Why I Teach My Son about Breastfeeding

Until about five years ago, I didn’t realize how amazing my mom is.  She exclusively breastfed my older sister and me, which I really didn’t think much of until I became a mom myself.  Being the younger sibling, I never saw anyone being breastfed regularly growing up.  Then when I was old enough to contemplate parenting, I was an ambitious college student and starting my career.  Breastfeeding was completely outside of my world.

Now I’m a mom and I totally get it.  Now I realize the sacrifice, dedication, time and energy she spent because I, myself, am a breastfeeding mom.  I took the time five years ago when my first son was born to thank her and I thanked her again when my second son was born seven months ago because she is amazing.  Now I realize.

Then it dawned on me: will my sons ever thank me for breastfeeding them?  I’m certainly not doing it for the gratitude and I know much of motherhood is a thankless job.  But my five-year-old is quite expressive about his feelings and often thanks me for things I do for him.  However for a son, breastfeeding just doesn’t seem like one of those things.

Why I Teach My Son about BreastfeedingMy sons may have wives who breastfeed their children one day, but they will never personally experience breastfeeding – with all of its joyous sessions of bonding, priceless cuddling, and feeling they are truly doing the best for their baby…or the hours of exhaustion, struggles of being tethered to another tiny being, and worrying if they are doing any of it right.  Without those moments, can my sons really appreciate my gift and would they ever think to say, “thank you, mom”?  I don’t think so and I’m OK with that.

There is something bigger I want than a thank you.

As a preschooler, my son was taught not to have any qualms about his body.  For better or for worse, he is willing to get naked in front of anyone and our bathrooms have an open door policy, as they did at school.  We also use most of the anatomical terms for our body parts.  With a baby at home, I’m often half dressed with exposed breasts before, during or after a feeding.  At first my son was very intrigued as I fed his baby brother and would watch intently the entire time. Now that the newness has worn off, half of the time I don’t think he even realizes it happening, as evidenced by the fact that he often wants me to do impossible things to help him while I’m breastfeeding.  Other times he’ll ask me, “are you on the second breast yet?” which is his way of saying, “are you almost done so I can get some attention?”

Lesson one accomplished!  Breastfeeding is normal, natural, necessary and happens often! Seeing a breast in the context of breastfeeding is the same as watching someone eat a sandwich, and one day he may even see the beauty in it.  But it is more than the physical act of breastfeeding that he needs to understand.

We try to be a teaching family and explain things to my son that are beyond his years and perhaps above his five-year-old capacity.  Nonetheless, we give him lots of information to see what sticks.  He astounds us with his knowledge all the time.  So why not teach him about breastfeeding too?

My son now knows that breast milk makes babies strong, helps them not get sick and it allows their brains to think hard so they can develop properly.  He also knows that breastfeeding continues to give children these incredible powers throughout their lifetime.  Discussing breastfeeding forays into a conversation about making good choices for our bodies and how we have the ability to support ourselves in staying healthy.  I have also been able to teach him about helping others who want to make good choices because I donate milk to a mother in our neighborhood who hasn’t been able to produce enough breast milk for her infant daughter.

None of these breastfeeding lessons are intended to elicit a thank you.  As every mother knows, there aren’t enough thank yous in the world to cover what we do nor do we need thank yous in order to lovingly provide for our kids. I teach my son about breastfeeding because it’s just another way I love my children like my mother loved me. I want him to know that mommy cares about his health, his strength, his brain, I care about making healthy choices for our family and I care about helping others.  It’s a value that was passed down to me and it is one I hope he continues to cherish and uphold.  He doesn’t have to be a daughter to accomplish that.

I will continue to thank my mom for the rest of my life for giving me the gift of breast milk and being a role model and advocate for my own breastfeeding journey.  My son will thank me for many things too.  Breastfeeding may not be one of them, but if he embraces the lessons of this act of love, that’s thanks enough for me.

Written by Erin, Loving Moments by Leading Lady brand ambassador

Wonderful Support for Breastfeeding and Motherhood

“In my family breastfeeding was normal. My mother nursed, my sister and sister-in-law nursed. From an early age I expected to nurse my children. I took a breastfeeding class at the hospital while I was expecting my first and thought I was ready to go. I was NOT ready for nursing!

Wonderful Support for Breastfeeding and Motherhood Looking back the one thing I would have done differently is attended La Leche League meetings while pregnant. It would have given me more time to absorb the information than just one night of a class. And I would have sought help sooner if I knew the Leaders and had a better idea of what is normal and when something is wrong. I had a very difficult 6 weeks and it took some time after that to heal and get breastfeeding to a comfortable level. The La Leche League Leader I called was a big part of helping me learn to make breastfeeding work for me. She invited me the local meetings and I started attending when my daughter was 3 months old.

I went on to nurse my daughter until she was ready to wean and I continued to attend the local meetings. I found La Leche League mothers to be a wonderful support; not just for breastfeeding but also for motherhood. I learned from the meeting topics, from the other mothers’ experiences and their questions. I enjoy being able to share my experience with others. It was so much more than just making nursing work. I learned about nutrition and developmental stages and weaning, all of which helped me as I learned to be a parent.

With my second child I attended meetings through my whole pregnancy and had a good support network. Then I was surprised at the difficulty I had nursing my second. It was a mother sharing in the meeting about her child that got me on the right track to identify the nursing issue with my second. The LLL Leader and local IBCLC helped us get the diagnosis and treatment we needed to make breastfeeding work the second time.

Being around other nursing mothers, sharing ideas and resources, supporting each other through the difficulties and celebrating successes is what makes La Leche League great and why I still love attending meetings.”

Alina, La Leche League Montgomery, AL Area

Breast Milk is the Answer! A Breastfeeding Q&A with Semone

Creating change in the world starts with one mom vowing to make a difference. And you don’t have to be a world leader to do it. You can make decisions for your family that will affect your child’s entire life, like breastfeeding. From there, you are creating change in your community by normalizing and rejuvenating a passion for the natural loving nourishing act of breastfeeding. If enough moms take this step, the world will be a better place for the future of our children.

Semone, one of the gorgeous models from Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), reminds us how breast milk is the answer:

Breast Milk is the Answer!  A Breastfeeding Q&A with Semone

1) Why are you passionate about the breastfeeding cause?

I want every mother to know that she was created to nourish her baby.  All of us mothers have just what our children need.  It is important that we start our children off right and give them the best we have to offer.  Everyone is so concerned about a child being spoiled.  Well I say let us spoil them with breastfeeding love.  I also believe that breastfeeding can help diminish some of these diseases we come across.  Breast milk is the answer!

2) What is your most cherished breastfeeding moment?

I cherish looking into my child’s eyes and s/he looking into mine.  When my wonderfully, created baby boy and girl look up at me, we are in another world.  That bond is something so special.

3) What do you hope for the future of breastfeeding among African American communities?

I hope and pray that more moms everywhere will realize that it does not matter status, class, background, etc., but you as a mother can breastfeed.  It is better for your baby and you can do it.  Wear your baby if you have to, like you rock your attire.  Be just as confident in breastfeeding as you are in sporting that afro – no one thought that would make a comeback.  Breastfeeding is not a fad, but a way of living better.

Accepting Support as a New Mom

Accepting Support as a New MomYou know the old saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.” When you have a baby, these words of wisdom should not be just a passing phrase. Child rearing is hard work and everyone Everyone EVERYONE needs help sometimes. No matter what your circumstances, there are times when accepting support as a new mom is a sound parenting decision. We’re going over some of those situations today.

First, we should get something straight: when you accept help, you are not weak or incapable.  Rather, seeking a helping hand is a sign of maturity, emotional intelligence and an understanding that your family’s world is better with the support of a village. All too often new moms feel they are “bad moms” or viewed as incompetent if they have to rely on others. But we’re here to say, when you do it right, getting help is brilliant. Here’s the thing: even if you were the one woman on earth who could do it all, you shouldn’t have to, especially when accepting support as a new mom is possible.

Here are ways of accepting support as a new mom:

Meals: Cooking is probably the farthest thing on your mind when you’ve just had a baby, yet you and your family need to eat. When friends offer to bring a meal, accept it graciously. Better yet, when close friends set up a meal train for you by organizing all of your friends into providing meals, you won’t have to worry about this aspect of your family for a few weeks until you’re back on your feet, so to speak.

Hand-Me-Downs: Clothes, toys and many baby items you can receive as hand-me-downs are incredible gifts. Of course hand-me-downs save you a ton of money, but also save time because you don’t have to figure out what you need and where to buy it. Plus it is better for the environment to reuse items. Children grow in and out of clothes, toys and gear so quickly, it’s hard to keep up with the changes. Insert yourself into a hand-me-down network and accept all the ways you are saving.

Lactation Support: New moms quickly learn that, despite attending classes, reading books and talking to friends about breastfeeding, in practice it is often much more complicated than you expected. If that’s the case for you, don’t let the frustration get the best of you. Hormones are still running wild, you may be sleep-deprived and you might feel like your world has turned upside-down. All of these can feel like grounds for giving up breastfeeding but that isn’t necessary. As soon as you notice a problem, seek help from a lactation consultant who can guide you through the challenge.

Donor Milk: Breastfeeding is a phenomenal way to nourish and create a strong bond with your baby. The journey is easier for some than others. For those who want to nurture their babies with breast milk but cannot produce enough, you can seek donor milk to help sustain your baby. Donor milk can be purchased from breast milk banks or you can solicit help from other new mom friends that have an over-supply. You are not less of a mom for not being able to breastfeed but you are more of a mom for asking help in providing the best nutrition for your baby.

Babysitting: New moms know that getting a little break every now and then can be as refreshing as what a vacation used to feel like pre-kids. Well, almost at least. If a friend or relative offers to babysit, accept the offer! Even if you simply use the time to take a shower or grocery shop without kids in tow, do it! Having a reprieve can help you return to your mommy duties with new perspective, more patience and a better attitude. Plus, as hard as it can be for you and your baby, separation is good for you both.

Advice: No new mom has all the answers. Lean on your veteran mom friends for advice when you need it. Even if they’ve not gone through exactly what you are experiencing, they’ve had their own challenges and will be able to relate to you. Plus, they care about you and want to help you. Don’t isolate yourself but rather let friends do what friends are supposed to do – support each other.

We hope you practice these ways of accepting support as a new mom early and often. Some of parenting will be a struggle but if a helping hand can eliminate some of the frustration every now and then, it’s totally worth it. Always be grateful and in the end, pay it forward to the next new mama. After all, you’ll know more than anyone how much she really needs the support.

Breastfeeding Superstar Mom, Melissa

The San Felipe WIC office has an incredible tradition to support moms for their amazing breastfeeding successes. They have a “Superstar Wall” where women who exclusively breastfeeding for one year or more are featured with a framed photo and story about their breastfeeding journey. The conference room is used by tribal groups in the area. Melissa discovered the wall at an event last year and said she wanted to be on it.  This year, she was honored by becoming a mom on the “Superstar Wall”!

Breastfeeding Superstar Mom, Melissa

Melissa

daughter Nizhoni 8/2015

Tell us who supported you the most to breastfeed and continue breastfeeding: 

My mom and sister supported me in breastfeeding my first born.

Tell us about your biggest challenge to breastfeed or continue breastfeeding:

My biggest was the places I could breastfeed and the pain. But I learned that it was OK to breastfeed.

What feelings surprised you the most:

The connection you get and the bonding feeling is the best feeling you can ever get.

Tell us your “secret” wish about breastfeeding:

It comes natural.

Tell us about your “perfect/dream” breastfeeding experience:

Was when my daughter latched on fast after she was born.

Tell us what you would like to share with a pregnant mom that has never breastfed:

Don’t be scared to breastfeed.  It all comes natural and the best drink your child could ever have at no cost!

Melissa, San Felipe WIC

A few Words about Breastfeeding from Jessica

National Breastfeeding Month, World Breastfeeding Week and Black Breastfeeding Week may be over but our celebration of breastfeeding is never-ending. After all, breastfeeding has been taking place since the dawn of mammals and occurs all over the world anywhere at any time. Therefore, we have to continuously honor that tradition, right and sacred time with respect and reverence. While we’re especially enthusiastic to celebrate in August, we promote breastfeeding 24/7, 365!

One of the beautiful models from Reaching our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), Jessica, shares her words of wisdom about breastfeeding:

A few Words about Breastfeeding from Jessica

1) Why are you passionate about the breastfeeding cause?

I am passionate about this cause because it directly affects the future of our world. What we pass to the next generation ensures of footprint in a better world.

2) What is your most cherished breastfeeding moment?

My most cherished moment is coming home after working 8 hours a day and then nurse my baby.

3) What do you hope for the future of breastfeeding among African American communities?

I hope that more women realize the power we have by choosing to do what we are made to do. Our breasts are made to satisfy our family. We are mother earth.

 

Breastfeeding Support for Twin Moms

Breastfeeding Support for Twin Moms“My husband and I have seen great benefit from being able to use the WIC Lactation Center with our twin boys. I can say with certainty that our boys would not be breastfeeding today had we not had access to this wonderful resource. Breastfeeding is difficult, especially with multiples. Twin mommas also often have their babies early and/or have complications, which makes the start of the breastfeeding journey more difficult. Although the NICU nurses were wonderful, they did not provide the lactation support and help that we needed to be successful. They were more focused on getting the boys healthy and big enough to be discharged from the NICU, and not so much on the long term goal of breastfeeding.

My twins were born at 33 weeks and although they did very well considering how early they were, they were small and slow to grow and therefore had difficulty breastfeeding. In addition, my delivery was very traumatic; I had some serious post-delivery complications that made our situation more difficult because we did not get started out the best way possible.

My husband and I were struggling with deciding what was best for our family, as our pediatrician was recommending that we follow each breastfeeding sessions with a bottle of pumped breast milk that was fortified with Similac Neosure to add extra calories.

The stress between my husband and I was lifted when we met Christine. She helped us feel more confident that although we were struggling, if we continued to be dedicated to breastfeeding that the boys would grow and get better at it, and that this difficult journey was worth it. She also helped me be more confident that my breast milk was exactly what my babies needed; when she tested the calories of my breast milk, it was 26 calories, so we felt confident that we no longer needed to add the Neosure to my breast milk in order to get the milk at or above 22 calories.

Christine helped the boys to learn to latch better, and by going each week, we were able to see them progress and eventually they could get out enough milk that we could try to not follow immediately with a bottle. By seeing Christine once a week we were able to continue our breastfeeding journey.

There is not a lot of support for twin moms. I had tried to attend a breastfeeding support group at the hospital I delivered at; however, no one else in the group had a premature baby, let alone multiples, so I really didn’t feel like they could understand or help me. I highly recommend the WIC Lactation Center to any moms of multiples that I know who are dedicated to trying to breastfeed their multiples.”

Sarah, WIC Lactation Care Center Dallas, TX

Allie’s Breastfeeding Success and Overcoming Postpartum Depression

Allie's Breastfeeding Success and Overcoming Postpartum Depression “My daughter Sammi was born July 2014 via C-section, but fortunately we were able to be skin-to-skin and nurse within her first hour. My supply was good but I was so concerned over whether I was doing this right because it sure didn’t come “naturally” – I saw an IBCLC in the hospital after delivery and again a week or two after being home and was assured I was doing great because my daughter was gaining weight beautifully. I was doing everything right, but it still felt wrong.

I had a very hard time adjusting and bonding, being a mom for the first time along with dealing with the unexpected way she was born and trying to heal from my physical complications. I had struggled with my mental health since the age of 14 yet my pregnancy was the happiest and healthiest I had been in years. But my post-partum experience was an emotional 360 and I couldn’t even get myself out of bed. I was hospitalized for post-partum depression for 10 days – I sobbed that first night when my husband gave her formula as a close friend brought me to the ER. I missed my girl’s 1 month birthday and just felt so guilty that I wasn’t there for her or my husband. In my eyes, I had completely failed as a mother since I couldn’t even care for my baby or myself.

So then I had to figure out pumping while in the hospital – and when you’re there for psychiatric reasons, they don’t let you have your own shoes, never mind a breast pump. I had never pumped before and now I had to do it under close supervision and then they had to confiscate the equipment right after so I couldn’t harm myself. I was so humiliated and petrified that I kept getting engorged and wanted to give up.

Allie's Breastfeeding Success and Overcoming Postpartum Depression Finally, I met with Heather, a part-time staffer on the ward, IBCLC & part of the Manchester La Leche League chapter. She had a long chat with me and my husband who was visiting – she didn’t sugar coat things and flat out told me I needed to advocate for myself and my daughter by making sure I was on a solid schedule because pumping twice a day wasn’t enough and my supply was already dropping. She also encouraged me not to give up, even though it was hard. I finally had some validation that breastfeeding was important and my right as a mother. It was the only way I was still connected to my baby while stuck in that inpatient unit and I was finally able to work things out with the nurses so I could pump without feeling like a prisoner. You’d think there’d be more medical professionals in a hospital with a birth center only a floor away who would support breastfeeding and pumping.

I had to continue pumping once I was home since I needed to be in a day program for 6 weeks and would nurse on demand once I got back. Within another few weeks after my outpatient treatment, we were fully back to breast. We had a few spells of milk blisters and mastitis, but we carried on with no regrets. Last November, I got to sing with a choir in New York City and since my husband and daughter couldn’t make the trip with us, I pumped the whole 5 days I was there to keep my supply going, including backstage at Carnegie Hall the night of the performance!

Allie's Breastfeeding Success and Overcoming Postpartum Depression I never thought I’d make it to 6 months (my original goal) but now my daughter just turned 2 and we are still nursing twice a day. I’ve gotten some flack from my extended family, especially since she’s older now and because I nursed in public without a cover (my daughter made using a cover impossible), but I truly believe this was the greatest therapy for both of us to finally bond as mother and child. I love my daughter more than anything in the world and although at times I want my body back again, I know I will miss our milkie snuggles once she’s done nursing. I’m so grateful to Heather and to support groups like La Leche League and Breastfeeding USA.”

Allie (Sammi’s mommy), Manchester, CT La Leche League

5 Ways to Encourage a Pregnant Friend to Breastfeed

Once you’ve experienced the joy of breastfeeding and know its incredible benefits, you may find yourself becoming a cheerleader for the cause, especially with your friends.  After all, you love your friends and want them and their babies to have a wonderful breastfeeding journey and reap the benefits of breastfeeding too.  As an experienced mom you can be a huge asset to your friends who are expecting.  Today we’re sharing five ways to encourage a pregnant friend to breastfeed.

5 ways to encourage a pregnant friend to breastfeed1 – Talk to Your Friend about Breastfeeding

To you breastfeeding may feel like second nature, but to your friend it may be a very foreign concept, especially if she was not breastfed or doesn’t have a breastfeeding role model in her life.  Whether you are currently breastfeeding or have already weaned your baby, talk to your pregnant friend about your breastfeeding experience.  Those who have not yet had the pleasure of breastfeeding might have misconceptions or focus on the negative aspects of breastfeeding they may have heard.  Learning about your experience can ease some of your friend’s fears and help her grasp how fantastic breastfeeding can be.  It’s OK to share the challenges you may have had too.  Sugarcoating your struggles may only make your friend feel she is alone if she runs into problems.  Rather, be realistic about your journey and remind your friend that most wonderful experiences in life come with a few hurdles along the way.  In your chat, let your friend know she can always come to you for advice if she needs it.

2 – Buy Your Friend a Breastfeeding Book

A breastfeeding book is a fabulous baby shower gift.  (Throw in a nursing bra and it’s twice as nice!)  Breastfeeding books are great resources to prepare expectant moms for breastfeeding and she can refer back to it once her baby arrives and she’s ready to put all the information into action.  Most breastfeeding books share the vast benefits of breastfeeding, review breastfeeding positions, explain proper latch and address many common issues breastfeeding mothers face.

3 – Be a Breastfeeding Role Model

Talking and reading about breastfeeding are great, but watching breastfeeding in-person is even better.  Invite your friend to spend time with you and your baby so she can witness breastfeeding firsthand.  Don’t think of it as a lesson or demonstration, but more of a natural part of your day that she’s sharing with you.  If she has questions, you can answer them but you don’t have to expound everything you know about breastfeeding as that may be overwhelming for her.  Seeing breastfeeding as a normal part of infant care can be very helpful as your friend prepares herself for motherhood.

4 – Share Your Breastfeeding Supplies

When you are done with them, pass along your breastfeeding supplies to a pregnant friend.  Nursing bras or nursing camis that are still in good shape, a nursing pillow, extra breast milk storage bags and an unused tube of lanolin could all come in handy for your friend.  (Note, breast pumps should not be shared for sanitation reasons.)

5 – Help Her Make a Plan

Many moms don’t realize that breastfeeding should happen as soon as possible after birth.  Giving birth is a big deal, and for some the labor and delivery process is traumatic. Not having a clear game plan prior to childbirth coupled with an unsupportive team of doctors and nurses can derail a new mom’s notion of breastfeeding.  By helping your pregnant friend make a plan, you can increase her chances of successfully breastfeeding.  Her plan should include: bringing nursing bras or nursing camis to the hospital since she’ll need them right away; telling her nurses upon arrival and all nurses that see her throughout her stay at the hospital that her intention is to breastfeed; and requesting visits from the on-staff hospital lactation consultants.

You can be a breastfeeding advocate and encourage a pregnant friend to breastfeed with these 5 tips.  Spread the love, spread the breastfeeding!

World Breastfeeding Week 2015: Let’s Make it Work!

How are you spending your week of August 1st through the 7th? Join us in celebrating World Breastfeeding Week, an annual week-long event that engages women from all around the world with breastfeeding news, support, and community building. This year marks the 24th year for the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, the founding group and champions of moms and babies across the globe. This year’s initiative is “Breastfeeding at Work: Let’s Make it Work!” in remembrance of the 1993 theme: “Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative.”World Breastfeeding Week 2015: Let's Make it Work!

 

In 1992, The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action founded World Breastfeeding Week to bring awareness to deadly infant diseases, fight world hunger, and overall promote breastfeeding worldwide. The World Health Organization and UNICEF joined as partners with the WABA and together they formed the WBW celebration as way to remind mothers, doctors, and family members that breastfeeding an infant yields the best, most cost-effective nutritional diet available. Mothers receive countless health benefits from breastfeeding as well. In 2007, the CDC reported that only 11.3 percent of new mothers exclusively breastfed their child for the first 6 months. In an effort to raise awareness and extend breastfeeding beyond a week or two, the WABA and partners tirelessly champion breastfeeding support so mothers and babies can benefit from the guidance they need for successful nursing.

This year as we follow the 1993 theme, “Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative,” which sadly is still a struggle many women face today, we spread the word and encourage employers and the general public to stop criticizing women for nursing in public but instead embrace the healthy and natural process of breastfeeding. If you would like to help spread the word you can find countless La Leche chapters across the nation hosting Latch On events, and WIC offices are always opening their doors to new mothers facing breastfeeding troubles. Look at your local chapters and see how you can volunteer or participate. Leading Lady/ Loving Moments by Leading Lady is donating nursing bras to WIC offices around the country so nursing moms get the support they need for successful, comfortable breastfeeding. Join the conversation on our Facebook page and share your stories with moms just like you!