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Archive for the ‘Breastfeeding’ Category

I am a fan of several attachment parenting pages on Facebook, many of which post information that I find very relevant to my own beliefs.  Yesterday, in an outrage, one such page shared the photo below.

While I’m sure that the intentions of this ad campaign was to prevent infants from being suffocated or dying from SIDS, it sends the wrong message, in my opinion. Babies are able to successfully co-sleep. My oldest child co-slept with me until she was over two years old. She only stopped when my second child was born (and totally against her will, might I say). I have co-slept with each one of my four children at some point or another. My 13 month old has co-slept with us since the day he was born. He has a gorgeous crib in his bedroom, but he has never slept more than a few minutes in there. This is due mostly to my beliefs that he’s only a baby once (which is TRUE, as we all know), and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with holding him and making him feel loved and secure until he falls asleep. Many nights I nurse him to sleep (and, yes, I am still breastfeeding my 13 month old and I have no plans to stop anytime soon). Co-sleeping allows me to be close to him should he need anything during the night. If he develops a fever in the middle of the night, the closeness allows me to feel the spike in his body temperature, causing me to wake up and treat it sooner. If he gets hungry during the night, I’m right there to feed him. If he has a bad dream, I’m right there to comfort him. Him being this close allows me to prevent the cries before they happen, and I wouldn’t change anything about that.

The problem I have with this ad campaign is that it gives the impression that ALL co-sleeping is bad. If you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then you shouldn’t co-sleep. You also shouldn’t use pillows and heavy blankets when your baby is small and unable to remove those objects on their own. Babies shouldn’t co-sleep in a room where people are smoking either. In fact, if you are a smoker, you shouldn’t be doing it indoors around your kids at all. That would include in your car! I’m a former smoker, and I’m guilty of smoking in the car with my older three children. I have been smoke-free for two years now. When you know better, you do better, right? But, I digress.

While on my quest to find some favorable statistics for co-sleeping, I came across THIS.

This debate is surely not to be resolved anytime soon. In addition to the “safety” issues of co-sleeping, there’s the “spoiling” debate. My mother-in-law called me last night to discuss our holiday plans and I mentioned that my son was lying in bed next to me asleep. She said that I was “going to spoil that baby”. I giggled and told her it was too late for that. She’s not alone in her opinion. My husband tells me constantly that I need to get him to sleep in his crib. He’s seen what a task it can be though, so he gives in, and since he’s not here a lot of the time, I win this debate in our house. Even my older children (specifically my 7 year old) ask me, “Is Tristan sleeping in his own crib yet?”.

Am I slightly jealous of moms who talk about their babies sleeping for 12 hour stints at the age of 8 weeks? Kind of, but just because at times I’m a bit sleep deprived. I don’t regret a single second of the time I’m spending with my kids by sleep sharing. Can you bond without sleep sharing? Of course you can. This is just what works for my family.

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Do you do it?  Some may call it bed sharing.  Others may call it co-sleeping.  While I was pregnant with Happy Baby, I remember planning for him to sleep in our room after he was born…at least for the first couple of months.  We purchased a travel sized pack n play that doubled as a bassinet  to keep in our bedroom.  I fully intended for him to sleep in this bassinet until he had grown out of it, at which point I would move him to his own room.  We hadn’t purchased a crib yet…I knew he would be in our room for a while so we had plenty of time to find the perfect bedroom furniture for him.  After he was born, it didn’t feel right to put him alone in that bassinet to sleep.   This little baby (ok, so he wasn’t so little) was born in my bed (you can read all about my homebirth HERE).  It only seemed natural for him to sleep here too.  This started immediately, from day one.  Everybody warned me.  “You’re never gonna get that baby out of your bed if you let him sleep with you”.  This ain’t my first rodeo.  I’ve been there done that.  My first was a co-sleeper.  Yes, it was a process to get her to sleep in her own bed.  But it was far from impossible.  She started sleeping in her own bed when she was ready (which happened to be around the same time that my 2nd child was born).  My second child was an awesome crib sleeper, as was my third.  Each baby is different.  Some babies can’t sleep if they’ve got a partner in bed.  Some babies have difficulty sleeping unless Mommy or Daddy is near.

About a month after his birth, my husband and I purchased a beautiful set of furniture for his nursery.  This set will last him until he goes off to college and beyond.  The crib doubles as a toddler bed and then converts to a full size bed.  The changing table has a hutch and looks more like a wide dresser than a changing table.  He’s also got a beautiful tall dresser and a night stand to complete his set.  I had intentions for him to sleep in his crib when we purchased the set.  He was still so small though, so my intentions were for that to happen “later”.  Well, here we are 10 months after we bought that crib and 11 months after his birth.  Happy Baby is STILL sleeping with Mommy.  I cannot imagine waking up in the morning and not having him snuggled up next to me.  I cannot imagine not having him wake up smiling and getting to see how happy he is after he’s had a full night of sleep.  He giggles, smiles, waves and crawls all over the bed, so happy to wake up and see his Mommy (and sometimes his Daddy, too).

The crib, which remains empty each night.

I know the day will come when we will all be ready for him to transition into his own bed in his own room.  Do I know when that will be?  No.  However, I do know that this is what works for us.  I recently received an email from Babycenter (which I get each week to mark the milestones of my baby) and there’s usually “advice” from doctors and psychologists that are pertinent to your baby’s age and development stage.  The “advice” this week was regarding whether babies should be sleeping through the night at this age.  I was really disappointed that not ONE of the professionals that answered the question mentioned co-sleeping.  One of them said this:

“But beware: If you pick him up, bring him to your bed, or feed him (unless he’s legitimately hungry), you’re going down a very challenging path.”

All three of the professionals quoted for this article mentioned going into baby’s room to check on him/her.  None of them said what you should do if baby is waking while co-sleeping.  Hmmm…

When Happy Baby wakes in the middle of the night, he doesn’t usually wake all the way up.  Usually it’s just a squirm here or there, and he rolls over to nurse.  I am usually able to remain mostly asleep for this.  Many times I have no recollection in the morning of waking up to nurse him.  My only clue will be my exposed breast when I wake up.  My husband used to find this hilarious when he would wake up early to go to the gym.  There I would be, all sprawled out, with just one breast popped out of the top of my tank top.  I’m sure it was quite a sight.

So tell me, do you bed share or co-sleep? I’d love to hear from you!

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…about breastfeeding was something I “overheard” on Facebook.  I’ve had “friends” say that they are “all for breastfeeding, but…”.

Stop.

You cannot throw a “but” into that sentence.  That’s like saying “I love you unconditionally, but I really wish you weren’t so fat.  Or so bald.  Or so tall.  Or so…whatever”.

Here are some of my favorites:

I’m all for breastfeeding, but women shouldn’t be feeding their babies at the table in a restaurant.

I’m all for breastfeeding, but it is a private thing and shouldn’t be done in public.  

I’m all for breastfeeding, but once the kid is a year old it’s time to quit.  (This one also falls into the “lame advice” category–more on why below.)

I’m all for breastfeeding, but I could NEVER do it.  (Then you’re really not ALL for breastfeeding, are you?)

So, now that we’ve established that I think the above statements are some of the dumbest ones I’ve ever heard about breastfeeding, I’m sure I’ll get some hate mail regarding these.  They’ll probably sound something like this:

Dumb Poorly Informed People: Hey lady, nobody wants to look at your boobs while they’re eating a hamburger.
Me: Ok, fine then.  Don’t look at my boobs while you’re eating a hamburger.  

Dumb Poorly Informed People: Hey lady, you should take that kid to the bathroom to feed him so the rest of us don’t have to see your boobs.
Me: How about you eat your next meal on the toilet?

Dumb Poorly Informed People:  Isn’t he a little old to be nursing?
Me:  Maybe that’s what’s wrong with you…were you weaned too early and that’s why you have to butt in on other people’s business?

Dumb Poorly Informed People:  Breastfeeding is great and all, but it gives me the heebie-jeebies…it’s kinda gross!
Me:  Some people just aren’t mature enough to look at breasts as nourishing tools as opposed to sexual objects.  If that’s the case, you’re probably not mature enough to be having kids.  What’s really gross is feeding your kid all those chemicals.  Look up infant formula ingredients sometime and check it out.  Just sayin’.

Now, on to the “lame advice” portion of my rant.

I have actually had a pediatrician tell me that I should wean my child at the age of 1 year.  He told me that babies only need breastmilk for about a year, then they can drink cow’s milk.  When I was told this, I was a very young mom (20-21), and I certainly didn’t have near the education I do about the topic today.  I listened, and all three of my older children were only nursed for about a year.

Again, on to more lame advice.  This is also from a pediatrician.  My 3rd child had a problem gaining weight around the time he was between 7-8 months old.  The pediatrician told me that my milk wasn’t sufficient and I would have to supplement with formula.  His weight gain was approximately 3 oz. in a 2 month time frame.  I cried, but heeded his advice.  I didn’t want to feed my baby the formula.  Looking back, the fact that this same child had just gotten over a bout of pneumonia should have been a factor in his weight gain issue.

Now, 7+ years later, I know better.  This is mostly due to my desire to educate myself more about things like homebirth, breastfeeding, child growth, etc.  Did you know that the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first TWO years of a child’s life??  See the recommendation HERE.  If you read the link, you’ll see that they also recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life.

I cringe at this piece of advice.  Why, you ask?  Because I recall, quite vividly, feeding my older three children baby food, rice cereal, etc. at the age of 4 months.  When I think back upon that experience, it’s no wonder they were such tiny babies!  Their little bellies were getting full on all that low-cal, low-nutritional value food.  Happy Baby (Baby #4) has only recently delved into the world of solid cuisine.  He will have absolutely nothing to do with baby food.  He does like his organic puffs from Happy Baby, but that’s about it as far as food marketed solely to babies/toddlers.  He instead prefers to eat what we eat…bread, meat, veggies, fruits, etc.  Now, at just shy of 11 months old, he is slowly increasing his palate and he’s growing steadily…at last check for his 9 month visit he was already the same weight my other children were at 12 months…over 19 pounds!

So, I hope this helps other moms out there to set the record straight.  Breastfeeding isn’t gross, nor should it be hidden, nor should the weaning process be rushed!  These are my beliefs and opinions…although some are backed by reputable organizations.  To each her own!

This post was written in response to the Breastfeeding Blog Hop prompt.

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Ok, bear with me for a bit while I get up on my soapbox.  Breastfeeding is something that I’m really passionate about.  I have nursed all of my children.  Initially, I made the choice to breastfeed with my first child because it’s cheaper.  Seemed pretty logical to me.  Formula costs money, and I felt that the little bit of money I had as a 20 year old new mom would be better spent on diapers and my electric bill.  Trust me, it wasn’t easy in the beginning, but I was determined to make it work!  Even after I went back to work, I hauled my breastpump with me.  Three times a day, my office door would shut, and the sound of that breastpump motor would let everyone near my office know that I shouldn’t be interrupted for at least another 15-20 minutes!  It wasn’t until I had been nursing for a while that I began looking into why it was the best thing for my baby.  One of my favorite websites has lots of information about why breast really is best.  Click HERE to read about those reasons.

To add to that list…as a direct result of some of the benefits provided to both mom and baby from breastfeeding, is HAPPINESS!  Any mom who has nursed her babies will tell you that you can take a fussy, cranky baby and transform them into a calm, sleepy baby simply by nursing them.  Not only does this happiness carry through their nursing years, but it has been found to carry into their adult lives as well!  Read THIS for more info.

There are some characteristics of a breastfed baby that might seem like drawbacks to moms who formula feed.  One of those is the fact that my breastfed babies don’t sleep through the night (or at least not as long as theirs do).  That’s because breastmilk is easier to digest, so babies don’t stay full as long.  To combat this, I co-sleep with my breast baby.  When he wakes during the night, Mommy is right there next to him.  He can quietly nurse himself back to sleep, and usually in the morning I don’t remember how long, what time, or if he even woke up.  My only clue will be my exposed breast, and a misplaced nursing pad.  Breastfed babies need to be fed ON DEMAND.  You cannot put a breastfed baby on a strict feeding schedule.  They just need to eat when they’re hungry.  There is no way to measure how many ounces of milk they’re drinking (unless you’re pumping and feeding from a bottle).  The only measure is their contentedness after a feed, their urine output and bowel movement regularity, and their weight gain and growth measured at doctors visits.  Click HERE for info about CUE FEEDING.

This brings me to another topic:  infant growth and development.  With my 3rd baby, I was told at his 6 month checkup that he wasn’t gaining enough weight.  Nevermind the fact that he had just overcome pneumonia.  Nevermind the fact that the pediatrician’s office was using a growth chart intended for formula fed babies.  I was young, and uneducated on the topic, so I listened to the doctor.  I started supplementing with formula, then cut out breastfeeding altogether and he was fully weaned by 7 months.  He is also the only one of my children that has speech difficulties and was slow to read and write, now at the age of 7.  I believe whole-heartedly this is due to his diet in infancy.   It is really important for your pediatrician to be breast-milk friendly.  They need to understand that breastfed babies grow (put on weight) at different rates than formula fed babies.  If you need a proper reference, arm yourself with THIS on your next visit to the pediatrician’s office.  There are other versions as well on THIS website.

I do understand that some moms must use infant formula.  Infant formula was created for women who are unable to lactate and for babies who have true allergies to breastmilk.  Unfortunately, there are millions of women who don’t even try because society has made it so easy to access formula and has given women the impression that formula feeding is actually easier.  I don’t fault the women…I fault the media and society for this.  We as women and mothers need to educate other moms and moms to be about breastfeeding  and all of its benefits.

Join me in spreading the word about breastfeeding with the WHO and the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, 2011!  Also, link up to WBW on Facebook!

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All of that “goosfraba” during your pregnancy, labor, and delivery helped you to bring a calm baby into this world.  So, what do you do in order to maintain that afterwards?  I think a nice, relaxing “babymoon” is in order!  I remember even before my “happy boy” was born, I was absolutely DREADING the post-birth chaos of visitors.  I wanted my husband and my mom…that was it.  I was pretty sure that I was going to have to tolerate an over-abundance of visitors, and I was constantly trying to figure out how to avoid that.  I got into my “baby-hog” mode well before the baby was out.   My mom told me that I was going to have to share my baby with the rest of the family…and she was right!  (Imagine that, a mother that is right about something…who knew?!)

Once Tristan was born, I had the rest of the day to soak up my solace…and I enjoyed every minute of it.  The visits began the next day…and then they were over with in a day.  I had TONS of time to enjoy my babymoon.  I feel it’s really important for mommy, daddy and baby to have lots of intimate time together, especially in those early days.  This gives everyone a chance to get to know each other and adapt to the changes of having a new baby in the house.

In a nutshell, just because your pregnancy is over, doesn’t mean that you have to let the chaos take over your life.  Sleep when your baby sleeps.  Feed your baby when he’s hungry.  Change his diaper when he’s wet or messy.  Walk/bounce your baby when he’s fussy.  Keep your baby close to you.  Save your sanity and co-sleep (safely), especially if you’re nursing! (Another post to come on that topic!!)  If, despite doing all this, you’ve just gotten to the point where you can’t take another second of crying (whether it’s yours or your baby’s), pass the baby to your partner and take a break.  Go get a massage, have a cup of coffee with a friend, or just go for a walk alone.  My advice would be to NOT put your baby on a schedule…you need to adapt to his.  Just go with his flow and everybody can be happier.   This is what has worked for me…give it a try…it might work for you too!

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