Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Long Hiatus

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus.  We’ve moved halfway across the country from California to the Midwest, we’ve been getting settled, getting Gabi started in school, unpacking boxes, and trying to get our new lives figured out.  I’m looking forward to coming back to blogging, and I appreciate you, my readers, for forgiving me for abandoning the blog for so long.

Guest Post: Misconceptions about Motherhood

P1040069_2Liz is taking a leave of absence from public education to care for her 18 month old and emotionally needy border collie. Before Liz stayed home, she taught every grade from Kindergarten to 8th, but loved middle school because that is where the real changes in life happen.  When she was working, her husband cared for their daughter and then he worked afternoons and nights. Being a mom to her daughter is the best job she has ever had.

I thought having a baby would be easy, like having another dog. I know, don’t laugh at me. I assumed I would feed it and it would sleep, or that I would be able to sit and write while my baby would play on the floor by my feet. Ha Ha Ha. Right now I have to decide if I take this moment of peace while she plays with her shoes to pee or start writing this blog. write while my baby would play on the floor by my feet. Ha Ha Ha.

Right now I have to decide if I take this moment of peace while she plays with her shoes to pee or start writing this blog. Keep in mind that I went back to work at 8 weeks, but I definitely did not have any idea of how much a baby would need me, it’s mother.

The purpose of this blog is not to scare people, but to tell the honest truth so people can have some idea of what they are getting into so they can schedule their lives. My husband always jokes, “You mean it’s not as simple as the new parenting videos make it out to be?”

In the beginning:
A few months before my baby was born, a friend told me that nursing was a part time job. I didn’t really believe it. But no, she is right. A new baby needs to nurse every two to three hours, and sometimes will want more, especially during growth spurts, every four, six and eight weeks. A new baby nurses 10-12 times a day; this is important because it establishes milk supply. During this time I watched a lot of Gilmore Girls. Some people read. Learning to sideways nurse helped a lot because then I could sort of sleep.

The first eight weeks are hard, very hard for someone who isn’t used to sitting down. I had to tell myself that the time would pass and it sure did. It seems like only yesterday I was holding her on a breastfeeding pillow.

A new baby wants to be held, a lot. I assumed that I would nurse the baby and put it to sleep in it’s bed. I learned that that moment between sleep and awake is a fragile moment to a baby, and that they cry. A lot.

I also learned that the best way to maintain my sanity was to wear her on me in either a sling or a wrap; my Moby Wrap and I became great friends because I could have my hands free.

We also danced a lot and bounced on a yoga ball because babies have gas, lots of it. The first eight weeks we nursed, I burped her after each feeding, sometimes we nursed again, we went for walks with her in the Moby, I tried to nap during the day as I was used to getting more than five hours of sleep at a time (a record for new moms actually), she would fall asleep on me or in the Moby and I would have a few moments to relax before it all started up again.

Motherhood is hard. No one tells you that. Sometimes we assume that they will be like little dolls that we can just give a bottle or pacifier and all will be alright. That’s certainly a fantasy world. My child had no interest in a pacifier, which turned out to be a good thing because now I don’t have to figure out how to take it away from her.

Now I went back to work at 8 weeks and I pumped at work. When I came home I still had all the usual chores like shopping, laundry, pulling weeds, cooking and cleaning etc. For getting these things done, I found my Ergo and sling to be indispensable because I could wear her and be close to her and not feel like I was away from her too much. Every day when I got home if it was still light out, I either put her in the Moby or Ergo and we walked, my favorite part of the day. She was happiest when she was involved and up close by me because I could talk to her, sing to her, and she could look at me and feel me.

When she got older and could sit up on her own, I put her in our Bob stroller and we went for longer walks. Of course I also brought a carrier and kept it underneath after learning that pushing a stroller and holding a sad baby is not a fun thing to do.

When she was nine months old I took some time off work, but that month my baby, who crawled at six months, started walking. Before she was born, I assumed there would be so much down time, time to do other things like I used to always. I didn’t count on all the time it takes to dress a baby, comfort and nurse a baby, bathe a baby, and then when baby was eating food, clean up the food that ended up on the ground and in baby’s hair etc. What I’m getting at is that life is different. So different. But so good! I wouldn’t trade a moment of this because watching her grow is the most fascinating thing I have ever seen.

The great thing about babies is that they are portable and travel well. When she was 4 months, we took her to Washington DC and the Smithsonian. From 10 days to 9 months, she spent quite a lot of time traveling to San Diego to visit family and also went camping a few times. At 10-11 months, we took a three week road trip up to Washington. A few weeks shy of her first birthday, we went to Hawaii. Since then she has been camping in Sequoia and has also flown to Michigan. Having a baby changes life, but she’s just a little person who can enjoy the adventure, too.

In the time that I wrote this blog (a little over an hour), I have also stopped my now 18 month old from taking my books off the shelf, have read her a book about South African animals (she picked it!), taken out the ice packs from the freezer because she wanted them (I don’t know why), watched her climb in and out of our Bob stroller and play with the buckle while putting on and off a hat and putting a hat on a ratty dog toy. She has worked on a puzzle, gotten frustrated with the puzzle and crawled on my lap because she wanted to type. I have taken her to sit on the potty and we read her farm book four times. I just left her in her room after we played with her farm animals for a minute, but now I hear her taking out her books. Things change a lot between 8 weeks and 18 months. Now excuse me, I’m being handed a Dr. Seuss book. Time for me to exercise my oscar winning actress skills on my rendition of Oh the Things You Can Think.

Links: Pumping at work: http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/what-to-expect-when-pumping/

The first week: http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/newborn-nursing/

Nursing: http://kellymom.com/ages/newborn/bf-basics/latch-resources/

breastfriend pillow: http://www.mybrestfriend.com

carriers: http://www.thebabywearer.com

Handling Breastfeeding Criticism

With the holidays coming up, many of us are on our way to visit friends and family.  Those visits can be full of joy, but they can also be stressful. I am so fortunate to have supportive friends and family, but not everyone is so lucky in that regard. So many times, moms and dads find themselves receiving criticism for the parenting choices they made, particularly if those parenting choices don’t exactly line up with the way grandparents, uncles, aunts, and friends view child-rearing.

I believe that criticism, particularly breastfeeding criticism comes from two major places, ignorance and pain, and if you can identify the root of your critic’s feelings, it can make it easier to move past their hurtful words.  To be clear, when I say “ignorance,” I don’t mean stupidity.  Ignorance is simply a lack on knowledge on a subject.  Because breastfeeding wasn’t the norm in the US for an entire generation, much of the tribal knowledge surrounding it has been lost.

Is it any wonder Aunt Edith worries your baby might need to switch to formula if her doctor told her that milk turns to water at six months?  Is it any wonder that Great-Grandma Cathy worries you are overfeeding your baby if her doctor instructed her to space out feedings to every four hours?  Is it any wonder your young, childless friends think you might be spoiling your child by nursing her down for naps if all they see on TV and in movies are peacefully sleeping babies that never, ever seem to need to eat (or poop for that matter)?

I’d like to go through a few scenarios, and by the end of this article, I hope you will have some tools added to your belt to help you through these situations.

Scenario 1: The Opportunity to Educate

Your Aunt Edith approaches you while you are breastfeeding your 8 month old and says something along the lines of, “When are you going to get that baby off the boob? Your milk isn’t enough for her anymore.  She is starving!”

This is a great opportunity to help educate Aunt Edith (and other family members who may be listening in).  Tiny ripples can cause big changes, but it’s important to educate in a way that is sensitive and loving.  Getting angry at your Aunt and giving her a piece of your mind will only leave her feeling hurt and defensive, and while it may get her off your back, it won’t help other family members who may be in a similar situation.

Here’s how I have gently educated my friends and family members when in a similar situation (I’ll highlight the key “gentling” phrases):

“You know, that is a really interesting point that you make.  Did you know that new research shows us that breastmilk grows and changes as the baby grows?  Nowadays, doctors tell us that breastmilk should be a baby’s main source of nutrition until they are a year old and that we should continue nursing until the baby is two!  It’s really amazing how recommendations change over time, isn’t it?

Sure, it’s not brand new research, but it’s new research to her.  And framing it that way can sometimes feel less agressive and patronizing than saying, “Actually, that’s wrong.  Here is the right information.”

I would encourage you to take every chance you can to educate your friends.  Taking the time to educate Aunt Edith, even though she isn’t nursing anymore, may mean that in the future, when Aunt Edith’s daughter-in-law has a baby, Aunt Edith will be better able to support her.

Scenaro 2: The Opportunity to Connect

Sometimes, people’s own breatfeeding-related experiences may have been emotionally painful.  They may feel guilty for not breastfeeding and the fact that you do breastfeed may make them feel defensive.  That defensiveness can manifest in that person being hypercritical of you.  It seems counter-intuitive that a person would want to bring another person down like that, but it’s human nature.  It doesn’t make them a bad person, it makes them a person in pain.

If you run into a situation like this, and if the friend or relative mentions that, well, they couldn’t breastfeed at all because of [whatever reason], you can take the opportunity to reach out and connect to that mom and honor her pain.  No, that doesn’t mean that you grill her on why and tell her why she probably would have been just fine if she had just stuck it out or gotten in touch with a proper IBCLC.  That doesn’t help.  What happened happened.  What you can do, though, is offer her sisterhood and say something along the lines of, “I am so sorry that you didn’t have the support you deserve. I wish I could have been there to hug you and cry with you and tell you that it was going to be okay.”

My dear friend Paris at Mother Revolution is way better at this than I am.  You should definitely read her blog.

Scenario 3: The Jerk Factor

It’s all well and good to talk about the above two opportunities to connect and grow closer to your family.  However, it would be naive to believe that there aren’t people out there who are just plain mean.  I’ve had friends who have dealt with friends and family members who try to cut them down for a variety of destructive reasons, and there are times when your parenting choices simply need to be off-limits for conversation.

The best way to shut a conversation down politely is by using the Bean Dip Method.  I honestly don’t know where this term was coined.  It was something we talked about over on the Kellymom.com forums.  If you know where this came from, please let me know so I can properly attribute this.

The Bean Dip Method (or in light of the upcoming holidays, the Cranberry Sauce Method) is a polite way to redirect a conversation.  It’s not about changing someone’s mind.  It’s about setting a boundary and enforcing it.  Here’s how it works:

Cousin Jill has been harping on you all weekend and will not leave you alone about breastfeeding.  She thinks that it is high time you wean your toddler, and despite the fact that you have told her the WHO recommendations and attempted to connect with her in a loving way, she will just not stop.  Cousin Jill has an axe to grind, and you are her current target.

Cousin Jill: Ugh, breastfeeding again?  You’re turning him into a sissy.
You: That’s interesting.  Can you please pass the cranberry sauce?
Cousin Jill: Seriously, when they’re old enough to ask for it, it’s time to quit.
You: Okay.  Can you pass the gravy?
Cousin Jill: Seriously, that’s just gross.
You: I know you love the baby.  We’ve researched and made our parenting decisions, and they aren’t open for discussion.

If it continues, be prepared to quietly remove yourself from the situation.  There’s no need for you to subject yourself to that kind of thing.

 

Family gatherings can be fun, but they can also be stressful.  Have you had to deal with criticism over your parenting choices?  How did you handle it?

pallasathena2007:

I wrote this for Mamas at Work after a coaching session from the Life Coach my company has hired to help new parents transition from maternity/paternity leave back to work. I started late, but my first session was very helpful, and I’m getting some great perspective from her. Did you have any particular perspective shifts that helped you with a major life transition?

Originally posted on Mamas at Work:

I feel lucky to work for a company that provides a free coaching service to parents returning to work. For people who enroll in the program, they have the opportunity to work with a life coach who can help provide guidance on finding the balance between work-life and home-life.

I found out about this program a few months ago and immediately enrolled. Balance is something I desperately need right now.

During our initial meeting, I talked to her about my concerns about not being there for the girls as much as I would like to be.  I told her about the fears I have that I may not be able to give them the same opportunities that my own mother, who was a stay-at-home-mom gave me. As a kid, I was able to participate in whichever activities I felt passionate about.  I was able to take piano lessons, do 4-H projects…

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pallasathena2007:

Here’s a post I wrote over at Mamas at Work in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week. It was so hard when I was trying to nurse Gabi without a good supportive community. My mom and husband were both supportive, but I just felt so alone. Now, with Katie, I’ve got an amazing community of support. I wrote about ways you can build your own supportive community. Enjoy, and happy World Breastfeeding Week!

Originally posted on Mamas at Work:

This will be the first in a series of posts celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2012.  World Breastfeeding Week kicked off on Wednesday, August 1 and continues through August 7.  We are extending the celebration into this entire week though.  Stay tuned for some great posts on breastfeeding, pumping, and other related topics!

 

The 2012 US Breastfeeding Report Card, released by the CDC, gives us a startling picture of the state of breastfeeding here in the US, and, while the numbers are going up, we’ve still got quite a lot of room for improvement:

Breastfeeding initiation increased from 74.6% in 2008 to 76.9% in 2009 births. This improvement in initiation represents the largest annual increase over the previous decade. Breastfeeding at 6 months increased from 44.3% to 47.2%; breastfeeding at 12 months increased from 23.8% to 25.5%.

One of the single biggest factors that can make a difference for moms…

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In Defense of Nail Biters

Gabi has started biting her nails.  She started while I was pregnant, and it’s clear that she’s not going to stop any time soon.  Juan finds this to be vexing.  He gripes.  He tells her to stop.  He takes her hand out of her mouth.  He’s even started talking about getting some of that nasty tasting nail polish.

Gabi's fingernails. The don't actually look too bad. Mine were always a little red and inflamed because of how far down I bit them.

He doesn’t understand.  He was never a nail biter.

But I was.  Oh, did I bite my nails.  I bit them right down to the quick.  I bit them until they bled.  When I ran out of fingernail, I would chew the skin around the edges of the nails.  Then I would chew up the inside of my lips.  Then I would bite my toenails.  Yeah, I know.  Gross.  Don’t pretend like you didn’t do gross stuff as a kid.  You know you did!

The nail biting was a compulsion.  I couldn’t stop.

We tried everything.  My Grandma promised me a beautiful ring when I stopped biting my nails.  Didn’t work.  Later, we tried painting my nails with bitter nail polish.  I bit them anyway.  I tried painting my nails with pretty nail polish so they’d be too pretty for me to bite.  I learned to carefully scrape off  the nail polish so I could access the nails beneath and resume biting.  Bandaids over the nails?  Peeled them off, bit, and then carefully stuck them back on again.  Every single trick that they recommend, we tried.  Many of those attempts were attempts I made myself.  It’s not like my parents were harassing me to stop biting my nails or anything.  They had given up on that years ago.

The nail biting was absolutely outside my control.  The more I tried to stop it, the more I chewed.  When I got anxious I chewed.  The attempts to quit made me anxious.  Having adults notice and point it out made me anxious.  All of that fed into the cycle.  Nail biting was just something I did and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  Then I just… stopped.

There was nothing I did to stop.  I just woke up one morning and no longer had the need to bite.  I still felt stressed about things (who doesn’t?) but because I was developmentally ready to stop, the need to chew disappeared and it no longer served as a comfort measure to deal with anxiety.

For me the need to chew disappeared when I was 17 years old.  For some people I think it comes sooner.  For others later.  For a few people, the need never disappears.  And you know what?  Who cares?

Now that Gabi is older and biting her nails, what is the big deal?

I see parents agonizing over this on various parenting message boards, and I’d like to really examine the reasoning for wanting so badly for their kids to stop biting.  Let’s break this down:

  • It looks ugly.  So what?  They are her hands.  If someone is going to judge her based on her fingernails, they’ve got bigger issues than she needs to deal with anyway!  Chewed finger nails aren’t going to keep her from a career in a professional setting.  Unless she applied for a hand modeling gig.  In which case we would probably have a conversation about what her strengths really are.
  • It can be painful.  Oh, yeah.  Chewing down to the quick definitely hurts.  Does it ever!  Part of this is responsibility.  If she’s going to chew, she needs to be prepared for the consequences, and that means that some days her fingers might be sore.  It goes with the territory.  But is it really a huge deal?  I bit my nails until they bled, but it never kept me from enjoying activities.  I just had to take responsibility for what I had done and let them heal for a day or two.
  • What if she gets germs?  Well, she might, but so might a lot of other kids.  She will need to be able to keep her hands washed frequently to keep from spreading or catching any illnesses.
  • If she bites them too far, they could get infected.  It could happen.  Never happened to me, but sure.  It could happen.  We’ll just have to keep an eye on it and enforce the hand washing.
  • It’s a “bad” habit.  Like what?  Like smoking?  Not really.  It’s not causing long term effects.  It’s not hurting anyone.
  • It bugs me.  (This is Juan’s gripe.)  Then you really just need to use your neck and look the other way.  Sorry if I sound a little defensive on that one, but as a long-term nail biter, this particular line of reasoning really gets under my skin.

Look, here’s the thing: No amount of us harping on her, offering rewards, putting tabasco sauce (thanks for that idea internet), or threatening is going to stop her from biting her nails.  She can’t control it, and if we bug her about it we will just be feeding into the anxiety cycle.  Some day, she will probably grow out of it, but in the meantime, there’s no major harm being done.

See? I stopped. They don't look too bad do they?

So please.  If you have a kid who bites his or her nails, please just leave them alone and let them grow out of it on their own.  The more you push, the more they’ll bite.  Please don’t feed the cycle.

So how about it?  Are there any other nail biters out there?   Any parents of nail biters?  I’m interested to hear your story and find out if you (or your child) eventually stopped biting and how it happened.

World Breastfeeding Week – Guilt, Judgement, and Lactivism

I’ve gotten a lot of great comments here and on facebook that have me thinking hard about how to talk about breastfeeding in a productive way.  A lot of readers comments talk about guilt and judgement.  So how to we reconcile this with the goal of promoting breastfeeding?

Keep in mind, this is intended to be a thought-provoking post.  It may make you feel feelings and think uncomfortable thoughts.  That’s okay.  Feel free to comment.  This isn’t an echo-chamber here.  It’s my house, but I do welcome civil discussion and I’m not afraid to speak candidly and gently with someone who disagrees with me.

Guilt

Oh, boy. This first one is a doozy. Women carry a lot of guilt. Trust me. I grew up in the South and I’m Catholic.  I know all about guilt. Specifically, though, I’d like to talk about guilt with respect to breastfeeding.  

In response to yesterday’s post I had several comments here on the blog, on the Knocked Up – Knocked Over Facebook page, and on my own personal Facebook page that referenced the notion of guilt and disappointment over breastfeeding.  I’m glad that my readers brought up this issue.  I will confess that this was a really big elephant that I was trying to avoid, but upon further reflection, I decided that it would be disingenuous to do so. 

So let us ask ourselves: Why is there so much guilt surrounding the issue of breastfeeding? Here is what I see most often: Women feel like they failed at breastfeeding and this sense of failure manifests as guilt and crops up painfully if they come across information showing that maybe they could have breastfed after all had they only known. 

Some examples: Mom is told she has to stop breastfeeding to take a medication (for PPD, migraines, flu, pain, etc) only to find out much later that either the medication was safe after all or that there was a viable alternative that she could have used instead.  Brand new mom is recovering from her birth in the hospital and is told that it just doesn’t look like her milk is in so she’ll need to give her baby formula only to find out later that it can sometimes take up to five days for milk to come in and that those tiny quantities of colostrum are plenty for a newborn with a stomach the size of a grape. Mom thinks she’s not making enough milk because baby seems to want to nurse all the time ever hour over and over only to find out later that this is simply normal newborn/infant behavior and isn’t a reflection on milk supply at all.  Mom is in so much pain when she nurses and the lactation consultant says the latch is fine and that it “shouldn’t be hurting” but the pain is so great that she ends up stopping only to find out later that she likely had a treatable medical condition like thrush or mastitis or that the baby had a treatable condition like a tongue tie.

When confronted by information that calls into question the decisions they made (under duress) to stop breastfeeding some moms feel, understandably defensive. Let me be very clear to moms who feel this sense of failure:  You did not fail.  I’m going to say it one more time: You did not fail.  Not by a long shot.  Society failed you.  The medical professional who gave you misinformation failed you.  A society that promotes a false concept of newborn behavior failed you.  The community that wasn’t there for you when you needed support the most failed you.  But above all, you didn’t fail.

If you didn’t fail, you have nothing to feel guilty about.  Take those feelings of guilt, recognize them for what they are, and set them aside.  Life is full of “should haves,” “could haves,” and “what ifs.”  Know that you made the very best decision you could have made at the time with the information you had available.  Leave the baggage at the side of the road and move on, a wiser and stronger woman.

Judgement

This one goes hand in hand with guilt. I hear stories from other mothers about being approached by strangers who make inappropriate comments: “Why are you giving that baby a bottle? Don’t you know that babies should be breastfed?”  Please do not mistake this kind of thing for “lactivism” (which I will talk about next).  To explain this, I’ll need to explain a personal theory of mine.  This theory involves a bad word.  If that offends your eyes, feel free to cover them.

The Asshole Theory.  Anyone stranger who approaches you in a mall (or a park or a restaurant or any other place) to confront you about the way you are feeding your child is an asshole.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Assholes look for ways to cut down other people.  When you encounter an asshole, the best thing to remember is that their comments are not about you.  Their comments are about them making themselves feel superior.  If it wasn’t about breastfeeding, the asshole would  find something else to be an asshole about.  Recognize an asshole for what he or she is.

Now, that’s not to say that the only time mothers feel judged is when they’re dealing with the above-mentioned group of people.  Moms feel judged all the time:

When they encounter people that make different parenting choices

Please don’t mistake other people’s different choices for judgement against your own choices.  We make the best choices we can as parents, and we make the best choices we can for our children.  I choose to wear my child in a baby carrier.  That works for me.  Your baby may not like being worn or you may not have found a carrier that is comfortable for you.  We all do things differently!  What’s right for my child, may not work for your child.  You made the decisions you did for specific reasons. Own those reasons. Be confident in your choices.  And just do not pick up that guilt monkey.

When they talk to an overzealous friend who might be making assumptions about the reasons behind her choices

I’ll talk about this further when I talk about lactivism.  Here’s something I keep in mind though.  Sometimes being a new parent is like having a new toy.  You’re really excited about this thing you’ve just learned and you want to share and you don’t know the best way to share that excitement without trampling on someone else’s toes.  The new idea is so shiny and sparkly that it doesn’t even cross your mind that someone might not be as excited and entranced as you are.  It’s just so cool!  And you think, “Wow. She’s not excited about this sparkly thing that I just found out about.  What’s wrong with her?”  Yes, this is judgement.  No, it’s not very nice.  But can we really chalk it up to the Asshole Theory?  Or is it plain ignorance and immaturity?  Having been guilty of this kind of excitement, I’d like to say that, for the most part, it’s a simple case of maturity mixed with a tiny bit of insecurity.

Instead of feeling judged and taking on guilt, what if we all viewed these instances as a chance to set boundaries?  What if we respond to our excited friends by saying things like, “I respect your views, and I would just ask that you extend me the same courtesy,” or “I’m really not comfortable talking about this,” or (my favorite) “I’ll forgive you for asking me that if you’ll forgive me for not answering.”  Then change the subject.  You’re under no obligation to defend or debate your choices and experiences if you don’t wish to.

When they read a newspaper article talking about either the risks of formula feeding or the benefits of breastfeeding

I’m going to have to defer to a wonderful article from Annie at PhD in Parenting for this one. 

The intent of the study is not to pick on moms or to make them feel guilty. The point of the study is to achieve greater societal, political, and institutional support for breastfeeding.  [snip]  It is time that we accept the facts. When compared with breastfeeding, formula has risks. That doesn’t mean that every mom who doesn’t breastfeed is “some kind of baby killer.” What it does mean is that every mom who does want to breastfeed deserves a fighting chance to be able to do so.

Emphasis mine.  The entire article wonderful and a lot of the comments are solid gold.

When it comes to judgement, remember this: You can’t control other people, but you can control your reactions to them.  We’re going to run into judgemental people no matter what we do.  Of this I know!  Remember, I breastfed a three and a half year old while in the depths of hyperemesis gravidarum.  You better believe I got judged for that!  But I choose not to take it on.  I make my choices and I stand by them.  If someone wants to judge me, fine.  Let that reflect on them.

Lactivism

With the above comments about guilt and judgement in mind, how can we promote breastfeeding in a healthy way?  You know the old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  So what do we do (in addition to all of the things I talked about yesterday)?

I can tell you what we shouldn’t do.  We shouldn’t make a snap judgement when we see a woman giving her baby a bottle.  For one thing, we really have no idea what’s going on there.  Is there breast milk in that bottle?  Could be.  But what if there is formula in there?  Remember all of those barriers that women face in our society? Lack of support, predatory marketing practices by formula companies, lack of information, lack of community, etc?  Maybe she never got that critical piece of information that you got that helped you succeed.  Maybe she was molested as a child and cannot for very personal and intense reasons breastfeed.  Maybe she’s one of the minority of women who truly does have a medical barrier that prevents her from breastfeeding such as hypoplasia.  Remember, even our very dear friends have things that they may wish to keep private from us.  It’s important to be sensitive and remind ourselves that every person’s situation is different.

We also shouldn’t approach people that we don’t know because that would make us assholes (see my theory above).

What we should do is let our pregnant friends know that if they need help or have any questions that they can call and talk to us.  Here is what I always say, “I’m not sure if you’re planning to breastfeed or not, but if you are, I’m happy to help you in any way I can. I’ve got a whole lot of information right at my fingertips, and I know several really good lactation consultants that I can put you in touch with.  If you want any information, let me know and I will give it to you.”

And then do you know what I do?  I drop it.  I’ve said my piece.  I’ve made the offer to help.  My friend is free to take me up on that or not.  I won’t push the issue.  I will gently correct misinformation if she chooses to share with me.  And if she asks for me to help, I am ready to do everything I can to support her.  But I let her make the first move.

Once again, I’d like to reference Annie from PhD in Parenting whose article “I won’t ask you why you didn’t breastfeed” sums up my feelings so perfectly.

So what does this all mean?

Fellow lactivists, let’s work hard for societal change.  Let’s speak out against predatory marketing tactics that undermine women’s ability to breastfeed.  Let’s encourage medical professionals to educate themselves and give sound, evidence-based medical advice.  Let’s take off the gloves and change society for the better.

But when we deal with other mothers on an individual level, let’s remember that behind every woman’s breastfeeding outcome, there is a story that she may or may not wish to share.  Let’s treat these other mothers gently, and remember that she is the only one who knows the very personal and intimate details of that story and that those details are none of our business.

We mothers all want the same thing.  We want what’s best for our children.  Instead of playing the guilt/judgement game, let’s work together to make the world a better place for our children.

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I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!

You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

Is this what morning sickness feels like?

I haven’t been feeling so hot lately.  I missed a few days from work last week.  I took Zofran a few times.

No, the HG isn’t back, but something sure is making me feel crummy.

I met with my midwife on Thursday evening.  She had some ideas that seem to be helping a bit.

First of all, she told me, I’m not eating enough food.  I need to eat more.  This makes sense since the times I feel the sickest are when I get hungry.  I thought I was eating a lot.  I mean, I feel like I’m eating my family out of house and home.  It seems like every other day I have to go to the store to replenish my snacks.  And trust me, buying in bulk won’t work.  My snack preferences seem to fluctuate day-to-day.  A snack that appeals to me one day, won’t work at all the next.  It’s frustrating.

But, as she said, I need to eat more.  So I am trying to.  And it’s pretty impressive what I’m able to put away.  I feel like I’m eating like a lumberjack!  Right now, my favorite foods are Japanese: seaweed salad and cooked sushi rolls.

A second suggestion she had was for me to try taking a digestive enzyme supplement.  I swung by my local health food store on the way home and picked up some MegaFood Megazymes.  Sounds impressive, no?  The idea is that I’m not digesting things well, as evidenced by my ability to throw up part of my 11:30 AM lunch at 8:30 PM.  My body isn’t moving food through efficiently.  The enzymes are supposed to help me get all of my food digested more quickly so it can pass through my system more easily.

Another thing to help food move through my system is to alternate hot and cold fluids.  She said this would stimulate the muscles in my stomach and intestines to contract and push food through.

So right now, it’s all about moving food through the body.

A bit of good news: While I have taken Zofran a couple of times since this all got started, some of the more traditional morning sickness remedies seem to be helping.  I’ve been chewing those ginger candies that I wrote about in the fall with some success, and my very best friend suggested trying Earth Mama Angel Baby Morning Wellness Tea.  Both of these seem to be helping.

So maybe this is what morning sickness feels like.  I guess I wouldn’t know.  I don’t really have any frame of reference  for what normal looks like.

At any rate, I’m surviving, and that’s good.  Even if I don’t feel cheerful and wonderful each and every day, I’m surviving.  I’m past the halfway point.  I’m headed downhill.  If you’re a hiker or a runner you’ll know that while uphill really sucks, downhill sucks a little too.  But you just have to keep going to get to the flat.  And that’s what I’m looking forward to.  The nice flat part after the baby is born where I can just feel healthy again.