  They may be painful and can mimic cancer symptoms though are more influenced by cycle changes and are benign.   However, seeking guidance with breast changes is ideal to rule out any other possible conditions.  Fibrocycstic breast conditions can occur at anytime, but symptoms tend to increase during the luteal phase of the cycle (prior to your period - when other "PMS" is experienced due to the hormone changes during this time).  Treatment for fibrocystic breast include food and lifestyle chances as listed throughout this article.  This tissue may block ducts causing plugged ducts, especially if they're recurrent.

Fibrocystic breasts are similar to other immune system weaknesses, arthritis-like conditions, adrenal fatigue, and liver congestion-related conditions that are caused by chronic inflammation (i.e. constant immune system responses from allergens and toxin loads).  Eliminating all artificial foods, reducing processed foods including sugar, balancing whole foods and herbal therapies are wonderful ways of remedying these conditions.  Aviva Romm has some great guidance as would any clinical herbalist needed beyond the scope of this article and general wellness counseling.

Some basic daily regimes for fibrocystic breasts are:

  • THRIVE Herbal Smoothie Powders
  • Evening Primrose Oil (topically and as a supplement)
  • General liver, immune, and adrenal support herbal blend such as:
    • 3 Parts Dandelion Root
    • 1 Part Burdock Root
    • 1 Part Ashwagandha
    • Blend the above then place 3 tsp. of the blend in 3 cups of water (or 1 tsp. per cup - its just easier to make a bigger batch at once if you'll drink more than 1 cup and warming it up throughout the day as desired).  Simmer very low for 10 minutes and turn off the heat steeping covered for 10 more minutes.  Strain and drink 1-3 cups daily.

Unrestricted Movement

Burn the bras!  Just kidding... sort of... reduce usage of any type of bra altogether and definitely avoid underwire or stiff supporting and compressing bras.  While pregnancy can influence the "sag" of the breast, lack of muscle and ligament strength will do much more for breast health overall.  By using a bra, you're telling your body to stop creating its own strength to support the breasts while at the same time compressing tissue that can increase plugged ducts.  Ducts can reach all the way towards the armpit so any unbalanced compression from positions used throughout the day, resting habits, or sleeping position can increase plugged ducts.

Food Choices

Sugar is evil.  Sweeteners of various kinds cause body imbalances and change the fat types in breastmilk.  Don't get me wrong, it takes a very malnourished mom to make breastmilk that isn't high quality - but you do change the milk content by your personal food choices.  Sugar, fat content, processed foods, and overall imbalances influence you more than they influence the baby, including dealing with plugged ducts.

Eat a rainbow of properly prepared vegetables and fruits.  Be sure you're eating enough healthy fats and staying hydrated.  Many vegetables digest easier and release more nutrients through steaming.  Increase natural sources of lecithin such as: eggs, olives, low mercury sea food including seaweed, greens and other vegetables and fruits, and [sprouted] legumes.

Lecithin Supplements

Lecithin is known as an emulsifier.  It's what makes chocolate, chocolate instead of gritty cacao in milk sugar.  For this reason, some have success preventing recurring plugged ducts with lecithin supplements in addition to the previous recommendations to help prevent the fatty parts of the breastmilk from separating too much (what people refer to as "foremilk" and "hindmilk").  Lecithin supplements may also be used for fibrocystic breast conditions.

Keep in mind that soy mimics estrogen, and is in mass amounts of processed foods, so using a sunflower lecithin may be more ideal. explains the dosage of lecithin supplements for plugged ducts:

[pullquote align="left" width="400"]"The usual recommended dosage for recurrent plugged ducts is 3600-4800 mg lecithin per day, or 1 capsule (1200 milligram) 3-4 times per day. After a week or two with no blockage, mom can reduce the dosage by one capsule. If there is no blockage within another 2 weeks she can reduce it again by one. Mom may need to continue taking 1-2 capsules per day if stopping the lecithin leads to additional plugged ducts."[/pullquote]


Have you experienced plugged ducts while breastfeeding?  What remedies have helped you prevent and treat plugged ducts?

PRESS RELEASE - Ravenswood, WV - March 24, 2017 – Esali Birth to host 9th Annual Mother’s Day 5k in Belpre, OH on Mother’s Day Sunday, May 14th at the Civitan Park. The MD5k is a stroller-friendly beginner’s level course with walker and runner categories, along the Ohio River and is part of the River City Walkers and Runners club summer series. Registration, $15 per participant, is available Saturday, May 13th from 5pm-7pm at Shelter #1 at Belpre Civitan Park. T-shirts are limited. Race Day registration is $20 per participant, from 12:30-1:45 with the 5k beginning at 2:00 pm EST. Free kids races for ages 11 and under will follow, directed by the River City Kids organization.

Proceeds from the race support community education and support events as well as education and progress of healthy and happy births throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley and surrounding regions. Breastfeeding rates throughout West Virginia are some of the lowest in the country. Families do not know all of their options regarding birth, and are not fully supported to birth in all environments including at home where studies have shown, for healthy mothers, home birth is as safe as, often with less intervention, as hospital birth.

“This fundraiser is a crucial part of Esali Birth’s free workshops and outreach, such as the monthly MOV Breastfeeding Social, that provide educational and supportive opportunities for families of childbearing age. Adequate knowledge of breastfeeding and the support to do so is imperative for continued breastfeeding success. Likewise, healthier births and breastfeeding basics allow longer breastfeeding relationships which affect the continued health of the mother, baby, and community,” says Esali Birth owner and Perinatal Mentor, Danielle Bergum.

Esali Birth’s MD5k started as a World Breastfeeding Week celebration in 2009 supporting La Leche League. As LLL stopped their WBW celebrations, the race transitioned to fully supporting the Mid-Ohio Valley.  In previous years, proceeds have been utilized for WV RN continuing education opportunities to enhance knowledge of early tongue tie (ankyloglossia) influences on breastfeeding success, training for area birth professionals for advanced techniques in labor support, and enhancement of educational resources for expecting families. Esali Birth plans to utilize 2017 proceeds for similar opportunities in the coming year to enhance the well-being of childbearing families and increase support options throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Esali Birth provides education, doula support, and full mentoring to families in the Mid-Ohio Valley and online. Esali Birth seeks to enhance the knowledge of options available to childbearing families as well as the human rights individuals have during birth and beyond. Empowering parents to make informed decisions about their health and well-being is our focus through confidence-building education, awareness and support.

# # #

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Danielle Bergum at 304.482.4729 or email

Laid back nursing and biological breastfeeding positions might not always come easy.  You may not always have a couch to lean back on or a bed to side nurse.  What if you're living life normally, out at a restaurant, or just want to change positions and nurse in an upright position?  Check out this video with belly to belly breastfeeding position tips that are necessary in all breastfeeding positions.

5 Books for Childbirth

Birth books never get old at my house.  Are you looking for some great reads this winter?  Here are five birth books you can cozy up by the fire with and really start digging deep into birth practices, their influences on maternal-fetal health, and how to get started now helping your mentoring clients or making your pregnancy more holistic and comfortable.

Safer Childbirth? by Marjorie Tew

This book is a hard look at the history of maternity practices - from cultural and anthropological influence to studies and evidence completely disregarded and twisted - that literally changed the way we believe about birth and the misconceived perception of safety that runs rampant with many providers and birthing facilities, with research to back.  If you're new to the birth scene, definitely grab a copy of this!  If you're seasoned, especially if you have formal education and find birthing practices and helping women intriguing, definitely grab a copy of this!

Tew tells us, "Action to reduce losses in childbirth still further would have to concentrate on improving the health of the neediest mothers.  In the light of past performance, there is not the slightest reason to believe that the desired objective would be achieved by increasing the medical input into maternity care. On the contrary, fewer losses would result if the medical input into maternity care were greatly restricted, while access to, and uptake of, healthy diets and social support became universal."

Hear, hear!

Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman, M.S.

Many of you may have read Katy Bowman's interview years ago about the negative impacts of kegels (read: mono-movement) and importance of [proper] squatting (though, in reality - it is movement she's getting at - not just squatting).  You may not have realized that within that time, that interview exponentially increased her traffic and in addition to her amazing Nutritious Movement website, she has many amazing books that are an absolute must read for any... modern human!  What I love most?  She further instills my annoyance over "exercises" and instead encourages fun and functional balanced daily movement.

Movement - rather body alignment which is created from healthy daily movement - is crucial for the body's biological ability to birth smoothly.  There's only so much healthy eating can do for you.  While not a perinatal-specific book, this is a foundational look into some of the most common health conditions of our modern cultures which directly relates to many common birth and breastfeeding complications.

Bowman urges us, "I want you to keep exercise and movement separate in your mind because there are many movements we wouldn't consider exercise that are essential to the tissues of the body.  For example, the workings of an infant's mouth while feeding at the breast are different than the workings of an infant's mouth while feeding off a bottle.  In the end, the task of getting milk is accomplished no matter if you take a boob or a bottle, but the process of milking the breast, it turns out, is important to the optimal formation of the jaw and face bones.  The structure of the face bones and established motor patterns of the face muscles end up affecting other processes, like breathing and swallowing, as ell as the space available for tooth eruption."

mmmmhmmm.... I know - all you mommas out there that have ever interacted with me for breastfeeding support are probably hearing my voice in your head repeating my caution of things like pacifiers, am i right?  This is a great lead into the next dig-deeper book recommendation.

Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding, 2ed. by Linda J. Smith and Mary Kroeger

Still one of my most absolute favorite books.  Period.  If I could quote the entire amazing information here, I would.  It is just so good and I am constantly astonished by the persons that work within the maternity industry that not only haven't read this book, but are completely unaware of the information within.  This title is a picked apart, intensely researched, look at birthing practices from the big ones - like cesarean and pain relief - the seemingly insignificant ones with big impacts - like IV fluid and mother's position at birth.  I mean, wow!  It is worth every single penny and I do so hope that if you're a perinatal mentor, that this is already on your bookshelf.  If not, please add this one soon!

The authors explain in the chapter on Effects of IV Hydration on Maternal Stress, Breast Edema, and Lactogenesis, "Postpartum breast engorgement is a major barrier to establishment of effective and comfortable breastfeeding.  Only recently have clinicians differentiated between onset of copious milk secretion (lactogensis III) and edema... Many mothers have left birth facilities by day 2-4, and may not have access to adequate professional support in the critical first week postbirth."

Then the snowball just keeps rolling.

Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding, Revised Ed. by Dr. Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman

Dr. Jack Newman has some of the most thorough and equally the most effective - simple - breastfeeding information available.  There are a lot of great resources out there, but if you're looking for that one title to add to your shelves, this is it.  It is great for expecting mothers without having to filter through a lot of opinions or outdated support techniques to get to the basics of breastfeeding and likewise a great flip-through reference for perinatal mentors.

Have you experienced this yourself?  Newman explains, "A baby who 'latches on just fine for the first few days' and then cannot latch on when the mother's milk comes in and she becomes engorged probably didn't latch on in the first few days: he pretended to.  If a baby breastfeeds well in the first few days, the mother may feel full when her milk 'comes in,' but she should not be so engorged that the baby cannot latch on."

Did your mentor share this information with you?  This is only the tippity top of the iceberg of information contained within these pages dispelling myths - even in the birth support community.

Herbal Healing for Children by Demetria Clark

You know I couldn't do a list like this without some recommendation of herbal wellness.  Many new mentors and parents are looking for compact information that makes their lives easier and healthier.  This is a great book for the shelf that does just that.  Not limited to children, despite the title, it is great for the whole family by offering pages and pages of whole-family safe recipes and basic herbal care knowledge sharing.  Everything from cradle cap and diaper rash remedies to infestations, infections, and fever support - this is a great go-to for feeling more confident in parenting (always helpful) and having resources available for mentoring clients.

A little excerpt encourages, "Treating a child with herbs can be an effective way to fortify the body and cure illness.  Herbal medicine is the right choice for kids because it blends modern medical research with ancient practices and remedies.  Children generally respond well to herbal remedies, even when they are administers in tiny doses.  Children's bodies are sensitive and react promptly to an herb's synergistic, efficient, gentle effects."

This was one of the first books I ever bought on herbal wellness when my littles were tinies and it just fed my obsession of obtaining herbal awareness.  I still reference this at times for my personal mentoring clients when time is of the essence.


Man's Guide to Birth by Danielle Bergum

Last but not least, a little bonus book - and free with Kindle Unlimited - though I may be a little biased on this title, is Esali Birth's Man's Guide to Birth which is a pocket-guide style summary of the holistic knowledge shared from Esali Birth Mentoring.  From conception through pregnancy, into birth, and during postpartum and early parenting - each page is a tip to follow with a quick summary.  No new parent should be without this guide, and every mentor should have this in their lending library.

All year we're working hard... we may not be gardening and foraging as we once were when people started gathering in large groups for harvest and Thanks-Giving celebrations... but we do have so much to be thankful for...

This year...  I'm thankful for...

  • The ability to work for my family in multiple ways... in multiple areas
  • The energy spent giving to others in some form for healthy pregnancies, births, breastfeeding and families
  • The ability to have so much research at my fingertips that I actually have too many choices to make
  • The aggravation of being able to complain about the type of education my children might not be able to have... or do have...
  • The ability to learn beyond what I was taught as a child
  • The immense amounts of green and wild foods that surround my home
  • The people that frustrate me... and the ability to see the frustration as a learning tool... and to have the choice to use it as such
  • The knowledge that I can choose how I want to live and that so many people struggled before me to create the frustrations I have today... because without these, there would only be a different set of struggles
  • The ability to choose to believe in the God I believe in and see his ways in my life and others'
  • The humbleness my children have taught me beyond what I could ever have asked for...

Everything... the happiness, the sadness... and most of all those few people that see that in me and wait patiently doing whatever they know how to do to show me they're still here.  That's what this week is for...  it is being thankful for having struggles and being able to still eat a pie... or a turkey... or a foraged nut... or a bowl of soup... or walk with friends (or alone) to move more... and everything wonderful, and everything that just is.

I'm thankful for those people and resources that found themselves by my side...  in my lap... at my keyboard... that helped me through my early parenting struggles - in the middle of the night or on the phone - so that I could help someone else know they can do it too.

So, find someone this week... and tell them how thankful you are that they have been in your life...  no matter if all their moments weren't what you wanted - all those moments have been what you needed for now... or maybe years from now... and we can be thankful for them all.


Love to you and yours this Thanksgiving!


Well, hello there!  While we've seen a lot from each other through "Esali Birth," I wanted to take a moment to say a personal hello from me, Danielle from the Mid-Ohio Valley, and share a basic service and price list for all of you looking for perinatal support through the childbearing years in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

If you're new to Esali Birth you may not know my story which I love sharing throughout the many times we may meet on your journey.  Mostly, I am a modern gal living in rural WV that loves to intertwine instinctual, historical, knowledge with only the most beneficial parts of our modern world.  I wear many hats in my family and life and love the diversified options I have in this beautiful world.  I also love supporting families during the childbearing years from the most basic loving hug to the scientific ins and outs of childbirth.  Whatever you need in this moment is what I strive to provide.  Sometimes that is advice, sometimes it is research, sometimes it is nutritional guidance, and it is always understanding of your personal journey which is ever changing.

My services range from pre-conception counseling to childbirth education and doula support.  I have a variety of herbal blends available and custom blends that can be created for your specific needs from soothing foot soaks and beverage tea blends to body balancing while transitioning from medicinal birth control and perinatal support.  See my service menu below for a basic list of options in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

While I do require services be paid in full, I provide my NPI number and guidance for my clients to submit claims to their insurance to help cover doula education and support fees upon request.

Want to learn more?  See me chat with Marilee Marrow on Moms Everyday and visit my Support Page.  Find me on Skype @esalibirth for my online [free] "Office Hours."

Have questions?  Get in touch!

Hey, Momma! Yes, Dad, you're included! Cheers! You've got this! I know you have questions
and concerns.
Let's get those fears released
so you can simply enjoy pregnancy.
From family health and wellness
to "Doula 101" tips
everyone is included in an Esali Birth class
and webinar options make distance a non-issue.

How can I successfully breastfeed?  One of my most answered questions.  Families in our culture have heard so many horror stories about breastfeeding they expect for it to be excruciating and incredibly hard.  They expect failure because most of their friends and family didn't nurse past a few weeks due to pain or had so many "weight gain" issues they "had" to supplement.

The problem is not the mother - it's the culture and care providers and their lack of knowledge and experience.  It takes the RIGHT information and it takes the RIGHT questions and it takes a LOT of support.  I don't always have all the answers, but I do have a lot of resources and I have the perspective that moms and dads need to proactively seek MULTIPLE answers UNTIL breastfeeding works.

Before we get into this... let me just say that if you're not a link-clicker - start now.  There are some goodies embedded in this post!

So, how can you make breastfeeding work?

  1. Learn about breastfeeding.  If you are not aware of the biological needs of a baby AND you're not completely confident with your abilities and your gumption to seek help as much as possible until it works, then you need to read and watch a lot.  Dad needs to learn, also!  Dad will be a significant factor in the breastfeeding relationship because he will motivate mom (or not).  He will get support or he'll grab formula when things get tough... We want him to reach for the support, right?!  If you are not aware of how your birth choices (from home/hospital, to care providers, positions, and medications) influence breastfeeding then you need to keep learning.  Don't make your culturally-influenced lack of information the reason to choose formula.  Some recommended resources are:,, Breastfeeding Made Simple, and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.  There are a ton of places you can search for information and many great books - but most I gear more towards counselors than families because I want families to find what they need and enjoy the information in a quick format.
  2. Know who and what is available close to you.  You can contact Dr. Jack Newman through his website.  You can e-mail me.  You can join a breastfeeding community through Kelly Mom on Facebook.  However, you need to have PHONE NUMBERS and E-MAIL of people IN YOUR AREA.  Multiple numbers.  If mom doesn't want to call, but she has questions, it is DAD'S JOB TO CALL!!!  If there are questions, get help!  You need numbers for people available after 5:00pm and in the middle of the night.  You need numbers for people who are available when someone doesn't pick up their phone or isn't available.  You need numbers for people to get a second opinion because sometimes its just a matter of semantics to make it work.  You also need to know the DATE and TIME that your local breastfeeding support group meets.  Whether that is the MOV Esali Birth Breastfeeding Social, a La Leche League group, or whatever mom group KNOWN for their QUALITY breastfeeding help THAT RESULTED IN BREASTFEEDING WORKING - you need to know when and where they meet in person and nurse their babies and help with breastfeeding specifically.  This has nothing to do with certifications, businesses...etc. - it is whomever provides you with support and QUALITY information and multiple available until it works.
  3. Use laid back breastfeeding with baby belly to belly.  Cradle positions are great for older babies - and sometimes new babies - but they tend to put baby's head towards the side of mom's body which causes baby's chin to tuck... and just like its hard for you to drink with your chin at your chest - babies are just tiny humans... its hard for them, too.  Pull baby closer to your middle.  Stop propping yourself up with pillows and breastfeeding wrap pillows...etc.  If breastfeeding is legitimately working for you and easy (especially if you're nursing well in public without all those pillows), great... but sitting up and leaning forward tends to cause baby to roll away and not get a deep latch.  Baby should be belly to belly (skin to skin helps) and often laid on top of you or at least with you leaning back instead of sitting up straight or forward so they do a lot of the work and latch deep.  Use whatever position works for you and baby - but, make sure baby's head is back when he's latching AND to stay latched and belly to belly to help avoid pain.
  4. Mouth open, lips flared.  Baby will typically come onto the breast asymmetrically - but it is a pretty quick movement of pulling the baby close to you.  The key is waiting until their mouth is open wide and sometimes it helps to hold your breast until you both really get the hang of it or baby gets older.  Just be sure you're bringing baby TO YOU not moving your body to the baby (this is where laying back really helps or baby will pull off, cause nipple pain, and/or your back will start to hurt).    What is most important - even if the initial latch on wasn't smooth - is to make sure baby's tongue can reach the sinuses to compress the milk into their mouth.  If their lips aren't flared, the latch will be shallow and nipple pain is sure to follow.  Remember, babies BREAST feed they don't nipple feed.  It doesn't matter what your nipples are shaped like, if baby is latched well the nipple gets worked around... though inverted or flat nipples may have adhesion that release in the first weeks of breastfeeding.
  5. Watch for baby getting milk.  It isn't the ears or even a sound.  It isn't weight or a time.  Breastfeeding works when baby gets milk and mom is comfortable.  Baby will nurse on your breast and their mouth will look similar to the way yours does when you fill up your mouth with a straw.  Nuuuuuuurse, quick pause-swallow..... nuuuuuuuuurse, quick pause-swallow.  Get a glass of water with a straw.  Wrap your tongue around it, close your lips with your tongue slightly sticking out - now draw the water up the straw.  Notice what your chin and mouth do... that's what little humans do when they drink, too, facilitated by suction.  Now, tuck your chin to your chest and try to repeat drinking.  Maybe you drank, maybe you didn't.  If you swallowed - I bet you received a lot of air.  You might be getting something to drink, but your belly is going to hurt soon - a little "colicky" - and you might even feel like something is going to come back up if you drink too much.  Little flutter sucks might bring the milk down at the very beginning and also allow baby comfort after they've filled their belly, but if you did this with your straw - you wouldn't get much to drink, would you?  Baby should quickly move to this rhythmic pattern once initially latched on to the breast.  If you're engorged or baby isn't latched deep - baby might not be able to bring the milk down (see step 6).  You need to KNOW what to look for so that when you're home you KNOW when baby is getting milk.  THIS is how mothers get confident.  You can fumble through the mechanics - but when you SEE your baby getting milk, your confidence simply builds and then you don't feel helpless.  You know to remedy the situation until it works.
  6. Use breast compression.  If baby doesn't have this nurse-pause-swallow pattern and/or baby quickly falls asleep at the breast - take your thumb on top and your fingers on the bottom of your breast and squeeze until baby gets into this pattern.  When baby starts the pattern, stop.  When baby stops the pattern or falls asleep, repeat compression.
  7. Don't use pacifiers or your finger.  Babies need to nurse.  Babies and mommies learn to breastfeed by breastfeeding.  Your artificial nipples are only reducing your milk supply and making both of you learn a fill in and a non-nutritional approach that doesn't include any antibodies and will eventually lead to not nursing, milk supply issues, pain and pretty much every issue anyone has with breastfeeding.  Most nipple shields do the same as well.  NEVER use a nipple shield without continuous support until breastfeeding works.  I've never met a mom that has used a nipple shield and didn't experience milk supply problems or early weaning or breast refusal (if not all three).  If breastfeeding isn't enjoyable in some capacity - get help until it works.  Pacifiers are not the answer.  Babies nurse a lot - and a baby with unlimited access to the breast WILL get milk and WILL learn to nurse. If baby is _______________ (nursing often, too much, pacifying, falling asleep, hurting you, "colicky"...etc.) then you need help.  Long ago - before societies saw a lot of breastfeeding problems... before people started living isolated lives... when they were simply gathering food and nurturing their families... mothers sat together and saw babies nursing from when they were children.  They saw toddlers and children nursing.  That's what they did every day.  They grew up KNOWING and they became a mother with CONTINUOUS KNOWLEDGE AND SUPPORT.  YOU have to create that because our culture is not setup that way.  Asking for help doesn't make you less of a mother - it makes you a wise mother  that knows what to do to make breastfeeding work.
  8. Check for tongue ties.  This is also one of those areas that you need a qualified person to check for ties.  This is also NOT the first step in breastfeeding success.  Having another person just tell you to get your baby revised without physically supporting you is not the best way to counsel a mother.  You also need good breastfeeding support AFTER a tie (lip or tongue) is revised.  Tongue ties cause a LOT of problems; however, sometimes baby just needs craniosacral, massage, a chiro adjustment...etc. to loosen tight muscles around the neck and jaw to release from being cramped in the womb, being in a less than optimal position in the womb, or from being pushed on during birth or often pulled on during birth by less than gentle care providers....  the release allows their chin to move and untuck and allow a sufficient latch.  If baby needs a tie revision, they usually ALSO need body work because a tie will cause tight muscles in and of itself.  Sometimes a tie revision alone will not fix anything because of these tight muscles.  Sometimes a tie won't fix anything because what really needed to happen was positioning and breast compression.  Tie revisions help a lot of moms, but you need to get one on one breastfeeding support FIRST and possible from multiple people depending on the experience of the person helping you.
  9. Use a supplemental nursing system or spoon or a cup.  Don't use bottles.  Don't supplement unless you've exhausted steps 1-8.  Supplementing while at the hospital and/or during those first few days before your milk even matures is ludicrous.  Your baby's stomach is small and can't handle a lot of food.  If jaundice is a concern GET BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT ASAP!  Taking baby away from mom to limit nursing or supplement will only increase jaundice risks and increase breastfeeding failure incidences.  Babies can be spoon or cup fed AFTER this initial period ONLY IF they NEED it because steps 1-8 have been exhausted.  A supplemental nursing system is a No. 5 French Feeding Tube that you lay beside your breast and into a bottle/container of milk so the baby HAS TO LATCH to supplement the breast.


OK, so there you have it.  Set yourself up for success.  Know who to contact and DO IT.  Learn when baby is getting milk.  Repeat over and over and over again UNTIL IT WORKS!



Tell me your story. I'd love to help you have a happy healthy birth!

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