Melissa Beck is a pregnant wife and stay-at-home to two little ladies on Long Island. She was on a vintage season of MTV’s Real World you probably forgot about. She later went on to host Oxygen’s Girls Behaving Badly – not be confused with Girls Gone Wild or Bad Girls Club. Her interests include Hello Kitty, Glassjaw and normalizing breastfeeding in public. Melissa can be followed on Twitter @melissabeck.
Tell me about what made you decide to breastfeed Shalom? Was it harder or easier than you expected? Did your mother or someone you knew breastfeed?
Melissa Beck- My sister became a mother at 19 and she nursed her first baby for two years and her second baby for three years. It honestly looked really easy and this was before being able to Google every possible scenario as to what could be going wrong. She just did it and it seemed like it’s automatic. I had no concept that it could, would or might be complicated so that helped in terms of heading into it without discouragement or trepidation. I was only 14 at the time but it always stuck with me how normal and easy she made it look. And for some women it’s exactly that. But I get that that’s not always the case. Also, a mom friend of mine at the time said, “Melissa, you’re not like her though” regarding another friend who was breastfeeding. She assumed I couldn’t or I wouldn’t and that really pushed me to do it even more. I’m defiant and have to have the last say. So while it was offensive, it was motivating.
Nursing Shalom was a breeze. Just like I imagined it after seeing my nephew nurse all those years earlier. So, I was spoiled by the ease and convenience. I loved saving money. And, I love cuddling my baby all day as I fed her. I loved feeling skinny-ish. I loved reading about why breast milk was so awesome — the true science inside of it. Yes, I loved all of it.
Then came Maja, my second daughter. I had a big head about breastfeeding. I was this expert now you know. My body had to know what to do, right? WRONG. I suffered for 8 long months with painful, stabbing jabs of hot lead in each breast. The lipstick nipple shape. A colicky baby who refused to take pumped milk out of a bottle. Engorgement. You name any problem that would lead a healthy, rational woman to say she’s not going to nurse — I had it. But my baby wouldn’t take a bottle and like I said, I have to have the last say. I couldn’t give up. After endless, sleepless nights Googling, seeing a specialized breastfeeding doctor, two different lactation consultants, I finally entered all the right information to look into an undiagnosed lip tie. Sure enough, that’s what Maja had. Had both her lip and anterior tongue tie lasered at 8 months old and the pain stopped immediately! She had to go through a series of craniosacral therapy — like baby chiropractics — to get her sad little overworked body in alignment but it was mostly smooth sailing after that. She nursed until 22 months because she likes what she likes and a bottle was just never gonna happen.
You’ve spoken before about the struggle that was the first months with Maja. How did you keep going? When you had her ties released, what support was valuable to you in making that decision?
Melissa Beck- Honestly, Twitter. Here’s the thing about breastfeeding. You really do need a village of likeminded people to say YOU GOT THIS. My own husband was like, “You’re killing yourself. Just give her formula.” And I’d be like, but. You see she won’t take a bottle. This was more than my own stubbornness. I wasn’t “trying to be a hero” like condescending people who for some reason want you to NOT breastfeed — what does that even mean?
Anyway, Twitter, when I was up all night in pain with an unsatisfied, uncomfortable baby was a great outlet for me to vent and put my ideas and theories out. And one day everything clicked and I ended up emailing a picture to Dr. Bobby Ghaheri, a man I’ve never met, who practices in Oregon and specializes in lip tie as it relates to breastfeeding and with just the “WOW” as a response to my photo — he got me on the right path.
That One Person
It takes one person to listen to you. One person to not dismiss you with “why bother?” or “it’s thrush” or “it’s allergies” or “it’s reflux” or “you don’t make enough milk.” It takes one person to hear you out and help you put all the pieces together to continue along a breastfeeding path. And the thing is, I very well could have quit and I would have still served my daughter to the best of my ability. I could have pumped her full of Zantac like they suggested. I could have bought her that $85 formula when they said she was allergic to my milk protein. And if I believed all those things and my gut said so, I would have served my daughter. But I didn’t believe those diagnoses and instead opted to discover this tiny piece of flesh that was destroy our lives and needed to be snipped. And thankfully, it worked out.
My point is — that gut feeling combined with a need to make everyone who doesn’t support you eat crow — LOL — that’s what worked for me. But I’m a sucker for justice and “I told you so” so that’s probably not the best advice.
Tune in next week for the second part of this interview – and thank you Melissa Beck for speaking with us!
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For Immediate Release: Oct. 14, 2015
Contact: Kristen Strader, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 588-7785
Maryland Hospitals Follow WHO Code and Go Bag-Free
All Maternity Hospitals Eliminate Formula Discharge Bag Distribution
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a positive step for new mothers, all Maryland maternity hospitals now are free of infant formula marketing, including company-sponsored discharge bags. Maryland joins Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Delaware in making this transition.
Formula companies such as Abbott, Nestle and Mead-Johnson have distributed samples to hospitals for years. Rather than receiving what can be seen as an indirect endorsement of formula from hospital staff, mothers in all Maryland hospitals now will be provided with encouragement and support free from marketing.
Studies show that mothers who receive formula samples are less likely to breastfeed exclusively and they do so for shorter periods of time. Breastfeeding is shown to have significant health benefits for both babies and mothers. Cheri Hoffman, who recently gave birth at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, feels that her experience was positively impacted by the elimination of formula marketing.
“Having the support and encouragement of the hospital allowed me to feel more confident in my decision to breastfeed. By not having formula samples readily available to me, I was able to push through those discouraging moments in the difficult first few days of nursing and go on to form a healthy, long-lasting breastfeeding relationship with my son,” Hoffman said.
All birthing hospitals in Maryland have eliminated formula discharge bag distribution and are now in compliance with the World Health Organization (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. The Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition, Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert, Ban the Bags, hospital representatives and numerous activist mothers are to thank.
“Eliminating commercial formula bag distribution from birthing hospitals represents a promise to all mothers – breastfeeding and formula-feeding – that the maternity care they receive in a hospital is free from a conflict of interest,” said Marsha Walker, chair of Ban the Bags.
Dr. Dana Silver, pediatrician at Sinai Hospital and vice president of the Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition, has been instrumental in the elimination of formula marketing from Maryland hospitals. In partnership with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition urged hospitals to “Ban the Bags.”
Formula discharge bags send the subtle message to new families that hospitals endorse formula feeding and are recommending one brand in particular. “In short, these bags are providing free advertising for formula companies,” said Silver. “Hospitals that stopped distributing the formula discharge bags reported no backlash from patients.”
Maryland became bag-free with the closure of Laurel Memorial Hospital – the last hospital in Maryland to distribute formula samples.
“The elimination of formula marketing from Maryland hospitals sets an ethical standard for future health care facilities,” said Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert. “Maryland hospitals are keeping up with the national trend of going bag-free and are sending a clear message that health care facilities should market health, not generate profits for formula makers.”
Many times we hear feedback that IBCLC visits cost “too much” or the fees are “ridiculous.” When you are used to using insurance for medical attention sometimes these fees can seem high, especially if there isn’t a great understanding of what IBCLCs actually do.
We already talked about WHY you should hire an IBCLC….now let’s talk about what you “get for the money.” With Metropolitan Breastfeeding’s consultants, this fee for service entitles you to:
Tell me more about this insurance issue….
Although the Affordable Care Act made strides to provide coverage for lactation services, it is still very hit or miss depending on your insurance. Some plans cover services fully, while others require pre-authorization or other arrangements. The best thing for you to do is always contact your insurance provider for details.
Our website has a great FAQ section that discusses help with insurance reimbursement.
So….is it worth it?
When you consider many of the items that you purchase for your infant, from strollers to carseats, clothing to toys, think about how these compare to paying for expert care from an IBCLC. Meeting your breastfeeding goals is our priority, and that is worth every penny.