Mom of the Month: Rachel Welch
Posted on August 16 2021
Meet Rachel Welch
Founder and Teacher, Revolution Motherhood
What was it like your first time breastfeeding?
Fortunately, breastfeeding came pretty easily to me with my first daughter. I had taken a prenatal breastfeeding class and it was one of the best things I did, because, when she was born, I was trying to feed her within minutes, it seemed, and there was no guidance in that moment. The nurse just handed her to me and said that I should try and feed her. The biggest moment I remember was 3 days later, sitting at our dining room table and our baby was in my lap. Big, giant tears started running down my cheeks and I was just sobbing about how much I loved my family. I just kept repeating ‘I love you both so much’. My husband was across from me and he suddenly said…’is your milk coming in’? At which point I looked down and realized my boob was out of my shirt and indeed, milk was streaming down my stomach. It was the first time I realized how the waves of Post partum hormonal emotions were operating in me.
Was your experience different/the same with your second child?
It was similar with my second in that it all came pretty easily. I was much more confident and relaxed since I’d had so much practice with my first. I also felt unable to really be present with my second while breastfeeding. I didn’t stare at her the whole time, memorizing her face and being. I was staring at and interacting with my first, or passing out on the bed while she nursed. I sometimes look at my second daughter now and just stare and soak her in. Like I’m trying to recapture those previous, missed moments.
Did you ever consider formula?
I didn’t, just because I was never faced with the need. I produced enough milk for both of my babies and was physically able to be near them enough to be their sole source of nutrients.
How did you navigate feeding in public? Did you ever feel shamed or uncomfortable feeding in public?
I’m pretty relaxed about motherhood and fortunately, NYC and our neighborhood in Brooklyn in particular, is very open and accustomed to all aspects of parenting in public, including breastfeeding. That said, I usually wore a light cotton scarf/shawl that I would use to gently drape over their heads so my boob wasn’t totally exposed most of the time. There was one time, though, my oldest was only a few weeks old and it was my birthday. My husband took us to lunch to celebrate and I just had the baby in the ring sling as she was sleeping most of time still. At one point during lunch, I started feeding her at the table and I remember this woman staring daggers at me from a nearby table. I didn’t think twice about it in the moment but a few weeks later, it clicked, and I realized she was upset that I was feeding in public. That moment has always stayed with me - mostly as a reminder to how little discrimination I’ve endured but MOST moms out there live that every day…and that truth fuels the fire in my heart for the work I do.
How did you ween? Did you want to stop before then? Did you feel guilty after?
Oh man. Weening. I didn’t have a plan or agenda on anything about nursing my babies. It worked, so I did it. I believe fully in the incomparable benefits of breast milk. I’ve seen it work magic on my kids, but I also wasn’t attached, which is really how I parent. I’m in a relationship with my babies and the base need is that they are fed. But, by about 14 months with both of them, I was starting to feel done. They weren’t reliant on my milk for nutrition and I wasn’t pumping anything. They were both down to just a handful of feeds a day. So I began slowly, taking the middle of the night feed out. It was gut wrenching the first time I did it. My baby woke up, wanted to nurse and fall back asleep but I just held her close in my arms and rocked her instead. She screamed. And slowly fell asleep. It probably only took about 10 minutes, but it felt like an hour. My husband was there with me, holding my hand. Once she was asleep, I laid down in bed with her on my chest and cried. It was so hard to begin leading a transition that felt really right to me, but that she was so sad about. From then on, it got so much easier and instead of milk, I’d offer her a little water or a banana. Seriously, we ended up sleeping with a banana on our headboard every night for almost a year because she would wake up hungry, eat it and go back to sleep! That’s how I weaned her though and it worked.
To pump or not to pump?
A pump can be a moms best friend. I never had to pump for more than 1, maybe 2 feedings, so I feel really fortunate. I used it mostly to be able to go do something and not be afraid of the babies getting too hungry. It was harder with my first to get enough milk in addition to feeding her. In fact, I messed up my milk supply by over pumping (it was our anniversary and we were trying to go get massages). I ended up creating over supply and my baby was only getting the fore milk and no hind milk, which messes with their digestion. I did a bunch of reading and fixed it by stopping pumping and feeding her in a special rhythm to rebalance my milk supply to her demand.
Did your exercise lifestyle effect your milk supply? Engorgement?
It didn’t! I wasn’t over-exercising though, either. I moved for, at most, an hour a day and it was extremely gentle, breath based yoga and soft foam rolling to begin. As I was hitting more of a stride with my body, breastfeeding was hitting a stride also, so I felt like I had more energy and desire to push myself in my workouts. The key is to really respect and listen to your body. Exercise is an exceptional and essential component to healthy, balanced motherhood. But sometimes, a nap and a hot meal are needed instead, in that precious ‘me time’ hour.
Did you experience leaking at inopportune times?
Soooo many times. It’s just par for the course. Carry extra breast pads (I used re-usable cotton ones that I washed) and the little cotton scarf is super handy for dealing over the wet spots.
Did you feel pressure to get the baby weight off because of your role as a fitness expert?
Fleetingly, those thoughts came and went occasionally. But, I’ve spent many years practicing loving myself and my body and being authentic in my work is essential to me. So, even when moments of self doubt arose in my mind, I had a great partner to tell me how rockin I am and tools for re-grounding myself in positive self-language.
The challenge for me - and most women - is to love your post partum body while acknowledging that it’s not the shape you want to remain in for the rest of your life. From there, establishing consistent, daily practices that are shorter in time than you’d like them to be (because you’re a mom juggling more than anyone will ever understand), is the key to achieving your goal of a functional, strong, vibrant, healthy body and life. It takes discipline and practice to keep showing up - loving discipline, but discipline nonetheless.