Despite being over 4000 miles away from any supportive family or friends, I told myself, when having my first baby – I’ve got this made – I’m a nurse and a midwife. I know what to do. But as it would turn out, life had its lessons to teach me. I now tell the professionals I work with, “You’re a mom and a human being, first, and your profession second.” We are often the ones who place unrealistic demands upon ourselves for perfection.
Two babies later, I can say I’d rather go through my labors back-to-back than to repeat the difficulties I went through breastfeeding my first-born. But that experience propelled me in new life direction. I eventually became an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), driven to help moms like myself, knowing that timely breastfeeding and lactation intervention can make a world of difference for mother and baby.
When my children were born, I also learned about the wonders of wool nursing pads, and what an amazing textile wool is.
I had such deep wounds from breastfeeding, that I could barely tolerate anything against my skin. Disposable pads stuck to the wounds and ripped them open just when they seemed to start to heal. But in my stubbornness, I persisted with breastfeeding.
Then I saw an ad in a mothers’ magazine for wool nursing pads developed by a Danish nurse.
My curiosity was aroused. I was using cloth diapers, and was familiar with wool, but never when used as nursing pads. Wool nursing pads turned out to be my life saver. The two pairs I bought carried me through breastfeeding both of my children. I could wear them directly against my skin, without pain. They wicked the breastmilk away and allowed my skin to stay dry and breathe, healing the wounds and absorbing milk leakage. From the time I began using the pads, breastfeeding turned around for me.
Six weeks into my painful ordeal, I could finally place my baby to my breast without wincing in pain, and my breasts began producing enough milk to feed my baby, without the need for supplementation.
When most people think of wool, they think of big, bulky itchy sweaters, intended to keep you warm against the cold. I learned that a lot of the scratchy fibers are a result of the chemicals used to strip the lanolin from the wool (much like the brittleness that happens to your hair as a result of dying and perming). When wool is left in its natural state, containing its natural oil, lanolin, it feels creamy soft, especially the softest type of wool, Merino. Organic wool, free of chemicals, such as pesticides or those used to strip away the oily lanolin, feels soothing against the skin and provides an additional protective layer. Natural wool provides warmth, but because it also breathes, it maintains a comfortable temperature against the skin, in both cold and warm temperatures. And with its super-absorbency, wool soaks up moisture and will feel dry until it’s fully saturated, absorbing as much as 30-40% of its weight before feeling wet. When it does feel wet, it remains warm – no cold, clammy textile to further chill you. As I learned all of this about wool, I pictured sheep grazing on chilly, damp green hillsides in the UK and New Zealand – and realized that it made sense that nature would provide sheep with such a natural solution to their habitat.
And as if that isn’t amazing enough, wool is self-cleaning. As the wool absorbs moisture, the lanolin is activated to cleanse away odors and bacteria. Furthermore, wool is non-flammable. There’s not another single textile that can claim these wonders.
To me, wool became synonymous with health and comfort.
I was so convinced by its benefits that I started my own little company, Danish Woolen Delight, importing the products I found so amazing and wonderful (going against my conviction in college to not study business, rather do something important for humanity, like become a nurse – which I DO love!) I’ve learned that you can use both professions – nursing and business- to benefit others! Again, life has so many lessons to teach us, and things we may interpret as painful and negative may just be the universe nudging us in that direction we might not otherwise willingly choose to go. It’s all part of the rich fabric of life.
If you are interested in trying wool nursing pads, or any of our organic wool products such as outerwear, diapers, blankets, hats, and more, please visit our website, and enjoy 20% off with the code BVTMB18W. This coupon does not include previously discounted items.
Janice Emanuelsson was born and raised in Chicago. She studied nursing in college, and after living and working in Boston, moved to Sweden, where she married and had 2 children. She studied nurse-midwifery there and worked as a hospital-based midwife for 7 years. The family relocated to Vermont in 1997, and Janice, while working as a nurse, started Danish Woolen Delight to import those products she used and loved in Sweden. She and her husband now run the business together, and Janice still works part-time as a family practice nurse and IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).