Thursday, June 30, 2011

We Wouldn't Be Mommies if We Didn't Have Guilt

Did you happen to read this article from Peaceful Parenting that Mama Christa posted? I have a few things to blog about on this post, but today I want to talk about the guilt topic. 

I have a lot of friends who formula feed. I don't think formula is poison, or that women who formula feed are bad mothers. Of course you know our mission here at The Good Letdown ISN'T about making moms feel bad for formula feeding, afterall...feeding your baby can never be "wrong," no matter how you choose to do it. However, the relationship between breastfeeding mothers and formula feeding mothers is strained, either openly or secretly, usually there is some tension. 

Take for instance this new mom I met who lives down the street from me. Her husband works and goes to school with my husband and they have the most beautiful little baby girl you have ever seen (other than any baby girl who may have come out of YOUR body, of course). She's got the thickest, darkest hair you've ever seen and the most gorgeous eyes. Her mother is smart and kind, her father, well educated and fun. We really like them both. However, both times we have hung out with them, the mother has brought up breastfeeding/formula feeding. She mostly formula feeds her baby (who is about 5 months old), but does nurse "a little," as she puts it. I don't know why the feeding issue comes up, but I do know that when it comes up she seems nervous and strained. I get the impression that she feels bad that she is not breastfeeding her baby completely. From what she has said it sounds like pumping did not go well for her, and when she returned to work when the baby was 3 months old her supply tanked. I don't know the details, and I've casually mentioned that I know a lot about pumping and breastfeeding, tried to casually discuss it when she brings it up so that she knows she can ask me without judgement. This last time we hung out she went out of her way to tell me what a relief it was when she started formula feeding because she wasn't so stressed about getting the baby enough breastmilk. She mentioned that her pediatrician told her "any amount of breastmilk baby gets is good, don't feel bad about her getting formula!" OK, yea, sure it's true that some is better than none...and I don't know the whole story here...but what the hell is wrong with this pediatrician that she isn't telling mom to seek help and support if she herself can not give it to her?! 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want moms who have some struggles to feel guilty about formula feeding their babies. They are doing the best they know how to do in their circumstances, and if there is one thing I understand, it’s doinig what you can with the knowledge and resources you have at the time. What gets me is…

  1. This mom is going around telling people she didn’t have enough milk, that her baby was starving at 9 weeks so she gave her formula because there wasn’t enough milk, that she was stressed out about breastfeeding and she’s happier now that she isn’t really breastfeeding anymore.  Really? Because the fact of the matter is you didn’t seek support, and I get that. This community has a La Leche League group AND a breastfeeding commission, but the stories I’m hearing coming out of the hospital are abysmal, and the doctors I have encountered thus far are subpar. I get that this is a rural, southern Indiana farm community and that, by and large, breastfeeding here is so far from the norm that it makes it hard to advocate for yourself. But please, can we stop with the horror stories? I hate the “I wanted to breastfeed, but I just couldn’t” excuse from formula feeders. I admit it. I think it’s BS 90% of the time. Why? Because the VAST (and by vast I mean, over 95% of women) have  NO medical reason not to be able to breastfeed their babies. They have low supplies because they are given BAD advice and don’t seek out the proper information. It’s NOT really that hard to find. What I want to hear is “I chose to bottle feed my baby, it’s just what works for me,” and stop at that. Really. I have a friend who is like this and I love her to pieces because she isn’t off telling stories and blaming her body or breastfeeding for her formula choice.
  2. This stupid pediatrician didn’t refer this mom to LLL or the breastfeeding coalition, or a lactation consultant…SERIOUSLY?! If mom needed to supplement with formula because she had exhausted all breastfeeding routes, OK, that’s one thing. Then that IS what is best for that mom and baby. What should have happened is this pediatrician should have encouraged mom, educated her about cluster-feeding and growth spurts, and if she didn’t have the knowledge to do this, she should have referred her patient to the experts…La Leche League, Lactation Consultants, and the Breastfeeding Coalition.
  3. Every time I’m around this woman I feel guilty and self-conscious about breastfeeding my baby because she “couldn’t” and she seems to feel so badly about it! Now here I am, doing what I do and I worry that the very act of breastfeeding my baby is making her feel bad and that’s NOT what I want to do. In fact, I feel this way frequently when I’m around formula feeding moms. That even if I say or do nothing, that they will feel I am attacking or judging them simply by nursing my baby! I want all moms to breastfeed, I won’t lie. Breastfeeding is BEST for babies AND mommies. On the same hand I really respect a mother’s right to freely choose how she raises her child, and this includes her feeding choices. I want to be able to talk with a formula feeding mom openly about her decision, without feeling like she’s being attacked…I want to do this, to be able to offer advice and perspective on struggles (I could probably help this mom save her supply and get baby back to 100% breastfeeding) without that mom feeling like I’m second guessing her when all I’m doing is trying to educate so that either now, or in the future, she can be more successful. It’s not out of malice or judgement, simply out of a place of caring for her well-being, her baby’s well-being, and the well-being of the community at large…because each myth I dispel with one mom gets passed on to another mom, and maybe I can save a breastfeeding relationship or two in the process.

I took Chase to see a pediatrician last week and the pediatrician was totally befuddled about “on-demand” nursing…that I didn’t know how many minutes per side my baby nursed, that I allow him to nurse at will during the day and night. The pediatricians are clearly just NOT informed…how can we improve health outcomes for our babies and mothers if the care providers aren’t even up to date on the research?! Many people I know just said “I just give the pediatrician a number I know will satisfy them and go about my business.” This isn’t what I want to do…because that doesn’t change anything. I should tell that pediatrician, “I nurse my baby on demand, he nurses as little or as much as he likes because that’s how it should be. I do it because my baby knows when he is hungry or thirsty and when he is not and I want to foster positive eating habits by following his lead.” Why shouldn’t I go on about my business? Because this kind of crap SHOULD bother mothers…the fact that their pediatricians aren’t educated about breastfeeding should PISS US OFF. If I educate the pediatrician by providing information about normal breastfeeding behavior it won’t benefit me…but it WILL benefit mothers like the mom down the road who’s pediatrician OBVIOUSLY is not saavy about breastfeeding…and mothers like her. There’s no reason to NOT tell any nurse or doctor who works with mothers and babies that there is NEW and BETTER information out there…they are on the front lines, like Dr. Newman states in his article…no matter how much or how little a provider knows about breastfeeding, they have a very strong influence on the success or failure of breastfeeding mothers’!

I guess my point is that I wish all women breastfed, that they had the support they needed to succeed, to overcome, and to feel strongly about their choice…(but then, we here at The Good Letdown wouldn’t have anything to talk about because we would finally be in the majority…and wouldn’t that be wonderful?) but also that I don’t want any mother to feel guilty about her choices, no matter what they are, and I don’t know how to reach out to women like this mother down the street without them feeling guilty. I wish physicians all were educated and up to date on supporting breastfeeding mothers and educating them. I wish all hospitals were baby friendly, wonderful places to learn breastfeeding in those first days. I wish as mothers we could be guilt free…that I didn’t feel guilty breastfeeding my baby in front of a formula feeding mom and that she didn’t feel guilty giving her baby a bottle in front of me. Sadly, I don’t know how to reach this place, because the fact remains:

Breast IS Best…and next to that…formula REALLY isn’t just as good or even close. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Much Ado about a Boob

So a few weeks back I was upstairs nursing the baby in the middle of the night. I usually cruise facebook from my phone to keep from falling asleep if I am not done doing things around the house and I love to take pictures of him nursing at night because he's simply delicious when he's still and soft the way he is at night. Well I thought I had figured out how to post to a private group on facebook from my phone and posted this darling picture of Chase (and my boob, of course) to that group...or so I thought!

Turns out I posted it to my wall and friends were quick to laugh their butts off at my mistake. This picture is not obscene or even very revealing, but none the less, it's more boob than I generally share on my facebook wall. I couldn't figure out how to take the picture down from my phone...and I was stuck attached to this sweet baby so I was like "meh, WHATEVER!"

Then my husband marched in the room with his laptop in hand. ::sigh:: You can guess the conversation that followed once I was done with Chase. I *sort of* took the picture down, it is now hiding, cropped, in a folder, and not on my wall.

I did this out of respect for my husband who was very concerned about his coworkers and classmates who were on HIS facebook page seeing it. Though I reassured him that they were unable to see it as he was not tagged in the picture, he was very uncomfortable with it. But overall, my husband gets very antsy when I nurse the baby in public, and when I post any kind of nursing photos. Fortunately he doesn't really follow this blog...hahaha!

I'm curious if anyone else's partners are as leery of these things as mine is! Do you see eye to eye with your partner and family about what is OK to post on your wall or where it is OK to nurse?

Totally nursing next to the enterprise shuttle!!!

Then there was this picture, which HE took (much to his dismay) while we were in Northern Virginia...he was so bent out of shape about this!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Guide to NIP Harassment Survival Guide

Let me start this post off by saying that 99% of the time you are going to get no negativity when you are nursing in public. You might get the occasional backwards glance, but having someone truly confront you is most likely not going to happen to you. But, on the off chance that it does... it is good to be prepared. Practice with your friends just like a fire drill!

  • Know your state laws and/or have the information on a card on your person at all times. You can show the offender the information and hopefully they will just go away. There are a few states that do not have laws protecting mothers, but regardless all of us are covered under federal law. Maybe even have your lawyer contact information on the card to really drive the point home. Some WIC offices have such cards, otherwise you can easily make/order your own.
  • Remain calm, keep smiling, and act peaceful (which is hard to do when your rights are being violated). If you get upset and start shouting, they will use it against you. I see it over and over again in news story that come out. Establishments say they were not kicking the mother out because she was breastfeeding, they are kicking her out because she was loud, disruptive, and argumentative. Well... duh... her rights were being violated so of course she got upset. Who wouldn't?? But in any event, the more calm you remain the more credibility you keep and stronger you appear.
  • Obtain independent witness information. That way, if the establishment tries to change their story you have backup.
  • Have a video recorder on your phone? They can't take back what is digitally recorded. Make a contingency plan with your friends to use their phones should they see you in a situation. Hopefully someone will remember to turn it on!
  • Call headquarters afterwards and ask to speak with management. Perhaps there will be an apology? We wouldn't want to fault the establishment just because of the bad attitude of one employee. If management apologizes sincerely, maybe talk to them about the importance of educating their staff appropriately. 
  • Nurse-in/Nurse-out/Protest We cannot let these harassments go without a stand. It is difficult to be the mother to stand up and shout out. You are going to get some hate and flack from mean spirited people. But just know that you are doing the right thing for your baby and for all future breastfeeding mothers. Your strength will help the next mom to be a little more brave. We need you to do this. Lean on your friends and breastfeeding community. You'll make a whole bunch of new friends in the process too.
  • If you see someone being harassed - video tape it and/or calmly step in and help protect their rights (OUR rights). Sit down and start nursing your child too.
  • If you go public, make sure that your Facebook profile and other contact information is set on private. Unfortunately there are hateful trolls in this world who just might spew their ugly words in your direction. Best not to give them an invite by having your profile open!
  • Sue their pants off and make an example of them. I'm all for accepting an apology from someone who learns their lesson. But every once in a while there is a true hater of the worlds most natural thing and they just won't back down. You KNOW every nursing mother that comes in contact with this person is going to be attacked. So, make an example of them. People will call you more bad names, but you are a hero and we support you. "Well behaved women rarely make history." ~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Please continue nursing in public. Covered, uncovered, baggy shirts, showing the whole she-bang -- HOWEVER you and your baby like it. The more women seen nursing the easier this is all going to get. Join us on Facebook at the Normalizing Nursing in Public League (The NNIPL). We're just taking care of our babies, and changing the world at the same time.

What tips do you have for NIP harassment situation reaction?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Minnesota Breastfeeding Photo Contest

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) WIC Program is holding a breastfeeding photography contest Three categories of winners with 1st, 2nd, 3rd place in each category will be selected. Winners will receive a framed photo of their entry and a few additional surprises. The WIC Agency will also receive a copy of the winning entries that are affiliated with their WIC agency.

A picture is worth a thousand words. We are seeking photos to help convey the messages about the importance and normalcy of breastfeeding. We hope to create a photo gallery that could be used for WIC outreach, training materials and in many other ways.

Please use Rebecca Fahning from Pine County WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator for your WIC contact information.

UPDATE: Please print and sign the contest entry forms and fax or mail them to:
Linda Dech, MPH, IBCLC MDH WIC Peer Coordinator
P.O. Box 64882
St. Paul, MN 55164-0882
651-215-8951 fax

What they’re looking for….

The theme for the photos is Breastfeeding: Anytime, Anywhere. A hungry baby needs to eat, anytime, anywhere. More visuals are needed to show that breastfeeding (anytime, anywhere) is the norm. We’re looking for images that involve multiple people, generations, ethnicities, places, etc. We encourage creativity and fun in your photos. Here are some ideas:

* In what positions do babies feed best? (e.g. laid-back, football, cross-cradle, etc.)

* Where do babies breastfeed? (e.g. breastfeeding in restaurants, by MN landmarks, parks, stores, etc.)

* What do breastfed babies and toddlers do for fun? (e.g. babies and toddlers enjoying life)

* What are the important roles dads, grandmas, family and others have in the life of the baby and supporting breastfeeding? (What are dad’s important roles in the life of his breastfed baby? Giving baby a bath? Telling a story? What are Grandma’s or others important roles?) Include captions or comments with the photo.

* How are employers supportive of breastfeeding?

* How do you hold baby skin-to-skin in your family?

Rules & Regulations

1. This contest is open to all WIC participants, WIC staff and their friends and family except for the manufacturers or retail distributors of breastmilk substitutes, related equipment such as feeding bottles and teats, commercial foods for breastfeeding mothers, and commercial complementary foods, including employees and associates of such companies.

2. Participating in the photo contest will not impact eligibility for WIC benefits or WIC services.

3. Any costs incurred related to the photo shall be borne by the person submitting the photo.

4. Contest participants may submit up to 5 entries in each category in digital format. You will not receive acknowledgement of receipt.

1. All submissions are non-returnable and shall remain the sole property of MDH MN WIC; MN WIC reserves all rights to reproduce, publicize or to exhibit the submissions in any form of media or medium whether locally or internationally without any prior notification or payment made to participants. Images submitted must not be published in any media or medium prior to entry in this contest.

2. All entries must be of participants’ original works. Usage of third party/parties creative works is prohibited.

3. Entries will be judged on the following criteria: subject matter, composition, creativity and technique.

4. First, second and third place in each of the categories will be awarded. Judges’ decision is final.

5. Minor photo touch-up is allowed i.e. adjustment of brightness of color, softening or sharpening of the image.

6. The following techniques will not be accepted: digital super imposition, composite photographs, photo montage, trick photographs, digital imaging and image manipulations.

7. All entries must be submitted by August 31, 2011 to:

Use as the email address to submit entry form and photo.

12. Winners shall be notified via email and by November 1, 2011.

Visit their website for more information!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Off Topic Tuesday: Pillowtote Daily Fun

So, I'm a stay-at-home-mom of two children (2.75 years and 8 months old). I'll admit it. I'm bored. Lately we have been in a rutt in the world if being entertaining. Our Minnesota weather has been rainy or hot, couple that with how often my baby is napping, and we're stuck in the house most of the time. Often I let Chicken Little pick out what we do... but let's face it... once you've stepped on legos he left laying around and read the same book five times you're about ready to cry. Sometimes my favorite part of the day is when my son gets into independent playing so then I can sneak off online and have my own independent fun. But really we are lacking in the together time, just because he's off alone doesn't mean he wouldn't enjoy me joining in.

On Mondays we have a teacher who comes to our house because my son qualified for an assistance program. It has really helped him to catch up with peers, but it also gave me some ideas about how to structurally ... yet with lots of freedom... give us stuff to do during the day.

I picked out all the pillowcases that do not match sheets (i.e. all the husbands bachelor day mismatched stuff) and purchased 22 inch zippers. I sewed the zippers onto the open end of the pillowcase and made a whole bunch of totes.

In each of the pillowtotes I filled them with random toys, some with educational purposes, some that are above his age range, stuff with lots of parts, and some that just need supervision. During Chicklett's morning nap on days when I'm feeling uninspired I break out a pillowtote and we have about 60-90 minutes worth of fun to do together. No TV.... No mama sneaking off texting or on the computer... just me and the boy together.

Ideas for Pillowtote Items:

Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head
Finger Paint
Magnets and a cookie sheet
Paper and crayon/marker/colored pencils
Lincoln Logs
Large Beads & a string
Bubbles (and a sheet to protect your carpet)
Farm sets
Train & tracks

Pretty much anything that I usually have hidden because he will throw the pieces at the baby, leave them around for me to trip on, or they could destroy part of my house if used unsupervised.

Things that have a lot of pieces (like an entire set of Legos or blocks) could be broken up so you only have 10 pieces or so. Another fun thing the teacher does with Legos is she has 4 blue and 4 red blocks and then a blue cup and a red cup. Chicken Little is "supposed" to put the right color block into the matching cup. If he doesn't, it's no big deal. But most of the time he really gets into matching them. So, there is no right or wrong way to play with the items in the pillowtote, it's just fun and gets your typically hidden toys some good use.

What would you put in a pillowtote? Share your ideas!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's Not a Club!

Most of my friends are breast-feeders, it's true, and with the recent relocation to south-central Indiana, I'm seeking out women who breastfeed to try to make new friends here. Why? 

Well, it's not because I don't like women who formula feed. This isn't some kind of exclusive club by any means, but it's much easier to be a part of a group of women where your choice to breastfeed is just what's normal. It's easier to be myself with other women who have breastfed or are breastfeeding their kids. I don't face any questions, I don't face any judgement, I don't face unspoken guilt from a mom who failed at breastfeeding and now feels threatened by my breastfeeding relationship. I can even gripe about my nursling's latest annoying nursing habit with women who won't cringe if I say "nipple." I like feeling normal in a society where breastfeeding simply isn't normal (much as we are all trying to change that). It's a starting point for friendships, a way to find common ground and like-minded mothers to spend time with.

I also seek out doulas and other birth-workers because we share a common interest. Not all of them are breast-feeders, but we still build relationships on the basis of a common interest. If you don't share that interest, you wouldn't want to come and have coffee with me and a doula girlfriend because we are probably going to talk about birthy stuff in details you may find grotesque! I'll admit to having a hard time socializing with people who don't have's not because I don't like them, but as a stay at home mom, the things I have to talk about have to do with kids, my home, and my husband. A woman who works and has no children would probably grow bored of my babble quickly and we would struggle to find something to talk about. This is just how society works, we seek out like-minded people, people who share some interests with us, and we go from there. It's not because others are not perfectly nice people, it's just that we don't have a good common interest to keep a friendship together.

So don't think we are being exclusionary by seeking out other breastfeeding mothers. Formula feeders are the majority in this society, they always feel normal (except, of course if they are are hanging out with a room full of me and my breastfeeding buddies right?!) but breastfeeding mothers need to actively seek out others for their support network and community.

We're not haters. I promise. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Off Topic Tuesday: Play by Play on Facebook

Do you have those friends (or 'friends' as they case may be sometimes) that constantly update Facebook with a play by play of their entire day? Every mundane detail about what they are doing, did do, and what the plan on doing?

I can't speak for everyone... but for myself as a stay-at-home-mom I am using Facebook as a social outlet. My only physical co-workers wear diapers and the conversations are hardly stimulating. So yeah, I update Facebook a handful of times a day. But let me ask you working folks a question... do you ever have/over hear conversations at work like "What did you do last weekend?" "What are your lunch plans?" "Did you see that movie?" "Did you see that outfit Cindy is wearing today?" Well, guess what... my co-workers are mostly virtual and our frequent updates are the same darn thing y'all are talking about at work. Sure, it appears to be an answer to a question that wasn't asked... but it is just the new way of doing things. Facebook IS a SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE. So... it's a chance to be social.

A few months ago I found out that someone I was once close with had my wall blocked, and her reason was that my posts were annoying. Ouch. I'd say I used to post 3-4 times a day and maybe 1 or 2 links shared. Since that incident I'm lucky if I update three times a week. Every time I go to say something I end up stopping and figuring no one cares to know what I'm doing. It's left me more lonely and isolated, but I just can't seem to get over it.

So, next time you find yourself annoyed by someone's "ordinary useless" status update... maybe realize instead that this person is just lonely... and instead of ignoring them and further isolating them, throw them a bone. Comment with a "that meal sounds yummy" "what a wonderful and dedicated mommy you are" or "I miss you, when can we play?"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Letdown Love

When the three of us first thought to start this blog we had grand ideas...of an online community providing information and support for breastfeeding mothers using social media; information that was casual, open, friendly. We wanted people to SEE breastfeeding, so a new mother at least felt more comfortable with the image of a nursing baby, so it would be more normal to her. We hoped and dreamed of some big, awesome movement of breastfeeding mothers. 

When we hit 100 fans on our Facebook Page, we were so excited. Most of our fans were personal friends, colleagues, and online friends we knew from a few places. Then an AMAZING thing happened. People started sharing. They told friends who told friends who told friends, and here we are. We have over 600 fans on the facebook page, and more than 200 followers (what what?!!!!) here on the blog itself. The word has spread! We don't know how you found us, but we are SO GLAD you did. 

We are doing our best to keep up on the latest research, provide you with a safe place to ask questions, get support, and celebrate milestones. Sometimes posting is slower than others, sometimes we are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for inspiration, and sometimes life just gets in the way, but we are REALLY trying to bring you as much as we can in the best way we can.

A few days ago, after we started posting our hindsight stories (Megz's and Christa's), we started receiving private messages, and Mother Hen said to me "I'm kinda glad we started this whole blog thing." It made me smile. We are making a difference, we are helping women take charge of their health and their babies' health. We are touching lives, and it seems that you wonderful people are motivated, interested, and moved by our ideas, thoughts, musings, and stories. We are so happy to be able to reach out.

What I'm trying to say is, first of all, to those of you who were among our first fans...thank you for spreading our little blog around. Thank you for finding enough about what we were saying to spread the word to those you know. To those of you who have joined us over the last few months, thank you for coming over and "sitting down" with The Good Letdown. It means a lot to us to have women, families, and support persons here to share, learn, and laugh with us. 

We hope we are a part of your community, and we hope we continue to grow and reach more mothers. Don't hesitate to share our blog, or a specific topic with pregnant women and families, you have the power to turn on a lightbulb to start changing the outcome for mothers. We have a gap to fill where care providers fall short, to provide information and dispell myths, to make breastfeeding the STANDARD, not the exception. It's our job here to support mothers in giving their babies breastmilk, even if it's only some and not all, because every little bit makes mommies and babies healthier than if they received none at all. 

Thank you, and keep spreading the word. Share with us your thoughts and ideas. :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hindsite is 20/20 Part 2: Looking back

Kangarooing in the NICU after trying to breastfeed

I'm taking a page from Megz most recent post and writing about my own ::facepalm:: experience with looking back. In my introduction Olivia's story, I talked about having low supply and exclusively pumping. Looking back, and knowing what I do now, I now know that I had super crappy advice from lactation consultants and NO idea what I was doing.

Problem 1: Olivia was born at 34 weeks and had pretty high levels of bilirubin (she had jaundice). She was very sleepy (obviously, with jaundice) and hard to get to wake up to nurse. On day 2, the doctors told me if I didn't get her to feed and put her on a bottle, she wouldn't get to come home. By the end of day 2, I had caved because she wouldn't latch on and nurse.

Problem 2: We tried a nipple shield but it always slipped off and would overfill with milk. I was not shown the proper way to use a nipple shield nor was I educated on how to use it. I was not told that I should start her on it then transition her off of it nor was I told that it shouldn't be used for long term.

Problem 3: I was not shown how to use the pump. The flanges I used were too small and I was in a lot of pain. I had cracked and bleeding nipples and no one ever told me that there were different sizes of flanges or that it could make a difference.

Problem 4: The lactation consultants never told me how often I should pump. I tried to pump at every feeding. Shortly after Olivia came home, before my milk supply was established, they told me I could pump every 4 hours and sleep through the night. This is NOT true if your milk supply is not established!!

Problem 5: The LCs, nurses, doctors, Olivia's one in my life told me that it would be possible for her to latch on nor did they tell me HOW to make that happen. I was not encouraged to do a lot of skin on skin, I wasn't told to try to get her to latch when she wasn't super hungry or when she was sleepy...nothing. No one gave me any hints or tips about getting a baby to latch on. And I didn't know how to ask. I was a 23 year old mother who had read "What to Expect When You're Expecting".

Problem 6: I was given a case. Yes A CASE!!! Of formula when we left the NICU. AN ENTIRE CASE OF FORMULA. SIX full cans.

Problem 7: I tried to establish and keep up supply with a regular pump. Even though I used a really good pump, a Medela pump and style, in order to establish and exclusively pump it's almost impossible to do so without a hospital grade pump.

So, as you can see, I was kind of set up for failure. I didn't know better and the LCs at our hospital were completely worthless. Our pediatrician didn't help, none of the neonatologists or one gave me tips and I just simply didn't know where to go for support. I pumped because I was following my instincts but your instincts can only take you so far when you're EPing. You need to have correct support and information available to you. Against all odds, I made it work. I pumped and once my supply started dwindling due to all of those problems, I started looking into ways to increase supply. Then I started finding information and I was so incredibly blessed to be able to get Olivia breastfeeding at the age of 6 months old. My girlfriends joke that Olivia is the super breastfeeder because she not only latched after 6 months of bottles but relatched at the age of 2.5.

tandem nursing my 2 miracle babies! 

A lot of people may wonder why I spend so much time on breastfeeding. Why I post information, why I run a blog and a support group for preemie's because I know what it's like to be without support when I'm trying so desperately to breastfeed my baby.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reaching New Heights - Hindsight is 20/20

If you recall from my first breastfeeding story, my oldest, Aiden, was weened by 8 months. In hindsight, there were many contributing factors.

  1. His binky...oh how that baby loved his binky 
  2. At 6 months old, around the time we started to struggle and lose our way, we grew tired of Aiden waking 6 or 7 times a night. He wasn't waking to nurse, he was simply waking up...and being awake. We let him CIO one night, it took 20 minutes of fussing and he slept through the night for the first time that night. But this ended his night nursing. At the time I didn't notice the correlation, but I do now.
  3. Aiden is and has always been a spirited child, he's active, perceptive, nosy, observant, bossy...that's Aiden. He was like this as a made nursing him in public impossible. Not "nearly impossible," it was simply impossible. He was on and off, on and off, mostly off...and he didn't feel the need to make up for missed daytime nursings at night as many babies who do this do. He just didn't nurse. I couldn't handle the crappy latch, nipple pulling insanity that goes along with nursing a distracted baby. I was too self conscious.
  4. It was the summer months and I was uncomfortable with all the layers I insisted on wearing for the sake of modesty. I had zero self esteem and it was hard for me to nurse if anyone could see any part of my bare skin. 
  5. Post-partum depression. I did not know it then, but having been diagnosed this time, and looking back, I definitely had some mild PPD going on and it was making it difficult for me to nurse him. There was a whole slew of emotional blocks.
  6. Early solids. Like I said, Aiden was fine with not nursing...he liked his pacifier so he wasn't a comfort nurser, and we started solids with him a little after 4 months, and he liked food, so that's what he ate. 
  7. Nursing was not "normal" to me, despite being in the birth community, I had not been around nursing mothers, I had no friends who nursed, no one in my family while I was very passionate about breastfeeding, I also couldn't identify with it. So when I started having trouble with Aiden, it was just easier for me to give him a bottle...first of breastmilk...then of formula. 
  8. I didn't like nursing...for a lot of the reasons above. I was feeling touched out, I was an emotional wreck, i felt like he was touching me in a way I did not want to be touched (a common reaction in women survivors of abuse). 
By the time he was 8 months, my therapist and I had given me permission to wean him. I was heartbroken, I knew better, but I also knew that our breastfeeding relationship was seriously strained, that the stress of getting him to nurse, making sure he was nursing enough, always trying to find a quiet, dark place so he wasn't distracted, was stressing me badly and my supply was suffering. So that was that. I slowly reduced the number of feedings over the course of a week or two. Aiden never asked to nurse, didn't miss it at all. He took to his bottle just fine, enjoyed looking all around while he ate. So it was fine...but I was soooo ashamed. In a birth and breastfeeding crazy group, I always wanted to hide the fact that Aiden took was a horribly akward situation.

So Chase is 7.5 months old now, and only started solids right around 6 months...only recently are we getting more regular about it. He still nurses 2 or 3 times a night, and while he is a distracted nurser during the day (his brother is the most interesting thing on the planet) he makes up for not being a heavy daytime nurser by nursing at night. I'm about to cross into uncharted territory with Chase. I'm super cautious about foods. We are following the Baby Led Weaning approach to introducing solids, and he likes do I. It lets him be in charge of his own food consumption. I'm proud that we have had no troubles so far, but I"m worried. I'm worried about teeth, entering the biting zone...about if he'll EVER sleep through the night, about what it's like to nurse an 8 month old? a 10 month old? a 1 year old? Or, GASP...a 2 year old?! This is all unknown territory to me, exciting, but worrisome. I really enjoy nursing this time around, I enjoy spending that time with Chase...he enjoys it too...he is a BOOBY baby. He stopped using a pacifier about 3 months ago, he'd rather suck a boob or his's wonderfully freeing! 

My plan is to go to 18 months if he doesn't decide to be done sooner, and I've been with such a wonderful group of breastfeeding women for long enough now that I will probably even go as far as 2 years. I never would have even thought to do something like that. My hard limit with Aiden was 15 months...MAX! What a difference it makes to be surrounded by a community of women who just parent from their hearts, nurse their babies for however long it feels right for them and their baby, and holds eachother up when the going gets tough with wisdom, hugs, jokes, and tips. How lucky am I? 

My cool booby baby, Chase Racer

I hope you are lucky enough too, to have women friends in your circle who support the way YOU want to raise your kids...if it's breast or bottle feeding, if it's cloth diapering, if it's my way or your way...I hope YOUR community supports you...because being surrounded by wonderful mothers is one thing...being surrounded by wonderful mothers who think like YOU do is a totally different story!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

And the winner of the nursing necklace issssssssss......

Jessica Fuller Wooley!! 

Jessica, please contact ::Abstract:: {Indie Mama} at abstractindiemama@ and please cc us at with your mailing information to get your nursing necklace!

Congratulations Jessica!  

True Random Number Generator  19

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Auction to help Baby Emily!!

Emily entered the world through an emergency c-section on May 7th, 2011 at 8:22am. She was born at 24 weeks gestational age. Emily weighed in at 1lbs 5ozs and was 11 3/4 inches long. 

She has fought hard every day since, even undergoing surgery on her stomach, having numerous seizures, skin issues, and facing so many hurdles daily. She is a tough girl and so very strong, just like her Mommy and Daddy! She has shown these obstacles who's the boss and is still going strong. ♥

Mommy is even pumping breast milk for baby Emily for when she is ready to have feedings. How INCREDIBLE is that? 

You can follow her journey here:

I am putting together an auction to raise funds to help out her and her family. From having to take off work, to paying for extra gas to go see baby Emily, to medical bills, etc. this family sure can use our help. 

Please check out the auction at ::Abstract:: {Indie Mama} here: 

I will be adding sponsors through this week and the auction will run until June 30th, 2011. 

I know we can make this BIG and help out this amazing and inspiring family! Please pass along the invite and share this with anyone you know.