Naturally Mama.

From one natural mama to another…

I am Woman. Watch me Lactate. January 26, 2011

Filed under: Breastfeeding — Naturally Mama @ 8:43 pm
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I make milk. My body brews a concoction that can prevent and cure sickness, heal wounds, and nourish a tiny body until it grows 2 feet tall with nothing more needed for a good year or more sometimes. I can look at my child one day and say “I did that. He grew because of me.” What is so “gross” and taboo about seeing such a miraculous act performed?

I don’t want to get into how breastfeeding is best, Facebook disrespects women’s rights by banning breastfeeding support pages/pictures or make formula feeders feel shamed (because I formula-fed my first child before coming to know what I know now and choosing differently for our family). These have been discussed many times over recently (and with good reason!) so there’s not much to add. What I do want to get into is this:

What is so wrong about feeding my child when my child is hungry?

It’s a simple question, but one that is often answered with invalid, unthoughtful and immature responses. I don’t scoff at formula feeders. I don’t stare at something I’m offended at (for no good reason) and make someone feel uncomfortable for it. I applaud Mothers who do the best for their children. I stand behind and support Mothers who take the time and energy to do something selfless and wonderful for their babies. Why would anybody want to do the opposite?

What have you done lately to support a breastfeeding Mother?


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Lack of posts and things looking up! November 21, 2010

It’s been too long since I last posted. Cohen is about 2 months and a week old. Here’s a rundown of recent milestones:

  • Giggled @ 2 months, 1 day… Such a beautiful noise. Has done it once since then, very briefly.
  • Cooing and making many different noises. Having ‘conversations’ with Mama daily now.
  • Trying to roll over. Doesn’t always enjoy floor time, but when I can get him to stay there for a while without crying, he’s bringing one leg over his body, which is no doubt going to lead to rolling over!

Here’s a could pics of my perfect little baby monster these days.

All smiles for Dad this morning!

So, I started making more milk within the past week. I stopped pumping, stopped taking supplements and herbs, stopped crying and feeling bad about it, became a pro at using the SNS after much practice and whala! What do ya know. Stress had something to do with it. He went from taking 10-14 oz. to taking 6-8 oz of donor breast milk. I feel a ton better about it all. I think switching from formula to donated breast milk had a lot to do with the stress alleviation. Thank goodness for Milkshare and Eats on Feets! I feel blessed to have found such generous women to donate their milk to my baby boy.

 

Breastfeeding woes. October 25, 2010

Yesterday was a rough day, in terms of breastfeeding. Sometimes I begin to feel tremendous guilt for supplementing with formula. I’m always feeling the need to defend myself… even to myself. When I’m evaluating the whole situation, I feel it’s all happening because I am not doing enough- even though I can’t think of much more that I can do. Sometimes I feel there must be something going on with my baby- his latch, ability to ’empty’ my breast, reflux… something. Most days, I feel like there must be something wrong with my body. I tell myself hurtful things like ‘It’s my fault’… ‘I cant even nourish my own baby!’… ‘He wouldn’t have reflux/gas/discomfort/etc. if I could just exclusively breastfeed him’… ‘If you would take better care of yourself- eat right, drink more water, eat more of this, less of that’…

I know that to guilt and shame is going to do me no good, but breastfeeding pretty much consumes me. And when I can’t do something that nature says all women can do except under rare extenuating circumstances, it feels terrible. When I know 1/2 to 2/3 of my baby’s diet is garbage, I feel completely responsible and extremely disappointed in myself. An outsider can (and has) come in and tell me I’m doing everything that I can… that it’s not my fault… and my first thought is that either they’re only trying to make me feel better, or that in my situation they would have already given up hope and chalked it up to ‘Oh well, I tried…’ so why should I listen to them?

I want nothing more than to give my baby a diet of purely breast milk. Why can’t I give it to him?

 

Does it make you feel good, too? October 20, 2010

Filed under: Breastfeeding — Naturally Mama @ 4:28 am
Tags: , ,

I had an eye-opening experience the other day. Evan and I took Hailey and her BFF to a church harvest carnival (which was actually pretty huge and awesome.. horse back rides, bouncy houses, carnival games, Wii console giveaways…). I wore Cohen in my Moby wrap- he loves being so warm and close to his Mama. A couple of hours into the event, he’s hungry. I find an almost-empty warehouse with chairs setup, but it was playing very loud music and someone swiped the couch from my eyes before I could physically claim it. Just when I decided I would put up with the noise after-all. Crap. Evan and the girls were on their way to another building to get food so I decided I would attempt to follow & find them instead and hopefully there would be a semi-comfortable place to nurse my baby there.

When I found Evan and the girls, there was no such luck in the comfort department. But there were chairs and tables, so I [purposefully] chose a table in the back out of main view. I discreetly nursed Cohen for 30 minutes or so. Now, I know that nursing in public is seen as taboo by many unless Mom confines herself to a dirty bathroom, a cramped car, or covers herself and her little one with a blanket or nursing cover. But I don’t see anybody else eating their meals in a bathroom, I don’t think many people would eat in their car if it was uncomfortable for them to do so, and I don’t see the logic in a breastfeeding Mother covering a natural act so that someone else won’t be offended. Um, HELLO… Look away if it bothers you? Cover your own damn head with a blanket? Realize that it’s not all about you and what you like or don’t like, especially when it’s feeding a baby that offends you?

So, I’m sitting there as I said, discreetly feeding my little man. Giving him the nourishment that Nature and God allow me to. Giving him what the WHO, the AAP, and countless other organizations and individuals recommend for Mothers to do for all of the health benefits that it provides. While I am nursing, you cannot see any more than you would on the street, at the beach, or on the covers of those useless magazines so many people read (and those who find them offensive simply DON’T READ THEM, right?). Maybe you can even see less unless you’re standing above me, seeing what I see, which nobody is.

Toward the end of Cohen’s meal, I see a lady coming my direction out of my peripheral vision. She gets my full attention by forcefully patting my shoulder. I swing back to look at her and I smile. She touched my shoulder with such force, I thought maybe I knew her. She starts off telling me ‘You’re doing a real great job”… and then goes on to say “of offending everyone in this room and making everybody feel uncomfortable. Everybody is staring.” She lets out a nervous giggle. I look around and nobody is staring. I politely tell her I don’t mind, it’s a natural act. Nothing to be ashamed of, right? As she’s walking away, she stops and agrees with me while also contradicting her agreement and repeating herself about how uncomfortable everyone in the room is (when in reality, she was the only one obviously uncomfortable and the only one who couldn’t manage to look away since it bothered her). So I state the obvious and tell her “I’m simply feeding my baby. He’s hungry.” She walked away, while staring over our way as she was gathering her things and her children (yes, she is a Mother).

I wish I would have had some valuable information on the tip of my tongue for this woman. She is obviously misinformed and thinks that somehow my baby eating from my breast is sexual, or offensive. She is like many others, in this country especially, who have misinformation and backward images of what feeding a baby should look like. The bottle is not natural. The breast is. Breasts have been made to be so sexualized, that people are viewing feeding a child offensive. How is me, filling my child’s belly with food, making sure he sustains LIFE offensive? Because I do it with a part of my body that television & pornography have turned into a completely sexual image? You do have the right to feel that way if you choose. You can feel however you want. But in feeling that way, you are choosing to be ignorant, you are choosing to be misinformed, you are choosing to be offended and you’re choosing to continue to be offended by looking.

Now, Ive made the point that some people do not want to see nursing in public. There are many things that I would rather not see and experience, as well: Cigarette smoke, women dressed like strippers, old men with massive amounts of curly hair sticking from every which way of their shirt (if they’re even wearing one)… but the difference between those things and breastfeeding is this: necessity. Is it a necessity for you to smoke in public and subject everyone else to the health hazard? Breastfeeding is not a health hazard. It is the opposite. And I don’t have to stand in your cloud of smoke, inhaling something I don’t like, while scolding you for it. Is it necessary to dress like a prostitute? No, but I can look away if I don’t like how you dress. I know that it’s done for the wrong kind of attention and vanity, not out of necessity. Can you wear a shirt that doesn’t have your chest and back hair pop out of every which way? Yes, but it’s your right if you don’t want to and although it’s not necessary for you to wear that shirt, I can just as easily look away. So not only do you have the right to do all of these things and more, which might personally affect me in some way and even have adverse health effects on me, you get to do those things without there being a necessary reason to do so. And there’s much less of a chance that someone will come up to you and shame you for them or shoot an obviously nasty look your way.

The reason I said at the beginning that this was an eye-opening experience is not because I didn’t know some people would have a problem with seeing a breastfeeding woman. Not because I didn’t know it was a reality that someone might ignorantly approach me, say something rude to me, or even to ask me (against the law) to leave an establishment. It is because I’ve had time to think about why. Why did this woman feel the need to not only approach me, but to approach me with such judgment and harshness? It comes down to a few things that I read here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-and-deb-shapiro/why-do-we-feel-good-when-_b_765643.html

I have been changed by this experience. Not because I am going to refuse my child food in public or feel shamed when I choose to feed him wherever he happens to be hungry… the only way for people to understand that breastfeeding is not dirty or wrong, is for them to see it. Once people are exposed to this natural act enough, it can become normal again, as it was meant. What’s normal to you now is only normal because it’s what you know. It’s because I want to be sure that I don’t make anybody else feel like the woman here tried to make me feel. And I definitely don’t want to make anybody feel that way to make myself feel better.

This goes way beyond breastfeeding. This involves everyday life and what goes on around us. When we see someone who is dressed in an outdated outfit, or a color/pattern combo we wouldn’t wear, what looks do we show on our face to express a feeling toward another person? How wide do our eyes get and how long do our stares linger? What do we whisper to our significant other or our friend next to us that might make that person feel completely horrible if they heard (or even just saw you whispering)? Does it make you feel good to belittle someone when they cut you off in traffic? Or for you to cut them off when they’re doing the speed limit and you don’t like it? Do you think twice before you act and ask yourself how your expressed opinion and actions might affect someone else? Most people don’t do this nearly as often as they should. I don’t want to be one of those people.

So thank you church lady, for reminding me of this. Instead of your attempts to shame and belittle me having a negative effect, they have reminded me of who I strive to be and how my actions have an impact on others.

 

"Wean me Gently, Mom" October 18, 2010

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Postpartum — Naturally Mama @ 7:48 am
Tags: , ,

I found an article on kellymom.com (best breastfeeding website out there!) on weaning a baby from supplements.  After calling every medical supply company to get my hands on a baby scale and calling my insurance company 5 times to get it approved as a medical need, I was finally able to pick one up. Starting tomorrow, I will be weighing Cohen before and after feedings probably once a day or so. I’m going to try not to be obsessive about it. The scale is very accurate and does the math for you. I love it.

For the first 3 days, I will decrease the formula by 1 ounce a day. So about 1/2 of the time that he takes a bottle, I will take a teaspoon out of it since 6 teaspoons are in an ounce. Then, the plan is to take another ounce away 3 days later for another 3 days. I have to monitor his weight, wet diapers, and of course his hunger cues. I definitely know his hunger cues. If at any time he’s not getting enough, I can stop decreasing, go back to a previous day when he was getting more, or take out 1/2 an ounce a day for 3 days or longer. I will need to see what works for us.  All the while, I will make sure he is on my breast at least every 2 hours. There have been times when he’s slept for 3+ hours at a time, so I may have to wake him up from time to time (which is no easy task). So, in conclusion of weaning, I took the wrong approach of ‘just take him off the formula and keep him on the breast’. I must wean him much more gently than that.

I saw another lactation consultant and after watching him nurse, checking the roof of his mouth, his tongue and his latch, and asking me a million questions, she told me that I am “a question mark”. She couldn’t tell me why I wasn’t producing more. It was disappointing to hear, but also reassuring at the same time that I guess I am doing all that I can right now. The only suggestion she had was to take a prescription medication. These prescriptions are not meant to make mothers produce more milk, but it can be a side effect. I will contemplate this when NOTHING else has worked and I’m no longer going to try to increase my supply (which hopefully won’t happen!).

On top of all of this breastfeeding stress, I got a staph infection right below my belly where by pants sit. Awesome. Using natural methods to get rid of it right now. Antibiotics are not something I don’t take lightly. I don’t even take a Tylenol unless I literally cannot function because of a migraine or some other severe pain. Even then….

And my Husband became teary-eyed tonight while talking about how distanced he feels from me. We are best friends and feeling disconnected from him is like losing a limb. I have been so wrapped up in all of this and worried about a million other things, that our relationship is lacking. We had intercourse for the first time since Cohen was born last night and it wasn’t what he had expected. I couldn’t concentrate on being sexual because a) I wasn’t 100% done bleeding. Very light, brown spotting, but still not done. b) I have a staph infection! close to my intimate region! So I was worried about keeping it covered and keeping him off of it and apparently I was subconsciously pushing him away with my hand which upset him. c) It was very dry and uncomfortable until I asked him to use lubrication. He couldn’t tell because he was wearing a condom. It just wasn’t your ideal closeness after 1 month of only doing certain other sexual acts. I had to do a lot of convincing and explaining to him so that he didn’t feel as if I was drifting away. I love him a million tons and him and I need to remember to make time for each other.

So… off to sleep I (try to) go. I’m sure it won’t last long though! 🙂

 

Feeling Defeated. October 13, 2010

Filed under: Breastfeeding — Naturally Mama @ 9:40 am
Tags: , , , ,

I feel like such a failure at this very moment. I am going to start at the beginning of my breastfeeding journey, 4 weeks ago today. Cohen is born. He happily drinks colostrum for the first 2 nights. On the 3rd night when he awoke for a 2am feeding, I hear gulping sounds and I’m ecstatic because I was having doubts about my milk since it never seemed to come in with my first (this was almost 10 years ago when I was just 16). I always felt like I hadn’t tried hard enough to breastfeed my first- actually, I didn’t try hard enough. With my first baby, after a week, she was always hungry and crying  and when I went in, they measured my milk output, told me it wasn’t enough (2 cc’s after 45 minutes of pumping) and told me to put her on formula. So I did, without second thought.

Fast forward now, to my son. So, he’s happily drinking his new milky meals and everything’s great! Until the next night. The inconsolable crying starts.  Was he hungry? Gassy? Tired? What did this little man want? He was just on my breast for almost an hour! After 30+ minutes of trying to console him, I would put him back on my breast. He would suck for another hour. Take him off, he would be inconsolable. It was a vicious cycle. We thought he seemed hungry, but how could he be hungry??

This went on for a few more days until we took him to his one week appointment with the Midwife. He had lost a whole pound (he was 7 lbs 5 oz when he was born). So we pretty much figured that he probably wasn’t getting enough to eat. I was determined not to put him on formula though. I know how nasty that stuff is and I wanted my baby to have his Mama’s natural milk no matter what.

I took him to the Dr. to get her advice and make sure everything was OK with him. I mean, he was completely inconsolable and had lost a whole pound. Physically, the Dr. said he was fine, but she was concerned about his weight loss. As was I. I started taking Fenugreek. Drinking mother’s milk tea. Lots of water. I broke out the pump and began to pump any little bit I could when I gt the chance (although hardly anything would come out). I made sure to let him use my breast whether it was for drinking or just sucking. He was still at my boob pretty much all day every day. If not, he was probably crying or asleep from so much crying. I saw a lactation consultant. Got a better hospital grade pump from them. Got a supplemental nursing system to feed him the pumped milk. Nothing changed.

By the end of week 2, we had been to the Dr. 4 times for weight and consult. Each time, she commended me on my efforts, yet tried to talk me into using formula (surprise). The first 3 times, I told her that was not an option. The 4th time, when she told me this was now detrimental to his health and development and I needed to do something NOW, I gave in. I had already tried to concoct a homemade formula a couple of days prior using goats milk, but I was not confident that he would be getting the right nutrition. And When he drank that ounce of goats milk, he was a completely different baby. So content and happy for a couple of hours. I knew he needed more milk. He was hungry and I couldn’t provide for him. It’s the worst, most stressful feeling.

On my way home from the Dr., I cried. And cried and cried. Looked at the formula ingredients and cried some more. My Husband sympathetically reassured me, and it did no good. I was going against everything I believed in. How could I be one of the few ‘rare’ women (that you only hear about when people are talking about how almost ALL women can breastfeed exclusively if the try hard enough) who can’t provide milk for their baby? Nobody would believe it anyway and they would label me a crappy, lazy, garbage feeding Mom which I was everything BUT. I just wanted my baby to be content and to gain some weight and I certainly didn’t want to hinder his growth and development when it was something that could be fixed.

Starting that first day that we gave him formula, he was so different. Complete change. Happy, good sleep habits, periods of alertness with no crying, bowel movements…amazing. He was eating between 1 and 2 ounces after almost every nursing. 3 days later, we had him weighed again and he gained 6 ounces. This made me feel both WONDERFUL and completely saddened. How am I going to bring up my supply now? For every ounce of formula I feed, that’s an ounce less of breast milk my body thinks it has to make. So I pump more and for longer- still only getting 1/4 of an ounce to 1/2 of an ounce each pumping. That alone is very discouraging. I know you’re not supposed to base anything on what you get from a pump, but it’s still very discouraging.

The formula then starts to give him extremely painful gas. Writing in pain, turning bright red from straining, poo-stains on his diaper gas. Can this baby never get a break? We switch formulas. Same thing, but without the extremely rotten gas he would pass with the last one. We switch him again to the most expensive cow’s milk based (I refuse to use soy since 85%+ of soy is GMO) formula, and it’s half of the gas and pain that the last one was. Still not comfortable for him, nor ideal.

Throughout all of this, I’m talking to my friend/Doula and she’s giving me awesome support. Tons of ideas, books, encouragement etc. Nothing is working. I start to wonder if it’s my diet because I’ve hardly been hungry, so I start drinking protein drinks since I can’t seem to get extra food down my throat. I start to make sure I’m getting more veggies and fruit, whole grains, etc. Still, nothing has changed. I start to question why I am using formula at all and I get a suggestion from a friend to stop formula altogether and just let him be at my breast all day everyday for a week or so and my milk should definitely come in then. Genius! Right?

Wrong. I started tonight. 9pm rolls around, Cohen’s hungry, I give him my breast. Then my other, then back to the first and so on and so on… he’s vigorously sucking and after the first few minutes on each side, the swallowing always stops and he starts to get frustrated or just falls asleep. This time, he’s just frustrated and on top of it, has horrible gas. I let him suck and suck and 2am rolls around and I can’t handle it anymore. If I take him off my breast, even if he’s sleeping, he cries. He’s OBVIOUSLY hungry.. viciously sucking at his hands, his blanket, anything he can get his lips on. I cry as I walk into the living room and grab the bottle to clean it. I give him formula. I think to myself- he should only want an ounce… he was on my breast for most of 5 hours. Nope- he took both ounces. I even stopped and tried to get him to go to sleep after one ounce but he was still hungry.

I feel so defeated and screwed over. By formula. By my body. By God. By everyone around me. I feel guilty, ashamed and incompetent. I’m calling another LC tomorrow. I will let Cohen be on my breast as much as he wants tomorrow. Other than that, I just don’t know what to do. As long as he’s hungry, I need to feed him. If the LC can’t help me, I will go to another. If she can’t help me, I will find a Dr. that will stand behind me in my choice to supplement with goats milk, and I will get a recipe that I can feel confident in. Lets hope the first LC can help me and this terrible situation can soon be a closed chapter in my life! I just want what’s best for my baby.

 

 
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