Metro Mama & Metro Baby

By Catherine Wayland

Dear Mamas,

Hello sweet girls – how are you? Let’s talk breast shall we? Know this: I want to honor this topic with the importance due it. So, I must give you one of my family stories from our attic. It will shed light on my own personal choices that admittedly color my writing.

It was a sunny, brisk day on September 26, 2002. My little angel Jax seemed to have tentacles of an octopus, gripping my breast with a fury. No matter how many lactation consultants came to visit us, my breasts were on fire with pain and blisters. Anytime Jax came near me to feed, we were both crying. I felt defeated, full of angst. I gathered my baby in my arms and went to the nursery. I grabbed onto the nurse on duty and pronounced with a dramatic voice, “I have come to my first decision as a Mommy, I want my family to be happy.” She patted my arm, and said, “Of course sweetie, of course.” To which I replied, “So give me a bottle of formula, NOW!” The dear Florence Nightingale, smiled and handed me some formula. It was of course, the beginning of the end of my breastfeeding. I did breastfeed Jax for three months very successfully, but gave up when I was put on an anti-depressant for postpartum depression…another ignorance.

Not a bad thing to want to feed your baby and relieve your suffering? Of course not. But to my solution, Felina Rakowski-Gallagher, owner and founder of the Upper Breast Side might have responded, “Ok, now pump, pump, pump!” Continuing to pump could have been less painful while I was healing the nipples and assured my milk supply. Felina had had her own story of difficult breastfeeding some years back when her first child was born. At the time, she was a New York City police officer on maternity leave. She was troubled at the lack of support to endure breastfeeding, and the ease in which new mothers are handed formulas. Upon evaluating her return to work versus daycare expenses, she decided to stay home. During these first years of motherhood, she researched the gap in the market and Upper Breast Side was born. It began in her home by appointment only. It is now a thriving business with its own location on the ground floor of her apartment building, 220 West 71st Suite 1 (between Broadway and West End Avenue). Phone: 212-873-2653. Email: upperBreastSide@aol.com www.upperbreastside.com

Brava, brava Felina. I learned so much from you upon my first visit to you and then our interview. My mama readers and myself applaud you! What passion and entrepreneurial spirit soars through you and this boutique-style shop. The core product lines are breast pumps and nursing bras. Her concept is “try before you buy!” Fantastic! Felina sells the pumps in parts so you don’t have to spend money on an entirely new, expensive pump package to just get missing parts. She also rents them. Other products include: Mother’s Milk Storage Bags, nursing pads, The My Breast Friend, and EZ-2-Nurse twin pillows, reference books and an herbal supplement line by MotherLove (www.motherlove.com). Felina is a big supporter of other mom’s innovations and will carry their products, i.e., a nursing bracelet that helps you remember right or left and how many times on a 24-hour clock you have nursed.

Felina’s most invaluable product can be found in the Upper Breast Side’s tagline. Her business boasts, “You bring your breast, we’ll do the rest.” I believe that Felina’s most priceless gem is her breast-feeding “support” to other women. She supports them. If you walk into the shop on any given moment, there are multiples of women with their breasts being measured for a wonderfully sexy nursing bra or shown how to use a pump. You can sit on the store’s comfy couch forever chatting away about your particular individual needs. Felina will hand you books, products and never make you feel bothersome to her. She believes strongly in her store and products. Hey mamas, Felina made a believer of me. She made me think about the possibilities of my choices.

I was misinformed. I did give up easily. It’s a shame because when I had gotten my milk supply going, I really was one of those lucky, plentiful women. But then I began to suffer from postpartum depression and was told that medicine would not be appropriate to nurse with. The nursing had actually been Jax and my most happy times as mother and son. Actually, if I could have kept Jax on the breast all day, I might not have needed the medicine. The hormones released during breast-feeding made me feel good and very bonded with my son. I remember feeling quite sad on our last nursing. Nursing was such a comfort to him as well. No matter the crying, he settled instantly on the breast. If I had known of Felina, she would have handed me the book she handed me the other day, “Medications and Mother’s Milk, 2004 11th Edition, by Dr. Thomas W. Hale (you can fink a link to his site on Felina’s www.uppperbreastside.com).

It is important not to have regrets…in life, and certainly not as a mother. I do not regret mine. I made decisions based on the information I had at the time. I responded to the environment that was supporting me. But maybe you are suffering your decisions right now. This article might give you sweet mamas some new information you didn’t have before. Now you know about Felina and her wonderful shop, Upper Breast Side. If you have your own questions, go to her, she’s wonderful.

Love to you, Mama

P.S. Some other valuable information:

Some Breastfeeding Support Groups in New York City – 2004

Ancsche Chesed Temple
251 West 100th St.
10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
9/18, 10/6, 11/03, 11/17, 12/15
no registration required, suggested donation $3-5

The Upper Breast Side
220 W.71st St
Weekly Thursdays, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
$35 registration fee: reserve by contacting Beverly Solow (212)567-1112

92nd St YMCA
1395 Lexington Avenue
Thursdays 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. Beginning Sept. 9
Registration fee at the door, $15

Originally published December 2004
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