An Ode to Kellymom

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about websites that helped you in your breastfeeding journey. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 22nd through August 4th!
 


 

As I’m sure you all know, the early days of nursing are full of late nights and lots of questions. When Peanut was a baby, these two things often coincided. This can be a problem when you want answers now (I’m horribly impatient) and everyone else in the world is asleep.

So I looked on the internet.

I’m far from the first mom who has used the internet as her primary source of information in the early days of nursing. Back in these days I didn’t know anyone who had nursed long-term and I didn’t have any breastfeeding books (like the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, which is now my go-to). I would ask questions at La Leche League meetings, but calling a leader felt too foreign to me. So the internet became my breastfeeding helper.

IMG_0272The problem is that so many sites are promoting information that is outdated, biased, or just plain wrong. It’s so hard for a new mama to not fall trap to one of these sites giving bad information. Actually, that’s a big reason why I started this blog.

When I went searching for an answer to one of my frequent questions, I stumbled upon Kellymom. I fell in love with the site immediately. Not only is virtually every breastfeeding scenario I can come up with discussed, but this site is chock full of citations. The site doesn’t just tell you the right way to do things, it tells you why it’s right.

So Kellymom became my number one place to search out breastfeeding answers. Forget Googling, I’ll Kellymom it. And Kellymom has never let me down. Over the years I’ve added some other trustworthy sources, such as The Womanly Art and the LLL website, but Kellymom is still my go to.

These days, with almost four and a half years of straight nursing under my belt, I have a lot of friends who come to me with questions. I love that I’m a person people can turn to. Often, these questions are over Facebook, which means I’m answering them online. Almost every time I answer a question, there’s a link (or two!) to Kellymom. It’s just such a great resource!

I’m happy to be spreading the word about Kellymom. Hopefully my shouts about this amazing site will reach someone who hasn’t found their trustworthy site yet and save them some grief. I know its certainly helped me on my journey.

 


 
Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

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How I Weaned My Toddler Suddenly and Gently

One of the last pictures I have of Peanut nursing is while getting kicked in the face.

Peanut is weaned. It’s actually been a two months since she nursed.

I’ve flip flopped back and forth about this decision about a dozen times. I felt so certain that we would wean that I wrote a post about it. Felt so certain I’d made the wrong decision that I wrote another. In the end, I was feeling more resentful by the day. More resentful by the nursing session. I was beginning to really not want to be around my daughter.

It was our time to stop.

I think a big part of my problem was trying to play within the rules. Everything I’ve read has highly discouraged sudden weaning. Do it slowly and gently. In a way, we did do that. It’s taken us almost 3 years to fully wean, considering that she started having something besides my milk at 6 months. I’d call that very gradual.

It’s just this last step that’s been sudden, and that’s okay. We tried all of the delaying and shortening ways to wean and she just fought it. She’d get more and more upset that I was denying her and I’d get more and more resentful that she was upset. It was a downward spiral.

In the beginning, she still asked to nurse, especially when Twig was nursing. Generally though, her need was satisfied with some cuddles or table food. More the latter, actually, which I didn’t expect. We also talked about it a lot. I hate the term “big girl” so we steered clear of that, but we talked about how old she is and how when you grow up, you don’t drink mama milk anymore. We talked about people who are older than her who don’t nurse, like her friends and family members. Even Mama and Daddy.

There were times where she would get upset. She’d ask me “Mama milk for just one hour?” It was heartbreaking, but I didn’t want to take a step back. Though I did end up having her nurse a few times when she was really sick (of course, she didn’t vomit for the first time until about a week after she weaned). When she would get upset, I held her close and we talk about how it’s hard to give up mama milk and mama loves her so much. We cuddled and read books. We would get her a special treat.

Amazingly, it went pretty smoothly. There were those rough spots where she got upset, but they were actually not that common. Even when she did get upset, it wasn’t that upset. We just talked and cuddled and she was okay. There was an immediate relief for me where I felt more able to handle her being upset. Like the irritation of her constantly asking to nurse until I finally give in was over, so I could just focus on helping her through the way she feels.

There were rough spots for me too, but my husband, along with my awesome Twitter friends, have been a wonderful help. Even those who are doing child-led weaning tried their best to support and help me. And I’m amazed at how many of them have been in my situation. It feels like weaning is such a taboo topic in the breastfeeding world. I had no idea how many other moms have pushed it along too, even some ending it suddenly like me.

I miss nursing Peanut. Over the first week, I cried about it multiple times. It just feels like she’s so much bigger now. I will always miss that closeness. It’s like the end of an era. But this was the right choice to make. We’re both happier now, even if it does get tough sometimes. I’m finding new ways to connect with her and I’m actually enjoying her more.

So while some may say that weaning suddenly isn’t gentle, I think otherwise. I think that you can wean your child suddenly and with love. It’s alright to take that last step if it’s what you need. You can wean suddenly and gently.

How did your weaning story go? Were you planning on child-led weaning and ended up doing otherwise? Or did you stick with your original plan? Were there any hiccups? 

Why I Don’t Use Pacifiers

Peanut clearly did not understand the use of a pacifier.

First off, I want to start this post by saying that deciding whether or not you use a pacifier is a very personal choice. I believe that in order to make a choice, you must be educated. If you read this information and decide you would still like to use a pacifier, I’m all for it. For me, this is the information that made me decide not to use one. 

Pacifiers. They’re a symbol of babyhood, just as much as bottles or diapers. I honestly can’t come up with a parent-friend off the top of my head that doesn’t use them, but that might just be because minds don’t really remember the lack of something as much as it being there. Anyway, I thought I’d use pacifiers when I had Peanut. She wanted to nurse so often that I was begging for relief and I tried to give her one at around 2 weeks old (which is way before recommended, by the way) with the justification in my mind that breastfeeding was going great, so why wait to introduce it? She did not like that thing one bit. My mother-in-law even bought a few different ones to try, but she never caught on.

Part of me was sad that I couldn’t have a different way to soothe her and part of me was happy that she wouldn’t take anything but me. Soon though, the latter really took hold. I found out the risks of pacifiers and decided that my future children would never have one.

So, in order to help you people out in internet-land make an educated decision when it comes to whether or not you want to use pacifiers, here is my list of reasons why I specifically said no pacifiers for Twig and thanked the universe that Peanut decided she wasn’t for them.

  • Pacifiers can interfere with breastfeeding. Nipple confusion is a real thing. Any sort of nipple can do it, bottle or pacifier. The fact is that a breast and a pacifier are shaped differently, no matter how hard they try to make a pacifier imitate a breast. Really, if you think about it, a pacifier is shaped like a really big nipple. If you’ve ever had a baby with a bad latch, you can attest that the nipple is the last place you want that baby latching on. Babe needs the whole aerola in their mouth, which is an entirely different shape. If you introduce a pacifier too early, your baby will learn to suck on that shape, which can most definitely cause breastfeeding problems.
  • Pacifiers can reduce the duration of breastfeeding. Even eliminating all other possible factors (right down to bottle introduction), pacifiers reduce the duration of breastfeeding. And it’s not just that your what-would-have-been 4 year old weaner is at 3 years old, but rather under 2. That means you’re not making it to the WHO recommendation of at least 2 years. For me, that’s too early to wean.
  • Pacifiers are not compatible with ecological breastfeeding. I try to stick with the seven steps of ecological breastfeeding, though I often don’t get the nap that I should. Regardless, if you’re trying to delay menstruation returning, nipple stimulation is key. 24 hours a day and frequently. Introducing a pacifier means that you’re not getting that nipple stimulation that you would have otherwise and that will bring your fertility back sooner.
  • Pacifiers can reduce milk supply. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand process. The more you nurse, the more milk you’ll make. This is why whenever you’re experiencing a dip in supply, the best thing you can do is just try to nurse as often as possible. If you’re not nursing, your body isn’t being told to produce more milk. Especially if you use pacifiers to delay a nursing session, you are lowering your supply.
  • Pacifiers can hinder mouth development. The Academy of General Dentistry recognizes that pacifiers cause mouth development issues. The recommendation is that you stop pacifier use before age 2, where in which the development of the mouth will correct itself within 6 months. How many kids have you seen that are obviously over 2 and still use a pacifier? I can think of many that I’ve seen. The problem is, have you tried getting something that is adored away from a 1 year old? I can specifically remember a dog that absolutely hated my toddler being chased around the house no matter how much I tried to prevent it. They’re persistent little things. Then what does it do to them mentally if you take away their sole (assuming they weaned early because of the first point) source of sucking comfort?
  • Pacifiers have not been proven to help prevent SIDS. Pacifiers are always touted as the recommendation to prevent SIDS, but the AAP has specifically said that there is no causation, only correlation. Beyond that, they can cause the problems mentioned above (and more).
  • Pacifiers add complication to my simple life. I’ve joked around here that many of my parenting choices are made on the basis of laziness, but it’s more about simplicity. I don’t like to complicate things. Pacifiers are just one more thing to buy, clean, watch for recalls on, clean again because the baby dropped it, take away from the dog who thought it was hers, clean again, hand back to the fussing baby who dropped it again, and clean some more. Not to mention trying to get the kid to give up the thing when it’s no longer deemed suitable for use. I just don’t want to deal with that extra hassle when I can just stick my boob in their mouth and the baby will shut up.

There are many more reasons I could list here, but for me this was enough.

Side note: if someone wants to soothe the baby momentarily, a clean finger inserted into their mouth upside down will do the trick without all the hassle. Or, my preference, just give that baby back to their mama! 

And while I’ve got you on the topic of pacifiers, I must tell you my pet peeve about the association with a baby “using their mom as a pacifier.” This does not make sense. Breasts were around long before pacifiers, so how can you use the former like the latter? A pacifier is an imitation breast. Then, there is no such thing as “lazy sucking” at the breast. As stated above, breastfeeding is a supply and demand system. Even if you’re not in active letdown, the baby suckling is still sending your body the signal to make more. Maybe baby needs more milk so they are working to increase your supply. Maybe baby is just in need of some comfort. Why does mama equaling comfort have to be considered a bad thing? I am incredibly grateful that my children trust me enough to feel comfort and safety from me. Anyway, I’m off my soap box.

Sure, pacifiers are a convenience, but they don’t have to be a given. As with so many things that are seen as a given in parenting, there’s a choice. If you don’t want to give your babe a pacifier, you don’t have to. There are reasons to and reasons not to. Only you can decide if it’s worth it for you.

Pumping as a Stay at Home Mom

Most stay at home moms will end up leaving their baby with someone for one reason or another and need expressed milk for while they’re away. When Peanut was a baby, I was going to school in the evenings and leaving her with her dad. It was a horribly stressful time in my life and I remember being constantly worried if there would be enough milk for while I was gone. There were multiple times when I left her not knowing if I’d come home to a screaming, starving baby because I only left barely enough if that. It got to the point where I basically stopped attending my classes because I was so stressed out about leaving.

I read everything that was supposed to help me with pumping, but it seems like most tips are geared towards moms who pump more often. If you’re pumping while you’re at work for 8 hours a day, it’s different than when you’re pumping at home. There are obstacles in both situations for sure, but they’re very different obstacles.

Partially because of this stress I experienced last time, I’ve avoided leaving Twig with anyone for more than 45 minutes (and even that, only a handful of times). Though chances are we will end up needing expressed milk sometime in the near future, so I decided to start building up a store in my freezer. I’m surprised at how much easier it is this time, so much so that I decided to compile a list of the reasons why I think it’s easier in hopes of helping some of you out there who want to store a bit of milk.

5 Tips for Expressing Milk as a Stay at Home Mom

1. Start ridiculously early. I think that I started pumping a week or two before I was supposed to start school when Peanut was a baby. I figured I would just do it and get the milk and it wouldn’t be that difficult. For me, it was that difficult (hopefully these tips make it not so difficult for you!). If I would have had a head start, it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal to take some time figuring things out. Instead, I constantly stressed about getting milk, which in turn made it more difficult to get the milk. Vicious cycle. So, if you’re at all able, start a month or more before you’ll need to use any milk. Milk lasts a long time in the freezer, so don’t worry about it going bad. With our recent illness, I stopped pumping all together. It wasn’t a big deal for me to do that because I have plenty in the freezer and plenty of time to get even more.

2. Try before you buy. Don’t buy a pump just because your friend says it’s wonderful or even because it has great reviews on Amazon. What works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you, which is the reason why La Leche League doesn’t endorse any particular pump. Look for a breastfeeding store near you and see if they have a try before you buy type program. One that’s about an hour from my house will let you try as many pumps as you would like for $50. If you buy a pump, the fee is waived. You obviously have to throw out the milk you get, but it’s not like you need to do a full pumping session to decide if it’s working. I was amazed when I figured out that the pump that worked best for me was actually a hand pump, which I hadn’t even considered because everyone said it’s so annoying to have to pump it manually. Also consider hand expressing. I’ve heard many women say that hand expression works better for them than any pump.

3. Pump while you nurse. One of my problems when I was pumping for Peanut was that I could never get a real letdown. Letdown just means letdown, not letdown on the side that you’re currently nursing on. Those little round “Hey, I’m a nursing mom!” stains on your shirt can attest to this. Nursing while you’re pumping means that you pretty much can’t handle anything else, but really, it’s kind of nice to take a break from checking my phone and reading and all the other things I do while I’m nursing. Obviously if you’re gone from baby and need to express milk, you can’t pump while you nurse, but hopefully that’ll be easier too because you and your body are used to the pump when there’s the extra help.

4. If possible, do it daily. This won’t work for everyone’s schedule, but if you’re able, pump every day at the same time of day. Make it a time that you’re not to stressed out (e.g. an hour before dinner time is probably not the best time to relax and pump) and that you’ll be home most days. Breastfeeding is a supply-demand system, so your body will quickly figure out to produce more during that time of day. Driving home from Peanut’s preschool today, I realized that I really needed to nurse on both sides. That’s because my body is used to making lots of milk right after Twig’s morning nap, which is when I’ve been pumping.

5. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get much, especially in the beginning. First off, it will take your body a day or two to realize that you need more milk every day at that specific time, so if you don’t get much in the beginning, don’t worry. Also, never take how much milk you’re expressing as a sign of how much baby is getting. Babies are exponentially more efficient at getting the milk out that any pump, so they’re getting much more than you can get out. If you’re not getting as much as you’d like, just continue for a few minutes longer than when the milk stops. Even if you don’t get another letdown (there are multiple letdowns in each feeding, so it’s normal for the flow to pause or decrease and then start up again), you’ll be teaching your body that it needs to produce more. Again, supply and demand.

6. Try to get baby to top it off after you’re finished. Even if you only nurse on one side per session, this is a useful thing to do. As I said in the last tip, babies are more efficient at getting the milk out. So even if the pump can’t get any more out, your babe milk be able to. Again, this is teaching your body to make more milk, so maybe you’ll be able to get out more next time. If your nursling doesn’t feel like nursing more, don’t worry about it.

It’s important to note that milk expression can be so different for everyone that this is far from an inclusive list. These are just some things that have helped me and I’m hoping could help you. If you’re having troubles with pumping, keep trying new things until you figure out a system that works for you.

Can Breast Milk Cure AIDS?

There is a long standing debate on whether a mom who has HIV or AIDS should breastfeed. My gut reaction is that if there’s even a small risk of passing a life-threatening disease onto my baby, why would I breastfeed? But it’s not as simple as that.

In many countries where HIV is prevalent, breastfeeding is also vital. The benefits that breastfeeding gives a baby against illness can be life-saving, not to mention the fact that clean water is scarce, so formula can easily cause disease itself. It’s a decision that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

But a new study shows that not only can a baby not contract HIV through breast milk, but breast milk kills HIV.

This doesn’t mean that a baby absolutely can’t get HIV from breastfeeding. There are documented cases of babies having the same virus as their mothers. So while a baby won’t HIV through breast milk, they could get it through other bodily fluids, cracked and bleeding nipples come to mind.

Hopefully this new information will not only give HIV-positive mothers the confidence that breastfeeding their baby, if done with caution, will not spread the illness, but maybe one day it will help us develop a cure for AIDS. It amazes me, not only the things that are in breast milk, but the fact that we are still discovering so much. It is impossible to make a substitute to such a wonderful liquid that we have yet to discover all of its ingredients or potential. Breast milk really is liquid gold.

Leading Lady Nursing Bra Review

Style 408

The bra I chose (style 408).

Throughout the almost 3 years that I was nursing Peanut by herself, I only really wore nursing tank tops. Shortly after she was born, I went to a local breastfeeding store and bought a nursing bra that fit perfectly, but even though the fit was right, it was still wrong for me. It was a really cliche nursing bra. No padding, no wire, covering more than a swimsuit does. It just felt so boring and, honestly, felt almost like I wasn’t wearing a bra at all when I wore it. The nursing tanks at least held me in, so I started wearing just the nursing tank tops.

Then when Peanut got to the age where she wasn’t nursing as often (somewhere over a year old), I went out and bought a normal-for-me bra again and loved it. It was a hassle to move for nursing and it wasn’t very comfortable, but it was pretty, which I liked. Even though no one sees them, pretty under-things can do a lot for one’s self esteem and confidence. Definitely not a bra I’d like to deal with when I had a small baby who wanted to eat really frequently (plus who wants to add any extra stress or pain when you have a wee one?), so I figured I’d go back to just the nursing tanks when Twig was born.

Style 4044

Then Leading Lady came to me asking if I’d like to do a bra review. I looked at the bras and they were all very pretty. That’s means they have to be uncomfortable, right? Or maybe since they’re nursing bras, that means they won’t give me any support? I was conflicted, to say the least. I decided that I would try it out since it would be really nice to feel pretty and be functional as their claims suggested I would, but I didn’t have very high hopes.

Oh boy, am I happy to say I was wrong!

First off, their customer service is superb. I was really concerned about ordering a bra off the internet. How would I figure out what size to buy? How would I know which style I liked? Just how could this possibly work?!?

Turns out they have a really easy sizing system. Just two quick measurements (and a picture to show you exactly where to measure, which has always been my problem with buying clothes online) and it pops out a size for you. You can even print a tape measurer!

Style 5048

Then there’s a variety of bras to choose from, based on activity. Do you want a comfy bra for while you’re at home? Possibly one for the gym? Do you have problems with plugged ducts, therefore you won’t want an underwire? Their site is divided easily into the purpose for the bra, so there’s no fiddling through hundreds of bras trying to figure out exactly which one you want. I chose style 408 from the underwire collection.

It’s so pretty! It’s so functional! It’s fantastic! I think I’m happier with this bra than I’ve been with any of my non-nursing bras I’ve ever worn. Seriously. I feel beautiful with this on under my clothes and it’s so quick and easy to undo. Even tandem nursing, it’s fantastic. So easy to unclip and it tucks entirely out of the way, which is great because Twig doesn’t like anything touching her face while she nurses. I still haven’t figured out what to do to cover my belly if I pull up my shirt to nurse, but I either wear a tank top over it still, which is a nice combination, or I wear a shirt that I can pull the top down to nurse.

I honestly love this bra so much that I’m planning on ordering another (on my own dime!). They have a lovely new Spring Collection that was just released in March and I’m loving some of the new additions. Look at that super cute nursing tank above and on the right. I think I could wear that as a shirt all by itself! Possibly with a cardigan over it in the winter? Or this super cute bra on the left, which is darling in pink, but will be available in white in the very near future. Cute and comfy!

I may just take advantage of their Father’s Day lace bra sale! You should too! Thinking a bra is a really peculiar Father’s Day gift? Well what better way to show dad you love him than with a new lacy bra? I’m sure my husband would enjoy that! The sale starts June 14th, but you can start getting your $5 off lace bras today with the code LACE5.

When Self Weaning Becomes Self-righteous

Peanut tandem nursing her pocket monsters.

The other night when I was lying with the girls in bed as they fell asleep, I decided to check Facebook on my phone. This is pretty normal for me. Another common activity is answering questions on Facebook. Other bloggers often re-post questions they’ve been asked on their wall. It’s like an online La Leche League meeting and it’s lovely.

So this is what I did that night. A breastfeeding blogger who I used to love reading, but has since quit blogging (and I was very sad to see her go!), still keeps her Facebook page active. She frequently re-posts questions and this night, had re-posted this:

From the wall: Best way to wean a 1-year old.. Please help?

I clicked on it thinking I might find some answers that I can apply to our weaning situation. Sadly, some of the responses were pretty judgmental and not helpful at all. Multiple mamas responded something along the lines to “I don’t know because I do child-led weaning.”  No advice, links, references, or anything else that could help her. Just a holier-than-thou attitude.

They don’t know this mother’s situation. Maybe she is agonizing over weaning. Maybe she’s about to start chemo or has another medical reason. Maybe she’s pregnant and can’t stand it anymore. Maybe she just doesn’t want to nurse anymore. That’s okay. Both sides need to be happy in the relationship. Why does this have to become another dividing issue? Why is a mother not good enough for nudging weaning along? Why must mothering be all about self-sacrifice and never taking your own feelings into consideration?

If that mother doesn’t want to wean, but feels pressure from her family and friends, address that. If she thinks she has to wean because of a medicine she needs when there’s a breastfeeding-friendly alternative, inform her. If she’s weaning because of the problems she’s having with nursing, help her. But don’t give her more guilt to deal with. Don’t force your opinions on her. Don’t try to show her how much of a better mother you are than her because you’ll nurse until the end of eternity.

All mothers should know that it’s an option to let their child wean on their own. It’s a wonderful option at that. In our society, where so many lies about breastfeeding are circulating around posing as truths, mothers may not know. It’s okay to inform her. If she decides not to though, respect her choice. Don’t guilt her into breastfeeding longer. Don’t try to show that you’re a better mom than her. Just let her make the decision that is the best for her family.

Leave the self-righteous attitude at the door and learn to help your fellow mom.