*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

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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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View More: http://yourstreetphotography.pass.us/martinwebberfamily1

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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Picking Bottle Nipples for the Breastfed Baby

With Amy Peterson, IBCLC

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo Feeding

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Lots of breastfed babies will also use a bottle. Most of us have heard that introducing a bottle can potentially have a negative impact on the breastfeeding relationship. But thankfully, we can control these risks.

Lower risks

Latch:  The way your baby latches on the breast needs to be similar to the bottle. Look at your baby while s/he is feeding at your breast.  Notice how the bottom lip flares, and the top lip rests in a neutral position. Observe how the corners of the mouth seal on the breast, and how milk doesn’t leak from the lips while baby feeds. Pull down baby’s lip slightly and see the baby’s tongue cup or curves around your nipple. We look for these same characteristics when baby sucks on a bottle nipple.

gradual wide leaking bad

Not a good latch: Averted gaze (no eye contact), top lip rolled in, leaking at corners, latched more toward the tip.

wide abrupt good no leak

Decent Latch: Eye contact, flared lips, deep latch near collar of bottle, relaxed posture, no leaking at corners.

 

Flow preference: You want your baby to prefer the flow of your breast over the flow of a bottle. There is no standard flow rate for bottle nipples, so you might have to try more than one bottle to find a similar swallow pattern. Most babies will use a slow flow nipple, but slow flow isn’t best for every baby–match your own flow. For detailed information, Balancing Breast and Bottle lists bottle flow rates in Appendix C.

Milk supply:  Anytime the baby takes 2 ounces from the bottle, ideally you will be able to pump this amount so your body knows how much your baby is taking and can maintain your supply. But don’t worry if you don’t pump exactly what your baby eats every time, baby is likely more effective at removing milk from your breast than a pump will be. Adding a pumping session may be necessary to ensure you’re producing the amount needed for your child’s bottle feed.

 

breastfeeding and bottle feeding

Good latch: Eye contact, flared top and bottom lips, no leaking, medium depth latch, relaxed posture.

 

Reduce risks by picking a nipple shape

One way to reduce bottle risks is in choosing the nipple shape we use to bottle-feed our baby.

Nipples have three general shapes: narrow, wide-abrupt, and wide-gradual.  

bottle nipple - narrowbottle nipple - wide abruptFullSizeRender

Narrow neck nipples fit narrow neck bottles, and most have a gradual transition from nipple length to base where the baby’s lips can slide easily to latch deeply.

Wide neck nipples fit wide neck bottles.  Wide, abrupt shapes have an abrupt transition (like a 90 degree angle) between the nipple length and nipple base. Make sure your baby is able to rest their lips opened widely on the nipple base, not suck on the nipple length like a straw. Also, make sure your baby is able to fully seal the lips without gaps in the corners of the mouth.

Wide, gradual shapes gradually blend from the nipple length to the base. This shape may help the baby’s lips to rest on a portion of the base, and help the lips to form a complete seal. Make sure your baby is able to keep the nipple inserted deeply during feeding, rather than sliding down to the tip of the nipple.

 

Best does not exist

Different bottle nipple shapes work for different babies. One bottle will not be best for all babies, but you can find which bottle is best for your baby.  Therefore, beware of marketing and packaging claims. You’ve probably noticed many bottles claim to be best for breastfed babies, or to look just like the breast. But neither of these statements matters. How your baby latches onto the bottle nipple matters, not the packaging claims. You have found the right nipple when the nipple tip reaches deeply into the baby’s mouth; tongue cups the nipple; lips open widely and rest on a portion of the base; lips form a complete seal.

Additionally, now that you know that one bottle will not be best for every baby, don’t be swayed when you hear which bottle is “best” from other moms; what’s best for their baby might be terrible for your baby. You will need to look at your baby’s latch and then decide.

Picking bottle nipples - evenflo cobranded

Buying bottles

If you are having trouble finding a bottle your baby accepts, make sure you have tried all three types: narrow, wide-abrupt, and wide-gradual.  A lot of moms tend to buy various bottles marketed for breastfed babies, and then end up with a bunch of wide-abrupt shapes. Make sure you try the other shapes.

Chances are you will own more than one type of bottle, either bottles you have experimented with, or baby shower gifts that your baby can’t achieve a good latch with. Don’t despair.  As your baby grows, the mouth grows as well.  Nipples that do not work for young babies often work well when the baby’s mouth is bigger, say 4 months or so. Feel free to try the other nipples you have when your baby is older, and check the latch again.

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Amy Peterson is a mom of 4, IBCLC, Early Intervention coordinator, and retired LLL Leader. She works alongside a speech-language pathologist, and together they co-authored Balancing Breast and Bottle: Reaching Your Breastfeeding Goals. They have also written a series of tear-of sheets available through Noodle Soup: Introducing a bottle to your full-term breastfed baby, Pumping for your breastfed baby, Pacifiers and the breastfed baby, and Bottle pacing for the young breastfed baby. Amy’s passion is helping others find fulfillment and confidence in parenting, regardless of feeding method. Visit Amy’s website at breastandbottlefeeding.com.
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#TLBloves – A Time to Focus on Love

by Ophélia Martin-Weber
#TLBloves pic 1
It’s time for #TLBloves!

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day seeing it as a Hallmark holiday yet loving the excuse to celebrate and focus on love a little more while maintaining that we don’t need an excuse or a special date to show our loved ones we love them but still totally loving Valentine’s, chocolate, and flowers along with heart shaped pancakes and candlelight dinners but at the same time rejecting the commercialized pressure to even just HAVE romantic relationships and heart themed craft experiences for your kids.

Totally conflicted.

In the end though, my sappy, romantic side wins: it’s fun to see the whole world (sort of) celebrate love and it sparks that part of me that is encouraged that maybe the world is going to be ok because in the end it all comes down to love. That one day a brief moment to come back to and focus quickly on what really inspires me all year long and though I don’t need a commercialized day to celebrate and express my love to those that matter most to me, I appreciate the time when, for a heartbeat, the world seems to collectively agree that love is worth celebrating in the first place. I almost don’t even care that they’re trying to sell me something at the same time.

I’m a bit of an optimist too.

It’s true though, like most Holidays, Valentine’s can feel like an over-hyped, over-commercialized day based on one simple reason to celebrate: love.

There is value in giving intense attention to one specific area for a time. Such focused intention can strengthen a weakness, do the work required to heal hurts, build shared experiences, foster fresh energy, and create fuel to help sustain that area long after that time of focus is over.

And so it is with the belief that seasonal times of focus on a specific theme can be of great benefit for us and for our family, we’re pleased to announce that it is time for #TLBloves 2017!

#TLBloves focuses on what inspires us to connect beyond how we feed our babies, strengthening bonds with our other children, connecting with friends, deepening our partner relationship, and supporting each other in growing in loving themselves by providing them with information, support, and most importantly, community in action.

#TLBloves is a movement to talk honestly and openly about relationships and connection. With our partners, our children, and most of all, ourselves.

Humans have a deep need to connect with each other, forming bonds and experiencing love. But it isn’t always easy and sometimes it is downright confusing to be in relationship with others. With #TLBloves, we aim to provide families with community support through information sharing, narrative, and personal challenges. All free of judgment.

Following the inspiration of #TLBmoves and #TLBsafeKids, we are excited to share this new experience with you, The Leaky Boob and Beyond Moi communities, that focuses first on strengthening the connection we have with our families and ourselves, to key aspects that deeply impact relationships of all sorts. Join us on The Leaky Boob Facebook page, here; The Leaky Boob Community Facebook group, hereBeyondMoi.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).

#TLBloves appropriately launches today, Valentine’s Day, and officially will run through March 7. Though a meaningful focus on how we connect with others is never really limited to a set of dates, we will be focusing on what inspires us all to connect beyond how we feed our babies, such as strengthening bonds with our other children, connecting with friends, deepening our partner relationship, and supporting each other as we grow in loving ourselves, all of this through the sharing of information, support, and most importantly, The Leaky Boob community in action.

Be on the lookout for the hashtag: #TLBloves, Leaky guest posts, a vocal presence across social media (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook), posts from our campaign ambassadors, relevant information and interactions on our sister sites, BeyondMoi.com, inspiring support within our community, giveaways, and informative articles!

Let’s explore the depth and strength of love in our relationships together, with #TLBloves.

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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 six mamas (apart from myself) that will be sharing their #TLBloves experiences with us this for the next month.

 

Angela NavarroAngela Garcia Navarro

Hi, my name is Angela! I am a SAHM of 2 amazing kiddos, MJ and Athena. Bonding with my kids and loved ones in any way possible are so important to me. I am so passionate about breastfeeding because I know what it’s like on the other side wanting to have that special bond and connection with your baby but not being able to produce enough milk and have latching problems. Because I was unable to successfully breastfeed my son I was determined to do so when my daughter was born last April. And with the support of my husband I am going on almost 10 months EBF which is a HUGE mommy milestone for me! I am so grateful to have this opportunity to hopefully inspire others on their breastfeeding journey as well as help and learn myself how to strengthen bonds between loved ones! For an inside scoop of my unfiltered life follow us on Instagram.

 

Brianda TaylorBrianda Traylor

Hey everyone. I’m Brianda Traylor! I moved to Atlanta from Houston 3 years ago to be with my husband and start our family. We have a two year old daughter named Olivia and I am currently 35 weeks pregnant with her fraternal twin brothers, Owen and Benjamin. My husband and I enjoy going to car events and buying, modifying and selling old BMWs. A few days before Olivia was born my husband was in a serious accident that required an immediate spine surgery. (If you want to know more watch this.) Because of the stress of the situation my milk never came in and Olivia started to lose weight and was diagnosed failure to thrive. Her pediatrician wanted me to start formula but I knew I could do one better and give her donor milk. With the help with local mom groups and HM4HB I was able to receive donations and Olivia thrived only on donor milk and never had to have formula. It was a stressful time for our family and I’m happy to say everyone is happy and healthy now. I will be delivering these twin boys any day and I can’t wait to see what our nursing journey looks like! Thank you again so much for letting us be apart of this program <3

 

Kayla Nau headshotKayla Nau

Hi, I’m Kayla! My husband and I live in rural Ohio with out three sons ages four, two, and newborn. I have been in the Air National Guard for 9 years as a telecommunications and antenna systems journeyman, and I am a stay at home mom when not working for the guard. We strive to raise as much food as we can on our small farm, and live as sustainable and naturally as possible. I am breastfeeding my third child, and will be donating milk as soon as breastfeeding is well established. I am so excited to share a little insight to my life through #TLBloves and form new connections!!

 

Rachel Kirk headshotRachel Iglesia

I’m Rachel! I am a mother to 4 biological children (3 living, one angel), and a foster mother. I am married to a gentleman of the highest degree whom I lovingly refer to as “the Milkman”! We are a family that loves eating good food– be it from our own kitchen or other local establishments. I’ve been breastfeeding for the last 5 years straight and have also gotten formula feeding under my belt more recently with fostering. I write about my life as a mother at sherocksthecradle.com, post entirely too many food pictures on Instagram, and share random thoughts and stories on Facebook. I can’t wait to give you a little peak through the Window of my life via #TLBloves and share how my family loves and connects within our family and beyond!

 

Rebecca Zuick headshotRebecca Zuick

Hello everyone! My name is Rebecca Zuick and I’m the wife of 2.5 years to Alex and mom to Asher and Tobias, our angel baby. I’m from Florida but currently live in Texas and, even after almost 2 years, it is still an adjustment. Right now I’m a student, looking to finish my B.A. in Multidisclipinary Studies by the end of this year, and then completing the teacher certification program here. I’m also a nerd, bookworm, and caregiver to my husband who was medically retired from the army last year and our son who is still struggling with sensory issues and a possible autism diagnosis. Thankfully, Asher still breastfeeds, so we have that centering activity that he can turn to when things get too rough. Needless to say, there’s never a dull day around here! In 2015 I was blessed to be able to give birth to our youngest, Tobias, at 23 weeks and spend time with him before leaving the hospital. I love taking pictures of Asher and Alex, reading when I can find free time, and exploring other cultures through television and music. Someday I’ll actually be able to visit them, but the internet works just as well for now. I have a blog at thenerdymatron.com, which started off as an attempt to alleviate some of my stress through writing. I look forward to learning more about all of you wonderful ladies!

 

Jenna StevensJenna Stevens

I am Jenna, wife to Anton, and mother to Gianna, Athena, Evanora, and Oberyn. I also am a bonus mom to Jalen. I run a small home daycare and home school my middle daughter because she is Type 1 diabetic. My interests lie in politics, world affairs, and general interest insofar as motherhood is concerned. I have an amazingly supportive tribe of friends who have helped shape the person and mother I am today. Without them, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to breast feed despite my previous breast reduction surgery. I strive for as natural a home as possible which, for us, means as fresh a diet as possible, no chemical cleaning agents, and open-ended, often wooden toys. I’d like to consider myself knowledgeable enough to know that I am always opening to learning new things and changing behaviors when new information is presented. 

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Meet our partners:

Indigo Willow logoIndigo Willow Breast Milk Jewelry & Keepsakes specializes in custom jewelry made using a mother’s own breast milk to commemorate her nursing journey. It gives her a tangible reminder of the time they spent nursing and bonding with her little ones. Indigo Willow offers many beautiful original designs.

 

Naked Nursing Tank logo

The Naked Nursing Tank was invented by a busy breastfeeding mom who needed easy access to her breast AND the ability to wear a sports bra for the extra support. The open-chest design allows a mom to turn every shirt in her wardrobe into a nursing shirt while keeping her tummy covered. Made from a bamboo blend, this tank can be worn before, during, and after a mom’s pregnancy, making it versatile and money conscious purchase. You’ll love the freedom and comfort this tank provides, and the ease at which you can breastfeed on demand, whether at the park, doctor’s office, or in the comfort of your own living room.

 

Dressed to Deliver logo

Dressed to Deliver strongly believes that every woman deserves to feel comfortable, confident, concealed and beautiful – before, during, and after one of the most important days of her life! Every woman should choose to wear what makes them feel like the strong, competent, confident and beautiful mom that they are. Our hope is that our 3-in-1 birthing gowns provide you with the comfort and confidence to enhance your experience of labour.

 

Nova Natural logo

Nova Natural Toys and Crafts strives to inspire creativity by sparking the imaginations of children and adults with materials that allow them to learn and grow together. We connect communities by bringing people together to play, create and explore in families, neighborhoods and across the globe. A key goal is to practice sustainability by working with small businesses and artisans to supply families with heirloom quality, non-disposable toys that support healthy lifestyles in balance with the environment.

 

Uberlube logo

Überlube believes in focus and simplicity—not just in our products but also in how we do business. Rather than modeling our approach on the restaurant that serves 50 mediocre food options, we are focused on doing one thing right, every time: producing the best personal lubricant on the market. When you use überlube you are using a product that’s all about helping you feel and be your best, whether you are enjoying a romp with your partner, hitting mile 19 of your marathon, or putting on the finishing touches for an evening out. Simply put, überlube’s first job is to make you feel amazing. That’s why we say “feeling is everything,” and why we expect you’ll agree after trying our product.

 

Evenflo Feeding Logo

Evenflo Feeding’s Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is the perfect solution for moms with frequent pumping needs. Whether at home or at work, the Advanced  Double Electric Breast Pump delivers all the premium features and benefits mom requires and deserves. This innovative pump’s PerfectlyPure™ design is a closed system that prevents milk back-up in tubing, which helps to keep tubing clean and dry, protecting mom’s breast milk and making pump cleaning more efficient. Each pumping session can be personalized with the AdvancedControl™ technology, which creates 32 unique setting combinations of speed and suction for optimal control.

To help ensure a successful pumping session, it’s important to have a comfortable, correctly sized flange fit. The Advanced Double Electric Pump includes 3 different flange sizes from our AdvancedFit™ flange system to help ensure the best fit, with additional sizes sold separately. Evenflo’s PerfectPosition™ design includes a shorter nipple tunnel and higher bottle-to-flange angle that allows mom to relax in a slouch-free pumping position. The integrated bottle holders keep mom’s milk safe after pumping, providing an extra “hand” to protect her precious milk from spills.

Access to expert resources can help ensure a successful breastfeeding experience. Evenflo is excited to include the ultimate breastfeeding education with the purchase of your pump. Developed by our partner, Breastfeeding Expert Shari Criso (IBCLC, CNM, RN), mom receives digital access to two practical and proven programs she can access anywhere! Both Simply Breastfeeding™ and Breast Pumps & Briefcases™ have helped thousands of moms successfully breastfeed and continue breastfeeding while returning to work and are included with purchase.

 

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Silverette is the original silver nursing cup that has been crafted by fully licensed silversmiths in Italy since 2002. Silverette cups soothe and protect nursing nipples. They use the healing properties of silver to heal and prevent soreness, cracks, wounds and infections. They are natural, easy to use and effective. Just wear them on your nursing nipples between feedings and forget about them! No need to wash your nipples before latching and no creams or oils needed.

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Bottle-feeding Tips- A Bottle-feeding Overview for The Breastfeeding Family

by Amy Peterson

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo Feeding

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Moms who breastfeed often feel afraid, or even sadness, at the thought of introducing a bottle. The truth is bottles are a tool, a useful tool, and they don’t need to be scary, even if you need to use a bottle in the early days because breastfeeding isn’t going well. If you think your baby is lazy, you need someone to evaluate what’s going on because it’s not laziness, it’s something we’re not recognizing. It is a sign of something else. In the meantime, pump your milk and feed your baby. The bottle can be a tool you use to protect your breastfeeding journey, not to end breastfeeding.   

It can feel overwhelming when it comes to picking a bottle for your breastfed baby. Many bottles claim to be “more like mom,” but that is a marketing gimmick. Babies are unique, and a bottle that works for one baby may not work for another, siblings included. Below are some tips that may help parents looking for a bottle for their breastfed baby.

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Think of how a baby latches on the breast. There are many ways to evaluate if breastfeeding is going well. As it relates to picking a bottle, we specifically observe the baby’s mouth. It should open widely, resting the lips on the areola. The lips will roll out (flange) and be visible, with the corners of the lips sealing against the breast. Your nipple will reach far into your baby’s mouth. This is what you want to mimic with a bottle latch.

There are three predominant nipple shapes: narrow, gradually sloped wide, and classic wide.  Any shape is okay so long as your baby has a similar latch on the bottle nipple as on the breast. The right nipple for your baby should a) reach deeply into your baby’s mouth, b) allow the lips to open and rest on a portion of the base, and c) allow the lips to form a complete seal.  On a narrow nipple, let your baby latch and then wiggle it in deeper into your baby’s mouth so the lips are almost “kissing” the collar. On a gradually sloped wide, again, wiggle the nipple in deeper, then observe to see if your baby’s mouth remains opened widely rather than slipping to the tip.  On a classic wide, make sure your baby’s lips can rest on a portion of the base and form a complete seal rather than sucking on the nipple length like a straw.  

You will probably want to buy two or three nipples to try. Rather than reading packaging claims, look at the nipple. Ask yourself, “Will this nipple reach deeply in my baby’s mouth so the lips can rest on the base? (yes) Will this nipple shape help hold my baby’s lips open? (yes) Does it look like my baby will suck on this like a straw? (no)” Try different shapes until you find the shape that allows for a good latch for your baby.          

Start with a slow flow nipple. However, it is important to note that there is no industry standard for “slow,” and flow rates vary greatly between brands. It is also important to note that dripping is different than flow. Bottles that are advertised as “no drip” may flow very fast compared with other bottles that do drip.  With any bottle, you can control dripping by letting your baby latch on to the bottle before tipping it up so milk fills the nipple. You can’t control flow, but you can try different brands to see how your baby responds, and you can tip the bottle down and let your baby rest if he looks overwhelmed when swallowing Balancing Breast and Bottle lists bottle brands from slowest to fastest flow.  

The million dollar question—which bottle nipple is best for my breastfed baby—has no absolute answer. It all comes down to how your baby latches and swallows with a specific nipple.

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Amy Peterson is a mom of 4, IBCLC, Early Intervention coordinator, and retired LLL Leader. She works alongside a speech-language pathologist, and together they co-authored Balancing Breast and Bottle: Reaching Your Breastfeeding Goals. They have also written a series of tear-of sheets available through Noodle Soup: Introducing a bottle to your full-term breastfed baby, Pumping for your breastfed baby, Pacifiers and the breastfed baby, and Bottle pacing for the young breastfed baby. Amy’s passion is helping others find fulfillment and confidence in parenting, regardless of feeding method. Visit Amy’s website at breastandbottlefeeding.com.
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Baby Feeding and Finding Your Village- The Importance of Community In Reaching Your Breastfeeding Goals

By Jessica Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the support of The Village from Ameda, Inc.

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The US Surgeon General identified lack of support as one of the primary reasons families don’t reach their breastfeeding goals. Be that support in education about breastfeeding, support in health care, support in dealing with breastfeeding difficulties, support in social settings, and support related to employment environment, lack of support directly impacts breastfeeding goals.

For over 6 years, The Leaky Boob has been supporting families in their baby feeding journeys and we’ve seen exactly the impact support can have on breastfeeding goals. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • Support helps the breastfeeding parent be prepared.
  • Support helps the breastfeeding parent better advocate for themselves and their child.
  • Support helps the breastfeeding parent be informed.
  • Support helps the breastfeeding parent identify problems and know when and where to go for care.
  • Support helps the breastfeeding parent not feel alone.

That last point matters more than you might think. Breastfeeding can feel like such an isolating solo act, particularly in an unsupportive environment and support can go a long way in combating loneliness that some experience as part of their baby feeding journey.

When I had my first baby, my breastfeeding supportive mom (community!) encouraged me to try a breastfeeding support group when I was having pain initially. As I walked in I felt uncomfortable right away but decided to give it a try anyway but by the end I knew it wasn’t for me. In fact, I was more anxious after that experience but not necessarily because of breastfeeding but rather it was a group that attracted families that felt frighteningly “crunchy” to me at the time (no lie, I’d probably fit in great there now). Personality and value differences made it not a good fit for me and that is ok. Unfortunately, at the time breastfeeding support was not so wide-spread and I ended up very alone and isolated in feeding my baby. Aside from my very supportive husband, neither my health care providers nor my friends were supportive or experienced with breastfeeding. Thankfully, my own mother was and though we were separated by more than a thousand miles, she continued to offer encouragement, information, and support. Just having that one experienced voice, even when her experiences were vastly different from mine, helped me in reaching my breastfeeding goals. Even with the support of my partner and my mother I felt alone in feeding my baby but I am so grateful for their support because I can only imagine how much more difficult it would have been without them. Not every support community is right for every individual, even when they’re shared experience and common interest based communities. Which is why there is a wide variety of options and increasingly so. Different people are going to have different needs and ways they experience community.

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To find a community that is right for you

Determine what you need. Just looking for clinical facts and information? Find encouragement being able to ask anything and everything? Inspired by hearing the stories of others? Love seeing images of baby feeding? Enjoy connecting in the day to day? Want it to be only about baby feeding? Need focused connection on a specific feeding related experience? Value feeding as what brings you together but want to share about anything and everything else? Figure out what works for you personally and look for options that fit your needs and personality.

Clarify your values. Is there certain language that you want to avoid? Is there a controversial topic that you have a strong position on that is a non-negotiable for you? Identify your personal values and have a clear understanding of them for yourself.

Recognize what you have to offer. Community isn’t just about getting the support you need, community works when everyone gives and receives. You have something to offer in supporting others, even if you don’t feel like it, your story matters and sharing it can make a difference for others.

Ask around. Breastfeeding rates continue to rise (2007 initiation rates were around 70%, in 2014 they were nearly 80%) so more and more people have at least some experience with breastfeeding. If you know someone that has had a baby, ask them where they found breastfeeding support, you’re likely to have better results than with just a google search.

Eventually I figured out what I needed in community, particularly in a baby feeding support community. A judgment-free atmosphere that supports people over methodology, embraces the wide diversity of feeding modalities and tools (exclusively from the breast, pumping, bottle-feeding, combo formula feeding, formula feeding, etc.), promotes information, and has an emphasis on the relational sharing of baby feeding experiences with the good, the bad, the ugly, and the funny was what I needed which is reflected in The Leaky Boob and the communities we partner with, such as this one.

Once we know that community makes a difference in reaching breastfeeding goals and in supporting parents in finding their confidence, it only makes sense that we would work to be community ourselves, supporting and encouraging each other along the way. It takes a village, after all, together, we are the village.

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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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Nipple Pain in Breastfeeding

By Jessica Martin-Weber

This post is generously made possible by Bamboobies

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All kinds of advice and myths abound when it comes to breastfeeding and preparing nipples for the experience or what to do when there is pain. Dire warnings and emphasis on getting a “good latch” can make it seem as though it is tricky, inevitably painful, and consuming. (Do you need to worry about your baby’s latch? See here for more on what to look for in a good latch and what to do if it is causing problems.)

But there’s good news! While some do experience nipple pain, many do not and for those that have pain, there is usually an answer and steps that can help resolve the underlying cause. Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt but that doesn’t mean it won’t and it doesn’t mean that if it does it is your fault or that you did something wrong. Seeing a professional breastfeeding helper such as an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) may help identify the cause of the pain and find a resolution that will help you reach your breastfeeding goals.

Here are a few points on nipple pain in breastfeeding and tips for how to handle such pain. It is our hope that nobody goes through pain in feeding their babies but if you do, most of the time it doesn’t have to stay that way.

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Is it serious? Figure out if this is the type of pain that indicates an issue or is within the range of normal sensitivity with initial latch. If it lasts for 30 seconds or so and doesn’t bother you when you’re not breastfeeding or pumping then it is possible it isn’t serious and just an adjustment period while your nipples are a little sensitive. If it is toe-curling, swear-worthy pain that makes you hold your breath and try not to scream obscenities or toss your baby far, far away from you, then it is serious and you need to be seen by an expert professional breastfeeding helper. Any tissue damage, cracking, bleeding, scabbing, inflammation, bloody expressed milk, etc., will require proactive treatment and you need to see a health care provider. Keep in mind that if your pain tolerance is high, you may push through pain that is a warning sign that something is wrong, don’t wait too long to get help from a breastfeeding helper such as an IBCLC.

What is the cause? It could be a number of causes from baby’s physiology such as a high palate or tongue-tie (frenulum restriction) to your anatomy such as flat or inverted nipples, bifurcated nipples, or Raynaud’s syndrome (vasospasms), or from a pathology such as a bacterial infection or yeast overgrowth, to a damaging latch. Unfortunately sometimes the case is baby just needs to grow more and it will take time but there may be ways to improve things until that time comes and a breastfeeding helper should be able to help you with that.

What’s the treatment? Working with an experienced breastfeeding helper, once the cause is determined, the first step is to address the underlying cause. This may mean changing positioning and learning latch techniques (such as this “Flipple” technique for latching), a prescription to treat thrush or a bacterial infection, using a device to pull flat or inverted nipples out, a procedure to correct frenulum restriction, therapeutic suck training, and a number of other possibilities. We should start with the easiest to implement first, such as positioning and latch but an early diagnosis can mean resolving the underlying cause for the nipple pain quickly and getting back to reaching those breastfeeding goals.

How to heal? Pain, particularly pain that was ongoing for a while, usually means some tissue damage that’s going to need to heal and until it does, the pain will continue. Treating the underlying cause of the pain is essential for complete healing but there are ways to encourage healing even as the cause is addressed.

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Air drying is important for healing, as much as possible, allow your nipples to air dry before closing up your bra. Air is healing and having the area dry prevents bacteria and yeast from growing in a dark, damp environment. Additionally, rinsing them several times a day (not after each feeding but frequently) can also reduce possible irritation from baby’s saliva.

A good nipple cream, one that is plant based, breathable, and safe enough to leave on during breastfeeding can not only help with healing but can prevent chapping in the early days of breastfeeding as a preventative measure. Wiping off an ointment from sensitive and damaged tissue is painful and can cause further injury so picking one that is safe for baby to ingest in tiny amounts is ideal. Apply after every feeding after allowing the area to dry and pick nursing pads that won’t stick to damaged tissue and your nipple cream.

Your own breastmilk may help your nipples heal. Breastmilk is full of good things that can expedite healing, including stem cells! Be careful though, the sugars in breastmilk will feed a yeast overgrowth, making thrush worse.

Air and sunlight may help nipples healing from thrush as yeast thrives best in dark, damp areas. Make the environment hostile for yeast by exposing your nipples to sunlight and taking a probiotic and cutting out refined sugar.

Heat or cold packs can provide comforting relief, it’s personal, some will love these and others will find them uncomfortable for addressing nipple pain. For those with Raynaud’s Syndrome there is no cure or way to permanently resolve the problem but a heat pack like this one may help minimize the symptoms, apply immediately after feeding.

Cold shredded carrots in the bra (will stain!) promotes healing and is soothing. After breastfeeding or pumping, put shredded carrots stored in the refrigerator in your bra (if you don’t mind your nursing pad turning orange, they can help hold the carrots in place).

Protect the nipples with a nipple shield may be necessary. Nipple shields should be used with caution and hopefully with the guidance of an experienced breastfeeding helper such as an IBCLC because there is a risk of lowering milk supply with using a breast shield (not everyone experiences this, just a factor to be aware is a possibility), but they can be a good option for some to help with tissue healing for a short time.

Take a break if you need to. Sometimes damaged tissue just can’t heal until it has the chance to rest. Regularly empty your breast to protect your supply and have breastmilk for your baby, be sure that you’re using the proper flange size so as not to potentially cause more damage.

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What are your tips for preventing and healing nipple pain and tissue damage?

Share with us in the comments, together we can support each other in reaching our baby feeding goals.

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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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How Lubrication Can Improve Breastmilk Pumping

by Kristine Phillips Keller

This post made possible by the support of Ameda

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I learned the answer to this question the hard way with my oldest son. I was not much of a reader but breastfed because both of my sisters did the breastfeeding thing. If they could do it, so could I. However, in hindsight, I pretty much did everything wrong that I could have done. I wanted a nursery (I needed sleep, right?), I wanted pacifiers (he can’t just suck on me or I won’t get any sleep) and I wanted bottles (dads need to help too, right?). I thought, surely I can make all of this work. Boy was I wrong!

Not only did I go into it uneducated, I also have flat nipples. I honestly thought they were broken as they never became fully erect prior to years of nursing/pumping. I also have really naturally dry skin. Early on, I had damage but didn’t realize how bad it was until it was visible, right at Stage III damage (which means skin is literally gone). I was in such pain that I would cry when my boys would cry because I knew what was coming. I would fear nursing them because of the toe curling pain that it took to get them latched on. For the most part, after a minute or two it became bearable. Other times, the entire feeding was excruciatingly painful for me.

At six weeks with my first, I gave into pumping full time. I asked for help from family repeatedly to try and figure out what I was doing wrong and what I could do to correct the latch. No one seemed to be able to offer me the advice that I needed to make direct breastfeeding work and I just didn’t have it in me to bear that kind of pain any more. However, I still wanted to give them my milk…so I continued on with pumping & still continued to have cracked, bloody nipples until a good 10-11 months of pumping.

Around that same time, I was talking with my sister about all of the bloody milk that I was dumping because, even though I was no longer nursing, I still had pretty bad damage on both of my nipples. I just thought that’s how it was going to be for me. She then asked me if I was lubricating before I pumped. My response to her was, “Isn’t that what you do when you have sex?” She laughed & then said yes but that the pump shields were dry. Babies have moisture in their mouth for lubrication but there is no moisture on the pump shield prior to pumping.

I mean, would you ever expect to drive a car with NO lubrication and have things go well? ABSOLUTELY NOT! There must be lubrication to prevent friction… and to prevent damage. After all, isn’t that what our healthcare is supposed to be about these days, preventative care? Well, let me tell you…the difference was night and day. I went from having constantly damaged, bloody nipples to pain free/damage free nipples overnight. It was such a relief to know that there was something I could do to prevent this pain and discomfort.

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I started working for WIC 2.5 years ago as a peer counselor and have since applied theory to moms that come to me with damaged or sore nipples. If you lubricate before you latch, you lessen the probability of damage happening from the initial suck (regardless of whether it’s baby or the pump). That lubrication gives both something to slide against instead of that reverse pressure working against dry skin.

I’ve asked numerous breastfeeding professionals and no one seemed to know of any literature that puts emphasis on “lubricating BEFORE nursing or BEFORE pumping”. The only reference that I’ve seen is to use breast milk on sore nipples AFTER nursing. If it works after, why not try it before?

Lubricant suggestions: (you may need to try a few different ones to decide which is most comfortable for you.)

  • Your breastmilk
  • Nipple cream/ointment (suggest vegan and edible, rather than animal based)
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Almond oil
  • Infant massage oil
  • Avoid synthetics such as traditional baby oil

Some moms have found that regularly lubricating their breasts and pump horns before pumping greatly reduces the amount of discomfort they experience which in turn helps them let down easier and respond better to the pump.  There’s no need for pumping to be a painful or uncomfortable experience, experiment with different lubricant options to find what works best for you.  I hope this simple tip helps you in your breastfeeding and pumping journey as it has helped me.  How about we pass along this little known tip and prevent the damage in the first place?

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What pumping tips do you have to share to help other moms?

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Kristine Thanks to her sister, Kristine breastfed/exclusively pumped for her two boys now 3.5 and 8 years old, she pretty much did everything wrong when it came to breastfeeding but managed to get the pumping thing right (after a while).  After experiencing discrimination she contacted WIC about becoming a breastfeeding peer counselor and begin training to become an IBCLC. She sits for the IBCLC exam this summer and looks forward to continuing to help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals.
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Breastfeeding Confession: I don’t love breastfeeding

by Jessica Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo Feeding

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As I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with Sugarbaby, now 4, I had noticed a few women commenting online that they hated breastfeeding or at least didn’t love it. Not that they were stopping or refused to do it but that they didn’t have any of the warm fuzzy feelings they’d heard others talk about and they were looking forward to experiencing themselves. Often with their confession came the question: “does this make me a bad mom?”

My heart ached with them. I had felt the same.

I watched as some people responded making suggestions as to how they could maybe enjoy the experience more, or how it may take some time to get to that place, some sharing how much they love breastfeeding and are sorry the poster didn’t, and sometimes a few responding that they could relate. These women would respond that they were really struggling or felt broken, or questioned that maybe they didn’t love their child enough and that there was something wrong with them.

And again my heart ached with them.

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I was 35 weeks pregnant that week, preparing for a new nursling. Expecting baby #6, I was fairly confident that everything would be fine with breastfeeding. Not overly so, as I know each breastfeeding experience is different but there was no doubt in my mind that I’d be breastfeeding and that if there were any challenges we’d be able to work through them with our incredible support system. Still, there was this tiny part of me that wasn’t really looking forward to it. Maybe even dreading it a little. Which is almost heresy coming from the person that started The Leaky Boob.

Feeling for those women struggling I posted this status update on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page: 

“I don’t *love* breastfeeding. Nope, I don’t. It doesn’t give me warm, fuzzy feelings. I don’t look forward to sitting down with my nursling. I don’t particularly care for the sensation. But I breastfeed and I actively advocate and educate about breastfeeding. Why? Because I believe it’s the biologically normal way to feed a human infant. I don’t see myself as a martyr, just doing what I need to do to care for my children. I also don’t think this makes my a bad mom any more than the fact that sometimes I really hate making dinner. Or breakfast. Or lunch. Or changing diapers and doing laundry. What about you? Anyone else not “love” breastfeeding? What’s your breastfeeding confession?”

Responses started pouring in and in less than an hour there were close to 200 comments. The first 20 or so comments (I didn’t count, it could be a dozen or 50) are either people sharing they can relate, thanking me for such an honest confession because they felt less alone or freakish, sharing that it’s a love/hate relationship for them, the random “don’t like seeing people breastfeeding in public” (what’s that doing there?), the super excited ones that LOVE it and can’t relate, and the true confession of wanting to go out drinking (one brave soul shared that). Most of the 200 responses were from women grateful to hear my confession, thanking me for letting them know they weren’t alone and weren’t a bad mom for having these feelings. Then came the handful of comments saying that status was terrible and would discourage moms from breastfeeding. A few said that if they had seen that post when they were first breastfeeding and things were rough it would have made them want to quit. They asserted that we shouldn’t lie but we have to be selective with our words so as not to scare someone off. A few came down hard saying they were disappointed to see a post like that on TLB and called into question if I really support breastfeeding with posts like that.

I told my #4 nursling at the time that I didn’t like breastfeeding. Apologizing that I was gritting my teeth through her nursing sessions, I stroked her cheek and told her that even though I didn’t love breastfeeding I did very much love her and so she was worth it. Too young to understand, I felt my little girl sleeping in my arms and my chest tightened as the truth of my love for her surged through me making it hard to breathe. In that moment I vowed that even if I never loved breastfeeding I would focus on how much I love my daughter while she’s at my breast and I could take pleasure in how much she enjoyed breastfeeding even if I didn’t personally enjoy it.

Going into breastfeeding my 6th baby, my feelings about breastfeeding had changed, the skin-crawling, teeth gritting feeling was gone and while I still couldn’t say that I personally loved it I truly and deeply loved how much my baby loves to breastfeed. As her mother, there is an expansive satisfaction in making her happy that overwhelms even my own discomfort. She went on to breastfeed for 4 years and no, I don’t regret doing so. I don’t see myself as a martyr, just as a mother who, like most parents, has to give up some of my own personal comfort for a time for the benefit of my child. Though I’m not breastfeeding now, when I was, when my baby would grin up at me briefly letting go of my nipple, a little dribble of milk coursing down her cheek, I feel privileged to share and be the source of this moment she enjoyed so much. I will continue to support and advocate for breastfeeding and I will continue being honest about my own breastfeeding journey and feelings because in the long run we all need the kind of support to be who we really are if we’re going to grow.

I followed up with this that day on Facebook: (edited here)

“So sometimes breastfeeding isn’t an amazing experience, sometimes it is. We can be honest about our feelings with ourselves and with others and need to have safe places to do so. If that’s announcing loving the experience or sharing that it’s a struggle not enjoyed, it’s important to have that place. Even for me. Being brave enough to be honest enough to admit the hard stuff is where true support is found. When I first started breastfeeding and hated it deeply it wasn’t helpful to only hear how wonderful it was for everyone else. I needed to hear a balance of the good, the bad, and the ugly. I didn’t believe anyone actually enjoyed it, they just said they did it because it was expected. Today, 6 nurslings later, I’ve learned that it’s complicated and that’s ok. Everyone’s experience is different and nobody should have to hide it because what we need is to be honest, supportive, and real. Some things are going to encourage you, some are going to discourage you, either way, own YOUR experience.”

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What about you? Have you had times where even if everything was working fine, you just didn’t enjoy breastfeeding? Why do you continue?

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Jessica 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, 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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Weaning Off Formula back to Exclusively Breastfeeding

by Shari Criso MSN, RC, CNM, IBCLC

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo Feeding

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“Supplementation with formula does not have to be the end of breastfeeding and it may be very possible to transition to exclusively breastfeeding if that is your goal.”

First of all Amy, great job at making it to the 8 week mark! It is a big deal and something to be very proud of. From your questions it is clear that you’re just about exclusively breastfeeding but now we need to help you over that last hump.

What I tell all my clients is that if all you’re supplementing is 1-2 feedings per day of formula and breastfeeding the rest of the time, then in most cases you probably don’t need to do any at all! It is obvious that your body is quite capable of producing adequate amounts of breastmilk, however the continued supplementation will not give your body the opportunity to catch up. What you need to do is feed a little more frequently so that your body can kick inn and start to make more.

If all you’re doing is one or two supplemented feedings a days and your baby is gaining weight adequately, I would immediately start cutting out formula supplementation and begin to encourage your body to make more milk. Those few ounces that you have been supplementing can usually be made of with more frequent feeding or were not really necessary anyway, as many supplemented babies are over fed and encouraged to gain weight faster than they need to.

Typically, it is when I see moms that have been supplementing for weeks and weeks with very little breastfeeding that I am more concerned about the status of their milk supply and the need to build that up slowly by cutting back formula supplement slowly over time with careful evaluation throughout.

However, for you Amy, what I would recommend is to stop the supplementation, increase the frequency of your feedings, allow your baby to stay on the breast longer, drain the breast completely by switching sides multiple times during a feeding (feed both sides and then return to the first side again), do lots of skin to skin and wear your baby as much as you can, and basically let the baby guide you right now.

As for how hungry he is, treat it as a growth spurt. In my online breastfeeding program “Simply Breastfeeding,” I have an entire chapter on growth spurts and what to do when your breastfed baby is going through one. These are times during the breastfeeding journey when you actually are not making enough and it is very NORMAL! These are times when you baby is growing and your body is attempting to catch up with your baby’s needs for more milk. The only way that it can do that is to respond to your baby’s signal of hunger, which is what happens when they start feeding very frequently. During these times, allowing your baby to nurse as long as they want and as often as they want for a few days is the answer. With frequent and “on demand” feedings, your body will kick in very quickly and start to get the message, “Oh…MAKE MORE MILK!”

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Regardless of the reason in the beginning or whether the initial supplementation may or may not have been necessary, it does not mean that you need to continue doing it indefinitely. For most mothers it is a lack of understanding about how much their baby’s need to be eating, how much and how fast they need to be gaining, and how the body responds and makes more milk that causes them to continue to supplement unnecessarily and eventually add more formula which further decreases their breast milk supply. What may start off as a true need under certain circumstances is then replaced with an issue that has been unknowingly created and unnecessarily continued.

Another important thing to understand is that babies should not be weighed weekly. This is huge! When moms and dads ask me, “How much should a baby be gaining every week?” The answer I give is somewhere between 4-8 ounces per week on average. The key point here being, ON AVERAGE. That means, under normal circumstances you are not bringing your baby in every single week to weighed. This is because one week you may only have a weight gain of 2 ounces and you are going to think something is wrong. Then the next week your baby is going to gain 10 ounces cause they had a growth spurt. This is why weighing your baby every week and monitoring so closely can cause you to think your baby is not growing appropriately and cause unnecessary supplementation.

The best way to monitor that your baby is doing well is to keep watching for those wet and poopy diapers, looking out for all the signs that I talk about in my DVD program on how to make sure your baby is getting enough milk, and weighing your baby monthly.

So after a month’s time you’ll go back to weigh the baby, you divide that gain by four weeks, and now you can say to yourself, “Okay, did they gain somewhere between 4-8 ounces a week on average?” If the answer is yes then you’re pretty much in the right spot. Babies grow at their own pace and we cannot be too rigid with this. Breastmilk is just too important to sacrifice that quickly. Just as a baby that truly needs to be supplemented must be addressed and few for their well being, your breastmilk supply and breastfeeding relationship is critical to their short and long term health and must also be protected and supported appropriately.

I recommend that you go back and watch my program and pay particular attention to the chapter on growth spurts. Work with your pediatrician and treat this time just like you would a normal growth spurt. With the right support, patience and understanding of what is normal, I believe you will be on your way to exclusively breastfeeding your little one in no time!

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Find more from Shari supporting your parenting journey including infant feeding on Facebook, or her classes at My Baby Experts©

Thanks for EvenFlo Feeding, Inc.’s generous support for families in the their feeding journey.

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Shari Criso 2016

For over 23 years, Shari Criso has been a Registered Nurse, Certified Nurse Midwife, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, nationally recognized parenting educator, entrepreneur, and most importantly, loving wife and proud mother of two amazing breastfed daughters. You can find her on Facebook or her own personal site.
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