Jada Shapiro has been helping women transition to motherhood for the past 17 years. We spoke with her about her two companies, Birth Day Presence and boober, and also found out that pain while breastfeeding is NOT normal, that too many women are pumping too early and what moms can do to normalize breastfeeding . Read on for more!
1) Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in the childbirth space.
I’m a maternal health expert and have been in the field for 17 years. I got started in 2002 as a birth doula and have since become a childbirth educator, postpartum doula and a lactation consultant (CLC) as well.
It all started when I was lucky enough to be invited to a friend’s birth. It was an incredible experience watching my friend go through labor - it blew my mind. It was not what I expected childbirth to be like! It was extremely inspiring and motivating and I started reading everything I could about childbirth. Soon afterwards I started my doula training and realized there was a deep void in supportive child birth and a huge need for expectant parents to connect with people who would fully support them through their labor and birth experience.
2) How did your first company, Birth Day Presence, come about?
Working as a birth doula I found myself wanting to educate everyone. I found my clients really needing a lot more knowledge about the birth process and not realizing what their options were, so I soon became a childbirth educator and started teaching in my home and that’s how Birth Day Presence really grew!
After I got an overwhelming demand at my home classes, I realized we needed a bigger space - people were so thirsty for information around childbirth. I also saw that expectant parents wanted to be with other expectant parents to connect and learn and share their experiences.
I’m proud to say that Birth Day Presence has become the top childbirth education and doula matching center in NYC. We’ve served over 20,000 expectant and new parents since 2002. Doula training has become another big aspect of our program and we train approximately 125 new doulas per year.
3) How did you go from childbirth education to lactation support with boober?
What I started to realize at Birth Day Presence was that so many people would call our company who couldn’t find a lactation consultant fast enough. These new moms were desperate for lactation help, but couldn’t find someone available to help them on the spot in their area. So I created a postcard that I would put in all of the folders in our childbirth classes. It included my cell phone number and a note that said if you can’t find a lactation consultant call or text me.
I originally created a very informal texting service to put moms in touch with available lactation consultants that I knew. When the texting started rolling in faster than I could keep up with, I realized there was a real opportunity to help parents and boober was born.
4) Is the lactation support 100% in person or does boober also coordinate remote lactation support?
It’s close to 100% in person. Most other lactation platforms are virtual and remote, but we think in person care makes a huge difference. We’re currently in the NYC metro area plus some parts of NJ but we are building a national platform.
We’re expanding to become a marketplace where expectant and new parents can find all of their pregnancy, birth and postpartum care providers. We’re doing that on the backend right now however we do have our postpartum doulas set up on the site now. We’re going to be adding mental health therapists, pelvic floor therapists and other providers who we know benefit expectant and new moms.
5) What can a mom expect after a visit with one of your vetted lactation counselors?
When someone is seeking lactation help, they can either text us (833-boober-1) or fill out the form on our website. We then have a care connector who texts with or calls the person back to get all the necessary information and to provide emotional support. It’s really nice to talk to people and moms are often surprised to know that there’s a person on the other end instead of a bot.
Based on their needs, we talk about the different types of lactation providers we provide, level 1 and level 2. The care connector will help identify which level is ideal for that person. The care connector then reaches out to the lactation professionals to see who is available for that area at that time. We then set up their first appointment. It’s a really seamless and easy process. All the lactation providers are independent and what we do is provide the match to the vetted expert - we don’t provide the actual lactation support services.
6) Tell us about the different levels of lactation support a mom can receive.
The level I providers are great for the early basics of breastfeeding support and for moms who need reassurance, need help with getting a good latch, etc. The lactation counselor will go to the home or the hospital and spend on average 1.5 to 2 hours and teach moms how to hold the baby for a better latch, how to know if your baby is sucking and swallowing, how to adjust the baby’s body and moms position, information on pumping, etc.
The level II provider (who is almost always an IBCLC or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is best if your baby isn’t gaining enough weight, if you have cracked or bleeding nipples, if you’re experiencing significant pain, if the baby isn’t peeing or pooping enough. Sometimes all you need is one visit and there’s always text or phone follow up. For more complicated issues people may need at least 2 visits.
For more information about the 2 different levels please see our website.
7) Do you screen all the lactation providers in your network?
Yes, we do an interview with them and make sure they have their certification, liability insurance and testimonials. Since I’ve been in the industry for so long, I know so many of the people personally. We do so many of the breastfeeding and doula trainings at our studio that I meet most providers in person. Many of them come as a referral to us as well.
8) What are the top 3 issues that lead to moms giving up breastfeeding?
- PAIN - it’s the number one reason why people give up early. Pain in breastfeeding is common, but it isn’t normal. Lots of people have absolutely no pain which is the ideal. It can be normal to have a little bit of discomfort during the first minute of the latch - an ache, or a tug or a pull. If that adjusts and shifts within the 1st minute and becomes tolerable that is ok. As long as it isn’t damaging the nipple and as long as the baby is getting enough milk. In 3-4 weeks we find that that this discomfort often resolves as the baby’s mouth grows and they get a better latch. It isn’t ok or normal if you’re screaming, gritting your teeth, tightening your shoulders, tearing up or deep breathing - you should not be pain coping through it. If you’re experiencing that level of pain, people become fearful of breastfeeding and often times the baby isn’t getting enough milk due to a bad latch.
- LOW MILK SUPPLY - if a person isn’t producing enough breast milk for their baby, whether it’s perceived or real, they will often give up. The first few days of breastfeeding moms have colostrum and some parents believe they don’t have enough milk since it doesn’t look like full flowing milk. The baby in the beginning requests milk very frequently and may want to feed every 60 to 90 minutes. Some people think that means they don’t have enough milk. And the hospital very commonly feeds that feeling,and offers to give the baby a bottle. That early bottle can often lead to lowered milk supply initially, especially if the mom doesn’t pump or hand express their milk, while bottlefeeding. In some cases, some people do have low milk supply, despite a great latch, breastfeeding frequently, and doing all the right things.
- MISINFORMATION - It might mean the people around them think they’re breastfeeding too frequently and that the baby isn’t getting enough milk so people are pushing early bottle feeding. As mentioned above some people don’t know much about colostrum and think their milk isn’t coming in the first few days. The lack of education around breastfeeding can often cause moms to give up.
9) What’s the #1 breastfeeding myth you want to bust?
That it’s normal for breastfeeding to hurt. Pain should be a guide to get help.
10) Everyone seems to be pumping these days. How should a mom decide if she should pump, how much, when to start?
Way too many moms are pumping right now way too early. The reason I think we have seen a shift in the amount of pumping is that breast bumps are covered by insurance. All of a sudden everyone has a double electric breast pump at home. Most moms think you need to pump to build your milk supply. But pumping in the early days is very likely to create an overproduction problem which can lead to mastitis and clogged ducts.
In a normal situation where the baby is breastfeeding well and isn’t separated from mom, you should hold off 4-6 weeks before starting to pump. It coincides with around the first time you’re introducing the bottle. As long as you feel breastfeeding is well established and the baby is gaining weight, you could start, which for some people may be as early as 2 weeks
Early pumping does have it’s place though..., If you have early separation from baby for any reason, pumping is the best way to keep and create your milk supply.
11) What do you think we can do to normalize breastfeeding to get more people supporting women to breastfeeding?
We need to educate people that breastfeeding is just eating. I hope that one day we’re not going to be posting all these breastfeeding pictures on Instagram because we won’t need to. But in the meantime we need to show moms breastfeeding until it becomes “normal”
My suggestion is if you are a breastfeeder who’s comfortable breastfeeding in public, get out there and feed your baby wherever you are whenever you need to. You’re helping to support other moms and lactating parents who may not feel comfortable. It really helps when people see other people breastfeeding in public not covered.
It’s also important to stand up for other moms if you see anyone being harassed in public. There are many places in the US where breastfeeding in public may not be as accepted.
Before starting to breastfeed in public, I always suggest for moms to practice at the dinner table at home the first few weeks. To act like they’re at a restaurant and go through the motions. Those early days you’re fumbling and practice can help.
I just worked on a film where I helped the lead actress breastfeed in it. I would love to see that a lot more in films and on tv. I think by showing moms breastfeeding as much as we can, and not as a plot line, but just as part of what the character does, it will definitely help normalize it.
Thanks Jada for all that you've done to help women transition to motherhood over the last 17 years!!
Jada has been kind enough to give $25 off first visit with a boober provider valid until Dec 31, 2019 with code BOOBERTC25.
xoxo, Teat & Cosset