Advocate vs Militant

It’s easy to be a militant breastfeeder. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and say “oh you should have done this” or “you obviously didn’t want it badly enough” or “formula sucks and  I’d rather use donor milk than give rat poison to my baby.”

Yup. Judging people is easy.

Sitting next to the mother crying because her milk has dried up completely is hard. Comforting the mother who lives in poverty and has to go back to work, desperately wants to nurse but can’t get a pump because WIC doesn’t consider work a “need,” that’s hard. Counseling with the adoptive mother for whom induced lactation didn’t work tears at your heart.

Hearing someone judge a mother I’ve worked with directly and telling her she didn’t do enough…well, it pisses me off. And it’s not like I feel my work is being criticized. Hardly. I see the mother herself start questioning again. Just when she’s feeling confident again as a mother and a woman.

The fact of the matter is, not all women can breastfeed whether its because of physical problems or her life circumstances.

A true breastfeeding advocate will see this. A militant breastfeeder shoots off her mouth and destroys relationships with a single blow.

It takes far more work and compassion to be an advocate.

I’ve said it so many times: You don’t know the story behind the bottle. Did the mom not get support and she’s weaned completely? Did the mom have breast surgery? Is she not comfortable with breastfeeding in public? Is that the biological mom at all?

To be honest, I do judge one type of mom with a baby bottle. The mom who is feeding her infant/toddler/preschooler soda or koolaid or sweet tea. No, I can’t support that. Nor do I advocate supporting that.

 

The breastfeeding advocate’s greatest strength is in listening and giving advice and then…letting go. Find out what mom’s goals are. If she doesn’t plan on breastfeeding at all, suggest she just try and see where it goes. What’s the worst that can happen? She decides it works and keeps going? Or she decides it doesn’t and is satisfied with that. In the end, it’s about showing support to the woman. Maybe next time she’ll decide to breastfeed longer.

So much talk is given to letting breastfeeding be seen as normal. Let young people see it.  Don’t cover up. Be open and vocal.

That’s great in theory, but we have a society full of body myths and young women who are truly uncomfortable in their own skin. What happens when the only exposure to breastfeeding a young expectant mother who is insecure in herself as a woman has is to a nursing toddler or preschooler? There’s a good chance it won’t evoke those maternal instincts. Completely backfires.

This is when the advocate is needed rather than the militant. The militant fires off her mouth in a barrage of “you shoulds” and “if you don’ts.” The expectant mother tunes out any useful information. The advocate builds a relationship. The advocate lets the mother know her friendship is not contingent upon breastfeeding. She gives information and support to the mother, no matter what.

I saw this very scenario play out recently. Very young mom with no intention to breastfeed, her only exposure being to a “hippy” type. But her resident hippy was an advocate who shared, but wasn’t pushy. She laid the groundwork for the lactation consultant at the hospital…someone with “authority”…to finally convince mom it was worth it just to try.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to have militant feelings, but don’t cross the line into being a breastfeeding bitch. That doesn’t do anything for the cause.

Breastmilk: Perfect for Lazy Moms like Me

Here’s an article that goes far in the Breast vs Bottle Debate and it comes from Nature.

Time and time again, formula companies tout their milk as “close” to breastmilk. Researchers are discovering more and more reasons why it will only ever be “close” and never be superior to, or even equal to, breastmilk.

The article explains:

Indeed, the fact there are so many bioactive molecules in breast milk means that breastfeeding is an activity that empowers mothers. He adds, “The more we learn about the details of breast milk the more we realize that males have a little chance to influence their offspring by non-genetic pathways. Mothers have a very rich opportunity.”

In non-Geek speak, that means breastmilk does things for mothers and babies on a genetic level that formula cannot compete with without gene modification. Breastmilk changes and modifies genes on a mother-baby specific level. The only way formula can do that is to make formula for each baby based on that baby’s needs. Formula is One Size Fits all. Breastmilk is One Size Fits ONE.

As a mother who has done both breast and bottle feeding, I can honestly say, I’m really too lazy to bottle feed. During the first few sleep deprived weeks of new motherhood where you are questioning your ability (and sometimes sanity) in raising a child, the bottle seems the easier option. There is less perceived pressure. Things are measurable. There are assurances that you recognize from societal norms that you are doing the right thing. When you are breaking ground among your family and friends as a new breastfeeding mother, those cues are often missing. You question yourself and your ability.

But the secret is, breastfeeding gets easier. You and the baby get the hang of it. And, did I mention, it gets easier than bottles in the middle of the night, during the day, during long car rides, hikes in the woods?

Once you gain that self confidence, breastfeeding can be done pretty much anywhere at any time.

It is far more liberating to go out with baby knowing all you need to do is throw a diaper in your purse, grab the keys and GO. The bulky diaper bag full of STUFF is completely optional. I stopped carrying a diaper bag after my third child. There really wasn’t anything I needed in the bag that I couldn’t carry in my purse. No need for snacks, bottles, formula, changes of clothes, etc. Of course my van suffered for that, but it really is a house on wheels and our family could really survive in it for several days (and we’re not just talking eating the smashed up food that makes its ways into the cracks and crevices of the carseats, thank you very much).

By the time baby number six came along and we crammed all the kids in a minivan and drove cross country (because we believe in torturing ourselves for the benefit of the children), it was quite easy to sit in the van next to the carseat and lean a bit to let her nurse instead of stopping. That’s another “perk” to breastfeeding (tho I’m not sure perk is the right word to use when you’re a 38DD Long): You don’t have to get out of the seatbelt or lean too far forward to nurse in a rear facing carseat, or roll over to the side to nurse at night…

Alive and Kicking!

Don’t worry, this blog is still alive and kicking. And it’s in serious need of a butt kicking. I’ve been neglectful.

One of my goals for the new year is to breath new life in to this blog.

I still welcome guest posts and would love your feedback. And the blog’s voice may chance a bit over the coming  year as I really tweak things and give this blog what it deserves.  It may become more lactivist and information oriented in supporting women and breastfeeding.

 

Thanks for your continued support.

What’s in a name?

I’ve always heard that you need to stop breastfeeding as soon as baby can ask for. That’s silly because as soon as a baby is born, she asks for it by crying!

But I’ve also never been one to listen to what people say. That’s why I’m still nursing one of my kids far longer than I ever thought I would. She’s my average kid when it comes to weaning. Average as in I’m hoping she’ll wean before we go longer than the world-wide average age for weaning.

What I find amazing is that each of my children have come up with different names for nursing.

My oldest weaned before he could talk (he didn’t talk til he was 2), but the other kids have come up with some doozies!

#2: Beep Beep. At first, we thought she was saying baby and pointing to my nipples. No, she said Beep Beep like a car horn and would smash them with a big grin on her face.  Yes, my boobs look like a horn.

#3 MaBoos Pretty self explanatory, I think. Mom’s Boobs in toddler speak.

#4 Mmmmm She was a sweetie about it. It was just “mama, I want some mmm”

#5 Ha In her little toddler speak, she’d nurse then try to say “ahhhh” except she’d say “haaaaa” And she still calls them Ha.

#6 LuLu Not sure why, but baby girl excitedly says this over and over when she wants to nurse. The only other things she says are CatCat, This and Tickle Tickle.

I am curious to hear what your children have called nursing!

Going the distance

I don’t have a problem nursing babies in public, but sometimes I do find myself nursing out in the van. It’s usually because we’ve been running errands and baby is just not going to wait until I get things situated while we’re out and about. I’ve had a few impatient nursers. Little B was one of those.

Once, we were out in the van following a diaper blow out of epic proportions. It’s been 8 years but I still remember how he used to blow out the diapers. It wasn’t pretty and was one of the big reasons I quickly became a cloth diaper drop out. Little B was at the age where he liked to look and flash a smile exposing my 38 Fs beyond a little dangle.

It was on this occasion that I found myself in the very back of the van nursing him. He unlatched. And my milk squirted out like it was participating in some sort of Olympic distance event hitting the front window! I’m sure if the window hadn’t been in the way, we could have gone another 6 feet.

It’s about this point I started to question my milk supply! Not that I had too little milk, but maybe I had too much!

When I think of women with too much milk, I think of my mother-in-law. She told the story of how when she was nursing, she used to hold a bottle on the side the baby wasn’t nursing on to collect the milk as it poured out of her breast. She could catch a full 8 ounces on the other side! She also told me how she couldn’t even be around another baby in public while she was nursing. If that baby cried, her milk would let down and she’d be completely drenched.

That was certainly not my problem! But it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that milk squirting a good 6 feet straight out of nipples that pointed straight down wasn’t exactly normal.

This problem is actually more common than we’re lead to believe. Most moms worry about not having enough milk, but it’s far more likely baby is fussing at the breast because mom’s milk is coming out like water from a fire hose. Having held on to a fire hose on full blast, I can tell you, it’s not an easy task! I can just imagine that a little baby trying to keep up with a hose on full blast is not going to be happy. The tricky part for some moms is that the milk only comes out full speed when the baby is attached.

Overactive letdown is a very common hiccup in the breastfeeding relationship. Babies are usually fussy and pull off the breast frequently, gulp, gassy, explosive diapers (nice to know that now!), and even experience symptoms of reflux!

The cure? Many mothers like myself have had great success with block nursing. That is we only offer one side at a time unless baby seems really interested. With one of my darlings, I could only switch breasts every third feeding.

As soon as you feel let down, pull the baby off the breast (have a cloth handy!) until the sensation stops. Then put the baby back on.

Gravity is not your friend. Try lying down to nurse.

Also, sometimes what mom is eating can make overactive letdown worse. I thought I didn’t have enough milk so I was eating things to boost my supply. I’ve since discovered that I can’t even eat oatmeal cookies unless I want to drown my babies. It’s very tragic because I love oatmeal cookies.

Overactive letdown usually resolves itself as baby gets bigger and better able to handle the flow of milk.  Even though my Little Miss is 16 months old, she still gets irritated if my milk lets down first. My Terrorist Toddler (who is also nursing a bit) has discovered that if she is “helpful” with breast compressions while Little Miss is nursing, Little Miss will finish much sooner, pull off and not go back on because the milk came too fast! Sibling rivalry at it’s finest!

The power of support

I never sent out to be a breastfeeding advoate. Those who knew me when I was young and idealistic knew I was more of a “spout my ideas off in a contained and controlled format” kind of person. I wrote for the college newspaper and had a couple brief stints working as an actual reporter for real newspapers. I had plenty of ideas, but my ideas were for other people to implement. Never did I set out to actual change the world myself.

But the very act of having a child changes the world.  And I don’t have just one child. I have six. By  many accounts, not only have I changed the world, I’ve lost my mind!

I have to admit that there are many days when I question my sanity in having a large family. But, there are just as many days when I look at them and county my blessings. I name them one by one. I start with my husband’s name and whisper each of my children’s names, as well. I am truly blessed.

While my husband doesn’t always understand why breastfeeding is so important to me, he supports me in my passion. He’d be happy as a clam if I’d just nurse for a year. But, he also knows that it’s not about him, so he keeps his mouth shut. LOL When baby girl went on a 12 day nursing strike, never once did he suggest I give up. He actually gave me good advice! It was like he had been listening all the times I had given advice to mothers and had retained some of the information. I was completely shocked. 😉

This is World Breatsfeeding Week. You don’t have to participate in a large event to have a big impact. I don’t have any big plans myself aside from what I always do: nursing in public, offering support to other mothers, and letting my children see that breastfeeding is normal.  And, that’s really all you have to do.

NIP–WIN!

Today we have a guest post from Tina at The Modern Mommy. She has a wonderful story to share!
One day my best friend and I decided to escape the FL heat by walking at the mall instead of dying outside.  We picked one of the bigger 2-story malls in the area thinking it’d give us more ground to cover.  This was all good in theory…  I should note that this mall is probably the swankiest mall in the area.  I did see a diaper bag for $120 and the most adorable outfit for Squirmy…so adorable that it was $56!!!  Moms with all too expensive strollers kept giving me and myChicco Cortina dirty looks; Yes, I’m serious.  (Side note: we almost turned around and went to a different mall for all the cop cars and people standing around outside….until we realized it was the iPhone release day and the insanity was limited to just that entrance.)  Of course we couldn’t manage to just walk the mall without shopping.  So I tried on some shirts, desperate to add something to my wardrobe that is flattering and accommodates this baby weight I’m working on.  No such luck.

So I’m feeling fat and “unworthy” when I felt my sugar start to crash.  We hadn’t eaten before hand and it was well past 1:00pm.  So, off to the food court.  Nice little boost to my feeling fat thing 😦  I’d fed Squirmy before we left the house, but we’d been gone awhile.  That in mind, I plowed the stroller through the impossibly crowded seating area in hopes of finding someplace where Squirmy and I would both be comfortable eating (and my friend, too).  I was about to give up hope in finding any of the more comfortable, booth style seating and just settle for the minimalistic, hard plastic chairs at the incredibly small, closed in tables.  Finally, at the FAR end, I found some seats that were comfortable for all of us and not too many people around.

I quickly polished off my meal while Squirmy sat on my lap smiling at his “aunt.”  Before too long, as I expected, Squirmy started to fuss.  You know what I’m talking about…the “I’m letting you know…I’m not obnoxiously demanding just yet…but I’m letting you know” that goes on for about a split second before the real demands are voiced.  I looked around, gaging my “audience.”  Sitting directly across from me was a well put together gentleman, probably in his 60s.  Great!  I decided to toss a blanket over my shoulder to keep from offending anyone too much, all the while worried that someone was going to say something to me 😦  Once Squirmy was content doing his thing, I took the blanket down.  I was fully covered by my white nursing tank and white shirt.

Well someone did say something.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman trying to see what I was doing as she passed behind us.  I didn’t really think much of it (figured I was being paranoid) until she reappeared on the other side of us.  She was clearly trying to catch my eye.  She was smiling so big and was giving me the thumbs up.  Her husband threw his hands over his head and applauded.  I blushed and got a bit choked up as I mouthed, “Thank you!” (I’m getting choked up typing this).  Their daughter was all confused, and the happy little family moved on.  My friend asked who the family was, assuming our interaction was based on previous encounters.  Nope, just an amazing family, doing something amazing for a first time mom who was doing her best to care for her son.

I’ll probably never cross paths with that family, again (they looked about as out of place as we felt in that mall).  But, they will forever be in my heart.  Ironic how, on our way to the mall, my friend and I were talking about the impact strangers and their acts of kindness can have on someone else’s life.

Thank you little family!!  I will be sure to pass along the kindness and encouragement you bestowed upon me the next time I see a mother nursing. 🙂

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