Motherlove CEO Silencia Cox Talks Challenges And National Breastfeeding Week - Exclusive Interview

Motherlove CEO Silencia Cox was inspired by her mother, who, decades ago, wanted to find herbal products to support her pregnancy and make it her mission to help pregnant people and new parents. Today, the company sells many all-natural products, including a line of lactation support supplements that are available in national retailers and in nearly 20 countries and online. 

Given her experience providing resources to breastfeeding moms for many years, we wanted to talk to Cox ahead of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and National Breastfeeding Week, which is the first week of the month, about breastfeeding challenges, especially in light of the American Academy of Pediatrics' recent change to its guidelines. The AAP now recommends breastfeeding for the first two years of a baby's life when possible, in combination with introducing solid foods when appropriate.

In our exclusive interview with Cox, she shares more about the change to the guidelines — the first update in a decade — as well as her tips on how to tackle common breastfeeding challenges. She also addresses how we have a long way to go to properly support moms who hope to breastfeed for as long as two years of their child's life.

The AAP has not changed its breastfeeding guidelines for a long time, making this change significant

Can you explain the change to the AAP's updated guidance on breastfeeding and why it's so significant?

For the first time in 10 years, the Academy of American Pediatrics announced changes to their breastfeeding recommendations. The AAP still recommends that you breastfeed your baby exclusively for 6 months. They've lengthened their recommendation about continued breastfeeding from one year to two years, if desired. According to the AAP, the reason for this change is due to the continued benefits of breastfeeding past 12 months.

No one should be pressured to breastfeed [at all] or breastfeed longer than they wish to. Many people won't be able to nurse as long as the AAP recommends even if they aspire to do so, especially without proper societal or social support. There are many barriers in place that prevent this from being a reality for many parents. However, parents who do want to breastfeed should be given better support and should be provided with evidence-based information about the benefits of breastfeeding.

We have a lot of work left to do to better support mom and baby, but we are grateful to be a brand providing herbal remedies along the way. Our biggest suggestion is that a nursing parent works directly with an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and gets support during their postpartum journey.

Breastfeeding benefits mom and baby

Can you share some of the main benefits of breastfeeding, especially as it relates to extended breastfeeding?

Breast milk provides the perfect nutritional balance for your baby. It changes throughout the day, and throughout your child's life, to meet their needs. It contains live cells, antibodies, and hormones that work to protect and heal your baby from illness and disease.

Many studies show breastfeeding decreases the risk of asthma, obesity, SIDS, diabetes, ear infections, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, childhood leukemia.

Breastfeeding moms have been known to use breast milk for everyday, practical purposes as well. Have you ever been told to "just throw a little breast milk on it" when faced with something like sore nipples or diaper rash? It turns out that there's a lot of truth in that statement. Breast milk really does work to heal many of the minor day-to-day health issues moms and babies encounter, and research supports this. Other benefits include helping heal cuts and wounds, clearing up blocked tear ducts in newborns, treating eczema in little ones, and healing a baby's umbilical cord stump after birth.

It's normal to experience breastfeeding challenges — but support is there

What are some of the main challenges women experience with breastfeeding? Are there any challenges specific to extended breastfeeding?

According to studies, the top two challenges faced in breastfeeding are nipple pain and perceived lack of milk supply. Most cases of nipple pain can be remedied by better positioning and deeper latching. If your baby is latched on deeply, their lips and mouth will be wide open (puckered, like a fish), and they will be taking in most of your areola. It can be useful to make sure your baby is well supported and lying belly-to-belly with you.

While some mothers do have milk supply issues, and the causes of low milk supply can widely vary, there are many things you can do to try to improve milk supply, including nursing more frequently, pumping, improving your baby's latch, and adding nourishing foods and supplements to help give your supply more support. If you are experiencing any challenges breastfeeding, we suggest reaching out to an IBCLC. Additionally, IBCLCs often recommend herbal support. Other issues include breast engorgement, milk blebs, and mastitis.

Be gentle with yourself if you encounter any bumps in the road. Remember, we've all been there, we're here to help, and before you know it, these breastfeeding challenges will be distant memories.

Motherlove offers breastfeeding support products and resources

What are the resources available from Motherlove for women who need support with breastfeeding?

Our product lineup features time-tested herbal products for women's empowered breastfeeding journeys. We have 12 products aimed to promote breast milk production, including our More Milk line, as well as single herbs like Goat's Rue, Moringa, and Shatavari.

Our customers often tell us that with Motherlove's herbal remedies, they are able to reach their breastfeeding goals.

Online, we have extensive guides and blogs written by certified lactation consultants, licensed midwives, clinical herbalists, and other experts that can help with common and less common breastfeeding challenges. Topics include breastfeeding 101 for new moms, how to pick the best pump, "laid-back" breastfeeding, and much more.

Visit the Motherlove website to learn more about our breastfeeding products that have been helping millions of moms for decades.

This interview has been edited for clarity and formatting.