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Posts Tagged ‘La Leche League’

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.  

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This past weekend was La Leche League’s biannual conference. The title this year was “Trails and Trials: Pathways to Parenting” and while there were definitely plenty of seminars on breastfeeding specific issues that help those involved with La Leche League be current on research and help mothers seeking breastfeeding support, there were many, many parenting seminars this go round.
That appealed to me since my kids are 5 and almost 3. Azita has gone through a few new issues with school starting, and Ada’s toddlerhood is not at all the same as Azita’s. Different things make her happy, occupy her time and make her upset than did Azita.
The first morning was a talk to the entire conference by Marian Tompson, one of the original founders of La Leche League back in the ’50s. She has 7 children and many grandchildren (and a few great grandchildren too) and I obviously thought it was cool to be able to listen to her thoughts after having been an advocate for children for so many years.
The title of her talk was “Childhood is a journey, not a race”. She talked about a variety of things– some related to that specific topic and others not. She spoke about being in Japan at a time when most babies in this one clinic did not get any colostrum (meaning they did not breastfeed in the first week) and how a doctor noticed that the children with the highest chance of surviving were the ones that did get the colostrum. If I’m remembering correct, this doctor helped lead Japan to the lowest infant mortality rate at the time (the 70s or 80s? I just can’t remember) by focusing on getting babies that first week of nursing.
It’s amazing, actually, to think she’s been in this arena for so long. You see books and hear people say that there is no actual evidence that breastfeeding is that much better than formula, but a story like that helps you realize that it is indeed a life-saving practice for some kids. I think that when the odds are stacked FOR a baby, by being born into a developed country to wealthy parents (wealthy compared to the world, I mean, not that the parents are millionaires by American standards), then maybe breastfeeding doesn’t seem as necessary.
But to be her, to have been around when kids DID die because they needed the mother’s milk and artificial formulas (inferior to human milk but better than dairy milk or solid foods alone) weren’t as highly developed, really does give a perspective– an appreciation– for how far we’ve come in understanding how to help our children be their healthiest.
She also talked about how rapidly children are changing, though didn’t attempt to tackle all the reasons. How there are now sensory disorders, food allergies abounding (that one I know about!) and suicide rates among teens rapidly rising.
She cited a study in which is showed that some children learn better while standing, as opposed to sitting, and then the conversation turned to how schools must adapt and change to change to how our children’s brains and development are changing. We don’t know why things are different than when she was raising kids, but she seemed to be saying that she is optimistic—that schools and old viewpoints about how to raise/educate children must and will change because they have to.
She hinted that some of her perspective might be that both parents seem to need to work to survive in our economic climate and that it is affecting our children’s early years.
Stress hormones have been studied, and children that release high amount of stress hormones in the first two years of life deal with stress differently throughout their lives. Could this affect the suicide rates and unhappy and unfulfilled adults that seem to be all over the place?
When a child gets stressed from separation from its mother, it appears that it will always have an impact on that child. Of course, Azita stayed with a sitter from 6 weeks of age to 2 years, and I do feel it affected her. But I can listen to this research and these ideas without feeling guilty. I nursed her for a long time, and we let her co-sleep. To me these solutions helped us deal with the realities of modern life. And many moms don’t know, because of doctors and mothers and uninformed friends, that these practices can be safe, healthy and extremely beneficial.
I was aware during that discussion that these concepts, of the research that is becoming widespread about how the way we’ve been raising our children in this country may harm their stress coping mechanisms and emotional attachments to other people they meet throughout their life time might make people feel defensive. Might make people feel defensive out in the mainstream world, that is. In the La Leche League bubble, there is little judgment, and mutual respect for doing things the way that works for your family, balanced by respect for the child as a fellow human with valid needs.
When a parenting aspect, like co-sleeping or toddler nursing respects both the mom and baby’s needs, then it’s probably a good idea, in my head.
She talked more on the economics stuff, saying that in her day when a husband was having a child, his employers typically gave him a raise. Now, we must decide whether or not the mom will keep her job and how to afford it all, or, alternately, how the mom (and sometimes dad) will raise the children on her own on one salary.
“There must be an understanding of what the baby needs,” she said. I interpret what she is saying to mean that our society does not value the child enough anymore to try to help the mother be there for the early years of its life. Mother’s wishes are often ignored in the delivery room, she is not offered good lactation support by hospital nurses, and then she is encouraged to try to make the baby independent from her as soon as possible after birth.
There were many interesting studies discuss and as I go through my notes I may post about them. Don’t have citations, but I’ll bet they could be found.
Lastly, she gave this quote by an economist Hazel Henderson “Economics is not a science, it is politics in disguise.”
How many things do we think we have to buy when we first have a baby? I was told I “had to” have a swing, and a Boppy (nursing) pillow, and a little mesh feeding bag, and a good stroller. Azita hated almost all of those things, and I didn’t find the Boppy pillow that helpful. They each have held a useful place in my raising two kids, but I think her point was that the one thing the baby actually needs to develop best is just the mom, and that’s about it.
We shouldn’t make parenting choices based on our economic conditions or the motives of a corporation. And we have to wade through so much information. But being true to your kid tends to help you wade through the junky parenting books and find the good ideas.

Next post: Azita the perfectionist.

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A friend of mine asked me, about 6 months ago, for a list of the top ten things I can’t live without with a new baby.  Fortunately I think she’s still actually pregnant.  Good thing it takes 9 months!

My answers will not include bouncers, swings, bottles, strollers and all the junk you are told you *have* to have to have a baby.  True– I used a swing and bouncer some (mostly for showers and dinner prep), and Azita switched between bottle and breast as I was still in college and pretty much a working/pumping mom.  But Ada never used a bottle, maybe once.

Azita hated all bouncers and swings, and Ada tolerated them for 15 minutes at a time, just enough for a shower or quick meal prep.  But once her tummy aches and food intolerances kicked in, unforetunately the swing didn’t soothe her at all.  I’ve heard of people whose kids adore swings or bouncers and that its a lifesaver.  For us, they took up space and money.

So, my top ten list, trying to be devoid of too much commercialism and down to the real, true needs:

Hmm, should I count down?  I guess so.

1o.  Baby socks of only one color.  I swear those girls never wore the same pair twice.  I was completely unable to keep up with them.  With Ada I wised up and got only the exact same ones, but about ten pairs. 

9. Cloth diapers and an open mind to look into Elimination Communication— watching your newborn for little wiggly legs and taking her to the sink, instead of wrapping her up in plastic.  Either one will save your wallet and your curbside traffic pick up.

8. A co-sleeper or bedrail to aid in safe co-sleeping (defined as baby in the room, not necessarily in the bed) and the book, the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley or the Sleep Book by Dr. Sears.  Any books by Dr. Sears, actually.

7. Ideas for food that is healthy yet easy to prepare one handed.  An example:  Chicken thighs and a potato in the oven.  Bake for an hour.  Have a salad mix ready.  You can use tongs for the chicken and never need to wash your hands and there is little clean up or effort on your part.  Cut veggies in the fridge are good snacks, especially with hummus or another healthy dip.  Keep water handy.  Frozen homemade meals, prepared ahead of time, are wonderful if you can swing it.

6.  The right mindset.  You shouldn’t judge yourself and should remember that a messy house is okay for the time being.  It’s okay take care of the important things, like kitchens and bathrooms, and let the other things slide.  It’s okay, nay essential, that you put your needs and your baby’s needs ahead of material things. 

5. A support system.  In our culture, women are often far away from family, and even when family is close, ideas about nursing and baby care and sleeping through the night and all types of things can be, unfortunately, combative and sometimes not helpful.  Hopefully, there is another person there to do some laundry and cook some meals.  Support found through a La Leche League group, a partner who understands the woman’s job for the first three months is to heal herself and nurse her baby or a friend (who is free to help out around the house) can be wonderful.

4. A copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

3.  A baby wrap or sling.  Ada was very colicky, though there were underlying reasons for that, as many of you know, and for a while, she would only nap while being worn.  And an over-exhausted fussy baby is worse than a fussy one.  Also, tt always felt so much safer having her snuggled to my chest than in a carseat or grocery cart.  Not to mention wonderful for her developmet and body heat.

Wraps are expensive, and to decommercialize this even more— here’s the secret, they are ridiculously easy to make, and you can make a wrap even without a sewing machine.  Or there are several very nice ones available now on websites.  I’ve heard very negative things about the business practices of Ergo, a popular choice, but there are many others.  I was definitely a wrap and ring sling girl.  But for the new  mom, wraps have a longer learning curve.  Pouches are easiest, and then things like the Beco, Ergo or ring sling.  I prefer two shouldered and look up the spinal pressure thing of models like the Baby Bjorn.  The others are better options.

3.  A basket with a water bottle, book, the TV clicker and some easy to eat snacks.  It can be carried around with one arm as new momma shuffles from the couch to the bed, and if baby falls asleep on her and she is too exhausted to get up, she’s got what her body and mind needs with her.

2. A doula.  I guess that would be for before baby arrives, but its still on my list.  She was invaluable to me and my husband both.

1.  The number of an LLL Leader and information on local groups.  When Azita was born, I was in tears and pain and felt like I was doing something wrong.  A La Leche League Leader came to my hospital room before Azita was 24 hours old and gave me hope that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, now that I was armed with some information about what was normal for a new breastfeeding pair.  The nurses were of no help at all and made me feel worse.  And yes, the pressure to breastfeed was put there by myself, and no one else, but it was still fiercely important to me, for reasons I couldn’t explain.

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I’ll bet I’m not the only mom that can’t sleep when the house is quiet and everyone else is sleeping.  I should get some rest, but Azita and Ada’s sore throat bug finally caught up with me, and I doubt I can go back to sleep if I tried.

Yesterday was La Leche League’s annual baby fair here in Fayetteville.  I manned the La Leche League booth, answering questions and handing out flyers about our meetings and then gave a short class on working, pumping and breastfeeding.

We pull together vendors from doulas and chiropractors to cloth diaper sellers and hypnobirthing  to Mary Kay and photographers.

Ada was just unstoppable.  I actually should have thought about it more and left her at home with Payman and Azita.  She is 16 months now and walking and running and pulling my leg and ready to be anywhere but in my arms and on my hip while I talk to people.  She wanted to run and run and run around.

Last year I was at the fair for about 2 hours at the raffle table but she was 4 months and still chillin’ out in her wrap on my chest most of the time.  Ahh.  How babies start so content just to be close to their mother’s hearts is amazing.  How one year later she’s such a determinted little individual is amazing too.

She cried and kicked and made so much noise during the working and pumping class I completely lost my train of thought and a fellow LLL Leader took over for me.  After nursing of course, she was happy again and I finished it up and answered some questions. 

It’s funny that it didn’t even occur to me to leave her at home.  I forget that I have that option.  And she does great with Payman.  I went to work last weekend for an article, and Azita is the one that cried and whined for me, and Ada is perfectly fine.  Actually, she doesn’t even want me when Payman is home most of the time.

I’ve just gotten used to my general outlook on mothering in the first two years and I’m happy to have my kids constantly with me– my constant little companions.  I believe she’ll be more confidant and close to me as a teenager when we are dealing with the really tough issues for life.

If I’m there to help her when she drops her beloved little lamby (her favorite stuffed toy), hopefully she’ll trust me to be there later on in life.  If I take her to the baby fair and let her bounce around ten feet away from me, safely and also under the eyes of her grandpa whose was there as a chiropractor/vendor, and then bounce back to me after she’s explored, hopefully she come back home as a teenager after she’s asserted her independance and life makes her want security— hopefully that home will be where she will come for that.

I can say that she is more secure in me and the fact that I am here than Azita is.  I don’t know if its because I regularly left her until just before she turned two to finish up my degree at UNCP, or its just personality. It’s probably safe to say it’s both.  My choices impacted them.  But that’s also why I let Azita nurse past a year— that helped make up our bonding time and made me, personally, feel better about making my choice to continue my career after having young kids.

Anyway, the fair was good.  And today I want to sleep all day and not talk any more!  It always explains why your kids have been acting in the fussy way they have when you get the cold yourself and know how they feel.

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We arrived in Charlotte mostly unscathed.  I’m attending North Carolina’s La Leche League Conference, but more on that later.

It is a 2 hour and 53 minute car drive, according to MapQuest and Google maps.  I foolishly ate something, a spice blend, that has citric acid (derived on corn) the night before a 3 hour car drive and Ada is pulling on her ear and covered in rashes. 

This is actually a new looking rash and I need to Google hives and see if that is what she has.  If she has hives, it means some of her reactions are immune system –IgE or IgG—mediated and those are the type of reactions that can lead to serious things like anaphylaxis as opposed to her normal bumps, diaper rash and tummy pain.

She is getting over some type of infection though, hence the last post about fevers, so it’s very hard to say.

Either way, a reacting child and long car trip—me and P were understandably nervous.

She slept the first hour but woke up very upset, right around the short cut we cut off ten minutes or so with—Old Wire Rd.

I stopped the car, nursed her, and peed her (she doesn’t really wear diapers at all anymore).  That helped.

I told Payman we’ve got 2 hours to go and she’s going to have to be content with a stop every 30 minutes unless she really gets to screaming.  Now, as a newborn I wouldn’t agree with that at all, but she is olderish now.  See this post.

Would you believe we made it the rest of the way with her awake?  And we ran into traffic and it was definitely more than 2 hours at that point.

Azita deserves most of the credit.  She kept Ada entertained back there, by tossing a light arm floaty she had brought for the hotel’s pool back and forth.  Ada has learned to aim a little as she throws and that kept them happy for a long time.  Amazing.

She did start some serious screaming but it wasn’t until we were at the light in sight of the hotel.

When we got to the hotel, it was about sundown and with Payman fasting and the kids tired from the drive we all wanted to eat, and I realized a perk to traveling with food allergies that I hadn’t thought of.

All week I planned for this trip… 2 dinners, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches.  A nursing mom, a fasting dad, a kid who can only eat safe food from me.

I had looked up gluten-free dining in Charlotte on different websites, and although I found some that listed their allergy info quite well, anything gluten and dairy and soy and the obvious allergens free, had corn or beans—Ada’s worse irritants.

So I decided no.  No, I won’t trust our food to a restaurant and risk having a reacting kid in a long car trip back home. 

I packed safe (for our allergens), humanely raised, organic (oh man if I was ever not “crunchy” I am now!) sausages and turkey meat for our breakfasts and lunches. 

Also cut up 3 melons worth of cantaloupe and took my big box of baby greens and the blender for our green smoothie.  Added some tofu and berries and almond milk for P’s smoothies (oh so yummy but not for me and Ada!).

Thursday I put 3 packages of humanely certified ground chicken, garlic, carrots and parsley in the slow cooker and made like a ground meat dish that you can eat on lettuce wraps or the gluten-and-everything-else-free bread that I brought.

We brought an electric burner, our pan, some plates, and made sure that the hotel promised a fridge and a microwave.

Oh, and of course, a big bag of oranges, bananas, mangos, apples, rice cakes and sunflower seed butter.  Almond butter for P and Azita.

Whew.  Whoever said the secret to traveling is to travel light didn’t have a kid with 86 food allergies.  Our cooler and food bags equaled space wise the one suitcase with clothes for the entire family easily.

BUT.  I have to say.  When we got there, it was so nice to not have to take car-ride-crankies into a sit down restaurant.  We unpacked our stuff, settled into the room, ate our food.  It was actually quite relaxing.

It is funny that this is the nicest hotel room with the nicest hot cooked breakfast and Charlotte clearly has the nicest restaurants of anywhere that me and P have taken a mini-vacation together in our marriage.  Nicer than our honeymoon, actually.

And he’s fasting and me and Ada can’t eat out.

Maybe God is trying to hammer that whole be-detached-from-material-things idea into my head.  But actually, I do like it.  It’s yet another one of those freeing experiences that Ada has brought me too.  And we are going to save money.

So far great trip.  When Ada wakes up, I’m going to go down the La Leche League Conference, which is why we are here.  I’ll have lots of fun with mommas and babies and all, and then come back to my room for homemade lunch.  And with all that extra time, we are going to hit up some stores we don’t have in Fayetteville. 

Azita just walked in from breakfast with her dad, triumphant. 

“We’re back.  They had muffins.  They had a little dairy.  And cheese omelets.  And orange juice.”

“It’s okay about the dairy.  We’re on vacation,” I said.

Even if me and Ada can’t yet, she can definitely learn that it’s okay to have a treat every now and then.  On vacation.

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It’s almost 11 at night and the kids are all asleep.  Around nine, I had two overtired and fussy kids– we had an exciting day at the Farmer’s market and Fascinate-U Children’s Museum downtown– and at 9 I was wishing they would sleep so that I could.  And now I’m wide awake!

It’s because I spent the time rocking the baby to sleep reading an article about baby care and all the subsequent reader comments.  I get these emails from a website called “Baby Center” and they have little articles about development and baby stuff.  So this article called “8 things your baby needs to thrive” had one paragraph that read:

“Breast milk or formula will provide all the nutrients your baby needs for the first six months, and will be an important part of his diet until his first birthday. Breastfeeding is best for your baby — among other benefits, studies show that breastfed babies have lower rates of allergies, diarrhea, respiratory problems, and ear infections. Breast milk may also give your baby’s IQ a boost. Although formula can’t replicate all of the unique properties of breast milk, formula-fed babies can thrive, too, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re unable to breastfeed.”

I didn’t think much of it but it got some comments!  Some people were very offended that it even mentioned breastfeeding was better that formula and said that the article was saying that their children would lead horrible lives and it was all their fault for not breastfeeding, while others were sure to repeat that these are facts of science and women that didn’t breastfeed should have tried harder.

Woah people can’t we all just get along??

I guess its sticking in my head tonight because the reason I was at the children’s museum is that I am beginning my application to become a La Leche League Leader and was meeting with a leader and another applicant here to begin that process.

According to their website “La Leche League International strives to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.”

Today the Leader asked why we wanted to become LLL Leaders.

I said that because I really fought to breastfeed my first daughter, and had some very daunting difficulties, I want to help other women that want and need it.  If a woman doesn’t want to or it didn’t work out for her, that’s her choice and I don’t see that its any of my business really.  But if a woman wants and needs the help, or is even curious, I want to  help her, because breastfeeding has meant so much to me as a mother, and I see the health and emotional benefits in my children.

If I hadn’t gotten help from a LLL Leader, I would have given up, and I would feel badly about it.  I know I would.  I would feel guilty.  I would be the one reading about breastfeeding statistics and facts and getting upset and feeling like the world is telling me I’m a bad mom.  I would feel that way because I felt so strongly that it was the best thing for my kid. 

Maybe all the woman who got so upset by what I thought was a tame article, which clearly said not to feel bad and that your kid will be fine on formula– she maybe just needed a little help, and I’m going to try to become a Leader give some support to other women.

I guess it has me thinking because I had heard negative stereotypes of LLL before.  Some people think they are militant activists out to make other women feel bad or something.  That hasn’t been my experience.  Every Leader I’ve met has been gentle and un-judgemental, and made me feel better about, or helped me to clarify, my choices. 

When I was giving a presentation before I finished my degree, one woman, who did breastfeed, started talking to me about it and said that she knew LLL people were really pushy and she doesn’t think they should be that way.  I told her it hadn’t been my experience and had she met one of the local ones here?  And she said, “no I’ve never actually met anyone in LLL.”  

So I guess the lesson in that, for me, is that people are always going to be touchy about some stuff and people are always going to stereotype in some ways. 

But I still think I’m doing something here that will make me happy and hopefully help another woman like me, who wanted to nurse her kid and needed some serious information and help.  Some seriously non-judgement, loving, no strings attached, help.  That’s what LLL has been for me!

For me, as a mother, breastfeeding was a big deal, for others something else is a big deal.  Let’s just embrace our differences, geez.

Can’t we all just get along???

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