Tag Archives: breastfeeding

is all government intervention bad? an exercise in free thought.

Y’all should check out this post over at at Newsreal. For those too lazy to click over, allow me to summarize:  some conservatives are upset because Obamacare has stipulated — prepared to be shocked! — that companies need to provide a space which is not a bathroom for breastfeeding moms to pump. The outrage! The nanny state needs to stay away from our boobies! The author of that post argues that, well, hey, she managed to pump in a bathroom, and she did just fine, so why change now? The government can’t tell me what to do and how dare they stipulate that I have to breastfeed and blah blah blah.

To which I reply: well, the government also eventually allowed my great-grandmother to vote, but she should have just sucked it up and been happy about allowing her husband to vote for her. What’s good enough for her is good enough for all of us. Right?

Right?

And blacks were also eventually allowed to vote, but how dare the government intervene!

Right?

Right?

Which leads me to my next question: is all government interference bad? By definition? And is providing a place for breastfeeding mothers to pump that is not a bathroom akin to forcing her to breastfeed against her will?

I would argue, no. In the same way that providing women and blacks the right to vote is not akin to forcing them to vote one way or the other or even at all, providing a space for mothers to pump in the workplace which is not a bathroom is simply providing access to a continuing breastfeeding relationship after going back to work.

What is the purpose of government? Isn’t it to provide freedom? Without this “government intervention,” are working mothers really free to breastfeed and go back to work? To those who argue, well, shouldn’t the market decide how that will play out? But what if the market decides that women shouldn’t work at all, and especially those who have chosen to try to have a family and work outside the home, or that customers seem to really like it better when disabled people are kept in the back, or…?

It’s just astonishing to me that the same people who would decry abortion also don’t want to see those women who chose to keep those babies have an easier time taking care of them once they are out of the womb. And never mind that breastfeeding actually saves lives — once the kid is out of the uterus, who cares? And that poor mother who chose to keep her baby rather than abort it, she doesn’t have a place to pump at work? Too bad for her. Just give the kid formula. Which she can’t afford. Oh, and the baby is now sick more often because she couldn’t continue to breastfeed? And she can’t take time off because she can’t afford it? Too bad. But good for you for keeping your baby and CHOOSING LIFE. *pat on back*

I realize I sound like a total hippie freak, but you know what? I don’t really care right now. The fact of the matter is that breastfeeding is a public health issue, and anyone with a lick of common sense would see that supporting breastfeeding by the rather innocent provision of a place to pump which is not a bathroom not only makes sense for the health of our nation, but financially as well.

Oh, but all government interference is bad. Ask any woman who voted in the past election. It’s terrible when the broken system changes, isn’t it?

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what would you do? thoughts on weaning a toddler, etc.

Gentle readers, I have a dilemma.

My wonderful husband and I will be celebrating 5 years of marriage in May, and we’ve thrown around the idea of leaving Sam with my mom and dad and going away for a long weekend, just the two of us.

Sam will be a few days shy of 16 months.

As of right now, he’s still nursing. Quite a bit. He sleeps all night now (YAY!!!) but during the day he nurses fairly frequently, in the typical toddler fashion of 2 minutes per session about a million times a day.

That is, unless we’re busy. If we’re running errands or playing with friends, he hardly ever asks to nurse. With real food and just being busy playing, he will sometimes go 6 or 7 hours without nursing.  So, on days where we are particularly busy, he nurses maybe 3 or 4 times all day. Once at 6am when he wakes up, once at 7:30 or 8 when he wakes up for the day, before naptime, and before bedtime. Sometimes he wants to nurse when he wakes up from his nap, too, but I can usually distract him with his sippy and a snack.

So, if we go on this little trip in May, I’d assume we’d need him to be weaned by then, yes? I’ve considered not weaning him completely and still going (and pumping or hand expressing for my own comfort while we were gone) but I don’t really know how he’d handle that. I’m sure my mom, loving grandma that she is, would prefer to not have an inconsolable toddler for a few days. But then I wonder…he doesn’t seem to even miss or think about nursing when I am not around, or if we’re busy, so would it really bother him if he wasn’t weaned but we took the trip anyway?

I am worried though that if we took the trip and he didn’t nurse for 3-4 days, he’d just be done nursing.

You might be saying, but isn’t that what you want? To be done? Well…yes and no.

I do want to get away with my hubby for a few days. That sounds fun and relaxing. We could sleep as much as we wanted! Go shopping! Have meals where no food is thrown on the floor!

I do kind of want my body back, just for a little bit, before I get knocked up again.

I do want to wear dresses and things again without having to think about how I’d nurse in it.

I am looking forward to wearing a normal bra again.

However…

Sam and I worked so hard to be able to nurse at all in the beginning, and I am not sure I am ready to give that up yet.

I know he’d still be getting immunological benefits from my milk, and it is such a comfort to know that when he is sick, he’s still getting fluids and nourishment from me, even if he doesn’t want anything else or can’t keep anything else down.

He’s still sensitive to dairy (I think — although I will confess that I have been cheating and eating dairy since he started sleeping through the night, but he has not been reintroduced yet), so he couldn’t have cow’s milk to drink, and I’m not giving him soy milk ever because it’s bad for boys, and rice milk is mostly sugar. Coconut milk is my preferred option, as it’s high in medium chain fatty acids and lauric acid, which is found in breast milk, but coconut milk is expensive. (You can read about how awesome coconut oil and milk is here).  So, I am not sure what I would wean him to, and I feel a little guilty about giving him something that’s second best (and more money) when I have the best thing to offer him, and it’s free, too!

I know that studies show that the longer a kid is breastfed, the smarter he or she is. With me as his mom, he’s going to need all the help he can get (although his daddy is very smart).

But aside from the many benefits of nursing a toddler, I would  miss nursing him. I know I would. I love having that chance to connect with him even if he does latch on and off to “talk” to me 457x a session or tries to put his feet in my face or stick his fingers up my nose or in my mouth or pinch me or rub his hands in my cleavage. One time when we was like, 8 months old, he farted while nursing, and I said to him, “Uh oh! I heard a little toot, toot, toooot!” and he came off and laughed. So now when he’s nursing I can say to him, “Toot toot tooot?” and he’ll giggle with my nipple in his mouth. It’s like an inside joke. I will miss that, you know? Even now as I type this out it makes my heart hurt to think about him not nursing anymore.

Ultimately, I want to wean him gently, over a period of time, so we can both adjust. Sometimes he can be distracted with a toy or a snack or his sippy, but other times only mama and her milk will do.

I’m just really torn about what to do. Do I go on the getaway with my hubby? Do I try to wean Sam before we leave? Do I go on the getaway but not wean him first and hope for the best? Or do we just put the plans to go on a trip on hold until after Sam self-weans (providing I am not, then, also nursing a newborn)?

What would you do? Have any tips on gently weaning a toddler? Is 16 months too young?

sam’s birth story

For the first half of my pregnancy, I saw an OB for my prenatal care. As this baby was a, uh, happy surprise, at first I just made an appointment with my mom’s OB — the guy who actually delivered me and my younger sister. And, at first, I liked him. We had our first ultrasound at 7 weeks, saw that little flicker of a beating heart, and made an appointment to come back at 10 weeks. During those 3 weeks, I started thinking about what kind of birth I wanted for this baby. I had heard that epidurals crossed the placenta and I didn’t want my baby to be drugged and drowzy after he or she was born, but I didn’t think there was another way. My cousin had her second daughter without an epidural, in a water birth. I messaged her on Facebook and she said that she would do it again in a heartbeart. I started reading up on water birth and other natural pain management methods and decided to ask my OB about it at the 10 week appointment.

His response was less than encouraging. He dismissed water birth as “a fad”, said that the birth tubs went unused at many hospitals, said that there was no medical benefit for either the mother or the baby. I went away from the appointment dissatisfied with his response. Everything I had read (and I tend to read a lot about subjects I am interested in) made a water birth sound so peaceful, so calm, so natural. Why was he so dismissive or even hostile toward the idea? It was then that I began looking for another model of care.

Through a divinely-ordained series of events, I found a certified nurse midwife and a birth center about 45 minutes from where we were living at the time. After much prayer and research, I convinced my husband to take a tour of the facility. He wasn’t sure, but agreed to do the tour with me. I am so glad we did! We fell in love with the birth center; it was basically a bed and breaskfast where you came home with a baby (minus breakfast…but you get the idea). And the midwife was wonderful. I instantly felt at ease with her. I didn’t feel like I would have to fight for what I wanted all the time like I did with the OB.

We decided to switch to the midwife practice, deliver at the birth center, and signed up for Bradley classes. Our journey toward a natural birth had begun.

I was due Saturday, January 17, 2009. Saturday dawned and I was hugely pregnant (gaining 85 lbs will do that, thanks Brewer Diet and no exercise!), miserable, and overly emotional. We went to Meijer and I cried in the cereal aisle. People kept texting and Facebooking me asking if I was in labor or experiencing contractions. Of course I was not. That night we watched a movie (ironically, Knocked Up) and I started having what felt like Braxton-Hicks. I didn’t bother timing them or anything like that because I had been having Braxton-Hicks for weeks. We went to bed around 11. At some point the contractions changed. They felt different than I had felt before, but were not painful yet. I got up at 2am to use the bathroom. When I threw my huge body out of bed I felt a little trickle, but figured I had just completely lost control of my bladder. I peed and then felt a huge gush of water. My water had broken! I wasn’t going to be pregnant forever! I called for my husband and he called the midwife. She told us to try to get some rest, and to call her when the contractions were 5 minutes apart. Well, I tried to get some sleep but it seemed tha after my water had broken the contractions picked up. I needed Tim to help coach me through them. We called the midwife back an hour later. I tried to relax through contractions as Tim scurried to pack up the car and things. We finally left for the birth center at around 6:30am, arriving at around 7.

My mom and sister arrived a little later, and I just chatted with everyone for another hour. Andrea checked me and I was 3.5 cm and 90% effaced. Not bad, considering I had been fully closed and only 50% effaced a few days before at my last prenatal appointment. I really wanted to get in the birth tub but the midwife said I needed to progress further first. My mom and sister went to get some breakfast while Tim and I hopped (okay, lumbered) in the shower. He sprayed hot water on my back which felt so good. We stayed in there until the hot water ran out. Then I labored on the birth ball for a while because my back was killing me and rocking my hips felt good. I didn’t know it, but my little guy was posterior, causing me to have back labor.

Things start to get blurry at this point. I had Tim, my mom and sister all pray for me. I was getting really tired and the contractions were getting more intense. After what seemed like forever I was able to get in the birth tub. Oh, it was wonderful. I was able to really let go, relax, and just let my body do what it needed to do to open up. I was even able to sleep between contractions. I could have stayed in there forever, but after 2 hours or so the midwife said I needed to get out because my labor was stalling a bit and the contractions were slowing down.

I labored on my hands and knees on the bed for a while, trying to get that baby to flip. At some point I started to feel like pushing. Pushing was the hardest part. Relaxing through contractions was easy; now I had to be an active participant in my labor. I was scared and unsure. Ah, transition. I asked people to please kill me, to take me to the hospital and cut the child from my uterus. I kept asking Tim if he loved me.

It took me about an hour to figure out how to push. I wasn’t really sure how to work with my body, but eventually I figured it out. While pushing on my hands and knees there was another big gush of water and the midwife said that I moved the baby down considerably. He had turned! It was only 45 minutes of pushing after that until he was out. I really don’t even remember the “ring of fire.” Everything was pretty numb from pressure by that point. Also, amnesia. One final push and his head was out, then the midwife flipped him because his shoulder was stuck, and his shoulder slid out. I did tear a little, 2nd degree. I pushed for 2 hours and 45 minutes.

That’s a little longer than average for a first-time mom. Why did I push for so long? Did I mention he was 9 lbs 4.5 oz?! Yeah, he was huge! (Well, as my midwife Barb said, whether the baby is 6 lbs or 10 lbs, they all feel big coming out). I am so thankful that the Lord lead us to the birth center and the midwife model of care. In a hospital setting, I would have been sectioned for sure. Number one, he was posterior — had I had the epidural and been unable to labor in different positions, I would not have been able to get him to turn. Number two, he was big — some OBs flat-out refuse to let women deliver babies bigger than 9 lbs vaginally. Number three, I pushed for longer than 2 hours — and the biggest enemy of laboring women in hospitals is the clock. They simply run out of time.

My midwife and the birth attendants supported me and loved me, and most importantly, gave me time to labor. I never felt pressured or like I was on the clock. They simply had faith that my baby would be born.

And he was. Samuel Ezra was born at 4:42pm, after 15 hours of labor. I will never forget feeling him slip out of me and seeing him for the first time. He was so big and healthy and alert. Time seemed to slow down and I just took him in. I loved him instantly.

Although his birth experience was exactly what we had hoped for, I was disappointed in the hours immediately after he was born. The nurse sort of halfway tried to get him to latch on, but I had flat nipples and he was sleepy and so she just took him away to be weighed and whatnot while I got stitched up, and said that we’d try again later (we didn’t).  I was so out of it and tired but I wish I had the presence of mind to ask everyone to just leave the three of us (Tim, Sam, and I) alone for an hour and to see if Sam would self-attach. As it was, we ended up leaving the birth center 6 hours after he was born and going home having never latched him on. My mom didn’t breastfeed, so she wasn’t really able to help with hands-on help (although she was supportive) and of course, Tim and I knew nothing. So Sam lost a lot of weight and my supply dropped because he basically didn’t eat for the first 4 days of his life. Oops. I look at pictures of him from then and feel horrible. He looked so…well, hungry.  Thank the Lord that in a moment of desperation I googled “lactation consultants + Anderson, IN” and Jennifer’s name came up. She is the LC at Saint John’s, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that if were not for her help and support, Sam and I would not be breastfeeding. We had many, many obstacles to overcome and someday I’ll write about them, but that’s a post in and of itself.

The birth center also sent us home with a “breastfeeding support kit” from those staunch breastfeeding supporters, Enfamil. (That was tongue-in-cheek, if you couldn’t tell). I was a lot less crunchy than I am now back then, but I think had I known then what I know now I would have politely but firmly told them precisely where they could put that “breastfeeding support kit.” (Disclaimer: I don’t care if you choose to formula-feed. That is not the point I am making. I am simply irritated at companies exploiting mothers and babies for a profit. Disclaimer over).

I say all that to say this: I think I would deliver at Expectations (the birth center) again but I would want to talk with the midwife about the unhelpful nurse who took Sam away too quickly, and the formula samples. I really feel that taking Sam away so quickly interfered with our bonding. And, for a natural-family-living, crunchy birth center place, it really surprised me that they would hand out formula samples, as they have been proven the undermine the breastfeeding relationship during it’s most vulnerable time. A bottle seems so easy and convenient when you’ve been trying to get a sleepy (or, alternatively, a screaming) newborn to latch on for 30 minutes and you’re all pstpartum-y and crying and your boobs hurt and you’re so tired you just want to die and you feel like you got hit by a bus because you just pushed a kid out.

And, I’d post pictures of his birth for dramatic effect, but 98% of them are not fit for public consumption as I was nekked. Sorry.