Podcast Episode #50

Birth Story: Feeding Friend

Breastfeeding can be so difficult and painful and doesn’t always come naturally. My next guest has gone through the horrendous pain of mastitis to create her own innovative solution to support her in her breastfeeding journey. She has developed this idea into a business that is helping mothers to breast or bottle feed their baby in comfort. 

Amanda Rowe is a mum of three and the founder of the ‘Feeding Friend’. The ‘Feeding Friend’ is a feeding pillow that provides breastfeeding or bottle feeding arm support. 

It is not a typical nursing pillow. Amanda’s mission is to help mums create a connection and bond by aiding them to hold their baby and take all of the pressure off the loading arm to help mum’s posture, self-care, comfort and letdown during feeding. 

I am so grateful to hear and discuss Amanda’s journey and the challenges she went through while breastfeeding and the motherhood experience.

To celebrate my 50th podcast episode we are doing a giveaway! If you would like to go into the draw to win your very own Feeding Friend AND 3 months membership to FitNest Mama, click here! Hurry, entries close on the 7th of September at midnight!

Episode Links

The Feeding Friend Instagram: @feeding_friend

The Feeding Friend website: https://feedingfriend.com.au/

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Birth Story: Feeding Friend

Transcription

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that this transcription was completed with computer voice recognition software. Quite often unanticipated grammatical, syntax, homophones, and other interpretive errors are inadvertently transcribed by the computer software. Please disregard these errors. Please excuse any errors that have escaped final proofreading.

INTRODUCTION

If you are pregnant or you’ve recently had a baby, this podcast is for you. I am your host Kath Baquie. A physiotherapist working in women’s health and mum of three. Join me each week as we dive into all things pregnancy care, childbirth, and postnatal recovery, helping you have a wonderful pregnancy and afterbirth experience. And don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes.

KATH BAQUIE

Welcome to Episode 50 of the FitNest Mama Podcast. I’m your host Kath Baquie. I’m a mum of three young girls, a physio for women and I have an online community, FitNest Mama, which helps to provide pregnant and new mothers with the exercises, support and resources they need to feel good from the inside out as they prepare for and recover from childbirth. FitNest Mama has worked out which is a tired-mum friendly, achy-mum friendly and toddler friendly that you can do in the convenience of your home. At the end of a long day. Whilst your bubba sleeps or whilst your toddler is running around causing havoc.

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I have the pleasure of chatting with Amanda Rowe. And Amanda is a mum of three and She’s the founder of Feeding Friend which is a nursing pillow which provides breast or bottle feeding and support. So Amanda chats about her journey and challenges with breastfeeding, including developing mastitis, carpal tunnel, and shoulder pains. And her journey led her to create this portable pillow, which you’ll hear more about in the episode.

Now today’s episode is the big number five zero, 50, which I’m super excited about. When I first started this podcast, I wrote down 20 topics and thought if I can get 20 episodes, then I’m really happy. So here we are in what feels like blink of an eye at number 50. And I feel like it’s time for a giveaway. So this episode is sponsored by Amanda and the feeding friend nursing pillow. And if you would like to go into the draw for the FitNest Mama 50th Podcast Episode Giveaway, you will be in the running to win your very own feeding pillow, feeding friend and three months membership to FitNest Mama. To find out more details and enter this giveaway, head to members.fitnestmama.com/giveaway, and be quick because this giveaway finishes Tuesday, the 7th, of September at midnight Australian Eastern Standard Time. Alright, let’s get into this show.

And then just thank you for joining me today on the podcast.

AMANDA ROWE

Thank you so much for having me.

KATH BAQUIE

It’s so lovely to chat. I’ve been checking your Instagram out for a very long time. The reason I wanted to chat is because you’ve developed this amazing breastfeeding pillow, which I think we’ll definitely talk about later. And I think it’s something that all mums should know about in terms of just being able to help with your breastfeeding posture and all the rest. But I would love to chat to you about you. So tell me Amanda, tell me about your motherhood journey. Like you’ve got a few children, don’t you?

AMANDA ROWE

Yes, I have three children. Seven, six and four years of age now. And it’s going incredibly quick as I’m sure you can relate to that. Having three children yourself, is that right?

KATH BAQUIE

Yes. It’s sad, isn’t it? how quickly it goes.

AMANDA ROWE

Very.

KATH BAQUIE

Whereas at the time it feels like it’s each day is so long.

AMANDA ROWE

Yes.

KATH BAQUIE

What do they say the day is short for the years along? Oh no. The days are long but the years are short.

AMANDA ROWE

Such a true saying.

KATH BAQUIE

Okay, so you’re based in Perth, Australia. Could you tell me a little bit about what you’ve done? Can you tell me about your, tell me, just give us a little abridged version of you?

AMANDA ROWE

Sure. I really struggled to breastfeed. I really wanted to breastfeed my children. But I realized I suffered with anxiety while nursing in public. And that is because all of my positioning, it was constantly changing and I was awkward. And I guess when I really needed a support pillow, it was when my second born arrived and I was kid wrangling a toddler. Constantly lifting a toddler and trying to hold a baby to breastfeed. I developed carpal tunnel syndrome. So after a trip to the GP, he suggested I use a support pillow for so I went on my way to find a nursing pillow that I could travel with and one that catered to my body shape, size and the constantly changing angles. I was shocked to find that all of the nursing pillows were flat and wide. And I didn’t understand why at the time. So yeah, I ended up going to my local cut, measure storing. I cut up pieces of foam and tested different shapes and thought hail, I’ll make a product. Then that’s how feeding friend was born.

KATH BAQUIE

That’s amazing. I love it when a product is developed as a result of need. You mentioned you had a difficult breastfeeding journey. Can you talk me through what made it difficult, like what happened right from when your baby was first born?

AMANDA ROWE

Oh, when my baby was first born, the midwife came in without warning, grabbed my nipple and tried to hand express colostrum. And I was mortified. I felt violated and anxious. And I think from that moment, I realized I should have done a lot more research on how challenging breastfeeding is. And I didn’t, I persevered. And I turned out I had fed my baby through mastitis for more than two months. And because my body wasn’t showing the obvious signs of mastitis with the lumps and the redness, a few trips to lactation specialists and community groups, they said, “No, you’re doing everything fine. latching is fine, everything’s fine.” And the best way I can describe it is razor blades from my nipple going all the way up over my shoulder out into my back. And the only way I knew that I had mastitis was my son had a bit of reflux, and there was blood in his vomit. And after a swab, they said, “You have mastitis.” So antibiotics cleared that up. And I think what ended up happening as a result of that traumatic feeding experience is that yeah, I was anxious, feeding my baby and public, my other children public thereafter. Because when the child is hungry, and I’m not relaxed, if past it at the breast.

KATH BAQUIE

Oh, wow, what a story. So did you not know that you had blood? Until you saw it coming over your baby’s mouth?

AMANDA ROWE

Yes, I really struggled to express with all three children. So I wasn’t expressing. And I didn’t actually know that there was a problem until there was a bit of reflux and blood in the reflux in the vomits. And yes.

KATH BAQUIE

Wow. And for those listening, mastitis is unfortunately common reason women do give up breastfeeding. Because it can be quite painful as you’ve described, Amanda. So that’s right, you did finally work out what it was. And hopefully not everyone has your experience in terms of it being so hard to pick up. Because the sooner you can treat my status, whether or not that’s with antibiotics, or if it’s not yet infective, like if it’s not yet in your system, sometimes physios treat it with therapeutic ultrasound, and there’s some massage techniques too. But generally when it’s infective mastitis, so you’ve got an infection. If you’re feeling unwell, that’s when you need to go on antibiotics. Were you feeling unwell?

AMANDA ROWE

Yes. And everyone said it was normal. It was normal to get night sweats. And it was normal to feed in pain. So I actually cried. And I said to my husband, I can’t do this anymore. And he went off and he got me formula. And I just cried that whole night. Because I felt like I was failing. I thought that pain was normal. But that type of pain was not normal. So a point to make is that mastitis does not present itself with the typical symptoms in everybody.

KATH BAQUIE

Was that the first time you’d gone to the doctor?

AMANDA ROWE

No. I had gone to the doctor because I thought I was having issues with the way my baby was latching. And the doctor then referred me on to a lactation consultant and a community group where you can go along with your baby and breastfeed. And everything I was doing was apparently fine and that the pain is not because they’re not in my body. I just thought I was really sensitive to pain.

KATH BAQUIE

Oh, sorry to hear that story. And what happened once you’d gone on to the antibiotics. What changed then?

AMANDA ROWE

Well, I still will tense my shoulders because I was so used to feeling in pain when the letdown happened. So I guess my body was naturally just tensing the shoulders which prevented my leg down from happening. So I ended up having a fussy baby at every feed. And I realized with the second baby, okay, I need to relax and rest my arms and drop my shoulders. That’s why the support pillar was so needed for me to take care of myself. So one thing I have to mention is Feeding Friend is not a typical nursing pillow. It’s very, very different. I now understand why traditional nursing pillows are flat and wide. And that is because 50% of mothers actually use a nursing pillow to be hands free. Whereas my product is not about being hands free. It’s about creating that connection and bond with your baby. Because you need to hold your baby while using my arm support under your arm, your hand and your wrist. It is different in that sense. But it’s all about taking the pressure and weight off the loading arm and obviously helping with your posture, which as you know, you mentioned we’ll go into that later.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah, and thank you for bringing that up, Amanda. I think it is important. If you’re listening today to I guess, just do the due diligence to see what would work best for you and your lifestyle. You know, have you got a toddler that’s running around. So you need to be able to feed on the floor or you always feeding and you’re breastfeeding chairs. Perhaps your first baby, I think both of those situations alone might mean that perhaps you need a different sort of pillow. So everyone listening today, have a think, what are your needs? What do you want to be able to do and then work out? What’s the best pillow for you? Would you agree, Amanda?

AMANDA ROWE

Yes. Great advice, Kath. Definitely. And also a good point to note is that, as your baby grows bigger, the way you hold your baby, and that angle and space under your arm and your lap constantly changes. So have a flat nursing pillow will be great for the newborn phases of horizontally holding your baby. But if you plan to breastfeed your baby beyond the three-month phase, you might need different height options, something to think about.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah, 100% You’re right. So if you’re breastfeeding in the traditional way where your baby is horizontal. I distinctly remember, I think it was with my first baby. I remember the feed I remember where I was sitting and everything about it, where I no longer had to hold it horizontal. And suddenly she was resting on my lap. And fading. It’s just obviously, it’s like overnight. She just grown a little bit more, or I just tried a different position. And I no longer had to hold her and she was resting on my lap while feeding

AMANDA ROWE

Amazing.

KATH BAQUIE

Do you remember that transition?

AMANDA ROWE

Yes. Lots of different angle.

KATH BAQUIE

Oh, my gosh, she’s not like a little baby anymore.

AMANDA ROWE

I know.

KATH BAQUIE

Okay, so you’ve mentioned a little bit about your breastfeeding challenges and your neck pain and carpal tunnel. Did you have any other challenges when it came to breast feeding apart from the mastitis and everything you talked about? Like how was it breastfeeding in public and all sorts of things?

AMANDA ROWE

I’ve breastfed and bottle fed my children. And unfortunately, because I had suffered with anxiety associated with feeding in public, just felt judged. It didn’t come naturally to me. Aside from the carpal tunnel and the pain, it was very challenging to feed in public with a toddler in tow. Because if you want to be comfortable and relaxed and sitting in one position, and then your toddler runs off, you have to be quick. And you learn very quickly how to keep the baby in position and on the boob while, you know attending to your toddler. So women and mothers, for everyone listening, you’re all incredibly amazing. Yeah, that is a challenge in itself having more than one child.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah, you know what, I love the fact that you bring that up because my first baby, I struggled to get her to latch. She was fussy. I had no confidence, I just felt as soon as I’d put her on the boob, she’d arch and push away and I’d be exposing my boob to everyone, which is fine, but I just I didn’t have that confidence. And then when my second baby, she was really reflexive. So I thought, as soon as I finished my feed, there’s going to be a puddle on the floor. So I was thinking, if I’m in a café, plus, I had a 20 month old and it was exactly the same. I couldn’t relax in a cafe with my 20 month old. And then it wasn’t till my third. When I finally had the confidence. I had just, I’ll probably all this came down to confidence and just feeling a bit more relaxed about the situation. And also out of necessity. I had to just feed everywhere and anywhere. So if you’re listening today, like I put a lot of pressure on myself and I was really frustrated and felt guilty that I wasn’t feeding out and about and I was like What’s wrong with me? You know, I want to feed out and about and I see everyone else feeding out and about. So that’s a great point. Thank you for bringing that up, Amanda.

AMANDA ROWE

No problem, but I totally feel your pain with a reflux baby. I’ve experienced that as well. Yeah, one of my children would vomit after every feed. It was just a nightmare.

KATH BAQUIE

Were they unsettled as well?

AMANDA ROWE

I’m not sure why I think either the flow was too much or I don’t know. She just, would vomit after everything. Just a bit of a blur now when I try and think back to it.

KATH BAQUIE

That’s right. All the different time breastfeeding experiences. It’s funny, because in I guess this is just life, isn’t it? When you’re in the thick of it. It’s everything. And then as soon as you’re out of that phase, it’s like I’m trying to clutch onto memories. Is that what you’re feeling?

AMANDA ROWE

Yes. That’s so true. I’m only really reminded when I go back to my photo, my digital photo albums on how it actually was.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah. So apart from breastfeeding, were there any challenges that you weren’t expecting?

AMANDA ROWE

Hmm, that’s a really good question. I guess, I was really shocked to realize no one had ever actually told me. And this is, I’m talking about my family, what motherhood would actually look like. So I guess, I’m really lucky. We live in a world where it’s at our fingertips and we can, you know, click on different resources and interact with professionals like yourself care. But yeah, I was just shocked that it’s really difficult. Beyond what I had ever imagined, I just can’t believe how much washing I’d have to do. I think I have my washing machine on four times a day. Well, yeah, one of the kids is going through a really crazy habit of putting the towel that’s near the laundry sink to dry their hands back into the sink. So it’s constantly wet. But I just, three kids, you know, Kath. A lot of washing. It reminds me of the newborn phase as well, and the solids phase, where they’re spilling baby puree all over themselves, and you’re constantly washing. So yeah, I didn’t really know that there’s that much washing.

KATH BAQUIE

If you can invest in a good washing machine, everyone listening, and makes a world a difference.

AMANDA ROWE

Definitely.

KATH BAQUIE

To finish up with Amanda, what would be your words of wisdom for other pregnant mums? who are listening today? or new mums with babies from an experienced mum of three? What words of wisdom do you have?

AMANDA ROWE

Self-care is a huge priority. Mums out there, you must take care of yourself in every way. And it is not selfish. For example, if your baby is due for a feed, before you jump up, and go and attend to their cries, think where am I going to be sitting? Do I have my water bottle? Am I going to be comfortable? Try and have a little mental checklist in your head and prioritize yourself because you will be there for that period of time. And like Katherine, I have mentioned the time goes so fast. But when you’re in it, it does feel long. And connecting with your babies is just such a precious time. And you should be relaxed and confident and comfortable. Especially while feeding your baby. So my advice would be, think of yourself. You may not know what you need postpartum. But just think how is this going to support me? When you’re looking at items? And if you’ve already had your baby, just ask yourself, what is frustrating me at the moment? Do I need more sleep? Is my back’s hurting? Am I struggling with feeding and just think of how can I take care of myself?

KATH BAQUIE

Love it. Couldn’t have said it better myself? That’s brilliant. Now I just suddenly had this thought and I should have asked this question earlier on. But is your pillow, the Feeding Friend? Is that designed to be used when your bottle feeding as well?

AMANDA ROWE

Absolutely. It’s designed for anyone cradling a baby, you don’t even need to be feeding a baby. So before my grandma passed away, my grandma was able to hold my youngest child for two hours at a dinner party and just having the support under her arms and her elbow. She was comfortable and happy and actually delighted, holding one of her great grandchildren for that long. So yes, my product is not exclusive to breastfeeding. It’s not even really about feeding as such and helping you magically learn how to navigate refeeding because you don’t need any device to do that. Just you and your baby to navigate through breastfeeding. My product is purely for self-care. And I’m very passionate in pushing that message that mums need to take care of themselves and that will enhance your motherhood experience. And that it’s not a sin. It’s not a bad thing to think of yourself. And I want to squash that culture. So yes, my product is the only one of its kind. It’s super portable, because why should we only be comfortable at home and that’s the Feeling Friend. An arm support that’s portable.

KATH BAQUIE

Oh, thank you so much. It was so lovely to learn a little bit about it. And to hear your story too because behind every great product isn’t even more amazing story usually. So thank you, Amanda for coming on today. And thank you for sharing your story.

AMANDA ROWE

Thanks so much Kath for having me. It was a pleasure.

KATH BAQUIE

We’ll see you soon.

AMANDA ROWE

Bye.

KATH BAQUIE

And before I sign off, remember my team and I will be putting together the show notes for this episode with all the links, including how to connect with Amanda at www.fitnestmama.com/podcast. And if you want to enter the giveaway, don’t forget to head to www.fitnestmama.com/giveaway before the 7th of September 2021 to go into the draw to win a nursing pillow, the Feeding Friend and three months membership. So to find out more details and to enter, head to www.fitnestmama.com/giveaway. Have a fabulous day everyone and I look forward to you joining me next week for another episode of the FitNest Mama Podcast.

Thanks for listening to the FitNest Mama Podcast brought to you by the FitNest Mama Freebies found at www.fitnestmama.com/free. So please take a few seconds to leave a review, subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode. And be sure to take a screenshot of this podcast, upload it to your social media and tag me, @fitnestmama, so I can give you a shout out too. Until next time! Remember, an active pregnancy, confident childbirth, and strong postnatal recovery is something that you deserve. Remember, our disclaimer, materials and contents in this podcast are intended as general information only and shouldn’t substitute any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. I’ll see you soon!

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