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.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Results of the Nursing to Sleep Poll-Refreshing!

I created the "Do you nurse your baby to sleep" poll simply because I do and on the days where I have lots to do and deadlines to meet and a super needy baby (like today because we are teething), I often find myself wondering if I will ever be able to do anything again and if I am creating a bad habit with Teddy.

I didn't choose attachment parenting-it chose me (see my post http://milkmamasspeak.blogspot.com/2011/02/attachment-parenting-at-its-best.html), so even though I feel in my gut that satisfying Teddy's needs will help him to be a secure, independent and trusting adult one day, I do sometimes doubt myself when it comes to the choices I am making-mostly because society's plan for how a baby should be parented tells me babies need to be taught to be independent.  While I think there is a time and a place for that mentality, I feel this is not yet the time nor the place for Teddy to be pushed into his "independence".  92% of moms reading my blog said they nursed their babies to sleep!  These results remind me that it is normal, babies need their mommies when they are young and this is how we comfort & sooth the best:)

Take my next poll to the right:
How long was it until your baby slept through the night?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Attachment Parenting At It's Best

When I was pregnant, the last thing I expected to advocate was Attachment Parenting!  Just the sound of it made me envision the Super Nanny and all the spoiled brats she needs to reconcile.  I admit, looking back,  I was a little detached during pregnancy.  It wasn't hard to be-I had never been pregnant before, my body was changing and I couldn't see the adorable little man inside of me!  I read countless books on breast feeding trying to gain a sense of understanding on how it was done ( I really hated the idea of formula!!)  There were always sections about nursing past infancy.  Overall, it seemed all my sources stated the same reasons for such a "decision". It was a great way to bond, moms didn't see a reason to give it up, it was easy to calm a toddler-all reasons I didn't feel justified needing to closely monitor your diet (i.e, cut back on caffeine and  give up sushi) for longer than 12 months!

Fast forward 9 months and I found myself ordering the book "The Fussy Baby", by Dr Sears.  Dr. Sears coined the term Attachment Parenting.  He explained all the reason to be an "attached" parent throughout a book that would soon be my bible for the first 3 months of Teddy's life.  He explained that following baby's cues and needs right away taught them to trust and in turn created confident little, loving individuals.  Even with my little 8lb bundle of joy in my arms, I still kind of cringed at the thought of raising an attached baby, but Teddy was 'high need', he needed to nurse all the time and hated being put down and going to sleep and if Dr Sears was promising a confident loving baby by attaching myself to this little man until he was ready for the world-that's what I was going to do!

It wasn't easy.  Well actually it was very easy! I loved this little baby so much and I loved needing to be near him and calming him and mostly being released from the guilt I once felt for giving my newborn baby just what he wanted and needed.  The hardest part was the family and friends who didn't understand.  I didn't blame them, not too long ago I felt just as they did and if I had been given an "easy" baby, I would have never opened up to this approach either.

Dr Sears promised a compassionate, secure, self confident little person by attachment parenting and after reading a few of his books, his information made a lot of sense and I trusted him!  Teddy is 9 1/2 months old and I know we have a long way to go, but here are just a few observations over the past month or so...

At nine months-Teddy is crawling everywhere and pulling up on everything!  He is eager to learn new things, fearless and confident in his abilities.  Teddy is so happy!  He loves making people laugh and laughing at people:), singing and dancing!  Teddy is loving and caring to those he knows best-hugs and kisses galore!  While we are still slightly uneasy with new people and with extensive people holding him and we co-sleep the majority of the night and nurse every 1 1/2 or so, I think the qualities above are proof that we are on the right track and that attachment parenting is JUST what Teddy and I needed!

After being completely attached to this little man (including but not limited to breast feeding, co-sleeping and baby wearing) for 9 months now, I am saddened by the misunderstanding that babies are thought to manipulate and train their parents, and that babies shouldn't get too much attention or be held too long.

Is AP right for you and your baby?  Here are some statistics from an article I recently read:
According to Attachment Theory, many babies are born without the ability to self-regulate emotions — that is, they find the world to be confusing and disorganized, and do not have the coping abilities required to soothe themselves. Thus, during times of distress, they seek out their caregivers because the physical closeness of the caregiver helps to soothe the infant and to re-establish equilibrium. When the caregiver is consistently responsive and sensitive, the child gradually learns and believes that she is worthy of love and that other people can be trusted to provide it. She learns that the caregiver is a secure base from which she can explore the world, and if she encounters adversity, she can return to her base for support and comfort. This trust in the caregiver results in what is known as a secure individual.
Children who do not have consistently responsive and sensitive caregivers often develop into insecure individuals, characterized by anxious, avoidant, and/or ambivalent interactions. Long-term studies have shown that secure individuals, compared to insecure individuals, are more likely to be outgoing, popular, well-adjusted, compassionate, and altruistic. As adults, secure individuals tend to be comfortable depending on others, readily develop close attachments, and trust their partners. Insecure individuals, on the other hand, tend to be unsettled in their relationships, displaying anxiety (manifesting as possessiveness, jealousy, and clinginess) or avoidance (manifesting as mistrust and a reluctance to depend on others). North American parenting practices, including CIO, are often influenced by fears that children will grow up too dependent. However, an abundance of research shows that regular physical contact, reassurance, and prompt responses to distress in infancy and childhood results in secure and confident adults who are better able to form functional relationships.
The Dangers of CIO
It has been suggested in the past that CIO is healthy for infants’ physical development, particularly the lungs. A recent study looking at the immediate and long-term physiologic consequences of infant crying suggests otherwise. The following changes due to infant crying have been documented:
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Reduced oxygen level
  • Elevated cerebral blood pressure
  • Depleted energy reserves and oxygen
  • Interrupted mother-infant interaction
  • Brain injury
  • Cardiac dysfunction.
The study’s researchers suggested that caregivers should answer infant cries swiftly, consistently, and comprehensively — recommendations that are in line with AP principles.
CIO or AP as a Matter of Perception
CIO supporters tend to view their infants’ cries as attempts to manipulate caregivers into providing more attention. Holding this view can be detrimental to the immediate and long-term health of the baby. In the field of cognitive psychology, there exists the premise that our thoughts underlie our behavior. Thus, if we think positively about an individual, our behaviors toward them tend to be positive as well. Conversely, if we think negatively about an individual, we will behave correspondingly. Consider people in your own life whom you consider manipulative — how does that perception influence your behavior toward them? It is unlikely that the interpretation of a manipulative personality will result in the compassionate, empathetic, and loving care of that individual. Infants, quite helpless without the aid of their caregivers, may suffer both emotional and physical consequences of this type of attitude.
When faced with a crying baby, it may be prudent to ask yourself the following questions: Why am I choosing this response? Do I want my baby to stop crying because he feels comforted and safe, or do I want my baby to stop crying for the sake of stopping crying? What is my baby learning about me and the world when I respond in this manner? If I was a baby and was upset, how would I want my caregivers to respond?

Amy's Story Part 3-Her Final Infancy BF Challenge

And finally, the last challenge of infancy. . .

At 9 months, it came time for Abbey to see the pediatric gastroenterologist to make sure that everything was working smoothly with her digestion, and that there weren’t any continuing effects from the surgery she had at birth. Let’s just cut to the chase here: The GI was a complete numskull when it came to lactation. Basically, the idiot with the M.D. looked over at Abbey for a millisecond, then turned to his computer and stared at her stats on a formula fed growth chart, telling me that my baby girl (who was pulling up on the wall and jabbering constantly while he was in the room) was malnourished and that I was starving her with my milk. He declared that unless I stopped feeding her at the breast and started fortifying my milk with formula and feeding her ONLY by bottle for the rest of her infancy, she would continue to be malnourished. The nutritionist that came in after him to give me my “orders” about her “new feeding schedule” wasn’t much better. When I opened up discussion about the nutritional differences (and superiority) of breastmilk and exclusive breastfeeding, she changed the subject. I approached the topic of how adding formula to breastmilk in a bottle changes the bioavailability of the nutrients and adds un-needed risk of infection and she continued her instructions without so much as a pause. It was awful. And appalling. I tried to offer other suggestions about ways to supplement with mother's milk to add additional calories to her diet, but they simply ignored me.

You can probably guess from my attitude as I write this that I didn’t ever “fortify” my breastmilk. I knew as a mom and being trained in lactation that there was no way on earth that it was healthy for my child to be stripped of the comfort of mommy’s breast, or the nutrition of mommy’s milk. I knew there were other ways to supplement, and so that’s what I did. I kept breastfeeding Abbey, just did it more often (on demand, no matter where I was or what we were doing. At work, at the grocery store, at the mall, at church. . . ) and let her be my guide. If she was hungry at night, I fed her - Even if it was six trips to her crib, or more. If she wanted a snack feeding, I fed her. I never used a pacifier. I also continued supplementing her with my hind milk (skimming it off the top of refrigerated storage bottles of pumped milk), and by my pediatrician’s recommendations, fed her the foods highest in natural fats in order to stimulate her weight gain.

I found another pediatric gastroenterologist, who actually happened to be an IBCLC as well. Though she still didn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling (I guess most M.D.s are just really cold hard facts kind of people), at least she didn’t demonize me for rejecting the “fortifying my milk” idea posed by the other GI specialist. When Abbey was a little over a year old, she declared that she was back on her growth curve and that we didn’t need to come in to see her anymore. Abbey is now 2, and weighs 26 pounds. Yes, she is slight. She is all legs, and not as chubby as her counterparts. But she is vivacious and healthy and smart, and definitely knows how to eat! She still knows how to breastfeed, too. She and her little brother will end up tandem nursing here in a few more months. She tells me that she will help "baby buth-a eat mama" - and I find that extremely adorable. She is perfect just the way she is, and my decision to avoid the hazards of formula and stick to exclusive breastfeeding was a good one for her.

I know that there is a time and a place for the use of formula. But the facts still stand that breastmilk is superior food for infants, formula poses many risks – and that breastfeeding is incredibly emotionally, developmentally, and physiologically beneficial to our babies. The science still shows that formula is inferior in composition to breastmilk, and that no amount of artificial replication can duplicate the complex carbohydrates, special human proteins, and protective elements that are only found in human milk. And breastmilk has none of the risks that artificial milks carry. So, I am immensely proud to have been able to withstand all the pressure to use formula to fatten up my daughter. I look back, and I think about all the times that people told me I was hurting her by feeding her as nature intended me to. And I am so glad to be able to say with confidence that they were all so wrong – and that my breastmilk, and my dedication to my daughter and her well-being – were just right.

If you are struggling with breastfeeding, or trying to decide what is best for your baby or your situation as a mom, I urge you to find the help that you need to make breastfeeding work for you. In our society, it’s not easy to be a mom – period. There is so much conflicting advice, and outspoken camps on both sides of every debate. It can get overwhelming and disconcerting even just in print, in cyberspace. Let alone when you’re struggling with the physical and emotional issues of parenthood at home, with a real live baby that depends on you. La Leche League is a great resource, as are blogs like this one, that bring moms together to share their stories and help one another. It’s a crazy world out there . . . and it’s hard to distinguish what is best – in any situation. What I have learned from my first breastfeeding experience is that educating yourself and mothering from the heart with dedication and love is the way to go, no doubt about it. Advocate for your baby and his or her needs – and that will lead you to find the help that you need and make the best decisions you can.

Amy, Nursing mama of Abbey
Thanks Amy for sharing your BF story!  We loved reading it!!

Amy also has some great posts about gentle parenting over at her blog-Toddler In Tow!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Results are in! 1 year of nursing baby wins...???

I chose to put the following polls back to back in the past two weeks.  As Teddy and I near our 1 year marker I find myself observing the lack of support for mamas nursing their babies past infancy.  I thought I'd check for myself to see where the numbers were falling within my nursing community.  Does societies pressure to wean your baby at 6 months effect the mama's I know (or that are reading this)?  Does the stigma to nursing your baby past 12 months pressure any mamas to wean early (or earlier than their baby wants)??  It seems to me, based on the numbers I got, that 1 year seems to be a popular goal and weaning period".  Here are the results, judge for yourself:

Results of "How long did you plan on nursing your baby?"
25% 6 months
25% whenever
50% 1 year

Results of "How long did/have you nursed your baby?'
50% 6 months PLUS
41% 1 year  PLUS
8% Until they weaned naturally