Author Archives: willnjoy

Let’s Fight For Our Right to Pump

Moms, it’s time to take a stand. Whether you breastfeed or use formula, whether you make alternative choices or mainstream ones, whether you work or stay home, let’s support mothers who pump at work.

Yes, we’re making great headway. The recent legislation for nursing moms who work and need to pump is an important start. It sets the ground rules from which mothers and companies across the United States can find understanding and build support.

But when a manager feels he can stop a mom from pumping at work because he finds it “disgusting,” we see that there’s still a lot of work to be done. This is where we can all make a difference.

Be aware and listen. Do the pumping moms around you have the support they need at work? Or do they face barriers? How often do they encounter unusual and/or inconvienent circumstances? Women should not be so discouraged at work that they would rather stop breastfeeding than face unneccesary obstacles.

Share the facts. If you see someone facing obstacles, let them know about the U.S. Department of Labor’s requirements for pumping at work. Here are their general requirements:

Employers are required to provide“reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.”  Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”

Know the details. As with any legislation, there are exceptions to the rule. In this case, employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to break time requirements if compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship. Working moms in these situations should not, however, be immediately detracted from pumping. The legislation specifies:

Whether compliance would be an undue hardship is determined by looking at the difficulty or expense of compliance for a specific employer in comparison to the size, financial resources, nature, and structure of the employer’s business. All employees who work for the covered employer, regardless of work site, are counted when determining whether this exemption may apply.

These factors provide much more flexibility than many moms realize and, if they need more information, the Department of Labor encourages moms to visit their Wage and Hour Division’s website or call their toll-free information and helpline, available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your time zone, 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243). They should also look into their state’s legislation, which may be even more beneficial.

Spread confidence. Not everyone is comfortable with discussing breastfeeding, especially in a work environment, but this should never prevent a mom who wants to pump at work from doing so. As each one of us pumps at work, we make it easier for the next mom to feel secure about what she’s doing. It becomes less of an alternative choice and more of a mainstream solution that’s far from “disgusting.”

Let’s look out for each other, ladies (and fellas! we need you too!). Let’s cheer when things are working well, acknowledge when things can be improved and take immediate action when they’re wrong. Mothers, and most importantly, our children, are worth every effort.

Working moms, does pumping at the office work for you? If so, what is your company doing right? If not, what can be improved? 

Kristen is the proud mom of two, Will (5) and Joy ( 2). She feels lucky to work for a company that let her pump in peace and hopes that soon every breastfeeding mom who works away from home has the same opportunity.

 

 

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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Bringing Your Baby to Work

What’s the hardest part of heading back to work as a new mom?

For me, it wasn’t the first day back to work…it was the days leading to my return. When I should have fully enjoyed my last few weeks of maternity leave, I found myself overthinking everything. Did I have a big enough base of frozen milk? Would my son be okay with a bottle? Would I be able to able to leave at lunchtime to nurse him? All legitimate concerns, but ones I blew out of proportion making the transition harder than it needed to be.

The second time around I tried to be calmer. I was lucky to work for a flexible, family friendly company. I had the support I needed from my husband and my kids were happy and healthy. Still, the ache didn’t go away.

I knew I had to return to work, but why couldn’t I bring my daughter with me? I had it planned out in my head…I could carry her and write at the same time, have a quiet space to nurse in the pumping room and keep a Pack and Play in my cubicle. What mom wouldn’t love to do the same? By the last week of my maternity leave, I was sure it was possible, but wondered how working moms could really make it happen, especially in a corporate environment.

With a lot of great support, I found other ways to make it work, but  the dream of bringing my little one to work never faded from my mind. Almost two years later, I was ecstatic to find this inside look at Zutano, a popular baby clothing company. Founders Michael and Uli Zutano have what so many working moms dream of – a Bring Your Baby to Work policy. From the time an employee returns after maternity leave until their child turns one, they can bring their child to the office, where babywearing and nursing are a natural part of the work culture.

This is far from the norm, but it’s part of a growing number of workplaces across the country doing the same. Bringing your baby to work may not be a reality for every job, but it’s encouraging to see how a baby-inclusive workspace can exist.  If a children’s clothing company, a credit union, a government agency and so many others can make it work, let’s hope it can inspire thousands more. New moms deserve the chance to let go of the stress and apprehension of leaving their babies at home or daycare, and to return to work more confident, successful employees and mothers.

Are you a working mom? Would bringing your baby to the office work for you? What other ways can you make it work?

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today! *******************************************************************************************************************************

Kristen loves being a writer, but thinks the best job in the world is being a mom to, Will (5) and Joy (2).

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Mother Knows Best?

Let’s face it, when it comes to parenting, everyone has an opinion. And if you’re a parent, you’re going to get a lot of advice—wrong and right. Your challenge is to figure out what works best for you and your family.

If someone has something to share, my husband and I have always tried to listen. We’ve had a few “moments,” but we’ve also learned some pretty amazing things from friends, family, and even perfect strangers along the way. Together, we’ve taken everything we learned and tried to find the path that’s right for us.

But what happens when the one you disagree with is your spouse?  I’m sure we’ve all had, “Are you serious?” moments, but what if it’s more than that? What if it goes against something you feel strongly about? Do you compromise? Do you stand strong? Do you meet in the middle?

Natural parenting has been a wonderful option for many of us, but it also presents circumstances that not everyone understands or agrees with. In turn, some play devil’s advocate and, seeing how strong a mother feels about her choices, may share their opinions with her spouse instead.

A mom in The Other Baby Book community recently shared her own experience with this. As a mom of two and someone who believes wholeheartedly in co-sleeping, she wishes her husband supported it more than he does. Instead, he wonders if advice from friends and family to let their children “cry it out” and “learn to sleep” is warranted. Coming to a happy medium has not been easy when they share such polar opposite views. Furthermore, the lack of information for “natural” dads hasn’t made it easy.

Recently, another dad of two shared his thoughts on breastfeeding past infancy and where a dad’s opinion fits in. I certainly don’t agree with everything he said, but the article illustrates how sometimes it’s easy to focus on the mother/child relationship and overlook a father’s role in natural parenting.  I can see how a dad could feel left out and question things.

And so I wonder, where is the happy medium? With instances like these and all the ones in between, how do we find something that’s best for our entire family? Does mom really know best? Or does the best solution come when both parents have an equal say?

For my husband and me, our best decisions were made when we listened to each other. We tried to approach each experience with an open mind, discussed options, and chose what felt best for our family. Most of the time natural choices worked, although sometimes it took a mix of mainstream and natural philosophies. No matter what, it required both of us to share our thoughts and find our comfort zones.

Now that we’re parents of two, there isn’t a lot of time for communication, but the time we have is important. Like most couples, we’ve had our moments, but we believe if parents can truly listen to one another without judgment, a solution is attainable.

In the end, our children depend on us to come up with a healthy, happy solution. Getting there is never easy, but the results are worth it.

Everyone’s experience is unique. As a natural parent, how do you decide what’s best for your family? Should moms make most decisions or are dads’ opinions just as important? What do you suggest for parents who are at an impasse?

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today! *******************************************************************************************************************************

Kristen is mom to Will (5) and Joy (2).  She’s happy to be a natural mom and especially glad to have a husband who kept an open mind. She’s a better mom because of him.

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How Old is Too Old? (A Mom’s Thoughts on Co-Sleeping)

How old is too old? What natural parent hasn’t heard this question or wondered it? Lately, the focus has been on breast feeding, but what I want to really know is:  How old is too old to co-sleep?

As a mom of two, I’ve had two completely different experiences.

My daughter, who just turned two, sleeps best on her own. For the first few weeks of her life, she slept in a pack-and-play next to our bed. Not long after, she fell in love with her crib and a blankie. She loved to snuggle, did a great job nursing, but she was restless if stayed in our bed. Some of it had to do with reflux—she slept much better on an angle. Some of it was just her—she loves her space and gets frustrated if she can’t have it.

My son couldn’t be any different. At five, he goes to sleep in his own bed, but it’s a rare early morning when he doesn’t end up in our room whispering, “Mom, Mommy, Mom! Can I come in?” From the start, he wasn’t the type of baby you could just put down. Some of it was due to us being first time parents, some of it was that he just found it easier to fall asleep snuggling someone—and he still does.

We didn’t intend on co-sleeping. We had heard all the “negatives” of having your child sleep with you and nothing of the positives— we wanted what we heard was best for our baby. But night after night, our little man ended up in bed with us sleeping soundly through the night. Away from us, he was awake and upset.

A few months down the road, we accepted new jobs in another state. While the pack and play joined us, our son’s crib went into storage. What once was a guilty feeling that he wasn’t in a crib soon became a fading thought. Long commutes and not enough time together made co-sleeping even more convenient and comforting for all of us. Once we settled into our new home, our son wanted nothing to do with his crib. He transitioned to a “big boy” bed, but bedtime was a nightly struggle. Where some kids choose blankies or a special bear, my son chose me. I’d have to crawl in with him, snuggle and then eventually tiptoe out of the room; then repeat a few times a night. My second pregnancy didn’t make things easier. Morning (more like 24/7) sickness and the expected tiredness led to me falling asleep sometimes sooner than he did. A few months in and we were back to full-time co-sleeping sans nursing. It took just as many months after our daughter was born for  him to be comfortable with his room again.

Today, we’re at a turning point with both kids. My little man starts kindergarten in the fall and he’s becoming more independent every day. I’m sure he’ll always love to snuggle, but it won’t be much longer until he chooses to stay in his room all night long. My sweet girl is almost ready for a “big girl” bed, and I’m wondering how she’ll like it. Will she still prefer her own space, or will a whole new round of, “Mom, Mommy, Mom,” start?

I’m not going to shut our door anytime soon, but lately when 0ur king-sized bed feels a little “crowded,” and I’m about to fall off the bed, I honestly start thinking it’s time to reclaim our bed. A few hours later when I have more room and everyone is sleeping peacefully, I take it all back.

What has your experience been? How will or how did you handle transitions? Did you have different experiences with different kids?

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today! *******************************************************************************************************************************

Kristen is mom to Will (5) and Joy (2). She “discovered” co-sleeping before she knew there was a name for it, and was relieved when she finally heard the positives. While she won’t mind the extra sleeping room, she’ll miss the sound of her little man snoring when he decides his room is the cool place to be.

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5 Ways to Make Pumping at Work Easier

Heading back to work as a new mom isn’t easy. Heading back to work as a breastfeeding mom can be even more challenging. Exactly five years ago, I was days away from returning to work as a new mom. I had a pump, I knew how to use it, but I had concerns. Would I have enough time? Would I produce enough milk? Where would I store it all?

Luckily, another nursing mom had paved the way for me at work. From there, I built a “friendship” with my pump and a good supply of milk for my little man.

Two kids and many ounces of “liquid gold” later, I’m happy to say that pumping at work (or school, or traveling) is worth it! I found my way through trial and error, but here’s how I came out smiling in the end.

1. Think of your pump as a friend…and treat it that way!
If you can’t be with your baby 24/7 and you want to breast feed, chances are you’ll need a pump. The pump of choice for me and many of my coworkers was the Medela Pump In Style – it came in an inconspicuous black bag with room for everything we needed. Yes, pumps can be pricey, but there are plenty of options out there. One friend preferred a very effective, but less expensive hand pump; another needed to use a hospital-grade pump, which she rented. Find what works best for you, and be sure to keep the manual close by. Months down the road when something doesn’t sound right or seem to be working, you’ll want easy access to directions. A few minor adjustments and you’ll be back in business.

2. Join the team (and help out the rookies!).
If there’s another nursing mom at work, seek her out. Chances are, she’ll be more than happy to show you the ropes. And, if you run into a problem, like when my AC adapter stopped working, there’s bound to be someone who can help you out.  Also, try to coordinate schedules if there’s only one spot to pump. There’s nothing worse than having to pump, getting all the way to “the room” and finding it occupied. Once you’ve settled in, be sure to welcome new leche mamas. Whether it’s someone you’ve worked with for years or someone like the contractor who just started at our office, if you see the black bag, say hello! You just might make it easier for her.

3. Bring pictures and a blankie (Yes, a blankie.)
Pumping is certainly not entertaining—you do it because you have to. But a little motivation never hurt anyone. A picture of your little one smiling can improve your milk flow and make you smile. There’s a fridge in the nursing room of my office covered with baby pictures. Not only was it great seeing how many nursing moms worked with me, but adding my little one’s picture to the mix served as a great reminder of who it was for. After a few spills, I decided to bring along a receiving blanket. The swaddling days were past us and the blanket served a great second purpose—not only was its “baby” smell nice, it was a very convenient cover-up for my pants.

A first smile like this made pumping a breeze.

4. Make lunch dates.
It’s not always easy, but if you can, a lunch break with your little one makes all the difference. With my previous job, I was able to run home and nurse my son on my lunch hour. With my current job, my husband and daughter would meet me and, depending on the weather, we could spend time at a local park or I could nurse her in our car. In both cases, it made the workday easier to manage and it meant I had to pump less, which is always a bonus!

5. Take this time to relax.
Between work and being a mom, you don’t have much time to just sit and breathe. Pumping may not be the most fun thing to do, but it gives you a chance to clear your mind.  Be sure to take a moment to breathe. Let go of frustrations and worries, even if it’s just for a few minutes, and focus on good things. It will be great for you and your milk supply! Sometimes I would just pump, other times I would read a book or magazine (always a great thing to share in a nursing room). As long I let go of the things that were bothering me and focused on the positive, I had success.

Working moms, what ways have you found to make pumping easier? What have you done if your work environment isn’t as welcoming to pumping moms?

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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Kristen is the proud mom of two, Will (5) and Joy (almost 2), and still can’t believe how fast five years have passed. She feels lucky to work for a company that let her pump in peace and hopes that soon every breastfeeding mom who works has the same opportunity.

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In Case of Emergency–A Nursing Mom’s Backup Plan

Kristen and Joy, both happy and healthy

There’s no doubt about it, becoming a mom brings unexpected adventures. You try to be as prepared as you can, but you never know what’s around the corner.

A few weeks after my daughter Joy was born, life as a mom took me for quite a ride. It all started with abdominal pain. At first it was no big deal, but then it just wouldn’t subside. Eventually it felt like an inner tube was blowing up in my stomach and it wouldn’t pop.

My husband Bill knew something was wrong even before I did, “Hun, do you need me to call a doctor? You’re going into Hypnobirthing mode!” It was true, only there were no surges, no highs and lows—and no beautiful baby to meet at the end.  Something was really wrong.

An emergency room visit was in order. Several hours, multiple tests and a not-so-fun introduction to lactation risk categories, we found the source of my pain—gall stones.

A few days later we met with a surgeon, who encouraged me to wait it out. It could be years before I had another attack and that gave me hope, but the following weeks proved difficult. There was daily back pain, which I hoped was from breastfeeding. There was exhaustion, but what new mom doesn’t feel tired? I found every excuse in the book, but after talking with moms who had been through this, I knew surgery wasn’t far off and I had to prepare.

As I met with doctors and nurses, I realized not many were 100% sure what was right and what was wrong.  I was turning to professionals, but when it came to breastfeeding and surgery they were just as uncertain as I was. What was certain was that I had to take initiative. I started with a call to the hospital’s lactation specialist. If there was anyone who could guide me in the right direction I knew she could — she gave this advice:

Choose the right medication
Wary of pain medicine, I was nervous. These guidelines helped me make the right decisions.

Build a stockpile of frozen milk
While my surgery was an out-patient procedure, she encouraged me to have a good supply—just in case. Each day I would pump enough to fill one bag.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and provide suggestions
She encouraged me to be candid with medical staff. There was a lot of talk about pumping and dumping, some said to do this until 24 hours after the surgery, but she assured me this wasn’t necessary.  Dr. Bill Sears provides the same advice here. Just like his wife, I chose to pump and dump once a few hours after the surgery.

If you aren’t comfortable with something, call the hospital’s lactation consultant.
In her words, “That’s what I’m here for!”

A few days before my scheduled surgery, I had a second attack. Tests revealed a stone or two had escaped my gall bladder and wreaked havoc. Instead of an outpatient procedure, I had had to have an ERCP and an overnight stay at a different hospital.

I was heartbroken to leave my children’s side, but extremely grateful for my lactation consultant’s advice. It gave me the confidence to question uncertainties and get the answers I needed. My husband and pump were right by my side, and a wonderful nurse (a new mom herself!) brought a refrigerator to my room.

The gall bladder removal went well a few days later and, after some rest, I felt better. Not just physically, but also as a mom. I had more energy, more patience—I was enjoying the moments vs. trying to get through them.

In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor problem. Day after day, I’m amazed by the perserverance of nursing moms who’ve faced worse. But no matter how big or small, I hope we can all have a backup plan. Consider who you’d leave your children with in an emergency, keep breastmilk stored in your freezer and don’t be afraid to ask questions—it can all make a big difference.

Kristen is a happy—and healthy—mom of two, who is forever grateful to her mom and her dear friend Patrice for taking care of her little ones when she couldn’t. She was surprised and happy to learn that she’s not the only new mom who used Hypnobirthing practices during a gall bladder attack (Thank you, Marie Mongan!).

Have you had an experience like this? What advice do you have?
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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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Smile, It’s Not As Overwhelming As It Sounds

Kristen and Will rocking Plymouth, MA, on her first Mother’s Day adventure.

How many moms-to-be are feeling just a little overwhelmed by all this breastfeeding talk? I’ll admit it, I’ve been there!

The good news is there’s a ton of support for you. Hooray!

The bad news is that EVERYONE has an opinion and the conversation can get pretty intense (Have you seen the talk about this week’s Time cover!?). Even as someone who tries to keep things light, I can get pretty worked up about it.

But, don’t worry, you’ll find your way! Just step back and find what makes you feel most comfortable. For me, I found comfort in the bright side of breastfeeding – the moments that make moms smile and the stories that make them laugh.

Five years down the road, I’m happy to say the smiles and laughs are what resonate most from my own experience. And so, as Mother’s Day and your D days approach, I hope some of these stories will bring you smiles and a little encouragement too.

Comfort Zone Strategy
Starting out, my little man and I preferred a private space to nurse. A cozy glider, a comfy nursing pillow, and life was good.

The outside world was calling though, and my dear friend’s baby shower was our first outing just mommy and son. Will enjoyed a long nap and I enjoyed good company. It was wonderful…until Boston traffic forced this modest mama to break out of her shell.

He was hungry and it was my job to feed him. But where was I going to go? What would I do if someone saw me? Nervously, I decided to find a shopping center and feed him in my car. Okay, but where? Look, there’s a Shaws. Oh God, what if someone walks past the car? Is that Whole Foods? Yes, Whole Foods! They understand!

I laugh now, but little strategies like this got me through plenty of nervous moments. That day, we settled into the back seat of my PT Cruiser and, despite all the overthinking, found that our comfort zone traveled.

Nickles
Our family tries not to sugarcoat things. During my second pregnancy, Will became fascinated with childbirth. We explained it to him, but when he started sharing every detail with friends, family and strangers, I started wondering if we should have told him about the stork instead.

When his little sister arrived, he found a new obsession – breast milk!
To friends and family, “Mommy feeds the baby with her breast milk!”

To anyone in ear shot of the dairy section:  “Mommy, we don’t buy Joy milk at the store, you give her your breast milk!”

I was glad he was excited, but his devilish tone and the twinkle in his eyes made me think twice before I shared too much again. And so, when he approached us with his shirt up and a big grin on his face, I just rolled with it.

Me: “What are you doing, Will?”
Will: “I’m going to feed the baby with my nickels!”
Me (holding back laughs): “Your what?”
Will: “My nickels!”

I couldn’t correct him. Not just because it would serve us well in public (and, oh lord, it did!), but because it’s still the funniest thing I’ve ever heard him say.

Subliminal Messaging?
The last Harry Potter book came out the summer after Will was born. By that time, quick nurses had turned into power sessions and I found myself getting lost in the book.

When my daughter was born, I had it down to a science. Baby and boob supported by one arm, book supported by the other. And, in place of wizards and owls, I chose cheesy vampire chick lit.  At least until she started biting.

Ouch! Really? Your brother never did this! Ouch! Sorry, Edward…I’m going back to Mr. Darcy.

The Call of the Nursing Mom
By the time Joy was a few weeks old, this once modest mommy was modest no longer. Not necessarily by my own choice, but because of my son’s social life.

Will wanted to play, especially with his hero – the boy who lives across the street. If I sat on our living room couch, I could watch them shoot hoops and nurse at the same time. Eventually, they’d get bored and ask to do something else. And no matter how many times I called out, “I’m nursing!” they would still come stomping in.

I’m not sure if I traumatized our poor neighbor or if his future wife will call me her hero, but one thing’s for sure…the second time around nothing is sacred.

Every Mother’s Day, Kristen asks her family to do something they’ve never done before, but have always wanted to do. Her first was spent at Plymouth Rock, which was as overrated as everyone says, but absolutely fantastic. She hopes you all take some time to laugh with your family this weekend and simply enjoy being a mom.

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Can You Put a Price on Breastfeeding?

What is breastfeeding worth to you?

For me, it was everything. It wasn’t always easy, but it was one of the most worthwhile things I’ve done as a mom. To nourish my children, to share that closeness, to know the benefits for them and for myself – it all felt right.

Besides a few funny comments from my dad and having an electrician almost walk in on me pumping, nothing really got in my way. But when I read about moms who feel forced to stop nursing when they go back to work, or others who are scorned for breastfeeding in public, it breaks my heart. And when I read this article about “new” data published in the American Sociological Review, I lost my cool.

Some of my nicer thoughts included:

Can you seriously put a price on breastfeeding? Women who breastfeed on a long-term basis “pay” for it more than other moms? You’re telling me I should have thought twice before I pumped at work or took my lunchhour to nurse my children?

Things just weren’t adding up. It was time to dig deeper and this news release from the American Sociological Society provided more details. Data for the “new” study was actually taken between 1980 and 1993. It included only 1,313 first-time moms in their 20s or 30s. Even one of the study’s coauthors acknowledged how dated the information was.

“There are some longitudinal datasets that look at breastfeeding and parenting, but we needed longitudinal data that included information on both breastfeeding and women’s work behaviors,” Phyllis L. F. Rippeyoung, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Canada’s Acadia University, said. “Very recent data with that type of information proved difficult to come by. We hope this study will encourage people to collect newer data looking at breastfeeding and work behaviors, so that we can determine whether the trends we see from mothers who gave birth in the 1980s and early 90s still hold true today. However, there is little to make us believe the trends would be very different.”

And when our mainstream media is more concerned about writing eye-catching headlines than they are about telling the whole story, I can see why she would assume this. But, honestly, I don’t believe it.

Even in the five years since my son was born, I’ve seen significant progress in awareness and accessibility for breastfeeding moms.

  • Nursing-related items weren’t always included on a baby registry, but moms are now proudly registering for their “Breast Friend,” or a pump.
  • I had to reach out for help when I was learning to breastfeed my first, but a lactation specialist checked in each day at the hospital when my second child was born.
  • Whether you’re out shopping or at a baseball game, the comfort level for nursing in public slowly seems to be growing.
  • At one company I was pumping in a storage room behind a shower curtain, but I now work for a company with private, welcoming pumping rooms. And now, with important federal legislation like this, even more doors are opening for nursing moms. We are not required to pay a price!

With all the assumptions and misinformation out there, it’s easy to see why some can think breastfeeding is just not worthwhile. But with all we know and all we have, let’s get out there and show the world just how worthwhile it is.

Do you see things improving? What were ways people supported you or how do you support other breastfeeding moms?

Kristen is the proud mom of two, Will (5) and Joy (almost 2), both breastfed. She’s happy to write for work and fun, but being with her family (and the craziness that ensues) is what really makes her smile.

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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Making It Work

Five year olds like Will always make lunch breaks more exciting.

There’s nothing I love more than being a mom, but there’s nothing I loathe more than the guilt of being a working mom. It’s not the expectations or opinions of others that bother me, it’s my own. I often feel guilty and put too much pressure on myself.

The silly thing is that I love what I do. I love being a writer and a mom – I should be happy! Yet, I feel bad when I can’t drop my son off at preschool or that I don’t go to swim classes with my daughter. More often than not, I’m frustrated by the disaster I call a laundry room or the lack of time my husband Bill and I have together.

Most of the time I deal with it, but sometimes I dream of life as a stay-at-home mom. (Cue butterflies and rainbows) We’d go to all sorts of fun places, I would work on my novel at naptimes, and my house would sparkle! But, let’s face it, the fingerprints on my front door would still be there, I’d probably be snuggling with the kids instead of writing, and we already do a lot of fun things.

That’s why I loved what Kate recently had to say about being a mom, “Whether you stay at home or work, cut yourself some damn slack.”

My husband Bill, a sportswriter, and I have been dealing with crazy schedules for as long as we’ve been together. If there were ever a silver lining, it would be that when we had kids, one of us would always be home. I could keep my job and know that my kids were safe, sound, and having fun with their dad. This all sounded good until my son was born and I had to go back to work.

The realities of being a mom, especially a mom making “alternative” choices, weighed me down. I didn’t want to pump; I wanted to nurse at home. I wanted time to make baby food, I wanted to teach him to sign…I just wanted more time with my baby. Bring on the guilt!

Postpartum emotions and unexpected changes in schedule threw me for a loop. It made me seriously evaluate what would be best for our family and me. Bill offered to work two jobs so I could stay home, but I knew our solution had to be for all of us and not just me.

From there, we wholeheartedly approached parenting as a team. Going back to work was tough, but text messages, family lunch dates, and support from other working moms made it easier. Five years and another beautiful baby later, they still do.

I’m sure I’ll always set high expectations for myself, but I think it’s time to let go of the guilt and cheer on what works! Will it always work? We’re not sure, but we’re glad it has so far.

How do you make it work? Are you your own worst enemy, or do you cheer yourself on?

Kristen cherishes Sundays when her entire family has the day off. She loves cheering on her husband Bill and all his adventures with Will and Joy. You can read about them at DaytimeDad.com.

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Finding the Right Tools for Natural Parenting

Joy

My “baby” girl turns two in June. I’ve packed her baby gear away as she’s outgrown it, not for “the next one,” like I did with my son, but for the time when it felt right to say goodbye. With several friends expecting little ones soon (Hooray!), the time has come. As happy as I am to share our gear, I’ve been a little emotional saying goodbye. The baby years were amazing (exhausting, but amazing!), and getting things ready to go has brought back a lot of memories.

When we first learned we were expecting our son 5+ years ago, my husband Bill and I thought we were ready for it all. We bought the books, signed up for the emails…we couldn’t wait to be parents. But as we read things and as we made appointments, our eyes were opened to a whole new world of questions. Did we want an OBGyn or a midwife? Epidural or drug-free birth? Formula or breast milk? The questions went on and on and, with each answer, I surprised myself by how much of a natural mom I wanted to be.

Visiting a midwife, Hypnobirthing, and breastfeeding all sounded like good ideas to us, but I had even more questions. What had it been like for others? Would nursing continue when I went back to work? What else was out there? Not a lot of our friends had done one or any of these things, but I was lucky to have my best friend, Judy, who had. She was – and still is – my go-to mama for all advice. From there, we built an incredible group of friends who gave us the “tools” we needed to become the parents we are today.

The Baby Sling
The other day, I pulled out my baby sling and thought of Katie, a friend from book club. A new mom herself, she missed my shower because her daughter was sick. She planned to give it to me at our next meeting, but my little man decided to come early and I was in labor at home instead. She stopped by after the meeting and, while we laughed at how surreal her visit was (“I can’t believe you’re in labor right now!”), her words of encouragement gave me the confidence boost I needed. I would give Hypnobirthing all I had, I would be open to breastfeeding and, if I was confused, I would make sure I got help…it would all work out. And it did!

A few weeks after my son was born, Katie’s gift became more than just a gift; it was a godsend. My little man always wanted to be held and I wasn’t getting anything done. Emotional and willing to try anything, I popped in the DVD and learned all I could about this big piece of fabric. An hour later I had a happy baby and a cleaner house. Baby wearing wasn’t just for a happy baby…it was for a happy mom!

The Pump
A few months ago, I said a very happy goodbye to my pump. It was a necessary evil for this working mom. Thankfully, I had an amazing team of “coaches,” who brought a lot of love and laughter to my love/hate relationship with it.

Judy was visiting the day my pump arrived and, with a great sense of humor, she provided general directions. A few weeks later I knew how to pump, I just couldn’t remember how to put the pieces together. Confused and almost in tears, I called Judy, but got her husband Seth instead. I’m not sure if it was the sound of my voice or just that he had come to expect crazy questions from me (“What side of the thing that attaches to the cone attaches to the bottle?”), but when I asked Seth for help he stepped up to the plate.

The Car Adapter
As if becoming new parents wasn’t enough for us, Bill and I moved from Boston to Maine when our son was five months old. The transition brought extra-long commutes and interesting circumstances for this leche mama. Through it all, our college friend and pumping guru Shawnee, who also worked at my new company, offered great advice. But still I was tired and just not sure the move and nursing would work. Shawnee then shared the greatest tool ever invented for a pumping, crazy commuting mom – a breast pump car adapter. In working mom fashion, she sent it to me via interoffice mail. There was hope!

Almost six years later, Bill and I went from the couple who wondered if natural options would work to a fabulous “natural” family of four. We may not have done everything right, but we embraced everything we did. We’ve also been surprised by how many “tools” we’ve shared with other parents. It’s been an amazing experience!

I’m beyond excited to be a part of The Other Baby Book community and am so happy a resource like this is out there. I look forward to learning from all of you and hope to share some great things too.

What are/were some of your favorite tools?

Kristen looks forward to a much less crowded crawl space, but has started quoting her very wise mother, “No matter how old you are, you’ll always be my baby.” She’s confident Will and Joy will roll their eyes just as much as she used to.

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