Category Archives: Milk

Part 4: Prepping for Birth — Creating a Nursing Basket

This post is part of a mini-series on preparing for birth. You can see the other posts, or my home birth house tour video here.

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After three years of nursing my preschooler, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of what I’ll want close by during those early weeks of breastfeeding. While last time around I had a whole “Nursing Nook,”I think I’ll be moving a bit more from room to room as I nurse and play with my older daughter. So, I’ve created a portable basket that I can bring with me wherever we may be!

Burp Cloths/Cloth Diapers

Each mama is different, but since I know that I have an overabundance of milk, having cloths and breastpads readily available at all times is a must. To deal with a fast and furious letdown, I’d often remove AnaBella from the breast, catch the fire-hose spray with a cloth diaper or burp cloth, and then relatch. Sometimes the fast spray can cause gulping, which in turn causes gas, and a frustrated and bloated baby. (Read more about oversupply and forceful letdown here.)

Breastpads or something to catch your milk!

And while one breast was spraying my newborn in the face, the other was leaking down my chest, my stomach, all over my shirt – not exactly a pleasant feeling (or smell, after it dried…). I’d usually put a breastpad on the other side to catch the leaks and keep myself more comfortable. If you’re a heavy leaker, you may want to wear them for part of the day when you’re not nursing, too. I have a few disposable ones for going out and about, but while in the home I’ll use these affordable organic cotton ones or even wool. I also have a stash of cut up old receiving blankets, towels, or cloth diapers. I go through a lot of these each day in those early weeks! If you do buy some actual breastpads, make sure you wash them in a lingerie bag!

Water, water, water

This may seem obvious, but how often did I forget to get a glass of water as I sat down to nurse? It was like the second I had all the pillows arranged and AnaBella latched, a wave of intense thirst would come over me. My husband was constantly running water. I’ll put bottles of water around the house for the first few weeks, in addition to my stainless steel water bottle, but having a few in the basket will ensure that I won’t be left parched.

Snacks

I don’t have any snacks in the basket just yet, but when little girl arrives, we’ll stock it with dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit, and some energy bars. I found I was much hungrier when nursing than I was pregnant!

Nipple Cream

As a first time mom, I had terrible cracked and bloodied nipples. I know now that AnaBella’s latch was not right, but the day I got out of the hospital, I picked up some prescription nipple cream. I never used it. Just the idea that I was putting chemicals on my nipples, and then my baby was putting her mouth there, was unappealing. I muscled through the pain, and let my breasts air dry, dipped my nipples in hot, salty water, and expressed breastmilk on them to heal. It worked, but not as quickly as I’d hoped. While I’m more experienced in recognizing a poor latch now, I did make a batch of nipple cream just in case. AnaBella and I have already used half of it on our hands during these dry winter months. I will DEFINITELY be making this again!

Ingredients

1 part cocoa butter

1 part coconut oil

1 part shea butter

Warm all ingredients (cocoa butter may need to be softened beforehand in a double boiler) and mix well. Put in a glass jar and tightly seal. Use on any dry parts of your body!

Books

I read a lot during nursing sessions last time, but somehow I have a feeling I won’t be getting much reading in this time around! I do have two of my favorite nursing books on hand just in case issues crop up though – The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and Baby-led Breastfeeding. If you haven’t read The Other Baby Book yet, that’s also a great one to pick up!

Little Potty

For those practicing EC, having a bowl or little potty on hand is helpful. It’s a lot easier to have a receptacle on hand, than have to disturb the nursing session, or clean a dirty diaper afterward! Some people really like these potty bowls. We didn’t have one the first time and I didn’t find it necessary, as I used an old plastic bowl, or something from the dollar store–or even, if I can maneuver it–strategically get her bum over the sink!

Pillows

This is totally personal preference. Some people are comfortable just holding the baby in the arms, some like special breastfeeding pillows (though please do check what materials may be in the pillow first–many are treated with dangerous chemicals to meet flammability requirements) or buckwheat pillows that mold to the baby,  and some just practice laid back breastfeeding, and keep baby on their chest! You’ll figure out what works for you, but having couch pillows and a bed pillow or two handy isn’t a bad idea.

KellyMom also has a great list of items you may–or may not–need for nursing your baby.

Would you add anything to this list?

Check out our other posts here!

Part 1: Staying Hydrated–Labor Drink and Snack Recipe

Part 2: Making a Personalized Birth Kit 

Part 3: A Homemade Sitz Bath Recipe

Part 4: Creating a Nursing Basket

Megan McGrory Massaro is a mother, freelance writer, and author. She wrote The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year  to empower women to make the best choices for their families.

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3 Tools to Nurse Babies with Bottles

img_7237Before we become mamas and papas, most of us have an idea of how we’d like to parent. For many moms (and several exceptional transgender dads), breastfeeding is how we see ourselves kicking off a loving parental relationship. But for others, it may not be in the cards, and it might not even be on our radar.

While breastmilk is the ideal nourishment for new babies, the reality is that most parents today feed their babies formula at some point. And there are three important tools to build a successful nursing relationship with your bottle feeding baby.

Let’s start with the basics – what is nursing? While typically used to describe breastfeeding, nursing is the practice of nurturing your child both physically and emotionally. And, yes, nursing absolutely can be accomplished while feeding through a bottle. You can nurse your baby through touch, trust and attention.

One of the most important gifts that parents can give their baby, and themselves, is being hands-on. Literally. During the first year of life, babies need loving touch as much as they need food and shelter. Possibly more.

In famed experiments conducted by Harry Harlow, baby monkeys clung to a substitute wire “mother” wrapped in a bit of soft cloth over one stocked with milk.

Not only do our babies need touch in order to thrive, so do we parents! Multiple studies have shown that moms who stayed in close contact with their babies during the hours and months following birth were more responsive to their babies.

Our babies literally teach us how to parent them – we open ourselves to those vital lessons by holding them close.

One of the benefits of breastfeeding is that, because we can’t see how much is going down, we have to trust our babies to regulate their own feedings.

Bottle feeding parents can take their cues from mother nature by trusting their babies to call the shots. If your baby cues hunger, it’s time for a feeding. Most babies do this by rooting around for a nipple or sticking out their tongues, but you’ll quickly learn your baby’s unique signs by paying close attention. If he’s still hungry after he finishes his bottle, it’s time for another one!

Don’t worry what the label says about how large a serving size is, or how often you should feed your baby. These numbers are recommendations based on averages. Your baby is the best judge of his own appetite. If he’s hungry, you can feel safe trusting him (barring any exceptional medical conditions, consult your doctor if you suspect an issue).

Conversely, if your baby slows down or stops before finishing his bottle, take his word for it – he’s all set! Though it’s tempting to try to squeeze in the rest of the bottle so none of it “goes to waste,” it’s an even bigger waste for your baby to learn that his inner compass is not to be trusted. Take the lead in trusting your baby so that he can learn to trust himself.

The value of connecting emotionally with your baby during and between feedings cannot be overestimated.

My neighbor, a committed mama who adopted two babies from Russian orphanages, shared a moving story to illustrate this point. The orphanages that housed her babies for their first months of life made a practice of facing their babies away from caregivers during feeding time. This practice, which blocks the emotional intimacy of shared gazing or eye contact, led the babies to distrust emotional intimacy. Working to overcome the obstacles of their early rearing, my neighbor would turn them to face her as they fed. Her babies cried, they screamed, they threw violent tantrums – anything to regain the anonymity that has led many children with similar upbringings to a state of disconnection at the mild end, and mental illness at the more extreme end of the spectrum.

My point in raising this example isn’t to scare anyone, but to show what many of us take for granted – using the moments in which we nourish our babies to nurture them emotionally is a gift that keeps on giving.

Keeping your conscious, loving attention focused on your baby will not only help you to read his signals (full, hungry, need to poop, etc), it will also lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy relationships.

We all want what’s best for our babies. And no matter whether we are breast feeding our babies, bottle feeding them breast milk or formula, we can nurse, nourish and nurture them – body and soul.

Why babies don’t “behave”

Have you ever had someone comment to you how “well-behaved” your baby is? If not, don’t worry, just read on.

This compliment reflects a pervasive Western misconception about how babies function. Have you ever met an under-one-year-old who understood what society expected of him and adjusted his behavior to accomodate those expectations? I haven’t.

I was among the lucky parents who was approached by strangers who commented on my baby’s “good behavior” (as opposed to those parents who received seething glares from fellow diners at a restaurant – although, believe me, we got those, too). But I deflected every compliment with a comment on my baby’s state of mind, like, “her tummy’s full and she’s satisfied” or “she’s well-rested.”

Every parent who’s been there knows that it’s impossible to control your baby’s behavior. The best effort we can make to ensure that our baby reflects the contentment and joy we associate with “good” behavior is to anticipate and meet his needs, as well as we can.

My baby was “well-behaved” because her needs were met. She had trouble sleeping alone, so I cuddled her to sleep. She often wanted to nurse, and I met her requests as quickly as possible. She preferred being held to sitting in a carseat, so we carried her in arms or in an ergo most of her first year and well into her second.

Was my baby responsible for regulating her internal state to please strangers in restaurants and supermarkets? No. Her parents were. And believe me, we weren’t thinking about those strangers when we were doing it.

We didn’t do a perfect job, if such a thing exists, but we did the best we could. And she let us know instantly how well we were doing. And so, I guess, did all those strangers.

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Miriam is a work from home mama who literally can’t stop kissing Dalia, her delicious 2 year old. Miriam’s other loves are her husband Misha, and escaping the Boston winters with friends and family in Israel. She loves reading parenting books, lunchtime yoga classes, crafting and helping others find their purpose through life coaching.

My Boobs? Mighty Frickin’ Spectacular, Thank You Very Much

Welcome to the August edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Breastfeeding.

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. As August is Breastfeeding awareness month, our participants are writing about this exact subject! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


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I’ve been thinking a lot about my breasts lately.

Several weeks ago I began night-weaning my son, now 20 months old. We had a sputtering, exasperating start to our nursing relationship, and though those struggles felt world-rattling at the time, hindsight now grants me a pretty clear understanding that our struggles were standard issue struggles for the spankin’ new nursing dyad. With that first month of breastfeeding in our rear-view mirror, we kicked our nursing relationship into a smooth 5th gear, pedal to the metal, with the top down (literally). It’s been a pretty fantastic ride so far.

We’ve totally night-weaned at this point, and the transition unfurled much easier and gentler than I could have ever expected. It’s clear to me that we were both ready for this change in nursing routine. Still, night-weaning has got me feeling all kinds of introspective, sentimental, and grateful.

There is much I love about breastfeeding, and I’m certain my personal highlights are also probably standard issue for other mamas who’ve fallen in love with nursing their babes:  those content and sated swallows of mama’s milk; those cheeks so warm and rosy from skin-to-skin snuggles; that one arm sleepily draped across the other breast, gently staking claim on his nosh; that sly upturn of the corner of his mouth when he grins as he nurses; that sweet, sugary scent of milky breath; that instant salve that calms and rights any hurt or overstimulation.

Breastfeeding has deepened my sense of connection with my son, but it has also deepened my connection with my own body. Breastfeeding has gifted me with a whole new respect for this body of mine. Like many women I know, I’ve had mixed feelings about my body over the course of my life. From appearance to functioning, we, as women, have been conditioned to question the adequacy of our bodies.  If you’ve ever had a persistent medical issue, or struggled to conceive or sustain a pregnancy, or, hell, even flipped through an issue of Cosmopolitan, chances are that you, too, have battled a nagging distrust and dislike of your body.

As a teenager, I was self-conscious of my breasts. As an undergrad, I was so ambivalent about them that I seldom wore a bra. As a young woman, I came to see breasts as toxic and dispensable. My grandmother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and I had fundraised for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in her honor. As I walked a marathon’s length with a small group of friends that first day of the event, I was overwhelmed by all of the stories of sickness and death.  I distinctly recall naively commenting to my friends that I was not attached to my own breasts in any way, and were  I ever diagnosed with breast cancer I would experience zero hesitation or reluctance about undergoing a mastectomy. Boobs, I thought, were just boobs.

Except, you know, they’re not just boobs. They’re not toxic or dispensable. And, nearly ten years later, as a nursing mother, I now get just how profoundly meaningful they are.

I now understand what it feels like to love and respect my breasts, to feel my breasts swell with perfect sustenance, to experience the ability to nourish my son exclusively from them for the first almost seven months of his life, and to watch my son flourish from my milk over these last 20 months. It’s a strikingly empowering feeling.

Last weekend a friend and I went to a vaudeville/burlesque show, and I found myself surrounded by impressively strong ladies with gorgeous, perky, pastied breasts. I looked down at my own breasts–shadows of their former gorgeous, perky selves–and smiled broadly. Oh, they are indeed a droopier state of affairs, but, you know what? They are still mighty frickin’ spectacular.

Rhianna lives in St. Louis with her husband and toddler, both of whom heartily agree with her assessment of her boobs. Everyone’s getting more sleep in her house these days (finally), but she’d be a big ol’ liar if she told you she didn’t miss those quiet nighttime nursing seshes a little.

Photo credit.

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APBC - Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic ParentingVisit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

A Peek Into the Past: Breastfeeding, Formula, and Hospital Politics

Once upon a time, Miriam and I wrote a book. And in that book, we had over 400 pages of material. Our vision, however, was to give new and expecting moms a nursing companion–a book they could hold in one hand. So we snipped. And trimmed. And cut. It’s hard to say no to hundreds of hours of work, but thankfully, all’s not entirely lost. We’re bringing you some of our largest unseen sections from TOBB, in a series of blog posts.

A Peek into the Past” is a pithy round-up of our societal evolution of parenting practices, mostly in the U.S. You’ll learn about the history of birth, baby-wearing, breastfeeding, potty training, co-sleeping and more–eight posts for our eight chapters. Enjoy, ask questions, and share with friends! ~Megan

Let’s head back to sixth grade science for a second. Remember those classification lessons: Kingdom, phylum, class? As humans, we’re part of the Mammalia class. That means we have backbones (literally, though not always figuratively), birth live young, breathe air, grow hair, and have mammary glands, hence the name. These mammary glands are responsible for producing milk to feed our young. Breast comes from the Latin word “mammary.”

It helps to know our biological purpose when we consider just how far we’ve strayed. Breastfeeding advocates aren’t just spouting off some “hippie ideology.” They remind us what our breasts were created for. We were made to nurse our babies. Whether women choose to nurse their babies or not is a different story, but that’s why the girls are here.

In colonial times, if a woman was unable to produce milk for her baby, her only option was to find a nursing mother – often a cousin, sister, or aunt – to feed the baby. Upper class women usually chose to feed their children by  hiring a “wet nurse,” since breastfeeding was considered improper. Most non-breastfed babies were fed cows’ milk or prescribed homemade mixtures of evaporated milk, sugar, corn syrup and water.

Scientists in the 18th century invented a new option for infant feeding. Formula was great news for institutionalized babies, many of whom ended up with gastroenteritis from contaminated cows’ milk. But formula was bad news for previously healthy, breast-fed babies. Manufacturers produced and marketed this artificial food en masse, and doctors and parents viewed the chemical substitute as an acceptable alternative to human milk.

Formula Rising
Beginning with a debut in the 1800s, formula companies have run one of the most successful anti-public health campaigns in the history of the world. The formula industry is currently worth billions of dollars. And the ill-effects of this chemical food product cost us billions as well. One study estimates that the U.S. could save $13 billion a year in health care dollars if moms chose breast over bottle in the early months.[i] The formula empire’s marketing strategies undermine women’s ability to provide for their babies by implying that infants need more than just breast milk for optimal health and nourishment. Another dangerous — and false — message is that the chemical makeup of artificial formula is very close to breast milk.

As the formula empire grew, it lured pediatricians on board. A steady flow of free samples brought income to pediatricians via mothers seeking “doctor recommended” formula and feeding advice. Samples in doctor’s offices also provided free marketing and endorsement from credible professionals. Formula companies didn’t stop there. Giants like Nestle and Enfamil also sponsor infant nutrition research and conferences that keep doctors informed of their “research.” How’s that for scientific bias? On top of funding research, some formula companies have built entire maternity wings for “free,” ensuring mother-baby separation and greater likelihood of formula introduction for new babies.

As male obstetricians began delivering babies in the 20th century, the locus of control was transferred from mama to man. Technology determined birth outcomes, and nursing was replaced by powdered milk as infants slept in plastic boxes instead of mothers’ arms. Babies spent more hours in nurseries than with mom, due to “expert” recommendations of rigid schedules and regimented care. Women who tried to nurse were set up to fail, as they only saw their babies after long intervals, and our bodies weren’t designed to make milk in that manner.

Thanks to marketing dollars well-spent, upper class women opted for a new “status show:” formula. Nursing was associated with lower class. Little support was given to women who wanted to nurse their babies.

Another nail was hammered into the nursing coffin: the sexualization of breasts. Thanks in part to a 1950s boom in pornographic magazines, the primary function of breasts was lost in the public consciousness. Anyone who has witnessed a deleted Facebook picture of a woman nursing, only to be bombarded with scantily clad women in their newsfeed. Parity, thy name is not Facebook.

To add insult to injury, motherms who birthed in hospitals were sold out by their caregivers. Though OBs and delivery nurses should have known better, they offered new moms “choices” – sharing the pros and cons of nursing versus formula-feeding. Formula companies made this their decision easy, handing out free samples and brochures boasting a “proper” alternative to breast milk. The healthcare community went on the defensive – touting benefits of mama’s milk rather than sharing dangers of formula.

Formula has been recalled many times, with some incidents of contamination accidental, and some profit- motivated. In 2008 a major U.S. formula recall was due to widespread contamination by melamine, a substance that, according to the Material Safety Data Sheet, is “harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Chronic exposure may cause cancer or reproductive damage.”

The Tide Turns

Some positive trends gained traction in the 1950s. At a time when most women were hoodwinked by the powerful formula industry, a small but vocal group of mothers and doctors began to chip away at poor medical advice and social stigmas around breastfeeding. Peer reviewed articles on the importance of breast milk and benefits of nursing were published. Mother-to-mother support groups like La Leche League popped up around the country. Surprisingly, the feminist movement of the 1960s, which sent hordes of women into the workforce, had little impact on breastfeeding. Numbers continued to rise. Grassroots efforts brought the breastfeeding rate to a 20th century all-time high in the 1980s: 61.9%. But rates dropped again shortly after, likely due to an economic downturn which sent more mothers to work, and ramped up formula advertising.

Despite increased mother-baby nursing pairs, mid-century breastfeeding was widely considered inferior to formula and improper, so medicine found a way to end milk production. Bromocriptine shots were often given automatically in hospitals during the 1960s and 70s to dry up mothers’ milk. In 1994 the FDA banned bromocriptine due to risk of cancer and stroke.

By 2009, 74% of U.S. women initiated breastfeeding after birth. While this number seems high, three months later, only 35% of babies were still exclusively breastfed. At six months, the ­optimal time for exclusive breastfeeding according to both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the AAP, just 15% of babies are exclusively breastfed.[i] Mothers nursing toddlers? A slim minority: only 8% of mothers are breastfeeding at 18 months, despite the WHO’s recommendation of 2+ years.

Still, nursing is on the rise, with most moms trying to nurse their babies immediately after birth. Advocacy groups, breastfeeding organizations, and some passionate caregivers and individuals often agree: clear goals to enhance moms’ and babies’ wellbeing includes increasing both support for moms who wish to nurse their babies, as well as public awareness about the ways that formula can harm newborns’ developing systems.

What do you think it will take to put mothers and babies ahead of formula companies?

Want to read more? Check out The Other Baby Book on Kindle or in paperback. 

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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Q&A: The All Night Nurser

Q: Lily  just turned 8 months, and is still up several times during the night to comfort nurse (I think).  I am not great at letting her cry, so I just end up letting her use me as a pacifier, so I don’t really get much sleep.  I am used to it, but I am sure I would be better off with some extended sleep one of these days! Do you have any advice about how I can help her sleep on her own — I have been trying to up her solids during the day, but she is more interested in nursing still.
A, Mom of 2 boys, 1 girl
A:  Hi A!  I am so psyched that yours is my first question!
Firstly, hooray for breastfeeding for 8 months and wanting to continue.  Lily is a lucky gal.  And sorry to hear that your sleep is suffering.  I hope some of the following thoughts will help.
Your question says “comfort nursing” but she could very well be hungry, so let’s tackle that first. I bet she is increasingly interested in and distracted by her brothers and not concentrating on daytime feedings, right? Offering high-calorie, nutritious table foods is wonderful, but it is totally age appropriate that she continues to prefer breastmilk and she may until 12 months or later.  Sooooo, keep presenting solids while you nurse on demand.  Not at the same time, ha, you know what I mean. And if you can at all manage it see if you can arrange some nursing sessions with no competing stimuli.
I’d start offering a top-off when YOU go to bed, even if its 10 or 11pm and she’s been down for hours.  This can buy you 6 hours on a good night!
If you don’t already, I’d encourage you to cosleep and get good at feeding in the side lying position.  Wear a loose nightgown or t-shirt.  I hear all the time that once a child can help himself, Mom can nearly sleep through it.  And because sometimes it just helps to know you’re not alone, most cosleeping babies do wake at least once a night until 12 months or later.
Keep yourself healthy so that interrupted sleep doesn’t completely wreck your days-  sunshine, good whole foods, probiotics, vitamins, water.  Don’t over commit or pack your calendar. Cut stress from your life whenever you can.  Accept family help with big kids or hire a cheap teenaged mother’s helper so you can occasionally nap with baby. Lastly and most important, hold on to your sense of humor and realize how quickly she will grow up.  Personally I think I’m going to like these bumpy nights more than I’ll like being awake and waiting for a 17 year old’s car in the driveway.
Will you let me know how it goes? And please, if Lily and her tired parents are looking for gentle night weaning thoughts down the road, email again!

We Came, We Latched, We Conquered

It was looking a bit gloomy for the St. Louis gathering for The Big Latch On last Saturday morning. We woke up to thunder, lightning, and buckets of rain. Were it not for the recent unrelenting, blistering triple-digit heat wave, I would have been outright grumpy for the inclement weather.  I had so been looking forward to this public celebration of breastfeeding! As I checked the Facebook feeds for both the La Leche League of Greater St. Louis and The Big Latch On-St. Louis, participants were slowly bowing out with regret. We happen to live just a handful of blocks from the park where the event was being held, so we were thankfully able to wait the weather out and still arrive for our NIP-fest on time.

The rain had relievedly slowed to a soft drizzle. While we waited for our 10:30am latch-on time, my toddler decided to capitalize on some serious puddle-splashing opportunities.

Like many of you, this wasn’t the first time, nor will it likely be the last time, I’ve nursed my spectacularly sodden child. Around 10:20am, I headed over to our designated latch-on rendezvous point in the park, soggy toddler in tow.  We chatted with friends, waited for the clock to strike 10:30am, and then…

We joined the rest of the world in celebrating babies and boobies! (And raised our hands to signal that we were latched on and could be counted.)

In spite of the damp and dreary weather, 25 St. Louis-area little ones came out to be counted amongst the 8,862 other nursing tykes across 23 countries in 626 different locations to honor of World Breastfeeding Week, to raise awareness of breastfeeding and promote its positive presence in public places, and to advocate for access to adequate breastfeeding support services. It was an impressive Big Latch On indeed, and it was not a bad way to pass a drizzly Saturday morning, y’all–muddy toddler and all.

Over the last week we’ve been working on night-weaning in our house (forthcoming post on that), and though it’s been going well, it has also churned up some serious sentiment for me. I can’t even begin to write about what breastfeeding means to me, about how it restored a sense of empowerment about my body; about how much I relish those upward gazes from my son; about how the weight of his body in my arms has changed so much from then to now; about how much I treasure the cheeky upturn of his mouth when he smiles as he nurses; about this new respect for and relationship with my breasts as a nursing adult woman.

Our breastfeeding relationship is far from over, but it is changing. From 10:30am-10:31am on Saturday morning, during our internationally shared moment of nursing, I meditated on my boundless gratitude for being a mother; for the ability to nourish my son both nutritionally and emotionally through the act of nursing; and for the women in my life who supported me and inspired me during our breastfeeding journey. We may not have broken the world record on Saturday, but my breastfeeding relationship with my son has far surpassed my every expectation in innumerable, heart-stoking ways.

Did you attend a Big Latch On gathering? How did it go? What are/were your breastfeeding goals? Did you break your own personal world record?

Rhianna’s 19 month old son is known to give her a spontaneous fist bump when he nurses. Nothing in her mind quite says “Breastfeeding kicks ass!” like the nursing toddler fist bump.

Lactivism

Embrace Mammal-hood!

I am preparing to return to work tomorrow after 12 glorious weeks bunkered down with my family and sweet baby boy. My husband (my rock) and I have run down the check list and I have diligently been building a supply of frozen breast milk in my freezer so that he will receive only the best in my absence. Lucky for me I have a super supportive family and employer that allows me time to pump and feed my baby while at work. My husband brings him at lunchtime for a visit and snack (it is my favorite part of the day)! For the two days that I am at work I will continue to pump every 3-4 hours and know that my children are in good hands with their daddy.

This is me nursing my middle son at work. He is about 2.5 years in this picture and yes- dressed up as a dinosaur.

Throughout my pregnancy and over the last twelve weeks, I have received a ridiculous amount of marketing from formula companies. Samples, coupons, emails with “suggestions” on how to get more sleep, wean so that I can return to work, and let my husband “share” the joys of feeding. When I receive these items in the mail, I always write return to sender, sometimes if I have had a good night of sleep I send a letter back first, asking to be removed from the list, and secondly scolding the manufacturers for sabotaging  my breastfeeding experience with their propaganda. Just this week as we broach World Breastfeeding Week the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement urging Pediatricians to refrain from passing out samples of formula in their offices.

Read it here:  http://www2.aap.org/breastfeeding/files/pdf/DivestingfromFormulaMarketinginPediatricCare.pdf

Photo Credit:
Heather Cushman-Dowdee

Everyone knows the innumerable benefits to breastfeeding. What fails to be conveyed is that giving formula comes with risks. Of course, every family has a right to choose how a baby is fed but the truth does not need censorship. In most of the world a choice between breast and bottle is a matter of life and death. The mothers who choose to breastfeed should not be inundated with materials, and samples that wreak havoc on their efforts. We know that mothers who receive samples of formula are more likely to give them. Formula companies are no longer just marketing their product to formula feeding mothers, they now frequently pass out “breastfeeding support bags,” in doctor offices and sadly at many hospitals.

My sweet, exclusively breast-fed 10 week old. Certainly not under-nourished, certainly not needing supplement!

In no way are these formula manufacturers supporting breastfeeding they are making women feel in adequate.  The number one reason cited by breastfeeding mothers for weaning is lack of milk or perceived lack of milk. What I hope this post does is to tell all women that you absolutely have what it takes! Don’t let these companies play mind games with you, and remember this: Your body created and sustained life for 9 months and is able to sustain it for at least another 6 months purely with the milk your body makes. Thereafter breast milk continues to nourish and provide antibodies for your baby and protect you from a multitude of illness and cancers. Millions of women have sustained the life on many children with their milk alone. The fact is that lactation and breast milk are undervalued in our society there is no product out there that comes close to what breast milk is despite the claims. It is indeed a wonder food and drug that prevents and treats illness and is essentially free and never recalled. I urge you to fight back when you receive these products in the mail. Contact your local representatives, ask your pediatricians’ to follow the AAP’s policy and discontinue free samples at their office. These samples are not free and come at a high cost! How will you participate in World Breastfeeding Week check out http://www.biglatchon.org/ for events in your area.

Molly is a full-time mama to 3 and part-time nurse and lactation consultant.  She has breast-fed in many places including under water-falls, tops of mountains, in the ocean and of course snuggled up in bed!

Time to Get Your “Big Latch On” On!

World Breastfeeding Week is almost here!  August 1 – 7, 2012 marks twenty years since the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action introduced this week-long call to global advocacy for breastfeeding education and support. There are abundant global, regional, and local events planned to honor and promote this world health initiative, but there is one local community level event I am particularly stoked about: The Big Latch On.

Breastfeeding mamas from over 11 different countries and 218 locations are gathering together on either August 3 or 4 (depending on your location) this summer to rock some serious NIP (nursing in public) and hopefully break a world record for most women breastfeeding simultaneously while we’re at it.  I enthusiastically signed up for the St. Louis The Big Latch On event, which is actually being held in my ‘hood this year.

The Big Latch On describes its aims this way*:

  • Support for communities to identify and grow opportunities to provide ongoing breastfeeding support and promotion.
  • Raise awareness of breastfeeding support and knowledge available in communities.
  • Help communities positively support breastfeeding in public places.
  • Make breastfeeding a normal part of the day-to-day life at a local community level.
  • Increase support for women who breastfeed – women are supported by their partners, family and the breastfeeding knowledge that is embedded in their communities.
  • Communities have the resources to advocate for coordinated appropriate and accessible breastfeeding support services.

I mean, who can’t get behind that? You can find your local event location here. Don’t see an event listed in your area? You can host one! The Other Baby Book’s own resident breastfeeding badass, erm, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Molly deGroh, is hosting one in her area. Pretty nifty, right?

I would love to know how many of friends of TOBB are planning to attend their own local latch-fest.  Molly and I both plan to take pictures and share our experiences here on the blog, and we’d love it if you’d join us! We’d love to hear about your experiences and even share some of your pictures in the blog space, if you’re open to that. We’ll send out a call for your stories and pictures on Facebook after the event!

Will you be there? Ever attended The Big Latch On in the past? Tell us about it!

Follow The Big Latch On on Facebook here. Follow World Breastfeeding Week on Facebook here.

*Information copied directly from The Big Latch On website.

Breastfeeding totally handed Rhianna her ass that first month, but she and her 18mo son are still nursing strong. She thanks the stars for the breastfeeding badasses, erm, lactation consultants, who gave her the strength and hope to keep latchin’ on.