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."
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 
  • 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

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).