Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Pink Nursing at Work

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Someone reported your picture for...

...containing nudity or pornography.

 This is the notification I got from Facebook 1 hour after I posted this picture on my personal and private page.

Someone I know, someone who knows me, looked at this picture and didn't see a special moment. They looked at it and saw nudity or porn.
I was shocked at first, then I was mad. I wanted to tell whoever hit report that they should have hit un-friend if that's how they felt. I wanted to tell the person how much this picture meant to me. I wanted them to know my struggles with breastfeeding. I wanted them to share my accomplishment for making the goal I had set for myself. I wanted to tell them the internal debate I had about whether to post this picture in the first place.
When I booked my daughters pictures for her first birthday I thought about the kind of pictures I wanted. Of course we needed smash cake ones, and ones of her in her birthday dress. When my husband mentioned that he wanted pictures with her I realized that so did I. I had cried a lot in the days leading to her birthday, we survived a year with 2 kids, we watched the most beautiful baby become a little girl, and I made my goal of no formula. I did it! Through slow weight gain,a case of yeast, mastitis twice, I had nourished her mainly with my milk. Just like any accomplishment I wanted a picture to capture it.

When I got the disc with all the birthday pictures,and I saw the look in my girls eyes as she nursed my heart felt happy. Then I debated with myself. Do I put this picture on my Facebook page? I started slow, first my breastfeeding support group, then my local mom group. In the back of my head all I could think was "Do it! This is huge part of who you are, this is how you feed your baby. If this was a bottle in her mouth instead of a breast no one would bat an eye." I took the plunge and posted it along with the rest of her birthday pictures. I'm not sure what I expected, but I can tell you having a friend of family member report it wasn't it.

The upside (and thank goodness for great friends) is the response I got when I called the person out.

To the small minded family or friend who reported my breastfeeding picture. I have breasts. I use my breasts to feed my child. I'm proud of my accomplishment in using my breasts to nurse her this long which was neither easy or without personal sacrifice. A nursing mother is not obscene or immoral in any way. I'm not going to hide because breasts make you uncomfortable. Feel free to remove yourself from my friends list because I don't have time for your b.s.

Before I knew it so many of my friends stood by me. My mom friends, male friends, child free friends, formula feeding friends. They ALL made me cry again and they showed their love and support for me. Because of that I will never be afraid to show who I am , a proud breastfeeding mommy!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Nourishment for the Soul

Everyone knows all the benefits to babies and toddlers when nursing, and many people are starting to recognize benefits to mothers more often. The list is lengthy and includes everything from physical to emotional benefits. It's obvious that nursing provides nourishment to our children, helping them grow up strong and healthy. But did you consider that nursing could also be nourishment for your soul?

I recently lost my grandpa and was extremely sad during the time surrounding his unexpected passing. Nursing provided comfort to me in a way I hadn't imagined before. Taking the time to slow down and nurse my daughter allowed me an opportunity to stop and make time for things I've neglected too often lately.

I was able to find comfort in slowing down, nourishing my daughter, and letting myself reminisce. My grandpa was a good, hard-working Catholic and I wanted to honor his memory. I started praying the rosary while I would nurse Nora. I must admit...I'm normally multitasking on my phone while nursing these days. Gone are the days when I would just stare in awe at my sweet girl while she suckled milk. After 14 months of breastfeeding, I don't give it my full attention like I once did. Taking the time to slow down and redirect my focus was something I really needed.

Photo Source

I was getting to a point where constantly nursing Nora during the day would be frustrating at times. Losing my grandpa reminded me of the important things in life. We don't know how long each of us will have with our loved ones, so it is important to never take the small things for granted. I'm so fortunate to still be nursing Nora and providing the perfect nourishment for her little body. I am also fortunate that breastfeeding provides nourishment to my soul and reminds me of life's precious gifts.

Taking a break from nursies

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: A Comprehensive Approach to Breastfeeding Support

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My First Time Breastfeeding in Public

When I first started breastfeeding I didn't think I would ever be able to nurse in public.  I needed my boppy, my footrest and my water within arms reach.  I could barely move an inch and the thought of nursing in public was enough to make me want to stay in my apartment for the next two years. 

My very first time breastfeeding in public was at a baseball game, of all places.  Adelaide was four weeks old and there was no getting around it, she needed to be fed.  I was so nervous- how was I going to get her latched, was someone going to see my boob, was someone going to make a negative comment?
I nursed her that day under a blanket, and remember feeling so empowered that I was feeding my daughter.  I was doing it!  She slept the majority of the game, and even got a certificate for her first Mets game.

Since that day, I've nursed at restaurants, on planes, on the beach, in the park, at my office, in a dressing room, on the boardwalk, at the bar, at the mall, at Target, at Costco... you name it, I've nursed there.  Personally, it works best for us to not use a cover.  I wear a nursing tank under my shirt so virtually no skin is exposed.  Most people can't even tell that I'm feeding my child.

And I've never had one person say something negative to me.

My absolute favorite place to nurse in public is at Nordstrom.  They have mother's lounges at every single location with comfy chairs, a changing table, a sink and free wifi.  And little known fact: they will convert any regular bra to a nursing bra for $10!

I also loved that there are private nursing lounges at Camden Yards (and they're air conditioned)!  I would go to the nursing room just to escape the heat!  We love baseball, can you tell?
What about you?  Have you nursed in public?  What's your best nursing in public tip?

Friday, April 4, 2014

5 Things Every New Mom Wants to Hear

My postpartum recovery was no walk in the park. Even for moms with quick physical recoveries, this time is marked by blurry eyes, hazy memories, and an uncanny feeling of déjà vu.  I was blessed by the support of my husband, friends, and family and I learned a lot about what new moms most desperately need to hear in those early days. 

1. "I'd like to bring you a meal."
Garfield is not a fan of cute baby onesies
We had many visitors who were excited to see Boo. I won't lie, my favorite visits were those that involved steaming pans of lasagna or homemade chicken noodle soup. Someone thoughtfully brought gift cards for takeout. Some friends brought adorable outfits for Boo and (I'm not proud of this) I bitterly thought to myself, I can't eat that onesie!   Other friends asked if I wanted them to bring a meal, and it put me in an uncomfortable position. I am a person who hates asking for help so of course I said, "No, don't worry about it!"  What I really wanted to say was, "Do I want a meal? Does grass grow? Is pizza delicious? DOES MY DAUGHTER POOP?!?" All new moms are weary anyway, and breastfeeding moms typically eat meals that could feed a small nation. So yes, food is good. "I'm bringing you dinner! What food do you love/hate? What's a good time?" Don't be surprised if your new mom friend falls down and kisses your feet after hearing those words.

2. "It's okay to feel that way."
The first few days/weeks/months are an emotional roller coaster.  Mom's body is on hyper-drive trying to shift from sustaining a baby inside the womb to sustaining that baby by way of her breasts.  Lots of hormones changing.  All the emotions happening.  If she is sad/happy/stabby/nervous reassure her and let her know you're there to listen.  If you think she might be suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) give her a hand in finding the help she needs.

3. "Go take a nap."
After countless visitors visiting and doctors doctoring and lots of bodily fluids uh....flowing, anyone would be beat tired.  Now add in a tiny creature who needs to be fed or changed or cuddled 24/7, and mama's exhausted.  The only reason she may want to stay up would be to chow down on the delicious meal you brought her. ;)

4. "You're doing a great job."
If your mom friend is like me, it's possible she read every word published about pregnancy and childbirth under the sun but for some reason forgot that she would need to care for and nourish this child after the little bug popped out.  For me, most days I was getting by in survival mode and after the chaos died down I realized I hadn't the faintest idea what I was doing. It was simultaneously terrifying and awe-inspiring.  I felt much more confident when another mom held off on the advice for a bit to build me up.

5. "What kind of support do you need from me right now?"
This is where it's important to acknowledge that every mom is different.  I think it's safe to assume that every new mom wants to eat and sleep, but moms have other needs that vary so much from each other.  Some moms need to complain and vent just to get out their frustration.  Others unload to a friend because they need to hear that it's okay to try something different.  If you have even a little doubt about what your friend needs from you, simply ask her.  Tell her that you care about her.  That she's a great mom.  And that you want to provide whatever support she needs, whether that's simply an ear to listen without judging, a referral to a lactation consultant, or an account of your experience and what worked for you.  I'm often guilty of automatically providing support to other moms that I know I would need in that situation, but sometimes that's the opposite of what they want.  Listen - truly listen - and let her know that you are there for her no matter what.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

3 Booby Traps That Almost Ended Our Breastfeeding Relationship

I knew nothing about breastfeeding when my son was born. The problem with that is that, since nursing is a supply-and-demand system, any mistakes or attempted shortcuts can lead to the relationship ending much sooner than the mother would prefer. While I was usually able to course-correct pretty quickly when I realized my errors, the truth is that there was a lot of luck (and, let's be honest, stubbornness) at work in our ultimately successful breastfeeding relationship, not to mention an active and well-informed support network of mamas.

Here are the 3 "Booby Traps" that tripped me up, along with a few tips to avoid them yourself!

1. Cluster Feeding? What's that?
I left the hospital with a packet of breastfeeding information that I barely skimmed before heading home to cuddle my newborn in idyllic domestic bliss.... only to discover that not only did my baby not want to eat for 30 minutes every 3 hours, but he wanted to be attached to my boob nonstop for 4 hours at a time. Any attempt to remove him was met with screaming. Sometimes he would calm for a few minutes and I would think he was finally satisfied, then he would start crying again and not calm until I put him to my breast. I didn't understand how he could still be hungry, or how I could still have milk after it appeared that he had emptied both breasts. Deciding that he must just be comfort-sucking (and needing a break for my poor aching nips), I gave him a pacifier at just 4 days old. This seemed to work, but when we learned his weight gain was much too slow, I began to doubt.

In time, I learned that my new babe was cluster-feeding, and that this non-stop need to nurse actually served the vital purpose of establishing a solid milk supply. I was also told that newborns metabolize breastmilk so fast that they need to nurse again shortly after in order to get all the calories and nutrients they need. In retrospect, it's clear that I was risking my supply by replacing the breast with a pacifier so early, and that I was hampering my child's weight gain by not offering my milk as often as he wanted it.

2. Skipping a Night Feeding
As any new parent knows (and yet, nothing can prepare you), caring for a newborn is utterly exhausting. Having that infant constantly attached to your breast? Even more so. So, it wasn't long before I felt that I needed a break. As detailed in a previous post, I found myself one night feeding my baby a bottle of formula, and going to bed: I was absolutely desperate for even one hour of sleep. This happened several times, and even after I stopped giving formula and started giving pumped milk instead, I regularly missed a night feeding and had my husband give a bottle instead.

I now know that missing feedings so early or at all is to seriously jeopardize the breastfeeding relationship, but I didn't learn until recently that night feedings in particular are especially important. Not only does night feeding promote milk production, but nighttime milk is actually much richer and denser in nutrients than daytime milk. Even though I was replacing the missed feeding with an earlier pump to counteract negative effects to my supply, by skipping the nighttime feeding, I was withholding from my baby much-needed nutrients and fat that would help him grow and be healthy. Furthermore, since a pump is not as effective as a suckling babe at removing milk from the breast, the replaced feeding was probably still impacting my supply. Worst of all, the whole reason I was missing the feed-time was to get some sleep, but studies show that cosleeping moms actually get more sleep than non-cosleepers! I could have fed my baby more and gotten more rest!

3. No Paced Bottle-Feeding
It started harmless enough: I was pumping more than my 2-month-old was eating in a day, so when our daycare provider told us he was eating more, I thought "No problem" and started sending extra ounces with him. Then they kept asking for more, and more, and more, until I was sending at least 20 ounces of pumped milk for a 10-hour separation. I could only pump 16 or so ounces a day, so I was having to fit in extra pumps at night and dip into my meager frozen stash to make up the difference. It was stressful and exhausting, and still it seemed he wanted more. Before long, we decided to move up to a faster-flow nipple on the bottles. One day, I learned that he had had 25 ounces that day. I felt the end was near.... I would never be able to keep up with that pace.

Then, disaster struck: I got laid off. My mostly bottle-fed baby suddenly became an exclusively breastfed baby, and his fury at and rejection of the "slow flow" of my breast made me suspect that he had developed a bottle preference. Someone recommended this Expressed Milk Calculator on Kellymom, and I learned that we had been WAY overfeeding our kid.

A breastfed infant needs an average of 25 ounces of breastmilk in a 24-hour period..... and that's what we were feeding in only 10 hours! A baby does not have to work as hard for milk from a silicone nipple as he does from a breast, so many of them also develop a preference for the bottle, as ours clearly had. While I'm certain they meant well and it was my responsibility to be informed, clearly the daycare had been using feeding as a pacifier, and had I not lost my job, we probably would have needed to start supplementing, which could have led to our nursing relationship ending much sooner than either of us wanted. My layoff was a blessing in disguise, but many mothers remain unaware of the effects of overfeeding, as do well-meaning caregivers.

And Yet....
In spite of all these Booby Traps and the many other trials we have faced on our breastfeeding journey, we recently passed a full year of breastfeeding and are still going strong! If you've fallen victim to a Booby Trap, don't give up! Your body and baby are designed to do this, and with the right information, you can still have a healthy and rewarding breastfeeding relationship!