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Birth Story Listening


Claudia Tillman - Breastfeeding Educator and Happy Baby Breastfeeding Check-Up

How long have you been a Breastfeeding Educator?

over 2 years

How many women have you supported along their breastfeeding journey?

75+ women

What was your occupation before breastfeeding support work?

She was as an entrepreneur and then began a family and now has 3 rambunctious boys.

Why did you make the switch and decide to do work with mothers?

The experience as a mother and feeling as though there is a huge need for experienced and trained

 moms helping other new moms with their transition into motherhood for the first time or the fifth time.

What’s an interesting fact about you?

She can tap dance!

Do you have an encouragement you’d like to give to mothers?

No matter what happens, whether you breastfeed for 3 days or 3 years, don’t be so hard on yourself…EVER!

What’s your biggest and most important breastfeeding tip?

Feed your newborn often in the early weeks (8-12 feedings is what you can expect). Don’t worry about schedules at this point! This will help you get off to the best start and ensure a supply that meets your baby’s current and future needs.


I love working with new moms especially as the facilitator of a support group for those going through it for the first time. To further my education, I recently attended a Bringing Home Baby (BBH) training in New York City. I was resting after a long day at the workshop and turned on the TV. Immediately the news jumped out at me. A distraught and very disturbed young woman living in the Bronx had dropped her 6-month-old baby out of a five-story window. My heart broke. We had discussed Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) that very day including Postpartum Psychosis (PPP) a severe condition that causes the mother to lose touch with reality. PMAD’s occur in about 1 out of 7 women within the first postpartum year and may start during pregnancy. PPP occurs in 1 or 2 women out of 1,000 usually within the first few months postpartum.

I don’t know exactly what this woman was dealing with but I do know that she was the mother of an infant who desperately needed help. In reality, the overwhelming majority of women will not be propelled to physically harm their children due to postpartum stress. While these disorders do affect the entire family unit and can be absolutely devastating, what we see sensationalized in the media is usually misdirected and full of misinformation. The dramatic events that catch headlines are in no way the norm and contribute to the shame and guilt that prevent some women from seeking the help they need. The truth is that women struggling with a PMAD may not realize it for much too long and neither will anyone else. While women are routinely screened during pregnancy for physical conditions with incidence rates of 1 or 2%, they are not regularly screened for mood disorders, which occur in about 15% of moms. 

Most moms grappling with these disorders will not experience anything like what is shown in the media or even what they believe to be true about mental illness. They will confront a handful of problems that are part of a wide range of possible symptoms. They might wrestle deeply with why they used to like babies but they don’t really seem to like their own. Why nothing brings them pleasure anymore. Why other moms appear to handle exhaustion so much better than they do. They might fantasize about running away from it all and never looking back. They may yearn to disappear so that the intrusive thoughts of hurting themselves or their baby will finally end. They may wish they could yell until it was over or cry until the crushing anxiety and worry subsides. To stop counting. Every. Single. Thing. To be able to close their eyes. To bore a hole into the ground with their very rage and just curl up in it. 

On the other hand, they may not feel anything at all. Just numbness where they are sure something else should be. Anything. They will wonder why nothing helps. They may try their best to laugh and eat and go through the motions because they know they should be happy. They may have a ritual of making the bed just before their husband gets home each day so he will not suspect they couldn’t drag themselves out of it. All the while they will wonder what is wrong with them as mothers, as friends, as wives, as sisters, and daughters. They will believe they have failed. They will believe they are not good enough. They will believe this is just the way it is for them, and they will be mistaken.

I have thought of the Bronx woman often and hope that she has gotten the help and compassion she deserves albeit far too late. While her experience is not that of most, it reminds me how very important this issue is. Becoming a new parent isn’t easy for anyone and we were never meant to do it on our own. Understanding that PMAD’s have many faces and that there is no shame in reaching out helps. The most meaningful thing we can all do is to simply connect. Ask a new mom how she is feeling and then listen.

Join us at Piedmont Park on Nov 8th to raise awareness and Move for Moms!

Find more information on PMAD here:


Kathleen Leathers - Doula Highlight

How long have you been a doula?

“I have been a birth doula since November 2014.”

How many births have you been to since November 2014?


What did you do before doula work?

“I lived in New York and Los Angeles working in music licensing for film and television - a very different world!”

Why did you make the switch?

“Through my best friend’s pregnancy she wanted me to attend her birth. That experience greatly inspired me and gave me a deep desire to search doula and birth work.”

What’s one interesting fact that people may not know about you but would enjoy learning?

“I play classical viola.”

Can you offer an encouragement to new mothers as they begin their journey into motherhood?

“Women’s bodies are made for this -  trust your instincts. You CAN do it!”

What are some birth bag tools you don’t want to leave home without?

“Since I am a music person, I always have a playlist and speaker on hand. I also bring a string of lights and flameless candles to help create a comfortable space. And I always have my trusty birth ball. If appropriate I bring humor as well - laughter can be an excellent labor coping tool!”


YOUR Birth Preferences

Have you thought about the kind of birth you want?  The birth of your baby is one of the most important and memorable days in your life!  We can’t plan a good outcome, but we can certainly plan a good process.  A birth plan should be a one page list mapping out your preferences, easy to read with bullet points.  Talking to your care provider beforehand, about your desires during your labor and birth, will help you open the lines of communication between you, your partner and your doctor or midwife.

Did you know you have a choice about what position to be in during childbirth?  Well, you do!  You can choose to birth in a squatting position, on all fours, flat on your back, sitting up, laying on your side, even in a tub of water.  Did you know you have a choice about whether to keep your baby with you at all times after he/she arrives?  Yes, you do!  Did you know you have a choice to have intermittent fetal monitoring versus constant fetal monitoring?  You do!  Did you know you have a choice to be mobile during your labor?  You absolutely do! Preparing a birth plan will help you consider and choose from among these options and many more.

As a laboring mother, remember that it’s your body and more importantly your baby.   Do your research and figure out what’s most important to you and write a plan.  You won’t be sorry!

We now offer a free downloadable Birth Plan Checklist (also called "Birth Wish" or "Birth Preferences").  Download and begin the conversation to your partner, doula and your care provider about all your options in birth and decide what’s most important to you.

Birth Well,

Lacy Henderson (Lumina Birth Owner)