Tips For Hiking With Baby- The Family Hike

by Jessica Martin-Weber
This article made possible by the generous support of We Made Me Baby Carriers.

 

Whether it is out in nature in a park or an urban hike, venturing out for walks together with your family can become a regular part of your family routine. Though it can seem overwhelming to get out of the house and tackle even the most mundane activities with a baby and young children, with a little bit of planning and having realistic expectations, hiking with babies and young children can easily become a favorite activity for the whole family. 

I initially started family hikes because I needed to get moving and never could find the time without kids to get in any kind of effective workout. My only goal was to get my own body moving while still taking care of my children. Walking around our neighborhood was fine but got boring and I wanted some diversity, so I started looking for hiking trails in our area. It didn’t take long for me to realize there were a number of other benefits to hiking for my whole family. 

Family hikes are an opportunity for shared family fun experiences, expose your children to the world around them, normalize physical activity for your children, give you the chance to be physically active while being with your family, and connect your family more deeply with nature and/or your community. Hiking with my children has helped me find energy by getting moving and helped my kids burn energy by getting out of the house. Sleep has improved with regular hikes, our knowledge of our community has grown, and as our screen time has been reduced, our communication with each other has grown. I love the conversations that flow during hikes with my older children and I treasure the exploration that feeds my younger children’s curiosity, and there’s nothing like my baby’s calm happiness being close to me as she observes the world around her on our walks. There is something in particular about being out in nature, walking and soaking in fresh air away from the expectations of house keeping and other responsibilities that is like a deep cleansing breath that helps me tune in more and be the parent I want to be. Whether it is a new hike we’re trying for the first time or an old favorite, venturing out with the family has brought us closer together and been a centering part of our week.

In the years I’ve been hiking with my family, there are a few things I’ve learned to help make it easier and more enjoyable for all of us. If it is overly complicated or isn’t fun, it isn’t going to happen. Here are my tips for getting hiking with baby and small children.

  • Know where you’re going. Paved path? Woodsy trail? Shade? Full sun? Waterfalls? Water? Buggy area? Steep incline? Bathrooms available? How long is the trail (double or triple the time if you have toddlers or small children walking too)? Look up as much information as you can on any designated hike and hiking area. If it is a public park most have information on their website and Yelp reviews can be helpful in knowing what to expect including difficulty level, terrain, and amenities. Dress appropriately (if you’re breastfeeding, be sure your clothes make that cool and easy with babywearing!) and select the right type of footwear. Higher elevation may be cooler, be prepared with sunblock (if you need it, put it on before leaving the house), hats, insect repellent, change of clothes, etc.
  • Babywear/Toddlerwear. Maybe even preschoolerwear. Select a carrier you are comfortable using, can adjust, is breathable, lightweight, and supportive. If you’re not sure what kind of carrier that is for you, see if you can visit a local babywearing group and if they have a library, try several options. Join social media groups to learn more about options. Keep in mind that one person’s favorite carrier may not work for you, and your favorite may be considered “undesirable” by someone else. Baby carrier preference can be very individual.
  • Comfortable shoes. Typically sneakers with thick breathable socks for everyone are a safe bet but some hikes will be better with hiking boots or hiking sandals depending on the terrain. When it is hot, hiking sandals on a paved path are a great option for breathable comfort and support.
  • Share the load. Pick a carrier that works for you and your hiking partner if applicable so you take turns babywearing. My partner, my teens, and I can all use the We Made Me Venture carrier so instead of us bringing different carriers along or having just one person wear her, we take turns with her in the Venture. Be sure the one being worn is comfy too, knee to knee support in the seat of the carrier will help their legs be more comfortable, avoid irritating their sensitive skin, and make it a smoother ride for your baby or toddler.
  • Hydrate! This is important for everyone, any time but particularly for young children and if you are breastfeeding and when it is very hot. Water bottles that fit in back-pack pockets or hip holsters, camel-back systems, and fresh fruit can help your crew stay hydrated.
  • Fuel. Have easy snacks you know are favorites. A hangry toddler out in the woods will be misery for everyone so be prepared. Remember there may not be good places to stop on nature hikes, and leave the place in the same condition you found it in.
  • Community. For inspiration/ideas, join a local hiking group such as Hike It Baby.
  • Be in the moment. Family hikes are less about exercise and more about taking in the setting and spending time together. Enjoy it for what it is. Babywearing can certainly make it more of a workout, though be sure you are aware of your posture and engage your core to help you avoid straining or injuring yourself. With toddlers and young children, play games such as I Spy or a nature scavenger hunt can help hold their interest.
  • Know your limits. Even a short hike is worthwhile. Get started with something that isn’t going to physically push or stretch anyone in your party, including you. Pick a time of day that is already an energetic time and won’t interrupt a nap. Be realistic and flexible. Take breaks as needed and keep the rest of the schedule that day open. If it doesn’t go well once, don’t give up, try a different type of hike at a different time another day and see if that helps. Respecting your limits is key to having fun!
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, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
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9 Months On, 9 Months Off- This is not a weight loss story

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This article made possible thanks to We Made Me, dedicated to enhancing and supporting the wellbeing, comfort, and the bond, of parents and their babies. Thanks also to Mama Strut, Bamboobies, and Britax.

 

I am enough just exactly how I am.

That doesn’t mean I can’t want to change somethings.

Like I’d like to not feel winded going up a set of stairs.

Enter the postpartum weight loss plan!

Just kidding. We’re not doing that.

They say it is 9 months on, 9 months off when it comes to shedding pregnancy pounds but in my experience, it isn’t just the pounds our mombods are dealing with. It’s the lack of sleep, the aching hip joints, the lack of sleep, struggling to find time, and the lack of sleep.

Did I mention lack of sleep?

Which is ok, really. It’s fine. I mean, no big.

Except it kind of is.

Lucky is 9 months old now and I feel like my body is still sorting things out. Expectations are constantly fluctuating, much like my breasts are depending on when Lucky fed last.

I’m working on getting moving more because the truth is, I just FEEL better when I do. But this time around I’m looking at what it means to be moving towards better health over all. Because as a whole, that’s what I want. Figuring out what that means for me right now has been a bit of a journey. It isn’t as simple as just getting in shape because everything is connected in my life. I want to move towards better health in my relationships, in my work life balance, in my personal growth, in my physical health including sleep and physical activity and my relationship with food.

Getting moving, having forward motion in my life looks different at all different stages. Last year, in the midst of an HG pregnancy, getting moving looked WAY different than it does this year. And next year it will look different again with an active toddler in the picture. In immediate postpartum, getting moving looks different than it does at 6 months postpartum. That’s ok. Realistic goals and expectations along with a perspective that there’s a lot that matters in my life that deserves movement helps me stay inspired to keep moving.

So I’m keeping it real and sharing on The Leaky Boob Instagram and Facebook page. Right now, most of my physical movement is done with the cutest companion which means it is low impact and, well, sporadic. I’m hardly #fitspiration. But I’m making movement, slowly but surely. That’s not all, either, I’ve started some intentional steps to make movement in the other areas that are important to me; my relationships (including my partner, children, and friends), my creative expression, my personal growth and healing (yay therapy!), and my sleep.

I don’t know if you have goals to get moving or what areas of your life need movement but I hope you’ll share them with us.

The team that has come together as our #TLBmoves2018 ambassadors are some incredible people. They are bravely sharing their experiences and journeys and what “getting moving” means for them. From the immediate postpartum to due in a few weeks or a month or so, from first time parents to experienced veterans, from fitness guru to not-exactly-fit, from disabled to able-body, our #TLBmoves team for 2018 are each inspiring. They encourage me to move in my life in new and brave ways.

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Meet our Campaign Ambassadors

These hand-picked, fearless #TLBmoves 2018 Campaign Ambassadors are moms just like you and me, overwhelmed with joy, and just overwhelmed, needing both sleep and coffee, and trying to figure out how they can keep looking out for their own health while tending to the wellbeing of someone(s) completely dependent on them. They are us. We are them. Follow their Instagram accounts to keep up with their #TLBmoves experience, to get their first-hand impressions of the products featured in this campaign giveaway, and be sure to follow The Leaky Boob’s Instagram as I will be featuring their best content there too.

Alicia: mom of 2 (ages 10 and 3), and expecting #3! Activities that keep her moving: chasing 3 yo everywhere and dancing with her while cooking.

Alyssa: 5 kids, 3 cats. Keeps moving by lifting weights, aerial, and running. Huge weight watchers advocate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alicia’s Instagram ~ Alyssa’s #TLBmoves posts will be on TLB’s Instagram

 

Destiny: 2 kids (2, and 2 weeks old). Gets moving by going for walks and letting her 2 yr old run himself to sleep.

Kita: 4 kids, babywearing educator. Always out and about with her kids. Wear all the babies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Destiny’s Instagram ~ Kita’s Instagram

 

Nikki: 2 kids and one on the way. Currently working hard at keeping that baby in!

Rachel: 4 kids, and foster mom. Recovering from PSD, so her husband Noah will be helping out with the “Getting Moving” category

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikki’s Instagram ~ Rachel’s Instagram

Follow Nikki on her blog, AprilandOctober.com, and Facebook

You can also follow Rachel on her blog, SheRockstheCradle.com, and Facebook

 

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Meet #TLBmove’s Sponsoring Brands
And the Products They’re Giving Away!

 

We Made Me
featuring the Flow active wrap.

Flow is our life active wrap – soft, light and breathable. Flow has a flexible fabric, which shapes to the contours of your body, echoing the beauty in both you and your baby, but only stretching in one direction, providing comfort, room to move, combined with vertical lift. Made to fit around you and the day ahead, Flow is suitable from birth, and a versatile and intimate experience for you and your newborn. Retail value: $79.99

We Made Me was born out of a simple passion: to create thoughtful products, dedicated to enhancing and supporting you, and your baby’s wellbeing, comfort and opportunity to bond.

Our product collections are all made with good conscience and an unflinching commitment to style, functionality, and above all: safety.

 

Mama Strut

Mama Strut is a wearable soft brace that is uniquely engineered to deliver heat/ice therapy to reduce birth pain, swelling and cramping from vaginal deliveries, c-sections, and vaginal prolapse, while also supporting the back and abdomen with multi-directional adjustable compression. Designed by a Mom of three to offer women increased relief and mobility after childbirth. Retail Value: $129.99

Get a free accessory pack with the purchase of a Mama Strut using the code: tlb2018 @ mamastrut.com (add the pack to your basket).

Mama Strut brings clinically proven Sports Medicine Technology to mama care. It was specifically designed for mamas by a mama and has been validated by medical professionals as well as many mama users.

 

Bamboobies
featuring the Yoga Nursing Brahhh

The NEW, award-winning Bamboobies Yoga Nursing Brahhh is designed to keep new moms comfortable, fashionable, and feeling great throughout the day. You can rock your yoga class or just feel good walking around the park! This bra is so comfortable, we hear a lot of moms-to-be and new moms sleep in it for light support throughout the night too.

The bamboobies Yoga Brahhh is made with super-soft, eco-friendly bamboo rayon fabric, making it breathable and moisture-wicking for active moms. Retail Value: $29.99

Bamboobies’ mission is to ensure that new mothers and babies are happier and healthier, and so is their world. Their nursing pads and other SOFT Style solutions have been created with love from one mom to many others. For this campaign Bamboobies has offered a 20% off discount code for their website, just enter TLBmoves20 at checkout on any products excluding bundles and the Kelly Bra.

 

Britax
featuring the Britax Pathway Stroller

Pave your own path with this fashionable, lightweight, one-hand quick-fold stroller. Bold, colorful patterns peek out from below the large UV 50+ canopy, so your personality can be on display. Four wheel design gives baby a smooth and steady ride. Baby’s seat can recline fully for nap time on-the-go, and an extra-large storage basket plus a zippered pocket makes it easy to bring along everything you need. Click & Go adapters are included, so it can easily be made into a travel system if needed. Retail Value: $229.99

Britax believes that family life should be lived without limit – a world where parents and children are free to make the most of every moment together.

 

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The Giveaway

A huge thank you to the sponsors of #TLBmoves 2018 and this giveaway – brands that believe in supporting moms and their babies. This giveaway is made possible by them. It includes a grand prize featuring all of the products above, and 4 other winners will receive one of the Yoga Nursing Brahhhs. Please use the widget below to participate.

By participating in this giveaway, you are granting permission for The Leaky Boob to share your name and email address with the sponsors of this giveaway. Please be honest in your participation – we will be checking! Good luck, everyone! 

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The Mother’s Day of Your Choice

If you could have the perfect day for Mothers Day, what would your perfect day look like?

For me the answer to this question changes depending on life stage, circumstances, age of my children, and more.

But even more than that, it can depend on whether or not I think I’m worthy of having a day of my dreams.

Understanding this for me personally, I hope you can hear this:

You matter. You are enough. You are important.

You are worth celebrating.

You are worth celebrating on Mother’s Day.

With that in mind, what would your perfect day celebrating you as a mother look like?

Mother’s Day can be weird for many of us. It can feel contrived, a fake holiday to guilt people into spending more money. Maybe it brings up complicated feelings about our own mothers or complicated feelings about our mothering. Sometimes we feel MORE invisible on Mother’s Day when those around us seem not to notice us or the day. It may raise questions about what we do that’s worth a whole day set aside to celebrate or maybe it highlights how inadequate we feel. It may even lead to questioning what makes one a mother. For some Mother’s Day reveals how desperately we want a break from being a mom. For some it reveals how desperately we want to be a mom. For some it reveals how much they have a mothering spirit while others may feel it reveals they don’t. And many of us may wonder why we need a special day set aside to appreciate mothers- shouldn’t that be every day?

Some lucky ones experience Mother’s Day as a special time to honor their own mother and celebrate their own motherhood.

It’s a day fraught with clichés and complexity.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it’s time for us to realize once again that we’ve just about heard it all:

  • Yes, we all have a mother.
  • Mothers are amazing.
  • Mothers are underappreciated.
  • Flowers and homemade cards are the best way to celebrate mothers.
  • Wine and time away from our children are the gift all honest mothers crave.

How do we celebrate moms without clichés?

By embracing where we are in our journey without guilt or shame. Sure, be aware of where you need to grow and change but shame doesn’t help that journey so let’s all agree to just skip that.

This Mother’s Day, if you haven’t already, prepare by sharing with those close to you what you’d like to do, how you enjoy celebrating, and what you’d really love to receive. If that’s a nap, tell them! If that’s a mimosa by the pool, tell them! If that’s spending the day child-free doing whatever you’d like to do, tell them that too. If you’d prefer to spend the day at the park with your family and receive a card and a special necklace, share that with them.

I hope you get to experience the Mother’s Day that will mean the most to you with respect to your personal journey. Whatever that looks like.

Most of all though, I hope you grow in your understanding that you matter, you are enough, you are important, and you are worth celebrating.

To help with that, we’re focusing on celebrating you and the mother-spirit this week with a campaign #TLBmom and a giveaway to go with it featuring brands that value mothers every day, celebrating you like every day is Mother’s day.

The support that The Leaky Boob is able to offer every day is made possible thanks to brands such as these. Not only do they believe in you and me they exist to make the world a better and more beautiful place. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do. Take a moment to follow them all on social media, see what they’re about, and check out what products might make your life better and more beautiful.

The giveaway:

Alter Eco – Fair Trade chocolates, Baby K’Tan – Active Wrap, Cake Maternity – Cotton Candy Seamless Nursing Bra, Indigo Willow breast milk jewelry – Clair de Lune ring, Natracare – cloth shoulder bag full of earth-friendly feminine/baby products, Latched Mama – Drawstring T-Shirt Dress in Black Vintage Rose, Glamourmom – nursing long top

 

One winner gets all of the product above, and 10 others will win some Natracare products in a small cloth bag. That’s 11 lucky Leakies!

Please use the following widget to enter the giveaway. Good luck, and Happy Mother’s Day!

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Happy Sex Life – Happy Family, Good Clean Love

by Wendy Strgar

 

goodcleanlove.com

(Facebook livestream on The Leaky Boob with Jessica and Jeremy, parents of 7, featuring Loveologist, Wendy Strgar.)

It has been almost two decades since the birth of my fourth and last baby and yet, even 20 years later, I still remember the cold snap that overtook my marriage in the months that followed her birth. It wasn’t like the previous three kids hadn’t taken a cumulative toll on our sex life. But it was also easy to blame our degenerating intimate life on the overwhelming demands and exhaustion of raising four kids. Over time, it became clear that there were actually many other more important factors contributing to the sexless state of our marriage, and more importantly, that the lack of intimacy we shared was creating deep fissures in the foundation of our loving connection.

It was mind boggling for me, as I suspect it is for most every new parent, just how much of our attention is consumed by the fragility and wonder of a new life – often more than we think it is. In ways that I didn’t expect, a powerful internal conflict grew with each child I had, and worse still, lived at the epicenter of the ongoing and escalating conflicts I had with my partner. Who got to do their own thing, whether occupationally or personally, became our ground of competition. With each new baby the challenges of meeting my own needs and knowing my own desires left me feeling lonely and often angry at my husband. Our experience of growing a family was so different. His inability to understand my ambivalence about full-time mothering and my longing for myself isolated us from each other. And not surprisingly, it was our sex life that was held hostage by our ongoing estrangement in our relationship.

 

Wendy Strgar

 

This loss of a sex life is so common to new parents that it’s cliché. In fact, of all life transitions having a baby tops the list for the disruption of a woman’s libido and a couple’s sex life – sometimes for years. Of course there are many factors at play here – everything from hormones to how couples communicate and show up for each other after the birth of a new baby plays a big role. But even more important than many people realize is how a lack of sexual education and communication skills weighs on our ability to adapt and grow together intimately.

Initially, our sex life falls apart innocently with the many challenging circumstances of growing a family.   But often what becomes clear is just how our limited sexual education manifests and undermines our ability to both identify and express our sexual needs. Without realizing it, our deficit of sexual know-how degenerates into low sexual self-esteem and turns into a battleground of hurt feelings. I remember early in my marriage how little I understood about my own arousal mechanism and how uncomfortable we both were when it came to using words to describe our sexual preferences. Erroneously, I believed that my partner should just know what kinds of touch felt best or which positions worked for me – which was strange, because I didn’t know them myself.

The truth is that what we have no language for is often not available to us. And it is not surprising that so many relationships suffer from ongoing sexual dysfunction issues issues like pain with sex, the inability to orgasm, ongoing vaginal dryness or for men, premature ejaculation and the inability to maintain erections. In fact the sexual health issues are shared almost equally between male and female partners.

We struggled with this combination of sexual inexperience for more years than I would like to admit, which often created more frustration than our fledgling relationship could hold. We often degenerated into hurtful sexual blaming that made both of us feel impotent and afraid to engage. Living with persistent sexual frustration often evolves into an approach-avoidance game where everyone loses and one, or both, partners starts putting one foot out the door.

As our sex life starts to slip away, we don’t realize the impact it is having on the cohesion in the whole relationship. We forget how much emotional release that our physical intimacy brings. I often call it the glue that keeps all the rest of the mess intact, but we know that not engaging sexually undermines the health and longevity of the relationship in so many other ways.

Finding your way out of this downward sexual spiral is possible and deserves your attention. What helped us was both recognizing how much we didn’t want to lose the intimate space we had taken for granted, and developing the curiosity to learn more about our own sexual response. The more confident I became in my own ability to express my sexual needs, the more I could bring to our intimacy and stop blaming him when it didn’t work.

As he saw my willingness grow, and wasn’t worried about my wrath, he had time and space to figure out what helped for him to last longer. With practice, I also got better at finding ways to wake up my arousal which made it possible to throw out the entire idea of needing to “be in the mood.” The more I trusted my capacity to generate a sexual mood, the more we were able to synch up our sexual desires.

During all the baby years I usually had to think my way into desire. It never just came to me, but it became easier and easier to remember how much softer life was for everyone when we took care of our sexual needs first.

 

Wendy Strgar is an award-winning entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, a pioneer in the organic personal care product industry. She is a popular blogger and author of two books. Sex That Works: An Intimate Guide To Awakening Your Erotic Life, published by Sounds True Publishing in June 2017, is the companion to her first popular book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy. Wendy has been featured in many publications including The New York Times Book Review. For more information about Wendy’s relationship help books, visit her author website.

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Belly Painting- Celebrating and Commemorating Pregnancy With Your Children

By Jessica Martin-Weber with Squiggle Bug, Smunchie, Sugarbaby, and Jeremy Martin-Weber

Each person deserves to be celebrated. A theme that is common in our family. Most often , the ways we find to celebrate are small and simple but very special.

We’re going to show one way we enjoy celebrating a coming baby. Belly painting! Together we cooperate to celebrate and commemorate the new person joining our family with creative expression.

Today we already agreed on a seasonal theme but it could be anything! Comment telling us what you’ve done to celebrate a pregnancy and the new family member joining your family.

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*My Body* On Demand

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Content Note

This piece focuses on sexual assault and includes discussion and detailed description of birth including birth trauma, anxiety, and mention of sexual assault.


The sweet smell of a new baby was more intoxicating than I had imagined. My heart swelled every time I held her, I thought I had known love, this was even more. Joy, relief, peace, total contentment.

It had been a difficult pregnancy and an even more difficult birth. So often, most of the time, I felt completely out of control as though I had no say over my body or what happened to me. Spending hours and hours reading text books, reading personal accounts, absorbing all the literature I could on pregnancy and birth, I had taken advantage of every resources I could to be prepared. Long ago I had found that learning as much as I could about an experience I was facing helped me feel less out of control and more calm. It helped me to think rationally, ask informed questions, and make decisions that didn’t seem desperate. So I managed better than I expected with the sense of lack of control and autonomy. Reading and listening to the stories of others that had traversed the path of parenthood through pregnancy and birth before me, I understood that modesty might fly out the window, that decisions may need to be made quickly, that plans may need to be altered for life saving measures.

As a sexual assault survivor who was still processing and recovering, I saw a therapist regularly, journaled, and read materials on sexual assault survivors giving birth. It was important to me that my birth partner- my husband and my birth team be aware that I was a survivor and that consent was particularly important to me for any touching. We were all prepared.

But in the end it wasn’t the pregnancy and birth that brought anxiety flooding back for me as I became a mother for the first time. It wasn’t the incessant vomiting, multiple hospitalizations for hydration, the numerous failed IV placement attempts, the premature rupture of membranes at 32 weeks and the rushed amniocentesis without anything to numb the insertion of the largest needle ever to enter my body, the diagnosis of asymmetrical IUGR, the weeks of steroids, or the diagnosis of pre-e that made me feel that I had no say over what happened to my body. Even when we had to fight in the hospital for certain accommodations to help me relax in labor I didn’t feel out of control. And when an episiotomy was performed without my consent I was angry but at the time accepted it was necessary (it wasn’t but I made peace with it). Not even when my doctor shoved her arm up inside me to her elbow to manually scrape out my uterus and perform an extraction of my partially retained placenta when I was hemorrhaging, not even then did I feel that my autonomy was threatened.

It wasn’t until a few days later, at home, as my milk flooded my breasts making them hot and swollen and my baby suddenly was desperately and constantly in demand of my breasts that I experienced my first panic attack.

Feed on demand.

sexual assault survivor breastfeeding

I wanted to run away. I wanted to say no. I felt trapped and stuck and completely at the mercy of another human being.

Every time she rooted or fussed, her little mouth searching, I felt it wash over me.

Feed on demand.

Those 3 words were the sentence that thrust me back to when someone else had the control, the say, and all the power over my body. Their hands, their mouth, their fingers, their body probing mine and demanding what they wanted from me. I had no say, I was overpowered. And later, in another context, there was a charade of my own power but if I truly loved them, truly trusted them, I would give my body over to their demands, because that was what love did, even if it hurt. Love meant obligation.

Feed on demand.

But this was my baby. The greatest love I had ever known. And this wasn’t sexual, this was nurturing and caring, this was mothering.

What was wrong with me? Why did I feel like this?

Feed on demand.

This other person outside of myself had all the say over my body. She had the right to demand my body and I had to give it to her or I was failing in loving her fully and in giving her what she deserved. Her right to my milk was so much more important than my right to my body, what kind of mother would I be to deny her demands?

Feed on demand.

I loved her. I was obligated to her. I would do anything for her.

So I would expose my breast to her demanding mouth. I would draw her close through her demanding cries. I would try to control my reaction as her suck demanded my milk. I offered myself to her demands because she mattered more than me.

Feed on demand.

Utilizing breathing exercises I had practiced for labor and staring up at the ceiling as I ran through songs in my head trying to distract myself from the anxiety that clawed at my throat as she suckled at my breast. I got through weeks and weeks of feeds. Months. I was loving her, I told myself. Love required sacrifice, motherhood is full of sacrifices. I would meet her demands for my body because I loved her.

Feed on demand.

Mommy and Arden bfing hand kiss

Eventually it got easier for me. I didn’t stay stuck there and I even found feeding my baby to be a healing experience. As she grew our relationship developed and I could look into her eyes as I fed her, her contented sighs and complete trust helping my anxiety to subside. I’m sure oxytocin helped too. But personally, it was having the option to always say no by instead offering a bottle of breastmilk that helped me find the autonomy I had in saying yes too. It took time but slowly I was able to reframe what was happening.

I wasn’t losing control of my body to a demanding, controlling, abusive person in an imbalanced relationship that was causing me pain. No, my baby was dependent on me and powerless herself as an infant. I was choosing to respond to her and care for her needs.

I no longer saw it as feeding on demand but rather responsive feeding. Responding to her cues and cries for me, the safest person she knew. She was safe for me too.

Love is responsive.

Responsive feeding. Feeding with love.

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

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

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

Totally conflicted.

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

I’m a bit of an optimist too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We’ve assembled a small team to provide a little daily inspiration and some real-life experiences as they focus on the love present in their relationships. Here are the six mamas (apart from myself) that will be sharing their #TLBloves experiences with us this for the next month.

 

Angela NavarroAngela Garcia Navarro

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

 

Brianda TaylorBrianda Traylor

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

 

Kayla Nau headshotKayla Nau

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

 

Rachel Kirk headshotRachel Iglesia

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

 

Rebecca Zuick headshotRebecca Zuick

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

 

Jenna StevensJenna Stevens

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

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Meet our partners:

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

 

Naked Nursing Tank logo

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

 

Dressed to Deliver logo

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

 

Nova Natural logo

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

 

Uberlube logo

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

 

Evenflo Feeding Logo

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

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

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

 

Silverette logo

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

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#TLBloves pic 2

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Breastfeeding, Your Partner, And Sharing the Journey

by Sarah Saucedo

This post is generously made possible by Bamboobies

bamboobies banner - 2016

When you are considering breastfeeding your baby, it may seem like it will be a one-woman show. The notion that you will be the sole provider for your new baby’s nutrition may seem a bit overwhelming. However, that doesn’t need to be the case! Your partner can play a key support role in your breastfeeding success.

In the first couple days postpartum, having help to make the most of “lying in” should be a priority. “Lying in” simply means the days or week following delivery where mom and baby should be breastfeeding, bonding, doing skin to skin and little else. Your partner can help make this transition easier with a few simple acts:

  • Make sure any therapy or breastfeeding essentials are within your reach and ready to use (nursing pads, nipple balm, therapy pillows)
    • If using reusable nursing pads – make sure they are clean and ready to go
    • Heating or cooling the therapy pillows depending on your liking
  • Make sure you are hydrated and fed
    • Always have a water bottle on your nightstand
    • Place easy-to-grab snacks like protein bars or fruits that don’t need to be refrigerated, like bananas and oranges, within your reach
  • Help with any pain medications or dressings that you may have from your delivery; this can be a big help-especially if you had a cesarean or particularly hard labor.

happy-couple-bamboobies-cobranded-2016

Once you are comfortable enough to move around the house more, there are plenty of ways that your partner can still be helpful and supportive in your breastfeeding journey. Here are a few:

  • Stock a nursing station or stations in you favorite spot(s), so you have what you need when you need it. Snacks, wipes, burp clothes, a full water battle, nursing pads and something entertaining, like a good book or magazine are essentials. Fueling you body and mind while the little one eats is multitasking at its finest.
  • Use a bottle to feed baby pumped breastmilk. This can give you some time to take that much needed shower, read a book, or even sleep if your partner is able to pick up a night feeding. It may seem trivial but these little acts of self-care go a long way in the postpartum period.
  • Clean the pump parts and bottles (they add up!)

Having your partner’s support doesn’t need to stop when you venture out of the house, either! Your partner can be just as involved in your breastfeeding journey whether out to eat, shopping, or at a sporting event.

  • Provide emotional support when you need it. It can be a huge boost to your confidence! Knowing that they support you and your breastfeeding journey can be the key to making a possibly anxious situation (like your first time out of the house) as smooth as possible.
  • Check to make sure the diaper bag is fully stocked with all your favorite breastfeeding supplies (pads, nipple balm, and nursing shawl) and whatever baby needs is also helpful. Don’t forget an extra diaper or two and a change of clothes for baby. You might want an extra shirt, too, just in case!

Bringing a new life into the world is challenging and exciting. Having a partner that supports your feeding choices makes everything a little easier. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Chances are, your partner will be looking for ways to be involved with baby and you during your breastfeeding journey as well. Happy breastfeeding!

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sarah-saucedo-headshot

Sarah is a mom of two wonderful boys, and is expecting her third child in March! She is bamboobie’s support maven as well as a Certified Lactation Educator and Counselor and is passionate about all things breastfeeding. 
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When There Is No Glow- Nymphai and Nurturing Our Own Healing

by Jessica Martin-Weber
I have a tattoo on my upper right arm that starts at a three pointed scar on my inner arm and wraps up and around my shoulder. A twisty, viney type of tree with swirls, knots, and sharp looking points. The tree looks like it has grown around many obstacles and against the wind. It isn’t a tall, straight tree, it is a tree with gnarls and curves, marked by it’s struggle to survive. A beautiful tree that springs from a scar in the soil. Flapping their wings, 6 birds that may have just been resting on the curved and hunched branches of this tree are taking flight. Delicate but obviously powerful, these birds are majestic and strong. I dreamed of this tattoo for years, shared the vision with my tattoo artist Colin Kolker, sketched many variations with my husband Jeremy, and eventually Colin captured the essence in the design that is permanently etched into my arm. This tattoo means so much to me it is now woven into Tekhni fabric to carry babies. Find your opportunity to enter in a Tekhni giveaway at the end of this article!
This is why.
When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

“You look terrible!”  There was concern in her voice, not malice. I did look terrible, frightening even. I could have been auditioning to be an extra in Schindler’s List. I knew I looked bad. Not wanting to explain much, I tell her I’m ok, I’m just pregnant. She looks horrified and whispers “I thought pregnant women glowed.”

No, nope, nu-uh. Ok, well, some pregnant women glow. Maybe even most. I don’t glow. Unless you count the green tinged pallor I sport in pregnancy a glow.

In my head pregnancy is going to be this serene existence of light, one with the earth, I’ll feel like a goddess, my body humming with the growing life within and a sense of wisdom and peace filling me. It radiates from me as I float along my every day life where everything suddenly has more meaning. I had expectations.

Unfortunately, that isn’t what happens.

Instead of floating, I crash to the ground in a heap of extra saliva and a stomach that rejects all food and liquid all day, every day. This causes my skin to lose elasticity, my body fat to burn off quickly, my kidneys to release toxins, my eyes to sink deeper into my skull, the tiny blood vessels in my face and neck to burst, my complexion to take on a green yellow hue, my head to spin when I shift my weight, my other organs to work harder as they dehydrate, and my veins to go into hiding so that every IV attempt results in bruises the size of plums up and down my arms. I don’t even know how to tell youHyperemesis Gravidarum.

Decidedly not glowing.

Every pregnancy I hoped the results would be different. There were plans, you see. Plans for how I would eat, how I would prepare for my coming baby. Plans for a level of physical activity and creativity bursts. Plans for how my baby and I would grow together, healthy and strong. Plans for how my friends and family would share in my pregnancy, how we would celebrate and enjoy the journey. Plans for how everything would go the way it was supposed to go. Plans that never came to be.

Because no glowing.

I hate being pregnant.

Cue a new glow, those fuming at me for not fulfilling my role of goddess mother because I dare to admit I don’t love pregnancy. Even Kim Kardashian, who people love to hate and hate to love, can’t state that pregnancy isn’t an experience she enjoys without encountering more vitriol than normal.

 

Pregnant mothers are supposed to glow and love pregnancy.

You can fail being a mother before your kid is even outside of your body.

All because you didn’t. feel. the. glow.

When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

We have a romanticized version of all aspects of motherhood upheld in our society. A version that is always glowing, radiating from some isolated pedestal of unattainable idealism. While sometimes we may feel like a goddess in our mothering, for many of us those luminescent images require metaphorical if not literal special lighting, makeup, shape wear, and most elusive of all, a nap. In other words, the river goddess nursing her baby in the stream may be beautiful and remind of us some inner peace we’ve made contact with a time or two but for many of us it is heavily staged.

Most of my moments in parenting haven’t been glowing. Some of them I was barely surviving.

When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

It can be crushing to realize that your experience with conception, pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding aren’t a breathtaking image of serenity, that your reality isn’t naturally incandescent. When all you want is to glow, to radiate, to enjoy the path that gets you to your baby but what you get is near destruction, it can be hard to separate the journey from your own personhood. Sometimes it can be hard to separate the journey from the gift. There were times when my baby felt like my enemy, my torturer, my reminder of my failure. Those times were dark and twisted. But they were nothing compared to the times when I felt my baby suffered because I just. couldn’t. glow. The agony that my babies paid the price was by far the most painful to endure.

  • Infertility.
  • Pregnancy loss.
  • Pregnancy complications.
  • Birth trauma.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Financial stress.
  • Disrupted bonding.
  • Feeding difficulties.
  • Postpartum depression.

Whatever it is, the grief is real, the suffering is profound. And the shaping is valuable.

Even if you aren’t glowing.

Specially if you aren’t glowing.

Poopins front wrap Tekhni Nymphai

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

When there is no glow, particularly when there is no glow when pure radiance is what is expected, how do you go about being honest with yourself and others? And how do you start to heal while accepting what it is?

Here’s what has helped me.

Journal. Write it all down. The reality, the struggle, the loneliness, the fear that the fact that you feel this way or have experienced these things means you’re not enough. All of it, write it down.

Cry. Yep, cry. You’re going to anyway. Give yourself permission and cry. And don’t dismiss it as hormones or being a woman or overreacting or whatever. Cry because you’re human and humans cry when something hurts. It is not weakness to cry, it is a strength to stop pretending.

Art. Whether you enjoy expressing yourself through art or not, drawing, coloring, painting, sculpting, dancing, playing music, you name it, artistic expression can be incredibly cathartic because sometimes words alone just art enough to full get those feelings out. And taking in someone else’s artistic expression can be just as powerful.

Talk. You may be afraid that people may not like hearing your journey because it isn’t warm and fuzzy but more often than not sharing your story will actually help someone processing their own glowless experience. That sharing can help you and them. Be it in person or online, opening up about our struggles builds community that values authenticity and that can actually help save lives.

Commemorate. An event, big or small, to honor the journey (but please don’t do a balloon release, it’s littering and hard on animal friends); a special purchase that holds a lot of meaning for you; a ritualistic occasion that connects deeply with you; a meaningful plant/tree/shrub planted in your yard as a hopeful yet gentle reminder; compile mementos in a book; create something unique that captures the profound nature of your journey.

The tree on my arm represents me, the birds my daughters. My tattoo turned Tekhni woven wrap, named for the nymphs of Greek mythology who nurture nature, has helped me glow. From reclaiming my body to having a beautiful woven wrap that represents so much healing, hope, and promise in nurturing that surrounds other moms and their precious children, I have found a glow I can’t contain. May we all glow with honesty and hope.

When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

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Thank you for reading my story, I would love to hear yours as well. Comment here sharing your glowing or not-so-glowing experience with parenting, how you’ve found healing, and how you commemorate that experience.

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

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Jessica Martin-WeberDrawing 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.

 

Enter for your chance to win a ring sling with a pattern based on my tattoo. This beautiful Tekhni Wovens ring sling in Clover is yours for the winning! Enter below:

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Why I’ll Stick To Saying “Fed IS Best”

By Jessica Martin-Weber

fed-is-best-image-1

“You may have heard the phrase ‘fed is best’ and while it may be true, feeding your child is best, it is scientifically proven that breast is better. This is not a shaming statement, it is factual.”

I came across an image boldly making this statement recently and I’ve seen others like it and in the infant feeding support group I run on Facebook I was accused of not really supporting breastfeeding because we don’t permit formula bashing or shaming and discourage the use of the phrase “breast is best” (a marketing tool developed by formula manufacturers, no less).  

Reading that phrase above it strikes me that it sounds a lot like when kids are trying to one-up each other with “well, blank is better!”

But children are cute and a little silly and often don’t grasp the concept of “context.”

“Fed is best” is a big thing here in this space. TLB is a community that holds to this view in how we support (did you know breastfeeding is not our first passion? Read here to see what is.). “Fed is best” isn’t a perfect phrase but then there is no such thing as a perfect phrase. Words are limited, expressions are clumsy, one-liners are inept. But as far as words and phrases go, this one leaves room… for the personal story. The narrative, the humanity, the journey.

And oh how those narratives, that humanity, those journeys, matter.

Science is only one piece of this particular pie. Or rather, the science that looks at the composition of breastmilk is only one piece of this particular pie. But there are other sciences that factor in as well. Sciences that aren’t proven by looking through a microscope. These are the sciences where the evidence is gathered by listening, caring, and respecting the stories of the ones living them.

fed-is-best-image-2

The science that gives evidence that for one particular mother- who could be any one of us- breastfeeding is a trigger for her sexual assault trauma and having a person, even one tiny being she loves so deeply, have the right to “demand” her body sets anxiety burning inside. Every time she must feed her baby. This science proves that for this mother and her baby, maybe formula is better. Maybe it is best.

The science that gives evidence that for a couple that could not biologically reproduce on their own, loving a child with abandon still requires that they have access to safe and suitable nutrition for their baby. This science proves that for these parents and their baby, maybe formula is better. Maybe it is best.

The science that gives evidence that infants removed for their own safety from the arms of their parents and placed into the arms of others, willing to love forever yet holding them temporarily hoping for reunification of this child’s family – this family dynamic and this baby still require access to safe and suitable nutrition for their baby. This science proves that for these parents and their baby, maybe formula is better. Maybe it is best.

The science that gives evidence that sometimes, for any number of reasons, there is pain and before it can be resolved there is less milk and stress and fear and even less milk and concern and doubt about milk from another. This family and this baby still require access to safe and suitable nutrition for their baby. This science proves that for these parents and their baby, maybe formula is better. Maybe it is best.

The science that gives evidence that the mother with a floundering endocrine system is unable to physically produce the milk her infant needs and requires reliable access to a safe and suitable nutrition option for their baby. This science proves that for this mother and their baby, maybe formula is better. Maybe it is best.

The science that gives evidence that the mother whose breasts never quite developed fully (and who knows exactly why), does not have enough glandular tissue to actually manufacture breastmilk, and needs reliable access to safe and suitable nutrition option for feeding her baby. This science proves that for this mother and their baby, maybe formula is better. Maybe it is best.

The science that gives evidence that the mother with a physical condition that requires a medication contraindicated with breastfeeding must choose between her health and her child’s access to breastmilk. This mother and her baby require reliable access to a safe and suitable nutrition option for feeding their baby. This sciences proves that for this mother and her baby, maybe formula is better. Maybe it is best.

The science that gives evidence that the mother who had no choice but to return to work a mere 5 days after the birth of her baby, was intimidated into not fighting for her right to adequate pumping breaks, found she didn’t respond well to the pump, but her baby was hungry and while she tried to find donor milk that was another full time job she didn’t have time to manage, and still she required reliable access to safe and suitable nutrition option for feeding her baby. This science proves that for this mother and her baby, maybe formula is better. Maybe it is best.

The science that gives evidence that the mother who once was a very young woman with a back that ached daily, and shoulders that bore gouge marks from her bra, and her breasts the unwanted hot caresses of men she knew and didn’t know, and so she chose in those days when she couldn’t imagine all that motherhood would entail to have her breasts cut into to make them less… less noticeable, less painful, less identifying. What she didn’t know or couldn’t imagine is they would also be less able to feed her Someday-Baby in her arms today and she too is in need of reliable access to safe and suitable nutrition option for feeding her baby. This science proves that for this mother and their baby, maybe formula is better. Maybe it is best.

fed-is-best-image-3

This could go on and on, the stories of real people are endless. The sciences of the heart and the mind, of society and work, of privilege and trauma have volumes upon volumes. Psychology, and social sciences – these are sciences too. And sometimes those sciences, under the individual microscope of the ones living life, show us that science isn’t all there is. Science observes and studies but it raises more questions than it answers. And it respects the chaos even as it notes patterns. We learn from science but not so science can rule us. Which is why we can look through a microscope and be in awe of the living organism that is breastmilk, and still, with all the sciences together, understand that breast may not always be best or better. With science, but even more with caring, we can see how fed is best. After all, the first rule of lactation support is “Feed the baby.”

When we say it isn’t shaming, is it because it isn’t shaming to us and we can’t, for a moment, apply some empathy and see how the intent may not be to shame but the experience from a different journey than ours could experience it as shame? When our language is woefully deficient, can we not adjust our words to hold space for the unique lens of others’ personal stories? Or is being right most important of all? Is having one particular science the only facts that matter? Is the only understanding we’re capable of the understanding that aligns with our experience and our personal passions?

Don’t get me wrong, breastfeeding is a huge priority here at The Leaky Boob. We believe that better support, access to care, and changing societal attitudes around breastfeeding is crucial for public health and truly supporting families. There is no doubt that the evidence of breastmilk as the biological norm for human infants is solid. But there is so much more than science involved in our real lives and so there needs to be more than science involved in our support. The stories, the living, breathing stories of the people living in them is what determines best outside of the laboratory, in real life. In spite of the inadequacy of our language to express these ideas and reality in full, we stumble along looking for language that leaves room for what can never be fully articulated in our stories: the heart.

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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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