Belly Painting- Celebrating and Commemorating Pregnancy With Your Children

By Jessica Martin-Weber with Squiggle Bug, Smunchie, Sugarbaby, and Jeremy Martin-Weber

Each person deserves to be celebrated. A theme that is common in our family. Most often , the ways we find to celebrate are small and simple but very special.

We’re going to show one way we enjoy celebrating a coming baby. Belly painting! Together we cooperate to celebrate and commemorate the new person joining our family with creative expression.

Today we already agreed on a seasonal theme but it could be anything! Comment telling us what you’ve done to celebrate a pregnancy and the new family member joining your family.

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#TLBsafekids 2017 – a Giveaway to Inspire and Support

Keeping our kids safe is quite a daunting task. They start out so little, so vulnerable, and though they are amazingly resilient and life comes across as a force with a seeming will of its own, at least babies can’t get themselves into trouble – they’re immobile.

But as they gain mobility, and curiosity grows inside them, each new stage of development has a way of keeping their parents on their toes. How do we balance allowing them to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity, with keeping them safe from dangers lurking around every corner? If we slack on the one side they’ll get hurt! But if we slack the other way, we’ll hold them back.

Put that under things you never thought you’d worry about when you became a parent. This parenting thing was going to be challenging, of course, but frightening? We didn’t see that coming.

But I can tell you this much: those fears are healthy, and so is your desire to allow your kid to explore. Your emotions and your brain may seem like they’re pitted against each other, but in reality you need both to parent well. Because deep down you already know that you can’t completely shield your child from getting hurt, and you also know that hurt, to a degree, is a great teacher. Who ever learned how to walk without falling a hundred times? It’s par for the course, and you are a better parent for allowing your child to learn how to walk even though they will get hurt. And you are an even better parent if you demonstrate to them that you believe in them, comfort them when they’re frustrated and overwhelmed, and encourage them to try again when they’re ready.

We, the parents, have got this, modeling how we can use both our brains and our hearts.

We can learn about developmental milestones form experts, and everyday experiences from others just like us. And there are a ton of tools available to make our life easier, and products designed by people who care about child safety. #TLBsafekids 2017 is featuring several of these products, from brands that were created out of a desire we share with them: making the world a safer place for our kids.

A huge thanks to Diono, Pura Stainless, and Crane for supporting parents and their kids year-round, and for supporting #TLBsafekids 2017 for the next few weeks. Check out their featured products below and enter the giveaway for your chance to win all of them!

 

Diono

The radian rXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat, retail value: $359.99

Your child’s security is our top priority. We engineered our radian® rXT with premium, innovative features like a steel alloy frame, aluminum reinforced sidewalls, energy absorbing EPS foam and a reinforced adjustable head support to keep your little one protected and comfortable. 

 

Pura Stainless


Pura Kiki Stainless Steel Bottles, retail value: $24.99

100% plastic-free, NonToxic Certified stainless steel bottles that grow with your child from infancy through grade school.

 

Crane

 

Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, retail value: $54.99

Get relief from dryness in style with a Crane Drop Humidifier. Featuring an award winning design and top rated performance, Crane’s Drop Shape Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifiers provide up to 24 hours of soothing moisture to help relieve the effects of dryness and congestion, helping you and your Family to breathe easy and sleep through the night peacefully. Crane’s Drop design complements any home’s decor. Not only are Crane Drop Humidifiers stylish, but they are easy to use, whisper quiet, more efficient than a household light bulb, and include a built-in auto-shut-off feature that engages when the water tank is empty to ensure safety. The moisture that humidifiers add to dry air also help alleviate many common nuisances brought on by winter heating such as static electricity, peeling wallpaper, shrinking wood, and cracks in paint and furniture.
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Focusing on the Safety of Our Children – #TLBsafekids 2017

#TLBsafekids 2017 is made possible thanks to Title Sponsor: Diono

Every parent’s first job is to tend to their child’s health. Every parent is aware of all the ways that they could let their children down. All the ways that they could fail at protecting their children’s health. All the ways that they are likely to screw up their kid(s).

As a mother to 6, almost 7, here are a few things that I wish I had known when I first became a mother:

First off, it’s normal to worry about the safety of our children. Yes, there are unhealthy levels of worry that can lead us to thinking that maybe the best thing to do is to move to a remote area of Montana and never leave the homestead – which is why we need people around us to help us stay within a healthy level of worry. But being concerned for the wellbeing of our children is a good thing. It means we care about them, and we want good things for them.

Second, we will screw up our kid(s). My kids like to point out how everyone is unique in their own way – that weird isn’t bad because we’re all weird in our own way. And while I agree with them and nod my head, in my mind that translates to “we’re all screwed up in our own way.” And the most likely people to have screwed us up? Family. Namely, our parents. But not exclusively. Siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, all have the honor of being in the position of screwing us up too. Moving to Montana is probably sounding even better right about now isn’t it? Except that if I’m the only one left to influence my child, guess who’s the only one left to screw them up? That’s right. I am. You are. Time will tell just how much time our children will end up needing to spend in therapy – and I’m not joking about that, so far 2 of ours have needed it and we’re big believers in therapy – but in the meantime, all of us parents are just trying to do our best to not screw up our children too much.

Third, we need information. Which means that we need to be able to ask the questions that we have. Which means that we also need to feel safe in asking those questions. That has been one of my primary goals in shaping The Leaky Boob community: to make it a safe place for moms to find information, encouragement, and support, in a judgment-free space. There are no stupid questions. There are only questions needing answers. And a safe space to admit the mistakes we’ve made.

And as first-time parents, we have a LOT of questions needing answers. Second-time parents too! And even seventh-time parents.

As a mom of 6, soon to be 7, you might think that I have it all figured out! But I don’t. There are some things that I’ve learned, sure, but each of my children has proven to me that what makes them unique requires me to adapt my parenting to fit their mould, and not the other way around. Just because one of my kids thought it was a good idea to stuff peas in their nose doesn’t mean that they all will. Just because one of my children seemed to understood the theory of relativity at 12 months doesn’t mean that they all will. And I’m joking about my 12 month old being a super genius. The point is, even I’m still learning, things are changing, new information is regularly becoming available, and I still need a safe space to ask my questions too.

So for the next 3 weeks, The Leaky Boob community is going to have a special focus on safety in a campaign that I like to call #TLBsafekids. And we’re going to talk about all the things that could potentially threaten the health of our little ones. I’ll spare you a list because it basically includes pretty much everything. Which is why we really need a space to be able to talk about it all.

 

Join our private Facebook group #TLBsafekids, check out and follow our team of brave campaign ambassadors below on social, and show some love to the wonderful campaign sponsors below who care very much about the safety of our kids.

 

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#TLBsafekids 2017 Campaign Ambassadors

 

Hello Everyone! My name is Amber. I have 3 beautiful girls: 4, 2 and 4 months. My husband is an over the road truck driver and I am a registered nurse. I am currently not working but am a stay at home mom. My oldest just started preschool, so we are trying to get used to a more structured schedule. I am very excited to be a part of this opportunity!

I live in a small town called Glencoe, in Minnesota. I am originally from Colorado.

You can find Amber on Instagram.

 

Hey everyone! I’m Brianda and I LOVE The Leaky Boob – it’s been a huge resource as a mom. We live in Woodstock, GA, a small suburb of Atlanta. My husband Reid and I have three littles… Olivia (2 years old), Owen (7 months old) and Benjamin (7 months old). Life with a toddler and twins is absolute chaos but I truly love it.

You can find Brianda on Instagram.

 

 

 

Hello Everyone, I’m D’Andra from the great state of Texas and the best city, Dallas, lol !!!!

I have only my 9 month Old Princess, Miss. Emorie Dakota, 3 fur babies, and a Man Child I call Husband  😂 😂 😂

I’m obsessed with natural parenting and learning about different things for my baby to try.

You can find D’Andra on Instagram.

 

 

I’m Leah. I have a 3yr old daughter, HER (Hannah Elizabeth), a 1yr old son, SIR (Saul Isaiah), 2 babies in heaven and I’m currently a little over 14 weeks pregnant! I’m the head Nurse of a missionary organization, but from July to January/Feburary I’m a SAHM. My husband is a part of the Ministry as well. I look forward to connecting with you all on social! I am from NJ but currently live in Lancaster county PA.

You can find Leah on Instagram.

 

 

Hi! I’m Micah. I live in So Cal with my 4 kids (10, 5, 3, 20 months) and boyfriend.

I’ve been a SAHM since the baby was born but I will be going back to work starting Monday at one of our local coffee shops. I’m super excited about it because I’ll still have a pretty flexible schedule for kid stuff.

You can find Micah on Instagram and Twitter.

 

 

 

Hey guys, I am Ophelia. I am a SAHM to my two little guys. Noah is 3, and Joseph is 20 months old. We are from Alabama, and we LOVE being outside. Both boys love getting dirty, as do I. #boymom

You can find Ophelia on Instagram.

 

 

 

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#TLBsafekids 2017 Sponsors

 

Title Sponsor: Diono

Here at Diono we’ve made it our passion to lovingly engineer ideas that are all about safety and smiles. So, whether it’s a big day out or a little trip around the corner, we’ve thought of all the things you’ll need. Find out more here

 

Pura Stainless

100% plastic-free, NonToxic Certified stainless steel bottles that grow with your child from infancy through grade school. Find out more here

 

Crane

Here at Crane, we put “Design for Better Living” into everything we do. We started with a few designs in 2005 and continued to grow each year, working towards solving your indoor needs. Crane products are designed with efficiency, function and style in mind. We love to be creative with colors, designs and we know our products will bring comfort and smiles to your home!

Crane humidifiers help add humidity to any room in your home and will help relieve congestion to keep your family healthy. Any room in your home can be warm and cozy when you have a Crane space heater at your side. Air pollutants are everywhere; Crane air purifiers help eliminate dust, pollen, pet dander and smoke, leaving germ free air in your home. Sometimes you just need a cool breeze, and Crane fans let you direct fresh air into any room you need, whenever you need it.

Find out more here

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Pregnancy, Sleep, and New Baby Sleep Expectations

 

Many thanks to Bamboobies for sponsoring this important discussion on sleep expectations related to the arrival of a new baby. 


And heartfelt thanks also to Rebecca Michi, Children’s Sleep Consultant, for providing her expertise in this conversation. Connect with her through her Facebook page, her website, and her excellent book: “Sleep and Your Child’s Temperament.”

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Important points shared by Jessica and Rebecca during this Live Stream:

Today we are talking all about sleep in pregnancy and sleep expectations with a new baby. Some sleep myths, such as baby sleeping through the night, are just not true.

Sleep During Pregnancy (focus on 3rd trimester)

Peeing

Rebecca: I think in that last trimester sleep becomes more and more challenging when you’re pregnant. And it’s for a couple of reasons, one of them is that you’re probably gonna need to pee five times a night and that you’re being kicked in the bladder. 

Jessica: You have a little human being on your bladder, you’re gonna need to empty way more often. Plus, your blood volume more than doubles during pregnancy and at the end there that means you’re filtering all of that out, you’re gonna have to pee more often. This is just the deal. Plus the baby’s contributing to that so yeah, lots of peeing. You’re gonna have to get up and pee.

Discomfort

Rebecca: And then you’re just uncomfortable as well and you get more uncomfortable quicker  in a position than you would pre-pregnancy and feel like you’re having to move around lots. Pillows can really help but when you gotta move you’re gonna need to move pillows. Also, your whole center of gravity is different than it once was. You’re not just easily rolling over. So even if you were just gonna come into a light sleep, roll over and go back into a deep sleep, chances are you’re actually gonna be really fully waking up because the whole, “I’ve got to move pillows,” or “I just gotta move this bump from one side to the other,” is just uncomfortable and you’re just waking up way more. 

People say you need to be getting lots of sleep, and that stresses you out, which also impacts your sleep. Good news is you can’t stock up on sleep. It’s not something you can put in the bank and so when baby arrives we’re not as tired. You are going to be tired. 

Sleep is very different with a newborn than it is in the last trimester. 

Sleep training babies before birth

Rebecca: The idea that you can train a baby to follow a sleep schedule in utero is completely ludicrous. It’s absolutely bonkers. There is no actual way that this can happen. What you’ll notice is when you are up and about and moving the baby can be very quiet and very still. And then the second you lay down and try to go to sleep or to sit down and rest that’s when baby starts getting really active. 

Normal newborn sleep, first 24-48 hrs

Rebecca: Remember that all babies are good babies, regardless of how they sleep. They’re gonna sleep like a baby which is what we want. In the very early stages you may be lulled into a false sense of security because there’s a lot of sleep going on. Being born is absolutely exhausting. So you may find that your newborn sleeps really long stretches and you just think, “We’ve got an awesome sleeper! This is great.” But that quickly changes: they will soon be spending more time awake and much shorter stretches of sleep.

They’re always hungry, because your milk hasn’t come in yet, and that quickly gets in the way of sleep too.

Rebecca: The great news is we cannot create any bad habits, whatsoever. It’s just impossible to create bad habits. And that’s when you’re feeding, you’re rocking, you’re bouncing, you’re jiggling, you’re singing, you’re talking, everything is completely fine. The nurturing that was happening in utero continues when you’re with a newborn. You’re now in the fourth trimester  and it’s just survival mode for at least the first twelve weeks. 

Jessica: Just be responsive and watch your baby and interact with your baby. Let your baby sleep and feed them appropriately. 

Rebecca: You don’t need to worry if your 2 day old is not on a sleep schedule. Not in the slightest. I wouldn’t even think about getting on a sleep schedule until over twelve weeks old. 

Jessica: Our bodies do the most milk making processing at night. As wonderful as it is when babies start sleeping longer stretches at night it does, to some degree, threaten your breastmilk supply.

Can't create bad habits with newborns

Week one

Rebecca: Getting into that week one we’re still in that survival mode. They have no idea what is day or what is night and so they’re going to just be continuing to sleep, wake, sleep, wake, sleep, wake. Sleep is just sleep. They’re not thinking of it as nighttime sleep or as daytime sleep. So if you think that your child has days and nights mixed up, they can’t because they don’t really have days or nights.

Rebecca: When they’re born their stomach is so tiny it’s the size of a marble. And that’s tiny. As they grow older and they get bigger the stomach gets bigger and your supply begins to alter as well. That’s gonna really dictate why your child is waking up and when they get hungry. 

That can continue throughout that first twelve weeks. And you may notice that you’re able to get a little bit longer between the feeds and we’re not ever dropping feeds during the night, we’re stretching the time out between the feeds.

Rebecca: The majority of children, about seventy percent, at twelve weeks old are not even getting a five or six hour stretch of sleep. 

Jessica: One of the things we know is that that interrupted sleep for the baby reduces their risk of SIDs. 

I know for me, when I was really struggling, one of the things I would tell myself is, “I’m so glad you’re awake, just keep on being alive.” Because it was hard, and I would feel a little angry or resentful like “Please just sleep!” but it was so important for me to remind myself that her frequent waking was maybe even saving her life. So, just something to keep in mind, it’s important that our babies do what they need to do. 

Rebecca: Sleep deprivation is incredibly tough when you’ve had a newborn you can see why it’s used as a form of torture because it is so effective. 

Jessica: We need to recognize that it is a part of normal human development that, starting as infants, we wake often. Most of us do.

I’ve had one of those kids that slept long stretches right off the bat, that was super easy, immediately threatened my milk supply, immediately made some growth issues for us actually, and so my doctor was telling me to wake her because this became a problem (and to this day she is still a very good sleeper). But my very next kiddo still at 15 feels like she only believes in sleep when she wants to sleep on her terms. That has not changed. She was that way from coming out and stayed that way. We kind of have this range of normal for humans and what our sleep patterns look like as an adult it’s not fair to impose those on to babies. While at the same time there are different sleep personalities, or personalities in general, and my 15 year old’s sleep patterns are, in many ways, much better than they were when she was an infant – it’s true (in large part because she’s responsible for them and not me) but she doesn’t wake me up either way so she lets me sleep. There’s a pretty big spectrum here but I think one of the biggest mistakes we make going into parenting a baby is we expect our newborn human beings to function, in terms of sleep, as adult human beings. And that’s simply not how we’re wired, that’s not how we’re gonna work. 

Week one to week six

Rebecca: More of the same. Just waking and feeding and this is gonna be happening 24 hours a day. You may have wake ups where it’s not just straight back to sleep after the feed but these are gonna be quite short. And then as your child is getting older these awake periods just get longer and longer – but not hugely.

As we get to twelve weeks the longest awake period we should have is an hour and a half and that’s where we’ve got to get everything in. That’s the feed, the diaper change, the playtime, the bath, whatever it is, we’ve got 90 minutes to do that. So don’t feel you have to be home for every nap because you’re not going to be able to do feed, diaper change, getting dressed to go out to the car to get to the store to get back for that next nap. That’s going to be totally impossible to do. So whenever you can, napping on the go is completely fine. 

Jessica: I have definitely had those kids that have slept so much better when we are on the move and the reality is I have things to do. 

Rebecca: Temperament really does play a really big part at really young ages as to how your child is gonna sleep and that’s actually normal.

Jessica: So learn what’s normal from your baby. And be educated with your healthcare provider to make sure they’re growing appropriately and they’re developing on track and all of those things. You’re going to want to recognize that there is no one size fits all sleep standard. So normal is a range. And you have to learn your baby. 

Rebecca: Only help when you need to help. Your baby knows exactly how to get you to help, their cry is very effective, it’s not something we can easily ignore. Which is one of the reasons why the human race is still here, that cry getting us to do whatever we need to do to get it to stop because that’s how we survive. Don’t over help. If they’re happy to just hang out, perfect. It may be they’re happy to hang out for 10-20 minutes and then they may fall asleep or maybe then they need help. But you don’t need to over help especially in the middle of the night if you don’t actually need to be there helping. Generally when they’re crying they need something, even when they need sleep they’ll cry because they’re overtired. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should just leave them, if they’re fussing that’s fine, but you’ve got to figure out what works for your child. Because it may be that they actually need to be held and rocked whilst you’re patting their back. It may be that you need to rock side-to-side rather than back and forward. Every single child is completely unique with what it is that they need but when they’re crying and they need something they’re not manipulating you. 

Jessica: When they wake at night, close to twelve weeks, and they want to be awake for a little while do we engage them during that time or do we keep the lights low and things quiet?

Rebecca: I would keep the lights low with low interaction. And it may be that you need to do a diaper change or whatever it is you need to be doing and we don’t want to be creating this our awake time we actually want to be encouraging sleep at this time. Just keeping it dark, dim and using a very low voice and really low interaction because we want to be encouraging sleep. 

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Child Passenger Safety and Feeding On The Go- Answers From a CPST

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Allana Pinkerton, CPSI
This post made possible by the generous support of Diono.

September is child safety month and we’re taking a look at safety and what we talk about most around here at TLB: feeding our kiddos. Many of us find ourselves needing to feed on the go, from a snack in the car to an entire meal between one activity and the next. 

Allana Pinkerton, a child injury prevention specialist, CPST/CPSI, and mom of two answered our questions on The Leaky Boob Facebook page Live Stream on what we can do to minimize risk when it comes to feeding our children on the go. A huge thanks to Diono in making this conversation with Allana possible.

Whether your child is 3 months old or 3 years old or 13 years old, it is very likely there will come a time when meal or snack time happens on the road. It probably goes without saying that the safest option is to not eat in a moving vehicle. But we all live in the real world and can’t just stay in a bubble so sometimes that’s just not possible so we’re looking at what we can do to make the mobile mealtime as safe as possible. Below are the questions we asked Allana and the Leakies.

When it comes to feeding our children on the go, when we’re in a moving vehicle perhaps on a road trip or having to grab something quick between scheduling commitments, what is important to keep in mind?

*Please note: for safety and to reduce distractions, the driver should never eat and drive.

  • A seat that is more inclined is not a safe option to have a child eat food. Solids shouldn’t be fed in a laying down position.
  • Nothing too hot.
  • When possible, have someone keep an eye on a very young child when they are eating in a moving vehicle. Determine if a mirror is a safe or distracting option for you.
  • Pick foods that are easy to swallow.
  • Avoid choking hazards- for babies and toddlers, nothing hard or like grapes and popcorn.
  • Foods that dissolve easily will reduce choking hazards (i.e. puffs and yogurt melts, etc.)
  • Contained foods that aren’t as likely to spill and get car seat straps wet.
  • Keep in mind, if you’re always eating in the car it may be time to reevaluate how much we’re doing.

Is there anything in particular we should avoid when it comes to feeding our children on the go?

  • Hard candies, even lollipops (a sudden stop could result in injury and/or choking).
  • Foods you know will be messy.
  • Foods that may damaging to your child’s car seat (sticky drinks, dairy, etc.).

What do we need to keep in mind when it comes to installing children’s seats? How can parents find a local CPST to help them?

  • Read the manual. If you’re unclear about something, call the manufacturer. 
  • Have your seat checked by a CPST and be sure they watch you install it and check your install as well, not just have them install it for you. Find one here.
  • Do not use after market products with your seat that are not made by or approved by your seat’s manufacturer (i.e. strap pads) as they could compromise the safety of your seat.

Breastfeeding in the car seat moving vehicle child passenger safety

Are there any safety concerns related to these breastfeeding or bottle-feeding a child in their car seat in a moving vehicle?

  • Propping a bottle for a child not yet able to hold their own is dangerous in that the child may be overwhelmed with the contents of the bottle and has a higher risk of aspirating. Have someone give the baby their bottle and be able to pay attention to them as they feed.
  • Keep in mind a bottle would become a projectile in the case of an accident. Use as small a bottle as possible.
  • Breastfeeding a child in a seat, even if the breastfeeding parent isn’t leaning over the seat, is a significant hazard in the case of a car accident as it places something in front of the child’s face. Physics tell us that in a crash objects (including a breast) will weigh their weight times the force of gravity of the crash. For example, a 30mph crash is around 20-25 G’s (force of gravity). Let’s say the breastfeeding parent weighs 140 pounds. Multiplied by 23 G’s (right in the middle) means 3,220 pounds. That’s the total weight of their body with the momentum of the crash. Their chest alone will weigh at least 1,000 pounds, if not more. Being positioned in front of or possibly over the baby to breastfeed, that’s a minimum of 1,000 pounds being dropped or slammed into the baby. Potentially crushing the child and injuring the parent. This all would be true even with a seat belt on the breastfeeding parent as the parent would not be positioned properly with a chest belt to restrain them from hitting their child in the case of a collision or sudden stop. (See more on this here.)

Feeding on the go means seats will likely get soiled, what do we need to know about cleaning our seats?

  • Never hose a car seat down, that can compromise not just the cover and straps but also the frame and internal materials.
  • Follow your manual’s instructions. 
  • Replace straps if webbing becomes soaked.
  • See these cleaning tips.

 

Allana Pinkerton is the Global Safety Advocate for Diono. She began her career in Child Passenger Safety as a National Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in 2001 and advanced into the position of a National Instructor in 2002. In 2004, she founded a non-profit organization, Sit Tight, which provided education and free car seats to underserve communities.
As the Global Safety Advocate, she facilitates educating the staff, consumers and the media about car seats. Allana works closely with the marketing team, educating at consumer and industry trade shows, as well as writing blogs on CPS issues. She is called upon to work with engineering and product development team on current and new products. As Diono expands across the globe, Allana continues to expand her role assisting the Diono European and China teams.
Allana has two children, Max (12) and Andrew (20) who is ironically a race car driver. She has been married to Paul for 22 years and he still cannot install a car seat.
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The Serious Injury No One is Talking About: Diastasis Recti

by Nicole Nexon, MSPT

This post made possible by the generous support of Chunkabuns

 

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Sometimes I feel like exercise has become a dirty word in the mommy sphere. I can understand that.

We get this message that we need to do everything – work, raise babies, maintain perfect households, create Pinterest worthy projects, not burn dinner… and erase any shred of evidence that our bodies have created life. Society settled on the idea that skinny = perfect and the backlash from that led to a movement of pride in our bodies. Which somehow turned in to “ real woman have curves “ and all kinds of craziness about skinny girls and curvy girls and…

It’s out of control.

And what has been missed in all of this is the truth of the matter – it’s not about skinny. It’s not about having curves or not having curves. It’s not about “mummy tummies” or thigh gap or muffin tops.

It’s about being healthy.

And not “healthy” in a way that has been co-opted by people meaning “stop eating junk food you fatty!” Healthy in way that allows people to live their lives in a manner they choose. Healthy in a way that allows you to lift babies and chase toddlers and carry laundry wherever you need to carry your laundry. Healthy in a way that makes you feel confident, that lets you sleep well and go about your life.

What happens when you’re injured…and you don’t even know it?

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I began to feel a pretty distinct pain by my belly button. It was so specific that I was fairly certain I was developing an umbilical hernia. I brought it up with my midwife and was told it wasn’t a hernia. I was developing a diastasis recti – a split between the muscles and muscular tissue that runs down the center of the abdomen. The pressure inside from an expanding uterus/baby was just too much for the abdominal tissue to handle so the tissue and muscles were separating.

With my first pregnancy, I worked in an outpatient clinic that was less physically demanding. With this second pregnancy, my current position required a lot of physical lifting as a physical therapist in a subacute center for patients who were not sick enough for the hospital, not well enough to go home. I already had work restrictions due to the physical requirements of my job; working with those restrictions AND dealing with a developing case of Diastasis Recti made the restrictions even more difficult.

It was in this position that I recognized a growing group of people in need of support, awareness, and healing of Diastasis Recti: new moms.

Here were these women, trying to juggle new responsibilities, healing from the changes their bodies went through during pregnancy and subsequent post-partum recovery and there was little to no support or even awareness about the problems that Diastasis Recti presented.

Diastasis Recti can affect your body in some pretty drastic ways.

  • -Incontinence
  • -Irregular bowel movements,
  • -Lower back pain, spinal or hip injuries due to your abdominal muscle’s inability to support your body when you’re lifting or bending
  • -Pain during sexual intercourse
  • -Increased chance of sciatica or disc issues
  • -Increased chance of umbilical hernia
  • -Postural instability due to poor strength of the abdominal muscles

The effects are numerous.

Now it was MY body that was going to need to be supported.

My body that was going to need help carrying a car seat. A baby. My toddler. The laundry.

My body that was going to be more prone to injury- that would need me to completely rethink how I went about my day. I worked out through my pregnancy because I knew what was ahead of me. I knew my core was going to be compromised. I wanted to achieve a VBAC and I knew I would need endurance (among other things) to prevent a repeated OR experience. I went back to my books and read studies on exercise efficacy. I reviewed exercise programs for pregnant women, post partum women, and people who had just had abdominal or back surgery. I had a plan, and I HAD to be as physically strong as I could when I returned from maternity leave so I could perform my job effectively.

I ended up with a VBAC, a baby girl, and a three-finger diastasis.

*when I say “three-finger diastasis” I am describing how many fingers I can horizontally fit across the tissue separation. To find this, lay on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift up your head slightly and contract your abdomen muscles gently. Find your belly button and make the “scout symbol” with your fingers…see how many you can fit in there. i.e. 1 finger, 3 fingers, etc. Check the same line down by your pelvis, and again up towards your ribs. Different points along your abdominal muscles may be different fingers of separation.

 


I feel blessed that my passion and my education allowed me to understand what my body needs to function well and heal from my condition. I am grateful for my colleagues and friends with whom I can discuss ideas or count on to help me with the hands-on techniques I can’t perform on myself. I know I am lucky to have access to the information that I have.

I want other women to have this valuable access to connections and resources that are out there for those recovering from Diastasis Recti.

I want women to know that sometimes “mummy tummy” can actually be caused by a medical condition.

I want women to know that the media are not medical professionals and there is a wide range of “normal” when it comes to our bodies.

I want other mothers to know that exercise and eating well are available to them.

I want women to know there are safe exercise routines that WON’T injure a body healing from Diastasis Recti. That recovering doesn’t need to be a series of scary, out-of-reach experiences. They don’t need to spend hours in the gym (Though you certainly can, if you enjoy it!).

Recovering means that you can take a walk, be it pushing a stroller or wearing a baby. You can do squats in your living room, jumping jacks, and eventually pushups and planks. (But until you’ve healed from your diastasis, it is best to do modified planks so that you don’t further separate your diastasis or have your abdominal muscles work against you or push on that separation while you’re healing!)

I feel sad when I hear people say “I can’t workout because…”

I feel sad because they are being taught that only the big efforts count.

That’s not true.

I work with people for whom sitting at the edge of their bed is enormous effort, and standing requires assistance of others. When you see the enormous joy on a person’s face brought by these small yet enormous victories, you begin to understand the true beauty of the movement our bodies are capable of. What may seem like a small victory may be an enormous triumph-a giant step towards hope and healing.

Misguided emphasis on skinny and perfect or the fear of never being _____ enough WILL STOP US in our tracks.

Enough.

You are enough.

It’s ok to start small.

It’s ok to fail.

It’s ok to not be perfect.

It’s ok to be YOU.

It’s not about meeting someone else’s standards.

It’s about taking care of yourself, teaching your family that our bodies are a great gift and we should treat them well. It’s about understanding that you are worthy of the time and energy it will take to begin, to HEAL, and to build healthy habits that facilitate that healing and well being.

Let’s get moving, because moving not only transforms your body, but it transforms your mind, no matter what size jeans you wear.

Some Exercises to Get You  Started:

Some Other Tips to Start Healing:

  • Sitting with the best possible posture: (Pull your belly button in towards your spine. Keep breathing while doing this. Pull your shoulder blades onto your back. Keep breathing!)
  • Kegels/pelvic floor exercises (contracting the pelvic floor muscles-the ones you use to stop your pee, if that makes sense!).
  • Standing on one foot while brushing your teeth while pulling your belly button in towards your spine.
  • Stretching before you get out of bed.
  • Taking a walk or parking further from the store.
  • You can climb your stairs.
  • Swim.
  • Dance.
  • Work out with a DVD program or take a class.
  • If pregnant, getting an abdominal/belly support band to help support your abdomen and relieve pain you may be experiencing.
  • If in post partum recovery, gently binding your belly to help pull the muscles together and support you in those first few weeks of initial birth recovery.

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Where am I now? I’m down to a one finger split at my belly button. I am confidently back to work full time with no restrictions. I’m still doing pelvic floor exercises and modifying my workouts to protect and strengthen my abdominal muscles so I don’t re-injure or reinforce the Diastasis Recti. I’m teaching my daughters that exercise and eating well are ways to treat your body with respect, to give it what it needs so when you need your body to work for you, it will. I’m teaching them that strong is beautiful, that healthy allows you to follow your dreams, that food is a tool and a pleasure and size is just another physical trait that varies from person to person.

Final thought… can we all agree to stop using the words “mummy tummy” ? Please? Your tummy is awesome, mommy. Growing a human is beautiful. A body that shows the results of growing a human is also beautiful!

For more information on Diastasis Recti click here.

*You are strong, and Chunkabuns knows it. Check out their “Mom Strong” Tee-shirts (and matching “Strong Like Mommy” shirts for baby! ♥♥♥) and other clothing options for mom and baby at www.chunkabuns.com

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nicole nexon image
Nicole Nexon is a mother of two, working full time as a physical therapist. Nicole has her master’s degree in Physical Therapy, and has been working for 9 years in both the inpatient and outpatient fields of physical therapy. She is a complete nerd when it comes to the human body and wants to encourage others to take the opportunity to treat their bodies well at whatever stage of life they are in. She is also a Beachbody coach and has found it to be a great platform to spread her mission of health and wellness. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys traveling and snowboarding. You can follow her at www.facebook.com/nicolerosenex )
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#TLBmoves 2017 – Helping You Get Moving with a Chance to Win

We all need a little inspiration to make changes in our lives.

In the context of #TLBmoves, where we consider how we can increase our level of physical activity in ways that make sense to each of us, it helps to figure out more specific reasons than “Moving more is good for me” and set some more specific goals than “I’m going to move more than I usually do.” (not sure what #TLBmoves is? Click here for more information).

Reasons to get moving might be to keep up with the kids without huffing and puffing, to increase our energy level, to avoid certain health risks or issues we are already coping with, or to enjoy a longer life with our partner. 

Setting specific daily and/or weekly goals are helpful too, like walking a mile a day, getting through an exercise routine 3 times per week, or taking yoga classes or hitting the gym a certain number of times per week. We need measurable goals that are easy to track or we’re more likely to lose interest. 

And we need to cut ourselves some slack when we fail, because failure is a part of living.

So for those of us that need a little more inspiration, the #TLBmoves 2017 sponsors are offering some wonderful products that could be very useful to us as we get moving. I am pleased to announce the #TLBmoves 2017 giveaway! 

A huge thanks to Joovy, Contours, The Vintage Honey Shop, and Chunkabuns, for their support of this campaign. 

 

The Giveaway

 

Contours – Wear your little one as you get moving! 

The Contours Love 3-in-1 Baby CarrierRetail Value: $99
The Contours Love 3-in-1 Baby Carrier is soft, supportive, and super easy-to-use. This award-winning infant carrier provides beneficial skin-to-skin contact with no fabric or straps between parent and baby. The Love is perfect for babywearing from infancy (beginning at 8 lbs.) when the little one will rest in an ergonomic fetal or “froggy” position. As baby grows, the Contours Love baby carrier provides a supportive seated position and allows legs to rest comfortably as they naturally straighten out over the next 10+ weeks. At 6 months of age and up to 30 lbs., your baby can face forward in the carrier. The Love carrier requires no separate inserts or accessories to accommodate newborns and provides a hip-healthy position for your little one as recommended by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. 

 

Joovy – Get moving with your little one!

Winner’s choice of either the Caboose Too or the Tricycoo 4.1.  Retail Value: $180 (Caboose Too) or $130 (Tricycoo)

Caboose Too – if your children are close in age, the Caboose is just what you need in a compact double stroller. The “Too” includes the Rear Seat so you’ll have more options for younger riders. The seat is easily removed so when your older child is ready, they can choose to stand, sit or walk. Check out all the amazing specs here

Tricycoo 4.1 – for children as young as 10 months, the Tricycoo 4.1 is the perfect way to introduce your child to balance and coordination. Featuring 4 different stages, this tricycle grows with your child (from 10 months to 30+ months!), changing from a parent assisted ride to a kid powered tricycle. Find out more details here.

 

The Vintage Honey Shop – Keep your little one distracted as you get moving!

Winner’s choice of a teething/nursing necklace. Retail Value: $25
Our necklaces help keep mama from being scratched & pinched during feeding time and provide relief when teething! You can also wear our necklaces while wearing your baby. Our necklaces will provide a focal point, and give them something to play with and grab onto while being close to your heart. 

 

ChunkabunsGet moving without apologies, but with comfort!

“Mom Strong” shirt with matching “Strong Like Mom” shirt. Retail Value: $49
Mommy and Me set! “Strong Like Mommy” for the infant tee and for mom, a “Mom Strong” flowy tee. Super flattering fit, Flowy style to disguise any wobbly bits (mom’s only nemesis) that may remain from the creation of her adorable baby. 

Total Value for the giveaway: $350

Please use the following widget to participate in the giveaway. Be honest with your answers – we will be checking! One winner takes all! Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A Move Toward Health, for Family, for You – #TLBMoves 2017

You might think that with expecting a baby for the 7th time there would be very little left to surprise me about the pregnant life – that there wouldn’t be anything new for me to figure out. That’s what I thought.
 
But I find myself fairly well stumped about what to do about a condition that I have never experienced in previous pregnancies: feeling well. Well enough to do more than my typical pattern of laying down, bathroom run to puke, laying down, bathroom run to puke, ad nauseam (pun intended).
 
So here I am, not throwing up all day long, eating better than I have since, well, possibly ever, and feeling like I could go for daily runs with Jeremy, who isn’t running daily but did start running several times a week a couple months ago. Of course, I can’t actually run, what with my belly and boobs bouncing and flopping, but more importantly because, well, I’m actively saving all my running energy for when I’ll need it most: when we’re past some cataclysmic event and living in a glorious post-apocalyptic era – and also, I hate running. Not to mention I stopped running last fall and it’s not a good idea to start a new high impact physical activity over halfway through pregnancy (if you are a runner before you are pregnant and can continue into your pregnancy, that’s great!)
 
But I am wanting to get more active because I know that being active is good for me, looking through Pinterest to find inspiration, browsing YouTube for activities that I would enjoy, while I know that at this point a 20 minute walk completely wears me out – the upside being that I nap really well right now!
 
How on earth are we supposed to focus on our health while growing a baby? Especially when the information out there is so polarized? It’s either do/eat whatever you want or start Zumba and hot yoga and stick to green protein smoothies.
 
And how on earth are we supposed to think about being physically active with a newborn? Or an infant? Or a toddler? Or all of the above? And be a stay at home parent? Or a working parent?
 
I don’t know.
 
But once a year I encourage The Leaky Boob community to think about it and find small ways to inch ourselves toward being more healthy. For the 4th year in a row, we are taking a few weeks of summer to take a good, non-shaming, look at ourselves, and determine what steps we can each take to be just a little healthier than we are.
 
I’m not dogmatic about how babies are fed, and I’m sure as hell not going to be dogmatic about getting fit. You won’t find me pushing my Leakies to join a gym or a 6 AM boot camp. Just like for infant feeding, I look forward to sharing thought-provoking information, personal stories and anecdotes from our community, and encouraging the support of one another in TLB’s various platforms.
 
#TLBmoves is a campaign where everyone is welcome, couch potatoes to triathletes, fitness experts to exercise loathers, women and men and children, because no matter who you are, taking care of you is one of the ways that you take care of the ones you love.
 
I bring no agenda, no program, no exercise routines, no weight loss plans, or anything like that. Just a desire for Leakies to support each other as we each figure out what’s right for us. It could be adding a 10 minute walk to your day, cutting back on sugar, trying the squat challenge, really anything that seems achievable to you right now. Try it out, assess, and change your goal when you need to.
 

My husband, Jeremy, started running again a couple of months ago. He walked to our neighborhood park and set for himself the goal of making it around the park 8 times, running as much as he could handle and walking the rest. The park is ⅓ mile around. I don’t know why he picked 8 times. The first time he tried, he mostly walked. Now, 2 months later, after going to the park 2-3 times a week, he is up to 13 times around, 10 of which are running. He slowly increased how much he ran and also the number of times he went around, based on how he felt each day he went out. He has no goal other than getting healthier and losing a little weight in the process. After the first couple of weeks, he made a startling discovery: he had more energy overall. Yes, exercising still wipes him out right after he goes for his run, and he still hates it, but he feels more awake and “with it” than he did before he started moving more.
 
#TLBmoves is about getting started together. You can make it into becoming an Olympic athlete if you want. Or you can focus on being better able to keep up with your toddler. It’s up to you. Will you join me? 
 
It’s time for #TLBmoves!
 

 
Find support and inspiration in our closed group #TLBmoves here.  And join me on The Leaky Boob Facebook page, here; The Leaky Boob Community Facebook group, here; BeyondMoi.com and the Beyond Moi Facebook Page, here; and the Beyond Moi Community Facebook group (where we talk about just about anything and everything- particularly relationships), here.
 
#TLBmoves 2017 runs through the end of July, though a meaningful focus on how we get moving with our families is never really limited to a set of dates. We will be focusing on what inspires us in health and fitness, sharing meaningful experiences, opening up, posting ideas, and a lot of humor. All of this through the sharing of information, support, and most importantly, The Leaky Boob and Beyond Moi communities in action teaming up with you, our communities, and a few select brands we trust: Contours, Joovy, The Vintage Honey Shop, and Chunkabuns.
 
Be on the lookout for the hashtag: #TLBmoves (and start using it too!), Leaky guest posts, a vocal presence across social media (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook), posts from our campaign ambassadors, relevant information and interactions on our sister site, BeyondMoi.com, inspiring support within our community, involvement from our campaign sponsors, giveaways, and informative articles.
 
Let’s explore health and moving together, with #TLBmoves. Oh, and enter our giveaway here

 

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Meet Our Ambassadors

We’ve assembled a small team to provide a little daily inspiration and some real-life experiences as they focus on the love present in their relationships. Here are the four mamas (apart from myself) that will be sharing their #TLBmoves experiences with us this for the next month:

 
 

Dominique Gallo

I am a Hampton Roads native currently residing in Roanoke County. I am a wife to a  L.E.O (Law Enforcement Officer) and mom to two beautiful girls, an energetic little boy,  and two fur babies. I was called to birth work because of the birth of my oldest. I had no support and was not able to make informed decisions– or any decisions for that matter!. I felt bullied and scared. From then on with a little helpful nudging from friends and family I decided to become a lactation consultant and a doula to make sure that mothers did not have to experience what I experienced. I have an undergrad degree in Community Health Education from Virginia Commonwealth University (Go Rams!) and currently finishing up a master’s degree in Health and Wellness: Lactation Consulting to further my knowledge in lactation. I am an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) , a professional doula trained by toLabor, and a child birth educator trained by Lamaze International.  I am the Director of Marketing for the United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA), and I also host a podcast, called Mocha Milkies Cafe, to help bring knowledge and awareness about breastfeeding and positive birth practices to African America women in my spare time. 


Ambar Gingerelli

Ambar Gingerelli is a wife + mama, life coach for new moms, and the creator of Mama Bird Well Nest, a blog dedicated to supporting mothers in creating happy and healthy lives. She helps mamas who are struggling to find balance learn to put themselves first so that they can have a positive experience of motherhood and feel deeply connected to themselves and their children. Ambar believes that true health comes from nurturing ourselves fully in mind, body, and spirit, and that it is vital for us to take great care of ourselves so that we are better able to care for our loved ones. You can connect with her on her blog, www.mamabirdwellnest.com and on her Instagram page, www.instagram.com/mamabirdwellnest. Check out her free yoga video series – an easy way to get moving!

 


Ashley Martin

Ashley Martin is a breastfeeding educator from the Chicagoland area. She the mama to one busy bee toddler and currently waiting on the arrival of her second seed.  Ashley is also the creator of Mommy & Moon, a blog dedicated to encouraging moms to cultivate a positive space for self love. She believes the key to motherhood is being resilient.

There is so much beauty in the resilience of a woman, both physically in mentally! We are strong! 

You can connect with Ashley on Instagram and through her blog, www.mommyandmoon.com

 

View More: http://yourstreetphotography.pass.us/martinwebberfamily1Jessica Martin-Weber

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, and co-creator of BeyondMoi.com. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 20 years and they are all looking forward to the addition of a new family member sometime this Fall.

 

 

 

 

Sara Smith

Sara Smith is a wife, mother, breastfeeding and education advocate, and community volunteer. After struggling to nurse her first child due to a lack of knowledge and community resources, she decided to continue her post-graduate education as a breastfeeding peer counselor and aims to provide breastfeeding support to families in her county once certified. Sara believes that evidence-based information is greatly empowering, especially when it comes to the health and well-being of new mothers and the babies that depend on them.  When Sara is not wrangling her two toddlers, she volunteers as the Co-Vice President and Co-Chair (and blogger) for the Arizona Breastfeeding Bag Project/Arizona Breastfeeding Bag Project – Mohave County, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing breastfeeding support bags to new and expecting mothers in Arizona. Follow her personal adventures with #TLBmoves on Instagram

 

Brianda Traylor.

Hey! I’m Brianda Traylor I am a proud mommy of a two year old girl named Olivia and twin 5 month old boys named Owen and Benjamin. My house is always chaotic but I love every minute of it. I work full time and I am always on the move with my little dragons (khaleesi reference). I am so happy to be apart of the #TLBMoves campaign and I hope I bring some love and light by sharing my chaos.  

 

 

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Meet Our Partners

We are so grateful to partner with brands who value the mission of The Leaky Boob and we trust to share with our community. Leakies themselves, the brands below have made caring for families with quality products that we can trust a priority, and they believe in the importance for us all to get moving in and beyond #TLBmoves. Check out the giveaway they’re sponsoring over here!


Contours Contours is a family-owned and family-operated company that has been developing baby products for more than 70 years, and we know that nothing is more important than family. Life is hectic, kids grow up fast, and every moment counts. Contours products are designed to make parents’ lives easier. Our strollers, carriers, and everything in between bring balance to their active lives with convenience and adaptability. Check out the Contours Love 3-in-1 baby carrier!

 

Joovy – Joovy is a U.S. born, lifestyle brand that brings innovative design concepts to the growing and dynamic baby accessory market.

Since 2005, Joovy has been dedicated to making mobility easier for growing families. Our mission is to provide parents with products that are both fun and functional with an emphasis on durability, utility, and on-trend design. Each of the products that we offer also takes your child’s comfort and safety into consideration, making it a product that the whole family enjoys.

Joovy’s collection of products has grown to five categories: strollers, feeding, playards, walkers, bikes/trikes/toys and accessories. Its attention to innovative designs and high quality at an affordable price sets it apart from the competition.

 


The Vintage Honey Shop – We are a handmade teething & nursing necklace company in Nashville, TN. Our necklaces help keep mama from being scratched & pinched during feeding time and provide relief when teething! You can also wear our necklaces while wearing your baby as they provide a focal point for your baby, giving them something to play with and grab onto while being close to your heart. Check out their teething and nursing necklaces!

 

Chunkabuns – Like every great idea, Chunkabuns began with a mission in mind: to solve the Fluffy Bottomed Baby epidemic once and for all. Chunkabuns is the passion project of a cloth-diapering mom who struggled to find clothing that fit comfortably around cloth diapers while still looking good. After two years of research, redesign, and product testing, Chunkabuns is proud to offer a unique, quality solution for parents using non-disposable cloth diapers that will grow right alongside your baby! But that’s not all – they have also developed fun and inspiring shirts and other items of clothing for everyone in the family! Check out Chunkabuns tops here!

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*My Body* On Demand

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Content Note

This piece focuses on sexual assault and includes discussion and detailed description of birth including birth trauma, anxiety, and mention of sexual assault.


The sweet smell of a new baby was more intoxicating than I had imagined. My heart swelled every time I held her, I thought I had known love, this was even more. Joy, relief, peace, total contentment.

It had been a difficult pregnancy and an even more difficult birth. So often, most of the time, I felt completely out of control as though I had no say over my body or what happened to me. Spending hours and hours reading text books, reading personal accounts, absorbing all the literature I could on pregnancy and birth, I had taken advantage of every resources I could to be prepared. Long ago I had found that learning as much as I could about an experience I was facing helped me feel less out of control and more calm. It helped me to think rationally, ask informed questions, and make decisions that didn’t seem desperate. So I managed better than I expected with the sense of lack of control and autonomy. Reading and listening to the stories of others that had traversed the path of parenthood through pregnancy and birth before me, I understood that modesty might fly out the window, that decisions may need to be made quickly, that plans may need to be altered for life saving measures.

As a sexual assault survivor who was still processing and recovering, I saw a therapist regularly, journaled, and read materials on sexual assault survivors giving birth. It was important to me that my birth partner- my husband and my birth team be aware that I was a survivor and that consent was particularly important to me for any touching. We were all prepared.

But in the end it wasn’t the pregnancy and birth that brought anxiety flooding back for me as I became a mother for the first time. It wasn’t the incessant vomiting, multiple hospitalizations for hydration, the numerous failed IV placement attempts, the premature rupture of membranes at 32 weeks and the rushed amniocentesis without anything to numb the insertion of the largest needle ever to enter my body, the diagnosis of asymmetrical IUGR, the weeks of steroids, or the diagnosis of pre-e that made me feel that I had no say over what happened to my body. Even when we had to fight in the hospital for certain accommodations to help me relax in labor I didn’t feel out of control. And when an episiotomy was performed without my consent I was angry but at the time accepted it was necessary (it wasn’t but I made peace with it). Not even when my doctor shoved her arm up inside me to her elbow to manually scrape out my uterus and perform an extraction of my partially retained placenta when I was hemorrhaging, not even then did I feel that my autonomy was threatened.

It wasn’t until a few days later, at home, as my milk flooded my breasts making them hot and swollen and my baby suddenly was desperately and constantly in demand of my breasts that I experienced my first panic attack.

Feed on demand.

sexual assault survivor breastfeeding

I wanted to run away. I wanted to say no. I felt trapped and stuck and completely at the mercy of another human being.

Every time she rooted or fussed, her little mouth searching, I felt it wash over me.

Feed on demand.

Those 3 words were the sentence that thrust me back to when someone else had the control, the say, and all the power over my body. Their hands, their mouth, their fingers, their body probing mine and demanding what they wanted from me. I had no say, I was overpowered. And later, in another context, there was a charade of my own power but if I truly loved them, truly trusted them, I would give my body over to their demands, because that was what love did, even if it hurt. Love meant obligation.

Feed on demand.

But this was my baby. The greatest love I had ever known. And this wasn’t sexual, this was nurturing and caring, this was mothering.

What was wrong with me? Why did I feel like this?

Feed on demand.

This other person outside of myself had all the say over my body. She had the right to demand my body and I had to give it to her or I was failing in loving her fully and in giving her what she deserved. Her right to my milk was so much more important than my right to my body, what kind of mother would I be to deny her demands?

Feed on demand.

I loved her. I was obligated to her. I would do anything for her.

So I would expose my breast to her demanding mouth. I would draw her close through her demanding cries. I would try to control my reaction as her suck demanded my milk. I offered myself to her demands because she mattered more than me.

Feed on demand.

Utilizing breathing exercises I had practiced for labor and staring up at the ceiling as I ran through songs in my head trying to distract myself from the anxiety that clawed at my throat as she suckled at my breast. I got through weeks and weeks of feeds. Months. I was loving her, I told myself. Love required sacrifice, motherhood is full of sacrifices. I would meet her demands for my body because I loved her.

Feed on demand.

Mommy and Arden bfing hand kiss

Eventually it got easier for me. I didn’t stay stuck there and I even found feeding my baby to be a healing experience. As she grew our relationship developed and I could look into her eyes as I fed her, her contented sighs and complete trust helping my anxiety to subside. I’m sure oxytocin helped too. But personally, it was having the option to always say no by instead offering a bottle of breastmilk that helped me find the autonomy I had in saying yes too. It took time but slowly I was able to reframe what was happening.

I wasn’t losing control of my body to a demanding, controlling, abusive person in an imbalanced relationship that was causing me pain. No, my baby was dependent on me and powerless herself as an infant. I was choosing to respond to her and care for her needs.

I no longer saw it as feeding on demand but rather responsive feeding. Responding to her cues and cries for me, the safest person she knew. She was safe for me too.

Love is responsive.

Responsive feeding. Feeding with love.

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Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, and creator and author of the children’s book and community of What Love Tastes Like, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book.
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Father of 6 Shares: Breastfeeding, Bonding, and the Non-Breastfeeding Parent

by Jeremy Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo Feeding

Brand-Ad_29APR16________________________

Six times now I have seen my babies experience the sweet bonding power of breastfeeding with their mother. Six times I have marveled at their connection. Six times, in spite of the struggles that accompany the breastfeeding journey, in spite of the pain, the latch issues, the horror of mastitis, the mystery of blebs, the touch fatigue that comes with nursing every couple hours, I have watched these nourishing moments of intimacy with a mix of appreciative awe, compassion for the struggle, and jealousy.

Even though I understand and accept the natural way of things, that women are equipped both with the ability to grow and nourish a baby inside their body and the ability to nourish that baby outside their body, and that men – how should I put this? – aren’t; even though I know this to be a fact of the human experience, I see the connection between them both before birth and after with a twinge of envy.

Especially with our first, I even wondered if I should just accept that my chance to bond with my baby would come… later. Probably months later. Hopefully no more than a year or two. It’s even harder when the baby obviously prefers their mother. We had one of those. I tried not to take it personally. I decided to be present and patiently wait for her to come around, and she did. Eventually.

We’ve all heard just how important it is for babies to bond with their mother, and we also hear how important it is for kids to have both parents involved in their lives as they grow up (for those who happen to have two parents). This implies that it’s essential for both parents to bond with their little ones. So how does the non-breastfeeding parent get started, especially when it seems that their babies only seem to need one parent: the one with the leaky boobs?

Because the breastfeeding parent naturally needs to spend more time with their baby than their non-breastfeeding partner (babies eat all day, after all), it can be very helpful for them to take deliberate steps to help the other parent connect with their baby. Even though it may be easier to just do everything yourself, and indeed, our culture still encourages moms to think that they should be able to do it all, so there is a level of responsibility and personal pride that comes along with not needing your partner to help at all (and guilt if you don’t do it all), that kind of attitude only serves to speed up your own burn-out and to hinder your partner from being an equal parent. It requires intention to share the responsibility of caring for a baby. Here are some ideas to get you started based on some of the helpful ways that Jessica encouraged me to bond with our babies:

  1. Invite your partner to join the snuggle.

I never wanted to intrude on the intimate moments when Jessica and our baby were cozied up on the couch, mouth to boob, staring into each other’s eyes. It was so magical, and I didn’t want to break the spell, or distract them from their moment. A simple invitation from the breastfeeding parent is enough to change it from an intimate moment with that parent and the baby to an intimate family moment. Your first family portrait etched into all 3 of your memories. You’ll be working on intentionally welcoming each other into all sorts of situations for years to come (like when you’re on the toilet, or when you thought you were going to have a private intimate moment with just your partner), so why not get started right away? I had heard enough about sacred motherhood and the importance of the baby bonding to its mother that I needed an invitation to be a part of it. Maybe your partner does too.

  1. Offer for your partner to burp the baby.

Inviting your partner to burp your baby after nursing is a great way to get them involved and give yourself a little break from the constant skin-to-skin contact from that cuddly hot water baby. Sure it may seem easier to do it yourself since you’re right there but if you share the experience you might have a chance to get up to pee, or just to stand up and stretch. And if your baby can’t go without that skin-to-skin, invite your partner to lose a layer or two. For your partner, burping their baby is an opportunity to unlock that natural baby-holding sway. Pretty soon they’ll be practically dancing (it happened to me, and I’m not much of a dancer). And you can enjoy the sight of them bonding together.

  1. Share the other baby care responsibilities with your partner.

Once you’ve shared the responsibility of burping the baby, you’re ready to encourage your partner to take on other baby related tasks, like bathing them, dressing them, and cleaning that umbilical cord. Of course, there’s no reason for the 3 of you not to share those special moments together too.

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  1. Share the secret of diaper changing fun.

In many ways, diaper changes represent the last stand of traditional parenting roles. Guys willing to do all sorts of things for their wives and children still draw the line at diaper changes. What those dads miss entirely is that changing a diaper doesn’t have to be about changing the diaper at all. It’s a necessary task that provides the opportunity for special parent-baby time. Most anything can be turned into a game, and any event can be a bonding moment if that is the intent. Diaper changes can either be a disgusting obligation, or play time with your baby! Pee and poop, or fun and games. It’s time to let your partner in on the secret. You may have to model it like Jessica did for me. But once I understood it, I was hooked on diaper changing fun.

  1. Encourage your partner to hang out with their baby  

There is definitely something special about mother & baby time. But the part I used to downplay in my mind is that there is also something very special about babies connecting with their other parent. Encourage your partner often to hold your baby, their baby: to babywear, to cuddle, to take a nap together, to hang out in the rocking chair, etc. Bonding happens through time spent together. Your partner needs some of that time too!

  1. Spend a little quality time with your pump

This isn’t a necessary one and it is totally possible for bonding to happen without any participation in baby feeding- until introducing solids, invite your partner in on that fun for sure! But if you’re going to be pumping anyway to return to work or to have the occasional bottle for you to go out, this could be one way to give your non-breastfeeding partner the chance to participate. I loved every opportunity I was provided to give our babies a bottle, and, for my partner who gets overstimulated by touch very easily, sometimes it was just to provide her a break from all that physical contact that could get a bit overwhelming. You determine how often it will work for you – whatever the frequency, it’s such a special opportunity for your partner to connect with your baby.

  1. Ask for help and then back off

Sometimes our greatest enemy is ourselves. This is so true when one partner claims ownership of certain responsibilities. Our natural tendency is to want to make sure that the job is executed up to our standards, even when we “allow” others to do it for us. We want to control the outcome. We micromanage. We say too much. We follow too closely. We watch incessantly. We are ready to jump in (or take over) at the first hint of hesitation. And we get stressed out, anxious, and even angry, when things don’t run  by our definition of “smoothly”. This approach to letting your partner help does the exact opposite of building up their confidence. It may discourage them from even trying to be involved. And you may end up resenting an uninvolved partner that you had a role in creating. For your partner to really bond with your baby (and by “your” I mean theirs and yours), you have to really want your partner to be involved. That means you have to get out of the way. They may not do things exactly like you do, and that’s ok. Give them space, provide information when necessary, trust that they have their own parenting instincts, that they will ask you when they can’t figure things out, and that they will find their own parenting groove.

  1. Enjoy the view and tell your partner about it

Jessica has told me through the years that she loves seeing me with our kids. She loves it when they’re babies, and continues to love it as they get older, all the way up to high school! She says that the way I interact with our kids makes her love me even more. Somehow me bonding with our children brings us closer together as a couple. And it’s sexy. Not that my interactions with my children are sexy, but that she thinks I’m sexy when I connect with our children. And hearing her say how much she appreciates the view, I mean, my efforts, boosts my confidence and encourages me to keep at it.

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Jeremy Martin-Weber is the proud father of 6 inspiring girls, and is 20 years into a love story with his partner, Jessica Martin-Weber.

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