March 28, 2012 4

How I Was Breastfeeding ‘Booby Trapped’ and Almost Quit

By in breastfeeding, education, health & medicine, news & politics

Exhausted with a newborn I was clueless how to feed.

Breastfeeding is a complex issue. On one hand, it’s what our bodies are made to do, and our babies come out designed to make it work. However, there are so many nuances, potential issues, and even just basic understand of how it works versus how you think it’s going to work that it’s much harder than a lot of us expect. Not to mention all the potential Booby Traps out there that can really derail confidence or confuse you.

A recent Scottish study interviewed 36 moms and basically concluded that the recommendations out there that promote breastfeeding are unrealistic, so it was suggested we scale back the recommendations. However, I, like many, completely disagree. It’s not the recommendations that are the problem, but our culture. Best for Babes co-founder Danielle Rigg says: “Telling moms to breast-feed without full cultural, institutional and legal support is like being encouraged to run a marathon in a pair of flip-flops without any coaching.”

That’s where we have the problems. Not what we’re saying should happen, but with all the roadblocks we’ve got in place to prevent it. I already got into how talking to other moms honestly about breastfeeding is important, since we need to let them be aware of the struggles and how to overcome then as well as assurance they’re normal, but there’s so much more to it than that.

When I was pregnant with my first, I’d never touched a baby, much less seen one breastfed, and most of my friends were too young to be having children. We didn’t have the internet until I was in my last month of pregnancy either, so I read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, since it was given to me by my OB.  Also in the “gift bag” were pamphlets from formula companies, and they signed me up for formula company mailing lists, unbeknownst to me. The Navy gave us some information as well, which actually included a fantastic booklet with 27 pages on breastfeeding. Between those resources, I came to one conclusion: Breastfeeding was what I needed to do. After all, it was best for the baby, best for me, helped his immune system (and mine isn’t great so I worried about his), prevented cancers, and so on. It was obvious to me that breastfeeding was superior, and with my rapidly growing new breasts that leaked, I was pretty sure it was going to be a piece of cake and didn’t give it much thought. Instead I color-organized Rowan’s closet and pondered other things like circumcision, epidurals, and was especially concerned about breaking blood vessels in my face while pushing.

His birth was… okay. Really, though I’d never do it like that again, I am totally fine with it. What I’m really not okay with was after he’d been born. When it came time to feed him, I didn’t just put him to the breast. The nurse wheeled in double pump, and told me we needed to see if I had colostrum first. Dutifully, I put the foreign contraption to my breasts and pumped out almost two ounces of liquid gold. She applauded me, saying that was fantastic, and I felt smug. See? My breasts worked! Then, to not waste it, she took out a typical kitchen spoon and attempted to feed the pumped colostrum to my baby. He took some of it, but she spilled most of it on his hospital gown. Then I nursed him. Fortunately for me, he took to it with ease, and so did I. My son nursed, and nursed, and nursed some more, and we were content.

When we were discharged, I was feeling fabulous, and even stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up some clothes (he was full-term but tiny, so we needed preemie clothes), and also stopped into a Blockbuster where a friend was working to show him off. I also had my nice formula gift bag with bottles, a can of powder, and they even so generously provided us with two entire pallets of ready-to-feed formula and a sterile nipple for each bottle.

At home, things started to not go so well. He would nurse non-stop, vomit, nurse more, cry, nurse, vomit… and it kept going. I was getting so tired, and started getting scared he wasn’t getting enough to eat, so of course, popped a nipple on the ready-to-feed bottle and fed him. He ate the whole thing even after nursing for an hour, projectile vomited… and stopped breathing. Then breathed. Then stopped again for another 10 seconds, which when it’s your newborn, feels like a lifetime.

To make a long story very, very short, we took him to the ER where they didn’t allow him to nurse for 6 hours, then took a 30 minute ambulance ride to a specialty children’s hospital, where it took another hour to be admitted and they ran some tests. Shockingly (that’s sarcasm), after 8 hours of not eating, he was lethargic and had insanely low blood sugar. They considered everything from meningitis (he had a spinal tap) to STDs. Every time I wanted to nurse, they’d tell me to page them so they could prick his heel for a blood sugar test, and then do it again when he was done. Once they started taking 15-20 minutes to respond when I’d page them, I got pissed and just nursed him regardless. Not surprisingly, his blood sugar went back to normal as soon as he was allowed to eat regularly. They also provided more pallets of formula and nipples, and suggested maybe he wasn’t getting enough from me, despite his diapers weighing in fabulously heavy and him pooping regularly. My milk came in while we were there and I went up another full cup size, my breasts were rock solid, red, painful and stretch-marked, and I learned later that can be exacerbated by the excess fluids given to women during labor. Lovely.

Bruised hands from IVs in the propped up bed they taught us to create with rolled blankets.

We got to go home after 5 hellish days. The official diagnosis, by the way, was GERD. You know, essentially really bad reflux? It went untreated (they told us basically prop him up, that was it) and when I approached his pediatrician for help, was told to just let him cry and only feed him every three hours. Thank god at this point, I’d found an online forum called “Breastfeeding Your Reflux Baby” and learned from them there were medications to help (no one mentioned dairy elimination that I saw then).

I didn’t just let him cry, but I was so tired, so upset, not getting help, didn’t know where to turn, so when I finally would put him down after hours of nursing and walk away and he’d cry, I’d cry too and beg my husband to go give him a bottle so I could get a break. I also pumped religiously, still swearing I must not be making enough. I cried a lot, and was so exhausted that I ended up co-sleeping even though I didn’t want to because I’d pass out while side-lying nursing. I started with one bottle a day, but kept upping it to give myself a break, despite my husband’s protests, and we even bought a can when we ran out of the three pallets and full-sized “sample” can.

Eventually, my Navy husband deployed when our son was 5 or 6 weeks old, and I was too tired to deal with washing the pump, bottles, or mixing powdered formula, so I stopped giving it to him, and also got him on Zantac and Reglan (then promptly switched pediatricians). I nursed in public even though I was uncomfortable because I was alone, he was hungry, and with no one to help me, I had the option of feeding him there, or going home empty-handed with a screaming baby and never getting to leave my house. I was told I had to nurse in a bathroom at a restaurant even though I had a cover and had simply asked for a private corner booth (we promptly left the restaurant), given very dirty looks at a swimming pool for nursing him in 100 degree weather under a button-up shirt put on backwards by middle aged adults in bathing suits, and treated like a leper by a teenage boy handing out pizza at a Navy wife get-together at a bowling alley. I felt really alone.

Despite that, though suddenly things were going okay. His GERD was getting better, I was getting sleep, we were happier, he seemed content, and we continued to nurse with ease until he was 28 months old. But I think so often about how ridiculously hard those first few weeks were, how many people gave me bad advice, how many ways I’d been sabotaged without even knowing it, and how lucky I was to overcome it. If I’d had any real supply problems, latching problems, anything at all, I would have failed.

My daughter will be three in a couple months and has never had a drop of formula, I attended La Leche League meetings solely for companionship, and the two bottles of pumped milk she had were wasted since she considered them torture. I’m very proud of myself for that, but it took me really having some hindsight to see how wrong things went the first time around to realize that I’ve just been very lucky.

So no, we don’t need to tell people not to nurse exclusively until six months, or that they should keep going until two and beyond — we need to change how breastfeeding moms are treated by society, by health professionals, what information they are given, and put a stop to the sabotage or “Booby Traps” they’re regularly thrown into and really help them succeed, rather than telling them they need to do something and giving them no tools and only roadblocks on the path to do it.

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March 23, 2012 6

Breastfeeding Advocates Need to Be Honest With Breastfeeding Moms

By in breastfeeding, mom stuff, natural parenting, parenting

HoboMama via Flickr

Breastfeeding is tough. Even if you’re lucky and don’t buy into the many, many Booby Traps in your way, from formula advertising to misleading doctor advice, you still face another challenge, possibly the toughest one: Your fellow breastfeeding mothers.

If you’re familiar with us here at Daily Momtra at all, you know breastfeeding is a big passion of ours. We talk about it a lot. A LOT a lot. Despite my knowledge of breastfeeding and confidence that my body works despite my underdeveloped breast tissue, there have been days when I’m worried I stopped making milk, so in the shower or when my daughter is done nursing I hand express a little and feel relieved at seeing a drop or two. And I’ve breastfed for over five years now — 61 months. I’m so damn proud of myself for never having given my second child a drop of formula, and the two bottles of pumped milk I tried she thought was torture — and that was okay with me.

What wasn’t okay, though, was when I, or other moms, would try to talk about struggles, difficulties, pain, irritation, feeling tied down, and being shut down quickly. Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch recently wrote a post about feeling “Touched Out.” You know, when you’ve had kids on you ALL DAY, needing things from you, being in your personal space, and you just want to say, “Do. Not. TOUCH ME.” And nurslings? Yeah, you can really want them to stay the hell off you too. Yet, Joni had some comments from people who felt like this was an inappropriate post, or that a ‘good mom’ just shouldn’t feel that way.

What the heck, ladies? My first nursed until 28 months and at that point was only nursing to sleep and I am fairly certain I wasn’t even really lactating anymore, so I took one day and held him while he screamed when we laid down for a nap and I wouldn’t nurse him, then again that night, and from then on, cuddling was all he needed. But the next time he got sick, I felt so helpless. With my second child, I promised myself I’d make it to at least three, and let her self-wean. Here she is a few months from three and I’m night-weaning, but she’s still going strong. But lord help me if there aren’t days I just tell her NO because the thought of it just bothers me. And if it’s not her on my lap, it’s my son talking in my ear, or my cat sitting on me. Like right now. My hand is being headbutted because it’s being used to type instead of petting my sweet kitty cat. It’s not that I don’t like nursing, or want to, because obviously I do. It’s that sometimes, I just want people to stay the hell out of my personal bubble, kids included!

But this brings me to my real point here… by treating peoples’ struggles, their feelings, like something bad or wrong, we’re just making it harder for women to feel normal. For example, saying “If it hurts means you’re doing it wrong” just flat out isn’t true. Sometimes breastfeeding can hurt when you do everything PERFECT. When I’d fly from Georgia to dry Colorado with my son, my nipples would always crack and bleed because the combo of his nursing and the lack of humidity totally did me in. Or sometimes they have a new tooth coming in and their latch gets weird for a couple days because they’re having to figure it out again with the lump in their mouth. We can’t tell moms it shouldn’t hurt, or that it’s her fault if it does, because that’s not always true!

As Kate from Modern Alternative Mama said in her post “I’m Tired of Lactivists“:

How will they know what is normal pain and what isn’t?  And can you imagine a mother being told “No, of course it doesn’t hurt!” then starting to breastfeed and finding out it does?  What will she say?  Will she quit because she wasn’t prepared for that?  Will she seek help, only to be told, “Then you’re doing it wrong?”  How does that help her?

If we’ve got a new mom who is experiencing a lot of pain and we tell her it’s just that she’s screwing something up, that’s hideously discouraging. Of course she should have a lactation consultant help her make sure there ISN’T a real problem like tongue tie or a poor latch, but we also should make sure she knows that sometimes it does just hurt but it WILL get better and it WILL go away. That’s so much better for HER, isn’t it? Knowing that it’s temporary versus thinking she’s doing something wrong?

And this goes for many aspects of parenting, not just breastfeeding. Gina of The Feminist Breeder once, probably a year or two ago, referred to her kids as assholes. Said they were being assholes that day. Cue outage!

“How could you say that about your kids?!”

“What kind of mother talks about her children that way?”

Well, uh, plenty do, actually. Let’s face it… especially when your kids are older than their toddler years, there are days where you love them, but really can’t stand them. And yeah, some days they act like complete assholes and it’s all you can do to just get them to bed without losing it.

By being afraid to talk HONESTLY about the downsides of breastfeeding, and the downsides and struggles of parenting as a whole, is damaging to other women. It’s damaging to fellow moms. It means when a mom feels like her kid is being an asshole, she feels ALONE. She feels like she can’t say anything about it or she’ll get called names or her love for her children will be questioned. She’ll wonder if something is wrong with her, if she’s doing things wrong, if her kids are “bad kids” and it makes her feel unsupported.

Instead, we need to admit that sometimes parenting — and breastfeeding — can SUCK. Because only when we’re totally honest about the good times AND the bad can we really, truly support other women, by letting them know that some days your children are so angelic they take your breath away and you feel like the most blessed woman in the world, and other days, the idea of them sitting on your lap to nurse just makes your skin crawl and you want to jump in your car and drive far, far away.

Only then can we really, really help support other moms, truly, by letting them know they’re not alone, everyone struggles, and that THAT is what normal parenting is.

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March 21, 2012 3

Car Seat Safety Scare Tactics Are Totally Worth It

By in car seats, news & politics

It’s been exactly a year today since the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their car seat recommendations to include rear-facing children until at least two, or until they outgrew their seat, and for older kids to stay in boosters until they were 8-12 years old and 4’9″.  These simple recommendations, as we know, can and do not only save lives, but prevent many injuries, major and minor.

AAA did a survey and found that 35% of parents, or about a third, changed the way their children under age 13 rode in the car to follow these recommendations. That’s a lot of kids who are now much safer! When asked if they were aware of the recommendations, over 90% of the parents said they were, often hearing it from their pediatricians. That’s a nice contrast from hearing stories about doctors telling moms to illegal forward-face 8-month-olds, isn’t it? However, that means there were a lot of parents who knew… and didn’t change anything.

Take heart, though, when parents of children under two were asked why they changed nothing, 82% said it was because they’d already been meeting or exceeding the recommendation’s minimums, and 77% of parents of older children said the same. You go, guys!

However, there’s also a not so great finding, when parents who didn’t follow the recommendations were asked why they didn’t:

“Other reasons commonly cited included parents reporting their child was uncomfortable or unwilling to sit rear-facing, parents’ reluctance to return a child to a rear-facing position after “graduating” to a forward-facing seat and the belief that the new recommendations were unnecessary” and of parents of older children, “reasons cited for not making a change included the belief that the recommendations were too strict, their unwillingness to return their child to a booster seat after “graduating” to seat belt and concern over whether the child’s friends also used a booster seat.”

That’s the parents we need to reach, to convince, to help understand that your child is five times more likely to be injured forward-facing, and that you can also make rear-facing fun for a child, even one who has been forward-facing already. There’s a lot of ways to keep them happy, and even more importantly, it could save their life. Just as we don’t let our children run in the street in front of a car, do drugs, eat cat litter, this is an area where we’re the parent too, and we first and foremost do what’s best for our child, and THEN we address their feelings so they’re comfortable with and understand the reason for our decisions. We don’t LET them make the call here.

Often, it’s just a matter of helping not only the parents, but the child as well, understand basic physiology. Having a child feel the hard parts of their hips, versus the softness of their belly, and asking them what would be smashed if the seatbelt hit them in that area. Pretty simple answer, right? Bones… or organs? We also don’t parent around “do whatever your friends are doing, even though it’s not safe” or the “if your friends jumped off a bridge, you should too” logic, right? So let’s not do it here either!

I’ve heard as well, repeatedly, “I’m a safe and cautious driver” as if somehow that protects you from the woman putting on mascara as she runs late for work, the man asleep at the wheel with cruise control on, the new student driver, or in my husband’s case just last week on my birthday, the pizza delivery kid who didn’t look as he crossed the highway:

My poor, dead car.

Whether people like to admit it or not, telling you your child is much more likely to die if you don’t follow these recommendations may be a scare tactic, but it’s also the truth. Car accidents are still a major cause of injury and death of children in this country, and sometime as simple as following the recommendations can and does save many lives.

Jill Ingrassia, managing director, AAA Government Relations and Traffic Safety Advocacy said:

“Parents are getting the message that moving a child to the next step prematurely is actually a downgrade in safety.  Children should remain in their car or booster seat until they outgrow it. Seat belts are designed for adults and do not typically fit children until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall. Graduating a child from a booster seat too soon may result in injury, or even death, in the event of a crash.”

So, let’s celebrate the AAP’s success in helping get better information out and really making a difference! If you find your pediatrician isn’t giving out correct information, consider printing the AAP’s updated guidelines and taking them into your doctor. We know a lot of parents don’t have the time or the desire to do a lot of learning on their own, so pediatricians can be a great source of information… for better or worse. Also, make sure your own car seats are safe by taking them to a Safe Kids car seat check, and if you and your friends frequent the internet regularly, share good car seat information wherever you can. You never know who’s mind you’ll change, or who’s life you could save.

Do you follow the AAP’s recommendations? Why or why not?

 

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January 2, 2012 9

Target Nurse-In Reactions Are Old, Stale and Kind of Annoying

By in activism, breastfeeding, mom stuff

via Chrissy Bodin

People had mixed reactions to the amazing national Target Nurse-In. Some argue that events like that help people get used to the sight of nursing moms, others argue that it’s just a dramatic show, or even hurts the cause. That’s not my opinion, but people are definitely entitled to their own thoughts. Donn Esmonde, of Buffalo News, certainly took advantage of his right to his opinion when he wrote his article entitled “Let’s keep breast-feeding a private act.

He says:

Call me old-fashioned, but I just think that, when possible, some activities should be done privately.

No, I’m not going to call you old-fashioned, Donn. Just misinformed. And I’d like to see if I can help explain to you why even middle or upper-class, modestly-dressed women still choose to nurse in public.

Read the rest of this entry »

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December 29, 2011 6

Breastfeeding Activists: Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy

By in breastfeeding, mom stuff, natural parenting

vvonstruen

Have you ever heard the phrase “Fervor of the Born-Again”? You know, where people who are new to an idea, lifestyle or belief system are so fervent about it that they can be overbearing to the point of turning people off to an idea?

I used to be like that with breastfeeding. I really did. With all I knew, I just couldn’t FATHOM why someone would choose to formula feed, and knowing the risks of not breastfeeding were part of the reason I made my choice, and they were scary enough that it was hard not to think of people who knew that and still didn’t care as thoughtless mothers. Ouch, right? I told myself I was doing good, though, because I never referred to formula as poison. When I would read articles talking about using tact when discussing breastfeeding, I’d roll my eyes, and proclaim, “I will not sacrifice proper education to appease someone elses’ guilt!”

If you’re wincing at that, join the club. If you’re wondering what’s wrong with that, I’ll tell you. I’ve eventually found that balance I thought was impossible to find while still remaining honest. And the way I have is by talking to moms, honestly, about their experiences, and evaluating my own, and having sympathy for how complicated of an issue this can really be.

Read the rest of this entry »

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November 5, 2011 0

Voice-Activated Phone Menus Are a Mom’s Worst Nightmare

By in mom stuff, parenting

AMagill via Flickr

Technology is one of my favorite things in life. Seriously. Between the internet, my cable networks, my ereader, and so on, I’m in heaven. When we’re not broke, my husband and I enjoy keeping up with current technology too. But it doesn’t always work out quite right. I mean, how many times have you called a company or gone to a store where they say, “Sorry, our computers aren’t working right”? It’s both a blessing and a curse.

One of the most irritating pieces of technology out there when you’re a mom is the voice-activated phone menus.

Look, it’s hard enough as a mom to make phonecalls anyway. Even if you make sure your children are all fed, have peed, have every toy they own and put them in front of the TV with a bowl of candy and beg them to leave you alone for 5 minutes, they are designed by some sadistic creator to have Phone Radar. You know, the radar that tells them “MOMMY IS ON THE PHONE!” and gives them some IMMEDIATE need for something, or just to tell you something, that has to be done that very second, as soon as you actually decide to use the phone.

Even if you hide in the closet, their radar will find you.

So, to make matters worse, sometimes you have to pay bills, or call a business that has a voice-activated phone menu. Now, these I already struggle with because I catch myself saying “Thank you” or “please” to these machines, and they go, “That was not an option on the menu” and I find that my automatic manners just confuse the system… see, and I almost called it a robot. It’s like I’m determined to personify these things. (By the way, I love the old English woman accents some have.)

Anyway, but when the MOM ON PHONE radar sends your kids to you while you’re trying to speak slowly and clearly for the robot voice, it’s game over. The system asks you if you’re calling to make a payment, check your balance, or speak to customer service.

You: Make a pay—

Child: MOM, HE’S NOT LETTING ME WATCH THE SHOW I WANT TO WATCH!

Computer voice is now confused and tells you so. So you listen to it’s options over again, waving your hand frantically at your child to go away, pointing at the phone, mouthing words that you don’t want to say outloud for fear of making it worse. So finally, again, the system asks if you’re calling to make a payment, check your balance, or speak to customer service.

You: Make a–

Child: HE’S STANDING IN FRONT OF THE TV AND WON’T MOVE!

Computer voice now thinks you asked it to speak in Spanish.

So now, you hang up the phone, since you have no idea what it’s asking you anymore, rip your kids apart and set them in different rooms, away from the TV, again reminding them you need to make a phone call so they need to be quiet for just five minutes or so help you god you’ll punish them with something you don’t even know what it is yet because it’s that bad.

So, after calling the line back, entering in information to get back to the question, it asks if you’re calling to make a payment, check your balance, or speak to customer service.

You: Ma–

MOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

And this, utility company, is why my payment is late, and why when I say I called you 20 times and was never able to get through, I’m really not lying.

Seriously.

I think all moms need sound-proof telephone booths in their houses. It’s the only way we will survive this new voice technology.

 

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October 19, 2011 1

Sexy Dad Wearing a Baby: Mr. August!

By in dads

Time to get cheeky and (slightly) objectify the drool-worthy dads out there.

Installment #1: August, sexy babywearing dad (HELLO!)

Accessory: The lovely little Lucca in a rust Moby Wrap (goes really well with August’s Ginger locks, and hot damn how I love a man with a full beard)

Conclusion: August is a hot month, but an even hotter babywearing dad

*Thanks to Staci, August’s even hotter wife, for the pic!

Click like and/or leave a comment if you love this babywearing dad!

October 13, 2011 3

Product Review! Hygeia EnJoye Breast Pump: How Well Does It Work?

By in being green, breastfeeding, review

We're so happy we can do this two-part review! Christie tried the Hygeia EnJoye pump, then mailed it to Melanie, which closed-system pumps like Hygeia safely allow since nothing Christie's breastmilk touched then touches Melanie's breastmilk, it's HygeNIC (haha) as well. So special treat here, a two-for-one review!

Melanie: Best Pump in the Whole World!

Well, that's my opinion anyway.

My boobs were made to breastfeed. I'm not trying to be smug or anything. They just were, it's a fact. And with a little training, they have made me quite successful at pumping. A bad pumping session for me is when I get fewer than 4oz from one breast, and I've been known to get 16oz from one pumping session (and yes, of course I donate).

While I was pregnant with my third babe, Alaina, Christie asked me if I wanted to test this pump that she had been reviewing. Of course I wanted to! Any pump that can be shared in a sterile manner, and recycled after its life has ended is a pump that I want to get my hands on!

The Pump: Hygeia EnJoye Professional Grade Breast Pump Read the rest of this entry »

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September 21, 2011 16

HELLP Syndrome: The Pregnancy Complication No One Talks About

By in birth

Have you ever heard of HELLP Syndrome? I hadn’t until I was laboring for four hours in the hospital and something went wrong. I was feeling woozy and got up to go to the bathroom and realized I was too dizzy. It was almost instant — a rush of really not right feelings taking over the excitement that I was going to meet my twins soon.

I also saw it on the nurses face who ran to get me a cup to pee into so she could test my urine.
Read the rest of this entry »

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September 20, 2011 4

Talking about the Fall Equinox with Kitchen Witch Joni Rae

By in family matters, food, guest post, Holidays

Joni's daughter Hannah as the Green Lady

Here at Daily Momtra, religion is as diverse as the color of leaves during autumn. The Pagan holiday, Mabon or the Fall Equinox, falls tomorrow on September 21st this year, so as a Pagan mom myself, I wanted to get some information out there about the celebration, especially with children. I talked to Joni Rae, of Tales of a Kitchen Witch, about her own personal celebration of Mabon… which for her, involves special enjoyment of fall harvest cooking!

Here’s what Joni Rae does with her family to celebrate the beginning of autumn… Read the rest of this entry »

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