Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Power of the Simple Word.

I came across this quote today and it touched a place inside me, because I understood it completely.

Who fed me from her gentle breast
And hushed me in her arms to rest,
And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?
My Mother.
~Anne Taylor

If you have something that speaks to you, please share it with us. 

Hope you are all enjoying your weekend with your families.

Best,
Emily

Friday, June 18, 2010

"10 things people don’t tell you about breastfeeding"

1) It’s not that simple, but it’s also not that complicated
Alright, we’re mammals, so you’d think breastfeeding is in our genes, but when the time comes, it doesn’t appear that obvious. Can it hurt? Yes, if you don’t do it right, and mostly, if your baby doesn’t do it right. You didn’t get the lactation instruction manual and your baby didn’t either! So see it as the first learning experience you’ll share together. Make your bundle of joy your partner and don’t sweat the small stuff. And there’s always help out there if you need it: through your health insurance, La Leche League, some state programs, etc. My biggest advice is to inquire about your options BEFORE you give birth. You’ll be way too busy and tired after the birth to browse the internet for a lactation consultant.

2) Everybody will give you their personal opinion about breastfeeding
You’ll hear more than your share about breastfeeding versus bottle feeding as you approach the delivery date. Sometimes you almost feel like there’s a war brewing out there… And whether you decide to breastfeed or not, you’ll hear both sides of the discussion. I personally never “made the decision” to breastfeed. For me, it was something I was going to do and made sure I was successful at it, both physically and mentally. I can’t believe how many people kept telling me after I had been breastfeeding for over six months that it was long enough and I could stop now, as if I had nothing else to prove! In a way, it motivated me to continue breastfeeding, as if to show them how little I cared about their advice, but to any mom who is wondering how long she should breastfeed, those comments are very unsupportive. Just do what you want to do, breastfeed or not, for two months or 18 months, and enjoy every minute of it!

3) Your breast size is no indication of how much milk you’ll produce
I was a size A pre-pregnancy and became a size D by the time I started lactating, so all small-breasted women, rejoice! I found out that the key to good production is to stay hydrated yourself. The less you drink, the less milk will come out. And eating throughout the day will keep you from feeling famished and exhausted.

4) Your breast pump bag looks really cool
One day after I returned to work, a male colleague of mine pointed out to my black breast pump bag and remarked how stylish it looked, with its several conveniently placed pockets. I replied, “Thanks, that’s my breast pump bag”. He looked puzzled and inquired, “Your what?”, “My breast pump bag. You know, breast pumping”, as I used sucking hand gestures in front of my boobs. “Ah”, he said as he suddenly blushed. I think that was the last time he’ll ever compliment a lady on her bag…

5) There’s nothing else in the world like night feedings
In the still of the night, when everything is quiet in the house and everybody else in the whole world is sleeping, you get to share some very special one-on-one time with your baby. Both of you feel half asleep, half awake, skin-to-skin, laying in bed. As you listen to the rhythmic sucking-gulping process, you start breathing in a delicious baby smell. Other moms had told you about by that smell, but all they saw what your puzzled look as you thought they were just gone gaga about their babies. It’s all true, your own baby’s smell is the most wonderful scent in the world, and the good part is that it doesn’t go away as they grow up.

6) Say goodbye to baby weight
Breastfeeding is the EASIEST way to lose your extra pregnancy weight without having to run on a treadmill like a wild rabbit being chased by a fierce coyote. Believe it or not, you’ll still be able to eat a good amount of food, as breastfeeding literally sucks calories out of you. For every ounce of milk you make, you lose about 20 calories. I produced about 30oz a day, which equals 600 calories per day. Way better than the 300 extra calories a day needed during pregnancy that we use to justify eating for two.

7) You’re doing in for yourself, not just for your baby
Breastfeeding causes small uterus contractions that help bring your uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size faster. It also reduces your risk of breast cancer by as much as 25%. And it increases your levels of oxytocin (sounds like some good drug name if you ask me!), which is a hormone that helps you relax. Something all new moms could use!

8) You will lose calcium while lactating
The good news is the bone loss is temporary and according to some studies, women who breastfeed lower their risk of osteoporosis in the long run. Take some calcium supplements while lactating, and you’ll be just fine.

9) If you can take on the breastfeeding challenge, you can do anything
I never saw breastfeeding as a chore, or as something I had to do as a mom. I saw it as a challenge and dealt with it every day, until it became a habit. The challenge was to have the baby latch properly, make sure the baby fed enough and that my nipples didn’t become raw meat in the process, and then to repeat every day until I felt it was time to stop. I stop nursing my boys around 9 months, but I continued to pump until they were 13 months old, three times a day, every day. If you can handle that, you can handle most of the inconveniences that life throws at you.

10) You’ll miss it when you stop doing it
Now, you’re probably screaming, are you crazy??? Nope, I’m not. Deciding when to stop was actually very difficult. After sharing a part of me (my milk) for so long with my babies and acting as their lifeline, it was hard to close that chapter. Becoming a mom is a wondering experience. First you grow a whole human being inside your womb, and your job continues when you feed that being from your own body. Sorry guys, but you’re really missing out! Breastfeeding provided me with me-time, especially when I went back to work and I pumped, alone in a locked room for 20 minutes at a time. With only the rhythm of the pump to hear and a good book to read, those were my most precious minutes of the day. It was hard to go back to the lunch room and not have that moment of peace that I so needed to get revitalized for the rest of the day.

To all moms out there, try breastfeeding and seize the day! Kids grow up fast, and the nursing months will end up being a tiny section of their lives.

Milka, 40, mom to two boys (4 years old and 2 and half years old).
http://perfectingmotherhood.wordpress.com/

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Dreaming of Breastfeeding"

I wanted to share a funny story of my first week of breastfeeding my first child. I hope you enjoy.


When we brought Derrick home from the hospital he slept in his pack in play in our bedroom and at night I nursed him in bed. The first few nights went smoothly. We both were getting the hang of nursing and I was ecstatic. I did the classic new mom “check to see if baby is ok” whenever I heard him make a peep or grunt throughout the night.

One night I caught myself dreaming of feeding Derrick. In reality I was ‘nursing’ my pillow, and leaking all over. I partially woke up from my dream and had to go to the bathroom. So I woke up my husband and passed him my new fluffy “baby”. My husband in his semi-awake stupor held my ‘baby’ nice and tight while I got out of bed. When I came back from the bathroom I was more conscious and I asked my husband to hand the baby back so I could finish nursing and go back to sleep. My husband handed me my fluffy ‘baby’ and I began to panic. I woke him up completely and both of us started searching the bed to figure out what happen to Derrick! We dove into the covers feeling all around and checked the floor on both of our bedsides. Panic had fully set in for both us. Right before we were about to flip on all the lights, Derrick made a perfect little baby peep from the confines of his pack and play.

Needless to say I was happy that all of this was just a dream.

Leslie, 28; Derrick 7 weeks

Monday, June 14, 2010

"The Support That Got Me Through"

When I gave birth to my daughter, it was a scheduled C-section. The doctors were concerned because she was measuring large. So at 39 weeks, I delivered my beautiful, 9lb, 4 oz baby girl. I spend about 2 hours in recovery and then was greeted with a handful of visitors upon my return to my room. I was also pretty loopy from the drugs they gave me.

A few hours later, I was clearheaded enough to breastfeed her for the first time. From the beginning, she had trouble latching. We tried...and tried...and tried. We tried it with a nipple shield, we tried without. She was starting to loose weight and ended up loosing more than 10% of her bodyweight, which sent red alerts to the nurses. Luckily, my pediatrician let me go home with her with a rented breast pump.

The day I got home was also the day my milk came in, and did it ever!!! So here I am with two boulders on my chest (sooo painful) and a baby who will not latch on to drain them! I would try to breastfeed her for about 15 minutes. She would either scream her head off or fall asleep. After 15 minutes of trying, I would then pump and give her whatever came out. I was getting a few ounces so I would give it to her in a bottle. By the time I did this all, it took about 45 minutes. When you feed her every two hours, you can imagine how draining it was. This went on for about 3 or 4 days.

Then it got worse. The stress of being home, this demanding feeding schedule and lack of sleep make it hard for my milk to let down. I would pump and pump and get maybe an ounce! So feeding became fight with her on the breast, pump what I could, feed her what I pumped and then feed her formula to make up the difference. Feeding now was taking about an hour! To top it off, since her latch was so poor, my nipples completely scabbed over. The pain would bring me to tears every time she nursed.

Everyone told me to give up. They thought I was crazy to keep this up but I was determined! I knew how important it was for her to benefit from breast milk. I consulted with an LC. I talked to anyone I knew who had breastfed babies for advice, encouragement and support. The LCs from the hospital I delivered at called me at home to check up on my progress. The best support I got was from my pediatrician, who was also an LC. She sat with me on more than one occasion and watched me nurse. She was the one who finally got her to latch and in her office is where I fed her for the first time without pumping and without her crying afterwards because she wasn't satisfied.

Each day is got better and better. She got better at latching and the scabs slowly began to heal. It was a month before my nipples could touch anything without being sore but nursing became more comfortable. She started to gain weight steadily after that first week and a half and had never stopped. Soon I felt comfortable not pumping after feeding her, but trusting that she was drinking enough on her own.

She is now 5 months and I never thought I would say this, but breastfeeding her has been such a rewarding experience! Now feeding her takes 10 minutes! She nurses until she is full, pops off and looks up at me with the most satisfied grin. I take such joy in seeing her grow knowing that I am supplying her with the best food I could possibly give her.

I am returning to work in a few weeks and I've decided to continue to nurse her and pump throughout the day. I don't think either of us are ready to give up nursing. I never thought I would be able to say that!

I look back on that first month and I can honestly that it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I also am so proud of myself for sticking it out. I truly felt like a mother...sacrificing so much for her. I know if I had given up I would have regretted it always.

I now and will always make it a goal to lend support to any new mother who needs help getting started with breastfeeding. I think as nursing mothers we need to be there to support new mothers. I don't know that I could have stuck it out without all of the encouragement I got. I am sure there are many mothers out there who were pressured to give up if they found it difficult in the beginning and probably have regretted it like I would have. I would love to help someone else know the joy I have experience nursing my baby. It is truly one of life's precious gifts.

Kelly -29, Mom to Baby Girl, 5 months

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Readers, I need your feedback!!

Hey all!
I am taking a break from our regular posts to ask you all a couple of questions, as well as some general comments that I would like to make.  Your feedback is really important to me. So thanks for taking the time to read this and respond.  I want to continue to make this blog a place where women like me can come to read wonderful stories from other women.

1. To start I wanted to let you all know that if you submit a story and I don't respond to you quickly, please hang in there with me.  My husband has deployed overseas for his job (He works for the military as a civilian contractor).  I don't have family in town yet, (my sister-in-law will be moving here shortly) so it is just me and my baby.  Sometimes life keeps me super busy, and on my toes, and by the end of the day I'm wiped.  I do my best to check for new stories as often as I can, but if there is a little delay, I apologize. 

2.  Recently I had the blog re-designed.  I had a reader comment that while they liked the face-lift, it was hard to read.  I love hearing things like this from readers, anything I can do to make reading these beautiful stories a better experience I would like to do.  Unfortunetly I don't know to what the reader was exactly referrring. I would like your feedback so I can have it fixed.  Is it the white background that makes it hard to read? The polka dots?  The font color?  I appreciate all your kind suggestions.  Thanks!

3. Do you think only one story should be posted a day?  Stories seemed to be submitted in waves.  We won't have any for quite a while, and then boom 3-4.    Do you like the one a day rule, or do you think I should just post them as I get them?

4.  Please remember to include a title in your submissions, your first name/age, and your child(ren)'s name(s)/age(s).  You don't have to include names if you aren't comfortable with it, but I would appreciate any information you are willing to provide.  I personally think it helps readers like me connect with the story more.  Also I try my best to correct grammar/spelling in the posts, but like any sleep deprived mother I don't catch everything.  Please feel free to email me if you see something that needs to be changed.

5.  How do you feel about an occasional product review/giveaway?  I was recently given the opportunity to review a product and host a giveaway.  While it is not directly related to breastfeeding, it is something that most of us mamas with babies would use.  I would love to host it here, but don't want to start doing those reviews/giveaways if my readers would be offended/turned off by them.  Please give me your feedback.

6.  Also don't forget to grab our badge and post it on your own blogs.  Anyway to get the word out about this blog so we can have more stories is great!  If you have any other ideas on how to promote or improve the blog, feel free to through them out there.  I appreciate your readership very much.  If there is anything I can do to improve the blog I would love to do it.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!
Best,
Emily

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"I wouldn't trade this for anything."

As I write this I am not sure what will become of my breastfeeding relationship with my son, almost 9 months old. I have been back to work for 5 months and this boy is loving his bottles more and more. Two back to back ear infections and a cold have recently caused him to refuse all nursing except once around 4am. And so I pump and pump and pump. Not unlike the start of our breastfeeding journey…

I had a wonderful and easy pregnancy with grand plans for a pure and natural delivery, until week 35 when I was hit with the news of a “very breech” baby, non-stress tests 3/week and a c-section date. That didn’t last long. At 36 weeks exactly a non-stress test landed me in Labor and Delivery and smacked me with an extreme case of pre-eclampsia and hypertension. And a spot in the operating room. Not so minor detail: my husband was in another country and didn’t get to us for another 24 hours from the birth.

I was so scared my body was shaking like a leaf and that didn’t stop for the duration of my 6 day stay in the hospital. He was 5 lbs and had some breathing issues so he spent 6 days in the NICU. I was so doped up from the anti-seizure meds it was 24 hours before I could see him, and I hardly remember that first day. I also don’t really remember how it went down, but the bottom line was my son couldn’t come home until he was breathing, growing and eating. It wasn’t like they discouraged me from breastfeeding him, but they wanted to be able to measure what he was eating and bottle feeding took less effort from him.

And so I pumped, and pumped and pumped. My hospital roomie had twins in the NICU and there was a strange bond in us both waking up around the clock to pump (though who really sleeps in the hospital). And as soon as his feeding tubes came out he got breast milk. The nurses called it butter milk it was so golden. I was obsessed and proud to show up to the NICU for all his feedings with yet another little bottle. The nurses even starting freezing it and when they finally sent us home I already had a freezer stash. They did encourage me to breastfeed and before we left they showed me how to latch him well.

I honestly don’t think I needed the encouragement though. I was so determined! I think because my hopes for birth went so wrong, I was more determined. And because there was so little I could do to control both my health, and my son’s health, breastfeeding was the one area I could control and succeed. And so I gave myself no choice but to succeed. And from there it was easy. Painful, yes, but easy. Sure I may have walked around the house for a few days with my nipples hanging our, air drying. I will never forget one of the first nights at home, being so exhausted and changing for bed while crying and laughing at the same time as milk leaked in a steady flow all over the place. And for the first 10 or so weeks at home my son ate every hour or two around the clock. But it was fantastic. It made me feel strong, proud and organic. Family loved to ask his current weight and then marvel at how many pounds he gained (he’s 20 lbs now!).

Because we were not able to “bond” well at birth or through our stay in the hospital, breastfeeding allowed us to bond at home. And when I returned to work it was the precious time where only I could provide for my son. That is selfish in some ways, but I don’t apologize for that.

We’ve had a great run, and I hold onto hope that once he is well he might decide to come back to nursing. We’ve nursed in stores, restaurants, planes, cars and airports. On vacation we sat on the lawn in front of the White House and nursed, as well in museums and at monuments. I really wanted to nurse at least one year, and be able to say that he never received anything but breast milk. And so I’ll pump some more.

Erin, 29 Mom to Clinton, 8.5 months old

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nursing and Torticollis

I nursed my son Joseph for 13 months. We had a very rocky start so sometimes it’s hard to believe that we made it that far! I didn’t expect to have these challenges. I had attended a breastfeeding class in my last month of pregnancy and knew there was a learning curve. My mom, aunts, and mother-in-law were once active in LLL, so I thought I’d have plenty of support if I ran into problems.

Joseph was born full-term after a physically exhausting delivery. I wasn’t able to push him out on my own and was running out of strength at the end. The doctor recommended a c-section but I requested vacuum extraction. I knew I could do it – I just needed some help. Fifteen minutes later, Joseph was born with the suction cup stuck fast to his head. A medical team was ready in case of complications, but Joseph was strong and healthy. I was stitched up and Joseph was brought over to me. I tried to nurse him in the delivery room without success.

Over the next 2-3 days in the hospital, I tried repeatedly to nurse Joseph. Sometimes he latched on right away, sometimes after 45 minutes of trying. Most of the time Joseph flailed around in frustration, and I began to panic with each failed feeding. The post-partum nurse(s) couldn’t help much and sometimes ignored my frantic pages. The lactation consultant in the hospital was able to get Joseph nursing within a few minutes. I couldn’t reproduce her magic. She gave me a SNS (supplemental nursing system) which is lovely idea but worthless when your baby won’t latch on.

At home, we had a couple of mediocre nursing sessions but suddenly Joseph wouldn’t latch anymore. He began to scream every time I moved him toward my breast. At first I believed that I could be successful nursing through sheer strength of will. I read every nursing resource I could find and called family for advice. Joseph, however, had a mind of his own and seemed to hate nursing. It was the first of many parenting lessons that he taught me. Joseph wasn’t the baby in the book. Try, try again wasn’t working for us and only making things worse. I slowly began to learn that if nursing was going to work, it was going to happen on Joseph’s terms. I couldn’t force him to nurse! I learned that my baby is a unique individual and if something isn’t working – STOP!!! Try something different. But it’s a hard lesson to learn your first week on the job.

So I pumped for the first week, always trying stay one feeding ahead of schedule. It was tiring but far less stressful than nursing! Bottles were an easy, happy experience. The pediatrician recommended a wonderful lactation consultant. She did an in-home visit and noticed right away that something wasn’t right with Joseph’s neck and jaw. It was asymmetric and difficult to get lined up properly with my breast. She gave me a nipple shield to make it easier for Joseph to latch. Partly because of the lactation consultant’s observations, my son was diagnosed with torticollis (twisted neck) at 2.5 weeks old. We began physical therapy right away. I cried a lot those first weeks, probably PPD but I was too exhausted and stubborn to give in.

I used the nipple shield exclusively for 2 weeks, and Joseph began nursing sporadically again. Joseph often nursed in contorted positions due to his damaged neck muscle but at least he was nursing. Our problems persisted and with a lot of hard work Joseph began to latch without the nipple shield. After 2-3 months, nursing became the wonderful, joyful experience that my mom and aunts told me about.

Not surprisingly, our nursing relationship ended on Joseph’s terms. I had been gradually cutting down feedings when he was 12 months old, and a few weeks later he just refused to nurse. Such a strong-willed child since the day he was born – I have no idea who he got that from! J The emotions caught me off-guard. I was ready to be done but so sad that this beautiful part of our relationship was over. I’m so glad to have had my nursing experience.

Beth N.  Mom to Joseph

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Layout!!

Come on in and check out our new layout!!  Thanks to Becca at www.jumpingjaxdesigns.com we have a wonderful new look.  I couldn't be more happy with the finished product!

Also please notice our new button in the upper right hand corner.  If you would be so kind as to post it on your own blogs I would be very appreciative. 

The goal of this blog is to have a place for women to come to and read about all different kinds of breastfeeding experiences.  No two are exactly alike, but the hope is our readers will find a connection with some of the stories and feel like they are not alone in the amazingly simple gift. 

As we all know breastfeeding is not always simple, but it really is a gift for both baby and mom.  I hope to have more stories to post soon!

Hope you all like the new look.  Becca does wonderful work for us computer/time challenged mamas!

Best,
Emily
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