I’ve Become a Creepy Mom

by Jessica Martin-Weber

There are so many things I never imagined I would do before becoming a mother. There was a list that I was aware of but I had no idea that there would be things I would do that I never even considered. My list had the typical items: never let child… whatever, doesn’t matter because we all know that was a joke. I thought I would never use my spit to clean my child’s face (ok, but for real, children are dirty and it is gross but my spit IS actually cleaner than some of the crust I’ve cleaned off their faces), never yell in public (but for real, they do run toward the street like it’s a bouncy house), have my kids in matching clothes (now I consider it a success if the clothes are mostly clean, bonus if they fit), not allow screen time (snort), and all the other typical I’ll-be-the-perfect-parent-don’t-have-kids-yet ideology.

What I didn’t anticipate is that I would become a creeper.

I totally have. It snuck up on me. Like reaching out to touch another mom’s hair and admiring that she showered… but it was so clean and it smelled so good. Or seeing a cute baby and saying how I could just eat them up.

Admit it, that is a totally creepy thing to thing… and I’ve actually said it out loud to people.

I was a total creeper in church on Sunday.

We go to a big church downtown, regal and very traditional with a huge pipe organ, robes, and a classical choir. And the coolest red doors. It’s beautiful and reverent.

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One pew back and across the aisle there was a young mom with an adorable chubby little baby girl. She made the cutest coos and happy sounds, taking in the sights and sounds of the service.

I wanted to give her a little nibble.

(Look, before you judge me about that, there’s a scientific reason we feel compelled to bite cute things. It’s real and it is even a good thing!  I’ve never done it… hard.)

But that isn’t the creepiest part of this story.

This adorable little girl finally got tired and somewhere between reading the epistle and singing the hymn before the sermon, she began to fuss. Mom-radar up, I recognized that fuss. She was hungry. I glanced back, because even hungry babies that belong to other people make my boobs ready to leak into action.

Now, I didn’t care if she was given a bottle or given a boob, I just needed to see the adorable baby I wanted to nibble being fed when she was hungry. It was important to me, an almost physical ache. So I was relieved to see this effortlessly beautiful mother (seriously, I knew she was tired but she made tired look good and her hair was a little messy but it was like the perfect sexy messy beach updo and she rocked it) fiddling and in motion to feed the hungry baby I was ready to spring over the pew to feed.

I saw nothing but I knew. No breast came flying out, no milk spraying anywhere, no nipple pointed at anyone, just a suddenly quiet baby making nothing more than happy grunts as her mother cradled her.

She was breastfeeding.

Right there, in our regal church as the Gospel was being read.

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Photo Credit: Second Ave Photography (IG: secondavephotog)

 

In full on creep mode, I kept looking back at the pair. Contented baby at the breast, attentive mother gazing at her.

And as cheesy as it sounds, I felt caught up in the moment of worship. Not of this mother and child, not of breastfeeding, but of the God I believe designed us to be able to do this. As songs were sung, Scripture was read, and a homily shared, I was witnessing love in action and God’s design being celebrated as all designs should be celebrated: through the beauty of their function.

(I believe I would have felt the same if it was bottle-feeding, in fact, I know I would have, I have before.)

Before anyone goes there, though some probably already have and probably will no matter what, this isn’t a debate about modesty since we’re talking about feeding a baby. If you wouldn’t bring modesty to the discussion of giving a baby a bottle, it has no business being a part of the discussion at all. To debate that point, head over here.

To complete my creepiness, following the service I went up to the mother and thanked her. THANKED HER for bringing her baby into the service and caring for her as she worshiped. What an act of worship, to show love, to embrace the body she has been blessed with, to nurture her child. I thanked her too for feeding her baby how she feeds her baby and that my daughters saw this act as well. Thank you, I told her, for helping change the culture so maybe our daughters won’t be nervous about their bodies feeding their babies in church some day as well.

We chatted a bit, her mother was with her and they both thanked me for saying something. She had been nervous about breastfeeding in worship and it was good to hear that it was ok.

I can’t imagine a place where it should be more ok, I told her. According to our faith, God made her, and acting as she is designed isn’t a flaw, it isn’t shameful, it isn’t inappropriate. Pretty sure God can handle breasts being used to feed babies even in the place of worship.

Not everyone is going to be comfortable breastfeeding in public with or without a cover and many who are fine with it in most settings aren’t in their place of worship. That’s ok, the most reverent and sacrificial act of worship any parent can do is to care for their child(ren) no matter how it is done.

From the creepy mom in the pew over, thank you for doing so.


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

by Jessica Martin-Weber
women making decisions

People regularly come to Facebook and ask what they should do when the answer is call 911 or go to the ER. Far more often than one would think.

But you know what? As much as it drives me crazy, I get it. Particularly for women.

There are times when yes, someone posts to social media when they should be calling 911 or rushing to the ER. We see it all the time.

You know what else we also see all the time?

Women who doubt themselves to the extreme.

And why wouldn’t they?

Every single day women are told they are incompetent, unknowledgeable, hysterical, and out of touch. Every singe day women are questioned about what they experience as though they can’t be trusted to know what they have gone through. Every singe day women suffer in pain and sickness because their health care providers don’t believe them. Every single day mothers have had their concerns about their own bodies and the bodies of their children dismissed. Every single day women are told what they see in their children and feel in their own bodies is just in their head. Every single day mothers are laughed at for asking questions as though they should just trust whatever they’re told. Every single day mothers are judged for their children’s appearance, behavior, health, and knowledge in ways male parents rarely encounter.

Every single day women question their own abilities and decision making skills because for so much of their lives everyone else has done the same to them.

Hysterical. Emotional. Irrational. Illogical.

When you’re constantly told you’re controlled by your feelings as though that’s a negative thing, when do you learn how to trust those feelings? When you’re constantly told you couldn’t possibly understand, when do you begin to trust your understanding?

In case you’re wondering, we’re not making this up either. Nope, this isn’t just all in our head. Women do experience a significant amount of sexism in their health care alone receiving lesser quality treatment than their male counterparts. You can read about it herehere, here, here, here, here, and here to get you started.   

I get personal messages regularly from moms embarrassed because they aren’t sure what they should do and have been taught all their lives to question their decision making skills. These women come to the group, to the page, and to admins personally questioning their ability to make a decision for their child yet afraid for their child’s safety.

People, often women, particularly mothers, come to social media to get information and yes, even permission, to see a health care provider for themselves or their children because they have been conditioned to not trust themselves.

And then so many “educated” people who think rather highly of themselves and their parenting skills jump in and tell this insecure mother how stupid she is for asking FB instead of taking her child to the ER. They say things like “obvious” and “alarmed you didn’t…” and “how could anyone…”

Once again undercutting these women who believe they can’t trust themselves to make a decision.

Judgmental comments shaming them for not knowing when to call for the right kind of help does absolutely NOTHING to change that. In fact, it makes it worse.

Gender disparity in health care

I get waiting to call, not sure if you’re overreacting or being silly. Afraid to do something stupid that could end in your fear being used to humiliate you or even get you in trouble. I totally get it.

Because women expect to be ignored. Expect to be wrong. Expect to be seen as silly. Expect to be judged. Expected to be mocked. Expect to be considered ignorant. Expect to have their emotions dismissed. Expect to have their knowledge questioned. Expect to be seen as hysterical, ridiculous. Expect to be treated as though they are stupid. Expect to be judged.

And fear being blamed.

When you see a rather obvious question being asked on social media and you feel that the poster was stupid in asking and should have rushed to the doctor, consider simply telling them that you understand their concern and if you were in their shoes you would rush to the doctor. You could even dare to affirm her. Then wish her well.

Maybe next time she’ll not be so afraid of sounding ridiculous taking her child to the doctor.

Maybe next time her confidence will have grown a little and she won’t need your permission to listen to herself.

judging women posting on FB

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

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Recently in a Facebook group for people of faith who are interested in egalitarian theology, I ran across a thread that surprised me. Not because there was debate, debate is common in that group and usually inspires quality conversations promoting reflection. No, what was surprising about this to me was that in a group that at least believes in the equality of the sexes and the cultural conditioning of controlling women, breastfeeding in public and how exposed a woman’s chest should be while feeding her baby was somehow debated with the same old arguments I’ve heard against breastfeeding in public and how women should be covered when feeding their babies in other settings.

It had never occurred to me that this would be an issue in that setting.

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I’ve moved beyond the debates, the arguments are tired as far as I’m concerned. Five and a half years into running The Leaky Boob I’ve heard all the arguments and not just online. People will say they never experience any negativity except online, as though it must not exist because they haven’t encountered it personally. But I have, I’ve heard all the arguments in person, to my face. Every day I hear from women who’ve been criticized and shamed by a family member, lost friends for breastfeeding in front of their husband, and been isolated for feeding in public. I actually had a business owner of a brand that makes nursing covers tell me, to my face, that he feels breastfeeding covers are important for society and women that breastfeed in public without a cover, whipping their breast out in front of others to feed their baby (his words, not mine) are just “selfish bitches, no offense.”

Yes, he said that even as I stood there with a name tag that read “The Leaky Boob.” And yes, offense taken. I walked out and will never work with his company.

I don’t engage in the infant/toddler feeding debates often but I do continue showing up for them. Not because I enjoy it, believe me I don’t. I hate it and I feel burned out. But I will be the voice for those reading or overhearing saying what needs to be said. For that mom reading or listening and heartbroken to hear the harsh words someone she loved said to her echoed in the words of a stranger, shaming her further. It is assumed I must not understand the reasons why this is an issue but the fact is, I do understand them. I get it. I’ve processed them. At one point in time I may have agreed and argued that position myself.

It’s just that they are wrong. Be the arguments and shaming debates about breastfeeding, breastfeeding in public, bottle feeding, pumping, formula feeding, donor breastmilk, or even introducing solids, often the arguments are short-sighted, limited, and full of vitriol. The arguments are full of fallacies and more often than not are missing the real point.

Babies are being fed.

When it comes to feeding support and advocacy (and really, anything else), you don’t get to control women. Not even if you’re another woman.

But why do I keep fighting this fight?

Because I believe that every parent should be able to parent with confidence, free of harassment and shaming from others. Because parenting is hard enough. And because women get enough shit about their bodies as it is.

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Why be a parenting and feeding advocate? The biggest reason I continue fighting this fight is because I have daughters and I want better for them.

Every day I facilitate online support for thousands and thousands of women who are breastfeeding, planning to breastfeed, or have finished breastfeeding. I travel and speak all around the country on breastfeeding and parenting and sit with women as they share, in tears, the agony they have felt in being rejected by people who have told them that they “don’t want to see that.” Every single day I hear from women who find themselves struggling with confidence in feeding their babies, something that may shake them to their core because, after all, feeding your child is one of the most basic aspects of parenting.

For a parent, struggling with feeding their baby can easily lead to self-doubt in their parenting capabilities at all.

Often, it does.

These parents, for obvious reasons, mostly female, regularly express anxiety about feeding in public. That they may attract unwanted negative attention, fear someone being upset at them for what they may be exposing or even for the act of breastfeeding itself, dread that they may be asked to cover up or leave- maybe a waiter, a relative, a pastor, another woman at church, a mall security guard, an angry bus passenger, etc.- humiliating her and anyone she is with. In the quest to feed their children the best way, as society loves to claim but fails to back up with genuine support offering instead isolating platitudes that it is best but must be “discreet” or “with tact”.

Worse, so often these mothers, in a very vulnerable place as they embark on a new life stage with a new tiny human, hear they are somehow not only responsible for feeding their child the “best way” but also to be respectful of anyone else around them, to be sure grown men aren’t caused to stumble in her attempts to care for her child and that grown women aren’t threatened by her body.

And then the baby needs all her attention and lots of room to latch properly and not cause excruciating pain and damage to her nipple, or they overheat under a cover, or their personality causes them to experience anxiety under the cover, and it is impossible to manage without “wiping” it out and “flashing” the whole world.

All she wants to do is feed her baby.

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Instead of being able to focus just on that she knows that some are demanding that she focus on their comfort about what they see of her body as well. As if the worst thing wouldn’t be a baby going hungry but that they may see the skin of her breasts, her stretch marks, the fact that a child is attached to her nipple.

Eventually they either think they can’t do it or they aren’t cut out for it or that they should just never leave the house. A few get angry that this is how our society treats them and their fellow mothers. And they muscle through and turn off a part of themselves that had hoped their would have at least been solidarity from other women. They have had enough and decide to keep feeding their child as if they were doing nothing wrong- because they are doing nothing wrong- and eventually they start to believe it. So to show other women who may be struggling too, they keep going. They know they are being judged but if it helps ONE other mother to not feel isolated, judged, and fighting off shame, it is worth it. And it is the hope that it will help lead to a gradual shift in our society,  and someday every new mom will feel confident in their parenting, their bodies, their personhood and it will no longer be considered brave to feed your baby however you feed your baby.

Because we must believe that some day our bodies won’t be scandalous and feeding our children won’t be shameful and discussed with outrage.

Until that day, this is an issue I will help wrestle with. Because I know what it like to support mom after mom who feels like maybe she’s not good enough to be a mother because she couldn’t handle the stress of feeding her baby the best way while making sure nobody ever knew that it was happening. I know what it is like to hold them as they weep over the shame they have felt when someone said to them to be more discreet as if feeding their baby was something shameful and their bodies something dirty.

For those women and the ones to come, I will continue on.

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

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Sorry for the Buzzfeed style title. It’s that time of the month and there wasn’t enough chocolate to get me through writing this and coming up with a clear yet titillating title too.

The last 5 days we’ve been bleeding our hearts out on The Leaky Boob, Beyond Moi, A Girl With A View, and a little bit with What Love Tastes Like, opening up and sharing all about periods. Free bleeding information and experiences, debunking myths and being honest. In that time we’ve learned a lot. Like a girl having her first period (called menarche), there were a few things that surprised us and at times we found ourselves overly-grumpy. But mostly we felt like we were in good company and that commiserating was cathartic.

Also chocolate. Or bacon. Sometimes chips. And wine.

As we all shared the activities of our uteruses together, we started noticing a pattern. Not completely regular but consistent enough to chart and make a prediction:

Most women will be surprised by their first postpartum periods.

Not all and the surprises weren’t always unpleasant in nature but many women had no idea what they experienced was possible. Like, at all. And they thought they were the only one in the world to experience it.

Since we’ve already aired all our period panties to the world, it’s time to shed some of the mystery like a uterine lining. Here it is, our list of surprising possible realities of your first postpartum periods.

  1. No matter how long your postpartum bleeding lasts (lochia, which is not a period and you can read more about here), it isn’t an indicator of what your postpartum periods will be like.period week is coming
  2. It could take months for Aunt Flo to visit after you have had a baby, even over a year and for some it could be two years. Breastfeeding exclusively makes it more likely your favorite auntie won’t be around for a while.
  3. But it is no guarantee. Because we’re talking hormones and Aunt Flo, there’s only so much you can predict. Don’t be unprepared because you could be one of those that gets it back at 6 weeks postpartum and is like clockwork every month after. Even if you’re breastfeeding and your child never sees another nipple but yours. Yes, even if you’re breastfeeding twins.postpartum period surprise meme
  4. It could take a while to really get going, there could be brown spotting for a few days a month for several months while your body is indecisive. Get your period undies ready.
  5. OR it could come back with a vengeance with a gush that will feel like a scene from Game Of Thrones playing at the most inopportune moment. You may want to have supplies with you at all times just in case.brace-yourselves-cramps
  6. Essentially, there’s no guarantee when you’re going to start riding the crimson tide again after you have a baby.
  7. There’s also no guarantee that it will be the same as what you had before you had your baby. It could be lighter, shorter, and less uncomfortable. It could be heavier, longer and more painful.* Or any combination. Or different every time.
  8. The products you used before may still be your favorites. But you may suddenly hate them. Many women find they want to try something new and don’t be surprised if you see disposables as stinky, uncomfortable, and gradually building a mountain of waste that will be around when your children are having children. Which is a disgusting thought, your period supplies slowly rotting in a landfill when your grandkids are being born. And since you’re more comfortable with the weird things your body does (childbirth can do that to a person), the idea of washing cloth pads or to put a cup in it doesn’t seem so crazy any more. Diva-Cup-Evangelist
  9. If you’re breastfeeding, shark week may mean that your nipples protest someone latching on. Nipple sensitivity AND cramps? So not fair but often so real. Thankfully it usually doesn’t last long and chocolate can help.
  10. Even more annoying, periods and/or ovulation can cause a dip in milk supply if you are breastfeeding. So not only are you annoyed, your hungry baby is too. Most of the time this indicates a magnesium deficiency and supplements may fix this problem (see more here) but only after the most emotional and sensitive time when you have a hungry kid frustrated at your boob. You know what has magnesium? Chocolate. period week chocolate
  11. Just like a girl may experience irregular periods for about a year, postpartum women may find that it takes their cycles a good year to establish a regular pattern. The upside to this is that it is completely reasonable to always eat chocolate since you never really know.
  12. Health care providers may not have a clue what’s going on either. They should and many will but some don’t. You may have to educate them.

Be prepared for anything. Postpartum menses seem to like surprises.

Keep calm and menstruate on

*It is important to note that severe or debilitating pain or extremely heavy bleeding is a sign that something is wrong and may need more than chocolate and wine to address. It is well documented that women are more easily dismissed by health care providers about their pain and discomfort when it comes to health concerns. If your concerns are repeatedly brushed off as being normal but you feel something is wrong or your normal life is disrupted, please speak to your health care provider or find another one. Be persistent until you find one that will take your concern seriously. Menstruation is a normal biological part of life for most healthy child-bearing age women, it isn’t a pathology that women just have to deal with on a monthly basis and if it is interrupting your normal activity and lowering your quality of life, something more serious may be going on.

 

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Have you survived mastitis? How did you get through?

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

by Dr. Kymberlee Lake

Most women know that there may be some bleeding after giving birth but often women are surprised by how much and how long and they aren’t aware of the difference between postpartum bleeding and discharge and menstruation. The first bleeding after you give birth is called lochia.

What exactly is lochia? 

Lochia is the discharge consists of blood from the area on the uterine wall to which the placenta was attached during pregnancy, the sloughed off endometrium (uterine lining which makes a bed for the fetus) which gets considerably thickened during pregnancy, blood and mucus from the healing cervix,  and dead (necrotic) tissue. Your blood volume increases by approximately 50% in pregnancy, all that extra blood also has to go somewhere after birth. Most women will experience blood and lochia discharge for 3- 6 weeks though that time span can very from pregnancy to pregnancy and can be directly influenced by a healing mother’s activity level.

Why do we have lochia and where does it come from?
The blood in the lochia comes mainly from the large raw area left in the uterine wall after the placenta detaches from it. While bleeding from this area is controlled by contraction of the uterine muscles immediately after delivery, it takes on the average about two weeks for this area to heal. It is important to remember that this is a wound and it is possible to do too much before it has healed and reopen the wound, causing fresh bleeding. You will experience this bleeding for around four to six weeks postpartum.

For the first few days it will be a heavy flow (kind of like a heavy period) and will be  colored dark red, with some clotting.  About the end of the first week the flow should start to taper off, becoming lighter in saturation and color; as time passes, it will fade to a brown, yellowish or even almost-white discharge. 

One thing to remember is that the placental area as well as the sites of sloughing endometrium are raw and open during this time and bacteria can easily spread from the vagina. So, the use of tampons should be avoided – sanitary pads are the best options to be used during this time. 

What is normal and when should I be concerned?
You might notice a ‘gush’ of blood with clotting when you stand up – this is very normal. Also, if you’re breastfeeding, you might notice that you lose more blood after feeding baby; this is caused by your hormones doing their work to help shrink your uterus back to it’s pre pregnancy size. The lochia is sterile for the first 2-3 days but then becomes colonised by bacteria giving off a typical distinct lochial smell which is normal and should not be confused with the bad odor from lochia in postpartum infection. – 

If the discharge smells foul, you’re still noticing a lot of blood loss after the first four weeks, or the blood is bright red, these are signs of infection and you should speak to your health care provider as soon as you can. This is especially true if you also have a fever (no matter how slight)  or are generally feel ill. Likewise, if your blood loss is so heavy that you’re going through more than a pad an hour, you should get medical help immediately – this can be a sign of a hemorrhage. If in question and something feels “off” it is worth a call to your health care provider for advice.

Types of Lochia
Depending on the color and consistency, lochia can be of three types:

  • Lochia Rubra: Lochia rubra occurs in the first 3-4 days after delivery. It is reddish in color – hence the term ‘rubra’. It is made up of mainly blood, bits of fetal membranes, decidua, meconium, and cervical discharge.
  • Lochia Serosa: The lochia rubra gradually changes color to brown and then yellow over a period of about a week. It is called lochia serosa at this stage. The lochia serosa contains less red blood cells but more white blood cells, wound discharge from the placental and other sites, and mucus from the cervix.
  • Lochia Alba: The lochia alba is a whitish, turbid fluid which drains from the vagina for about another 1 – 2 weeks. It mainly consists of decidual cells, mucus, white blood cells, and epithelial cells.

The Stages of Lochia table image

Do women who give birth by c-section still have lochia?
Many women believe that the flow of lochia is less after a cesarean section since the uterine cavity is cleaned out after the birth of the baby. This is not true. The flow of lochia is not dependent on the type of delivery –  The amount and duration is the same in both cases.

Return of Menses
There’s no hard rule as to when your period will return post-baby – it can vary from woman to woman, and pregnancy to pregnancy. Here are some general guidelines

  • Women who bottle-feed can see their menstrual cycle return within six weeks of birth – and most will have menses back by ten to twelve weeks.
  • Women who exclusively breastfeed may not get their period back for some time. When you breastfeed, you body releases the milk-producing hormone prolactin, which, in turn, keeps our levels of progesterone and estrogen low. Progesterone and estrogen are the hormones responsible for signaling ovulation and menstruation. Night nursing directly effects these levels, a decrease in breastfeeding at night may lead to a return of menses.

Once your period returns, it can take even longer for it to get into a regular cycle. If you are bottle feeding it can take around six months, while exclusively breastfeeding your baby can take 12-18 months. But keep in mind that this does vary from mom to mom and pregnancy to pregnancy. Even with exclusive breastfeeding on demand and no artificial nipples, there are women who see a return of their menses as early as 6 weeks while others may not breastfeed and still experience a considerable delay. Each woman is different. Some women experience lighter flows and/or less cramping with their menses after having a baby, others experience the same, and still others may experience an increase. The range of normal variations is considerable but very heavy bleeding, soaking a full size pad in 1-2 hours, may indicate a problem and should be addressed with your health care provider. There are a variety of factors that contribute to possible changes with the return of your period but keep in mind that diet, physical activity, and your menstrual products can all contribute to cramps and duration.

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Please be aware that your first egg (ovulation) will be released two weeks before your period starts, so if you have unprotected sex without realizing that you are ovulating, you could get pregnant before you have even began menses again. It’s a good idea to speak to your healthcare provider about contraception even before you start thinking about sex again, so you can be confident in your choice ahead of time.

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Kymberlee Lake- headshot

Kymberlee is a Physician/midwife, Therapeutic foster/adoptive parent with 6 kids ranging in age from 31 to 3 and three grandchildren. She is living life to the full with MS in the Pacific NorthWET.  As an international travel enthusiast and fan of teleportation you can find her under the name “Dr_Kymberlee” live streaming and on social media, or on her often neglected blog, TheMamaMidwife.com
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11+ Answers From A Woman Who Uses a Menstrual Cup

by Jessica Schaefer

A response to 11 Questions I Want To Ask Women Who Use The DivaCup, by Melissa Kirsch

diva cup meme

Want to try a menstrual cup but aren’t sure how to pick one or what the differences are? This chart helps compare what is available on the market!

Well Melissa, it seems you’re not alone in your 11 questions about menstrual cups. You’ve got plenty of tampon-clutching hands raised in solidarity, even in the “crunchy” groups. They even thought you left out a few questions. So, out of complete lack of shame and a habit for being a know it all (yes, I was the oldest, thank you), here’s my answers. Now you should ask, “Do you really want to know?” or better yet, “will anything I have to say change your mind?”

If not, then, carry on with those tampons. We can still be friends and I promise not to ask if you slipped on the no-flushing tampons resolution.

While my original goals in using a cup were not related to making my period less disgusting or “less of a hassle,” (that’s what extended breastfeeding is for… but my timer has run out on that, twice) – it was my goal was to make my period significantly less painful and less exhausting. For me, an almost 5 year struggle with debilitating pain ended in exploratory-turned-corrective surgery and a diagnosis of endometriosis. My periods weren’t they only painful time, but they were often the worst days. I’d have done anything to make them better. Now, before you say, “well in case of crippling medical conditions, that’s different…” here’s the thing: I didn’t even know about menstrual cups. Seriously, why was no one knocking at my door giving me info on this option!?

So now, years later with well managed endo and semi-normal periods, when someone asks, I really want to answer. Shoot, I know the benefits when periods are pain free – and I’d imagine (nah, we talk… I know) that for most readers, they’re at least uncomfortable, if not miserable. So here’s my answers, cringe worthy and gross as they might have to be, so that maybe it helps someone just like me.

Cost-effective? Yes, even if you buy a new one every year or two because you really don’t want to boil it like you should at the end of each cycle (see question 6), and it eventually starts to break down.

Easy? Well, there’s a commitment there. My mother thinks reading Dostoyevsky is easy, and totally worth it. I have two kids and a business to run, so unless it puts the kids to sleep, I’m not reading it anytime soon. I have 6 back issues of RealSimple that haven’t even been touched. But here’s the thing, it does make things easier – and for that reason, it’s worth the learning curve. I imagine that how great that curve is depends greatly on 1) how comfortable you are with your body, and 2) how chill you are. So do a little yoga breathing/tv binge watching/chocolate eating first, and definitely don’t do it while the kids are yelling outside the bathroom door.

Here’s a crazy idea – try it before you have your period. Unlike a tampon, it won’t feel all rough and dry, and even better, you can do it in the shower. Hold the cup under warm water, squat like you’re on a hippie homebirth video, fold it (try youtube) and give it a go. Just remember to relax. So yes, even if only for the ability to insert it wet (shower or not) I give it a big win over tampons.

Environmentally smart? Yes, but while that’s a bonus, you’re right – a reusable water bottle and fewer car trips would have a much bigger impact. You should get on that too.

Sex? You covered that one. You’ve got to remove it. But if you’re trying to ward off interest, “I’d have to go fish my menstrual cup out first…” works even better than “I’ve got a headache.” Or so I’ve heard.

I don’t think you’re a prude for not wanting to “stick your hand up in your vagina” – this is pretty darn common. Which makes me a little pissed about how, somehow, while acknowledging that it’s totally normal for men to be well acquainted with all their manly bits, we’ve made girls and women feel so grossed about about their bodies – lady bits included. I grew up a little afraid that if i was to manage to reach “down there” I might be found out and everyone would know that I was going straight to hell in a STD filled handbasket.

As it turns out, my vulva, vagina, uterus, and ovaries are all actually mine. But that aside, here’s the great thing – you don’t really need to reach all that far “up there.” Two fingertips inside the vaginal opening is all it’s going to take most of the time – if you relax and take a moment – and even if you have to “go fishing” because you tensed up or because your body is shaped somewhat different and your cup sits a bit further back, most cups have that little tip on the end – give that a firm tug while pushing just a bit (like you’re pooping incorrectly, ahem) and things will be closer to the front.

Getting it in is all about the fold (and relaxing). Getting it out is all about breaking the seal (and relaxing). I know, that’s a lot of relaxing during period hell. Take some deep breaths. Or chocolate. Whatever works.

That’s probably already more than you want to know, so … on with your 11 questions (plus one more).

1. How do you pull it out without inciting a bloodbath?

“It’s a tiny goblet full of blood and uterine lining.” I’m almost sorry to inform you that it is nowhere near as interesting as you make it sound. There’s no horror movie in the making here (well, maybe if you drip on your MIL’s white bathroom rug). The 2-4 oz in a typical cycle are not nearly as much as you might think. Go measure out that much water, split it into however many days your cycle lasts, and spill one section on a plate. It is a bit fascinating, but it doesn’t move on its own. It won’t jump out of the cup and it’s really pretty hard to spill. I’ve got crazy shaky hands, and I’ve never spilled mine all over the bathroom, me, towels, or even the toilet seat.
What do you do if it does spill or get “everywhere”? In my ideal situation (is there an ideal situation for dyeing tile grout with menstrual blood?)… in that case, my husband would be home and I’d turn on the shower, tell him to handle it, and go collect the fragile piece of my already grouchy soul while he made up for one or two of the many times he owes me anyway.  In reality, I’d do the same thing I do when someone pees on the floor… clean it up and scrub arms like I’m the on call doc.

2. What happens when it fills up?

“The DivaCup is promising me 12 hours of leak-free protection. What happens in the 13th hour?”
It depends on your flow. Eventually, you might get a bit of leaking…
 but I can go way longer without changing it. Typically, I change it before I leave in the morning and when I go to bed, and a time or two extra on my one or two heavy days when I am using the bathroom anyway (or taking a shower – have I mentioned it’s a really good excuse to chill?).

“I am picturing a champagne fountain, except there is no tier to catch the champagne after the top tier and it’s not champagne, it’s blood.”
Well, if that happens, you may want to get that looked at…
A lot of women wear light cloth pads as backup. I’ve never needed it and most of the women I know haven’t either, even if they still like the peace of mind. And if cloth pads (yes, washable) make you want to write another article, you can just use the lightday pads. Just don’t flush ‘em. 

3. What the hell is going on in the public bathroom?

“So you go to the public bathroom stall, you take your DivaCup out, you dump it in the toilet. Then what? You need to wash it, right?”
OK stop there. You don’t HAVE to wash it. You could.. yes, just pop it back in. It’s going where it’s all bloody anyway… back to the same spot. Only your clean fingers have touched it. I wash up on the way in, keep that hand up well away from any surface, pop the cup out, dump it, and pop it back in. Then grab some toilet paper and clean my hand enough that I can go out and wash up without looking like I’m trying out for a horror movie. If you really felt off about it, you could bring wipes or a small bottle of water and do a quick rinse over the toilet. Personally, the less time in the stall the better, so I’m ok with popping it back in where it was a second ago.
“Are your co-workers wondering where you are by now? Haven’t you missed your flight?”
Change it when you get to the airport, unlike a pad or tampon you’re not “wasting it” if you change it early! And seriously, have you timed smoke breaks? Or man poops? Or “we-have-to-leave-now!” toddler potty times? You’ll be fine.

4. What is going on with your fingernails?

Thanks for your concern about the state of my nails after handling a “cup o’blood.” I should probably consider a nail brush now that you’ve informed me about my open door cuticles… thanks for that. However, as to carrying it with me, I hardly ever have to change my cup when out. If you did, I suppose you could opt for one of two things: use some hand sanitizer, or up your kombucha drinking and count on the protective power of probiotics. Or… just wash up with soap and water and call it a day.
I don’t recall ever getting that messy – or having anything much to scrub. If I don’t have a chance to splash a little water on my vulva (see: changing your cup in the shower recs) a quick pee and wipe means everything is pretty clean, then I wash my hands and pop the clean cup back in. During heavier times I might get blood on my fingertips putting the cup in, but I promise it will wash right off. Menstrual blood can carry STDs or yeast infections but in and of itself it’s clean… so if you don’t have either of those things to worry about, I wouldn’t panic about that fingernail brush.
Now, if you drip on your Mother in Law’s rug, that’s all on you.

5. What’s in the cup?

Ratio of solid to liquid… well, I suppose this greatly depends on the women, and on your current health (low iron may mean more clots, for example). Typically, mine is primarily liquid, thicker in mid cycle, with stringy bits at the heaviest times and a few tiny clots toward the end. But when we’re talking lady bits, there’s no chart. Menstrual flows – like vulvas – vary greatly. Just like snowflakes. Quite possibly the worst analogy ever. Can we start over? There’s blood. BLOOD in the cup. Whatever blood is usually all up in that paper tampon you stuff up there. Only, less of it, at least eventually. Which is a bonus.

6. Is this thing going in the dishwasher?

Mine does not instruct dishwasher cleaning. While it sounds a little overkill to me, I’d be more worried about the chemicals. Even “eco friendly” dishwashing detergent isn’t exactly vagina PH friendly, and even if you don’t add any, there’s still tons of residue in your dishwasher.
Many cups do recommend boiling briefly in the same way you would pacifiers (yeah, you’re supposed to clean them) or breastpump parts. Don’t want your (already washed) cup in your (washable) spaghetti pot? No biggy, Americans aren’t known for being minimalists… get a separate pot, or, boil water, pop your cup in a cheap mug marked “NO DRINKING” and pour boiling water over it. Keep the mug in the bathroom, because I promise you, men will not read that warning.)
As far as the holes getting clogged, the force of water from the sink is enough to clear those, a little brush over with your finger if need be. Toothpick cleanings? Ain’t nobody got time for that…
Keep it in a fabric bag so it can “breathe” and bacteria doesn’t find a nice greenhouse. Done.

7. What about the smell?

No smell unless you leave it in way too long because you forgot about because it’s so darn comfortable. It’s like a tagless t shirt. Yes, I set phone alerts, go ahead and laugh.
Of course the blood is exposed to the air when you spill it (I’m assuming you mean dump… it’s hard to spill) or it overflows, but then it’s headed right to the toilet or the drain anyway, so no time to stink.
I found it interesting that you said regarding pad usage,“I just can’t bear to put in another tampon because it feels like my entire body is convulsing with every uterine contraction.” Seriously, that’s not cool, not normal, and not necessary! For that reason alone, try a cup. Give it a decent two cycle try. See if those contractions don’t ease up a bit. I’m betting my sckooncup they’re aggravated by the chemicals in the tampons and pads.
I always felt like there was a distinct smell to my nether regions when using a tampon, a very nether regions smell which was not appealing at all. But I’m happy to report that there’s no smell when using a cup. Unlike a tampon, the cup is not absorbent and doesn’t upset the acidic environment in the vagina… therefore unlike a tampon it does not increase the risk of infection, and there’s no bacterial breeding ground. No yucky bacteria growth, no yucky smell. Happy vulva, happy life.

8. What if I can’t get it out? What if it falls out?

While your shark bait illustrations make for a fun at-your-expense chuckle, I hate to inform you that actual use of menstrual cups is pretty…. boring. If you can’t get it out, come back later when you can relax. Go in the shower and try again. Take a breather. Pop a squat. It’s not going “up” anywhere – there is nowhere for it to go… Disappointing, I know. I felt the same way when my dad informed us we could not actually dig a hole to China. Shame.

As to it falling out, have you ever dropped a lid into the sink drain? You know, one that fits so perfectly you think hateful thoughts towards the designers and check that you’re not being filmed? (Or…that might just be me.) Anyway, it’s pretty darn impossible to get out because you can’t break the suction. Once you do, boom, it comes right out. Same thing. If you’re just standing/swimming/dancing/jumping around, nothing is going to break the suction and make that sucker come flying out spewing blood everywhere. You’re going to have to reach up there (yes, two finger tips into the unknown) and pinch the base of the cup to break the seal, or just slide one finger against the side and boom, you’re good to go. If I make it sound too easy, well, I’ve done it a few times – but even early on, this was true – if I relaxed. And again, practice dry. So much nicer.

9. Are o.b. tampons the gateway drug to the DivaCup?

I know more people who have jumped straight to cups from tampons/pads… maybe facebook moms groups are the real gateway drug. Someone brings it up, everyone asks questions, and soon enough someone is trying it.

10. Do you miss shopping for ‘feminine hygiene’ every month or two?

Yeah… no.

Bonus question: One of the ones in the image looks like it’s for Sasquatch’s vagina  how do you figure out what size you need?

Have you seen a jumbo / “heavy” tampon full of blood? Yeah, not small either. Most of the cups have two sizes, one for pre-childbirth and one for post (regardless of vaginal or c-section). It seems to be a pretty good guideline, but read the manufacturer’s guidelines. I read a few reviews and went with a Sckoon cup. I love it. Check them out. It seems like most women are fangirls of whatever one they try first – with the “except” part being that some of the stems are a little hard, and people tend to trim them. Sckoon cup: super soft. It’s like butta. Get it.

11. Do you think I’m kind of a terrible person?

Nope. Your vulva, your business. I really couldn’t care less what’s keeping your underwear blood free, if it works for you. But if it doesn’t, then by all means…

____________________

 
Jessica Schaefer headshot

When not running the family business and advocating for outdoor play, Jessica is busy keeping up with her two very active girls, Lily (6) and Thea (3), who cannot wait to “become women” so that they can pick out their very own color of menstrual cups. You can find them talking outdoor life and gearing up for everyday adventure at www.biddleandbop.com and www.facebook.com/biddleandbop.
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Understanding, Treatment, Prevention, and the Emotional Toll of Mastitis: The Red-Eyed Steaming Pooh Pile Jerk-Monster of Breastfeeding

by Jessica Martin-Weber
This post made possible by the generous sponsorship of Ergobaby and their Natural Curve Nursing Pillow.

Ergobaby

 

Not going to sugarcoat it: Mastitis is a jerk. A real jerk. It hurts.

Other than being a jerk though, what is mastitis?

mastitis definition

Inflammation of a boob. A boob infection. A boob infection that may turn into a boob abscess. And it can spread from there.

This jerk is no joke.

Mastitis can present as a range of severity from engorgement when milk comes in to a blocked duct, redness, swelling, pain, and a fever. Sometimes bacteria or infection isn’t always actually present.

The symptoms of mastitis can include:

  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • Heat radiating from the area
  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Hard area under skin indicating a blocked duct
  • Abscess
  • Feeling like someone electrified your joints when you already had the flue, punched you in the boob, and then handed you a baby and told you to feed it with the boob that was punched.
  • The desire to punch someone in retaliation.

Pretty much, you feel like a steaming hot pile of aching pooh with an infant to care for and dinner to make.

the emotional impact of mastitis

It is officially miserable. Women with mastitis have been known to compare the experience to torture and generally agree that it is worse than childbirth and dental work combined.

Oh yeah, this steaming pile of pooh just got real.

There are a range of treatment options including but not limited to:
(This is not intended to be health care advice, just information. Your health care provider can address your specific needs in care.)

  • Milk removal– get it all out! Repeatedly. (This milk is safe for baby to consume unless otherwise instructed by your health care provider)
  • Heat– this may provide relief and help with let down to empty the breast. Wet heat, such as a warm compress or soaking in a tub or shower (if you can stand it) or even a bowl of warm water is effective and provides a lubricant for massaging the effected area as well.
  • Massage– Nothing like massaging the area that hurts when you touch it but some breast massage can go a long way in relieving mastitis. This method is one to try very gently.
  • Rest– you’ll want to after that massage anyway but rest has a big role in helping the body heal itself.
  • Pain relief– such as Ibuprofen. Reducing inflammation won’t just help you tolerate the pain, it can help you heal.
  • Natural remedies– from cabbage to lecithin to arnica to garlic, there are tried and true natural options worth trying if you catch it early. If you experience recurring mastitis, lecithin supplements on a regular basis may help you avoid it again in the future if mechanical issues regarding milk removal do not appear to be the cause.
  • Pharmaceuticals– If caught early, you may be able to beat this monster on your own but it can rapidly progress to a much more serious condition if left untreated. The most effective known treatment is antibiotics.

Hopefully you’ll catch it soon enough to not have to pack up your children and monster boob to see the doctor but if you end up there most women respond quickly to antibiotics.

So how do you avoid this jerk in the first place?

There are some solid steps you can take to protect your boobs but as powerful and wonderful as they are, they’re not invincible. Still, here’s what we do know.

  • Treat damaged breast tissue ASAP. Nipple damage is pretty much an invitation for mastitis. Get that taken care of and address the underlying issue with a qualified health care professional (see an IBCLC) to prevent it from reoccurring. (Could it be tongue tie?)
  • Effective milk removal. This can be more difficult to tell but if your baby or pump isn’t removing milk well from your breast you could be set up to do the tango with Jerk-face here. Reoccurring mastitis could be a sign that your breasts aren’t getting emptied. This would be the time to see an IBCLC for some answers and hands-on support.
  • Frequent milk removal. Responding to baby’s cues for feeding rather than the clock not only helps ensure you have a consistent milk supply it also helps you frequently empty the breast (which tells your body to make more milk) which in turn helps you avoid mastitis. Feel like you’re feeding baby all the time? Yay! Hopefully baby’s helping you avoid mastitis! Listen not only to your baby but also to your boobs. When they feel full and particularly if they start to become painful when you’ve missed a feeding, be sure to empty them. This goes for pumping too!
  • Different positions for milk removal. It’s normal to have your favorite position or two but changing it up a couple of times a day will help ensure that the milk removal happening is more complete. If you’re pumping, try using breast compressions to full empty the breast. If you think you may have a plugged duct or the beginning of mastitis, try a dangle feeding position. It’s not cute or fun but it can be incredibly effective.
  • Free of restrictions. Make sure your bra, nursing tanks, and anything else that comes in contact with your breast isn’t constricting (check your seat belt placement). Red lines would be an indicator that there is pressure on your breasts that could block the flow of milk and increase your chances of infection.
  • Take care of you. Rest, eat well, hydrate even better. Giving your body the resources it needs to be healthy is the best preventative measure we can take.
  • Respond. If something is up with your breast and you notice tenderness, a hard area, a white bump (called a milk bleb) on the tip of your nipple, or anything that just seems off, take care of it by resting, massaging, and calling your health care provider.

ErgoBaby breastfeeding nursing pillow mastitis prevention tip

It is important to note that sometimes mastitis is resistant to treatment. If this happens to you, you can request your health care provider to do a culture to determine if a more targeted treatment protocol is in order and to detect possible other causes for mastitis-like symptoms that don’t respond to conventional treatment measures.

The emotional and psychological impact of mastitis can’t be ignored. It’s far more than a pathology, more than a clinical diagnosis. Anyone that has experienced mastitis can tell you that it is a soul crushing, mind altering invasive monster-jerk. Women have been known to question everything about their lives in the midst of battling mastitis.

I shared my emotional unraveling and how I ended up beating the Red-Eyed Monster of Breastfeeding here, including my detailed home treatments and a “flattering” photo demonstrating dangle feeding here. It’s not pretty. It’s war.

What is mastitis and how to care for it The Leaky Boob

If you find yourself entrenched in such a battle for your soul boobs, ask for help. Virtual help (head over to our FB pageFB group, and Instagram for a real dose of virtual help that’s chicken soup for your mom soul) and in person real life help. Trying to be super mom and super boob monster-jerk fighter isn’t going to position you well to win. Beg a friend to bring dinner, reach out to a family member to do a load of laundry, be cool with Netflix babysitting so you can get down to booty kicking the jerk and getting well.

Just turn on My Little Pony, give your kids the peanut butter jar and a spoon (as long as they aren’t allergic), and sit on the floor with a warm wet wash cloth massaging your boob and cry.

There’s no sugarcoating mastitis.

Mastitis is a jerk (I’m writing “jerk” but I’m thinking a different word) but with information, help, and some mom-moxie, most moms can kick it to the curb. Demand help from your health care provider when you need it, nobody will blame you for being a bit on edge with your breast invaded by the Red-Eyed Monster of Breastfeeding, Jerk Mastitis. Do what you need to do.

This a-hole jerk is no joke.

Sources: Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine mastitis protocol,  LLLI Mastitis Tear-off sheetThe Nursing Mother’s Companion,  The American Academy of Family Physicians Management of Mastitis in Breastfeeding Women, the CDC

 

_______________________

Have you survived mastitis? How did you get through?

_______________________

Jessica Martin-Weber Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, and co-creator of OurStableTable.com, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book and a children’s book.
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The Honest Parent’s 30 Days of Gratitude

by Jessica Martin-Weber and The Leaky Boob community

Thanksgiving parents

November is full of reminders to be thankful for what we have. Sunset images with an adult and child in silhouette flood our social media feeds with gentle poetic admonishments to take time to savor the little things. Lest we come across as ungrateful for our children or complaining about their presence in our lives, us parents start talking about how much we love our children, how grateful we are for their “unique” personalities, how the sound of their voices fills our ears and floods our hearts with appreciation, and share about the joy of baking together.

And we mean it.

It’s all true, every word.

But there are some words we’re leaving out.

Our kids are a delight, we are grateful, we recognize how blessed we are to have them, aware of how painful it would be to lose them. It goes without saying that we are grateful for our children. But there are some things we just didn’t appreciate fully until after having children.

I turned to the Leakies to ask what they are thankful for as parents, what they maybe wouldn’t admit as part of their month of Thanksgiving but have overwhelming genuine gratitude for now.

The honest parent’s 30 days of gratitude + 9 because we’re trying really hard.

I meant to do this this morning but I’m doing a month of gratitude and as I sit down with my glass of wine this evening, I’m just so grateful for my kids. So blessed by them and I never realize that more than when they are asleep.

Thankful my kiddos let me know how much they love me by saying my name non-stop just because.

So thankful that the toddler fell asleep in the car on our way home and I was able to get coffee from the drive through and then sit in my driveway drinking my coffee and playing on my phone in quiet for a whole 20 minutes without anyone judging me for being a mom on my phone.

Today as I was doing laundry I had an overwhelming sense of appreciation for the crib we bought that our child has never slept in but is perfect for holding laundry. It really saves my back not having to bend over to fold all these loads!

It’s nice to know my boobs care about others, letting down to every random baby cry or seeing baby clothes. Thank you for caring boobs!

Super grateful for how much my moon cup can hold since I have to go 8 hours before I get the chance to empty it alone and don’t want to traumatize my kids with a Dexter inspired scene.

YOU GUYS! I’m just exploding with thankfulness, my pump has sucked over 3,500 ounces out of my boobs in the last 6 months! WOOHOO! Thank you pump!

This morning I’m so grateful that the baby woke 6 times during the night, that way I didn’t have to wake on my own wondering if she was still breathing.

Huge gratitude share today! I’m so appreciating the glass of non-alcoholic eggnog I got to enjoy without someone else’s backwash. Such a rare treat!

I’m grateful for my 19mo son’s beautiful voice, it makes me feel a little proud as he’s singing instead of sleeping.

I really don’t know what I would do without all the articles from blogs, magazines, parenting sites, and newspapers that point out how I’m pretty much failing at this parenting thing. Good to remember I can always improve!

I’m grateful for the hour of freedom that I get after my partner comes home from work because before then, I can see why some animals eat their young.

WOW! What a reassuring sign of strength and health when little tiny new baby fingers grab on to hair with a death grip!

Tonight, I’m grateful for nights when both kids go to sleep and hubby is downstairs doing dishes so I sit in my kids’ room pretending to be doing something but really just playing on my phone without anyone talking to me.

I am grateful for my industrial microwave so I can heat up my meal for the 3rd time.

It means to much to me that I got to take a dump today without an audience, thanks honey!

Such a relief that I never have to concern myself with having another thought of my own.

It is so touching that my kids give me the opportunity to develop my cooking skills by each having different meal requirements.

I don’t know where I would be without Dr. Google and all my internet friends diagnosing and recommending oils when I share someone has a cough in our house. Thank you!

i-am-grateful-for-my-industrial-microwave-so-i-can-heat-up-my-meal-for-the-3rd-time--5cc8a

I’m grateful that stretchy pants like leggings and yoga pants are a thing now.

Grateful for a few minutes of quiet as my 2 year old drew all over his face (grateful for easy clean markers).

I’m thankful for the 85% of the time my kid wipes his own butt. Now to get the other 15% of the time.

Such a gift, a bathroom fan louder than a tantruming toddler and a partner who can totally handle it. Also, wine.

I’m thankful I can hide out in my room nursing and maybe even nap this holiday season when my visiting family gets on my nerves.

I’m grateful for a split level entry-way. I can sit on the lower stairs and hear the kids, but they can’t see me while I sneak a snack that I don’t want to share.

You know what I’m grateful for? That all my friends are online so I don’t have to worry about cleaning my house in case they stop by.

My appreciation for DVD players, Netflix, and YouTube runs deep. One episode is the equivalent of a clean kitchen without “help” and maybe even get to eat a piece of chocolate.

Laundry gratitude: Washed the sheets 3 times in the last 4 days thanks to leaky diapers. Clean sheets for the win!

I’m grateful I can turn down ANYTHING with “well, no, I dont think its a good idea with the baby’”.

I’m grateful I get to give baby to his dad in the morning and get some more sleep because I was “nursing all night!”

I’m grateful for coffee every morning, because it helps me do some adulting, not all of it, but just some adulting gets done.

It’s so sweet how my kids want to make sure I never feel alone. Ever.

I’m thankful for how the kids like to update me every 2 minutes on what they’re doing even in the bathroom.

YES! The kid pooped in the potty instead of his nighttime pull-up, so thankful for a great day!

Another big one today: so thankful that the shit that leaked from the diaper stopped at the baby’s ankle and didn’t go down into the shoe.

Gratitude: the kids actually all went to bed at a decent hour so instead of falling asleep with them, I got to snooze while catching up on Downton Abbey finally!

SO thankful that the kid has the innate ability to sense mommy and daddy having ‘private happy time’ from another room and come running to interrupt.. almost EVERY. SINGLE. TIME….yay for cheap birth control!

Boy am I grateful I don’t have a strong gag reflex, learned that today!

I appreciate how clingy the baby was today because in order for her to take a nap I had to take a nap.

 

_______________________

What are you thankful for as a parent but never would say?

_______________________

Jessica Martin-Weber Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, and co-creator of OurStableTable.com, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book and a children’s book.
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The Pumping Birthmom: Pumping for the Baby I Didn’t Take Home- Talia’s Story #MyStoryMatters

by Talia

Talia, guest post, leaky to leaky, open adoption

My son Yeshua was almost two when I realized I was pregnant again. But this time instead of tears of joy I cried tears of fear and disbelief. It wasn’t the right time. I called Journeys of the Heart and this is where my adoption process began.

I had never even heard open adoption before but Beth, my adoption counselor at Journeys had me convinced that it would be the best situation for me and the baby, so I was immediately on board. I found a nice couple that already had three boys and things moved forward fast. We had visits, Yeshua started playing with their kids, and Nikki (the adoptive-mom-to-be) even came to ultrasounds with me. We would have lunch and write deep sounding lovey fluffy emails to each other expressing our feelings about this crazy open adoption process we had entered together. Everything seemed perfect…until I was 36 weeks.

Now I’m a breastfeeding fanatic. Yeshua hadn’t had a drop of formula and I pumped at work for him like a dairy cow. I’m all the way crunchy. I even put my breast milk in my own ear when I got a sinus infection (I would have put it in my son’s ear too if he ever had one! But he never did, because he was breastfed). With all that being said, I was determined to pump and send milk to the adoptive family after this new baby was born as well. Even though I knew Zachary wouldn’t be coming home with me, I still wanted to give him the gift only his birthmother could give: breast milk a.k.a. liquid gold.

At 36 weeks it was time to sit down and make a “contract” that would set expectations or guidelines for how our open adoption relationship would play out once Zachary was born. I considered my expectations to be quite low, but one of them included sending milk that I had pumped. I never imagined in a million years that someone would turn down liquid gold for her newborn child. This couple refused. They gave no explanation for why, but they simply stated that they “preferred not to take it.” So I said, “Well they prefer not to have my child then.” Beth and I were onto a search for a new family that was right for me.

I fell in love with a parent profile that I had overlooked earlier with a couple named Robin and Jeff in it. Before I met them though, I asked Beth to call them to ask them their feelings about me pumping milk and sending it to them. Not only were they ecstatic about the idea, they actually already had a freezer full of frozen breast milk waiting for them from a friend whose toddler would no longer drink it. It was truly meant to be. We met and three weeks later I gave birth to Zachary Isaiah.

I was afraid to latch him to my breast. I was afraid to fall even deeper in love than I already was and I knew that many promised adoptions were ripped to shreds once the baby latched and the birthmother changed her mind. But I also knew I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t have those holy sacred moments with my perfect 6 pound newborn baby.

guest post, leaky to leaky, tail's open adoption story

I was sad and afraid that it was breaking Robin’s heart to watch me nurse the son she would take home the next day without being able to feed the same way, but she supported me and made me feel loved. I secretly asked her to forgive me in my mind. Leaving the hospital the next day without Zachary was the hardest moment of my life. I mourned the loss of a living baby which is so strange and distinct, but what was even stranger was that I was able to go home and start making milk for him right away, just as if he was right in my arms. A month after that I moved 5 hours away but that didn’t stop me; I kept pumping and froze the milk. In the meantime Robin’s friend with the freezer milk spent a small fortune mailing the milk over dry ice and between the two of us Zachary was an adopted baby that drank breast milk exclusively for the first 6 weeks of his life. I pumped for about three months but eventually I got a full time job and the supply was less and less. I lamented deeply as it all diminished.

I was able to visit with Zachary and his parents several times within his first few weeks of his life. The hardest part of those visits were holding my baby and smelling him and my body’s natural response was for my milk ducts to let down and say, “hey lady, it’s time to feed your baby.” I longed so badly to nurse him when I visited at their house, but I knew to request something so absurd would be crossing the line and I would never want to make Robin and Jeff uncomfortable because we had a beautiful open adoption. So instead of nursing him I went home and pumped and labeled the milk baggies “I love you Zachary.”

birth mom breastfeeding adoptive baby

Two years later Robin shared with me that because of our unique situation, Journeys Of The Heart had created new guidelines for new incoming adoptive parents. Now they tell adoptive parents that if the mother wishes to pump it is “highly recommended” to accept it. I felt honored by that change and hope to be an inspiration for birthmothers in the future to be encouraged to give a beautiful gift of milk that only they can give.

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What do you think of breastfeeding and adoption? 

Do you have any experience with breastfeeding and adoption?

Share in the comments below your thoughts on adoption and breastfeeding.

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If you are a birthmom or know a birthmom looking for support or a community, On Your feet Foundation is an excellent resource. They have retreats, case management and an amazingly supportive community just for birthmoms.

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If you’d like to share your story with a larger audience, submit your story, photos, and your bio, with #MyStoryMatters in the subject to content @ theleakyboob.com (no spaces).

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guest post, leaky to leaky, Talia's open adoption story 
Talia lives in southern Illinois with her fiance and son.  After having an intense all natural birth with her birthson Zachary, she realized her dream is to be a midwife and help other women empower themselves through having the birth of their dreams as well.  She currently works as an OB RN and prenatal massage therapist, with plans in the near future to start midwifery school.
 
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Hot Mama Cocoa

by Carrie Saum

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There is something about breastfeeding and milk-making that just kills my sex drive, friends.  It goes the way of bell-bottom jeans and jello molds.  They’re fun once in a while, and have definitely been more popular in previous times, but their heydays have already passed.  Wearing those jeans feels like a game of dress up or something you pull out for a 70’s themed special occasion.  And jello molds haven’t been pulled out AT ALL since 1987.  Suffice it to say, Taylor Swift has probably never had lime jello with canned mandarin oranges and pecans while wearing her mom’s bell-bottom jeans.

Feeding our babies is miraculous.  Breastfeeding, formula feeding, pumping, or any other combination those is special and keeping a human alive is an amazing feat.  I remember holding my son for the first time, full of wonder, joy and terror.  How in the world could I be trusted to feed him and keep him safe? I did, though, and you are keeping your little ones alive and safe, too.  But that first year of their little lives takes it out of us as parents.  It’s part of the journey, and they make up for it with sweet cuddles, funny moments, and lending us their perspective of wonder and newness.

But that first year can be hell on your sex drive.

Adding in a little warmth, nourishment, and some helpful nutrition can boost your energy. And let’s be honest here: it could lead to increased sex drive and possibly a milk supply boost and who doesn’t want to get in on that action?!  Sign me up.  Twice.

So, here’s a little bit of cure for whatever ails you: hot chocolate.  Okay, hot chocolate with a little twist. Chocolate releases endorphins.  Endorphins make you feel like you are made of actual magic.  Maca is a natural hormone booster, and for some women, can boost milk supply. Cinnamon stabilizes your blood sugar and the cayenne pepper might just make you feel like you’re 22.

Here is an easy tutorial for you cocoa, because sometimes words are hard without music and pictures. Seriously.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk of your choice (I use coconut milk)
  • 1 Tbsp honey or sweetener of your choice
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a tiny dusting of cayenne pepper (a tiny bit goes a VERY LONG WAY)

Directions:

  1. Combine all of your ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat on medium low.
  2. Whisk continuously until hot and well blended. (5 ish minutes)
  3. Pour into your favorite mug, or thermos and sip.
  4. Put on your sexiest nursing tank.
  5. Make another baby. JUST KIDDING.  Unless you want to.  Then go for it!

You’re so hot right now,
Carrie

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*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.

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If you love this recipe, you might like this recipe for Super Tasty Lasagna or Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding on Our Stable Table.

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Carrie Saum, headshotCarrie 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 and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.

 

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