Friday, August 29, 2014

Swirled, Not Shaken

As a breastfeeding mom, I'm more than certain you've heard the words "don't shake breastmilk!" at some point in your nursing journey. The logic behind this is that, when shaken, the proteins in the milk can be damaged and denatured. But is this fact or just a myth that has been perpetuated by time and word of mouth?

One anthropologist decided to delve deeper into this issue and has come up with some fascinating information. Because she clearly does a better job than I ever could, I'll let her tell it. The results might surprise you. After reading her results, does it change your opinion on shaking or swirling milk?

Does Shaking Really Matter?

Photo Source

Monday, August 18, 2014

Boundaries and the Breastfeeding Toddler

There are a lot of things you may think of when you think of breastfeeding a toddler and boundaries - but is setting boundaries with that toddler one of them?

We hit the 18 months of breastfeeding milestone last week and that got me to thinking about how our breastfeeding relationship has changed.  We’ve gone from hours of my son being latched to a quick little drive-by - just enough to fuel him up for more playing and exploring.

He has also developed “preferences” when it comes to nursing - and I’m not just talking left or right side!  L “needs” to have both of mommy’s boobies out at the same time because he likes to hop back and forth when nursing.  He also really loves playing with my belly button.  Neither of these things make nursing a toddler in public very easy!

At the same time, his communication skills have taken off recently and his vocabulary is exploding at a rapid rate (just yesterday he said Minnie and Lambie - this Disney-momma’s heart exploded with excitement by the way!). However, even though his vocabulary is great, and he knows that “num nums” means it’s time to nurse and will even say it at home, he is still adamant that the only way he asks to nurse is by attacking my shirt and trying to rip it off.  Again, this makes nursing in public a little - um - awkward?!  I can't tell you the number of times he's been sitting in the shopping cart at Target and flipped out trying to rip my shirt off.

NOT the right way to ask for Num Nums!
So what am I supposed to do in these situations?  I’ve always been a nurse on demand kinda momma and I was really struggling with setting boundaries with L when it comes to “num nums.” It all came to a head last weekend when I was at a La Leche League meeting and L wanted to nurse when he saw all the babies eating.  He started with the tugging and then insisted I unsnap both sides of my nursing tank.  When I wouldn’t he started melting down - like full on freak out!  I was a little embarrassed but thankfully I’ve been going to that meeting for 18 months and feel really comfortable with everyone there.  

One of the leaders, who is also a friend, saw my struggle and asked what was going on.  I explained to her that L will only nurse with both breasts out and freaks out if he only gets one side.  Plus, he wanted to play with my belly button.  I was actually quite frazzled in that moment - I felt the same way I did when he was only a few weeks old and we went to our first meeting to seek help with what was eventually diagnosed as a tongue tie.  That leader told me it was okay to set limits and it was okay for him to get upset with it.  She said I could tell him "No" to having both breasts out and if he got upset it was okay.  That was a very freeing moment for me.  I’d never want to deny my child food, but he’s getting to the age where he can understand waiting - and at 18 months I know my child won’t starve if he refuses one nursing session because he doesn’t like the conditions.

He’s also at the age where I can starting teaching him that we ask for “num nums” instead of attacking mommy’s clothes. I’m not saying that I’d ever deny him food if he doesn’t ask instead of grabbing but I do try and stop him from grabbing and instead use the words I’d like him to use in the future.  Is this really any different from teaching him other life lessons - like the stove is hot or using caution when climbing up the slide?

This is all still very new to me - I hate to think of my son upset because he wants to nurse in a certain way and I’m not letting him, but I know that it’s important to our long-term breastfeeding relationship that I start setting new boundaries now.  Also, I’m not saying everyone - or even anyone else - needs to set these same boundaries with their little nursling.  What I am saying is that the breastfeeding relationship is a two way street and that both of you need to feel comfortable.  If you’re nursing an older child it is certainly okay to set small boundaries - ultimately I think they will enhance your relationship as time goes on.   

This is our "New Normal" chart - what would you add to yours?
And don’t forget to take advantage of the amazing support available to breastfeeding mothers - find a local La Leche League meeting or other local group, seek out online support forums or even connect with us on the Adventures in Breastfeeding Facebook page.  Extended breastfeeding is less common than most of us would like - it’s sometimes harder to get support or even get your questions answered but help is out there and often crucial a continued breastfeeding relationship. 

The good old days when nursing looked "easy" and we could still pose for a professional photo session!
Have you set boundaries regarding breastfeeding with your older toddler?  If so, what were those boundaries and how have they worked out for you?  Share your stories in the comments below!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Giveaway winners!!!

And the winners are... 

1.) Tastefully Tiff nursing cover & necklace- 
Annie Shackleford

2.) Sling it On wooden teether-
Melissa Easton

3.) Beads of Charity bangle-
Melissa Farnsworth Wolvin

4.) $25 giftcard-
Brandie Alexandra

CONGRATS LADIES!! Thank you for entering our giveaway! 

Winners will also be notified via email! They have 72 hours to claim their prize or new winners will be chosen! 

** winners were chosen at random by the online raffle copter! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

A New Adventure In Breastfeding

I ate my words from my last post, mamas. I said something last time we met about my son's lack of interest in giving up nursing and how our breastfeeding relationship was going strong with no end in sight. I was right in the fact that he had no desire to stop but we ended up having to stop pretty abruptly. Shortly after my last post, I found out we are expecting Baby #2!!!

Now, it has always been my dream to be that mom nursing her newborn and toddler in the hospital bed just hours after giving birth. The first few weeks of my pregnancy, I was mourning the loss of that dream. A lot of ladies can nurse through pregnancy with no problems but unfortunately, I'm not one one of them. I have a history of low progesterone that has caused multiple miscarriages in the past, including while nursing. Progesterone and the breastfeeding hormone Prolactin have an inverse relationship so that the more progesterone you have, the less prolactin you have and vice versa. My issue was that if I continued to nurse, my prolactin would remain high, causing my progesterone levels to remain below the threshold needed to sustain a healthy pregnancy and I'd have a greater chance of miscarrying again.  I had to make a decision and I chose to stop nursing at 16 months and start supplementing progesterone to help the odds and keep this baby.

I really don't know who it was harder on - me, C, my husband? My sweet little angel just wanted to nurse and I'd have to push him away from something we both loved so much. I'd have to distract him, redirect him, have my husband rock him to sleep, all to potentially save this little baby I've never met. Last weekend, I tried to relatch him so that we could participate in the Big Latch On for a second year but he wanted nothing to do with it. I cried. I cried when I saw pictures of my friends and their toddler nurslings celebrating this awesome event for the second year in a row. I didn't fully realize until then just how much I missed what we had.

So now, I embark on a new Adventure in Breastfeeding. I get to experience breastfeeding a newborn again. Another first latch. Another look at a newborn that is sustained and growing every hair on it's tiny and lovely smelling head because of what I make for her to eat. Maybe I'll experience a toddler who wants to have what his sister is having for lunch. Who knows?! We will see in a few months and I'll be taking you all on the adventure with me.

Til Next Time, Mamas.
Keep Calm and Nurse On

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hang In There, Mama

As I nursed my 16-month-old son to sleep tonight, I thought about what I wanted to write. I could provide useful tips for recognizing low supply, or share my experience with tongue ties, or recommend light and fashionable summer nursing outfits, but I find myself thinking of all the new mothers I know. These are women with fresh and screaming newborns, women with the undisguised tone of desperation and terror in their voices and online posts. I do what I can to help, but repeatedly, I find myself falling back on the most vapid of encouragement:

Hang in there, Mama.

I HATED hearing that when I was living through the horror of new motherhood. Did my more experienced mommy friends really have NOTHING more to offer me than that? No magic bullet solution, no sage advice, no eternal wisdom, or even a trendy mothering "hack" with its own catchphrase and a few blogs devoted to it? That's all you've got for me? "Hang in there????"

But when you've checked and rechecked that newborn's diaper, when you've swaddled him 18 different ways with at least as many blankets, nursed through the excruciating pain and STILL offered the breast after an hour of continuous latching, and tried any number of expensive gadgets that promise to calm your baby, there's only one thing left to do, and that's to hang in there.

One day, you'll be here.

The day will come when your toddler blows kisses to Daddy when it's time for bed. He'll latch onto your no-longer-painful nipple and do an odd planking motion before settling in and draping an arm over your breast as though it's a pillow. After a few minutes, he'll be out and you'll wait to put him in the crib just so you can enjoy a few more moments of precious snuggles.

When he bumps his head on the playground, your breast will calm him, and you won't feel any self-consciousness about nursing him like that out in the open. In fact, you'll see another mother smile at you, and you'll smile back.

One day, you'll put away that stupid pump for the last time, and just feed your toddler when he signs for milk, asks to nurse aloud, or reaches for your shirt. Your supply will adjust perfectly fine and the thought of not having enough milk won't even occur to you.

When your child's unique personality begins to emerge, when he runs and dances and makes faces and blows raspberries and shows you his belly button, you'll marvel that you grew this little person with your body. That as biologically mundane and culturally sensationalized as breasts are, yours were almost solely responsible for the life, growth, and development of another human.

And the memory of that first week and first month will be a distant battle scar, one you share any time your new-mommy friends cry "Is it really this hard?!" Even though you'll be forced to answer "Yes," you can also say,

".... but it gets better."

"Hang in there, Mama."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week GIVEAWAY

In honor of World BreastFeeding Week
 Adventures in Breastfeeding 
along with our partners 
Beads of Charity
Sling it On

will be giving away 4 awesome prizes!

1.) Customized Nursing Cover & Matching Nursing/Teething Necklace made by TASTEFULLY TIFF

**Samples you will customize your order**

2.) Customized Bangle Bracelet made by BEADS OF CHARITY

**Samples you will customize your order**

3.) Earthy rainbow wrap scrap teether made by SLING IT ON

4.) $25 egiftcard to GONEGREEK.COM

Winners will be chosen at random. No purchase necessary. Available to US residents ONLY. To enter complete rafflecopter below!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wordless Wednesday: A Forceful Letdown

A diagram to assist moms in positioning babies to combat the sputtering and coughing that comes with a forceful letdown or oversupply.

Impeccable illustrating, I know.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Other Breastfeeding Essentials

Today we have a guest post from blogger Kary of Always Painted Usually Chipped, with her recommendations for products that helped her along her breastfeeding journey.

My breastfeeding journey was a long but good 14 months. It started with an extremely anxious pregnant woman and ended with a happy & healthy toddler (and mama!) I’d love to come back to share more details with you, but today I want to share with you my non-traditional list of breastfeeding essentials. Sure, you need your Boppy (LOVE that thing), some burp cloths and of course an iphone to pass the time, but these were my other go to items for the past year (plus!).

1 – Forever 21 $10.81 JeansThese jeans saved me from a mini breakdown in the mall. After giving birth to my son I was elated to fit back in my prepregnancy jeans pretty quickly. It was so awesome…for about a week. Then I just kept losing more and more and more weight. My body could not keep up with the milk production. I didn’t want to buy all new clothes, but I HAVE to have jeans in my wardrobe. For a self-proclaimed jeans snob, I was shocked when these F21 jeans saved me. They are dirt cheap and fit perfectly. I am just about to outgrow them and get back to my regular jeans, thank goodness, but they were the perfect temporary jeans.

2 - Snacks!! -  In addition to new jeans I also had to buy and eat a TON of food. I like snacks, but the amount I had to eat to keep up with my son eating every two hours was ridiculous. I ate more while breastfeeding than while pregnant, times three. I went through bags of nuts and boxes of these Special K sandwiches, in addition to a ton of oatmeal, guacamole, hummus, string cheese, etc. I felt like I weaned off the snacks as I weaned my son off the breast.

3 – Button-Up Shirts – My personal favorite are from JCrew and JCrew Factory. They are just thick enough so you don’t have to worry about nipple coverage if you just slip on a nursing tank and just thin enough so that you are not sweating (because postpartum hot flashes are no joke!).

4 – Coobie Bras I wore these bras while pregnant and for a solid year after giving birth. I just put on a real bra for the first time and I feel like a pre-teen with the itch factor going on. These bras fit me from my size A to my full C milk boobs, and back to my size A after breastfeeding. I never found a nursing tank that I LOVED. Sure, there were some that I liked, but I didn’t love any of them like I loved these bras.

5 – Perry Mackin Diaper Bag – I tried quite a few diaper bags. If I’m telling the truth, I tried three. Okay, okay, six. I tried six. After all my trials though I can honestly say that this is the bag for me. I love it and haven’t been inclined to switch since I got it.  You may not think of a diaper bag as a breastfeeding essential, but my son nursed every 2 hours until he was about 8 months old and refused a bottle. If I wanted to leave the house, he was coming with me and that meant bringing diapers, a blanket for a cover, an outfit change, snacks and water for me, etc. Definitely an essential in my book.

6 – Gel Pads I keep wanting to remove these from my list because I really only used them for the first month, but I can still feel the love I had for these gel pads deep in my heart. The relief of getting one out and putting it on during that first, stress-inducing, nipple-hurting, “can I really do this?" month of breastfeeding keeps them on my list. To be fair, these are not the exact ones that I used since our hospital gave us some, but these seem to be the closest.

Kary is a stay at home mom to an energetic toddler and two cats. She is a military wife to an amazing man and she appreciates him very much for doing the cooking! You can find her over at Always Painted, Usually Chipped.

Thanks, Kary!

For more breastfeeding essentials, check out Christa's post, 5 Things You Really Need to Breastfeed.

Monday, August 4, 2014

5 Picture Books that Celebrate Breastfeeding
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!  The week's theme this year is Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life!  

We've shared before about our passion for normalizing breastfeeding.  One of the best ways we can achieve this is by helping kids understand what breasts are for and how breastfeeding is a natural part of life for humans and many animals.  Very young children are exposed to a wide range of salacious images on billboards, magazine covers, television, and more.  It is overwhelming to say the least.  My goal in my home is to make a proactive effort to combat these confusing messages.  One way to do this is with picture books.

Look at those sweet pups!  Photo courtesy of Animal Baby ABCs, link is located below.

I've made a few trips to the library and come up with some titles that support or celebrate breastfeeding.  During my search I found books that explicitly instructed the reader about breastfeeding.  I also found books where breastfeeding simply happened in the words or pictures and was more implicit in its quiet presence in the book.  Just as with any other topic of instruction, both of these kinds of books are important and useful.

 by Michael Elsohn Ross
illustrated by Ashley Wolff

This story pays homage to the sweet cuddles and nourishment babies receive when they drink their mama's milk.  Both animals and humans are pictured throughout, and multiple skin tones are portrayed. The rhyming story ends with a two page spread featuring many different mamas and babies accompanied by a short, factual caption about the way they breastfeed (did you know platypus babies drink milk from patches on their mama's fur?).

by Nicola Davies
illustrated by Brita Grandstrom

I love Nicola Davies' non-fiction picture books.  This literary non-fiction lets the reader get to know the animals in the story while providing smaller snippets of factual supplementary information on each page. As you get to know this dolphin baby, you will learn about how he practices suckling until he is efficient at nursing and that he doesn't eat fish like his mom right away because her milk is enough.  The illustrations show baby dolphin and his mama on each page in vibrant watercolors.  There are pictures of him nursing, as well as being birthed (it is a small picture though, and in silhouette so as to not be too graphic for concerned parents).

by Sheila Sweeny Higginson
illustrated by Sam Williams

My daughter loved reading this board book with meSome Amazon reviewers complained about the negative tone of the book.  I wasn't put off by that at all.  There are a few pages that specify some of
the worries or frustrations a new older sibling might have, whether it's about getting hit by baby or having to share mom and dad with her.  But the story reminds the reader that s/he is a big kid who will teach the baby how to grow up smart, loving, and strong!  There is one implicit nod to breastfeeding pictured in the book.  I also love that this is another title that shows many skin tones in the illustrations.

by Barbara Knox

Your child will love looking at the adorable animal baby photographs in this book.  Many of them zoom right in on the animal's face and "cute" just doesn't even begin to describe it.  Each new page has a large full page photo of an animal baby.  On the opposite page is the letter of the alphabet followed by the animal's name and a short factual sentence or two about it.  The simple text would be great for early readers and the subject matter is high-interest for reluctant readers.  This is another title with some subtle nods at breastfeeding on a couple of the ABC pages, as well as a photograph at the very end of the book next to resources for more information about animal babies.

by Faith Hickman Brynie

This last title is another animal non-fiction book that shares a few facts about mammals who nurse their young.  Again, any subtle appearance of how babies eat is a great teaching opportunity.  It also helps young children to understand that the world is filled with mamas and babies who nurse.  

Each page tells about an animal baby: where it lives, how it behaves, etc.  Readers are introduced to non-fiction text features like a table of contents, glossary, and sidebar photos with paragraphs explaining more. This would be a fun book for a first or second grader to read, either with you or alone.

I hope that this gives you a solid place to start in your endeavors to portray nursing relationships in a positive light.  Check your local library or click over to my Amazon affiliate links listed above.  You can also find other book lists here and here.  I truly believe that the best way to make breastfeeding a "winning goal for life" is to start young. No matter who you are - a breastfeeding mom, formula feeding mom, e-pumper, dad, teacher, aunt, uncle - you can help our culture make positive movement forward by sharing books like these with the next generation.