Breastfeeding

Wordless Wednesday

Posted on Dec 22, 2010 in Breastfeeding, Featured | 1 comment

Wordless Wednesday

This is my 2 year old daughter nursing after a late afternoon swim in Klein Lake on the Sunshine Coast this summer. I am now pregnant with our third child and Noa weaned a few months after this photo was taken. This is the last photo we have of her nursing.

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Just Nursing

Posted on Jul 7, 2010 in Breastfeeding, Featured | 3 comments

Just Nursing

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public This post was written for inclusion in the NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information. *** I don’t consider myself a lactavist. I didn’t call the CBC when I was asked to move into a change room at Superstore while nursing my daughter. I have not been to a nurse-in. I have never smuggled breastmilk onto a plane. I do think that breastfeeding is a normal natural beautiful act. I breastfeed my daughter anywhere I choose. I don’t let people’s opinions or rude looks stop me. I will breastfeed in a restaurant. At my table. Without a cover. I exclusively breastfed both of my children to 6 months. I continued with my son until he was 2.5 years old and probably will with my daughter as well. I breastfeed because it’s part of the package deal of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding and for me, it never became a choice. I was lucky in that both of my children latched well and I had an abundant supply. We took to breastfeeding with relative ease. Sure there was some soreness and some leakage and some fumbling with breastpads and straps and gaping wide rooting fussing baby mouths, but overall, it was pretty easy for us. I was lucky in a couple of other ways too. I had good role models: women in my family who went before me and treated breastfeeding like the most normal part of life. Women who paved the way for me to feel just a bit less self-conscious during all of that fumbling in the early days. I had supportive extended family members who didn’t bat an eyelash when I fed the baby in front of them, in-laws who never say anything unless it is a kind word. So for me nursing was just nursing. I never had to make a distinction between nursing and nursing in public. It was all the same. I didn’t have to go into a different room because my father-in-law was visiting. I didn’t feel like I had to cover up because I was at a restaurant. I didn’t have to go out to my car because my baby got hungry in a store. Sure there are nuances when I’m in public, like wearing a bra or sometimes having a hard time finding a comfy seat, but overall, I treated the act of feeding my baby the same no matter where I was. I got good at nursing while walking around a store (though I never figured out how to nurse in the sling) or even just sitting on the ground or leaning against a wall if I couldn’t find a seat. And I fed my baby. I am also lucky to be a very internal, introverted person. I tend to get lost in my thoughts a lot when I’m out and about. I can be kind of oblivious to those around me. My husband is always noticing the people who pass by while I am busy noticing the sky, the flowers or zoning out to my internal to do list and inner monologue. Surprisingly, this is a nursing in public superpower. This means that I can honestly say that I’ve almost never noticed a person glancing askance as I lifted my shirt to latch my hungry baby in the grocery store or a park or the library. I feel kind of oblivious and sometimes this is a bad thing but when it comes to nursing in public, it’s the equivalent of a very thick skin. My experience, breastfeeding my babies in Canada, was almost entirely positive, but I know that isn’t the case for the majority of women in North America. I know that too many women feel unsupported and self-conscious. I know too many women feel frowned upon for attempting to feed their babies in public. I feel terribly sad that we even have to make a distinction about nursing in...

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The Breastfeeding Choice

Posted on Jun 28, 2010 in Breastfeeding, Featured | 4 comments

The Breastfeeding Choice

Lately, it seems that everyone is debating the choice to breastfeed. Reading various blog posts and opinion pieces, got me thinking about why I breastfed my two children. Health campaigns having been making it clear that there are major health benefits including lower rates of asthma and diabetes in children and lower rates of breast cancer in mothers. The oft-cited lifestyle benefits include convenience (always having baby’s food with me no matter where we are, never having to heat bottles, never running out, not having to bring a lot of extra gear on outtings – besides a couple of diapers), cost-savings (not having to buy bottles or formula), better sleep, ability to soothe a baby who is hurt, getting a vaccination or whose ears are bothered by the pressure on an airplane. These are all great reasons to decide to breastfeed, but for me, they were like bonuses, icing on the cake. They weren’t the reason I breastfed my children. To be honest, I didn’t consider breastfeeding a choice. I suppose I could say that I thought it was my responsibility in a way but even that doesn’t really describe my feelings. I didn’t do it out of a sense of duty. I did it because that is what is involved in my role as a mother. For me, breastfeeding was just part of the package of childbearing. Just as I didn’t really have a choice about how to conceive, just as I didn’t really have a choice about growing and carrying a baby inside my body, just as I didn’t really have a choice about when and how I would push that baby out of my body, I didn’t feel I had a choice about how I feed that baby. Sure, in this day and age, we have things like IVF for conception, surrogates for pregnancy, cesareans for birth and formula for feeding. But in my mind, those wonders of science are available to make childbearing possible in spite of insurmountable challenges. For me, they are not choices. For me, the choice I had was whether or not I wanted to have children at all. Once I made the decision to have children, I embarked on a path that included pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding because that is what is involved in having children. Along the way, I had choices regarding my prenatal care, my place of birth and the length of time I breastfed my children, but I didn’t really have a choice about the steps in human procreation. Of course, all those steps involve some pretty big downsides like cankles and heartburn, contractions and the Ring of Fire, thrush and mastitis. But all three are also the most amazing privileges. We get to feel the wonder of the baby moving and growing inside of us, we get to experience the transformative power of childbirth, and we get to nourish and bond with our babies in a very primal physical way. Nothing about parenting is easy. Some of us will experience challenges with almost every aspect, from the moment we start trying to conceive. But we do it anyway because that’s what it takes to parent. We do what our children need us to do because it’s just a part of the deal. I guess one of the major differences is that all things considered our culture is supportive of pregnancy and birth (barring for now major ideological differences regarding what childbirth should look like). But breastfeeding is another story. Our culture does not support breastfeeding. The average North American woman is not living in an environment that makes breastfeeding something that feels normal, or even possible. The average woman is not supported by extended family to breastfeed. The average woman receives conflicting and erroneous advice about breastfeeding from the hospital, her friends and her health care providers. The average woman feels that breastfeeding in public is offensive or imprudent. The average woman is sent messages every day from society, from the media that tell her that breastfeeding is either creepy or too intimate to occur outside of...

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Thoughts on Weaning

Posted on Jan 19, 2010 in Breastfeeding, Featured, Parenting | 10 comments

Thoughts on Weaning

I consider myself lucky. In this culture of formula and inadequate support and work pressures, so many women seem to struggle with breastfeeding. For me, the struggle was actually weaning. Breastfeeding came easy. My babies latched well and I had a bigger issue with oversupply than with not producing enough. I had great support from my midwives and family, and I was lucky to have a whole year of Canadian maternity leave. My children were both enthusiastic nursers and as a result, weaning was a very long gradual process. I had initially intended to nurse my firstborn for 18 months. We did manage to night-wean him at 15 months when I got a part-time job but his day-time nursing made up for it. There was no chance he’d be weaned at 18 months. I didn’t want to stop breastfeeding before my son was ready. I wanted very much for the process of weaning to be loving and gentle and to move at a pace dictated largely by my son, with some encouragement from me.  In that sense, I wouldn’t say it was truly child-led weaning as I definitely played an encouraging (or discouraging) role. I employed the oft-cited tactics like “Don’t offer, don’t refuse” and distraction or offering alternatives. Eventually, I would decline a request to nurse whenever I thought I could get away with it. I will be honest. Sometimes it felt like I would never get my body back. Sometimes I felt touched out and resented having to nurse again. Sometimes I felt that weaning gradually was too difficult, too slow. By the time Rain was two years old, he was only nursing before and after sleeps and when hurt or upset. A month after his second birthday, I got pregnant again. Nursing quickly became uncomfortable and I wasn’t sure I was interested in tandem nursing. I knew that the next 9 months held Rain’s weaning. We gradually got him into a bedtime routine that involved reading books, a cup of milk and some a lot of cuddles. By January 2008, he was only nursing once a day, before his nap. One day—was it January? February?—he was playing with his cousins in the house. They had the camping gear out and were pretending that the rolled blue foam sleeping pads were horses. They would sit on them and pretend to ride. Rain brought one back to the bus at lunch time. He asked to sleep with his horse during nap time. We laid down together on the bed in the back. I remember the light peeking through the curtains. I remember him putting his arm around Rose, his trusty horse and curling his body round the blue foam pad. I remember tucking his blanket around him. I remember how I stroked his hair and how he drifted off, forgetting to ask for a nurse. I don’t remember the day before, the day we nursed as we always did. I don’t remember the way he looked or what the light was like the last time we nursed. But I remember the day he didn’t nurse. I remember this day as the day he weaned. He did nurse again after that day: occasionally to sleep, when he fell and got hurt, after his sister was born and he would watch her nurse, curious and remembering how he had loved to nurse. By the time Noa was born, he would only latch, suck once or twice, grow bored and wander off to do something else. I remember the day with the blue foam horse named Rose because this was the first day he didn’t nurse. This was the real weaning: the day nursing was no longer a daily affair, no longer a part of the rhythm of our lives. I have many many memories of breastfeeding Rain. I remember the early days learning together, sitting up alone with him at night by the light shining through the closet door, listening to Aaron and the dog snore, listening to Rain’s sleepy swallows. I remember the toddler acrobatics as he nursed while...

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