MiLK Conference Call for Speakers

breastfeeding and formula feeding conference

Call for speakers

MILK: An Infant Feeding Conference,

2015

 

Calling for submissions from clinicians, scholars, students, artists, mothers, fathers, researchers, and others familiar with infant feeding from clinical and social perspectives. Submissions of a wide variety are welcome, including research presentations, theoretical papers, academic papers, creative submissions including personal essays, social commentary, literature, and performance art.

We are looking for presentations on topics related to infant feeding and maternal health including but not limited to: continuity of care and infant nutrition, the diagnoses and care of physiological barriers to breastfeeding, sociological barriers involved in infant feeding, anthropological perspectives of infant nutrition, analysis of marketing in the maternal baby industry, conscientious marketing, exploration of infant feeding and child nutrition controversies, policies in the workplace for family support and breastfeeding, politics of infant feeding and policy making, postpartum depression and mental health research related to infant feeding, infant feeding practices in subsequent children, sociological family support and infant and child nutrition, infant feeding education, infant nutrition in public health, feeding multiples, managing maternal health issues through breastfeeding, nonviolent communication strategies for supporting infant feeding, developing infant feeding support products, immediate postpartum infant feeding support, the impact of birth interventions on maternal breastfeeding goals, maternal and pediatric allergies and infant nutrition, premature infants and nutrition, feminism and infant feeding, natural duration breastfeeding, weaning, infant nutrition and sleep, partner support and education, breastfeeding after breast reduction, socioeconomic and racial disparities in infant feeding support, breastmilk pumping, inducing lactation and relactation, the role of infant nutrition in relation to dental care, and the future of infant nutrition support.

Submissions accepted through February 28, 1015 and close March 1, 2015.

Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference, is a MommyCon conference envisioned by The Leaky Boob with the support of Ergobaby. Designed to bridge professional conferences for clinicians, health care providers, academics, and researchers, with consumer conferences for parents, Milk aims to educate, inspire, and support parents in feeding their children, as well as the people that support them including nutrition, lactation, maternal, and pediatric health care providers.

To submit to speak at Milk 2015, please use this form.

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Introducing Boobles™- MOST Like Mom

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Baby in restaurant boob selection breastfeeding

You’ve seen it, the advertising of bottles and formula announcing how their product is somehow “like mom.” Or proclaiming that there are new developments that allows their product to be “more like the breast” while elsewhere on the packaging they say “breast is best.” It sounds amazing: new technology, new understanding, new science has unlocked some secret that makes this nipple shape and design more like a real breast than all previous nipple shapes or this specially formulated blend of ingredients more brain boosting like what is found in breastmilk than all previous specially formulated blends ever of all time in the history of feeding babies. Now it’s “more like mom” than ever before! Hey, this could be the answer to your breastfeeding troubles, this product will fix colic, sleep issues, calma your kid, teach them how to breastfeed, and probably even make your bed, because it’s MORE LIKE MOM!

Honestly though, I understand where it is coming from and it’s not the first time plastic and silicone has been confused as being “just like” the real thing, so really, it’s not that surprising. (Boobs, I’m referring to fake boobs. Which, really, when you think about it, bottles are just a different version of fake boobs. Portable, detached, feeding utensil fake boobs for feeding babies.)

But of course that’s what they’re trying to do, create, market, and sell something that is as close as possible to what human infants are born expecting. It’s probably not going to do so well with truly honest advertising that says “really nothing like mom but acceptable delivery system for infant nutrition.” Can’t imagine why brands would shy away from that approach. Besides, the basic shape is there and the design is sometimes there requiring the baby to suck to get anything from the teat (you may be surprised though, lots of bottles just run like a facet when you tilt them, some of the biggest culprits are those that claim to be for breastfed babies).

These claims, while highly contested, are on to something. It just makes sense to feed babies “like mom”. Their mouths are shaped for that, their brains are wired for sucking, and developmentally that’s really all babies can manage since forks and spoons are tricky at that stage and tubes are hopefully medically unnecessary. Having used a eye dropper to feed one of my infants, that’s also rather time consuming and messy. Having used bottles with all my babies (photographic evidence here because apparently if you’ve never posted a photo of it online, it never even happened and you’re a lying jerk), I can say a bottle tends to be a effective delivery system of infant nutrition. Very few people would argue against the basic design of bottles, it’s comparing it to mom that gets confusing and, well, kind of like lying. A predatory preying on someone who just wants to do what’s “best” for their child. These companies have financial motivation to convince someone that their product is like mom.

Because, let’s be honest here, how do they know it’s “like mom?” Aside from the obvious differences in materials (warm, living tissue vs plastic and/or silicone), each woman, shoot, for most of us, each breast is different. When they say more like the breast, I find myself asking “which one?” and when I read claims of a bottle design being closer to mom, I wonder “who?”

So, I did. I asked several of my friends to give me their interpretation of what a bottle that looked like them would look like. I asked them, if there was a bottle designed to be like their breast, what would be distinctive of their customized more like mom boob bottle, what we’re calling “Boobles™- MOST LIKE MOM”. For several of us, that would require two very different options since each of the breasts on our chest are unique in their own right. Can’t be more like this mom with just one bottle.

Here are the renderings of these moms and what their breasts would look like topping a bottle, if bottles were truly more like THAT mom. Introducing “Boobles™- MOST LIKE MOM” concept bottles that are truly, “more like mom”:

The Badass Breastfeeding Abby Theurig's Boobles™

The Badass Breastfeeder, Abby Theurig’s Boobles™ need two versions.

Kelly's Boobles

Kelly’s Boobles™

Laura Dover's Boobles

Laura Dover’s Boobles™, two different styles.

Megan O'Neill's Booble

Acelleron Maternal Health and Wellness, Megan O’Neill’s Booble™

Rachelle Unlatched Lesteshen's Booble

Rachelle Unlatched Lesteshen’s Booble™

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Emily’s Boobles™ are similar but not exactly the same.

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Iola from What the Beep Am I Doing would need two different models too.

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Amy Peterson drew a sample of what a Booble™ could look like for a woman with a bifurcated nipple.

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Jessie’s Booble™ sketch

Carrie booble

Carrie from Our Stable Table has Lefty and Old Faithful Boobles™.

Anonymous Booble- I promised I wouldn't tell.

Anonymous Booble™- I promised I wouldn’t tell.

Serena's Boobles™

Serena’s Boobles™, one size doesn’t fit all.

MommyCon's, Xza Higgins Boobles™ would neat a righty bottle that is prone to leak.

MommyCon’s, Xza Higgins would neat a righty Booble™ that is prone to leak.

What would your Booble look like and what would be the unique features to make it “more like mom” for your baby?

With all the brands out there touting to be “more like mom” and promising silly things like teaching your baby how to breastfeed (biology taught your baby to breastfeed, the bottle is an attempt at copying your biology, plastic can’t teach a baby how to breastfeed!) and product names that make you think of breasts and breastfeeding, it can be confusing to find a bottle that works for your little one should they need it. How do you cut through all the gimmicks and marketing to truly find one that will meet your baby’s needs, particularly if you are breastfeeding? A popular suggestion is to find a nipple shape that looks like your breast, but aside from the potential awkward moment to check your boob selfie on your phone or to whip a boob out if you need to compare your own nipples to the bottle while you’re at the store (and then I bet you’ll wish you were shopping online), is that really helpful? I decided to ask my friend Amy Peterson, IBCLC and co-author of the book Balancing Breast and Bottle, Reaching Your Breastfeeding Goals for some guidance:

Don’t waste time looking for a bottle nipple that looks like your breast. The best way to choose a bottle nipple is to look at your baby’s latch on your breast, and then on the bottle nipple.  The tip of the nipple needs to reach far back into your baby’s mouth, while the baby’s lips are slightly opened and rest on a portion of the nipple base. Surprisingly, many shapes marketed for breastfed babies are often the shapes that cause the worst bottle latch: a latch where the baby looks like he is sucking on a straw.

It’s probably a long way off for customized bottles made from silicon molds of each individual mother’s breasts, Boobles aren’t going to be happening any time soon. (Either a brilliant business idea or the worst idea ever.) Of course, the ridiculous claims and names of bottles aren’t about to go away any time soon either. Sifting through it all to find what works for you and your family, with the help of an IBCLC health care professional if necessary, skip the comparisons to your own breasts or those of a random woman in a stock photo used to make a sale and look for something that meets the needs of your baby. While the breast is certainly the best design for a human infant, though not always without problems that may make feeding difficult, there’s no bottle that’s going to really be anything like the breast. Unless of course plastic, silicon, glass, and/or rubber makes you think “more like mom.”

Here at TLB, how you feed your baby is secondary to that you feed your baby. Having a sense of humor, exploring some of the social and relational aspects of infant feeding and parenting, discussing information, and sharing our stories is really what we’re about. Phrases comparing infant feeding devices (doesn’t that sound so much cooler and refined than “bottle”?) to breasts are something we take issue with because ultimately we feel it’s confusing and it undermines the confidence families can have in feeding their babies well. Because, let’s get real, there can’t be many of us that look at a bottle nipple and say “hey, I resemble that teat!”

What would a Booble based on you look like and what kind of functional features would your customized Boobles have? Email your rendering of a custom designed Booble to content@theleakyboob.com with the subject “My Booble” in the subject and we’ll add it to our gallery of bottle designs that would actually be more like mom.

For me, aside from two different models, my Boobles would have one a bit more dense than the other and both would leak whenever a baby cried. I could never take them in public without some sort of cover.

Boobles™- MOST LIKE MOM!

*Please note, you don’t have to use bottles to feed your baby if you don’t want or need to.

** Please note, doesn’t have to be breasts either.

*** Also, this post is supposed to be humorous, not something to get worked up over.

****And Boobles aren’t really a thing.

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Sugarbaby’s New Year’s Pro-Breastfeeding Tips and Resolutions for the New Year for the Breastfed Baby

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Sugarbaby
Sugarbaby eats dirt

Sugarbaby eating dirt when she was still a little nursling.

It’s a new year, my 3rd new year to celebrate so I am old hat at ringing in the new year and making resolutions. My mommy says any time is a good time to decide to make changes but lots of people think there is something about the new year that makes it the perfect time to resolve to do things differently. So, to help you get this new year started out right, I’m sharing with you my best resolution tips for breastfed babies.

1) Start sleeping through the night. Your parents, specially mommy, will have more energy to do fun things like build block towers for you to knock over, create Pinterest worth play dates, and make you handmade outfits. Maybe even wash her hair every day.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Just kidding, you don’t want to do that! Specially not if you’re still breastfeeding lots. It’s SUPER DUPER important you wake up lots and lots to have mama milks at night and sleep nurse too, check it out here. Did you know that mommies’ bodies make more milk at night? By breastfeeding all the time at night, you help mama make more milkies for you and that’s even better than block towers. Pinterest play dates are over rated anyway and let’s be honest, you’d rather be naked than wear a cute outfit that you’re just going to get snot on anyway.

2) Teeth mostly at night. Those chompers HURT coming in but once you have them and you can eat things like carrots, you’re going to be glad you have them. But getting them is no fun. The best way through that though is to make sure you have undivided parental attention which means, night time. There’s nothing else going on, they’re just trying to sleep and you know how boring that is, which means they have nothing better to do than just hold you while you loudly inform them of your suffering. And that also means it’s good mama milks time which can help you feel a little better. Sometimes. Sometimes everything hurts no matter what but at least you have mommy right there all night long.

3) Build up your immune system. What’s the immune system? I don’t really know but I know my mommy sometimes loves my immune system and sometimes hates it. I’ve learned somethings though, like getting exposed to stuff helps your immune system and though my mommy doesn’t like it when I put stuff in my mouth I find on the ground, she says hopefully it’s just building a strong immune system. So I like to help. By licking shopping cart handles, chewing on tables when we’re out to eat, and finding out what the poles we find on our walks taste like. My mommy doesn’t like it but I’m just helping my immune system. You don’t want a weak one, start tasting the seats the next time you go to the doctor’s office!

4) Be patient while mommy showers, best if you nap during it. Mommy’s get stinky. You don’t want a stinky mommy, this year, help her get clean. Her hair will be so pretty and when you give her snuggles she’ll smell so nice.

Tricked ya!

I understand playing in the water, I love baths and going swimming but I don’t understand mommy’s fascination with dumping water on her head and using soap. Yuck. Worse, she washes away her yummy mama smell! I hate that. So as soon as she gets out of the shower, when I’m done freaking out because I see with my own eyes that she didn’t totally disappear and wash away forever, I have to have mama milks. RIGHT AWAY. Before she is finished drying off, before she gets dressed, and before I forget. You must do this every time, having some bobbies will help her smell much better after a shower. If you can, help her get some mama milk all over by dribbling it on her tummy, spitting up on her clean outfit, or crying as she’s getting dressed so she leaks on her clothes. That will fix it right up, if you do it right, she won’t even smell like she ever even took a shower within an hour.

5) Smile. A smile is like magic. When you smile, people smile back. When you’re really little, smiling is just fun. When you get a little bigger, smiling is a tool. Like when you wake up in the middle of the night crying, when you see a parental unit, smile and even if they aren’t too happy about being woken up (serious question here, why do grown ups actually seem to like sleep? Isn’t that silly?) they can’t help but smile back. When you start being able to climb and you climb something you’re not supposed to (I know, I know, why did they put it there if they didn’t want you to climb it?) charm them as they attempt to redirect you (don’t lose your focus though!) and they’ll start thinking maybe it’s ok for you to climb because you smiled. Then you’ll really know how to use a smile when you do the fun things you’re not supposed to, like rub all the diaper salve all over mommy’s bedspread, or pour shampoo all over the bathroom floor and have all your toys go skating in it, or climb up the counter and use the fluffy flour stuff to make it snow in the kitchen… Fix it all with a smile. When they find you (I find the best time to do this is when they go potty and actually close the door so you can’t keep them company, why don’t grown ups want company when they go poopie?), give them a BIG smile and invite them to join you in the most fun ever! It helps a lot and maybe they’ll let you keep having fun (probably not).

Smile! Sugarbaby thought this was ok because it seemed like a game of "jump out of daddy's arms to get to mommy."

Smile! Sugarbaby thought this was ok because it seemed like a game of “jump out of daddy’s arms to get to mommy.”

6) Think about liking other grown ups. Mommy is your favorite, obviously, she has the mama milks. But you could consider sometimes hanging out with another grown up for a little bit. It could be fun. You could discover something new. You might even like it.

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Gotcha again!

You don’t want to do that! She might SHOWER! And it’s important you always keep an eye on the mama milks, silly.

That’s it babies, hope your new year is off to a great start. Share your wisdom here for other Leaky babies, we all have to stick together! Happy New Year!

Happy Breastfeeding,

~ Sugarbaby

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Eating for Two: An Elimination Diet Story

by Carrie Saum
This post was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Wean Green Glass and TLB sister site, Our Stable Table.
Breast pumping at a party

Pumping at a party with The Leaky Boob family

Can we just chat about ED for a hot second? Yes. That ED.

It happens, nobody really wants to talk about it, fewer people want to hear about it, and yet it affects so many of us. ED complicates the most straightforward activities, creates more stress during a stressful season, and siphons our time, energy, and mental capacity to make sound decisions.

Elimination Diets suck. (What? You didn’t think I was talking about the other kind of ED, did you? Psh.)

I’ve been on some sort of elimination diet for over two years. First, it was because I was pregnant. I involuntarily eliminated most food for 5 months, then only added in what my incubating baby would allow me to consume after that. And what my unborn child wanted to eat was croissants and kombucha, in spite of my every intention of eating mostly protein, veggies and fruit. Then I birthed my baby and ate ALL THE THINGS. That was a mistake. Turns out, my son didn’t take well to many foods, even through breastmilk. After a few months, we regulated one of the meds he had to take for seizures, and I cut out wheat and dairy for starters. My son’s poop diapers improved a bit. I could easily blame the rest of his relatively mild GI issues and eczema on his meds, so I left it at that for a few more months.

Then he started solids.

Within weeks, it became crystal clear that not only was my babe intolerant of certain foods in my breastmilk, he wasn’t tolerating solid foods at all. He was diagnosed with FPIES, a rare food allergy. We ran every blood test. We tried every non-invasive alternative allergy testing method to help pinpoint possible triggers. He still reacted to my breastmilk, and it was getting WORSE. So, an Elimination Diet was the next stop on our journey.

I started small, became super strict about wheat and dairy. I added soy and sugar to the elimination protocol. It wasn’t enough.

You know what was enough? Cutting out food altogether.

Just kidding. But I did cut out many, many more foods. At one time, my elimination list looked like this:

Eliminated Foods:                                                                        Safe Foods:
Wheat                                                                                                   Rice
Corn                                                                                                      Quinoa
Corn Products (HFCS, Canola Oil, etc)                                         Poultry
Oats                                                                                                      Red Meat
Eggs                                                                                                      Most Veggies
Pork                                                                                                      Most Fruit
Cane Sugar                                                                                          Most Nuts and Seeds
Asparagus                                                                                            Raw Honey
Tomatoes                                                                                             Most oils
Mushrooms                                                                                         Water
Sweet Potatoes                                                                                    Wine
Avocado
Carrots
Squash
Plums
Prunes
Melons
Peanuts
Soy

It’s SO FUN eating this way!

Just kidding. Again. Have you tried going to a party where you can’t eat wheat, dairy, sugar, soy and corn? Because nothing says party like rice and kale, I became a master of RSVP’ing to Evites with a cute “I’ll be there with my own delicious green smoothie and big bowl of brown rice to share!”

Although all of my friends and family are supportive, not everyone understands the nuances of an ED. Some would kindly try to accommodate me at dinners and parties and ask me for a list of foods to avoid. Without fail, I would email the list and my friends would reply with “What the hell do you eat?!”. My answer? “Hopes and dreams.”

After a while, I found it was easier just bring my own food to the gathering and eat it on the sly while I pumped in a back room. That didn’t last long, though. I’m a social creature and need interaction. So, I donned my pump cover and armed myself with a safe-for-me treat and ventured out into the party. People were usually so fascinated or uncomfortable by the pump mooing next to me that they didn’t pay much attention to the weird food I was eating.

Later, when I could manage a night out without pumping every three hours, I brought enough food to share. Then I made it a game. I would try to come up with the tastiest, most decadent ED treat my limited options would allow and then present it as regular food. Pretty daring, right? It worked. My food was always a hit. And I rarely told people the ED backstory because good food is GOOD, regardless of what label you put on it.

Mamas, we make an obscene number of sacrifices for our miniature milk monsters. We wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s okay to be sad to give up our comforts while still being glad to be able to provide what our little ones need. And if the sadness of giving up ice cream or baguettes gets to be too much, replace it with something else that brings you joy. For me, it was something like this Meyer Lemon Coconut Tartlet , and this fun infographic only you will appreciate.

Seven Things 3

Carri Saum Bio Pic 2Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical fields. She has a background in paramedic medicine and spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet the health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. She has coached countless clients on topics such as nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and blogs regularly about healthy cooking and nourishing the whole family with The Leaky Boob’s sister site  OurStableTable.com and Facebook page. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son. 
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How to Wean Your Teenager

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Ophélia and Lavinia Martin-Weber

How to wean a teenager

It is a well known fact that if you don’t make sure you get a baby off the boob by the end of their first year or definitely by the time they are two, they will never, ever stop breastfeeding and you’ll have to go to college with them. This is a fact known by every Tom, Dick, and Harry, Cindy, Karen, and Amanda. If you’re not aware of this, don’t worry, any conversation about breastfeeding beyond infancy in person, on an online article, blog posts, and of course, social media, will eventually become about this very fact. It is an inescapable truth: if you breastfeed past infancy your child will never wean and you will find yourself breastfeeding a teenager or young adult some day. Once they can ask for it you have to cut them off or they will never stop. Clearly breastfeeding is more addictive than chocolate, alcohol, crack, speed, shopping, and independence.

Because everyone knows that 3 and 13 are pretty much the same thing, you just stick a one in front of that 3. Teens are, according to most people, really just toddlers in bigger bodies, with raging hormones, pimples, and a slightly larger vocabulary. The temper tantrums are pretty much the same. Childhood goes so fast, don’t blink because you’ll miss it if you do and the next thing you know your 6’ 1” teenage boy will be folding himself onto your lap and tugging at your shirt saying “nene please mama.” Fact.

*Disclaimer: I have teenagers, they were breastfed as babies and toddlers but they never breastfed beyond early childhood so I can’t say I have any experience with this fact myself, nor have I ever encountered a breastfeeding teenager and unless my friends are lying, neither have they. But thousands of people say it is true. I know, I read it online.

But let’s say you’ve done it, ignored all the warnings and breastfed your child after their 1st birthday and then even after their 2nd and 3rd and 4th birthdays, now what? If you haven’t already, you’re headed straight to meeting them at lunch in high school so they can have mama milk. And if you have more than one child, you really are in big trouble. Juggling all those schedules to get your kids their babas is going to get really challenging.

It’s true, I guess, you’re just going to HAVE to cut them off at some point unless you really are ok following them to college and then some day on their honeymoon. There could be bonding moments in the future as you breastfeed your grown son while his wife breastfeeds their son. If that just won’t work for you though, how are you ever going to get that teenager to stop breastfeeding? When is it really time to wean and how do you do it?

I turned to my resident experts on teens: Earth Baby, 16, and Storyteller, 13. They were a bit shocked when I initially brought it up to them:

Me: “How should a mom wean their teenager from breastfeeding?”

EB: “Wait, WHAT?”

Storyteller: “That’s a thing? I don’t think that’s a thing.”

Me: “It’s totes a thing, I read it online.”

*At this point I got “the look” from Storyteller.

Storyteller: “You should never say ‘totes again’ and now I know that’s not a thing.”

EB: “Wait, WHAT? Are you really asking what I think you are asking?”

Me: “What’s wrong with me saying ‘totes’? And yes, I’m really asking.”

EB: “I don’t think any of my friends have conversations like this with their moms…”

Storyteller: “OMG, I know mine don’t. They also don’t breastfeed. Or say ‘totes.’ People saying teenagers breastfeed are severely lacking in intelligence. You can’t say ‘totes’ because you’re too old.”

EB: “Our family is weird, isn’t it?”

Me: “They either don’t breastfeed because their mom weaned them when they were young enough or they do breastfeed in secret. Some of them have to because I read it on the internet. Why am I too old to say ‘totes’?”

Storyteller: “You do know you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, right? It’s just dumb to think that kids that don’t stop breastfeeding when they are little will end up wanting to breastfeed as teenagers. Saying ‘totes’ is dumb too. What is wrong with people?”

Me: “I write on the internet, of course you can believe everything you read on the internet!

Earth Baby: “This is ridiculous.”

Earth Baby and Storyteller how to wean teenagers

Storyteller (left) and Earth Baby (right).

It took a while to get them to just go with me on this but that was an excellent example of just how hard it could be to wean a teenager. They’re stubborn creatures and smart too, they can argue until you’re blue in the face and they’ll still continue. Weaning a breastfed teenager could be intensely difficult! I can see why there are so many warnings to wean while they are still young.

Besides, can you imagine breastfeeding through the dreaded wisdom teeth stage?

After bribing them, they came up with some ideas. I shot down a few, such as the suggestion that you just tell them no, that it’s all done. Oh puh-lease, teenagers and “no” go about as well together as oil and water. I’m not so great at taking a direct “no” either so I know it’s best to save them for the big things such as “no, you absolutely can not surf on the hood of a truck going down the highway.” They agreed that “no” wouldn’t work given our family’s own personal experience with how well “no” is an effective strategy for a teenager. #itsnoteffectiveatall

Here are the ones we all thought might be most effective though, all approved by the teenagers in my house:

Gentle conversation. According to my 13 year old, teenagers are reasonable.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Moving on.

Bribe them with cake. That’s right, offer cake and tell them if they give up “bobbies” they can have cake. Also acceptable would be cake pops, frappuccinos, mini doughnuts, and iTunes gift cards.

Wean to drive. They can’t drive or get a drivers license until they give up the mama milks for good. No exceptions. It would be so important for mom to hold strong when the whining starts after they’ve started driving and start whining about how badly they need their nene.

Entertainment options. If you’re trying to wean a younger teen or maybe a tween, you could try saying no PG 13 movies because those movies are for big kids and big kids don’t get to breastfeed any more. This will work because all their friends will be talking about the next Pitch Perfect movie and they’ll totally be left out which would even be worse than weaning.

Smart phone. Like breastfeeding, all the teens are smartphoning these days. It’s simple though, mom will have to get another job to afford the bill so she can’t breastfeed any more. If they want a smartphone to fit in with their friends, they’ll be more than willing for mom to hang up her nursing bras and go to work.

Dating. Explain that any possible dates will be a little horrified if they found out they were still breastfeeding. It could really hurt their chances of finding a date… ever. But since embarrassment is worse than death for teens, simply posting a breastfeeding selfie and tagging them on social media would possibly do it. Also, would take care of the whole talking to you thing.

Prom. There’s just no way you could find an on trend yet age appropriate prom dress that has easy boob access. Show them what you’d have to wear to prom so they had mama milks when they needed it. They’ll never want to breastfeed again.

Charge. Teenagers are the largest demographic with a disposable income. Use it to your advantage, my 13yo thought that $1/1 minute sounded about fair if a teen wanted to continue breastfeeding. That would encourage them to wean real quick: buy a new outfit or get some “bob bob” and the decision would be pretty simple.

Just say no. My teenagers maintain that saying “my body, my choice” would be a firm boundary no teenager would cross. Specially if you’re already teaching them to respect themselves and others.

So, tell us, what are your tips for weaning teenagers?

 

*Please note: this is intended to be humorous with a bit of satire.
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Move Over Kim Kardashian, Breastfeeding Breaks The Internet!

by Jessica Martin-Weber

So KK wants to break the internet with a picture of her butt, breastfeeders know that to break the internet all you have to do is put a picture up of a baby being breastfed and the internet loses it’s mind. Move over Kim, you think balancing a champagne glass on your butt is hard while holding a bottle of champagne? Try balancing an empty bottle while being hooked up to a breast pump and expressing breastmilk as milk shoots over your head right into the bottle on your butt. Now that is talent.

 

Breastfeeding Kim Kardashian Jamie Witwerr

In case you’re wondering, the above image was created by Jamie Wittwer and posted on twitter, it is photoshopped and it’s one of the cutest and most funny knock-off’s of KK’s champagne photo in Paper Magazine I’ve seen. Sometimes, photoshop is just fun and having fun is… well… fun.

There’s an ongoing conversation happening about what women can show of their bodies and why. From bikini selfies to breastfeeding selfies, from Kim Kardashian on the cover of Paper Magazine to Olivia Wilde breastfeeding in Galmour Magazine. Typically the reactions to such images range from “oh no, a woman’s body is showing!” to “good for her, I think it’s beautiful.”

Whatever you think of whatever type of pictures, there is a rather interesting dichotomy at play, while there are some that don’t like any of the photos and think all women should be covered head to toe all the time (burkas for all!), there are those who appreciate one but loath the other. Judging from the comments posted on social media and the numerous articles covering these images, the reasons seem to be taking issue with photoshopped versions of the female body, the over sexualization and objectification of the female body, the messages underlying such images that girls and women are to be valued based on their sex appeal, or being grossed out with a baby sucking on the female breast, that “nobody wants to see that,” that breastfeeding is a personal bonding moment and such intimacy shouldn’t be shared, judging how narcissistic those breastfeeding moms must be to take and post a photo of themselves feeding their baby, and my personal favorite: that peeing and pooping are natural too but nobody wants to see pictures of that posted anywhere. Some good points are made in the critics and there are certainly some concerns we should be wrestling with both as individuals and as a society but nonetheless, there is a rather obvious double standard here for some: sexy images are good, nurturing ones are bad. “Breast is best” (stupid saying) but sexy is better.

How hypocritical of our society to encourage breastfeeding, even to the point of moms feeling pressured to breastfeed but then only value them when they appear in such a way that they’re a MILF. Do the “best” thing for your baby, be the “best” mom, but we don’t want to see it, we just want you to be invisible or “do-able.”

Alyssa Milano pointed out the hypocrisy of some of the reactions when Kim Kardashian’s Paper Magazine cover came out, not to criticize Kim, just noticing that there seems to be a double standard: naked women oiled up and looking sexy in digitally altered images including full frontals are fine and labeled “artistic” and “bold.” But an image of a woman feeding her baby at her breast is argued against as disgusting, inappropriate, and narcissistic, plus those that are so concerned that the mother’s full attention isn’t on the child that is actually at her breast feeding 32 times a day.

Question: every time you share a meal with someone do you never, ever, ever stop gazing lovingly in their eyes and have candlelight every time? Wouldn’t each meal time having to be an intimate bonding experience get exhausting?

Milano’s tweets got some cheers and some leers, not everybody has a problem with this double standard.

Alyssa Milano Kim Kardashian tweet copy

Personally I’m not a big fan of Kim’s photos in Paper Magazine and truthfully I don’t care. I’m shocked that somehow I’ve managed to write about KK at all here at all (let alone more than once) but here she is in the public eye and people are talking about her (including me too I guess) and she’s brought up some questions that even get my attention. The only real commentary I have is as long as she was ok with it, was aware and approved the photoshopping, then who am I to say anything? It’s not my style, I don’t particularly care for it, I certainly wouldn’t do it, and I can see the artistic value of it even if it doesn’t appeal to me. There are lots of other controversial questions about it that I find more interesting, such as the question of racist undertones and history of the artist. Overall though, it doesn’t bother me. I sat down with my older children ages 11, 13, and 15, showed them the images and asked them what they thought of them and I’m grateful for the conversation that came out of that. They got hung up on the unrealistic position of the wine glass and the lack of pubic hair (“why would anyone do that? Doesn’t it hurt? It looks like a little girl, how is that sexy?”) and after sharing their reactions, concerns, and thoughts on the images, decided it wasn’t for them. I’m ok with my daughters seeing images like this and if I had sons I would be ok with that as well. And I want them to see images like the one of Jamie Wittwer above and images of average people like you and me too.

And I want to laugh at it all sometimes. Maybe even break the internet.

Break the internet Kim Kardashian breastfeeding

Jamie Witwerr thinks it would be fun to break the internet with breastfeeding, join her and post your breastfeeding photos on social media.

The Paper Magazine images haven’t been without controversy but there does seem to be quite a few that praise the images and Kim’s flaunting of her body but are quick to say disparaging comments about breastfeeding photos.  The double standard is just one facet of how women are policed by society and overvalued in one aspect (for their sexuality) and undervalued for their many other facets, including but not limited to motherhood.

_______________________

What do you think? Is there a double standard for how women are viewed?

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Healing Nips and Nipple Butter Recipe

by Carrie Saum
This post was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Wean Green Glass.

Pumping. Nursing. Weaning. Teething. Lip ties. Tongue ties. Thrush. Mastitis. Clogged ducts.

What do these have in common?

Well, for starters, they can all be painful. Super painful. When I started my breastfeeding/pumping journey, I experienced serious boob trauma. In all of the pre-baby breastfeeding classes I took, nobody prepared me for pumping, nobody showed me how to hook one up, and the diagrams in the pump directions resembled a more risqué version of Ikea furniture assembly than easy-to-follow steps. Add a poorly fitted breast shield on a double electric pump, a baby with a hard suck, partial facial paralysis, and upper lip tie and you have the recipe for some seriously ouchie boobies.

I look back now and laugh at my naïveté. After all, much of what I’d heard from other moms was that breastfeeding (and pumping) would be painful. I expected it. So when my areolae wore down to pale, oversized, paper-thin circles, I wasn’t surprised. When my nipples were a violent bright red, sometimes tending towards purpley-black hues, I thought it was normal.

IT IS NOT NORMAL.

Common, but not normal. And a sign of there being something wrong. Not that you’re doing something wrong but that there is something wrong.

For months, my breasts were off limits, even to myself. The slightest graze of my husband’s hand would cause me to shriek, and not in a good way. The needle-like spray from our low-flow shower converted me into a stinky land dweller. I white-knuckled my way through each pumping or nursing session, telling myself that this level of pain seemed excessive and prolonged, but gosh, it was supposed to be this way, right? RIGHT? Even though I had been evaluated by FOUR lactation consultants, none of their suggestions seemed to help. I began combing the internet to figure out how to make feeding my baby less painful because this just was not working.

After correcting my son’s lip tie at 8 weeks, nursing became slightly less painful. (Wonder if your little one has a tongue or lip tie? Check out these basics of tongue and lip ties here.) I wanted to enjoy it. I loved the cuddles and sweet stares between us. But damn it, my boobs still hurt! Because of some other medical issues my son faced, I still pumped 50% of the time. I wised up and began using coconut oil to lubricate my breasts during pumping sessions. I changed out my breast pads every day. I washed and sterilized all of my pump parts regularly. I soaked my bras and nursing tanks in an apple cider vinegar solution before laundering them in order to kill all of the milk/saliva/sweat bacteria. And still…the pain was nearly unbearable.

I asked our doctor, who is also our midwife, to take a look at my breasts at my son’s four month check up. She called in another one of the midwife-doctors for a second opinion and they were both visibly pained by what they saw. My doctor suggested trying a different type of breast shield, which I ordered that same day, and manuka honey breast pads for my nipples and aureolas.

Turns out, the manuka honey breast pads are very spendy. I bit the bullet and purchased them anyway. I was desperate. After $20-ish and a week of use, my boobs started to feel so much better. I showered with abandon. I slept without breast pads. Nursing felt remarkably less painful. My husband touched my breasts and I almost enjoyed it. However, I still had a long way to go before they were healed up enough to lose the super-sensitivity.

Since I’m a mom on a budget, I set out to make my own raw manuka honey breast balm concoction. (It was still expensive, but more financially viable than the pads.) Initially, I was worried about putting honey on my breasts. Honey + baby = potential botulism. But cleaning the area impeccably (and I do mean impeccably) before nursing or pumping made it safe for my little guy. I created a simple recipe, used VERY clean utensils and pots, and made certain to keep the honey in it’s most raw state possible in order to preserve its antibacterial and healing qualities.

I applied this in a micro-thin layer in the morning during my son’s longest daytime nap, and again in the evening for a couple of hours before bed, making certain to wash thoroughly with soap and warm water before pumping or feeding. I also switched out my breast pads to avoid cross-contamination. Within two weeks, the super-sensitivity vanished. I enjoyed feeding my baby, softened at my husband’s touch again, and didn’t cringe when I accidentally bumped my boobs while changing my shirt or squeezing by someone in a crowded place…like our bathroom.

So, to recap:

Pumping and breastfeeding should NOT be excruciatingly painful for prolonged periods of time. But if it is, there’s help. Find an IBCLC, (which I did not do), and have your baby’s latch evaluated. Lip/tongue tie, thrush, suck, etc. They can help you. Also, have your pump properly fitted and ask for a tutorial by someone who knows all about it…like an IBCLC. Lastly, take care of your boobies. They are amazing, miraculous milkmakers and you will only use them in this capacity for a short, but critical, window of time. Take the time to care for them (and yourself) with kindness. Healing oils, balms, spendy nursing pads, whatever. It’s worth it.

YOU are worth it.

The Nice Boobies Healing Salve

Ingredients:

3 TBSP Raw Manuka Honey (I like Wedderspoon brand, available here.)

3 TBSP Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

1 tsp Organic Beeswax

1 tsp Rosewater

4 oz tin or glass container with lid, sterilized (we used Wean Green glass.)

Directions:

1) In a small, stainless steel pot, combine coconut oil and beeswax and stir on low heat until dissolved.

2) Take pot off burner and stir in honey. Once the honey is completely incorporated, stir in rosewater.

3) Immediately transfer mixture to container and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover with lid and store

away from direct sunlight or heat.

To Use:

1) Wash hands thoroughly. Scoop out a small, pebble sized amount with a clean utensil and warm between fingers to soften.

2) Apply a thin layer of salve to nipples and areola.

3) Cover with clean breast pad or soft cloth and bra.

4) Before nursing or pumping, CLEAN THOROUGHLY, and gently. (Botulism, people. And not like Botox.)

5) Put used breast pads immediately in the hamper to reduce cross-contamination.

*This salve is excellent for healing all kinds of ouchies. I use it on minor blisters, burns, and cuts. This has replaced our first aid cream.

** If the manuka honey is cost prohibitive for you, try sharing the cost with other moms and splitting a jar.

***If you are worried about your baby accidentally ingesting some of the salve, I successfully managed to keep my baby (who is allergic to almost all food) safe and uncontaminated. But please, only use this if you are comfortable doing so!

 

IMG_1299.JPG

 
What kind of nipple issues have you struggled with? What tips and tricks have you found help?
 

____________________________

Carri Saum Bio Pic 2

Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical fields. She has a background in paramedic medicine and spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet the health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. She has coached countless clients on topics such as nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and blogs regularly about healthy cooking via her blog, Come Kale or High Water. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
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Get Comfortable Breastfeeding- Bebe au Lait Giveaway!

A big part of reaching your breastfeeding goals may actually be about how comfortable you are breastfeeding. Physical comfort (back ache or nipple pain is going to put a big damper on things!), emotional comfort, social comfort, you name it, feeling comfortable can be key to the whole breastfeeding experience. Which is why we are talking about comfortable breastfeeding with our friends at Bebe au Lait and Katy Linda, IBCLC from The Breastfeeding Den and give away 2 breastfeeding covers and 2 breastfeeding pillows to help you get comfortable in your own breastfeeding journey, whatever that means for you.

 

Breastfeeding in public with a breastfeeding cover. When you're a model family at an adorable cafe. Thanks to Bebe au Lait for this image.

The Nursing Cover, $36-$38 value

Bebe au Lait introduced the Nursing Cover, 10 years ago as a solution for nursing in public. The stylish and comfortable covers are adjustable, and are made with a patented open neckline that holds the cover away from the baby, allowing mom and baby to make eye contact. They come in a variety of designs and colors, and are made of either 100% cotton, organic cotton or muslin.

 Bebe au Lait breastfeeding pillow

The Nursing Pillow, $55 value

Bebe au Lait launched for the first time this year, The Nursing Pillow. Created by a nursing mom, The Nursing Pillow puts baby at the optimum height to promote a better latch. The features include a reversible, dual sided surface (soft or flat), convenient two-sided pocket to keep essentials within easy reach and an adjustable, tuck-away strap. The Nursing Pillow is designed with an open shape for a better fit and is foam-free. Both pillow and removable slip cover are 100% cotton and machine washable. Please note that this item is not yet available and will be shipping mid December with the lucky winners being some of the very first to get their hands on one of these beautiful new pillows.

 To be entered for a chance to win one of these prizes, follow the directions on the widget below. Please note, this giveaway is open to those in the USA.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Romanticized Myth of What Constitutes Successful Breastfeeding- An Apology

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Dear Leakies,

This is my 5th version of this letter. I’m going to finish this one.

But first I’m going to do something I’ve never done here before:

To hell with the WHO Code

That’s a picture of Sugarbaby receiving a bottle. A bottle of my milk. Taken 2 years ago by my wonderful husband, I love this photo. So much love and pride captured in this moment. A vital moment in me reaching and achieving my breastfeeding goals. And that bottle wasn’t even kind of a “booby trap” to my breastfeeding goals.

Still, I never shared it with any of you here, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Why haven’t I shared this or images like it with The Leaky Boob community before now? Why is this my 5th attempt at this letter? It’s simple:

Shame.

Yep. I have harbored shame. Not shame that my babies have received bottles, no, I have absolutely no shame that I’ve fed my children as I needed to. No, my shame came from using a bottle made by a WHO Code violating company. (To learn about what the International Code of marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is, go here.) Only, that’s not really the shame I’m holding either, do you know how hard it is to find a bottle that’s not made by a WHO code violator? Nearly impossible.

No, my shame goes way beyond even the WHO Code, bottle feeding, or supporting a WHO Code violator.

My shame is that I haven’t cared about the WHO Code for 3 years, but felt I had to in order to be a “good” breastfeeding supporter.

My shame is that I played along, even became a part of the self-appointed WHO Code policing brigade for a time, even though I knew all along, deep down in my heart, that the almighty WHO Code was creating barriers.

My shame is that I felt righteous supporting the WHO Code. The original purpose of the WHO Code was so pure, so right, so good, how could I not support it?

My shame is that I upheld an artificial picture of what it looked like to successfully breastfeed and called it supporting the WHO Code.

My shame is that my actions supported the WHO Code more than they supported women, babies, and families.

But my shame is not that my babies were fed, not that they were loved, not that they sucked on an artificial teat.

To hell with the WHO Code

Look at that big sister love and pride!

Screw shame. I’m done. And I’m sorry. I’m deeply sorry that it has taken 3 years for me to find my courage to take the stand I live but never shared here.  I’m sorry that I’ve not been honest.

Because this is what successful breastfeeding has looked like for me:

To hell with the WHO Code

And so is this:

to hell with the WHO Code

For every single one of my 6 beautiful children, bottles and breast have been a part of me reaching my goals. And not just because I had to go back to work. I choose to go back to work, I love working and am a better parent when I work, but even when I didn’t work outside the home, I elected to partially bottle feed my milk to my baby. This was a positive thing for me as I get physically stimulated very easily and as an introvert found the need to create some space for myself. I did better mentally and emotionally, which meant I was in a healthier place mentally and emotionally to parent my children. It was the best healthy choice for us. I have never, not once, regretted it. Today, with a breastfeeding 2.5 year old, I also don’t believe it ever interfered with our breastfeeding nor did bottles have a negative impact on me reaching my breastfeeding goals.

In fact, I firmly believe that without bottles, I would have quit breastfeeding early on.

And see the big child in this photo bottle-feeding her baby sister my milk?

to hell with the WHO code

Do you see that eye contact? *melt*

She was mostly formula fed.

I don’t have any shame about that either. In fact, I’m damn proud that when the time came I could make the right decision for us to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula. The regret I have felt about that has been artificial and circumstantial, never true. It took a lot of courage for me to make that decision and it was the right one. I would make it again if I had to. I will support you if it’s the decision you need to make as well. We’ve been vocal here that breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing to be successful, I just haven’t been visible with that reality for myself.

Through The Leaky Boob I have contributed to a beautiful yet often unattainable depiction of what it looks like to breastfeed. In my attempt to normalize breastfeeding and provide support up what breastfeeding looks like, I have held up at the breast breastfeeding as being more beautiful, more important, more viable, more worthy of sharing and discussing and promoting than any other infant feeding methodology.

I support people before I support a feeding method.

to hell with the WHO Code

Sugarbaby’s big sisters loved to give her a bottle

I look at these photos of my baby receiving bottles and I see a beautiful, important, viable feeding worthy of sharing and discussing and promoting. Normalizing breastfeeding (bottle-feeders will tell me they feel that is normalized) and normalizing bottle-feeding(breastfeeders will tell me they fell that is normalized) shouldn’t be in competition with each other. What really seems to need to be normalized is caring for children. Parenting. Without it being a contest or a platform to boost how we feel about ourselves.

Feeding your child is real, no matter what they are fed or the mode of delivery. It’s real, it’s important, it’s complicated, and parents deserve support as they navigate this terrain. I am sorry that The Leaky Boob has, at times, failed to communicate that. I a sorry if instead of being a part of building your confidence, I’ve been a part of tearing it down. Deeply sorry.

I know there are those who will tell me I haven’t failed and I appreciate that.

I also know there will be those that will tell me that I haven’t failed until now. I appreciate that too.

But for the last 4 years as The Leaky Boob I have not been entirely honest with you. As a public voice in breastfeeding support, I have contributed to a mythical image of breastfeeding. I wish I could say it wasn’t intentional but it was and of the 4 years I’ve been doing The Leaky Boob, I have wrestled with this for three years. Motivated by fear, I allowed myself to present a picture of my breastfeeding journey and an idealized image of “successful” breastfeeding that simply wasn’t true. Well, not true for me anyway and likely not true for many of you. And I know holding that ideal up was damaging for some and a sort of betrayal for others. It wasn’t that I overtly lied, it was more of an omission of truth. I was wrong to do so and I am sorry.

A few weeks ago I was sitting with a friend of ours, a new dad who was bragging about how his wife and son had worked so hard at breastfeeding and just the day before, at close to 8 weeks old, had fed directly from the breast for all of the feeds. He said something that struck me: “you know, I think they’ve been breastfeeding, we’ve worked so hard but it’s not like you ever see pictures of breastfed babies getting bottles. Our lactation consultants were great but it’s a lot of work, a lot of time, a LOT of money, you know? The work you do is so important, we were on The Leaky Boob all the time and we have found a lot of help and support there but we still felt alone. I mean, it feels like it’s not as real if we’re giving a bottle, nobody ever talks about that. Does anyone else go through this?”

I was confronted with the reality of my failure on my couch.

to hell with the WHO code

Babies feeding babies here. So much big sister love!

Leakies I am sorry I never shared images of my babies and other babies receiving bottles. I was wrong to only ever present a side of my infant feeding journey that was safe for me as a public breastfeeding supporter. Anxious that I would be inviting drama and attacks from other breastfeeding supporters, educators, blogs, organizations, and my own readers, I didn’t want to risk being accused of being a WHO Code violator by posting pictures of my babies with their bottles. Specially since I do make some income from The Leaky Boob, I was concerned that if I ever even showed bottle feeding some would think it was sending the wrong message.

But message or not, this is the truth: my babies, all 6 of them, got bottles. One got mostly formula in her bottles. Back when I was attending women as they had their babies, often I was helping a new mother and baby pair with their first few feedings while my baby was at home getting a bottle of my milk. And every single bottle my babies have received was manufactured by a WHO Code violating company. I’ve never once regretted that, never once felt guilty for it, never once wished it was another way. But I did feel afraid to show it.

My incredible husband, Jeremy, The Piano Man, has never had a problem sharing these images though and not because he doesn’t understand the WHO Code or is unaware of the barriers women face when it comes to breastfeeding. When he came home one day with a new bottle and I stressed about having a WHO Code violating bottle in our house, that it couldn’t be posted anywhere online, and that I felt sick giving money to a Code violating company, he simply looked at me and calmly said “I thought this was about feeding our daughter.” I sterilized that bottle and moved on, knowing I wouldn’t post any photos of the offending bottle. But he did. And the very first comment on the photo was this:

WHO Code

E bottle feeding A copy IG bottle feeding comments redacted

I understand where the commenter was coming from and she wasn’t giving anyone a hard time but it’s true, because of the half truth I had shared, it was strange to see one of my baby’s drinking from a bottle. But it wasn’t strange that she was receiving one, it was actually a part of our normal infant feeding routine.

Bottles were an important part of me reaching my breastfeeding goals. Without bottles, I’m not sure I would have made it as far as I have and I’m pretty certain I would never have even started The Leaky Boob. I have talked about using bottles and formula feeding my second daughter, but I never shared images and I carefully couched sharing those experiences as safely as I could so as not to invite controversy.

I have let go of my shame and my fear.

By intentionally keeping that part of my breastfeeding journey quiet, by not sharing images of my baby receiving a bottle, by just sharing images of my babies feeding only at my breasts, and by neglecting the real life bottled-up aspects of the breastfeeding journeys of others, I perpetuated a romanticized myth of what constitutes successful breastfeeding.

I am sorry. Please forgive me.

With all my love, sincerely,

~Jessica

bottle feeding and breastfeeding The Leaky Boob Sugarbaby

Do you use bottles? How do you feel about using bottles? Do you share pictures on social media of your baby receiving bottles? Need help bottle-feeding your breastfed baby? Check out this articleFacebook page, and this book.

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What I Want You To Know About Why My Son Can’t Eat- FPIES

By Carrie Saum Dickson

This guest post shares the feeding journey of 16 month of Echo as told by his mother. A breastfeeding, pumping, allergy story of a little boy with a bright spirit and a mom and dad with steadfast hearts and commitment. Their story is beautiful, inspiring, challenging, humbling, educational, and so very raw. Be sure to go on to read part 1 and part 2 of their story as well.

Carrie and Echo FPIES

Shortly after birth, my sweet little boy, Echo, had a stroke. We struggled to breastfeed and I ended up exclusively pumping for him. But that was hardly the extend of his feeding difficulties. You see, my son can’t eat. For a while there he couldn’t eat anything, now he has a few safe foods. But he still really can’t eat. He’s 16 months old.

My son’s name is Echo and he has FPIES.

What is FPIES? According to The FPIES Foundation:

Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) is a type of food allergy affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.  Classic symptoms of FPIES include profound vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. These symptoms can lead to severe lethargy, change in body temperature and blood pressure. Unlike typical food allergies, symptoms may not be immediate and do not show up on standard allergy tests.  Furthermore, the negative allergy evaluation may delay the diagnosis and take the focus off the causative food.  Nonetheless, FPIES can present with severe symptoms following ingestion of a food trigger.

I will tell you this: I’m a fierce mama bear. I will not let my son be defined by a stroke or FPIES or anything else over which he has no control.  He is a strong, charismatic, people-loving, joyful being. He walks confidently into a room full of strangers, waving and smiling as though the world has been expecting him all along, and is ready to receive him. He is so much more than a diagnosis or cluster of symptoms. Echo is pure light. We do our best to make the world safe for him. Sometimes we fail. With every trip we’ve taken and guest we’ve hosted, Echo has experienced acute reactions each time despite our vigilance. But we walk a very fine line between taking calculated chances and raising Echo in a bubble.

This. This new normal. Echo, at 16 months old, has two handfuls of safe foods and resists eating, all while laughing and giving kisses and shaking his head “no”.  Me? I’ve made peace with the pump. Peace with my life in this moment, with the ever-changing new normal. My son has one constant and safe food source that he never turns down (mommy’s milk!), and it brings me great peace of mind. We’ve learned to keep participating in life, even when my mom innocently asks if there’s a mute button for the pump motor, or when Echo enthusiastically licks the trash can and we know we will be up all night.  I’ve learned I can do anything for ONE MORE DAY, which in this case adds up to almost 500 days. Especially if it’s for my son. I’m grateful and proud that my body still impossibly provides most of what Echo needs. The dark clouds of survival lift and retreat when I remember this: I am lucky to be his.

Echo FPIES I am the voice

Here are three things I want you to know from my experience:

  1. FPIES scary and effing HARD. Have you ever tried to keep a toddler from eating food? It’s impossible. And sad. And no matter how careful we are, Echo often manages to find something and then we hold our breath until we know he’s okay. Leaving the house is stressful, play dates are almost impossible, and no space (except ours) is safe for him. Leaving him with a sitter is always a test of faith and competence. Finances are continuously tight. As it turns out, shipping donor milk, taking the max dose of Domperidone, (which insurance does not cover), and keeping up with medical bills all require quite a bit of cash. Also, it really takes a toll on a marriage, even a solid, seasoned one. Many families don’t make it through these rigorous trials with chronically ill children intact, even with proper support. Try not to judge us when we all seem a little fragile.
  2. FPIES is exhausting. When Echo experiences a reaction, he is in continuous pain, nobody sleeps for two days, and we have to take extra care with him. It requires total gut rest and a diet of only precious breast milk for days. I hate that he suffers so much, and it takes us all about a week to fully recover. We get little sleep and even less respite. We are hyper-vigilant everywhere we go because food is, well…everywhere. So, if you see Lance or me getting hyped-up when Echo gets food on his finger or there are crumbs on the floor or freak out when you pull out the goldfish crackers, please don’t think we’re crazy. And please don’t take offense when we start cleaning up after your kid or respectfully wiping their hands and faces before they play with Echo.
  3. FPIES is a real thing, and it’s rare. I’m part of online support groups where moms have been diagnosed with Munchausen Syndrome when they take their very sick children into the ER after an especially bad reaction, and some parents have had their children taken away because the doctors don’t even know what FPIES is or believe the parents when they explain it. (The parents eventually get their kids back when the doctors and social workers see that the reactions happen no matter whose care the child is under.) Although I refuse to dwell in fear of this happening, it is still something that happens. And the only way it stops happening is if you guys know about FPIES.

 

For more information about FPIES, visit these websites:
The FPIES Foundation
http://fpiesfoundation.org/fpies-medical-literature

From the American Journal of Pediatrics: The Mother of All Food Allergies
http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476%2803%2900273-7/fulltext

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