Tag Archives: Breastfeeding

My Birth Story

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Jeremy, Sydney, and I went to Anchorage to pick up Papa and Nenaw (my parents) on August 11, 2012, which was our estimated due date for Baby August. We joked that it would be really awesome if we went out to dinner at the Moose’s Tooth and then just stopped off at the birth center to give birth, since we were right there by it. We were so thrilled to see my parents, and made it to the Moose’s Tooth, and all the way back home, without stopping off at the birth center. We had a great visit with them, even though they were exhausted and on North Carolina time.

We went to bed, and at about 2:05 am, I woke up and needed to poop, bad. My labor had started with Sydney in this way, but I’d had so many stops and starts with this baby, that I had put it out of my mind to consider labor until I couldn’t ignore the contractions. As soon as I was finished using the bathroom, I had a sudden feeling of not only was I in labor, but it was time to leave the house for the birth center, in an expedient fashion. I did not, however, voice this to Jeremy, and instead climbed back into bed, where Sydney had opted not to sleep that night, so I was free to paw and writhe about on the bed while making my labor sound of choice, an angry cat sound. Jeremy woke up, and asked me if I was ok. After I continued to make more sounds, he leaped out of bed, in a semi-calm fashion, and got dressed and brushed his teeth. Then he went into the room where my parents and Sydney were sleeping, and told them it was time to go.

Within 10-20 minutes, we were in the van, and on the way to the birth center. The midwives and our doula, Stella were called at some point, and I started timing my contractions. Less than 4 minutes apart. We weren’t very smart the night before, and had not filled the van up, so we had to stop for gas. While timing my contractions, I tapped on the glass to let Jeremy know they were 3 minutes apart, he got a bit freaked out. Because our midwife was at a birth at the hospital, a different midwife called me back, and I was talking to her, and was overheard by Jeremy, who was driving, and he thought I was saying I had the “urge to push”, and started to gun it, until he found out I was not feeling like I needed to push. We eventually made it to the birth center, where my cervix was checked by midwife Felicity, 5 and a half centimeters.

I began cruising the medical building where the birth center is housed, and ascending and descending the stairs, in individual steps and lunges, with Jeremy or Stella applying counter pressure. I was very happy that we had the entire building to ourselves, and we were the only people at the birth center. While I labored, Sydney toodled the building with Papa and Nenaw, and made great use of the elevators. Never had she been awakened at 2 something in the morning to play, so this was a real treat.

Stella applying counter pressure

My contractions were coming about a minute apart, and Stella said it might be a good idea to get them to be spaced a bit more, so I went to the bed, and got on all 4s, howling like an angry cat. At some point, I switched to the birth ball, which was awesome, and my hips could be free to move, and I could be supported. I opened my eyes, coming out of one contraction, and midwife Karen was there. In the quiet, respectful nature of my labor atmosphere, she had appeared, so gently, and I was greeted with a smile.

I need to take a moment to mention that while planning for this labor and birth, music was a huge consideration. Music, for me, is what makes life flow so nicely, music helps life make sense at times, and music has helped me carry on through some tough times. So, I knew that music should be strongly considered for this birth. At first, I began to put instrumental and relaxation music on my iPod, but then began to consider that there were other types of music I might like. I ended up with quite a bit of music, from different artists that help my days pass more smoothly at times, they included: John Mayer, Deathcab for Cutie, most of the Garden State soundtrack, The Fray, Coldplay, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood. None of the songs were about birth, but they were all songs that I enjoy. The playlist was named Baby August, and at times during my labor, I was so very grateful for the music we had playing in the background. It added to the atmosphere, the ambiance, and really helped me to remain calm.

As labor progressed, I became increasingly more uncomfortable, but stayed fairly relaxed, with lots of vocalizations. I could feel my support system there, though my eyes were closed most of the time, their gentle, positive presence was ever present. It felt truly amazing. Most of the time, my parents were in the common area of the birth center with Sydney, keeping her entertained, and sometimes, they would enter the birth arena to quietly view what was taking place. I am so thankful, that though no expectations were discussed about them attending the birth, they were so peaceful and wonderful an addition to the birth environment.

Sydney in the common area

As labor progressed I had to use the bathroom, and asked for Jeremy to hold onto me. I was shaking and feeling increased pressure and my contractions were growing ever more effective. I knew I was in transition. I went to the bed to be checked and was 8 centimeters. I think I labored some more on the ball, then went to the bathroom again, and said I wanted to get in the tub, which was then filled, and I got in. Shortly after I got in the tub, Sydney entered the room, dressed in her swimsuit, and got in with me. She showered my belly and legs with water and love, and was just so peaceful and gentle and quiet. This is sort of a rare thing for Sydney-girl to be, and so that’s why I mention this. She realized the situation called for calm, and everyone else in the room was so calm and quiet, and she followed suit. I am so very proud of her. She stayed in the tub with me for a bit. Sydney was allowed to remain in the tub with me as long as I was not pushing.

Jeremy, Sydney and our midwife

Midwife Karin and me

I labored in there, sitting, working through contractions, becoming increasingly more uncomfortable, feeling like birth was right around the corner, and becoming a bit doubtful about whether I could give birth. I wanted to escape, and I began to feel like I could push, as my tones changed, and the midwife noticed. She checked me, and I had a cervical lip left along the front of my cervix, next to my pubic bone, so that each time I had a contraction, I got an intense pinchy feeling that translated to me as intense pain. I began to vocalize more in words, and because I knew my daughter was in the room, I tried to be aware of what I was saying, so most of what I said was, “OUCH!” The midwife left her fingers in there for a contraction and had me push to get the lip to go over the baby’s head, and asked me if I wanted to get on all 4s to try to get that to move (either out of the tub or in the tub), I decided I was NOT getting out of the tub.

Midwife helping me push the lip over the baby’s head

Moving the cervical lip, with a super cute Sydney in the foreground

I got on all 4s, and found that there was pain to be had in getting the lip to disappear. I continued to be cognizant of the fact that Sydney was in the room, but finally gave way with a word that is not so nice, and rhymes with ‘duck’. The midwife laughed and noted that the baby was likely not far behind. I continued to feel a lot of pain, and then sat back down in the tub after several minutes to be checked again. With the help of the midwife’s fingers, I was able to push hard enough to get the lip past the baby’s head, and to a position of rocking back and forth under the pubic bone. None of this was a picnic, and far more painful than I thought it could possibly be.

A note about pain: I will say that I had no idea that it would be painful at all, and I know that sounds very silly, but in my preparation for Sydney’s birth, I took HypnoBirthing that addresses comfort levels and not feelings of pain, and I had an epidural during her birth (not because of pain, but out of sheer exhaustion), so I experienced little pain. At this point, I had been in labor for about 5 hours, as compared to reaching the pushing stage in about 20 hours with Sydney, so my ability to process what was happening was different. There were many differences in my labors, and at this point, the baby was very ready to be born, quite literally around a turn, just around the corner, so close. I was very afraid at this point, afraid I couldn’t push the baby out, afraid of the pain (if it already hurt this much), and I wanted to ask to go to the hospital. But my inner dialogue was something like this… “Oh my God, I need pain relief! I need to go to the hospital. I wouldn’t make it to the hospital though, the baby is about to be born. The only way to get the baby out is to push the baby out. I can do this.”

The midwife kept reminding me to not hold back, because I was fighting what my body was trying to do, out of fear and pain. The patience of the midwife’s voice, and the whispering in my ear by Stella was incredible. At one point, I remember Stella telling me I could do it, and I started to repeat, “OK, OK, OK, OK, OK…” (While my inner voice was saying the complete: “Ok, I can do this”) over and over again. The rocking of the baby’s head continued, until one huge push, and there was no stopping what was taking place. I was no longer in control at all of my body, as the Natural Expulsive Reflex (NER) took over, and I shook all over and felt like I was yelling inside. I really wish we had video of the labor/birth at this point, because I feel like I lost all control. I know I was making noise, I felt like the baby was going to come racing out. I kept feeling for the head, and eventually I felt it. I remember feeling immense pressure and fullness as the baby’s head was emerging, especially at the front of my pelvis, and as if the skin from my urethra back were splitting, never to return to true form again. And, I couldn’t stop any of this.

While all of this was happening, Sydney was being held by Nenaw, and in all of the noise and commotion that I was producing, Sydney hid her face in Nenaw’s shoulder. She was scared. Nenaw reassured her, but she wanted to cry from seeing me in a struggle. Sydney eventually turned her head back to watch.

My midwife provided support of my perineum, and my husband waited with hands ready to receive our baby. My eyes remained closed the entire time, and on one of the pushes, the head came forth. Soon after, another push, and the shoulders, and the body slid out into my husband’s hands, and next thing I knew, our baby was on my chest. I was relieved to meet the baby, relieved to meet on the outside, joyful about everything. We asked Sydney if she wanted to tell us who the baby was, and she announced that it was “Collin”. This surprised no one, since all of us thought the baby was a boy, and everyone was elated to finally see him. Sydney stood there, looking at him, talking to him (we told her this was one of her jobs after the baby was born).

Here he is!

Sydney was so excited.

I don’t remember much, other than thinking that our Collin looked just like his big sister did at birth. He looked at me, calmly, wide eyed, as if he were in shock about what had just happened (I was too, my son). I continued to feel immense pressure, and about 2 minutes after he was born, I was informed that his cord had finished pulsating, and so it was clamped and cut. This was a choice that was incredibly important to us, so that Collin could receive all of his cord blood, to help him acclimate to the outside world and breathe more easily. The placenta was soon birthed, and Jeremy was asked to remove his shirt for skin to skin bonding to begin with our son. We were moved to the bed to begin bonding as a family. Collin was able to latch on, after he was laid on my chest again. After some time, Collin was weighed and measured. He was a whopping 8 pounds and 1 ounce and 21 inches long! (Sydney was 6 pounds and 10 ounces and 19 and a half inches long) Soon after that, I was wheeled down the hall to be stitched up (I tore in the same place as I did with Sydney). Collin was assessed and given his Vitamin K injection, a decision we weighed very heavily, and after much consideration, we decided we would rather he have a vitamin injection than a blood transfusion if for some reason he should have a bleed before his blood clotting factors became present.

I was brought back, and we were able to relax for some time, eat, and were attended by the most wonderful midwife assistant named Cindy. I really am so grateful for her presence after Collin’s birth. She was there as a gentle presence in the background, and after the midwife left, she remained there, helping me use the bathroom, showing me how to smash my uterus to make it clamp down, and just there as a resource for our family. We left the birth center about 4 and a half hours following Collin’s birth, and have been adjusting to life ever since as a family of 4.

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Afterthoughts about Collin’s Birth:

After giving birth to Collin, I felt completely different than I did when I gave birth to Sydney. There were so many differences in their births and the time immediately following. Sydney’s birth, for me, has brought up many angry feelings that are still healing. In some ways, I felt robbed of what my experience with her birth could have been. That is another post entirely. I’d do it a million times over, to get my Sydney-girl, of course, but there are some things I wish I’d known, wish I’d said, wish I’d done differently. Can’t go back, so I prepared for Collin’s birth differently. Following Sydney’s birth, there was no sense of dignity, peace or silence. There was always some sort of noise and activity, always someone coming in to look at my “bottom”, and at times, the nurses would bring in nurses that were not assigned to me, to see the trauma that had ensued from pushing her out. No sense of respect.

Following Collin’s birth, and during his birth, there was nothing but dignity and respect. I never felt barked at or talked down to, and there was silence and peace when the time was right. There was encouragement, support, comfort, and an overall environment of positive energy. I am so thankful to have given birth at the birth center, and there is nothing I would change about my experience there.

Postpartum Period:

Currently, I am 15 days postpartum. My postpartum period with Sydney was rough, to say the least. We had some trouble with breastfeeding, sleeping, stress, and all kinds of other things. I remember at some points wanting to throw her out the two story window, and being so weepy and frustrated all the time. What I did not know then, I know now. I will share.

Collin’s postpartum period has been filled with me accepting help from others, lying down to heal, napping nearly naked (skin-to-skin) with him, tons of breastfeeding, my primarily holding him, taking my time, being patient with myself, and consuming my placenta. Yes, I said it, I’m consuming my placenta. I had it encapsulated, in a process where it is herbed, steamed, dehydrated then ground up and put into capsules. Benefits include increased milk production, decreased postpartum mood disorders, and a more even keel feeling. My postpartum period this time, because of the combination of everything I mentioned above, has been incredible. I was weepy on day 2, when my parents had to leave, and I still am missing them terribly. My patience has been thin sometimes, and I feel tired a lot of the time, but I think that comes with the territory. I am joyful to have our son, to have all the love and support we have received, and I look forward to everyday.

Breastfeeding:

I mentioned that Collin latched on well at the birth center. All of that changed by our 24 hour visit with nurse Jen (she came to our home, so super nice). Collin had been refusing to nurse, had had no dirty or wet diapers since the day of his birth, and was extremely fussy. Nurse Jen looked him over, and suggested that we see the lactation consultant at the birth center after trying to express or pump milk and feed it to Collin in a spoon or syringe. I tried this, and he nursed a bit that day, but we had a terrible night filled with him crying, and my cringing because of a poor latch. Because my parents were leaving on day 2, we decided I would stay home with Collin to heal some more, and we would go to the lactation consultant on day 3 if we needed to. Another night of crying and feeling like my nipple was being sawn off with razor blades told me it was time to seek help. We saw LC Sarah, and she assessed his latch (weak and poor), saw that his lower jaw is short, and that he has a tight frenulum on his upper lip. She suggested we go see the chiropractor. I have to sing the praises of our chiropractor!!! I called, 5 minutes out, less than an hour before they were closing, and asked if we could be seen, affirmative. We were seen immediately. While there, during the adjustment, Collin peed for the first time since birth, and we borrowed some clothing of the chiropractor’s son (he’s over a year old). He also received a skull massage and cranio-sacral adjustment, and I received instruction on helping with his lower jaw. Since seeing the lactation consultant and chiropractor, Collin has been a champion nurser! At his 11 day visit with the pediatrician, he had gained 13.5 ounces since birth, and grown a half an inch! Go breast milk!

Sydney:

Sydney has really adjusted so well to being a big sister, and has worn this hat beautifully. She, perhaps, is a model big sister, and is so very proud of her little brother. Her challenge in adjusting was that she felt abandoned and unloved by me. I was able to set this straight with her, and reassure her of my undying love for her, and things have been much smoother ever since. Sydney is very gentle with Collin, and is always ready with a “Hi, Collin!!!” and “Is he awake?!” She loves to hold him and talk to him most, and has been extremely helpful with so much. She has also made a huge transition as a 5 year old: she started kindergarten!!! We are so extremely proud of her, as we always are, and are so pleasantly surprised by how well she has adjusted and acclimated to life as a big sister.

I would like to thank some people who have helped make our transition so smooth:

Midwife Felicity

Midwife Karen

Midwife Assistant Cindy

Nurse Jen

LC Sarah

Dr. Jessica (chiropractor)

Stella (Doula)

Dad & Cheryl

Jeremy’s Mom

Grams and Poppy

Nikii

Ladies that are participating in our Meal Train

Everyone who sent me a bead and a cloth

Facebook friends

And most of all, Jeremy and Sydney

Convenience in Parenting

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If I mention Attachment Parenting, it conjures many images, doesn’t it?  It also brings up some stigma, some judgment, and some distaste for some.  But many others who practice this method of parenting find great comfort in it.  I think that many people don’t think that this form of parenting has a place in our modern society, and see many other things as far more superior and convenient than holding, wearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping with their baby, and for those families, that’s all well and good.  I would like to argue, though, that Attachment Parenting is not weird, and it does indeed have a place in our modern world. Sure, there are times when strollers and baby swings do offer those of us who parent attached some convenience, but allow me to offer some scenarios, and you may judge for yourself which sounds more convenient, easier, less stressful, and possibly more cost effective.  I think that most people who parent like I do, do so because it is cheaper, easier, much more convenient, and just fits with our lifestyles.

Scenario  – Attachment Parenting

It’s 4:30 am, and this is the 4th time since 11pm that you’re awake with your newborn, you’ve been awakened by gentle stirring and squeaks from her, indicating that she’s hungry.  You co-sleep and breastfeed, so you move your baby slightly to latch her on, and both of you are happy, as you drift off to sleep.  At 7, you both wake up, and get ready to face the day.  After diapering, you carry her to the kitchen to fix breakfast for your older child.  Before you fix breakfast, you put the baby in a woven wrap, latch her on as you go about your routine in the morning.  You are able to help your older child with many things, with the baby in the wrap, and your baby even falls asleep to the gentle movements and sounds of your body, which are so familiar to her.  After breakfast, you go to bathe, and take a bath with your new baby and older child.  After nursing again before leaving the house, you’re off to do errands.  During the errands, you push the shopping cart with your older child in it, and wear your baby, this time in a soft structured carrier, with legs froggied.  Baby sleeps most of the time, and only wakes to be changed, and nursed, but then goes right back to sleep.  After errands, you return home, and fix a little lunch, again, wearing your baby, then go with your children to take a nap, all together in one bed.  You nurse your newborn to sleep, and sing to your older child.  You all three fall asleep after a short period of time, and wake refreshed.  This scenario could continue, but you get the gist of what attachment parenting looks like.  Sure, there is some chaos in the lives of parents who attachment parent, but for the most part, many of the parents that parent this way have easier, more cooperative, go with the flow children that feel very loved, protected, nurtured, and often know how to express their needs more clearly since their needs have been met in the ways they have.

Scenario – Non-Attachment Parenting

It’s 4:30 am, and this is the 4th time since 11pm that you’re awake with your newborn.  You hear her on the monitor, from her room, grunting, indicating that she’s hungry.  You walk bleary eyed to the kitchen to make a bottle, and by the time you return to your baby, she is screaming in hunger.  You pick her up, sit in the rocking chair, and struggle to stay awake as you feed her.  When she has finished her bottle, you burp her, change her diaper, and set her back in her crib.  After you leave, she cries a bit, because she doesn’t smell or hear you any longer, and you are so tired that you go back to bed, letting her cry herself to sleep.  At 7am, you’re awakened again, by your grunting hungry newborn.  You get up, make her bottle, and get her up as well.  While you make breakfast for your older child, you put your baby in a bouncer with bottle propped up, so you can tend to what needs to be done in the kitchen.  As you play with your older child, and help her with things that she wants to do, you transfer your newborn to her swing, and are interrupted by your crying newborn who wants to be held by you.  You hold her, but are very busy with your older child, and the things you’re doing with your older child require two hands, and so your newborn is put back in the swing.  After another bottle feeding, you go to take a shower, and put your baby in the bouncer in the bathroom with you, and she cries through the entire shower.  You get yourself and your children ready and go do some errands.  You put your baby’s infant carrier in the large part of the shopping cart, and your older child in the front of the cart.  Your baby cries in the carrier because she is uncomfortable and hot, and wants to be held by you.  Your errands are cut short, because you grow tired of hearing your baby cry so much.  You return home, feed your older child lunch, hold your baby to feed her a bottle, and barely eat anything out of sheer exhaustion.  You then go to put your children down for a nap, but your older child fights you, because it’s still daylight and she doesn’t want to go to sleep in her room, she wants to play instead.  This ends in crying, a spanking, very much frustration, and a stressed out mama.  The baby senses the stress and doesn’t want to go to sleep either.  It takes 45 minutes to get the baby to sleep, and you’re not even sure if your older child gets a nap.  Again, this scenario could continue through the day.  Just typing it makes me exhausted.  I speak from my own earlier experiences when I say that this form of parenting did not work for us. My husband and I have had to learn the hard way, with much trial and error, what works best for our family.

When Sydney was born, nearly 5 years ago, we really and truly were clueless, with very little physical support system.  I attempted co-sleeping, since breastfeeding was the one thing I was really attached to, but I didn’t understand that I could stay in bed and nurse her to sleep, so I would get out of bed, and sit in a rocking chair for exhausting amounts of time, with both of us falling asleep, and nothing productive happening.  I was sleep deprived, anxious, and suffered from postpartum depression, which I’m sure could have been made better with more sleep and better support.  We stopped co-sleeping very early.

We tried baby wearing, but the ring sling I had, I never knew how to use, so I got rid of that quickly. I had no knowledge of other carriers (soft structured carriers, woven wraps, stretchy wraps, mei tais, etc).  Sydney spent a lot of time in a swing (which she hated) or in a bouncer (which she also hated).  It didn’t occur to me at all that we needed each other.  There is a special bond between mother and baby, where oxytocin and endorphins are exchanged when they are in physical contact with each other.

As Sydney grew older, parenting went well, but then frustrations mounted as she was becoming her own person, with her own thoughts, and could do more for herself.  We employed spanking as a form of discipline, out of sheer frustration.  I wish I could take that all back.  I wish I had never laid a hand on her.  Spanking is proven, through years and years and years of research to cause very real psychological damage to children.  Never have I felt like a bigger pile of crap, than when I was hitting my helpless daughter, and never have I seen a child change so quickly for the bad.  Her personality changed, and she was no longer my sweet little girl who was full of life.  We eventually got a clue and stopped spanking her, and our cheerful, wonderful, spunky, beautiful light of a daughter returned to us, but I do believe she is still learning to trust us again.

When Sydney was 2 and a half, we returned to baby wearing on a trip to California to visit family. We got an Ergo carrier as a gift, and still have it, and use it often.  Wearing Sydney has not only been very convenient for us, but it’s increased our bond as a family.  She loves being close to us, and we know and understand that now, and so many times throughout the day, she’s with us, physically… attached.  We love it, all three of us.

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Additionally, in November, when Jeremy came up to Alaska, Sydney and I started co-sleeping again, simply out of convenience, and I felt safer with her in the room with me.  She has grown to love this, and bedtime, which was once a challenge, and sometimes, even a battle, has gotten much easier.  We have a king sized bed, and she sleeps in between us.  I love co-sleeping.  I get to hear her, in the middle of the night say things like, “gorilla shoes”, and answer her bad dreams immediately.  It is obvious that she feels very safe in our bed, and very much wanted by us.  I wasn’t sure if my husband would respond positively to having a 4 year old in bed with us, but on one night when she decided to start out in her own room, as we went to get her, my husband was giddy to have her join us.  We will be adding a new baby soon to our family, and he/she will also sleep with us.  I now know that I can stay in bed to nurse, which is such a blessing.

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The transition from our parenting days in the beginning until now has been sometimes slow and challenging to go with.  But the results, ah, the results.  Wow.  What a difference.  Not only has it made a huge difference with Sydney, but our family is so much more tightly knit.  Sydney, who was always really intelligent, has grown so much more intelligent.  Our trust toward each other has increased so much.  We all sleep so much better.  Sydney knows that if she needs something, she can depend on us to meet her needs.

We are learning daily how to be better parents.  But there are some things that we definitely stand for and stand by.  Our family is so important to us, and nurturing it into the best family we can is very important to us.  We make every effort to research what is best, psychologically, physically, emotionally for our children.  This is how we have come to Attachment Parenting (which we simply call parenting), because all of these fit well in our lives, work well for us, and are founded in well researched practices. What we have found to be the best things for us may not be for you, and we have come to them through a lot of trial and error.  If you’re having trouble or challenges with some of your methods, it’s never too late to try other methods, we are prime examples of that.  I’m thankful everyday that we parent the way we do now.  My personal stress levels are so much lower, and I feel as if my communication with my uber intelligent daughter is so much better and effective.

Comments Welcome, Please.

Wake Up & Smell the Breast Milk!

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Ok, ok, ok, so I admit it.  I was a lazy mom.  Really lazy, I mean, the laziness I’m talking about may reach epic proportions.  And I have reasons, very good, valid ones, before you start to judge.  I was lazy because I didn’t want to really wake up at night with my newborn, and because I didn’t want to bring extra stuff in my already full diaper bag (who knew babies came with so many accessories?!), and because it was so very easy (except for the learning curve at the beginning), and because after all the research I consulted, I found it to be the healthiest thing I could do for myself and my sweet little lady.  And in all of this, I am not the least bit ashamed of my laziness, nor will I ever apologize for it.

What was I so lazy about?!  I chose breastfeeding over formula feeding (nearly exclusively for the first 8 months, and with supplementation of solid food and formula from 8-13 months).  My choice was made out of convenience for me, but also for health, environmental, ethical, and moral reasons.  This was my choice, because the preparation of formula seemed crazy, when I had milk stored, ready, warmed, and perfect for my baby, at every stage of her development.  So why would I purchase formula and bottles, and go through a lengthy preparation process (which most people do not do correctly).  Some people say that formula preparation is simple, but I argue that it is not.  As new parents to a newborn who would take about 3 hours to nurse, because she fell asleep so often at my breast, we would undertake a lengthy preparation process (incorrectly, I might add, if you’re wanting to prepare the formula safely according to the preceding link) of bottles of formula at night when she would wake up (and guess what I would do, I’d pump!).  It seems as though I could have known more about bed-sharing or co-sleeping (and I do now), so I could have gotten the much needed rest that all new mothers crave, while feeding my baby.

I soon discovered that I wanted to snuggle my warm baby against my body so I could nourish her with my milk, rather than feed her with a product that was derived from the milk of a cow who was forced to wean her baby way too soon (seems to me the calf deserved her milk, not my baby Sydney).  And we got used to each other, and sometimes we even slept in her rocking chair at night, cuddling with each other, Sydney nursing at leisure, and me getting some rest.  We had a wonderful breastfeeding relationship, and this is one of the reasons I am proud that I was so lazy.

But now, human innovation has developed a product that seems to make formula preparation as easy as preparing your morning cup of coffee.  A new product that touts, “It’s very simple, very intuitive, hygienic and of optimum safety.”, according to Martin Grieder, Nestle’s head of advanced nutrition systems.  And because baby bottle warmers are not enough, people now have the option of simply putting a capsule of pre-measured formula into the machine that provides the proper portion of water, at the proper temperature, so it is (indeed) like making coffee.  All of this, but at what cost?  Allow me to evaluate:

  • Money – The capsules themselves are said to cost roughly double the cost of canisters of formula, and the machine is an additional cost (at $284 US Dollars).  Not to mention the cost of bottles for the formula to go in.
  • Time – Whether a person is preparing a bottle of formula, or a machine is, there is still time that is being taken to do so.  We must also account for the amount of time that a hungry baby has to wait.
  • Environmental – Not only are factory farms milking cows and creating huge waste, but the transportation method used to ship said milk to factories that make the infant formula, and the formula making process itself are environmentally unfriendly.  The canisters or capsules that formula is placed in also clog our landfills and are killing our planet.
  • Convenience – I seriously doubt people are going to bring these machines with them when they are out and about, so it seems that the “convenience factor” goes right out the window.
  • Health – Research has proven that babies that are formula fed are at a much greater risk of developing many diseases and health problems (diabetes, obesity, heart disease, ear infections, cancer, and the list goes on and on and on).  Additionally, mothers who do not breastfeed also do not reap the health benefits such as a reduced risk of cancer and diabetes.
So I’m sure you know where I’m going with this.  Many of you know me well enough to know that I’m not a fan of formula, and I do not think it should be given to babies.  I do believe that all mothers should at least attempt to breastfeed, and should have excellent education and support while breastfeeding.  But, since we do not live in a utopian society, and since our society seems to be driven by convenience (which seems counterintuitive to formula feeding), and our society seems to think that breastfeeding is repulsive, embarrassing, and something women should be ashamed of, most families in the United States choose formula over breast.  So here is my argument against this product.  
  1. The only milk that is perfectly portioned, the perfect temperature, and perfect for a baby/toddler/child at all stages of development is (human) breast milk.  
  2. The cost of breastfeeding is minimal when compared to infant formula.
  3. Breastfeeding is the most convenient way to feed a baby – unfasten bra, pull bra down, pull shirt up, latch baby on, look deep into the eyes of your child whose love is unconditional and unending, and enjoy.
  4. Mothers who breastfeed actually get MORE sleep than formula feeding mothers.  Breastfeeding mothers can pull a baby to her breast and fall back to sleep.
  5. Breastfeeding mothers are not using another species milk to give to their babies.
  6. Breast milk is always going to be the most perfect food for babies.
  7. Mothers of all socioeconomic backgrounds can breast feed, and it will not break the bank.
Not only is this product another barrier to breastfeeding, but it also proves to me that people are craving more convenience in feeding their babies.  So I say, as I always do, why not breastfeed?!  If you don’t want to spend your child’s college fund before he/she even has a chance to get there, and you want to get more sleep at night, and you want more convenience, and you’re tired of cleaning bottles… then why not?
Comments Welcome!

Production of Products

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Yesterday, I ran across a small post by Peaceful Parenting about a one piece outfit that was being manufactured by Old Navy.  Needless to say, as a mother who nursed her baby, and was told her baby was not growing fast enough for the (formula-fed) growth charts and to supplement with formula (only to have my daughter grow no faster than she did previously), I was pretty disgusted.  I promptly wrote an email to them, telling them of my disgust.

There are so many reasons I am disgusted by this product, and the act of a baby receiving nutrition from a bottle is the least of them.  It is what is put into those bottles (formula) that is my concern, and the concern of breastfeeding advocates everywhere.  Breast milk is the best and most nutritionally sound food for a baby, no matter who the baby is.  Babies are mammals, and SHOULD be breastfed.  Now I understand that formula is there as a choice, but with all of the barriers out there to breastfeeding as it is, this onesie is like a slap in the face to the people who are so desperately trying to make any head way at all toward making breastfeeding less taboo, less negative, and more acceptable in a nation that loves instant gratification.

Currently, in the United States, children who are formula fed are experiencing the following at higher rates than breastfed babies:  ear infections, diarrhea, asthma, respiratory problems, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), Type-1 Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer in girls, Hodgkin’s Disease, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), urinary tract infections, vision problems, tooth decay, to name quite a few.

And for a company to manufacture a product with a mention of being “Formula Powered”, whether it was an intentional or unintentional political or social statement, or a simple graphic logo meant for “fun”, it shows a lack of knowledge toward the current problem in our nation.  Many people I know are not aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, and further, are not aware of the health problems associated with formula feeding.

So here are some benefits of breastfeeding:

  1. Lowers rates of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  2. Reduces infant mortality rates by 21% in the first year
  3. Enhances the effectiveness of some vaccines
  4. White blood cells through breast milk act as immune system boosters to help fend off disease and illness
  5. Reduction in the diseases and illnesses listed above
  6. Less environmental impact (no packaging, and does not contribute to factory farming)
  7. Less work missed, and lower public and private insurance costs for families who breastfeed
  8. Reduces high blood pressure, obesity, and bad cholesterol rates later in life
  9. For premature babies, helps the brain stem to mature
  10. Less bleeding postpartum for mother, because of oxytocin helping the uterine vessels to clamp down properly
  11. For some mothers, delayed ovulation for 20-30 months
  12. Bonding between mother and baby enhanced
  13. Lowered risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes (in women without a history of gestational diabetes), pre-menopausal breast cancer, and ovarian cancers.  These risks lower the longer a woman breastfeeds

And some Costs of Formula Feeding:

  1. Obesity is on the rise.  According to Breastfeeding Fights Obesity, 15-20 % of obesity could have been prevented by breastfeeding
  2. Childhood diseases and illnesses listed above are higher risks with formula fed babies
  3. Not breastfeeding can cause health problems in the mother, to include: excessive bleeding after giving birth (this is caused because oxytocin is not produced to help the blood vessels in the uterus clamp down properly), ovarian cancer, breast cancer before menopause, for mothers who had gestational diabetes, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is higher, and osteoporosis.)
  4. Environmental impact (factory farming and product packaging)

Obviously I am an advocate of breastfeeding.  I think you all knew that by now.  And this blog post is not intended to point fingers at Old Navy for manufacturing such a product, but it is to bring attention to the issue at hand.  Formula feeding HARMS babies.  Babies do NOT deserve to be formula fed, and more support and education needs to be given to women during pregnancy about breastfeeding.  As was written in my blog before about breastfeeding awareness, here are some things you can do:

  1. Write to your local legislature concerning breastfeeding.
  2. Learn more about your state laws about breastfeeding.
  3. Write to your local school, school board, all the way up to the Department of Education to inform them of the importance of breastfeeding being taught in schools, and of a breastfeeding policy in schools.
  4. Do not purchase products that are in support of formula feeding.
  5. Educate the people who make negative comments.
  6. Teach your children that breastfeeding is appropriate, normal, natural, and healthy.
  7. Write to your local hospitals and encourage them to stop passing out formula to every woman who gives birth.
  8. Attend local La Leche League meetings to learn more.
  9. Become a lactation consultant, counselor, or even just a friend who is helpful to new breastfeeding mothers.Pass on information, literature, education, support, etc to those new to breastfeeding.

A special thanks to If Breastfeeding Offends You, for offering some awesome alternatives to the Old Navy one piece outfit, for breastfeeding mothers.

As always, thank you so much for reading what I write. Please give me your opinion about this.  The floor is open, now is your chance!

Comments Welcome


Breastfeeding Awareness – Be Aware, Be VERY Aware!

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Please share this blog post with the people you care about… Whether they breastfed or formula fed.  The information must get out there!  Help me raise awareness.

This blog post is written in honor of Melissa Taylor.  You truly inspire me.

As I was awaiting my daughter’s arrival, in 2007, I distinctly remember telling EVERYONE I knew that I intended to breastfeed.  My reasoning behind this, was because I knew that many women face challenges with breastfeeding, including stigma, soreness, blistering, bleeding, mastitis and more, and I wanted to be successful at nursing my daughter, until she was ready to wean herself.  I also knew that if I had the support of my friends and family, that my rate of success would be greater than if I didn’t have any support.  The more education and support a woman receives, the more successful she will be at nursing her baby.

Sydney was born, and I had some challenges, because of a poor latch, and the information I received from the hospital was conflicting.  One nurse would tell me to do it one way, while another nurse would inform me of another way that didn’t make sense.  In the end, I left the hospital not feeling well informed, and at the one week mark, I could not nurse from my right breast, because of blistering.  I called my friend Maggie who had successfully nursed her daughter, and she brought a book to me, and helped Sydney achieve a proper latch!!! I was so overjoyed.  I knew I would be successful at nursing.

Breastfeeding, for me was full of joy, and the bond that Sydney and I developed was incredible.  She self-weaned at 13 months of age, and between birth and 13 months, we had quite the journey.  Breastfeeding in America can be filled with negativity toward the mother, and people think breastfeeding is somehow strange.

Melissa Taylor, of Tampa, Florida was told recently that it was inappropriate to nurse her two year old daughter in the lobby of her daughter’s school.  As I read this story, and learned more about the challenges she was facing, I became incredibly angry at how misinformed and ignorant people sounded as they responded to one particular online news story.

How is it that breastfeeding is an issue at all (much less breastfeeding in public)?! Are there not bigger issues than breastfeeding?  And where do these issues come from?  Are people offended by the act of feeding a baby from a body part that has been so over-sexualized in our society, and/or is it that women have been so marginalized and sexualized that breasts are now viewed exclusively as sexual objects?  Should we not be fired up and angry that an estimated 16.7 million children do not receive adequate nutrition and often go to bed hungry in America?! And equally, should we not be infuriated that children are experiencing obesity at alarming rates?! There are huge, monumental problems having to do with food in the United States, and breastfeeding should not be included in those problems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  73.9% of all American women begin breastfeeding.  By three months, only 33.1% are breastfeeding exclusively, and the rates drop off as the time progresses.  At 6 months, 13.6% of all moms are still breastfeeding exclusively, and 43.4% are breastfed with other forms of nutrition also being given.  At 12 months of age, 22.7% of mothers are still breastfeeding.  To read more, and see the CDC’s statistical data, please visit their Breastfeeding page.  Please also view your state’s breastfeeding rates; click here.

Obviously, with these statistics, there is a disconnect. So much is fed to women, about parenting in general, but breastfeeding especially seems to have a lot of societal stigma attached to it.  Along with stigma, there is misinformation, a lack of education, and a lack of support of new mothers to breastfeed.  It seems easier for new moms (according to the results of studies and evidenced by the statistics of the CDC) to move to formula as their babies’ nutrition.  Infant formula companies make a killing yearly, and spend extravagant amounts of money to market their product to families.  It is suggested by formula companies that the second choice behind breastfeeding is formula, but this is untrue.  The second choice is breast milk expressed in some way and then fed to the baby, the third being the human breast milk of another mother, and the last choice is formula feeding.

BARRIERS TO BREASTFEEDING

In the United States, 98%-99% of all births take place in hospitals, and our maternity care system has protocols and policies in place that are not evidence based and will either help or hinder (most of the time hinder) the breastfeeding initiation.  For instance, it is well known that medications during labor affect breastfeeding (if a baby is lethargic because of drugs in his or her system, latching on may be nearly impossible).  Separation of mother and baby is also known to hinder breastfeeding (no skin-to-skin bonding) (Please watch the video below concerning breastfeeding and the effects medicated birth and separation have on the baby’s ability to breastfeed).  And what about hospitals sending formula home with families “just in case”.  The first 24 hours is vitally important to establish a breastfeeding relationship, and it’s a shame that protocols of our maternity care system often retard this relationship.


There seems to be a huge lack of support and education surrounding breastfeeding.  Because people do not know anyone who did it, and they may not know where to turn for resources and help, it becomes easy to look to what is familiar.

Our schools do not teach about breastfeeding as a normal, natural and healthy way to nourish our children.  In the case of Melissa Taylor in Tampa, Florida, it was clearly seen as inappropriate (I’m guessing viewed as sexually inappropriate) in the lobby of her daughter’s school.

Women often think that since they were not breastfed, they turned out “all right”, and don’t need to breastfeed their children.  Can you think of the potential in our society if more children were breastfed?!  And what about the potential of the moms who turned out “all right”, could they not have been fantastic, incredible, genius, unbelievable, instead of just “all right”?

Formula companies so vigorously market themselves, that their ads are appearing as “breastfeeding help” on webpage and blog ads.  Can you imagine the effect this has on a desperate mother who is not firm in her breastfeeding relationship?  It is intentional misleading advertising by the formula companies, but they profit hugely from it.  Please visit the following site to learn more about this misleading information.  PhD in Parenting – Sabotage

I spoke to an expectant mother about whether she will breast feed or formula feed.  She stated she would formula feed, to which I asked some questions.  Here is what she told me:  she does not know anyone personally who breastfeeds or has breastfed, she was not breastfed as a baby, nor were her siblings, she thinks it will be difficult and inconvenient to breastfeed/pump as she continues with college.  And my guess is, because she knows no one that has breastfed, there is little support and education about breastfeeding in her community, and in her direct environment.  (While this is her choice to formula feed, because of lack of education and support about breastfeeding surrounding her, it is a largely uninformed decision.  Most of decisions made out of lack of support and education are made out of fear.  Mothers who are in this situation are not to blame, instead, we must look at who is accountable for the lack of education and support concerning breastfeeding, and also at the huge formula companies that market their product in a seemingly appealing way.)

We live in a society of instant gratification, and formula feeding caters to this society.  While breastfeeding proves to be much easier in the long-run than formula feeding, the hump women have to get over to get there is not instantly gratifying to most women.  So, because of lack of support, education, and confidence to push through the challenges of breastfeeding, they choose to formula feed.

THE COST OF FORMULA FEEDING

Childhood obesity is on the rise.  According to Breastfeeding Fights Obesity, in Atlanta, it is estimated that 15%-20% of obesity could have been prevented by breastfeeding.

Childhood illnesses and diseases (ear infections, diarrhea, asthma, respiratory problems, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), Type-1 Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer in girls, Hodgkin’s Disease, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), urinary tract infections, vision problems, tooth decay, to name quite a few)  that are preventable by breastfeeding account for $3.6 BILLION in insurance costs by both public and private insurers.  This doesn’t only effect insurance costs, but also effects the amount of time mothers of formula fed babies spend out of work (which then accounts for the additional health claims made by employers).

Not breastfeeding can cause health problems in the mother, to include: excessive bleeding after giving birth (this is caused because oxytocin is not produced to help the blood vessels in the uterus clamp down properly), ovarian cancer, breast cancer before menopause, for mothers who had gestational diabetes, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is higher, and osteoporosis.)

Formula feeding also has a HUGE impact on the environment!  Not only does it contribute to factory farming and the waste that comes from that, but it also creates a lot of pollution because of the packaging of the product.


MISLEADING FORMULA ADS

If the costs of formula feeding are not enough to convince you that breastfeeding is a more nutritionally sound and superior option, please consider the following.  Formula companies have made bogus claims about the superpowers of their products.  Sure, I understand that they need people to buy formula, but to misinform the public is criminal, and frankly, for you formula moms out there, you should be OUTRAGED!  One such company is Mead Johnson, the company that manufactures Enfamil.  Mead Johnson has been caught making bogus claims about their formula FIVE times (and lost 3 federal lawsuits concerning these bogus claims), with the latest claim being that theirs is the only formula that promotes brain growth and eye development.  Enfamil Premium has NOT been proven to be superior to other formulas in the performance areas suggested.  On the contrary, all formula companies receive their ingredients from the same supplier. Refer to Strike Five for more information about this.

Breast milk will always be the best, most nutritionally sound first food for your baby.

BREASTFEEDING ADVANTAGES

Breastfeeding provides a lower risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  Hugely important reason to consider breastfeeding if you are not right now!

Infant mortality rates in the first year of life are reduced by 21% in breastfed babies.  (Again, epic reason to consider breastfeeding).

Breastfeeding enhances the effectiveness of some vaccinations.

Immune system booster through white blood cells provided through breast milk help to fight off infections.

Reduction in the diseases and illnesses listed above in bold and italics.

Less environmental impact (no waste associated with packaging).  Does not contribute to factory farming and the pollution associated with that.

Lower private and public insurance costs for families who breastfeed.  (Less work missed, too).

Reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Reduction in childhood cancers (Hodgkin’s and leukemia)

Reduces high blood pressure, obesity, and bad cholesterol levels later in life.

Eczema and asthma rates are lower in infants who breastfeed exclusively for 4 months.

Lowered incidence of bowel disease (Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis)

In premature babies, breast milk helps the brain stem to mature.

In premature babies, hospital costs and the length of stay are reduced significantly as well.

For the mother, less bleeding following birth, again, because of the oxytocin levels.

In some, but not all women who breastfeed exclusively, delayed ovulation and menstruation for up to 20-30 weeks.  This is nature’s way of caring for the baby, and protecting the bond between mother and baby (thus ensuring the survival of the species).

Bonding is enhanced with mothers who breastfeed (again, oxytocin, and there is a special, empowering feeling of sustaining life through breast milk that mothers produce.)

Lowered risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes (in women without a history of gestational diabetes), pre-menopausal breast cancer, and ovarian cancers.  These risks lower the longer a woman breastfeeds.


HOW LONG CAN/SHOULD BABIES/CHILDREN BE BREASTFED?

According to the La Leche League’s website, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding babies exclusively for six months, and for two years or more beyond that, coupled with a nutritionally balanced diet.  The page I found on the La Leche League’s website is super informative, and for that reason, I will use their quotations, because there is no possible way I can state better what they have so clearly stated:  (La Leche League – Breastfeeding Toddlers)

A breastfed baby is dependent on his mother for both food and comfort. This may frighten people in cultures that place a high value on self-sufficiency. A breastfed baby will not be satisfied with anyone other than his mother, and therefore may be regarded by some as a liability, when in fact, a baby simply knows what he needs for his own good.

Some cultures fear that continuing to breastfeed until a child weans on his own will make him more dependent on his mother. Instead of viewing extended nursing as something to question, perhaps the real query should be, “What is there to be gained by abruptly putting an end to the breastfeeding relationship?” It’s interesting that some people think that a child won’t grow out of breastfeeding unless he is forced. In reality, it’s a natural process for children to outgrow breastfeeding on their own. Independence, not dependence, is one outstanding trait that breastfed children who self-wean have in common (Ferguson 1987).

The benefits (for the toddler) of breastfeeding toddlers are huge.  Breastfeeding toddlers enriches  all of the following areas:  Immune system health, Oral development, IQ score, Independence, and Self-Esteem. Again, I am quoting the La Leche League’s website, because the information is so complete (La Leche League – Breastfeeding Toddlers):

Human milk is the primary source of nutrition during a baby’s first year. It becomes a supplement to solids during the second year, but it maintains nutritional value, as well emotional benefits for toddlers.

Immune system: It takes between two and six years for a child’s immune system to fully mature. Human milk continues to complement and boost the immune system for as long as it is offered (AAP 1997; Goldman 1983; Gulick 1986; Mohrbacher and Stock 2003; Saarinen 1982). Research on the incidence of illness in breastfed or weaned toddlers reflects these dynamics. Breastfeeding toddlers between 16 and 30 months old have been found to have fewer types and shorter duration of illness and to require less medical care than their non-breastfeeding peers (Gulick 1986).

Oral development: Breastfeeding provides a natural outlet for non-nutritive sucking that promotes proper oral development, which has been found to improve speech (Davis 1991; Labbok and Hendershot 1987; Broad and Duganzich 1983).

IQ score: Extensive research on the relationship between cognitive achievement (IQ scores, grades in school) and breastfeeding has shown the greatest gains for those children breastfed the longest (van den Bogaard 1991).

Independence: The process that children go through while growing toward independence is a difficult one. Breastfeeding can provide feelings of love, comfort, and protection. When a mother makes herself available to nurse her child through a situation that he can’t handle alone, he will likely develop independence based on faith that mother will be there to help. As a child gets older, there are fewer and fewer such situations. Provided a child isn’t prevented from exercising his developing capabilities, independence comes with his increasing competence (Bumgarner 2000).

Self-Esteem: Babies and young children nurse when they are lonely, frightened, or in pain and responsive mothering through breastfeeding leads to enhanced bonding. Allowing a toddler to nurse (or wean) at his own pace is an expression of trust that contributes to his self-esteem.

Breastfeeding toddlers also benefits the mother too!  These are some of the advantages for mom:  Stress relieving qualities to nursing a toddler, bonding quiet time during hectic days, decreased disease risk (pre-menopausal breast cancer for women who breastfeed children for several years, a reduced risk of osteoporosis), and decreased fertility during nursing relationship (lactational amenorrhea)  (La Leche League – Breastfeeding Toddlers).

Parenting is an exhausting business. When a mother says how tired or stressed she is, some people may point to breastfeeding as the culprit. In reality, there are many benefits of extended nursing to mothers, some of which include:

Stress relieving qualities: Breast-feeding suppresses the nervous system’s hormonal response to stress, which is why many mothers recognize that they feel calmer and better able to cope with whatever comes along while nursing.

A few guaranteed calm moments in a day: Parenting can be hectic. Toddlers are bursting with energy and find a lot of interesting things to keep them busy. There are times — however brief — when a mother can count on breastfeeding to provide soothing quality time to calm an upset toddler or to reconnect and bond with her child.

Decreased risk of diseases: One study found a decreased risk of breast cancer among breastfeeding mothers, with the greatest risk reduction seen in women whose total amount of breastfeeding for one or more children totals several years (Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer 2002). A mother’s risk of osteoporosis (and other diseases) is also reduced by extended breastfeeding (Gwinn et al. 1990; Hartge et al. 1989; Rosenblatt, Thomas, and WHO 1993).

Amenorrhea: The amount of natural infertility experienced while breastfeeding is known as lactational amenorrhea. Many mothers experience reduced fertility when nursing past a year, with some women going as long as two years or more without menstruating.

Even after the time during which nursing alone is a reliable contraceptive has passed, many mothers continue to enjoy freedom from menstruation and from the physical and emotional effects of ovulation and menstruation” (Bumgarner 2000).

The following is also from the La Leche League website, concerning myths about extended breastfeeding.

Myths about Entending Nursing and Late Weaning

Myth: A child will never wean on his own.
Fact: Children grow and change dramatically in the first several years of life, and their interest in nursing changes as they do. Children want to nurse only as long as it fills a need for them. Sometimes this need will last for several years, sometimes far less. A need that is filled will go away. 

Myth: A child who is still nursing is too dependent.
Fact: Toddlers have many needs that linger from babyhood, including the need to cuddle, the need to be comforted, and the need for help when falling asleep. These needs are all naturally met through nursing, and it is a wise mother who recognizes and honors her child’s need to be dependent. Trusting the child in this way builds self-confidence needed for later independence. 

Myth: Extended nursing is a sign of sexual problems.
Fact: Children who nurse for several years do not appear to be affected in any way in their sexual development. They may actually grow up to be more comfortable with their bodies and with relationships. 

Myth: An older nursing child won’t learn self-comforting skills.
Fact: Giving your child the comfort of breastfeeding is actually the best way to teach self-comforting skills in the long run. It is from this early relationship with you that he learns much about his needs and how to get them met in constructive, self-initiated ways. 

Myth: Prolonged nursing is too fatiguing for a mother.
Fact: Many mothers find that nursing is one way they are able to rest, since nursing assures that there are a few times in every day when the mother can put her feet up and relax with her child. 

Myth: The longer you wait to wean, the harder it will be.
Fact: As children get older, encouraging weaning often gets easier, not harder, since older children have a greater ability to reason and a wider repertoire of interests. When your child is ready to wean, it will be easy. 

Myth: It’s better to wean suddenly and get it over with.
Fact: Weaning slowly is one of the many areas in your relationship with your child where going slowly pays off in the long term. There are no instant fixes that don’t have a cost. By weaning gradually and employing gentle techniques, you will maintain your child’s inner security and trust for you. 

Myth: A mother who nurses an older child is doing it to fill some need in herself.
Fact: Many mothers explain that their satisfaction and pleasure in nursing declines as the child gets older, and if they continue to nurse, it is primarily because it is important to their child. Older children are usually not coerced to nurse, they are allowed to nurse. 

Source: Bengson 1999


 

BREASTFEEDING TESTIMONIALS

The following are stories that have influenced the breastfeeding relationships between mothers and their babies.  These stories are both positive and negative.  It should be noted that if a woman has not established a positive nursing relationship with her baby, negative comments have a HUGE, GIANT detrimental impact on the nursing relationship.  Mothers who are well established in breastfeeding often use negative comments as fuel for their fire to continue, and/or seek to educate the person who is making the negative comment.

Teva’s stories:

My husband’s family was so incredibly welcoming, accomomdating, loving, and kind as I established my nursing relationship with Sydney.  If they entered the room while I was nursing, they praised me, smiled at me, and never made a big deal out of it.  They knew I was feeding my baby, and it was extremely normal in their home.  My husband was nursed as a baby, as was his brother.  On a couple of instances, his grandfather walked into the room, and I tried to cover myself with a blanket, he was so kind to tell me that was not necessary.  After that, I felt so comfortable with nursing.

My grandmother, who is a southern lady and thinks modesty is important encouraged me not to nurse in public.  While I appreciated her point of view, I knew that if Sydney was hungry and needed to nurse, no matter where we were, I was going to nurse her.  I always felt the need to use a nursing cover when I was out in public, and I realize now, that I brought much more attention to myself than I would have if I had just simply nursed her without it.

A young female soldier at Ft. Bragg, one day, in a food court laughed and pointed at me as I nursed Sydney.  I continued to nurse Sydney, but I remember being very uncomfortable and self-conscious about nursing her.

Sydney’s pediatrician, whom we respect and like, told us at 8 months of age, that she was not growing properly, and that she needed to be put on formula to gain weight.  Being a new mom, and not knowing what to research, or even where to start, I started her on formula.  (She still did not gain weight).  I argued the point that she was breastfed, that she has two petite parents, and that she was on par developmentally in every other area, and still this made no difference to the pediatrician.  Sydney still is small for her age, so the amount of nourishment she was receiving had little to do with her growth curve, instead it had everything to do with the medical community needing to chart, graph, and compare her to every other child, based on formula fed babies’ growth curves.

A lady in a restaurant stopped to ask questions about nursing, and my nursing cover.  She thought it was a wonderful gift that I was giving to Sydney.  I, of course, agreed.

Sharon’s stories:

I am 37, and currently breastfeeding my second son, Braden (he is turning 1 this weekend). He was born without meds in Virginia.  I breastfed my first son, Bridger, until he was a few months shy of 3 years old (by that time it was mostly nap/bed time).  I received a lot of questions from girlfriends, funny looks, back-handed comments… Mostly “Sharon, are you STILL nursing him?” or “When are you going to STOP nursing him, Sharon?”
I was surprised my well-educated peers, friends, and neighbors are skeptical about extended breastfeeding. They have MBAs, one is a lawyer, one is an IT manager, they are married to doctors — WHY do these women think an extended breastfeeding relationship is strange? That I am codependent on my baby? Why are we so willing to get degrees and become educated in other areas, but FORGET what’s natural?
Surprisingly, I found perfect strangers to be less difficult. For instance, in stores, such as Target or Wal-Mart, I would tell the dressing room attendant, “I need to nurse my baby, would be it be okay to use a room?” and most of the time never even saw a raised eyebrow.
SO WHAT CAN I DO TO INCREASE AWARENESS?

Write to your local legislature concerning breastfeeding.

Learn more about your state laws about breastfeeding.

Write to your local school, school board, all the way up to the Department of Education to inform them of the importance of breastfeeding being taught in schools, and of a breastfeeding policy in schools.

Educate the people who make negative comments.

Teach your children that breastfeeding is appropriate, normal, natural, and healthy.

Write to your local hospitals and encourage them to stop passing out formula to every woman who gives birth.

Attend local La Leche League meetings to learn more.

Become a lactation consultant, counselor, or even just a friend who is helpful to new breastfeeding mothers.

Pass on information, literature, education, support, etc to those new to breastfeeding.
DID YOU KNOW?!

Breastfeeding often does not cause breast sagginess.  Genetics, age, the size and consistency of the breasts, and the actual pregnancy (or multiple pregnancies) have more to do with it than breastfeeding.  So if you’re thinking your breasts might be ruined if you breastfeed, this will depend on several factors, not the breastfeeding itself, so go for it, it’s for an excellent cause.

The United States has one of the highest rates of babies being fed infant formula in the world!!!

It is entirely possible to breastfeed AND work a full-time job.  One of my best friends has been doing it for the past 16 months.  She is one of my heroes, she breastfeeds when she is with her little girl, pumps for when she won’t be available, and works a full-time job.

Breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories per day!!!!!!

BREASTFEEDING ACCESSORIES

Nursing Covers:

Bebe Au Lait

Sew Your Own Nursing Cover

Breast Pads:

Disposible

Sew Your Own

Silicone (Lily Padz)

Breast Pumps:

Medela

Nursing Pillows:

Boppy

myBrest Friend

Nursing clothing:  (Motherwear, Mommy Gear)

Nursing bras

Nursing shirts

Nursing Gowns

BREASTFEEDING BOOKS FOR MOM:

The Breastfeeding Book by William and Martha Sears

The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins (Currently reading for doula training, EXCELLENT book!)

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International (Friend Maggie gave me this book, and I passed it on to a friend, EXCELLENT book!)

The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Jack Newman, MD and Teresa Pitman

BREASTFEEDING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN:

I’m Made of Mama’s Milk by Mary Olsen

We Like to Nurse by Chia Martin

My Very Breast Friend by David and Mutiya Vision  (We have this book, and Sydney absolutely loves it!)

SOURCES USED:

http://mamadearest.ca/en/info/risk_and_costs.htm

http://chfs.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/9130DDE5-1806-4B89-B410-685F26556A96/0/ObesityNewsletter.pdf

http://www.motherfriendly.org/pdf/breastfeeding.pdf

http://www.bread.org/hunger/us/

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/index.html

Special thanks to the moms who helped me write this blog!  Thank you so much for your contribution, pictures and stories!!!

 

(IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE PICTURES OR YOUR STORY, PLEASE SEND THEM TO: teva@mygentlebirthing.com)

I NEED Your Help!

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In response to the news story from Tampa, Florida, in which nursing mother, Melissa Taylor was told that breastfeeding was inappropriate in the lobby of her daughter’s school, I will be writing a blog about Breastfeeding Awareness.

I need your participation!!! What I am asking from you, is that you help me to write a fully informative blog about breastfeeding awareness, to help break the stigma.  I need stories (positive or negative), of how you’ve been impacted by society’s views of nursing your baby.  (These stories may include how a place of employment or business has treated you, individuals, doctors, and the overall general public).  If you are no longer nursing, please tell me about this as well, obviously, if it is a support or education issue, this needs to be addressed and resolved on a greater level, and I’m hoping my blog will help to inform people about the importance of breastfeeding.  I also am requesting pictures of you proudly nursing your baby.  Your names will not be included, unless you want them to be.  I plan on sending the link of this blog to many people (upon completion), and asking many people for their help.

If you are a birthing educator, breastfeeding educator, or someone who no longer nurses because you or your baby has weaned, please pass this along to those who can help make this blog huge.

I thank you in advance for your help and support in addressing this very important issue.  Let us please stop turning a blind eye to the health of our children, the bond between mother and baby, and the overall health and well-being of our nation.

Please send all requested information to:  teva@mygentlebirthing.com

What would YOU like to read about?

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I am always interested in reading new articles about birthing, helping people to understand HypnoBirthing, and helping my community to become more progressive toward birthing.

With this in mind, I am giving the floor to you, my readers!  Please write me a comment and tell me what kind of things interest you about birthing or what kinds of questions you have.  HypnoBirthing is not a medical birthing method, but we do help couples to achieve a gentle birth in medical settings (often, and with beautiful results).  So medical birthing questions are fair game (to include questions about breech babies, interventions, etc. )  Keep in mind, also that HypnoBirthing does not require that I am medically trained, because I do not assist my couples medically.

So here you go, the floor is yours!  Ask your questions, and I will answer as many of them as possible, in blog format! I look forward to reading them and answering them.

~Teva