Sunday, August 12, 2012


You know when you  hear a statement such as "I really like you BUT...."  or "Thank you for interviewing BUT..."? You know that people are just being polite and really, the part they mean is the second part. The "I just don't think this is working" or "we are looking for someone with more experience" part.

So when I read this statement today on The Leaky Boob's facebook status "I support breastfeeding BUT it shouldn't be done in church" I knew the part that was really meant was the "It shouldn't be done in church".

People often hide behind the first part of the statement. Sometimes to add credibility- such as "I really am not one of those people who thinks breastfeeding is gross" so that they don't get bombarded when they say the part that proves they really are that person.

Not just that, but statements like "Women should breastfeed BUT only in private, or when using a cover" or "Breastfeeding is normal BUT children should be weaned at 12 months or when they get teeth" undermine a mothers success. Basically you are telling her that there are restrictions on her parenting choices. You send the message that breastfeeding is wrong, perverted, or something to be ashamed of.

I find it interesting, so many people are against removing formula samples from hospitals (which in the long run would save formula feeding moms money, but that is a post for another time) because it removes a mom's choice, yet they don't want to give the mom the choice to breastfeed when and where her baby needs it? SERIOUSLY?

I have heard way too many of these comments. Some from family (thankfully, not close family) and some from acquaintances, and others I have read on facebook. I have thought in my head a lot of comebacks. SO, I decided to come and be able to use some of those come backs.

Statement: I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding, BUT going past 12 months is wrong.
What I normally respond: The WHO states breastfeeding should continue to age 2 and BEYOND. The natural weaning age of a human baby is between 3-7 years old, etc.
What I want to say: Oh, yes, because being a huge supporter stops on an exact date, and you can tell how old a baby is by looking at them. Or is it because you prefer my child get hormone filled cow's milk to milk that is tailor made for him?

Statement: I am a breastfeeding advocate, BUT you shouldn't do it at church, schools, anywhere you might be seen, etc
What I normally respond: Breastfeeding is protected by law in 48 states. You see less from a breastfeeding mother than you do a girl in a low cut shirt.
What I want to say: And I am an advocate for free speech, but honestly, you should have your tongue removed for spouting such nonsense.

Statement: I 100% support breastfeeding in public BUT a mother should cover up
What I normally respond: While I personally choose to cover while nursing, I don't think it should be required. Also, see above response.
What I want to say: Thanks for your input. Oh, you are going out to eat tonight, would you like a blanket to put over your head (while I hand them a receiving blanket)

Statement: I am all for breastfeeding, BUT we shouldn't talk about it.
What I normally respond: Talking about it helps mothers know what they are going through while breastfeeding is normal, it helps teach women how amazing their bodies are, how to care for their children, and helps normalize breastfeeding.
What I want to say: And I am all for you having children, but can you stop posting about them on facebook and giving me updates every time I see them.

All snarky comments aside, I don't think a true supporter can put restrictions on their support.
It may be something you don't choose to do, but you don't have to restrict others. I chose to use a cover while breastfeeding, but did I mind if another mother didn't- NO. I was happy they were breastfeeding, and a little envious that their child was not distracted from eating like mine would have been.

The problem with the BUT statement, is you are basically trying to cover your own BUTT from looking like a cruel person, while telling someone else some bad news or how what they are doing is wrong. Do you think that the boss at that job was really thankful/happy the completely unqualified applicant got an interview and showed up? Most likely not, they were just trying to "be polite". How many times does someone "really like someone" and then break up with them. Not very often (I know, sometimes, but not often).
So how often are these statements really from someone who truly supports breastfeeding? My guess: Not very often.

I am okay with the fact that you put restrictions on breastfeeding BUT I really don't believe you're a supporter. ;P

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Controversy of TIME

There has been quite the stir over the last two days over this week's cover of TIME magazine (pictured below). It has caused some pretty heated debates on forums and facebook pages. I was basically avoiding the topic, other than a small post on the My Breast Thoughts facebook page (which you can view here) because of the fact that I did not agree with the headline "Are you mom enough" nor did I agree with the description that leads to believe women who do practice AP parenting or extended breastfeeding are extreme.

Mommy groups I am a part of all agreed, this cover was not "wrong" because of the image, but because of the slogan of being mom enough being linked to length of breastfeeding or parenting choices. The slogan we are ALL mom enough was born on The Plus Size Mommy Memoirs forum on facebook (you can check out the main PSMM facebook page here). In fact the general tone was great for this mom for extended breastfeeding if that is what her and her child want and need, but let's not fuel the mommy wars.
Then today, a local radio station DJ posted it, and while I want to believe their concern was "that images such as this magazine cover are counter productive to all the work that's been done to promote the positive benefits of breast feeding" their previous comment (which they have since deleted) of  "this is another example of the abnormal being pushed as normal" leads me to believe that they were simply trying to cover themselves as to not get breastfeeding advocates up in arms. The general tone of the comments were things such as "This is child porn" "Once a child can ask for it they are too old" and the likes.

For this reason, because of my huge disappointment in my home town/states views of breastfeeding beyond a year, I decided to address this topic. 

First, I find it sad that breastfeeding advocates are defending that breastfeeding is not required to be "mom enough" while others are going around saying that breastfeeding at an older age is "perverted" "wrong" "damaging" and so forth. Why do breastfeeding advocates have to tip toe around to not hurt others feelings, while others can openly put down the parenting choices of those advocates. People need to understand, those who advocate (in general) are not saying everyone needs to breastfeed until age 2, or even at all. They are mostly looking for the right to feed their child in a natural way, and get the same respect as those who are feeding their child with a bottle. After that, they are looking for there to be proper education and support for women deciding to breastfeed. They are looking to not be asked to leave stores or restaurants. They simply want to be able to feed their child just like any other mom, without being judged. They have deemed a war on the term "breast is best" and are out there assuring moms that they are mom enough, even if they never breastfed. Yet, society is out there telling them how what they are doing is wrong, even though it is what God, or nature, intended.

Secondly, our country needs to learn to educate themselves before they put down another person's choice. Here is a great site with an article regarding the myths of breastfeeding past 12 months.  Not only does the World Health Organization recommend children be breastfed to age 2 and BEYOND, but biologically humans are made to breastfeed that long. If we left it up to nature, and did not push solids so early, the natural weaning age of human children would be between ages 3-7. In fact, in many countries, that is completely normal, even today. But, in the USA, we have somehow adopted the belief that breastfeeding is sexual and that a child knows this. Both of which are incorrect. Breastfeeding is not sexual, to the mom or child. A child doesn't turn a certain age, and suddenly realize breasts are also sexual. That is something that is taught to them as they get older. Also, the argument of a child being too old if they can ask for it is ridiculous. We push children to learn to ask for a "baba" or milk, but we don't want them to realize where to get their food and how to ask for it if they are nursing? That doesn't seem to make sense, but then again, neither does asking a breastfeeding mom to go to a bathroom while letting a bottle feeding mom sit at the table.

Finally, regarding the caption. I do not believe moms who practice "attachment parenting" are extreme. They are parenting in a way that comes natural to them. In all honesty though, I rarely have met a parent who fits perfectly into one label. In the beginning, I was told I was an AP parent, but the AP community told me I was a mainstream. I came to the conclusion that I parent. That is it. No labels on my style. Honestly, I do some things like an AP parent, and other things like a mainstream parent, and some things don't fit into either category. I parent my child the best way I know how, and I think I am doing a pretty good job as my son is a happy, healthy, bright two year old (on May 20th). Why do we feel the need to critique others parenting choices. Unless they are causing harm to their child, leave them be. We are all trying to do our best, whether that mean co-sleeping or crib, cloth or disposable diapers, purees or baby-led solids.....we are all doing our best. Each child and each parent is different, and we are all trying to do our best to raise a productive, independent, bright member of society.

As for "Are you mom enough" I feel the breastfeeding community has been very outspoken in their distaste for this headline. It is clear TIME magazine was trying to get attention, stir up controversy, and get in the media. Were they trying to fuel the mommy wars? Maybe. Or maybe they were playing off every mother's fear that they are not "mom enough" to sell magazines. Either way, I want every mom to know that your being "mom enough" is not based on length of breastfeeding or parenting style. Any mother who is working towards doing what is best for her child and keeping them healthy and happy is mom enough in my opinion.

***In the interest of full disclosure, while I was writing this post, the wife (the DJs are a husband & wife team) did come on and leave a comment that the abnormal being pushed as normal statement came from her husband and was meant as a joke, and that she had it deleted so that it wouldn't confuse people.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Congrats to Toni

Congratulations to Toni on the birth of her baby boy! He was born Sunday (Easter) at 10:48. His birth was non-medicated! He is adorable, healthy, and a super calm baby. Toni was doing great at getting him to eat, even though he would rather sleep. Wishing you all the best, a wonderful breastfeeding experience, and a quick recovery.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Letting Go of the Guilt

When you first find out you are expecting, you start picturing your life with baby. As time goes on, you start making a plan for the birth of your child. You have this idea of how it will be. Whether it will involve an epidural, or be med free. Home or hospital or birth center. You make a birth plan, or you go with the flow. Same with breastfeeding or formula feeding. You might have a plan, or you might decide you will go with the flow and give breastfeeding a try.
But what happens when those things don't go as planned. What happens when your plan for a non-medicated, vaginal birth ends in a c-section? What happens when you were going to exclusively breastfeed and you end up supplementing or switching to formula. Sometimes, nothing. Sometimes, especially if you are just a "go with the flow" person, you adjust well. Sometimes though, this leads to a huge amount of guilt.
When I gave my son his first bit of formula, it pained me. I felt like my body was failing. As I continued to supplement with formula, I felt that my PCOS had effected my supply. That MY BODY was the issue. For months I felt guilty that I couldn't give my son all the nutrition he needed on my own.
After 3-4 months, I started this blog, as a way to get out my frustrations. I had researched a lot, and talked with a lot of friends. And I had realized something- the system had failed me.
My supply wasn't low in the beginning. NOPE. My son had lost slightly more than the 10% that was "acceptable" but after induction and a c-section, it is likely his birth weight was inflated. Also, I had been in the hospital 24 hours longer than a vaginal delivery, giving him more time to lose weight. A vaginal baby would have been weighed for discharge a day earlier. Had my son been weighed a day earlier, he may have been within the 10%. My milk still hadn't come in. C-sections are known to delay milk coming in, and first time moms milk often takes longer to come in then with future babies. Since my milk wasn't in, it was expected my son would lose weight. But did the pediatrician on staff that day say any of this. No. He simply told me to supplement after 2-3 feedings a day.
When I took my son back in to be weighed 2 days later, he was gaining weight. My milk had started to come in. But, I was too scared that I was starving my baby to simply stop supplementing. Instead, I tried to pump. When pumping would only bring .5 oz a session, I thought something was wrong. I didn't realize that it was normal, especially being new to pumping.
Each time I supplemented, it was time away from the breast. The pacifier, time away from the breast. Swaddling so baby slept longer, made for more time away from the breast. And pumping- well- a pump was no substitute for my son when it came to extracting milk.
Looking back, I realized a lot of the "booby traps" I fell for. When I realized them, what did I do- felt even more guilty. How could I have fallen for them? Why didn't I try harder? Why would that pediatrician lead me astray? Why would I just believe anything a doctor says without researching it?
There were times the guilt consumed me. Consumed my every thought. I had dreams about those moments, both how they were, and how they "should" have gone. The guilt actually began to make me despise my body.
Now, please don't think this was PPD. I loved being a mommy, I loved my son. I was just devastated that body had failed, and then later learning it may not have had I done things differently. It was emotions I had felt before when my body failed me to conceive for 8 years.
One day, I realized I needed to move on when I started crying while feeding my son. I realized it was time to let go of the guilt. Luckily, having gone through infertility, I had already figured out how to do that. It took a few steps.
  1. Own up! You can't let go of guilt until you own up to the situation. Just like an addict admitting they have a problem is the first step in recovery, owning up to your role, if any, is the first step in letting go of the guilt. You were anxious to be induced before your due date, and it ended in a c-section or a NICU stay for baby. You fell for booby traps, or were misinformed about some aspects of breastfeeding. Whatever it is OWN UP TO IT. For me, this meant owning up to the booby traps I fell for, the fact that I was misinformed and hadn't done my own research, and the fact that I doubted my body before I should have.
  2. Accept! Accept that the past is the past. You did what you thought was best at the time. You made a mistake, or you listened to bad advice. Whatever it is, accept that it happened. If you don't own up and accept your role, you will continue to blame others, your body, or just yourself, and you will not learn from it. You won't be able to move on. 
  3. Forgive Others! You can't hold on to rage or anger towards someone and be able to move on. Continually cursing the pediatrician who told me to supplement was only keeping me in the role of victim, and not allowing me to move on. Let yourself forgive those that may have led you to make a decision you regret so that you can stop focusing on it.
  4. Decide a course of action! Decide what you will do differently next time. Decide what you would want to change. Decide how you will handle things next time. If there won't be a next time, decide how you will choose to remember the first time. Will you focus on the things you are upset about, or will you focus on the positive outcome? I have chosen to remember how wonderful it was the times I breastfed my son. To look at how happy I was to have my little man. I have decided to remember the funny moments from breastfeeding, the gentle, intimate memories. Focusing on the positive was a big step for me. Then making a decision that next time I will not supplement simply over a few extra ounces lost, that I will not have formula stashed in the house, and that I will have a support group set up, have educated myself, and have things on hand to help my supply if needed. Making this decision makes me excited to breastfeed. Excited as I was with lil man. I can't wait to have another baby and breastfeed him or her.
  5. Forgive Yourself! I remember going through something in my life, and seeking counsel from a religious leader. One of the things he said was that I needed to forgive myself. That I would not be able to move on until I did so. If you keep beating yourself up over something, you will never get past it. So forgive yourself. You have owned up, you have forgiven others, you have decided what you would want to do differently the next time, so forgive yourself.
Once these steps are done, and really, truly done, you will begin to feel the weight of the guilt lifted. You will be able to move on. Enjoy the things you have, and look forward to the future.

It was important for me to let go of the guilt. Until I did so, anytime the topic of breastfeeding came up, I was on defense. I felt any comment about formula or supplementing was aimed at me. If someone talked about most women make plenty of milk, I was defensive. If someone said anything about anything I was going through being human error, mine or someone else's, I would get upset. Once I let go of that guilt, I could realize, this wasn't the case. Someone saying that breastfeeding was worth the effort was not saying I was not dedicated. A comment about booby traps didn't mean I was an awful mom for that fell for anything. A pro-breastfeeding statement did not mean that formula was poison.

Letting go was so freeing, I felt like a new person. I was able to truly enjoy the remainder of our breastfeeding relationship, even with supplementation.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is This Normal Or Is Something Wrong?

There is a lot I wish I had known when I began breastfeeding. Some things are specific to my experience (c-sections effect on birth weight, etc) and some things I think are things all moms need to know. I write about this kind of thing a lot- but there is a reason for that- those first 6 weeks, almost every mom doubts her breastfeeding ability, her supply, her child's latch, or some other aspect of breastfeeding.

To know what is natural or "normal" I really suggest this site .

However, it is one thing to read the information, and another to be the mom doubting if what you are experiencing is normal. For that reason, it is always good to hear from other moms what was going on during the first few weeks and months. I decided to take a very un-scientific poll on this blog's facebook page. It was a very small sampling as I only had it up for a few days- but the percentages reflect what I have noticed on breastfeeding boards, forums, and other sites.

I asked moms who breastfed for at least 6-10 weeks what behaviors, etc that they experienced. I am going to start with a few "common myths"

I never became engorged so my milk didn't come in properly.
30% of moms who answered the poll never experienced engorgement. Several of these moms had an  oversupply or breastfed exclusively. It is just as common to not feel engorged as it is to feel engorged. For me, my milk came in gradually. THIS IS COMPLETELY NORMAL! I wouldn't have even known that my milk was coming in had it not been for the LC who pointed out that the milk was getting white. Please, do not feel that just because you never felt "full" or engorged that you have a low supply.

My baby spits up, is fussy, colicky so he must be allergic to my milk.
Baby's digestive system is very immature. It is just starting to handle food, and it takes time. This is why we don't just jump right into solids. It is common for baby to spit up, or be colicky. Fussiness is also common. 50% of moms who answered the poll had babies who spit up or had reflux issues. If you are concerned, talk with your pediatrician about ways to handle this. If your pediatrician suggests formula- switch doctors. Formula often makes this worth. Same with colic. 33% of moms said their child had colic. Many parents also confuse normal gas pains and fussiness with colic. Colic is inconsolable crying for 3-5 hours a day most days of the week. Not many babies actually have true colic (although I know a few of the moms who answered the poll definitely dealt with this). Most of the time it is normal fussiness and gas. The immature digestive system and the change from having constant nourishment through the umbilical cord, to having to nurse and then digest the food and then nurse again, is a big change for a baby. 40% of moms who answered the poll, experienced a fussy baby.

My baby is low on the charts and/or gaining weight slowly so I must have supply issues.
First, it is important to understand two things- 1) Every baby is different. We have to have babies at the low end of the charts, and some at the high end of the charts. With Lil Man I had to learn this as I watched him not even make the charts because he was so small. Hearing other moms say "Mama's milk is great because my baby is in the 90th percentile" really hurt. THOSE CHARTS ARE NOT TEST SCORES- BEING IN THE 10th PERCENTILE DOESN'T MEAN YOUR CHILD IS FAILING. I can not even count how many times I have shared that last sentence on boards and threads where I see moms worrying about percentages. When do percentages matter? When your child is not proportionate and is in the 90th percentile for height, but 5th percentile for weight. Or when at 3 months your child is in the 90% and at 6 months is suddenly down to 20%. This is when you should be concerned. Not when you have a child who is in the 15% bracket for height and 10% bracket for weight. When something doesn't add up. 2) Some doctors still use the CDC chart- this chart is based on FORMULA FED BABIES. Formula fed babies tend to be heavier during certain ages and then lighter during others. Double check with your pediatrician what chart they are using. The CDC has directed doctors that they should be using the WHO growth charts until age 2 and then the CDC growth charts after that. The WHO growth charts are based on breastfeeding being the normal source of nutrition, and it also compares weight to height- which lets you know if there really is a problem.
Once you get past the charts- it is important to understand that breastmilk is more easily digested and broken down by baby. It converts into energy better, and the remainder- passes through the body and out into their diaper easier. Sure, some breastfed babies are nice and plump, but many are not. 50% of the moms who answered the poll said their babies had slow weight gain. But that doesn't mean their babies were not healthy.

My baby eats all the time. Either I am not making enough, or something else is wrong. 
We have all heard that "breastfed babies need to eat every 2-3 hours during the day and every 3-4 hours at night." In fact, that was almost taught as the golden rule in the breastfeeding class I took. Problem with that- It isn't true in the beginning. In the beginning those number reflect a bottle fed baby (more on that in a moment). A breastfed baby often needs to eat more often then that during the first month or two of life. Around 8 weeks, the feedings spread out a little more, but until then, it is not uncommon for mama to be feeding baby every hour on the hour, both day and night. (It isn't as bad as it seems, I promise, and the time is really short when you look back on it.) Some moms get concerned when they pump, and then baby takes 3-4 ounces and doesn't need to eat for another few hours. Well, bottle fed (both EBM and formula) babies will often finish a bottle- even if they are not hungry. Think about when you go out to dinner, and you order your meal, and they bring out a serving 2-3 times what you eat at home. Even though you may be content 1/3 of the way through- think about how often you continue eating, sometimes even ordering dessert. Especially if you see everyone else still eating- basically encouraging you to eat. That is what the bottle is like. Baby might be full at 1-2 ounces, but because there is still some there, and someone is encouraging them to continue drinking it, they eat more than they need, and there for are OVERLY FULL. Also, they may continue to eat because the sucking that is done is not just about nutrition but comfort (hence comfort nursing).  This may be why they continue to drink from the bottle, even after they are full. Finally, babies at a young age are only meant to take in 1-2 ounces every 2 hours. If you are truly concerned- seek the help of a IBCLC (certified lactation consultant).
97% of moms who answered the poll experienced frequent nursing. Frequent nursing is probably the most common newborn breastfeeding behavior, and is also probably the thing that makes moms question their supply and their breastfeeding relationship more than anything else.

Other common things that moms who answered this poll encountered-
36% of moms experienced a baby who frequently broke latch. This is often caused by over active letdown or an over supply. You can read more about how to handle that HERE.
88% of moms experienced a sleepy nurser. A lot of babies fall asleep at the breast. To help with this- try to keep from swaddling baby for the first 10 days after birth, never swaddle while breastfeeding. Strip baby down to the diaper, tickle baby's feet, and other things of this nature to help keep baby awake. What helped Lil Man was changing his diaper BEFORE feeding him.
Approximately 45% of moms experience frequesnt waking. So many moms are ready for their little ones to sleep through the night (the medical definition of sleeping through the night is NOT a 8-12 hour stretch but a 5 hour stretch- parents often want their definition of 8-12 hours). First, remember that this time is short. Second, most children need to wake and eat at least 1-2 times a night, even until close to 18 months of age, some longer. Also, it is important to realize that breastmilk is again, easily digested and baby needs to eat more. This is actually HEALTHIER for baby then having formula stick in their digestive system making them feel full and giving them less nutrients. Lastly, there are so many benefits to baby waking to eat at night. They are less likely to experience SIDS if they are still waking at night. (I am still trying to find the link for this. I had it the other day but this post got deleted and I have to find it again.) When a baby sleeps through the night, they fall into a deeper sleep and are less likely to wake if their breathing is obstructed. Frequent waking, as well as being breastfed instead of formula fed, has been shown to lower the risk of SIDS.

So often, we think that those who succeed at breastfeeding must have had a easy journey. This very unscientific poll shows that is more common for moms to have obstacles than not.

So, now that we understand these "issues" are common or normal, how do we overcome them. Patience as far as night nursing, frequent nursing, and so forth. Having a great support system- a partner that supports breastfeeding, LLL or Nursing Moms group that you can attend to 1) get out and 2) ask advice, a IBCLC lined up to help determine if there are true supply or latch issues, and family and friends that are willing to help take care of other responsibilities or children during the first few months when you spend most your time nursing.

I feel so bad when I hear a mom has given up breastfeeding because she thought something was wrong because she encountered one of these behaviors. I hope every mom will realize they are not alone, seek out support, and do their best to get through this obstacle. I think the best advice I was ever given was "Don't quit on your worst day."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Thoughts on Nurse-Ins

A few weeks ago, there was a lot of buzz around facebook and the breastfeeding community because of a Target Nurse In.
What is a nurse in? Well, kind of like a sit in, but moms go to nurse their children, or support nursing moms, at an establishment that has had a "breastfeeding incident". Recently, a mom was asked to leave a Target store for nursing her child USING A COVER. This of course, resulted in outrage from the breastfeeding community, and a nurse in resulted.

I have mixed feelings on nurse-ins. On one hand, I feel companies need to have their employees understand breastfeeding, the right of the child to eat wherever it needs to be, laws that protect breastfeeding in most states, and have a company policy regarding breastfeeding. The lax policy target has on breastfeeding is an issue. However, on the other hand, as someone who worked as a manager in fast food, I know that no matter what your company policy may be- you will always have employees who let their own feelings get in the way, and don't follow the policy.

So how do I feel about nurse ins? I don't think they are wrong by any means. BUT- I think they may be ineffective. Most of the things I read regarding the nurse ins at Target were from those who already advocate breastfeeding. Those who are uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public were still uncomfortable and actually felt these women who participated in the nurse in were "hippies", "pushy", "weird", and one person even used the term "breastfeeding freaks".

A nurse-in shows an extreme. A bunch of mothers coming to make a statement. Sure, it may send the message to a company, but most the time the company itself is not the issue. Plenty of mothers have breastfed in Target with little to no issues. Both with and without using a cover. And few that have had issues, have been asked to leave once they inform the employee of their legal right to breastfeed in public.
The issue is with individuals. People. Employees. Not because of what the company says is appropriate, but because what they have been taught by society as being appropriate and not appropriate.

Just like the sit-ins in the 60s & 70s didn't change most peoples opinions (that were not part of the movement), and made them think those who participated were extremists, rebels, freaks (with few exceptions like the civil rights movement), I have noticed nurse ins have the same effect. I read more negative comments then positive from those who were not already strong breastfeeding advocates.

Part of me thinks that this is because women feel that just because someone supports breastfeeding it means they are against formula and are trying to attack formula feeding. This is not the case. Honestly, all we are concerned about is being able to nourish our baby, just like a mother who bottle feeds. With nobody telling us to go to a bathroom, a car, or pump before coming out.

However, part of this is because society has sexualized breasts. BREASTS WERE MADE TO FEED BABIES. END OF STORY. The sexual pleasure of breasts is just an added bonus. It gets old hearing how people say breastfeeding is sexual, will make babies obsessed with breasts, and the such. CHILDREN DO NOT KNOW ABOUT SEXUALITY OF BREASTS UNTIL THEY ARE TAUGHT ABOUT IT. Because of the view our society has placed on breasts, people think these nurse ins are inappropriate and as wild and extreme as bra burning, or hippies going topless.

So, if I think nurse-ins are ineffective, what do we do? The way to change society's beliefs on breastfeeding and get the message across is to breastfeed. Not in large groups, organized to do so and trying to send a message to a company. If we want to change the mind of the individual, we need to normalize breastfeeding by doing it like we normally would, wherever we may be. Making a special trip to Target just to nurse my baby doesn't change the mind of Target....and especially not of an employee who was embarrassed about a mom nursing with a cover. All it does is get on the news and makes those who are already uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public think we are all "freaks". I have found extreme actions and words end up pushing people away from breastfeeding more than helping them see our side.

While I always knew I would breastfeed, those who had the biggest effect on me were those who nursed without making a big deal of the fact that they were breastfeeding. It was those who just went about their business and never made a big deal about what they were doing. It was those who quietly fed their baby at the table at Olive Garden, those who would nurse during a movie, the moms I see nursing at the zoo, amusement parks, and such, with now words, no large groups, no sign that says "breast is best" or the likes. It was those who treated breastfeeding like it should be- a normal, everyday action that is not shameful, but not something you have to yell from the rooftops.

I am not saying that you shouldn't share breastfeeding information. I would be a huge hypocrite if I said that. What I am saying is that sometimes we get so gung-ho about things, we forget how we might be coming off to the mother who is still debating about breastfeeding. We forget about those who have never thought to breastfeed and are just really thinking about it for the first time.

I look at it like religion. We all want to share our religion if we believe it is true. We want others to have the joy we have. But posting a million articles on the evils of other religions or how are religion is the "best" choice, or having demonstrations at local businesses to say our religion is great- come join now, does not make people want to join. What does make them want to join? Seeing the happiness in our lives, the example we set on a daily basis, not just when an entire group gets together. Thoughtful conversations at the right time. Those are the things that get them interested. Same with breastfeeding.

When deciding to go to a nurse-in- please, really think about it. Do you believe this will make a change? If so go for it. Are you doing it because it fits your role as the breastfeeding advocate? Is the company really the problem, or is it the employee, the single person. Is this a company that is known to treat breastfeeding mothers poorly, or is this a rare occurrence?

I don't see anything wrong with nurse ins, and have wished I could attend a few when I know that it is really a specific company that has issues, and not just individual employees, but I think they are not as effective as the breastfeeding community would like to believe they are.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

When Advocacy Turns into Bullying

I thought about titling this post "When Advocacy Turns Into Deterrence" or something of the sort, but I will be honest, I think Deterrence is when your intentions are to persuade someone not to do something. And that is not what this post intended to be about, because I don't feel any advocate's actions are to purposely keep someone from breastfeeding, otherwise you wouldn't be an advocate. I honestly feel that sometimes advocacy turns into bullying. Words meant to belittle another person, their morals or their parenting choices and the motive behind those choices crosses this line. This is not how I want to see breastfeeding advocated.

I highly suggest that anyone who considers themselves a breastfeeding supporter or advocate head over to The Leaky Boob and read Jessica's series on Unsupportive Support, paying particular attention to the post about Other Breastfeeders.

This week, I was able to witness a lot of interactions on breastfeeding. Some through forums, others through The Leaky Boob's facebook page, and other facebook interactions. A lot of the interactions were very positive, information being shared appropriately. However, there were 3 or 4 occasions that made me cringe.

For advocacy to be effective, it should be encouraging, informational, and free of judgement. When advocating, we must remember that actions speak louder than words. We should treat others how we would want to be treated. Remembering that everyone believes that they are right. Accusations just put up defenses.
When someone who calls themselves an advocate questions morality, motive, and the integrity of someone with opposing views, opinions, or experiences all they do is cause the other person to put up defenses. The line of communication is shut down immediately.

When addressed with the statement that a mother was unable to make enough milk for her baby:

The Bully: You didn't try hard enough. You took the easy out. No other mammal has supply issues.
The Advocate: You did a great job! Remember that any breastmilk is better than none. What made you feel you had a low supply? (And then supply important FACTUAL information after finding out WHY the mom states she was unable to produce enough milk)

When an article on how scare tactics are wrong in breastfeeding advocacy is shared:

The Bully: Formula is Poison, Mom's who choose it are selfish, immoral, lazy, and the such.
The Advocate: It is not right that scare tactics are being used to encourage something so natural. There are risks to formula feeding that should be shared, (shares factual links, information).

When faced with the statements "every mother is doing what is best for her child" or "better formula than starvation":

The Bully: Accuses people of taking the easy way out. Says they don't believe these mothers really have their child's best interest in mind. States that parents are really being selfish and not wanting to put in the work.
The Advocate: Agrees, then states that cultural booby traps play a lot into the failure of breastfeeding, and that until these change, formula feeding will remain a common feeding option. Then politely educates those that breastfeeding is natural and has benefits for both baby and child.

When a conversation ensues about weaning a 6 month old as the mother is suffering severe anxiety from pumping while at work.

The Bully: Tells the mother that she is being selfish. That she needs to continue until at least 12 months so that her child can be healthy. Tells the mother to just not have the baby take any bottles while she is at work, or get milk from a donor.
The Advocate: Starts by congratulating the mom on her 6 months of accomplishments. Offers tips to relax. Suggests seeking medical help for safe medications to deal with anxiety  while breastfeeding, then encourages her to not fully wean if she must give up pumping, but then to supplement with either donor breast milk if feasible, but if not, then formula if needed. Will also encourage the mother to educate herself on reverse cycling, and adaptability of her child, where the child may not need much fluids while she is away. The advocate will end with once again reminding the mom what a great gift she has given her baby so far.

When an expectant mother states she is nervous about how her partner will view breastfeeding, specifically nursing in public:

The Bully: Tells her that if he doesn't understand it is his problem and that he will just have to deal with it. He needs to get over the sexual part of breasts and get a clue.
The Advocate: Acknowledges that this is a valid concern. Encourages the mother to first, educate herself (giving her references like and other helpful links), and then to have an honest discussion with her partner, regarding the importance of breastfeeding, but reminds her to really listen to what he has to say, and address his concerns, while still stating how important it is to her that she has his full support. The advocate then encourages the mom to return to her/the forum with any questions or concerns she may have and wishes her a wonderful birth and breastfeeding experience.

When a mother states she supplemented during her breastfeeding relationship:

The Bully: Tells a mom that she didn't trust her body. Tells the mother that she didn't try hard enough. Says that supply issues are just in her head and an excuse to "half ass" breastfeeding. (Direct quote from this week)
The Advocate: Reminds the mother that any breastmilk is better than none. If the mother seemed open to it, the advocate will suggest tips that may be helpful to the mother next time.

When it comes to breastfeeding in general:

The Bully: Views it as the only way, that there is NO REASON a mother should turn to formula, states in writing or verbally that those who use formula are somehow less moral, less of a parent, lazy, or selfish. Does not acknowledge that our culture sets mothers up to fail, or if the bully does, they feel it is a very minor roll. The bully feels that it is okay to use scare tactics, name calling, and belittlement if someone chooses formula for any reason. They feel that they are superior because of their choice and success to breastfeed, whether it was easy for them, or a challenge. When others talk about challenges that led them to formula, the bully is quick to point out that they faced something "harder" and overcame.
The Advocate: Uses gentle education, encouragement, and understanding to help others succeed in breastfeeding. She will remember that sharing her success, and focusing on her breastfeeding relationship, being open to nurse in public, and offering help to others, is the best way to advocate breastfeeding. She is there to listen, will acknowledge booby traps and other issues. She understands that supply issues can be real, but understands they are rare and many women are misinformed. Instead of accusations, she will offer information. In the end, she will accept that she can not make the choice for anybody else, and that breastfeeding vs formula feeding does not determine the health or happiness of a child in and of itself. She understands that breastfeeding is the natural choice, but not the only choice, and not always the right choice.

We need to remember, when we are trying to encourage others to breastfeed, that you are more likely to encourage them by being a good example then anything else. Sharing information (factual, with sources) will always beat degrading comments. Most of all, we need to recognize that our society sets a mother up for failure more often then it sets her up for success, and until that changes, women are going to face a lot of booby traps, min-information, and more, and that formula IS better than a starving baby and every mom IS trying to do what is best for her child.

And Toni's Baby #3 is a ......

Congrats Toni! I am super excited for your family!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dear Mama-to-be, Love Baby

Dear Mama,

Right now, you are getting all geared up for my arrival. The nursery is ready, the co-sleeper or crib is set up, you have probably folded and re-folded my clothes a million times. You have a birth plan in place, and hopefully, since you are reading this, you have decided that part of that plan is to breastfeed to give me some important nourishment.

Mama, I want to tell you something, I have heard you say "I am going to TRY and breastfeed." I am so happy that you are giving it a go, and I want you to know, you don't have to try, YOU CAN! Look at how amazing your body has been already. It has already provided for me during these crucial 40(ish) weeks, and it will continue to provide for me for the next 6 months and beyond. There doesn't need to be a "try" about this mama, so please, don't doubt yourself, or your body. You can do this.

I heard your friend telling you how her milk wasn't in so a few days after giving birth she went to formula. I promise you Mommy, all I need for those first days is the colostrum your body is most likely already producing. In fact, I would feel deprived if that colostrum was taken from me, replaced by instant breastmilk. That liquid gold is so packed full of antibodies, it will help my immune system more than you could know.
She told you her baby was fussy and eating all the time, so she knew it was starving. Mom, I will be fussy and I will want to eat all the time. I mean, I just came from this great situation where I had nourishment flowing to me ALL. THE. TIME. out into this world where I have to cry or give cues to get fed. My stomach is still tiny (marble size), and can not hold much milk. On top of that, mama milk is made specifically for me, which means I can digest it easy, and so I will want it more often. BUT- I promise this stage won't last long. I promise I will eventually spread out my feedings, I will learn to eat quicker, and that we will get this thing down. Just please don't give up on it on your worst day, and please, stick it out for a few months. We both have some learning to do here.

I heard Grandma telling you that she wanted to help feed the baby so you should supplement, or pump. I love Grandma, but please let her know, that this new world will confuse me a lot, and I need to know where my food is coming from- from mama. I need that bonding time, that special nourishment, and I might get confused if someone tried to feed me some other way before I am ready (in 6-8 weeks at the earliest). I also hope you will let her know, that formula is not a replacement for breastmilk, and that, while it has it's place in this new world, it is not as nutritionally tailored to my needs as your breastmilk.
Could you also let her know that there will be lots of other ways for her to help and bond? Let her know that baths, diaper changes, and just cuddling with me will let me bond with her and know that she is someone who loves me.

I heard Daddy say that he was nervous about you feeding me out in public. Please let him know that it is nothing to be ashamed of. Remind him that his child needs to eat, and that the benefits of breastfeeding completely outweigh the "embarrassment factor" he is worried about. Assure him that it will be discreet, maybe find some pictures to show him of women nursing discreetly. Let him know that after a few months, it will be nothing to him, and to please not worry about it.

I heard at the breastfeeding class the lady said I should eat every 2-3 hours. I hope you know this is for older babies. I may need to eat every hour, on the hour, for an hour at first, but again, it won't last long.
She also said you will become engorged- I know I don't have much experience in this matter, ok none, but please know that as many women DON'T become engorged as those that do. Your milk may come in slowly, and it is fine. I will just keeping taking in that liquid gold for the first 5-10 days. I will be ok.

I remember Aunt Jen saying to you how her child lost too much weight, so she had to supplement. Mommy- I will lose weight- After all, I am going from 24 hour nourishment, and lots of liquid being sent my way, to eating on demand, learning to eat, and so much more. Even if I lose a few ounces over the "acceptable" amount, please understand, I may not really need any new nourishment. Beware of those who push you to supplement due to reasons such as jaundice, weight, milk not in by a certain day, and crying.

Mom- I may lose weight, I may get colic, I might have times when I want to nurse all day, and other days where I hardly nurse at all. I might have a few bumps in the road, but we will get through this together.

Still, don't feel you have to go this alone. Please mom, educate yourself. Have information for possible hurdles we might come by ( Have some help lined up so that we can camp out on the couch while you feed me.

Please, though, Mama, don't doubt yourself, or your decision. This is the best first gift you can give me, and it is a gift that keeps on giving. Don't worry about 12 months, 18 months, or when you will wean at this time, just focus on the now, and take it day by day, Heck- I will be doing the same thing. This is new to both of us, but I will keep trying if you will too.

Your Baby

Saturday, October 15, 2011

An Exciting Announcement

Well, since she announced it on facebook, she has given me permission to announce it here-
Toni, one of our authors, is excitedly expecting baby #3 next spring!!!!!!

I look forward to someone who can give some fresh new posts on their breastfeeding experience.

I was with Toni when she went to her first OB appointment, as her husband was unable to attend. She was given a goody bag with formula in it. I loved how she recognized that this was a booby trap that they were trying to get her hooked before her little one was even born.

Congrats Toni! I am so excited for you! Since you have 2 pinks, I am kind of hoping for blue- lil man needs another lil boy around to play with!