I’d like to introduce you to my new nursling…
Yeah, it felt a little silly, but my son insisted. And so goes life with a toddler…
18 months tomorrow! WOO!
Go (.)(.) !!
This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop, hosted by Life With Levi. The topic for Week 10 is Breastfeeding Products. To share your thoughts on the topic, please follow the directions below.
I have mixed feelings about products sold to breastfeeding mothers.
One one hand, I think that breastfeeding is a simple, biological act that predates manufactured products, and that many of the products on the market only serve to muck things up and get in the way of the natural process, which can interfere with the mother/baby nursing relationship and cause big problems. It bothers me that greedy marketing often tries to convince new moms that they need to buy certain products in order to succeed.
On the other hand, I understand that many mothers have specific challenges that can only be overcome with help found on the store shelves. I, myself, only needed a few things: a healthy diet, a properly-latched baby, a bunch of support and sticktoitiveness, and a good pump for my return to work. But I understand that all mothers do not have the same experience, and there are probably lots of moms out there who feel that a specific product or two has made all the difference.
I also know that when I was pregnant, I got very nesty and wanted to buy, stock up, prepare as much as possible. For me, it was part of the process of getting ready for my baby, and having half an aisle in the local Target dedicated to breastfeeding supplies for me to weed through gave me yet another thing to learn about and prepare. Would I have known about some of the potential problems I could have had if I had not read the packages? Maybe not. So maybe those products did help more than I realized…
Like I said. I have mixed feelings.
So, I’ve decided to keep this post simple and tell you the two products I never invested money in, but wish I had. If I ever have another baby, I most definitely, without a doubt, will purchase:
1. A comfy glider (with a footstool.) Because my butt spends a LOT of time there, and my rickety rocker just isn’t cutting it anymore. Scrimping in this area was not worth the discomfort.
2. Properly fitted, supportive non-ugly nursing bras (I’m thinking Bravado.) Because my boobs spend a LOT of time there, and my rickety knock-offs just aren’t cutting it anymore. Again, the money saved was not worth the discomfort, or the funky shaped boobs.
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Hi, friends! This post is my contribution to Week 6 of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop, hosted by Life With Levi(@LifeWithLevi.) This week’s topic is Obstacles. When you’re done reading, please visit the rest of the blogs on the link list and share the BF love! I can’t host the linky myself for technical reasons, but you can find it, along with the instructions for the hop, by clicking on the button here:
Is breastfeeding easy, or is it hard?
I often feel like I contradict myself when discussing the topic of breastfeeding. On one hand, I feel like it’s the easiest, most natural thing in the world. Your body is made for it, it doesn’t require any mixing, heating, measuring or sterilizing. You don’t even have to get out of bed at night to nurse if you don’t want to. It’s the biological norm, custom formulated for your baby, always available, and free!
On the other hand, breastfeeding has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. No matter how dedicated you are, it can be hard.
But how is that possible if it’s so easy?
Because as a breastfeeding mom, everywhere you turn you will find an obstacle in your way.
My obstacles? I had headaches for months that made it so I couldn’t even hold my baby, and then I had to return to work 65 miles away, which made for long days of pumping on the job. At 15 months, my son still doesn’t sleep through the night, and I’m always exhausted. I don’t know any other breastfeeding moms, so I get questioned (challenged) a LOT and had few places to turn for help until I sought them out.
Common obstacles to breastfeeding are many, including:
I could go on all day. Obstacles and “booby traps” are around every corner, but I think that trying to take on each one individually would require more time than any of us busy moms have.
In thinking about the topic of “obstacles,” I am reminded of the obstacle courses I used to play on as a child. Even at that age, I knew that an obstacle was something to dodge, climb or hurdle so I could reach my goal of finishing the course. So, my advice after 15 months of nursing is to put your effort into tackling the biggest obstacle of all: self-doubt.
Read books. Research online. Learn, learn, learn. Anticipate common problems, and find out what to do before they arise. Talk to other nursing moms. Find a support system that you can call on at 3am. Get to know your local LLL. Save a Lactation Consultant’s number in your phone. If you are told to supplement or stop nursing, seek another opinion. And then seek another one. When those things sound enticing to you because you are sore, tired and frustrated, ask for help. When you are told that nursing will be hard, know that you are up to the challenge. When you need to nurse in public, ignore those who gawk and know that there is an entire community of moms – generations of moms – standing beside you. Be firm with your employer that time to pump is necessary and non-negotiable, then negotiate how to make it work. Be proud of your milestones. When you are told that you can’t for any reason, know that you CAN, and don’t let anyone plant that seed of self-doubt.
Because once you empower yourself and overcome the obstacle of self-doubt, none of the other ones will have the power to trip you up quite as much.
Jump those hurdles, mamas! Yay boobies!
(note: I fully recognize that there are some rare issues that make breastfeeding impossible, and the intent of this post is not to discount those issues. I am a firm believer, however, that the vast majority of negative or unsuccessful breastfeeding experiences could be remedied with proper support and education.)
What obstacles have you faced in your breastfeeding journey?
Did you overcome them? How?
Hi, friends! This post is my contribution to Week 5 of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop, hosted by Life With Levi (@LifeWithLevi.) When you’re done reading, please visit the rest of the blogs on the link list and share the BF love! I can’t host the linky myself for technical reasons, but you can find it, along with the instructions for the hop, by clicking on the button here:
So there I was, in the mall on a snowy day in January, with a rambunctious 14-month-old who would not hold my hand or allow me to carry him. He wanted to run, and he let me know it. Rather than completely “abort mission,” I called my husband to come pick him up so I could finish my errands.
“I’ll be there in a half an hour.”
I figured I could kill that much time, but I was exhausted, and my son was getting hungry. Then, he pinched my nose – a sure sign he wanted to nurse. Now.
So, the answer was obvious. Just sit down and nurse him, right? It would give me the chance to sit and relax, while reigning in the hungry monster and undoubtedly replacing his defiant mood with a much happier one. (I’m always amazed at the magical effects a few minutes at the breast can have.)
Except that our mall doesn’t have a nursing room, and I haven’t nursed in public in a loooong time. It just doesn’t come up that often for us anymore, and this is no docile, cooing infant.
I’m now nursing a toddler, which is a whole different ballgame.
Because a toddler doesn’t just lay there in your lap and nurse like an infant does. Not in my experience, anyway. My son can start out being cradled in my arms, then turn in the complete opposite direction, get down off my lap, stand on the floor, grab a toy, and crawl back up on me, all without unlatching! And he does it often.
He also has a tendency to get my milk to let down, and then unlatch to yell “Dada!” or grab a cracker, leaving me spraying the room.
Or, he twiddles, or pats my breast, which he insists be bare. The very idea of a nursing cover is downright laughable at this point. When I nursed him as an infant, nobody even knew. But things are much different now….
None of this bodes well for a “discreet” nursing-in-public experience. But the question I asked myself that day myself was, why do I even feel like I need to be discreet?
It’s no secret that many people have a problem with women nursing in public. I see it on the social media sites I frequent, I hear it in the news, I feel it out in public. I experience it firsthand from people who know me personally and tell me that nursing my son is “disgusting.” (Notice I don’t refer to them as my friends.) When people aren’t telling you it’s downright weird to nurse your child, they’re usually telling you that they don’t mind what you do, as long as you’re discreet.
…as if giving you their conditional permission.
First off, “discreet” is a totally relative term, and frankly, I have to look at offensive indiscretions all the time (Hello butt-crack dude, I’m talking to you!) In my opinion, a statement like the one above does nothing but negate itself and cause nursing moms to know, without a doubt, that they are being judged.
Plus, I’ve noticed a huge change in public perception since I’ve been nursing a toddler.
Some many people get more than rude when they find out you’re nursing a child over a few months old. I guess maybe it comes down to the inability to separate the sexual breast from the nourishing breast, but they think it’s just downright WRONG, and they are not afraid to speak their minds.
Now, I’m not a timid person, and I’m known to speak my mind when I don’t agree with the masses, which is often. But when it came time to nurse my son in public because he was acting out and obviously hungry, I couldn’t help but think about the anti-BFing hatred I’ve seen spewed on Twitter, and those moms I see in the news who are thrown out of public places for nursing. I will freely admit that there was a part of me that felt intimidated and scared without the safety of my home around me. But then I thought of the many other groups who feel that way when they leave the house, those who are told, “I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your home, as long as nobody has to see it …” as if that remotely resembles acceptance.
….the same-sex couples who fear holding hands in public
…the interracial couples who have to stand up to disapproving glares in public
…those who do not fit traditional dichotomous gender roles who have to put on an armor of defenses just to step out into public
…It even reminded me of the young boy from my local area who recently walked 11 miles in the rain, and stepped out in front of a truck to end his life because he was sick of being scared and bullied every day.
Because that’s exactly what it is when you infringe upon someone’s legal rights, and belittle them or attack them or harass them because what they’re doing doesn’t fit your personal idea of what “should” be. It’s bullying. And it’s wrong.
Let me be clear before you think I’m the most dramatic woman on the planet: I wasn’t terrified of nursing my boy in public. It just really, really bothered me that such a simple thing made me so uneasy, and stirred up so much emotion in me. It bothered me that our culture, as a whole, has made the climate such that I had to even think twice about meeting my son’s needs. So, when I was faced with the question – To NIP or not to NIP – I thought about the kind of person I want my son to see when he looks at his mother. So I found a bench, and I put my walking, talking, mouth-full-of-teeth, “old enough to ask for it” toddler son to my breast, and I did it for everyone who ever felt singled out, discriminated against, judged, or harassed. I did it for the one young mama-to-be who might walk by and feel inspired. I did it for the children who need to see breastfeeding mothers in the mall more than they need to see 10-ft. Victoria’s Secret posters.
I did it for my son’s sons and daughters.
And I’ll do it again.
Thanks for sticking it out through my novel-length post. Have you ever nursed a toddler in public? I’d love to hear about it!
I had an entirely different post planned for today, but something has happened and it’s pretty darned important in the “big picture” of my life these days, so I thought I’d share.
All you squeamish folks, please exit quietly to the left…
….or stay and learn about postpartum menstruation!
Why am I sharing what might be considered TMI? Well, because just a few days ago I was seeking out the same information. It had been nearly 14 period-free months since my son was born, and I was beginning to think my cycle would never return.
Would it ever return?
When was the normal time for it to return?
Would I have to stop breastfeeding in order for it to return?
I had so many questions.
Anytime it came up in girl talk at the office or with friends, I always got a shocked look when I mentioned that I had had no Flo yet. I was assured by my doctor, LLL leaders and various reputable online sources that while some breastfeeding moms return to their normal cycle quickly, the AVERAGE is 14.5 months for moms who practice “ecological breastfeeding,” which is, for the most part, what we did without knowing it for months. Ecological breastfeeding includes not only nursing on demand both day and night, but keeping baby close to you, nursing in a side-lying position for naps and nighttime, comfort nursing, and NOT using bottles or pacifiers. (Source: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/normal/fertility.html)
But still, I worried. All those shocked women would tell me that they had breastfed, too, and that their cycles returned after 6 weeks, or 12 weeks, or 4 months. They looked at me like I had 4 heads.
So, I wondered, “What was wrong with me?”
What I realized after a while is that many of those moms told me they breastfed, when they actually only breastfed for a short time, or non-exclusively, or did not practice ecological breastfeeding. I caught on when I realized that the moms that told me they breastfed and got their first period back at 4 months were the same moms who told me their babies slept through the night at 8 weeks of age. (Most babies who are breastfed do not–yet another area where I doubted my parenting and then found out we were totally normal!)
Note to self: Scratch those “judgy” moms off my “Who to ask for advice” list. Not to criticize, but the experience is just too, too different, and I spent way too much time feeling like something was wrong, when everything was spot on.
So, last month, I started to see signs of ovulation. My first attempts to conceive and 2 subsequent pregnancies – one successful, one lost – left me much more in tune with my body’s signals, so I thought I sensed a beginning to the return of my cycle. Lo and behold, one day off from the day I predicted, my period returned!
I never thought I’d be so happy to hear from that particular visitor! But I felt like it was the end of something, too. The return of my fertility means that my body is ready to support another child, which means my pregnancy is really over. I know, it was over a long time ago, but I don’t really see it that way. I will definitely view my next pregnancy as a 2-year process that will require my body to be physically involved with my baby for the entire time. But that’s OK with me. I’ve loved every demanding, draining, exhausting, totally rewarding second of this one!
The most thrilling part for me is that I might be able to concieve now without having to wean my son! I really thought I may have to, and the thought of taking from one to give to another just didn’t sit well with me, and I was getting quite anxious about it. If I was 25, it might not be such an issue to wait a little longer, but I am most definitely NOT 25.
For those of you out there wondering about your first postpartum period, I can only tell you my experience. We have breastfed totally on demand for 14 months, with the introduction of solids around 6 months. I pump 8 ounces at 5am, another 8 ounces at 2pm, and then he nurses when I get home from work at 6pm and throughout the night. (He has never slept through the night.) I used to pump before bed each night (around 10pm) but I cut that out about a month ago. I do believe that change in our routine may be what brought the Big O back (No, not that Big O, silly. )
I expected what I used to call “the week of h*ll” to be awful, but it was quite easy. While many might begin with an anovulatory period, I believe that I did ovulate because I felt some familiar pain. But that was the only pain I had. No cramps, just a little bloating, slight headache and a very light 4-days. Easy peasy.
And so begins my foray into mama cloth! With the love I have for cloth diapering, you didn’t think I was going to return to those nasty plastic feminine hygeine products you buy at the drugstore, did you? No way! If my son is worth cloth, then surely I am too! I used my cute new cupcake-printed liners for a couple days and I give them a definite thumbs up. I can’t imagine going back knowing the toxins involved. As soon as I have enough info compiled to do some complete mama cloth reviews, I’ll be sure to update you!
If we don’t get pregnant first, that is!