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Ep. 137- Better Breastfeeding Positioning for Mom & Baby: Interview with Body Mechanics Expert Sarah Mayhan

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Ep. 137- Better Breastfeeding Positioning for Mom & Baby: Interview with Body Mechanics Expert Sarah Mayhan

This is Maureen Farrell and Heather ONeal and this is The Milk Minute. We’re midwives and lactation professionals bringing you the most up-to-date evidence for all things lactation. So you can feel more confident about feeding your baby, body positivity, relationships, and mental health. Plus, we laugh a little or a lot along the way. So join us for another episode.

Maureen: Hey, I feel like it’s been forever since we’ve recorded an episode, Heather.

Heather: I know. It’s so good to be back in the studio with my friend. We just had a cup of tea. We actually were having such a good time that we almost forgot we had work to do and we gotta stay on our tight schedule since we are squeezing in, I don’t know, four full-time jobs, four kids, between the two of us. Oh, everything.

Maureen: Everything. That’s fine. . But anyway, I’m excited to sit down and catch up a little bit with you cuz I feel like it’s been

Heather: forever. It has been. I was gonna tell you that Heidi’s new thing that she does, which is so hysterical, is when I’m giving her a bath, every night when I go to wash her hair out, she takes two Barbie doll heads.

Like, well, she takes the Barbies, but she puts the heads on her eyes like this. So the water doesn’t get in her eyes when I rinse her hair. So she’s using the Barbie’s hair as like a sponge for the water, and she gets really mad. I’m like, Heidi, just tip your head back. And she’s like, no, I need the Barbies.

She grabs ’em and just jams the heads into her eye sockets. Isn’t that weird? ,

Maureen: Heidi, what the fuck? I don’t know. She’s such a

Heather: weirdo. I love three and a half. I mean, it’s

Maureen: a creative solution. I’ll give her that. Does it work? No. Does was it a good

Heather: idea also? No. I know it never works 0% of the time, but I don’t know.

What weird stuff are your kids doing these days? Honestly,

Maureen: they are absolute barbarians and Lyra now wrestles with Griffin, but it’s not, it’s not like, it’s not what I imagined when I was like, oh, they’ll wrestle. No. Like they full out try to destroy each other and she’s half as weight. Mm-hmm. So, and like doesn’t pull punches, you know?

Oh yeah. Heidi, either or Theo get after it. So it’s actually pretty intense. Like he’ll lay down being like, oh, let’s wrestle. And then she. Absolutely plows and like leaps onto him and just, it’s wild.

Heather: I know these, they’re insane. These little girls are fierce, man. I was taking a poop the other day. and Heidi came in and, oh, did your children interrupt you while you were pooping?

Of course. And Heidi just casually strolls in and she says, you pooping mom? And I say, yeah. And she goes, do you have the blood? And I was like, Nope, not right now. And then she just fucking punched me right in the throat, , like in the trachea. And I was like, what the heck? And she was just like, . And I said, Heidi, you can’t just punch now.

I’m like, still on the pooper.

Maureen: And you’re like, I, I was pooping. Now my body has sucked it right back up. Cause you

Heather: punched me like my, my trachea is now crushed. Thanks. I mean, it was quite a shot too. Like bam girl, she’s 33 pounds now, so she really packs a punch. And I did not deserve it. For the record.

Yeah. I was just minding my own business. and she entered my domain.

Maureen: So that’s why. Well, I think Lyra is 28 pounds now. Wow. And I remember Griffin getting to this point where he was like a 30 pound two year old and then just stayed that weight as he like stretched, you know? So I feel like we’re at her like maximum density right now,

But she is. So heavy. That’s awesome. And like she’s just thick. She’s

Heather: like a little tree trunk. Well, and also, I mean, they still want you to carry them everywhere. So I have been working out because mm-hmm. , my actually we’re talking about body mechanics today. Yeah. I actually needed some more support because I was having shoulder problems and hip problems and everything else from carding, my 33 pound child around all over the place.

And they just throw their weight like crazy. They’ll just like throw themselves back and you’re like, whoa. Of. You fall

Maureen: apart. No consequence of their, they don’t understand that by throwing their little 30 pounds around, they could take both of you out. I

Heather: know. It’s so annoying. So anyway that kinda leads us into what we were gonna talk about today anyway.

Yeah. Which is body mechanics for basically managing your child, especially during breastfeeding because mm-hmm. because mm-hmm. , we tend to really take the physical brunt of parenthood just in like, the regular routine of using your body. Yeah. And we wanted to bring an expert on today’s show to talk about how we can kind of prepare for that, combat the effects of that, and maybe get ahead of it a little bit if you’re already feeling like you’ve been compromised.

Yeah. And especially if you

Maureen: guys are having. Trouble with breastfeeding out there. I know that you’ll kind of do anything to get a latch, right? And then by the time your baby’s feeding, you look around and you’re like, oh, so one shoulder’s here, one shoulder’s there. My hips are like this. And not everything hurts, but maybe, maybe for once my nipple doesn’t, so I’ll just stay here.

Heather: Exactly. And you know, positioning seems to be half the battle no matter what age your baby is. Yeah. Or how many babies you’ve had. And I actually think that sometimes we get even sloppier with positioning as our babies get older. I definitely am

Maureen: because also she’s not staying still now. You know, I’m like, she’s like, like signs for milk.

She never asks with her mouth. She asks with her hands. And then I like bend over and then I’m like, wait a second. Now I’m like hunched over. You’re standing up like slowly backing away from me with my nipple in

Heather: your mouth. I know well lucky for us today we brought in a wonderful expert for you named Sarah Mayhan, and Sarah’s gonna talk to us about how we can improve this positioning as the lactating parent.

And then we’re gonna say goodbye to Sarah. And Maureen and I are gonna talk about positioning tips for baby. So if you’re breastfeeding and you’re like, this is super uncomfortable and I am not sure what I’m doing wrong, but I need to fix it, we’re gonna fix you , and then we’re gonna fix your baby. So you are in the right place for all of the positioning tips.

Maureen: Absolutely. Before we welcome our guest, we just have a couple things to do. I wanna remind you guys that both Heather and I do private consults. Those links are always in our show notes, always on our website. Please don’t struggle at home when you could let us help you. We absolutely love to do that.

Heather accepts some insurances. And yeah, we just, we really wanna help you

Heather: guys. We also wanted to apologize for any noise in the background that you might hear. The Brownie House next door is getting a beautiful counter installed on their day that they’re closed, and we are very happy for them to get their

Maureen: news’.

A very loud countertop. Currently. It’s such a loud countertop anyway, I, I, I know from two rooms away, they are using an impact driver to install it. , I can tell you that exact

Heather: tool. Well, you know, I, I think the only way that we can move beyond this is for them to give us free brownies. Yeah, I’m gonna, I’m gonna say that again.

Free Brownies . And if you want some brownie house brownies, you can go to yes and they ship anywhere in the United States, so shout out to them.

Maureen: I also wanna shout out some of our new patrons. A big, big thank you to Susan from Kansas, and Emily h from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. That’s not too far away.

We love our little Patreon family. Our patrons get like behind the scenes stuff, extra, you know, they get input on the topics of our episodes. They sometimes get bonus videos, early ad-free episodes. So much cool stuff. So you should join our little club. Become a patron

Heather: today. The link is in the show notes.

So let’s take a minute to thank one of our sponsors, and when we come back, we are gonna answer a question about skincare products and breastfeeding. And then we’re gonna get into our interview.

Maureen: All right, it’s Maureen here, and I want to tell you that I have finally set up a link so you can instantly book virtual lactation consults with.

Heather: Thank the

Maureen: Lord . I know Heather, it took me a long time to take the leap from in-person visits to virtual, but I did it.

Heather: You’re gonna love it. I love doing virtual consults.

They are the best. It serves more people. I’m so glad you took the plunge.

Maureen: Thank you. And if you guys out there wanna book some time with me, you can go to highly birth and then click on my lactation services tab. Is that

Heather: h i g h l a n D? Yes.

Maureen: Okay. . I will see you on Zoom, everybody.

Okay. Let’s hop right into this question from a listener. Caroline C, who is a patron of ours, says, thank you both for providing this amazing. The podcast topics are fascinating and the Facebook group has been so helpful to me. I have a couple of questions or ideas for future episodes, and one is about skincare while breastfeeding.

I recently found out that retinol is not recommended. Oops. And I know other products like chemical sunscreens or not recommended by some. I’d be so curious about the science or lack thereof.

Heather: Yeah. Skincare can be a real. Can people forget that skin is an organ? It, it is.

Maureen: It’s a difficult thing because there are so many things we can put on our skin that we just don’t absorb that much of, and it’s not actually gonna get in your bloodstream in large amounts.

And then other things are just like readily shooked up by our skin. Regardless if there’s a questionable like medication or product you’re using and you’re using it topically rather than inside, that’s probably gonna be safer. But it’s a tricky one. We’re gonna have to think about how to do a whole episode about

Heather: that.

But you are correct about the retinol. Yeah, the retinol, I believe it is a vitamin A problem. Mm-hmm. So especially in pregnancy, we do not want an overload of vitamin A because it has some teratogenic effects on the fetus. So that’s like the main thing about those retinols. But we are actually going to do an entire episode on this, like Maureen said because it ranges and everything from like medicated creams for your face and also just like that weird peppermint foot lotion that says, don’t use well breastfeeding.

And everyone’s like, but why? So stay tuned for that episode on skincare products and breastfeeding. But now let’s welcome our new friend from Chicago, founder of Poised and Powerful Parenthood, expert in the Alexander Technique and the body mechanics teacher that will help you un hunch and un scrunch your body while breastfeeding.

Sarah Mayhan, thank you for coming onto the show and also thank you for everything you’re doing for parents whose bodies are completely falling apart.

Sarah Mayhan: Thank you. I know a lot of people have that feeling, you know, even if we are well past breastfeeding or you know, the young baby stage, it’s like, what?

What have these children done in my body? ?

Heather: Yeah. Oh, no doubt abs. I know. I felt that way. And actually for me it was a bit of a slow burn because my actual perineum hurt so badly that I didn’t even know how bad my upper back hurt until later when my pelvic floor started to heal. And I was like, oh, ow, everything else also hurts.

What a bummer. .

Sarah Mayhan: Oh, well, I mean, that reminds me of my experience breastfeeding. So I, you know, I had a baby with a lip and tongue tie and, but I had, I just remember trying to position this baby while sitting, sitting while you’ve just had a baby on a tear is like, On a hospital bed is, you know,

Maureen: yeah. . Yeah. I think that’s a pretty common experience for people to have.

I would love to hear the story of how you decided the Alexander technique was for you, and can you also just give our listeners out there a little quick definition of the Alexander

Sarah Mayhan: technique? Sure. So the Alexander Technique, it is a self-management technique for stress and how that stress is reflected in your body.

We believe in the unity of self, so no action is, you know, solely physical or mental. So while we do talk a lot about the head, neck, back relationship, so the. We talk a lot about, you know, what we’re reacting to in our environment, sort of stimulus and reaction. What is more stimulating than a newborn baby?

I can’t think of anything else. I should say to back up, I was never somebody that was like, good at having a body. That makes sense.

Heather: I, oh, it makes sense. I, I feel that so hard. I,

Sarah Mayhan: from childhood I had very high anxiety and I just really learned to compartmentalize. And part of that was just kind of like shutting off certain sensations to my body or just really holding myself together with like pure tension.

Hmm. Which is, you know, common to a lot of people. I had scoliosis in adolescence also pretty common. One thing I had that’s pretty uncommon, I had something called Bell’s Palsy will occasionally affect pregnant women, but I got it at 13. That is nerve damage that partially paralyzes your face.

Yeah. And so of course you’re gonna have like weird jaw problems after that. Yeah. So I, you know, I kind of kept pushing through and there was a point at which I was like working full time and doing theater, professional theater productions at night. And I basically just like burned out at a really young.

Basically my body caught up to me and I could no longer ignore the signals. And you know, I just got repetitive strain injury after repetitive strain injury. And you know, I tried all the things as people do. And not to say those things aren’t wonderful things, you know, like chiropractic and PT and massage and acupuncture.

But when I found Alexander Technique, it was a really incredible realization because all these other things, I would sort of go to somebody else and they would fix me. And if I got in a pain loop, which if you’ve had chronic pain, you know how like anxiety making that can be, it was like, oh God, I have to, I have to, you know, when’s my next appointment and how long and am I gonna be able to like deal with this?

Until then, and when I found Alexander Technique, I found that there were things that I could. Do myself. I didn’t have to wait for somebody else to come fix me. A lot of it was learning just to key into myself and to certain physical cues and to learn to consciously relax tension and that I could do for myself.

And it was just like completely wild. It just flipped everything. I decided I had to learn this like really deeply , so like a nerd. I had to, you know, train to be a teacher. And in our training class, you train to be a teacher and you work really closely with a small group of people. And I train for 1600 hours, which for a body modality is, it’s a lot.

I don’t know if people know this, but like, you know, a lot of yoga teachers, they’ll get a 200 hour certification or two 50, you know 1600 hours that that takes three years. You get to know people real well. A lot of people in our class became. Mothers and fathers, and this is just part of life. You know, we didn’t compartmentalize it away.

There are, you know, a history of Alexander technique teachers who have, you know, because this is a, you know, life activity. That’s what we work with who have specialized In this space, there is an Alexander Technique birth book. So people have applied it a lot to pregnancy, you know, which makes sense.

You know, you get that lordosis and that low back pain and pregnancy. But I feel like there’s so much time, you know, especially if it’s your first pregnancy to like, just, just take gentle care of yourself. And everyone’s like, how are you feeling? And oh, you know, you precious, you know, vessel of life. And then absolutely afterward, like it’s just like, get on with it.

So I feel like that’s like really where the rubber hits the road and where you really need to have some skills in your back.

Heather: Wow. Yeah. All of that. Yes. So I am not that well versed in the Alexander technique and I’m very interested in this And just from like a brief look, see into the Alexander technique, it seems like it’s largely focused on breaking bad habits that affect your body mechanics.

Mm-hmm. , is that true? And if so, what would you say are the biggest or worst, I hate to say that, but worst habits affecting lactating parents. Mm-hmm. .

Sarah Mayhan: Yeah, I know that’s, ooh, bad habits. It’s really interesting cuz I think people do, you know, I have students show up in my door and there usually is like something they wanna change.

It’s like, they’re like, okay, I have this what we call what, what PTs call forward head posture, which is like sort of your classic text neck sort of situation.

Heather: Yes, we’re familiar as, as we’re like wrenching our heads

Maureen: back. . .

Sarah Mayhan: Yes. From the screen. Oh yeah. So right. Stimulus reaction. So I think one thing is just to realize again, we’re sort of coming back to this unity.

So any of these habits, a lot of it has to do with just how we’re relating to the situation and our environment. So that shape of the, you know, our chicken neck, ort neck, that is like the effect , but it isn’t the situation to correct. I generally tell like students, like if this was just posture, like I could just give you a pamphlet and we could all go home and like save a lot of time.

But, you know, why is that so hard? Well, you know, we have this screen, it’s pulling our attention. Our body tends to go where our attention is going. You know, we’re visual creatures and because we’re vertebras and bis. Our body is organized in this like right delicately poised system where you have this big old head on top of a spine

And our job is to carry that head around and, you know, we more or less do a good, good job of that if your head doesn’t hit the floor. Congratulations, you’ve, you’ve done the main job of posture, but whether it feels good for you, whether it’s the most helpful thing for you, that’s like a whole other situation.

So we’re here at our computers. I’ll give you a little intro Alexander technique lesson. So our head joins our spine. It’s about the level of your ears. So I can’t stick my fingers in my ears or in front of them cause I have headphones. But if you do, you can kind of see how far that is. Or if you tap.

Your nose. So between your ears and behind your nose, that is the topmost point of your spine. And where your head joint to your spine is a little hinge point. So if you sort of nod Yes, yes. That is how tall we actually are and what we’re not using. So new parents often have sort of this sort of a new parent neck, like kind of a giraffe neck.

We’re sort of swiveling it all around. If you sort of put your finger on like the back of your neck, there’s like, you know, there’s like a, so the shoulder neck area, the, the sch neck as I like to call it, . It’s where we carry loads of our attention because that’s where we’re sort of trying to steer everything.

And we’re, it’s, it’s overworked. And most of us, if you find that little, there’s like a little bump where our it’s our C seven sticks out. There’s a little bump there. Most of us are kind of like using that , overusing it, and you’re a breastfeeding parent, so you’re kind of looking down there and your boobs are not really at like eye heights.

You’re kind of trying to, you know, navigate, this is an audio medium, but we can, we can imagine, or you’re pumping. And a lot of times when people are pumping, what they wanna know is like, okay, well, okay, first of all, is this all set up right? And I’m not gonna spill milk onto my lap. But number two, like, then it’s like, oh, is there any milk coming out?

And I’m gonna watch these. Milk bottles fill up . Right. And you can see kind of what you’re doing with your neck there is not, not getting much of a break there.

Heather: Yeah. I had the same thing. We called it breastfeeding neck in my family. Mm-hmm. . And then after you get breastfeeding neck, you get the, the impenetrable knot in the shoulder blade.

Mm-hmm. . And my mom would be like, oh, do you need me to rub it? And I’d be like, no, I need you to remove my scapula, take a spoon, scrape the knot out and then put my scapula back on. And she’d be like, okay. Yeah, yeah. You need medication

Sarah Mayhan: Oh. And it’s so hard cuz right there is. Such as it is like very little time per breaks. Again, you’re pregnant. It’s like, oh, go get a massage. It’s so nice. You know? And you know, maybe you get a massage postpartum. Mm-hmm. when you’re able to, I, and I just remember like, I’m gonna put a towel down so I don’t like leak milk all over the, like, it’s not, it’s not as relaxing.

It’s not, well see, another thing is, you know, I think we don’t take the time to downregulate the nervous system. Right? And I think it’s, it’s for we get in this mode. If it’s all about the baby, it’s all about the baby. And I’ve, you know, I’ve felt that way. I know some of it was just like, just a little bit of postpartum anxiety, which just had me kind of hyper focus on all of these, these tasks and to-dos.

And I wanted to be the best mom and, you know, I had to succeed at breastfeeding cuz it was the best. I’m putting that in quotes. I don’t, you know, . Yeah.

Maureen: We, we get, I understand. And, and I think you know, we get hyper focused on baby, especially if we have like a quote, you know, difficult baby who’s having trouble feeding or they cry a lot.

And a lot of parents just kind of expect physical discomfort as the norm, especially if pregnancy was hard, you know, and all of a sudden wake up one day realizing, holy cow, like my whole body is in agony. So where, where do we start when we have that realization that some something is wrong and we need to fix it?

You know, realizing that this discomfort doesn’t have to be the normal for postpartum and breastfeeding.

Sarah Mayhan: This makes me really sad, . I mean, just because, you know, I just, I do think it speaks to, you know, well, I believe in the power of the individual. Like we’re not an island. We’re influenced by all these outside ideas and the lack of cultural support.

And I just don’t think that, yeah, I don’t think that recovery time that is needed is, is valued or supported in the way that it should be. But on an individual level, I think we’re often trying to take our old habits or things that worked for us in our life before baby, and we’re finding those habits are just not working for us.

Like that’s where we’re gonna see a breakdown. Right. So a lot of that is the push through mentality, or you know, like I said, sort of viewing breastfeeding success as. You know, like I’ve been successful in school, so I just study up and I work really hard and I stay up all night and I will, you know, get from point A to point B.

And I think just having to, to pause and, you know, take stock of this is a transformative experience. And again, unity of self. This is, you know, I know sometimes it feels like a bomb exploded in your life when you have a baby. But I mean, it is, it has affected every aspect of your life. And I, I feel like there is sometimes this idea that either we’re supposed to sort of carry on like normal, like things were before and that’s not realistic.

Heather: So you’re saying the best place to start is to stop? Yes.

Sarah Mayhan: Okay. Start with stopping. So now granted again, you can’t hand the baby over and get your scapula, take it off. But I think you can take this moment, like when you’re getting too, like, ugh, you know, which happens a lot when, when you’re a parent.

You know, like when I know my, my son, he was a winter baby and he hated having his diaper changed. So my husband and I, we had it worked out. It was kind of like a NASCAR pit crew, you know? Whereas this like everything comes in as fast , we’re like, we’re gonna get this done as fast as possible. And the baby’s screaming and you know, and you know, a lot of that is out of con your control and the things we know about like your, the hormonal response that happens in your body that can feel just totally out of your control.

Maybe after that moment is over. I think we need to take a moment to start with stopping down, regulate our nervous system, right? We need to pause. We need to exhale. Maybe we, unclench, something that’s clenching shoulders, pelvic floor, whatever. Maybe we think a little bit up on our head, on our spine, and maybe we can just, we can breathe a little bit.

So obviously this is not gonna be, you know, a two week vacation. But , I think these moments are so, so, so important to keep coming back to yourself because the focus is gonna be on your child and that’s lovely. But I think we over valorize this self-sacrifice mentality and I think. You know, it burns people out and just, you need to sort of have a sense of your body’s signals and that your body is a clue into how you’re feeling about the situations in your life.

Heather: We love giving people permission to reevaluate their goals and. And that it’s okay. Mm-hmm. if things change, you know, and just reassess like what we were doing before is no longer working, be it physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, anything to do with that. Maureen and I just like hands down are always like, what do you need first before lactation?

You know, we’re lactation consultants, but we’re not gonna be like breastfeed your own detriment. Sorry. So we are really big in giving people tangible ways that they can change today. When they’re listening to this episode, I’m sure people clicked on this and they’re like, okay, I’ve got a problem with my scapula, with my neck, with my lower back with something.

And they’re probably nursing their baby right now feeling a little bit of pain. Maybe they’ve taken that deep breath that you just recommended. They’ve checked their spine alignment with their head. What are a couple other things that they could do to kind of. , what is happening for them right now?


Sarah Mayhan: I’ll try to make this as, you know, quick and clear as I can. But it is again, that starting with stopping. You know, I know sometimes we get, you know, that baby latched and we’re kind of still, right. We’re still in that scrunch and our neck is, you know, kind of gaffing down toward the baby. So that’s where that pause comes in to pause.

Just notice, exhale, long exhale, calms the nervous system and you’re gonna think up a little bit. We don’t have to get stuck in that one position. And same thing if you, if you’re bottle feeding, you know, I’ve known parents who. You know, strain their wrist cuz they’re just like holding that bottle and they’re like, I must hold this bottle , you know, stock still.

So see if there are ways that you could make yourself more comfortable. Sometimes that is getting support I like to do. If you are using a like a breastfeeding pillow or you are in a chair, I like, I, I think of like, you know, like truckers, like the stereo, like elbow out the window. Mm-hmm. . So part of supporting those shoulders, we’re often like, kind of holding them up.

We’re often holding up our arms from our neck, if that makes sense. So imagine our little point, our neck point, neck and shoulder off and hitching up those arms, kind of holding them up from our neck. So we wanna think, think about your wide trucker elbows and let your armpits breathe a little bit. I also tell people to find their collarbones.

And think of those just like spreading out into infinity. So it’s like you have a little arrow coming out this collarbone, one collarbone to the right wall, one to the left wall. And another thing I encourage is 360 breathing. So reminding ourselves, and especially we’ve come out of pregnancy, we’re often like our capacity to breathe is limited by this big baby

And we’re often right, we’re not. We actually haven’t adjusted back to the space that there is. So if you’re holding your baby and you know, maybe you feel like, okay, I can only move a limited amount, you can still breathe. Breathing is movement, and I would just have you key into the movement of your side ribs.

And your back ribs. And if you have a nice cushion or support behind your back, that’s really gonna help you there and give you some feedback because I mean, that’s gonna help your whole nervous system, your whole alignment. And also, you know, hopefully you’re feeling a little bit less like stuck, like you have to hold a position.

So hopefully that’ll get you started while you’re breastfeeding. Humping or otherwise feeding your baby.

Heather: I will say, while you were talking, I actually touched my collarbones and I don’t remember the last time I touched my collarbones. It feels really good. . Yeah. I don’t think I showed them very much love ever.

Like everyone stop and touch your collarbones. It, there’s lots of lymph nodes there. Mm-hmm. and there’s a lot of sensation there. And I think your collarbones kind of like, hold your, hold your ligaments and hold up your breasts and it’s like, maybe just show your collarbones some love. You know?

Just thank them for holding the girls up all day. Oh yeah.

Sarah Mayhan: There’s and there’s, there’s so much there. Right? Cuz there’s that power of just like, touch, even if it’s your own hand, on your own self, just being like, Hey, you know, I’m here. You can soften, you know, soften your muscles, soften towards this experience towards yourself.

It’s just like a little bit of like embodied self-kindness. Just a little, little nugget of it. I love little

Heather: nuggets of that .

Sarah Mayhan: We all need a little nugget of, of self

Maureen: kindness. Absolutely. Well it has been such a pleasure to speak with you today, Sarah, and, you know, thinking of how we could all use a little bit more of this, I was wondering if you could tell our listeners how they could find you if they wanna work with you or listen or, you know, learn from your videos or things like that.

Sarah Mayhan: Sure. So I’m at, well, I should say in life I l I’m in Chicago. So if you are in that area you can come see me in person. But you can also see me online and. You know, you would be surprised what you could learn online. And again, if something like that collarbone tip worked for you. Hmm. You know, think about that or think about checking out my podcast.

So it’s called Poison and Powerful Parenting. There are a couple episodes that might help. I wanna point you to some popular ones. There is one that I did with my friend Rhonda. It’s called Rhonda’s Roller Coaster Pandemic Pregnancy with Twins. And she talks about establishing breastfeeding with twins.

, which is such a story, and I made a little guided practice to go with that called Relax Up for Sitting, so you can play that when you’re breastfeeding. There’s another one called 360 Breathing that people like a lot. So that’s a good practice to get into as well. You invite all my and, you know, just feel free also to, like, if you hear this, if you respond to this, to, to shoot me a question.

I, I love to like, create, you know, episodes or videos or class content based on what people really need

Heather: to. Thank you so much and I hope everybody goes and checks you out and at least knows that there’s an option to pausing, reflecting and improving your body mechanics and maybe even your relationship with how you feel about your own body mechanics.

So I appreciate the work that you’re doing and will definitely be in

Sarah Mayhan: touch. Thank you so much for having me. This was so

Heather: fun. It was very fun. And we are going to talk to you again soon. Absolutely.

It was so nice having Sarah on, and I think it’s really important that we all do take a minute to stop and reevaluate. Most of us are going 110 miles an hour through our postpartum period, and it is always a good idea to ask yourself, is this working for me? Should I touch my collarbones and let them stretch to infinity?

Maybe. Actually, I wanted to give a couple. Tips as well for positioning that I found because I had the ultimate giraffe neck. Yeah. So actually standing up against a wall and with your butt, your back of your feet and your back touching the wall and your head and put your arms out, like goddess pose, right?

And then try to breathe , try to breathe. Yeah. And then also run your arms with like all your hands, forearms and biceps fully touching the wall. Run your arms up the wall and keep them touching the wall. And then bring them all the way back down. And then squeeze your shoulder blades at the bottom so the bottom of your shoulder blades kiss.

And you just do that 10 times a day and it kind of like realigns your spine a little bit. Helps you just understand what neutral feels like. Sure. Again, because sometimes we think we’re standing up straight and we’re not. So like actually using the wall to show you what. Actually means that way you can find it a lot easier and it’s more accessible to you.

Yeah, you

Maureen: know, it actually helps me get back into neutral when I’ve turned into a little s-curve holding my baby. I do a really deep forward fold cuz I’m a little bit hyper flexible and so I’m able to put my, like wrists all the way on the ground. My palms flat, so I have to go really, really far, but I do as full of a forward fold as I can.

And then I cross my arms by my head, so it makes it kind of like heavier in one spot and sort of pulls everything down and just like wiggle around. And then I come halfway up into a table, so straight back, straight head, hands on your knees and take a few breaths there and then go back down again before coming up.

And that really helps me. Get back to my

Heather: neutral. Mm-hmm. . And then also I will say I have seen a number of times people have that beautiful nursing chair, like the rocking chair and , A lot of times their butt is really far down, like it’s angled back and down so your knees are higher than your hips and it is really hard then to get in a really good position.

And I see people reaching forward to try to compensate for that dip where their butt is. So I’ve had people actually get those wedge pillows Oh yeah. And turn them. So the wedge is filling up that space to make their chair, like, don’t go buy another $300 chair, just buy like a $10 wedge to bring your butt up where it’s supposed to be.

That way your positioning supports or utilize correctly and it doesn’t feel like your baby is falling down in the chair. So just kind of adjusting that way and being aware of the support items that you’re using, and if any of those need to be adjusted.

Maureen: Yeah. I’ve actually when I’ve occasionally suggested people replace the BPI with something that fits their body better, I then have them sit on the BPI just to like give them a firmer seat.

You know. Mm-hmm. Kind of works the same way and you already have it .

Heather: Yeah. And if that doesn’t work, just set it on fire. .

Maureen: Okay. Well, on that note I think we’re gonna take a short break to thank some sponsors, but when we come back, we are gonna talk about some really concrete things that you can do to get baby in a better position for nursing and hopefully your body as well.

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Heather: It’s simple. You select from a series of fun and exciting questions that you wouldn’t think to ask such as what’s the funniest memory you have of your siblings, or do you have a secret you never told your own parents?

And then it gets emailed to them and they write an answer and can even attach a meaningful photo. This happens every week, and at the end of one year, they get compiled and printed in a beautiful keepsake book and you can get copies for all your family members if you want,

Maureen: and to make sure that you preserve it digitally in case anything happens to the physical copies.

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Heather: I’ve tried it with my mother and she totally loved it. To save $10 off your first purchase use discount code Milk Minute. That’s Milk Minute to get $10 off on my life in a

Let’s take a quick break to thank our sponsor Airflow. Airflow

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Maureen: have to call your insurance when you use airflow, and they remind you when you’re eligible for free

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Yep. So when you’re tired in your postpartum period and you’re wondering why your pump isn’t working as well, you might get a text that says, did you know you need replacement parts? And you say, I did not know that. Right. You push a button and boom; they show up at your door. Thanks. Aero flow. Thank you so much.

Go ahead and check out the link to a flow in our show notes and order your pump through them.

Welcome back, everybody. Now let’s get into talking about how to get this darn baby position better .

Maureen: Yeah, I think tweaking baby’s position is actually one of the more common things that we do in consults, especially when we see people in person. And I, I kind of wanna start with the most basic concept, which you’ll hear me say it and you’ll be like, of course I do that.

But no, like, really think about this. Next time you latch baby, you need to bring your baby to your body, not the other way around. So a lot of people when they’re latching, you know, they’ll hold baby where they think they’re going to latch, but they’re too far away and then they lean forward. And especially if we’re you know, especially if we’re struggling with a latch.

So you’re like boob sandwich and you’re like flipped technique automatically, you’re leaning forward. I know it. I don’t even have to see it. . And it’s okay if you realize after the latch that that’s happened, but then I want you to bring baby with you back to a neutral spine, and you kind of have to like lock your arm from the shoulder down.

You’re like, okay, I’m holding baby. It’s, it’s always the cradle position , and you’re like, all right, locked in place, boob arm, baby. You’re all still. And then you kind of like,

Heather: And your back . Yeah, for sure. So I, I love to remind people also that it’s not just about like the leverage of bringing the baby up.

That’s definitely a lot of it. But, you know, our nipples don’t always sit in the same place. Like if you’re like me, your nipples kind of go east and west a little bit. And especially I see my friends with larger breast tissue get into this habit where you take your breast with your hand and you move it to the mid.

To get baby latched and now baby has to fight against gravity to keep that nipple in their mouth. And so the minute you take your hand away, that heavy breast wants to go back to the east. Yeah. And the baby has now a shallow latch because they’re trying to hang on for dear life with their tiny baby lips.

So if you have breasts that kind of go east and west a little bit or any other direction, I feel like I’ve got

Maureen: like to the window, to the wall. my one. Yeah. They don’t point the same way.

Heather: You, you have Lil Jon nipples, . Oh dear. Well, Wayne, anyway. So if your nipples are kind of pointing to the sides, we actually might need to position baby more to.

Side, like actually let your baby go to where your nipple falls naturally because it’s also not good for your arm or your wrist to have to hold a three and a half pound breast for 15 minutes straight. Mm-hmm. to keep it in the right position. So let your breast hang where it’s gonna hang. Then bring your baby to where your nipple is hanging naturally and then build your positioning support around that.

Yeah. And sometimes

Maureen: if, if you look at that and you’re like, can’t see my nipple, that’s really common. That’s when we might think about propping a little towel under your breast. You could have somebody help you just, you know, especially in that early couple weeks where you’re like, I don’t know what I’m doing, baby doesn’t know what they’re doing and I can’t see my nipple.

You know, or consider then okay, if you are kind of flipping your breasts around so you can see what’s going on, how are you gonna get that and baby back to a more natural position. Like, think about that movement before you have to do it. . Yeah. So let’s talk about head positioning for baby Heather.

Heather: Yeah. So this one is probably the number two, maybe number one, . Maybe number one. Maybe number one. So if your baby’s chin is tucked in any position, the nipple no longer has a straight shot to the back of the mouth and your baby needs to compress your nipple against the roof of its mouth to squirt the milk into the back of the throat.

So if your baby’s chin is tucked, it is now going to be sucking your nipple into a J shaped pattern to compress it against the palette. Yeah. And that is very pinchy and shallow. And that’s when we get lipstick nipple lipstick nipple equals chin tuck, . So it’s very easy to fix this, but I just wanna run through what this looks like in different positions.

Maureen: Yeah. And actually I have something before you do that, That I wanna have everybody do quick. So this is what, when I teach breastfeeding classes, a kind of physical reminder of where baby’s head needs to be to swallow. So what I want you to do at home is to get a glass of water and try drinking it with your nose, pointing to the floor, and then try drinking it.

Looking over your left shoulder and looking over your right shoulder. Try drinking it in a neutral position. And then like with your head, slightly flanged back, like you’re about to chug it. And just while you’re doing that, think about how your jaw moves and how your throat moves, because it’s really obvious suddenly when you do it, why baby might be having trouble latching and swallowing and sucking in different positions if their head isn’t in the right.

Heather: Oh yeah, I, I actually like that analogy. I usually tell people, have you ever ordered a club sandwich that’s like a quadruple decker ? And the first thing you do is squish it down , and then you square up with it, and then you tip your head back like a creep because you wanna get the biggest bite of that sandwich possible.

Yeah. You put it on the bottom lip. Have I unhinge my jaw? Yeah. You put it on the bottom first, and then like a snake, you bring the top jaw over top of it, and you then bite it, and then you hopefully have a napkin nearby. But you know your baby’s chin is tucked if you have tons of breast tissue around their nose and you feel like they’re suffocating.

So I see this a lot where instead of adjusting the baby, the parent will actually push down on their breast tissue to create an air pocket so baby can breathe. That is not sustainable. So, and also it’s, it’s just kind of annoying that you have to do that. So it more simply just move the baby down a little bit and make them look up.

And you can do that more easily by bringing their butt in closer to your body. And this works in any position. So you just bring their booty in a little bit and then you gently let their head relax back like a, a centimeter. It’s not even that much.

Maureen: Yeah. And that is hard for people because. Your whole life you’ve been told don’t drop baby’s head.

The second someone hands you a newborn, they’re like, support the head. Support the head,

Heather: support the head. It’s gonna roll off their body. It’s not gonna fall

Maureen: off. Also, it’s totally okay if it gently kinda lus back a little bit. We do that all the time and we’re doing the guppy position for babies who are having some oral dysfunction.

Right? As long as you’re not like giving baby whiplash by like jerking their head around, it’s okay for their head to kinda lull to the side or back. That’s okay. So when you’re holding them in any position or if a pillow is supporting them, it has to be kind of, when we were talking to Sarah about that vertebrae, what like C7 you, you wanna be holding about there.

Really you don’t wanna put that much support on their neck cuz it prevents them from letting their

Heather: head go. ? Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Really just gently placing your hands behind their shoulder blades and maybe just putting one finger up on their neck just for support so they can wiggle their head back and forth and adjust their own latch.

So, you know, in football hold, so this one we see a lot of Chin T tucks because people don’t put a pillow behind them. And then baby ends up super crunched up because they don’t have anywhere for their legs to go, and your elbow’s all crunched up. So you’re all crunched up and it’s like trying to breastfeed a rollie pulley bug next to you.

So the best way to combat that is to take a vertical pillow, place it behind your back, and that automatically creates about four inches of space for baby’s legs. So you wanna bring baby actually closer to the back of the chair or the couch, and then make sure they’re looking up to the nipple. And that’s why we always say put your nipple on their nose.

When you do that, they have a reflex to look up and that’s the position we want is looking up. So their chin is actually dug down deep into the breast. Yep.

Maureen: Yeah. And you know you’re gonna have to think about this every time for the first couple days because it just doesn’t quite feel natural to put baby there.

You kind of wanna like square them up, hand behind the neck right on your nipple and it’s not quite

Heather: where they wanna be. Mm-hmm. . Okay. Number three, most common positioning things that I think we need to fix with baby is that when people do football position, they tend to not put baby completely on their side.

And so in this position, baby tends to roll out with their chest, facing the ceiling, and then baby now has to look to the left or the. And no longer has a straight airway for eating. So that’s like when Maureen was saying, try to take a glass of water and drink it with your head turned, it’s really difficult.

Yeah. And then they also naturally start to shimmy underneath your breast when they’re in that position. And so now you’ve got a baby laying on their back trying to eat and a four pound breast on top of their chest. So now they’re trying to suck, swallow, and breathe with a weight on their chest. And so they will then pop off and.

Yeah, and no hate to

Maureen: football position. I really like it and I think we can use it well. However, what I tend to see the most is that you’ve got a breastfeeding pillow, you know, kind of weirdly tucked on your side that doesn’t fit great. The fattest part of the pillow ends up behind baby’s Oxo, so it tucks their chin, their hips, shoulders and head are all facing different directions and everyone’s kind of flailing.

And so, you know, what we wanna encourage you to do at that point is to look at where your nipple naturally lies again, right? Is it pointing to the side? Is it pointing straight down, straight up? And then, you know, try to craft that supported space so that baby can still have their head back a little bit and their body in line with their head and.

You know, sometimes when you’re starting, if you support baby’s body, just with your forearm under their torso and your hand behind their shoulders until you can get a position they’re comfortable in. And then maybe have somebody else like tuck the pillows around you, . Mm-hmm. . And then, and then afterward you can be like, okay, I’m gonna examine this set up

We’ve got like the little chunky pillow here and the round pillow there. You know, it’s always like eight pillows. But if that’s the way that works best for you and you get the deepest latch, I don’t want you not to do that. But I do want you to not crane your neck, not hurt your shoulders, don’t have all that tension right up in your chest where I feel like everybody holds it when they’re like, oh no, I gotta get that nipple in their mouth.

And make sure baby

Heather: is comfortable too. And also, as an aside, some people have nipples that are like straight on or almost more like towards the middle of your body. Yeah. So their nipples are more on the inside of the boob. Football is almost impossible. That’s where your nipples are. Yeah, it’s.

Maureen: if you want, if you need to do something like that.

You’re kind of not doing football so much as like a perpendicular

Heather: line. Exactly. . And that’s a whole vibe and that’s fine, but it’s not gonna work in a rocking chair cuz at that point you have to bring baby almost directly in front of you. And inevitably they’re gonna have to tuck their chin to do it most of the time.

So that’s just a little bit more advanced. And in those positions I actually like more upright kind of stuff. Yeah. You know, I’m

Maureen: a big fan of like, especially if we have a firm bed and not a squishy wishy bed. I hate squishy wishy beds. A firm bed, a nice headboard, you know, you’ve got like a lumbar pillow and not much else, but you can be super upright.

You’ve got lots of space to like squish pillows around and move that little baby. That’s really nice. Or like a nice wide couch that’s pretty firm, not the kind of couch you sit down and you can’t get up again cuz it’s so deep. I hate those. Me too. Why are any couches like that? Anyway? A good firm surface for your back and your bottom is really nice.

I know those hemorrhoids and your perineum are sometimes really sore. Consider a little donut pillow or a little blow up donut, even if you don’t like, think it’s that bad. Just like having one just in case. .

Heather: Yeah, I agree with all of that. All right, so let’s talk about my favorite little trick for when things get just a little pinchy, even after you’ve adjusted all of the things we just talked about.

Mm-hmm. . So you’ve run through the whole gamut of positioning. You’re like, okay, I’ve deep breathed, I touched my collarbones, brought baby to me. I didn’t go to baby, and we’re in good position, babies looking up, blah, blah, blah. And it’s still just a little pinchy. So in that situation, we’re going to go ahead and assume your baby’s bottom lip is tucked.

Okay? Yep. Just assume you probably won’t be able to see, and if you push on your boob or on their face to see, you’ll lose the latch. Mm-hmm. . So just assume. It’s the bottom lip. You’re gonna stick your finger between your breast and the baby’s chin and you’re just going to flick the chin down. Yeah. So I want you guys

Maureen: to take your index finger, put it right in the middle of your chin and wiggle the skin and feel how your bottom lip wiggles with it.

Anyway, that’s what you’re doing to baby. You’re just gonna plant a finger firmly there and

Heather: boo. And you don’t hold it down. No. You just flick it down and release and then you wait and everyone goes better, worse, or the same. Yeah. And baby will often pause sucking for a minute. Yeah. Excuse me. They’re like, you just touched my lip.

And then you have to wait a moment and then they will regroup and they will nurse, and you’ll be like, oh good. It’s better. Because when that lip is tucked, they cannot take in as much breast tissue and get it all the way back to the soft palette to. . Okay. Ready? Okay, I’m ready. What’s next? Last one, when people, so going back to my club sandwich analogy, you know you get that giant club sandwich, you squish it down, right?

But I see people squish their boob and then basically turn it the wrong way and try to offer it to baby vertically. So it’d be like you trying to eat a vertical club sandwich, right? Which is impossible. Yeah.

Maureen: And you know I think something also that a lot of people do the boob sandwich when they sort of have this like really soft floppy breast tissue.

And that’s maybe not necessarily what we need so much as just firming things up a little bit so that the nipple perks out. So if the breast sandwich isn’t feeling right for you, sometimes I say like, hold your breast further back. So it just kind of pushes. All of the firmer tissue a little bit forward to your breast makes it just like a little bit of a more substantial like shape.

Mm-hmm. .

Heather: And, you know, the sandwich can be kind of tough because really what we need is for you to bring your hand all the way under your breast mm-hmm. , and it’s squeezed vertically for you. So from your perspective, it’s vertical. It’s like a you rather than a C. Yeah. So when baby is lying perpendicular to you, it’s horizontal for them, but vertical for you.

So just always remember, squish the sandwich to make it make sense for the baby, not for you. Yeah. And the goal is to remove your hand. Yep. So the goal is not to hold the sandwich the entire time. You get baby latched, baby starts to mold that tissue, and then you slowly release. And then as Sarah says, trucker elbows relax.

Grab a sip of water, let baby go to town. Put on your favorite podcast. Write us an Apple review, , whatever you like. You know,

Maureen: I struggle with that one still. My daughter is a year and a half, but my nipples point down and sometimes when she is helping herself, she’s just like, not, she’s not getting it, you know, cuz we’re in a weird position.

So I’ll grab my boob and lift it up for her and then I’m just like, unfocused. I’m obviously doing eight other things when she’s trying to nurse every time. Mm-hmm. . And then I’ll realize all of a sudden, oh my God, I’ve been holding this for my year and a half year old who does not need me to hold my breast for her for like 20 minutes.

And now my wrist is sore, my shoulder’s been wrenched up in this super weird position cause I wasn’t thinking about it. . Yep. So it’s okay. Everybody struggles with these things. And we just want to help you stop struggling and start feeling

Heather: better. Yes, we can do better. Even if you’re already doing great, we can always do a little better.

So let’s take another quick break to thank a sponsor. These people and companies keep our business going as well, and we thank them so much for that. And when we get back, we’re gonna give an award to one of our amazing patron.

Maureen: Heather, when you were nursing Heidi, did you get thirsty every single

Heather: time? Every single time I sat down to nurse, it was like the Sahara Desert had taken up residents in my mouth.

Maureen: Same. And my go-to drink right now is

Heather: Liquid iv. Oh, me too. Liquid IV makes your water work harder cuz it has a hydration multiplier in it.

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Maureen: alone. You can also get their immune support blend, energy blend, or even one that helps with your sleep health.

Heather: My personal favorite is lemon lime and I think it actually makes me drink water two times faster, which is always handy when you have ice screaming baby in the.

Maureen: I really like the Tangerine, and if you wanna try that today, you can go to the link in our show notes and use our discount code milk underscore minute for 15%

Heather: off your order. That’s milk underscore minute for 15% off your liquid IV today. Happy drinking.

All right. Today’s award goes to Sarah F, who is one of our patrons. Sarah says A win for me is weaning related. This week my daughter finally grasped the concept of drinking out of the munchkin weighted straw cup. I’m hoping this makes her bottle resistance with grandma a bit easier so she can just put my milk in that and we can start weaning the bottle altogether.

That is

Maureen: wonderful. I’m so happy for you. I’d love just these baby steps toward weaning. Feel like huge accomplishments. They are, they are huge

Heather: accomplishments. They are. And I’m sure grandma, depending on the grandma, will be relieved. . Yeah. Definitely. It, it probably confuses grandmas more than anyone when a kid won’t take a bottle.

So props to grandma for hanging in there with whatever wackadoo stuff you asked her to do before you found the weighted munchkin. Straw cup, . Mm-hmm. . I’ve never used that. That didn’t exist when I had Heidi. I

Maureen: love and hate those because they are really nice like easy for baby to use, but

Heather: they’re so hard to clean.

Oh, how annoying. I’m so sorry to break that to you. Oh man. If you didn’t know , you always hope that the answer that you land on is the one that’s easiest to clean. . All right, Sarah, we are gonna give you the. Mini steps, munchkin Award .

Maureen: That’s very cute. We’re really proud of you for figuring out what works and moving forward in your own unique way, and I wish you the best of luck with the rest of your breastfeeding journey and weaning and all of that

Heather: And we would like to share an Apple review before we get outta here. We read every single one of them and we appreciate them so much. Today’s Apple review is from Reba M and she says, just do it. If you’re looking for a fun way to research different breastfeeding topics, look no further. Listening to a podcast makes you feel like you’re sitting down in your living room to hang out with new friends.

Maureen and Heather are the best with the heart emoji. No thank you. Thanks Reba. Thank you so much. And thank you for listening to another episode of the Milk

Maureen: Minute podcast. The way that we change this whole big system we’re stuck in that just really isn’t designed to help new parents is by educating ourselves and others and supporting each other as best we can.

Heather: If you found value in the episode that we produced for you today, you can show us some love by writing an Apple review or joining our Patreon and supporting us for as little as 25 cents an episode and you get cool behind the scenes v i p access to video content and you get also early and ad-free episodes.

So definitely check it out. There’s a link in our show notes and we’re here for you. Yeah,

Maureen: well thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time. Bye.


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