A Healing Article from a Hyperemesis Gravidarum Sister

Just this past week I learned that Jessica from The Leaky B@@b also suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum.

I had no idea!

And, in a fortuitous twist, she published a fantastic article that struck to the core of some of the emotions I’ve been feeling about my HG pregnancies: Tone, filters, and information.

It seems like every time I turn around, there is some article that gets published about how if you have a great diet during pregnancy or exercise during pregnancy, your baby will be healthier and have a number of advantages.  Since good eating and exercise aren’t really options for those of us with HG, these articles usually cause me to roll my eyes, feel guilty, and sometimes even angry that I can’t have just a normal pregnancy like everyone else.

Oddly enough, I feel very strongly that we shouldn’t take on guilt simply because of our circumstances.  We should be able to share information to mothers be it about childbirth interventions and risk management or breastfeeding.  We should be able to discuss these issues openly and honestly without the knee-jerk defensive reaction.

And yet…

And yet, when I see the information out there about pregnancy diet and exercise, I experience that same feeling of defensiveness that makes me crazy when talking about non-HG-related issues.

Jessica writes:

Do those articles set out to make me feel guilty that I barely eat during my pregnancies?  No, they are just sharing information and sometimes aim to encourage and inspire moms.  Do the moms celebrating their beautiful pregnancy experience do so to punch me in the gut and knock me down?  I’m pretty sure they are just excited about their own experience.  Does the fact that I have very little physical activity during the prenatal stage of my mothering make me a bad mom?  I don’t think so but it doesn’t mean I don’t wonder from time to time or that it doesn’t hurt a little when I’m faced with the reality that it really isn’t a good thing and could be putting my children at risk.  Blaming the information though doesn’t help me or make my reality better.  Hiding it, or worse denying it, doesn’t help anyone else either.

We should still share information, we should still read information and we hopefully do this in a safe community where processing the information can happen through trusting and supportive dialogue.  I hope that by keeping in mind the fact that we do not know everything there is to a person’s back story and why they make the choices they do we can remember to be more sensitive in how we share information.  I hope that by keeping in mind the fact that we all bring our own baggage to any topic we can remember to try not to take information sharing as personal jabs.  It is through these steps that we can support one another and make a difference for others.

Reading this article really gave me a sense of healing.  It helped me build a bridge from one aspect of my life, writing, and personal views to another.

Thank you Jessica.  You gave me a lot to think about.

Advertisements

A Breastfeeding Kit

This weekend, I’ve been putting together my breastfeeding kit, so I thought I’d share with you what all I’m putting in it.

Nursing Bras

Yep.  Gotta have some nursing bras.  I went to my local breastfeeding store (seriously, skip the mall), and got measured.  I came home with:

  • Bravado Original Nursing Bra – Here’s something to take note of: If you are large-chested, Bravado is the way to go from what I hear.  They specifically design nursing bras to fully support women with larger breasts.  Nice, eh?
  • Majamas Easy Bra – This bra is unbelievably comfortable and still very supportive.  It’s going to be a fantastic sleep bra.

Now the rule of thumb on nursing bras is this: Before you have your baby get a “transition” bra.  You don’t know what your size is really going to be until later.  After your milk comes in and your supply settles down a bit, go out and get a few regular nursing bras.   The Bravado bra I got will do double duty as a transition bra and a real nursing bra.  Later on, though, I want to get fitted for a Hotmilk bra!  Now, I’ve never worn one of these, so I can’t write with any sort of authority on whether or not they do a good job, but talk about gorgeous! Wow!

Nursing Pillow

Thankfully, I’ve already got one of these.  All I have to do is wash the cover.  If you’re making your own breastfeeding kit, though, I can unreservedly recommend the My Brest Friend nursing pillow.  Okay, I know the name is really corny, but this pillow is hands down the best pillow out there.  I am not kidding when I say that if I hadn’t found this pillow, I probably would’ve given up nursing with the Grasshopper.  The Boppy and the bed pillows were a squishy, sliding nightmare.  If you get one thing, get this pillow.  It’s awesome.

Breast Pads

Last time, I just used disposable pads.  This time, I want to be a little more environmentally (and financially!) savvy.  I got a free set of Bamboobies nursing pads as part of a World Breastfeeding Week promotion.  Supposedly, the bamboo is super absorbent and the heart-shape means less bulk under a bra.  The promotional pair came with a 20% off coupon, so I went ahead and got a few more.  They have multi-packs, so I got a pack with 3 regular + 1 overnight pairs and a pack with 3 regular + 3 overnight pairs.  I’ve never used reusable pads before.  I’m not sure if this will be enough or too many.  I’m not sure if I will love this particular brand.  This is all experimental, so please don’t take my mention of this brand as an endorsement because I just don’t know yet!  Hopefully, after I get the chance to use them for a while I’ll be able to tell you more about them.

Nipple Cream

This time around, I’ve opted for a nipple cream by Motherlove.  I’ve used their herbal supplements in the past and was pleased with the quality, so I opted to give their nipple cream a try.  Hopefully it works out!

Breast Pump

I had my old Medela pump suction tested yesterday, and we found that the suction is still just fine.  Because of this, there’s no reason for me to purchase another pump.  It’s nice to save the money, but I wish Medela would comply with the WHO Code.

Milk Saver

Okay, this is a new one.  A few months ago, I visited a local breastfeeding store called The Pump Station, and my friend and I saw the My Milkies Milk Saver.  Initially, I thought it sounded weird.  Collecting milk while you’re breastfeeding?  Really?  Then Hobo Mama reviewed them on her blog, and I became intrigued.  So yesterday, I purchased one.  We’ll see how it works!

At this point, that’s what I’ve got in my breastfeeding kit.  Did you put together a breastfeeding kit for yourself or a friend?  If so, what did you include in it?

World Breastfeeding Week – What am I doing to prepare to breastfeed the new baby?

The Grasshopper and I did not have an easy start to our breastfeeding relationship.

My milk was slow to come in (thanks pitocin).  She struggled with latch due to flat nipples.  I got engorged.  Then I got mastitis because she wasn’t able to latch to remove the milk.  I didn’t know enough about pumping and thought that the milk I was pumping was “not real milk” because of the whole not-coming-in thing so I dumped what little I did pump.  She got dehydrated (no poops, no wets over a couple of days)  so we supplemented with formula through a bottle and then through a supplemental nursing system via finger-feeding.

IMG_0844

 

Then, right as she was starting to latch, I got thrush, which took forever to figure out because the Grasshopper never showed signs.  It was all in me.  By then, my milk supply was almost gone, so I essentially had to relactate.  The Boppy nursing pillow that I got was sliding all over God’s creation, so I was trying to hold the pillow in place, hold the baby, deal with the stupid nipple shield, get the baby latched, keep the baby latched, ignore the agony in my back (thanks epidural), and just fight fight fight fight fight.

Meanwhile, the “help” I was getting from hospital “lactation consultants” was vague and not helpful.  We could manage to nurse in the office, but not once we got home.  And when I would call for help they wouldn’t call me back.

It was a really difficult time.

Finally, we managed to turn the corner at around six weeks.  I ditched the Boppy for the My Breast Friend pillow (they’re WHO code compliant and the BEST nursing pillow on the market!), I threw the nipple shield across the room, I found the kellymom.com forums where I could get some real help, and suddenly the Grasshopper was alert enough and started latching and nursing.  I also dropped in to a local baby shop that had an IBCLC on staff, and she proved to me that I actually had milk by doing pre- and post-feed weighs.  Having this confidence is what ultimately saved our nursing relationship.

The Grasshopper’s latch was never great.  I think the nipple shield had a lot to do with why.  But we managed.  She was exclusively breastfed from 4 and a half weeks until she was a little over 8 months old.  As she grew older, her perpetual bad latch became worse, but she got enough.  I’m so proud of the fact that I managed to nurse her for 3 and a half years, and I’m so grateful that those resources (seriously! the pillow ruled!) all came together at the same time.

I was so lucky.

This time, I don’t intend to leave things up to luck.

What am I doing differently this time?

Unlike last time, I have developed a network of support.  I co-founded a Lactation Support Group at my workplace, and I know that I can reach out to my co-leaders for help if I need it.  I’ve also become an active member of the Kellymom.com forum community.  I cannot say enough good things about this community.  If you’re interested in nursing or plan to nurse or are thinking about it, join this group.  This–and the Kellymom.com website of course–is hands down one of the best resources out there.  The information, compiled by Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC,is accurate, carefully vetted and moderated, and evidence based.  It is truly second to none.

I’m also planning an unmedicated birth.  The IV fluids and pitocin were both, I believe based on several years of reading up on it, at least partly responsible for my severe engorgement and the delay of my milk coming in.  The terrible back pain I suffered was, in large part, from the epidural.

I know now, having observed the way my body reacts to these interventions, that they are harmful to my ability to breastfeed.  To promote the gentlest and least invasive birth possible, I’m using the Hypnobabies childbirth method and birthing at a birth center with the help of midwives and the support of an experienced doula.  Based on my experience and research, I believe that these and other birth choices I’m making will help our breastfeeding relationship to have the best possible start.

In addition to surrounding myself with accurate information and having a natural birth, I will have personal support from my midwives.  They’ve got extensive experience helping moms and babies get off to a good start with nursing, and I will not be cut adrift once I go home.  They will visit me in my home the day after the baby is born to check on both of us.  Following that, they will call daily and be available for me to call if I need help.

I’ve also found a local La Leche League group and I will begin attending meetings starting this month!

I know so much more now than when I was pregnant with the Grasshopper.  Now I don’t say, “I hope to breastfeed.”  This time I know that I can.  It is simply what we do in our family.  I know that if I run into difficulties that help is a phone call or keystroke away.  Whatever we may stumble upon, we will overcome.  Just like the Grasshopper and I did.

***

celebrate-wbw-npn-450

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

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

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

World Breastfeeding Week – Breastpumps Covered by Insurance?

Have you heard yet about the Affordable Care Act?

On August 1, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopted additional Guidelines for Women’s Preventive Services – including well-woman visits, support for breastfeeding equipment, contraception, and domestic violence screening – that will be covered without cost sharing in new health plans starting in August 2012. The guidelines were recommended by the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM) and based on scientific evidence.

Bolding mine.

And from a bit farther down in the article:

Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling: Pregnant and postpartum women will have access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive measures mothers can take to protect their children’s and their own health. One of the barriers for breastfeeding is the cost of purchasing or renting breast pumps and nursing related supplies.

I am thrilled to hear about this.  There are so many moms (including myself) that have to go back to work full-time shortly after the births of their children.  Right now, in the US, those moms typically have to go back to work at 12 weeks postpartum.  This falls under FMLA, which makes no requirement that these moms get paid during that time.  If you’re lucky enough (like me) to work for a company that does elect to pay during this time… Great!

Many moms aren’t that lucky.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a mom from a low-income family, have a baby, and then be faced with the prospect of having to choose to put food on the table for their families or stay home with their babies.

So imagine this scenario: You’ve just had your baby. You’re about to return to work just a few short weeks after the birth. You’ve worked so hard to breastfeed your baby during those critical first few weeks. You know that your work is required by federal law to allow you time and space to express milk.  But you’ve just been out of work and unpaid for a few weeks.  Finances are really tight.  You don’t have an extra $100-$300 laying around to get the double-electric pump you know you’ll need to be able to express enough milk during your short break to be able to send to daycare with your baby.  You think about the cost of formula, and while you know it’s cheaper in the right now, it’s so much more expensive in the long run.  And anyway, you really wanted to breastfeed your baby and you’ve worked so hard at it.

What kind of a choice is this?  It’s not a choice.  Not at all.  And it’s completely unfair.

According to the CDC:

Breastfeeding rates were examined by income status group. Income status was defined using the poverty income ratio (PIR), an index calculated by dividing family income by a poverty threshold that is specific for family size (3). Low income was defined as PIR less than or equal to 1.85, and high income was defined as PIR greater than 1.85. For the total population, the proportion of infants who were ever breastfed was lower among infants whose families had lower income (57%) compared with infants whose families had higher income status (74%).

Considering how many friends I know that have lost jobs in the current economy, making sure women have access to affordable healthcare, including lactation support if they need it, is critical.

I’m glad that the Affordable Care Act will be going into effect.  I don’t think it is a complete solution. I wish that all women, insured or not, had easy access to the same resources that I do.  I wish that all women could make the choice of how to feed their child–whatever that choice might be–without the outside pressures of simple and brutal economics.

I wish, I wish, I wish.

***

celebrate-wbw-npn-450

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

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

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

World Breastfeeding Week – Guilt, Judgement, and Lactivism

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

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

Guilt

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judgement

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

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

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

When they encounter people that make different parenting choices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lactivism

With the above comments about guilt and judgement in mind, how can we promote breastfeeding in a healthy way?  You know the old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  So what do we do?

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

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

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

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

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

So what does this all mean?

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

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

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

***

celebrate-wbw-npn-450

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

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

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

World Breastfeeding Week – Talking to my Daughter about Breastfeeding

 

Last night, at the dinner table, my daughter and I had a conversation that left me feeling so sad inside.  We were talking about expectations for the new baby, and, as I often do, I asked her, “What do babies eat again?”

The Grasshopper said, “Milk!”

“Milk from where?”

“A bottle!”

A bottle?  This from the kid who, up until a few months ago was nursing herself?  So I dug a little deeper.  I said, “Honey, babies drink milk from their mommies’ nipples.”  (This echoed the language she used to use when she would nurse.)

Her response broke my heart: “EEEEEEEEWWWWWWW!!!!!!!  Are you crazy?”

What on earth is going on here?  Did she forget our own nursing relationship so quickly?  Doesn’t she remember cuddling with me on the couch and in bed?  That was just a few months ago.  What happened?  Where on earth did she learn that nursing is something to go “EEW!” about?  Where did I go wrong?

We talk a lot about nursing in our house.  The Grasshopper loves animals, and we have a book called Animals Born Alive and Well that talks about mammals.  Whenever we see different animals we take the time to talk about them:

Look!  There’s a bunny!  What kind of animal is that bunny?  A mammal.  That’s right!  What makes mammals special?  They have fur and they breathe air.  That’s right.  What do baby mammals eat?  They drink their mommy’s milk.

And so forth.

Every day is a science lesson with her.  When she plays with her toys, we talk about it:

What does the baby horse eat?  I don’t know.  Is it a mammal?  Mommy’s milk!

I’ve worked hard to make sure that nursing is something that we talk about as being biologically normal.  It’s what mammals do.

We also have a book about new babies called What Baby Needs to help prepare her for what to expect after the baby is born.  It’s a Dr. Sears book, and it talks about new babies from an attachment parenting perspective.  Many of the images in the book (babywearing, nursing, sidecar cosleeping, etc.) are ones that she will see when the baby is born.  I particularly like that the book talks about nursing and shows the mom nursing the new baby while she cuddles the older child.  She chooses this book every few weeks at bedtime, so the concepts are ones that she’s become pretty familiar with.

One sticking point with the communicating about nursing is with her dolls.  She has a couple of dolls that came with bottles (don’t get me started on that!) and I haven’t gotten around to sneaking the bottles into the recycling bin.  She always insists on feeding the dolls with a bottle instead of nursing them.  I asked her why the other night and she said it was because she didn’t have any milk in her nipples.  I suggested she use her imagination but didn’t push the issue.  I’d rather nudge things along then push them.  I did point out to her that I’ve never fed her or any other baby with a bottle (truth), though.

I suspect a lot of this is what she sees at school.  There are a few babies at her daycare, but since the moms are away at work, she sees them eating from bottles.  She’s never really been exposed to breastfeeding outside of her own experience with it.

Could this simply be a case of her not making the connection between her nursing only a few months ago and a newborn baby (or horse or pig or manatee) nursing?  Could these be compartmentalized in her mind?

I certainly have plans and intentions for helping her to feel included in the care and feeding of the new baby:

  • I plan to get her a very nice baby doll as a “present from the baby” – one without a bottle
  • I’ve already gotten her a child-sized Ergo doll carrier so that she can carry her doll with her like Mama and Papa will carry the new baby
  • I’d like to get one of these nursing necklaces from my friend, and if I do, I plan to get a child-sized one for her to use if she wants
  • If she asks to try nursing again after the baby is born, I’m more than willing to let her try

Will this help build within her mind the concept of breastfeeding as normal?  I certainly hope so.  I also hope that giving her some options on different activities to encourage her to mimic what we do with the baby will help her to view breastfeeding as a natural part of life.

Are there other ways that I can talk to her about breastfeeding?  How do you talk about breastfeeding with your children?

***

celebrate-wbw-npn-450

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

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

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

World Breastfeeding Week – Talk to Me!

World Breastfeeding Week kicked off yesterday!  For those that don’t know, WBW is an annual event sponsored by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, an international group dedicated to promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding around the world.

logo_breastfeeding_gateway

The theme for this year’s WBW is “Talk to Me! Breastfeeding – A 3D Experience”

 

Communication is an essential part of protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding. We live in a world where individuals and global communities connect across small and great distances at an instant’s notice. New lines of communication are being created every day, and we have the ability to use these information channels to broaden our horizons and spread breastfeeding information beyond our immediate time and place to activate important dialogue.

The focus is on cross generational communication, particularly communicating with young people.

Why is this important?  From my perspective, it’s important for the next generation to view breastfeeding as biologically normal.  Not special.  Not best. Not better than the alternative.  Just normal.

For the first time since becoming a mom, I won’t be able to celebrate WBW by nursing a child.  But since the theme this year is communication and I do have a platform from which to speak on this blog, I’ll still be able to participate!

Throughout the week, I’m going to talk about different aspects of communicating about breastfeeding.  Here are some topics you can expect to see me cover during WBW (I may change these around if I get better ideas):

  • Talking to my daughter about breastfeeding
  • The power of words
  • Talking to others about breastfeeding
  • Building a Community of Support for the Future

I’ll also be tweeting breastfeeding-related news and articles and posting them to my Facebook page.  If you aren’t following me on Twitter and if you haven’t *liked* us on Facebook, now is the time to do it!

***

celebrate-wbw-npn-450

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

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

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

Colds, Infections, Medicine, and Breastfeeding

medicine-thermometer-tablets-pills

On Wednesday I started feeling that tickle in the back of my throat.  That one that means the next week or so will involve lots of tissues and tylenol.  Great.  Since I’m nursing and decongestants can impact my milk supply, I’m pretty much stuck with home remedies.

Then Thursday afternoon, while the cold was still trying to decide if it was going to clobber me or not, WHAM!  A UTI (bladder infection) hit.  This  meant a trip to the doctor and antibiotics.  I do not mess around with UTIs. And Pro-tip: Most antibiotics are perfectly safe for breastfeeding moms.

Friday, while I’m still feeling not so hot from the UTI, the cold decides that, yes, it will go ahead and make my life miserable.  Thankfully, by Friday afternoon, the UTI seemed to be on its way out the door, but the cold, oh, the cold.  It was obviously settling in to stay.

Craaaap.

Saturday, I woke up to incredible pain in my sinuses and the UTI symptoms back.  A visit the urgent care doctor and 2 hours and $110 later, I was back at home with a new antibiotic to kill both the UTI and the sinus infection.  It was a miserable day.

Today is also not that much fun.  The Bactrim kicked the UTI’s ass and the pain in the sinus isn’t so bad, but the cold is a virus and just has to run its course.

So what’s a gal to do if she can’t just take a Dayquil and get on with her life?  I’ve been trying out a few options.

First and foremost is my beloved Neti Pot.  If you haven’t heard of one of these, check out this video!  I don’t recommend eating and watching.  Also, do you love this woman’s facial expression?  That’s exactly how I look while I’m neti potting.  Really.  Honest and true.

Neti potting is freaky.  It’s also wonderful and awesome.  No, it doesn’t hurt.  It actually feels really good and soothing.  Unless you don’t add enough salt.  Then it burns like hell.  Here’s how I mix my neti water:

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Some folks add baking soda saying it’s more soothing that way.  I find baking soda to be more irritating, so I leave it out.

The other thing I’m trying is an ayurvedic drink that an Indian friend told me about.  Here’s the recipe for that.

  • 1 cup hot milk (I nuke it in the microwave)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric (the yellow stuff)
  • Honey to taste

Mix the turmeric and honey into the milk and allow it to cool to warm.  This gives the turmeric enough time to dissolve (sort of ) into the milk.  Then you drink up.  It’s delicious and soothing.  The idea behind it is that turmeric is antiseptic.

There’s actually been some research coming out about turmeric lately.  It’s looking kind of promising for a variety of ailments.

I found that early on in the cold, it would keep the symptoms at bay for a couple of hours.  Now that the cold has settled in, it’s not helping quite as much, but it’s still yummy and soothing.

Other things I can take:

  • Mucinex
  • Affrin (sparingly)
  • Tylenol
  • Advil

So that’s my life right now.  Just trying to kick this cold before I have to get on a plane to Ecuador on Saturday.

Breastfeeding, Pregnancy, and Hyperemesis Gravidarum

pregnancy

I plan to breastfeed the Grasshopper for as long as I can during this pregnancy, even with hyperemesis gravidarum. Breastfeeding during pregnancy is called tandem nursing, and there are a number of benefits to extended breastfeeding and tandem nursing.

When my daughter was born, a lot of things went wrong from a breastfeeding perspective.  I really thought, by the end of the first week, that I would not be able to nurse her.  My milk was delayed in coming in (thank you pitocin), she wasn’t able to latch well, I had to use this stupid nipple shield, it hurt, the dang pillows kept sliding all over the place, and I just generally had no idea what I was doing.  The first Lactation Consultant in the hospital wasn’t much help.  The books weren’t much help.  It was so, so hard.  I kept at it, though.  And eventually I made it through the learning curve.  Things were finally going along as they should at about 6 weeks post partum.  And yes, a six week learning curve is actually really, really normal.

Once I did figure it out, I discovered that I loved nursing.  I loved everything about it, and my daughter did, too.  But I never imagined I’d be nursing a 3 year old.  If you had asked me about extended nursing, that is nursing a child past infancy, a few years ago, I might have said, “Oh, yuck!  Weird!”

When I was pregnant and the subject of breastfeeding would come up, I would say, “I hope I’ll be able to nurse.”  During the first few weeks I would say, “Man, I really don’t think I can do this for another week!  Let alone another year!”  Once things clicked, I reset my goal for a year, and then we just never really got around to stopping.

For those who follow this path, extended nursing provides many benefits.  The Grasshopper is able to benefit from my immune system via the antibodies in my milk.  I’m currently in the process of hoping we can keep her from getting a horrible fever and pink-eye outbreak that’s going through the daycare.  Please keep your fingers crossed!  Aside from the benefits to her, it benefits me as well: reduced breast, ovarian, uterine, and endometrial cancer risks, protection from osteoperosis, and a host of other tangible and intangible little bonuses.

The bottom line is this:  She’ll wean when she’s ready.

The next logical question I would expect to hear is regarding the safety of breastfeeding during pregnancy.  The short answer is that unless full pelvic rest is recommended for the mother, nursing through pregnancy is perfectly safe.

Things become a little more complicated when you’re a hyperemesis patient.  There’s the whole severe malnutrition and dehydration thing to consider.  Nursing doesn’t take anything away from the developing fetus.  The female body has incredible powers of prioritization.  However, we do need to be very aware of what I am able to tolerate and what medications will be safe for the Grasshopper.  If I become severely malnourished, what I am referring to as my disaster scenario, we will likely have to stop nursing, so I need to be aware of this possibility.

I’m going into this with open eyes.  We know what’s coming.  We’re going to be treating aggressively.  The likelihood of us reaching that disaster scenario is pretty slim.  I wasn’t anywhere close to that last time, and I don’t intend to get there this time.  Luckily, my doctor is incredibly supportive.  She’s prepared to ensure all the medications we try are safe both for pregnancy and lactation.

Here’s some good news:  Anecdotally, women nursing don’t have as severe nausea and vomiting.  Of course, that goes the other way, too, but I’m hoping for the first.

At the very least, on days that I can’t get up and run around with my daughter, this will be a way for me to give her quiet, undivided attention.