Friday, December 31, 2010

This Moment- Playing On the Farm

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

To My Nursling On Your First Birthday

Smunchie, 5 weeks old,
photograph by Jack Potts

Dear Smunchie,

My darling, sweet girl, I love you.  My chest tightens when I think of you as though I'm going to burst apart so great is the love I have for you.  It is overwhelming and surprising for I have that same sensation when I think of each of your four big sisters and yet there was more than enough room for you in my heart and our home.  You have filled that space well.  In our house you are a rock star, we flock to you in hopes of a smile bestowed upon us, striving to extract one of your ever-ready giggles like a tiny nugget of gold to be cherished as a prized possession.

Smunchie, 12.28.09

Today we celebrate you and quietly I will also be celebrating me, us.  Your birth was beautiful, hard but beautiful.  A challenging labor on both of us with a difficult presentation (your poor face!) we had to work hard to birth you and you were bruised from the effort.  It has been a year since I sang through contractions, a year since I pushed you out of my body on my bed, a year since I first saw your face, touched your cheek, kissed your head, breathed your scent, gave you my breast.  So much has happened in this first year and yet I feel as though I merely blinked and here we are.  Together and with your daddy and sisters we have encountered moments of ecstatic joy, wonder, discovery, fear, uncertainty, frustration, tenderness, energy, curiosity, and love.  It has been a good year and I feel honored to not only have shared it with you but to be the one you turned to for comfort, nourishment, and sustenance along the way.  And to be the one to make you laugh the most.

On her way out, Smunchie's head, my hands, 12.28.09
photograph by Linda Dybala

Not only do we celebrate the first year of your life outside the womb and all the many milestones that entails but I celebrate us making it to the first year of breastfeeding.  We were not without our hurdles.  Jaundice, heart troubles, lost weight, no weight gain, terrible latch, bloody nipples, sleepy baby, doctor visits, chest x-rays, EKGs, monitors, and pumping, I wondered if we would make it.  I didn't expect these challenges, I considered myself an old pro at breastfeeding but as it turned out I hired a Lactation Consultant for the first time for me personally with you, my 5th baby.  With the help of your daddy, our midwives, our pediatrician and some friends we made it though and finally my nipples healed, your latch improved and you got back to your birth weight and kept growing, you heart and body getting stronger every day.  We did that, you and I, we made it.  Not every mother gets this, it doesn't always work out, I'm one of the lucky ones.

You amazed me the first time you really went in search of the breast, before we knew something was amiss you already knew what you needed.  Surprisingly strong and determined you went after my breast with gusto and a perfect latch.  Though difficulties developed shortly after that I saw a glimpse into your personality during that feeding and admired you greatly even then.  It is this personality along with the prayers and help of others that got you through when the going got rough.

Smunchie's first breastfeeding photo

In spite of a rocky start we settled in to a special breastfeeding relationship after about the 12 week mark.  A relationship I treasured just a bit more because of it's tenuous start.  There were times, bare chest to bare chest when I would feel your tiny heart beat against me while you suckled and I would breath just a little bit easier for that moment knowing we were doing the very best we could for you and it was working.  Days turned into weeks and you began smiling back at me as you stared up into my eyes while you were feeding.  Then came your little hand reaching for my face and if it wasn't already established, I was hooked.

I'm still hooked and will be forever.  These breastfeeding days are short in the grand scheme of your life but they are precious to me.  This time where I am your world, your favorite person, your comfort and your favorite nutrition will move along quickly.  I do my best to hold on to them but I know that all I can really do is enjoy them while they last.  Because just as you will grow up developing more of that amazing personality you have so these breastfeeding days will grow into bigger and better things for you someday.

But not any time soon, we've got a while yet.

Your name is fitting to you already, Cosette Marguerite Constance.  You are the constant flower of the victorious people; strong yet delicate, beautiful yet steadfast, victorious yet blooming.  To me you're also Smunchie, my cuddly small one ready to munch, my smunchkin.  I love you with a love bigger than I can begin to understand.  Happy Birthday my little nursling.

Much love,

Mommy (AKA Boobies)

Smunchie 12.21.10.

Friday, December 24, 2010

This Moment- For the Love of Sisters

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Time To Heal- A look at postpartum recovery

This post was inspired by something I wrote a year ago to a friend feeling overwhelmed with life and the physical condition of her body just 3 weeks after giving birth.  I've changed a lot of it and added to it to apply to more women but the message is the same. 

Laboring at home.

I often see or hear of women pushing themselves to return to normal as quickly as possible after birth.  In a hurry to get their life and body back they jump into a myriad of activities at warp speed, often just days after giving birth.  Riding on the birth and baby high, pumped full of adrenaline yet restless from the last few weeks of pregnancy, particularly if they felt like a watched pot, these women fill their schedule, attack their house, and find new projects determined to not be slowed down, impatiently trying to control and master this new version of normal.  These women are often viewed with admiration and awe and the media highlights celebrities that are back to their prepregnant weight by 6 weeks or were spotted out jogging at 3 weeks or were back on the set of their TV show at 10 days.  This is held up as the epitome of a strong woman, give birth, bounce back, conquer world.  After all, women in China squat in a rice field, push their baby out and throw them on their back then return to work, right?

It's as though we've forgotten to celebrate.  We've forgotten how important it is to rest after a hard work and enjoy the fruit of our labors.  We've forgotten that while pregnancy and childbirth may not be an illness our bodies still need to recover from the taxing physical and emotional demands of the endeavor.  Pregnancy, labor and childbirth may be a normal part of life but it is anything but easy.  The change a woman's body goes through are massive to say nothing of the emotional journey as well.  Ignoring this reality can have serious consequences for our bodies, our emotional health, our breastfeeding relationship with our baby, our mothering, and our families.  Do not underestimate the potential for damage if we neglect our postpartum healing. 

Smunchie, 2 weeks.

I understand the temptation, the drive.  My pregnancies are difficult and I feel more alive after birth than I ever feel during the months of pregnancy so I can't wait to get back to feeling well and being active.  Two weeks after giving birth to my first we moved and I returned to teaching private lessons and was leading worship at 3 weeks.  With my second I was performing at 6 days postpartum, my dress too tight in the chest thanks to being engorged and my baby in the green room with a friend where I'd run to nurse her between sets praying I wouldn't soak through my breast pads.  With my 3rd baby I did nothing... for a week and then I was back cleaning my house, cooking and grocery shopping.  I actually had maternity leave that time and I took it, mostly.  The only reason I wasn't out shopping, taking the older kids to the park and lessons was because we all got the flu when she was just 3 weeks old.  Almost 5 years later baby #4 was born and I still hadn't learned my lesson, shopping at Baby's R Us at 2 days postpartum, walking the mall at 2 weeks and attending births at 3 weeks and that was after experiencing uterine prolapse during the pushing stage.  In the 2 years between #4 and #5 I learned a lot, worked with a lot of women as a midwife student and doula, studied different cultures approach to birth and motherhood, talked to midwives and many mothers and came to realize that we were missing something vital.  Nearly a year ago with Smunchie I did nothing for almost 4 weeks and then tried to gradually eased into activity after that.  The biggest obstacle I encountered in trying to rest?  Not my children, not the house cleaning, not the cooking, not anything I was missing out on.  No, the biggest obstacle was the voice in my head and a tiny handful of other people (including the company that came to "help") saying I couldn't let this "keep me down," I was strong and there was so much to do.  Stupid voices.

Dear pregnant women and recently postpartum women, I have a few things to say to you.  Please, please, please let yourself rest and recover, do not be impatient with this postpartum time.  You have gone through so much and now is the time to simply be with your baby.  You have not done a small thing, no.  This major organ and bag of muscles in your body grew quickly more than tripling in size in a few months. Your blood volume more than doubled. Demands were placed on your body and while it rose to the challenge this also depleted your resources. Organs shifted and were smashed.  If you had a vaginal birth your body worked to move your baby down and out, stretching, pulling, opening, applying 40-60 pounds of pressure as your uterus flexed it's great strength to bring you your baby.  Parts of your body stretched and eased out a whole person, a small person but still, a person.  And maybe not that small.  Any tearing or swelling needs time to heal.  If you encountered interventions outside of your body's own initiative then you have additional physical stress and possibly emotional stress to recover from as well.  For those that had a cesarean, you had major (as in, serious, muscle separating, invasive) surgery that removed a significant mass (baby, sorry) from your body causing significant blood loss, a shift of internal organs, and an incision that all require recovery and healing.  C-section surgery may be the most common surgery in our country but that doesn't make it any less invasive and traumatizing on the body. C-sections don't mean you get to completely skip out on postpartum recovery and "only" have to recover from surgery, no, you have both to do and this isn't easy.  Some of you labored and had major abdominal surgery too.  However your baby was born you need rest and lots and lots of it.  Either way there is a large wound inside you where the placenta was attached, it needs rest to heal.  Days or weeks into your postpartum recovery you are healing from huge physical changes and giving birth, maybe surgery, tears, and more.  Six weeks is a small amount of time to ensure you recover well.  Mothers recovering from a c-section, remember you had major surgery and you should be resting, REALLY resting for at least 8 weeks knowing that surgery can take even longer for full recovery. 

My roses from The Piano Man after Smunchie's birth and my baby hanging out.

The western world has placed unrealistic expectations and demands on new mothers during the postpartum period. We not only neglect them but we ask them to neglect themselves! I'm a firm believer that staying home, lounging in your PJs for 6 weeks with good food, real support, and helpers is the best way to set a new mother up for success. In cultures where this is practiced PPD rates are significantly lower, mothers report being happier and more confident and marriages are stronger. A woman's partner sees that she has gone through a physically trans-formative experience and respects that more in her. I am a huge advocate of pregnancy and birth as normal, life events, not an illness but at the same time recognize that we must embrace the changes that this normal process brings our bodies with peace, rest, and gentleness for ourselves.

I know it's hard, I know you've been stuck feeling crappy at the end of pregnancy for what feels like ages and it is hard not to be in a hurry to return to normal. But here's the reality check we rarely talk about: you have a new normal now.  Life will never go back completely the same, everything has changed.  Normal is now redefined. This new normal includes having been pregnant and giving birth, being a mother for the first time or having one (or 2 or 3) more children than you did before.  Busy before looks nothing like busy now.  Sleep is changed.  Instead of handbag you carry a diaper bag.  You don't even pee the same way.  Our culture tells us these things are the bad parts of becoming a mother but maybe they are actually the good parts.  I don't know but what I do know is that at first it is just crazy overwhelming. Your postpartum time can help you ease into this new normal as much as possible. Pull out of your regular activities, they will be fine not having you for a few weeks I promise. You will too. Recognize that there will have to be a lot of flexibility because your baby simply isn't going to be reading the same things you are. Just like with labor and birth take it one step, one minute at a time. Go easy on yourself and show yourself some grace.   Even if you have other children already you need this time and the truth is they do to.  Embracing the changes you are all experiencing means giving room for them to happen.  And by the way, those celebrities you see, they have help, lots and lots of help.  Not to mention they're not respecting themselves either by ignoring this time.

The Piano Man sitting with a jaundiced Smunchie in the sun while I napped, well, napped after I took this pic.

Now, I'm pulling out the mommy tone... you can ignore me if you like but I have to say it.

Put the car seat down. For that matter, put the keys down. You don't have to be super mom. In fact, if you try you are likely to burn out and find yourself much worse off. Take it or leave it but I'm giving you permission to not wash your hair, not change your clothes, not leave the house, not wash a dish, not pick-up a toy and not do anything else than put a DVD on, sit on the couch with your precious baby and be the postpartum woman you actually are.  Stare into your baby's eyes, stare at partner staring into your baby's eyes. Close your eyes and take a nap when all three of you are tired of staring.  Focus on breastfeeding and getting your supply well established, take the time to get both you and your baby comfortable with breastfeeding.  Sip a glass of wine once in a while, take a long shower while someone else holds your baby, ask a friend paint your toe nails.  Have your husband bring food home, if you don't care, let him pick, if you do care, call ahead and have the order placed and just let him know where to stop on his way home. Order extra so there are left-overs for tomorrow.  Ask him to help pick up around the house even while you just lay in bed or sit on the couch.  Yes, he's tired, yes, he may be working a lot and dealing with the stress of sleep issues with a newborn in the house (maybe) but, sorry, you still have the trump card of 9 months of major body changes, the extreme workout of your uterus contracting and pushing our a baby or the muscles in your abdomen recently severed, pulled apart and opened and your baby extracted from your insides after which you were put back together but not completely. Put the car seat down. Oh, I said that earlier. Well, I mean it. Ask for help, friends, family, or hired help (postpartum doulas are great) and actually let them help.  You need rest and healing. Whatever that looks like. Who gives a flip if you take 6 weeks to do nothing?  Being truly rested and healed is worth the time.  You don't have to be on house arrest the whole time by any stretch but after giving yourself a good 2-3 weeks staying in, ease yourself into the outings slowly and listen to your body and go home when it says it's had enough and it's time to rest.

Your body has ways to tell you when you're not resting enough.  If you spot any of these in yourself it's time to slow down. 

Bright red bleeding- The first few days the lochia (postpartum discharge of blood, tissue, and mucus) is usually heavy and red but it tapers off to pink and mucusy and then brown.  When you see bright red after it has changed then you are doing too much. 

Thirst- Change in blood volume, hormones, sweating, and breastfeeding make staying hydrated important.  If you're thirsty then your body is telling you it's dehydrated so please slow down and drink more and eat food rich in water. 

Exhaustion- Being tired goes with having a new baby but if you're exhausted you're setting yourself up for a host of other problems including postpartum depression.  Sleep is important.  The old adage to nap when the baby naps isn't just for fun, you really need to try to sleep every chance you can. 

Baby Blues- It's completely normal to have a wide range of emotions after having a baby and feeling a little blue isn't uncommon.  However, when that feeling is stronger than just a bit of the blues or you find yourself battling overwhelming sadness, anxiety and stress, look and see if your schedule is too full.  Don't hesitate to talk to your doctor about it if the blues turn into something much more oppressive. 

Constipation- There are several causes for constipation including diet and fluid intake but did you know that if you're not getting the rest you need and not taking the time to eat and drink well it can also contribute?  And after pregnancy and birth you want to keep things easy down there. 

Trouble sleeping- Babies wake often to feed so sleep can be a little difficult to come by in the early days.  If you find yourself unable to sleep when you do actually have the chance it could be because you're not getting enough rest and are overtired.  Activity can help with sleep to but don't rush into anything, take your time and be well rested to avoid a vicious cycle. 

Breastfeeding troubles- There is nothing like staying home for weeks, putting your feet up and making sure you and your baby get off to as good a start as possible.  This takes work, attention and sometimes perseverance.  The first week is particularly important, lay in bed, eat, drink, nurse, change diapers there, and get your supply established by feeding on demand. The dust bunnies can wait, someone else can do the dishes or use paper plates but this breastfeeding relationship is for the long haul and not something that you want to worry about fixing later. 

Continued bleeding- Most women stop bleeding anywhere between 3-6 weeks postpartum.  I have seen with myself and with other women that the postpartum bleeding time can be greatly reduced by resting and for those that don't rest it often extends, sometimes going much longer than 6 weeks. 

Touched out- Babies like to be close which is great, we like to have them close too.  But sometimes you may wonder when was the last time someone wasn't touching you.  If you start feeling touched out and overwhelmed with physical contact it may be time to let someone else hold your baby.  Your brain is signaling for you to take care of yourself and being fatigued will make you overly sensitive to stimulation.  Feed your baby and hand him/her off while you take a nap alone, shower or make a run to the coffee shop drive-through.

It wasn't until my 5th baby that I finally rested postpartum.  Looking back I don't regret taking that time at all and I wish I had respected myself and my babies more the 4 times prior.  Due to some health concerns with Smunchie it wasn't exactly the restful period I had hoped for but it was significantly more so than it had ever been with my 4 older girls.  My bleeding time was 3 weeks, we stocked up on cuddles as a family, I was actually able to sleep even with a crazy breastfeeding and pumping schedule, and I felt great.  There were moments when I felt I should be doing something but nothing was left undone that either someone else couldn't do or couldn't wait for me to get around to it.  To combat feeling lazy and unproductive (sleep is productive though!) I did knit some and really enjoyed having my baby laying next to me while I knit her some sweet clothes.

Roses, baby and my knitting 1 week postpartum.

In all of my long-winded babbling my point is respect yourself, respect this time.  Hold onto it, it will pass quickly and there are precious moments here.  Moments of healing, moments of growing, moments of developing, moments of transition, moments of deepening and moments of memory.  The first six weeks or so pass in a blur as it is, slow down so you don't miss them entirely.  If you are too busy for those moments you will feel like you missed something and your body will not be in a place to help support the pace of life having a new baby now puts you.  There is no doubt you can do it but how you begin can make a huge difference in how you continue.  Rest for now, busy will always find you again later and your new normal will engulf you soon enough.

Friday, December 17, 2010

This Moment- The final Nutcracker 2010

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This Moment- Finding Our Christmas Tree

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Breastfeeding- Good for Dads Too

Occasionally I'll hear that someone's husband or boyfriend didn't want them to breastfeed.  The reasons vary but one thing I know for sure is how hard it is to breastfeed without support.  That's not all though, I know there are some pretty darn good reasons a guy would want his girl to give lactating a try.  So guys, I don't want to leave you out and neither does anyone else.

The real question is why wouldn't you want your partner to breastfeed your children?

I'm not a man.  For me to write about this perspective is complete conjecture.  Except somehow I manage to talk about breastfeeding with everyone, even my single male friends find themselves inexplicably discussing breastfeeding, the benefits of breastfeeding, the over-sexualization and objectification of breasts and women and what is normal and weird.  It truly is amazing how often it comes up not to mention all the conversations I've had with The Piano Man on the subject.  I've heard a lot from single men, dating men, married men, married and expecting, married with kids, and married with grown kids.  After the post 8 Unexpected Benefits of Breastfeeding one of my single guy friends was completely fascinated about points 4 and 7 in particular.  I don't know everything but I know a thing or two about several "selfish" reasons a guy would want the mother of their children to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding- Good For Dads Too- Why Guys DO Want The Mother of Their Children To Breastfeed

You are an important part of the equation
True, she may be the one with the goods but I promise you do matter.  Getting the baby ready to eat, setting her up in a comfortable spot with a glass of water, putting on her favorite music or starting a movie, rubbing her feet or shoulders while she's nursing, helping with some house hold chore, making her a snack or even better a meal and in general keeping her company or gazing adoringly at her and your child will have her falling deeper in love with you by the second.  You'll be a hero.  And this is good, you'll like the outcome when she is deeper in love with you, trust me.

More money for your toys!

Formula is expensive, I mean really, REALLY expensive.  Obviously, breastfeeding is cheaper than buying formula unless you qualify for free formula through WIC but the cost of formula aside, statistically speaking studies show that breastfed babies tend to go to the doctor less.  On top of all those money saving advantageous there's even the amazing healing properties of breastmilk itself.  Cuts, scrapes, rashes, eye infections and other ailments respond well to the application of breastmilk.  This means less money spent on co-pays and prescriptions or time missing work and more for that big screen TV and a pair of diamond earrings for her.

No weight lifting- lighter diaper bag!

Formula lightens your wallet and weighs down the diaper bag.  You won't feel like you're weight lifting every time you pick up the diaper bag if she's breastfeeding.  If the diaper bag is heavy see if she's sneaking bricks in there or something because all you usually need in the diaper bag of a breastfed baby is a couple of diapers, wipes, small blanket, change of clothes and maybe a toy.  No bottles to mix, no formula to lug around.

Late night store runs are limited to chocolate, beer and diapers
It's incredibly rare for a woman to run out of breastmilk, like seriously, almost never.  If it does happen it means something is wrong.  The entire system is demand and supply: baby demands, boobs supply.  This means no panicky runs to the store late at night because someone forgot to pick up a new can of formula and starving your baby is not an option.  Nope, if you're running to the store late at night it's for something else.  Like chocolate.  Or beer.  Or diapers... unless you're cloth diapering but I'll save that for later.

It's like a comedy routine
There are some pretty funny moments that come with breastfeeding.  Unexpected letdown, shirts with holes for nipples, strange bras, pumping experiences, spraying across the room and so much more.  You're bound to find yourself laughing at some bizarre experience.  Just be sure you're laughing with her, not at her or you might not get to enjoy some of those other benefits, you'll soon see what I mean.

Confidence is SEXY
Your girl is hot and sexy, right?  You tell her this and she glows but argues with you saying she's not and that is so not sexy.  Unfortunately media, the fashion industry, and a variety of other culprits have chipped away at women's confidence regarding their bodies.  Even though we know the standards of beauty and sexy are based on fake women, we our own worst critics finding every flaw, real and imagined and are continually disappointed in our bodies.  Oddly enough, many women find that childbirth and breastfeeding actually boost their confidence.  To see what their bodies can do changes their perspective and gradually their imperfections become just a part of the package that grew and now nourishes their baby.  Your baby.  Giving them more confidence than ever before.  Confidence is sexy, even sexier than she would be in any item from Victoria Secret.  And if she doesn't become more confident in her body through motherhood, let her know that you are confident in her body anyway.

Hell-O Boobies!
While I'm sure you love your partner's breast just the way they are, most women experience a bit of a size increase with pregnancy and when their milk comes in.  It can be like Miracle Grow for Boobs.  Larger boobs, who can complain about that?  They also get a little more firm in their lactating state.  Plus, you'll get to see them pretty much all the time since she's going to be breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, specially in the early days.  And if she is in the mood, they can be a lot of fun to play with, like a whole new experience kind of fun.  It's true that they may be a little different after breastfeeding, though you can't blame any sagging on breastfeeding, that's from pregnancy and genetics; but they are still boobs and hey, it keeps things interesting.

Here, let me help you with that

With all that growth and the new activity she's going to need some lotion and maybe lanolin, surely you wouldn't mind helping her rub some lotion all over those magic breasts, right?  And some women end up with serious engorgement and sometimes babies have trouble relieving it, rumor has it the milk tastes pretty good, like the milk left over after a bowl of cereal.  I'm willing to bet you could quickly figure out a good latch to help her find some relief and who knows, you might even enjoy "having" to help her out.

I shared before in the 8 Unexpected Benefits of Breastfeeding that some women have their milk let down, leaking and spraying all over the place when they orgasm.  While I'm not always a fan of it myself, usually it's not a problem at all.  Actually it's like a standing ovation, a very wet standing ovation.  Just in case you weren't sure before, consider your milk shower a neon flashing sign and an announcement that you were awesome.  You can towel off knowing you rocked her world.  Don't let it rain on your parade, that's for sure, just turn it into part of the fun.

Something new to try

If you've tried licking chocolate or whipped cream of your partner, why not expand to breastmilk?  And I've heard breastmilk makes a fantastic lubricant which is good because it's not unusual for a woman to need a little help in that area after having a baby and during breastfeeding.

Hold the PMS please

Breastfeeding, specifically exclusive breastfeeding (nothing but breastmilk) helps keep a woman's fertility from returning.  Some women do have it return sooner but many women experience a delay in their cycle for at least 6 months, more often closer to a year and sometimes more.  This is Mother Nature's way of providing a spacing between pregnancy that is easier on a woman's body.  Of course, there are other benefits here you can enjoy, no PMS, no "off" times of the month, and saving money on feminine hygiene products to name a few.  You could get an extended break from finding tampons on the shopping list saving you from the awkward aisle at the grocery store.

Won't Need A Gas Mask for Diaper Changes!
It may seem hard to believe but there really are levels of poop and I love breastmilk poop.  Having done both breasfeeding and formula feeding myself plus changed countless diapers as a babysitter and of friends' babies I can say with confidence that while poop is poop breastmilk poop isn't nearly as shitty as formula poop.  It's all about the proteins, there is more in breastmilk a baby's body can use so less waste in their excrement.  Same thing with gas too, breastfed babies usually (there is always the exception to the rule) have less gas than formula fed babies and what they have usually isn't quite as rank.

Sweet Baby Breath
Like poop it turns out there actually is a difference in types of spit up.  Pretty much all babies are going to spit up at some point, some a lot, some a little.  The good news is that breastmilk is easier to digest than formula which is great even for those babies with reflux issues.  Just like breastmilk smells more pleasant than formula, so does breastmilk spit up.  As an added bonus, the proteins in breastmilk spit up break down easier making for fewer stains.  Not that you're going to like it or anything, I'm just saying it could be worse.  And breastfed babies have super sweet breath, you'll be sniffing your baby's mouth it smells so good.

Healthy baby
Statistically breastfed babies get sick less often thanks to the customized specific immune boosters breastmilk produces.  There is always someone that will point out their formula fed baby was never sick but their friend's breastfed baby was always sick but generally speaking, the statistics point to a lower risk of illness in breastfed babies compared to formula fed babies.  And healthy babies are happy babies!  Sick babies cry... a lot.

More Zzzzzzz's for you
Yep, you'll probably get more sleep if she's breastfeeding than if you choose formula.  Even if you help get her set up to feed when the baby wakes, you get to go back to sleep.  And if you choose to co-sleep you may not even notice when she feeds the baby, dreaming blissfully and sleeping like… well, like a man whose partner is breastfeedingBy the way, I wouldn't point this one out to your partner or you may find yourself keeping her company when she's having trouble sleeping and staying up feeding the baby.

You won't be a Schmuck
That's right, I said it.  If none of these things ever happen for you and your partner in the breastfeeding journey she's still going to need your support.  Supporting your partner in breastfeeding means you won't be "that guy."  The guy that put his wants, desires and supposed needs above those of his baby.  The guy that acts like he owns the mother of his children and her body.  The guy that can't handle being a grown-up, is afraid of making personal sacrifices to be sure his offspring are well cared for.  No, guys that support their wives or girlfriends breastfeeding are instantly hot, seen as more sensitive and she is glad to have him.  Guys that support their partner breastfeeding are the kind of men that are mature enough to understand the complex nature of family life and they and their families will likely thrive together as a result.

With all this you may find yourself turning into a lactivist.  It's ok, breastfeeding women think guy lactivists are sexy.  Not sure what a lactivist is?  Check out our list and see how you compare.  And I hope you have just as much fun discovering many more reasons why you would want your wife or girlfriend to breastfeed.  To read what my guy has to say on the topic, check out his post "Mammaries... I Mean Memories..."

Making milk and making sweaters- PumpEase Review

This is a product review of PumpEase Organic Hands-free Pumping Support but really it's more like a tale of extreme multitasking.  Extreme for me anyway.  I'm sure quite a few could burst my bubble but this was down right dangerous as far as I'm concerned.

My life, like most moms I know, is full and busy.  Full-time mommying in and of itself is never ending and time consuming and then I have a tendency to heap other things on top of that such as working, homeschooling, writing, performing, being a doula and teaching music along with all the other daily things that go with life in general such as laundry, dishes, cooking, and cleaning.  (Who am I kidding?  I don't really clean.)  Sometimes it seems like there aren't enough hours in the day.  Yeah, I feel like that pretty much every day.

And still, I try to fit my hobbies in,  In fact, I need to fit my hobbies in for my emotional health and sanity.  To keep me balanced to some extent I knit, sew, paint, and read.  And buy yarn.  Buying yarn is it's own hobby, trust me.  I'm well on my way to becoming a fiber enthusiast.  I'm already a yarn whore.  Just ask The Piano Man.  Yarn lusting, I mean shopping, is usually something I do while multitasking and with the computer it just so happens that it works perfectly do look at some knitter's porn while I'm breastfeeding or NAKing (Nursing At Keyboard).  I have been breastfeeding and pumping for my at least one of my 5 babies for the last 12 years off and on- mostly on.  Though I'm a pro at multitasking while breastfeeding I find multitasking while pumping much, much more difficult. A baby doesn't usually spill milk from the boob but it's all to easy to lose some of that precious liquid if I'm trying to balance the pumping bottles and horns while doing something else.  And I've done it.

Anyone that says not to cry over spilled milk has never lost 3 ounces of hard earned pumped breastmilk.

Since I really can't pull off much else while pumping I find myself closing my eyes and end up incredibly tired by the end of the pumping session.  Sometimes I risk it and try to be on the computer at the same time but it's incredibly stressful.  I've heard of the rubber band trick but it really didn't work for me (I was nervous) and needed something more secure for me to be comfortable.

Then Wendy from PumpEase sent me one of her PumpEase Organics to try.  It came during a crazy week and so it sat unopened for 6 days.  For six days I didn't touch it.  This was stupid.  I was super busy, still pumping and I didn't have time to open the one thing that would have made it easier?  Don't ask me what I was thinking, I really do not know.  That first night I pulled it out, tried it on and sat down to give a whirl.  My first thought?  WHERE HAS THIS THING BEEN FOR THE LAST 12 YEARS?  My next thought?  I'm going to get so much more done!

To test out the multitasking opportunities I got out my computer.  Yeah, that worked and it was easy.  The only thing I had to be careful of was to not forget I was pumping and pull the computer too close and hit the bottles.  PumpEase Organic and the computer?  Check.

Next I went for still sitting and relaxing so I pulled out my knitting.  I have on occasion managed to knit something simple with a baby at the breast but it's risky as baby may grab the project and rip stitches out (ACK!) and my hands get tired and sore.  But I've never really managed pumping and knitting.  The PumpEase changed the entire game though, it was brilliant!  I sat and pumped and knit.  It was so wonderful, I was so excited, I was making milk and making a sweater at the same time.  PumpEase Organic and knitting?  Check.

Oh, but wait, it gets better.

Since I had a guest post submission to read I grabbed a pillow, set my laptop up on the pillow on my lap and started reading while knitting while pumping.  It totally worked.  I finished reading the entire submission, made significant progress on the sweater and pumped 2 more ounces at the same time. PumpEase Organic and the computer and knitting?  Check.

It would have been more but Smunchie woke up and wanted to nurse.  So I decided to keep pumping one side, put Smunchie on the other side in the football hold with a pillow supporting her head, headed to my favorite yarn porn site, picked up my knitting and hammered out a few more rows. PumpEase Organic and the computer and knitting and nursing?  Check.

Then my mom called.

PumpEase Organic.
Computer/yarn porn.
5 ounces.


It was awesome.  I was the multitasking queen.

Once I pulled out the camera Smunchie insisted on multitasking too, eat and try to get the camera.

Over the next 2 weeks I tried different activities while pumping and found that the PumpEase made me feel secure enough to do quite a few chores and work projects while pumping my milk.  Folding laundry, eating, writing, reading with kids, homeschooling, reading, sewing (I had to be careful not to hit the bottles on the table), practicing music, playing piano (the sound of the pump threw me off a few times, I kept wanting to play in rhythm with the pump), more knitting and yes, yarn shopping. 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly because I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

What I liked:
The hook and eye closures made me feel secure and comfortable that it would stay and hold well.  The fit was snug and I could have gotten away with a medium but there was plenty of stretch and it didn't feel too tight just snug which really made me feel even more secure.  The fabric was very soft and I liked that it could be secure without being uncomfortable.  The limitations I faced with it had nothing to do with the hands-free support and everything to do with my pump namely the plug and that I couldn't bend over without messing the pump up.  This may sound silly but I also loved that it was packaged up pretty.  It was like I got a present, a nice box, pink tissue paper, pamphlets, a fridge magnet with milk storage information and a door hanger to warn possible intruders that I was up to mommy business.  The door hanger does not work on kids, FYI, apparently they don't care if they see you pumping.

I would have loved this with every one of my babies.  Having worked as a nanny, music performer, theater performer, music teacher, worship pastor, doula, midwife assistant and gallery curator I could have put this too good use many times over.

What I didn't like:
I promise to share the good, the bad and the ugly in all of my reviews so my readers can trust me and my writing.  So, um, the bad and the ugly... well, the PumpEase Organic is boring.  You won't be making a fashion statement in it, that's for sure.  But this didn't bother me I much prefer organic over jazzy underwear anyway.  My exciting underwear is just plain teal and I have 3 bras, all solid colors: white, black, and tan.  So if organic would matter to you more than having a print or color then the choice should be obvious. The openings to place the pump horns was a little awkward for me to manage first but that just took a little practice.  That's all I got for bad and ugly.

I loved this product and wish I could go back in time and take this with me for all my pumping days over the last 12 years.  Pumping moms, whether you work out of your home, work at home or are a stay at home mom a PumpEase Hands-free pumping support will great asset to you.  I'm thrilled with mine and look forward to putting it to good use for a while yet.

Sorry my pics are so terrible, even the PumpEase couldn't save me from terrible night time indoor lighting and the hazards of one handed self portraits.

Friday, December 3, 2010

This Moment- Knitting and Babies

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

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