Breastfeeding: The basics – 10 Questions with Marilyn Stollmeyer

Breastfeeding Week

Interview and article written by: Kevon Foderingham, Marketing and Communications Manager, PSI-Caribbean


Marilyn Stollmeyer

Marilyn Stollmeyer – Photo by Bertrand De Peaza

“Breastfeeding is not only the cornerstone of a child’s healthy development; it is also the foundation of a country’s development.” – UNICEF & WHO World Breastfeeding Week Message 2016

In commemoration of World breastfeeding Week, PSI-Caribbean’s Healthy Lives Blog reached out to Marilyn Stollmeyer to shed some more light on breastfeeding.

Marilyn Stollmeyer is a Nurse/Midwife/Lactation Consultant and has been a Childbirth Educator since 1970.  She has a profound interest in Birth and Human Lactation and is the founder of The Informative Breastfeeding Service (Tibs), now known as The Breastfeeding Association of Trinidad and Tobago.

She has participated in The Breastfeeding Practise and Policy Course, Centre for International Child Health, University College London. This is currently the only advanced level international training course on breastfeeding and related topics worldwide.

Marilyn is also one of the founders and a Director of The Mamatoto Resource and Birth Centre.

Marilyn is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and is the mother of 3 breastfed children.

Healthy Lives – What is the importance of breastfeeding?

Marilyn – There are numerous benefits (too numerous to mention here) to the mother, baby, family and the environment- every mammal produces milk which contains the right amount of nutrients in the right proportion for the growth of its young.

Healthy Lives – How often should a mother breastfeed?

Marilyn – A full term healthy new-born baby needs to breastfeed 10-12 times in a 24 hr period. Once the baby is weeing, pooping and back to his/her birth weight by 10/14 days the mother can then feed the baby when the baby is hungry. The baby should also be seen by a family physician, Health Centre or Paediatrician, on a regular basis, to monitor his/her growth and development.

Healthy Lives – Why is the baby refusing to breastfeed and what can I do?

Marilyn – The most common cause of a baby refusing to breastfeed is when a bottle or pacifier is introduced, which commonly happens and the baby may stop breastfeeding. Learning about breastfeeding during pregnancy will reinforce this.  Even if the bottle is stopped some babies will continue to refuse to breastfeed while others may return to the breast.

Healthy Lives – What are the risks of a mother ingesting alcohol or smoking while still breastfeeding?

Marilyn – The risks of ingesting too much alcohol and nicotine should be well known and both pass through the mother’s milk. There will be no harm done to the breastfeeding baby if the mother has an occasional glass of wine, or the equivalent. Also keep in mind a baby can inhale second hand smoke which can also affect the baby’s lungs.

Healthy Lives – What are the foods if any she should avoid?

Marilyn – Breastfeeding is normal and should be pleasurable. The mother needs to continue on a normal healthy, well balanced diet limiting her dairy intake e.g. milk, chocolate milk, ice cream, cheese, chocolates etc. It is known that this may make the baby fussy or colicky when the mother takes in too much diary as this is made with cow’s milk and affects the baby otherwise a breastfeeding mother should focus on a well-balanced diet including green vegetables, peas, beans and lots of water.

Healthy Lives – Are there any medications that a mother should stop taking?

Marilyn – Most medications are safe for the breastfeeding mother to take.

Healthy Lives – Are local employers making enough provisions for mothers who have to return to work while still breastfeeding?

Marilyn – Breastfeeding and returning to work is very challenging for breastfeeding mothers and not enough effort nor are provisions being made by our employers to accommodate our working mothers.

Healthy Lives – What are your views on breastfeeding in public?

Marilyn – If we want to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies they should be able to breastfeed any and everywhere. Children and adults learn to breastfeed by seeing mothers’ breastfeeding. They should not have to hide nor cover up to do this. We have no problem with skimpy costumes at Carnival time nor on the beach.

Healthy Lives – Ideally when should a mother stop breastfeeding?

Marilyn – The World Health Organisation recommends that all babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, and should continue to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond while receiving appropriate complementary foods.

Healthy Lives – Where can a new mother go locally to get more information?

Marilyn – The Breastfeeding Association of Trinidad and Tobago is the local mother support group. This is a free service with offices in Port of Spain, Curepe, Arima and Tobago.

The POS office’s telephone contact – 628-8234

A Lactation Consultant can also be sourced for a private visit.

Objectives of WABA World Breastfeeding Week 2016

In September 2015, the world’s leaders committed to 17 goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity. Together, they form the​
​Sustainable Development​ Goals.

Last week (August 1st – 7th) saw the World Breastfeeding Week 2016 theme was on raising awareness of the links between breastfeeding and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The World Association for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) believes that by recognizing breastfeeding is a key to sustainable development, we will value our wellbeing from the start of life, respect each other and care for the world we share.

INFORM – To inform people about the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they relate to breastfeeding and Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF).

FIRMLY ANCHOR – To firmly anchor breastfeeding as a key component of sustainable development.

GALVANISE – To galvanise a variety of actions at all levels on breastfeeding and IYCF in the new era of the SDGs.

ENGAGE – To engage and collaborate with a wider range of actors around promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding

The full UNICEF & WHO World Breastfeeding Week Message 2016 can be accessed via this link

Healthy Lives Blog

Caribbean health news and commentary brought to you by PSI-Caribbean.


Kevon Foderingham

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