An Interview with Amber Hinds
For the past years, Amber has been sharing tips and insight on everything parenthood on her blog Au Coeur. In her interview with Dreaming of Baby, Amber talks about perseverance and support in breastfeeding, the power of positivity in birth, and the significance of confidence in the choices we make as parents.
Daniela GS: Good morning, Amber, and welcome! I’m looking forward to getting to know more about you, your writing, and the tips and information you’re eager to impart with our readers!
Amber Hinds: Thanks! I’m excited to share my experiences and knowledge.
Daniela GS: You’ve been writing about motherhood, pregnancy and breastfeeding for the past years. What led you to write about these subjects?
Amber Hinds: I started writing about motherhood, pregnancy, and birth for the most personal reasons: I was experiencing them first hand. My eldest daughter was born in 2009 and started writing as a way to process my own thoughts about what I was going through as a first time mother, and also to share my experience with others. I struggled quite a bit initially with breastfeeding and found great support from other women; writing was one of my ways to pay that support forward.
Overcoming the Challenges of Breastfeeding
Daniela GS: True, motherhood – especially in the early days – can be quite overwhelming. What was the main factor that helped you overcome the initial struggles with breastfeeding?
Amber Hinds: Perseverance and stubbornness? No, in reality, it was a combination of two things – first, having people around me that were supportive of breastfeeding and knowledgeable. Number one, was my husband. He never once suggested that we should try formula and was very patient about helping me work through latch issues. I started going to La Leche League in the last few months of my pregnancy and also built a relationship with a local maternity and children’s store owner who was also a lactation counselor, both of whom I relied on rather heavily during the early weeks. I spent a good part of my daughter’s first six weeks sitting in the back room of that maternity store getting advice as I tried to latch her over and over. Being able to ask for help and being firm in my decision to breastfeed were key to eventually finding success. The second fact was just time. It’s hard to have the perspective that things will get better when you’re a new mom, but it really is true that as I worked together with my daughter to figure out nursing and persevered, it eventually worked out. Her mouth got bigger, she had more patience, and before I knew it, I hardly even remembered the pain or worries about weight gain.
Being able to ask for help and being firm in my decision to breastfeed were key to eventually finding success.
I have three daughters now – my youngest is 8 weeks and breastfeeding as we speak. There has always been an initial period of discomfort and learning in the early days. Luckily, with each subsequent child that period seems to be shorter and shorter.
Daniela GS: The way you describe the support you found in your breastfeeding journey, as well as your determination to succeed, is beautiful and inspiring. As you say, the first weeks seem never-ending, especially when the little daily struggles seem to abound. Many mothers embark on the breastfeeding journey unaware of the potential challenges. What would be your advice to expectant moms in preparing for this journey?
Amber Hinds: The biggest advice I have is to find a support group before giving birth to your baby. La Leche League is amazing, free, and they have chapters internationally. It might feel silly to go to a La Leche League meeting while pregnant, but building the connection ahead of time will make it much easier to make that phone call if help is needed. Attending a breastfeeding class can be useful, but if I had to choose only one, I would go with La Leche League over a breastfeeding class any day. La Leche League leaders will share the exact same information that will be taught in a breastfeeding class, plus they will be there once you’ve given birth as your cheerleader and lactation consultant if you need it. Also, La Leche League meetings are a great place to get a full spectrum view of breastfeeding – moms and nursing babies from newborn to toddler attend, so it helps to provide a longer-term look at what breastfeeding and caring for a baby looks like beyond just the first weeks.
I spent all of my pregnancy reading as much as I could, and all that knowledge definitely contributed to my confidence in both birth, breastfeeding, and parenting.
Beyond that, I’m a person who loves to absorb as much information as possible. I’d say read as many books as you can get your hands on. I have a blog post on my website that shares my favorite parenting, pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, books. I spent all of my pregnancy reading as much as I could, and all that knowledge definitely contributed to my confidence in both birth, breastfeeding, and parenting.
Regarding perspective, when I was leading La Leche League meetings, I used to sometimes take a yard stick with me to meetings and hold it up for moms to look at. If you think of each inch on the yard stick as a year in your child’s life, you can see how long 18 years are visually. Then you see what a small part of that is the first 5 years before they go to school, and even tinier is the first year of life – just one inch on a great big yard stick. Sometimes having a visual to keep in mind is helpful when the days feel long and it seems like your baby will never move to the next milestone.
Daniela GS: That’s a lovely way to get everything in perspective. As you say, we tend to forget how fleeting the first years are. I am sure our readers will find the reading list helpful too; being prepared remains key. Sometimes though, regardless of all of our efforts, the breastfeeding journey doesn’t proceed as we might have wished and resorting to formula ends up imperative. What advice would you give to those moms who have tried their best but who had to unfortunately stop breastfeeding?
As a mom, it’s important to be confident in your choices and not worry about outside pressures.
Amber Hinds: As a Certified Lactation Counselor and La Leche League Leader, I worked with both mothers who had to supplement their babies for a short time and also those who ended up stopping breastfeeding altogether. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that every mother knows her baby and her body best. I often told mothers that no one knows their baby better than they do, and they should be confident in their choices. If formula feeding is necessary or desired, that’s okay! As a mom, it’s important to be confident in your choices and not worry about outside pressures. Certainly, it’s important to make choices based on evidence – as much as it’s available – but just know that you’re doing the best you can. As long as your baby is loved and provided for, he or she will be alright.
The Power of Positivity in Childbirth
Daniela GS: For those who are struggling, your words are comforting. Life with a newborn is not always straightforward; as you rightly state, being confident in the choices we make as parents becomes our strength in the parenthood journey. You have also written extensively about birth. To what extent is confidence also key in childbirth?
Because I went into birth with a positive outlook rather than fear, I was relaxed, not tense. Believing that my body was meant to birth and that everything would turn out okay was definitely key to having the birth experience that I wanted.
Amber Hinds: I’ve given birth three times, all without medication and twice at home. For me, confidence in my body certainly played a role in my ability to give birth naturally. Because I went into birth with a positive outlook rather than fear, I was relaxed, not tense. Believing that my body was meant to birth and that everything would turn out okay was definitely key to having the birth experience that I wanted.
I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking. When I was newly pregnant with my eldest daughter, I decided that I was going to have a natural birth. I did not tell myself or others that I was going to “try” to have a natural birth; I just said that I was going to do it. “Trying,” which leaves room for doubt, was never part of the equation. From the very beginning, I made a point of thinking positively and confidently about labor and delivery. I surrounded myself with positive people, from my friends, to my doula and midwife, all of whom supported and encouraged my plan to birth without medication. While I left room for flexibility should a situation beyond my control arise, I did not leave room for negativity or doubt. I took tales of bad birth experiences with a grain of salt and discouraged discussion of how awful or impossible to withstand birth is. I didn’t fret over possibly bad or scary situations, instead thinking that everything would turn out well, because worrying about something bad happening before it even happens won’t help anything.
Daniela GS: It’s amazing that you worked for that outlook on birth. As you say, approaching birth in a positive manner and trusting your body is important. As someone who has experienced both a birth in a hospital setting and at home, what differences did you find the most striking between the two?
Amber Hinds: My hospital birth was a little unique because we intentionally stayed home as long as possible – I was pushing (well trying not to) when we arrived and my daughter was born 20 minutes later, so I’ve never labored in a hospital. The after experience is like night and day. Being in your own home, sleeping in your own bed, and eating your own food is so much better than staying in a hospital on a hard hospital bed, and eating hospital food. It’s much more relaxing and restful. It was also much more enjoyable for my husband.
The other huge difference is in the prenatal care. When you’re planning a homebirth, your prenatal appointments with your midwife will likely last an hour and are much more in depth than the short 10 minute visits that you have with a hospital midwife or OB-GYN. The care both before and after is so much more personal. I wrote all about prenatal care during a home birth on my blog.
Daniela GS: Thank you Amber for sharing your experiences with our readers; the knowledge you have imparted will help many in their journeys towards birth and the first weeks with their newborn. I’m afraid time has caught up with us and we have to close this very informative interview here. Thank you for your time today!
Amber Hinds: Thanks for interviewing me! Have a great day.