Confessions of a Low Supply Mom

Welcome to the “I’m a Natural Parent – BUT…” Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.

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Photo by Christy Scherrer

I nurse wherever and whenever my children need. I’ve had women tell me they admire that, that they love how I normalize breastfeeding, and that they applaud me for pulling out our Lact-Aids out in public. Along with my dedication to child-led weaning and perserverance through nursing during pregnancy and tandem nursing, I almost sound like a breastfeeding super-hero.

Except when it comes to breasfteeding, I’m far from it. I would do just about anything in order to exclusively breastfeed my children: pumping, eating specific foods, taking herbs, taking medications. I’ve done it all. Even though we knew prior to pregnancy that a medical condition would most likely affect my supply, I kept positive, supposedly setting myself up for success. In fact, I was setting myself up for failure – my own. When I didn’t make enough milk and I listened to my first child scream in hunger, I cried. When I first supplemented, I cried. Each time I tried something new and got my hopes up that this would be the thing that would fix everything, I would only plummet to new lows when it didn’t.

So while my dedication to child-led weaning, nursing in public, and lactivism in general stands, know that there is a crying, seething green monster inside of me that would do just about anything to shed these Lact-Aids and nurse my babies (toddlers, children) without them.

    • I hide formula in my cart. Sure, I try to be nonchalant when I do it so I don’t send the wrong message to my children. However, it always seems that something big just happens to land on top of the can of formula. I end up building a little pyramid of items around it so that I don’t have to see it. Setting items up on the conveyor belt and paying for them, I look anywhere but at the cashier. I don’t want to face what I might see reflected there: a mom with a child in a sling who can’t even fully nurse her own child. When the formula makes it home, the label comes off. Somehow, I think taking off the label lessens what it truly is and makes it easier to face. It doesn’t, but I try still do it.
  •  I am jealous of other mothers – not the ones nursing their children but the ones who gave up or didn’t even try. When a relative mentioned how she was so happy she was able to nurse her child for as long as possible (5 months) and that she had to quit because pumping at work was such a drag, it ate at me. I know what pumping is like. I pumped for the first year of my first child’s life, trying to increase supply, while also trying to nurse him. I pumped for the first year of my second child’s life once again trying to increase supply and while working through her own issues with latch, suck, and what turned out to be silent reflux, dealing with her rules for nursing that I figured out along the way. Pumping sucks and I’m glad that with my last two children we have been able to forego it, but I would do it again if it meant I could have a full milk supply. I don’t judge women who choose not to nurse, whether by culture, misinformation, or some other choice, but I am most certainly jealous of what they gave away. I know women have all sorts of reasons for choosing not to breastfeed and it isn’t any of my business, but the giant green jealous monster still rears up. If they aren’t going to nurse anyway, why couldn’t they be the one with low supply?
  • I’m afraid to go anywhere without Lact-Aids because my child might want to nurse. Even when my children are two, three, or four years old, I have Lact-Aids packed in the diaper bag any time we are out. I keep them in a littel cooler bag. I even have them in a little cooler bag around the house, a leftover facet from when my older daughter was suffering from silent reflux and gave me 30 seconds to latch her on after the very first sign of hunger.
  • I feel angry every time someone says that women shouldn’t nurse in public or talk about the benefits of breastfeeding because “some women can’t breastfeed.” Less than 2% of women who have given birth to their children cannot exclusively breastfeed, and most of them, like me, will be able to have a partial milk supply. Don’t give me the excuse that some women can’t breastfeed for not supporting nursing mothers. I am a low supply mom, and I am that 2%. The very best thing we can do for women is to give information and be supportive of breastfeeding in private or in public so that they are not being sabatoged in their breastfeeding.

So, that’s my confession. Outwardly, I’m a cool collected lactavist helping other mothers and nursing my children, with the help of Lact-Aids. Inside, I’m an insecure weeping, jealous mess who feels like a failure.

 

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I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that “natural parenting” means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

 

Feel Free to be Offended

There are those who are offended by the sight of a mother nursing her child in public. To them I say, “Feel free to be offended.”

In a world as diverse as ours, something is bound to offend another person – sexuality, race, gender, religion, clothing, speech, habits, etc. We have the right to our individual beliefs and, as a part of that, a right to feel offense. Where our rights stop is where they interfere with another person’s rights.

Personally, I’m offended by smoking. I think it’s disgusting, and I really don’t want to be anywhere near it. However, I’m not going to ask someone to quit smoking. I will quietly go somewhere else so that my children and I don’t have to be around it. I am also disgusted by the site of people chewing food with their mouths open. Apparently the memo that watching partially masticated food is unappealing didn’t make it’s way through the entire human population (or my in-laws’ house). I reserve the right to look away in my offense.

What I don’t have is the right to dictate how people legally live their lives. I may be offended by some things, but frankly it’s none of my business. I don’t have the right to dictate what they can and cannot do based on my sensibilities.

So the next time I’m out in public and breastfeed my child, feel free to be offended. Feel free to look away, walk away, cover your head in shame, or however you choose to deal with your uncomfortable feelings. You have that right, just as I have the right to nurse whenever and wherever I have the right to be.

 

This post was originally written and posted for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. I am reposting due to timely discussions.

A Matter of Choice

An Afghan woman and child in Parwan Province, Afghanistan. Photo by Sgt. Sean A. Terry, USA

A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with my children about women covering themselves, after we saw a woman who wore a head covering. My then 5 year old daughter wanted to know why the woman’s head was covered, and we discussed the fact that some religions require women to cover their heads or bodies so that others do not see them. The next question to follow was whether or not the woman had chosen to cover her head or whether someone had made her do it.

This brought about a very insightful discussion about women’s rights, and human rights in general. Some women choose to cover themselves based on their beliefs. Others are forced to cover themselves or suffer persecution.The distinction between the two – freedom and oppression – is clear; it’s a simple matter of choice.

The choice to cover oneself, including covering when breastfeeding, is a personal choice. Women who choose to cover do so out of personal preference based on their beliefs. To tell tell others that they should cover themselves is an attempt at oppression, whether the cover is meant for the woman’s head or her child’s.

Previously posted on Living Peacefully with Children and Nursing Freedom.

If I Wanted to Show Off My Breasts…

Photo by United Nations Development Programme

If I wanted to show off my breasts, I would probably do so by…

  • wearing a very small bikini
  • wearing a low cut shirt, preferably with a push up bra
  • stand up straight and stick out my chest
  • wear a shirt asking people to look at my breasts
  • keep everything away from obstructing the view
  • go shirtless

I probably wouldn’t chose the following ways:

  • cover my chest with a baby or toddler latched on
  • wear a sling with a baby or toddler across my chest
  • cover up my cleavage with a bunched up shirt pulled up to nurse
  • be engaged with my child, especially those moments when I have a little foot in my face for me to kiss or smell and play the ew! stinky feet game
  • sit down in a comfortable spot
  • go about my business

Breastfeeding is about taking care of our children, not about showing off breasts.

To Cover or Not to Cover: A Choice

Last year I wrote a blog post entitled a matter of choice… I had originally written it after a question from my then 5 year old daughter about a woman we saw who wore a head covering. Since I knew that Nursing Freedom was gearing up for the Carnival of Nursing in Public, I saved the post and it was initially published there.

I’m not the only one to write about the topic. Many have. Most recently, Annie at PhD in Parenting has produced a fantastic video on the topic.

a matter of choice…

An Afghan woman and child in Parwan Province, Afghanistan. Photo by Sgt. Sean A. Terry, USA

I recently had a conversation with my children about women covering themselves, after we saw a woman who wore a head covering. My 5 year old daughter wanted to know why the woman’s head was covered, and we discussed the fact that some religions require women to cover their heads or bodies so that others do not see them. The next question to follow was whether or not the woman had chosen to cover her head or whether someone had made her do it.

This brought about a very insightful discussion about women’s rights, and human rights in general. Some women choose to cover themselves based on their beliefs. Others are forced to cover themselves or suffer persecution.The distinction between the two – freedom and oppression – is clear; it’s a simple matter of choice.

The choice to cover oneself, including covering when breastfeeding, is a personal choice. Women who choose to cover do so out of personal preference based on their beliefs. To tell tell others that they should cover themselves is an attempt at oppression, whether the cover is meant for the woman’s head or her child’s.

the reality of nursing in public…

Most stories about mothers nursing their children in public are negative. We hear the stories of discrimination and oppression. Those against breastfeeding will claim they saw a woman fling her breast out to breastfeed her child. Breastfeeding mothers tell of snide comments they heard, demands that they leave a public place or feed their child in a restroom. I’ve had my share of comments. They do exist, as much as some will have you believe otherwise. Occassionally a mother may have a positive comment or smile. Personally, I try to encourage other mothers I see nursing in public, even if it’s just with a cheesy smile. However, overall neither of these scenarios is the norm.  

I’ve never once seen a woman fling a breast, which frankly sounds quite painful. If you know where I can witness this, please let me know; I’ve never quite understood the logistics of it. The truth if the matter is, most people don’t notice a mother nursing her child. When a child shows signs of wanting to nurse, a mother matter of factly lifts or lowers her shirt enough to allow the child to latch on. They nurse and go on about their business. No fanfare precedes the event. There are no requests for cheers or hurrahs. The mother is merely attending to her child’s needs, just as she would hug the child or hand the child food.

While negative experiences sadly occur, in the thousands of times I’ve nursed in public, the number of negative comments are comparatively small. I’ve nursed in a laundromat full of college guys, out hiking, in stores while pushing a cart, while helping my older children with crafts at a children’s museum, next to a strange man on an airplane (who was kind enough to offer to pull my tray down for my water), at concerts, parks, libraries, and more. Most of the time, no one says a word.

So while we do need to normalize breastfeeding and nursing in public, new mothers shouldn’t feel frightened to do so. Chances are, no one will even notice. If they do, it’s very likely they won’t say a thing. And if they do, take confidence in the fact that you are doing the best for your child and stay firm in your rights.

This post was originally posted on Nursing Freedom.

under-sexed…

When the topic of nursing in public comes up, the topic of sex inevitably follows. Anti-breastfeeding individuals liken breastfeeding to sex and claim enough is enough. Breastfeeding advocates claim that our society is over-sexed; breasts are lauded for their sexuality, plastered on billboards, used to sell beer and cars rather than their true purpose – their functionality.

Yes, breasts are sexual. It is possible to be functional and sexual at the same time. In fact, a person’s entire body is sexual. If someone is under the impression that breastfeeding is sexual and therefore taboo in public, I don’t agree that they are over-sexed. In fact, I would argue that they are under-sexed, because they seem to be wholly unaware of all of the wonderful sexual aspects of various other body parts which they see everyday.

If the idea of possibly seeing a body part which has dual functions bothers you, then a larger call to arms is in order. Don’t just target the breastfeeding mothers; go after anyone who uses any body part that holds dual functionality: mouths, hands, fingers, noses, ears, necks, eyelashes, arms, legs, feet, bellies, backs….the list goes on.

If your imagination doesn’t go that far or you think that’s too much, you may be just a little under-sexed. Frankly, assuming that breasts are sexual while other body parts aren’t just isn’t very creative on your part. So, we’ll make a deal. You won’t spout your ignorance about the functionality of breasts and the sexuality of other body parts. In turn, I will only use my breasts in public for the purpose of breastfeeding, and I won’t tell you about all of the other body parts I use to get my husband all hot and steamy.

food and feces…

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.

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A celebrity recently caused another uproar in the debate regarding public breastfeeding. While eating at a restaurant, she witnessed a mother breastfeed her baby at the table and change it’s diaper. People came out of the woodwork saying that mothers should go to the restroom for that.

By that, I hope they are referring to changing a diaper. I agree that tables are no place to change a diaper. I have no desire to eat on a table that just had a pooey diaper on it. The aroma of poo as a diaper is changed doesn’t add to my culinary experience. I take my babies to the bathroom to change their diapers when we eat out. Food and feces just don’t mix.

And for that same reason, suggesting that a mother breastfeed her child in a bathroom is ludicrous. If a person recognizes that changing a diaper at a public dinner table is unsanitary, how is it that that same person thinks it is perfectly acceptable to expect a child to eat in a public toilet?

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:

July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World

July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child

July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.

July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives

July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

feel free to be offended…

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.

***

There are those who are offended by the sight of a mother nursing her child in public. To them I say, “Feel free to be offended.” 

In a world as diverse as ours, something is bound to offend another person – sexuality, race, gender, religion, clothing, speech, habits, etc. We have the right to our individual beliefs and, as a part of that, a right to feel offense. Where our rights stop is where they interfere with another person’s rights.

Personally, I’m offended by smoking. I think it’s disgusting, and I really don’t want to be anywhere near it. However, I’m not going to ask someone to quit smoking. I will quietly go somewhere else so that my children and I don’t have to be around it. I am also disgusted by the site of people chewing food with their mouths open. Apparently the memo that watching partially masticated food is unappealing didn’t make it’s way through the entire human population (or my in-laws’ house). I reserve the right to look away in my offense.

What I don’t have is the right to dictate how people legally live their lives. I may be offended by some things, but frankly it’s none of my business. I don’t have the right to dictate what they can and cannot do based on my sensibilities.

So the next time I’m out in public and breastfeed my child, feel free to be offended. Feel free to look away, walk away, cover your head in shame, or however you choose to deal with your uncomfortable feelings. You have that right, just as I have the right to nurse whenever and wherever I have the right to be.

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:

July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World

July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child

July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.

July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives

July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It