"Hold your baby's hand instead of a bottle"

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Monday, August 15, 2011

When nursing becomes a bad habit...

So just over a month ago my second son Jonathan turned a year old and while I celebrated that I made it to my one year mark of breastfeeding, I hoped that I'd be able to commit to nursing until he turned two (partially because of the new dairy / gluten issues we have in our household, but also because it's what the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend). Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to reach that goal...it's complicated so let me explain why:

As my luck would have it, once my first born Ben started sleeping through the night I became pregnant and was up in the night with some nausea or frequent trips to the bathroom. As if my body was trying to prepare me by saying, "Don't get use to sleeping through the night, number two is on his way and he's going to make those 3 hour stretches of sleep look good!" Jonathan was a lot easier during the day than his big brother was (both as a newborn and as a toddler) but he never consistently slept for more than two hours at a time. The only consistency in his nightly wakings was wanting to nurse, and wanting to nurse on both sides every single two hours. During the day I didn't keep track of how often I nursed. It didn't matter. I nursed on demand. I was the best pacifier around (FYI we tried 7 or 8 different paci's every single one triggered an instant gag reflex) and since nursing only hurt the first two weeks it wasn't an issue. After 6 months though I started building some false hope that Jonathan might start sleeping longer stretches now that I was introducing solid baby jar foods into his diet. At 9 months he was eating table foods, lots of meats, vegetables, fruits, rice, etc and he was still up every 2 hours, all night long. 

Around this time I tried implementing the Cry It Out (CIO) method which we had used successfully to train Ben to sleep through the night. At first it seemed to work. I wouldn't let him fall asleep on the breast, and always made him go in his crib awake so that he had to put himself to sleep. Sometimes he'd give up, after crying and screaming and crying and screaming, and lay down and fall asleep. But most of the time he'd wake up 15-25 minutes after falling asleep and then he'd be up for good, in a horrible mood, still overtired, and EXTREMELY CLINGLY. It was as if I wasn't training him to sleep on his own. It was as if I was training him to be afraid of me leaving him, being away from me for periods of time where he'd cry and I wouldn't come. Suddenly, my little boy who would play happily with some rattles or blocks, now began sobbing the second I put him down and walked two feet away from him. I was exhausted from being up all night, running across the house, every two hours, for over a year (include the frequent trips to the potty while pregnant) and add a clingy, whiny, crybaby during the day that prevents you from getting anything done in the house, which only adds to the constant headaches, frustration, and arguments with the hubby about how is it possible to be home all day and get nothing done except add to the mess. Then, as if to really test our marriage (and sanity) our 2.5 year old was regressing, had lost what little speech / comprehension he had, was sick all the time, and was no longer sleeping through the night. Now the hubby is running into Ben's room to keep him from waking Jonathan after I just nursed him back to sleep. On top of ALL of this, we then get a pre-Autism diagnosis and turn our entire diets / lifestyles upside down. So now, on top of no sleep, clingy baby, regressing toddler, rocky marriage, messy house, etc I have to learn to shop and cook EVERYTHING from scratch. I don't know how single moms do it or how our great grandmothers did it without the convenience of a dishwasher, indoor plumbing and disposable pampers.

This was the breaking point and I finally caved, and gave into co-sleeping with Jonathan. I was so surprised at how much better I felt, even after being up every 2 hours all night, if all I had to do was roll over and nurse Jonathan while laying on my side. This allowed me to partially sleep through the nursings, as compared to running across the house and then shuffling back to bed 20 minutes later. I completely embraced this co-sleeping and even had hubby remove the four poster guest bed and sleep on a mattress on the floor with baby for extra security now that he could roll around and possibly fall off the bed. I believe this is when nursing became a bad habit. At any little peep, Jonathan figured that as soon as he began to whimper, I'd pop a boob in his mouth, and we'd all have silence. The second he began to cry, I'd hush him with momma's milk to keep Ben from waking up which kept dad from having to wake up. Right around Jonathan's first birthday I started noticing how "obsessed" Jonathan became with me. He wanted me to hold him ALL the time. He'd screech and scream and whimper if I wasn't holding him, and if I ran out to the store and returned, the second he saw me he lost it. While breastfeeding him always calmed him and gave me a few moments of silence, I'm sure it was only adding to the problem. I began nursing him every other hour, all day, and soon Jonathan was crying, and demanding both breasts, every hour at night too. Sometimes twice an hour.

These past couple of weeks I have felt like a walking zombie, a zombie that was being sucked on for 10 minute blocks, 12-16 times a day! A few nights ago I made it a point to keep track of how many nursings Jonathan demanded at night. I counted 8 times, 2 breasts each time. How deep of a sleep could he really be getting, sucking on 16 boobs over a 10 hour period of time? I calculated that if he's getting 4 oz per breast, that's 64 ounces of milk! He eats plenty of solid foods in the day, drinks water from a sippie cup, and isn't underweight. He clearly does not need that much milk, especially at night. At one year old, he should be able to go 10-12 hours, at night, without nursing at all! I had to admit the frequency of breast, was no longer best! Nursing had become a bad habit and I had to put an end to it. I had a big decision to make. Do I stop cold turkey? Maybe that's the easiest thing...Ben quit cold turkey on me when he went on his nursing strike, but that was Ben's choice. If Jonathan had his way, my breast would be permanently attached to his face, so going cold turkey might be really difficult, maybe impossible, and perhaps even scarring. What if it made him more angry, cry baby and screamy? After much talk with the hubby, sister in law, bff I decided to wean him slowly. Try and stretch out the day nursings to 3 or 4 hour blocks of time, then maybe he'd naturally stretch himself out at night. Not a chance. I wasn't so lucky. He seemed to be nursing even more at night, to the point where now I couldn't even unlatch him...he wanted to sleep WHILE nursing and cried when I finally forced him to unlatch.

I had hoped that maybe I could stretch him out and just nurse him a couple times in the day and at night. I could do that for another year, but that didn't seem like an option. So four nights ago I told myself I would only let him nurse 3 times: once at bedtime (8:00), once in the middle of the night (preferable around 2 am) and once when he woke up (7 am?).  Well, he woke up about 10 times, crying, and I gave in 3 of those times, but we went down from 8 feedings to 5. The next night we got down to 2 (inbetween the before bed and first morning feedings). Every time he'd wake up and cry I'd pat his back, or pretend I didn't hear him and just lay still, ignoring his tantrum. Occasionally, when he got really worked up I'd tell him, "lay down, it's nite nite time." The next night I sent the hubby in and all the angels came together and gave him the strength and patience only a god could show towards a screaming, tantrumming toddler! I watched him on our video monitor as he tried to get baby to fall asleep on his chest, stroked his head and alternated between taking the blanket on and off him. By 7:03 am Jonathan had gone his longest stretch ever, by far, and went 11 hours without the boob! While Nick was ready to die from exhaustion I was filled with so much excitement at the possibility of being able to sleep through the night again that I felt as though I had slept through the night, rather than listened to my baby cry, while watching him on the monitor all night long.

Last night, I nursed Jonathan only 3 times during the day (first thing in the morning, at 7 am with breasts the size of torpedo's from engorgement from going 11 hours without nursing) and once before nap and bedtime. I asked my sweet Nickle to co-sleep with Jonathan again, but our plan went down the drain when Jonathan woke with a 103.1 fever at 2 am. I caved and felt it was best to give him the breast to make sure he stayed hydrated (and silent) but tonight, and for as long as it takes, I will continue to try and wean him, first through the night, then removing a feeding a day. As sad as I could make myself over the fact that I'm ending our nursing relationship, despite his desire to continue on, I am so ready to be done. I'm ready to have my body back, to be able to go away for more than a 3 hour stretch of time, while having my milk "come in" in the middle of a movie / dinner, and am beyond ecstatic over the idea of having an overnight date with my hunny. So I hate to go back on my word, especially since just last month I was all "here's to breastfeeding to year two" but it looks like the very breast thing for me and Jonathan is coming to an end. Wow, typing that makes me want to say, "Nevermind!" because this could very well be the last baby I'll ever nurse (damn I want to scratch that!) but I am going to focus on that fact that I was able to breastfeeding both of my boys for just under a year and just over a year and that is something to celebrate!

I will keep you posted if there's any new developments in our weening process. I'm going to be a little slack with the nursings while Jonathan is sick with the fever, but I am hopeful that we will both adjust to this next stage in no time. Here's to the very breast thing - even if it's putting an end to it!    

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Celebrate Breastfeeding Week!

World Breast Feeding Week! I didn't even know such a thing existed, but apparently last Friday was national Lasagna Day! At any rate, here's a link to All the Breastfeeding Support you need to be successful at nursing your baby!

My sister in law sent me this list of 5 things I wish I knew about breastfeeding and I loved the article as much as she did. It just reassures a nursing mom of all the things she's insecure or unsure of in some of the most challenging, confusing, exhausting times during those darkest hours when you're first trying to figure things out:

"I think there are a lot of things that if I'd known before going into it the first time, I could have saved myself a world of trouble.
  1. Newborn babies will eat ALL. THE. TIME. The information I read was the typical crap based on formula-fed babies, so when I read that newborns "should nurse every 2-3 hours," but sometimes every hour and a half, of course I was concerned when my son nursed what seemed like every 45 minutes, for about 45 minutes (Psst, they can nurse over 15 times in 24 hours and it's NORMAL!)
  2. Making breastfeeding friends is insanely important. What every mom needs is someone to tell her that it's okay, it's normal, and they've been there, too. When you want to cry because you're exhausted and your boob-fiend is at it again, having a mom friend who will say, "Oh honey, I've so been there. Learn the side-lying feed and relax," means more than all the pamphlets in the world.
  3. Even when everything is right, it can still hurt. Who winced seeing me say that? But it's TRUE. Sometimes a teething baby is awkward for a day or two. When I'd vacation from my humid home to my mom's arid climate, my nipples would split and there wasn't anything I could do about it, other than apply ointments all day. Sometimes the bad latch from two hours ago, that you fixed, will still feel sore later even when everything is right. If it hurts, GET HELP and make sure everything is okay, but moms should also know that sometimes it isn't going to be great.
  4. Well-meaning supplementation makes life so much harder. When we talk about not giving bottles or formula, we're not just on the breast-brigade. Every bottle given to your baby screws up your feeding schedule from your breasts, which can make you sore, lower your supply, cause oversupply/choking at the next feed, and so on. If you HAVE to supplement or pump, then you have to, end of story. But if you don't? Then skip it because that is sooo much more work that causes even more work and struggles.
  5. Sometimes you're going to hate it. Yes, it releases chemicals to make moms happy and relaxed. I love that, I do. But frankly, there are times when I just want to say, "LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE!" and don't want to nurse, don't want someone needing me, or want to sit down without someone in my lap. Sometimes it's not a loving act, but one I force myself to do and I spend the whole time tapping my toes, waiting to leap up and do something "more important." While I do almost always love it, there are definitely times I don't, but that's okay."
These 5 tips are so true and if every mom knew them going into a breastfeeding relationship, I think it would make the entire experience so much easier! My second son is almost 13 months old and I'm still nursing him, sometimes as often as a newborn. I still haven't slept more than 4 or 5 hours straight in over a year now (I can count on a few fingers the times he's slept more than 3 hours straight, as he still nurses every 2-3 hours at night) and every day I try and cherish that this breastfeeding relationship is such a short time in our lives, but honestly, lately I just feel done. I want my body back. I'll admit that. I want to feel free to go out with friends or have the option to go on a weekend vacation with my husband (or even out to dinner AND a movie without having to go home in between to nurse) and not feel that panic / worry that I've been away from my baby for too many hours.

My goal was to nurse for the first year, and we met that mark, but now with our new dairy / gluten issues I'm not sure how long I SHOULD continue to nurse or for how much longer I will WANT to nurse. I don't think that this feeling of wanting to be free of being sucked on every few hours is new or only develops after a year of breastfeeding. I think when my first son was just a couple days old I was filled with dread at the idea of having to keep this little baby on my breast every few hours for a WHOLE YEAR, but honestly, after a while, you just get use to it and in my experience, I fell in love with being able to nurse my babies. I think there are just going to be moments where you feel tired, when you feel like you've had it and those are the times to know that it's okay to feel that way and to reassure yourself that you are doing the best thing for your baby and it isn't going to last forever. A breastfeeding relationship, whether it lasts for a few days, weeks or even a year or more, is just a drop in the bucket when you look at the entire span of your life, but it's one of the best experiences you'll ever look back on. Promise.

PS If I could add one thing to the list above of things every mom should know about breastfeeding: Your breast becomes the ultimate pacifier. Your baby will be comforted by nursing and will use you as his/her paci. Celebrity and singer Pink recently had a baby girl she named Willow and states that her husband Carey can calm their baby like only her boob can! It's so true that sometimes these breastfeeding babies only want to nurse on their mom and it's very special when someone has that magic touch that can even come close to what a breast can do for baby. The downside of course is when baby is upset, and nobody can calm him/her down, they pass baby back to you because they know you, and your breasts alone, can end the crying. It's a double edge sword because as a breastfeeding mom, you become the human pacifier!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Breastfeeding your adopted child possible?

Is it possible to breastfeed your adopted child if you haven't been pregnant or had a baby. Apparently so. I've set up my google account to email me all news on anything related to breastfeeding. Honestly, most of the stuff I get isn't interesting enough for me to spend the time making a post about it, but this story about An Adoptive Mother's Decision to Breastfeed really touched me.

"We found out that we would need to adopt, I shortly after learned that I could still breastfeed. "

How is this possible I wondered? If the adoptive mother wasn't pregnant, could stimulating her breast alone be enough to make her produce milk? A few months prior to the baby being born, the woman in this story (along with her gynecologist) did research and in preparation for her adoptive son's birth, she began taking a lactation inducing prescription called Domperidone, along with lots of pumping and herbal supplements, and sure enough she slowly but surely started producing milk! Once baby Lucas was born, he had no issues with latching and through some simultaneous supplementation using the Medela Supplemental Nursing System the mother was able to breastfeed her adopted son!

How incredible is that!? And what an amazing way for the mother and baby to establish a really strong bond! I've always said one of the sad / hardest things I'd have to sacrifice if I adopted a child would be not being able to breastfeed that baby, but now, after reading this article, I feel that wouldn't be an issue at all. I really hope this story inspires more gynecologists to encourage women who cannot conceive, and plan to adopt, to consider breastfeeding their adopted children.

The story also makes me wonder, is it possible then for a mother who wanted to breastfeed but couldn't, to try again, say 3 months after her baby was born? I wonder if a woman who breastfed in the past, would be able to start up a milk supply years after it dried up, maybe without the lactation drugs, just with pumping because her body already had an established milk supply at one point? The concept that a woman who never even carried a child could breastfeed opens so many other possibilities. In the past you could only get breast milk from a women who was currently lactating because she had had a baby. Not any more.

In my freshman year of high school, I first learned that in the olden days, the wealthy had "wet nurses" to breastfeed their children. My English teacher explained the role of wet nurses while we read Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Juliet's nurse spoke of how she raised Juliet and how as a baby she would suckle at her breast. At the time, I thought it was totally bizarre that any mother (wealthy or not) would chose to have someone else nurse their child. If a mother couldn't breastfeed back in the day, it made sense to find someone else who could feed the baby, but this wasn't the case. Women chose to have a wet nurse breastfeed their child as a status symbol to show their wealth. At any rate, I couldn't help but think of the term "wet nurse" when I read about this woman nursing her adopted child.

I wonder if in the future, the role for wet nurses will make a come back or if a high demand for breast milk will create jobs for women to simply make breast milk (without the need for these women to have been pregnant or while nursing their own baby)? How might this change the formula market? Can you imagine a factory of women whose job is to go to "work" and sit down and pump? Instead of a barn of cows, there will be a cubicle farm of women pumping every few hours, all that milk being pooled together and then bottled and sold to the public. Or what about a missionary group? I could see a group of dedicated women (years after having babies and being pregnant) re-establishing their milk supply to travel to countries where maybe a natural disaster hit and breast milk is needed for these starving babies who may have lost their parents. I'd probably sign up. Once you get that milk going, as long as there is a demand your body will keep on producing. I'd love to go from country to country, spending time as a wet nurse for starving, sick or dying babies. Ugh! The idea just kills me...in a good way! Like, I love the potential of what these could mean! Maybe those nuns who run orphanages could take this drug, pump, and feed these babies who need more holding time anyway? One of the downsides to breastfeeding, for me, was the idea that either you could do it or you couldn't, and that window of opportunity was very narrow. Now there is no time barrier and there isn't even the stipulation that you had to recently be pregnant and/ or be currently breastfeeding.

On a personal note, if I couldn't breastfeed (after pumping, supplementation and taking lactation drugs) I would prefer to use a wet nurse or surrogate mother's milk over cow or soy milk based formula. I don't think I'd be comfortable with my baby actually nursing on another woman's breast, but if it's in a bottle I'd prefer my human baby to get human milk over any alternative. Can't wait to see how this breastfeeding breakthrough will impact our and our children's future!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nursing beyond the first year...

So my second son's first birthday party is this Saturday and it was my goal to nurse for the first year. I can't believe how fast this year went. With my first son it felt like it took 3 years to get to his first birthday and now with my little baby Jonathan it feels like just a few months ago he was born. As you can read on my post "Nursing Strike" I didn't have a choice as to whether or not I should continue nursing my first born, Ben, after the one year mark because he weaned himself at just over 11 months. I think a few family members were hoping Jonathan would quit nursing on his own, but he's still going strong - almost nursing as often as a newborn! The good news is that in the past couple weeks he started drinking water from a bottle and now is exploring the concept of a sippie cup with a straw, but with the recent discoveries of cow milk protein intolerances in my family I'm scared to stop nursing Jonathan. What if my sweet, NON COLICKY, HAPPY little Jonathan turns into a screaming, suffering in pain child with stomach cramping, vomiting and diarrhea issues leaving us both wanting to die?

What are the alternatives to cow milk for a one year old, you ask? Soy milk - which they are beginning to discover isn't so great for you, especially for boys because of the estrogen levels, Rice Milk - which has no protein and very little fat, Almond or Coconut milk - both of which also have little to no protein and fat and may cause nut allergies. Toddlers NEED whole milk, it's suppose to be whole milk from their mother (you know of the same species / animal breed as they are) but there's a reason why the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend breastfeeding until age 2. So why wouldn't I nurse until age two? There are plenty of benefits to keep breastfeeding: It doesn't hurt (it stopped hurting after the first week), it's free, it's always ready / available, will never spoil / expire / be recalled, etc. I don't really have too many concerns with continuing to breastfeed. I don't really have too many concerns with continuing to breastfeed but here are a few: Most people, including close family and friends don't get it. It's very uncommon in our society to even nurse for the first year so going beyond that really rubs people the wrong way, even loved ones who know how passionate I am about breastfeeding! Second, I am a little nervous about all those teeth! Jonathan now has 6 teeth and although he has yet to bite me, I actually received an email from a reader that covers this exact fear of mine, and I will share that story (and picture) in my next post. The only other concern I have is how I'm going to feel lifting my 12, 16, or 20 month old up on my lap to nurse him, especially if I have to do it in front of anyone. Also, if Jonathan starts to become aware and reach / try to nurse in public or actually starts verbalizing that he wants "momma's milk" that's going to be embarrassing. So I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to nurse Jonathan until he's two, but I'm going to try...here's to all the mom's who nurse beyond the first year!

If you are thinking about nursing beyond the first year and want to know you're not the only one, there are actually a surprisingly high number of blogs out there of women who have talked about their experience. Here was one I really liked:


Friday, June 3, 2011

My sister blog!

My dear readers,

I know I've been neglecting you and this blog, but I have good reason. I've hinted on other posts in the past that I've been trying to balance some family struggles. Now I'm ready to share. A few months ago my husband and I became concerned that our first born son, Ben, might be Autistic, or at least heading down that path. I've devoted as much time as I could spare away from my family responsibilities and blogging to concentrate on what I could / need to do to help my child. As I began to understand more and more about this epidemic, I realized that I need to use what I've learned to help others who are either suffering down the same path as my family or for those new pregnant mommies and families who might be affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder in the future. I present you with my sister blog Take Better Care which will cover everything we've been through, everything we're going through, and everything I've learned along the way. Please be patient with me as I try to find time to juggle both blogs on top of everything else. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Take better care,
Pokey Momma

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

If you just couldn't make milk

This post is for those who just couldn't make milk.

I realize that this is a pro-breastfeeding blog, and that some of you tried, and wanted very badly to breastfeed, but just weren't able to. In previous posts, I talk about how in order to have the best chances of breastfeeding we need to have knowledge and the right support from family and be as prepared as possible by purchasing helpful supplies like pumps, nursing pillows, creams, bras, etc. All of these things will increase your chances on having a successful nursing relationship, but what happens when you have all these things and still can't do it?

There's a term I've come across in my research known as "Failure to Lactate" or "Lactation Failure" which I cannot stand, because once again it creates this idea that if you can't lactate you've somehow failed. This is just one more additional source of guilt or frustration or anger or any other negative association that gets attached to breastfeeding or the inability to breastfeed in general. What this term actually means is that for reasons unknown (could be genetic or physical) a woman cannot produce enough milk to provide the nurishment for her child.

There are tons of resources on line that go over How to Overcome Lactation Failure and they might be helpful for those who are still trying to nurse but aren't making enough milk or are having latching difficulties or some of the other common breastfeeding challenges, but then there are some women who come to a point where they have to accept that they are not going to be able to breastfeed. And this is where I like to focus on one tip: Redefine Success. A woman decides before her baby comes that she wants to breastfeed instead of formula feed, but a sense of failure seems to settle in as soon as she has to feed her baby with anything other than breastmilk. I know this scenario all too well. I experienced it with my first son and even broke down and purchased a jug of premade formula for my second during times when I just thought I couldn't do it anymore or that my baby would be better off on fomrula. I've spent countless hours talking with a few friends who could not breastfeed and continue to torment themselves with guilt. I recently spoke with a friend who was frustrated because she tried to breastfeed, and pumped as much as she could,  but wasn't able to make more than a quarter of an ounce from only one breast. At some point, she had to accept that her baby clearly needs more than that and she would have to use formula. For some women, breastfeeding isn't an option, even if they really wanted to breastfeed.

This is where I'd like to invite any woman who wasn't able to breastfeed, for as long as they had hoped, to redefine success. At the start of this post I said that using all of the support and knowledge possible will increase your chances of having a "successful" nursing relationship. I didn't qualify how long that relationship had to last for or whether or not breastmilk exclusively made up the baby's diet. For some, successful might have to be that a mother tried her best, used all the resources she had, and gave her baby as much as she could. For others, it might be that they could never establish a healthy latch and their baby received breastmilk from a bottle, and formula may or may not have to be added to that baby's diet. Whatever the story, view it as success. You did your best for your baby and by my standards that equals success!

For the mothers who tried but weren't able to breastfeed, or produce as much as they wanted to, give yourself a pat on the back for at least trying and take comfort in knowing that your baby has a mother who was willing to try and did the very best she could with what she had at that time.

"Most" of the literature out there will tell you that every mother can breastfeed and that almost every breastfeeding challenge can be overcome with the proper attention and care, and these things may very well be true - for the "most" part. I have dug a little deeper in wanting to understand why some women were not able to breastfeed and I have found numerous blogs and websites where women have come together to share their stories on how they tried every tea, beer and supplement, how they pumped until they bled and cried, and although they should have been able to produce milk, they simply couldn't. As a mother it is so easy to blame ourselves, to focus on how we could have done better, but sometimes we also have to look at what we have done and accept that we are all doing the best we can and that's the best thing for our babies!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Losing baby weight: Breastfeeding really is the secret!

The health benefits for breastfeeding should be enough to motivate new moms to make the commitment (and there are too many health benefits to cover that are lifelong for both mom and child), but sometimes that isn't enough. Instant gratification is a great motivator and you should know that breastfeeding helps lose baby weight!

John Travolta's wife is just one more mom who chose to breastfeed their new baby boy Benjamin - they sooo stole that name from me! ;) and his wife Kelly Preston states that breastfeeding "really is the secret" to losing that baby weight!

Check out the People article here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Genetically Modified Cows to produce "Like Human Breast Milk"

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my time is limited now and I definitely plan to blog more once I get a better handle on some personal family issues. With that said, I had to post about a disgusting "scientific abomination" that's made its way into the news.

I have to begin by making it clear that NO ANIMAL can ever replace human breastmilk. No factory, scientist or formula can ever come close to substituting what a baby's own mother can naturally produce, specifically for her child. I believe I posted in the list of Breastmilk 101 post that a mother's milk CHANGES every day, every week and every month to meet HER baby's needs. If a mother is exposted to a germ / bug / cold in her environment, her milk will pass on immunities to her baby, because the body knows that whatever mom is exposed to, her baby will be as well. No cow or scientist can know what each individual baby needs and no formula will ever be able to constantly change to meet each baby's continually changing needs. As baby grows and develops, the mother's body naturally adjusts the ratios of fat, protein, carbs, sugars and other enzymes specifically for her baby. The milk a woman produces for her premature baby is different than the milk a women produces for her full term baby. The milk at birth changes by 3 months and by 6 months. The milk continues to change as long as the mother is nursing. The milk at 12 months or 24 months after giving birth is different.

Highlights from the article:

In an attempt to artifically replicate a baby formula closer to human milk, scientists are "using genetically modified embryos crossed with human genes, then implanted into surrogate cows. The result is a cow that produces milk containing a human protein called lysozyme, making it closer to the nutritional composition of human breast milk."

"Of course, the mad scientists pushing this scheme will claim it's a way for women who can't produce breast milk to buy a source of human-like milk for their babies. But that's nonsense: We already have a whole species of HUMAN WOMEN who can produce breast milk"

As a mother, I'm learning to importance of asking WHY? instead of just accepting things as if that's the way they should be. "Why genetically engineer cows with human genes when we already have humans with human genes who can create PERFECT human breast milk?"  Why? I believe it's all about money. Nobody makes money off a mother nursing her baby.

"Bovine milk is food for baby cows, and yet the milk industry has somehow convinced human adults that they need to keep consuming this baby cow beverage. Just the fact that so many human beings keep drinking pasteurized, homogenized, processed cow's milk through their entire life is utterly bizarre to begin with." When I had to give up all dairy products while I was nursing Ben, I remember telling myself over and over again, "You're just giving up cow's breast milk" and that idea kinda made me feel sick. I will admit that I loved me some cow breast milk, and still do, but I've come to realize that it just wasn't meant for humans, let alone adult humans.

I completely agree with the closing statement of this article: "God and Mother Nature already created the perfect nutritional beverage for human babies hundreds of thousands of years ago, with NO science, no patents, no FDA, no technology and no corporations whatsoever. It's called human breast milk and there is no substitute." AMEN!

My favorite Picaso!

A human mother feeding her human baby. This is beautiful. This is natural. Breastfeeding is natural and perfectly designed by God.

I pray that expecting and future mothers will not be swayed to believe that any substitute, no matter how close scientists or marketing advertising companies claim it is, can ever compare to what she alone can make for her baby.

In an interesting article about American cow milk being banned in Eurpoe and Canada, I had to include this quote:

“It’s not natural for humans to drink cow’s milk. Humans milk is for humans. Cow’s milk is for calves. You have no more need of cow’s milk than you do rats milk, horses milk or elephant’s milk. Cow’s milk is a high fat fluid exquisitely designed to turn a 65 lb baby calf into a 400 lb cow. That’s what cow’s milk is for!” – Dr Michael Klaper MD

This is natural too: A cow feeding her calf.

Not Natural

It's a difficult concept to accept when we grew up on cow milk. Cow milk was a staple in my diet and during my pregnancy with Ben I drank gallons (literally a half a gallon in one day) toward the end of the pregnancy. I drank it more than water while I was nursing.  I think I hoped the cow milk would increase my milk supply. I believed it was good for you. Now I can clearly see that cow milk is meant for baby calves, and is not as beneficial for human health as we are told through billions of dollars worth of advertising. It's easy to believe that "milk does a body good" when you've been brainwashed to think so. The more you look into it the more you too will learn that milk can actually do a body a lot of bad. If you're interested in learning an alternative understanding of milk read, "Don't drink your milk: New Frightening Medical Facts About the World's Most Overrated Nutrient" by Frank A Oski.

You can find plenty of information on the web too:
Processing is the problem
Milk: Does it really do a body good?

If you've just gotta have that cow breast milk you might want to do some research on RAW cow milk, which is becomming a movement to shift gears and go back to how we use to drink milk - before lactose intolerant and milk allergies ever existed. You can read more about the benefits of Raw milk at:
Discovering Raw Milk
Should you drink raw, aka "real" cow milk?

Upon my research into raw milk, I was shocked to learn that there is actually a legal battle with the FDA over whether or not farmers should legally be allowed to sell raw milk! I haven't spent enough time researching the legal aspect of purchasing and consuming raw milk, but apparently the FDA claims we have "no natural right to food" and I'm beginning to question if money really is at the root of why a time old tradition like selling fresh, raw cow milk is being made illegal. Similarly, a nursing mother cannot sell her breastmilk or receive money for it. She can only donate it to a breast bank that can then charge a very high price to sell it to mothers in need.

WHY? I encourage everyone to ask this question in regard to everything. Be like our kids who want to understand why? why? and WHY? What? is another question we need to be considering. What kind of future are we creating here? A generation of women who don't understand the benefits of breastfeeding, who aren't taught / supported how to do it, and are persuaded into artificial baby food. Why are we creating a world where modified (or not) cows feed our human babies? It looks like we are heading toward becomming a society where farmers can no longer sell fresh produce, dairy or livestock too. WHY?

What a sad, scary world we are creating for our kids.

I found too many cartoons to go along with today's post and here's a few:

*I do NOT own these photos. No copyright intended.*

Friday, March 25, 2011

Video: 101 Reasons to Breastfeed

Hey readers, I'm kinda tied up with a few things right now, and plan to blog about it once I have some time, but for now wanted to share this video:

101 Reasons to Breastfeed!

Really loved the artwork in this montage and the song choice was great!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Need a laugh? Stay-At-Home Moms vs Working Moms

Sometimes we all need a good laugh, and this article discusses the pros and cons of being a stay at home mom and a working mom. I don't know why there seems to be this great amount of pressure between moms, for those that either breastfeed or formula or for those that stay at home or return to work. I think we all need to just be supportive of each other because we're all doing what's best for our family. I love how this article points out that no matter what decisions we make as a parent we always have some level of doubt or insecurities as to whether or not we are doing the right thing. As a mother, I know how important it is for me to feel like I'm doing what's "best" for my babies, but best does not = perfect, and I'm starting to understand that even when I have to acknowledge that maybe I didn't do the right thing, or missed something another mother might have caught. I can't be perfect. I am doing my best and that's all that matters.

My favorite quote from the essay - For the stay at home moms:

"You irrationally shout, “STAY-AT-HOME MOMS ARE WORKING MOMS” every time you read an article like this and then you shake your head and wonder how you got like this. You feel so lonely that you actually start to miss that bitch at work. Your partner wants to rest after a long day of work and they don’t understand that you need to rest too and they say something like, “Why? What did you do all day? This house is a wreck” and then you have to go to jail for stabbing them in the shoulder. You find that prison is a pleasant break from being a stay-at-home mom. You secretly worry that you’re making the wrong decision."

I remember waiting in my OB's office to "try" and get an IUD (it didn't work out) but 6 weeks after having Jonathan, I remember laying on the exam bed, hands behind my head, eyes closed, thoroughly enjoying this "break" and pretending I was laying on the beach or on a cruise. The nurse came in to apologize for the wait, and I told her "Are you kidding me, take your time, I'm so happy to be baby free right now!" Don't get me wrong, I really do love my kids, and I'm sure in 10, 20 and 50 years from now I'll say these were the best days of my life, but there are definitely moments where I could stab a certain someone for telling me that I didn't have to "work all day" and a little quiet time in a private prison cell would be gladly welcomed ;)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

How the foods you eat might hurt your baby...

I've mentioned in previous posts that my colicky baby Ben was intolerant / sensitive to casein (the protein in cow milk) and I eliminated all dairy from my diet while I was nursing him. Recently, my entire household went on a casein (dairy) free, gluten (wheat) free, soy free diet and I've been spending entirely too much time reading and researching these foods on the internet.

I just want to share a few quotes, and offer a few sites to give our pregnant and nursing moms a little heads up about about how the proteins in these foods pass through the breast milk and could possibly be responsible for your child's colic, fussiness, gassiness, vomitting, gerd, reflux, green or bloody stools, or many other health issues.

"In August 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an official statement about allergenic proteins in a mother’s diet appearing in her breastmilk and creating problems for her baby.  They stopped far short of talking about excellent research showing that cow’s milk in the diet of a pregnant or breastfeeding woman creates even more problems than we ever thought for her nursing baby.

Please don’t misunderstand the incredible superiority of human milk for human babies.  Infants who receive formula have more intestinal problems by far than infants who drink breastmilk.  Uninformed medical practitioners have actually told mothers that their babies were “allergic to their breastmilk.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Babies can be allergic to protein fragments from mom’s diet which end up in the milk, but if they are sensitive to those proteins, they would be much more affected by an artificial baby milk made entirely of non-human protein.  Even so called “hypoallergenic” formulas are rarely any better.   They are made of proteins broken down into smaller fragments to provoke less of a reaction.  They are still allergenic and don’t solve the problem for many babies."

Common reactions to dairy in babies:
  • Green, runny stool
  • Blood tinged stool
  • Skin rashes
  • Chronic nasal stuffiness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive abdominal discomfort
  • Cramping
  • Coughing
  • Mimic of GER (gastroesophageal reflux) symptoms
  • Heartburn
  • Spitting up
  • Gassiness
  • Constipation"
This information was taken from Dr. Jay Gordin, MD FAAP website.

On his site there is a ton of extremely useful information about breastfeeding (topics include, but are not limited to: the pitfalls of supplementing, mastitis and clogged ducts,  nursing strikes, thrush, bottle feeding, nursing and working secrets etc) and other medical / health related topics as well.

The La Leche League offers lots of resources I wish I had looked into back when I was pregnant too.

This beanmom site offers guidelines on dairy free foods as well as many helpful links as well.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Next Breastfeeding Generation

I received this message in an email which relates to the post about the breastfeeding doll and how we should go about teaching the next generation about breastfeeding. I loved the story and the picture that was submitted with it!

"From time to time, Jaklyn (my oldest, now 3) mimics my actions and unfortunately phrases too but that's a whole other story!  She has a little pink pig neck roll pillow that I bought for her when we were going to be traveling and after we brought Edison (my youngest, now 9 months) home from the hospital, Jak noticed me nursing with a boppy pillow (side note:  I was too cheap to buy a new pillow and there was no breast friend [mybrestfriend nursing pillow] to be found 3 years ago!!  But if I have another, I will invest in one because I know the importance of a good pillow!!  But for now, we still use our old floppy boppy!).  She began to use (and refer to) her neck pillow as a boppy and began to nurse her babies, using it as well.  She recently recieved another neck pillow (this time a cow) for her birthday and when opening it up, she said "Oh, another boppy!".  So I was lucky to capture this the other day and wanted to share it with you!! 
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Love your blog and have referred many new moms and second time moms to it!  Keep up the great work!!"

I cannot express how happy and hopeful I am to see this precious little girl pretending to nurse her baby doll! THANK YOU Jaklyn's mom for not only breastfeeding, and for sharing your story and this darling picture with our readers, but I also have to thank you for raising children to understand that breastfeeding is natural and it's a good thing! Our kids don't need a special toy bra that stimulates a doll to make sucking sounds for little girls to understand how to feed a baby. Just like mommy, they can use a little neck pillow (or pretend boppy pillow) and pretend to nurse their baby dolls. As for you moms with little boys that pretend to nurse their stuffed animals by sticking them under their shirt (you know who you are and I know you're embarassed by it) you can explain that only mommies can make baby milk, but don't be overly sensitive about it, think about how supportive they will be to their future wife and other breastfeeding mothers. I'm convinced that as long as we expose our children to the way babies are naturally fed the next generation will not only be more comfortable with breastfeeding in general, but much more successful as well!

Monday, February 28, 2011

ItzBeen Winners - that's right TWO giveaways!

Congratulations to Kelly from North Carolina and Rebecca from Virginia! Both of you have been selected from the previous Itzbeen Giveaway to receive a FREE Itzbeen!

I was so excited to receive so many submissions for the last giveaway that I convinced my husband to support the readers of this blog allow me to buy and give away TWO Itzbeens since so many of you are in need of one!

I will be shipping them out later today or tomorrow! Congratulations and best of luck with your pregnancies! Thank you for your support and for reading this blog! I hope you all continue to find it helpful.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tax Deduction for Breastpumps and Supplies!

"Good news during tax time! The IRS has added breast pumps and other breastfeeding supplies to the list of items that can be designated as medical expenses for purposes of tax deduction. They now also will be considered an allowable expense for people who have Flexible Spending Accounts, Medical Savings Accounts and Health Savings accounts. 

In the past, the IRS did not consider breast pumps a medical expense, but the Service has now changed its policy.  This is a very positive step for both women and children.  The cost of breastfeeding supplies was a barrier to breastfeeding for many mothers and the decision of the IRS to reverse its ruling was a great victory for nursing mothers everywhere. 

Breastfeeding has many health benefits including lowering the risk for many medical conditions for infants including asthma, respiratory illness, infections, leukemia, and type 1 diabetes. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all children be fed exclusively breastmilk for six months, with continued breastfeeding and appropriate solids for at least one year.  The World Health Organization recommends continuing breastfeeding at least two years.

The March of Dimes is very pleased that breast pumps and medical supplies that assist lactation will now be regarded as a medical expense.  This change in policy was needed and long overdue. It will benefit all women, especially women in the workplace who want to breastfeed their babies."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Breastfeeding Dolls Nature's Way?

When I was 16 years old I remember watching a video where a doctor and scientist discussed how there are over 10,000 vitamins and minerals in a single apple. We've only started to identify and document a few of those vitamins and their function. Clearly, it's more beneficial to eat an apple with over 10,000 natural vitamins that are perfectly balanced so that our body can absorb them, compared to swallowing a capsule with 20 or so vitamins and minerals which are usually in such high levels that most of them can't be absorbed. The point is, nature's product - the apple for example - is perfectly balanced and the best way to get those nutrients. Check out this chart that compiles only SOME of the known  vitamins / minerals/ hormones/ growth factors/ enzymes / live agents that have been discovered in breastmilk.

When it comes to chosing to eat an apple over swallowing a pill, the same theory is true for human breast milk. It's the perfectly proportioned diet for a human baby. It's how nature intended for a baby to be nurished. As a society, we've come to accept bottles and formula as the natural method to feeding babies, again, not bashing formula and bottles (I understand some of you have had to use or currently are using this alternative form of food) but this isn't how babies are suppose to be fed.

Interestingly enough, a toy company in Spain wanting to promote breastfeeding has created a baby that comes with a pretend nursing bra instead of a bottle. According to the link below, a child would wear this bra, hold the crying baby to a flower area on her pretend nursing bra and the baby makes a sucking sound.

Bye-Bye Bottle: Breastfeeding Baby Dolls Are Here!
Honestly, I was a little creeped out by the concept and some of the reviewers felt similarly. On the other hand, I think it's great that not all babies come with a bottle. A few of the moms who commented discussed how children learn from watching their parents, and the mothers who breastfeed didn't go out of their way to teach their child how to breastfeed, but found their child tucking their dolls or stuffed animals under their shirts. I think growing up around a nursing mother and having support from family to breastfeed is all we need in order to change the way our children's generation will understand how to feed their own babies.

On a personal note, one of my "breast friends" from NC had a 3 year old little girl when she had her second baby girl. Her 3 year old was very curious about not just watching her mommy breastfeed, but watching how I breastfed my son as well. I remember asking her mom when it came time to nurse my son, "Do you want me to go into another room?" and she answered, "Not unless you want privacy. I'm not shielding my daughter from how to feed a baby. I want her to know this is how it's done." At first it was a little uncomfortable to have someone elses little child approach me and watch me feed my first born, but then I understood how to the little girl, this wasn't something sexual or inappropriate. She'd watched her mother nurse so this was normal. My sister in law told me that her two daughters pretend to nurse their baby dolls after watching their mother nurse their baby brother. I think that's the perfect way to introduce and teach children about breastfeeding babies. Whenever I'm nursing my second son around my neice she is always curious to ask me if I'm feeding the baby and if he will go to sleep when he's done.

I don't think teaching children how to breastfeed is something that should be mandated in school or anything, but if you happen to have small children and are breastfeeding, I don't think there's anything wrong with explaining to a curious child that you are feeding the baby. If they get real close (as my neice tends to) know that you are demonstrating something that is natural, more natural than if you were to show a child how to bottle feed. It's not just about exposing your kids or relatives / close friend's children (with the parent's consent - obviously don't go dragging every child you get your hands on to show them how you can breastfeed) but it's important is to create a supportive, positive breastfeeding environment so that our children's generation will have more success then we did, so that they won't end up like the momma gorilla in my previous post (frustrated without any idea of how to nurse and what they are suppose to do with a new baby).  Our children aren't going to grow up learning how to breast feed or even have the desire to breastfeed by buying them a flower patterned bra and a doll. Let us teach our children by example!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Miracle Baby declared dead, revived by mother's touch, voice and BREAST MILK!

For those reading who are already a mother and are expecting again, or for the first time mothers to be, of course you should trust your doctors and follow their instruction, but don't be afraid to speak up if something doesn't feel right to you. The doctors in this story handed a mother her "dead baby" and told her to say her goodbyes, but she felt the need to hold onto him, to talk to him, to bring him close to her chest and love him. When he started to show signs of life the doctors dismissed his movements as reflexes, but she continued to touch him, and even offer him her breast milk. Clearly, she felt the need to do more than simply say goodbye and it paid off!

"'The doctor asked me had we chosen a name for our son,' said Mrs Ogg. 'I said, "Jamie", and he turned around with my son already wrapped up and said, "We've lost Jamie, he didn't make it, sorry." It was the worse feeling I've ever felt. I unwrapped Jamie from his blanket. He was very limp. I took my gown off and arranged him on my chest with his head over my arm and just held him. He wasn't moving at all and we just started talking to him. We told him what his name was and that he had a sister. We told him the things we wanted to do with him throughout his life. Jamie occasionally gasped for air, which doctors said was a reflex action. But then I felt him move as if he were startled, then he started gasping more and more regularly. I gave Jamie some breast milk on my finger, he took it and started regular breathing.'"

The article goes on to say, "In most cases, babies are rushed off to intensive care if there is a serious problem during the birth. But the 'kangaroo care' technique, named after the way kangaroos hold their young in a pouch next to their bodies, allows the mother to act as a human incubator to keep babies warm, stimulated and fed. Pre-term and low birth-weight babies treated with the skin-to-skin method have also been shown to have lower infection rates, less severe illness, improved sleep patterns and are at reduced risk of hypothermia."

When I first read this story I was most curious not about HOW the baby came back to life, but WHY the mother chose to hold her lifeless baby for hours after he was declared dead. We've all heard how babies in orphanages can die from not enough human contact, so it didn't really surprise me that the human touch could sustain life or perhaps even bring a dead baby back to life. Babies thrive from the human touch - that much has been scientifically proven and documented. However, science can't explain how this Australian mother brought her baby back to life, but there are many things science simply can't define or replace - a mother's love, her voice, the sound of her heart, her warmth, smell, including her breast milk. The perfect level of heat radiating from a light bulb with a preheated blanket can't compare to the warmth of mommy's chest. There are some things that we humans can offer our babies that no machine or factory produced item can replace. Breast milk is just one other perfect example of how nature provides a mother with exactly what her baby needs.

I love this story and hope that it will inspire more doctors and hospitals to promote "kangaroo care" before rushing babies off to incubators. Baby Jamie is referred to as a miracle baby, and it was a miracle that he came back to life, but I think we need to give his mother a lot of the credit and acknowledge that without her intuition he probably wouldn't have made it.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1306283/Miracle-premature-baby-declared-dead-doctors-revived-mothers-touch.html#ixzz1DYj7nWuL


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Breast Guest Story: "The Finger Feeding Father"

When I started breastfeeding my first son, a friend in NC told me that if I developed really sore / damaged nipples I should look into "finger feeding." When I asked her what this was, she told me it's a lactation aid that's used when breastfeeding isn't working and that she and her husband had to use it with their first son. I remember being very scared when she first described it. She explained that a tube is placed along the parent's finger which is placed deep inside the baby's mouth and whenever the baby sucks properly you allow milk to flow from the tube connected to a bottle with a syringe like top. My eyes probably gave away my horror at the idea of sticking fingers and tubes into a newborn's mouth, but she said it wasn't as bad as it sounds and to keep it in mind in case it becomes necessary. Luckily, I didn't have to finger feed either of my children and the term quickly faded from my memory - until I came across it in the "Bobbie Bible." Years later, when I started this blog, I contacted her and am beyond thrilled to share her story with you - or should I say her husband's finger feeding story:

     "When I was pregnant I hadn't given much thought to how I was going to feed the baby once he was here. Towards the end of the pregnancy my husband began to express his views on the subject. His mother breastfed him (and his 3 brothers and 2 sisters) and as the eldest sibling he remembers not only his mother but his aunts and other relatives breastfeeding. In fact, he says in his family, there was always one nursing mom at every family function. Breastfeeding was the norm in family. I wasn't exactly opposed to the idea, but I can recall feeling that initial pressure to perform and I didn't like it.

     Baby Andrew (Andy) arrived after a long labor and I was very exhausted. I hadn't done much research on breastfeeding (I read up on all the benefits) but assumed the "doing it part" it would come naturally. It didn't hurt much at first, but the pain quickly began to increase. We left the hospital with the number to a lactation consultant and already had an appointment set up. I was embarrassed and frustrated to need the help, even though my husband didn't seem the least bit upset by my breastfeeding problems. He's always been the calm one, good in emergency situations. I was the first one to freak out so I always thought we complimented each other well.

     The lactation consultant informed us that the baby had developed a poor latch and had caused severe nipple damage. Our son needed to re-learn how to suck properly. She told us that finger feeding was the best way to retrain him. I lost focus when I asked how long we were suppose to do this "re-training" and she said anywhere from a few days to a couple months. I honestly can't remember much of her demonstration and instructions on using the lactation aid, because I was pumped with so many emotions I couldn't think, hear or see straight. I think we had to use some sugar water mixed with pumped colostrum at first because my milk hadn't come in yet. Everything about the situation was unnatural to me and I very much wanted to simply give my baby a bottle and be done with it. I would try and finger feed my baby and then switch him to my breast, only to give up and let my husband finish feeding him. Naturally, he was very involved, and quickly took over the entire finger feeding process (after one feeding where I began to cry and told him this wasn't working for me) and I very much began to resent the obvious bonding time he was having with our baby while I was attached to a pump in the other room. At one point I mocked him, with the bottle of my milk in his shirt pocket while he fed our son through a tube, saying, "It's too bad you don't have breasts and can't do it all on your own!" After he finished finger feeding he placed our sleeping baby in my arms and wrapped his arms around the both of us. He hugged me for a while and told me he was so proud of me. The words were a shock to me. I realized I had built up this unworthy resentment towards him based on a false notion that he viewed me as a failure. All my anger dissipated instantly as he continued to encourage me. "Evie, I know you can do this and I know how much you are going to love breastfeeding our baby, that is why I am doing this." I thought about what he said and it was true. Our son wasn't going to suck on his finger for the rest of his life. 

     About a week later we were finally able to discontinue the use of the lactation aid altogether. We had a little family celebration. That night I asked my husband if he was sad he couldn't finger feed anymore and he said he viewed it as a special time but knew all along that the goal was for our son to breastfeed. I loved breastfeeding my son, just like he knew I would and felt so proud to be the nursing mom at family events.

     Three years later we were blessed with a baby girl (Victoria) and she was so sleepy she wouldn't wake up to breastfeed. Old fears began to rise, but my husband worked with me to get her to latch on correctly from the start and to keep her awake so she could nurse. Two years later we were blessed with another baby boy (Zachary) and he entered the world hungry and nursed right away. I didn't need my husband's assistance this time. I remember admiring my son sucking at my breast and looked up to see my husband admiring me feeding him. "Thank you" I told him. "For what?" he asked. "For everything." I answered. I am forever grateful for his constant patience and encouragement."

- The Finger Feeding Father

Thank you so much for sharing your story and for being a "breast friend" to our readers. I am so encouraged by this story and hope it will serve as an example of the importance of support, persistence, and encouragement to all new mothers and fathers, especially those that face breastfeeding complications.

I was curious to see what the lactation aid looked like and when I did a Google search for "finger feeding" I was amazed to see that the first 5 or 6 pictures of a baby being finger fed, were pictures of fathers finger feeding!*

In my book "So That's What They're For!" aka "The Boobie Bible" the author provides a story where the father, too, is involved in this process. I am so impressed by these dads! I can relate to my friend's attitude toward her husband while he was helping out with the finger feeding. My first born was extremely colicky and he'd scream most of the day while my husband was at work and I was all alone - which can make you go nutty after a while. When my husband walked through the door I'd gladly hand over our little screeching terradactyl and within seconds Ben would stop crying. My husband would say things like "Don't let him cry all day" as he left for work in the mornings. If I couldn't get Ben to stop crying fast enough in the night Nick would come racing into the room like "SuperDad to the rescue" as I put it and it made me feel like I was failing as a mother. I always thought Ben had a closer bond with his father than with me because Nick was the first one to hold him after he was born. Another "breast friend" of mine told me that her first born was the same way, and her husband rigged their vacuum cleaner to a remote so that when their baby started to cry in the night all he had to do was click a button and click it again after a few minutes when their son fell back to sleep. Even though a lot of the pressure to feed, take care of and raise the children falls on us women, I think it's important to step back and give a little credit to the dads that are trying to be involved and help in the ways they can. It's so easy to criticize them for not helping, but it seems like it's just as easy to be critical when they are helping! 

For more information on finger feeding, check out these helpful links which are also listed under the "helpful links" section on the blog:

The New Parents Guide to Finger Feeding
Finger Feeding Premature Babies
About.com Pediatrics on Finger Feeding
Using a Lactation Aid
Why a Lactation Aid is BY FAR the best supplement if a supplement is needed

If you think a Lactation Aid might help you with your breastfeeding needs, check with your pediatrician, lactation consultant, or local hospital which should provide you with the tools you need. You can also check out Lact-aid.

*I do not own the photos in this post. No copyright violations intended.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Is it safe to dye your hair while pregnant or breastfeeding?

A friend of mine, who is breastfeeding, recently asked me if it was okay to highlight or dye her hair while breastfeeding. I told her what I knew about the topic - which is that I've known quite a few women who dyed their hair regularly, while pregnant and breastfeeding, and their babies were fine and it didn't seem to dry out their milk or change the flavor making baby go on a nursing strike. I also told her to have the hair salon read the manufacturer's warning on the label since some products might be considered safe while others are advised not to use while pregnant or breastfeeding. I know for a fact that the Brazillian hair straightining "blow out" system tends to lean toward it not being safe for pregnant or nursing women, partially because of the strong chemicals and the amount of time it's in contact with the scalp (the chemicals don't absorb through the hair shaft, only through the scalp - which is why many women chose to highlight over a dying their entire hair) on top of the amount of fumes breathed in during the application of the product as well as the literal puffs of smoke that are emitted during the flat ironing process, but it's also a newer product and hasn't been around long enough to see what, if any, the effects are on pregnant or nursing women.

As it turns out, I actually had my step mom apply this kind of braziliian blow out straightening system within a week, maybe even days, after conceiving my second son.  I was not aware I was pregnant, but we did apply it outside with a breeze (by the pool - can't get that kind of service at a salon!) and just to be extra safe we both wore a mask - I kinda felt like my step mom was a doctor performing a hair operation on me! And in case you're interested, I had a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy (if you don't include nausea, round ligament pain, and other normal side effects of being pregnant) and an extremely healthy, happy and beautiful baby boy! As for the treatment itself, I have to tell you that it was FABULOUS!!! My entire life I struggled with my hair, and for a short while, it was what I refer to as "normal people hair" it was silky, oh so soft, required so little effort in the mornings, and for the first time I really viewed my hair as beautiful. Then I swam in the ocean, did laps in the pool, and the salt stripped the karotene? out of my silky mermaid hair and slowly but surely the frizzy, puffy locks returned - but I fully intend on having it done again, only I will wait until I'm done breastfeeding.

The main concern with traditional hair dyes, during pregnancy especially, seems to come from breathing in the fumes, which hasn't been proven to cause any harm to baby, rather often times it leaves mom with a major headache, dizzyness or nausea. So ask your OB for his/her opinion and ask your salon what the product's warning label advises. Also, know that from all the research I've read up on, they've done studies on animals (as cruel as that is to take comfort in) and have shown it to be safe.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Winner for the ItzBeen Giveaway!

Congratulations Jessica N from Indiana! You have been randomly selected to win the ItzBeen! I am so excited my son pulled your name out of the drawing cup! For readers who don't know, Jessica is expecting TWINS and will need all the extra advantages she can get to make the entire experience as wonderful as possible. I have sent you an email requesting your address so that I can have Anya P. from Customer Service over at Itzbeen Innovated, Inc ship you your item. Thank you so much for entering and congratulations on your pregnancy and for winning!

I'd also like to thank all the other readers who emailed me to enter to win this item. Congratulations to all of you on your pregnancies or for the pregnancies of your loved ones (we had some enter on behalf of a spouse or relative). Thank you again for your kind words and support of this blog. I wish you all a blessed pregnancy, delivery and nursing experience.  I have contacted Itzbeen and told them how encouraged I was by how many of you want to breastfeed and how I wish I could send each of you the tools to help make your experience as easy as possible! I would highly recommend that each of you look into either registering or purchasing an ItzBeen since it's such a handy little gadget and I personally got months worth of great use out of it!

Thank you again Itzbeen for your generous donation and for supporting our readers to breastfeed!

UPDATE: I had asked Anya if it would be possible to send TWO Itzbeens to Jessica since she is expecting twins, and she was kind and generous enough to do so! In response to receiving the Itzbeens and my question about the gender of her babies Jessica wrote me:

"In answer to your question, we have decided not to find out our babies genders.  We didn’t find out with our daughter and it was such fun!  She did ship us two!  We received them one day last week.  I was so surprised and I thank you so much for your advocating for us!!!  My husband, who loves techie gadgets, is dying to try them out!
 Thanks again!


Thank you again Anya and I wish Jessica and her family all the best!

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Hold your baby's hand instead of a bottle"

I just realized the other day that one of my favorite aspects of breastfeeding (besides the nourishment value) is that I have a free hand to hold my baby's hand. I'm constantly holding his little hand while nursing, marveling at his tiny fingers, bringing his hand to my face so I can kiss it. I love being able to use that free hand to gently tickle his cheek and rub the back of his head or run my fingers through his hair, down his arm, to be able to tickle his side and hold his little foot. When he reaches for my face, I take his hand and press his palm to my cheek or pretend to munch on his fist to make him laugh. All of these things I'm able to do because I'm not holding a bottle. I suddenly realized that all of this physical contact must be part of the "bonding" experience they say you get while nursing. Without planning it this way, my default picture (which I chose because I didn't want a picture of my face and would never display a shot of my baby nursing on my breast) demonstrates one of my favorite activities while breastfeeding! The idea hit me at once. With the amount of hours we spending holding our little ones to feed them, wouldn't you rather hold your baby's hand instead of a bottle? So that's my blog's slogan now!

Nursing Baby Moses: Moms step in after infant's mother dies

At the end of the interview with my sister-in-law I was reminded of this story where all these women came together, to support a widowed husband and his new baby named "Moses." Over 20 nursing moms came together to personally breastfeed this baby, and continued to take turns nursing him for the first year of his life. Read the story here:

There's something very special about providing the nurishment for your own baby, but I would think it has to be equally rewarding to help another baby (maybe even more in some ways, like in this case, to know you are granting a mother's dying wish for her child). I posted a clip of Selma Hayek nursing a hungry little newborn baby under the post "Celebrities Breastfeeding" and can only imagine how satisfying it would be to comfort, nurish, and bond with a baby in need, providing him or her with some of their most basic needs.

When I was nursing Ben while living in North Carolina, one of my UNCC classmates became very ill while pregnant. It turned out that she had leukemia and began chemo treatment while pregnant. They worried about how it would affect the baby and as soon as the baby was developed enough to survive outside her mother's belly they did an emergency c-section.

My friend, who knew how much I fought for and believed in breastfeeding, called me to tell me that the doctors want to give her pre-mature baby daugther breastmilk. The little baby girl was too weak and tiny to actually nurse, but they used a tube to feed her a few drops of breastmilk. The hospital had a small breast bank, but eventually they would switch her to formula unless my friend decided to purchase breast milk (which is very expensive) or if she could collect donated breast milk. She told me she would never ask this of anyone else (because breastmilk is a very personal thing, and if a nursing woman drinks caffeine, smokes, uses any medications or drugs these things pass through the breast milk) but she knew how strict I was with my dairy free diet and asked me if I would donate some breast milk for her baby. "Of course," I responded automatically and began pumping that day. I was more than happy to do it. To be honest, though this might sound gross or weird, I wished I could hold that baby and put her right to my breast, but the baby and my friend were in South Carolina getting treatment in a hospital over 4 hours away from me, and my nerves couldn't stand listening to my colicky baby scream in the car the entire drive there and back, so I pumped 2 oz at a time and froze them.

By the time the bottom drawer of my freezer was overflowing with bags of my milk, my friend's baby was already transitioning onto formula and neither of us had a way to get my milk to her, a place to store it, and utilize it (and because STD's can be transferred through breastmilk, it's best to boil it and all hospitals that accept donated breast milk screen it and heat it to kill any bacteria). Although many of the nutrients are lost after this heating process (just like how vegetables are best raw) it's still perfectly proportioned as far as the ratios between fats, proteins, carbs, sugars, water, etc.

At any rate, after a couple months I had to accept that I wasn't going to be able to help my friend's baby and it was pretty painful to throw away all that milk, but the baby was recovering beautifully and that was all that mattered.

I remember feeling helpless as my friend suffered through her treatment, and how when she asked for my milk I finally felt like I would be able to do something grand, even though it didn't work out in the end. I can only imagine how amazing it must have been for these women to be there for this family. This story is a beautiful example of how women should come together and offer support to one another.