A Voice For The Community

"I am blessed. I had a wonderful and encouraging support system in my husband, family, and a few nurses who sensed my determination and frustration. I had opportunities to attend support programs and join groups of supportive women who understand. I have formed friendships and am surrounded by great people who share their knowledge. And I have learned. I have learned that every woman not only has a right to choose what is best for her and her child but to make an informed decision and receive support" Jillian, nursing mama to Jack Angelo

This is place to share the stories that come along with being a nursing mama. Wether you breast-fed your baby for 1 day or 3 years, we're not here to judge, simply to listen. Listen to what happened when you tried your best for 3 whole weeks only to be defeated. Listen to how being a mommy changed the way you looked at the world. And all the other stories, insights and moments that fall in between the complex and the truthful lessons you learned from your baby.

Read. Enjoy. Share. This is the voice of the nursing community.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jen's Story-A Bumpy Road

My son Nicholas was born 4 years ago in February.  I knew before he was born that I wanted to give breast feeding a shot, and it was important that I tried, but I had no "goals" on how long to nurse him for, and I knew formula would probably be somewhere in the future.  I was (or am) the only person in my family who has ever breast fed ( I was adopted, so I was formula fed) and none of my cousins, etc. never even thought about breast feeding.  Unfortunately, in my family (and our society) formula feeding is the "norm".   He latched on so easily in the hospital and he was a champion nurser.  But he ate ALL of the time!!  What?? Was there something wrong with me?  Was it that he was just extra hungry, and I wasn't satisfying him??  Of course everyone around me told me so. 
I ended up nursing him for only a few months.  I had no idea the demands that came with breast feeding.  I didn't know that I wouldn't have a life at first, my house was a mess, I was feeling depressed, and I had no friends or family members for support.  I felt that if I felt better emotionally, I could be a better mom to my baby, and that was more important to me than how I fed my baby.  I was ok with it.  At first.  After a few months went by, I started getting overwhelming feelings of guilt, and I was wishing I could rewind time, and to do it all over again to go back to where I was nursing him.  Why wasn't I strong enough?  I couldn't just hang in there?  I now knew for sure that when another child came along, I was going to nurse that child for as long as I could, and not give up.  AND, it might be a little easier next time because I would know what to expect.


When I was pregnant with my daughter, I knew in my mind that I was going to breast feed her for a good while.  I didn't want to set huge goals for myself, so I knew I wanted to for at least 6 months, if I could make it for a year, that would be awesome, and if for longer when she weaned herself, better yet!  I now knew the importance of it, for her health, and that there is nothing more natural.
My daughter Juliana Grace was born on May 31.  She was so beautiful, tiny, and precious.  A perfect little Memorial Day baby!  She didn't latch on quite like my son did, and didn't eat well in the hospital at all.  She lost a significant amount of weight, but apparently that was normal to lose a certain percentage.  We were at the pediatrician every couple of days for a weight check.    Why is she only gaining an ounce in a week?? She nurses all of the time...what gives? The pediatrician was concerned, but he always encouraged me to keep on going, she is going to be ok.  At two weeks of age, something just didn't seem right.  My newborn is not sleeping at all, and is crying ALL of the time.  My son would say to me, "mommy, make her stop crying!!"  The only way to make her stop was to nurse her.  But then it would get worse.  I took her to the pediatrician, and she was diagnosed with reflux.  All the classic symptoms she had.  Two weeks of Zantac, and no better.  Medication was increased, still no better.  It got to the point where I would go to nurse her and she would scream and almost fight me. It broke my heart.  I even missed my brother's wedding because she was in such a horrible state.  I told her doctor that I was also concerned about her stools. They were so runny and green, sometimes with mucous.  Not your classic breast fed poo. Her doctor then had me eliminate dairy. At 7 weeks old, we are at the pediatrician again!  She is still no better, she is so thin and frail, and does not look healthy at all. The doctor is very concerned.  He then did a hemacult test and it was positive for blood.  I was in tears.  He told me she has a milk/soy protein allergy, and I needed to remove every dairy and soy ingredient out of my diet immediately.  He told me I would be eating all whole foods basically, and to avoid eating out, cross-contamination, etc.  He also gave me a # for a pediatric GI specialist in Philadelphia, and to have her seen immediately. I was so upset.  I can't imagine how this happened to her, I was so worried about her well-being, and how would I continue breast feeding on such a strict diet?  I have two kids at home, I can't cook EVERY meal from scratch! And I can't go hungry!!
I almost wanted the doctor to give me a magic formula that would make her better immediately, and just move on with life!  But, it was like he didn't give me an option!  This is what you do, and that's it!  So, I left the office in a fog, in tears, and knew this is what I had to do.

A week later, we went to see the GI specialist in Philly.  There is still blood in my daughter's stool, she is still crying, and I am weak and hungry.  At this point I am off all milk/soy products, all nuts, all seafood (my son has a seafood allergy so she is more prone) and eggs.  The pediatrician said it would take a few weeks for us to work the proteins out of our systems, but this is getting tiring.  The GI specialist pushed my husband and I to switch to the hypoallergenic formula.  She said that in her experience, babies do much better with it and the results are incredible.  I would have a new baby in a day or two!  Nope.  I wasn't giving up now.  As tempting as it was, I wasn't doing it. She gave me a list of ingredients to avoid (there were many) and a guideline of how much calcium I now needed since I wasn't consuming any dairy.  We left the office, and on the ride home my husband asked if I was sure I wanted to keep going. I knew he was concerned about my health, and I knew the no-crying baby was appealing to him too.  I said I just couldn't give up, I knew that in the long run breast milk was the best thing for her.  After about a month, Juliana was a happier baby and I added eggs back into my diet.  I was learning more and more which foods I could eat after several trips to whole foods and lots of label reading.  I researched her condition after hours on the computer and quickly learned that MSPI is becoming more and more common. I also ordered a great cookbook that another mother wrote who breast fed her baby on the MSPI diet.  I found an on-line support group, who also provided some awesome and easy recipes which was a lifesaver!!  (and yes, my whole family thought I was nuts for even considering to continue to breast feeding!)

At three, four, five, and six months old Juliana is doing beautifully!  She is gaining weight like crazy, meeting all of her milestones, and she is so happy and playful, and wants to follow her brother's every move!  Around 6 1/2 months, we even started just a small amount of solids and she's loving every minute of it.  Just a few days after Christmas, my husband went back to work after having a couple of days off, and we are getting back into our little routine.  We were playing on the floor, and I walked away for a second to grab one of her favorite toys, and came back to find her with a big smile on her face, with spit-up on her chin mixed with blood.  I looked down at her play mat, and it was on that too.  My heart skipped about 3 beats.  This can't be happening.  I called the GI doc. and she sent us to DuPont.  After spending the day there with multiple tests, they gave us the option of admitting her there for observation and more tests or to bring her home and do the other tests out-patient.  I brought her home because she was tortured enough.  The next morning she had a diaper full of blood.  This can't be happening.  Everything was going so well, why now??  I stopped all solids (the tiny amount she was getting) We went for an upper GI ~  Normal.  We follow up with the GI doc.  and she explains that I need to have her stool tested again in a week.  If its still positive, its time to switch to the specialized formula.  I told her no, I am not ready to do that.  So, she gave me a week, and if there is still blood then I need to cut out wheat and egg.  I didn't understand if wheat and egg were in my diet before and she was doing so well, why do I need to cut it out now?  Never got a clear answer on that one.  If she wasn't better with that, she told me I really need to consider the formula. If she doesn't respond well to that, she would have to do exploratory surgery in her tiny belly and bowel to see what is causing all of this.  I could not imagine her little body being put through so much stress.  So, I prayed and prayed she would get better.  She did!  Her stool was negative at the pediatrician and it looked normal to the eye too!  
Then  a day later I came down with thrush symptoms, and Juliana was treated with liquid Nystatin for prevention.  After all, she has enough problems, why play around with thrush too?  Well, her sensitive little belly reacted to it.  Blood in stools again, and tons of mucous.  I stopped the nystatin and  I took her to the pediatrician because it was not getting better, it was disturbing.  It also showed that she lost 6 oz. in a week.  She never lost weight before.  Even when she was in her worst state months and months ago, with diarrhea every day, she never lost weight.  Her ped. told me to go ahead and do the gluten free diet and eliminate eggs, which I did.  I've been on the gluten free/egg free diet for 5 days now.  (along with the MSPI diet) My supply dropped some due to stress, but I was able to get it back to where it should be. She went back to the doctor today and gained 2 oz. back, and her stool was negative for blood.  Was it the medicine, or is it wheat or eggs? The GI doc has respected my choice to breast feed, but is still pushing the amino acid based formula, because she feels it would be best for her, because in her experience she sees it do wonders for babies with these types of stomach conditions.   But what if its not best for my baby? She is now almost 8 months old, and I feel that at this point in time, I do not want to stop now.  Of course if medically necessary, I would do anything or try anything to make my daughter better.  But what if she's not better when she's not on my breast milk?  I would feel like I failed her in some way.  But for myself and for her, I can't be hard on myself, and I can't keep focusing on the negative.  It is so easy for us mamas to be so hard on ourselves, and to not see the good in what we do.  Four years ago, when I was nursing my son, I would never in a million years think that I could take my diet down to almost nothing to continue to breast feed my child! I need to try to stay positive, and to not get caught up in her struggles. I need to focus on these precious moments with her and with my son, because I will never get them back.  And for now, only breast milk it is!!!

Any other MSPI Mamas out there?  http://www.mspimama.blogspot.com/  is a wonderful resource with lots of easy recipes, a lifesaver for us! You can also search MSPI Mama on facebook too...its a wonderful on-line support group :o)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Getting A Census In My Nursing Community

Last week you voted on the poll "How long did you plan to nurse", this week I'd LOVE to know-
how long you have nursed?!  You have until next tuesday to cast your vote!!

Please note-I moved the poll to the right side of the screen from all the way down below:)

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Formula Experiment (Amy's Story-Part 2)

The formula experiment. . .
One of my pediatrician’s physician’s assistants successfully pressured me (despite my better judgment) into taking home a sample can of Similac, with the argument that if I didn’t even TRY to supplement and see if it helped then I was being stubborn to the detriment of my child. When Abbey was 6 months old, I tried to give her some of the formula – only a pinch – mixed into breastmilk and water, and then mixed with her evening solid food. Hubs thought that if we tried it and it didn’t work, then the doctor might lay off at little bit. But we soon regretted that decision. That small pinch of formula elicited such a violent reaction of rashes and vomiting that hubs and I rushed Abbey to the emergency room and she was kept overnight for observation. When the pediatrician came to see us the next day, I was clear about my disappointment with his staff pressuring me into trying formula when I knew breastfeeding was better for Abbey, and since I was a trained breastfeeding counselor, he agreed to lay off the formula suggestions if I conceded to call the pediatrician’s office with a weight update every two weeks. And so I did. We did schedule an appointment with a pediatric gastrointestinal specialist, in order to make sure that Abbey’s slenderness didn’t have anything to do with digestion as a result of her surgery at birth. And with my interests dedicated closely to making sure Abbey was eating enough, she continued to gain weight, even without the use of the “magic fattening formula” that the pediatrician wanted me to experiment with.  

The final chapter of Amy's BF-ing story with post next week!  Stay tuned and check out Amy's blog for more of her thoughts on nursing your LO!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Case Of Over Supply-Tina's Story!

I Received this email from Tina from Massachusetts, shortly after posting last fridays "What I've Learned-It Only Takes Four Months"

I have always known that I would breastfeed.  It was never a question for me, although I did have to convince my husband.  When my son Owen was born, the nurse placed him on my chest.  In minutes, he found my breast and began to nurse.  The nurse smiled at me, telling me he was a natural, and I cried.  Isn't that what we dream will happen?  My next opportunity to nurse my son didn't come until the next day.  The lactation nurse got him undressed, placed him in position, and Owen bobbed his little mouth in anticipation.  He grasped, and gulped, and in one quick moment, he popped back, chocking and screaming.  We tried again, position after position, until finally it was decided that he was just not ready.  With tears streaking my face, I gently rocked my newborn son to sleep.  

The rest of the day was a blur of the same.  Painful screams, tears and quiet desperation as that "perfect" scenario quickly slipped away.  Nobody slept, nobody ate.  Nurse after nurse walked in, truly believing that if that forced his tiny little face into my breast hard enough he would eat.  All they got were more screams, growing angrier each time.  I was heartbroken.  I felt broken, unable to perform such a natural task, unable to provide food for my helpless child.  

And then I met the night nurse.  Like all the others, she pressed his face into my breast mercilessly.  He cried and gasped, as though he were being tortured.  I looked at her and cried and i begged her to stop.  She didn't.  Finally I pulled the baby up and curled around him.  The nurse pulled back in awe.  I had insulted her.  She left the room and quickly came back with a small bottle of formula.  She placed it next to me and stepped away.  She glared and told me that I could not starve my child and that I needed to feed him the formula.  In a fit of hormone driven rage, I picked up the bottle and hurled it at her head with all the strength I had.  In retrospect, that could have been handled better, but I think my point was received.  I was then informed that this nurse needed to do a glucose test to prove that I was starving him.  Two hours and a vial of blood later, my son was returned with the diagnosis of being just fine.

The lactation nurse came into my room the next morning and helped me to hand-express.  Cup after cup, my husband fed him with a tiny dropper, so we wouldn't have to give him a bottle.  The nurse was astounded at how much I was able to express, and left to get me a pump so she could teach me to use it.  She set me up and left to check on another patient.  When she came back, over an hour later, my nipples were mutilated, unrecognizable, and covered in red blisters.  This is how I left the hospital.  

I don't think I made it through a feeding without crying for weeks.  I would try for hours, watching him sputter and choke as the milk poured out of his mouth.  I soaked through two to three bath towels with each feeding, and nursing pads barely lasted an hour.  My breasts were badly engorged and I was in a lot of pain.  I asked family, friends, neighbors and near-strangers for advice.  I begged my mother as though everyone were hiding some secret from me.  

At Owen's two week visit, the doctor set up a VNA lactation nurse to visit me.  She winced in pain as I revealed my breasts.  She prescribed a cream for the nipples and told me not to pump anymore, that I was increasing my supply.  For the next two weeks I iced my breasts, took shower after shower, and leaned over the sink just to relieve some pressure.  No shirt was loose enough.  When the nurse came back, she found me worse off than before.  That was when she told me that I had an oversupply.  She set up a pumping schedule to "reset" my breasts.  Music to my ears.  Within twelve hours, I felt human again, and something amazing happened, Owen latched on right away.  Not only that, he stayed on.  

It took another month of ups and downs before things really settled in.  Owen had gotten lazy from the milk just pouring into his mouth, and had never gotten a good latch, because I was too afraid to break any latch he had.  I got engorged a couple more times, but now I knew how to fix it.  

Despite all of the problems we had, Owen has never had a bottle, or formula for that matter.  At now ten months old, the breastfeeds like a pro.  I look back at our first months together as just one of the many challenges we will face together, and I am proud of how far we've come.  I'm thankful for the people who supported me, and the one person who was able to help me get where we are today.  I wish there were more people out there, who could tell new moms that it's going to be okay, that there is an answer to every problem, and a light at the end of every tunnel, and you CAN do this.

We, as moms do some pretty amazing things.  We create life from a tiny mass of cells, and we do it more perfectly than any scientist.  We create their food from no more than our own bodies, and we do it better than the wealthiest businesses.  Why do we still question ourselves?
Tina, nursing mama of Owen 10 months

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's official-I am a lactivist!

Voting for my last poll "Are You A Lactivist" closed today and the results showed 46% of voters would consider themselves a mom who supports and speaks out for the nursing community.   It's amazing to me how natures way of feeding baby needs activists, but it does!  It seems nursing anywhere longer than 6 months has fallen out of style over the years and been updated with a more socially friendly version-formula feeding!  The funny thing about formula is that it replaced 'wet nursing', or the services of a lactating mama for another family.  That's what it was intended for, to help the mama's who needed it.  It has, over the past 30 years or so, become breast milks competition. And somehow along the way as the use of formula became more and more popular and the practice of nursing became less and less common the general knowledge of lactating became more and more scarce.  With knowledge and understanding of how to nurse becoming less available, it is understanding that a formula ad could appeal to an expecting mom as her first choice in infant nutrition.  However much I totally agree you have to do what is best for your family, lack of information is a poor excuse to choose formula--and here I speak out!  I am a lactivist!  I do not hate on formula feeding mamas, I simply acknowledge that there is too little good information and support in the nursing community and I want to help!  For the moms who wanted to nurse but were told they couldn't, for the moms who nurse their toddler and are asked why, for all the moms who are being impacted by that shift in feeding baby over the past 30 years that can only be credited to the money hungry formula companies-I will speak for you!  -kinda picturing Barack Obama rallying right now:)

53% of voters labeled themselves pro-breastfeeding and 0% hide nursing or are against nursing their babies.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Formula-Not An Option (Remember Amy?-Part 1)

Amy from Toddler in Tow is sharing today!

In the beginning. . .
. . . I was just a run of the mill pregnant mom. I describe myself now as an informed, natural parent. But when I was pregnant with Abbey, I didn’t fit that description. I did know that I was going to breastfeed – in fact, the alternative (choosing formula feeding) didn’t even occur to me. It wasn’t even a choice in my mind. It was a just logical progression from birth to the breast. But on the topics of prenatal wellness, birth, and parenting . . . I’ll have to admit was pretty ignorant. I ended up being electively induced at 39 weeks, and after birth, Abbey latched onto the breast like a pro. As soon as she was handed back to me, I offered her the breast, and right on she went. You hear horror stories about trying to breastfeed in the hospital, but she was a perfect milk-guzzling angel. In hindsight now, looking at it from a breastfeeding counselor’s standpoint, her easy going nursing was really an exception to the rule. With the interventions I had (induction, episiotomy, separation at birth, no skin-to-skin, etc), the chances of breastfeeding going as smoothly as it were slim. I was definitely lucky.

And then she got sick. She didn’t sleep almost at all in the hospital after birth. She would fall asleep after nursing, sleep for a short nap, and then wake and scream in pain. We walked with her, cuddled her, sang to her, rocked her, I nursed her for comfort, and still she screamed. I talk about this part of our breastfeeding experience in my post “Follow That Intuition!” about the importance of mothers’ natural postpartum perceptions. Long story short, it was discovered that Abbey had some sort of blockage in her intestines that was keeping her from fully digesting my milk – and hence keeping her from making a bowel movement. She was transferred to a larger hospital about an hour away from our house, and at two days old, she had a corrective surgery for an illial atresia in her intestine – which means that a small portion of the intestine had not formed during birth, and the surgeons had to cut open her tiny belly, open up the two closed intestinal tubes, and attach her intestine together in order to allow the digested breastmilk to flow through to her bowels. Scary, scary stuff. It was so hard. But we made it through.

Pumping and getting back to the breast. . .
. . . was rough. She was in recovery in the NICU for 3 ½ weeks. I pumped the whole time. It was difficult. I was engorged. I had to pump 10-12 times per day, and sometimes, I just plain didn’t want to attach that awful plastic machine to my boobs. But I did it. Because I knew that was part of my role in her recovery, and I knew that I wanted her back on my breast as soon as she was ready. She was IV fed nutrients until her stomach was pumped of all the fermenting bile (yuck) and then she was tube fed and bottle fed my breastmilk in very small quantities until she could return to the breast. I mentioned before how easy breastfeeding was after birth. . . you can imagine how immensely heartbreaking it was to hear her wail and watch her turn beet red in frustration at not remembering how to latch on after weeks of no practice. I just stayed by her side and breastfed at every cue. Soon after returning to the breast, she had her first really good bowel movement, which was one of the conditions of her discharge from the NICU. Soon after, we took her home.

The newborn baby days. . .
. . . were very normal. I tell every expectant or new mother that I meet that it is absolutely normal and healthy for newborns to breastfeed constantly for six to eight weeks. That is nature’s design (though it doesn’t work very well with society’s designs. . . ) And this was true for Abbey as well. She was almost a month old when we took her home, but it wasn’t at least till after New Years, when she was four months old – that I felt as if she weren’t “on me all the time”. I’ll admit, at times it was a bit disconcerting. I yearned for at least a slight separation from my baby – after all, I was a woman, too – not just a milk machine! But especially now that I am more informed about breastfeeding and parenting, I can look back and know that our experience in early infancy was definitely healthy – and I’m glad that I stuck with it, even when I felt weighed down, depressed, or lonely. Around 3 months, I experienced what I now know from my training to be a nursing strike, but once I figured out how to help her though, everything smoothed out, and as Abbey grew, we were so happy with her growth and her development – it was such a joy to be new parents, and I enjoyed nourishing her with my milk, without any other setbacks. 

This is only PART ONE of three of Amy's story.  She has lots of (now fabulous-but at the time challenging) reasons to be a great voice and support person in the nursing community!  Check back next week for Part Two of Amy's story-The Formula Experiment.

If you have a great story to share about how you and your baby concurred the hurdles of your nursing journey that you could share to help inspire and encourage nursing mamas just starting or going through some challenges, email them to jamie@djabove.com.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lessons I've Learned... It Only Takes 4 months.

I've learned many lessons from my new baby.  Most of them through nursing.  Here's another:

Teddy had always liked to nurse.  The nurse who "helped" me in the hospital said that Teddy must have been reading all about nursing with me while I was preggers because he latched like a champ and never looked back!  Unlike most stories you might hear about nursing, my concern when in the beginning was "why does he nurse so much?"  I soon learned through my fab BF support group that it was normal and that he would grow out of it.  For 1 month it was painful, for 3 months I leaked (yuck) and at month 4, I finally realized I had an over supply.

How could I not be over flowing with milk?  Teddy nursed every hour during the day for 3 months straight!  During month four of his life, he finally slowed down.  You'd think that's when our nursing journey got easier, but it actually got harder-for that month...

When Teddy started nursing every 2 hours, I was relieved.  I had a little more time to do things-like shower and eat!  But the sudden change from every hour to every two hours left me with what ended up being our our final nursing challenge (well, until the teeth came in).
This is not right, mom!

The symptoms:
All of a sudden Teddy was gulping much quicker and for longer amounts of time.  He would often pull off and choke!  Then there would be times when he wouldn't nurse.  He would pull off and scream his head off!  I would have to stop, bounce him around (he gets sleepy when you stand and bounce him) for 10-15 minutes and try again.  I would constantly be encouraging him through the feed.  I remember he would look up at me while he was nursing like "I know this is what I am suppose to do, but it's not right!"  After the let down, he'd be ok to continue nursing.  I had read that some babies have a hard time with keeping up until they learn how to handle the  sudden down spill of milk.  I thought he just needed time.  Because his feedings were so uncomfortable, he soon stopped nursing unless he was absolutely starving!

Soon we were having sleep problems.  Teddy had never been a napper but he was always good at night.  He fell asleep and slept for 4-5 hours than woke to eat than another 3 hours than some more nursing than another 3 hours.  It was like this from the day he was born until the week after he turned three months.  The night time wakings suddenly started occurring every 45 minutes!!  Now, a lot had changed in his fourth month of life, namely, he was put on a beta blocker called Propanolol for his hemangioma (strawberry birthmark that was dangerously close to his left eye).  This is also the time when he started becoming more aware of his surroundings and ate less often during the day.  I had also read about babies eating less during the day and making up for the calories at night.  So as you can see, there were a lot of possibilities!  Finally, after about a month of the TOO-frequent night wakings, I started to think it could be a food allergy.  Although I had read enough about nursing to know this was VERY rare, I NEEDED to find the answer and was willing to try anything!!

So I set out on the elimination diet.  Nothing but pears, rice and squash for as long as needed until Teddy's symptoms went away.  Once the symptoms disappeared, I could add one item at a time back into my diet, monitoring Teddy's behavior to see if that item effected him.  A little extreme, I know, but when you aren't sleeping you will do anything!!  Well, 5 or 6 days later I had lost about 4 pounds from basically starving myself and Teddy had not shown any change!!  While the diet called for the pears, rice and squash for as long as needed up to up to 7 days, I had pretty much determined, it was not what was eating:(

So I began my web-o-sphere research!

I don't even know how I stumbled upon this solution...I was looking up gas in babies...something led me to over-supply symptoms which included a forceful let-down and it clicked!  Teddy's pulling off in pain, his gulping so quickly and chocking, my over-supply had left me with a forceful let-down and it was discouraging Teddy from continuing the feed!  I wasn't positive, but it made so much sense!

The solution:
1. Hold your baby more upright (more of a sitting position) to use gravity to their advantage when the let down came.
2. Start block feeding

Block feeding was simple.  By feeding off of one side for up to 3 hours in a row (as opposed to switching sides at each feeding), you would show your body that the over supply was not needed.  Eventually your milk supply would regulate and you could go back to feeding as usual.  This relieved Teddy's symptoms almost immediately, even though I continued the block feeding for about a month longer.

I learned that "feeling" full or engorged only happens when you have an over supply, like when your milk first comes in and when your body is regulating to your babies needs in the first few months.  After your body regulates (which mine never did because Teddy nursed for comfort so often), if you are engorged, you have waited too long in between feedings!  Interesting, huh!  

After we solved our over-supply/forceful let-down problems, Teddy never again pulled off in pain, stopped chocking during feedings and started comfort nursing again.  YAY!

Even though Teddy's lack of sleep, turned into my lack of sleep that eventually lead us to solve my oversupply issue, our sleep issues, however, never ceased!  I am increasingly more suspicious of the medicine he is taking-however many times the doctors assure me that difficulty sleeping is not a symptom and that nobody has reported such a problem.  It could be a number of other things keeping Teddy from sleeping, but I believe belly pains that the medicine is giving him keep him from sleeping comfortably, thus waking sooner than he would normally. At the moment, the medicine is too crucial to Teddy's health to stop it to see if I am right.  I can only hope we will get the ok to stop it soon and he will go back to the "good" night time sleeper I had for 3 months before the medicine. (haha)

So near his 4 month birthday, we had finally found our nursing "grove".  We had successfully tackled each of our nursing obstacles and made it to the part of the journey where we could relax & enjoy our time together.  When his 6 month birthday came, I looked at how easily and comfortable nursing fit into our lives and wondered why anyone who had made it to this stage would chose to switch to formula??  Why start paying for the food now?  Why start worrying about bottles-buying them and washing them??

It only takes 4 months ladies!!!  (and for MANY, less than 4 months)  You can make it through!!  Don't give up!!  Don't give into the pressure to supplement or stop nursing because you (or even worse) your doctor can't figure out why you are having certain symptoms!!  It only took us 4 months!!

What have you learned from nursing your baby?  If you have a lesson that could be helpful t another mama, share it today!  Send it to Jamie@djabove.com or to my facebook inbox to have it posted here and support other mamas going through their nursing challenges right now!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

6-8 weeks-pah-lease!

My latest Poll: Do you wish you were (or are you) a stay at home mama resulted in an "extreme" answer!

I always choose two opposite ends of the spectrum for the first and last selection options of my polls.  In my last two polls, the "extreme answers" (extreme may not be the right word to describe these options but on a scale of 1 to 4, they are 1 and 4-you can't get any lower or any higher!!) were chosen only in small numbers which left the overall result to be somewhere in the middle or "safe zone" of general or modified-type selections.  These results left me wondering if my voters were just trying to be "normal" and not seem extreme in their parenting style.  No one wants to be the crazy mom out far in left field, right? (It is surprising what qualifies as "left field" these days!!)

61% of voters are (or would LOVE to be) a stay at home mama-option #1! No mamas chose to work (or is working) full time.  I am not even going to try to draw any other conclusion from these results other than I have a lot of loving mamas who come to my blog and vote!  Perhaps if we all lived in canada and were able to care for our babies for a full year before needing to return to work, (what's with this 6-8 weeks maternity leave crap?) we'd have a different outlook on leaving our babies -probably not, but maybe ;)

Vote on the next poll: Are You A Lactivist?  Why?  Because I love seeing where the numbers fall among my community of mamas! (Check the poll down below for answer selections and definition-lol)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Been There, Done That...I Still Choose Breast Feeding!

Here's a nursing story from a mom of three:

"First baby, awesome experience. He was a natural, no thanks to the nurse, who insisted that he stay in the warmer rather than get on the breast in the C/Section recovery room. Notice to everyone: There's a magical window of time, about the first hour after birth, where it is SO IMPORTANT to get the baby on the breast. It sets the stage for breastfeeding success, stimulates production, etc. I don't need to explain it here. Google it!

After 4 months though my milk started drying up. I tried fenugreek and BreastTea and all the natural methods to increase production before figuring out I was pregnant again and giving in to FORMULA. We supplemented with FORMULA more and more until by 8 months he was fully on FORMULA. Why am I capitalizing FORMULA?  I don't know. Maybe it's my way of pointing out that I've used it. I had to embrace it. The idea of supplementing with another mom's milk wasn't even anywhere in my mind. Maybe Milkshare.com didn't exist in 2007. Even if I had, hubby probably wouldn't have approved of giving someone else's milk to our baby. Of course, processed, dried out, rehydrated milk from a farm animal is ok, but the milk of another human is questionable. Hmm.

Second baby, born 14 months after first, pretty good natural latch, but was helped a little by the nurse, correcting the way she moved her tongue. She nursed till 15 months, and then I got pregnant again--or maybe I got pregnant and then weaned her. Whichever way it was, weaning and pregnancy were too close together to be sure. She was and is very small for her age, so I never really had to deal with being judged for nursing a toddler.

Third baby, awesome nurser from the beginning, still going strong at 9 months. He's got 8 teeth and is using them more than I remember #2 using her teeth. I may have to seek help soon from an expert to figure out what's going on with his teeth and my nipples."

Check out Peggy's Blog:
 "I probably qualify as a Lactivist, but realize that formula has to be available to those who truly need it. Before you get offended, please realize that I sincerely just want to help people overcome their nursing hurdles. I'm friends with plenty of formula feeders. It's not about judging and bashing formula feeders. It's about helping those who WANT to breastfeed, or who are trying to make a decision."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lessons I've Learned...

As Teddy approached 9 months and we are still chugging along on our BF-ing journey, I was thinking about the lessons I learned while breast feeding.  The first of many lessons came when Teddy was just 4 days old and he was nursing what seemed to be 24/7.

Lesson learned: there is no such thing as "normal".

A very frantic version of myself called a supportive lady at the Haddonfield LLL. "Why is he nursing so much?  ...Is he getting enough?  ...Is he latching properly?  ...What do I need to do??" were among my many questions.  The experienced LLL rep simply answered "you have a high-need baby".  While I don't know if I agree with the term 'high-need'-however well it sums up Teddy's personality, this general answer to all of my questions seemed to be the only answer that made my questions disappear!   He nursed so often because he needed to, because he wanted to, because, for Teddy, this is what being a newborn meant.  Although, I found mamas going through the exact same thing-glued to the rocker or couch with a newborn nursing baby attached 24/7-everyone seemed to tell me a different time frame as to when it would end.  Eventually he would nurse every 2 1/2-3 hours (which is considered "normal" for newborns but took us nearly 7 months).  I was surprised to learn how well babies can follow their instincts to get what they need, without help or any intervention from myself.  I literally had to just sit back and follow Teddy's lead and everything worked itself out... eventually:)

It seems like all the standards of "normal baby behavior" are based off the seemly consistent schedules of formula-fed babies.  I'm not sure a mama using formula would have learned this lesson.  ???  Does the heaviness that keeps a formula-fed newborn's belly full for 2-3 hours diminish the ability and need for those babies to follow their instincts?  I'd love to hear some lessons from a mama using formula- (insert pitch for more voices from the mama community!!!)

This is one of many lessons I have learned from my breast-fed baby.  Do you have a lesson that stands out in your memory?  The books that are marketed to expecting moms (at least the ones I read) don't seem to accurately depict "What to expect" from a nursing baby, and while nothing may be able to prepare a new mama for her individual journey, maybe your lesson will help a mama feel more at ease and supported with her decision to nurse through all of the obstacles our babies need to go through when exclusively breast-fed.  Send me your lesson today!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Is napping getting you down?

It's 4pm and I am getting the baby from his lengthy 2 hour afternoon nap (which followed our daily 2 hour morning nap at 10am).  I tackled the housework during the morning nap and just finished my work in the office.  Everything is clean, organized and right on schedule-just as planned!

NOT.  This is actually how I pictured my life when I was preggers-lol!  Sure, I can keep the house clean and organized as well as run my business and rent my properties with a baby, too!  I set everything up so I could "do it all" with a baby during his morning and afternoon naps.  Then Teddy came and well nearly nine months later-we are still no where near those glorious 2-2 hour naps I was so sure every baby took.

My latest poll: Does Your Baby Have A Nap Schedule concluded 0% of voters have a natural (meaning not forced or imposed) nap schedule for their baby!  While 1% of voters had no desire to work off a schedule and 2% WISH their babies would be on a schedule, a staggering 62% of moms admit that a more general time frame works for them and their babies!

My make of these results: My vision of a structured, organized life with baby is far beyond reality:)  I had given up long ago, anyway, on an actual nap schedule with my little one and replaced the idea with some nap time rituals that could happen at or around the same time every day.   Due to teething, milestones, gas and a number of other common baby issues naps in this house tend to happen when AND ONLY WHEN Teddy is tired enough and are not yet happening consistently enough (timing wise) to schedule around them! So for now, me and apparently a lot of other mamas-are forgoing the idea of structure and are learning to get stuff done when we can and enjoy the time with our babies when we can't!

Cast your vote now!!!   New Poll: Do You Wish You Were A Stay At Home Mama??

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Mommy Resolution-Breast feed!

So here it goes

I have recorded in my journal so many things this is a chunk of that.

To understand our situation I have to explain where I started we started.

I was 30 when I married I had a long old medical history that just was hanging on and up till I married my husband (eight years older than me) a child was never in my thoughts.
Reasons / never trusted guys; and I was never not sick or on dome medicine that wouldn't hurt a developing baby.

So, four years into our marriage and several surgeries for me (gastric by-pass related) my docs started to clear us for a baby. Wow a baby very serial for my husband and I.

We didn't think it would be easy but I was I couldn't just wing it. I got ovulation kits and after only three months we did it!!!!
The stick the magic perfect stick all 6 lol.

Then the new stress, with gastric by-pass could I stay healthy enough to carry a baby to term. 
Gastric by-pass post opp:
Vitamins, blood tests, eating problems
That's before baby
So I was now crazy officially.

Good news eating went very well.
Vitamins we just added new ones and made adjustments.
Blood tests well, they made me high risk given my history so more blood work but extra ultrasounds.

Now decisions and more decisions.

Bottle or breast 

Had two friends out of state who nursed so they sent me all their books they got from classes. One even showed me with her own baby how to nurse.
I signed up for every class I could find and my husband came with me.

All the prep and the planning and my husband was the most realistic (stop guessing how it will be) just breathe.
Relax if I keep planning I will set myself up for disappointment.
We hadn't even gotten to the talk over delivery.

Labor and delivery:
One of my surgeries left me with two huge scares vertical ( like open heart surgery )
And horizontal ( like a c- section but it stretches from behind one hip near spine to the other )
So I went in to Obgyn ready for c-section but was told they really wanted to try for vaginal I trusted them on this.
We formed a plan.

So fast forward to birth I was 3.5 weeks early but it was all very text book
Back labor included.
Water breaks / in denial but go to hospital 
Labor was hard but I begged please no c-section the doctor said we could try as long as baby wasn't stressed.
We didn't know till the end that not only was cord over her head but she had tied the cord in two knots it looked like a pretzel.
But at 5lbs 10ozs she was healthy
They handed her to me right away from only a few minutes maybe seconds and then took her for a warm up and worked on me.
Then I got her back to meet her and try bonding and nursing .
It was so serial. She was tiny.
I was petrified.

No one told me about the sadness that can follow a birth.
Or the crying you do while nursing or the crying you do when the doctors want you to supplement because your baby is tiny.
The joy the sadness.

We got home and the first three months my husband, parents, and a friend or two were so very supportive.
I was determined to be able to do this to nurse my baby. 
It wasn't till she was almost three months old and I thought I had a supply problem that I reached out to a local girlfriend who had a friend who nursed.
That was when I met other nursing mommies at virtua.
I finally was able to go out on my own and nurse in public unafraid and very proud of myself.
I am so blessed with new mommy friends I wouldn't change anything.

My husband and I practice attached parenting or something like it.
We know how lucky we are and are so thankful for all we have.

I hope this speaks to someone.

Erica Hovis 
Mother of Ashlynn