Breastfeed better with Sarah Riedel

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August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month! A great time to brush up on the age-old practice that has many first-time mothers a little nervous. I’m here to help! So, take a deep breath and let’s go over a few things so you can breastfeed with ease.

Breastfeeding can be difficult, especially in your first week and if it’s your first baby. With the first baby, neither one of you knows what to do! If you can make it through the first seven to ten days, breastfeeding becomes a lot easier. The process becomes even more natural once you have a little practice. Educate yourself before the baby comes. Watch videos, read from credible sources and meet with our prenatal educators. This process has been shown to reduce anxiety in expecting mothers.

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Breastfeed mothers Tri-County Health Care

The challenges of breastfeeding

First off, I have mothers who put baby to breast and when they don’t immediately latch on, they say, “Oh, I guess he’s not hungry.” Babies need a little stimulation to get them to latch on. Sometimes we need to let the baby wake up a bit first. Even then, they may not latch right away, and if they do, they might not stay latched for long. Most first-time mothers think they are doing something wrong when the baby latches and unlatches multiple times. This is totally normal!

Second, new mothers think that they aren’t making enough milk or that the baby is starving. With colostrum, the amount is very small, sometimes only a few drops per feeding. When the baby is at the breast, you cannot see how much milk the baby is getting. If the mother is pumping, they often become discouraged with only a few drops after a lot of work. Again, this is normal.  I try to make sure moms’ expectations are realistic to start. When they begin pumping, I explain they will likely only get a few drops or a teaspoonful.  If we get more than that, it is a gift. TCHC now offers donor breastmilk if the mother truly doesn’t think she has enough milk and chooses to supplement her baby.

You can do it!

So many mothers think that they can’t make milk at all. If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, I’d be a rich woman. The female body is made to produce milk. That is the sole biological purpose of your breasts! You CAN do it!  A good sign that your body is getting ready to make milk is if your breasts change during pregnancy. You might see them get fuller, bigger, heavier, and more sensitive and translucent (you can see the veins better).

What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

Breastmilk has antibodies that help protect your baby from bacteria and viruses. They are healthier babies if you breastfeed. Mothers who breastfeed have lower rates of breast, cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancers, diabetes and high blood pressure later in life. Breastfeeding burns calories, so it becomes a nice workout for the mother to get back to their goal weight faster.

What are some of your tips for better breastfeeding?

If you know someone who has breastfed in the past, please utilize them when you feel low about your success. Tri-County Health Care has a Certified Lactation Counselor and an Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant here to assist you as well. Enlist your partner for additional support! Write down your reasons for wanting to breastfeed your baby, and if the going gets rough, reread your reasons.

The sooner you put the baby to breast, the better, ideally, within the first hour of life. We put the baby to breast any time they are showing hunger cues. If they are crying to be fed, we missed a lot of cues along the way. Usually, babies start mouthing or smacking their lips. After that, they bring their hands to their mouth. Crying is a very late cue.

When your nipples have stimulation, it causes a surge of a hormone in your body called prolactin. If you have more prolactin surges in the early days of breastfeeding, you will have a better milk supply weeks out. More breastfeeding equals more milk!

Small breasts do not mean you will have difficulty feeding your baby; that is a myth! Smaller breasts do not have as much capacity as large breasts, so you might need to feed your baby a little more often.

Keeping your baby close can really help on your breastfeeding journey. When a baby is skin-to-skin with a mom, it stimulates them and wakes them up more. I call this “putting baby in the BREAST-aurant.” This will help them wake up and put an order in. Being on mom’s chest is the closest they can get to where they came from. This is soothing to them.

We’re here to help!

Sarah Riedel wants to help you breastfeed better.

To learn more about obstetrics and birthing services, please visit TCHC.org. Call 218-631-3510 to schedule an appointment and follow Tri-County Health Care on Facebook for regular updates.

About the author: Sarah Riedel

Sarah has been working with Tri-County Health Care for almost three decades. She has personally facilitated hundreds of births and is passionate about helping parents through the birthing process. Helping mothers breastfeed is a special point of interest for her. She also works with Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies and assists with milk donations.


Mothers helping mothers: Janie & Charlotte

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Janie Bigelow comes from a family of caregivers and nurses. Her grandmother, Charlotte Schloeder, worked as a nurse in the OB department at Tri-County Health Care before retiring. Her mother is also a nurse. Their dedication to health inspired Jani to care for others, leading her to a career as a nurse in obstetrics, much like her grandmother. Janie’s story is about mothers helping mothers.

Janie and Charlotte

Nurses are known for providing support in all aspects of medical treatment but even nurses need help sometimes. Janie gave birth to Charlotte Lucille Bigelow in December 2019. After her birth, Charlotte was admitted to intensive care due to respiratory stress. Charlotte couldn’t breathe without the use of oxygen. Additionally, Jani had a difficult time producing milk for her newborn daughter. Charlotte needed milk to thrive, leaving Janie in a difficult spot.

Janie and her family needed milk donations after Charlotte was born. She donated milk so other mothers could have the same support she received.

Fortunately, fellow mothers had stepped up and soon Janie received steady donations of milk. “We relied on others for the nutrition she needed to grow and remain healthy during our stay in the NICU,” said Janie. “Now I know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into pumping and I will forever be grateful for what we received for our baby Charlotte,” said Janie.

Janie didn’t give up. She was determined to produce milk for Charlotte. With encouragement from her family and friends, she went on to produce enough milk. She produced so much that she had a surplus. This milk couldn’t go to waste, especially after she received so much help from others. Janie has been donating her milk in the hopes that she can extend her care as others had done. At this time, Janie has donated 1,200 ounces and she hopes to donate even more after she gives birth to her second child in November 2021.

“I am just so happy to be able to donate back to other families. It makes my heart happy knowing there are babies who are thriving because they received donated breast milk. I had other moms help me out when I struggled and now I can help too!” – Janie Bigelow

Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies

Labor and Delivery Supervisor Sarah Riedel manages milk donations in partnership with Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies. The Golden Valley-based organization provides donated milk to mothers in need. Tri-County Health Care is a donation site and Sarah is an Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. Since the start of the milk depot, Riedel has overseen donations from all over Minnesota.

How to donate

If you find that you’re producing excess milk, please consult a doctor before donating. Then contact a donation site like Tri-County Health Care. After filling out the paperwork, a representative from the milk bank will contact you for a phone screen. From there, you will provide health history information and go through testing. After approval from the milk bank, you will be given a donor number. This donor number needs to be placed on the milk container. The last step is to schedule a date with a drop-off site.

To learn more or donate milk at Tri-County Health Care, please visit our Milk Depot page or contact Sarah Riedel at 218-632-8741.


Milk donations for 2020

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Pregnancy is one of the most difficult things a woman can experience. However, the challenges don’t end after birth. Sometimes new mothers discover they can’t produce enough milk or none at all. This common occurrence can cause anxiety and feelings of failure. Every mother should have the support and the milk depot at Tri-County Health Care helps them make milk donations.

Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies

Labor and Delivery Supervisor Sarah Riedel has managed milk donations in partnership with Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies. The Golden Valley based organization provides donated milk to mothers in need. Tri-County Health Care is a donation site and Sarah is an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant responsible for receiving donations. Since the start of the milk depot, Riedel has overseen donations from all over Minnesota. She knows from firsthand experience how important it is for newborns to receive breast milk.

Naomi Horn donated 1660 ounces of milk in 2020

Naomi Horn: 1,660 ounces

The milk depot received 5,080 ounces of donated milk in 2020. 1,660 ounces came from a single donor. Naomi has three children and knows how important good milk is for a growing baby. She was always blessed with an abundant supply of milk, so much that she threw out excess milk with her first two children. She vowed to do things differently with her youngest, Moriah.

Naomi experienced many issues feeding Moriah; she wouldn’t take the bottle. After four months of trying different bottles, nipples, and temperatures, Moriah finally took the bottle. Naomi produced so much milk in the meantime that she filled two large freezers. Not wanting to waste any milk, she contacted Tri-County Health Care and Sarah Riedel for assistance. In only a few months, she saw her donation drive away. Since she donated so much, a representative from the milk bank personally came to her home and picked up the donation.

Liquid Gold

“It’s liquid gold,” said Naomi about her milk. With her third child, she didn’t waste a drop. She discussed the pressure on women to produce milk. She wants to remind everyone that raising children is a delicate process, and if you can’t produce milk, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother. Services like the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies exist to help. Naomi also encourages mothers that produce excess milk to donate. She described donating as incredibly rewarding and an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

Donating milk is easy and rewarding.

How to donate

If you find that you’re producing excess milk, it may be wise to consult a doctor before donating. After that, contact a donation site like Tri-County Health Care. After filling out the paperwork, a representative from the milk bank will contact you for a phone screen. From there, you will provide health history information and go through testing. After approval from the milk bank, you will be given a donor number. This donor number needs to be placed on the milk container. The last step is to schedule a date with a drop off site.

To learn more or donate milk at Tri-County Health Care, please visit our Milk Depot page or contact Sarah Riedel at 218-632-8741.