Breastfeeding in public harassment and how you can make a difference

This guest post comes from Austin inviting us all to take a look at how we can go deeper to help bring systemic change when it comes to breastfeeding in public harassment.  Beyond social media campaigns, nurse-ins, and expressing outrage through traditional media, we can each utilize our individual influence in powerful yet simple ways resulting in collective improvements that impact the whole community.  Without a multifaceted approach of intentional influence, our efforts to normalize breastfeeding face not only our own fatigue, but over-saturation of the accessible avenues.  We risk burning out before reaching our goals.  This isn’t about using a cover or not, the issue isn’t modesty or moms being prepared, the issue here is basic human rights and there are most definitely politics involved.  ~Jessica Martin-Weber
by Krisdee Donmoyer

As a breastfeeding advocate active in social media, I am hyper-aware of how frequently nursing in public incidents occur.  Some are big news – Target, a Georgia church, Hollister, Las Vegas – but there are many more that aren’t picked up by major news outlets.   Recently, a Keep Austin Nursing in Public follower posted to my Facebook page about an incident that occurred in my own city at, of all places, a Victoria’s Secret store in which a mother, Ashley Clawson, was denied use of an unneeded fitting room to breastfeed by an employee who told her to take her baby to an alley where “no one usually goes.”

Would you eat here?

Would you eat here?

I reached out to Ashley to offer support and resources, and advised an initial approach of diplomacy and education.  Social media moves faster than bureaucracy, though, and after being told it would be days before she’d hear back from Victoria’s Secret corporate, Ashley agreed to a news interview.  A reporter’s call got a faster reaction from the company than Ashley’s did.  In their response to the reporter they said all the right things: they apologized, they have a policy welcoming breastfeeding mothers, and they’re ensuring all employees are aware of it.

So – awesome!  They did what we want, right?  I mean, I’m pretty sure what all moms want in this situation is that it doesn’t happen to other moms.  So, boom!  We’re done, right?

Well, not exactly.  Ashley won’t be the last mother to face discrimination for breastfeeding in a place of public accommodation.  This is a systemic issue that impacts breastfeeding rates.  It needs a systemic solution.   In Texas where Ashley and I live, there is a law that asserts our right to breastfeed in any public place in which we are authorized to be, but the law does not specifically prevent others from interfering with that right.  So, we are not protected.  What the Victoria’s Secret employee did was wrong.  She violated a civil right and endangered a nursing relationship.  But she did not break the law, because the law does not say she can’t violate our right.

This is true in more states than not.  We tried to improve our NIP law in Texas in the last regular legislative session.  We got a bill pretty far, but we didn’t get it all the way.  Work has already begun to support the bill when it is filed again in 2015.  It will educate businesses that the law exists, prohibit anyone from interfering with a mother’s right to breastfeed in public, and give her recourse if her right is violated.

Whether you live in Texas or another state, you can contact your legislators and tell them what happened here.  Look up your state’s nursing in public law.  If there is no enforcement provision, tell them why it matters to you that they support one.  Tell them that you want to be able to go buy groceries and feed your baby if (s)he is hungry while you’re out, without being harassed?

If our lawmakers hear from enough of us they will realize that their constituents expect them to be a force in creating community support for breastfeeding.  And that’s what it takes: their own constituents - the people who will or will not vote for them when they run again – that’s who makes all the difference.

You can make a difference.

Those online comments we write will only be read for a few more hours.  A nurse-in, while sometimes empowering, is over in a matter of minutes (and leaves a negative impression with some).

Look up your state law and your legislators.  Write an email, or call – or better yet, go visit their office.

Make your voice heard in a way that can make a lasting change.

You can find your state’s law here.  And you can look up your state legislators here and your US Senators and Members of Congress here.

Krisdee Donmoyer Keep Austin Nursing In PublicKrisdee Donmoyer is a feminist stay-at-home mom of three sons and an outspoken breastfeeding advocate. She’s the outreach coordinator for Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, and the recent recipient of the 2013 Breastfeeding Hero Award from HMHB, due to her work lobbying for mother- and baby-friendly breastfeeding policies in two central Texas school districts and in the Texas Legislature. You can read more about her work on her blog, Keep Austin Nursing in Public, and like her on Facebook, where she spends more time than cats spend sleeping.

 

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It doesn’t have to be all or nothing

by Kari Swanson
This post made possible in part by the generous support of Beco Baby Carrier.

full term breastfeeding

My daughter was placed on my chest immediately after my obstetrician finished stitching up my c-section incision. She latched onto my breast and started breastfeeding right there in the operating room. Last month we celebrated her third birthday. She knows that babies have mama milk. She also knows that big girls have mama milk until they are ready to stop having mama milk. I expect that sometime between now and the time she is around 5 years old she will gradually wean.

Some might consider the fact that my daughter is 3 and still receiving breastmilk to be extreme, but anthropological evidence indicates that this is biologically normal for a young hominid primate. That being said, it is probably no surprise that I consider myself to be a lactivist. I believe that human breastmilk is the biologically normal food source for human infants and I volunteer as an admin on The Leaky B@@b in order to support other breastfeeding mothers and to help normalize breastfeeding in a culture that has largely lost sight of the real reason women have breasts.

What may come as a surprise to some is that my daughter and my son before her received formula in addition to breastmilk. Why? Because I work full time outside of my home and I am among the unlucky few who truly do not respond well to breast pumps. For whatever reason my body just does not give up the gold for a machine despite my supply being more than adequate. After a time, despite numerous tips and tricks, pumping whenever and wherever I could, I ceased to be able to pump enough milk to entirely meet my babies’ nutritional needs while they were separated from me while I worked.

With my daughter I was fortunate to be able to spend 3 months home with her after she was born, and to spend 3 months thereafter working half time. I pumped at home before returning to work and I pumped before work, during work, after work, and on non-workdays once I returned to work. I had a small stash of milk in the deep freezer when I returned to work, but it was quickly depleted. When I first returned to work and pumped I easily had enough milk by the end of the day to send to the daycare without dipping into my frozen milk stash.

I determined how much milk my daughter needed in her daycare bottles using an iPhone app called “Breast Milk Calculator.” The app uses the baby’s weight, age and number of feedings in the previous 24 hours to suggest how much milk he or she needs per feeding. Using the app I determined exactly how many ounces she needed per bottle. The number of feedings was based on the number of hours she was away from me and how frequently she would normally nurse.

But, just as it had when my son was a baby, my pumping output dwindled over time. Eventually I was pumping less than an ounce per side per pumping session. I used up my entire frozen milk stash. Despite my best efforts at around 6 months I was no longer able to pump enough to send only breastmilk in my daughter’s daycare bottles. So, I sent as much breastmilk as I could and to make sure she had sufficient nutrition I sent formula too.

When my daughter was a newborn she, like her brother, needed supplementation. They both had jaundice and they both lost more than the usual amount of weight after birth. Although her condition was better than her brother’s had been (he was a very sleepy 37 weeker with more severe jaundice), my daughter was also a slow gainer. So, the IBCLC we saw recommended supplementation while I built up my own supply. When my son was a newborn he received formula supplementation, but my daughter received donor breastmilk, or as we referred to it “Auntie milk”—because our milk donor was my sister who was still breastfeeding her toddler son at the time my daughter was born.

By the time my daughter was in daycare full time and my pumping supply could not keep up with my daughter’s demands my sister’s son had weaned. I considered donor breastmilk, but decided against it. My strong, healthy baby did fine on formula, and I felt that the relatively limited supply of donor milk in my area should be available to babies for whom formula was not an option, babies whose mothers could not breastfeed them at all or whose health really warranted the exclusive use of donor milk. So, we chose formula instead.

I already knew exactly what formula I would choose for my daughter if I reached this point, because I had read quite a bit of research about formula before I had my son. I looked up numerous scholarly research articles and reviews of the literature about formula on PubMed. At that point I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I had been given the somewhat unhelpful advice that my desire to breastfeed and to go back to work full time were “setting [myself] up for failure”. So, in case that was true I did all of that research about formula and based my decision on what I had read. (Bear in mind that my son was born in 2004 and donor milk was not as prevalent, except from milk banks by prescription and at a rather high price.) Despite many assertions otherwise, infant formula is an acceptable, nutritionally adequate alternative to breastmilk and is a much better choice than the milk of any other mammal or milk made from plants.

Eventually both of my babies received only formula in their daycare bottles. Both times the amount I was able to pump became miniscule compared to the amount they needed and the stress and frustration of pumping so little became too much for me, so I stopped. They both did fine on the formula they received part of the time, so I felt comfortable giving them as much as they needed while they were separated from me. My daughter had breastmilk exclusively, either at the breast or in bottles, for more than 6 months. They were around the same age when they started receiving formula alone in their daycare bottles: 7-8 months. Despite this both of my babies continued to breastfeed whenever they were with me. They never experienced nipple confusion, expressed a preference for the bottle, or had nursing strikes. They both stopped receiving formula when they no longer needed bottles at daycare.

So, yes I am a lactivist. I believe breastmilk is the biologically normal food for human infants. But, breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

 

You can read more from Kari over on her site and enjoy her thoughtful, thorough writing and beautiful photography.

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Did you respond well to breast pumps?  Have you had to supplement?  If so, what did you use?  Were you able to supplement and still reach your breastfeeding goals?

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12 Weaning Ceremonies


Breastfeeding can be such a sacred time in our lives. While we cherish the breastfeeding journey, it is rare in our culture to commemorate the end of breastfeeding with little more than a note in the baby book. If breastfeeding was important to you, consider celebrating your experiences and remembering this special transition with a weaning ceremony.

Your weaning ceremony can serve multiple purposes. If you choose to involve your child, it can be an event to mark the end of nursing – something that mother and child gently discuss and plan in anticipation of weaning. For mothers and their partners, a weaning ceremony is a way to honor the transition from breastfeeding to nursing beyond the breast, and all of the emotions that accompany that change.

Some children may not benefit from a definite, marked end to the nursing relationship. If a slow, natural end to breastfeeding is more comfortable for your child, you can still hold a quiet ceremony by yourself, with your spouse, or with other mothers who can understand and support you through this transition. Don’t be afraid to mourn the end of breastfeeding – it is a normal and healthy response to this change. But after you’ve given yourself time to mourn, consciously meditate on the joys of mothering a child who has weaned. A weaning ceremony can help you mindfully navigate this change.

Below are 12 weaning ceremony ideas that you can adapt to meet your own needs and those of your nursling. If you have other ceremony ideas, please share them in the comments so I can add them to the list.

    1. Write your nursling a letter. Include anything you’d like to share about your nursing relationship, what this change means to you, your hopes and dreams for them, etc. I found two examples of weaning letters: one at Mothering.com, the other from a Jewish mother at ritualwell.
    2. Anoint yourself with herbs for weaning. Herbs can help with physical discomfort and emotional healing. Kellymom lists several herbs to help decrease milk supply, including sage and peppermint. Earth Mama Angel Baby makes a No More Milk tea that includes some of these herbs. And because you will experience a drop in prolactin levels during weaning, it may also help to prepare yourself with herbal remedies for depression.(1) Herbs to help alleviate depression that are safe to use while breastfeeding include St. Johnís wort, Evening primrose oil, Motherwort, and Blessed thistle.(2)
    3. Write your breastfeeding story. Start with those milky newborn memories – the pursed lips nursing even after they’ve unlatched, sleepy rooting at all hours of the day and night, the newness of life and the awe of continuing to grow your baby with your own body. Continue on through infancy – those milky smiles, dive bombing for your breast, the day your little one first starts babbling or signing in a recognizable way for milk. Write about the joys of breastfeeding past infancy – nursing gymnastics, manners, nursing away every hurt, the special words and phrases you and your nursling share.(3) Share the highs and lows of your nursing experience and the emotions you’ve gone through along the way. Here are two stories to get you started: one at Kellymom, another at La Leche League International.
    4. Throw a weaning party. For little ones who need a celebration to mark the occasion of weaning, consider having an intimate party – just you and your nursling and partner. Make special foods, bake a cake, whatever makes it special for your family. Here is an example of a weaning party.
    5. Write a book. Create a personal book for your child about their breastfeeding journey, their babyhood, and their transition into a “big kid.”
    6. Hold a special ceremony for your nursling.Sometimes breastfeeding pairs need to wean when neither mama nor child is ready. In these situations, a special ceremony may help mark the day of weaning, helping the child clearly see the end of nursing while beginning the grieving process for both in a bittersweet way.Jessica of The Leaky B@@b was pregnant, gaining very little weight, and felt pressured by her care providers to wean. To help give closure to her 21 month old nursling, Jessica, her husband, and the big sisters all wrote a special note for the nursling. After eating a special meal together, the family gathered around a candle. Jessica invited her nursling to climb into her lap for one last nursing session. As her nursling snuggled in, the family read their letters to the child. They also gave her several sweet gifts. When she was finished nursing, she blew out the candle.

      While your weaning ceremony will be memorable and sweet, be prepared for nurslings to continue to ask to nurse. They simply do not understand what it means to wean forever, and you will very likely have to soothe many tears in the weeks to come (as Jessica did).

    7. Give yourself (and/or your child) a gift. Find something special that represents this transition. I highly recommend Hollyday Designs breastmilk jewelry – it is beautiful.
    8. Create a breastfeeding scrapbook. Gather pictures and/or video of you and your little one snuggling and nursing and compile them into a keepsake scrapbook (a virtual one or one that you can hold).
    9. Go on a date. Take your nursling somewhere special. Make it an event that represents how “grown up” they are.
    10. Tell your child their nursing story. Regardless of whether you write it down, tell your little one about your nursing journey as you’ve lived it. Telling them this story over the years will help normalize breastfeeding for them, and it will help you both retain sweet memories from their nursing years.
    11. Choose a special time to be together. If you or your little one are missing a regular nursing time, find something special you can do together every day at that time instead. Think about snuggling, reading, yoga, meditation, art, or some other activity you will both enjoy. For as long as you need to throughout and after the weaning process, take a few moments at the beginning of your special time to check in with yourself and truly be present with your child.
    12. Design your own ritual.Several cultures and religions have weaning ceremonies. Research them and design a ceremony that will be meaningful to your family. Here are a few resources to get you started:

Did you do something to mark the end of your breastfeeding relationship? Please share in the comments.

Footnotes:
(1) From Kellymom: “Prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production, also brings with it a feeling of well-being, calmness and relaxation. The faster the weaning process the more abrupt the shift in hormone levels, and the more likely that you will experience adverse effects.”
(2) Safe herb list found here. It also says that St. Johnís wort should not be taken in conjunction with any other depression medication.
(3) And if you’d like to share your nursing past infancy story, consider submitting it to my series. See my Contributor Guidelines page for more details.

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Dionna is a lawyer turned work at home mama of two amazing kids, Kieran and Ailia. You can normally find Dionna over at Code Name: Mama where she shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting and life with little ones. Dionna is also cofounder of Natural Parents Network and NursingFreedom.org, and author of For My Children: A Mother’s Journal of Memories, Wishes, and Wisdom.
Connect with Dionna on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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Virtual bra fitting experience from a Leaky

I’ve referred quite a few Leakies to A Mother’s Boutique for virtual bra fittings and great costumer service in selecting a bra.  Recently one had such a positive experience she wrote to tell me about it and I thought I’d share it with everyone.

 

A Mother's Boutique shop, nursing bras, breastfeeding

Dear Jessica, 

I wanted to thank you for referring me to Judy at A Mother’s Boutique. I was able to experience an awesome virtual bra fitting service from the comfort of my own home. Honestly, I had doubt thinking how I can order a bra from home and it actually fit well. I emailed Judy inquiring about nursing bras since I am large breasted I have a hard time finding bras with good support. I received an immediate response from Judy regarding my inquiry. She asked me a list of questions such as my current bra size I was wearing, how the bra fit, what I was looking for in a bra and if I was currently pregnant or how old is my little one.  These questions were detailed questions besides the famous question of “what are your measurements”. That question is highly important, but Judy goes beyond the norm to make sure she finds the right bra that fits perfectly for each momma. I was looking for a bra with good support, an underwire and plain in style. After answering all the questions, I received an email with what size I should be wearing and a list of bras that covered what I wanted in a nursing bra. It turned out I have been wearing the wrong bra size my entire life. I thought the size she told me couldn’t possibly be right but knowing I can exchange the bras I decided to order based on the sizing Judy provided for me. I choose the Smooth Nursing Bra and the Anita. The bras came within 2 days and there was no charge for shipping which is an added bonus. I hate having to pay for shipping. Each bra I purchased cost $55.00 which to some people may seem expensive, but for the quality and service it is well worth every penny. I can tell by the quality that these bras will last a long time. Once the bras arrived in the mail I tried them on and they fit like a glove. I couldn’t be happier with the service provided by Judy at A Mother’s Boutique. I highly recommend the Leakies to try a virtual bra fitting with Judy because it was an overall easy and awesome experience with a wonderful outcome. 

Thanks Again, 

Brianne 

One Happy Leaky 

 

After years and years of wearing ill-fitting bras and giving up on nursing bras entirely, I have finally gotten into bras that are not only comfortable and fit well, but are cute and quality.  It turns out I didn’t like nursing bras that didn’t fit me well and were not well made.  Now I love them, thanks to Judy’s help and the breastfeeding bras I have will last beyond my breastfeeding years and are so cute I will still enjoy wearing them.  I will admit that I’ve never wanted to spend much on bras, it felt like such a wasteful expense so I consistently purchased cheap bras that were uncomfortable and fell apart.  My experience mirrors what Brianne enjoyed as well and I can say with confidence, it’s worth getting fitted and spending a little extra for a bra that will fit well and last.  Thanks to Brianne for sharing!

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Have you been fitted for a bra?  How much are you willing to spend on a breastfeeding specific bra?  How many breastfeeding specific bras do you own?

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You can find A Mother’s Boutique on Facebook and on their website.  To sign up for a virtual fitting with Judy, fill out this form.  Please note that though A Mother’s Boutique has been a TLB sponsor for a while now, this post is not a sponsored post.
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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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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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Breast Cancer, Because Reduced Risk Does Not Mean No Risk

by Terry Arnold

Editor’s note: Breastfeeding activists, such as myself, excitedly share the information that the relative risk of breast cancer decreases by 4.3% for every 12 months a woman breastfeeds (you can read the abstract from the 2002 study here).  This is exciting information and something that should be shared but not to the exclusion of the reality that a reduced risk does not mean no risk.  Women, your health is important.  Breastfeeding can be one way to reduce your risk of breast cancer but it is not a guarantee.  Please take the time to be educated and informed and then for you, for your children and for the people that love you, learn the signs of the different types of breast cancer and don’t neglect your breast health.  This article by a beautiful friend of mine, Inflammatory Breast cancer survivor, science teacher (she’s taught my kids!), and mother of 5 breastfed children is one of the most important articles I’ve ever shared here on theleakyboob.com.  Terry is a hero, speaking out to educate others on this silent killer she has been blessed to survive.  I deeply appreciate her sharing with us, that she cares enough about us moms to risk telling us what we may not want to hear.  This article is not intended to frighten anyone, simply to help educate and share information. ~Jessica

Photo by bingeandpurge from deviantart.com

 

“You’re upsetting me”, she says and walks away….

Breast cancer, I talk about breast cancer. Especially in October (or “Pinktober” as it is sometimes called) as it is easier to strike up a conservation with a stranger due to the social focus on this disease. Today at a volunteer event to protect Galveston Bay, I asked the young woman standing near me if she had ever heard of IBC, Inflammatory Breast Cancer? She seemed a little confused at not being versed on IBC as she clearly was an educated woman savvy in women’s health issues. After a short delay, she said no, she had not heard of this type of breast cancer. I began to tell her about IBC, the cancer that is viewed as a rare but most fatal breast cancer often striking women prior to mammogram suggested age screenings. Her face tightened; unwittingly I had hit a nerve, as she told me there was a lot of breast cancer in her family. Within seconds calm washed over her face and she smiled and said, “But I will never get breast cancer!” Then I was the one at loss for words, “Why do you say that?” Her reply, “I have breastfed two children, each child over a year, so my breasts are resistance to cancer.” I sputtered for a minute…and I said, “I hate to tell you this, but I am a mom of five children, and nursed all of them at least to their first birthday, and I talk to women about IBC because I was diagnosed with this cancer the summer of 2007”.

Inflammatory Breast cancer is the most fatal of the known breast cancers and tends to hit women in younger years often prior to mammogram suggested age screening recommendations. Proper and aggressive treatment with IBC is very important and person’s presenting with IBC symptoms need to seek a diagnosis as soon as possible.

My heart was heavy after speaking to this beautiful young woman, because I think of myself as someone who encourages, gives hope and fights for education of a most aggressive cancer, which is dubbed “The Silent Killer.” As I watched her walk away, I felt like I had taken something from her, a confidence that breastfeeding was a given protector and that she could not get breast cancer, instead of my intention of giving her information that might be of benefit to her or others. All women need to be well educated on IBC, especially breastfeeding mothers. IBC is often misdiagnosed as mastitis or breast infection; the woman is given antibiotics and sent on her way. Time might heal all wounds, but with IBC time works against you and a proper and accurate diagnosis is very important. IBC is not detectable prior to a stage three, it does not present with a lump, is typically not found on a mammogram and the symptoms don’t fit what we tend to view as possible cancer threat.

 

Quick check list of symptoms of IBC

Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms may include:

• Breast swelling, which one breast is suddenly larger than the other
• Breast that feels warm to touch and may look infected
• Itching or shooting pain
• A dimpling of the breast skin that looks like an orange peel (peau d’orange)
• Thickening of the skin
• Flattened or discolored nipple
• Swelling in underarm or only on one side of neck
• Might feel lump, however lumps are not common in IBC.

It stands to reason that breastfeeding would aid in the good health of that child, as well as the mother. However it is not a magical cloak of protection from a disease that is viewed as seriously as IBC. So please from one breastfeeding mom to another, practice good breast health, read about IBC, and talk to your friends, midwives, and daughters. This conversation might be uncomfortable as it might go against what you believe to be true as to the benefits breastfeeding gives you as a woman, but we need to be willing to be uncomfortable sometimes, as knowledge is power. We need to be educated on IBC.

Resources:

www.theibcnetwork.org
Post questions to leading specialist about IBC, http://tinyurl.com/44n7xnq

 

  Terry Arnold was diagnosed with IBC in her right breast in August of 2007 after three months of    misdiagnosis. As if an IBC triple negative diagnosis was not enough of a blow, and never one to do things in a small way, she discovered her left breast had traditional cancer as well. In treatment for almost a year, Terry was blessed with so much support by family and friends that she was able to be of support to others with this disease even while still under care. Outside of being the best wife possible to her husband Calvin of 31 years and mother, mother in law and grandmother, she is focused on educating every person to learn more about IBC, its symptoms and best treatment plans. She looks forward to the day we can all remember than once, long ago, there was a disease called IBC that is now filed under an archive of past diseases because we have a cure. Hope always.
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I’ll never have children: A survivor of sexual abuse- thoughts on becoming a mother

Continuing the series for Sexual Assault Awareness Month today with another guest post, this time from blogger Mummy In Provence.  A multi-cultural story of journey from abuse, disbelief, rejection and fear to healing, self-advocacy, change and empowerment.

I still remember the day that I realised that what was happening every summer was wrong, very wrong. I was 10 years old and we were making recycled paper at school. Some kid was talking about something their teenage brother was doing with his girlfriend. I felt sick. I’d already done that.  I’d been made to do “that” since I was 7. Except I wasn’t playing doctors and nurses. What I was being made to do was something that was reserved for consenting adults. The keyword being consenting. Yes, I was sexually abused from the age of 7 by my uncle – there I said it. I don’t think that, even in therapy, I’ve ever actually written it. So there it is. Before I tell my story I will tell you that I refuse to be a victim. Yes, it happened. Over and over. I was betrayed by the ones I loved and confided it. I was branded a liar. I was told it was ok because he was only 7 years my senior. It was not. This abuse does not, and will not, define me. Not then, not now, not ever.

Confiding and receiving rejection

The worst part of the abuse came when I confided in my father as I didn’t know how to tell my mother as it was her half brother who was the abuser, I was 14. My mother told me I was lying, my father assumed my mother was dealing with it. I was thrown in to deep dark places. I would be lying if I said it doesn’t affect my relationship with them, it does. I was forced into situations where he was given the opportunity to abuse me again and again, one day when I was 16 I fought back. All hell broke loose. I was in Egypt and in the Arab world the man is king, women and girls were never regarded in the same way. I was told I was crazy and to apologise. Just having to see him every day for that 3 week holiday was pure torture, the way he’d look at me, try to touch me and his lewd suggestions. It was awful but no one was there for me. In the Arab world things like abuse are not spoken about. I carried on feeling like it was my fault, no one led me to believe otherwise. I was so wrong. No one ever deserves to have their innocence taken away.

On having children and forgiveness

The whole situation was so warped that I vowed never to have children. I didn’t want to bring them into this horrible world, this awful extended family. I was so terrified that the same thing could happen to one of my children and it sickened me.
The last time I saw my abuser was in my own home when I was 26. I’d been tricked by my own mother, the woman who was meant to protect me, who allowed him to come to stay for 2 weeks.  I promised myself then that this would be the last time I ever saw him and it was something that I would never forgive my mother for.

3 years later I was married and expecting my first baby. I was in a foreign country and apart from my husband I had no one else around. I was terrified, but reassured that my abuser would never know of my baby. I realised I had come a long way. From being adamant that I would remain childless I found myself in a loving and respectful relationship with a man I adored

On becoming a mother

11 months ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She is truly my proudest achievement. I’d be lying if a part of me feels guilty bringing her into this world where monsters live but that is no way to look at the world. Sometimes, when I am feeding her, and she looks at me with her big brown eyes filled with absolute trust, I cry. I cry because I am so scared she may have the same experiences I had but I know I would give my life to protect her from it.  I do feel that I am overprotective, I guess that is natural. Part of me wonders if I plan to breastfeed past 12 months because I want to ensure she is with me as much as possible. I don’t leave her with anyone I don’t know. I am lucky I can stay at home with her. How I wish I could put her in a bubble and keep her safe forever. But I can’t. As a survivor of sexual abuse, letting her grow up will be the hardest part.

From my experience being abused does not, and should not define you. You are not to blame. The guilt survivors are riddled with is worse than the abuse itself. I found the rejection from those I trusted, in time, became worse than the abuse itself. I had a choice to let my experience haunt me, but I haven’t, I have managed, over many years found ways to turn it around and find strength. I refuse to be a victim. Surviving abuse should not prevent you from loving, caring and protecting the next generation.

MummyinProvence, is a first time mummy to BabyinProvence (BiP) who lives in the South of France but she’s not French. She doesn’t really know where she is from! She’s half English and half Egyptian, born in Dubai and has lived all over the world. She’s an expat at heart, a recovering Marketing Manager from a multi-national in Dubai and a serial entrepreneur currently running furnished apartments in the South of France. Her blog www.mummyinprovence.com is a place where she shares her thoughts on breastfeeding and parenting in France where most of her ideals are unsupported.

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Sexual Assault and Breastfeeding: The Unbreakable Bond- A Survivor Shares

As something I can do for Sexual Assault Awareness Month I’m helping Sexual Assault Survivors share their voice.  In telling their stories they are helping others that have been abused know they are not alone and those that have not been sexually abused come to grips with the reality of abuse.  In breaking the silence and removing the cloak of shame we can make a difference.  This guest post by Saila has some details related to sexual abuse and potential triggers related to sexual abuse and substance abuse.  This is a powerful story and I’m honored to share it with you.  A story of the journey from victim to survivor to empowered and making a difference.

I have been trying to write my submission for sexual assault awareness month for the last few days but have found that the veil of shame is sometimes too heavy to lift in order to start typing my experiences. But the thought that my experiences could inspire someone else compels me towards sharing this piece of myself.

I was molested as a young child by close family members. I started smoking weed at the age of 12 in an attempt to self medicate. At 12, I was raped by a 19 year old boy who I was buying weed from. I became completely detached from my body and did not feel I had any control over what happened to me. My childhood was completely over. Throughout my teens I dated much older people and was an easy target for abusive types to take advantage of. One abuser exposed me to heavier drugs and I became addicted to cocaine. I was able to completely hide not only the childhood abuse and rape, but also the drug use and self medicating from my parents. I eventually got myself into counseling, finished school and enlisted in the army. I am in a healthy relationship with my partner who I am completely in love with and feel like most of the issues from the past trauma are processed, though I do still suffer from some symptoms of PTSD including nightmares and flashbacks.

I tried unsuccessfully for 6 years before I became pregnant with my now 14 month old daughter. When I finally did become pregnant I was convinced the whole pregnancy that at any moment I would miscarry or something would go terribly wrong because my body just didn’t like co-operating with me. I felt like it had been betraying me my whole entire life. When I went into labour I was insistent on wearing a bra during delivery until the last possible moment as I was so ashamed of my body I didn’t want my breasts exposed unless absolutely necessary. When my daughter was born she spent 7 days in the NICU and as a result our nursing relationship was severely damaged. I had to use nipple shields in order for her to drink from me; basically the shields fooled the baby into believing she was drinking from a bottle as she would not latch to my nipples. I felt devastated to have a barrier between me and my precious infant.

I didn’t want to leave my house or go anywhere because I didn’t want anyone to even partially see my breast while I nursed her. I often felt myself tensing up and getting anxiety during nursing sessions if I felt any type of uterine contractions. My irrational brain would tell me that if I found breastfeeding in anyway a pleasurable experience that I was sick and twisted and abusing my daughter. These feelings hit their climax a couple of weeks into nursing when I was able to remove the nipple shields and the breast soreness subsided. I was miserable, short tempered and hated nursing. I felt like a horrible mother for not wanting to nurse my daughter.

I was able to connect with some great online resources and literally spent hours and hours reading other moms experiences with breastfeeding and eventually I began to feel empowered. As I began to see my daughter grow bigger and stronger I was so proud that my breasts had the power to nourish her. Each time she would get hurt and nurse for comfort I would feel so proud that my breasts have the power to stop her tears. Within a few months I was able to proudly nurse her where ever we went I felt no shame surrounding my body. I felt like my body was in harmony and working exactly the way it was supposed to for the first time in my life. My breasts are the key to this unbreakable bond I share with my daughter that no doubt will last a life time. I love being able to offer her a breast when she is thirsty, hungry, scared, tired or cranky and she can a take refuge and feel safe and protected with me. I never felt safe, so it means so much to me that I am able to give that to my child.

I mentioned that I became addicted to drugs at the hands of abusers. Unfortunately I will always consider myself an addict, even though I have been in recovery for a number of years now. Even still, I don’t think the cravings will ever completely stop. There is so much pain from the past, and it’s just habit now to want to numb out when things get difficult. But when the cravings do come, it’s so easy to quiet them because I know that I am nursing and would never do anything to harm my daughter. I plan on nursing for at least another year so I’m happy to know that I have such a powerful reason to not even allow myself to entertain the thought. I know that I will never use drugs again, but knowing that I am nursing my beautiful child just gives me one more reason.

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