Tag Archives: Parenting

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.

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New Mamas

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I had the joy of going to Target today with Sydney, since I knew the Halloween costumes would be discounted.  We got everything we needed, then headed for the check out lines.  As we approached, I heard the distinctive “hungry” cry of a very new baby.  We walked past, and the mother looked exasperated, and the baby, who had clearly been crying for a very long time, was beginning to turn a shade of purple from crying so much.  Initially, I wondered what was going on, why was the mother not holding her tiny baby, did she not know that her baby was hungry?  As I quietly assessed the situation from where I was standing, I figured out that the mother is probably a new mother, and new to breastfeeding as well.  I guessed this from what she was wearing, a shirt, and a very poofy vest (in case of milk leakage), and from her hesitation to hold the baby, especially close to her breasts.  When she was ready to pay, she finally picked the baby up, but the baby did not stop crying.

People stared at this woman who only wanted to leave the store, and go to a place where she felt safe enough to feed her baby.  So in this situation, I did not judge, I simply looked on with sadness for both the mother and the baby, and here is why.

New mothers are so impressionable, they have come fresh out of pregnancy where they were constantly bombarded by “advice” on what to do during pregnancy and after.  Some of this advice included whether to breastfeed or not, and in that advice, there is judgment.  New mothers constantly feel judged.  And new mothers who decide to breastfeed have an extra challenge, because breastfeeding in public is looked down upon in many places, because of the over-sexualization of the human female breast (which was created to nourish our young).  So as she stood in line, most likely with her breasts leaking, possibly throbbing from milk wanting to come out to feed her sweet baby, she felt the judgment of the people around her, “why don’t you do SOMETHING?!”  But I can bet that if she had taken her baby, and nursed her right there, even with a nursing cover, there would have been judgment there too.  Some people may have applauded that she was honoring her baby’s biological need to eat from its biological source, but others would have looked on in disgust, knowing that her baby was latched on to her nipple, and getting milk.

My sadness for the baby is because babies are born completely dependent on us.  Everything they learn, they learn from their environment, their surroundings, their parents, different reactions to them, etc.  In short, they are learning to trust their world, and when their parents or caregivers are not honoring their communication (cries), then they begin to learn that the world may not be a place to trust.

Some think that babies only communicate through crying, but this is untrue.  Babies are constantly making gestures, sounds, body movements, motions, and facial expressions that communicate exactly what they need.  In a bond between a baby and his/her mother, especially if the mother is a nursing mother, the mother learns very quickly what each little gesture, sound, and movement of her baby means.  And between them, a unique, beautiful bond is formed, in which there is love, oxytocin, communication and endorphins exchanged, and this is where each honor the other.

It seems to me that the mother had most likely ignored all signs of her baby’s hunger, and became embarrassed, felt helpless (about nursing in public), and was at the point of exasperation when we encountered her.  Mothers should NEVER feel embarrassed to nurse in public, because after all, this is the way that nature intends for us to feed our babies.

As I write this, I realize that I need to say so much more than just what I’ve said, so hear me when I say this, whether you are an onlooker, or if you’re a new mother (especially a nursing mother).  New mothers NEED support, of community, family, and friends, especially to be successful at breastfeeding.  Here are some pointers:

  • As an onlooker to a new mother who has a crying baby, but looks to be exasperated, frustrated, or stressed about the situation, ask if you can help her (with the baby, with her things, if she needs to sit down, etc).
  • As an onlooker to a new mother who may be struggling to nurse her baby, offer to shield her, with your body, a blanket, nursing cover, etc.
  • As an onlooker, if you’re offended by a nursing mother near you in public, PLEASE, simply smile at her, and look the other way.  What she is doing will in no way harm you, but it will help our society in the long run (See Breastfeeding Advantages in my previous post)
  • As an onlooker of a nursing mother, even if you are offended, acknowledge that she is feeding her baby the best and healthiest food, and say either ‘congratulations’ or ‘thank you’ to her.
  • As an onlooker of a nursing mother, if you feel compelled to say something offensive, please, instead ask her a question about her nursing relationship or her baby.  Do not say offensive things to nursing mothers, especially new ones.
  • As a new mother, do not feel ashamed, afraid, nervous, or intimidated about nursing your baby in public.
  • As a new mother, ask for help from others around you when you need it.
  • As a new mother, honor your bond with your baby, every chance you get.
  • As a new mother, work hard to ignore people who seem to be judging you.
  • As a new mother, evaluate each piece of “parenting advice” you get from others… Will this work for us?  Does this fit with our parenting approach?
  • As a new mother, establish a routine for your baby and yourself early, so you know when he/she will need to be fed, sleep, changed, etc.
  • As a new mother, take care of yourself.

It wasn’t that long ago that my 3 year old was a nursling, and it wasn’t that long ago that both positive and negative actions and words made an impact on how I nourished her.  My choices may be different than other new mothers, but I do hope for all new mothers, that they form an impenetrable bond with their babies, and that they not allow what others say or do to come between that bond.

Comments Welcome and Appreciated.

Keep our boys INTACT

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I sit here tonight, with my mind swimming with what to write.  There is so much misinformation about circumcision, so much myth, and so many “I circumcised my son because…” floating around.  To be honest, I’m tired of all of this, and I’m tired of people feeling the need to defend their decision to have their son circumcised.  There is no need to justify, what’s done is done. I say what I say, I write what I write for information, not to judge the decisions of others.

So what is circumcision anyway?  Well, in plain and simple terms, it is the removal of the foreskin from the penis.  In other terms, it is genital mutilation (from Miriam-Webster Dictionary online – Mutilate -1.  : “to cut up or alter radically so as to make imperfect & 2.  :to cut off or permanently destroy a limb or essential part of”), a (most of the time, non-consensual) removal of perfectly useful, normal, healthy skin that is SUPPOSED to exist.  Penises are formed with foreskin as an essential functioning part of them, and for some reason, many societies have created a stigma around it, so much so that I was told the other night that a childbirth educator here in town is stating that a good and valid reason for having a newborn boy circumcised is for the sake of his bonding with his father later in life.  I shared this with my husband last night, and he looked at me bug-eyed, deer in the headlights, and said, “Yeah, because men bond with their sons naked?!” And to add to that thought… Are men and their sons really bonding over their penises?!

One of my favorite sites on the internet, Peaceful Parenting, recently posted an excellent post, by Audrey Bryk, about keeping boys intact.  This article is stated in terms that are easy to understand, and that lit a fire under me.  Just as was stated above, one of the reasons in some cultures for circumcising boys is so that they can be “like their dads”.  Bryk argues that is it not easier to just state that someone made the decision based on information that those parents knew to circumcise the father, but that the parents of the son chose to keep him intact (a more complete and well-informed decision).  That seems to me to be a much simpler conversation than why an essential portion of his penis was cut from him shortly after birth.

I remember so vividly praying that Sydney was a girl, literally praying.  I sensed a lot of pressure from my husband and his mother to circumcise if we had a son.  Though I knew very little about circumcision, and had never seen an intact penis; something inside of me thought it was wrong, unethical, immoral, against everything that I believed.  I had no basis for this thought, but I felt extremely strongly about it.  It seems strange to me that I stood up very strongly for everything that I wanted for the birth of our beautiful baby, but something in me had a hard time standing up for keeping a son intact.  I no longer have that issue.

There is so much to be said for genital integrity.  So much to be said for having a say in what happens to your own genitals.  So much to be said for informed consent.  And this is what I will say:

  1. Boys/Men deserve to remain intact until they are able to make a fully informed decision.
  2. The reasons for circumcision are not based in medicine, but rather in preference of parents (for many reasons, appearance, misinformed hygiene myth, religion, etc).  This is not their decision to make, it is NOT their penis.
  3. Doctors should not perform a procedure on a patient who is non-consenting (the baby boy is the patient, after all).
  4. Mutilation of the genitals at birth is not something that any baby boy chooses for himself.  In fact, this is what baby boys have to say about it: 
  5. Grown men have a right to feel certain feelings about not having been allowed to make that decision for themselves. 
  6. The correct, valid, researched, and true information about intact vs. circumcised needs to be made public and talked about.  We cannot be ashamed to discuss this! Here is an excellent site:  Circumcision Decision Maker

I would like to say, that though this post is short, it holds every bit as much passion as any other that I’ve written.  My lack of words is an indication that so much is wanting to come out, and the words are not finding their way onto the screen (Come on, fingers and brain, WORK!).  But nevertheless, see my words for how I intend them.  I am not someone you need to justify your reasons for circumcising your son(s) to, I am not here to judge.  I just ask that all of you research the decisions that you make on behalf of the children you bring into this world.  Who knows what long lasting effects this may have on his psyche, sexuality, emotional well-being, self-esteem, physical appearance, etc.

As always, thank you so much for reading this post, and COMMENTS WELCOME.

Since posting this post last night, I have gotten some backlash on Facebook from people who read it.  People have become offended.  So I encourage you that if you’re offended, bring it to my attention so I know why and what created the offense.

Preparation for Birth

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There is so much talk about preparing for birth.  So I’d love for this post to be as interactive as possible.  Please feel free to comment, leave suggestions you might have for expectant mothers, and tell us how you prepared for your birth/s.

Pregnancy, for most women lasts from 37-42 weeks, and while that seems like a long time, it really is not.  In that time, couples/families become very involved in preparing for the birth, and I can’t help but wonder if families prepare enough.  We all know that couples, especially first time parents, go a little wacko on baby registries, and I’m sure stores are thrilled with this.  But are couples preparing adequately for the birth of their newest loves?

How did you prepare for your birth/s?  Do you think you prepared enough?  Do you think you could have ever been prepared enough?  So here are some questions I’d love for you to weigh in on.

  1. Did you take childbirth classes?  (If so, where were they offered?  Do you feel like you learned enough to feel comfortable with giving birth?)
  2. Did you interview multiple care providers, and shop around at several hospitals/birthing centers?
  3. Did you take other classes?  (Breastfeeding, Newborn Care, Etc)
  4. Did you research routine interventions that are used in hospitals?
  5. Did you research newborn care procedures in hospitals?
  6. Did you prepare a birth plan?  If so, did anyone help you with this?
  7. Did you have all of your questions answered by your care provider?  (Questions to Ask your Care Provider)
  8. Were you satisfied with the prenatal care your received?
  9. Were you comfortable with your care provider/hospital?
  10. Did you feel prepared to give birth?

I know that right now, in my community, there are two hospitals.  I have attended births at both, and each has its own policies and procedures, some the same, and some very different.  I cannot say that one hospital is better than the other, simply because I am not a woman who is preparing to give birth in either.  Each woman preparing for birth, prepares in her own way.  And the consensus I hear around my area is that women are not necessarily feeling prepared adequately.

The sad truth is that there is over-crowding in the hospitals, and the time that women receive with their care providers is little.  I always encourage women to ask tons of questions, and ensure that her questions are answered before she leaves her doctors office – whether she feels good about the answers or not.  I went to a Homebirth Meetup Group in Fayetteville a couple weeks ago, and heard a woman say that she felt like cattle in the system that is caring for pregnant mothers.  No mother should feel that way, ever, but especially by the providers who will help her to birth her baby.

Preparing to give birth is HUGE.  I believe that couples should research until they are blue in the face.  Here are the things I think should be researched by every expectant couple:

  1. Proper nutrition during pregnancy
  2. Advantages of hiring a Doula/Labor Support
  3. Childbirth Classes – Which one is the best fit for you?
  4. Routine interventions – imposed by care provider, and by hospital
  5. Medical reasons for induction & augmentation of labor (when it is appropriate to do so)
  6. Medical reasons for Cesarean section
  7. Routine newborn procedures – who does them, when are they done, which are mandatory
  8. Circumcision – Do you want this done?  (Here is a guide for you to look at if you’re curious about why or why not to have this done.)
  9. Vaccinations – Will you vaccinate, will you delay?

Another sad truth is that many people research what car to buy, what TV to buy, what cable service to use, where to have their dog groomed more than they do how to give birth, where to give birth, who to have in attendance, and what the process will be like for them.  Some women do not feel confident with the care they receive, but do not switch providers.  So, if I can make one suggestion, it would be to prepare for your birth, and this includes switching providers if you do not feel comfortable with them. Prepare for birth, for you and your baby.

Make this interactive:  COMMENTS PLEASE.

Talking Birth

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Talking to my friend online about her birth reminds me that there are different views of birth.  There are the people who go to medical school to attend very medicalized births of frightened women who may or may not be prepared for the challenges of childbirth.  These same people attend births that are largely medicated in one form or another, and because of this, they see this as “normal”. The women who give birth in this setting often have to fight for their birth wishes.  Even if women don’t come armed with birth plans, some have desires that they would like met, but in the face of having to defend their wishes in the presence of staff, they give up.

The normal that the other group of people see is totally and completely different.  We see birth as nothing short of a miracle.  Birth is normal, it is natural, and it is healthy.  Birth is meant to happen to women, and women were built to give birth.  We grow babies that are the perfect size for our bodies.  The normal birth that this group sees has every confidence in birth.  Birth is not a medical event, and it certainly is not an emergency.  The women who give birth among this group of attendees often simply drift through birth  without a fight.  These births are peaceful, calm, quiet (sometimes eerily so), and have a sacred feel to them.  Women feel loved, at peace, protected, nurtured, and surrender to their birthing energy.

I love talking birth, probably more than anything else in this world (except for sharing stories about Sydney, of couse!).  My passion comes out, I get fired up, and I want for others to feel what I feel about this subject.  There are certain things about birth that anger me, some that make me so proud to be a woman, and some that just sadden me.

I think back to my own labor, when I felt totally in control.  And even upon arrival at the hospital, in San Ramon, CA, I felt the same.  The team of people I had supporting me was incredible.  Never did anyone treat the impending birth of Sydney like it was an emergency, or even a medical event.  I self hydrated, walked, did many position changes, had intermittent monitoring, and never heard a mention of my pain.  Going through labor was a time in my life when I felt the most vulnerable, but knew I was so loved and supported.  Sydney’s birth was at the very least challenging.  But it was also a time that defined much of my life now, it was a time that empowered me, and bonded us together as a family.

Birth is a time when women must feel supported, loved, and vulnerable.  Our birthing energy must be focused, intent, and committed.  We must labor with conviction, with a knowledge that we can do this.  Women who lose this energy, this conviction become easily steered in directions they may not want to go.  This does not make them weak at all, it just makes their path to birth different, and sometimes a bit more challenging, and sometimes still, more dangerous.

The births that OBs and L&D nurses see are dramatized because of the environment in which they are.  They are closely monitored, managed, and manipulated.  These births are mere fragments of what births should be.  Many of these births are not at all what the mothers or the babies want, but sometimes, mothers truly know no different.  Often times mothers are convinced of what they should want because of stories they have seen and heard from others (friends, family, media sources, etc), which creates fear in them, and they lose confidence and are convinced they need anesthetic assistance to get through birth.

Medicalized birth certainly has its place, it has its time, it has its necessity.  But it is not a majority of the time.  Healthy full-term mothers have a right to be fully apprised of how their bodies function, and how to work with their bodies and babies to have a birth with as few interventions as possible.

So here are some of my suggestions for a healthier birthing experience.

  1. Take ownership for how you want to give birth.  Decide now, and follow through.
  2. Eliminate the words “Delivery” and “Deliver” from your vocabulary.  They allow you no responsibility as a birthing mother.
  3. Create a birth plan.
  4. Research, research, research.
  5. Consider options you may not have considered before (home birth, birthing center, water birth, different hospital etc).
  6. Choose a care provider that is completely supportive of what you want.  If he/she is not, find another one.
  7. Prepare for birth by taking a birthing class that fits well with you and your birth partner.
  8. Believe in your abilities to give birth.
  9. Hire a doula.
  10. Be flexible about labor and birth, accept that some things in birth may shift a bit.
  11. Envision your birth, just the way you want it to be.
  12. Ask for positive birth stories only.  Walk away if people share anything less.
  13. Do NOT watch shows like Maternity Ward or A Baby Story.
  14. Arrange everything ahead of time so when birthing time nears, your life is free of undue stress.
  15. When labor begins, stay at home as long as you are comfortable.
  16. Have a happy, healthy, and safe birth.
  17. Take time following birth to talk about your birth to a person who respects you and will not judge.
  18. Do not feel like a failure if you chose to have interventions that you previously thought you would not.  You are NOT a failure.

Comments Welcome.

Birth Changed Me

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Sydney’s friend’s mother asked me the other day how I came to this profession.  No one had ever asked me that, and I guess I’d never really told anyone.  The truth is, if someone had asked me what I was going to do with my life, I certainly would never have thought that I’d be doing THIS.  In fact, at the age of 18, with the world before my feet, I ventured off to college in Greensboro, NC, where I was ready to take on the world.  Social Work was my major, and I wanted to be a Marriage and Family Therapist.  Today, I do not believe that’s where my gifts and passions lie, nor do I want to do anything like that.

But, it was in college that I first heard about HypnoBirthing, and became dedicated to a gentle birth for my future children.  Little did I know that I’d become a HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator.  It was in 2007, when I was with my mother in Babies R Us at a Breastfeeding Fair, which was meant to be a pitstop on the way to Barnes and Noble to buy the HypnoBirthing book, because I had no idea that there were classes to help me along my journey to the gentle birth.  As I was filling out a raffle to win all kinds of baby items, I happened to glance at a sheet of paper that had the word HypnoBirthing on it.  I picked the piece of paper up, and saw that classes were offered in my area, so I flagged down the manager and asked where the distributor of the flyer was.  I was directed to Nicole, who taught my HypnoBirthing classes, attended our birth, and continues to be one of my friends.

Fast forward to my labor and birth.  July 16, 2007, at about 5:30pm, I began to feel the first of the surges, accompanied by diarrhea.  They began at 20 minutes apart, sped up to 10 minutes apart (which is when I ate dinner), then accelerated to 3 minutes apart upon entering the bath tub to relax.  My mother in law informed my husband that I was in labor upstairs in the tub, and that I was surging at 10 minutes apart, so when my husband came into the bathroom and heard me say, “I think it’s time to go”, imagine his shock.  About an hour later, we were on the way to the hospital, and were soon checked in.  We had Birth Preferences that were given to the nurse who would attend, and I was given the privacy to labor, with intermittent monitoring, vaginal exams only at my request, no mention of moving or hurrying things along, and freedom from an IV.  There were no references to pain, only to comfort level and how it could be improved, and my team was with me (husband, mother-in-law, and Nicole).

 

Relaxing during labor

As labor continued, exhaustion began to set in, and my focus became diverted to what was beginning to be translated as discomfort, and my relaxation was dwindling.  Position changes, sitting on the toilet, moving, walking, squatting, swaying, moaning, breathing, swaying, moving, moving, moving… Baby come out.  At hour 17 of labor, I said I needed “help”, and everyone in the room knew what that meant, but no one acknowledged it, they instead encouraged me, stayed with me, loved me, comforted me, took me on the journey of labor.  At hour 20, all relaxation had left, and I again spoke of needing “help”, and out of exhaustion, cried and begged.  Jeremy and I talked about it, and I told him I could not get our baby out of my body without first resting, and I was getting none with my extreme exhaustion and surges that were doing their job.

At hour 20, when help was requested, I was 10 centimeters open, but our sweet baby was not moving, no progression, just sitting there, and at hour 20, the nurse told us our baby was “sunny side up” (OP – Occiput Posterior, back of baby’s head on my back, not the optimal position for birthing a baby).  We tried one last position to get the baby to drop out of my pelvis so she could reposition correctly for birth, but to no avail.  Shortly after, help was delivered, and I drifted in and out of sleep.  I rested, and eventually was awakened so our baby could be born.  The doctor arrived, and was extremely hurried, so much so that the understanding nature, beautiful bedside manner were all gone.  Instead, the person who sat with her fingers in my vagina, stretching my perineum was a stranger to me.  Because of being medicated through epidural, I was not able to feel my natural impulses to aid my body in birthing my baby, so I had to use forced pushing.  About 2 and a half hours after beginning to push, our beautiful Sydney was born.

 

Skin to Skin Bonding

It was at that very moment that my life changed, and I know everyone says that, but a shift took place in my life.  We had never known that we would have a girl, and at that instant that she was there on my naked skin, something in me began to heal.  Years of tattered relationships with women in my life, years of hurt from my own relationship with my mother, years of anger toward her, years of not forgiving her, years of pain, were welling over with a healing power I had never experienced.  It was at that moment, when I looked at my daughter, that I knew my role as woman had been defined.  I felt an overwhelming sense of appreciation and love for her.

It was not until much later that I decided I needed to help women to give birth in a conscious, gentle manner.  I am so thankful I’ve made this choice, and so grateful for the support of my Sydney and my husband to do what I am so passionate about.  For me, birth was my defining moment, it was when I’ve felt strongest in my life, it was when I felt most empowered, most in control, and above all, I knew my body was built to give birth.  Never in my mind was there a doubt about my ability to birth my baby vaginally.  Sydney’s birth is the reason I do what I do today, it is my reason for looking forward to doing it all over again when I’m blessed to do so.  It is the reason I tell women and their birth companions that they can do it, that they are made to do it, that it is normal, natural and healthy to give birth freely, gently, consciously…

The births I have attended as a doula have all reaffirmed my belief in the power of birth.  I’ve witnessed as women became women, men became men, and they together became parents, nurturers, providers, givers, unconditional lovers of their new little life that they created together.

I do this because it has to be done, I do this because Sydney’s birth guided me to it, I do this because I believe in my entire being that women have a right to know they can give birth gently, I do this because women are powerful beings, I do this because I love it.

Birth changes me everyday.

A very special thanks to the couples who have welcomed me into their births, and to my Sydney who is the catalyst for this change.  You’ll never know how much this all means.

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)