Friday, June 30, 2006

Adventures in nursing

I am forging new ground with the breastfeeding. The baby is teething and crawling, gnawing on everything and not wanting to stand still for a moment. This is when I stopped nursing her older sister. I didn't know how to handle her biting and then she discovered that a bottle was portable. She could eat and cruise around. We were done with nursing. This one, however, might wean when she's 5. She loves to nurse. We got through the biting okay. The first time I yelled-it was a little shocking, as I think I already mentioned. But after that I just paid attention and when she got "bitey", I took the nipple away from her without any fuss. If she was hungry, she went back to eating and if she wasn't, she was done.

Now she's been crawling for 3 weeks. She's everywhere...we usually nurse lying down. She starts on her back with her head turned toward me. Then she rolls towards me. Then, nipple still in mouth, she rolls on her stomach. Fortunately she unlatches before she does a full 360. Any noises, voices and she's looking around. Then, with work, Dad was supplementing with formula and before I knew it, my milk production was down. The last 2 days I been making a concerted effort to nurse her for a long time. We go in a darkened, quiet room and I just let her nurse and sleep and nurse some more. Everything seems to be better and we haven't used any formula. Meanwhile, the Baby That Ate Detroit dive bombs my chest with her mouth wide open whenever I have my shirt off. Like I said, she'll wean someday.

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day

I know I forgot about Mother’s Day. Maybe because everyday is Mother’s Day around my house (why, because I’m the Momma! That’s why). I’ll finish writing about breastfeeding next month. This month, it’s my tribute to Dads.

For the Dad’s who are going to wake up on the 3rd Sunday in June to a breakfast of burnt toast, half-raw pancakes and unpalatable coffee, eats it and say, “That was the best breakfast ever!” If you can lie with a straight face, Happy Father’s Day.

For single Dads, who work all day then cook, clean, help with the homework and everything else, 24/7. For everyone who has to be Mom AND Dad. If you’ve had to talk to your daughter about getting her period, Happy Father’s Day.

For Stay-at-home Dads. For feeding the baby and folding the laundry(even if it’s not the way WE do it). For making the lunches. For putting up with all the late nights your wife stays at work. If you’re Mr. Mom, Happy Father’s Day.

For the Dad’s who keep a bedroom separate for their kids, even though they only see them on the weekend. For the Dads who don’t say bad things about there ex in front of their kids, no matter what that *#$% said or did. If you pay child support. If you’ve fought to stay in your child’s life, Happy Father’s Day.

For those Dads who didn’t know their own Dads, or had an abusive Dad, and are trying to do the right thing with their own kids. If you’re struggling not to make the same mistakes. For all you Dad’s who’ve had to redefine what it means to be a man, Happy Father’s Day.

For those Dads who don’t know where their children are. To those who’ve had a child die. If you’ve ever looked at someone else’s child and thought, “I wonder what my child would look like now?” Happy Father’s Day.

For the traditional and the not so traditional Dads. Whether you’ve taught you kid to ride a bike or how to do yoga. Whether you cook ribs or tofu. If you use cloth or disposable. If you know that being there is what really matters, Happy Father’s Day.

And to my own Hubby: Thanks for all you do. From before she was born you were a good Daddy. Because you play classical music for her, because you learned to use diaper pins. Because you channel your Father’s Intuition. For everything you do for your family, Happy Father’s Day.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Nursing pitfalls

I have encountered and successfully navigated 2 nursing pitfalls, so far, with this little one.

  1. The first weeks, as in "Ow! My boobs hurt!"
  2. The first tooth, followed by the second tooth. See above.

Now I have come upon the third obstacle to nursing nirvana.

3. The little bugger doesn't want to sit still.

This, happening simultaneously with #2, stopped the nursing for good with my first child. I didn't know how to get her to stop teething on my boobs and she discovered that, given a bottle, she could eat AND be mobile. It was a real awakening for her.

This time I handled the teething okay-the first time she bit me I was so shocked I yelped out a big NO inspite of myself. I know you're not supposed to do that, cause it can lead to a nursing strike and you scare the baby. Fortunately, this one won't be discouraged from noshing by a little shout--oh, no, she likes her liquid lunch too much. But after that I just kept a watchful eye and whenever she was done eating and just, you know, playing-I took the nipple away. Or if she was really cranky and teething, as opposed to hungry, I say, "okay, we'll nurse later." Like a dork, but it worked. Sometimes she was hungry and cranky. I learned that if you push towards the baby instead of jumping away when they bite, it hurts less.

But now, she is soooo easily distractible now that she's crawling. I got a nice nursing necklace at a craft fair(3 big hunks of turquise on a cord) and I try to nurse her in a quiet room. It makes nursing in public quite an event, because I'm flashing everyone as this little one squirms and squiggles. Oh well.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Check this out

This is a really great article on breastfeeding(funny, too) over at and check out the rest of site, too. It's got a lot of great stories and info about breastfeeding.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Breastfeeding part 2

Why should I breastfeed?

I love breastfeeding my baby. But it didn’t come naturally, for me or my first baby. While still a few minutes old, I tried to nurse her in the delivery room (despite the nurses telling me it “wasn’t necessary). I put her to my breast and was like, ok kid, go ahead. She just looked up at me, closed her eyes and went to sleep. So much for instinct.

Last month I wrote about why breastfeeding is important. This month I want to go into the logistics, if you will, of nursing. I know that some women will put their baby to the breast and not have one problem. I was not that woman. Breast pain, blocked milk ducts, cracked nipples, lack of sleep, feeling like I always had a baby hanging off me; there were definitely times I thought I’d never be able to do this. In addition, when I was five months pregnant with daughter #1, I had a mass removed from by breast. I didn’t even know if I’d produce milk from that side and no one seemed to have any information on how that would effect my ability to nurse. For six weeks I had pain when I nursed that would curl my toes. The only information I got at the hospital about breastfeeding was a pamphlet. I did, however, get many free formula samples. And nurses who would give my baby bottles of sugar water at night, so I could get my rest .I didn’t even know lactation consultants existed. The fact that I went on to breastfeed her for nine months I attribute to sheer stubbornness on my part.

Part of the problem with why women don’t breastfeed today is that they have few mentors. In 1900, 100% of babies were breastfed, either by their mothers or a wet-nurse. The number hit an all-time low in 1963, when 7% of American babies were breastfed. So who do we go to for advice and support when more than likely our own mothers didn’t nurse us? I joined an online support group. There are plenty of “mommy” sites and they usually have a least one forum for breastfeeding mothers. There are also local groups you can attend, like La Leche League International or Holistic Moms (see below for details). Knowing that other moms are having the same problems can make all the difference to keep hanging in there. Ask your hospital about their lactation consultant and see if they have a support group. I went to one at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital and it was very good. They had moms of preemies, babies with various health problems, twins; you name it-they could help you nurse your baby. Hospitals in the past decade (since I had my first) have come a long way in offering help and support for women who choose to breastfeed.

A word to the Dads: you can make a big difference in if and how long your partner breastfeeds. If you think it’s a good idea, don’t just let her know-offer her support. Bring her a glass of water while she breastfeeds. Tell her what a good job she’s doing. Since she’s doing all the feeding, offer to change more diapers or give the baby a bath so you’ll feel involved and she’ll get a break. If breastfeeding makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why? Maybe you don’t like the idea of her breastfeeding in public or are worried about losing intimacy between the two you. Talk about it. Issues can be resolved with open communication.

Someone suggested to me that women don’t breastfeed because they feel pressured to do it. Or guilty if they don’t. Yes, your formula-fed baby will in all likelihood grow up healthy, smart and strong. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with formula feeding, but breastfeeding has so many benefits for you and your baby. The American Association of Pediatrics suggests exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months. The World Health Organization says two years. Don’t be pressured-Oh, my God! Two whole years! Try it and see. More importantly, try it for 6 weeks. These are the hardest weeks: your baby needs to feed often, you’re not sleeping well and if you’re going to have problems, it’ll be in the first 6 weeks. By 2 months, it became easier. By 6 months, it was a joy. Remember, any breast milk your baby receives is good, some is better than none. Get all the information you can, stick with it and relax! If you weren’t planning on breastfeeding, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised and if for some reason you can’t breastfeed, you’ll at least know you gave it your best shot.

Want more info? Go to my website for links and articles. Or read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding put out by the La Leche League.