What is the law in your state?

The states in the US vary widely in the implementation of laws that protect a breastfeeding mother and baby...

Breastfeeding gift ideas for an expecting mom

A reader asks: I am attending a baby shower for a friend. I'd like to get her something that will help make her breastfeeding experience more comfortable. What should I buy?

The sole requirement for NIP

During my pregnancy with my youngest son, one of the parts of motherhood that I looked most forward to was nursing. ...

International and Religious views of NIP

Think nursing in public is only a concern in the United States? If so, is it our religious roots that has instilled our country's prudish (and misguided) desire for "discretion"?

Where are our breastfeeding role models?

I saw a woman breastfeeding her three month old son while walking around the busy farmer's market yesterday morning...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pumping in the Bathroom Is Like Putting a Blanket Over Your Head

My first attempt at breastfeeding I consider unsuccessful. I nursed my daughter for the first 4 months of her life and then returned to work. I bought a pump and was determined to use it but found lack of support for the ability to continue to feed my daughter breastmilk.
When I approached the subject of a place to pump in my workplace, my (female, childless) boss was kind and supportive and offered to let me use her office space. As the weeks went on and I visited her office at the same time every day (there was only ONE short break in my schedule that allowed time) it became more and more inconvenient for her. Some days she had a meeting, other days she had too much work to get done and could not spare her office for that time, and some days she was just gone at the scheduled time and the door was locked.
The toilet is no place for a breastpump.
The only other option was the public bathroom. The pump was LOUD. It sounded weird coming from one of the stalls, and I was the only woman on that campus that recently had given birth. Somehow, pumping in the bathroom made me feel ashamed. I was so stressed-out by the situation that I was not able to relax, not able to release as much milk, and I wanted the bathroom horror to be over as quickly as possible, so I would sometimes give up pumping after only going at it for a few minutes. You can imagine what happened.
The office availability became less and less, which led me to the bathroom more and more. The stress of being forced to pump in there, combined with my lack of authority, led to days where I had less and less milk to bring home to my baby. I then resorted to pumping while driving home at night in my car for my hour-long commute. This did not work either but was a last-ditch effort that my hormones told me was a good idea.
I was an emotional wreck to say the least. You can ask my husband; I was not a fun person to live with. I would come home every day and just cry almost uncontrollably for hours over the guilty feelings I was having. Not only was I leaving my first born to the care of someone else to go back to work, but also now I was faced with a situation I was unprepared for. I am a breastfeeding advocate, just like I am a natural birthing advocate and here I was, giving up nourishing my daughter with the best food I knew was available, her momma’s milk.
I did not choose to stop breastfeeding my daughter. I was forced to by a society that does not place value in breastfeeding. I believe it is the same issue as nursing in public. Why is feeding a baby breastmilk so unsupported by our society? Why are new mothers made to feel bad about this? What I am hearing is “cover your head with a blanket,” “pump in the bathroom.” Why are we doing this to our mothers? It’s an outrage that our society is treating ANYONE this way. Why are we made to feel shameful for something that is natural and that we know is right in our hearts, bodies, and minds?
If anything, this negative experience has made me a stronger breastfeeding advocate. This is a human rights issue. The next time around I choose not to be quiet. I choose not to be ashamed. I choose not to feel guilty, though I will always suffer from the guilt of quitting the first time around. I am nursing my next daughter come hell or high water. And watch me do it - whenever and wherever she needs it.

We are honored to host a guest post today from Amy. Amy is trained as an Art Therapist and Marriage and Family Therapist. She currently resides in Sonoma County California with her two young girls (16 months and 2 months), her husband, and dog. Both of her girls were born naturally, the first one at a birth center and the second at home. Her interests which fuel her writing and artwork include women's rights, natural parenting, natural childbirth, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, green living choices including cloth diapering, and vaccination choice.
Amy's creative ventures include oil painting and honing her writing skills at birthactivist.com. She has also recently started doing graphic design for a photographer and produces photo cards, announcements, etc. You can see some of her work on Modern Heritage Photography and Design's Facebook page.

This article is edited from a previous version published at birthactivist.com

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pump and Go, Part 2

Bottles create problems for babies and mothers.
“There is no reason to offer bottles on a daily basis if you are not routinely separated from baby just so that he will continue to accept one. Doing so may also compromise your milk supply and make it more likely that your baby may begin to prefer the ease of the bottle.” (1)

A common issue with bottles and the breastfed baby is that a lot of breastfed babies will refuse a bottle when mom is present or simply won’t take one at all. Moms know that a hungry baby can mean an angry baby. Fighting to give a baby a bottle he/she doesn’t want isn’t something anyone wants to do, and as someone who may be in a restaurant with a mom in this situation I can say I’d MUCH rather see a mom nurse her baby than hear a hungry baby refuse a bottle.

A video from my friend, her son was born prematurely and had to have bottles in the NICU, she successfully got him to the breast and he has no problem telling you he’d rather have that:

On the opposite side of bottle refusal is nipple confusion. This can be a huge issue, particularly early in a breastfeeding relationship and it’s a problem that sabotages a lot of mom and baby pairs.

This problem can occur with just one bottle or many and although it is of utmost concern when baby is just learning to nurse, the risk remains as they grow as well. The differences in the nipple and the flow can create confusion or preference in the child that can lead to him/her refusing the breast.

“During breastfeeding a baby's tongue, jaw, and mouth work together in a coordinated rhythm. This unique sucking action is one reason why breastfed babies overall have better oral development than bottle-fed babies. Once the baby latches on, the tongue comes down and out as it cups the breast. The lips must be flanged out resembling a rose petal or a fish's lips. Letdown can sometimes takes several seconds to perhaps more than a minute to occur. The baby learns that he does not get an instant reward; he must "work" for mother's milk.

With bottle-feeding, the baby is instantly met with a flood of milk as a bottle will allow milk flow without active sucking. This sudden gush forces the baby to flip his tongue upward to help regulate the flow and prevent him from choking. His lips are pursed tightly around the firmer artificial nipple and no work is required of his jaws.

One study found that 95% of babies will become confused if given a bottle during the first 3-4 weeks of life. For some babies it may take many bottles before they show any nipple confusion; for others it can take only one or two. For this reason it is best to avoid offering your baby a bottle before he is 4 weeks of age.” (2)

A bottle can become contaminated in a number of ways and once milk is expressed it is no longer guaranteed to remain sterile. Milk from the breast is naturally sterile as is the nipple which delivers it. "Within the areola there are sebaceous glands (which secrete oil to soften and protect the skin), sweat glands, and Montgomery's glands, which are believed to produce a substance that lubricates the nipple and protects it from germs.” The breast has its own system of cleaning, meaning the nipple remains clean for baby to nurse from (to a certain extent of course, hygiene also plays its role). Nursing a baby therefore is a guaranteed way of delivering uncontaminated milk whereas the risk is always there that a pumped bottle can contain bacteria either to poor sterilization, improper milk storage or exposure to contaminants.

Bottle feeding increases a mother’s risk of contracting thrush. Thrush is a yeast infection found either in a baby’s mouth or on a mother’s nipple, often times both. Like any yeast infection, moist, sugary environments are possible breeding grounds and a bottle is no exception. Breast milk is high in lactose, a sugar, and a baby’s mouth or a bottle and pump are both places thrush likes to grow, as well as on mom’s nipple. A baby can pass thrush to mom, having picked it up off their bottle. Now thrush is not exclusive to bottles or pumps and a breastfeeding mom is not exempt from catching it if she avoids pumping and bottle feeding (pacifiers also can pass thrush). I’m merely saying that a mom is giving thrush another place to grow if she pumps and bottle-feeds and for moms (or babies) that are on antibiotics this further increases their chances of getting thrush.

Also, as with formula feeding, bottle-feeding (when done incorrectly) breast milk can lead to increased ear infections, dental caries and all of the other bottle-related issues. (3)

In conclusion, nursing really is what is best for a mother and baby and moms shouldn’t have to feel like they need to hide that. While the average person may not see the issue in a mother pumping and bottle-feeding, there is plenty of information that proves that breastfeeding is far easier and preferable to pumping and bottle-feeding. Moms shouldn’t feel pressured into doing something they don’t want to do, and if a mother decides she would rather pump that’s fine too. Moms deserve to go into it knowing the facts on both sides. If a mother prefers to pump because she really doesn’t want to nurse in public, for whatever reason, I’ll support her as well. But no mother should be bullied into hiding or pumping beforehand just because someone else takes offense to her nursing in public and thinks that is the “solution.”

1) http://www.motherandchildhealth.com/Breastfeeding/Becky/breastfed_bottle.html
2) http://www.breastfeed-essentials.com/avoidingnipple.html
3) http://www.bottle-feeding-baby.com/bottle-feeding-problems.php
*Note: Please note this is NOT anti-exclusive pumping (EPing), EPing is very hard and takes a great deal of dedication from a mother, I applaud and commend any mother who has EPed for her child and want to state that breast milk in a bottle is far superior to formula. This conversation is solely for the purpose of stating what trouble pumping can entail, and if anything maybe give some insight as to what mothers who EP have had to face in their dedication to giving their child the best they can.

This article is edited from a previous version published at Life's a Salad Bar.  
Anna is an army wife, mother to a "spirited" toddler, fitness coach, future lactation consultant and advocate of natural, gentle parenting. She stays busy and occasionally blogs (or rants) about her ideas and interests at Life's A Salad Bar.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pump and Go, Part 1

One of the things I hear from people who don’t support nursing in public (NIP) is the argument that moms can or should pump their milk to feed to their babies while out. Violating our children’s and our own rights aside, following this suggestion can lead to a plethora of problems such as differences in the milk, excess lipase, plugged ducts, mastitis, thrush, bottle preference or nipple confusion, contamination, increased risk of ear infections and dental carries and unnecessary frustration for both baby and mom. While many women successfully pump or have reasons that make pumping necessary, women who do not need to pump should be able to nurse on demand. Opponents of nursing in public who use the argument that women should pump, often do so out of ignorance. Breastfeeding moms deserve to know that pumping and breastfeeding are not the same, nor is pumping a solution to the problem regarding nursing in public. Education, tolerance and support are the only solution.

Pumped milk and the milk a baby receives via nursing are not the same.
In order to best explain the difference between expressed milk and milk that a baby gets via nursing, I have to explain some of the mechanics of breast milk production and delivery.

A mother’s milk is constantly changing in composition to meet her child’s needs. A lot of people don’t realize that each time a baby nurses they get a different meal, and when a mom pumps, her baby is unable to signal to the breast what changes need to be made in the milk to suit his/her needs:

"A surprising fact is that the composition of breast milk changes with each feeding, so no matter what time of day it is, or what season, mother's milk will adjust to the specific needs of her baby. This is true for the nursing newborn or the nursing toddler- a mother's body will adjust to provide exactly what is needed nutritionally. So, as a child's vitamin and mineral requirements change, so will the concentration of these important nutrients in breast milk. One theory for this is that the baby's saliva signals specific nutritional requirements to the mother." (1)

While just one pumping session, or infrequent ones, aren’t likely to affect milk composition in the grand scheme of things, one can see how pumped breast milk vs. nursing at the breast can mean a slight deviation from the baby’s needs. Suppose a mother wants to go out and bring along some milk she pumped the other day. Maybe baby needed more of a certain vitamin and her body has that “in stock” now, but didn’t when she pumped. Maybe she’s been exposed to a new antibody or germ and her milk is producing some protection for her baby, and baby is missing out on it with what she pumped before. This may not be a problem if she is just going to nurse later, but that’s still one less meal custom made for baby.
Also, something a mom wouldn’t run into when nursing that can become an issue with pumped milk is excess lipase. “Lipase is an enzyme that is normally present in human milk and has several known beneficial functions:  Lipases help keep milk fat well-mixed (emulsified) with the "whey" portion of the milk, and also keep the fat globules small so that they are easily digestible (Lawrence & Lawrence, p. 156).
Lipases also help to break down fats in the milk, so that fat soluble nutrients (vitamins A & D, for example) and free fatty acids (which help to protect baby from illness) are easily available to baby (Lawrence & Lawrence, p. 156).
The primary lipase in human milk, bile salt-stimulated lipase (BSSL), "has been found to be the major factor inactivating protozoans" (Lawrence & Lawrence, p. 203).”

When milk is pumped some mothers find that they have excess lipase. Excess lipase causes milk to smell sour or rancid, and if a mom didn’t scald the milk, it’s not fit to give the baby if it has soured.

“Scalding the milk will destroy some of the anti-infective properties of the milk and may lower some nutrient levels, but this is not likely to be an issue unless all of the milk that baby is receiving has been heat-treated.” (2)

A mom that has excess lipase that scalds her milk to give to baby also alters the composition and milk is less nutritious than if baby had simply nursed.

Pumping can cause health issues for mothers.
A baby (when nursing correctly) removes milk better than even a hospital grade pump. Say a mom pumps before she goes out and intends to feed the baby pumped milk to avoid nursing in public. When milk is not removed from the breast well enough, a mother runs the risk of getting plugged ducts, or even worse, mastitis. While pumping just once doesn’t guarantee a mother will get a plugged duct, it’s a risk she takes each time she pumps. (3)
Pumping can negatively impact a mother’s milk supply if the breasts are not emptied effectively. Milk production is supply and demand. The more milk removed, the more replaced. Since we know a baby removes milk best, pumping leaves behind milk and therefore signals to the breast that it doesn’t need to make more. Over time this can impact a mother’s milk supply. (4)
Another issue with pumping is that some moms just really don’t respond well to the pump
Pumping is hard work, time consuming, there are a lot of issues a mom could run into and really, it’s just not as enjoyable as nursing, which releases hormones that soothe both a mother and child. Milk storage is also time consuming and mothers have to be careful with milk so it doesn’t become contaminated. This can cause a great deal of stress on mom, which is unhealthy and ultimately unnecessary.

Please stop by NursingFreedom.org this Wednesday, December 22 for Part 2 of Pump and Go.

(1) http://www.midwifeanddoula.com/breastfeeding.htm
(2) http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/lipase-expressedmilk.html
(3) http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mom/mastitis.html#usualcause
(4) http://www.kellymom.com/bf/supply/milkproduction.html#supply
*Note: Please note this is NOT anti-exclusive pumping (EPing), EPing is very hard and takes a great deal of dedication from a mother, I applaud and commend any mother who has EPed for her child and want to state that breast milk in a bottle is far superior to formula. This conversation is solely for the purpose of stating what trouble pumping can entail, and if anything maybe give some insight as to what mothers who EP have had to face in their dedication to giving their child the best they can.
This article is edited from a previous version published at Life's a Salad Bar. 
Anna is an army wife, mother to a "spirited" toddler, fitness coach, future lactation consultant and advocate of natural, gentle parenting. She stays busy and occasionally blogs (or rants) about her ideas and interests at Life's A Salad Bar.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Giveaway: 2011 Beauty of Mothering Calendar $15 ARV {12.31; US/Can.}

This is a joint giveaway with NursingFreedom.org and Code Name: Mama. You may enter at one site only. Please find the section marked "Win it!" for the mandatory main entry and optional bonus entries.
June 2011

Beauty of Mothering is offering our readers a giveaway of a 2011 Beauty of Mothering Calendar!

This week, I had the opportunity to interview Nicky, one of the creators of a new calendar called Beauty of Mothering. I'd like to share with you some of her breastfeeding journey, as well as tell you about the calendar.

Nicky's Story
Nicky had a number of obstacles to overcome with breastfeeding, but she had luck (and good support!) on her side. In her words:
There were some struggles at first, especially because CJ, my son, was born with spina bifida myelomeningocele. Because we didn’t know he had spina bifida while I was pregnant with him, I was able to give birth naturally with a midwife at a birthing suite. This really ended up being the best thing for breastfeeding, because the midwives put him to the breast and got him nursing right away. After we got to the emergency room at the nearest hospital, the midwives had me nurse him again while we were waiting for the doctor. We were very lucky to get nursing started in those first few hours, otherwise it might have been a week before I was able to nurse him and he would have only have been tube and bottle fed, with no experience at the breast. We were also lucky because there were a couple of nurses who were breastfeeding moms on staff in the ER that night and they helped me get started with pumping. The doctor who was on duty didn’t know anything about breastfeeding and under his advice we almost threw out the little bit of colostrum I pumped that night! It was a nurse who came in and told us to save it. She called it “liquid gold”.
They spent at least two weeks in the hospital getting proper treatment for CJ. Nicky used the hospital electric pumps in the pump rooms, but felt sad for missing out on 30 minutes of time with CJ each time she needed to pump. Finally, after 9 days in the hospital, she was able to put him to the breast again, but even then there were complications associated with all the wiring to which CJ was connected. She had to think outside the box to find a position that was comfortable:
What ended up helping was inventing a new nursing position. I had to kind of sit CJ on my knee while supporting his head and neck. I’d get him latched on and then he would start sucking. He stopped waking up hungry, put on more weight, and eventually the tube feedings were phased out altogether. He took right to nursing and preferred it over the bottle.
Nicky was also blessed with a husband, JC, who is extremely supportive of breastfeeding. In fact he came up with the idea for the calendar and did all the photography! After seeing very little breastfeeding photography, and mostly of a low quality, they decided to do their part to normalize nursing by creating this calendar.

May 2011
Beauty of Mothering Calendar
When reviewing any product, the first thing I check is whether the item is functional or not. So, for your benefit, I flipped through this calendar and found it fully functional. It contains all 12 months (in fact, it actually features a baker's dozen! There's Dec 2010 in there so you can get started right away!) and all 365 days. Besides months and days, it also provides you with the lunar cycles and notifications of important Awareness months, such as Breastfeeding Awareness Month and Prematurity Awareness Month. And it includes a hole at the top for hanging (I just read a review online of a calendar that was missing this important feature!)

So, with functionality out of the way, we can move on to the cover. It's a beautiful photo that conveys perfectly the theme: Beauty of Mothering. Each month features a mother and baby breastfeeding along with a quote. As the December 2010 page states: “This calendar is an effort to . . . show breastfeeding as natural, good, beautiful, and essentially feminine.” The photographs look professional and artistic, and the calendar is high-quality and arrived in perfect condition.

I would say that my favorite month's image is June. The photo angle and the colors (yellow shirts on mom and baby, and yellow sunflowers on green grass) are eye-pleasing, and there's a sweet quote from Homer, Hymn to Hermes:
“A little child born yesterday
A thing on mother's milk and kisses fed.”
You can admire all of the images and quotes on the Beauty of Mothering website.

My main complaint (and I think Nicky agrees with me) is that there wasn't more diversity in the women featured. She told me that she had originally planned for a variety in age and ethnicity, as well as photographs of tandem nursing mothers. However, she found that she was unable to get enough willing participants close enough for them to do a photography session. They do have plans for more calendars in the future with a variety of mothering themes, including another similar breastfeeding calendar next year.

Besides getting this calendar for your own home, I recommend buying copies as donations for local establishments that may have an impact on new mothers, like doctor's offices and WIC offices.

I asked Nicky if she had any advice/thoughts to share with our readers, and she recommended seeing a pediatric chiropractor:
[Our Chiropractor] explained that birth is hard work for moms and babies and that even the most gentle, natural birth can still lead to a baby’s jaw being pushed out of alignment. When this happens, the baby often can’t open up her mouth all the way in order to establish a proper latch. Some babies will use a little ingenuity and move their mouths in a side-to-side “sawing” motion to trigger the milk ejection, and this has the unfortunate effect of making the mother feel as though she is nursing a piranha! A pediatric chiropractor can adjust the baby’s jaw and put it back into alignment so she can open up properly and get a good latch. Adjustments on babies are very, very gentle. It looks like a very gentle massage with fingertips or like the chiropractor is just feeling around the head and spine with her fingertips. I’ve heard so many mothers talk about how their babies just weren’t able to get the milk they needed from breastfeeding or how breastfeeding was just so painful they couldn’t do it, and I’ve wondered how many of these mothers and babies could have been helped by seeing a pediatric chiropractor. (I’ve also heard that osteopaths can adjust jaws too.) The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association is a good place to look for a pediatric chiropractor or other information. Their website is www.icpa4kids.org .
I have to agree with Nicky and recommend chiropractic during pregnancy to prepare for birth in addition to chiropractic for all members of the family after the birth!

One thing Nicky said really summed up the calendar for me:
Breastfeeding isn’t all sunshine and roses, but there are moments when you have this sweet little baby latched on to the breast and he’s just so content and feeling so loved, that you just have to smile because it’s one of the most tender things in the world. We don’t see many images of breastfeeding, especially positive ones. We’re hoping to change that.


August 2011
You can buy one of these beautiful calendars online from Beauty of Mothering.

2011 Beauty of Mothering Breastfeeding Wall Calendars are 13 month (December 2010 through December 2011), 12x12", and include lunar cycles and breastfeeding quotes. Each calendar is $14.99 + $4.99 shipping and handling.

The calendars are available now exclusively through Beauty of Mothering using your choice of Paypal, Amazon Checkout or Google Checkout.

For a limited time, NursingFreedom.org and Code Name: Mama readers can get a 10% discount on the calendars! Click the "Buy Now" button below to get your 10% discount - you can only get it here!

Get one in time for the holidays! Most orders placed before 2:00PM Mountain Time (Monday - Friday) ship the same day. All other orders will ship the next business day. Standard shipping is via First Class mail with estimated delivery in 2 - 4 days.


For your own chance to win a 2011 Beauty of Mothering Breastfeeding Wall Calendar, enter in the comments below! Contest is open to the U.S. and Canada only. (Our apologies international readers!)

MAIN ENTRY: Visit Beauty of Mothering and tell us which of the calendar pictures is your favorite!

Leave a valid email address in your comments (the line where it says "email address") so we can contact you if you win. Email addresses are not made publicly visible.

This is a joint giveaway with NursingFreedom.org and Code Name: Mama. You may enter at one site only, and we'll be recording IP addresses to ensure that there are no duplicate entries. That said, please do check out and enjoy both sites!

BONUS ENTRIES, to increase your chance of winning (leave a separate comment for each so we can count them all):
  • Let us know whether you will keep this calendar or give it as a gift if you win.
  • Like Beauty of Mothering on Facebook.
  • Like NursingFreedom on Facebook.
  • Like Code Name: Mama on Facebook.
  • Subscribe to NursingFreedom.org in a reader or by email.
  • Subscribe to Code Name: Mama in a reader or by email.
  • Follow @NursingFreedom on Twitter and leave your Twitter name in the comment.
  • Follow @CodeNameMama on Twitter and leave your Twitter name in the comment.
  • Share this giveaway with your friends on Facebook. You can use this text as a status update: Enter to win a Beauty of Mothering 2011 Breastfeeding Calendar via @NursingFreedom & @CodeNameMama! {12.31, US/Can.} (Be sure to attach the post's link to your update: http://www.nursingfreedom.org/2010/12/giveaway-2011-beauty-of-mothering.html.)
  • Tweet about this giveaway (up to 3 times total, at least 24 hours apart). Tweet this text: Enter to #win a Beauty of Mothering 2011 #Breastfeeding Calendar via @NursingFreedom & @CodeNameMama! http://bit.ly/exkZgC {12.31, US/Can}
  • Contest open to United States and Canada street mailing addresses only.
  • Contestants may enter at either NursingFreedom.org or CodeNameMama.com but not both. Entries will be combined for the drawing of a single winner.
  • Leave each entry as a separate comment so we can count them all.
  • For actions like following and subscribing, if you already follow or subscribe, just let us know in your comment.
  • For tasks that garner you multiple entries, you can copy and paste the comment with a #1, #2, etc.
  • You don't have to do any of the bonus entries, but you do have to complete the first mandatory one.
  • We will pick the winner through Random.org after the contest closes and send an email notification. Leave a valid email address as you comment so we can contact you if you win. If we can't reach a winner or don't hear back within a couple days, we'll draw a new name.
  • Any questions, let me know: CodeNameMama {at} gmail {dot} com

Contest closes December 31 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

Disclosure: Our reviewer received a free Beauty of Mothering 2011 Calendar 
as a giveaway prize. We try to seek out only products we think you would find
relevant and useful to your life as a breastfeeding mother. If we don't like a 

product, we won't be recommending it to you. 


Nikki, the reviewer of the Beauty of Mothering Breastfeeding Calendar, is NursingFreedom.org's Social Media Manager. You can read more about Nikki on our About page, or interact with her daily on NursingFreedom.org's Facebook and Twitter accounts. We think she rocks!
Dionna, NursingFreedom.org's cofounder, blogs about natural parenting at Code Name: Mama and is also the cofounder of Natural Parents Network.
Special thanks to Lauren of Hobo Mama (and cofounder of Natural Parents Network) for allowing us to duplicate her fabulous giveaway formatting/design.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Breastfeeding and Signing: Your Stories, Part 2

We recently talked about signing with little ones - particularly, signing about breastfeeding. In one of our breastfeeding and signing posts, we shared a few stories from readers who have signed with their babes. 
We didn't get to fit everyone's stories into the first post, so here is part two! Enjoy these sweet stories of breastfeeding and signing.
Read more about learning to sign with babies and toddlers at Natural Parents Network, and find ideas on how to sign "breastfeeding" at Code Name: Mama.

Did your little one use a sign to nurse? 

Hannah nursing her son, Tobias
From Hannah:
I remember the first time my son signed milk on his own without any prompting from mom or dad. One day when he was about 9 months old I pulled up on the driveway on my lunch break from work; my husband and son were outside waiting for me. My son's eyes lit up and with two hands in the air he signed milk.
He is now 14 months old and we have used the sign daily. Besides the cute factor, it is helpful on "strange" days (traveling, or when I'm away in the evening, or when our normal routine is thrown out the window for some reason) that he can specifically communicate that he wants to nurse. Sometimes if he is fussing or whining my husband asks him "Do you need something from mommy? Do you need milk? Can you ask her nicely?" and then he signs for milk.
I am glad that he can usually ask politely and happily, as I don't want to give any weight to the myth that breastfeeding toddlers or babies fed on demand are whiny and demanding.
Hannah is a former music teacher who is enjoying being a stay-at-home-mom this year.

Laura's nursling, Rosemary
From Laura:
I researched signing while I was pregnant and knew I wanted to use it in my parenting. I had first seen it through my sister, who had taught her daughter a few signs. I remember thinking how cute it was that a baby could communicate through signing before they could talk. So I was off on my own journey of teaching my daughter to sign. I tried to always be consistent with signing, showing her signs of simple things. I started when she was very young. Most of the time I wondered if she even was paying attention, and around her ninth month I even worried whether she would ever pick up on the signs.

I should have known that her sign for nursing would be the first one, but it still made me gush! I taught her the sign 'milk' for when she nurses, and when she first learned it she was so happy! If she saw a man or her dad with no shirt she would sign 'milk' near their nipples, it would make me laugh so hard, and of course while she is nursing she signs it over and over again with her little fist in the air. It was adorable and very memorable. Soon I made it a requirement, if she wants to nurse she must sign 'milk' for it, now I am working on getting her to sign 'milk please'.

I never would have experienced such sweet joys if I had not made it to nursing a toddler. She is now one year old and is signing many other things and learning to communicate very well!

Laura is a first time stay at home mom. She is the youngest of six children, and so when it came to parenting, she wasn't short on any advice! In her family breastfeeding beyond a year was normal. Rosemary, Laura's daughter, is now 15 months old and their nursing is going great with no end in sight. Laura blogs at Terra Cotta Momma.

From Shelly:
My daughter Lily is 15 months old and still nurses three to five times a day/night. We are also teaching her sign language and she knows signs like "more," "all done," "bath," and "water". When she was younger, I used to ask her if she wanted mommy's milk, and I would lightly pat my chest. She is not using words yet, but now that has become her sign when she wants to nurse. She gently pats her own chest and makes a little "mmm mmm" noise. I love it!

Jessica nursing her son after finishing her first marathon!
From Jessica:
I have two year old boy/girl twins that I am still breastfeeding. We took a sign language class when they were about 9 months old. I really only ever used the signs for "milk" and "more" and "food," but they used all three all the time. In fact my son still uses the sign for "more" even though he can talk a lot now. Before they could talk they used the signs all the time. It was so cool to know what they needed even though they couldn't express themselves verbally.
Jessica is a mom, wife, runner, alumni relations director, photographer, reader, cooker, thinker, list maker, swimmer, redhead, cat-person, neat freak.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Suggestions for Starting a Breastfeeding Support Bag Project in Your Area

Laramie Breastfeeding Bags
ready for delivery.
We recently featured a story on the Laramie Breastfeeding Bags, a project started by one mama - Amanda Mack, after she was given a bag full of formula samples and coupons after she gave birth to her son in a hospital. Today we are sharing Amanda's tips on how to start a similar project in your community. It's easier than you might think!
1. Contact business and organizations that you know are pro-breastfeeding: I started by looking through the ads in Mothering magazine, because these are typically businesses that support breastfeeding and natural family living. I also contacted business that I had purchased products from and loved. I explained what I wanted to do and asked them for any donations they might have - samples, brochures, coupons, handouts, etc. I made a huge list of possible contacts and e-mailed them.
2. Contact businesses/organizations in your local area to ask for donations: bags, folders, supplies, copies, etc. We began by using reusuable bags from local stores because they were donated. Our budget was zero dollars and our goal was to have all information in the bags relate directly to breastfeeding and natural family living. We made sure that all donations reflected our goals and reserved the right to not include things that didn’t adhere to that goal.
3. Assembly: Once you decide the bag has a variety of necessary information and goodies, it is time to assemble a sample bag!
4. Contact your local hospital: see if there is a lactation consultant or coordinator that you could meet with. Explain the project and show the bag. Suggest that the bags are given out when the mom is discharged from the hospital. Our hospital also had to approve the bags before we began giving them out.
5. Determine numbers: find out how many births there are per month at your hospital and assemble bags accordingly. We typically try to fill two months at one time. So here at our local hospital, we have 30-40 births per month, so we try to fill 50-60 or so bags each time. We then have some time in between to contact those companies again to ask for a “refill” on donations. That way when it comes time again to fill them, our supplies are all stocked and ready to go.

If you have any questions or you need further information, please feel free to contact Amanda:

Amanda Mack: Amandamack5 {at} yahoo {dot} com
Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project


This post has been edited from a previous version posted at A Mother's Boutique. Our thanks to Amanda Mack - for her inspiring project and for allowing us to share it!
If you are part of an initiative to promote breastfeeding and/or the normalization of breastfeeding, tell us about it! We want to share your good work with our readers. Email us at NursingFreedom {at} Gmail {dot} com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project

On December 21, 2009, our second son decided to come into the world with the assistance of our midwife Esther and our doula Michelle. We were so full of the bliss that comes with bringing another sweet baby into the world naturally and the wonderful breastfeeding experience that was to follow. As we were leaving the hospital, we were given a “breastfeeding support” bag from Similac and other formula companies. You know the ones. In all, we were given five full-sized cans of formula in a bag with a tag on it that read, “For breastfeeding moms.” Not one thing in there even mentioned the word “breastfeeding.” Hmmmm . . . I thought as I politely declined the bag. In the weeks after Owen’s birth, my husband and I began a discussion about this. We hypothetically talked about what would be in a real breastfeeding support bag- what were the products and bits of information that made breastfeeding better for us? My husband, the ever supportive rock that he is, knew that this discussion, coupled with a type-A, freakishly organized woman such as myself, would lead to something . . . and it quickly did.

Breastfeeding Support Bags
I e-mailed every company that I believed in, had heard good things about, had personal experiences with or my friends had, and asked for their help. Within days, I had teamed up with over forty companies and organizations who were nothing short of thrilled to help. Donations of information and samples flooded my front porch and my guest bedroom. And so, like Owen, the Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project was born naturally and out of great determination.
After putting together sample bags, I called our local hospital and spoke with the the lactation coordinator. She was very receptive to the idea of true breastfeeding support bags. We met and she approved the bags with flying colors.
As of March 2010, women who give birth at Ivison Memorial Hospital are given the bags from the Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project.
I then teamed up with my long-time friend Sarah Pruis, owner of One Creative Mama and natural childbirth educator. Our goals remain the same:

  • To complete the bags at no cost or with funds from fundraisers or donations
  • To support and encourage breastfeeding mamas with accurate information, and
  • To include only pro-breastfeeding information, samples, coupons, etc. (For example, we don’t put in coupons for something like photography as “fillers” but we would include brochures on baby slings since that promotes bonding and facilitates breastfeeding.
Fundraising and Project Success in Laramie
We are now approaching 300 bags filled. Currently, there about about 30-40 births per month at our hospital. We continue to get more donors, both at the local level and at the national level. This includes the hospital, who worked along with midwife Esther Gillman-Kehrer to donate reusable bags. They purchased 400 more reusable bags to keep the project going. The bags say, “Breastfeeding is (Eco)logical.” This means that we now have the donations and supplies to continue the project for at least another year, and hopefully indefinitely! The Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project has also purchased stainless steel (BPA free) water bottles that say, “Laramie Supports Breastfeeding” and features the International Breastfeeding Symbol on it. ALL money raised goes toward the purchase of more stainless steel water bottles to include in the breastfeeding bags. Because of the success of a recent fundraiser, the Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project was also able to purchase additional items to add to the bags so that new breastfeeding moms get even more goodies.
The Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project was also able to purchase International Breastfeeding Symbol stickers. Local organizations and businesses are being given these stickers to display in their windows as a statement of support for breastfeeding moms/customers. This project has just started. Along with the stickers, the businesses and organizations are being given information about breastfeeding laws in Wyoming, ways to support breastfeeding customers, and how breastfeeding impacts the entire community.
Our local hospital, Ivinson Memorial Hospital has also initiated the Laramie Breastfeeding Coalition as a result of the momentum. This group meets once a month and includes representatives from Ivinson Memorial Hospital, WIC, Public Health, area midwives, local nurses, La Leche League, area doctors, a clinical nutritionist, myself, and others. The group encourages interested healthcare professionals and others to join in order to promote breastfeeding city-wide. The group will also be working with the Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project to promote the stickers in local organizations and businesses.
And what's even better? Ivinson Memorial Hospital now proudly displays their international breastfeeding symbol stickers in all entries and on each floor, it has banned the free formula bags entirely, and it is making steps toward becoming a certified “baby-friendly” hospital.
Whenever I see Deb, the lactation coordinator at the hospital, she always says to me, “All this from one little lady.” And I immediately say the phrase, “It takes a village.” This high school English teacher, turned stay-at-home mama, turned lactivist wants my two boys to be a part of a society that embraces and encourages breastfeeding and for us, it starts in our “village” of Laramie, Wyoming. Each month when it is time for Sarah and I to crowd into my guest bedroom that has now been dubbed the “breast room in the house” to fill more breastfeeding bags, there is a mantra that keeps playing in my head: ‘Take that Similac!
If you are interested in starting something like this in your town and don’t know how to begin or you have questions, please feel free to contact me and I would love to help you take the steps to get started. Amandamack5 {at} yahoo {dot} com or join us on Facebook: Laramie Breastfeeding Bag Project. Happy nursing!

This post has been edited from a previous version posted at A Mother's Boutique. Our thanks to Amanda Mack - for her inspiring project and for allowing us to share it!
If you are part of an initiative to promote breastfeeding and/or the normalization of breastfeeding, tell us about it! We want to share your good work with our readers. Email us at NursingFreedom {at} Gmail {dot} com

Monday, November 22, 2010

CarNIP Creme de la Creme, Part 7

We are happy to share some of the wonderful pieces that were submitted during the Carnival of Nursing in Public as "Crème de la Crème" posts. I'll be posting a few at a time so you can look at them at your leisure. If you feel so moved, please click over, read the whole post, and leave a comment in support of the writers who participated in the Carnival.

  • Lactation Narration, Nursing at Sharper Image Have you ever been harassed about nursing in public? If so, you’re not alone. Alicia at Lactation Narration shares her harassment story and how it turned her into a breastfeeding activist.  
I have researched the issue and talked to other mothers who have had similar experiences, and I stand up for them in hopes that it will not have to happen to more women. I think that most women probably don’t even know that there is a law that protects them, and many would not stand up for themselves even if they knew about it.
Read more from Lactation Narration.
  • PhD in Parenting, Covering Up Is A Feminist Issue: Few breastfeeding mothers are strangers to the “covered/discreet” discussion. Annie at PhD in Parenting would like to point out that shrouding women has been a tool for oppression throughout history. This article takes you on a pictorial path ranging from shrouded to nude, reminding us that it is the woman’s right to decide how covered – or uncovered – she chooses to be. 
Any time a woman is told to cover up or told to undress, I see that as an attack on her person. Telling women to cover up and telling women to strip down are frequently used tactics for oppressing women. There are both practical and philosophical reasons why no one other than the woman herself should decide how covered or uncovered to be.
Read more from PhD in Parenting.
  • The Connected Mom, I've Got Two Boobs . . . One . . . Two: America has a strange relationship with boobs. We love them, so long as there is not a baby attached. Could this be because of our conservative Protestant heritage? Is this a result of the beliefs on which our nation was founded? Jennifer, The Connected Mom tackles this question and more.
The teacher from the school actually says "she doesn't have the right to impose her agenda on other people's children." Ok, I hate to break it to everyone but 99.9% of the time, breastfeeding moms are just trying to feed their child.
Read more from The Connected Mom.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Breastfeeding and Signing: Your Stories

We are talking about signing with little ones this week - particularly, signing about breastfeeding. Today we're sharing a few stories from readers who have signed with their babes. 
Read more about learning to sign with babies and toddlers at Natural Parents Network, and find ideas on how to sign "breastfeeding" at Code Name: Mama.
Did your little one use a sign to nurse? 
From Megan at Purple Dancing Dahlias:
My son is very clear when he wants to nurse. He will very enthusiastically ask anyone he is with to nurse if I am not there. My mom watched him on Wednesday nights while I took the older kids to AWANA, and without fail he would ask her to nurse when he wanted to go to sleep.
Last Easter the topic of me "still" breastfeeding came up when my mom told my grandma that my son will sign when he wants to nurse. With certain family members still a bit horrified over the fact that my sixteen month old son was still nursing, he came running in the room, hands in the air, laughing and doing the sign for milk. It made everyone else laugh and I am hoping that those members of my family that were rather surprised (to put it nicely) that I was still nursing opened up their minds to the fact that full-term nursing is normal and wonderfully okay. I love the fact that he can tell me what he wants.
(Side Note: A couple of weeks ago he changed his sign from milk to please. When he wants to nurse he will sign and say "peez-peez.")
Megan is a SAH homeschooling, AP farmer mama to 4 crazy, wonderful kids and an adoring hubby.

Kacy tandems Felicity and Theo
From Kacy:
After 12 hours of labor, my daughter, Felicity, entered this world crying loudly and sucking on her wrist. Being a new mom, I asked the midwife how to hold her to breastfeed, and after following her instructions, Little Felicity began nursing contentedly. This soothed her to sleep. I was committed to giving my daughter the best nutrition available, which meant that I would exclusively breastfeed her. She loved nursing, and I soon realized that anytime she cried or put her wrist in her mouth, she wanted to nurse. From the beginning her cry had a very distinct syllabic pattern, "El-La-El-La." Thus, my husband and I began calling my milk "Ella." When Felicity was about five months old, the cadence of her cry changed, but she continued to put her fist in her mouth when she wanted to nurse. Around this time we decided to make up a few baby signs for Felicity. We wanted to understand her needs better and help her communicate with us. The first sign we taught her was the "Ella sign," which is made using a fistted-hand and tapping the wrist twice against the mouth. The sign was inspired by Felicity's own actions as she entered the world. Felicity is now 21 months old, and although she has a large verbal vocabulary for her age, she still asks for "Ella" by making a fist and tapping her wrist twice against her mouth.
Kacy is an attached parent and SAHM who is currently tandem nursing Felicity and baby brother Theo. While the children sleep, she likes to knit, crochet, make soap, and prepare traditional meals for her family.

From Michelle:
Nursing moms know that nursing is about more than just the milk. Once when my daughter, who was maybe 11 or 12 months and had just learned to walk, was beginning to tip over - this was not going to be just any fall as her head was going to land between two couches where she ended up stuck until I helped free her - she saw where she was headed, stuck her hand up in the air and on her way down, signed "MILK!!" Her hand was still up in the air signing when I got to her! She knew before she landed and got stuck that she was about to really need some comfort!!
This is a video of Michelle's daughter, at around one minute you see that she's still using her sign for "nurse."
Michelle is a tandem nursing, homeschooling, stay at home mama.

From Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom:
I started my daughter Naima on baby signing when she was four months old. But it wasn't until she was about 7-8 months old that she started signing back. She's now a very talkative toddler who still uses her signs a lot.
Right now, I'm trying to wean her (she's turning three this December). So we usually count 1-10 during her nursing time. But more often than not, she doesn't want to stop, so with her mouth full (of breast), she puts her fingertips together and signs "more" indicating that she doesn't want to stop nursing yet.
The "more" sign has been most useful - signing more reading (when her mouth is full while nursing/eating).
We love signing - and we particularly love Rachel Coleman of Signing Time. You can see photos of Jenny's kids signing book and leaf, she's also been featured in an article on toddler signing!
Jenny, mom to nursing toddler Naima who's trying to keep sane this busy September in the midst of a full-time government job and a growing business.

From Virginia:
I started teaching my son Jetsun sign language (Auslan) from the age of 5 ½ months. He didn’t really start signing back to me until about 13 months. One of the first signs he did was the milk sign (which looks like milking a cow with his hands opening and closing), which is the sign I use for breastfeeding - I wanted him to relate the word milk to my milk, instead of the milk from a cow being the norm.
He is now 19 months old and still signs when he wants my milk. He has started saying a few words but still signs, even if he knows the word as well, and now he knows at least 20 signs.
I am really glad that he signs for milk, as it saves me the embarrassment of him pulling my top down in public when he wants the boob! I started teaching my son Jetsun sign language (Auslan) from the age of 5 ½ months. He didn’t really start signing back to me until about 13 months. One of the first signs he did was the milk sign (which looks like milking a cow with his hands opening and closing), which is the sign I use for breastfeeding - I wanted him to relate the word milk to my milk, instead of the milk from a cow being the norm.
He is now 19 months old and still signs when he wants my milk. He has started saying a few words but still signs, even if he knows the word as well, and now he knows at least 20 signs.
I am really glad that he signs for milk, as it saves me the embarrassment of him pulling my top down in public when he wants the boob!
Virginia is a herbalist, nutritionist and doula; runs childbirth education sessions for expectant Dads at her local pub, volunteers for Homebirth Access Sydney and edits their quarterly magazine "Birthings."

From Mallory:
My son Dorian turns two years old this month. I started signing to him when he was three months old, and after about 6 months he started signing back. His first two (and still most used) signs were "Mom" and "milk." We've had our ups and downs along the way but he's still happily nursing. One of the sweetest things is when he starts saying "Mom" and signing "Milk please". He'll curl up in my lap or cuddle up with me in bed, start nursing, and then sign "Thank you." Usually his blinks will get longer and slower, and then before I know it he's fast asleep. Now that he's constantly running from one thing to another, and I'm taking college courses full time, the little bits of time when we can take a quick break and relax together are some of my favorite moments of the day.
Mallory is a mother of a wonderful two year old son, a full time student (working towards a degree in Anthropology), and am also a WAHM attempting to earn a living by selling handmade items on her etsy store (GriffinFamilyCrafts).

From Whozat, Author of "Lucy and Ethel Have a Toddler: The Adventures of Shrike and Whozat and Peeper!)":
Peeper's really gotten into Sesame Street lately (Yes, our "we don't even have TV" kid is obsessed with it. She's seen videos at her grandparents, and then we started showing her clips online. I fear an intervention may be in order. But, I digress.). One of her favorite songs is "C is for Cookie" which, of course, gets in our heads, and pops out at the oddest moments.
One evening, we were sitting on the floor playing with her magnetic letters, when I picked up the G, held it up to my breast, and sang "G is for goody," (our word for nursing).
Needless to say, she got a big kick out of it, and now she does it all the time.
She finds the G, brings it over and signs "milk." Sometimes she also signs "music" (asking me to sing) or sings "Bee-beebee-beebee," herself.
Then, once I've gotten my breast out, she'll put the G right next to my nipple and keep it there while she nurses.
I wonder what the "If they're big enough to ask for it . . ." crowd would have to say about that?!
Whozat is the natural birthing, breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing, cloth diapering, babyled weaning, babysigning, 40-something, lesbian stay-at-home mom of twenty-two month old Peeper, who was conceived via IVF using her partner, Shrike's, egg and donor sperm.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Joys of Breastfeeding Past Infancy #26

Today I am happy to host a guest post by Whozat. Whozat is the natural birthing, breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing, cloth diapering, babyled weaning, babysigning, 40-something, lesbian stay-at-home mom of two year old Peeper, who was conceived via IVF using her partner, Shrike's, egg and donor sperm. She blogs at "Lucy and Ethel Have a Toddler: The Adventures of Shrike and Whozat (and Peeper!)
If you are interested in learning to sign with your baby or toddler, stop by Natural Parents Network for more information on the benefits of signing, then head over to Code Name: Mama to see how other mamas and little ones sign "nurse."
Here is Whozat's breastfeeding guest post:

Carrie, a Natural Parents Network reade,r breastfeeds
her 31 month old son, who signs "milk" while he nurses.
Carrie blogs at http://clothdiaperbooty.com/
"Peeper," at two years old, recently had a language explosion; until now though, she communicated primarily through signs. I can't imagine how frustrated we would all be if she couldn't communicate with us by signing. Not only can she tell us what she needs and wants, but we also get such insight into what's going on in that little head of hers - what she's noticing as we go through the grocery store (hat! glasses! baby! wheels! dog!) and how she's interpreting things in the world around her.

I was a little disappointed when "milk" (or "goody" as we call it in my family - a term coined by my sister's son, now in his 20s, back when he was a nursing toddler :-) ) wasn't her first sign, but then I realized that she's been able to communicate that to me since she was tiny, she didn't need to sign it!

She did pick it up pretty shortly after that, though, and she usually uses the sign to ask to nurse. She sometimes still tries to just help herself, but I usually ask her to sign "goody please" to reinforce proper "nursing manners" for public. (Please don't lift my shirt in the restaurant, sweetheart!)

Before her recent language explosion, there was a night when I was in the kitchen washing dishes. She came in and said, "Mama!" took my hand, and led me down the hall to the bedroom. As we got there, still walking and pulling me by the hand, she held her other arm straight up and signed "milk," then looked over her shoulder and said, "Mommy?" (my partner, "Shrike") because she wanted her to go lay down with us, too.

Two words and one sign, and she was able to say, "Mama, I'd like you to come to the bedroom with me, because I'm ready to nurse now. Mommy, would you please join us?"

The story would be better if that had turned out to be bedtime, but she nursed for a few minutes, declared "Uppa!" and got out of bed for another half-hour or so. Oh well . . . .

We cosleep, and many times I've seen her sign "milk" while whimpering and rooting for me when she wakes in the middle of the night.

She also signs it while she's nursing. I'm not sure if she's just saying "Hey, look what I've got!" or if she's announcing my letdown as it happens, or maybe complaining about the service "Hey, Mama, turn this thing on!" when it doesn't happen as quickly as she likes.

Recently we were shopping and a child was crying somewhere a few aisles over. Peeper looked concerned and signed "cry" (or "sad" - we use the same sign for both). I told her, "Oh, yes, that baby is crying, but it's okay, his Mama will fix it." Then, just for fun, I asked her, "What do you think she'll do about it? How will she fix him?" Without hesitating, she signed "Goody!" I told her I thought that was an excellent plan!


Breastfeeding past infancy is full of laughter, joys, and heartbreaking tenderness. I am publishing a series of posts dedicated to   the beauty of nursing toddlers in an effort to normalize this healthy and beneficial nursing relationship. But this isn’t just about me – I want to hear YOUR joys. If you are nursing a child who is older than one year, please contact me and  tell me about your favorite moments. I will include them in the series and  credit you, your site, or post it anonymously if you so   desire. (This series was formerly called “The Joys of Breastfeeding a  Toddler.” I changed the name to reflect the fact that we are celebrating  women who breastfeed past infancy, regardless of the age of the  nursling.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Breastfeeding and Signing

Alicia's daughter signing "milk."
This week we are talking about signing with little ones, and how sweet it is to see your baby sign "nurse."

Alicia from Lactation Narration wrote all about the benefits of signing at Natural Parents Network today - please go add your own experiences in the comments.

She's also come up with several options for a sign to mean "breastfeed," find them - and videos of babies and toddlers signing "nurse" - over at Code Name: Mama.

Does your little one sign to breastfeed? Tell us about it in the comments!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Problem with Defining "Discreet"

Discretionary Language
In the state where I live, Georgia, the law which protects a mother's right to nurse her baby in public was changed several years ago. (By the way, I think it is sad that we have to have a law to protect our right to do this, that is like having a law that protects my baby's right to sleep in public.) The law here used to have the word "discreet" in it; that is, as long as a mother is "discreet," then she has the right to nurse her baby.

Thank goodness the word "discreet" was removed from the law. Why? So mothers can run around topless all day to nurse, so they can jump up on a chair and yell, "Hey, I am BREASTFEEDING!" as they pull their shirts up over their heads? Of course not, these are examples of those mythological breastfeeding mothers that don't really exist. So, why remove "discreet" from the wording of the laws?

Here are some reasons:
  • Because "discreet" means something different for different people. Some people may insist that to be discreet, a woman must go into a bathroom to nurse, for instance.
  • Because a new mother learning to breastfeed may inadvertently show more skin than she was intending as she learns how to get her baby settled to nurse at the breast. Think of how terrible it would be to have these mothers accused of indecent exposure, these new mothers who are already struggling to learn to breastfeed? These women need our support, not our misplaced harassment!
  • Because some babies get distracted or are sociable while eating (as are most humans, no?) and might pull away from the breast momentarily, causing what was a "discreet" mother to be not-so-discreet temporarily.
  • Because the very word itself could cause people to think that breastfeeding must be somehow wrong, if "discretion" is to be observed while doing it.
  • Because most babies don't like having their heads covered with a blanket, particularly if it is hot.
  • Because a mother shouldn't be required to buy a new wardrobe of specific clothes designed for discreet nursing in order to be allowed to feed her baby when they go to the store.
  • Because no other humans have limits placed on the way that they must eat when in public.
  • Because a mother caught up in worrying about being perfectly "discreet" may actually be more distracting to the general public as her baby gets more frustrated and upset because she can't just feed him normally. A nursing baby sounds much better than a screaming one in public! 
  • Because other people can use their own discretion as to where they choose to look. They can also use their discretion to move to another position in the building if their proximity to a nursing mother makes them uncomfortable.
Can anyone add to the list?

Limits on nursing in public are problematic, as shown in the examples above. I'm not sure how many states still use the word "discreet" in their laws. However, I have read numerous comments from people essentially saying, "I don't care what the law says, a woman should have to be discreet and either cover up or leave." Public opinion is slow to change on this one.

The Legal Right to NIP Past Infancy
Speaking of limits on breastfeeding in public, I would like to point out (again - I point this out any time I have the chance!) how backward the law is in Tennessee regarding nursing in public. The law actually puts a limit on the age of the baby and says that a woman is legally authorized to nurse a baby 12 months or younger in public. This really gets my goat for two reasons: one, we live quite close to Tennessee and visit there at least a few times each year, and two, my first daughter didn't eat any solid foods until she was 13-14 months old (and even then, she was just getting started and didn't get much of her sustenance from solid foods). So basically, laws like this one are saying that my child could not eat in public when she was just a bit over the age of one (at least, she wasn't guaranteed this right - you better believe that I nursed her there anyway, because thank goodness knowledge of the law's wording is not widespread!). I hope that many in the state of Tennessee will contact their representatives about getting this law amended to remove the age limitations.

Discretionary Marketing
Of final note on the topic of "discreet" breastfeeding, I have to mention the nursing covers that are now on the market. Most women find that they can cover most of their bodies with their shirt and the baby, and some women wear an undershirt that can be pulled down so they don't have to expose any belly flesh (helpful in colder months especially); however, some are more comfortable using a nursing cover. I personally do not like them, but if they allow some women to feel more comfortable nursing their children in public, then it is much better than mothers feeling like they have to take bottles when in public. But to the companies who make these covers... why not use some tact and decency when naming these covers? One is called a "Hooter Hider." Where to begin with all that is wrong with that name? First off, it uses a term for the breasts that has a definite sexual connotation. Breastfeeding is not sexual, so why link the sexual function of breasts to the act of nursing an infant?  Then it contains the word "hide." This implies that breastfeeding should be hidden. They might as well be named "I'm doing something sexual under here, don't look" covers. There is another cover called the "Udder Cover."  So, this one is at least getting it right in that udders are for lactation and not sex, but we don't refer to human women as having "udders." There are many, many animals that lactate and nurse their young, but culturally we tend to think cows = milk.  I don't think that comparing women to cows is exactly kind, nor do I think it is a good marketing strategy.  I think that companies whose intentions seem to be to help mothers breastfeed should think about the image they give: breastfeeding is not sexual, it is not something we have to hide, and it is not uncivilized.

So, fellow nursing moms, use a cover or not, but please don't feel like you must go nurse in the bathroom or your car, pump and bring bottles along, or quit breastfeeding so you can reappear in public. Remember, the more people who see us nursing in public, the sooner breastfeeding will be seen as normal.

We are proud to host a guest post today from Erin. Erin is a 31 year old stay-at-home mother of two girls, ages 5 and 2. She just started homeschooling this fall and can be found blogging about parenting, Catholicism, raising backyard chickens, and more at Growing with My Girls.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Breastfeeding with Love and Respect: November Carnival of Natural Parenting

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What Is Natural Parenting?
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and
Code Name: Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of Natural Parents Network , a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Breastfeeding with Love and Respect

Kieran was born at 37 1/2 weeks - just past the cutoff line for me to give birth at the birth center. After 31 hours of labor, Kieran was born sunnyside up. We were both tired, and our midwife insisted that we transfer Kieran to the hospital, because she thought he was having problems breathing. He spent his first five days in the NICU, but Tom and I were lucky enough to room in with him.
What we were not lucky enough to experience was an easy start to breastfeeding. Ironically enough, Kieran latched on with no problem less than an hour after birth while we were still warm and skin to skin at the birth center. Once we got to the NICU, once he was connected to machines and an IV and placed under bright lights for most of the day - separate from me - that's when our problems started.
He was diagnosed as a "lazy nurser" with a "bad latch," and my lactation consultant spent hours every day with me - soothing my frustrated tears and helping me position the tiny tube that dripped in the precious colostrum that I worked at endlessly to pump.
My milk didn't come in until day four; two days after Kieran's doctors started putting major pressure on me to supplement with formula. I held my own: we never supplemented, and by the time we were discharged and Kieran was nursing better, breastfeeding had become a symbol of perseverance for me - latching and relatching and pumping and tube-feeding and crying and standing up to the doctors, those things were all a part of me falling fiercely in love with my child.

Just as my body nourished him when he was in my womb, so my body continued to nourish him when he was in my arms. After we got out of the hospital, we finally got into our breastfeeding groove. Kieran loved nursing. He could - and did - nurse for hours at a time. He wasn't interested in anything else - bottle, pacifier, food.
And so I fed Kieran with love and respect.
Kieran nursed exclusively for 10 months, and he still nurses today at 35 months.
Dionna is co-founder of NursingFreedom.org. She blogs about natural parenting and life with a toddler-almost-preschooler at Code Name: Mama. She also co-founded Natural Parents Network, a community of parents and parents-to-be who are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone's posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!

This list will be updated by afternoon November 9 with all the carnival links. We've arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on "What Is Natural Parenting?"

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):
    • "Attachment Parenting Chose Us" — For a child who is born "sensitive," attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting "choice." Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)
    • "Parenting in the Present" — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • "Parenting With Heart" — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
    • "Sometimes I Wish We Coslept" — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)
    • "Unconditional Parenting" — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

Holistic Health Practices

  • "Supporting Natural Immunity" — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children's immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • "Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting" — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter's needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter's learning "challenges." (@myzerowaste)
  • "Let Them Look" — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • "Why I Love Unschooling" — Unschooling isn't just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • "Is He Already Behind?"Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • "How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning" — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child's natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

Political and Social Activism