I found this photo of a mom breastfeeding and love it. The tattoos, the laid back posture, the softness of the colors; fantastic. This has been on my breastfeeding pinterest board for about a year. A couple of weeks ago, someone commented saying the photo was dark and sad because the mother was not gazing at her child. I completely disagree.
The idea that breastfeeding should be portrayed as blissful, tender moments is not new. It seems the only breastfeeding image that is accepted is the one where mom is gazing at baby lovingly. The reality is, breastfeeding does have those blissful moments but it also has the moments where mom is tired, or aggravated, or her mind is on other things and she happens to be breastfeeding. But that doesn't make the moment dark or sad. Every breastfeeding moment must be loving and blissful.. What an unreasonable expectation to put on nursing mothers! I can't think of any aspect of my life that solely consists of blissful, happy moments.
When breastfeeding moms read this kind of response they feel something is wrong with their breastfeeding relationship. They feel that they should be more happy about it. That there should be a permanent smile plastered on their faces when they breastfeed. That they should be counting the minutes until the next feeding. Late at night when mom is tired, hungry, a little sick, and there is a fussy baby wanting to nurse the guilty thoughts start to surface. This mom in this moment is not happy about breastfeeding. She'd rather be sleeping, or getting a massage, or both. And at this moment, it would be better if she was resting and recovering. But there is another human that's dependent on her and she's doing the most loving thing any mom can do. She's breastfeeding and caring for him. Unfortunately, the guilt will chip away at her confidence. Those guilty thoughts will eventually destroy her perfectly healthy and happy breastfeeding relationship.
What can we do about this? We can keep talking about real breastfeeding. We need to shed light on what a real breastfeeding relationship is like. It is like any other aspect of our lives. It has happy incredible moments. It has not so good moments. It has downright bad moments sometimes. But that's life. I don't focus on the bad moments or even the not so good moments. Every decision I make brings me closer to joy in everything I do. And that's what I see in this photo. A mom making the best decision for her and her baby in that moment.
I may or may not have a photo (depending on how editing goes) in the 2014 Start Something Beautiful Calendar. If you know any expecting mothers, this would be an amazing gift! Or buy one for yourself and support the breastfeeding movement. Normally they cut off orders in July, but they are extending the order window this year. So go order one (or two, or three ;) and support Something Beautiful!!
Being self employed, and after going through multiple insurance premium rate hikes, we decided to give up the insurance game. The only times any of us has seen doctors has been during my pregnancies and deliveries (all normal routine checkups). Ironically, none of those visits were covered by our policy. For a short while we kept up our pediatrician visits as a self paying patient, but there was no value gained by keeping those visits. In fact, they posed potential harm depending on what nurse we happened to have and their knowledge of breastfeeding and infant nutrition. When Chase was little, a nurse tried to scare me into introducing rice cereal, otherwise he wouldn't get enough iron she said. Which is simply, not correct. In fact, the best source of iron for breast fed babies is breast milk. So when another nurse mentioned introducing solids to Desmond at 4 months old, that was the last straw. The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months.
Moving on. If you've been following along with my adventures in becoming a breast milk donor and my difficulties finding a phlebotomist to do the blood draw then you'll understand how my heart hit the floor when the Mother's Milk rep told me about the physician forms requirement. For most people, getting a form signed by a physician is a trip to the doc's office. For me, it would mean a whole lot of time and money and a potential epic fail.
Finding a doctor now would be a wild mess. The first question from the receptionist is not "What can we do for you?" but "What insurance do you have?" And "I don't have insurance" is not a popular answer. Finding a doctor that would be willing to check a box for me and recommend me (and my son) as a healthy breast milk donor would be quite an undertaking. Who knows what hoops they would want me to go through and how much they would charge me. Thankfully, about a week after learning about the physician requirement, Mother's Milk Coop has dropped the physician document requirement! Hurray! They are testing my blood, which to me is a more solid vetting tool than a physician.
It's amazing how nursing is something the young ones never forget. I'm not sure what the age is when nursing, or the ability to suck, starts to naturally wane. I once saw a piece of a documentary where a mom said her six year old daughter was becoming frustrated while nursing because her suck reflex had weakened. The daughter accused the mom of withholding her milk. What was happening was she couldn't extract the milk effectively anymore. Her nursing suck reflex was naturally weakening. Pretty interesting stuff.
We are nowhere near the six year old mark, but I still worried that weaning would be a permanent thing. No so. Desmond has picked up his nursing habits right where we left off. It took about 3 or 4 nursing sessions for him to get right back into the "nursing solves all problems" mode. If he gets hurt, ask for milk. If he's tired, ask for milk. If he's upset, ask for milk. Hungry? Let's have som milk!
The demands for nursing are a bit frustrating, especially since I'm not able to nurse every time he asks. Right now I can handle maybe two nursing sessions a day, provided they are far apart. One early session and one late session. Thankfully he hasn't demanded milk during the night. He is still satisfied with hugs and knowing I'm nearby. Even so, I'm happy that he has picked up nursing again. I was feeling guilty for weaning him so soon. But my fears of Desmond refusing or forgetting how to nurse are gone now. It's as if we never stopped.
I am not new to breastfeeding. I've been at it for three and a half years now. This is how it all started:
Oh my we look so young. Babies ourselves, heh. I still remember that first night with Chase. He slept on my chest all night. Even in my sleepy delirious state, my instinct each time he stirred was to latch him on. That still amazes me.
This is what breastfeeding looks like for us today:
After many months of testing my nipple pain, I've decided the time has come to try and work in some nursing sessions. Desmond, of course, is on board with this plan 100%. I am so grateful that he has been patient with me. He seems to understand that nursing is very painful and he graciously accepts whatever nursing sessions I offer. He doesn't get upset if nursing is not an option. He is comforted by me through nursing and other means. He is a sweetie.
Here we are, day two of nursing longer than a minute or two. Surely, the pain still exists, but it is manageable. The itch has gone away. Right now, Desmond is happily nursing while taking a much needed nap. I'd love to switch sides, but my big belly prevents me from being able to switch without completely rolling to my other side. Heh, I have almost forgotten the logistics of nursing.
My movement is pretty limited right now. There is some room to wiggle my legs or shift my hips about an inch closer or further away from Desmond but we are pretty stationary here; lying on the bed. If I need water, someone has to get it for me. If I get hungry, someone must bring me a snack. And if I have to use the bathroom, well that will just have to wait. Let this serve as a reminder to keep our nursing supplies nearby. We don't need much. Just a few key things that will make the time spent nursing go much smoother. This is what I recommend:
Nearing the end of my pregnancy, my physical and mental state vary widely. Sometimes I'm feeling rested, elated, and even excited. Other times I'm feeling exhausted, achy, and defeated. Managing breastfeeding discomfort is a challenge, but managing the breastfeeding aversion that accompanies the frustration from pregnancy discomfort is the most challenging.
Breastfeeding aversion can happen at any time; not just during pregnancy. Another term that comes to mind is "touched out." I like to categorize all situations where I have no significant physical breastfeeding related pain, but actively do not want to breastfeed as fitting into the aversion category. Situations in this category are feelings or thoughts that are preventing me from meeting my nursling's need. Here are some tactics I like to use to help ease me through these times:
* Acknowledge the negative thoughts. I can tell I'm having an aversion when thoughts like "I don't want to do this right now," "this is the last thing I want to do," "you don't really need this," "I wish you would stop," etc. these thoughts swirl around my head furiously until I stop breastfeeding if I don't calm myself down. Each time I have a negative thought I acknowledge it, and actively think of a couple of positive thoughts. For example: "I'm meeting your breastfeeding need in the most loving way," "you DO need this or you wouldn't ask for it," "You feel loved and comforted when I meet your needs," "this nursing session won't last forever," etc.
* Mental distraction. This can be in the form of an activity like reading an article, watching a movie, playing a game, or it can be choosing to actively think of something else. Think about a past conversation you had or a problem you'd like to solve (not breastfeeding related). Anything to keep your mind focused on something other than the urge to stop breastfeeding.
* Physical distraction. This may sound bizarre, but sometimes I pinch myself slightly to focus my mind on the new pain rather than what is going on at my breast. Maybe I pinch my leg or slightly pull my hair. Nothing too painful, just enough to occupy my mind with a different sensation. Sometimes this works for a couple of minutes, sometimes only for a moment.
I'm very new to Tynan's blog and sett.com. I made my way here from zenhabits.com a couple weeks ago. Tynan had made mention that he works on this blog platform. Naturally I became curious, being a developer myself. I read the couple things about sett and what it promised as a new blogging platform and filed that away in my head. It felt important to remember at the time although I'm only now realizing why.
For the past couple months I've been trying to form a writing habit. I dove in and wrote *almost* daily for about two months. Nothing in particular, mostly spur of the moment stream of consciousness type writing. Topics from thoughts I had the day before or things going on with my kids.
But I lost interest the more I wrote. Or more accurately, my fear grew the more I realized what it was I really wanted to share with the world. Breastfeeding; in all of its ups and downs and sideways beauty. It's as real and ever changing as life itself.
Unfortunately, it's not an easy topic to cover. There's lots of controversy to navigate. Lots of misinformation and fear to overcome. But still, I feel it's the one area where I can really help people; really change someone's life. A child's life. How awesome would that be?
Breastfeeding is such a restricting word. There are so many reasons a baby will nurse. Hunger or thirst is one tiny part of the whole experience. Just think of all the reasons why you may eat something:
Breastmilk is the guilt free food. You can't ever have too much. It won't make you fat. (At least not in a bad way;) And the more you have the healthier you'll be. But the absolute best part of breastfeeding??
There are two hard rules that I made for myself shortly after I became pregnant the first time.
1) Breastfeeding is the most important part of raising my kids.