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Take Off the Gloves: It’s Not The Boob Bashers Vs. The Lactation Snobs

13 Aug

boxing ring“In one corner, we have Fanny Formula-Feeder,

and in the other corner stands Betsy Breast-Feeder.”

Ding, ding, ding!  Who will you bet on? 

Who will get the KO and leave the other walking down the path of shame?

Sounds very corny, I know…but isn’t that what we as moms are doing? 

Duking it out over each other’s pregnancy, birth and parenting decisions?

Technology has enabled us to share our opinions with virtually the whole world.   Perhaps two of the hottest topics of discussion among women of childbearing age all over the world are how you feed your baby and breastfeeding in public.  These may be as common as such topics as your due date, your baby’s gender, and whether or not you will have an epidural.  Moms flock to Facebook pages and groups seeking advice on all their parenting decisions from pregnancy to preschool and beyond.  Unfortunately, there will always be those who seem to cast judgment on moms who choose options that are different from their own.  Often, instead of encountering support, moms come across discouraging comments leaving them confused and unsure of their choices.

Moms who made the decision to formula feed from birth feel they are being judged.

“Why didn’t you at least give breastfeeding a try?”

Moms who made the decision to exclusively breastfeed from birth feel they are being judged.

“You know you’ll get less sleep.  Your baby will just use you as a pacifier.”

Moms who tried breastfeeding and then switched to formula feel they are being judged.

“Breastfeeding was tough for me in the beginning, too.  But we hung in there and made it work.”

Moms who choose baby-led weaning feel they are being judged.

“You haven’t weaned that baby yet?  There aren’t any benefits past a year.”

Moms who decide to pump exclusively and feed breastmilk in a bottle feel like they are being judged.

“Bottle feeding breastmilk isn’t the same.  Babies don’t bond with moms the same way that babies fed at the breast do.”

Moms who decide to cover up while nursing in public are judged. 

“Covering up sends the message that it’s not appropriate to nurse uncovered.”

Moms who decide not to cover up while nursing in public are being judged.

“No one wants to see exposed breasts in public; cover up.” or “Can I show you a more private place to feed your baby?”

Regardless of whether statements made are fact or not, words, spoken and/or written, can have an enormous impact.  “Well, we have the choice whether or not to be offended and can choose to ignore,” you say; however, first-time moms early in their experience are vulnerable and may be teetering on the edge.  Confidence levels are shot, decisions are second-guessed.  They may hole up in their homes to avoid scrutiny and depend on the internet for socializing. ( I wonder if there may be a correlation here between isolation and post-partum depression?)

I don’t believe comments are made maliciously.  Often moms are simply voicing their struggles, seeking to justify their decisions, and looking for support without condition.

How a mom feeds her baby is a personal decision.  Isn’t that what our culture encourages?  Choice?  You don’t know the whole picture.  You can’t see the whole picture on social media sites like Facebook.

Bay Area Breastfeeding & Education wholeheartedly supports breastfeeding as nature’s way…what our bodies are made to do.  But we aren’t the momma, and the baby is not ours.  Leah and I are advocates for more moms breastfeeding and more babies getting breastmilk; however, we work for the whole family and moms and their goals.  Our practice is evidenced based, and we provide accurate information.  It is then up to the mom to make the choice.  The BABEs pride ourselves in meeting moms where they are on the breastfeeding spectrum.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  There will be be no judgment cast on moms who decide to exclusively breastfeed or exclusively pump and bottle feed breastmilk or moms who breastfeed part-time and formula feed to meet baby’s need or moms who formula feed exclusively.

So, are you a boob basher or a lactation snob?  Strive to be a Mommy Advocate instead:

                       

Respect other moms’ choices.

Realize that words can make an impact.

Provide support to all fellow moms regardless of their decisions.

Be confident in your decisions.

Realize you are making the best choice for yourself and your whole family.

Remind yourself that often you don’t know the mom personally and can’t see the whole picture.

Choose to offer support without condition.

This doesn’t mean we back down from our convictions and opinions.  This doesn’t mean we ignore or water down the facts.  We can be radical in a way that is respectful.  Let’s spend our time being Mommy Advocates and finding ways to educate families prenatally instead of spending time arguing amongst ourselves.  Breastfeeding support should start before pregnancy.

 What are some other ways you can offer unconditional support to moms?

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Megan and Charlotte

22 Jul
Megan and Charlotte

Megan and Charlotte

Let me start by saying that breastfeeding is hard. Really hard. But is also insanely rewarding. And it absolutely got me through the first three months that were filled with sleepless nights, colicky cries, self doubt and depression. That connection to my little one was like a life raft in a very stormy sea.

Breastfeeding is a commitment; it’s a lifestyle really. It doesn’t come easy. It comes with practice, which is a good thing since we get to do it 10 to 12 times a day in the beginning, or in my case every 45 minutes to 1 hour or so. Honestly I had to stop clock watching. You see Charlotte was a colicky (reflux?) baby who needed to nurse constantly. And she was dairy intolerant. And she was tongue and lip tied. And then we got thrush. And had a bout of mastitis. It seemed we had every roadblock in front of us to overcome in order to successfully nurse. Not to mention I struggled with a less than ideal birth that left me feeling inadequate, as well as having none of my family nearby to offer support, and post partum depression.

As a first time mom I could have easily given up. And I wanted to, many times. But I was committed. Fully. I knew that if I could just keep going, I could at least control my ability to give Charlotte the best nutritional start in life. So I enlisted the help of our wonderful LC with the BABEs for support and I just.kept.going. And let me reassure you it DOES get easier. It won’t happen over night. But one day you’ll be sitting there, enjoying the way your little babe curls into you, and you feel the warmth of your letdown, you hear that blissful sound of your small one taking in deep gulps of your milk, and you’ll know it was all worth it in the end. You see, your hard work pays off in ounces and pounds as you weigh your babe. You see them grow strong and healthy. It fills me with pride to see those things in Charlotte. We are now 6 months into nursing. She’s growing day by day. And our emotional bond is amazing. There really is nothing greater.

What Are You Afraid Of?

18 Apr

 A lesson from a two-year-old…

In January, our families had the opportunity to spend New Year’s Day together at a beautiful house located on about 40 acres of land.  Behind the house, the yard sloped down into a small pond, low from the dry year we had.  The ground was covered with pine needles and crunchy leaves…beautiful landscape but tough for little feet to navigate through.

Our nine kiddoes had a blast exploring, riding four-wheelers, shooting their BB guns and putting kindling on the fire (all safety precautions in place!).

Later in the afternoon, Leah’s two-year-old Ryan was carrying a football out back, and as I watched, he started toward that slippery, pine-needle covered slope.  Leah was standing at the bottom of the slope at the water’s edge.  I called out to her to keep a close eye because I was afraid he was going to slip and roll right down into the water.  Well, slip he did, but it wasn’t him who rolled down into the water, it was the football.  He wasn’t about to lose that football, so he began running after it, oblivious to mine and his mom’s cries to stop as we both tried to catch up to him…because he wasn’t stopping!

Straight into the shallow water he went with total abandon as he literally dove after that ball.  Leah grabbed him up, and he was perfectly fine besides being wet and cold (which we remedied right away).  He didn’t even shed one tear, the expression on his face was sheer determination, like he had blinders on…there was no thought, no fear, just one goal:  GET THAT BALL!

Can you remember the last time you “ran after” something with no thought, no fear, just total abandon?  What’s standing in your way?  Are you afraid to get your feet wet?  Being a momma isn’t easy…it requires getting your feet wet once in a while.  Mother without fear…you can always change your shoes, but you can’t turn back the clock.