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.

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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

public intimacy…

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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Intimacy. 1. The state of being intimate. 2. Something of a personal or private nature. 3. Rituals of connection.

Breastfeeding is definitely an intimate experience. It allows mother and child to bond and promotes connection. And due to its intimate nature, many would claim that mothers should only nurse their children in private. Afterall, intimate acts should never occur in public…

…except that intimate acts constantly occur in public. People kiss. Hands are held. Hugs show affection and lift someone’s spirits. High fives convey excitement. Conversations occur. Hands are shook. Special looks are given. Personal jokes and stories are shared. Intimacy is all around us.

Those who claim someone should only breastfeed in private are merely intruding on an intimate act. Rather a social faux pas, isn’t it?

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

normalizing breastfeeding through solidarity…

Photo by Christy Scherrer

While the US pretends to be a progressive and educated society, we come up lacking when it comes to the basic needs of our young. This is clearly evident when the topic of breastfeeding comes up. US breastfeeding rates are abysmal, and the public view on nursing in public, and nursing in general, rank even lower. While evidence supports numerous benefits for child, mother, and society, breastfeeding support is lacking and breastfeeding mothers frequently are treated poorly. Many, including the two-faced individuals who claim that they support breastfeeding and yet vehemently exclaim that they shouldn’t have to see that, would have others believe that discrimination against breastfeeding mothers and rude comments are a mythical occurence. However, too many breastfeeding mothers can attest to discrimination and comments. Those instances that make it to the media are not isolated events.

How do we normalize breastfeeding against such ignorance and intolerance? Some mothers (and fathers) prepare and practice informative and/or witty comebacks. Some work towards educating the public. Others are setting the example, either with a purpose in mind or merely by meeting their children’s needs by nursing anytime and anywhere. While educating others, meeting our children’s needs, and protecting ourselves are all important aspects of normalizing breastfeeding, I think we are missing the one thing that will go the furthest: empowerment!

Most of us have received a negative comment (or more) about breastfeeding at some time or other. If not, there are the comments about us, said loudly enough to make certain we hear them. How often have we heard positive comments?

Nothing we say is going to change these people. Expecting a majority to band together to support a minority is unrealistic, at best. Instead, I call for solidarity! Support other nursing mothers you see out and about. Anyone can do this. A kind comment, a cheesy smile, or even a thumbs up to show support goes a long way. If nursing mothers and their support networks (husbands, partners, parents, siblings, children) band together, we can empower each other (and future nursing mothers) and make a change. Vow to make a small difference in the life of a nursing mother you don’t know.

 

 

nursing and multi-tasking…

Many nursing mothers have learned to multi-task while breastfeeding. If you have other children, you often need to be doing other things while you feeding your nursling. Sometimes nursing is a chance to have some time to do something you like such as reading a good book (or just sitting down). Some little nurslings are also multi-taskers.

My older daughter was a multi-tasker from early on. She liked to have a book to look at, a toy to play with, or my hair to play with. As she got older, she would sign to have conversations with me and later added singing (well, humming) to her repertoire.

While I nurse my children whenever and wherever, that doesn’t apply around my husband’s family. As a low supply mom who has to use Lact-Aids to supplement while we nurse, I haven’t wanted the additional grief they would give me about it (or the ensuing gossip and grief from other extended relatives on that side). I’ve always left the room to nurse when around them.

On Halloween when my daughter was two years old, we had taken the kids trick-or-treating in my in-laws’ neighborhood and stopped at their house to visit. It was later in the evening and my daughter was stressed out from the visit. She wanted to comfort nurse (i.e. nurse just for comfort without the need for the Lact-Aid), and I decided to go ahead and nurse her in the living room. My daughter was a blueberry fairy that year and had a big tutu that stuck up and blocked any view of use while she laid in my lap.

After a couple of minutes, she began humming. I’m certain my husband was chuckling to himself. After a few minutes he couldn’t help it and innocently asked, “Is she singing?” I, just as innocently, replied back, “And nursing.” The wide-eyed shock on his parents face, and the resulting grin on my husband’s face, told me he had gotten just the reaction he had been going for. He had a good laugh about it later.

mother and child…

When I was dealing with the struggles of getting my daughter to nurse, I told myself that someday, when we were happily nursing away without issues any longer, I would celebrate by purchasing something special. I wasn’t certain what exactly would commemorate such a special occasion until the day I saw Gustav Klimt’s print, Mother and Child. The print spoke to me and felt so right. While it isn’t specifically a nursing print, it reminds me of the contentment felt by mother and child after nursing. The little girl in the print even reminded me of my daughter at that age. We have this framed and hanging in our home. Everyone who sees it feels a need to comment on what a lovely print it is.

Mother and Child (detail from The Three Ages of Woman), c.1905 Art Print

nursing haikus…

Welcome to the March Carnival of Breastfeeding!  This month’s theme is ‘the joys of breastfeeding.’  You’ll find links to other bloggers’ contributions at the bottom of this one.

 

nursing little one

skin so soft beneath my lips

a scent so unique

 

busy wiggle worm

multi-tasking even now

nursing while you sleep

 

taking time for me

reading a book while you nurse

snuggled in my arms

 

we sleep much better

with you snuggled to my breast

meeting all our needs

 

toddler energy

taking a break when you nurse

fueled by my breastmilk

 

learning about me

as I take care of your needs

as long as you want

 

so much love for you

nursing until you are through

at whatever age

 

Please check out some of the other Carnival of Breastfeeding posts:

Hobo Mama:  No need to count calories when breastfeeding

Melodie @ Breastfeeding Moms Unite!: Poems about the joys of breastfeeding

Life of a Babywearing and Breastfeeding Mommy: Breastfeeding is how I connect with my little one after work

The Adventures of Lactating Girl: The joys of breastfeeding a toddler

Lucy and Ethel Have a Baby Toddler: Nursing my little person

Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: Top 5 things I love about breastfeeding

Code Name Mama: Milk songs

Little Snowflakes: The joys of nursing to sleep

Maman A Droit A joyful list

Good Enough Mummy: You Don’t Have to be crunchy to Like Breastfeeding

Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Things I Loved About Breastfeeding My Son

Blacktating: What Makes Breastfeeding So Great

I nurse my children…

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

I’m a low supply mom, and as such, I don’t make enough milk for my children. We knew this was a possibility before our first child was born, but that didn’t make it feel any less devastating to me when it was confirmed. I wanted to breastfeed my children. Not only does breastfeeding provide superior nutritional and immunological benefits, it also provides optimal physical and emotional benefits for the child, physical and emotional health benefits for the mother, and is the most economically and environmentally friendly way to feed children. Biologically, women are designed to breastfeed their children. Only around 2% of the population has some sort of true medical condition that prevents full milk supply (note that most of these woman can supply at least partial breastmilk). That left me feeling like a failure as both a woman and a mother.

I didn’t give up, though. I was determined to do the best possible thing for my children, which was nursing and supplying as much breastmilk for them as possible. For a long while, I lived on an emotional roller coaster, having highs when I found something new that might even marginally increase my supply, and diving back down into despair when whatever it was didn’t make any difference. Eventually, I came to a point of acceptance, for the most part. Being a low supply mom isn’t something you ever truly get over. The feelings creep back in from time to time. I found the owner of Lact-Aid International and the women at MOBI (Mothers Overcoming Breastfeeding Issues) to be invaluable resources.

I’m a low supply mom. I may not be able to fully breastfeed, but I nurse my children! I nurse them whenever they need to and wherever we are. I bring our Lact-Aids along in a cooler bag and we go about life as if we were any other nursing family. I wouldn’t give up a moment.

when nursing takes longer…

Welcome to the February Carnival of Breastfeeding!  This month’s theme is overcoming obstacles.  Be sure to check out the other posts on this theme at the bottom of this post.

I’m a low supply mom. Due to some medical conditions, I don’t make enough milk for my children. Going through that with my first child as hard emotionally. It was a roller coaster ride as I tried anything I could that might marginally increase my milk supply with no results. However, I was determined to give my child as much breastmilk as I possibly could. Nursing your child gives them the best start in life.

I thought I was prepared for breastfeeding when my second child was born. Afterall, I had been through the feelings of failure. I thought I had accepted the fact that I was a low supply mom and moved on; the truth is, you never fully accept something like that and it periodically comes back, bubbling up with all of those emotions in full force. What I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that my daughter would bring her own issues to our nursing relationship.

When she was born, I thought I was prepared. I had our Lact-Aids ready and I reminded myself that I would provide as much breastmilk for her as I possibly could. I wasn’t prepared when she wasn’t able to latch on. Every time her mouth opened, her tongue would automatically come out, effectively pushing my nipple out. It made latching on impossible at first but the tips of my nipples did get chomped quite a bit as she tried. I couldn’t even wedge my finger in her mouth to finger feed her the first time. I had to spoon feed supplement into her mouth while waiting for an opportunity to get my finger in there. She was born on a Saturday, and it was a five days before we found a lactation consultant who could fit us in. My trusty pump came out of storage and I was an emotional wreck waiting for someone to help in those interim days. I had called two La Leche League leaders when she was an hour old and I realized the problem. One of them finally returned my call when my daughter was nine days old. Luckily we had already met with the lactation consultants by that time.

At our one week check up with the lactation consultants, I asked about some curious behavior my daughter was exhibiting when we nursed. She would arch her body and throw her head back. The lactation consultants didn’t know why she might do that but recommended that I not allow it, as it wasn’t good for optimal positioning. I should have ignored them at that point. It wouldn’t have been the first time we had experienced a bad lactation consultant. I trusted too much or was too desperate, and it ended up making nursing my daughter infinitely more difficult.

In the following weeks, my daughter went from latching on part of the time, with me finger feeding her when she wouldn’t latch on, to refusing the breast all together. She would arch her back at every feeding, screaming. I essentially had 30 seconds from her first hunger cue to even attempt to latch her on. I began keeping our Lact-Aids in a small cooler, as I didn’t have time to run to the fridge to grab one when she showed interest. No one we saw knew what was going on or could offer any insight. I was a wreck, between trying to get her to nurse, pumping, and taking care of our two year old son. I wasn’t giving up, even when it seemed that she was.

I decided that my local resources were worthless. If they couldn’t help me, I would try somewhere else. It occurred to me that the owner of Lact-Aid International, as someone who works with moms and babies with breastfeeding issues, might have some insight. I called her. She listened to our story. She listened to me cry. She didn’t tell me that if my now six week old baby still wasn’t getting breastfeeding that I should give up. Instead, she told me to make the breast a happy place and connected me with a woman who had nursed older adopted babies with success. Those few phone calls kept me going. Besides my husband, who knew nothing more about what was going on than I did, those few conversations were my full support.

I dressed my daughter in only a diaper, put her in the sling, and zipped us both up in a zippered sweatshirt while I went about my day, interacting with and taking care of my son. We did this for a few days and the skin to skin contact helped. My daughter started latching on more and wasn’t finger feeding quite as often, but we were still a long way to being a breastfeeding couple. I tried to concentrate on making the breast a happy place so that she would want to nurse. We had lots of skin to skin contact. We played games in the bathtub and snuggled. Yet, it still often felt like rejection when she wouldn’t latch on or when she was screaming.

I remember when she was around four months old, I commented to my husband, crying, that I didn’t know if she was ever going to get it. He made a comment that made me angry, and I decided that somehow, someday, we were going to make it. We tried to nurse, finger feeding when she wouldn’t latch on, I pumped, and I took care of my children.

When my daughter was five and half months old, I read that a high palate can affect breastfeeding. My daughter defnitely had a high palate and a weak suck. We went to the doctor, requesting a referral to see an occupational therapist. No one else had been able to help us, so I was trying not to get my hopes up too high. That was when we got the diagnosis: silent reflux.

Our new OT watched my daughter nurse and finger feed. She asked questions and said that without a doubt, she was certain we were dealing with silent reflux. No one had mentioned reflux as a possibility because my daughter rarely, if ever, spat up. She was swallowing her stomach acid over and over, irritating the lining of her throat, causing pain and screaming and her frequent need to eat (she never went more than 45-60 minutes at that point, including at night). The OT was amazed, saying that with any other parent, my daughter would have been labeled failure to thrive. Instead, because I was so in tune with her and had learned her many, many rules, she was a thriving child, ahead of all milestones.

We finally had a diagnosis and a tangible reason for our breastfeeding issues. We went back to the doctor to see about medicine to help her, only to hit a roadblock with our insurance company, who didn’t want to pay for the medicine prescribed until we had tried a medicine proven to be ineffective with infants exhibiting reflux symptoms. Somehow, during our wait, my daughter finally got it. I remember being so excited that she was finally latching on to nurse every single time….at almost six months old.

We weren’t totally past the struggles. She still had a weak suck, so I continued pumping in order to get her as much breastmilk as possible. For the next three months, she would also only nurse if I was lying down. I spent a lot of time lying down nursing her, while reading books to my son. At nine months, she would finally nurse with me sitting up. At eleven months, I felt that her suck was strong enough that I could quit pumping. We had made it.

My daughter was always a big comfort nurser. When she was a year old, she began differentitating through sign (Amercian Sign Language) whether she wanted to nurse mommy (for comfort without our Lact-Aids) or nurse pouch (for hunger and thirst with the Lact-Aids). She still nursed frequently, finally giving me one 3-hour stretch at night when she was about 18 months old. We were nursing though, and life was good.

I became pregnant with our third child when she was just over two years old. We nursed through my pregnancy and tandem nursed after our second son was born. When she was three years old, she decided that she was too big for the Lact-Aids to work and dropped nursing with them, instead only nursing for comfort. We practiced child-led-weaning and she weaned herself around age four, nursing for the last time at age four-and-a-half.

Our nursing relationship was a struggle at first, but I am so glad we stuck with it. Our time nursing together was priceless. My daughter is now almost five-and-a-half years old. I am currently nursing her two-and-a-half year old brother and expecting our fourth child. I wouldn’t give up those little eyes gazing at me as we nursed or the little hands that signed nurse mommy and nurse pouch. I wouldn’t give up hearing her hum as she nursed or her nursing acrobatics.

Other carnival participants (please check back, as these will be added to throughout the day):

  • Breastfeeding 1-2-3:  The Importance of a Babymoon
  • Hobo Mama: Supplemental feeding techniques for a breastfed baby 
  • The Milk Mama: How I got my bottle-guzzling, breast-phobic baby to love nursing 
  • Lucy and Ethel have a Toddler:  A rough start
  • Mama’s Herb Garden: Nine Things Your Nipples Wish You Knew About Them
  • Good Enough Mummy: Tongue Tied And Twisted
  • Whozat: A Rough Start
  • Maman A Droit: Clueless!
  • Jessica Montalino: Week 7 and Our Breastfeeding Experience
  • Breastfeeding Moms Unite: I’ll Be Brief