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 kellymom.com 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 (http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/baby/index.html). 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.

Love,
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!

Today-

I apologize for the absence of posts. I have been busy with school, photography, being mommy, and some personal things that have been going on.

I have always been open about my struggles with infertility, so I was very excited this summer when I had a positive pregnancy test only 2 months in to actively trying to conceive baby #2. Unfortunately, it was not the right time, and I suffered a miscarriage (while on vacation without Disney Daddy). This is the second time I have miscarried and the pain of this miscarriage hit hard, since we had thought I had not even ovulated the month we conceived and we were ecstatic that it had happened so easily.

Today is pregnancy & infant loss awareness day. Miscarriages, even very early in the pregnancy, are painful. The hurt and wonder of "why me" haunts a woman. She questions every little action she did wondering if she could have prevented the loss.

Please take a moment to remember those who have lost an unborn child, or a child shortly after birth. Say a prayer for them, send them a positive thought, and remember that the pain is real. Also remember, that doesn't mean that they aren't happy for those who are able to conceive and have healthy babies- but at times, they just need to be able to escape the reminder of that which they lost.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Do Online Parenting Boards Fuel the "Mommy Wars"?

I was driving to school this morning, Heading to my Oral Communication class, thinking about things we had discussed and what I had read. It was about perception and how we use our experiences to perceive things.

This got me thinking- about a time when Lil Man was around 2-3 months old. I was taking my niece to the zoo and had stopped in a back area to nurse Lil Man while she played on a slide in the zoo. A couple other moms came with their infants, bottle fed, and let their older children play. I smiled at the moms, and they gave what I perceived as a forced smile to me. They then stared at how I was nursing my child, and then got up and walked to another area. To me, it seemed clear that they either did not approve of my nursing in public (even though I was using a cover to keep my fair child from getting scorched by the sun) or they were worried that I was going to say something about the method they chose to feed their child.


Now, I am not sure that they moved because of my nursing, but the body language, and expressions made me feel like they did....as well as one other thing....my experience with a popular online birth board. Online, I had read countless stories of breastfeeding mothers getting dirty looks, being asked to leave, or rude comments made in passing. I had also read several stories of formula or bottle feeding mothers saying they were chastised out in public for not breastfeeding. I had never SEEN in real life, any of these events take place, yet these stories skewed my perception of how breastfeeding and formula feeding moms interact with each other.

In real life, every mother that I know uses disposable diapers. The few I have met (in passing) that use cloth, never talked about it. They just did it, never paid attention to if my child wore cloth or disposable diapers, and we talked about other, more important things. If you go online, to a birth board, cloth vs disposable is one of those "hot topics" that will ultimately end in a show down. Cloth Diapering mothers arguing to the death about how cloth is more cost effective, cute, less toxic, and so much more. Disposable Diapering mothers feeling as though they have to explain why they chose to go the route they did. Not only that, inevitably, a EC mommy (elimination communication) will come in and point out there would be no issue if everybody just did EC.

The list goes on and on- CIO vs No-Cry sleep methods, stay home mom vs working mom, purees vs baby-led solids, vaccination vs not, circumcise or not, and so much more. The words that spill out on these "threads" can be snide, crude, antagonistic, and so much more.

I can't help but think that these online sites have taught us to put up our defences. These interactions, often quick and thoughtless by those who antagonize, make us feel that everyone is waiting to judge or comment on each choice we make as a parent.

Now don't get me wrong, there would always be people who judge. Those that think "if they would just do this, their child wouldn't be like that" and so on..... BUT- how often in real life, do we TELL people these things? Not very often. If we think them, we usually keep them to ourselves, or at most, say something to our spouse, or friend. While this doesn't make those thoughts right, it does spare feelings, and unnecessary confrontation.

So while I would never, ever, say anything like that in real life, and most of us probably wouldn't, the online forums have made us feel as though someone will. Online, people chuck their manners out the window before sitting at the keyboard, they have no one to answer to, no "real" consequences, and if things get heated, it is easy for them to walk away. They also usually find a group to back them up in how they fill. If they word things just right, the bully, can even come off as the victim.

But in real life, we are usually in a one-on-one type situation. We are just as vulnerable as the other person. Not only that, we want to be liked in real life. We want positive interactions with other moms. We want to share common experiences, not dwell on the choices we make that are different.

If I had never been to this online forum, and never seen some of these "wars" I would not even know of their existence. I would never have thought that those moms were either judging me or waiting to be judged, I would have thought they just were wanting some privacy (since there were 2 and they were in a conversation).

Technology and the internet are wonderful tools. I have made some wonderful friends through these online sites, but I can't help but notice they have taken the "Mommy Wars" to an entirely new level. We expect to be judged for every choice we make, and we feel that we need to label ourselves, and group ourselves with other moms that have our labels. Is there an answer to this? Yes. The answer is to stop putting labels on ourselves and others, educate but be respectful, and use the same courtesy we would in person, online. Will people do this? Probably not. While it would be AMAZING if they did, every month, a new birth board is started for expected mothers, and every month, their are new moms to get in wars. Moms seeking advice will get strong advocates- some that are respectful, and unfortunately some that are not, and the mommy wars will continue.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You Don't Have to DO It To SUPPORT It

I am an athletic supporter! I LOVE college football (GO BOISE STATE!) and really enjoyed going to any type of sporting event in school. I love soccer. However, I am not a big athlete. NOPE! Even when I was younger and loved soccer, throwing a baseball, and if I do say so myself- had a killer serve in volleyball- I was never what I would consider an "athlete."
I still understand the games, appreciate them, enjoy seeing the advertisements, watching the ratings, and have a little fun taunting with my friends though. I love seeing our home team challenge the system, the United States take some gold and silver medals, and seeing the world unite over the Olympic Games.


You don't have to do something to support it. Just like I support athletics, but am not an athlete. My friends supported me as a musician/singer in school, even though they did not play an instrument or sing in the choir. So let me say it again- YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO SOMETHING TO SUPPORT IT!

While I do care if someone chooses to breastfeed- I understand that not every mom will. I do hope though, that every mom, husband, family member will choose to support breastfeeding- even if they do not breastfeed.

What is support? So many people say they "support" breastfeeding. What do they mean? In my opinion- supporting breastfeeding is more than not giving dirty looks to someone nursing in public.
When I think of the word support, I think of bras. I know- strange- but I do. First, you have the training bra- that is comparable to that which I just mentioned- you don't give dirty looks at someone who is breastfeeding in public, or you don't lead them into booby traps. You aren't discouraging, but you could do more.

Next, you have a simple bra- no underwire- soft cup. Very comfortable but still leaves you flopping around when you need the best support possible. I would compare this to those that who really urge breastfeeding, but then come back and say things like "start solids early", "you are nursing too often", "if it doesn't work out then just switch to formula", or "formula fed babies sleep better at night." A lot of times they bring up wives tales, make the mom feel like any struggle is her fault, they don't support breastfeeding past a year, and more. They don't understand why a mom would not leave her breastfed baby for a week, tell them to pump and let others give a bottle to bond- not understanding how it will effect the breastfeeding relationship.

One of the most wonderful inventions was the underwire- Add that to a firmer cup and you have a pretty supportive bra. This is the friend who, no matter what her feeding preference, will support you, look up answers to your nursing issues for you, tell you how proud she is of you. This is the husband, like Disney Daddy, who comforts you when you are crying from feeling like all you are is a big breast or milk sac to your child, tells you how proud they are, how much they appreciate what you are doing for your child and lets you know that you can do it. This is the pediatrician who reminds you the benefits of breastfeeding, lets you know that your child is healthy- even if they are smaller than a formula fed baby- and tells you to keep breastfeeding until you and child are ready to wean when your child is already 18 months old. This is true support.

I like to call myself an athletic supporter. Whether you like the term supporter, fan, encourager- whatever, I hope that you will find yourself being a breastfeeding supporter.

At the same time- I hope that moms will support each other in general. I would much rather a mother feed her child formula then have her child starve. I would prefer a mom who can not exclusively breastfeed supplement knowing she is still giving her little one the benefits of breastfeeding then feel like a failure. I hope everyone learns that the important thing is to support each other in being the best parent we can be.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Asking For It!

Oh dear, what am I going to do. It was fine and dandy when I had to try and read his cues, or had to try and keep a schedule of it. Now that he has learned not only how to sign for it, but how to say/ask for it- I think I am going to have to put a stop to it.

What? You are confused.

OH- because you thought I had weaned Lil Man....

See, Lil Man has learned the sign and word "Eat."

That is right....he knows how to ask for it.

BUT WAIT- that is not all....he will also walk to the kitchen and fridge. Great- he knows how/where to access food too. Then today, when we opened the fridge- he REACHED FOR THE FOOD he wanted!

So, I guess it is time to stop feeding him. After all, he is asking for it, signing it, and trying to access it himself. So I guess I better stop feeding him.

Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it? Why do people feel that as soon as a child can ask for milk, lift a shirt, or say "nurse" or whatever term they choose for breastfeeding, that it is time to wean, yet we encourage a child to ask for "ba ba" or bottle, hold their own bottle, and we expect them to learn to access food?

Our society seems to think that the breast was made simply for their sexual purpose. The truth is, they are first and foremost, a food source for our young, and the rest is an added bonus.

This week is World Breastfeeding Week (starting August 1st). My hope and prayer for this week is that women everywhere will help spread the word that breastfeeding is natural, normal and beautiful. That it is not perverted, that it is what we are meant to do. I hope that as this week goes on, we will all support breastfeeding, whether we choose to breastfeed or not. I hope that we can help encourage others to breastfeed and to help each other realize that their is no magic switch that as soon as a baby can ask for it, gets teeth, or turns one- they should stop.

I am looking forward to this week, and hope to have several posts, by myself and other guest authors, to celebrate and support breastfeeding.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Booby-Traps

A friend of mine started out breastfeeding her 3rd child. The child became fussy at around 1 month, crying not sleeping, and the mother, tired, called the pediatrician who let her know that her child was most likely colicky. What did the pediatrician suggest- formula.

This mother, tired, still learning how to breastfeed, having two other children to care for, followed the advice, only to learn too late that formula does not solve colic or reflux, or any of the other woes her child went through- in fact- it made it worse. It caused more spit up, more tummy aches, and did not help her child sleep at night.

This was a booby trap. We as a society acknowledge the importance of breastfeeding, we encourage it during pregnancy, but once the mom makes the decision to breastfeed, and is trying to work through any complications that arise, suddenly, that support has vanished. We have myths, wives tales and that friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend anecdote that says whatever breastfeeding problem ails you- formula fixes it.

When Lil Man was born, I fell "victim" to many such booby traps. From supplementing, to PCOS and low supply to more...looking back, I realized how so many suggestions, beliefs, and more were actually booby traps.

So what are some of the most common booby traps- I have listed a few. After reading- feel free to leave a comment with any other booby traps you have heard or encountered.

  1. Supplementation- If baby loses more than X amount of weight, doesn't get back to birth weight by X date, etc- you need to supplement. There is a lot more to your child's health then the number on the scale. It took me a long time to realize this. Lil Man has always been small, and seeing his numbers slowly creep up was hard. He has always been in the 1-3% for his weight (and height). I took me a long time to realize that those percentiles were not test grades, my son's health was not failing, and as much as the resident pediatrician wanted to make it sound like it- the fact that he lost a little over 10% of his body weight DID NOT mean I needed to supplement. I learned the hard way. Their are a lot of things to consider when considering supplementation- and yes, in a VERY FEW cases, it is necessary, and then should be done with great caution. Supplementation is a booby trap. Why- because it is a slippery slope. Supplementing takes time away from the breast- and that hurts supply, and then eventually, if this pattern continues, will harm supply until supplementation is actually necessary, and sometimes leads to bottle preference and early weaning by a parent.
  2. Breastfeeding keeps Dad and others from bonding with the baby- SERIOUSLY??? So how did others bond with babies before there was formula? Bathing the baby is not bonding? Playing with the baby is not bonding? So basically, the only way people believe you can bond with a child is by feeding them? WOW- no wonder why so many people smother others with food, our population is overweight, and we really do not understand how to eat in moderation. We feel it is the only way to bond with other humans. Let's get serious though.....there are plenty of other ways for Daddy, and others, to bond with the baby.
  3. Breastfeeding Supplies Cost A Lot Of Money, You need certain "stuff" to make breastfeeding work- Breastfeeding is pretty simple, 95% of the time, all you need is mom's breast and baby. Seriously! So you are going back to work- you may want to purchase a pump, but I had a friend who found hand expression worked better then her pump. Boppy- yes they are nice, but not necessary at all. In fact, after about 2 months, I hated using the boppy while nursing my son. It was just an extra thing I had to worry about. Nursing clothes- NOPE- I, as well as many other mamas I know, just lifted my shirt up and if I was worried about my belly showing- I wore a cami under the shirt I pulled down. Ointments- NOT NEEDED! Breastmilk is better for your nipples than lanolin cream. Just hand express and rub it in.
  4. Formula fed babies sleep through the night sooner- Dr Jay Gordon, in his article on night weaning, as well as many other pediatricians and health experts, have found that until 1 year in age, MOST children will need to wake at night for nourishment. I have had several friends go to formula hoping to get more sleep, only to find they get less sleep. Not only do they have to feed baby, they have to wake to make a bottle. Also, studies have shown breastfeeding moms get as much or MORE rest then formula feeding moms. Many of my friends have weaned hoping their children would sleep better- only to find that it makes no change in their sleep schedule.
  5. Breast is Best- I have addressed this before, but I would like to really look at this now. Breast is not BEST it is NORMAL! You know who wants us using the term Breast is Best- FORMULA COMPANIES! You know why- Think about this....Organic is best! That also makes you think organic is for those with a higher status. But non-organic is healthy too. I am not using this analogy to start a debate on organic vs non-organic. Just think about the mind set- BEST means only the best should get it, NORMAL means EVERYONE can and should be able to have/do/access an item. Breast is NORMAL!
  6. If it hurts-something is wrong- Those first few weeks may be painful. Even if your child has a perfect latch, there are no issues, etc. Of course, pain can be a sign of an issue and you should seek the help of a certified LC or medical professional to be sure everything is okay, but no that even if everything is "perfect" it can still hurt. If the pain is SEVERE- this is not normal, but some pain is.
  7. Breastfeeding moms can't go out, enjoy certain foods, or drink (aka lifestyle is prohibited)- This has really bugged me lately as I found out someone I know was choosing formula simply for this reason. I personally did not leave Lil Man for more than an hour or so until he was over 8 months of age, do not drink alcohol or go out and party....but those are personal choices and parenting choices I have made. A breastfeeding mom CAN drink now and then. The rule is- if you are sober enough to drive, you can breastfeed. If you drink more- waiting for the alcohol to leave the body, or if you become engorged-pumping and dumping are some ways to keep the alcohol from reaching baby.Diet wise- yes, some babies have intolerances (mostly to high amounts of dairy), but in general, mom can eat most anything she wants. One of the wonderful things about breastmilk is how tailored it is to your baby's needs. Women around the world have different diets- but all can breastfeed and their babies get the nutrition needed to grow.
  8. The Perfect Latch, Feeding schedules- I have shared before how the breastfeeding class offered by my hospital focused so much on latch and baby eating every 2 hours that I thought this was a requirement. Later, I learned that newborns can eat ALL. THE. TIME. and this is perfectly normal. The 2 hour rule is actually based more on formula fed babies then breastfed ones. WHOA- sorry to go random thoughts on you- but that is another type of booby trap- the fact that we stress how formula fed babies eat less. Maybe instead, we should focus on why they eat less and the fact that it is because formula is not easily digested by their bodies and converted into the nutrients they need. The latch thing is a common reason women stop breastfeeding. Latch should be thought of like chopsticks- you don't have to use them properly as long as how you use them works for you! If baby is on and sucking, milk is flowing and you are not in extreme pain- there is no need to worry about having a "perfect" latch. In rare occasions there will be physical reasons that latch is bad and prohibits the breastfeeding relationship- but their is usually a solution to these issues. If you are concerned about lath- please seek help from a certified LC.
I could probably go on and on with a list of booby-traps....But these are the ones I have heard most often. I have found that even the most well meaning sources will have booby traps.

Have you encountered any booby traps? If so what and how did you handle them?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why I Want YOU To Breastfeed

I think some people get really annoyed with me. I am constantly posting links to breastfeeding articles on facebook. I ask expectant mothers over and over again what their plans are- breast or formula- and I am very outspoken about the child's right to breastfeed.

Other breastfeeding advocates probably think this is all wonderful! I do not bash formula feeding, but simply try to educate others around me. Still, I know there are plenty of moms- specifically those who never really considered breastfeeding- asking "What do you care? Why does it matter to you what/how I feed my baby?"
This is a fair enough question. After all- it is not my child. I am not one of those parents who feels that just because a child gets formula means they will not be happy, healthy, smart children. In fact, formula helped nourish my own child.

Yet, I do care if others breastfeed. I really do- and there are several reasons why. Many are scientific, information based. Others are from my personal experience.



So to answer this question I am sure many moms are wondering- here is a list of reasons why I want YOU to breastfeed. There are too many to list- but here are some of my top reasons.
  • Breast is not best- it is NORMAL! Breastfeeding is the natural way to nourish your child. Our society- however, does not look at breastfeeding this way, and until more women breastfeed, this will not change. So yes, I want YOU to breastfeed so when I am blessed with another child and I breastfeed, it will not seem to be an abnormal act to others around me.
  • So that your child can have the perfect nourishment. Formula is NOT poison- let me just get that point across. It is necessary for some circumstances- but no matter what that commercial, pamphlet, or sample can of formula says- it CAN NOT duplicate breastmilk. NOT EVEN CLOSE! Breastmilk is amazing stuff. IT CURES CANCER!!!! It can treat pink eye, burns,  and so much more! Can you imagine all that healing power, plus nourishment that is tailored specifically for your baby at their age/stage. No matter what the big formula companies want you to believe- they can not do as good a job of this as your body can
  • I want to SAVE YOU MONEY! I love saving money. I am a crazy couponer. I bargain shop, I watch for great deals to have vacations, etc. And I LOVE saving other people money. So I want you to choose breastfeeding to save you money. Breastfeeding is FREE! You need no equipment. Sure, if you plan to return to work, at some point you may need a pump (hand expression is a FREE option) and you will need something to store milk and feed the baby....BUT not as much as if you formula feed. Formula costs can run close to $100/month or so. Even using generic brands and coupons you still spend around $60 a month on formula. Bottles wear down/out faster if they are the only source to put the food in baby's mouth. Then add on the time and cost to wash bottles. Don't forget that formula fed babies are more susceptible to colic, ear infections, and more (this does not mean your baby will have these issues if you formula feed, but there is a higher chance of it happening). You get WIC? They will pay for formula? Here is a little tidbit I have found- If you choose to formula feed- Mom does not get as much Grocery allowance during that first year. Often times the amount of formula provided by WIC is not enough to meet the baby's needs. Finally, when your child starts solids- most WIC programs provide more baby food to breastfed babies then to formula fed babies. So breastfeeding- even when on WIC is a cheaper choice.
  • I want you to learn how AMAZING your body is. Through my breastfeeding experience, speaking with other breastfeeding moms, and all of my research into breastfeeding- I have learned to appreciate my body more than I ever thought possible. Women are amazing! The fact that we are able to nourish our babies for 9 months in the womb, and then continue to provide 100% of the nourishment that they need for the first year or more (before age one solids are just for fun) is truly a miracle! You will learn to love your body and appreciate how amazing it is every time you bring your little one to your breast.
  • The benefits are endless- you, my friend, are less likely to get ovarian cancer if you breastfeed. Your healing time is faster after birth when you breastfeed. I LOVE you- otherwise I wouldn't care about these benefits and be urging you to consider breastfeeding! I want you to have all these miraculous benefits.
  • The sense of accomplishment- I thought about putting the bonding experience- but I will be honest- not every mother LOVES breastfeeding- and those that do, certainly do not love it 100% of the time. But, even if you do not have the wonderful, warm feeling moms talk about- there is something you will have- a sense of accomplishment. I felt it when I hit that magic 8 week mark. The one where breastfeeding finally clicked for both Lil Man and I and I was so proud of myself for not quitting all those times I felt like it. The sense of pride you get when you are "awarded" your "bronze boobies" for hitting the 3 month mark. The fact that you stuck with it, even when it was hard, you were tired, and all you wanted was to just not feel like a giant cow/pacifier (see my post on why these thoughts are bad here)- you will feel so PROUD of yourself, and your little one, for making it to these milestones.
So there you have it- I care if you breastfeed. Not just because I think formula is un-natural. Not just because I am a crazy breastfeeding advocate- but because I truly care about you and your baby.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dos and Don'ts

I am busy packing up and moving! Yes- we are moving to a bigger place with a better layout for our family. Lil Man is ready to move into his own room/bed and we found a place where our bedrooms are close enough that we don't have to trek across our entire home between rooms. It also has more space for Lil Man to run free!

So, to tide over the blog- I thought I would post a few links for you.
As Breastfeeding advocates we make a powerful impact on other moms. Powerful does not always mean positive. The way we approach breastfeeding and formula feeding, etc- just like all other parenting decisions- can either help educate and support, or it can completely disgust and discourage others from our cause.

Check out 10 THINGS BREASTFEEDING ADVOCATES SHOULD STOP SAYING here.

And then check out the 10 THINGS BREASTFEEDING ADVOCATES SHOULD SAY here.

Are there any things you would add to the lists?

Friday, May 20, 2011

One Year Later

What a difference a year makes! I hope you enjoyed the guest post by Wiski! She is an amazing woman and a true inspiration! She got through a lot of obstacles and was able to EBF while working full time for a full year. Her baby never had to have formula! That is a wonderful accomplishment.

Today is Lil Man's first birth day. He has changed so much and I am a bit teary eyed looking back on it all.

Recently, I have been able to talk, online and in person, with a lot of moms who are expecting. Many are just like me a year ago- planning on breastfeeding, but unsure of their bodies ability to accomplish this huge task of continuing to nourish their child outside of their womb.

It has really made me think. One year later, I know so much more than I did when I was in the hospital, giving birth to my son. For starters- I have learned that society is full of contradictions. Breastfeed, but have free formula samples. Nurse in public- but only with a cover. Or even, nurse in public- but if you use a cover you are ashamed.
Another thing I have noticed, is we tend to over think things. I remember taking the breastfeeding class and so much emphasis being put on proper latch. Honestly- none of the stuff about latch, and positioning, helped me after my son was born. All it made me do was over think his latch instead of focusing on the milk flowing and the bonding time. Granted- latch is important- I don't want to downplay that- but it is like chopsticks- most people don't use them correctly- but as long as you are using them in a way that works for you- that is all that matters. Holding a doll in a position to practice was completely different than holding my baby. None of that clicked. Their were good parts of the class, don't get me wrong, but I think these items were over emphasized and that is part of the reason so many moms give up on breastfeeding because of a "bad latch."
The biggest thing I have realized though, is that we as women, need to have more confidence in our bodies. We are MADE to do this- to feed our children. When we start out assuming we will have issues, it leaves us more open to falling for all the booby traps that are out there- slow weight gain, "low" supply (that is actually not low), and so much more. When we let nurses and doctors tell us that comforting a child at the breast is wrong, that nursing 24/7 is uncommon, and we buy into it- it is because we are doubting our roles as mothers and women. We are questioning our bodies.
I went into the hospital worried about supply. I had read somewhere that 1/3 of women with PCOS suffer from low supply. But that is not what I had read....later, I re-read the article. It was 1/3 of women with PCOS (in THIS study) REPORTED having low supply. That does not mean they actually had it, that it was caused by PCOS rather than other issues, or why they believed they had low supply. I later read an article that said only 8% of women with PCOS were actually diagnosed with low supply....but by that time, I had already fallen into the booby traps early on, and they did effect my supply.
I get it- we don't want to make women feel bad for combo feeding- and we shouldn't. I combo fed my son for 9 1/2 months. I felt guilt for the longest time that he was not EBF. I would never want any mom to feel guilt for that. After all, you are still providing the benefits of breastmilk and nursing to your child. However, there is a big difference between not making a mother feel guilty and helping her be set up to succeed.
When we start off telling a mother not to worry about EBF BEFORE her child is born, before she knows if she has supply issues, we are also playing into that mind-set that her body can not do this. We are telling her that it is ok and normal for her not to be able to do it....In other words, we are telling her that only the most exceptional women are able to exclusively breastfeed, and unless she is such, she needs to be prepared to give supplemental formula.
If I had the confidence before hand that my body was made to do this- I would have been ready to handle those booby traps I faced- pacifiers, "acceptable" weight gain, how often I nursed, etc. I didn't have that confidence though. I went in questioning it. I was a first time mom, worried about making sure my baby got the nourishment he needed, and knowing that my body already was not "natural" from infertility, felt that meant I would fail at this part of becoming a mother as well.
I am much wiser now. Educated by those who want me to succeed, and not just from random google searches that brought up articles on how I may fail. Fact based research has made me more confident that my next child will be EBF. I also have the confidence in my body. Even though I felt it failed this time, I see where the booby traps played a huge roll in this and understand now that I underestimated myself. You don't have to be exceptional to breastfeed....you just have to believe in yourself and your body.




Now- before anybody thinks I am saying supply issues are not real- I understand they are real. I do. However, I think women are quick to assume it is their supply, and then fall into booby traps that actually DO diminish their supply. I think often times we want everything to go so naturally that when they don't we assume that our bodies have failed us. Most of the time this is not the case. But supply issues are real. However, unless an LC or OB has helped to diagnose that your supply truly is low- it shoould not be assumed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Saying Goodbye to my Pump...

My baby turned one yesterday. I've heard countless times mom's exclaim with sadness "boy, time sure flies!" I've been here before, I know how fast time moves...I get it...I do, or rather I’m trying to…

But really, I've never been in these exact shoes before. With Irelyn I exclusively pumped and at 11ish months of pumping pretty much around the clock I just couldn't do it anymore, I couldn't bring myself to hook myself up to that machine. I was sick of the ball and chain, it was time for me to stop and I did so with a smile.

I’m in a new unfamiliar situation and I’m not quite sure how to manage my next step. I know she likes cow’s milk…but will she LOVE it so much that she won’t need me any longer? My old fears of bottle preference bubble to the top and in the back of my head I wonder if working full time and being away during the day is going to damage our breastfeeding relationship.

And as crazy as it sounds, will I miss pumping? Sure, it’s a pain in the butt, sure I don’t enjoy it…but let’s be completely honest here, I know that a small part of me is going to miss it. I carried Ellie for 40 weeks, I’ve nurtured her exclusively with my milk and now during the day she’ll be getting something else…something not of my making. For many moms I know this isn’t a big deal, in fact most moms think it’s both commendable and crazy that I’ve pumped for a year, most moms would argue I’ve “done enough”. I carry the WOHM guilt and I doubt I will never feel as though I’ve done enough. I hold myself to too high of a standard and my perfectionist tendencies have a tendency to contribute to feelings of anxiety.

My plan with Ellie has been to stop pumping at work during the day once she turned one. In preparation of this momentous event I dropped a pumping session two weeks ago. My last pumping session at work was on Monday. By the time I got home yesterday I was feeling quite engorged. I nursed Ellie for a quick snack and still needed relief. I pulled out my trusty Medela PISA and as much as I hate the pump the relief it offered was near orgasmic. I anticipate I will pump a bit again when I get home to take the edge off.


Weaning from the pump this time is totally different. With Irelyn I stopped pumping and I stopped lactating. With Ellie I will still continue to nurse. I feel as though I’m walking a tight rope of sorts and everything is new…different…and I don’t have a stack of experience under my belt to guide my way…I’m playing it by ear, following my body and going with my gut. If anything I’ve learned from breastfeeding it’s been to follow my intuition. It hasn’t failed me yet!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I used to look up obscure holidays to celebrate instead of Mother's Day. Like today- May 8th- is No Socks and Have a Coke Day!
This is my first Mother's Day as an actual mom and it feels a bit strange to not be avoiding this day.......

Today I am enjoying some extra snuggles with Lil Man, going to visit my WONDERFUL mother, and just enjoying time with family.

I hope all of you get to enjoy some quality time with your loved ones.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pacifier

(Taken from part of a private email)

"I told the LC that I felt like a human pacifier. She told me never to say that again. She said I am a mother. Mothers are made to comfort their child. For newborns- that includes comforting them at the breast. She told me that pacifiers were made to replace the mother's breast. NOT the other way around."


When my friend and I emailed and she wrote this to me- I thought how when we are breastfeeding and/or pumping mothers- we often be-little our role. We call ourselves a human pacifier. Compare ourselves to a cow. I even joked once, while pumping, that I was "Checking in at the dairy farm" to Disney Daddy.
After reading this email from my friend- I have started to see how negative an effect these comments have. Why do we replace our titles of mother, comforter, nourisher with pacifier and cow?

Before pacifiers were invented- the breast was what a newborn was given for comfort. It is part of being a mother- to comfort your child.
So next time you sit and think "I am a human pacifier" or feel like a dairy cow while pumping- please try and remember the words this LC said. You are a mother- doing what mothers were made to do.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Relax and It Will Happen-Or Will It

I guess I felt like I wasn't really a woman. Like something was broken inside me. After all, this should come easily to a woman- shouldn't it? Maybe if I didn't stress so much. Maybe if I would just relax- it would happen. At least that is what people keep telling me.


I remember being in tears. The man speaking at the pulpit asked all the mothers to stand. Then, as an after thought "Will all the want to be mothers stand as well" came out of his mouth. I think he realized how that sounded, and quickly changed his wording to "Women 18 and older- mothers in training." It was too late, the damage was done. As the teenagers in the group passed our flowers to the women who were standing, I sat there, tears streaming down my face. My poor husband was unsure how to comfort me. He put his arm around me and pulled me in close.
One of the young women handing out flowers, brings me one and said "He said mothers-in-training." I accept it, but still refuse to stand.
That was the last time I attended church on Mother's Day.
Why was this so hard for me? This is what we are supposed to do. Especially in our "culture" (religion). We get married and start a family. But it didn't come so naturally to me.
Disney Daddy and I struggled with infertility for nearly 8 years before we found out that Lil Man was on the way.  From the time we were married we never tried to avoid pregnancy. We were thinking we would just let it happen when it was time. But then the years passed, and we didn't get pregnant. After two and a half years we sought out medical help.


We were blessed to have a happy ending. However, we do not know if our struggle is over. We hope to have more children. Fertility may or may not be an issue for us in the future, we are unsure.
This year, I will attend church on Mother's Day without feeling sad, or depressed. But many other women will still have that pain in their heart.

So often, people trying to be supportive will say things like "Maybe you are meant to adopt" (as if we had not thought, pondered, and prayed about that option) or "Just relax and it will happen." For many, it is not that simple.


It is estimated that over 7.3 million women in the United States suffer some form of infertility. 1 in 8 couples. Fertility treatments are costly, both financially and emotionally.

Support and friendship are the greatest gifts you can give someone struggling with infertility.
I have always been open about my journey trying to conceive. It has blessed me with many friends, but has also opened my eyes to how ashamed many people are of this struggle. It is something they feel they can not talk about. Like breastfeeding- it is something women think should just come naturally, and if it doesn't, it can be heartbreaking.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Please, take a moment to find a way to support those women who struggle with the longing for a child on a daily basis. Understand that they need to be heard and to have someone to be there for them. There are many myths out there about infertility as well. Educate yourself, support others, and share your experience and knowledge. I know that I have had a happy ending- but I will always remain passionate about Infertility Awareness. No matter how many babies I have, I will never forget the pain of infertility.

Visit www.resolve.org/infertility101 for more information regarding infertility basics.

Learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week at www.resolve.org/takecharge

Apology

I am sorry. Sorry that the blog has been slow the last couple weeks. Lil Man became really sick, and we even ended up in the hospital for a few days.

I promise that things will pick up soon. I have even contacted a few people to come over and guest post. I just wanted to check in and let everyone know that I am sorry for the lack of activity and give an explanation.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy Blogiversary TO.....

The Leaky Boob! It is a little late, but The Leaky Boob turned one recently. The leaky boob was an inspiration to me to start my own breastfeeding blog. While, I didn't start this blog in order to become like The Leaky Boob, it was an inspiration to me to go ahead and put myself out there when it came to my views on breastfeeding and parenting. That I had a right to my opinion, to want to share, support and educate.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Little Biter

          When you ask a group of soon to be new mothers about their plans for breastfeeding, you will get a variety of answers, but one thing I have heard many times is that they plan to breastfeed...until the baby gets teeth. As if teeth and breastfeeding are mutually exclusive. Having teeth does not make it impossible to nurse, nor does it make breast milk less important, so why so many women believe that weaning when teeth come in is beyond me. I know most are nervous about biting. And I can tell you from my experience that biting while nursing not something I wish to happened again, but it is something that you can work through. 
          Peanut Boy started teething around Christmas time, and of course I was bombarded with comments about weaning him since he was going to have teeth. I didn't even consider it. I had made up my mind that I was going to continue nursing, even if he did bite me. Then he bit me. Now as you can imagine, this was a VERY unpleasant experience. One day we were nursing happily and all of the sudden he just chomps down on my very sensitive nipple and I yelp in pain. I had been given tons of advice about how to handle biting, but not much goes through your mind except to make it stop. So I pulled him off the breast and set him down and said "no biting". Then he screamed! He acted as if I had cause him some great pain, when it was him who had done the hurting! So I conceded and allowed him to nurse again, but again he bit me. This time I was finished! I put him down, told him no biting and we were done nursing. This time he just looked at me and smiled. I was so galled by that fact that he thought it was funny! The next time he wanted to nurse I was nervous and I told him no biting, then he latched and nursed nicely for a few minutes, and then he bit me again. This went on for about 2 weeks. Peanut boy bit me almost every time he nursed. I was at a loss about how to get him to stop. Every time he bit, I would end the nursing session and most of the time he would protest loudly and cry as if he was in pain, or he would look at me and smile. Because he was not nursing during the day as much as he should, we were nursing almost ALL night! This was making me insane, and I had not a clue about how to stop it.
          I continued with my routine of warning him not to bite before we nursed, then stopping when he did bite. Then one day he just didn't bite. It was as if he had FINALLY learned that biting equals no more milk! I was elated, but skeptical. It has been more than 2 weeks since the last time he really bit me. The moral of my little story is that biting does not have to mean the end of a nursing relationship. While it is not something I would like to go through again, it was not enough to make me stop nursing. Children are smart and they learn quickly what behaviors will get them what they want/need. And it may have taken a couple weeks for Peanut Boy to catch on, but now we are happily nursing once again and cautiously expecting the next round of teeth, which may or may not lead to another battle with biting. But I am ready for it.


                 Stef
Photobucket

Monday, April 11, 2011

Guest Blogger Coming Soon

I am excited to have a new guest blogger coming to My Breast Thoughts. Stef from Real Life Mommyhood is a babywearing, breastfeeding mama who has gone through the biggest fear new nursing mothers have- a biting nursling- and she is STILL breastfeeding.
I am sad that Lil Man has weaned, but thankful that we had no "real" biting issues during our nursing relationship. He bit me once or twice, but nothing major, and prior to teeth....EXCEPT ONE TIME when he really clamped down. But that was it.
However, many moms really struggle with biting, and unfortunately, many mothers wean because of it. I am excited for her to come and share her experience- so be watching for her post, and in the mean time- go check out her blog.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Where Have I Been....

The family took a much needed vacation this last week. Well, kind of a vacation. Disney Daddy had to travel for work- and we tagged along, extended the time there, and made it a family vacation. We took Disney Daddy's niece, who we will call Smiles, and surprised her with DISNEYLAND!!!!! She was ecstatic.
This is part of the reason for the lack of posts.
Here is a picture with all of us and Pluto.
Lil Man was in LOVE with the characters- but ESPECIALLY Winnie the Pooh! He tried to climb into Pooh's arms. Luckily, the Disney Cast Member who offered to take our picture at Pooh's Corner saw this amazing moment and took plenty of pictures for us.


For those who don't know, I do a little photography on the side. I love being able to capture memories for others. Having Lil Man has changed how I take pictures. When you have a child this young there is no "posing" for pictures. It has taught me to capture the moments of every day life. I love this view through my lens.

Because of this, I am going to adopt a ritual from The Leaky Boob, who adopted it from Soule Mama. It is called In This Moment. A single picture- no words...although, I like words and will probably put a caption of some sort to remember place and time. I will normally do this on Friday, but I wanted to share this picture of Disney Daddy and Lil Man on Newport Beach last Monday.


In breastfeeding related news- I enjoyed walking around Disneyland, and I really enjoyed watching mothers with small children being nursed. I rarely saw children with bottles, and saw TONS being breastfed. Many moms used covers, a few did not. I just wanted to tell each of them good job!
The most exciting thing though, was meeting up with Wiski. Wiski has become a good online friend of mine, and it was wonderful to meet her in real life. Her daughter is only 3 day's older than Lil Man.  It was cute to see them play together. I would love to post a picture- and maybe I will- if Wiski gives her approval. I hope Wiski will be able to contribute to the blog again soon. If you missed Wiski's first post- check it out HERE. She is amazing and exclusively pumped for her first daughter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Don't Label Me!

I recently have decided one of the biggest disservices we do to ourselves is labeling our style of parenting.
I was all happy, thinking I leaned towards the AP (attachment parenting) kind of parenting. I co-sleep, breastfed (until recently), baby-wear, do baby-led weaning/solids, do not use CIO, and more. I knew two of my choices were not in line with "that kind of parenting"- and they had to do with vaxing and circumcision.
Well, I recently was shocked when I read a comment somewhere. The discussion was regarding how to turn down toys you don't agree with. Original poster does not do plastic toys or trademarked toys in the home. Good for her! Plastic is for eco-friendly reasons, trademarked....well there are many reasons- money, etc.
I was shocked when several replies basically said ANYBODY who has even one plastic toy in their home is a "mainstream parent."
A mainstream parent is typically noted as someone who does not co-sleep, uses CIO, early solids- starting with baby food, circs, vaxes, and while they may breastfeed, they are typically considered "less passionate" about it. They prefer strollers and disposable diapers.
I never felt I fell into the "mainstream" category. Of course- I never felt like I was an actual AP parent either....yet, this discussion really got me thinking.
Is it not enough that we already label each other by how we feed our babies (see the part of my last post on why we should drop the labels of formula feeding and breastfeeding)? Suddenly we label how we parent...but on top of that if you are not 100% in one category then you are labeled as the other?
We parent. That is it. We parent the way that works out best for us and our children and our life. Natural Parenting, Attachment Parenting, Mainstream Parenting, whatever you want to call it- it is parenting.
I must admit- the conversation under this post left me unsettled. I didn't feel I wanted to be a part of this community anymore...because I don't fit the description that those moms have decided is an "AP parent" and yet, I don't want to be categorized as "mainstream."
The labels we place on parenting lead to negative views. When people think of AP parents, they imagine hippies bedsharing with their 17 year old son, homeschooling their children, teaching them how "the man" is doing them wrong....but what of my AP parent friends who move their child to their own bed at 12-18 months, are military families, and send their children to a community school, yet they wear their children, eat organic, delay vax, cloth diaper, and remove as many toxins from their home as possible?
So, I find that the AP parents don't want to claim me because of a handful of parenting choices I have made, and the mainstreamers don't want to claim me because of another handful of choices. Each labels me as the other, and disregards anything I may have to say about parenting because I am not in their "category" of parenting....

So here I am- stuck in the middle. The middle isn't so bad. I get to see both sides of every argument. I get to remember that if I choose the right topic, I can agree with any mother on her choices for parenting. Yeah, the middle is not such a bad place. You can agree with me, disagree with me...but please- Don't label me!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Remaining Passionate and Supportive After Weaning

I want to start off by apologizing for the lack of posts recently. My personal life has kept me quite busy recently. I hope to pick back up on posting some now that Lil Man is sleeping better! HOORAY!

I have finally come to peace with the fact that Lil Man is weaned. However, a friend (and I use that term loosely) made the comment "I am glad you weaned because now you won't share breastfeeding stuff on facebook."
WRONG!!!!
Just because I am not currently breastfeeding does not mean I will not remain passionate about it. It does not mean I will no longer lend support to those who are breastfeeding and could use some help. Breastfeeding is still a passion of mine. I will ALWAYS encourage mothers to breastfeed, support them in their journey, and try to put a realistic perception to breastfeeding.
I have been moved recently that two different friends have come to me recently. Both were not able to breastfeed for very long due to medical issues that interfered with the breastfeeding relationship during the critical first months. However, both are currently supporting friends or family to breastfeed, or pump, and give that benefit to their babies. They truly are amazing women!
This is how it should be. Those who formula feed, combo feed, wean early, and such should be able to know where to get information, and encourage breastfeeding mothers. Those who breastfeed should be able to lean on ANY MOTHER for support. They should not have to seek out only those who have breastfed.
When those who choose to use formula are not supportive and encouraging of breastfeeding, it is the exact same thing as breastfeeders who tear down formula feeding mothers. We need to just be supportive of each other, accept each others choices, and do anything we can to help mothers achieve their choice.
Some ways that those of us who have weaned or gone to formula may discourage breastfeeding moms without realizing it our making comments like
  • I weaned my daughter and she started sleeping through the night. (Formula feeding does not guarantee a child will sleep through the night.)
  • Now that I use formula, I can have a day away from the baby. (Which a breastfeeding mom can do by pumping, or even supplementing)
  • Since I formula feed, I can feed my baby anywhere. (So can a breastfeeding mother- without having to prepare a bottle)
If you have weaned- switching to formula- think about words that you choose. While you may not think the things you say are discouraging to breastfeeders, they often are...and they are often not completely true.

Some ways moms (no matter what substance you feed your child) can help encourage other moms are
  • To be educated on both formula and breastmilk.
  • Understand what the mother's choice is. Support it.
  • Remember that breastfeeding mothers have hard days, don't do the standard "You have made it this far. That is good. It is okay to switch to formula" until the mother has clearly made up her mind. I am thankful that on some of my hardest days I had people encourage me to keep at it. Otherwise, I may never have made it past 3 months.
  • Know where to get answers. Breastfeeding comes with a lot of questions and obstacles. There are great resources out there. A great online resource is http://www.kellymom.com/ 
  • DO NOT tear down another mother- no matter what substance she feeds her child
  • Talk openly about breastfeeding - even if YOU don't breastfeed
  • Understand that it is natural for a child to nurse into toddlerhood and that being able to ask to nurse is no different than a baby saying "baba" for bottle
  • Be understanding and supportive of a mother who chooses to wean (after she has decided), even if it is before a year. 
  • Remember that we are all mothers. Support each other, even if you make different parenting choices.
It is time that we stop tearing each other down and we start supporting each other.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Disney Daddy- The Actavist

Well, Disney Daddy is somewhat a career student. He is currently working on his 2nd 4 year degree.
In his English Composition class, they had the assignment to pick a cause to write an argumentive/persuasive essay/letter about, but the teacher didn't want the same causes she gets over and over (gun control, legalizing marijuana, etc). She wanted them to think outside the box. Well, I am a little proud of Disney Daddy for picking something mos males would not. He chose Maternity Leave as a topic!  He is for paid maternity leave. It is amazing that 163 countries offer some form of paid maternity leave (this could be higher since this article was released), and yet the United States does not require any form of maternity leave....Sure, there is the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). However, small businesses are not required to follow this, and it is not required that it be paid. It also is only 12 weeks. Many countries allow mothers 6 months to one year of maternity leave.
      One point that Disney Daddy made in his paper- the effect the lack of maternity leave plays with breastfeeding, and thus health care. I was so proud of him! He pointed out the burden a breastfeeding mother has when returning to work...having to purchase a pump, bottles, storage bags, take breaks (unpaid) to pump, hope the care giver understands how to properly heat the breastmilk, hoping the child does not develop a bottle preference, and more.
      Of course, this was just one of his many points. He also explained financial burden, the bonding time needed, and so forth. But I was very proud that he included breastfeeding as one of his major points. GO DISNEY DADDY!



Friday, March 11, 2011

How Long Before Baby Gets Benefits From Breastfeeding

A few days ago, a friend on facebook, asked what people thought about colostrum products for infants. My reply: "Hmm...other than colostrum from breastfeeding, I have never given it much thought. Interesting." She asked what I meant- "colostrum from breastfeeding? If you breastfeed a baby gets colostrum?" WHAT A GREAT TEACHING MOMENT. I told her yes, it as the first substance a baby gets, while waiting for the milk to come in, and it is packed full of antibodies and nutrients. I linked a few sites for her. I believe this mom breastfed, but she didn't realize that colostrum was given to her children the first few days after birth!

It got me thinking- often times, a mother feels if she can't keep breastfeeding past X amount of time- then there are no benefits. EVEN LATCHING YOUR INFANT ON ONE TIME GIVES HIM/HER SOME OF TE BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING.

Here is a great article regarding the benefits given for the different lengths of time.

So, if you wee not able to breastfeed as long as you hoped, remember you still gave your baby a great gift. This is important for me. I had planned on nursing Lil Man until h self weaned- hopefully at least 18 months. That goal later became a year. Unfortunately, this last week, my son has fully weaned. I was still nursing at night, and he started mostly sleeping through the night. After five nights of not waking, he woke, needing something to eat. When I tried to get him to latch, he looked at me with an utterly confused face as to why I was sticking my breast in face.
I wish I had known when our last nursing session would have been. Maybe I would have cherished a little more instead of grumbling about how he was waking at 2 am, yet again.
I am proud of making it to 9 1/2 months. I am trying to not have regrets. I did the best I could with the knowledge I had. I am better prepared for my next child and hope that I will be able to breastfeed my next child as long as he or she wants.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Something To Think About


Can you imagine if cows were as hung up about nursing as some humans are?

Breastfeeding is natural.
Cows drink cow milk, horses drink horse milk
HUMAN BABIES ARE MADE TO DRINK HUMAN MILK!


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Just Call Him-

Disney Daddy

Hubby said that no matter what the vote was- this was his favorite! Although- I did try and get him to go for Captain Obvious because he is always saying things that are very, well, obvious.
So, We now have Disney Daddy (my hubby) and Lil Man (my darling son).

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Five Ways Advocates Sabotage The Cause

Sometimes in our effort to encourage and promote, we end up doing more harm then good. This is especially true when trying to promote breastfeeding and its acceptance. I have found that often times, advocates, myself included, end up sabotaging the very cause that we are trying to promote. Here are the top 5 ways that I believe breastfeeding advocates sabotage the cause.
  1. We treat everyone with breastfeeding obstacles as uneducated, over-analytical, or lazy. When a woman comments on a breastfeeding forum about issues she is having, it is amazing to me how much people simply "write off" her problem as being uneducated. Often being told that if she would nurse more, worry less, or just stop supplementing (if she is supplementing) than her issues would magically go away. When we do this, we a) make the woman feel bad about herself and her abilities and b) send the message that we do not believe her problems are real and that she is looking for a reason to stop breastfeeding.
  2. We talk about breastfeeding ALL the time, including to those who are not interested. As much as we want every woman to breastfeed, it is her choice. While we like to look at it as the child's right to breastmilk, their are reasons a mother may find that formula is better for her child. I myself am guilty of talking about breastfeeding to the point of alienating some formula moms. Not on purpose...I didn't push it on them, but they felt I was TOO PASSIONATE about breastfeeding, and there for, became annoyed, thought I was judging them, or what not...and unfortunately, I have lost contact with a few people because of it.
  3. We judge other breastfeeding mothers. Some examples are a photo being posted on a breastfeeding forum that showed an overweight mother, breastfeeding a child, while on a scooter at a grocery store, not using a cover. Posters laughing at the photo and finding it entertaining. Women who choose to nurse without covers saying if someone uses a cover then they are ashamed and might as well be breastfeeding in their car or in the corner. Why does it matter how a mother breastfeeds? Is it not enough that she is breastfeeding? Suddenly she has to do it YOUR way? 
  4. We act as though every illness a child gets or doesn't get is based on what they are fed. We know the benefits of breastmilk and that it CAN prevent many illnesses and ear infections, but acting as though a mom's child would never have had that cold if she had only breastfed is as incorrect as saying the only reason a child didn't get a cold was because he is breastfed. In general, yes, the benefits of breastmilk for a child's health are great, but that does not mean a formula fed child is doomed to an infancy of ear infections, colds and more.
  5. We look at breastfeeding as all or nothing. There are women who need to supplement, or who may choose to supplement. Treating them as though they are a traitor to the breastfeeding movement, making women feel like breastfeeding is an all or nothing deal, only pushes moms who could continue giving their child the benefits of breastmilk, while combo feeding, into formula feeding. While most women are capable of exclusively breastfeeding, we must acknowledge that as hormone issues are on the rise (look at the rise in infertility), so are breastfeeding supply issues. Combo feeding is hard. You have to find a delicate balance of maintaining what supply you do have, and making sure your child is getting enough nourishment to grow. Dismissing a mom as "just a combo feeder" is not going to help a mother learn what she can do to continue breastfeeding, help her supply with future children, or understand that her children are still getting the benefits of breastmilk even while be supplemented with formula.
I am sure there are many more ways that we sabotage the cause, but these are a few that have been on my mind lately. We need to remember that if we are just preaching at people, rather than communicating, listening and sharing, we will never help promote breastfeeding.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Help Give Hubby A New Name for the Blog

Well, the term hubby is so un-creative that I think maybe it is time that I give Hubby a new name. Gamer is already taken by another blogger (well, Gamer Daddy) or I would use that for him....
So- I have decided I am going to make a poll with some names and you all can vote. BUT- in order to help you- I am going to give you a little description of Hubby.
Hubby has a degree in computer animation and video game design, and is currently going to school for ANOTHER degree in Computer Science- emphasis on computer programming. He loves to play video games! LOVES TO!
He is one of those guys that is a kid at heart. He loves all things Disney, would live in Disneyland if he could. He is the favorite uncle, cousin, etc to anyone under the age of 12. He is known for wearing shirts with funny sayings on them. He was called "The Funny Guy" by our best friends' kids for the longest time.
He LOVES spicy foods. He makes some mighty hot salsa (well, ok, I make it for him) and he puts sriracha (spelling?) sauce on EVERYTHING! I have yet to find something that he thinks is TOO HOT to eat.
He loves movies and TV shows. I used to hate going to a new movie with him because the entire movie I would hear "Do you recognize that person? They were in such-and-such a movie." He even watches a lot of OLD movies....like 40s and 50s. He also LOVES WWE wrestling. I call it a "male soap opera" but he still enjoys it.
 So- there is a little info. Leave a comment if you have a creative name for Hubby or vote on the poll. If you are leaving a comment with a different name- please answer OTHER on the poll. THANKS!

The poll will not be the FINAL say in the name (so don't worry if you are leaving a comment that it won't get picked). I will be presenting a few names to Hubby, where I will let HIM pick his new blog name.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Breastfeeding and Entertainment

If you expect this post to be about breastfeeding while at movies, concerts and the like....well, I am sorry to disappoint. Nope, as a matter of fact, this post is about how Hubby has decided that maybe I am a little too pro-breastfeeding when it starts to interfere with my opinion on movies and television......
Recently, many celebrities have talked a lot about breastfeeding their babies. I am so happy that they are talking about it, sharing pictures, and truly being proactive in trying to make breastfeeding the normal, accepted form of feeding a child that it should be.
BUT, recently, I have decided that Hollywood, as always, sends mixed messages. While in interviews with magazines and such you have a star talking about the beauty of breastfeeding, at the same time, a movie or television show is making fun of it.
Here are a few examples as of late-
Television: Watching an episode (rerun) of "The Office" where another location and the one featured on the show merge into the same building, one of the "implants" is a breastfeeding mother. It shows her pumping at her desk, in front of everyone, being rude when they stare. It then shows her bringing her child in and breastfeeding. While one may think from reading that last part "That is great, it showed her breastfeeding." The tone of the show was that this woman was strange, or rude for nursing her child in public, without a cover.
Movie: While I enjoyed the movie- The Backup Plan- one part shows Jennifer Lopez's character attending a single mother's group. There a mother is breastfeeding a child who appears to be around 18-24 months of age. JLo's character asks the age of the child. The child pops off of the breast turns and says "I'm three." Again, reading this, you might think- Way to go Hollywood, supporting extended breastfeeding. However, as the "group" scene goes on, you realize they are painting the picture that the mothers in this group are all "off."
Television: Another rerun- because that is what I watch at times, while Lil Man is napping- this time, the show "Yes, Dear." I LOVE this show....however one of the earliest episodes portrays the two families running into a mom. Her son- apparently an older toddler- comes up says he is hungry. Main character Kim offers a snack. The boy's mother states no thanks, lifts her shirt and breastfeeds the son. Later, upon returning home, the couples talk about how they can no longer return to that park. They discuss how a year is about the cutoff point. The show later goes on and you discover that Kim has not yet weaned her son and is nursing him during the middle of the night. I thought "Wow, maybe this will turn around..." They then go on to have Kim confess that the only reason she is still breastfeeding is so that her breasts will be large......BOO! They then wean the son...and while the weaning scenes are quite funny (since the dad takes over the night feedings) the overall vibe is that it is not okay to nurse past infancy.
But the one that really got to me, and make Hubby realize that my thoughts on breastfeeding could make or break a movie now, was when we watched "The Grownups" starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and a few others. In the movie, Kevin James's character's wife is shown still breastfeeding their "48 month old" "Dude that is FOUR YEARS." one of the character's replies. Throughout the show it has a lot of negative scenes of the mother breastfeeding her son out and about, and Kevin James's character being embarrassed, etc. It has him trying to talk the son out of breastfeeding. He offers his son regular milk to which the son replies "I don't think mommy would like me having it." This one taste of milk suddenly weans the son who was still breastfeeding several times a day. The mom is then shown saying she is upset, and doesn't know what her breasts are for then. But, it showed other things that I looked at, commented on, and made Hubby roll his eyes.
The mom, supposedly was still pumping quite often....often enough to bring her pump on the vacation. When a bird is injured, the mom uses the pump to give the bird milk to nurse it back to health. I was torn on this because breastmilk is AMAZING stuff so I liked the idea that it could nurse a bird that is injured to health....however, my husband told me to "Suspend my disbelief" because I pointed out that the tube they were showing as something that milk drained into, does not even come in contact with milk on a pump, but rather is what hooks the pump to the motor to make it work.
So, the movie was over, and I found myself saying it was awful because of how it portrayed breastfeeding. WHAT? Hubby was shocked. Normally, crude jokes, language, and the such is what will turn me off from a movie. This was not too bad in those areas, so when I said it was just "OK" he was in shock.
As we returned the movie to the Redbox at WalMart, a woman asked me what I thought of the movie. I told her it was ok, not too crude, and I even found myself wanting to say "if you don't mind it having a negative look on breastfeeding" but bit my tongue.
While I am pointing out that Hollywood is quick to laugh at breastfeeding, shunning it as a normal act...I must acknowledge a few shows that have shown it positively.
Hubby and I watch "Chuck" on NBC on Monday nights, where the sister, Ellie, recently had a baby, who is being breastfed. An old addiction of mine (guilty pleasure) "7th Heaven" had Lucy, in one of the later seasons, breastfeeding her first child and talking about how much she loved it. While I do not view it, I have heard that even the MTV's "Teen Mom" and "Teen Mom 2" have some moms who breastfeed.
Unfortunately, those last few shows are not the majority. Hollywood often shapes how we view something....breastfeeding included. Until the movies fall in-line with the the stars, the ones who promote breastfeeding positively, extended breastfeeding, and breastfeeding in general will still be looked at as something that should not be done in public, or that should not last past infancy.

Becca

Photobucket

Monday, February 21, 2011

Breastfeeding, Natural Family Planning and Our Bodies

Now that Lil Man is weaned off during the day, and my pump died so I am not pumping during the day either, my body has began transitioning back to the fertile state. One of the great things about breastfeeding is that it, if done on demand and exclusively, helps you space your children out, giving your body time to heal.
I take this into account when I look at how long is the "appropriate" length of time to breastfeed. Really, it is related. It is also related to sleeping through the night.
Let me explain:
First off- I will start with sleeping through the night. Often times, parents want to urge their children to sleep through the night before they would naturally do it. Sleep deprivation is hard. When you have a pediatrician, family and well-meaning friends also urging that you "sleep train" it is even harder. Sleeping through the night is like a right of passage for most parents. They look at it in the way they do many other milestones. Mothers compare how early their children slept through the night, just like walking, teeth, and more.
However, babies have tiny stomachs and are not meant to sleep through the night at an early age. Pushing them to do so before they are ready is, to say the least, un-natural. I will not get into my anti-CIO views, etc. But, expecting a child to be full for 12 hours at 4-6 months of age is ignoring the rules of how their tiny digestive systems function. Yes, a few babies will be the exception to the rule, but most will need to continue nursing a few times through the night to age one and beyond.
As far as how long to nurse a child, it used to be common for a child to be nursed for several years. Often times, getting the majority of their nourishment from breastfeeding until the age of two or beyond. I do not find it a co-incidence that two years is the length of time that most doctors suggest a woman give her body to heal from previous pregnancies before attempting to conceive again.
Well, this all ties in together- I promise. Breastfeeding is like natural birth control. When a mother is exclusively breastfeeding- on demand and around the clock (child is not sleeping through the night)- and is not supplementing with solids- breastfeeding is as effective as the birth control pill!
Now, before you jump on me and say "My friend so-and-so got pregnant while EBF and not supplementing." First, remember that this includes feeding on demand around the clock. Second, I know many women who have conceived while on the pill....one of whom her first THREE pregnancies all happened while using oral birth control. So, to say it is as effective as the pill, does not mean it won't happen. The only 100% sure way to not get pregnant is abstinence after all.
As long as a mother is still feeding on demand around the clock, and the majority of the nourishment comes from breastmilk, even with solids, breastfeeding is a highly effective form of birth control.
One of the fastest ways to restore fertility, while continuing to breastfeed, is night weaning. A sudden change- even a child sleeping through the night (9-10 hours) that previously woke every 2-3 hours, for a few nights in a row, is enough to restore fertility. To me, this, plus the previous observation about the length of 2 years between pregnancies and 2 years of breastfeeding, also shows me that we are meant to continue breastfeeding our children through the night, as demanded, for much longer than 4-6 months.
Once a child is night weaned, supplemented, or what not, and fertility starts to return, there are many ways to control if you conceive or not. There is medical birth control- shot, pill, IUD- and there is the drugstore birth control- condoms- but for our family, we are using Natural Family Planning.
Natural Family Planning is where you track your fertility signs, including your BBT, and figure out your most fertile days- then you either avoid intercourse, or the opposite, depending on if you want to get pregnant, or want to avoid pregnancy.
For us, right now, we are just hoping to see if I am one of those lucky women. The ones who struggle with fertility, FINALLY get pregnant, and then, BAM- their body and hormones just *click* and they are fertile and able to conceive on their own.
As I have studied about Natural Family Planning, annoyed many of my friends with questions (if they are NFPers), and more....it has just proven to me that our bodies were created/made to not only provide the best for our children, but in doing so, take care of itself. Healing as it provides the best nourishment possible for our children.
As women I don't think we truly understand how AMAZING our bodies are! We often look in the mirror and see everything we think is wrong with them. We are quick to complain about flaws and slow to acknowledge how AWESOME our body actually is.
So, I want to extend a challenge that you take a few minutes every day and remember the amazing body you have- and to think about all the positive aspects of your body.
Being a mother, breastfeeding, and starting to use NFP has really made me realize what an amazing gift my body is.

Becca

Photobucket