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Ep. 207 – Unlocking Better Sleep for Parents and Babies: A Holistic Approach with Kim Hawley

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*We apologize for any typos, misspellings or incorrect grammar. Our transcript is auto-generated by software that’s trying its best, just like all of us.*

Maureen: Hey everybody, welcome back to the Milk Minute. We are so excited to welcome Kim Hawley to the podcast today. She is a holistic sleep coach, but in addition, she has an MA, MPH, and an IBCLC, and this combination is just our favorite thing.

So she is also the host of the Responsive Family Sleep Podcast, and she helps tired parents bring together developmental knowledge, sleep science, and their intuition to improve their whole family’s sleep. Her specialty is holistic responsive sleep support for babies, toddlers, and nursing families. She lives in Capitol Hill, and I was like, just there recently, I should have stopped by in Washington, D. C. with her husband. Two kids, her guide dog and cat. She loves running, listening to audio books, coffee, chocolate, and wine. And we are going to be best friends. 

Heather: . I, I also had Maureen read this intro just now because I’m tired because my baby has been waking up a little bit more overnight because we’re about to hit four months.

And she’s just, I mean, happy as a little clam, but she doesn’t understand I have to work the next day. So yeah, I tried to read that intro and I was like, you know what, I, I can’t find words. So, anyway very timely that she’s coming on the podcast. We’re not going to talk about my baby today because we really want to make sure that we get all of the information that we’re trying to get from her to clarify a lot of the crap that you all hear on the internet about sleep.

And we are so excited that she’s coming on today. 

Maureen: Absolutely. Before we get into it, we’re going to thank a couple patrons and read a question. 

Heather: Okay, today we would like to thank our new patrons, Erica McLean and Stacy Piercy or Percy, and I’m sorry, I’m not sure which one it is, but we are super happy to have you in our Patreon and we hope you enjoy all of our behind the scenes content.

Maureen: So our question today is actually from a patron as well. This is from Julianne, and she was writing in about her 16 week old named Autumn. She says that Autumn still wakes up every two hours like clockwork to eat, and some of her family members thought it was because she is breastfed instead of formula fed, and that breast milk is not as filling as formula.

So they mentioned trying rice cereal but she listened to our episode and she’s not going to move forward with that. And she’s inclined to assume it’s a case of every baby’s different but is wondering if formula fed babies do sleep longer sooner. 

Heather: The research says no that I’ve read. 

Maureen: Yeah, same.

Okay. Well, you know what? And there are a couple articles I’ve read that were like, yes, it does. And when you look at the results, it’s like they sleep five minutes longer. You’re like, you know what? That’s not a significant finding. Thank you for 

Heather: that. Right. And you also have to look at the risk benefit. So if the benefit is an extra five to 15 minutes of sleep, but the risk is that you’re giving your baby formula, which has, you know, You know, some other things in it that aren’t as wonderful for your baby as breast milk formula is still fine.

Maureen: But if you’re and if you’re already happy feeding, right, if like you have a perfectly healthy breastfeeding relationship and the risks of completely changing your baby’s feeding to bottles and formula and all of that, and like that, that’s just not worth it for possibly an extra couple minutes of sleep, which is, in research, that is a negligible finding.

Right. And truly, the better studies we’ve seen show no discernible difference. 

Heather: So that’s my feelings on that. But of course, You know, reach out to a sleep consultant or one of us. We’re happy. Like the one we’re interviewing today. Yeah. Why don’t you listen to this episode and then see what there is to see and who you should be calling.

But thank you so much for that question. Let’s take a quick break to thank a sponsor. And when we get back, we’re going to dive right into our interview with Kim

Maureen: Heather. I had a rumor that your business 

Heather: is changing. It is. We are actually expanding exponentially. Well, tell 

Maureen: me about it, because I think I’m ready to jump ship from my current primary care provider. 

Heather: Okay, so we still offer lactation, that is always going to be one of our main aspects of the business.

But now you can establish primary care here, we do sick visits, we do problem visits, GYN. Basically, if you’re a woman and you have something going on that you need help with, we can help you. And that even includes some hormone replacement therapy. We’re even going to be doing the bioidentical hormones.

We’re going to do IV therapy. So if you have a hangover or if you have a migraine, we can do all of that in house, which is super exciting. And probably the most exciting part is that we’re taking all of the insurances, including Medicaid. Have you 

Maureen: welcomed new staff members to help you guys with this 

Heather: change?

Oh yes, we have. So we have Sarah Woods, who is a family nurse practitioner, and she is also certified in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, so she is a wonderful asset to the team. We are also looking at hiring a pelvic floor PT, and we are kind of in the process of that a little bit right now, possibly maybe.

And there’s of course me, I’m going to be doing lactation and Some GYN stuff. Ah, returning to your full scope. Yes. I’m super excited about that. And then we still have Meredith who’s going to be helping with lactation. So the three of us right now are going to be doing all of it. But as soon as we start getting full, we have people lined up, actually, who are trying to get a job here.

I just need a minute. 

Maureen: So. If I wanted to transfer over for gyno care or primary care, how would I do that? 

Heather: You would just call 304 212 5663 and that will be in our show notes and you can schedule an appointment on the phone or you can do it directly online at it’s still breastfeeding for busy moms dot com and there’s a online intake form that you can fill out.

Maureen: Well, I’m really excited to see what new adventures await you at Busy Moms Healthcare. Everybody head on down to 10, 000 Coombs Farm Road in Morgantown, West Virginia to check 

Heather: it out. Alright everyone, Busy Moms Healthcare, where women always come first.

Maureen: Welcome back everybody. We are here with Kim Hawley. Kim, welcome to the Milk Minute Podcast. 

Kim Hawley: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here. 

Maureen: So, we have honestly been wanting to talk about sleep on this podcast forever, because Heather and I are like the opposite of experts on it. So, let’s start from the beginning. How did you become a sleep consultant, and why?

Like, what drove you to do that? 

Kim Hawley: Honestly, I, I became a sleep coach by accident. Really and truly. It was never my goal. My background is actually in maternal and child public health and cultural anthropology. And I was working on an infant mortality reduction program when my oldest was born. And like many, many parents, I did not prepare for what sleep was going to look like at all.

Besides like AAP guidelines. Like, I, I mean, you know. Did that all the time in work. But you know, I prepared tons for birth and I sort of prepared for lactation though. My mom also was a little itchy with leader. So I was also kind of like, eh, she’s going to be here. I’m fine. Whatever. It’ll be fine. And then I, you know, my baby was here and two things.

One, I hit four months and four months sleep regression. I was just like, What the actual heck is happening here? Like, I don’t have any clue what this is supposed to look like. Is this normal? Is this not normal? Like, why is my baby not sleeping all of a sudden? Why can’t I put them down? Like, what in the world?

And so I realized that I had absolutely no idea what sleep was supposed to look like. Like, not even like, what could I do to fix it? But I had no idea. And the other piece was that everyone around me was sleep training, and it really felt wrong to me, personally. And so I was like, is there no other options out there?

Is like, is this what the entirety of America does? Because I know it’s not what the whole globe does. And so it was actually a lactation consultant who was seeing me when I was back at school for bottle refusal issues, because he would not take a bottle while I was at work. And we were talking about how tired I was in sleep and she’s actually the one that started me like looking at the right research and resources and then I was just like, wow, there’s so much out here.

And eventually that led me to stumble on a certification that looked at sleep from a biological and, you know, attachment based perspective. And I was like, Oh my God, this is so cool. And so I took it and I kind of fell in love with it. And I went from there. 

Heather: Can you explain a little bit more about attachment, you know, so the idea of that, because even that word insinuates that there’s a polar opposite of that, which is how people are training.

So like the cry it out. So it’s like you’re either attached to your kid or you cry it out. And so help, help us understand why you chose that particular program, how you even found a program that aligned with your philosophy. 

Kim Hawley: Yeah. So attachment. I think a lot of people think of, like, attachment parenting, but that’s not actually what I mean by attachment.

I mean, like, attachment theory, as in this idea that the early years are a sensitive period for how the brain is wiring itself, how the body is, you know, genes are being expressed, our stress system, like, all these things are developing in the early years. And attachment is this idea that our primary caregiving relationships shape that process, right?

So we have genetics, but then we also have our environment, our relationships, and our experiences. And we know from decades of research, right, from developmental psychology, but also now from like neuroscience kind of side of things, that sensitive, warm, and responsive caregiving sets up for the best foundation for development to unfold and like long term for things like mental health and resiliency and being like, you know, An independent adult that can have good, healthy relationships.

The foundation for that actually comes in infancy and toddlerhood. And, you know, continues throughout childhood. It’s not like a static thing, but that’s the foundation. And so, attachment based is looking at sleep from that biological and developmental standpoint, but it’s also about using strategies that are responsive and more connection based rather than if you think of the other end of the extreme is like cried out, that’s more about separation and withdrawing support to change behaviors.

Attachment is more about based strategies are more about connection and meeting the kiddo where they’re at to support sleep. And then there’s a whole bunch in between, right? Those are two ends of a spectrum. 

Heather: Okay. Well, that definitely helps me to understand it. And I just, out of curiosity, because you said you were really looking at good research.

You know, you had a mentor that was like, this is the research you need to be looking at. I feel like there’s so, moms are so smart. And you know this, and everybody goes on the internet and has access to a lot of different types of research, and I feel like the research on sleep is overwhelming to me, and I think Maureen feels this way too, anytime we’ve tried to dabble in this, where it’s like, you could basically find research that points either direction.

So like, how do you find the research that supports this? You know, how do you find it and know that it’s quality? 

Kim Hawley: Yeah, I think the quality piece there is one, right? A lot of the research is actually poor quality. And so we have to be very careful about what it is saying and how we can generalize it.

Right? And this is really true on a whole range of research, but a lot of the research people like to throw around with sleep training when you actually dig down and look at it with a critical eye, which your average person isn’t taught how to break down a study. Like I’m not saying either of you two, but like your average parent who’s very intelligent doesn’t necessarily know how to break down a study critically.

Like that’s something like that I learned in grad school, right? And we have to look at the context, like what, okay, this, so to improve sleep, but by what percentage by 20 minutes, is that meaningful for a parent that you got 20 minutes more sleep or 1 percent improvement, or the longest sleep stretch was like 20 minutes longer, or the total sleep was 20 minutes longer, or they woke.

Like teensy bit less. So you have to look at like, is this meaningful? Is the research done? Are they doing the appropriate tests? Is it actually generalizable? But with sleep, I also think it’s important that we don’t just look at sleep, we look at what we know about child development more broadly, because It’s convenient to chunk off sleep like it’s a separate thing, like, but it’s not actually how it, how it works.

So for me this lactation consultant, whose name I don’t even remember. I just remember she was so amazing. And we had one, like, 20 minute impromptu session. A pediatrician pulled her in. She wasn’t even supposed to be seeing with me. I had the best pediatrician at the time. And she put me on to James McKenna’s research.

He’s one of the leading maternal infant researchers. sleep researchers in the U. S. and Helen Ball’s research and she’s a researcher out of the U. K. Who does a lot of maternal infant sleep stuff. And they’re both biological anthropologists, which is why, of course, I was like, Oh, I love this. Because it was my zone, right?

It was my kind of research. But from that, I started to find more of the research that was, like, population based. You know, like, how many times a night are babies waking? Well, you know, what are they defining sleeping through the night? And that sort of research kind of went from there. 

Maureen: Right, so you started off in this sleep area, were you already an IBCLC?

Did you become one after? When did that come in? 

Kim Hawley: Yeah, so I actually started off as a La Leche League leader, and I mean I still am, and also got my like lactation counselor certification through UC San Diego Extension. And I want to teach breastfeeding classes, and this came about from quitting my full time job when my oldest was nine months because I just.

All sorts of things were happening, but I wasn’t happy and we couldn’t find the right balance. So I was like, why am I paying for daycare when I’m not bringing home enough to be doing something that I don’t like, right? That I’m not happy with. We also didn’t want to just stay home. Like I wanted to do something and I wanted to work more directly with people.

Rather than overseeing grantee budgets, and so that was part of it. I was like, I went to school to do stuff with moms and babies, and I’m literally sitting here and staring at spreadsheets, which doesn’t play to my strengths, and I hate it. And so, I So I started out in lactation in that way, and I actually became a sleep coach first, and then got my IBCLC later.

But I started out in the peer, the peer support realm of lactation. 

Heather: That’s really interesting, because I, I would have thought it’d be the other way around, just because of my bias experience, where I’m like, I’m gonna be a lactation consultant, and then half my appointments have a sleep component, and I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m gonna have to get, a sleep certification now because I want to make sure that I’m not damaging their sleep situation with my lactation advice.

They are pretty connected. Is that what you found but in reverse? 

Kim Hawley: I mean, I became a sleep coach more out of my own frustration with the information that I was finding, right? Like, this is more like me as a parent that I was like, I’m literally only seeing cried out. All my friends who I thought would have similar parenting approaches to me And like, there’s no good information that has reasonable research citing it.

And this was, my oldest is almost 11, so this was a while ago. I think it’s harder now. I think there’s more. Noise and pressure now than there even was, you know, 11 years ago when he was a baby. And so it was really about myself and getting frustrated with what I was hearing. And that there wasn’t like, it wasn’t being presented as like, here are a range of options, do what feels right to you for your situation.

It was like, no, this is what you have to do. And I was like, well, I know that most of the world doesn’t do this. Because of that anthropology background. So obviously, we’re missing something here. There are options. And I mean, I got into lactation support because I mean, frankly, I, his birth was crappy and it, nothing went the way it was supposed to.

And lactation was the one thing that worked. And so it became a big piece of how I was parenting and Got really interested in that and so that was sort of my draw from the lactation side of things. 

Maureen: Well, now that you have this very integrated outlook of lactation and sleep together, when you look at social media and at the internet, what are the things you see most often that just really grind your gears because they’re not breastfeeding friendly or they’re not evidence based?

Kim Hawley: So much, right? I mean, I, I literally can’t follow people who, you know, on it on Instagram at this point anymore who aren’t trained similar to me because like my just makes me so angry and so frustrated And I tell that to all my clients. I’m like unfollow unfollow unfollow Once you know what path you want to do, you don’t need to see it all.

You don’t need to hear it all It’s just gonna like it just starts to affect your mental health, right? Like it’s not healthy To have people hearing messages that tell you that you’re failing and doing bad things that are you know Unhelpful. So, oh, biggest pet peeves. I think one is that the majority of the sleep information that people hear Confuses what’s biologically normal with sleep training outcomes, right?

So you hear like your baby should be sleeping 12 hours They should be sleeping through they shouldn’t need night feeds They should be able to go down drowsy, but awake and that is what healthy sleep looks like, right? But that’s not actually what healthy sleep looks like. That’s what we want babies to be sleeping like in this country So we have it backwards Right?

And that causes parents to feel like they need to change things out of fear instead of because it’s something they actually want to change. And that’s a huge problem. They don’t have informed consent. They’re not making informed choices because they can’t get the information. Right? To make informed choices.

So that’s like, that like, ugh, it drives me crazy. Like, it really is. Like, can we just all talk about what’s developmentally normal? And if you want to change that, or you want to make big shifts, great, go at it. Like, whatever, but Like, we all should be stopped talking about this is how babies actually sleep, and this is what they actually need.

And then you do what you want with that information. No judgment from me, you know, like, but the fact that that’s not how we talk about sleep drives me crazy. 

Heather: Yeah, that’s a really good point. And then so developmentally normal, then. Are you willing to define that on our show? Like, how, because that’s what everyone’s thinking.

They’re like, okay, well, my kid sleeps like in one four hour chunk and then two three hour chunks. Is that developmentally normal? And I will feel bad like leaving them without some kind of a direction. 

Kim Hawley: So, the way we think about developmental normal sleep, right, is like what, when we look at a population level, how are most babies sleeping, right?

That’s one piece. But also, what are their developmental needs at this point, right? And that’s feeding, but it’s also about co regulation and connection and support and are they meant to be really separate from us or is that just a cultural thing, which it is, right, a cultural thing. So, the vast majority of babies in the first year are going to wake several times a night.

Right? And if you look across studies, you know, older babies generally wake between one and three times a night. And that’s the bell curve, right? Like, under. And then we have our, like, sleeper through the nighters. Whatever you want to define that as, because everyone defines it differently. And then, of course, we have our frequent waking babies that are waking, you know, four plus times a night.

But if your baby is doing a four and then a three and then a two hour stretch or something like that, and waking, you know, two times, three times, that is totally normal. It does not mean that you can’t improve it. You could theoretically bring those wakings down for some babies, but it is not outside of the realm of, like, that just might be what your baby’s doing.

It depends because The other piece is that modern life is really bad for sleep for everybody, and so most of us have room to improve our sleep habits, right, because we don’t have very good sleep hygiene as a, as a whole, as a culture. And so a lot of us have space to work on that. Yeah, do you end up, 

Heather: sorry to interrupt, but do you end up like sleep training the parents a lot of times when you take clients?


Kim Hawley: I mean, I don’t even use the word sleep training, right? Because I don’t, I think it’s so, it’s so loaded, and it’s not really what I do. But I do actually do a lot of work with helping parents kind of clean up their own sleep habits. Because how well a family is sleeping is only part how often the baby is waking.

That’s only one piece, right? It’s the parent, how fast are you getting back to sleep? How good is your sleep quality? And in a two parent family, it’s how are you working together to support each other? Or is it all falling on one parent? So those are all different angles that we can work on, you know, to get everyone sleeping better.

Yeah, and 

Maureen: I think that’s where my comfort has always been in midwifery is like, okay, your baby’s sleeping the way they’re sleeping, but let’s try to help you sleep better, help you and your partner switch off in ways that get both of you more sleep, you know, and it’s a huge part of sleep health for the whole family that I feel like doesn’t help.

Get addressed in the more like popular sleep training methods that we see 

Kim Hawley: online Mm hmm because they’re just focused on getting the baby to sleep through the night independently versus like looking at the family as a system and You know balancing everyone’s needs and recognizing that You know, there are other ways to focus on healthy sleep without sort of overriding some of the needs that are very normal for a baby.

Heather: You know, before we go too far off of the Instagram topic, one thing that I see that I’m like, Oh my gosh, if too many people see this, I’m going to get inundated is the recommendation to like cram your baby full of as much breast milk as possible during the day so they will sleep through the night. And so I end up having a lot of people with perfectly normal breastfeeding journeys doing crazy things during the day to try to get their baby to sleep overnight and then it doesn’t work and they’re like, okay, I need, this is now a lactation problem.

And I’m like, whoa. I don’t think so. But let’s go through this. So what about that? Can you tell me 

Kim Hawley: about that? I mean, yes. And also alongside that, I see so many people who have supply issues because of sleep advice they’re given, right? Especially people who didn’t have a really robust and resilient supply to begin with, or have some like low storage capacity, small storage capacity, right?

And get their supply tanked. But Like, that’s, they’re not being told, right, that there is a risk of, of, of having supply issues. So I mean, babies don’t just wake for hunger. Hunger is a reason babies wake, but it’s not the only reason baby is wake, and breast milk is digested quickly, and like, there’s some loose connection to getting, An adequate amount of calories during the day and how much they wake at night, but not in a we’re going to sleep through the night kind of way, but in a, you know, sometimes babies reverse cycle if they don’t take in enough calories during the day.

They might wake more often to feed. But that doesn’t mean that if we get all their calories in during the day that they’re not going to need to feed overnight. 

Maureen: Well, I’m going to take us on a quick break, and then we’re going to come back and finish this conversation, okay? So let’s take a break, listen to a sponsor, and we’ll be right 

Kim Hawley: back.

Heather: Let’s take a quick break to thank our sponsor, Aeroflow. 

Maureen: Aeroflow is your one stop shop to get the most popular breast pumps and accessories through your insurance. 

Heather: Yeah, so don’t let your insurance go to waste. Why don’t you let Aeroflow do all the dirty work for you? You 

Maureen: never have to call your insurance when you use Aeroflow.

And they remind you when you’re eligible for free replacement parts. 

Heather: 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. You push a button and boom, they show up at your door.

Aeroflow. Thanks Aeroflow. Thank you so much. Go ahead and check out the link to Aeroflow in our show notes and order your pump through them.

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Heather: Oh, you’re allowed to look good and feel good about yourself while wearing a nursing bra? Absolutely, 

Maureen: and they offer sizes up to a 52G. Oh! 

Heather: Amazing. I’m so glad a company has finally realized that a D cup is not a large. 

Maureen: Absolutely, and I, it’s so affirming to feel included in sizing and not feel like I’m asking for too much that clothing fits my body.

Well, what else do we get? Well, if you guys follow the link in our show notes, You can use the code MILKMINUTE at checkout for free shipping on all domestic orders. 

Heather: Oh, thank you so much, Dairy Fairy. 

Maureen: Absolutely. Once again, that’s the link in our show notes, and use the code MILKMINUTE for free shipping on all domestic orders.

All right, we’re back. Let’s keep talking about the connection between eating and sleeping, because I think that’s where most of our listeners minds are at. 

Kim Hawley: Yeah, you know, I think it’s just so interesting the way that we treat them as totally separate topics. And in some ways they are, but in so many ways they are really interconnected.

And the sleep information that you get affects your feeding journey. And there’s so much crazy feeding stuff out there that, you know, supposed to improve sleep that really doesn’t. And then it’s like, you know, feeding and sleep were meant to be part of the system. And, you know, most babies do need to feed overnight.

And most nursing parents don’t. do need some milk removal overnight, at least in the first year, right? To maintain their supply and that these are meant to go together and to find some balance between the two. 

Heather: You know what else I’ve found, especially in the early days is, you know, we have a baby that’s maybe, On the smaller side, but definitely on the growth curve, and we’re maybe like past the six week mark, but the parents are still waking the baby up every two hours during the day, trying to get enough calories in because of all the advice on Instagram, and the baby is absolutely exhausted.

exhausted because they’re never in my opinion, from what I can tell, and I’m not the sleep expert, it seems like they’re just never finishing a sleep cycle. It’s like they’re constantly being woken up right before they get that restful sleep. And, you know, I think about how I would feel if somebody kept doing that to me, like waking me up at 2am and being like, eat this hamburger.

I’d be like, Oh, my God, what are you doing? 

Kim Hawley: Well, newborn sleep cycles are really short, so if they’re sleeping in two hour chunks, they’re definitely making it through a sleep cycle. But that doesn’t mean they’re not getting woken up out of deep sleep, and it doesn’t feel good to get woken up out of deep sleep.

So I think it, it, I think there’s a lot of lack of follow up for parents on when they can start. Shifting from, we need to make sure baby’s eating this often, particularly overnight, to we can trust this baby to wake up and just keep an eye on it. And of course if something gives us a reason to step in, then that’s different.

Because I get parents, I teach a, a newborn sleep class in partnership with the lactation group and I get parents all the time that are like, wait, does that mean I can stop waking up? My, You know, four week old, two month old, my pediatrician didn’t say anything. And I’m like, well, I mean, I don’t have all the context, but how is feeding going?

How is weight gain? Why don’t you send them a message? Probably, yeah, like you can stop waking them up. You know, without all the context, I don’t want to say definitely yes, because it’s a class. But I think there’s just a lot of not, not follow up. And I see that, I’m sure, you know, with, you know, across the board, right?

With things that we don’t, we don’t have that follow up that says, yes, it’s time to change our approach because we’re in a different place now. 

Maureen: Well since we’re talking about sleep, of course, we have to talk about bed sharing and breast sleeping. Cause it’s always a hot topic and we’ve talked about it a bunch on the podcast, I think, in a really nice way.

But I wanted to kind of hear what your Thoughts are on this as someone who’s both a sleep and a feeding expert, you know, how can we best keep our babies fed and sleeping safe in a way that also keeps us sane and sleeping as parents? 

Kim Hawley: Yeah, so I mean, talking to different sleep experts, you will certainly get different opinions on this topic.

I am very comfortable with bed sharing, if it’s done safely. I mean, I personally bed shared with both my kids. And I think there’s adequate research out there that if we don’t have any risk factors It’s a reasonable choice for parents, and for a lot of them, it is the piece that saves their sanity and gets everyone sleeping better.

That doesn’t mean it’s for everybody. And obviously, I’m not going to tell a parent they should be bed sharing. There’s a comfort level there that they need to be comfortable with that. Choice. And I, I mean, I use SafeSleep7 a lot in my work. I use James McKenna’s work. I mean, I do, I, I’m always giving people lots of options so that they’re really having those more direct sources as well as helping them think through it, like There, you know, there’s, there’s guidelines and they’re always so clear cut and then there’s reality and we need to use some common sense thinking through the messiness of reality.

Heather: The messiness of reality. That is so true. And I think a lot of people also speaking of reality. You know, when they’re pregnant, they’re, they imagine, especially with their first baby, what it’s going to be like. And they imagine their sleeping plan as a family. Maybe they even discuss it with their partner ahead of time, because they’re going to be like the best parents there ever was.

And then the kid gets there, and this kid wakes up six times a night, and they drag their half dead bodies into my office, and they’re like, This is a bad plan. They’re like, this is a bad sleeper, you know so do you think there is actually such thing as a bad sleeper? Or do you think there’s usually an underlying cause that can be fixed and then give you a good sleeper?

Kim Hawley: That’s a good question. So I don’t like bad or good sleeper because they’re value judgments, right? But I also know there’s hard to find other words, right? The answer is yes. Yes, and no. Really, really broadly, right? Really broadly, I feel like we have three kinds of babies. One are the easy sleepers, which are usually, especially if it’s a first time parent, the parents who think that they’re like really doing amazing, and if everyone can just do it like they do, then they’re gonna be really good.

But it’s only they have an easy baby. And I think a lot of those parents realize that when they have a second kiddo who’s totally different and you’re like, wait, what? But they’re the parents that you don’t actually have to do it too much. To get your baby to sleep really well and they’re the parents who if they sleep train Their baby fuses for 10 minutes over 2 days and then sleep thru the night, right and it wasn’t very stressful You know there It can kind of do a lot of things that if you think about good sleep hygiene like aren’t Very good, like aren’t, they don’t have to be very intentional, I guess is the best way to say it.

And the baby’s gonna sleep well. And then there are the babies that actually sleep quite average, but we label them as bad sleepers because we as a society have a really narrow view of healthy sleep. And so they’re waking like twice a night, they need a little support, you know, but they’re not anything like super out there, but we still say they’re bad sleepers.

But they’re actually quite normal. So they’re just really misunderstood and maybe they need some schedule adjustments because most generic schedules are just averages or expect way too much sleep. So maybe they need some schedule adjustments and a little, little sleep hygiene cleanup, a little bit of bedtime routine intention, and they’re gonna sleep okay.

And then we have a really, really wakeful babies. And I feel like half of those, and that’s not like an actual percentage, but like, you know, a good portion of them there’s something medically going on that we need to pay attention to. And another good portion of them are highly sensitive temperament wise, and we can’t fix that.

We have to learn to work with that. And I see a ton of those babies because you need to reach out for more help, and you need to be so much more intentional if you have a baby that is, you know, extremely wakeful. And so some of those extremely wakeful babies we, like, You know, clean up their schedule, and we do sleep hygiene stuff, and we make some changes, and their wakings drop a lot.

And some of them are just super highly sensitive. And it’s just a whole different journey with a baby like that. And then some of them, it’s, you know, it’s digestive issues. They, they have intolerances. They have really bad reflux. They, they have something going on. We’re going to find out later on that they have sleep disordered breathing.

You know, something like that. We’re We might not have all the pieces to identify it as a baby, but you’ll look back and be like, well, yeah, no wonder they were waking so much, right? They weren’t comfortable. They were having something that was medically going on that we couldn’t fully address, or we could address, and then we saw a huge improvement, right?

So, I don’t think it’s super simple. I think there’s just, different things going on with different types of babies. 

Heather: Well, I love that. And also, you know, what that made me think of, though, is on one hand, in our culture, we want our babies to sleep a long time. It’s like a good baby, quote unquote, sleeps a long time.

a long period of time, but then you do have one of those wakeful babies and you go to your pediatrician and you’re like, this baby doesn’t sleep and they blow it off and they’re just kind of like, yeah, that’s just a baby being a baby. And so it’s like, wait, is it normal or is it not normal? You know, like culturally, you’re telling me it should be this way, and then my pediatrician is telling me it’s totally fine and has no resources for me, no suggestions, and then later on you do find out your kid has sleep apnea, and you’re like, what would have happened if we found this out when they were a baby?

Could this have improved anything? I kind of do wish that we did a little bit more investigation on babies that were having sleep apnea. feeding and sleeping issues rather than just waiting it out. I feel like there’s these benchmarks, like, let’s just wait till they start solids and see what happens.

That’s a big one that I hear all the time with both sleeping and feeding issues. Once they start eating solids, they’ll sleep through the night. And I’m like, nobody, that’s probably not going to happen either. So what are your thoughts on this? 

Kim Hawley: It’s so true. But, and I think to throw another one in as a lot of times they’ll say, Oh, just do cry it out.

And I won’t investigate. Until you’ve done sleep training. When it’s like, there’s so many red flags, because that’s what I do. All my families, I’m screening for red flags. And red flags don’t mean there’s necessarily something wrong, but it’s like, okay, this, we need to look into this more, right? You need to go have like a, you know, we need to, we need to do a full actual, like, feeding consult.

You need a clinical lactation visit, or you need to go see a pediatric ENT, or we need to, like, figure out what’s going on with these digestive issues, right? So, like, that’s a big piece, because That’s not being addressed. That could be the largest driving factor behind why your baby’s waking eight times a night.

Right? And I know one can fix that until we get a sense of what’s actually Going on, like from a health, medical, comfort, you know, breathing, whatever it is perspective. And so, it is really frustrating when pediatricians blow it off, and that happens more than, than they are helpful, unfortunately. You know, like, we should be looking into underlying causes first.

Not, like, let’s just assume it’s nothing, and, you know, tell you to, you know, ignore it, especially when parents gut is saying there’s something wrong here. Like, my baby’s waking up screaming in pain every time they wake up. Like, that’s not normal. Like, that is not normal. Like, you know, I don’t know. I, I, I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s definitely challenging.


Maureen: it can be really frustrating when your gut tells you one thing, but the providers you see don’t really care about that. I mean, we see this a lot in lactation, I’m sure you do too, where every problem is a feeding problem, you know, so they get sent to us and we’re like, you know what, feeding is great, your milk supply is great, I don’t know why baby’s not gaining weight, but this is not the problem.

And, you know, after a ton of advocacy, Oh, turns out baby has a heart issue, or a metabolic issue, or something that should have been screened for a long time ago. And it’s just so 

Kim Hawley: frustrating. It is. It is. Like, I hate it when I’m the one that catches, like, a really severe oral restriction or something like that.

When it’s like, Okay, your baby went from this percentile to this percentile. They’re feeding still, like, this often. They can’t sleep. I’m like, we go through all the things and I’m like, When’s the last time you saw a lactation consultant in person? Like, let’s, let’s see about, like, just, just look into this for me, right?

Like, just look into this for me. And then they’re like, I’m like, oh my god, your baby’s eight months old. Like, why is, and it’s like, It’s crazy. 

Maureen: It is. I mean, and Heather and I have both had the experience of catching heart defects at like four months and we’re like, Oh my gosh. When was the last time anyone put a stethoscope on your baby?

Just curious. Well, when was that? Because I, it’s crazy. 

Heather: I know. I know. It is really, it is really frustrating. And frustrating for parents, too, because, like you said, when you know, you know, but Then you get on the internet and it could be anything. It could be, but a lot of it is like what you’re doing, you know, so like we tend to internalize, like, this is my fault.

I’m doing something to this baby. It’s the meds I took in pregnancy. It’s the meds I’m taking now. There’s a lot of focus on like the mom, the breastfeeding mom that might be affecting the baby’s sleep. And this goes back historically, like the mom’s. Attitude and temperament while breastfeeding can affect the baby’s temperament through the milk.

So like I’m, I, I don’t want to go that route, but I do want to ask you professionally, what is the number one thing you think that people are doing to mess up their baby sleep success? You know, so like outside of everybody else pointing the finger at them, like, is there one thing that we are all consistently doing that is not helpful?

Kim Hawley: I don’t know if there’s one thing that we’re all consistently doing. Like, I would say the vast majority of families have bad sleep hygiene because we’re not taught good sleep hygiene. So, like, in sleep we confuse bad sleep habits. For what are actually things that are bad for sleep, right? You know mainstream ways of talking about sleep are like if you support your baby to sleep, that’s a bad sleep habit It’s like no, that’s actually biologically normal and it can work for you or not work for you can change it or you could not but there’s nothing like unhealthy about nursing to sleep or rocking your baby to sleep or anything But what is unhealthy is like being on your screen right up until bedtime Lots of bright lights in the evening, you know You Those things are like actually unhealthy as in they suppress your melatonin production and undermine your sleep quality, so we have the completely wrong definition on bad sleep habits and Modern life, like most of us, we don’t learn what’s healthy sleep for ourselves.

Like, what does that look like to set up good sleep routines? And so we have no chance of doing it for babies. So I think that’s one piece. And another is like just not looking at the baby enough, right? Is that we have so much noise telling us what we should or shouldn’t be doing. It’s sometimes hard to be like, actually, I have a really low sleep needs baby that does not need to sleep, like they say.

And, or, you know, any number of things. And if we can just balance that kind of population level with like, this baby is an individual, it can go a long, a 

Maureen: long way. Well, I think that is excellent advice for every single parent, especially in the face of too much information. It’s just to remember that we need to look at our babies as 

Heather: individuals.

Dr. DeLong. All right, Kim. What’s the one thing you want breastfeeding moms to know about sleep training or you call, what do you call it? 

Kim Hawley: I mean, I don’t, I’m not a sleep trainer because I, I, that’s just my positioning, right? Like I think of sleep training as much more in that, like I’m withdrawing support to change my baby and I’m more, I’m leaning into connection to support better sleep.

So it’s not as clean cut as that, but that’s maybe the cleanest way I can put it. I don’t know. I can say it. 

Heather: Yeah. Yeah. So what is the, then in that case, what’s the one thing you want breastfeeding moms to know about how to lean into looking at their baby and focusing more on attachment to achieve healthier sleep patterns?

Kim Hawley: You know, I think it’s that connection is almost always our answer when it comes to, to parenting and to sleep. Because. To get good sleep, you need to feel safe and secure. And babies are not actually designed to be separate from us for a long time. And so, we hear so much push about independence. And it’s not that that’s a bad goal to work on, it’s fine.

But it’s a journey. And really, long term independence comes from really meeting babies physical and emotional needs and letting them be dependent when they need to be dependent. So I think it’s just not being so afraid to lean into what’s working now and to lean into connection because of all that messaging that tends to get you catastrophizing about the future.

Maureen: Wonderful. Well, please tell our listeners how to find you and work with you if they’d like to. 

Kim Hawley: Yeah. So you can, my website is intuitiveparentingdc. com and you can find my blog on there. You can find my podcast on there, the responsive family sleep podcast. I am over on Instagram though. I am not a huge social media person at intuitive underscore parenting, underscore DC.

And I work with. With families virtually, I work with them one on one. I have a group coaching program for older babies and younger toddlers, where I get to walk alongside you over kind of the long haul for all the lovely ups and downs of, of sleep during those phases. And it’s actually my favorite way of working with parents.

I love it. So that’s where I’m at. Wonderful. Well, 

Maureen: we will link all of that down in the show notes. So everybody, you can just scroll down and click on those links to find Kim. 

Heather: Kim, thank you so much for being with us today. This was really helpful. And it just also makes me a little bit more excited about learning about sleep.

As a lactation consultant and not, like, wanting to push so hard against it because I’m like, it’s too noisy and I don’t want to get it wrong. You’ve just given me a lot of hope that there is, like, a logical path that I can take. 

Kim Hawley: Awesome. Yay!

Heather: If you’re pumping milk away from your baby at all, at work, or wherever you go, you deserve a Bougie product to make that easier for you. 

Maureen: You deserve a series chiller, and frankly, I could not live without one right now. 

Heather: The Series Chiller is an excellent way to store your breast milk safely and it keeps your breast milk cold for 24 hours.

It is the 

Maureen: only thing I use to transport my breast milk to and from work. While I’m working, it’s got a sleek and beautiful design, lots of great colors, high quality materials, and 

Heather: manufacturing. Series Chill also has other products that you might want to check out too. My personal favorite is the Milk Stash.

They have a great 

Maureen: nipple shield that actually changes colors and it’s not clear like all the other ones. And you know how we feel about that. If you want to have your very own series chiller, please go to the link in our show notes and use code MilkMinute15 

Heather: at checkout. That’s MilkMinute15 for 15 percent off your series chill products.


Maureen: Okay, well, I love that interview. I feel like it has been a long time coming that we finally talked about sleep with an actual Sleep specialist 

Heather: on the podcast. Well, we’re like really picky and we’ve had a lot of people ask to be on the podcast who are sleep consultants. But I mean most of the time I’m just being real I’ll get to their website and immediately I’m like nope No, 

Maureen: no, but we saw Kim and we were like, Ooh, MPH.

Oh, I think we’re gonna like this. 

Heather: Yeah. Yeah, and she was just so She approaches things from the same angle that we do where it’s not just like let me look at this one issue She looks at the whole not just the whole person the whole family And I think that’s really important because when you have a baby it affects everyone Everything.

It’s not just, it’s almost impossible to just treat it like Western medicine. We were like, there’s a problem. Take a pill. It’s so many more things. And 

Maureen: when I see that MPH, I’m like, this person knows how to read research. So they spend a long time 

Heather: doing it in school. Absolutely. It sounds terrible to me, but I’m so glad there’s people like her out there. But we are so thankful. 

Maureen: Alright, well if you guys want to contact Kim or work with her again, her information is in the show notes. And to round out our episode here, we have an award in the alcove. 

Heather: This award goes to Mia, who is one of our Patrons. And Mia says, I flew down with some of my Fraser stash to donate to the milk bank where I did some of my dietetic internship.

There is no milk bank in my area, and it became apparent that my baby isn’t going to need as much of it, and I really didn’t want to waste it. I’m also donating all the milk I pump while I’m home on vacation to the same milk bank. Altogether, I’ve donated about four liters now. Oh, that’s awesome! 

Maureen: Yeah, and super, MMMMMMMMMMMMMM Like, I think it’s wonderful that you weren’t just like, Oh, well, no milk bank.

I’ll just, you know, see what I can do with it. But you were like, No, I am flying down. There’s a milk bank there. I’m going to pack it up, take it with me and donate it. Yeah. Amazing. 

Heather: Way to go the extra mile for other little, tiny babies, new guts. That’s amazing. Mia, we’re going to give you the extra mile award because you really, truly did go the extra mile to donate your milk.

And we really appreciate that. And we know the milk banks do too. 

Maureen: Well, thank you all so much for listening to another episode of the Milk Minute 

Heather: Podcast. The way we change this big system that is not set up for lactating families is by educating ourselves, our loved ones, and sometimes our providers. 

Maureen: If you guys liked this episode, or seriously, any single other one, we would really appreciate your support on our Patreon or your support in just spreading the word about our show and getting more people to listen to it.

Heather: That’s right. Just tell one friend. You got a pregnant friend? Do you? You do. Send it to them, please. Thank you. Okay, 

Maureen: goodbye. Alright, everybody. Bye.


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