Welcome to the place where you can easily access TONS of FREE Breastfeeding information and GAIN valuable insight on best tips, how-to’s and “ need to know” about all things breastfeeding related. This weeks episode with Tori Levine

Listen now to hear mothers share their breastfeeding stories. Hear interviews with well known authors pediatricians, midwives, doulas and others who eagerly share their knowledge.


Tori Levine:

“.Reuben was 12 days old. I was feeling desperate.  I was so embarrassed to go.  My husband could not come with me to help.  At that point,  it took 2-3 people to feed Reuben because they gave me a nipple shield,  a syringe that you would slide through the nipple shield, you would have to fill the syringe with pumped milk and press that down so Reuben would get the idea that he was suppose to suck and that is how he would get milk.

Tori Levine

Episode 72   Tori Levine is the founder of Babies at the Barre™, a mommy and me fitness class done while baby is worn in a baby carrier and designed to help moms regain core and pelvic floor strength without damaging their healing bodies.  Clients rave “…class is a great way for moms to exercise while bonding with their baby….”  Tori lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, almost two year old son, and dog.

Lori talks about doing yoga during pregnancy and with a new baby and how it did not work out so well.


Her Story.

Tori grew up in Harrisburg with her Mom and Dad until she was 3 years old. They were divorced at that time and she primarily lived with her mother and visited her father every few weeks. She enjoyed her life as a part time single child and part time member of a larger family with a half brother and a step brother and step sister at her Dads house. So, she feels she had the best of both worlds. She enjoyed very different enriching experiences with each parent. Her mother took her to NYC and spent the weekend and see shows and with her Dad she would go to step sister who was in Croatian Folk music band and she knows she never would have experienced that world had she not been part of a larger family.

When Tori was younger, she always thought she was going to be a ballerina. Then as she grew older her goals were to become a dancer and then a physical therapist. During college, I had an injury that changed her pathway. An opportunity to become a pilates instructor seemed like a good idea to her as she would be able to incorporate all the things she enjoyed doing and help people.

Her mother did breastfeed her and she shares a funny story. She weaned when she was 14 months old when her mom went on a business trip.

Tori’s first breastfeeding experience: She always knew she wanted to breastfeed and did attend one breastfeeding class with her husband. While she felt pretty laid back about breastfeeding and thought the class was very helpful for her husband. Her first baby did not latch for the first 3 weeks. She felt it was kind of awkward when people asked her what her goal with breastfeeding was? And her thought process was: I’m supposed to have a goal? Tori said that really did not think about what her goal was. She just figured she would breastfeed until she was done.

Her first baby Reuben was not latching properly in the hospital, so they started her pumping and finger feeding. We saw the hospital lactation consultant (LC) several times a week for the first month. She felt the consultants were amazing in their help. Feedings consisted of syringes and tube feeding.

We found out that he had a tongue tie and a severe lip tie. He went to the “baby” plastic surgeon, as she likes to kid around and say. The LC told her about La Leche League (LLL) meetings. Tori did not know about this volunteer group. Her mother in law came with her to the LLL group.

Tori talked about feeling so desperate and feeling embarrassed because feeding Reuben took 2-3 people. He was 12 days old. She needed a nipple shield and then a syringe would slide into the nipple shield. The syringe was filled with her pumped milk and she would press that down so Reuben would get the idea that he was suppose to suck. Tori said that the women at LLL were so helpful. She remembers starting to tell her story and burst into tears. They shared their personal stories and it turns out that quite a few babies were also tongue tied. They gave her the number of this physician to take her baby to and she really had to be pushed into doing so. She was lucky enough to see the Drs. the next day and had the procedure done. It did take another week and a half with more trips to the LC.

She was fortunate enough to have an LC live close to her. She was in the Jewish community she lived in and knows her mother in law, so she would come to her house and help her. Reuben would only latch when there was an audience. She laughs now as she talks about it. She was shown how to breastfeed her baby in the laid back position. Her husband Isaac was reading to her how she should be skin to skin and he was trying to help her reading the info on laid back nursing. When he was 3 weeks old, he finally latched on and from that point on, he has been a pro.

Lori asked Tori how helpful she felt the nipple shield and syringe feed and finger feeding combo was working for her? Was he learning how to breastfeed or was she just pushing fluids into him with very little effort on his part. He seemed to do well with the finger and syringe combo. The nipple shield with the tube did not work as well. It took a while and he gradually learned how to work to get the milk out.

Tori learned that he was tongue tied during her hospital stay. She told us to ask her pediatrician and her pediatrician did not think the baby was tongue tied. Tori is home struggling and because her pediatrician says her baby is not tongue tied, this is not an avenue that she actively pursued until the LLL moms told her about their tongue tied babies. This was her turning point. She remembers walking around the grocery store with her husband and shared what she learned from the other mothers and she insisted they make an appointment with the plastic surgeon. Tori shared a heartfelt moment when her husband told her the next day that he was so proud of her for trusting her instincts.

At this point we talked about how the early days of breastfeeding can be so difficult particularly when you have a health issue such as tongue tie. Frequently people think that breastfeeding is a natural thing to do so moms are so not prepared for a difficult time.

Early weeks of breastfeeding: Tori states that she had a lot of support for breastfeeding. And yet, she struggled so much. When she saw the hospital LC, she was told that he was not gaining well and that she should stop breastfeeding and began bottle feeding. This was difficult also because he did not take the bottle really well and finger feeding worked the best at this point. Pumping and feeding took so long and as the time got closer for her husband to return to work and she was just not sure how much longer she could keep doing this and felt there was no way she could keep up this exact routine once he returned to work.

Tori was so relieved when she realized she did not HAVE to pump in order to feed her baby. She transitioned from pumping because she needed to, to pumping because she wanted to. Tori talked about the early days of nursing in public and her level of uncomfortableness with it. She was fine with feeding him at moms groups and got some really great tips and pointers from the moms in the group. She learned about different clothes that would help. LLL ladies suggested she watch herself breastfeed at home, while looking in the mirror. This was her turning point and she just decided that she would feed her baby wherever and whenever he was hungry. She became more confident, figured out the mechanics of it all and this makes life much easier. He is now 22 months old and breastfeeding in public is the norm for her. She also says that noone has ever said anything negative to her.

Mommy milkies is one of the names Reuben calls nursing and he requests it before he goes back into the car seat. It has been interesting listening to Tori talk about all the early transitions that have occurred in her babies first few months of life. From no breastfeeding and supplementing with all kinds of tools, to trying with bottles, to coming back to the breast after the frenotomy procedure to being comfortable nursing in public. Whew! Breastfeeding sure has a learning curve.

We have a lovely conversation about nursing in public and how mothers start off being somewhat shy about it, not being able to figure out how to be discreet and how they just experiment with it and soon become confident in nursing in public. We talk about how baby carriers are helpful and convenient.

Tori talks about beginning to teach her baby manners when nursing and how she teaches her class while wearing and nursing her baby sometimes.

One thing that Tori has learned about breastfeeding: She thinks it is the most convenient thing. When you have to start giving them solid foods, you have to be more organized and plan their meals before you leave the house. She also knows that the beginning stages of breastfeeding may not be as convenient or as relaxing, but as they get older, sitting down to breastfeeding is very relaxing and you have all the snuggle time and bonding time and quiet time in the busy-ness of the day.

Words of wisdom to her postpartum self: hang in there and trust your instincts. Her son had all kinds of allergy issues. The Drs. would say it was acid reflux and lots of spitting up and want to switch them to the horrible formula the expensive stuff that costs a lot. She is talking about the hyper-allergenic formula. Moms are so upset because the Drs. tell them to switch from breastfeeding to formula. Tori was adamant that she would fix it. It took time, but she went on an elimination diet and cut out dairy and soy for close to a month where it was out of her system before she saw the difference in her son. You are a Mom, you are strong and you are providing for your child and just follow your instincts. Tori suggests seek outside council such as an IBCLC who is trained in lactation who can help you help your baby, without having to switch to formula.

What happens sometimes is that moms take their baby away from breastmilk, their supply drops and they realize that their baby is not doing any better on the various formulas. By the time they realize this and want to get their baby back on breastmilk, their supply is very low and some moms are not able to recover their supply.

We also talked about the lack of education that many pediatricians have about lactation. Most pediatricians I speak with readily admit they had perhaps 1 hour of lactation info in all their years of medical school.

We talked about Dr. Jack Newmans interview who gave a wonderful interview about the relationship that mothers and babies build with each other as they breastfeed.

Tori shares her frustration with her pediatric visits as they had a big concern about his lack of weight gain. Tori had the help and support from her mother in law who is a dietitian, who helped her through this trying time. She felt that she wanted to avoid pushing poor quality solid foods, did not want to feed her son cows milk and felt like it was a struggle at each pediatric visit. She shares with us that she just had a recent pediatric visit where the Dr. told her that since she and her husband are small and short people, their son was going to be just like that and not to worry about his intake, that Reuben was probably always going to be on the smaller side of average.

Tori talks about how she got started in her business. She struggled to find childcare and her husbands shift job and schedule did not allow for consistent childcare. Tori figured that when she was home with her baby, she would take the teacher training. She had no idea how difficult it would be with a baby. She is still working toward this, however, in the interim she had an opportunity to try something different. She had an opportunity to teach a pilates class, but she did say to the owner that she would be happy to teach a class but she would have a baby strapped to her. The owner had a child that was a few years old and practiced babywearing herself, so she was totally cool with Tori teaching a Mommy and Me class with her baby. and called it Babies at the Barre. The class was very popular and she has since developed a course to train other moms to teach classes. Tori has also become a pre and postnal fitness instructor and has a strong interest in sharing information about the importance of getting your abdominal muscles back in shape so she has a whole plan on strengthening these muscles.

Tori has written a post for the All About Breastfeeding blog with pictures and information regarding the pelvic floor muscles and abdominal muscles.

http://bit.ly/1s53PpV – 5 Exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor on “The Stir by Cafemom”
http://bit.ly/1WNvEQJ – Can Physical Therapy Get Rid of Your Pooch? on “Skinny Mom”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzPZPuVdKpY – Youtube Video of Intro moves that can be done as soon as mom is comfortable

Contact Info: Tori Levine – Owner, Babies at the Barre, LLC

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