The women behind breastbowl.com are Helen and Mel.
Mel founded breastbowl.com in Canada in 2014. Helen is a professional glass blower and Cuidiu Breastfeeding Counsellor. She recently started the European divison of breastbowl.com in Ireland.
Read more about us below!
My name is Melanie Scholz. I'm a breastfeeding mother with a PhD in biomechanics. Glass blowing is my hobby.
Our doula taught me the ancient art of hand expression before our baby was even born. But being the modern technology geek that I am I got myself a high-end electric pump as soon as my milk came in and my breasts turned into giant engorged aliens. Because why use hands if a machine can do the work, right??
Then nature did its thing... over the next couple of months my breast changed... they became softer and smaller again. My electric pump, however, did not change. When I hooked myself up to my fancy pump one day like an industrial cow I got hardly any milk. I used to get at least a couple of ounces! I freaked out a bit... softer, smaller breasts... no milk in the pump...?? Did my milk dry up?? HOW AM I GOING TO FEED MY BABY???
To troubleshoot my breasts, I decided to hand express some milk and found that there was plenty... In fact, milk was spraying everywhere!
I found hand expression to be much more pleasant than the electric pump. As I expressed my milk I got to know my breasts. They started to feel less alien and I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to breastfeed my baby, both, on and off the breast. For the nerds: I learned that the physiological mechanism that triggers milk ejection is based on oxitocin, which responds much better to human touch than to a machine. Not surprisingly, hand expression turned out to be more efficient than pumping (more milk in less time, I posted a youtube video on this). The only issue I had with hand expression was, that it was hard to collect the expressed milk.
That's why I decided to make myself the perfect bowl to collect breast milk: a breastbowl.The breastbowl had to meet the following criteria:
- catch milk from ducts spraying in all directions while sitting comfortably
- easily fit in one hand (portable, left and right handed)
- easy to clean
- pour well into a bottle or freezer bag
- hold an adequate volume of milk (not too small, not too big to pervent the feeling of inadequate supply)
After a series of prototypes and design changes I developed a glass blowing technique that could handle the required asymmetry and the first breastbowl was born.
Breastfeeding women in my community who have seen or heard about breastbowl have expressed an interest in my idea. That's when I founded breastbowl.com.
To keep up with the incrasing demand for breastbowls more and to make them more accessible for women all over the world, I did two things:
1) I talked Helen into making breastbowls in Europe.
2) I created a silicone version of the breastbowl (Breastbowl Flex).
My goal is to support other moms who want to give hand expression a try.
I am located in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. For questions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 226 606 7769.
My name is Helen Hancock. I live in Ireland. I studied glass at the National College of Art & Design in Dublin from 1995 – 1998. I worked in Seattle and Dublin blowing glass for several years.
In 2007 I bought a derelict 400 year old Irish thatched clachan in Donegal. It was a huge restoration project. My intentions were to continue making glass when we finished restoring the house. That never happened.
In 2009 my daughter was born and although I had an easy pregnancy, the birth and breastfeeding were horrendous. We didn’t get off to a good start and I felt deflated and heartbroken. I felt like my body had let me down. After days of not being able to feed my baby directly from the breast, a lactation nurse called by to see us. In a few minutes we were feeding and continued to for months after. This was the beginning of a journey of self discovery and healing.
I wanted to learn more. I was all in. What was missing in our society? Why did I feel isolated as a new mother? Why was breastfeeding so difficult and what could I do to change that?
When my son was 4 months old in 2012 I began my breastfeeding peer support training. It was a brief look into the world of support and how we as a small group could help other new mothers.
In 2014 I became a member of Cuidiu (Irish Childbirth Trust)
I applied to become a Cuidiu Breastfeeding Counsellor. I wasn’t sure what more they could teach me beyond the peer support training. But I was soon blown away by the detail. I knew so little in the grand scheme of things and although it all seemed a little daunting at first. The information made sense and started to gather steam for me in my learning. I wanted to know it all.. Tongue Tie, Mastitis, Nipple Shields.... on and on.
Who was Jack Newman, Nancy Mohrbacher, Nils Bergman?
I soaked up the knowledge and passed it on.
I started to run my own breastfeeding groups, offering up all the glorious details I had been offered. Supporting mothers in a cocoon of nurturing care.
I trained to become an Infant Massage instructor to reach beyond breastfeeding, but mainly to raise awareness of its power in a positive setting where bottle and breastfed babies enjoyed the wonderful benefits of massage together in one room.
I offered support to bottle feeding mothers by demonstrating the baby led bottle feeding technique.
I trained to become Baby & Toddler Yoga instructor.
In 2016 I qualified as a Cuidiu Breastfeeding Counsellor and I sought out a Doula teacher. I had wanted to train as a doula since I first heard the word back in an antenatal class in 2009.
Bridget Sheeran (Midwife, Homeopath, Doula) answered my call and travelled almost 200 miles to teach me and other life changing ladies the beautiful skills of being a Doula.
In early 2017 I was browsing the web when I saw an advert to become a Weleda wellbeing advisor. I had always loved their products, so gave them a call.
Soon I had a full kit and my own shop online.
Life had taken some knocks around this time. So I was working very hard on restoring good inner strength and supporting my kids. I was slowing down to heal.
Then Mel contacted me. We had briefly made contact the year before when I flipped out at the concept of what the breastbowl is. I LOVED IT!
I was so happy to hear from her again. I had also just been in contact with an old friend from Art college Dave Walton (Eleven 50 Glass) who used to assist me in the glass hotshop. He had just started blowing glass again after 15 years. They both asked me if I was interested in making glass again.
Initially I thought not. I was sure my days of glass making were over. Though I still held my Jim Moore tools sacred in my heart and wrapped up in my shed.
I decided to get involved.
The workshop is booked and the European branch of Breastbowl International is about to commence.
Now that it is here, I am SO EXCITED!
It all makes sense. To have the special skills involved in making glass and to be creating something that will support what I love is beyond amazing. I feel like I have landed on a star.