by Annie Laird, a Leaky
I was attending the Naval Postgraduate School when I had my first daughter. Luckily, I had her at the end of a quarter, and got to take an entire 3 months off school before going back. The Department Lead of my curriculum has also breastfed all her children and was very supportive. She allowed me to use the office of an adjunct professor that was on a leave of absence to pump my milk for the fist year of my daughter’s life. I had an abundant supply and exclusively breastfed her for 7 months prior to introducing any other food. I built up a freezer stash that was sufficient to cover my overnight absences from her starting at 7 months when I got underway for a week at a time on research cruises off the California coast (I was working toward my Masters degree in Physical Oceanography). There was no way to store my breastmilk on the tiny vessel, so I diligently pumped every 3 hours and poured it all down the drain. Just before she turned 1, I stopped pumping during the day, and we continued nursing until just after her 2nd birthday, when I had to deploy overseas as the Weapons Control Officer on a Guided Missile Destroyer.
I breastfed my 2nd daughter fairly easily, albeit, without ever being able to build up the huge freezer stash I was able to with my first. It probably was because I only got 6 weeks of maternity leave before I had to be back at work. When she was 3 months old, I flew with her and my oldest daughter to Bahrain to visit my husband, who was deployed there. The fact that she was breastfed made the trip so simple. She slept most of the 14 hour flight from Washington D.C. to Kuwait! No bottles to mix, no formula to drag along. Shortly after that trip, I left Active Duty Naval service, and started my first civilian job. I let my supervisor know that I would need a place to express my breastmilk throughout the day, and it had better not be a bathroom, thank you very much! A retired Master Chief himself, he ran all over base, finding an adequate space for me.
My supply tanked when my 2nd daughter was about 7-8 months, and I couldn’t figure out why. Then, oh! I’m pregnant! Surprise!! I cried every time my daughter would latch on; cracked, bleeding nipples were the order of the day. The scabs would dry onto my bra and as I would open my bra up to nurse, the scabs would rip off, starting the bleeding all over again. I finally called up a local IBCLC, Robin Kaplan, and cried over the phone about how miserable I was. She replied, “Annie, first rule: Feed the Baby. If you aren’t happy with the situation, transition to formula and quit breastfeeding.” So I did! I hung up my pump when my 2nd daughter was 9 months of age, and she weaned directly to an open cup (thank you Navy day care ladies for teaching her that!).
I gave birth to my 3rd daughter at home, and she took to breastfeeding like a champ. I took 8 weeks off of work, and then me and my pump started making the trek every 2-3 hours back to the pumping room at my place of employment. I keep my supply up by cosleeping with her and nursing throughout the night.
Annie Laird is the podcast host of Preggie Pals (a sister show of The Boob Group podcast), a Certified Labor Doula, Lactation Educator, Navy Veteran, Navy Wife, Mom to 3 little girls, and a Government Contractor. She has breastfed all her kids while holding down a job (at times, multiple jobs) outside the home and is currently breastfeeding her almost 6 month old exclusively.
illustrated by Jennie Bernstein
by Joni Edelman
Sometime in the early 2000s, a friend was visiting my house for a playdate. Nothing special, just the typical crackers and raisins and toys all over the house sort of thing. We were just sitting on the couch, chatting and eating ice cream — you know, like stay at home moms do — and mid sentence, she paused, “Joni, what is THAT?”
‘That’ was a book on my ottoman (not coffee table because, hello, no coffee tables with five toddlers running around). ‘That’ was a book by Anne Geddes, a large coffee table (ottoman) book. It featured photographs of women — in all states of pregnancy and postpartum — their babies, and sometimes babies that weren’t theirs. You get what I’m saying; there were babies and ladies. Oh and also, they were nude, or partly nude.
I said, “It’s a… book?” Other Less Free-Spirited Mom says, “BUT THEY ARE NAKED. Aren’t you afraid your kids will see this? They are TOTALLY NAKED.”
Astute observation, Queen of Obvious. The commoners are so lucky to have you.
“No. I’m not really worried about them finding it because I read it to them. I don’t want them to be embarrassed by seeing nude babies and pregnant women. Bodies are normal. Whatever.”
The playdate became less frequent after that.
You guys still with me?
That was about 15 or so years ago and I’m no less ‘progressive’ now. I was already sort of odd compared to my peers. My parents were hippies — like free-love and stuff and things (by ‘stuff’ I mean braless concerts and by ‘things’ I mean pot, lots of pot.) My parents never shamed my body, and though they failed in a lot of ways, I’ve never been uncomfortable with the human form. I’m an RN and for years I looked at vaginas for 12 hours a day. It’s a just a body.
We are skin and bones and muscle and fat and hair. No we are literally ALL just of that stuff differently configured.
I’m getting to the point. Hang in there.
Five years ago I had my fourth baby and 18 months after that, her brother. By the time I thought it would be a great idea to start a whole entire second family my older children were 10, 12, and 15. I thought I was done having babies so I never gave much thought as to how my older kids would (or would not) be involved in the pregnancy/labor/birth process. I became pregnant, and we just went with the flow.
We opted to homebirth and offered them the opportunity to be present — ⅔ of them decided that they weren’t that afraid of blood, and stayed to cheer me on (the other ⅓ was just in his room down the hall) My 10-year-old, Owen, was the first person to spot Ella’s head in the water and my 15-year-old, Kelsey, was the first person to hold her.
Here’s a video. Get a kleenex.
It just simply never occurred to me that any of this should have been hidden. And it begs the question, when did we start to think birth and death and life should be hidden? Who taught us that shame? Where did we learn to sexualize our bodies such that to see them is a forbidden and lustful act?
BRB need to go get a Master’s degree in anthropology with a focus on human sexuality.
As the babies grew and my big kids grew, we shuttled everyone around to sports things and band things and all the things teenagers do, and we brought the baby (and eventually babies). And I nursed uncovered at every event. And then I tandem nursed and basically my boobs were out, like completely OUT, for at least three solid years.
At more than one event, I was given the put your boob away, lady stink eye. And at more than one event one, or both, of my boys gave the stink eye right back. I didn’t have to tell them to defend their sister’s (and brother’s) right to eat. They just did it. We nursed at a gym, at a concert, at a Giants baseball game, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, on a ferry, on a beach, at a park.
I never said, “This is my right, and I’m going to do it.” I just did it. And none of them ever thought it wasn’t normal.
Because I never said it wasn’t.
Did my sons see my breasts and nipples? Yes, I’m sure they did. They also saw my vagina, because a baby came out of it and they were watching. And they see my face everyday and the top of my head too because my tallest son is 6’3”. And you know what? They are totally not even traumatized a little bit. Well, they may be a little traumatized by my face. It gets pretty cranky looking when they forget to take out the trash.
What did they learn from those experiences? Well, hopefully, they learned that human bodies are just that, bodies. We respect them and we revere them and we don’t shame them. Because they don’t deserve any of that.
This is where the change starts. With my kids and your kids and the kids who see us feeding our babies without embarrassment. Things become normalized one act a time.
I’ve given my kids the opportunity to see something I hope will serve them in their lives. My son’s partners will never have to be concerned that they won’t be supported. My daughters will know the normalcy that is child birthing and feeding and rearing.
Teenagers are easily embarrassed. And I guess I should have expected that mine would be too. But they just weren’t. Why not? I don’t know. Maybe it was the Anne Geddes book.
Not sure how to tell your kids about breastfeeding, here is an article with helpful tips.
I’m Joni. I’m lucky enough to have 5 amazing kids (19, 16, 15, 4 and 2), one fantastic husband, an awesome sister and a yarn addiction. When I’m not raising up people I’m a freelance writer, RN, and the momma behind mommabare. Love is my religion. I like cake and crafty crap. And yoga. In that order.
You can follow Joni on Instagram here and on Twitter here.
by Andrea Jacko, a leaky
When I was pregnant with my first child I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. My mom nursed my siblings and I until we were one and I wanted to do the same. Looking back I didn’t think we would be going as long as we are with no end in sight. Maggie, my very energetic, free spirited 21 month old is so amazing. I treasure our nursing sessions because it gives us a few minutes throughout the day to just sit and cuddle. Cuddle is the word she uses when she wants to nurse – how can anyone say no to that?!
I’m an RN in a very busy critical care unit, working 3-12 hour shifts a week. I went back to work when she was 10 weeks old and I was determined to continue breastfeeding. Maggie reversed cycled something crazy and only ate 4 ounces on days I would work. That meant she was up all night long making up for the fact that she didn’t eat all day. Thank goodness for cosleeping or I would be miserable! Because she reversed cycled, I built up quite the freezer stash and I have donated over 1000 ounces to other moms for their precious babies.
When Maggie was 14 months old we found out we were pregnant! My biggest fear was my milk drying up and Maggie being forced to wean and her not being able to decide when to stop. My milk did dry up around 13 weeks and that’s when I stopped pumping at work. Thankfully, Maggie never stopped nursing. My colostrum came in around 25 weeks and Maggie was so excited! Nursing a toddler has it’s challenges and being pregnant I’ve had some nursing aversions but again, I want Maggie to decide when she’s ready to be done, not me. We have set limits with her and I night-weaned her at 19 months. Now we snuggle at night instead and she is perfectly happy with that.
Her vocabulary is expanding every day and I love the things she says when the time comes to nurse. Yesterday I was getting dressed and I didn’t have a shirt on – she looks up at me and goes “boobies, yumm!” And then proceeded to smile and sign to nurse. How can you say no to that? She frequently will kiss my breast and say thank you after a nursing session. Absolutely melts my heart. Hopefully she is okay sharing because it looks like I will be tandem nursing her and her brother when he’s born in 6 weeks.
Can you relate to this Leaky’s story? Comment telling us how and if you would like to share your story, please do so by emailing content @ theleakyboob.com (no spaces) with the subject line #MyStoryMatters submission. Join us in sharing #MyStoryMatters and normalizing breastfeeding with the wide variety of infant feeding stories we all have.
#TLBsafeKids sponsors have joined forces to offer you a chance at winning all of their featured products in this year’s #TLBsafeKids campaign! What is #TLBsafeKids? Here is a description from the post introducing it:
“Respecting each other, ourselves, and our children, #TLBsafeKids brings together parents concerned about safety around information, ideas, and sharing our stories. And we believe it can be fun. Though there are aspects of safety conversations and education that can be scary, when we approach it with respect and a sense of fun it can become a part of parenting that isn’t dominated by fear and instead builds confidence in ourselves, our communities, and most importantly, our children. Together we are journeying toward health, safety, confidence, and awareness. Not as isolated individuals, but as a family, a community. With each other and with our kids, we’re taking steps to be confidently and freely safe. It may mean getting your car seat installation checked, reassessing your home for safety hazards, changing how you talk to your children, adjusting your sleep arrangements, fixing something broken in your home, you name it, you define what #TLBsafeKids looks like for you.”
#TLBsafeKids is in full swing now and here is a list of all the products one lucky Leakie has a chance at winning in this giveaway:
Fllo is tailored in GREENGUARD Select Certified Crypton Fabrics (except for drift) and is designed with best in class width at 17 inches, providing space to fit 3-across easily.”
Retail Value: $399.99
California Baby: Travel Caddy
This travel caddy is filled with all California Baby must-have products and essentials for folks on-the-go! Also included, a fun activity sheet for kids and language flash cards, printed right on the packaging material that would otherwise be tossed out—part of California Baby’s REuse before Recycle initiative, encouraging re-fill vs. landfill!
Retail Value: $19.99
Catbird Baby: Pikkolo in Georgia
Crane’s Bumblebee Humidifier is a cool mist ultrasonic humidifier that holds 1 gallon of water and runs up to 24 hours. Crane humidifiers help to relieve congestion, dry coughs other cold and flu symptoms. All Crane humidifiers are made with BPA free plastic and have an anti-microbial Clean Control material made into the base to help fight bacteria buildup. You’ll be ‘Buzzing’ after you experience the great health benefits and a better night’s sleep with Crane’s Bumblebee Humidifier.
Rhoost: Finger Guard and Cord Winder
“Since our company started Diono has worked to solve the real everyday worries and hassles parents face. Our first product idea was born from a family discussion on a documentary demonstrating the consequences of improperly secured car seats in collisions. Within the year family members had created a prototype (…)” – from the Diono website
We are thrilled that Diono, a company with a history of valuing people, family, safety, and innovation, is a part of The Leaky Boob community. With their commitment “to providing car seat safety to families everywhere with innovative and advanced travel solutions” their presence here is a great fit. One of their CPSTs, Allana, is providing her expert advice on carseat safety in a Diono-sponsored Facebook Chat, September 17, 2015, 6:00 PM PST.
To add a little extra fun for this Facebook Chat, you have a chance at winning the Diono Radian RXT:
The Radian®RXT Car Seats are designed with your child’s security and safety as top priorities. Premium materials and thoughtful safety features like a steel alloy frame, aluminum reinforced side walls, energy absorbing EPS foam, and a five-point harness put your mind at ease as your little one stays safe and sound. The reinforced adjustable head support provides additional side impact protection.
Full steel frame and aluminum reinforced sides for unmatched safety
Comfortably seats rear-facing children from 5-45 lbs, forward-facing children from 20 – 80 lbs in a 5-point harness, then converts to a booster for children up to 120 lbs.
Unique SuperLATCH system that makes installation easy
It also fits 3 across in most mid-size vehicles, folds flat for travel and is FAA certified
Booster mode from 50 – 120 lbs (40 to 57 inches)
NCAP crash tested, the industry benchmark for verifying child seat performance in severe accident conditions
Retail Value: $359.99
Good luck to everyone! Please use the widget below to enter. The giveaway is open from September 17, 2015 through September 20, 2015. A big thanks to Diono for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women. This giveaway is open to participants in the USA and Canada.
by Linda Zager
In today’s busy world moms cannot always find time to meet with a lactation professional in-person when support is needed. These professionals can be far away, only have office hours at limited times and let’s be honest, when you have a newborn it can be near impossible to even get dressed let alone making it out of the house. But there is hope! Breastfeeding moms can receive support by reaching out by phone and speaking with a Lactation Consultant, nurse or a member of the breastfeeding community regarding breastfeeding or pumping concerns. Phone triage is a first step to resolving some breastfeeding issues. Mom’s face frustration caused by inconsistent information about breastfeeding and often, the unique personality of the baby is not taken into consideration.
Families can experience stress once they bring their baby home from the hospital. There may be questions surrounding breastfeeding and learning to “read” the newest addition to their family. A phone conversation can dispel common myths. Offering a small amount of education and lending an empathetic ear goes a long way. By listening carefully, a lactation professional will be capable of addressing some issues by phone. Offering mom different ideas of how to resolve simple issues can also empower moms! Follow up is often necessary to assess if the advice resolved the issue. The lactation professional may detect a more complicated issue that cannot be addressed over the phone, and in that case, the mom will be referred to a skilled Lactation Specialist for an in-person assessment.
The challenge for those who are providing support to breastfeeding women over the phone will be to distinguish between the mothers and babies whose situations are uncomplicated and those who will need the special assistance of a skilled International Board Certified Lactation Consultant(IBCLC). Proper assessment of the breastfeeding process requires an understanding of how the anatomy, physiology and psychology of how the mom and infant interact during lactation. Conducting a thorough history of the breastfeeding woman’s pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum period can shed light on any complications that could affect breastfeeding.
Pumping moms can seek advice over the phone to resolve problems they are experiencing with breast pumping. All Moms are unique and may have different experiences when using a breast pump. Not all breast pumps are made to operate in the same manner and one type of breast pump can work very well for one woman and poorly for another. Therefore the person offering advice on pumping by phone requires education on various types of breast pumps, which pump is best for the reason mom is using it, basics of pumping and suggestions to help stimulate a milk letdown. Moms need to be directed to READ the instruction manual of their breast pump and not assume it works like her friends or the one she used 3 years ago. Mom needs to be patient with her body as it adapts to a breast pump to express her milk. The first few pumping sessions should be looked at as practice. Pumping is very different than nursing a baby and a body needs to adapt to this difference. Pumping should never be a painful experience. If a mom is stating pumping is painful, factors such as flange size, suction pressure and pumping technique must be reviewed with her.
At Ameda, we have ParentCare Specialists available that are knowledgeable in the basics of pumping and how the Ameda breast pump functions. The representatives are responsible for thorough troubleshooting of the Ameda breast pump if an issue occurs so the mom has a positive pumping experience. If a ParentCare Specialist cannot resolve the issue, the mom’s case file is escalated to one of our IBCLC’s for assistance. And that is where I come in, I am a RN and IBCLC. I assist moms with both breastfeeding and pumping issues using phone triage to find a resolution to an issue. A mom who finds breastfeeding support during her motherhood journey can reach her goal of feeding her baby breast milk – a truly special gift.