Category Archives: Breastfeeding

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Gently Night Weaning a Toddler

Otherwise unrelated photos of the toddler in question.

As usual, Annabelle has done many new things this week, but the biggest change for all of us has been an end to nighttime nursing. Something about this pregnancy seems to have made Annabelle1 want to nurse all the more, and many nights she was nursing all night long, which made for lousy sleep and an aching back for me. While I know that some women manage  not only to tandem nurse, but to nighttime nurse two children, I also know that such an arrangement would make me personally a pretty grouchy mama.  Continue reading

  1. Age 21 months, for those who aren’t aware.
I have no recent nursing photos of my own, so I borrowed this one from Hobo Mama, via Flickr.

Mammals and Their Mammary Glands, a Post About Breastfeeding

I have no recent nursing photos of my own, so I borrowed this one from Hobo Mama, via Flickr.

I have written before about the fact that in all my days of nursing anytime and anywhere, I have never once received a rude comment. For the most part, I have seen nothing but support for breastfeeding. Unfortunately, last week I received a reminder of the fact that some people are still hung up, confused, or ill informed when it comes to breastfeeding. I was on the phone with a nurse who called me for a telephone consult. I prefaced my question with a bit of background information on Annabelle, which included the fact that much of her nutrition comes from breastmilk. This nurse stopped me mid-sentence and asked, incredulously, “She’s still nursing? At 19 months!?” Of course this could be interpreted as positive or negative, but her tone said it all. She was far from supportive, and it really upset me. This slightly (okay, very) snarky post has been bouncing around in my head ever since.  Continue reading

World Milksharing Week

September 24th-30th is World Milksharing Week, celebrated to help raise awareness of donor milk as a viable option for babies who need something in addition to or in place of their own mother’s milk. To start off the celebration here, I’m sharing an updated version of an article I wrote at this time last year. Be sure to check tomorrow to read my personal milk sharing story.

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In recent history, the cultural norm for infant feeding has been pretty simple: some women nurse or express breast milk for their babies, while others feed their babies formula from a bottle. Until recently, I had never met, in person, a mom who did anything else. It seems that when there are breastfeeding problems, or a mother cannot or does not wish to nurse, the natural solution is infant formula. I’m sure that formula companies are quite pleased that their products are the immediate go-to for the vast majority of moms when breastfeeding is difficult, or is not an option for one reason or another, but this is an unfortunate scenario for infants.

The following excerpt is taken from the World Health Organizations’s Global Strategy for Infant Feeding

“The vast majority of mothers can and should breastfeed, just as the vast majority of infants can and should be breastfed. Only under exceptional circumstances can a mother’s milk be considered unsuitable for her infant. For those few health situations where infants cannot, or should not, be breastfed, the choice of the best alternative – expressed breast milk from an infant’s own mother, breast milk from a healthy wet-nurse or a human-milk bank, or a breast-milk substitute fed with a cup, which is a safer method than a feeding bottle and teat – depends on individual circumstances…Infants who are not breastfed, for whatever reason, should receive special attention from the health and social welfare system since they constitute a risk group.”

In other words, most every mother can breastfeed and doing so provides the greatest benefit to her offspring. In the rare circumstances when she cannot, the best alternatives, in order are:
  • Expressed milk from the mother
  • Milk from another healthy mother, at the breast, or expressed and fed using another method such as an SNS, cup, or bottle
  • Infant formula
In terms of what is healthiest for our children, infant formula should be the LAST resort, and as stated above, actually puts children who consume it at risk. It’s no surprise, however, that women tend to go straight for it when breastfeeding is not possible, or is not quite enough. The idea of using donor milk is almost unheard of, and is sometimes even treated as something completely wacky and counter-culture. Cross nursing (a woman nursing a child other than her own) is even worse – I mean who does that, right!? It’s a sad state of affairs when society fails to empower women to make the best possible choices for their children’s health. Once again, though, I’m sure Nestle and other formula companies are quite content with the way things are!
Fortunately, there are milk banks in a growing number of locations, but these generally serve NICU babies first and if they do have milk available for healthy babies, a prescription is required and at roughly three dollars an ounce or more, it can be cost-prohibitive. This milk is also pasteurized, which is good, of course, in that it helps to destroy any potential pathogens, but it also has a negative effect on some of the beneficial substances in human milk. So, while it is certainly superior to infant formula, human milk from a milk bank is not always easy to obtain and loses some of its nutritional and immunological value in the pasteurization process.
When one looks at the evidence, it becomes clear that cross-nursing, or donor milk directly from a healthy mother is actually quite a sensible choice, and the apparent taboo surrounding it is an unfortunate hurdle for mothers who have trouble breastfeeding. Women who realize this are speaking up, however. Milk Share, formed in 2004, is an informational resource and connection point for families in need of human milk and others who are willing and able to provide it – free of charge. Eats on Feets, a global milk sharing network launched last year, is another connection point whereby families in need can find mothers willing to donate milk. They have new chapters springing up all the time – we even have one here on Guam! This year saw the birth of yet another such network in Human Milk 4 Human Babies. Whether it is talked about or not – there are mothers virtually everywhere in the world who are more than willing to provide milk for babies other than their own – out of the kindness of their hearts.

I’m also celebrating by linking this post up with the lovely Anktangle and many other bloggers who will be sharing their World Milksharing Week posts. Do stop in and visit them!

World Breastfeeding Week: A Poem of Thanks

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I would write a thank you to the many people who have supported me in my right to choose natural duration breastfeeding, even when it means nursing in public. Stories of negative reactions to women breastfeeding in public places get a lot of attention, and for good reason, but there are many others who are left alone, or even openly encouraged. I wanted to highlight those today.

I’m not a poet, at all, but I thought I would have some fun anyway. Try to read past the virtually nonexistent meter and the all over the place rhyme scheme and tune in later this week for more World Breastfeeding Week related content. I’ll even write some in formats I have a reasonable command of ;)

***

Thank you for your smiles.
Thank you for your knowing nods.
Thank you for peeking in a way
that made me feel more comfortable than on display.

Breastfeeding in public is seldom discussed – rarely seen,
except where we nursing mothers convene.
So together we do our best,
to raise awareness and inform the rest.

Breastfeeding is not obscene,
and there’s no magic age by which children should wean.
It offers natural immunity, the best nutrition, and many other benefits
for infants, toddlers, and yes – sometimes even children of six!

I hear tales of women harassed,
others who get not a single smile from those who walk past.
As for me, I’ve never seen it.
You’ve kept quiet, or you’ve been in agreement.

I feel pride in my community 
and gratitude for all around me.

Thanks to you, I’ve always felt safe and supported,
because of your warmth and the smiles you’ve sported.

***
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I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!

You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

Sunday Surf: Partying it Up in the Blogosphere

What an exciting week it has been in mama blog land! Tuesday was the April Carnival of Natural Parenting and the topic was compassionate advocacy. There were so many amazing posts! I absolutely loved Lucy of Dreaming Aloud’s thoughts on natural birth advocacy. I told her that it gave me chills, and I wasn’t just being complimentary. Such poetry, such power, such beauty – do yourself a favor and go read it. Shannon of the ArtsyMama’s submission was a breast milk sharing story, A Tale of Four Milky Mamas, that gave me all sorts of warm, tingly, happy feelings. It is truly beautiful. There were many other thoughtful, inspiring pieces written for this carnival. You can find the whole list of links at the bottom of Lucy’s, Shannon’s, or my post
Photo Credit, Sarah-ji on Flickr.
Used by Creative Commons License
There was also a carnival of breastfeeding on the topic of extended breastfeeding, and I’m disappointed to have forgotten about it entirely, but I really enjoyed Lauren’s submission on Hobo Mama. Speaking of “extended” breastfeeding (I prefer to refer to it as natural duration, or full-term breastfeeding myself), have you seen the Mama Is comic by Heather Cushman-Dowdee? She posted one called Get Comfortable this week and I actually did laugh out loud, ’cause I can relate!
This week is also the Natural Parenting Blog Party, hosted by The Peaceful Housewife. You can visit her site to see the link up and discover a few new blogs. Perhaps the most precious of the gems I discovered this week was Just a Bald Man, a blog written by an insightful and well-spoken attached, unschooling dad. I definitely recommend visiting his site.
This week on the Natural Parents Network, Charise shared Three Easy Tips for Natural Living, all of which I wholeheartedly agree with. Did you know that NPN is always looking for guest posts, and even regular volunteers? You can read more info on this post
Also of note this week:


As always, I would love for you to share links to your own inspiring reads from the week, whether you wrote them or dug them up somewhere else on the web. You can also click over to Authentic Parenting for a list of others participating in the Sunday Surf.