Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
|Don't mind the huge mess :)|
Monday, December 27, 2010
|Baby Chase spent his first weeks on my skin and on the breast!
Not in visitors arms or with a pacifier.
If this visitor is living in your home, you may need to have a frank discussion with them about the importance of bringing baby to the breast often. This may lead into unwanted advice about how you are 'spoiling' the baby or that they must be 'starving and you should use formula since they nurse so much', but we'll talk more about that later. One of the biggest culprits behind milk supply issues is the fact that baby is not permitted unlimited access to the breast and one reason that baby does not get this access is because mom has many visitors to entertain, share baby with, and she may not be comfortable nursing in front of them, even in her own home. So limit visitors and if baby wants to suck, don't give baby a pacifier so grandma or aunty or neighbor can hold the baby a little longer. Give that baby a breast and ask your visitor to bring you a glass of water and a snack.
Please make sure all your visitors know how committed you are to breastfeeding, ask THEM to leave the room if you or they are uncomfortable with nursing at that time. This is your time to bond with baby, you need lots of rest, water, and skin to skin time. Your guests can admire baby while baby is in your arms, and even at your breast! Baby is at his or her best in your arms in those first days anyway...that's where baby was meant to be. Accept help around the home, with older children, with meals...not with baby. Baby is your task these first weeks, developing a bond, establishing milk supply, and recovering from the birth. Newborns are boring anyway (or so they say) there will be lots of time as baby gets older for giggles, smiles, playing, and the like. For now, you need a hot meal, a jug of water, and quiet time with your baby.
Go forth, normalize, and educate,
I'm pretty sure this sweet face makes the world go round...I love my little chunky nursling! Here he is in the throws of a milky coma!
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The holidays can present a very special challenge for breastfeeding moms. Some mamas have no problems whatsoever nursing in front of their entire families and their families are supportive and loving about it. SOME...not all. With my first daughter, I was pretty bashful about nursing. I even ((gasp)) breastfed her in a bathroom once. I breastfed in a separate room from everyone else except my husband, mom and grandma and if I was out, I covered up and tried to hide. I was petrified someone would know what I was doing until Olivia was almost a year. Then I pretty much stopped caring.
Well, now Christmas is a few days away and among others, my brother and father in law will be here. Ella nurses...A LOT and I don't intend on missing out on all the Christmas fun just because I'm breastfeeding. So I'm going to stay out in the living room. I have thought about if I should cover or not because I AM in my own home and Ella is very particular about how she's held while she's eating. I've also been thinking about different things I can wear to help be a bit more discreet. I'm not really comfortable around my father in law and wouldn't feel completely comfortable nursing in front of him so I know I'll want some sort of discretion. I know, the hard core NIPers around the world are screaming at me. But let's face it, NIPing doesn't mean you can't cover, it just means that you're nursing in public, cover or no cover. It means you're feeding your child wherever and whenever they need it.
Anyways, I digressed. So we're right in the holiday season and honestly, we probably could have brought this topic up a bit sooner considering celebrating happens throughout the month of December and really, starts in Thanksgiving but come on guys, give us a break--we all just had babies! :) So, what can we do to during the holidays? I thought how neat it would be to have a bunch of tips and hints about breastfeeding during the holidays and then I realized, I'm not an expert and since this is my first year of consciously thinking about how to handle it, I'll just write about my current thoughts and experience. I plan on breastfeeding Ella in my living room. Will I cover up? Maybe. I will probably have a blanket near me. I'm not going to mention it to anyone or announce that I'm about to breastfeed so they can leave if they want, I'm just going to feed her as needed. If someone makes a comment about it, I will simply tell them that Ella's eating and be very nonchalant about it--as I'm sweating inside. Am I nervous about my newfound NIPing self? Sure I am, however I believe that normalizing breastfeeding is super important and I intend on starting with my family on Christmas Day.
Good luck everyone! We'd love to hear your hints for the holidays and breastfeeding, as well as your experiences with it. The good, the bad and the jolly!
Monday, December 20, 2010
|Ella at home <3|
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
As a mommy I feel the need to protect my child from severe illness in any way possible...did you know that if you are breastfeeding and someone in your house gets sick, within ONE HOUR your body has developed antibodies to the virus/bacteria and those antibodies are already in your milk? This protects your nursling(s) from getting the illness. It doesn't mean your child will never get sick, but it does mean your child will get sick less often and the illnesses will be less severe. In humans, one of the top ways that viruses and bacteria get into our bodies is through the digestive tract. This is why exclusive breastfeeding protects infants from serious illness, it coats their virgin gut with the good stuff, antibodies, good bacteria, healthy mucous. What is the Virgin Gut?
"When babies are born, they have sterile gastrointestinal tracts. If babies are exclusively breastfed, they develop a natural healthy gut flora. (When I speak of the gut, I mean Baby's insides where the food goes until it hits the diaper.) This means that the major flora in breastfed babies has reduced numbers of bad types of bacteria and increased numbers of good bacteria. Formula-fed babies have increased numbers of bad bacteria, leaving them at more risk for illness"
Additionally, it's interesting to know that the introduction of formula, even just one little 2oz bottle not only interferes with the establishment of a good, solid milk supply (we'll talk about this delicate balance later on) it can change the pH levels of the baby's gut, and it takes 6 weeks for those levels to return to normal! This pH and Virgin Gut theory are the primary reasons behind why formula fed babies are at a higher risk for illness, especially severe illnesses. This is why breastmilk saves lives.
But that's BABIES right? Well, sure it is, but doesn't it stand to reason that an older child would benefit from the antibodies and the more than 200 substances found in that liquid gold? Not to mention, it's even being used to treat and CURE cancer in adults...won't our toddlers benefit from whatever it is that is killing cancer cells? This isn't in cow's milk, or goat's milk, or soy, rice, almond milks. It's in HUMAN milk...substances in HUMAN milk protect human infants and children from illness. Amazing.
Olivia receives almost exclusively pumped milk every day. For one thing, Mama Christa has an abundance of milk to give Olivia...for another, she's a petite child, was premature herself, and needs to stay healthy and strong when Ella comes home. Additionally, have you ever thought about how EXPENSIVE milk is these days?! I know our DHA fortified, organic milk costs more than a gallon of gas...so why not save some cash and give the kids some breast milk?
Aiden gets breast milk daily as well, but it is about half and half compared to cow's milk, but he's getting it. Today he's ONLY getting breast milk because he had a nasty stomach flu yesterday and I'm trying to give him the easiest to digest stuff and take good care of his tummy.
Are you into organic? What's more organic that unprocessed BREAST milk ladies?! Nothing. That's what.
NOW, on to why I prefer that Aiden NOT get his breast milk from the tap. I fully support Mother Hen and Mama Christa in their tandem nursing, not just because they are my friends and I support them no matter what (yes, I would support them even if they were bottle feeding or formula feeding) but because I think that it's good for young children to continue to receive breast milk for the reasons listed above. Personally, however, I get overstimulated and "touched out" as it is by dealing with both boys...especially when Chase is nursing. I do great if Chase is nursing and that's all that's going on, but more often than not, Aiden is also climbing all over me and it would blow your mind the level of anxiety all this clamoring and touching causes me. If I had two children breastfeeding, I'm pretty sure I would LOSE MY MIND. Is this weird? To some, probably, but I'm an abuse survivor...I get touched out, and overcooked in A LOT of different situations. Part of me, the emotional, I know tandem nursing is a good thing part, would really like Aiden to take up a liking for nursing so I could nurse them both...BUT...1: Aiden is a BIG kid, 30lbs and 3 feet tall, he doesn't need to be on me ok? and 2: that's too much touch for me...my breast would constantly be in SOMEONE's mouth and I"m not cool with that.
Many people wonder why you would nurse a toddler, and why you would tandem. I think the reasons are plain as day when you look at all the wonderful things in and about breastmilk, it really is easier to get it from the tap, so just do it that way. Many people say "I think it's great you tandem nurse/nurse an older child but I would never do it" but what's their reason...usually it's because it actually skeeves them out. Seriously, let's be honest, if you aren't an extended/tandem nurser...deep down, is it because it skeeves you out?! that's usually what's behind that statement, and often people only say the "I think it's great" part because they don't want to make the mom feel bad. Guess what, I'm on to this...it skeeves you out, and you know what...THAT'S OK TOO!! The fact is, around infant feeding/toddler feeding, we need to be supportive of other moms, even when they are not supportive or are skeeved out by what we do. The fact is, you don't know most people's motivations, even if you think you do! Part of the reason Aiden and I ended our nursing relationship early was because I didn't know how to/couldn't handle feeling exposed, used, and WAY overtouched when he started getting screwy at the breast...I couldn't handle it with a toddler for sure. :)
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
PS. Ella DID start consistently breastfeeding eventually...but that's a blog post for another day.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
While the answer seemed obvious to me I quickly learned that this was a question that surfaced to many people’s minds when they learned that I exclusively pumped for my daughter Camille. First the insurance company initially refused to cover my hospital grade pump because when they asked why I pumped I gave the wrong answer. Inability to latch and low supply are not insurance worthy reasons to pump. We don’t have a lot of extra money so we thought it was worth trying harder to get coverage. Insurance companies used to cover pumps more liberally but lately they have become much more discriminating as to who truly needs to pump and who doesn’t. My insurance company covers the pump for infants with medical problems such as cleft lip or prematurity. Of course these infants need that extra help to get the breast milk they deserve BUT…Who chooses to pump for the pure enjoyment of it? The vast majority of EPers (exclusive pumpers) do so b/c they have to. Some full term babies don’t latch for whatever reason and some mothers have to go to work. Why are these reasons somehow less valid than cleft lip and prematurity? Bottom line is that all of these babies need their mother to pump in order to get breast milk. Well, I was pretty determined and I don’t know how I EVER found the time or energy to do this going on basically no sleep but with a lot of calls to different people I finally did get the insurance to cover my wonderful hospital grade pump.
Another source of questioning came from my in-laws, specifically my mother-in-law. Now I’m not knocking mother-in-laws and many are wonderful additions to the family but my mother-in-law hates me. No kidding, she has made it pretty clear that she doesn’t like me but I’m still married to her son so she’s going to have to deal. Anyway, she hated that I exclusively pumped and was constantly recommending that I switch to formula. I told her how important it was to me that Camille get breast milk and all the reasons why I pumped but if anything that made her more set against it. I’m not sure exactly why it bugged her so much, maybe she thought I was showing her up b/c she gave her son formula even though she didn’t have any latching or supply problems at all, but it just unnerved her that I was pumping. She enlisted the help from the women in her family and her hairdresser to try to get me to switch to formula. When my husband and I visited that first Thanksgiving with our brand new daughter they all tried to persuade me to switch to formula. They undermined the benefits Camille was getting and gave me absolutely no credit for all the hard work I put into making sure Camille got the best food. One of them actually said “weird” when I explained what I had to do. The hairdresser, also a NURSE, told me that the benefits of breast milk were only in the first couple of days. Does she think I’m stupid? Also, how mean! That was the short period of time Camille was actually on formula due to my low supply. Now I’m not sure if the hairdresser knew this but how hurtful to say all my work was for nothing b/c the one time Camille needed it I couldn’t give it to her. Of course I know better and I was shocked a nurse would give me mis-information just to undermine me. The question “why are you pumping” quickly morphed into the demand “you should just switch to formula b/c pumping is worthless.”
Why pump? Even the most superficial research over breast milk will give you many reasons why breast milk is the perfect food for babies. (Research also shows that this benefit is amplified with premature babies. Babies that are, as a group, probably less frequently breastfed than term babies due to latching problems actually benefit more from breast milk.) I was determined that my daughter, Camille, get these benefits. She was a very high strung little baby and refused to latch. She hated nursing and would scream continuously every time I tried to nurse her. Even if she did latch I think pumping would have been more practical in the beginning b/c she ate such small amounts at a time. For many months she would eat every hour or more and then usually not more than an ounce. The most she would eat at a time was at night and it was usually 2 ounces. We suspected acid reflux was at the root. It was actually easier to pump larger amounts fewer times a day than to breast feed her for little spurts 20 times a day! My little girl was not premature but there were in-utero problems. I had preeclampsia and there was an unknown length of time (probably several weeks) where she was not getting nutrition from the placenta. She had stopped growing and was small for her gestational age. I was heartbroken. After she was born people frequently commented on how small she was and said she looked like a preemie. One woman walking by at the store said “look at that baby! It doesn’t even look real. It looks like a toy.” It cut me to the quick to hear that. If I could give this tiny person a special gift that would last her a lifetime and for which there could be no substitute I would. And I did.
I’m proud to say that with the exception of several bottles of formula the first few weeks, my daughter ate exclusively breast milk the first five months of life and after that breast milk with a slowly increasing amount of solids. For the first 7 months I pumped 8 times a day, then I tapered down to 6. At 11 months I was down to four. After 12 months I pump a few times in the evening after my husband’s home and Camille’s in bed. At 12 months I introduced cow’s milk but she still gets breast milk. Although now, at 16 1/2 months, she’s down to two ounces of milk a day. Even though it took a lot of pumping to establish a supply in the beginning (my body had turned off due to the preeclampsia) I eventually produced more than she was eating. I would adjust my pumping to keep more in line with her appetite. I wouldn’t pump less frequently b/c I tried to mimic her eating frequency as much as was practical. (Nursing/pumping duration, spacing, and frequency modulate fat levels in breast milk) Instead I pumped one breast instead of two and lessened the amount of pumping at night. I didn’t store milk other than saving extra milk in the fridge for up to a week. There were several reasons why I decided not to freeze my milk. One reason is I believe strongly in the La Leche League mantra that supply will keep up with demand. I was never worried about losing my supply again b/c all I had to do was pump extra if Camille began to eat more. Within a couple of days my supply went up to meet her needs. A lactation consultant also gave me this very valuable piece of advice: milk production increases the most between 1 and 5 am. If I pumped an extra time in that window it had a bigger impact on my supply than if I pumped several extra times during the day. If Camille was especially fussy and high maintenance one day and I just couldn’t find many chances to pump, I’d have my week’s worth of stores in the fridge. Another reason is that freezing destroys some of the beneficial components of breast milk. So it wasn’t necessary and it was not as good of milk (although still very good to all those who do freeze their milk). It just wasn’t worth the extra hassle. If I had a bit more time and a bit more sleep (i.e., if Camille was an easier baby) I would have frozen my milk to donate to milk banks—definitely keeping this in mind for next time.
There is no question that exclusively pumping is a pain in the butt! You don’t get any of the bonding pleasure associated with nursing—I mean you’re hooked up to a machine. My daughter was colicky and chronically over-tired (some days she got as little as 9 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period—not including the few 10 minute naps she’d sneak in). Do what I could, I couldn’t make her sleep. But I could control what she ate so while her sleep problems made things more difficult they motivated me even more to pump. With her fussiness and sleep issues it was difficult to find good times to pump during the day when my husband was at work. We have no family in the area so I ended up hiring a low cost nanny to watch Camille a few hours during the day. For the first six months she would come for three hours two-three days during the week. Those were my easy pump days! I would pump once before my husband left for work, once when the nanny first arrive, once just before she left, possibly one more time before hubbie came home from work, once as soon as he arrived from work, one or two more times before bed, and once in the middle of the night. When Camille and I were alone together and there was no one else there to watch her, I would put her in her bouncy seat while I pumped. We’d play with toys, sing songs, or just chit-chat. If she got fussy I’d turn on a vacuum I placed near-by and that magically soothed her. Sometimes she’d even go to sleep while the vacuum was on. In order to get the hind-milk I would always pump both breasts for 15 minutes. Often there would be two let-downs during one session.
I’m proud of what I’ve done for my daughter and when she’s older I’ll be happy to let her know she was breastfed. Of course, many mothers would have opted to use formula and that decision does not make you a bad mother! Everyone’s family situation is different. Perhaps some women would think that the stress of pumping and time spent doing it would impair their ability to enjoy and engage with their baby. I can definitely understand this but for my situation, pumping was the best for both me and my daughter. All of the support I received made it possible for me to keep my sanity while I pumped. I know a few other mothers who exclusively pump(ed) and I’m advising a long distance friend on the matter. Her daughter is 5 months now and she’s still an EPer! Other moms have praised my pumping so I knew there were people out their who appreciated what I was doing. Every little compliment or word of acknowledgment helped me to feel good about what I was doing. There is also a wonderful yahoo community of EPers that a fellow EPer introduced me to. Knowing other EPers and visiting this online community let me know that I wasn’t alone and that my way of doing things was not “weird” at all. For my baby shower my aunt gave me The La Leche League’s Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Whenever I was tempted to give up pumping I just read this book’s section on the benefits of breastfeeding. Almost all of these benefits (and it is a long list) apply to expressed milk as well as nursing. Most important of all was my husband’s support. He was always hugely supportive of my decision and bragged on the good quality food Camille was getting. He also told me that if I decided to go to formula instead that would be okay too. He was behind me 100% and he let me know that he was aware of the benefits of EPing AND its difficulties. Without all this support, especially from my husband, I couldn’t have done it. Several mothers I met at ECFE (I think there were about three) also had latching/supply problems. They said they tried to EP in the beginning but their husbands persuaded them to stop b/c it took too much time or for some other reason. I think lack of support was the ultimate factor behind these women’s decisions to switch to formula. So if it’s something you want to do tell people how important it is to you and get as much support as you can. Remember, the benefits of breast milk last a lifetime. You can never undo that.
Friday, December 10, 2010
I used www.randomizer.org and put in the number of votes. From that, randomizer chose a random number which correlated with the comment. Does that make sense? Just know that it was totally random and not biased! :)
Anyways, Rene, please email email@example.com your address so we can send you your nursing necklace!! Please email us by Thursday Dec. 16 to claim your super fabulous prize!!
Stay tuned for next month when we'll have our next giveaway!!!
Thanks for playing everyone!
Last month, Meg wrote about nursing and body image. I could relate to her post, not because I felt bad about my breasts but because I feel about every square inch of my skin. There isn't a body part I can't complain about. Believe me, I'm a professional hater of my own body. And it's exhausting. It's exhausting to focus on how much I dislike my body and it affects my relationship with my husband AND my kids. It affects my nursing relationship, even though I try not to let it. When I lift my shirt, I see my stomach, and the rolls I have. If I take my shirt off and I'm just wearing my nursing tank top, I think about how big my arms are and wonder if people are looking at them. When I'm looking down at my daughter while we're nursing, I think about my double chin. I'm serious...it's sick. I think about nursing in public after Ella comes home and I WILL do it because I believe that my baby shouldn't be forced to wait to eat, but I fear not so much the looks of people because I'm nursing in public but because of my heft.
Prior to pregnancy, I lost almost 40 lbs and I went from an 18/20 to a small size 14. I was really feeling good about myself but with this pregnancy, I was nauseas the entire thing and carbs were the ONLY thing that helped. Then I got PIH which later turned into severe preeclampsia and oh my God, did I gain. I gained about 25 lbs of water retention in a few weeks. At the end, I was gaining sometimes 3 or 4 pounds a DAY....in a matter of hours sometimes! One day, while in the hospital, I gained 4 lbs in 12 hours. I have new stretch marks and loose skin from the rapid weight gain. It just adds more fuel to my abusive relationship I have with my own body. While I've lost almost 30 lbs of the weight I gained during pregnancy, I still have a long way to go and the loose skin isn't going anywhere without plastic surgery. I have some big girls in my family and it's a constant battle against brownies and genetics to not blow up.
|Ella and I getting ready for our first walk in the ICC|
What's your battle with body image and nursing, or even not nursing, just body image in general?
Thursday, December 9, 2010
As hoped, this first contest/giveaway has brought us more followers, about 17 in just the last week! Thank you SOOO much for joining us! Mama Christa is going to do the random drawing from the voters for another nursing necklace sometime today and I'll update you all with the winner when she does!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Today, I have a confession. Last week I broke down, and used a binky. The good news is that after a lot of second-guessing, wondering, and even bashing myself over this, I consider this battle both lost and won.
The battle is lost because I really didn't want to have to go down the binky path again. Aiden was binky OBSESSED and I believe it contributed to his early weening at just 8 months. He had his binky since birth and I overused it. I am a little paranoid about binky use now...it was frustrating to always have with me, to re-bink in the middle of the night, and to have a baby who weened so young. I was afraid of this for Chase. The battle is lost because I also wanted to prove that I could have a comfort-nurser, that I didn't need to substitute a silicone nipple for my breast. It is lost because I was CONVINCED he would settle if I employed a few more calming tactics. The truth is: Chase will not let me put him down, and even when I'm holding him, he needs A LOT of cajoling to calm. He frequently will not take the breast for comfort because I have a forceful letdown and HE has silent reflux...so unless the breast is "empty" he doesn't find it all that comforting...though boy does he try, he desperately wants to be a booby baby.
I had a very bad day last week...actually, a run of THREE very bad days during which both boys were in really bad moods and I was NOT handing it well. I couldn't get out the door to make it to appointments because Chase would not even stop flailing and crying even when I held him so I couldn't get Aiden ready to go, couldn't get Chase in his car seat, couldn't get the diaper bag together...it was ugly, and I had a huge meltdown. A friend told me "Meghan, you have to give the baby a pacifier...because one way or the other you're going to feel like a failure. It's either going to be because you gave chase a pacifier for 15 or 20 minutes so you can get things together and have positive interactions with Aiden or because you never have positive interactions with Aiden on account of CONSTANTLY trying to sooth the baby in other ways." She was right...poor orphan Aiden has been needing much more than I am able to give him with the baby always in my arms. So I did it...I brought his car pacifier into the house for necessary use only.
I consider this battle WON because Chase still greatly prefers the breast, doesn't take the binky except SOMETIMES...even if I really want him to he often won't...but he takes it when I really NEED him to usually. It's use is infrequent...I still try to calm and sooth in other ways, but sometimes he just needs to suck a little and doesn't want milk so I give it to him and hold him close to me as if he's nursing which seems to be the only way he'll take it. Then once he's calm I can put him down, he usually spits out the binky, and he'll sit or sleep peacefully long enough for me to spend some time with Aiden or get something done (like write this blog post). I consider it won because he never takes it at night, still just wants to nurse more often than not, held more often than not, but I can buy myself little tidbits of time. I waited long enough to introduce the pacifier that he doesn't care about it, and I can just use it here and there.
The reality is I CAN'T hold and snuggle and bounce and shush this baby every waking minute and through most of his NON waking minutes either. I have a 2 year old who needs lots of positive attention from me and he was not getting this. I also CAN'T wear Chase in the sling or Moby wrap ALL day, though I do wear him a lot. The other reality is that the binky is not helping with his overall demeanor, he's still a pretty "high maintenance" one-month-old. Even using the binky, I've been interrupted writing this post about 10 times. So instead of trying to make this sound LESS disjointed, I'm going to trust my readers to just take it as it is so I can go and spend the rest of my day rocking and bouncing, and yes, occasionally "binking" the baby.