Peer Support and a history of World Breastfeeding Week- Celebrate WBW 2013

this post made possible by the generous sponsorship of Fairhaven Health.

Nations around the world continue to make progress in terms of normalizing and supporting breastfeeding, whether in public or in the privacy of a mother’s home. Last week, Guam senator Aline Yamashita introduced a bill to protect the right of women to breastfeed in public or private spaces. In fact, most U.S. states and territories have passed some sort of law regarding breastfeeding.

This is exactly what the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action had hoped for when they launched World Breastfeeding Week in 1992. Each year, World Breastfeeding Week celebrates women’s breastfeeding rights from August 1-7. The global campaign aims to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding, while raising public awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding. 

This year’s theme is all about breastfeeding peer support. Approximately 77 percent of moms begin breastfeeding after delivery, however only 47 percent of moms continue to breastfeed at six months old, and by 12 months old only 25 percent of moms breastfeed their infants. Community support after delivery is essential to successful and sustained breastfeeding. Traditionally, families provided this support but with the global community available via the world wide web, women can seek peer support from Internet communities including The Leaky Boob.

To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week 2013 and breastfeeding peer support The Leaky Boob is hosting The Ultimate World Breastfeeding Week giveaway along with The Boob Group, and the San Diego Breastfeeding Center. Two lucky winners, announced August 8, will each receive an enormous gift basket of breastfeeding support products including teas, nipple salves, breast pads, baby carriers, and much, much more. Last year’s Ultimate World Breastfeeding Week giveaway had over 19,000 entries and the sponsors anticipate having even more this year!

In keeping with the theme of the week, Fairhaven Health plans to host contests and giveaways on their Belly to Breast Facebook page where Facebookers can enter to win natural breastfeeding support products like:

  • Nursing Blend: A doctor-designed breastfeeding supplement that offers optimal vitamin and mineral support for breastfeeding women, and helps increase milk production.
  • Nipple Nurture Balm: An organic, all-natural nipple balm designed to soothe, protect, and heal sore or cracked nipples.
  • Fenugreek: A concentrated, all-natural Fenugreek supplement designed to help increase breast milk production.
  • Nursing Time Tea: A natural nursing tea to help increase breast milk quality and quantity.
  • Nursing Postnatal: A comprehensive postnatal multivitamin designed to meet the unique nutritional needs to breastfeeding women.

World Breastfeeding Week also brings The Big Latch On, a global event where women and their children come together to breastfeed for one minute. The goal of the event is to break the record for the number of women breastfeeding simultaneously. Last year’s record to break: 8,862 women and their children. Valuing supporting breastfeeding mothers, Fairhaven Health is working with numerous local organizations to supply breastfeeding support products for Big Latch On events across the country and encouraging online events and interactions that raise awareness of breastfeeding around the world.

For a full list of this year’s events, visit worldbreastfeedingweek.org.

About World Breastfeeding Week

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) was formed in 1991 to act on the Innocenti Declaration passed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The declaration recognizes that breastfeeding is a unique process that provides ideal nutrition to infants, contributes to healthy infant growth and development, reduces disease, contributes to women’s health, provides social and economic benefits, and provides women with a sense of satisfaction. World Breastfeeding Week, launched on August 1, 1992, is WABA’s main global campaign to support and promote breastfeeding, and commemorates the adoption of the Innocenti Declaration.

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The Milky Way- Every Mother Has a Story

I am happy to share this guest post from Chantal Monal, RN MA IBCLC.  Chantal partnered with friend Jennifer Davidson, RN BSN IBCLC to produce a film about breastfeeding, society, and the incredible power of breastmilk.  The Milky Way film reveals the real power vested in women’s bodies and how that affects their babies – even the tiniest of preemies.  Chantal shares how breastmilk and babies at the breast make a difference for preemies in Berlin.  The film is in the final stages of production and the film making team needs more funds to finish their post production work.  You can be a part of their project and supporting others in reaching their breastfeeding goals by helping to normalize breastfeeding through participating in the kickstarter campaign to finish the film.  It ends at midnight on July 10, 2013, so only two days to help them reach their goal.  Your pledge will make a difference.

milky way collage

The nursing mother is truly a phenomenon. Not only does her body produce milk for her baby that is specifically designed for her baby(ies), the milk is alive with immune qualities, stem cells, growth factors, and much more, but her body provides habitat for her very immature and needy baby. Placing a baby on its mama’s chest immediately after birth triggers primitive neonatal reflexes that express the breastfeeding program that is vested in the baby.  Lying skin-to-skin activates a feeding sequence that results in a baby finding and often self-latching to its mother’s nipple.

At its mother’s breast, a baby is at home. This is where all things begin. Our babies learn to socialize, their brains develop, their little bodies learn to regulate temperature, breathing, and heart rate, and their physiology stabilizes. All this happens on the chest.

Babies who are kept in a mother-environment, with baby-wearing and co-sleeping, learn to synchronize their breathing and heartbeat with their mothers’.  All babies fall out of synchronicity periodically, but babies who are nursing and in close proximity to their mothers, develop the ability to re-synchronize, which is a protective factor against SIDS. These babies become very competent and self-reliant. They know where their food comes from and can navigate in the dark to their food source. How many of us have awakened to a latched-on baby?  That is a baby who feels secure and in control of his environment.

This stabilization and development is illustrated beautifully with premature babies. The Milky Way team traveled to Berlin to film this phenomenon in action with preemies in a very special NICU. We had the opportunity to film the power of Kangaroo Mother Care, which is care at the mother’s breast. Instead of a room full of incubators, where mothers have to sit in a chair and visit their baby, this hospital provides a room for each family to stay with their baby for its entire stay.

Each room has a bed big enough for mom and dad, a warmer and incubator, and some comfy chairs. There is a large common room provided as well, where parents can gather with their families and have a meal, or just visit.

The mothers keep their fragile babies on their chest for about 19 hours a day. They are taught to hand express colostrum, which they give through a feeding tube until their baby can latch and suck. Babies are at the breast frequently, nuzzling and licking until they naturally begin to suckle. In this setting, the authority is with the mother and father, the medical and nursing staff are there to “stand behind” the parents and to assist them as they are the primary care-givers of their own baby. This kind of care results in 3 pound babies being discharged home, fully breastfeeding, with confident parents.

MOM PREEMIE the Milky Way Film

The Milky Way is a film to empower mothers. The Milky Way reveals the extraordinary power vested in women’s bodies and how that affects their babies – even the tiniest of preemies. Nursing is so much more than food. The profound capacity inherent in a woman’s body has been ignored, overlooked and dismissed for far too long.  It is time that we collectively see nursing as the profound act that it is and place value on the product, the process, and recognize the mother as a powerful phenomenon.

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 Here at The Leaky Boob we know that every mother has a story and believe that sharing those stories provides mom-to-mom support in the wide variety of breastfeeding journeys women experience today.

We want to hear your story.  Share in the comments your breastfeeding story.

Did hearing the stories of others encourage and inspire you?

Did sharing your own story help someone else?

Has breastfeeding helped you to develop confidence and see how your body is a powerful phenomenon?

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Fear and Breastfeeding in Las Vegas

Breastfeeding is not porn, nudity, or obscene The Leaky Boob

Since starting The Leaky Boob 2.5 years ago I have said and photographed things I would never have imagined doing before.  I’ve said things such as “breastfeeding is not about sex, it’s about feeding a baby.”  Nothing like stating the obvious.  Most recently was texting my husband “do you know where that nudie card is I brought back from Vegas?  I need it.”  Yep, I brought a nudie card home from Vegas.

Say “Las Vegas” and most of us conjure up images of slot machines, black jack tables, show girls, stripers, booze, and buffets with obscene quantities of food.  Sex and money seem to flow freely.  Clothing requirements are little more than sequins, triangles, stars, and stilettos for women, the range is a little more diverse for men.

Say “mommy conference” and you probably picture babies in strollers or carriers, baby toys, tennis shoes, snack cups, and a chatty group of women.  Breastmilk and cheerios seem to flow freely.  Clothing requirements range from diapers and onesies or soft outfits in bright colors for the smaller ones in the crowd and something comfortable covered in spit up for the adults.

Say “mommy conference in Las Vegas” and you might get a little confused.

However, as much as it may seem like a collision of 2 very different worlds, the MommyCon conference in Las Vegas hosted at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino was anything but confused.  It was fun, vibrant, and sometimes a little comical (I doubt Vegas has ever seen so many babies in carriers going through their casinos).  The Flamingo Hotel did a great job securing extra cribs for the influx of young guests and the conference area hosted workshops like dancing with your baby and it didn’t even involve a pole.  While there was room for improvement, the host hotel handled the influx of moms and dads with babies and young children well and the juxtaposition wasn’t as weird as I anticipated.  I was thrilled to be there as a speaker and enjoyed my first ever trip to Las Vegas.  It seemed appropriate that I was in Vegas speaking about Sex, Lies, Parenting, and the Rest.  I had a great time with my fellow speakers and meeting the attendees of the event.

I have breastfed 6 children now, in all different settings, sometimes covered and sometimes not.  Over time, however, I stopped covering completely thanks to babies that fought the cover, me realizing that I don’t show much when I feed my baby, and eventually a belief that covering was actually hindering breastfeeding for some women either because they didn’t see others doing it or because they couldn’t navigate breastfeeding in public with a cover.  In all my breastfeeding in public experience, I have never, not once, been asked to cover or leave.  There have been times I thought I received disapproving looks or was shunned for feeding but I’ve never experienced any kind of real negativity about my feeding my baby.  Actually, I’ve experienced several positive and affirming exchanges as I fed my babies in public, more people expressing support than disapproval.  Today I’m experienced and confident when I feed my babies, well practiced and well informed about my baby’s right to eat.  Even now though, when I need to feed my baby in a public setting I will have a moment of anticipatory nervousness as though I expect something to happen.

Flamingo hotel

Feeding Sugarbaby at the Tropical Breezes cafe at the Flamingo in Las Vegas

Except in Vegas at a mommy conference that highlighted breastfeeding and where I was speaking because I created “The Leaky Boob.”  It didn’t even occur to me that someone could have a problem with me breastfeeding there, of all places.

Following my first talk in the morning of Friday, January 4, 2013, I met up with my friend, Sue, who was helping take care of my 8 month old daughter, who I call Sugarbaby, while I spoke.  We decided to have lunch in the Flamingo’s Tropical Breeze Cafe so I could feed my baby and myself before speaking at another session after the break.  Wearing a simple button up shirt and a Rumina Nursingwear tank with Bamboobies breastpads (I may be The Leaky Boob but I didn’t want to leak during my talks), I fed my hungry baby shortly after we were seated while we skimmed the menu.  She was hungry and had missed me so she got down to business pretty quickly and stayed focused.  Our server brought us our drinks and a random cup of coffee neither of us ordered and took our food order.  As we sat joking about the random cup of coffee and waiting for our food (I think he thought I looked like I could use some caffeine), a lovely woman in a suit approached us.  She smiled and asked us how we were then very politely requested that I use a cover, nodding in the general direction of my baby at my breast.

People, I laughed.  I couldn’t help it.  I laughed and asked her to repeat herself.

After confirming that she was indeed asking me to cover while I fed my baby I returned her smile, barely suppressed my laughter, and informed her of my legal right to breastfeed my baby anywhere my baby and I have the right to be, covered or not.  (Do you know the laws where you are?  This helpful resource compiled by You Can Breastfeed Here is a great place to start to find out.)  Her smile waining ever so slightly and her eyes widening ever so noticeably, she gently, though firmly, informed me that I could do whatever I wanted to do but that if I covered I would be making others feel more comfortable as there had been four tables that complained about what I was doing.

I laughed again.  Harder.  “They do know they are in Vegas, right?” I asked her through my laughter.  Because this is what is on the sidewalks and shoved into the hands of those walking on the strip:

Vegas Nudie card

She looked around and I kept looking at her, still chuckling at the irony of this situation.  She knows that just before walking into her cafe I walked past a platform where that very evening, like every night, a woman exposing far more than I was while feeding my baby, dances with moves intending to sexually entice.  She knows that the sidewalks in front of the hotel are littered with photo cards of naked women with tiny stars on their nipples.  She knows that this very hotel advertises a burlesque show featuring breasts (bare), butts, and spread eagle moves on a video that loops endlessly in each guest elevator.  She knows that the very people that complained have seen all that and probably more in the 10 minutes before they sat at their table.  I know she was just trying to do her job.  I know she had no idea that there was actually a law stating I had the right to breastfeed anywhere my baby and I were legally permitted to be.  I know that in her line of work making the customer happy is a delicate balance when one customer may be making another uncomfortable.  I know that in that moment she was wishing I had never walked into her cafe.  I wondered if news coverage of irate breastfeeding moms flashed through her mind.

When she looked back at me I felt sorry for her.  She was probably a mom, I don’t know, but she wasn’t trying to make my life hard, nor was I trying to complicate her job.  In her mind it was simple, I could cover.  In my mind it was simple as well, putting the comfort of others over my child’s right to eat without a blanket on her head just wasn’t ok.  Her smile gone but her face still pleasant she stated again that I could do what I want but it would really help if I covered.  I thanked her and kindly told her that I would continue feeding my baby as I was.

Note that she didn’t yell at me, she never touched my baby or me, she did not call me names, she did not go over to the tables that complained and loudly inform them that I wouldn’t comply, she didn’t ask me to leave, and she didn’t threaten me in any way.

My friend and I laughed once she walked away, we could hardly talk as we shook with laughter.  Jamie Greyson, TheBabyGuyNYC,  joined us for lunch and we all talked about what had just happened.  This was a big deal but I didn’t want to do much about it before giving the hotel and casino the opportunity to make things right.  As I had another session coming up there wasn’t much I could do in the moment but finish feeding my daughter, eat my lunch, and tweet about the irony of the situation.  Jamie and I both shared the story on Twitter, tagged Flamingo, ordered our food, and discussed the entire situation over our meal before heading to my next session.  We all agreed that how I was feeding Sugarbaby at the moment showed far less than the poster outside the cafe and the cards handed out on the Vegas streets.

Vegas showgirl and breastfeeding mom

Poster outside cafe, me feeding Sugarbaby inside cafe.

Here’s where it gets most interesting.  In the 2.5 years I’ve been running The Leaky Boob I have watched how companies handle such fumbles when they receive public scrutiny for harassing a breastfeeding mothers and precious few navigate the rocky terrain well.  That very weekend Hollister Co was facing a national nurse-in protesting their handling of one of their store managers humiliating a Houston woman for breastfeeding in their Galleria store.  Over a week later and the company still hasn’t responded adequately.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Las Vegas hotel and casino but was pleasantly surprised to discover tweets from them responding not only to mine and Jamie’s tweets regarding the situation but individual responses to each of our followers that tweeted Flamingo about the situation as well.  It wasn’t long before I had a direct exchange with Flamingo on Twitter, in direct message, over emails, and then a phone call.  The representatives of the Flamingo asked if they could meet with me before I left and they publicly informed Twitter that they would be working with me to make it right.

My day was full of events and meetings so I was unavailable until Saturday, just before I had to leave.  It would have been easy to brush me off on a Saturday but instead Scott Farber Director of Food Operations, met with me personally Saturday morning to apologize, let me know that he had a meeting with his staff on Friday and informed them of Nevada state law permitting a woman to breastfeed her child where ever she has the legal right to be, and instructing his staff that should customers complain about a woman breastfeeding again they would not address the mother but would work with the customers that complained.  Kind and genuine, Scott laughed with me at the irony of being in Vegas and asked to cover.  Scott offered to make it up to me with a free meal and more and was genuinely concerned about how I was after the experience.  He shared that Estella, the manager, was horrified that she had misstepped in saying anything to me and he extended her apology as well as I didn’t have time to meet with her.  We discussed how the Flamingo could better welcome families and some changes that could be made to do so well.  The possibility of me returning to train their staff and sister hotels to consult with them on how to be set apart in Las Vegas as a family friendly destination came up.  These weren’t the actions of a company that wanted to embarrass their customer families, these were the actions of a company that cared to stand apart and understands the value of doing things right.

Yes, the cafe manager should have been aware of the law prior to asking me to cover but it isn’t a well-known law and probably not something they would have even anticipated needing to know.  Now that they are aware, however, they are responding and preparing to not make the same mistake again.  Instead of ignoring or responding heatedly to the situation, the Flamingo has become a model for other companies that find themselves in what could be a PR disaster.  A company that will receive my repeat business because of how well they handled their mistake.

The problem is a simple fix for the historic Las Vegas hotel and casino and they are well on their way to making it right.  The experience reflects more on society as a whole though.  That the most scandalous sight for some Las Vegas visitors was a baby eating is a little mind boggling.  Thankfully, I’m not easily intimidated, am informed on the law, am more than happy to help educate, and in the end I’m glad this experience happened to me because I believe through it The Leaky Boob and the Flamingo hotel and casino can work together to better support breastfeeding moms be they in Las Vegas or on the other side of the world.  If it happened to someone else it could have greatly damaged their breastfeeding relationship or intimidated them to not risk leaving their home setting them up for postpartum depression and extreme isolation.  Hopefully, by raising awareness others can become informed of the laws and their right to feed their baby and more companies will work to educate their employees on how to better support breastfeeding mothers and more and more mothers won’t have to be afraid to breastfeed their babies in Vegas or anywhere else.

Vegas call card compared to breastfeeding

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 The Flamingo Hotel and Casino has asked me for tips and suggestions as to how their staff could handle breastfeeding situations in the future in a way that would be supportive and informed.  

What would be your suggestions?  

What tips would you give the employees that may encounter a breastfeeding pair and possible complaints from other guests?

_______________________________

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My Mommy Bliss

I peeked around the corner into where I heard the sounds of baby babble.  She had been on the look out for me, immediately rolling over onto her tummy and smiling tentatively.  Stepping into the room I greeted her softly and she laid her head down and smiled, a shy lopsided smile.  She was happy to see me and I her.  We had been apart for several hours.  Now, after a long nap, we were finally reconnecting.  I told her I missed her, she lifted her head and kicked excitedly, a grin filling her face showing off the 2 tiny white teeth that protruded from her bottom gums.  Both legs kicked the bed, arms flapping rapidly, broken only by the super baby pose and intense grins at me.  Overwhelmed with excitement she buried her face in the mattress, her body tense with an excited delight.  I leaned in, nuzzling her cheek and kissing her neck and she squealed glee, a squawking sound that dissolved into a giggle and ended with a sigh.  My whole being sighed too.  This was right.  This was mommy bliss.  She rolled toward me and I kissed the top of her head, breathing in her intoxicating smell, treasuring the velvety softness of her peach fuzz.  Her diaper still dry, I climbed onto our bed to snuggle and feed her.  Expectation and excitement mingled as she realized she was hungry and her kicking intensified, she began to fuss lightly.  Her hungry sound.  Little hands opened and closed, grabbing at the bed.  Her eyes watched my every move, anticipation building, I was not moving fast enough now.  As I got comfortable, I encouraged her to make her way to me but desperation set in quickly, we had been parted too long and she needed to eat now, not a second later.  Drawing her to me and lifting my shirt, I watched her calm with knowing.  More skilled at this than anything else, she was like a artist at work, anxious and itching to get started, smooth and calm in the moment of delivery.  Her mouth enveloped my nipple, her hand rested on my breast.  Laying side by side our breathing synched and I watched as she got in the zone, filling her tummy with my milk.  My milk let down quickly to her masterful technique and soon she hummed contentedly between swallows.  Finally she lifted her eyes to my face and I smiled my own lopsided smile at being noticed again.  Still in the zone, she held my gaze, never interrupting her pace as she satiated her hunger.  Her soft hums felt like a lullaby and a content relaxed sleepiness came over us both and I closed my eyes.  A contented gurgle beckoned me to open my eyes and I looked down to see her gazing up at me, no longer latched to my breast.  When our eyes met her face relaxed into the lopsided smile and she raised a hand to my face.  Staring and smiling, we stroked each other’s face, savoring the contact.  She told me about her day and I murmured about how I missed her.  Contentment in this moment of perfection clouded the reality of dirty dishes, unanswered emails, and a thousand other tasks requiring my attention. There was just her and me.

 

This is right.  This is my mommy bliss.

 

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I don’t love breastfeeding

This past March, as I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with Sugarbaby, 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 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.

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:

Swing by the wall, you’re needed here. 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 me 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.

Today I’m breastfeeding my 6th baby as I type this.  My feelings about breastfeeding have changed, the skin-crawling, teeth gritting feeling is gone and while I still can’t say that I personally love it I truly and deeply love 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.  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.  As my baby grins 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 enjoys so much.  I will continue breastfeeding for my baby girl 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 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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Breastfeeding, the ICU, support, and Facebook- Support that keeps on giving

Have you seen this image?

 

When Serena Tremblay responded to a call to share breastfeeding photos on The Leaky Boob Facebook wall, she didn’t think she was sharing anything extraordinary as she sat at the computer with both her sons, Gooney Bear-17 months  and Gorgeous-3 years, with her and her husband making dinner.  It was the first breastfeeding photo she had of Gooney Bear and she just wanted to share.  Including a bit of explanation, the Alberta, Canada mom celebrated her breastfeeding success with the community on The Leaky Boob:

“A nurse helping my 1 day old son nurse while I was in the ICU following his birth. At this point I was a quadriplegic and could only feel his soft hair and skin when he was placed by my neck to cuddle. Breastfeeding is the reason he was allowed to stay with me in the hospital for 5 months while I lived on the physical rehabilitation unit learning how to walk again (complications from when he was born). It’s amazing how much baby stuff you can fit in a hospital room. We are still breastfeeding strong at 16 months! If this is not a success story I don’t know what is :D”

Within minutes there were hundreds of responses and within hours, thousands of shares.  The photo went viral, moving across the internet as an inspirational image and celebrating not just one woman’s breastfeeding success story against all odds, but celebrating every breastfeeding success story for all women.

Even if that photo captured Gooney Bear’s one and only feeding at the breast, this is a breastfeeding success story.  As it is, however, Gooney Bear is now 17 months old and still breastfeeding and these weren’t the only issues Serena and Gooney Bear had to overcome.  Together the pair battled tongue tie for 9 weeks, needing to use a nipple shield, dairy, soy, and gluten sensitivities, and all that on top of the 5 months Serena was hospitalized.

The magnitude of attention sharing this one photo received was a bit overwhelming for Serena.  To her, while this photo documents a personal success story and extraordinary time in her own life, it is also something that just is.  We don’t always realize how our stories, our struggles and triumphs, can impact someone else.  People were so inspired by Serena’s photo; moms told her they were getting ready to quit breastfeeding due to difficulties and her photo encouraged them to find a way to keep going.

“Someone else is in tears, not sure they can keep going, but they see my picture and they think they can do it, they can get through what they are struggling with.”  Said Serena when she and I talked on the phone last week.

The result of a rare birth injury, Serena was fully quadriplegic after the birth of her second son on October 19, 2010.  Her memory of everything following his birth is full of different events but lots of holes and no sequential order.  She was intubated, lucid, in the ICU, and could only feel sensation from her neck up.  The nurses and her husband would place Gooney Bear in the crook of her neck so he could snuggle and so she could feel him at least a little.

Nobody really knew what to expect for Serena’s recovery.  She regained the use of her arms on day 2 and finally saw Gorgeous again for the first time on the 24th, 5 days after the birth of his little brother.

“One of the hardest moments I’ve ever gone through, you know?  When he walked into the room, it felt like he was shy and didn’t know me anymore.  He was 22 months at that time.  After a little bit he came and sat on the bed with me and had a snuggle.  It was very hard.”  She shared.

There’s no doubt Serena Tremblay is an incredibly strong woman.  Fighting an uphill battle with her body, she never gave up.  But she says that’s not how she got through that difficult time.

So how did she get through it?  In talking with Serena one main theme emerged: support.  Her husband.  The nurses.  Her family.  The other patients on the rehabilitation floor when she moved there.  Family members of other patients.  The hospital volunteers.  The lactation consultant.  How did she get through it?  With support.  Lots and lots of support.

In the face of not knowing what was going to happen to his wife, Serena’s husband, a heavy duty mechanic, stayed with her and then with Gooney Bear.  When she was in the ICU, he slept in her bed on the maternity ward so he could be with their baby.  He advocated for breastfeeding for the pair and he and the nurses took turns helping their precious baby boy latch.  Without asking, he took pictures, a bunch of pictures and that’s how the first feed was captured on film, something for which Serena is very thankful.

Support.

The nurses on the maternity ward went above and beyond, the first nurse coming down to hand express Serena so her little boy could have his mom’s colostrum that first day.  There is much love and gratitude in Serena’s voice as she speaks of her nurses, they were heros that got her through every day.  From that time hand expressing her milk, the nurses just kept bringing the baby over on demand, whenever he was hungry, to the ICU to breastfeed until her husband or grandmother could help her or she could do it herself.

Support.

Never once did she hear anyone say “why don’t you just put him on the bottle.”  People said that, people that weren’t involved, but not the nursing staff.

Support.

It’s clear to Serena not only how she got through, but how she went on to have a positive and ongoing successful breastfeeding experience with Gooney Bear.  ”Support, support, support.  I’d like to narrow it down and say it was one person but it was everyone.  Why am I successful?  Probably only because of support and because I was determined, I just wanted to do it. Gooney Bear was able to stay with me in the hospital because I chose to breastfeed.  If we had given him bottles they would have sent him home with my husband.”

At a time when nurses, doctors, and hospitals often get a bad rap about providing insufficient breastfeeding support and sometimes down right sabotaging breastfeeding relationships, Serena’s story not only offers encouragement for moms encountering breastfeeding struggles or indeed as a testimony to the strength of the human spirit; her story also gives hope for what true breastfeeding support in the hospital can look like.  Serena’s hospital didn’t realize at the time, but they’ve gone on to provide breastfeeding support extending well beyond this one patient.

When her tube was removed and she was finally able to speak, Serena refused to say anything until she was holding Gooney Bear: she had yet to tell him she loved him.

“I wouldn’t speak to the nurses because I wanted my first words to be ‘I love you Gooney Bear.”

Through out her 5 month hospital stay, ICU for 4 days, maternity ward for 1 month, and the rehabilitation unit for 4 months; Serena was able to keep Gooney Bear with her, breastfeeding on demand and pumping for him to have expressed milk while she was at one of her regular therapy appointments.  Managing her way around the ward and even the whole hospital, Serena says how it’s amazing how much you can do in a wheelchair with a nursing pillow and a baby on your lap.  Often a breastfeeding baby.  During that time she dealt with many of the common issues breastfeeding moms face.  Once a nurse pulled a double shift and helped care for Gooney Bear during the night so she could work to get rid of a stubborn clogged duct before it turned into mastitis.  Even for the regular every day challenges of parenting life she had support, the nurses and other patients or family of patients would take turns holding Serena’s little guy so she could eat, after all, who would turn down cuddling a precious baby?

Today many of those relationships continue, their support and all that Serena and Gooney Bear gave back formed bonds of friendship that last.  Friends from the rehabilitation unit remain in their lives.  Serena and her family go back and visit the hospital staff regularly and they are all happy to see them, often crying at the progress Serena has made since she left the hospital over a year ago.  Her recovery has been remarkable and though it’s ongoing she’s accomplished so much and doesn’t take for granted what she can do.  Their family is like any other family, they like to do things every normal family likes to do, “we just have to do them a little differently” Serena shares.  Their friends understand, they were there, they have seen where they’ve come from, they supported them in the journey and in the ongoing part of that journey today.

One of the nurses that helped Serena so much is expecting her first baby soon.  Serena is looking forward to being able to support her now, encourage her in her own breastfeeding and parenting journey.  Understanding how crucial support is, Serena is already there.

“It was a horrible thing and I wish it hadn’t happen – but it did and so many good things came about from it… if my story can help one mom to get support, receive support, or give support then it was worth it.”  And so Serena shares her photo and her story.

Sometimes I am asked why people share breastfeeding photos on Facebook and other social media settings.  This is why.  It’s celebrating our personal triumphs- whatever they may be; sharing a special moment, encouraging the global community of mothers by normalizing breastfeeding, inspiring others, and giving support.  Thousands of people have been inspired and encouraged by one photo with a simple caption.  Our stories make a difference and if a picture is worth a thousand words then sharing breastfeeding photos is like breastfeeding support spreading exponentially around the world.  In the global community we’ve moved on to via the internet, sharing our photos and stories online can often be the start of support for someone.  Just ask Serena, you never know how one image can make a difference.

 

My gratitude to Serena for being so brave in sharing the original photo in the first place and then to be willing to open up and share more of her story for my readers here.  All photos in this post are the property of Serena Tremblay and used with permission.  To protect the privacy of her family, Serena opted to use nicknames for her children and as the details regarding the birth injury were not important to the point of the story, she asked that they not be included in this article.  With an open medical investigation into Serena’s case, we appreciate your respect of her privacy on these details.  ~Jessica 

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Dear Nurse Julie- a letter to my labor and delivery nurse

Dear Nurse Julie,

You were in my life for about two and a half days 13 years ago, I’d never met you before nor have I seen you since.  It may have been brief but you made a huge difference in my life and I owe you a deep debt of gratitude.

I had prepared so much for the birth, read everything I could get my hands on including an OB text book, took a childbirth education class, and practiced Bradley method relaxation for weeks at home with The Piano Man.  We knew what we wanted for our birth and after a complicated pregnancy, we were prepared to fight for it.  When I went into labor at 41 weeks and 4 days we were ready.  The Piano Man was an amazing advocate for me, actively intercepting anyone that entered the room and questioning every procedure (no enema!) while helping me relax and focus on the work of birthing our daughter.  Together, he and I made a great labor and birthing team.  I’m pleased to say that 5 babies later and one on the way, we still do.

Our bags were packed, there was film in the camera (remember that?  Cameras that used film?), we were so ready to have a baby.  Except for one thing: we had done nothing to prepare for breastfeeding.  The thought hadn’t even occurred to us.  We knew that was how we were going to feed out baby once we had her in our arms but we read nothing, took no classes, and never even thought to see if there was anything we needed to know before breastfeeding.  Both of our mothers had breastfed, we knew a few friends that had so really, how hard could it be?

All our nurses were nice enough and the birth was mostly amazing with some traumatic experiences.  Earth Baby was born at 6.39am and we met you shortly after with the shift change.  Instantly I felt connected to you, your smile, your warmth, and your genuine congratulations on our baby as if you hadn’t seen hundreds of births and newborns every week.  After I was all stitched up, hydrated, and my blood loss dealt with you asked me an incredibly important question: “are you ready to breastfeed your baby?”

Nobody had mentioned it.  I knew it was in my chart because something I had read about birth plans suggested to ask for it to be put in my chart.  Still, you were the first to say anything about it.  Having just lost a lot of blood with a partially retained placenta and manual DNC, I was feeling weak and more tired than I had ever felt in my life.  Holding my baby, let alone breastfeeding her, completely wore me out.  Like a dear in headlights I told you yes, but only because I remembered that it was the plan.  Your response: “good, because she’s hungry and I think she’s ready to eat well for you” jarred me out of feeling my exhaustion and into the reality that my baby needed me to meet her needs.  I really was ready to feed my baby.

I don’t remember how long you stayed in my room but somehow, you made me feel like I was the only mom that needed your attention.  Perched on the side of my bed, you helped me get into a position I found comfortable, plumped plenty of pillows to support Earth Baby and I, encouraged me to drop the shoulder of the hospital gown, and talked me through latching Earth Baby for the first time.  Your encouragement for how well we were doing, what a healthy strong latch Earth Baby had, and suggestions for positions made me feel like not only could I breastfeed my baby, I already was and doing great!  You answered every one of my questions, no matter how basic or obvious the answer may have been, as though it was a pleasure to answer my important concerns with patience and care.  Even when Earth Baby was latched and I was comfortable, you stayed and chatted, telling me about your 2 boys, that you had breastfed your second one but not the first, and telling me about how you were drawn to OB nursing and how you loved helping moms.

It showed.

Once I was moved to the postpartum wing, you continued to visit me.  You’re ongoing support regarding everything I was experiencing from peeing for the first time after giving birth to changing my baby’s diaper to breastfeeding helped grow my confidence that I could, in fact, take this baby home and not kill either of us.  When I told you my nipples were hurting you showed me how to position my baby’s chin lower on my breast so she took a big mouthful of nipple.  When I was still drained from the birth, you explained different positions and helped me practice using them.  Constantly considerate, you never touched me without asking and receiving my permission first and even then you rarely handled my breast choosing instead to carefully and patiently explain how I could do it myself.  I can’t even begin to tell you how far that went in helping me not be afraid or feel strange about my own body.  From the bottom of my heart I thank you for that gift, it has remained with me to today, growing stronger over the years.

When the grumpy nurse, who’s name I can’t recall because for the last 13 years I’ve referred to her as “grumpy nurse,” told me I was starving my baby because my breasts were empty and not meeting my baby’s needs, I cried.  A lot.  Earth Baby had lost over a pound in just a matter of 2 days and the grumpy nursery nurse that made me cry told me I’d never be sent home with my baby if I didn’t agree to give her formula.  Oh the things I know now!  All those fluids we had in labor… but back then I had now idea.  I caved.  Still weak from the blood loss, recovering from a 4th degree tear, and afraid my baby was hurting I agreed to a bottle of formula.  My heart ached, I never meant to starve my baby and my fears were confirmed, I was already failing as a mother.  She whisked my baby away, a satisfied smile on her face as she told me I was making a good choice for the good of my baby, and ran off with my daughter to feed her the bottle of formula.  I sobbed.  You came in shortly after and was surprised Earth Baby wasn’t with me.  When I told you why I saw the storm clouds gather in your normally incredibly friendly eyes and you told me you’d be back.  What I didn’t know is that you must have marched out to that nurses station, called our pediatrician, asked him about the situation, advocated for our breastfeeding relationship, asked him to call the nursery, and headed down there to get my baby back for me.  When you walked in about 15 minutes later with grumpy nursery nurse and my daughter, I had already spoken with our pediatrician who called me to assure me our baby was going to be fine breastfeeding and at this point did not need any formula.  He told me that he had spoken with you and trusted you that Earth Baby and I were doing great breastfeeding, that my milk was coming in, and that I was already a pro.  I cried again.  Someone believed in me.

Somewhere I still have the picture of you and I and Earth Baby just before we were discharged.  My face is red from crying having just gotten Earth Baby back.  You had told me that we were going to be fine, that I was a natural, that Earth Baby was lucky to have me as her mom, and that you enjoyed working with me.  That’s what you told me.  Some many had dismissed me as a young mom and at 20 I was, but you stuck with me respectfully teaching me as though my age was of no consequence.  What you taught me without directly saying so was that I could feed my baby, my body was amazing, I didn’t need to be afraid of my breasts, and I could advocate for myself and my baby.  My husband believed in me but I knew he was just as clueless as I was.  But you?  You were not only an experienced mother, you were a nurse that saw mother after mother with new babies and you believed in me.  If you said I could do it, I probably really could.

Today, 13 years later, I owe a lot to you.  For starters, my breastfeeding relationship with Earth Baby which lasted a year and then extending on to 4 (now almost 5!) babies.  Thanks to you, today I now help support other mothers with their birthing and breastfeeding journeys.  Thank you for supporting me even when I wasn’t sure how to support myself.  Thank you for giving me the courage to be the kind of mother I naturally was but was insecure about stepping into.  Thank you for being kind and encouraging when I was most vulnerable.  Thank you for making a difference in my life and the lives of my children.  You have touched more than you know.  I want to be like you and just love helping moms.

I hope it shows.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jessica Martin-Weber

The Leaky Boob

 

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Embracing “Beyond”

Those readers active on TLB Facebook page know that {Laura} is one of our admins there offering balanced support, information, and a reasonable but caring voice to our community.  I’m so grateful for all our admins and thrilled to bring you a guest post from Laura, sharing where she is in her breastfeeding journey.  Though we are separated by an ocean, I can related to Laura and feel as though she is indeed one of my breastfeeding sisters.  I hope you enjoy this post and please, take the time to leave a comment sharing your thoughts and where you are on your journey.

The World Health Organization recommends that “infants start breastfeeding within one hour of life, are exclusively breastfed for six months, with timely introduction of adequate, safe and properly fed complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond”.

When we started out, and for the first few weeks of M’s life, our goal was always “tomorrow”. We overcame initial difficulties (which I won’t go into here), tomorrows became todays became yesterdays,  and soon our goal was 6 months. In the blink of an eye 6 months came and went and we revised our goal to 1 year. This in turn passed, as did 18 months, and now we find ourselves a short few weeks from 2 years!

So, what next? Well, that would be “beyond”. Beyond is defined as “at or to the further side of”. Beyond can be something that women aspire to, and would love to reach. Beyond can be something that elicits negative reactions. Here in Ireland, beyond is RARE.

About 47% of infants here are breastfed on discharge from maternity care, and this already low figure drops to 22% at 3 months and less than 10% at 6 months.  I cannot even find statistics after 6 months!

A recent interview with a breastfeeding mother on national TV highlighted the often skewed public perception of “extended” breastfeeding.  This included the interviewer reading out the wrong HSE (Health Service) guidelines on breastfeeding! Friends of Breastfeeding (an Irish charity who can be found on Facebook) have details of this incident, and are also lodging an official complaint. When mainstream national media spread blatant misinformation, and barely stop short of ridicule, it’s no wonder that “beyond” is beyond comprehension for many.

So, we know that (here at least) “beyond” is rare, and not without controversy. Outside of the 2010 and 2011 breastfeeding challenges, I’ve only ever seen 2 other women NIP, and both of the children were infants. “Beyond” started off for me as an ideal and something we would most likely never attain. If pushed, I still could not answer why I thought that way, but I did.

However, there’s something about 2 years of tomorrows filled with closeness, love and nourishment that can change a girls mind. Not to mention the copious health and emotional benefits for both Mammy (n ; an Irish Mom,  pl mammies)  and baby that are *obviously* too numerous, complex and amazing to mention here!

At this stage, beyond does not feel like the big, gaping chasm it had seemed to be in those first few “tomorrow” weeks. It doesn’t seem much different to the transition from Tuesday to Wednesday. Each day my little lady is but one day older than the day before, and each day that she continues to find nourishment and comfort at my breast is a gift to us both. I feel so grateful to have made it to 2 years of breastfeeding my little girl. Here’s to beyond!

 

Laura Griffin lives in Limerick, Ireland with her partner of 10 years Keith and MooMoo (23 mos). She is a nurse and a student midwife who hopes to be an IBCLC one day.  She is a passionate advocate for breastfeeding and support for families, currently volunteering as a TLB admin on the Facebook page.  She dabbles in crochet while listening to Dream Theater in her limited spare time.
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Tips and Tricks from the pros- Moms and IBCLCs on biting and breastfeeding

My journey with biting and breastfeeding has been full of ups and downs.  I shared some of my story in this post about how I handled Earth Baby biting me by going against my instincts and flicking her on the cheek which led to a nursing strike and then weaning.  After that experience I began looking for more gentle ways to respond to my baby biting while at the breast and found some methods to be very effective for our family.

Biting comes up so often in conversations about nursing I decided to see what others would suggest to stop the behavior and save the boobs.  Sending out my question to the great world of Twitter, I got some great replies from some wonderful IBCLCs.

Practical tips for dealing with biting from tweeting IBCLCs

@NortoriousStar, Star Rodriquez, IBCLC (Facebook)

“I usually tell clients that their baby had to break suction to bite, so if they have a biter, to pull them off as soon as that happens. You have to pay attention and be fast, but removing the breast when they think about biting? That works well as negative reinforcement.  The fact that you’re removing the breast is negative reinforcement. Not all babies bite because they are done…and if they seem to want to nurse afterward, I usually waited a 2-3mins (and up to 5 if they actually bit.) It was a more gentle negative.”

@FeedYourBaby, Denise Altmen, IBCLC (website)

“Rub the baby’s gumline with a cold/damp textured washcloth using gentle pressure right before (breastfeeding).”

@NurtureNormally, Melissa, IBCLC (website)

“Take a break when it happens. Prevent w/pre-feeding cold.  Pre-feed cold: cooling/numbing baby’s gums with a damp, frozen cloth. Some moms make BM “popsicles” for this purpose.  Or make BM ice cubes and put them in a mesh feeder. Numbs gums so baby is more comfortable before a feed.  Also, some moms are able to begin to recognize when a feeding is ending (when most babes tend to bite) and end feed b4 bite.  Feeding slows significantly. Also, some babes tend to “quiver” their jaws before a bite and moms can use that as a signal.”

@Stylin_Momma, Katy Linda, IBCLC (website)

“I’d focus on comfort of the baby. Frozen wet wash clothes, ice cube in a mesh feeder, etc.  If you can get them comfortable before they nurse, they’re less likely to bite. Also, check latch, babies can change position to their comfort level when teething, and sometimes a quick adjustment can make a world of difference.”

@BreastfeedingNY, Deidre McLary, IBCLC (website)

“Swift, firm, consistent response: unlatch, say “NO, biting hurts”, put baby down, walk away.  Don’t reward behavior by keeping baby nursing. Take short break, separate. Baby learns biting = END of bfing session.

@DianaIBCLC, Dianna Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC (website)

“Press baby in, he’ll have to open mouth to breathe. Toddler? Firmly say ‘no bite!’ and put him on floor facing away.”

After sharing how flicking Earth Baby on the cheek to stop her biting led to early weaning at 10 months, I asked the Leakies on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page for their experience and any tips they had to gently stop biting.  Here’s a sample of their comments and you can find the original thread by following this link.

Leakies share how they handle biting

After sharing how flicking Earth Baby on the cheek to stop her biting led to early weaning at 10 months, I asked the Leakies on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page for their experience and any tips they had to gently stop biting.  Here’s a sample of their comments and you can find the entire original thread by following this link.

Kayla: We stop immediately.

Rose: Take him off (usually after forcing his teeth apart as he clamps rather than just bites) and sit him down next to me. I then tell him no I’m a stern voice and say ‘that hurts mummy, we don’t hurt people we love people.

Claire: my son never bit (thankfully) !! *phew*

Alishia: When mine bit me I would take her off and tell her in a calm but firm voice “no.”

Jennifer: My older daughter only bit me a few times, and never on purpose. I pulled back instinctively from the pain, but didn’t make a big deal out of it. She also bit my shoulder (hard!) when she was teething, so I know it was just her way of dealing with the discomfort of her teething.

Tonia: I say ouch, no bite and take the boob away, for 5-10 minutes and put the baby down. It only takes 2-3 times, I’ve done it with all 3 of my kids.

Jennifer: I just have to say, “OW!” and my little gal has a freak attack. People told me to flick her on the cheek and I was uhm, no. Poor little punkin’ doesn’t like just OW so I can’t imagine what flicking would do to her!

Tracy: My kids didn’t bite until they were older, over a year. so we ended the nursing session immediately when biting occurred.

Hayley: I’ve heard to pull their head into your boob and that is meant to work, never tried it as ds didn’t bite.

Kate: I found that my children mostly only bit me near the end of the feed when they were no longer hungry. So if they bit, that was the end of the feed for then. Worked great, hardly ever bitten.

Elle: I tell her no say ow & take it away for a few minutes. She only bites when she is sleeping now, and I’m learning when to take it out & when to leave it be.

Ashley: I tried the flick method and my demon seed laughed and bit me again. That’s what I deserve I guess.

Amy: I pop him off the boob, say “we don’t bite the boobie!” And give a break for a little while then try again… Still working on it.

Brandilynn: I slip my pinky between his gums so he can’t bite down any harder and tell him no biting mama, he can’t nurse if he’s going to bite me right now and take him off.

The Hook Up: my little one bit quite a few times. I always gasped (not on purpose, but it did startle him!) and firmly said NO and showed a mean face. He got it after a time or two, and there was no physical “punishment.”

Laura: I’ve always just yelped and yanked off for a minute. I’ve had to pry my little guy off a few times because he’s got a mean streak and will bite when he’s in a bad mood.

Kit: With my DD, what had it come and go fairly quickly was to detach her, sit her facing me, and tell her “no, we don’t bite. That hurts mommy and mommy doesn’t like it.” When she would pout, I’d give her a hug, tell her that she can’t do that because it hurts, and put let her relatch. I had to be consistent and it took a few weeks, but it worked, and it stopped completely. We nursed for another 4 months or so after our last biting incident.

Jessica: My method is to scream, “Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Kovi, please stop!” lol. I can’t say it’s terrible effective, but it’s the only thing I can manage to say/do at all.

Vicki: I used to put my finger in DD’s mouth to unlatch her, then progressed to pushing her head into my breast and now at 19 months saying no very very firmly and pinching her nose. She usually laughs at me though but only bites when teething now.

Leanne: I just yelped which startled baby enough to stop then relatch and carry on. If it happened again I would remove baby and put boob away for a minute. It did work eventually! Biting really hurts!

Karen: Well, first I yelped “Aaaahhh” and it startled him enough to break suction. Then I looked him in the eye and said, “Ouch, biting hurts!” Babies are usually empathetic enough to understand the sad and hurt look on Mom’s face.

Misty: When he bites I tell him no and sit him on the floor. He cries for a few seconds then I pick him up and let him nurse again. Normally, this stops the biting.

Tristen: I have put my son down, I also flicked his cheek and felt how wrong it was. I have had to step back and realize he only bit when dealing with teething pain so I addressed the teething pain and the biting all but stopped.

Jeanette: Sometimes I gently pinch my Daisy’s chin. She just laughs at me. If I ‘close up shop’ she gets mad and cries. I always, always give in and put her back on the boob. If she does it at night while we’re laying down, I know it just isn’t time for her to go to sleep yet. I haven’t really gotten her to stop biting (not that its that often) and I don’t think I will. I am just happy that we are still nursing strong at 16 months!

Nichole: When mine bit I gently pulled them off, placed my fingers to their lips and said no bite in a firm tone.

Jenna: I told both my daughters ‘ouch, that hurts’ and made a sad face. After a few times of that, they stopped. I think it was just a phase anyhow.

Erica: We used Kellymom’s smush the face into the boob technique.

Elisa: Sometimes just ignoring it works. My son thought it was funny when I would say ouch, or yelp. So I just didn’t say anything, unlatched him and put him down. He stopped within days.

Lauren: Biting led us to a 2 day wean at 1 yr and 2 days. She ripped open my nipple for the second time and it became too painful to nurse. I tried holding her nose to get her to unclench as well as yelling no. (she’d been biting for over two weeks and drawing blood) Nothing worked. My aunt, who nursed three babies, gave me the advice to yell no and set them down far away from you, ending the nursing session. I think this would have worked but we never got the chance to try it because I received the advice the day we weaned for good.

Ginny: Whenever my boys nipped me when nursing I would gently slide a finger between their mouth and my breast to break the latch and say a stern ‘No!’. I’d then lay them next to me for 30 seconds before re latching them. I found this worked well and continued to breastfeed both sets of twins to over 12 months.

Victoria: I was told by my breast feeding support group to take the baby off the breast, put them down & in a firm voice tell him not to bite because it hurts. This wasn’t very effective at first until I started putting him down & walking away out of the room. When he realized that he wasnt getting milk or mummy he soon stopped.

Amanda: I would blow quickly on his face to get him to stop and then put him down. If he came back we would try it again. It only took a couple of tries before he stopped.

Amanda: I always said ouch and would take them off and say ouch that hurts mommy, then put them back on.

Maureen: It makes me terrified to put my nursling back on after he bites, but I realized that he only bites when he’s done and just wants to play- so paying attention to when your nursling bites is a good idea. I also yell every time because I can’t help it! It hurts! I wish I didn’t!

Jessica: I just push my breast further into her mouth, most of the time she bites because her latch is lazy and she’s not paying attention. That makes her open wider and latch better, which in turn stops the biting.

Ginny: I yelp and say no biting.. and put it away for ten minutes or so.

Chelsea: When I realized my daughter was starting on that phase, I waited, finger ready, and popped her off as soon as she began to bite down. I didn’t even set her down, just said, ”That hurts Mama” very calmly, and waited a few minutes before resuming nursing. She would get so upset at her dinner being interrupted, but it only took a couple of times for her to realize that biting accomplished exactly the opposite of what she wanted it to. I figured out incredibly quickly that the worst thing I could do was react a lot-she thought it was funny. But I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting her feelings, so popping her off was the most I could bring myself to do.

Natalie: I wish I could say I reacted all nice and calm. In reality I was reading while she was nursing, so the bite was completely unexpected. I screamed and bopped her on the forehead, she popped off the boob and cried a bit, I apologized to her and said “We don’t bite Mommy.” She resumed nursing and never bit me again.

Nicole: I firmly tell her no, put her down somewhere safe and give her something she can chew on. Sometimes I give her a cold teething ring before nursing if I know she is teething to help prevent bites. We seem to have this issue for about a week right before/after a new tooth.

Amanda: I went with my instincts (which I have learned are never wrong when it comes to mothering) and let out a gentle “ouch”, made a very sad face, and said, “that hurts mommy”. I also paid attention to when it was happening.. often it was when I was watching TV or looking at my phone while nursing, Emmaline wanted eyes on her, my hand ruffling her hair or massaging her ear.

Amy: I was told to press my baby’s face into my boob; forcing him to break the latch since he couldn’t breathe.   I’ve had yet to do it.

Ariel: just unlatch him/her every time they do it for 5-10 seconds.

Stacy: The first time my son bit me I immediately took him off the breast for a few minutes. I only had to do this a few times before he figured out that biting = no boobie.

Margaret: I yelp, “OUCH” and pull him off. Usually it results in tears. Its never resulted in a nursing strike even though I yelp pretty loud (I’m not one of those people that can hold it in when I’m hurt by surprise). He’s still nursing even though i’m 11w pregnant and dried up!!!!!

Richain: My first only bit a couple of times but learn quickly that mommy wasn’t kidding around. He would bite, I would say OUCH! That hurt mommy! I would separate him and remove him from my lap to the floor (safe place) for a minute then pick him back up and nurse again. He was a quick learner… biting means nursing time is cut short. My second nursling has not bitten yet… but teething has started

CaryAnn: Honestly? I couldn’t handle it and began weaning. I tried “no biting!” a few times first.

Lori: With my oldest, he bit me at 7mos and we stopped nursing and started pumping til 1 yr. With Judah, I just put up with the biting. I have tried “no bite”, stopping the feeding, pinching, flicking, and he still bites. He started biting at 3mos and just turned a year. It’s not intentional/malicious, so I guess you just get used to it.

Krista: I just pull them closer in to me..so they are forced to release their bite (my little one would bite and not let go!). Then I say firmly, “No biting.” You just want to get their attention and interrupt their eating. They’ll look at you like, “what’s going on? Why’d you stop?” Do that enough times and they should get the hint.

Marilyn: Say OW LOL I push her face into my boob a bit, makes her let go because she thinks she can’t breath. then I look at her and say We don’t bite, that hurts mama. She onlyseems to bite when she is semi interested so I usually stop the feed right then and there too. resume later.

Lucile: With my first child I’d say: “no biting, biting hurts” for the first bite. For the second bite in a row I’d repeat it and add “if you keep biting I’ll take it away.” The third bite I’d put her down and say “OK, you’re done.” Sometimes she cried, but I drew the line at being a chew toy! With my second, I’m more aware that she bites when she’s having teething pain or is bored with nursing and feeling devilish. I can usually anticipate a bite and detach; if not I do the same as above. I usually give her something she CAN bite and say “if you want to bite, chew on this.” In my experience, biting comes and goes, so you may have to repeat this lesson several times.

Erin: I bring the baby in very close (covering the nose so she’ll let go) and then end the feeding right then. I also found that *most* of the time I could prevent the biting by paying attention. A baby who is actively nursing can’t bite, and my kids all have bitten me when they were done nursing and just hanging around. So I became very vigilant and watched for an end to the active suckling. One of my kids actually got a “naughty look” on her face right before she was going to bite. And I found that if I was multitasking while nursing, my kids were more likely to bite because I wasn’t giving them my undivided attention.   So I just watched them closely, and ended the feeding with a frown if they bit. They learned pretty fast that if they wanted to nurse, then no biting.

Aimee: Mine only bit if there wasn’t really any interest in nursing right then (shallow, lazy latch), so I just closed up shop and tried again later. Easy for everyone involved. :)

Marta: Jonathan has been very gentle over the past 13 months, but there have been bitings here and there. I immediately remove him when that happens. Although sometimes I know his biting/painful latch is related to teething, and then I usually just go with it, because I know he didn’t intend to do it, he is just in pain himself.

Fonta: I was taught by my midwife to push the boob into their face which smothers them for an instant and they always let go and it only takes a few times…very effective and still loving.

Sarah: I’ve definitely got a little nibbler on my hands. She’s almost 10 months and has had teeth since 4 months. I just pry her mouth open and unlatch her and set her down on the floor. She gets the point quickly! And typically only bites when she’s teething or not really interested in nursing. The worst is when she’s falling asleep. Oouuuch!!

Carissa: My little one only bites after she has finished feeding so I just make sure I detach her when she has stopped actively suckling. I’ve tried saying no firmly and detaching her as soon as she bites, but because she’s already full she doesn’t care. The thing I’ve noticed is the more I react the more she enjoys doing it… She giggles and bites harder if a yelp!

Colleen: Take her off and set her on the floor. A baby cannot nurse and bite at the same time. Clearly she was just playing or wanting my attention. ;)

Cheryl: With my LO, I just put up with the biting. From what I’ve seen, biting can be a sign of frustration (at least, past the exploratory stage – mine is 17 months and still does it!) so when she bites, I take the boobies away and try to remove whatever is frustrating her before she nurses again. It usually works – even a sippy of milk to quench her thirst helps sometimes, if she is frustrated by not getting enough milk.  When she does bite, I either slip my finger in her mouth to release the bite or pull her towards my breast, basically smothering her with it LOL but she has to open her mouth to breathe, so she lets go. She is doing it less and less now, the more I do that.

Shauna: When my 14 month old bites I put my pinky inside his mouth and gently pull his lip in a fishhook type motion which distracts him and he let’s go and I try to communicate ”gentle, no biting please” sometimes it works :)

Anna: In a light hearted voice I said ” oh?! You’re finished???” and take him off and our my bra back on. He looked confused then I’d bring him back to the breast… If he did it again, I’d repeat. I never caused him any distress but he got the hint – if he but I thought it meant he was finished!

Melissa: Nothing. Absolutely nothing has worked for my son. So every feeding, without fail, he bites. And now that I’m pregnant too, the pain is unbearable, but I don’t have the heart to wean my baby.

April: I have to be VERY attentive and just stop it before it happens.

Rebecca: I jumped because I wasn’t expecting it… Was chatting at the time to a friend. But since I just tickle her feet (10month old) as she is very ticklish… And makes her laugh. I Don’t make a big deal of it and couldn’t upset her because I know she doesn’t understand that it actually hurts me.

Molly: With our girls I yelped (not exactly a plan, it hurts!) and blew in their face. That was unpleasant for them while nursing but not painful. If they bit more than once in a session they were done. All three figured it out fairly quickly, even at 3, 4 and 5 months when they got their first teeth.

Nicole: The first time my little one clamped down on my boob I yelled ow pretty loud because it shocked me. She let go really quick and looked up at me to see why I yelled.  She’s done it a few times after that so I just tell her no biting and put her down. She’ll cry for a bit then we’ll resume. Pulling her into my breast doesn’t work. She actually pushes her face into my breast before she bites sometimes (advance warning for me).

Michelle: It doesn’t work immediately but I always push on their teeth/gums and tell them no bite every time.

Kasey: The first time I told her No Bite! In a firm voice and she cried so hard. I felt terrible. She has done it a few times since but not like that first time so I am hoping I got the point across.

Tamara: Watch for circumstances that tend to lead to biting like being really tired, being at the end of a feed (baby being satisfied), teething pain or frustration. Watch for the baby to pull to the tip of your nipple. My experience is that they usually pull to the tip before biting.) When you notice any of those things, unlatch the baby. Really watch baby every time for common factors that proceed the biting.  If you can’t get ahead of the biting and she clamps down, first don’t pull away. Pull baby close. This prevents extra pain, and a lot of babies will unlatch at this point. If she doesn’t unlatch at this point, unlatch her yourself. Find something that you say every time it happens. I said, “No bite. When you bite, you don’t eat.” (If they bite while latched, they’re not eating anyway.) Then wait a few minutes before offering the breast again. If that means rehooking the nursing bra, pulling your shirt over the breast so that baby can’t relatch, do that. If baby is interested in resuming the feed after a minute or two, offer the breast and repeat what you said earlier. (I would say, “Remember: No biting. When you bite, you don’t eat.”) If baby relatches and bites again, follow the process again except completely end the nursing session. My experience is that if it’s not a problem of baby being in pain, they bite when they are finished eating anyway.  You will go through the process several times before the baby gets it. (Tristan continued to do it for a while but gradually got to where it rarely ever happened at all–like once a month when teething was a problem or when he hadn’t napped enough–until he just hasn’t done it at all for a long time.) It’s a learning process, so remember to have patience and love in your demeanor no matter how much it hurts.

Kari: Mine only bites with teething, thank God he still has no teeth. But I pinch his nose and he pulls off, and doesn’t continue to do it.

Rachel: I learned to stand on guard with my finger near his mouth… I could tell when he was about to clamp down and would insert my finger, remove him, and walk away.

Melissa: I flicked my first nursling too, worked great, but my second was sensitive so I would cry from pain and refuse to nurse for a minute or two and then relatch while holding his hand and teaching “soft touches”. Worked great, so that’s what I’m doing with number 3 too.

Lorna: Using baby signing to signal pain helps get the message across too.

Tracie: I tapped my babies on the nose and said no. This worked with all 9 of mine.

Stephanie: I would unlatch my son, sit him down, adjust my shirt, tell him my breasts were in time out, get a cup of water for myself, and come back. It only took 3-4 times for him to get it, but I left the room so he could see the result of biting.

Kinberely: I thought that with my son it was a cue to end nursing but when I’d unlatch he’d route around to feed again, think he is hungry just teething too.

Heather: Easy, I tickle them!! :-D they get distracted, giggle and let go!

Katherine: The first time my soon bit me I didn’t even think before I flicked him. He cried but never bit me again. I felt horrible though. With my daughter she has bit me a few times, the first time was right after her sister was born and I was so sore that all I could do was cry which freaked her out. My husband had to take her and was more upset it than I was, I was sad that I scared her but it hurt SO much. She has nipped me a few more times but each time I tell her no, tell her to be gentle with mommy’s breasts, and have stopped nursing her for a minute so she understands that if she’s not gentle I’ll take the breast away. She hasn’t bit me in a few weeks so I think she got the point. She’s moved on to putting her fingers in mouth or holding hands with her sister while they nurse. Way cuter than biting.

Ma Ma: The first time I pressed her into the breast to make her release and said no and showed the sign for no. She was teething her first two teeth at the time. A couple days later she bit down pretty hard! I said no and signed it then sat her down on the floor (I was in the chair) she cried and didn’t nurse for two days (except for at night when she was half asleep). That nursing strike scared me so bad and I thought she was gonna stop nursing at 8 months…I remember sitting in bed with her that second night saying it was ok and mama wanted her to nurse. She would move in and then shake her head and cry :-( I was crying too. I finally think she just understood and it was ok but just not to bite because when I finally got her to latch (while she was crying) she tested the nipple with her Lil gums and then when she went to with her teeth I said “no teeth…hurts mama” we got passed that and now she’s 13 months old and we’re nursing strong.

Aliza: Wow Jessica, a very similar thing happened to my 10 month old, she bit, and I screamed very loud… and she never nursed again, I had to pump for another 7 months. She finally tried nursing again recently at 22 months! But at that point there was no more milk.

Dorothy: It’s depended on his level of understanding. Generally, a quick re-latch did the trick. Though if he was cutting a tooth it often took several tries. Once I could tell the difference between accidental biting and purposeful biting, I would simply end the nursing session with a “NO BITING!” (Stern not loud). Generally, I’d unlatch, cover-up, if he cried I’d make him wait 5 minutes and let him back. Sometimes he was done but decided my nipple was a better toy. I could tell because he’d unlatch and go play.

Kivy: I’m exactly where you are. “pressing the baby into the breast” seems to work and be more gentle, but honestly, it freaks me out when she gasps for air. She seems less bothered than by the flicking, but it’s more disturbing for me.

Amber: Flicking worked wonders for me. Didn’t slow any of my 3 down for nursing, but it curbed the biting. I’m so very sorry that it didn’t work for you. I’ve heard the putting them down, away from you, works too. I could imagine that might traumatize the right child too though. I imagine it’s all about your child and what work for them.

Adventurous Shoestrings: After trying bad advice, I called my local LLL chapter and received a great tip. I told my then 7 month old “no biting” before our nursing sessions. If he bit after hat, I would break the latch and say “biting hurts mommy.” I would end the session and reoffer if he wanted to nurse. I also tried offering a teething ring before nursing or right after a biting incident. It worked for us.

Paula: I didn’t have too much trouble with dead on biting, but there was lots of messing around. I just kept removing the boob each time it happen and talked sternly. If you bite me I can’t nurse you. Eventually, I had to wean the first at almost three because he sort of forgot how to nurse when the milk dried up during my pregnancy with the second. The second I nursed til almost 4, and just had to gradually shorten the time, because, frankly, I was done. But the removing the boob thing really checked the naughty stuff. I mean when they start chomping and look up at you and smirk, you know, they know that they are pushing it. But it is so cute.

 

What you chose

Remember, it may take a combination of approaches to stop your nursling from biting and it can be done gently, without flicking or scaring your child.  Be consistent and as patient as you can with the process.  You don’t need to be a martyr, it’s ok to want the breastfeeding relationship to be mutually positive and beneficial for both you and your babe.  Setting boundaries, even with a young one, that respect your physical person are important and won’t damage your relationship with your child, in fact, it can be very healthy for both of you and be a critical part for a long lasting, pleasant breastfeeding experience.

 

Caution

Sometimes I see it recommended to numb the baby’s gums with a numbing agent designed for teething just before bringing them to the breast.  My concern with this would be the potential problem that can come from a child swallowing the numbing agent, losing feeling in their tongue and throat.  The potential risk for choking and poor latch don’t seem worth the attempt when there are other safe and effective options available.  If you choose to use a numbing agent on your child’s gums to help with teething pain, waiting until after a feeding is probably the safest time to do so.


 

All images used with permission and generously shared by the Leakies on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page.

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What time would you share with someone that has just started dealing with biting at the breast?  

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Breastfeeding and biting- mistakes, surviving, and what I’ve learned

After working out how this whole breastfeeding thing works, most breastfeeding dyads settle into a sweet, easy breastfeeding relationship.  Mutually satisfying and safe, mom and baby usually find comfort in the breastfeeding journey they share.  And then one day, SNAP!  Or maybe CLAAAAAAAAAAAAAMP!  Instead of the wood nymph, rainbow farting unicorns breastfeeding experience, you’ve got a surprisingly powerful yet small jaw with or without teeth gripping your nipple, a sick feeling in your stomach, and a barely stifled screech of pain.

A regular concern and related questions we see on The Leaky Boob Facebook page is dealing with biting.  It’s scary, putting your breast into another person’s mouth and hoping they don’t decide to chomp down.  Particularly when that person doesn’t understand why that would be a bad thing or even that it would cause you pain. In my own breastfeeding journey I have had plenty of biting babies.  I’ve examined my breast with deep teeth marks, red and throbbing from clamped jaws, and had tears sting my eyes as I gasped for breath when my nursling has decided to go at my boob as if it was a steak.  I’ve even had blood drawn and the skin broken.  Yep, I’ve been bitten and yep, it hurts, and yep, I’ve lived to tell about it.

The truth is, bite happen.  Er, make that bites happen.

With my very first nursling, 13 years ago, I acted on the advice to flick my baby on the cheek when she bit me. At first I couldn’t do it and just yelped and told Earth Baby no bite. That didn’t work. She bit me only a few more times but the last time I was frustrated and fed-up and went with what I had been told to do: flick her on the cheek and tell her no. Her face immediately reflected the confusion and betrayal she felt, up to that point I had never intentionally hurt her and she had no idea what she did to deserve such treatment. Neither did I.  As she wailed and refused to nurse I knew that I should have trusted my instincts to not hurt my baby. She never nursed again, that traumatic experience led to a nursing strike that led to weaning at 10 months. My sensitive little girl just couldn’t trust me.  I pumped for another two months in order to reach my goal of a year but Earth Baby never accepted my breast again.

So what’s a mom to do?  Fearing a nursing relationship with a potential piranha could be enough to discourage anyone from breastfeeding.  It’s no wonder that many women decide they are going to breastfeed only until the first time baby bites or teeth come in and then that’s it.  All or nothing.  Stop or be bit or worse, injure your own child to stop them from biting. It doesn’t have to be that way though.  For starters, why borrow trouble?  Not all babies bite and some that do don’t do so roughly so it’s possible that you’ll never even experience a piranha on the boob.  Secondly, there are ways to handle biting should you have a nursling that wants to sink their teeth into something, namely, you.  It doesn’t have to be the end, in fact, it can actually be the beginning of the give and take that all relationships eventually need to develop.  Working through biting can strengthen your bond, give you confidence as a mother, and give you and your nursling a new dimension to your relationship.  Like all hard times, it’s worth working through.

But how?  How do you work through it?  What do you do if you fear feeding your little one because of the possible nip or down right full on chomp?  There may not be one simple strategy for everyone but asking other moms that have been there what worked for them is a great place to start.  Seeking the advice of a professional lactation consultant is another.  I did both and have compiled the suggestions and experiences here, browse through and see what you think might work for you.

It also helps to understand why a baby or toddler might bite in the first place.  It is important to understand they are not biting to be mean or malicious, they don’t even understand that concept.  In fact, they don’t understand that biting even hurts until we teach them.  Unfortunately for mom, our natural response to hollar ouch may not teach baby that it hurts but rather that biting gets a funny reaction from mom.  Others may be frightened by moms initial reaction and require comforting or even refuse the breast entirely for a time being afraid of another outburst.  Controlling our response, admittedly difficult to do, and utilizing other strategies may be more effective and less traumatizing for both mom and baby.  Remember, babies and toddlers don’t bite to be mean and if you can, identifying the reason they are biting can help you figure out how to respond.

Reasons a baby or toddler may bite while breastfeeding and tools to stop it

Teeth are beginning to move and cut through the gum.  This hurts, the most painful time being before the teeth actually erupt.  Babies figure out pretty quickly that counter pressure helps relieve some of that discomfort and so they chew fingers, teething rings, corners of a blanket, anything they can find.  Including your boob.  Offer teething options, try comfort measures before putting them to the breast, be sure it’s feeding they want and not chewing time they are looking for, and pay close attention to their behavior at the breast.  Often, biting can be headed off before it even happens.

Bored and all done feeding.  This happens at the end of the feeding.  Being all done but not necessarily ready to move on, your baby or toddler may bite out of distraction and boredom.  Since they aren’t requiring milk any more, a lazy latch replaces an effective and safe no-biting latch and bam, you get bit.  Pay attention to changes of their jaw and tongue to stop the session before they bite.  Most babies will have a change in their sucking patterns once they’re really done feeding.  Slowing down, head shaking, jaw tension, looking around, falling asleep, etc. can all be signs that they’re actually done.  Break latch and move on to cuddles and hopefully you’ll avoid being bitten.

Not opening wide enough or needing to adjust latch.  In this case they are hungry, they want to nurse but as time progresses and changes, such as teeth, happen the latch needs to progress and change.  If the latch isn’t wide enough a baby or toddler is likely to bite.  This usually happens near the beginning of the feeding.  Unlatching and readjusting their latch, showing them what you want them to do by modeling a wide open mouth with tongue forward, and reminding them gently before each feeding session can help with this.  A different position that causes them to have to open wide to take in the nipple can also make this easier.

Physical limitations can cause biting.  Tongue tie is one example on the baby’s part, over active milk ejection reflex is another on mom’s part.  This is particularly true for younger babies biting or clenching with their jaw.  Seeing an IBCLC is the most effective measure for helping solve these type of biting issues.

Along with boredom, distractions can lead to biting.  Whether they are startled or just curious about what’s going on around them, biting can occur with distractions.  In this case, helping them focus can go a long way in reducing biting, try a teething necklace or something else for them to hold and play with while at the breast.

Saying “hey, look at me!”  Maybe you’re multitasking and they want your attention solely on them.  Biting can be a way of getting your attention on them.  This is probably just a phase, meeting their need for connection with you, make it a priority to look into their eyes, talk with them, caress their head, etc.  Remember, they don’t do this to be mean or demanding, they do it because they legitimately need this time with you, you’re their world!

 

What I do now

I honestly can’t remember if Lolie, my 3rd baby bit me ever but I know The Storyteller (#2), Squiggle Bug (#4), and Smunchie (#5) all did.  Never again did I flick my baby to teach them not to bite, I utilized other strategies using a combination of tools.  Kathleen Huggins’ book The Nursing Mother’s Companion gave me some great tips on dealing with biting and when I find I need reminders I still reach for my trusty breastfeeding resource, I love and use Kathleen’s suggestions.  Heading off biting when possible has been by far the most effective.  If they did bite on the breast I try to break their latch by sliding my pinky into the corner of their mouth along side my nipple.  If, for some reason, that doesn’t work or their grip is too strong for it to work, I pull my baby into my breast which will cause them to let go.  I don’t care for that move personally, it just makes me a little uncomfortable to block their airways if even for just a second which is why I don’t try it first.  However, it is effective and safe and my babies have never seemed to be frightened because of it.  With my younger babies I just make eye contact and say “ouch, no bite please” and offer the breast again, keeping a careful eye out that they’re are indeed interested in continuing the feeding of if the bite because they were done anyway.  Knowing that they have to change their latch to be able to bite and pull their tongue back, I pay attention for any subtle changes and break their latch before they have a chance to bite again.  If they don’t seem to really be interested in continuing the session, we move on to other activities and wait for cues that they are ready to eat again later.  For older babies I sit them up an say “ouch, no bite please” and place them on the floor near by, offering a toy for them to play with.  If they still desire to breastfeed they will let me know and I’m willing to try again, reminding them to open wide (which I demonstrate) and saying “remember, no bite.”  Again, paying close attention for any subtle shifts in their latch, I aim to remove them from the breast before they have a chance to bite.  If there is a second attempt, I repeat telling them no bite and then tell them “all done nursing right now” and move on to our next activity.  Depending on each child’s personality, I may have to repeat this 1-6 times but it rarely is a stage that lasts long.  For me, resorting to tactics such as hair pulling, flicking, or biting back are simply not an option, I can’t intentionally inflict pain on my child, particularly when I know there are other effective options at my disposal.  I never want my child to associate fear being hurt by me, particularly at the breast.  I’m so grateful I found other methods and have been able to successfully end biting without the devastating results Earth Baby and I experienced.

All images used with permission and generously shared by the Leakies on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page.

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What have your experience, positive or painful, been with biting and breastfeeding?  

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