So you breastfeed. And your child loves it… and you love it… but what else is there after, you know, weaning? How else can you share this overflowing passion in your heart? If your fondness for natural child nurturing goes beyond summer fling status, perhaps you’ve found your calling. Here are a few ideas that just might be the answer for you.
Anyone who follows this site will understand this post is *OBVIOUSLY SATIRICAL.*
Newcomers, take a moment to think about what the above picture symbolizes to you. The mother, naked and vulnerable, preserves a bubble of peace with her baby, in seemingly necessary quarantine from the bold, harsh words that hope to infiltrate their haven with little concern for the affect it might have upon them.
Here are not-so-uncommon perspectives (inspired by actual commentary I’ve seen or heard) that demonstrate how to upset and further isolate yourself from the not-so-uncommon kind of woman described above.
1). Let him cry… it’s good for his lungs.
Then try to convince her that dropping him on his head is good for his brain.
2). You’ll spoil her.
A baby spoils by being carried just like an apple spoils simply by being carried. That’s how it works.
3). She’ll never learn to walk.
Then you can explain how it’s better for both of them if the child is forced to walk everywhere. It’s not like it’d inhibit the mother from moving about in a timely manner or result in the child feeling abandoned. Read More
They’re not delivered… They’re born.
Babies aren’t punches on a time card.
They don’t come “too early” or “too late.” They meet us when they’re meant to.
Babies aren’t dolls.
Their noises have meaning. They can’t be “put away.” Their bodies are worth respecting.
I really never imagined I’d be nursing during a pregnancy. It amazes me the endurance of this tradition we’ve made and how it’s seen us through so much.
I don’t know if almost three-year-old MaiTai will tire of it soon, or if aversion will strike the crazy into me and call a halt by my discretion. Or if we’ll just keep nursing like we always have, because it’s as normal a thing to do as would be not choosing to continue.
I do know that nursing isn’t so comfortable anymore. Aversion is milder so far than with bleeding cycles, but it just feels… different. Not all oxytocin-rush-of-pleasantness, squeeze-him-tight and never let go, butterflies of love swooping through my body kind of stuff like I wrote about here.
It feels how I imagine some people who’ve never breastfed might think breastfeeding feels like — a little person sucking on your skin, perhaps a most unwanted hickey? Still it’s not “gross” (he’s my baby, he’ll never be icky to me!) but it’s not a street paved in my favor as far as physical contentment. Emotionally though? Another story.
She who becomes a mother is wild. She brought new life and energy into the world and fights so fiercely to keep it here.
Within her, a ready wildness was so great and brimming that it manifested into an entirely new human being prepared to take on the world with her.
Now that this woman is a mother, she’s gained a discernment of where to devote her wild energy, a special kind that wasn’t present before. Her definition of wildness is her own, decided by her now, and it need not always rebel against others to prove itself .
This is a woman we all know.
“A photograph is more than merely a picture…it is an heirloom [that] has the power to transcend generations” – Anel Lestage
Photos have always been so important to me. To please my especially nostalgic heart, I look back on photos often. To satisfy my desire to connect with others (as an especially introverted person), I share my photos often. And I love knowing that when I’m not around, a moment I lived is at least immortalized through another’s eyes behind a lens.
Of course, my favorite, most cherished photos feature my soulmates — my family.
On her web site, Anel explained:
“It is my goal to capture the essence of the marvelous blessing that is motherhood from womb all the way to baby’s first year; as well as that tender, playful stage of the early years. I believe that for a mother, a photograph is more than merely a picture; it is an heirloom that speaks to her heart, delights her soul, and has the power to transcend generations, connecting her posterity to those who came before.”
Emily Medley, public programs director for Houston’s Health Museum, looked out from the podium to explain what led her to this place of passion for normalizing breastfeeding in public.
She recalled a time she went into the museum bathroom, and an uncomfortable scuffling drew her attention from one of the farthest stalls. She realized almost immediately there was a mother inside that stall, breastfeeding her baby on the toilet. It broke her heart.
Emily was pained to realize a mother could so greatly fear the stigma and criticisms (whether quiet or loud) that come with public nursing, that even with laws to protect her right to naturally feed in many states, she still doesn’t feel welcome enough to care for her baby where people can see her. A place of isolation and privacy only… a toilet.
She planned to close out this year’s World Breastfeeding Week in a very special way by hosting this museum presentation by Leilani Rogers, an Austin photographer and founder of The Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project. The exhibit called “Cradle Me Here” featured mothers nursing their babies and children throughout the museum on demand –“live breastfeeding art,” if you will — in response to a need, just like they would any other day or place.
Emily wanted us to know how thrilled she felt to host the event for us and that the museum not only welcomes breastfeeding mothers and our “SO beautiful babies!” but cherishes and respects us, too. After all, the museum board is on track to refocus what their education is “all about.” Now the museum touches most upon “the things that make us human,” and recognizes breastfeeding as one of the first major (and most normal) impressions upon childhood and lifelong physical and emotional health.
Despite all the attention given to those who just don’t “get it,” many people like Emily and Leilani do commiserate with the plight of a publicly breastfeeding mother. I myself have endured a few disappointing experiences breastfeeding in public (read about two here and here), but I’ve enjoyed some memorably positive ones too.
By sharing a few personal stories of positive NIP experiences, I hope that any mother who fears or hesitates to feed her child in public may be encouraged to do what she feels is best for her child — which will never be, at any age or level of publicity or food type, to serve him a meal on the toilet.
“This is not child abuse, this is child care.”
So we heard on Good Morning America. But what did everyone else have to say about the woman named Jessica Anne Colletti who proudly shared the basics of her special infant feeding arrangement with a close friend?
She started watching her friend’s 5-month-old son when his mother went to work and he no longer tolerated the formula she’d provided for him in her absence. So she offered to nurse the baby as well as her own then-3-month-old when she was tasked with their care.
Both women had discussed and agreed to the idea and it allowed the working mother to breastfeed for 9 months. The mothers publicized their situation to raise awareness of this option that continues to work well for their families.
The mother shared a photo of her and two nurslings, one of whom is her friend Charlie Interrante’s son, on the Facebook page for Mama Bean Parenting with the caption:
“My son on the right is 16 months and my friend’s son is 18 months. I watch her son while she works and have been feeding them both for a year! So much love between these milk siblings, it’s a special bond between us all.”
And then… the internet exploded in a firestorm of hatred and disgust!
Before tackling that, let’s get our definitions straight. (For the purpose of this post, I’ll refer to these interchangeably as “wet nursing”):
Wet Nursing — the complete nursing of another’s infant, often for pay.
Cross Nursing — the occasional nursing of another’s infant while the mother continues to nurse her own child, often in a child care situation.
Here are 9 perspectives (paraphrased) seen repeated on every thread that shared this story, making it even more difficult for us to understand and appreciate the concept of wet nursing:
We were all proud. We have been proud, actually. So we showed up ready to nurse.
We did it modestly, though not one of us bothered to “cover up.” We did it with discretion, being that we nursed exclusively among supporters — though we wanted to be seen and heard. So we shared our experiences on every format far and wide with a movement of hashtags and brelfies and nurse-ins to prove that breastfeeding can work (more on that in a bit).
We wanted to count; in fact, we made sure we were being counted.
And we broke the standing world record: 14,889 children (simultaneously!) latched on to nurse for at least one full minute on Friday and Saturday all over the world for the Global Big Latch On. I attended one of the Houston events as a local representative for peaceful parenting/Dr. Momma. There, 73 moms and 82 children were officially latched on!
This event kicked off World Breastfeeding Week, for which the year’s theme is “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make it Work!” The idea is to draw attention to issues faced by working mothers who want to breastfeed.
It also reminds of all the things that hope so badly for breastfeeding to not work.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a million To Do Lists.
On my 2.5-year-old’s one To Do List:
- Get Mama to buy all the things wherever we go.
- Open and close doors. All of them.
- Count all fingers (“One…two…three…six…ten… yep, all there!”)
- Exercise all possible levels of auditory volume.
- Make a mess, pretend to clean it up, and wait for praise.
I don’t mean to minimize the daily accomplishments and radical personal changes experienced by a turning-three child. He’s been even busier than his Mama, actually. The three-year-old himself has gotten a lot done by now.
He’s a nimble walker, leading the pack whenever opportune, usually in the opposite direction of his caregiver’s liking. He has probably experienced a language burst by now — once he starts talking, he won’t stop (hardly an exaggeration). He knows the difference between a sheep and a goat (you’d be shocked how many adults don’t know this). He has made definite conclusions about the physics of ceramic plates shattering upon contact with the kitchen floor, specifically from a toddler”s height and pitching speed.
You see, he’s learned and managed to do quite a few things for themselves in a short three years. But don’t forget, Mom (and Dad) helped a bit…
By the time a child turns three, his primary caregiver has attempted plenty of fun play dates (and ran half an hour late to all of them), cooked many a favorite breakfast (and lunch, and dinner, and second dinner), and celebrated more than a few milestones with raucous, unapologetic pride (and too many pictures… way too many). By this time she’s a master at juggling the overlapping To Do Lists dedicated to her child’s security, well-being, and constant stream of happy-inducing entertainment.
So I want to remind you, primary caregiver, of a few things you may have forgotten about. Here are 10 things that deserve a spot on any one of your To Do Lists before your baby turns into a big kid and then perhaps… perchance… probably… the best of opportunities may pass you by.
If you never see breastfeeding, you’re missing awareness of a few things, or a true understanding of the whole thing — just like I was before I eventually saw it.
This way of child nurturing is so natural it can easily blend in with everything else we attend to in our domestic, professional, and social lives. But blending in is not equal to disappearing.
If you never see it, you may not know it’s how many women learn to become mothers. You may not know it’s how they continue to learn about who they are as mothers. So we must make a point to not let the image and act of breastfeeding disappear.
I want to tell you I love you. So I say it,
and you hardly look up from playing
with your trucks. My words are hardly heard,
you are so busy. Then soon enough you ask to nurse
on the couch, you request, and we curl up together.
You teach me that actions do speak louder than words.
This was my job as a mother to an infant: to nourish and love and protect my baby. Usually I could do all three with one tool… breastfeeding. During MaiTai’s infancy, it seemed breastfeeding was the best answer to almost anything.
Hungry? Nurse. Thirsty? Nurse. Overtired? Nurse. Bored? Nurse. Hurt or sick? Needing closeness? Feeling affectionate? Nurse, nurse, nurse. Of course, other types of attention and problem-solving were plenty helpful (looking at you, Sofie the Giraffe), but nothing quite like offering a breast in those early months.
In “My First Year of Breastfeeding”, you can read about how we managed from the first feed until the first birthday. I also posted a child-led weaning series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) where I explained the whys and hows of nursing beyond infancy, sometimes known as full-term breastfeeding/natural-term breastfeeding (I avoid the label “extended-term” because it’s a sustained practice rather than an addendum).
Here I’ll share what’s changed (or not) in toddlerhood nursing from the earliest days.
A historic moment witnessed today: Same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states of the U.S.!
Now that I’ve cried all my happy tears, I’m thinking back on the great struggle it took to get us here. A stigma still exists against same-sex couples adopting, for instance. But same-sex couples know love is love, and many of them wish to share that love with families of their own.
Have you given much thought to the issue of infant feeding by same-sex parents? For the vast majority of babies, breast is best. And the vast majority of all couples, regardless of sex, want the best for their babies. So how does that work — is it even possible?
First, A Little Background…
I went to a destination wedding this weekend in Charleston with my husband a.k.a. The Designated Dad (TDD) and our nursling MaiTai. The Bride and Groom are close relatives and TDD was the Best Man.
The first night I was excited to attend the rehearsal dinner. Shortly after arriving, I left briefly to use the bathroom. On my way back I was cornered — literally cornered — by the dinner’s host (another close family member). Let’s call him… Dinner Host.
“I need you to do me a big favor,” Dinner Host said. Ooh, exciting! I must be in on some kind of special surprise, I figured. Jokingly, I said, “Maybe, depends on the favor!”
Dinner Host’s face turned solemn and funereal. Something serious was afoot. Something dramatic. The thought actually crossed my mind if he was about to ask me to take someone to the Emergency Room.
“Holly,” he said. “I’m asking that if [MaiTai] needs to nurse tonight, that you go somewhere else. I know you’re very passionate about this, but honestly it isn’t the time or place.” Read More