Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Breastfeeding’

We met on a quiet, dark, rainy morning, as her baby slept the entire time I was there.  Were it not for her having had a baby 10 days prior and being exhausted, it would have felt like a few friends chatting over coffee on a gloomy morning.  It was still, quiet, and dark, and she shared with me the amazing story of her birth, which was unique, and of her first days as a mother, as all postpartum periods, beautiful but a little sad, as her challenges would pull at the heartstrings of any mom, remembering the challenges of the first weeks with a baby, and thinking of the things she is going through.

Many LLL Leaders don’t do many home visits compared to the meetings we run and phone calls we do, and I’ve done only a few, when I really felt I could sacrifice the time away from my home and work and family.  We ARE volunteers, after all.  Paid lactation consultants probably do more home visits, I’d wager.

I will have been a La Leche League leader for five years this August.  To become one, a mother must have nursed at least one child for a year before applying and then completed coursework in lactation support.

We run our LLL Meetings—support groups for women who are pregnant, nursing, pumping, have nursed—in which they can share what worked for them and get support and information for whatever they may be going through.  I’ve always run the Working Mother’s group, since becoming a part of LLL.

The vast, vast majority of the issues women face can be worked through with the correct information about how to latch a baby, how to maintain milk supply, how to nurse while working, what a certain type of discomfort or pain is indicative of, and etc.  So many problems moms face—while you might not call them myths—are problems that are fixed with correct information and not accepting that breastfeeding just isn’t in the cards.

Working with a mom that so wants to feed her baby this way, and seeing how empowered she is when she gets the right information she needed to attain her goal when she may have thought it impossible—it’s rewarding, it’s heartwarming, it’s fulfilling.  It’s drawing upon the ages old model of women lovingly supporting women through pregnancy, birth and motherhood—a model that is somewhat lost upon a large population in our modern day culture. 

While the meetings I’ve run are one part social gathering, one part support group and one part information session from a trained lactation professional, and are incredibly rewarding and helpful to mothers all by themselves—the much more rare “home visit” as a volunteer is…. sacred.

Recently this friend and kindred spirit and 10 day old new mother—whom I hadn’t seen in… oh, 13 years probably, (ah social networking does do a few good things!) very much needed some contact from a friend, a fellow mom and a lactation professional all at the same time.  Interestingly enough, I recently moved to be only 15 minutes away from where she lives.

This little baby was stuck, head up, somewhere in the mother’s abdomen or rib cage (I’m not a doctor and am retelling a story that isn’t mine, so won’t attempt serious details).  She hadn’t been moving much, the pregnant belly seemed to not look perfectly round and things just didn’t feel as they should.  The first induction wasn’t doing anything at all—no contractions, no water breaking, no dilation.  Luckily, she was sent home to rest.  She went to a chiropractor who adjusted her pelvis (and said it was very needed) and I believe she said she felt immediate relief and by that night her stomach looked normal and she was free of some of the odd pains that had plagued her last weeks of pregnancy.  She went back to the hospital and was induced, resulting in a successful vaginal delivery but some tough pushing.  The baby was visibly bruised, had broken blood vessels and some birth trauma.

What does this have to do with breastfeeding?  Or my work as a lactation professional?  I already knew there was more to the story than just baby wasn’t latching well, or gaining well, or mother was in pain, or the many common issues dealt with.  When a mom says her baby is adamantly *refusing* to breastfeed, you have to get the details.

I told her to start at the beginning, with the birth, before we even discussed breastfeeding.

Not only did the child have some birth trauma—she rejected the breast from day one, from feeding one.  This isn’t usually the case, by a long shot.  Even a baby having a hard time latching is typically pretty excited about being fed.

This already puts this story as one I must really listen to to understand what this baby is telling her mother, and not just give the usual advice about how to latch a baby onto a breast.  Not only was the baby not wanting to feed—which I personally feel was probably due to shoulder and neck pain from the position she was stuck in in utero or the birth—but a nurse, probably using a method that may have worked just fine with another baby—was pushing the baby to the breast.  I wasn’t there, and so I’m not criticizing what may or may not happened—but according to the mother, the baby was being forcefully pushed towards her breast and it was decidedly NOT working, making the baby more and more upset.

A calm baby with no stress, no pain from birth trauma, can be encouraged to latch quickly and firmly, probably without it harming her feelings toward breastfeeding.  Babies can be pretty adamant and voracious in trying to find the nipple, actually.  And thus, I think that if a baby is crying and refusing the breast from day 1, before so much as a bottle has even been introduced, we absolutely must listen to what the baby is telling us, and listen to the mother’s intuition.

This mother may get all types of advice from well-meaning friends, some encouraging breastfeeding, some not—but few understanding what this motherbaby pair is dealing with.  I spent my time listening to her, rather than the usual observing nursing and giving pointers.

I reassured her that any and all of the things she has or is beginning to deal with—engorgement, pumping, a little nipple confusion, possible reflux or food intolerance—each and every one of those things are difficult for a mom without her unique story. 

I told her that were this to be my fourth child– three times I’ve nursed a baby—and with all that experience, this would be hard, and challenging, and would take all my strength to stay calm and continue to work for the breastfeeding relationship I thought I would have, but that is just not working at this time.

The baby still refuses the breast, but is eating by bottle and is sleeping well.  This is not a baby that one can just give a few tips to the mother and will get over a bit of latch issue or nipple confusion in a week.

The look of gratitude on her face when I told her the number one rule, above all this stuff to try to make breastfeeding work, is FEED the BABY.  A tired, hungry, spent baby cannot learn to breastfeed.  So whether it is with SNS, cup, syringe, bottle or breast, FEED the baby.  The nipple confusion and latch issues from bottle feeding can be dealt with— the baby will get older, stronger and bigger.  My friend feels that “breast is best” but that no one can understand her baby’s outright refusal, often with screaming, to breastfeed. 

She must simply get her little girl comfortable with being around the breast, not even feeding from it at first, and must address any shoulder or neck pain that there may be.  Her plan may be to take the baby to a chiropractor or cranio-sacral therapist.  I have heard story after story, since becoming a mother, of colicky, unhappy little ones that are like night and day after some neck/spinal adjustment, probably because they are feeling some type of pain from the birth that they cannot tell us about in words.

If she addresses any underlying causes, gets the baby comfortable with that area of her body again, THEN she can begin seeing if she baby will latch well and deal with any nipple preference to the bottle.

A mother in this situation may look into skin-to-skin contact, rebirthing, and babywearing.  She may attempt breastfeeding in the tub, or when the baby is night feeding or waking up and its instincts are at its strongest. 

The look on her face when I told her a baby with this history may be looking at weeks, not days…. A few months, maybe not weeks… before breastfeeding happily was not one of worry over the time frame, but relief that she didn’t have to have this all figured out and fixed RIGHT now.

Usually, the earlier the baby gets to breast the better to set the nursing relationship off.  But this is not the usual case, at all.  Anything else can be dealt with, but this baby needs to heal, and her mother needs to know that she was thrown a tough deal and not to judge herself on the standards of other births, other babies and other mothers.  Of course, this *should* be our society’s standard attitude toward any mother, but we all know that isn’t the case.  Even among breastfeeding advocates such as myself, I think the extremity of this little one’s situation might be met with some skepticism.

We have lost the art of storytelling, of listening to another’s story and putting ourselves in their shoes, and then of sitting back without judgment to reflect. 

I don’t know if this baby will breastfeed.  I don’t know if the mom will pump for a year, quit pumping, get the baby to breast.  I can’t tell.  I think it is entirely possible she gets the baby to breast, but the baby will need a lot of support along the way.  It will be one amazing crash course is perseverance, to say the least.  But most importantly, the mom and baby (and dad) should feel good about their experience and their choices.  They are all doing their best.  I think that with quiet little steps, over time, little by little, she may be able to reach some of her goals.

In my official role as a lactation professional, I want this mom to succeed in her goals that she originally had, which were something like breastfeeding for a year or so—pretty normal.  But it is also completely a part of my role to know when to tell her that her situation was unique and hard and remind her that her and her baby are making up their own story, and it’s not going to be the same as some of the other stories we might have wanted it to be.  We all want uncomplicated births and easy first years with our babies, and we all know life hardly ever works that way.

The baby is loved and the mom is balancing what she wants to happen with what she can make happen and making peace with the rest.  Which is basically all parenting really is anyhow.  

Read Full Post »

Sometimes you know as you tell people things over and over that you may end up being wrong. I was totally sure that our third kiddo, Darius, was going to come around his due date.

I was already the weight I was when I delivered my older girls at 38 weeks but I thought that was because Darius was going to be bigger. I felt overly exhausted the last few weeks and kept getting lots of false little labor starts where I’d time contractions but with this third pregnancy, I felt every twinge and ache and pain more and that is supposed to be normal as your ab muscles get tired of being stretched yet again. He was measuring spot on for the amount of weeks he was, and fortunately he wasn’t really “early”, he was just born at 38 weeks and not 40. My other two kids went to 40 weeks so I thought he would too.

I’m happy he didn’t. It’s so much more fun getting all the birth-recovery stuff and engorgement out of the way while staring at a newborn little baby than being pregnant this week. And to know that labor pain and another natural birth and all the “what ifs” that not knowing how labor will go are behind me, I’m quite happy he’s already here.

Every time I said to someone “Oh I’ve still got a few weeks, he’s going to way until his due date” I kind of thought maybe he’d prove me wrong.

I can hardly compare this first week with him to the first week with my other girls. My husband is home this time. He knows how to handle babies. *I* know how to handle babies. My first few weeks with my first were entirely overwhelming and incredibly difficult, but this time I’ve been through the sleeping in two hour blocks, the breastfeeding stuff, the after birth stuff. And there are parts of it that are still pretty miserable, but this time I am just hanging out, nursing through the worst engorgement of all three kids, resting as my husband is home and cooking and cleaning (sort of!) and I have, since my first kid, acquired the ability to nurse and change a baby and go right on back to sleep.

What’s amazing is I have a great situation this time and I’m still pretty exhausted, so I know from previous babies how good this week has been.

I’m afraid to jinx anything of course, but Darius is a very laid back kid so far. I have over-active milk ducts, and make lots and lots and lots of milk, and my other girls did not handle it well– projectile spit-up is loads of fun.

But he is a nursing champ, and has only lost 2 ounces of his birth weight. Because he seems to handle the high volume of milk, I think he will gain weight quite differently from the girls that struggled for several months with my supply.

Being gluten-free may be helping that too. Ada’s vomiting was always related to gluten in *addition* to the fire-hydrant-boob syndrome. I don’t want to mess up the sleep I’m getting, and he’s starting to spit up a bit more, so I’m staying dairy and coffee free along with the gluten for now.

Either way, it’s been a good first week. Darius sleeps, and eats. And sleeps and eats. And with his dad around he’s been sleeping on him as well as me. We kind of hope since he’s able to be home with us this time, Darius won’t be so rigid in his sleeping needs as the girls, who pretty much had to have me. Of course, I’m never not there for him either, but it just can’t hurt that he’s got us both around for a bit.

He’s stayed awake for tiny little amounts of time more this week than last, but the girls can’t wait for him to just be awake and be someone they can play with. Azita is always overjoyed when his eyes are actually open! It’s kind of funny.

Read Full Post »

I’m going to try to start blogging a bit more again. I started this blog around this time of the year when I was pregnant with Ada, so maybe it’s fitting if I write a bit more again at this time of year when I am pregnant with our third. He will be born sometime around 4-6 weeks before our second, in November instead of December.

I feel like motherhood has been a collection of joining new clubs, so to speak. First you are pregnant or with a young child, and you can kind of automatically have a new sentence or two to speak with other moms you see in a check out line. It took me about a year to realize that socializing with other moms was something I needed more than at random moments (I was in college and knew NO other mothers for a while).

So I joined the pregnancy club. Then the I-want-a-natural-birth club and had a doula. Then the breastfeeding club. The cloth diapering club. The babywearing club. Then with my second, I was even more bowled over to join the food allergy/intolerance club. And here I am again, realizing that I’ve joined a whole new club that I never saw coming. It just feels *different* having a third. Going from a four person family to a five person family just feels like you are graduating up to that next level of familyhood again. We had to get a bigger car– we will have a baby at the same time as a first grader. I have two kids at completely different stages of development… whereas when I had a 2 year old and a baby and a small car it didn’t seem that different going from one to two. And at restaurants the four person table would do just fine.

But now I’ll have three. I guess I’ll also join the I-have-a-boy club. Which I don’t believe, at this point, will be *nearly* as different as people want me to believe, but sure it’s still different. In respect to birth/babyhood, the decision to circumcise or not is probably the most different thing, but people already want to impose so many personality traits, assigned by gender, on the kid even though he isn’t even born yet. But our girls play with tools, love robots and have clothes that are not pink, so I’m not that convinced that it will be “a totally different world” as everyone wants me to believe.

Things have been different for me personally, the third time around, something I never knew to expect. As a third pregnancy, apparently— my body has enlightened me and all my mother friends and midwives have confirmed— you feel every single stretch and loosening and pregnancy symptom (related to getting bigger at least) quite a bit more. Oh, I feel *everything*. I have one strip of ab muscle that has hurt from 2-3 months pregnant… before I was showing at all. I get contractions all the time. I get the cervical pains all the time. The midwives say that the body simply has a harder time each pregnancy getting those ab muscles to stretch and the ligaments to loosen. I also have worse pains after birth as the uterus clamps back down to look forward to. I do remember it was quite a bit worse with Ada, each time she’d nurse I get cramps, and that is supposed to happen more so the third time.

It’s all worth it of course, but like all those other clubs, expecting a third kid introduced me to differences I’d never considered.

Some things this time around have been better. I’ve gained weight easier, been able to control the ridiculous heartburn easier through diet changes (knowledge afforded me by being in the food intolerance club and learning to understand how food affects me better— kids teach us so much!), no longer have low iron (probably from being gluten-free). I wish I could say the morning sickness was different but I was still sick for months, and months, and months. Having a boy didn’t seem to help that.

I’ve been in labor twice and it’s daunting to think of the third time around. But I tell myself it will happen, I can’t stop it, and soon it will be three years later and all this pregnancy/labor pain will be a memory and he’ll be talking and playing.

Some things I had thought I’d do the third time around I didn’t. I thought I’d have a homebirth if I ever had a third. I moved from hospital with the first to birth center with the second, and figured homebirth would be the next way I’d go. Part of me still mourns the thought that I won’t do it that way, however, we had some solid logical reasoning. The birth center I go to and trust is about a hour and a half away, in Chapel Hill, NC. The midwives are backed up by Chapel Hill’s hospital— so much better, more mother/baby friendly and respected than the hospital here in Fayetteville, NC. The thought of going back to the hospital here if there was a true emergency during a planned homebirth (as small of a chance as that is) was just decidedly *not* appealing to me or my husband.

I hope to make it in time to have a water birth this time, as with my second I made it to the birth center and had about 20 minutes before I gave birth.

My hopes for the third birth…. a water birth, another short labor– not so short I don’t make the drive up there, but not agonizingly long either!– and another good recovery, in the first four weeks postpartum. I’ve been blessed thus far. I get weekly chiropractic adjustments, which help with positioning the baby so he isn’t breech and keeping the mother’s labor short, with the other two I did yoga… this time I should be… and I stay as active and on my feet as I can. After the birth I breastfeed, which helps the mother’s uterus tone back down and I’ll do that again as well.

My hopes for the third baby…. oh, I don’t know, maybe he’ll pop out and sleep all night and not be colicky since I’m already gluten-free? Totally unlike the second? Well, at least I know the knowledge I gained with her may help us out!

Read Full Post »

Each time I think that I might be exaggerating the fact that many doctors might be hindering a woman working at breastfeeding, someone tells me an anecdote that reminds me that many indeed are. It reminds me that those of us who successfully nurse our kids through thick and thin are not being overzealous when we feel that we need to share our knowledge with other mothers.

After the birth of my first child, I was so bursting with the desire to connect with other moms that had worked through and made it to nurse a child for a year, or at all, I probably seemed a little over the top. Fortunately, I found La Leche League and went to the groups and met other moms and got the support I craved. Now I’m a La Leche League leader, which gives me the avenue to help other mothers that want the help. It’s nice when someone who needs support calls you to get that support, and you aren’t just talking about nursing at each and every play date like a mom with a one-track mind.

I know some think that an LLL Leader, or any breastfeeding advocate, is at best unnecessary and at worst, trying to make mothers feel guilty when breastfeeding doesn’t work out. Of course, both of those extremes are far from the truth. Women run LLL groups to provide a place for mothers that seek information and support to get it, and we, at our best, remain unbiased and kind to a woman’s decision. We affirm a woman’s choice to do as she pleases; our goal is simply to make sure she had the most information possible before she makes her decision.

The conversation provoking this post was one from a mom pregnant with her second child. She told me that her first child’s pediatrician told her that she must wean when she contracted thrush, a common breastfeeding issue. He told her there was no medication compatible with breastfeeding. This is far, far from the truth as I can think of three remedies off the top of my head that moms use every day. She told me her tricked her.

I responded, as I should as an LLL Leader, in an unbiased way. I told her that unfortunately many doctors are not trained in breastfeeding and simply have a lack of knowledge. Then she revealed to me why she felt “tricked”. She went to the next appointment and told him she was unhappy with his advice and she had wanted to continue nursing, and had found after her milk dried up (and she got mastitis from the abrupt weaning) that she could not get him back to the breast. Her goal was to nurse for one year, and she got a mere month or so.

She undoubtedly felt betrayed and unsupported by the person she was paying money to trust with the health of her baby.

He told her “I just generally don’t like breastfeeding, so I always just advise woman against it.”

Yes, that is the moment that validates all the advocacy and informational events I will ever do. We are here to help women like this, essentially victims of a bad, bad doctor. A doctor whose personal biases caused a woman recovering from childbirth an infection and lost her baby 10 or 11 more months of antibodies and a unique way to bond with its mother.
Breastfeeding can be a touchy subject because anything that makes someone not fulfill a goal, especially when it comes to mothering, can make someone feel angry or guilty. Even if the information is shared in an unbiased way. Anger comes from guilt, and guilt is a terrible emotion when it comes to doing the best for a child. A woman that makes an informed decision, and stops breastfeeding but feels confident about her decision, won’t have that anger and guilt towards breastfeeding advocates.
Luckily, in this case, the mother’s anger and upset is pointed towards the appropriate place—towards a doctor who gives bad advice on purpose. How many kid and moms has he hurt, I wonder. This is why LLL Leaders do what we do. It’s why we run groups, and give out flyers to pregnant moms we meet, and run informational fairs.

Read Full Post »

I picked this book up at the library today, while getting Azita a list of some recommended princess books, called “Is Breast Best?  Taking on the Breastfeeding Experts and the New High Stakes of Motherhood”.

I particularly didn’t like what the author said about natural parents and natural birth, but I did get her overall point, I really did, actually.  There are just many holes in her thinking, in my view, and she *really* seems to think that everyone is out to make moms feel bad if they don’t do things the way they suggest.  I mean, I think that to, at times, but not to this extent.

This is the review I put on amazon.com:

I picked this up and from reading the back thought, “Okay, I breastfed, and loved it, but any unbiased look at research is something that interests me.”

You often get the feeling as a mother, that there are many things you will mess up or do wrong and feel guilty for, and sometimes mother-in-laws, well-meaning (or not) friends, doctors, the lady next to you in line, etc will point out to you. And breastfeeding *can* be a touchy subject.

I haven’t read it all, but it seems that the author may be defensive or touchy about a few things herself. She discusses natural parenting, Dr. Sears, and the La Leche League. She notes that the La Leche League and Dr. Sear’s website have extensive lists of foods that mothers should not eat if they have a colicky baby. It’s simply not true. How can I trust anything else she says when she is somewhat over-emphasizing what these two well-known and researched sources say about colickiness and foods? They, in summary, do both admit that a food can irritate a baby’s system and sometimes explain colic. But neither one prescribes eating a precious few foods as an answer to it. I have been to many an LLL meeting, and it rarely comes up. When it does, it is discussed after a long list of other issues, usually one of the last things mentioned, as eliminating foods is considered low on the list of possible problems. I myself did end up having a colicky baby, intolerant to dairy and wheat, but it was not the LLL *or* Dr. Sear’s that I got most of my information and guidance from. I have, at times, gotten great info and wonderful contacts and support from either source, but when the author discusses natural parenting she makes it sound as if it is a series of rules that women must follow to be a natural parent. Uhh… I just don’t see it.

She claims that natural parenting advocates are trying to reduce the risks associated with pregnancy, childbirth and raising a baby. I think we all try to reduce our risks. Why else do we use carseats? But she goes on to assert that natural parenting tries to tell mothers that there will be no risks and they will raise wonderful children and have no problems if they do things “naturally”. I mean, come on, we all know it’s not that simple! I do alot of “natural” things. I breastfeed, I used cloth diapers half the time, I buy from a farmer’s market. Not because I believe it will make parenting easy.

She talks about total motherhood, meaning that if a woman doesn’t want to be consumed by motherhood, than she will have conflicts within herself, and basically that breastfeeding advocates are trying to give women the message that they must be mothers and nothing else. Excuse me? Really? I finished a degree and work from home since becoming a mother. Is having a kid hard? Yes. Do I feel role strain? Yes.

It’s almost insulting to women to say that we can’t cope with the role strain put on us by breastfeeding and being mothers and being in this culture.

The author does talk about all the marketing of baby things, the lists of must haves, the changing recommendations of SIDS and letting a baby sleep on it’s tummy. I all with her there– there is a sea… an OCEAN… 7 OCEANS… of information out there about every baby and parenting topic under the sun that we all have to wade through if we decide to seek more information on something. So I’m definitely an advocate of trying to dig out the truth under the hype. I just don’t see breastfeeding being advocated as the root of that issue.

I think women deserve a little more credit than that. She talks about a “risk culture” and you get the feeling that this woman herself feels judged, and feels role strain. It’s okay to admit that you are the only mom to your kid. By asserting that, that the baby wants the mother, and sometimes only them other, doesn’t mean the woman has anything to feel bad about.

SO she wraps it up by saying that yes, breast *is* best, but that in a culture with clean water and healthy food, either choice is probably going to be fine. So she spends 150 pages and countless hours of her research to tell us something that anyone should already realize.

Had I not breastfed, my kids would be fine. We’d still have a strong bond, they’d still be mostly healthy. (Although she does admit that there are some situations, like my kid being intolerant to dairy and premies) where breastmilk is a much better and sometimes live-saving option). With my second, had she been on formula with all of her digestion issues, *I’d* probably be the mom cracking under the pressure, because her first two years would have been even more colicky and diahrrea filled.

Maybe that’s why we should recommend breastfeeding– for those few infants that it really, really, really counts for. Again, I have to agree that there is marketing, government campaigns, just stuff all over telling moms what to do. Why she thinks breastfeeding is a larger part of that than any other thing a mom is told to do, I’m not sure. The author may have her own hang ups.

Read Full Post »

I found this article on treating depression with probiotics quite interesting:

http://www.nleducation.co.uk/resources/reviews/a-novel-approach-to-treating-depression-how-probiotics-can-shift-mood-by-modulating-cytokines/ 

The parts I found interesting had less to do with the depression part and more to do with the parts about how your gut health is programmed by the bacteria you encounter at birth and in the first years of life.  It makes me want to try harder to make sure the kids tummy’s are full of the good stuff now.  I had heard that concept– that the first few years of life help determine a person’s gut health and thus how strong their immune system is– but I wasn’t sure if it was true or if it was just an idea that someone had that supported their particular view on health.

I found this paragraph interesting:

How important to our immune health are friendly gut bacteria? Immeasurably so. When rat pups were separated from their mother—causing extreme stress—and then reintroduced to their moms days later, their immune system was forever altered. They were permanently more sensitized to stress displaying high levels of anxiety. However, when rat pups were separated and provided probiotics, and then returned to their mothers, their immune system was equal to that of their never-separated peers and were no more anxious than their non-separated siblings. This shows how profoundly important our gut biota is—to both immunity and mood. Our microbiota not only live with us, they carry an enormous skill set that helps us navigate life, from release of key nutrients to modulation of our immune system.

There are alot of different conclusions to draw there I’m sure– but anyone that reads regularly will know mine have a certain slant.

 It doesn’t surprise me that the rat pups immune function was compromised when they were separated from their mothers.  It did surprise me that the probiotics helped their immune system stay strong while they were still separated.  I imagine however, that if the rat pups were never returned to their mothers that even probiotics would not bring them back to their original health and immune function.

I like these little findings because I remember reading one pregnancy book that actually said a newborn can’t distinguish its mother from any other caretaker.  This was a very mainstream book that a friend bought me from Barnes and Nobles, written by a female medical doctor.   Even before Azita was born I knew that couldn’t be true.

And now we are finding out that a child’s immune system is impaired simply from separation!  I attended the Gentle Birth World Congress in Portland, Oregon when Azita was a little over a year old.  The researchers and doctors from around their world that brought their findings about what it does to a newborn when s/he is separated from the mother were overwhelming. 

One doctor even related a story about how a child was not breathing at birth and he instinctually told the nurse not to cut the umbilical cord.  Oxygen support was not available for 8 minutes.  Eight minutes!  The child suffered no brain damage by the time they got its lungs to start working.  That is a powerful connection to the mother that western science clearly takes for granted by always cutting the cord so soon.  Tragic, actually, when it can save lives.  And now we have companies encouraging cord blood banking and cutting that tie even sooner. 

I often think this connection between mother and baby is downplayed in an effort to try to make mothers feel less guilty if a complicated vaginal birth or c-section inspires the ‘hospital policies’ to take the baby to the nursery while the mother recovers.  I remember with Azita, I needed some recovery time and fainted due to blood loss and I did not get to really see her or hold her (save for about 30 seconds right after the birth) until she was about 4 hours old.  Sure, 4 hours is not alot of time, but to me and her, it was.  And then breastfeeding got off to a terrible start, and that doesn’t help motherbaby separation or Azita’s immune system.

I felt horrible about feeling I couldn’t breastfeed her at first, and that feeling propelled me to get the information I needed from a La Leche League Leader and figure it out, despite some pain and complications, which were soon enough over.  That feeling was important.  I shouldn’t be told that my baby can tell the difference between me and some other woman giving her a bottle!  I should be reassured that when we are reunited, probiotics (which are in breastmilk, of course) will bring her immune system back up to its former strength.

This one little quote– yes, perhaps I extrapolate too much– also makes me think about how well-meaning adults often downplay your child’s separation anxiety.  Again– I think to make it easier on the mother.  If separation stresses a child out to the point of stressing the immune system at birth, then I feel it would affect them at 9 months, 18 months, maybe 3 years old too.

I was often encouraged to leave Azita, when I was still in college, distracted so that I could get out of the house tear-free by a fellow college student that also had kids.  I refused to do that.  I let her know I was leaving and that I’d be back.  I didn’t want her fearing I’d sneak out at any moment when I simply walked into the kitchen. 

I also read another study, which I don’t have a cite for anymore, that examined about 5000 children as teens on an army base in Germany and polled the parents on their methods when the teens were infants.  The researchers were specifically looking at crying-it-out as a sleep method, and found that those children had higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder as well as lower SAT scores.

It seems clear to me that hormones and gut bacteria will affect a human throughout their life and we shouldn’t understimate the importance of that in the early years.  The rest of the article was very interesting as well, and worth reading.  Those issues are always the ones that will jump out at me.

Ada never left me.  She was born in a birth center, nursed minutes after birth, and I don’t think I left her with Payman even until she was 9 months older or something.  With Azita, this would have overwhelmed me.  With Ada, I feel very grateful for that.  She is the one with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder.  It’s like God gave them to me in the order they needed, when I was able to be there for them differently.  Azita is still the clingy one, too, interestingly enough.

Read Full Post »

Logical fallacies are everywhere in our media, most often in the broadcast media, like all the commentators on the news shows and stations.  Last night on some show on Headline News about showbiz news the ladies on the show were discussing the comment made by Gisele that breastfeeding should  be mandatory for the first six months of life.

“Some people here [in the U.S.] think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think ‘Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?'” adding “I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.”

She’s gotten some flack for it and has clarified later to say that she didn’t literally mean anything to do with laws, but that things come out black and white on paper.  Well, actually that’s true.  We always say things and don’t mean what they literally mean when written down.  I have a bad habit of saying, when the kids are driving me nuts, “You guys are killing me here.”

She has also said this on her blog:

On this Mother’s Day I’d also like to talk about a very important issue, which is breastfeeding. It’s essential for the newborn and creates a bond between mother and her child. It’s a unique moment when the body changes to nurture; it’s the Nature’s blessing! Breastfeeding, mainly the first days, poses some challenges, but the reward is sublime. In addition to having all the proteins, fats, and vitamins the baby needs, breastfeeding is an act of love and affection.

It would be great if all the mothers could experience the breastfeeding.

So regardless of how you feel about those quotes, though I think it would be wonderful if all mothers got the support and help they need to overcome breastfeeding obstacles, it should be recognized that all these TV news personalities rarely know what they are talking about, because their job is to talk about anything and everything.

The co-host, Brooke Anderson, said that Giselle’s body has always made women feel inadequate and now she has to make us feel inadequte about being mothers too.  That not everyone can just take pictures for an hour and make a million dollars and that because life is easy for her she shouldn’t be judging all of us mothers who have to really work.

And I’m sure lots of moms were nodding their heads, but *that* is a logical fallacy.  One has nothing to do with the other.  There are many, many mothers who are single moms working hard who nurse their babies at night as a way to reconnect because the baby is at daycare all day. 

Then Anderson, the blond, skinny woman with perfectly done CNN hair and make-up (who is trying to discount Giselle because she is so much better looking than all the real women like her) said that it is physically impossible for so many woman to breastfeed, especially premies in the NICU. 

That’s not a logical fallacy, that’s just wrong.  Actually, women with premies are given a lot more support when it comes to breastfeeding and pumping milk because it is that much more vital for the premie’s health.

And universally, being a first time mom is hard.  Having money and a large house won’t make a mom’s nipples not be sore.  It won’t make a newborn sleep through the night.  It won’t fix a baby’s painful latch.  That is the hard work of mothering that has to be done by every mother.

Certainly, having a lot of money and help around the house is something I wish we ALL had when a baby is first born.  But when this news personality, who has more money and resources than the majority of the women on the plant do, to spout out things that aren’t even true and promote uneducated leaps of logic, it’s annoying.  Because lots of women are listening and probably believing her.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: