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Ep. 69- HERself Podcast, an Interview with Abby & Amy

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This is Maureen Farrell and Heather O’Neal 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.

Heather: Welcome to the milk minute podcast everybody. We have some very special guests today from HERself podcast with cohost Abby Green and Amy Kiefer. So you definitely don’t want to miss this interview, but first we’re going to do a listener question from Angie M.

Maureen: Angie tells us that she’s expecting her second child and wants to know ways that she can produce enough milk so she can breastfeed her little one. And she told us that she had a really hard time with her first baby.

Heather: Typically, anytime I get this question, it’s because somebody had a difficult time feeding the first time. And I just want to encourage you guys to seek out help beforehand, because a lot of the time, the struggles that you had with your first baby could have either been the cause of like a birth situation.

Maureen: I mean, honestly, like most of the time, that’s what I see.

Heather: Right. That maybe we can avoid for the next time and kind of give you some tools to prevent at least those specific things from happening.

Maureen: Yeah. I, I usually give the same advice. I say, find a lactation consultant or counselor who will book a prenatal consult with you, who you can tell your story to. You know, and they can kind of extrapolate from that what the major challenges were and then they can tell you how to better prepare for those next time.

Heather: And I do include those in my private consults. I usually kind of add it in any way, even if it’s postpartum, I’m always like, tell me about the first time and tell me about this birth, because it, sometimes it goes way back. But just to touch on this second child thing, every pregnancy you have, you actually grow more glandular tissue.

Maureen:  And statistically you make more milk, right?

Heather: So statistically speaking, you should be well set for your second baby compared to the first. Most supply issues that we see are with the first baby, because you know your boobs have never done this before, but also because people tend to supplement more for a perceived lack of supply, more than an actual lack of supply. And then the supplementing leads to an actual supply issue.

Maureen: We often have issues with expectations where, you know, we’re kind of trying our hardest, not to breastfeed all the time because we don’t think that’s how it should be. And, you know, once you have listened to this podcast, then you know, that actually that is kind of how the first couple of weeks are.

And that’s a good thing because that tells your body to make milk. And my best advice too is to do your best to have a breastfeeding friendly birth and breastfeeding friendly first week. And that means skin to skin, immediately being with baby and feeding as often as possible day and night. And I understand that’s not going to be possible in every experience, but those are some, some goals you should keep in mind.

Heather: And develop a relationship with a lactation consultant early on so they’re easy to fall back on whenever things, if things do go awry. That way, it’s not that much of a stretch for you to phone a friend when things do get tough. So definitely encourage you to do that. And I think it’s going to be fine. Angie don’t worry about it.

Maureen: You’re going to do a great job.

Heather: All right. Well, we’re going to get into this interview with Abby and Amy now, but make sure you stick around to the end because we’re going to do an award in the alcove and you never know it could be you. It could be you.

Hey guys, Heather here with a very special message for you. I wanted to let you know that if you’ve attempted to breastfeed your baby, even once or began pumping after an unexpected postpartum complication, you’ve taken the first step to a beautiful journey. I also want to let you know that you can breastfeed no matter what kind of labor you had, no matter what kind of baby you have, no matter what kind of job you have. There is a way to breastfeed that can work for you.

The thing that I really want to get across here is that the fear of, “what if I don’t have what it takes to breastfeed? What if people think I can’t do this? What if I fail? What if I can’t do my job? What if I’m not enough?” Here’s the truth. Everyone has those thoughts, but some people push through and succeed at breastfeeding anyway.

So what’s the difference? Consistent support. Yeah. Consistent support is the linchpin in the breastfeeding plan. Having support available to help you through the natural hiccups of feeding your baby is essential to decreasing that anxiety and making those doubtful voices in your head disappear. Throughout the pandemic I’ve been accepting virtual, private lactation clients to meet people where they are, despite the crazy circumstances with COVID. At first, I honestly wasn’t sure how it would go. But as it turns out, it was better than ever. I’ve decided to continue doing virtual consults and help people all over the world.

As an IBCLC, I hold an international certification and breastfeeding is a universal language. If you find yourself needing that personal support and would like to work with me one-on-one, you can schedule at your convenience at my link in the show notes, or by going to

Let’s get you to where you want be with breastfeeding and start asking new questions. What if I succeed? What if I can breastfeed and do my job? What if you are enough? What if it works? We got this.

Welcome to another episode of the Milk Minute Podcast, everybody. We have some very special guests here today. We have miss Abby Green and Amy Kiefer from HERself Podcast and we couldn’t be more thrilled. So thank you girls for coming.

Amy: Thank you so much for having us!

Maureen: Could you guys give us some brief introductions to yourselves maybe for our listeners?

Amy: Of course, my name is Amy. I am a mom of three little boys and together with my co-host Abby, who is also on here, we have the HERself Podcast. We really try to help women make it through these really crazy years of motherhood. We just figured if we open the door by sharing our struggles, other women would feel heard and understand that we’re never alone with any of these things that we’re going through in that we’ll get into talking about during this episode. So, yeah. I, we both live in Wisconsin and we have this podcast and we’re excited to be on your guys and I’ll let Abby introduce herself.

Abby: Yeah. And just to add onto that, I’m Abby and I also have three little kids, a girl and two boys. And when you reached out about breastfeeding and the struggles, but then also some of just like, what are you proud of in this journey?

It just peaked our interest right away, because breastfeeding can be something that we just do. It’s just something that we do for our babies, but then it’s also something that we can learn from. We can grow from, we can help educate and empower other women for. So again, thanks for being here. Thank you for letting us be on this podcast and just sharing our journeys with this.

Heather: Totally. I, you know, what I love most about your podcast is how real you are. I mean, I got to tell you when I started listening, I was like, oh, dang. They’re like actually talking about their relationships, their money status, what it like the actual struggles of being a working parent who’s also breastfeeding.

I mean, so thank you for actually getting in there because people do need to hear how hard it is. I think we are real tired of the Instagram perfect people. I mean, your Instagram is also on point, so everyone should definitely go follow them. I was like, oh my gosh, who is doing their Instagram? I need to know. But anyways,

Amy: That was like the whole point of our podcast is that Abby and I both feel very comfortable opening up about things that we struggle with, but so do our husbands.

So my husband Drew and Abby’s husband, Colin have come on the podcast. I think they’re sixth episode with us is about to air. And when you have these men also sharing their side of the relationship, they talk about what they struggle with in fatherhood and that often doesn’t get light. So yeah, we’re here to talk about and we bring experts on so that we, you know, this information is backed up, but it’s, it’s stuff that usually you don’t talk about.

It needs to be talked about. It needs to be normalized. People need good information.

Heather: Yeah. And on that note, episode 81, that you all did where you interviewed Jenna Overbaugh on postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD, and what that can actually look like. Not just the blanket statement of like, oh, if you’re feeling anxious postpartum, like you should definitely take this survey and the screening tool and then go call your provider.

It was like actual detailed information about if you are doing this, A plus B equals OCD. And I just had to say that because it’s, it was on my heart this morning when I was listening to that, because I’ve had so many private consults recently with my lactation clients who are really, truly struggling with OCD, like especially the exclusive pumpers. Like maybe something happened during their COVID delivery back in March or April and they ended up exclusively pumping and they are pumping like 12 times a day, you know? Pumping itself has become their ritualistic behavior, which gets rewarded by milk, which gets rewarded by society with the freezer stash pictures. And I think that if you guys are struggling with that out there, you have to go listen to episode 81 on HERself Podcast and actually think about while you’re listening to it. Is this me? Do I need to get some extra help?

Maureen: Yeah. And this is a good one for partners, too. If you’re thinking like, you know, if you, if you also listen to the podcasts, which some do, and you’re thinking, wow, like my partner over there is really struggling and I don’t know what to think about it. This might help you kind of wrap your mind around symptoms you’re seeing.

Heather: For sure. So selfishly, I’d like to start with the question about your journey to becoming a podcaster slash entrepreneur and motherhood at the same time, because Maureen and I kind of feel like we’re throwing spaghetti at the wall most of the time, and you know, maybe you have it all together, but I would love to hear about that journey a little bit. If you’re willing to share.

Amy: No, it’s it’s the same. And we both got into this space. So I started my first business. It’s called Expecting and Empowered. It’s pregnancy and postpartum workout guides. And my sister and I started that. We both had one child and we were pregnant with our second. Perfect time to start a business, right? Not really. So it was so busy, but we were fueled by the passion that women needed better information. Like much like what you guys are doing, is we need women to be able to get this information so that they can make it through these really challenging seasons. And then once I, so I was also a nurse and Expecting and Empowered started to do well.

It was growing, it was taking more time and I just knew as a mom I didn’t have time to be a nurse and be an entrepreneur and do it all. I really couldn’t. So then when I stepped away from my nursing job is when I was able to do the HERself Podcast, which we’ve been referring to, and so Abby and I just share this passion again for seeing, we were like, you know, a lot of the information that we listened to it’s women with older children, and then they’re looking back and they’re giving us advice from like the other side of the fence. And we’re like, well, we want to do it right now. We are in it. Abby has a little baby, you know. We are right there with our listeners. We didn’t want to wait until things slowed down because when you look back, you usually do have rose colored glasses and you’re like, you think you have these great tips and then when you’re telling them to like, no that will not work!

I have three little kids. I’m so full right now. So that’s what we love about it is that we feel like we’re like with you guys, like baby squeaking, like that is our normal everyday life. So I think that we can really relate to these women and make sure that the information we’re providing is helpful and not idealistic.

Heather: Yeah, for sure. I mean, the devil’s in the details, right? That’s what I want. That’s what we want to know about. People are like, no, tell me the ugliest thing about your day today. So I can feel better about my ugliest part of my day.

Amy: Yeah. Like for real I, our oldest, he had his first day at it’s called camp kindergarten. So they are getting them ready for kindergarten in the fall and we couldn’t get him out the door. I mean, he was melting down and he’s not good with change. And so that’s what you don’t see behind the scenes is we’re moms and we’re, we’re going through these really challenging days with our kids. And then it’s like you come to work and all of a sudden you’re this podcaster or Instagrammer person, but you don’t have it all together.

And so we’re just very open about this. Okay. Today’s been a really challenging day for me. And here I am with you guys, like willing and able to share that. And so that women know, you know, everyone has challenges and most moms have challenges every single day.

Maureen: Yeah, absolutely. Like we’re in the scream in the car phase right now. And it’s a two-hour drive to get here for me. So we spent about an hour and a half of that screaming.

Amy: And I remember I had that too with my, with my first, and I remember calling my husband bursting into tears. Like you feel helpless.

Maureen: It’s visceral you.

Amy: Yeah, it truly is. So

Maureen: I know, honestly, I was stuck in traffic, behind construction, you know, looking at this little person, holding a stop sign. And I was like, what if I just had a megaphone? And they could all hear my baby crying. Yeah. You know, the crazy thoughts you think.

Abby: We’ve all been there. We’ve all had those thoughts and they keep on coming in when things get really, really rough. So, oh, the screaming in the car thing. And just to add onto what Amy said, we have the same goal in mind.

So we were actually both gonna start individual podcasts. So way, way, way back when, two years ago now, and we were talking to each other and we were planning and we were figuring out the details. And then finally, one day it was just a proposition of, should we do this together? Because we have the same goal, the same audience, but different strengths. So we’re really able to pull our different strengths with both also sharing our challenges along the way. And it’s just made for a really great partnership.

Heather: Yeah. Congrats, by the way, on hitting a million downloads as of May 2021, that’s incredible. You know, when you start a podcast, you’re like, I have things to say, you know. Like we say them all the time, you talk to each other about this, we think we’re pretty funny. But you know, as you’re moving through your past two years, was it like a slow growth or did all of a sudden somebody discovered it and they were like, oh my gosh, let’s blow this podcast up. Like, how did you guys get to where you’re at now?

Amy: Yeah, that’s a great question. We actually, so I’ve been doing Instagram for a long time, you know, four or five years. And so I had built this really great community around me and they knew that what I was doing on Instagram was going to be what we were going to do on the podcast, which was to be you know, those very honest voice.

So we had this initial group of listeners that has just served us so, so well. So from the beginning, that has been incredible. And then along the way, being able to talk to different guests and then you’re introduced to their audience has been really helpful. So, yeah, it’s, it’s anything in entrepreneurship, I mean, truly you, a lot of people think it’s this overnight thing. When a lot of times it’s just a very slow climb and you’re just the person that is willing to stay on the mountain and be like, you know what, if I keep showing up for these people and serving them so well, and honestly, and authentically, I think there’s going to eventually be more people.

Heather: Well, I think they found you. I think your people are definitely supporting you and I love what you guys are doing. So keep doing it please. I’m in. Especially I’m enjoying it. 

Maureen: Like you said, Heather, we can’t stop talking about breastfeeding. So we wanted to ask you guys about your baby feeding journeys. What were the best of times? What were the worst of times? How did it go? How’s it going?

Abby: How’s it going right? Yes, I have, I have a 10-month-old, not even 10-month-old son, definitely still on that journey right now. But it started over five years ago with Lucy and Lucy right off the bat I knew, she was our first child and I’m an over researcher.

I’m an over analyzer. I over-prepare, it’s just in my personality. I get a lot of comfort out of just knowing everything. So I, no lie. I’m looking at my bookshelves right now. I probably read seven breastfeeding books about how to produce more milk about how to get the perfect latch. So when she came out and she latched perfectly, my production came in right away. I was like, oh, well I just maybe wasted a lot of time trying to figure this out.

But around nine months she got teeth and with teeth, she bit me and I did not do research on this part, but I remember screaming, pulling her off and very much overreacting. And at that point she went on a nursing strike. So I didn’t know what to do. And my pediatrician said, well, she’s probably just done breastfeeding. But then I reached out to lactation consultants and thank you guys for doing what you do because the lactation consultant gave me so many other avenues to go down. One of which was walking around topless.

I’m saying this on a podcast, guys. We get really real. Amy and I said this before, but I walked around topless while I was in my house with her two favorite foods on my nipples. So avocado and, and yogurt. After I mean, several weeks, it was several weeks of offering her the breast multiple times a day, but she started nursing again and we were able to nurse for 14 months.

 With Micah it was pretty easy except he got a dairy and egg allergy, which totally threw me off course. I had to figure out how to keep production up while also taking those foods out of my diet for a while. And then with Owen, he’s our third, he’s our almost 10-month-old. He was born with down syndrome and with low tone comes a whole set of challenges that can come along with it. So I did do some research beforehand. We were able to figure out nursing for a little while and still do some nursing, but our journey is mostly exclusively pumping with him.

Heather: So I’m curious when you found out that he had down syndrome did anybody prenatally make a breastfeeding plan with you? Like did they start talking about that or, you know, I’m just always curious how people interact during those clinic visits and the, and the prep that they get.

Abby: It’s really interesting with a diagnosis because some doctors just look at the stats, where other doctors look at the mom, her emotions, her intentions, what she really wants out of it. So we definitely had some doctors say, he’s not going to nurse. Do you want to formula feed or like exclusively pump? Like these are going to be your options. And others were looking at it as well there are things we can do. There are things we can try. You are an experienced breastfeeder. You’ve breastfed for 28 months now with your two other kiddos. And so working together with those doctors and just not even having the conversation with some of the other doctors was what made me feel a lot better about it.

And right away, right when he came out, a lactation consultant was there within two hours of him being born. They taught me the angel hold. So the angel hold or the dancer hold, sorry. The dancer holds is something that works really well for kids with low tone, especially the down syndrome because Owen’s tongue us 50% larger than a typical baby’s tongue.

So with that, it makes it a little bit difficult to transfer milk. So we were able to get some good latches in the beginning and we still, we still try very, very often.

Heather: That’s awesome. Yeah. I’ve actually seen a lot of down syndrome babies as well as cleft palette babies do better on the breast. And it depends because it’s, it’s a broad spectrum of the different symptoms that you have to deal with when breastfeeding. But sometimes like sitting them up can really help that way their tongue isn’t falling in the back of their mouth. And I’m sure you’ve tried all of this, but just for the listeners that maybe are, you know, maybe they just got a diagnosis for downs or maybe they just had a baby and they’re trying to figure this out. Do you have any tips that you want to give them from a personal standpoint?

Abby: Yeah, just keep on trying and just keep it. If you really want to do it, just keep on trying. At 10 months now he nurses almost every time on the weekends. So I still pump once or twice on the weekends, but he’s nursing for every other part of it.

And as he gets stronger, you can nurse easier. It goes both ways. So it’s actually speech therapy. So as part of our speech therapy, we nurse during those sessions, because he’s able to get stronger and work all of those muscles in his little mouth to help with speech, to help with other muscle strength as we go down the line as we go down the line here.

So just keep on trying. You mentioned the upright and that’s something that I don’t think I’ve heard of that one before, but I do nurse him while he’s in the baby carrier often now. And he seems to do great with that. So now I’m figuring that out.

Heather: You did it! Naturally, there we go. What a beautiful gift that you’re giving him and also to our listeners. I think that, you know, we should dedicate an entire episode to that. Let’s do it. So put on the list. So thank you for bringing that to light for us. We definitely want to be able to serve people that are, you know, meeting different challenges along the way. So, many parents, including Maureen and myself, we were just talking about this this morning, actually feel absolutely crushed by unmet expectations.

Whether this is like with partners, just postpartum reality, our bodies, like what we expect from our bodies is ridiculous. And I know you guys talk about that a lot on your podcast, but things are so freaking hard postpartum. So we’re just wondering, did the reality of breastfeeding line up with your expectations? You know, I know you read all the books, Abby, but Amy, did you have any experiences?

Amy: I I’m like completely opposite of Abby, so I didn’t read a single sentence about breastfeeding before I did it, which was not probably the best choice, but totally aligns with my personality. My sister had a baby about five months before I did, her first, and breastfeeding was so simple for her.

So it was a breeze. I mean, she didn’t even have any nipple pain or anything. So I was like, oh, I, I think that’s okay. I think this is going to be natural. And I actually had a horrible first breastfeeding experience. I have inverted nipples on both sides, left much worse than right. And then my first baby had a tongue tie, which was not even on my radar.

I didn’t even know any of this language to be really quite honest. Like I had never heard of a tongue tie at all. But I worked, one thing that I am good at is advocating for myself and getting help when I need it. So I was working so closely with our lactation team, but all of that, to say that it was nothing like I expected. I thought it was going to be natural.

I thought it was going to be easy. I thought it was going be like fine. I had no idea. So the lactation team really did save our breastfeeding life. I needed them. I needed them. The lactation consultant was the first one to see his tongue tie and, and say like, I think that you should get this looked at.

I think this is part of the problem because as you guys know, and I had no idea. Tongue tie and an inverted nipple, that combination is just really, really hard. I had a wound on my breast. It was just horrible. So that brought on, I would cry every time he latched. It was. And then I had this anxiety when the feed was coming, I was so anxious.

So yeah, just to say it went nothing like I thought it was going to, and for my husband too, having this wife that was crying at every latch. Neither of us understood how often newborn babies feed. Like that was just, that wasn’t even on my radar. So it was like a cannonball into parenthood and breastfeeding was the hardest part of that for me.

You know, hopefully it’ll go better for all.

Maureen: Most of our listeners are the people who didn’t or it’s not going the way they thought it would because they’re here listening to the podcast, trying to get tips on how to make it better.

Heather: Yeah. And I will say though, you know, it was hard for me to not be like, let me see your nipples. So what if we like, what’s going on? But just so listeners know, I do not ever tell people they have inverted nipples until it’s a problem.

Maureen: Cause sometimes it’s not.

Heather: Sometimes it’s not. So

Amy: Yeah. I would like whip out my left nipple for you guys to look out right now. It’s like, I knew my whole life. It’s like I could see other women’s nipples and like mine especially on the left side, it’s like completely sucked in. It’s always been that way. So that was on my radar, but my nurses were great. They were like you can do this. Like people can definitely nurse with us. So I had the support right away and worked with a lactation consultant from day one. I’m like, I am the person that’s like, just tell me, just help me.

I’ll do whatever you tell me to do. So it’s so great to be open to the support, especially if you have something like an inverted nipple, and you’re nervous about that to just open yourself up and be like, just tell me what to do. I will take any tips.

Heather: Well, Amy, thank God you’re an advocate for yourself because I think, and I’m sure you can attest to this and your listeners as well, but we spend so much of our lives growing up, not appreciating our bodies are talking nicely to our bodies, especially our breasts. Like, is there a good breast? You know, like when you’re fourteen and I think everyone is so awkward about their boobs.

Maureen: I think everyone stands topless in front of the mirror during puberty, like poking at their chest, being like, what the fuck is happening? Is this supposed to be like this? Like do my nipples look like hers?

Heather: Is this desirable? Is this going to work for what it needs to do?

Maureen: And like, I don’t know if we stop that process unless we intentionally do it. You know, like so many people find themselves a 20-year-old, a 25-year-old still being like, oh, well, if I just wear this bra with pads in it, maybe they would look more like I want them to in this dress.

Heather: For sure. And then you have like one latching problem, then you’re like, I knew it. I knew these boobs wouldn’t be able to do it. I’ve known for 20 years.

Amy: Yeah, exactly. And inverted nipples, like I don’t hear people talk about that. I don’t know if it is because, well, I don’t know how common it is, but then it’s also like, I dunno. People don’t talk about their nipples. And for me, I mean, to this day, like my husband is always like trying to go, I’m done breastfeeding.

He’s trying to go after my nipples. And I’m like, I just don’t like you sucking on that one. Like, it’s just truly not my thing. I don’t know. So that’s even, even, even my husband, I’m like, please just don’t touch that inverted nipple.

Heather: I’m with you. I would rather my husband like tenderly kiss my inner wrist, then play with my boobs. It’s just not my thing.

Amy: And Abby loves nipple play, so yeah. We’re getting off topic.

Maureen: Oh, it’s, it’s not off topic for us at all.

Amy: People have preferences, you have different bodies, different things feel good to you or different things are a challenge.

Maureen: Yeah. And I honestly, I think a lot of that can tie into then how, how you feel while breastfeeding. You know, if you’re someone who you actually do, like nipple play, you like your nipple stimulation, you feel comfortable having your breasts touched, you might have a really different experience breastfeeding versus someone who has a bit of an aversion with that. And then suddenly they’re being touched all of the time in a place they do not like.

Heather: Yeah. That’s true. Yeah.

Amy: I was just going to say quick. I think there’s different, like sensations too. Like, I mean, when my kids bit my nipple, of course it wasn’t, I wasn’t happy about it, but I was like, I seriously think they’re desensitized.

Like, they’re just not as sensitive as other people’s nipples, whereas Abby’s are like super sensitive and so she feels things different than me. Where I’m like, I didn’t even feel, I didn’t. I honestly never even felt let down, like my boobs would just start spraying milk and that was the end of that. I’m like, I have like these robotic inverted boobs.

Abby: They’re just for business. Right. Just, but I think that’s also one of the reasons why I do love the nursing so much and like taking the time, especially with Owen and it takes so long to nurse them right now that we can only do it on the weekends because of his low tone. But I don’t mind it. Like that, those are some of my favorite moments because we can just sit there and nurse, and I can be touched and held and bonded in this certain way where with other women it’s like, Can we get done with this?

Like let’s get in and get out and get on with our day. So just even that preference going into breastfeeding can make all the difference depending on who you are, how you grew up and what your preferences are.

Heather: Yeah. And all of it’s good. Yeah, always good. People come to us and they want like these concrete, black and white answers. And we’re like bad news, all of breastfeeding and birth is a gray area and you’re probably fine. And let me give you some data to back it up if you’re a data person, but if not, I’m just going to give you a hug, here’s a smile.

Abby: And as somebody who likes the data, I did all the analytics on my friends, on my coworkers. Like, what does this, is this how it’s supposed to be? Is this what it’s supposed to do? And then finally, I just had to stay in my own lane. Like, you know what? This is going to be a journey that’s going to look different than everyone else’s. It’s going to feel different than everyone else’s. The length of time doesn’t matter. What’s going to work best for me and this baby? And that this baby thing is huge because every single one of the breastfeeding journeys has been different, even though it’s the same mom. So that’s also another piece to really pull in here.

Heather: Yeah. And that’s also another ticket to let go of any mom shame that you might feel. Because, you know, if you just think about what Abby just said, three different babies, same mom. Like you’re the common denominator and it was fine each time, but different. And it’s the baby that made it different. Yeah. So blame your baby, the takeaway here. So what are you guys most proud of with these different journeys that you’ve been on and through, through it all. Through the businesses, through the relationships, you know. Breastfeeding kind of is a common thread through all of those things. So what are you most proud of?

Amy: I can go first. The thing for me, and I just told you guys about my inverted nipples and then my, like, there’s like a crater in my right breast from just such a tough beginning, is that we made it through it. Like we made it through it together. And I think it translates to life. Like there’s going to be these really hard challenges and times where you’re like, I don’t know if I can do this. The quote about don’t quit on a bad day like really stuck out to me in the beginning because you have these times in breastfeeding where things are challenging.

I mean, I remember being at work as a nurse, having such a busy shift and realizing I had forgot a pump part and I just burst into tears. And I’m like this isn’t the day to like stop pumping or quit breastfeeding, but it is okay that these are really challenging days. And then to saver those good days, because we all have those good days too, where you’re just looking down at your baby and they’re crossing their feet as they’re nursing and it’s the sweetest like cuddle session ever. So as is life, it’s like, there’s so many ebbs and flows in a breastfeeding journey and making it through the challenge made our good moments even sweeter.

Heather: I love that.

Abby: I love that answer. And hearing Amy’s story. I was with her on one of those first, first trips that we ever took together when it was just a walk. Just like a couple mile walk. And I remember hearing that the struggles that she was going through when her baby was two weeks old and my first baby was like 12 weeks old. And just how much further you’ve been able to go with this. And it does, it just correlates to life so much. And I would add on to it by saying, this is for all the people out there who love to control.

So those who like control, they like a type A plan. I am that person. And this last year has thrown us for a loop, right? Like we’ve had a lot of changes, had to make a lot of pivots. And with our third baby and our breastfeeding journey or lack of breastfeeding journey, I’m really, really proud of how I’ve been able to use the pivots for growth and learning and just keep on going forward instead of throwing my hands in the air, getting really frustrated and blaming the entire world. It happened with our podcast too. And you guys may have noticed it in the podcast world or just in this space of, with a pandemic and women, mothers are busy.

So when do they listen to podcasts? They listen when they are out for walks alone, when they were commuting to work, they listen on a workout. And some of the biggest things that changed for women in this last year was not having as big of a commute, not being able to work out alone, not having any time alone.

So being able to bend and pivot and just learn with our audience and grow as a community and figure out the ways that we can still support our community, that was another, just another way to kind of really pull it full circle.

Heather: Yeah. So you’re like proud of not only being able to breastfeed Owen, but all the things that you’ve accomplished while breastfeeding. And I think that’s important too, because the breastfeeding journey itself doesn’t have to be the only thing that fulfills you like, oh, I love breastfeeding and it’s great. And that is great. But like you did it and all these other things. And that’s okay. I think people need to know that you don’t have to enjoy it per se. For some people, it is truly work. And you can do it and be proud of it, but also be really excited about the other stuff you’re doing too.

Abby: Especially pumping, exclusively pumping, that’s work. Like that is straight work.

Maureen: It’s a full-time job.

Abby: Started on day nine. I think he was nine days old. He wasn’t transferring milk. So that’s where we figured out. We got that really scary failure to thrive status placed on him.

Maureen: That phrase is the worst. Can we like, I, we need to change that. It is the worst.

Abby: Just take it out of the vocabulary because it doesn’t make anybody feel good. Staring at those words. It’s just, I can still feel how terrible I felt. And I knew I was going to do anything to feed my child, but exclusively pumping, waking up every two to three hours around the clock for months, like that’s straight work. And that is not something that I wanted to do. Especially as somebody who loved breastfeeding so much.

Heather: Yeah. I personally think that there should be extra accommodations for exclusive pumpers. Statistically speaking, there are so many more challenges physically. Like you’re, you’re more at risk for mastitis, clogged ducts, postpartum depression, like all of these different things. Sleep deprivation lower quality sleep. So like, why are we just putting everyone in the same box? You everyone gets six weeks of abysmal parental leave, everyone.

Maureen: All right. So, I think, I think you guys are in a really good position to answer this question before. You know that pretty much every parent and all of our listeners struggle with guilt. Particularly our listeners are constantly in this struggle about like, is breastfeeding right? Should I formula feed? Is formula feeding right? You know that horrible cycle, but how do you guys grapple with the guilt that comes with parenting and, and how have you found ways to, you know, ways around that in your journey as parents?

Amy: I think for me, it’s really thinking about how you would talk to your best friend. So often if our friends are going through something that’s really hard, we’re really great listeners. We soften our voice when we, when we say like, Abby, you’re just so kind to them. And then when it’s yourself, you’re, you’re so much more judgmental of yourself and what you’re going through. And so I really tried to think of it as like, how would I treat a friend that was going through this and I think automatically should soften the tone that you talk to yourself with.

That’s one way that I have really found work cause all of us, right? Like all of us grapple with mom guilt and, and for me too, I just understand I’m human. I’m not perfect. I cannot be a perfect mom. There’s no way that that’s going to work. And I am raising these three little boys who are also imperfect humans. So if I am teaching them to be hard on themselves every time they make a mistake, I truly feel like I’m doing a disservice to them.

Rather, I would want to show them that we need self-compassion as we grow. And even when you’re an adult, you’re going to make mistakes or you’re going to have bad days, or you’re going to wish you would have handled that toddler tantrum better. But to show, always show yourself the same compassion that you would show a friend.

Heather: That’s good advice, except Maureen’s my best friend and she doesn’t talk to me like that. She’s like, yeah life is hard. Kidding.

Amy: You need the tough love once in a while, you need the tough love once in a while.

Heather: That’s true.

Abby: Yeah. I would add on to that. And this is just a metaphor for life too, about how different everyone’s journeys are, but her journey, the person that you’re trying to compare yourself to, where that guilt may be stemming from, she has a great journey. Her journey is beautiful. Her journey may be perfect, or she may be working on it and not sharing the behind the scenes, but that one’s for her. And guess what? Your journey is also beautiful and full of growth and full of learning and maybe imperfect and you’re not sharing all of those, but that is also your journey.

So when we can really learn to embrace it as ours and embrace it as something that this is for us, we have changes over our capacity, over our actions, over our behaviors and go forward that way. It just makes us not look left and right, and just really focus on what lies ahead.

Heather: Abby have you had to work on that?

Abby: So much.

Heather: Cause I’m hearing that

Maureen: Heather’s like, yeah, I could definitely not do that.

Heather: I mean, I would say that we’re kind of in similar camps with like, we love the data and we, we prep with reading. I mean, I’ve done, I did that. And I hear you. And I think that I am so guilty of thinking about the next step and not enjoying necessarily where I’m at.

And then in that same moment, being really, really hard on myself when things aren’t perfect, the exact way I want. Like, I was actually irritated it was thundering about 15 minutes ago. I was like, are you kidding me? It’s not normal. So yeah. Like who do you guys have mentors? Of course. I mean, Abby, I mean, I’m going to direct this question at you just, and put you on the spot just because, you know, I’m, I’m vibing with what you just said, but like, do you have mentors that you go to be like help me. 

Abby:  I do for sure. Because we can make the picture-perfect plan and then life happens and it changes completely. And Heather, you may resonate with this, but like before kids, before having a partner, things went well, a lot of the time, like

Maureen: They went how you planned.

Abby: They went how you planned, besides the weather. They kind of went how you planned and then you add a husband or a partner into the mix and things get a little bit off kilter. And then you add one kid into the mix and things change a lot. And now three kids in, and I can make a plan and have it be changed literally the same second that I’m making it.

But when I think about the mentors in my life, they look different depending on what I’m going through. So just like how I wouldn’t go to the same restaurant if I wanted something quick, as well as a sit-down super fancy meal, I’m not going to go to the same friend or mentor for the same issue. I do like to look at somebody who has done what I’m struggling with that’s just one step ahead though. Not somebody who’s at the finish line, not somebody who’s hit that goal that I’m trying to get to, but somebody who is just one step ahead, her hand is reached out to mine, ready to take me along with her. Those are the people that I find being the best mentors. And those are the people who we, Amy and I, try to be during the podcast, on our Instagram account and just really as human beings.

Heather: That’s great and very important. Sometimes hard to find, but for, you know, I just want to encourage listeners be like Amy. Advocate for yourself. You know, if you can’t find that person get on Facebook and be like, Hey, random group of moms in my area, do you know where I can find this person? This is what I’m looking for. And don’t stop until you find it because when you stop, that’s when you end up sitting on your couch, crying and watching reruns of criminal minds, I’ve heard.

Abby: The online space is so great too, because you have thousands and thousands of thousands of women on one platform. Where in a community, you can look at your neighbors and not see anybody that’s jiving with you, but you can really find so much warrant when you’re looking at the online space.

Heather: Yeah, for sure. What about you, Amy?

Amy: It’s interesting what you guys are saying right now, because I kind of take the opposite approach, which will shock nobody because Abby and I are often like opposite perspectives and people. Cause I was going to say for me, the most supportive people that I know are offline.

So I always like to find someone that that is going through a similar life experience. So for example, this morning, I’m texting with this mom that is my oldest child’s best friend. I met her through daycare. I wrote her a holiday note and said, would you guys want to come over for a meal? Because I can see our kids get along super well.

And so ever since then, we’ve, we’ve made a close friendship because we’re going like this morning when both of our kids are doing this new experience for the first time, like we really connect on that and she can really support me. And she reminds me of things that I would forget otherwise, and I can do the same for her.

So I love to look for like this real connection of someone that’s going through something similar. And I know, especially with the pandemic, as we were chatting about a little bit before we got started, that was super hard. I think that is one reason why the moms of this pandemic really suffered because they didn’t have that, like in-person connection that I think we need as humans. I exist a lot on the online space, but I have the best friends and the best support system offline.

Heather: That’s awesome. I’m pretty lucky. I have a neighborhood full of people that are always outside and we’re all very different, but actually I would say even the guys who are, you know, late forties, they would totally help me out.

If I was like, I am in a situation, I am crying. It’s about breastfeeding or whatever it is, they’d be like, I don’t know how to help you, but I will be over with a beer shortly.

Maureen: We’re very lucky in our neighbors too. Funny enough. It’s I don’t know if it’s like a thing about where we live or if there’s just like an expectation that if you live near someone, you have to help them?

Amy: Wait, where do you guys live?

Maureen: In West Virginia. Yeah, but I mean, I was talking, you know, my neighbor has a daughter a year younger than my son, and then just had a son a month before I did, I had Lyra. So we have kids really close in age and I was just talking to her and she’s having trouble pumping at work. And I was like, well I have a freezer full of milk.

So, you know, when Jessie’s at home with the baby and he runs out, just have them come over. The deep freezers in the back, the doors open, like.

Amy: No. And it, it truly is. We, we interviewed a friendship expert on our podcast and it was a really interesting interview cause I think like today in age we can kind of lose that neighborly, you know, sense of community. But I am the girl that is like still borrowing a cup of sugar and I’m not even making a joke. Like that actually happened. So my neighbor, because I think I’ve got three kids. I can’t just run out to the grocery store any, any time I want. You know, like it really does take a village. And I know that’s so hard to hear for people that haven’t built theirs yet, but it truly was me like introducing myself to the neighbors and like, you know, making these connections and kind of it is putting yourself out there a little bit. But I think it’s so worth it. When you know that you have a couple people around you that you can depend on. It makes a big difference.

Heather: That’s so important. And if they don’t have any of that and they live in the middle of nowhere, at least they’ll still have your podcast and The Milk Minute. Yeah. Well, you know, one of our major tenets that we go by here at The Milk Minute is that we drop all judgment. Like we’ve talked about alcoholism and smoking and breastfeeding, all of those different things. And we really encourage people to drop any shame, especially as they’re trying to troubleshoot issues or going through big life changes.

So what advice do you have for listeners for them to be their true selves? I know your podcast is about being HERself, like your own journey. So what advice do you give your listeners that you can give ours about being their true self and dropping that shame?

Abby: When I think about this one, I think about the advice that I would have given myself five years ago, one year ago, yesterday. Like the things that I struggle with are usually the pieces of information that I want to be able to give to people, because I know if I’m struggling, there’s another woman out there who is definitely is. And she either isn’t saying it or she is, it feels so heavy that she’s not even able to figure out that that’s the issue that she has in her mind.

And I was told this early in our diagnosis journey actually, and it has stuck with me. It is something that I think about often, but it’s just think about today. Like, just think about today, maybe tomorrow, but just think about the minutes right now. And things don’t feel as heavy. It’s when you think about the surgeries up ahead, or how long will this breastfeeding journey last or will my child be able to do this?

What will the other kids think? When you start to think about all the factors that go into it, life can feel really, really hard. But then you just think about today and you’re looking at your child and you are bottle feeding that baby, you are grabbing formula that works perfectly with his or her stomach.

You are pumping like crazy. You are nursing, whatever role you’re doing; you’re doing it for that child. And it feels really good in that very moment. So just as a reminder to slow down, stand by where you are today and it makes things feel a lot less heavy.

Heather: I love that. Thank you,

Abby: Baby agrees, right? Yeah.

Amy: That was it. That was a very deep answer. I, I liked it. I liked that. I was gonna say I was, when I was a nurse, I was walking in a stairwell and there were about five women in front of me. They did not know I was behind them. And they were probably like 50 years old. They just got done playing tennis and they were talking about what they wish they would’ve known like earlier in life.

And one of them was like, I just wish if I could go back I would have cared less about what other people thought. They were like, I figured that out in my forties, but I just spent my twenties and thirties just worrying about what everyone else thought and what everyone else thought I should be doing.

And I was like, okay. I just got the golden ticket of life. Cause at the time I think I was 30. And I’m like, if these women are saying, this is the one thing that they would go back and change, why don’t I just do that now? That was like a moment where I was like, okay, I’m going to like really chill on trying to keep up.

You know, I think especially in Instagram you can like constantly be like, okay, everyone’s wearing this now, and everyone’s doing this and they’re buying this and whatever, and I’ve really embraced like, I am who I am. Like I drink Costco wine and Folgers and I’m not fancy. And that’s who I am. And I’m not trying to be someone that I’m not.

And I think that translates to parenting so, so well. When you just give yourself permission to be like, I have certain strengths in motherhood that I own. I have those. And there’s things that I’m really not that good at. Like there’s things in motherhood I’m not the best at. That’s just the way of life.

I, I truly believe that it’s like, once you let go of the, you’re not going to be the best at everything. No one is, but I think women really forget to remind themselves like what they, what they are actually good at.

Heather: You know, that reminds me of Goodwill Hunting, where Robin Williams is talking about his wife and how she used to fart in her sleep. And they’re all cracking up and then he gets serious and he says, but that’s the stuff you miss the most. It’s the stuff that you feel like is imperfect. You know, that’s the stuff that makes you you. So if you’re just messing up all day long, I totally love that. You know, just remember that that’s the stuff that makes you perfect right now.

Maureen: Well, Amy and Abby, can you tell our listeners how they can find you, how they can listen to you?

Abby: Yes. If you go to HERself Podcast, either on Spotify or Apple or wherever you listen to podcasts, it’s just HERself Podcast. And then we also have an Instagram account @HERselfPodcast. My personal Instagram account is @AbbyRoseGreen.

So ABB Y Rose Green, like the color, and then Amy’s over at @amesKiefer.

Heather: Guys, their Instagrams are, are so beautiful. I can’t even tell you. I’ve been in preparation for the interview I kind of got sucked down a rabbit hole of your cute Owen pictures. I was like this guy, so cute.

Abby: Oh, he’s great. He’s so great. He’s just angelic. Like you look at him and even when I’m bringing him, cause now we’re finally out in the world a little bit more and he’s met people for the first time ever. He has this glow about them. It’s really not so scary. Down syndrome was super scary for a while and now it’s just not.

Heather: Totally, totally. And that really does shine through your Instagram. So everybody go check them out and please go listen to HERself Podcast. Amy and Abby, thank you so much for coming today. I really feel like we were just chatting with friends instead of interviewing podcast experts on being herself, but you are both. So thank you so much for being here and chatting with me and Maureen.

Amy: Thank you guys so much.

Abby: This was fun.

Maureen: Yeah.

Heather: All right. Take care of you guys.

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All right, Maureen, today, I’m going to give this award to Chelsea Mannion. Tell me about her. She’s in our breastfeeding group. And she says this week I started my lactation courses. I won’t be able to be a lactation consultant until I’m done with nursing school, but I wanted to get some education under my belt.

I will be a certified breastfeeding specialist, which I’m hoping will help me work under an IB CLC so I can get some field experience. When I’m done with this course, I’ll have over half of my lactation specific hours completed. Wow. That’s amazing. Chelsea, we need more of you please. More of you and only advice is to not rush and stress yourself out. I have been in nursing school before and I teach nursing students. And I want you to understand that you do not have to do it all right now, but I cannot wait to see what you do in your career. It’s going to be awesome.

Maureen: And let’s see, where can it give you? Maybe the go getter award.

Heather: Oh yeah. Chelsea, you get the go getter award because who does this? Nursing school and trying to get your certified breastfeeding specialist at the same time. I mean, I’m impressed.

Maureen: Oh yeah, me too. We’re super impressed. Congratulations. And don’t stress yourself out too much.

Heather: Yeah. We’re here for you. If you need anything. Best of luck. All right.

Maureen: Well, thanks for listening to today’s episode. Before we go. I wanted to thank a patron quickly. We have some new patrons on our Patreon. It’s very exciting. So thank you today to Stephanie from Indiana. Whoop whoop, Stephanie, she’s got her merch on the way, and she’s got access to insider videos that nobody else gets to see. And if you want to be a patron, you can go to All right. See you next time, everybody.

Heather: Toodly do.

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