“Relax, Watch Some TV, Clear Your Mind, Enjoy The Time,” Linda Brennan On Helping New Moms In The Early Days Of Breastfeeding
Linda Brennan and her two-year-old daughter, Raine, were originally participants at a local breastfeeding support group, but now co-lead. As a peer support counselor, Linda shares her decision to breastfeed and how she became a volunteer with the Boston Breastfeeding Coalition.
Linda: I was about seven months pregnant when her father asked me “do you plan on breastfeeding or bottle feeding?”
I said, “I’m going to bottle feed.”
And he said, “I was born with severe asthma and allergies, and you don’t have any of those.”
And I thought about it and realized he’s right. I don't have asthma. I don't have allergies. I'm immune to a lot of things. That's a really good point. If I breastfeed, she gets all my immunities.
So, that was the decision making process.
Dominique: Did any other family members or friends influence your decision to breastfeed?
Linda: Nope. Just him.
Dominique: What about your mom?
Linda: No, he was the sole decision-maker. His one question started it all.
Dominique: So at seven months, how did you prepare for breastfeeding?
Linda: Babies-R-Us had awesome drop-in classes that were free. They had a Breastfeeding 101 class with a LaLeche League representative from New Hampshire [Linda lived out-of-state at the time].
It was a cool one-hour introduction to what I should know about breastfeeding.
We weren’t able to start breastfeeding the minute Raine was born. There were slight complications, because she came out blue. The cord was wrapped around her neck and they kept pulling her not realizing. They revived her and brought her to me.
Now, this would have been a deterrent to some moms, but the nurse who came in [claiming she does lactation] put me in a straight back chair, placed eight pillows around me, threw Raine on my boob, looked at her and said, “okay she looks good,” and walked out.
I never went back to that chair after that. I did everything from my hospital bed.
But once I was able to breastfeed, I breastfed her. And she’s been breastfeeding like a champ ever since.
Dominique: That’s traumatizing. I’m happy you were not deterred and were able to still nurse despite your complications.
Dominique: How was your transition to nursing a newborn at home?
Dominique: So, how did you deal with that?
Linda: Lots of TV. [laughs] Lots and lots of TV and Facebook on my Kindle. I was doing stuff to keep me occupied while sitting there for 45 minutes.
Dominique: You nursed her for 45 minutes at a time?
Linda: She would nurse forever. She would be good for like an hour, hour and a half, then go back to the breast again. There were a lot of times I sat there and asked her, “Are you done yet?”
She nursed like that for a good month and a half. Then started going less and less [as she got older].
Dominique: How was your milk supply?
Linda: Oh, it was plentiful. I did not have an issue.
Dominique: Good for you for being so patient with the process. So Raine is two-years-old going on three [in June]. How is your breastfeeding experience now?
Linda: Now, I have it down to bedtime and Raine’s not happy about it. I’m attempting the weaning stage because, at this point, she’s not done, but I am.
Dominique: And why are you done?
Linda: It’s still exhausting. And luckily at bedtime, she’ll nurse for no more than a few minutes to half an hour, depending on how tired she is. She can fall asleep after 10 minutes if she hasn’t taken a nap.
If I stop her, she’ll get a little whiny. I [calmly] tell her to “stop, close her eyes” and within five minutes, she’s snoring.
Dominique: Bedtime can be tricky. I really appreciate you sharing a piece of your journey with us. With almost three years of lived-experience breastfeeding, why did you decide to take the ROSE training and become a peer support counselor?
Linda: I'm a single mom. I was living with her father when Raine was born. But due to circumstances, I moved back to Massachusetts because I'm originally from Boston.
The WIC Office in Malden gave me a flyer and told me they had a breastfeeding support group called Baby Café. I originally went to get out of the house. Raine was 13 weeks at the time and didn’t have too many problems breastfeeding, but the Baby Café was able to answer the questions I did have.
I found out there was also a group in Melrose, so I started going to that one too. On the bulletin board in Melrose, I saw a flyer for a group at the Boston Children’s Museum and started going to it. Then after I moved to East Boston, I started to go to the group there as well.
At the time, Morgan Brockington ran the Museum group. I had learned so much from the Baby Cafés in Malden and Melrose because they are run by the woman who founded Baby Café USA. I was apparently teaching Morgan at the Children’s Museum things she didn’t know. Morgan suggested I fill out a scholarship application to become a peer support counselor. My application was accepted, and I went to the very first ROSE training two years ago.
Dominique: How was the training?
Linda: It was good. There was a lot of information I didn't know and there was a lot of information I did know. I love helping people. By using what I learned through the training and my personal experience, I would be able to do that. That was big for me.
Dominique: And we appreciate that you are super dedicated to helping families today. Is there anything you want new or breastfeeding moms to know?
Linda: Don’t worry about it too much. Worrying makes you think that you can’t do it -- you can do it! The baby can do it! The baby wants to do it. Relax, watch some TV, clear your mind, enjoy the time.
Dominique: That’s beautiful! Thank you so much, Linda!
Are you a breastfeeding mom?
Join Linda and other breastfeeding peer support counselors, Friday mornings from 10am-12pm at the Boston Children’s Museum.
Need ways to save on your museum admission? Children under 12 months are always FREE. Here are a few ways to save from the museum’s website.
If the Boston Children’s Museum is not convenient, check out this list of local breastfeeding support groups.
About the interviewer: Dominique is the blogger behind DommiesBlessed. As a breastfeeding journalist, she is super passionate about encouraging families through our stories. Please let her know if you would like to share your journey too.
Daily Milk hosts articles, posts and ideas from various members of our breastfeeding coalition!