Monday, August 29, 2011

I just want to talk about breastfeeding

I was sitting here thinking 'crap, I haven't blogged in FOREVER...bad Mama Christa, BAD!' I was talking to Megz and I asked her what I should blog about. She was no help. I sat here and I thought "I just want to talk about breastfeeding, that's it!". Then it occured to me...that's what I can blog about.

So the other day I was out at some garage sales and I ran into a mama who had a package of preemie diapers. I asked her if she'd had a preemie and she said she had twin girls. She also had some breastfeeding stuff so of course we started talking about breastfeeding. I must have stood there...ohhh I don't know, 10 minutes? 15 minutes? Talking about breastfeeding and preemies. I finally tore myself away from this mama because I figured it was about that time. On to the next sale. Somehow I managed to bring up breastfeeding to that mama as well. Just briefly this time, but it came up nonetheless. Fast forward a few hours, I'm at yet another garage sale. BOO YA. Now here's where the BIG conversation came up. I'm talking breastfeeding, birth, midwives, doulas....with a couple...and the papa is involved in the conversation. It must have been at LEAST 30 minutes of running off at the mouth.

I love talking. I'm a VERY social person and I really enjoy chatting with anyone who will chat with me (well, for the most part...). But if you talk to me about breastfeeding? I can't stop. I. Can't. STOP! I love talking about it. I just do. I love educating and supporting mamas. I love educating and supporting papas. I love reminiscing. I don't even realize I'm doing it but I bring it up to complete strangers almost daily. Whenever someone comments on Ella's chubby knees: "Mama's milk will do that!" I'll say. Or when Olivia has a mild cold and I'm sick as a dog: "Lucky for her she's breastfed!" It's just normal for me. The funny thing is, I don't do it on purpose. It is a part of my everyday conversation and life just like anything else. I talk about it like I talk about the weather.

Which brings me to a little tangent. And I'll try really hard not to go on and on about this. But when I talk about breastfeeding? I'm not being a "breastfeeding nazi" (as we've been called). I'm not wearing my breastapo uniform. I'm not hailing the Head Breast. I'm literally just talking about my life and the things I"m passionate about. I talk about my kids non stop too. I talk about sewing quite a bit. I talk about my husband...Desperate Housewives...chai tea. But I've never been called a Tea Nazi. Nor have I been told I'm part of the Sew-stapo. So why is it, when I talk about breastfeeding, I'm a breastfeeding Nazi? Oh and guys? They talk about stuff too. My husband talks about cars. He's not the Car gestapo. What about when guys talk about their balls itching? (Grooooss!) Are they they Cock Nazis? And WHY oh WHY do people think it's okay to make light of the holocaust by using the term "nazi" everytime someone is passionate about something? Get over it. Just get over it.

Okay, tangent over. Btw, this post wasn't planned out or edited. I just wanted to talk about breastfeeding.

Problematic Mammary Sucker (PMS)

Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Milkmaid Tea

My fertility returned when my daughter was about 7 months old - just as it had with my son. Shucks! Here I was hoping tandem nursing would buy me a little more time. The day before it happened my daughter went on a pretty major nursing strike and would arch away from my breasts. I had no idea what was happening. It was in that same time frame that I had my horribly failed experiment with fenugreek also, so we had several hurdles causing her to reject the boobs.

A month later, same fussy arching... only this time no fenugreek to complicate things even worse. She would nurse sometimes, but pretty much only when tired and even then it was a fight. Latch on, latch off, arch, kick, bite, etc. I counted out the days and figured that was just about right. This reaction was new territory for me as my son had never even blinked an eye when I was having my period. I asked around, and it turns out I'm not alone. Some kids are just fussy about it.

I have been drinking 2-3 glasses of Mothers Milk Tea per day and it seems to be helping. Chicklett still fussy initially, but once there is a letdown she will have a regular nursing session. We're about four months into having fertility return and I've gotten into a good routine of just starting the Mothers Milk Tea around day 26/27 and now a change in her nursing habits is barely noticeable. Yay!

Thank YOU Mothers Milk Tea!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

That sleep thing....Beginner's Luck

OK, so we tried it casually thursday night. Chase had been napping in his crib for two days to get him comfortable, so we put him in his crib Thursday night for bedtime. It looked a little like this (approximately)

7:45 - Bedtime, Chase goes down easily after milkies. :)

8:30 - B gets me in from mowing the lawn, and has Chase on his hip, Aiden is having some kind of crisis and he needs me to get chase back to sleep.

10:05 - Chase is asleep again, in his crib.

10:30 - Chase wakes, B puts him back down

11:00 - Chase wakes, B puts him back down

11:45 - Chase wakes...B has no patience, raises his voice, upsets the baby who now wants nothing to do with his crib. (DUR!)

12:10 - Chase is asleep again, but in my bed. He woke several times during the night and was up for the day at 7am.

So, I kind of figured based on the way Thursday night went that we were IN FOR IT over the next week.

All day friday he took his naps in the crib, in fact, he took GOOD naps in the crib! Although, he took 1 too many which meant bedtime got pushed back a little later than we like, but good napping is the key to good night time sleep, so we are following the flow on that right now. We need him happy. Friday night went like this:

9:00pm - Bedtime for Chase, he goes down easily after his milkies. This is B's shift until midnight so I passed off the monitor to him and lay down to catch some Z's in preparation for a rough night ahead. Chase did not wake on B's watch. Yea, you read that right, he slept 3 hours straight without waking at all.

12:10am - It's my shift now, Chase wakes up, nurses, and goes back into his crib. I'm prepared for the worst, but quietly climb into bed and go to sleep...

3:15am - WHAT?! chase wakes up, nurses, and goes back into his crib! WHAT?! This has NEVER happened. NEVER. HAPPENED. I do NOT remember a time that Chase has EVER slept 3 straight hours.

Then I TRY to get into bed...but the bed creaks...loudly, and wakes Chase up. I pick him up, snuggle him, and put him back...and he stays asleep until...

5:30am - my sleepy brain just brought him to bed. He nursed and we slept until 7am when he woke up for the day.

I'm actually really shocked by how the first real night started. I'm going to stick with not nursing more often than every 3 hours at night and leave it that way until he's secure in the crib...then I'll see if I can get him to go every 4 hours once that's settled.

I really think that this was beginner's luck and am expecting a rough night tonight. But who knows, maybe I will be pleasantly surprised! Today he has napped in his crib, but only cat naps so far, not more than 45 minutes each.

stay tuned!

Friday, August 26, 2011

What Do You Want out of an IBCLC?

The Board of Directors of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE) wishes to provide the opportunity for public comment regarding the “Code of Professional Conduct for IBCLCs” (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants), which will replace the “Code of Ethics for IBCLCs”.

And then please take a moment to submit improvements and suggestions here:

Thank you for your time!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ah...sleep...what's that?

Well, Chase is nearly 10 months old as I type this first installment. My husband moved to the guest room because Chase is too distruptive to his sleep. He is working on his MBA and really can't lose so much sleep anymore. Last night Chase and I slept alone in our king sized bed and I fell asleep this really best for everyone involved? Chase woke and nursed 3 or 4 times in the 3 hours between when I put him down for the night and when I finally gave up and stayed in bed with him...he insists that I must be in bed with him. This is difficult...when the kids get off to sleep, it's my only time all day that I can just sit. Just. Sit. Because I parent with little help at this point while my husband works full time and goes to school, it's an important time to me. It is always interrupted, however. My sleep is also interrupted all night long...and I'm tired. My nearly 3 year old is a spirited child, Aiden is a special sort of stubborn and high energy kid. He needs a lot from me right now, a lot of patience, a lot of love, a lot of time, and again a lot more patience. He's having some behavior problems and I think it comes from my lack of energy to really engage him positively. I spend an enormous amount of time with Chase...putting him to sleep (he still often takes 3 naps a day), entertaining him (he won't let me out of his sight), and taking care of the home, etc. I have little patience. I'm very very tired. So no, I don't think the current arrangement is in everyone's best interest anymore...not even Chase, who is waking so frequently at night, largely I'm sure, because he's right next to the milkies all night. I'd be waking up a lot too.

I want Chase to sleep in his own bed...I don't care if it's in our room, or in another room, but he needs to sleep in his own bed and cut back on the nursing at night. So I devised a that hopefully respects his need for reassurance, love, and parental presence, as well as meeting my need for some more damn sleep.

During the day I'm going to start nursing him while holding/snuggling a little security blanket, something he can have in his crib. I will nurse Chase right before he goes to bed, sing him some songs and give him snuggles. Then my husband (B) will rock and snuggle Chase to sleep, just like he is used to, and put him in his crib. This is where it is going to get crazy...Chase firmly believes, rightly so, that my bed IS his bed, so this is going to take a little while to get into the rhythm for him. Any and all wakings before 12am for the first week (until B's classes start up again on the 7th) B will handle by going in and rocking Chase, putting him back in his crib. After midnight, I'm on shift and will attempt to soothe and rock him in ways other than nursing if possible. During the day he will also sleep in his crib.

This will be tough because I have a tendency to wake, get the baby, nurse and fall asleep without realizing it ever happened...I am hoping that getting out of the bed will wake me up enough to think "I need to go sit in the rocking chair and stay awake while I do this..." LOL! I'm actually super nervous...I'm nervous about losing even more sleep in the early days, about him rebelling and going on a nursing strike, about him weaning early like his brother did. I don't want to night wean him at all, I just don't want to nurse him like he's a newborn all night long...I just want to get a 4 hour stretch of sleep. I haven't slept in a year...I need some sleep. Aiden needs me to sleep. My family needs to sleep!

So with any luck, the rest of this series will chronicle a slowly improving situation in my house...with any luck at all it will go smoother than we are expecting it to. Cross your fingers!

Today he napped in his crib, on his boppy pillow for over an hour...what a little miracle. Tonight I will try to put him to bed in his crib again and keep him there at least until I go to bed tonight. Tomorrow night we'll start taking me out of the equation during the first part of the night.

Wish me luck, readers, and stay tuned, I should be able to post an update after our first night on Saturday to let you know how it went, and I'll keep you posted along the way.

Groggily yours...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Waxing Philosophic

An interesting thing happened on my facebook page a few weeks ago. I posted this quote from Mama Christa, which some of you may have seen on TGL's wall as well:

‎"If you were formula fed, spanked for being naughty, slept in a crib by yourself and left to cry, rode in the front seat of a car with no carseat, ate processed foods, drank kool aid and watched TV 8 hours a day and you still turned out okay?

Well then you're lucky. But that doesn't mean we should repeat all those things."

Then I was then engaged in a not entirely unexpected discussion with friends on my page. Above is a list of things we "know better about" in our modern age from car seats and TV time to breastfeeding/formula feeding. I'm sure it's no surprise what the following FIFTY-SIX comment conversation was about. Breastfeeding. I was horribly distracted all morning engaged in the discussion, which was not hostile, nasty, or angry. It was just a discussion.

Then a few days later, I was browsing a fairly interesting blog, starting with All Aboard The Breastfeeding Bus and then Exploding the Breastapo Myth, Once and for All. Perfect follow-ups to the mile long conversation about infant feeding choices. I'm frequently informed by friends who chose not to breastfeed that breastfeeders are judgemental, hollier than thou, and that my support of breastfeeding is automatically a judgement and attack on formula feeding moms. I've yet to meet this mysterious heinous b**** breastfeeder, and I know A LOT of breastfeeders! I have, however, met the formula companies henchmen...the moms who think that babies should have formula, the care providers that think babies should have formula, those that don't believe that breastfeeding is better and that it's no big deal and are sure tell me and other breastfeeding mothers - especially those encountering challenges for which adequate support would make all the difference - at every little turn and bump in the road.

I am, apparently, part of this Breastapo, as are my friends. Like the author at Acorn said "So why don’t we talk about the formula police, the formula mafia, the bottle Nazis?" Because we don't! We don't ever talk about how hard it is to breastfeed with the pressures just to "give the baby a bottle," and "you should be giving baby a bottle, what if s/he refuses later when you need him/her to take a bottle." No one ever gives nasty, hateful labels to the women who pressure us to feed formula, introduce early solids, put cereal in a bottle to make baby sleep, less dependent, whatever. Why is it that mothers who formula feed insist on repeating "well my baby is fine" to breastfeeding mothers over and over again? Why do these people get away with questioning a breastfeeding mother's choice to feed her baby for 6 months, a year, longer (god forbid, clearly it's not nutritionally sound after a year...)? The fact is, women like this are far more forceful than any breastfeeding, fact-toting mother is. Often times they are defensive and pissed off. Why? I thought you were confident in your choice to bottle feed, no? Yet somehow you are feeling the need to repeatedly defend yourself to me (although I'm not even attacking you) for your choice. I never said I didn't respect your choice at all. Promoting breastfeeding and providing information is not putting pressure on YOU to breastfeed your baby...but if the formula companies can march around handing samples out, touting how superior their formula is to other formulas and how it's pretty much JUST LIKE MOTHER'S MILK, why can't I be out there supporting my breastfeeding sisters by dispelling these lies, trying to throw out some breastfeeding tidbits along with support without being made to feel like I just shattered your ego and tried to make you feel guilty?

Acorn made a good point...promoting breastfeeding without then supporting women in doing so, providing REAL, ACCESSIBLE resources and information is wrong. Giving women the impression that they should breastfeed at whatever cost, and leaving them heartbroken and guilt stricken because they struggled but had NO support when they hit roadblocks is wrong. It breaks my heart when I meet mothers who wanted to nurse their babies but ran into trouble and either didn't know where to turn, or actually had nowhere to turn. When these women wanted to, but when reaching out to the care providers they trusted to have their best interests at heart are met only with ignorance about supporting breastfeeding women, and a lack of understanding of the importance of breastfeeding. This happens too often.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: FORMULA IS NOT POISON! The number one rule is to feed your baby. So make an informed decision, be straightforward, and feed your baby. Despite what you may be thinking, MOST people who breastfeed and support/advocate for breastfeeding and breastfeeders are not automatically judging you for giving your baby formula supplements or for exclusively formula feeding your baby. Are there some people out there who are like that, yes, supposedly, but not all are. Just like there are people out there checking out your butt in public, remarking internally how it looks in those pants, but most people don't care, don't notice, and don't say anything. By constantly getting defensive about your feeding choices, you appear as if you feel guilty...this puts everyone in a difficult position.

Furthermore, to quote...someone, I don't remember who I heard this phrase from: "Of course I think my choice is the better one. Why else would I do it?!" Breastfeeding is the better choice FOR ME, and I face a lot of DIRECT, vocal, in my face (and on the internet) flack about it, as do many of my mama sisters.If bottle and/or formula feeding was the better choice for you, that's fine! Communities like ours here at The Good Letdown aren't about judging mothers for their choices, making mothers feel guilty, or trying to force our ideals on mothers. We are about education, support, and normalizing. Do we hope that by providing education and support that we will help get more babies to breast and keep them there? ABSOLUTELY! It certainly doesn't mean we are all sitting here hating on formula feeders and trying to force an agenda. We support mamas, families, and babies, no matter what.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Big Latch On 2011

For World Breastfeeding Week we hosted one of the many locations for the Big Latch On. At our location we had over 80 attendees - lots of mamas, babies, toddlers, and daddies. We ended up with 27 mamas with children latched on for the 1 minute synchronized nursing session. I have to say, this was a powerful minute. Several mamas were teared up during that quiet minute of milky magic. Even when at a La Leche League meeting not everyone is nursing at the same time, so I have not experienced a room full of children nursing at the same time. It was fan-tas-tic!! I want to do that every weekend!

Vendors we had there:

Our wonderful photographers that donated their time and talent:

Please enjoy our slideshow! This was so much fun!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

And so begins the biting...

Being bitten while breastfeeding is such a taboo and difficult subject. For many woman, just the idea of it is the sole reason for them not breastfeeding at all. For another chunk of women the first bite is the end of the breastfeeding relationship. For me? Well, it's just one little annoying phase to work through.

Chicklett currently has four teeth. Her two bottom front teeth are almost totally up and then her top two front teeth are about 1/4 of the way out. Overall she has been a happy unaffected by teething baby. Whew!

Last night she was trying to have a party until 10:30pm instead of going to sleep around 8pm like normal. I was tired, so I just put us in bed and left a night light on for her. She was immediately super upset, which is not like her. I thought maybe she was actually tired. I turned off the light and tried to nurse her, she arched her back and screamed at me in defiance on the first latch. Owie gums maybe? I rubbed some Hylands teething gel on there and tried again after a few minutes. Same reaction. She gnawed on my arm with her sharp little teeth so I brought some toys in bed for her to chew on instead. Eventually she became tired and nursed to sleep like normal.

Generally Chicklett wakes 2-4 times a night and just does a dream feed. I hardly even know she's there or that we were up. But last night... the first dream feed... it happened. She NAILED me. First latch, full on clamp chomp of ultimate owie owie ow. I was so surprised!! She's half asleep.... why? why? why?? In her half asleep situation there was no way I was going to try and coach her about how completely uncool that was to do to me. She giggled a little at my jump, and just rolled over and went back to sleep. I've nursed her 3 times since then and I am on HIGH ALERT. CODE RED. READY TO POUNCE! As soon as she starts to slow down in sucking I get ultra nervous. This is definitely my least favorite part of nursing, but it is in no way a reason to end it for me. With my son I was only bit 3-4 times before he figured out that it was a bad thing. I'm hoping Chicklett will learn just as fast.

Some moms never get bit at all. I was hoping I would be one this time around because Chicklett is not much of a comfort nurser, whereas Chicken Little was on the boob 20 hours a day whether he was eating or not. Here I was hoping that difference would be the key. Less time on the boob equals less chance of being chomped. Last night could have been a fluke I suppose. When/If she decides to bite me again I will have to go through these tips from a previous post and train her just like I did big brother. Baby's don't want to hurt us, they are just looking for a way to relieve some of that pressure from the teeth. Give them something they CAN chew on and your life will be a lot easier!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

No Time for Nursing

Help, my baby won't nurse! Is it a strike? Is your baby weening? Is your baby too busy? There are lots of reasons that a baby may appear to refuse to nurse. The Good Letdown Babies are all at the busy stage of their development and, with the exception of Ella who would hook up to a boob pump all day if she could, they frequently don't nurse the way they used to. Several of our friends have experienced strikes or busy babies refusing to nurse as well. Here are a few tricks we are finding helpful!

1: Dream feeding. What is dream feeding? This is catching your baby mostly asleep, slipping a nipple in his/her mouth and nursing when they are not busy. This is part of how I sneak extra milkies to Chase when he is too busy to nurse. Babies are interested in the world around them, they are learning and growing, working on gross and fine motor skills...they just don't have time to nurse helps if you nurse your baby to sleep as this actually constitutes a significant source of nutrition for your baby but if your baby doesn't nurse to sleep, then dream feeding may be helpful. I usually just climb into bed with Chase and pull him close (pull his ever present fingers out of his mouth) and offer the breast. He ALWAYS takes it and nurses quietly in his sleep.

2: Most of us have heard this but nurse in a quiet, dark place. Keep a mental "log" of about when baby SHOULD want to eat and take baby to a quiet place, offering the breast gently and casually. The lack of stimulation should help. Sometimes it helps to let baby have a little down time in the quiet dark place with you before offering the breast. Just follow baby's cues and keep track of what works best.

3: DON'T force baby to the breast. EVER. This will create negative associations and we definitely don't want that!

4: Be prepared for increased night nursing sessions. At night when they are sleeping and not so busy, they will regain their appetites. This is called reverse-cycling. Being understanding and open about it is the best approach. If you cosleep, it's even easier.

5: Gymnastics nursing may help. Change up positions...lay on your back and let baby come and nurse, let baby sit on your lap to nurse, ditch your standard hold and try something new to catch baby's attention.

6: Some babies come to breast, nurse a moment or two and then move on because they don't have time for you. Most day time nursings won't be as long with a busy baby anyway. Try offering gentle breast compressions so baby will get more milk in these drive-by daytime nursings.

7: Try a nursing necklace, or several that you rotate, so baby will stay interested and have a way to continue playing and exploring while nursing. This has the added benefit of also protecting your boobs and chest from busy hands and fingers.

8: Nursing in public is a special challenge during these times. If you won't be able to find a quiet dark place to nurse your distracted baby, it's probably best to limit your outings for a little bit. Nurse baby before you head out and try to be home within a couple hours so you can offer the breast again. I find that sometimes Chase will nurse in the car if he won't nurse at the mall, playground, children's museum, or wherever we happen to be.

9: Learn to nurse in a baby carrier. You all know we LOVE babywearing here at TGL. There are so many benefits for mom and baby, not the least of which is access to breast. Learning to nurse in your favorite carrier may be great for your distracted baby. I frequently offer Chase some milkies while he is hangingout in the Ergo. He often falls asleep if I nurse him this way and has a nice, long dream feed while I cruise around with the toddler. You can nurse in many different carriers, just find one that works for you, try it at home to get your practice in, and then when you are out you will feel confident nursing your baby on the go. Your baby can still enjoy being part of the action while getting his/her liquid gold on the go!

10: Pump occaisionally to keep your supply up and deal with any discomfort from overful breasts. Set the milk aside in the fridge or freezer, or if you are offering solids and sippy cups, put the milk in a sippy. Don't give baby a bottle or sippy too often though or baby may end up with a daytime preference for bottles/sippies on account of how fast and easy it is for them. Chase sometimes gets a sippy of water or breastmilk with his meals now...but never just a sippy in lieu of nursing.

11: nurse your baby when s/he has just woken from naps, still in the nap room, before taking baby anywhere...Baby will still be nice and calm and will not yet be distracted by the wonderful world around them.

These are just a few things that have worked for us and some of our nursing friends. Remember that it is very unlikely your baby is weaning, more than likely s/he is approaching a developmental milestone and is too distracted by the amazing world to get down to business. A nursing strike is when baby flat out refuses to nurse, many of these techniques can help during a strike. Sometimes you'll never know what caused a strike, but it can be overcome. It's not uncommon for moms to think baby is weaning at around 15 months...this is a busy busy age and nurslings tend to cut back. Just follow baby's cues and do what you can to keep breastmilk in their diet and keep your supply up.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this is a big world for your baby. Often all these changes and experiences leave them feeling like they need to regroup. A lot of breastfed babies will do this at the breast. This is their homebase, where they feel safe, secure, and confident. Being available for on-demand nursing during these times is critical not only for their nutritional needs, but also for their emotional needs!

Please enjoy your amazing, busy baby, follow your instincts, keep offering the breast in a calm, casual, no pressure kind of way, and before you know'll be reaching and surprassing nursing goals!

Friday, August 5, 2011

World Breastfeeding Week Slideshow 2011

Mama Christa has worked tirelessly on making this beautiful slideshow of photos and quotes for World Breastfeeding Week 2011. Hope you enjoy it!

Hope you have a spot all picked out for the Big Latch On tomorrow! If not, find atleast one lactating friend and you can witness each other. It only takes two people to count! :)