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For The Breastfeeding Mom With Body Mods

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Last year at a La Leche League Conference, a woman held a seminar called “Babies, Breasts, and Body Mods: Where Body Art and Breastfeeding Collide.” Robyn Roche-Paull, BSN, RNC, MNN, IBCLC, LLLL, USN veteran (say all that ten times fast!) was herself clearly no stranger to permanent and semi-permanent body decor.

The room was packed with Leaders, lactation specialists, medical workers, and breastfeeding advocates who all wanted to know: What’s a mama need to know about body art and possible impact upon her boobie monsters?

Roche-Paull’s lecture got me thinking… especially since I’ve had my eye on the prize of a new tattoo since before my last pregnancy, and waiting until weaning years from now sounds a tiny, wee bit torturous.

These days, there’s not such a strong stigma or taboo attached to mothers who have body modifications, but many women find themselves wondering what’s the best protocol for fresh body mods during the lactation period. When they consult their care providers, many really haven’t the faintest clue how to answer.

What exactly are body modifications? Popular types include branding (3rd degree burns to create scars), piercing, scarification (cutting), and tattooing. Here we’ll focus on the most prevalent: piercings and tattoos.

Now a little crash course for you curious body art geeks…

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If I Could Give Only 5 Pieces of Breastfeeding Advice To a New Mom

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If you could give only five pieces of breastfeeding advice to a new mother, what would you say? Here’s what I’d tell her.

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What Not To Say To A Breastfeeding Mom Who Has Oversupply

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I make lots of milk. I won’t hesitate to admit I’m satisfied with this fate. That said, it is a little harder to explain how my overly zealous breasts have also caused several of my main nursing challenges.

After a third official run-in with mastitis since giving birth seven months ago (fifth time between two babies), please hear me when I say… sometimes this blessing feels a bit like a curse in disguise.

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Is Infant Circumcision Incompatible With Breastfeeding?

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Is circumcision the ‘Voldemort’ in a conversation about early breastfeeding difficulties? Though it’s a studied certainty that infant circumcision can have ruinous effects upon breastfeeding, it seems only the rare or high-profile breastfeeding expert dares to mention this risk by name, much less maintain an official protocol for assistance if challenges arise.

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Setting Breastfeeding Boundaries With An Older Child (Plus Nursing Aversion)

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I know he is only three and a half. He’s still such a little kid. Next to me, he doesn’t look so little, being more than half my height and all. It’s like that 2012 TIME magazine cover, you know, when Jamie Lynne Grumet nursed her three-year-old, balanced with his feet flat on a chair, and everyone thought he must’ve been graduating elementary school.

MaiTai is an old soul, this kid. But he’s still just a kid, or transitioning to what most people imagine when they think of a school-age child (he’s not quite there yet), and only four years ago he was a floating fetus.

For whatever reason, child-led weaning is controversial in our society (the superstitions surrounding it are unfounded, of course). Many a mother is pressured with interrogation into why her child is “still” breastfeeding, “when are you going to stop this,” declarations of “at his age he shouldn’t be so dependent” and the classic “I’m all for breastfeeding BUT…”

At a wedding one year ago, MaiTai was 2.5 years old and I hadn’t yet encountered a situation when I needed to make him wait to nurse. Some of the messages/comments on the post I wrote about our experience nursing there said he should’ve been able to wait “at his age.”

Really? Are two-year-olds really all that great at waiting for anything? In any case, sure, he could’ve waited long enough for us to relocate to a dungeon or wherever they deemed more appropriate — but there was no reason for me to say “not here, not now,” therefore it didn’t even cross my mind.

There was no good lesson in making my child wait for something he felt he needed — in a moment when I was perfectly able and willing to give it to him — just to prove to overly-interested others that he can hold his shit together.

In this story of a mother and child forced to quit nursing to appease family, the author writes: “Those who had demanded that she wean her toddler didn’t even know what that breastfeeding relationship was; they didn’t know what they were asking; they were ignorant, and didn’t even know what they didn’t know.”

That said… Now that I’m tandem nursing MaiTai and his baby brother Julep, we do often find ourselves in situations in which MaiTai has to wait to nurse.

(Scroll to the bottom of this post for ideas about how to set boundaries).

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What It’s Like Having An Overactive Letdown

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Thinking maybe it’s time to switch sides…

Breast pads? Ha. What a joke.

I hate wearing bras, but in public they’re my only hope for a solid enough barrier between my trigger-happy nipples and my shirt. I don’t know why I bother because I still get soaked. Maybe it just makes me feel proactive?

I don’t stand with my arms tightly crossed in public because I’m a haughty snob. It’s just because I’ve got to muzzle the mammaries somehow, and pressure works well. More subtle and civilized than cupping them with my hands, anyway.

I don’t wear thick tops in the Texas summer heat because I want to live in a microwave. Milk leaking? Can’t disrobe? Layers, friend.

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Julep’s Water Birth at Home

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This is the story of my second child’s birth. My first son MaiTai was born three and a half years ago in a hospital. (I’ll share details of that tale in a future post).

***BEFORE YOU READ: Again, this is a birth story. If you’re not accustomed to reading real birth stories, are uncomfortable with images of birth-related nudity, or have a very particular definition of what’s TMI, you might consider skipping this post.***

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