COMMUNITY GEMS: Vandalia woman helps breastfeeding moms

Sasha Blaine answers questions day and night as a leader of La Leche League of Vandalia

Breastfeeding her two daughters was a transformative experience for Sasha Blaine, but she knows that breastfeeding isn’t always easy.

“It’s not without challenges,” she said.

So Blaine, 43, has made it a mission as a leader of La Leche League of Vandalia to not only normalize breastfeeding but also to support others in their journey.

Blaine, who is an attorney and court-connected mediator, does so through monthly in-person meetings of the group, as well as by answering Facebook messages – which sometimes are sent by breastfeeding mothers in the middle of the night.

Questions are varied, she said. How do you know if a baby is getting enough milk? How do you respond to unsupportive family members? Or unsupportive workplaces?

Nursing in public also is a popular topic. In Ohio, mothers can legally nurse anywhere they are legally allowed to be, she said. They don’t require a cover, although some use one for their own comfort.

“Sometimes what we do is provide people that reassurance,” said the Vandalia woman, who also is the author of the children’s book “Professor Ping Hangs with the Dead.”

Blaine followed the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization to breastfeed until her children were at least two. But she said La Leche League can be an overlooked resource for questions about weaning, whether that breastfeeding journey lasted for many months or just a few weeks.

She and others provide a safe space to talk about the emotional and hormonal changes that can accompany weaning.

“Sometimes emotions are like kaleidoscopes. They can move and shift and be a variety of colors all at the same time,” she said.

Meagan Pant, a mom of daughters who are 2 years old and 6 months old, nominated Blaine as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem. She saw Blaine’s name pop up over and over again on a Facebook group. Whenever there is a mom with breastfeeding questions, Blaine is immediately tagged, she said.

“Seriously, any questions you have you can ask Sasha and she can help you with it,” said Pant, of Clayton.

She has turned to Blaine with questions of her own about breast pumps, tongue ties and more. Blaine is available at all hours and follows breastfeeding trends and research to give up-to-date advice and information.

Blaine has been a La Leche League leader for more than four years, going through the process when she was pregnant with her second child. Her daughters with husband Erik are now 7 and 3 years old.

Her daughters often come with her to meetings, and she hopes that as they grow up the landscape for breastfeeding will improve.

She recognizes the tension between breastfeeding recommendations and the cultural reality, and she wants to provide the tools for mothers to meet their goals. Blaine knows that today she might be the only supportive, encouraging voice in a breastfeeding mom’s life.

But she isn’t the only one in the Miami Valley helping babies and their mothers through their challenges.

“The Dayton area has so many really hardworking, awesome breastfeeding supporters,” she said.

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