“Right and that’s why I think the role of a lactation consultant and also postpartum doula is so important. You and your significant other have the same goal of trying to help establish a nice foundation for your newborn. You both need support and not just the mom. I see it as a cycle of us treating the men in our lives or significant others that they are not as important or that their struggle isn’t real and therefore it becomes that for them.. If our perspective is that they don’t have as much of a part in this, that this begins to be the role that they play.”
Shannon is the founder and CEO of SisterMom, a support website for moms. She is a licensed counselor with a Master of Science in Counseling and a Bachelor of Arts in Interpersonal Communication. She has worked in the behavioral health field since 2001. Her clients include everyone from kids and families to Fortune 500 companies. She developed and teaches The Perspective Process™, which provides a solid foundation for happy relationships. In addition, she has a handsome Italian-American husband and feisty Italian-Irish-Native American son.
Shannon grew up in Peoria, Arizona. At the time, it was such a small town and such a different time that we did not even lock our doors. She grew up in nature spending a lot of time outside in the desert. She loved horses and riding ATV’s and playing outside.
Early dreams and aspirations:
When she was a little girl, she wanted a chalkboard. She loved to play teacher and school all day long. She really wanted to become a teacher. As she got older, she really loved horses. She thought if she could combine teaching and horses that would be pretty amazing. She became a counselor and worked with horses and people and was quite happy doing so. One thing led to another and I did end up accomplishing her dreams.
Before she became a mom – What did she think she would be doing:
Well, Shannon says that simple things like saying your kid is never going to eat Lucky Charms. Never say these things! Shannon said that there is this ideal mom that I hope to be and then there is this mom that I didn’t want to be. I have learned that there needs to be a degree of balance.
Early breastfeeding days with her son Luca:
Her son is 4 years old now. She tried to prepare for everything. Shannon was able to quit work and spent quite a bit of time researching and trying to prepare for her birth, breastfeeding and postpartum life. She learned that there is no amount of research and studying that can prepare you for actually being a mom.
Shannon hired a birth doula who was certified in hypnobirthing so she took classes from her. She built a good relationship with her doula who she could rely on whenever she had questions or concerns or became anxious at all. Shannon also took breastfeeding classes with me and both she and her husband found it very helpful.
She did experience early pain with breastfeeding. Shannon talked about how common it is for others to accept pain with breastfeeding as a normal part of the process. While she heard what they were saying, she also remembered the words that she heard from our class: Breastfeeding is not suppose to hurt. This motivated her to get help.
Shannon always knew that she wanted to breastfeed and it was very upsetting that the one thing she looked so forward to doing, was causing her considerable pain. After her baby was born, the first few breastfeeding sessions went well. He latched on really well and she thought things were going well until about 12 hours later. Her nipples became increasingly sore. Unfortunately there was no lactation help over the weekend. Her problems got worse each day and her nipples were already cracked and bleeding. Unfortunately, all the staff kept telling her that her baby was latched on well. Shannon knew something was wrong and in fact stayed in the hospital one day longer to get breastfeeding help.
Everyone told her that her baby was latched on well. They showed her how to use a breast pump and gave her a nipple shield and then discharged her. Once home, she tried to reach me and when she could not get connected right away, she called around to see if she could find someone to help her immediately. She was feeling pretty awful, her legs were swollen, postpartum hormones had kicked in, but she was determined to get help.
All the healthcare providers who she was and told her things were going well, also told her that he was not tongue tied, whenever she asked. The lactation consultant that she initially saw, was not sure if her baby was tied and referred her to me. Her amazing husband was making calls and trying to find someone to help her. Eventually, they did come into see me for an appointment and it turns out that her baby was tongue-tied.
How did it feel to be told by numerous providers that your baby is not tongue tied and you are struggling with breastfeeding. Now you come in to see another provider (me) and I tell you that your baby is tied. How does that make you feel?
Her intuition told her he was tongue tied. The experts were telling her no and it was frustrating. So, when I told her that he was tied, it came as a relief to her and she easily accepted this assessment.
The first few weeks at home:
I took Luca in to a specialist so he had both ties, lip and tongue tie lasered. We were pumping and giving him a bottle. I had fixed the tie, but now I had a baby that would not latch onto the breast. Shannon now had to work really hard to help him learn how to latch. She spent a lot of time baby wearing so he had easy access to the breast. When she couldn’t wear him, her husband did. We talked a little bit about how partners are also affected when breastfeeding is not going well. It may not be hurting them, but it surely is upsetting to them. We need to take in our significant others postpartum experience also.
Feelings of wanting to give up:
Shannon shares the story of when she was struggling so much and she was reaching her breaking point. She and her husband called me, put us on speaker phone and she was able to tell me how difficult things were for her and that she was not sure if she could keep doing this anymore. We talked about the fact that she has a choice – she doesn’t have to keep breastfeeding her baby. Once she realized that she chose to breastfeed and was empowered to stop or continue, this was freeing to her.
Shannon continued to work at breastfeeding and soon Luca was exclusively breastfeeding and it was comfortable for her. She does talk about the fact that it did take a few more months until breastfeeding was easy for her and she was able to let go of feeling like she need to have to work so hard at breastfeeding.
Bonding with her baby:
Shannon felt it took a little while to fully bond with her baby. It was not this instantaneous bond the minute he was born, like you hear about in the movies or read about in the books. She loved her baby and did bond with him early on and yet once breastfeeding stopped hurting and began to be easier, she really felt that there was a shift in how she felt as a mother.
Before she had Luca, she realized she was overwhelmed with all the information she had access to. There were many people for her to call on, however, she had no idea who they were and if they were good at their jobs or if they would click. She wished for a website where all the work had been done for her, experts had been vetted and she would just know who to go to for help. This was the motivation for her to create SisterMom
Reference website for moms. She is looking to do what she can to make their parenting journey easier by providing experts in various fields that they can count on for help. She currently has 8 experts in various fields. Shannon has had personal experiences with all the experts and feels confident about referring to them affordable. Each expert offers a perk, such as a Free Ebook or perhaps a free consultation.
We role play a bit so we can understand the work that Shannon does with couples. I shared with her a running argument that I use to have with my husband when the kids were younger. Shannon was able to show me how she could have helped me in that same situation. I appreciated her willingness to do some role playing as I feel this really helped to give my audience a bird’s eye view of how she works with clients.
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