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Why I am not passionate about breastfeeding

by Jessica Martin-Weber
TLB creed

“How did you become so passionate about breastfeeding?”

This question comes up often.  For a while I would hem and haw an answer, stringing together some words that were an attempt at sounding intelligent and reasonable as to why I would have created and continue to run The Leaky Boob.  Awkward and fumbling, I hoped it covered the truth.

I’m not passionate about breastfeeding.

My second daughter received formula starting at 4.5 months and by 5 months was completely formula fed.  The reasons are hardly the point of me sharing this fact.  It was, we believed, the right thing for our family at the time and, like these things are want to be, complicated.

I never felt guilty about it, never even thought about feeling guilty about it.  It just was.  I’d like to say she was perfectly healthy and no issues what so ever but that wasn’t our experience.  Between reflux that took months to resolve, constipation issues that took just as long and several expensive experiments, and then RSV, pneumonia, strep throat, multiple ear infections, and more than I care to recount, her first year was more difficult than I had ever anticipated.  Formula didn’t make it better, much it was exasperated by formula.  Still, through all that, guilt about stopping breastfeeding never occurred to me.  Nor did anger, bitterness, or even hurt.  I was sad, disappointed that it didn’t work for us but that didn’t last long and there wasn’t really anything I could do about it.  Fighting like hell to be able to breastfeed had taken a toll and I was confident that giving it up was actually better for my daughter and I by that point.

I was right.

Later, when I shared my story with someone they comforted me, telling me dealing with that guilt must have been hard.  Strange, I thought, why would I feel guilty?  In that moment and many moments later as I reflected on the guilt I didn’t have, my confidence in my parenting and decision making began to erode a bit.  Already struggling with postpartum depression, this little chink in the foundation of my parenting led to me believing that I was not fit to be a mother.  It wasn’t this person’s fault but I entered a place of shadows and shame, afraid that I couldn’t trust myself to make decisions for my children.

Time, therapy, medication, and some really good friends supporting me by encouraging me to see that I was not, in fact, a horrible mother, helped me turn things around.  Through that though, I began to understand something far more important than breastmilk or formula: confidence isn’t being right, confidence is more than believing in yourself to do the right thing, confidence is having peace with who you are even when you make mistakes.  With my confidence growing again, I moved forward with my husband, embracing that doing the right thing for our family wouldn’t always be an issue of black and white, A and B, or left and right, but rather a sensitivity for all parties involved doing the best we could with whatever circumstances we would face with whatever resources, information, and understanding we had available at the time.

My next baby was breastfed, up until 18 months we had an easy, simple breastfeeding relationship that working full time and caring for 2 other children only complimented, never hindered.  Weaning with her came unexpectedly when the single most difficult and devastating parenting experience we have encountered to date hit us: the sexual abuse of our two eldest by a very dear friend.

It was tempting to unravel in that time and in many ways I did.  But our daughters needed me.  Faking it often, I attempted confidence even as I asked how could I let this happen, how could I not see the signs, how could I… have failed so badly?

More time, therapy, and really incredible friends supporting us, we got through the investigation, trial, and agonizing fragmentation of our family.  Each step was in uncharted and sometimes lonely waters with swells of failure sweeping over me.  There was grief, pain, hurt, bitterness, doubt, and anger, so much anger.  My confidence wavered and so did my husband’s.  We considered a cabin in Montana and cutting off the outside world.

Our daughters didn’t need Montana though, they didn’t need to go off the grid and be isolated.  What our daughters needed most was someone, something to be a safe landing place for them.  That was us.  There was never a moment that I was sure we were doing everything right as we walked the path in search of justice and healing and there were plenty of people telling us how we should be doing it or how we were doing it wrong.  In the midst of the pain, grief, and anger, the truth we had learned before became an anchor along with our faith and love: confidence is having peace with who you are even when you make mistakes.  Our daughters needed us to have confidence to help them land softly.  There was space for us to be honest about our insecurities and fear but the greatest gift we could give our children along with our love was to have peace in our ability to love them well even through this.

Today, 9 years later, I know my husband and I are not perfect parents, we’ve made choices that we would change if we were to have the chance to make them again.  Maybe I would fight harder to be able to breastfeed my second baby longer.  Maybe I would have feed us all with better food.  Maybe I would have done things differently in our relationship with our daughters’ attacker.  Maybe I would handle the abuse another way.  Maybe.  I don’t really know.  But I do know that having peace in who we are, holding on to peace even as it shreds in my hands pounded by guilt, bitterness, and anger, helped our daughters find peace in who they are.  Together, we found healing.

Any more when I am asked why I’m so passionate about breastfeeding I tell the asker the truth: it’s not breastfeeding I’m passionate about.  I support moms in breastfeeding because of the gift of confidence breastfeeding can be.  Maybe it won’t be for everyone but for many it is, it was for me and so this is one way I can offer support.  The science and relationship bonding are compelling on their own but they aren’t why I talk about breastfeeding so much.  By not apologizing for our bodies, not suppressing our bodies, and having peace in who we are and how we are can help mothers find the confidence they are going to need for the really tough parts of parenting.  Feeding their children, be it breastmilk or formula, is one of the very first steps all parents must take, undermining their confidence there is insidious and damaging.  People that are confident are more free to love, learn, and live with joy.  Babies with confident parents have a place to land softly no matter what life throws at them.  I’m not passionate about breastfeeding, I never have been.  People are my passion.  People start out as babies.  Babies are cared for by parents.  Parents are people.

This may not make me popular in some circles, I don’t mind.  But I believe that having a hurt, angry, bitter mother struggling with their own confidence and ability to parent is far, far worse than feeding a baby formula could ever be.  I think breastmilk is great but I think caring for people is even greater.  The benefits of confident parenting far outweigh the risks.

I would never tell a woman, or anyone, what to do with their body nor what to do with their child.  Respecting their ability and responsibility in making the right decision for themselves and their family based on the circumstances they face with the information and resources available to them at that time means I don’t know what they should do.  All I can do is offer support, information, and encourage them to embrace their confidence and move forward with peace.

This is why at The Leaky Boob we believe:

Feed the baby, care for the mother, support the family.

But if you need some help or support to feed your baby how you want: we are here.

If you need help with how to correctly mix and prepare a formula bottle: we are here.

If you need help with breastfeeding: we are here.

If you need help going back to work and continuing to breastfeed: we are here.

If you need help weaning (at any age): we are here.

If you need help starting solids: we are here.

If you just want to talk: we are here.

 

Walk in confidence, live with peace, land softly.

 

Community.  Support.  TLB.

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DIY Earl Grey Tea Sugar Scrub-experimental recipe

by Kari Swanson

Earl Grey Tea Sugar Scrub

Earl Grey Tea Sugar Scrub

Last holiday season I gave 4oz jelly jars of homemade sugar scrub to friends and family as gifts.  I used a recipe I found online customized for the fragrances that I thought friends and family would enjoy.  Recently I have started to experiment with the recipe.  This is my current experiment.

Ingredients:

Honey, Organic Coconut Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Organic Sugar, Vitamin E, Earl Grey Tea Flavoring, Lemon Essential Oil, loose Earl Grey tea leaves

Honey, Organic Coconut Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Organic Sugar, Vitamin E, Earl Grey Tea Flavoring, Lemon Essential Oil, loose Earl Grey tea leaves

1 1/2 cups of organic sugar

1/4 cup of organic coconut oil

1/4 cup of sunflower seed oil

1 tblsp of local honey

6-8 drops of lemon essential oil

8-10 drops of Earl Grey tea flavoring

a few drops of Vitamin E oil (optional)

2 tsp of loose Earl Grey tea leaves

 

 

Place sugar in the bottom of a large glass bowl and drop the coconut and sunflower oils in on top.

P8110713-300x225-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add drops of lemon essential oil and tea flavoring to the top of the coconut oil

Coconut Oil is a solid at temperatures below 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coconut Oil is a solid at temperatures below 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wear (non-latex) rubber gloves and mix by hand.  Add the honey and Vitamin E oil and continue mixing.

When the sugar, oils and fragrances are thoroughly combined add the loose tea leaves and continue to mix until the tea leaves are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

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I put my sugar scrubs in glass canning jars.  The blue jar at the top of the page is a limited edition Ball Heritage Collection pint jar.  If you don’t have canning jars you could use any container with a lid that seals.

Sugar scrubs are great for dry skin.  They leave your skin soft and smooth.

 

kariswansonTLB

 

Kari Swanson is a daughter, sister, wife, mother of two, librarian, member of Generation X and an admin for The Leaky B@@b Facebook page.   Kari blogs occasionally over at Thoughts from BookishMama.

 

This post was originally posted on Thoughts from BookishMama.

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Unsupportive Support- out in public

Dear family and friends of a breastfeeding mother, strangers that support breastfeeding too, I have more to share with you about ways you are possibly being unintentionally unsupportive in your efforts to help.  What you may not realize is that offering unsupportive support is quite damaging and though I understand that you probably really are just trying to help it’s worth understanding how these efforts can actually cause more harm than good.  This series of posts on unsupportive support  is intended to help you be a better support person and strengthen your relationship with the mother you’re close to.

 

How not to support and how to avoid being unintentionally unsupportive- part 4.

Unsupportive support is…

Saying “You’re going to do THAT here?  Wouldn’t you like some place more private?”

She’s probably too nice to point this out but I’ll go ahead: when people say this and other similar comments what it really communicates is that you think she’s doing something that is shameful and should be hidden or secret.  It says more about what the speaker thinks of breasts, women, and the act of breastfeeding.  What you’re telling her by saying that is that you are uncomfortable with breastfeeding.  Which means you’re uncomfortable with her.  Which is your problem, not hers.  If she’s already started to breastfeed or is getting set up to do so then clearly she’s comfortable doing “THAT” there.  Offering her some place private if she seems anxious or looks uncomfortable could be helpful but it’s probably best to just wait for her to ask because chances are strong that she’d seek it out on her own if that were the case.  It’s not helping to offer another room for her to go to and be ostracized from everyone else and it’s just plain old disgusting to suggest the bathroom as an alternative.  Do you know what people do in there?  Moms can start breastfeeding in bathrooms when restaurants can meet health code and serve diners in the bathrooms.  Unless you’re going to be the first to sign up to eat your dinner in the bathroom, don’t suggest it as a dinning place of choice for an infant.  Since in the majority of the world her right to breastfeed wherever she is happens to be is legally protected what does it matter where she’s going to feed her baby?  The needs and comfort of her baby are her first priority, the comfort of everyone else that has their own issues with how they view breastfeeding and the female body, not so much.  Those individuals just have to deal.  And grow up.  And get over their selfish little selves that put their issues before a small child’s need to eat.  In fact, the more women breastfeed as though it’s a normal part of life and parenting (because, you know, it IS a normal part of life and parenting), the more comfortable society will become and the more women will breastfeed.  She’s actually doing the world a favor by breastfeeding wherever she is.  To really support her look up the laws about breastfeeding in public in your/her area and be informed.  It may take some practice but you’ll get more comfortable with it too.  Just practice whispering to yourself “I’m the one with the problem, not her.”  And start carrying “Thank you for breastfeeding in public” cards with you to hand out when you do see a woman breastfeeding in public (you’ll be shocked at how rare a sight that actually is) as penance.

Encouraging her to “plan ahead and just pump” to take a bottle or suggesting formula when going out so she doesn’t have to breastfeed in public.

Saying this just makes you look really uneducated about breastfeeding.  And maybe you are but it’s also very rude.  Don’t say it.  It’s not always that simple plus, why should she?  Because you are uncomfortable with her breastfeeding in public?  Because others are uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public?  Is there something wrong with breastfeeding in public?  Is there something wrong with feeding a baby in public?  Is there something wrong with taking a baby in public?  No, there’s not anything wrong with any of those things and the law agrees with me.  Not all breasts respond well to breast pumps and it’s far more complicated to “just pump” and take a bottle of breast milk than for her to lift her top and feed her baby perfectly mixed, perfectly heated, perfectly ready breast milk from the tap.  If she wants to pump and take a bottle, I’m sure she is capable of deciding that for herself.  By suggesting it without her seeking your advice you are undermining her feeding choices and suggesting she does yet more work in caring for her baby.  Best not to say anything at all unless you are asked.  Even then you should start with “aren’t you legally allowed to feed your baby anywhere you have the right to be?”

Along with the previous two acts, freaking out “oh my gosh!  You need a blanket, here, let me help shield you from view while you cover up so nobody can see!”

It’s not always that dramatic.  Sometimes it’s much more subtle like “You can breastfeed in public, I just want you to be covered.”  Which really isn’t subtle at all.  Perhaps most discouraging is when this comes from her partner.  I can’t tell you the number of times women have expressed to me how hurt they are when their partner tells them this and how unsupported they feel.  When it comes from someone else, a mom, a friend, a sister, etc., the message that comes with it is “I’m embarrassed, what if someone sees?  I don’t like you doing this because breasts are for sex and people might get the wrong idea.”  It wraps up the idea that women are responsible for when men think sexual thoughts about them, that the idea of a baby on a breast is possibly giving the mom sexual pleasure and should be “private,” and that there is something “gross” about breastfeeding and throws a blanket on all of it.  Mostly though it communicates that the individual is ashamed of the mother breastfeeding.  This attitude clearly puts what others might think before supporting the mother in breastfeeding.  Coming from a partner it’s even more loaded, beyond what is already present.  Jealousy and protective ownership are heavily implied.  A conversation where both parties express their feelings and thoughts is warranted with both actively listening to the other and an agreement coming from that discussion.  If a couple can agree on a way that makes them both comfortable with a mother breastfeeding in public after listening to each other, great.  What’s not called for is the partner laying down some kind of law or giving her permission to breastfeed in public but with stipulations.  If my husband tried to give me permission as to what I could do with my body I can assure you it would not go over well.  It’s something a couple can come to together but it’s her body and her mothering the partner is trying to control with reactions like this.  A woman’s breasts belong to her, she shares them with whom she likes.  If she is more comfortable covered, fine, her choice, but insisting she hide is full of misplaced responsibility and concern that only adds stress.  And making it an issue of modesty, a subjective social construct at best, is even more controlling by trying to add shame.  I could point out that when she’s feeding a baby her bare breast is actually covered by the baby’s head, at least more than many bathing suits and tops.  But that’s not actually the point.  She is not responsible for what others think and the truth is nobody can control what people think anyway.  No matter how covered and “protected” one may be, the individuals that would use others with their mind will do so regardless.  Instead of being concerned about what they are thinking, ask yourself  “am I more concerned about what she needs or the issues of others?”  Support her, worry about her comfort, and let others deal with their own issue without saddling her with the responsibility of taking care of them too.

 

If a woman wants to cover or go somewhere private to breastfeed, she can probably figure out how to do so, right?’

If she starts breastfeeding where she is, why assume that she needs a cover or to be encouraged to go some place private (like a bathroom? Yuck.) to breastfeed?  I don’t see that as support, I see it as projecting one’s own discomfort as a way of offering support.  Sure, they may think they are helping but it’s not really helpful.  A better way would be to simply ask “can I get you anything?” and if she wants a blanket or a private room she can ask for one.  But maybe that’s just me.

To really support her, have her back.  Even if it makes you a little uncomfortable because you’re just not used to seeing breastfeeding as a normal part of life.  If you can let go of the internal dialogue in your own head that buys into the objectification of women as sex objects you’ll be able to see her breastfeeding in public for exactly what it is: a woman feeding her child.  It may take you time to get comfortable with it, that’s ok, bucking years of societal program is hard work.  Just remember that she’s bucking it too and together you’ll bond over the experience if you let yourselves.  Take a deep breath and decide that the adorable small person that is nourished and comforted by her breast has no clue why anyone would think there was anything wrong with them having their supper in public.

________________________________

How are you most comfortable breastfeeding in public?  

Does it bother you to get negative reactions to you feeding your child?

What would you say to those that would give a mom a hard time about breastfeeding in public?

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Breastfeeding Support- When will we walk the talk?

All of us need support.  Even if we think we don’t, even if the attitudes and opinions of others aren’t something we feel impact us, the truth is whatever it is we set out to do we are more likely to succeed when we have support.  Research shows that the number one reason that women that set out to breastfeed but end up giving up is because of lack of support, articles exploring the impact the lack of social support (or social toxins to breastfeeding) has on breastfeeding have called for change, and the US Surgeon General has issued a Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding addressing head on the institutional and social barriers to breastfeeding.  Overall, support is crucial to breastfeeding outcomes on both an interpersonal level and societal level.

The problem isn’t isolated to lack of support from family and friends, though at the individual level it certainly starts in the mom’s immediate circle.  From there it spreads to the local community around the mom, the health care community, and then society in general.  It goes from the outside in as well.

  • Every time a radio show personality rants about how gross it is to see a woman breastfeeding in public, or news reporters seem awkward talking about breast milk and milk banks, or feminist speakers forcefully imply that the “benefits” of breastfeeding are made up to trap women in their homes; it chips away at the support for breastfeeding within society.
  • With every joke laden with sexual innuendoes about breastfeeding, or negative reactions from television and movie characters to the idea of breastfeeding, or sexually charged awkward scenes centered around a breastfeeding pair in an attempt at comedy; entertainment places precedence on a woman’s sex appeal and mocks the breastfeeding mother.
  • Whenever a female politician sneers at the recommendations to support breastfeeding for health reasons, or a male politician openly questions the validity of requiring companies to provide space for moms to pump, or airport security detains a woman as though she’s a criminal because she’s trying to take her frozen breast milk home to her baby; the message is sent loud and clear that woman, children and breastfeeding are not as important as corporate profits and a false sense of security in travel but are considered a business and security hazard.
  • As a woman is shunned from yet another restaurant for feeding her child as biology intended, or a local women’s only gym tries to shame a woman for feeding her child, and school boards declare that mother’s can’t breastfeed in their school lobbies; breastfeeding as part of the fabric of the community and normal part of caring for one’s child is dismissed in favor of other feeding methods.
  • When a pediatrician continues to use growth charts designed for formula fed babies and scares moms into using formula because her baby doesn’t follow the chart, or a labor and delivery nurse tells a mom she doesn’t have any milk on day one and to give her baby formula until her mike comes in, or a famous obstetrician is disgusted on television with the idea of breastfeeding an older baby; breastfeeding is sabotaged by the very group that should most understand the importance of feeding human babies in the biologically normal way.
  • Any time someone in a breastfeeding support group talks down to a mother that supplemented, or an online community gangs up on someone asking for information on weaning, or quotes communicating the superiority of all mothers that breastfeed spread like wildfire across social media; a wedge is driven between those that should be offering support and the many, many women that need it but feel belittled.
  • When friends suggest “why don’t you just give her a bottle so you can have a life,” or a woman’s own mother is embarrassed by her daughter breastfeeding in public, or in-laws suggest formula so they can babysit, or an aunt insists that she never breastfed her babies and they turned out “fine,” or a mother is called “selfish” by a relative for breastfeeding so others can’t give the baby a bottle; the very people that should most have a breastfeeding mom’s back instead stab her in it with their perhaps well intentioned but clearly uneducated comments.

Given that society claims to know that breastfeeding is good for babies and their mothers yet continually sabotages breastfeeding mothers by being openly unsupportive, I can’t help but wonder if it’s just that we actually don’t care what’s best for mothers and babies but rather value profits, the sexual objectification of women, individual comfort based on the belief that breasts are only for sex, and holding onto old beliefs that have been proven to not be true.  As a whole, the actions of society do not match our words: we do not, in fact, believe that breastfeeding is good for babies and their mothers.  We do not, in fact, value the breastfeeding mother.  We do not, in fact support breastfeeding.  Even though we know support is needed.

I do think it’s improving in some ways.  Laws in the USA have passed that hopefully do improve the working mother’s pumping conditions and breast pumps are now tax deductible.  It’s sad that those had to be fought for and met any resistance at all but at least they went through and they are a start.  While the entertainment industry still mocks breastfeeding mothers as a standard comedic element, more and more celebrities are being not only vocal in support of breastfeeding but also openly breastfeeding.  Nurse-ins showing how many are supportive of breastfeeding when a business harasses or kicks a breastfeeding woman off their premises get news coverage and online buzz.  It’s not a lot but it’s something that looks a bit like progress.  A little bit of needed support.

But we have a long, long, long way to go.  I have hope, I have to, that some day our society’s actions will support our society’s words.  That breastfeeding will no longer require advocacy beyond normal education because breastfeeding will be accepted without controversy as normal.  That we will act like we believe the science that breastfeeding is good for babies and their mothers and that we will value the breastfeeding mother.

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Our night weaning journey, even more questions answered.

This post is made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Concepts makers of ARC cosleepers.

After Dreaming about sleep for years, The Piano Man and I decided to try Dr. Gordon’s method for sleep changes and the family bed and blog about it.  You can read about night 1 night 2 night 3 night 4 night 5, night 6night 7 and the one month update.  I also answered one round of questions about our experience here and a second round here.

 

Originally I tried to answer all your questions in one post but it was too darn long, you can find more questions here.  Much too long for sleep deprived people to read any way.  So I broke it into two parts.  I need to make it clear, I am not an expert, not a doctor, and have no background that qualifies me as an authority on the subject.  All I have is my experience as a mom and what I’ve learned along the way.  I’m happy to share my opinion with you but please keep in mind it is just that, my opinion and based on my own personal experience.

 

What do you do if baby just screams bloody murder when DF/DH/partner goes in to settle them? Do u finally give in and give em the b@@b?

First I would try to sooth them without the breast but with cuddling with me.  Sometimes I think it works great to have the non-breastfeeding partner to do the soothing when night weaning.  Other times I think the child becomes confused, not only do they not get to breastfeed, they don’t get their mommy.  There is a significant bond between mother and child and that bond still needs to be honored.  Smunchie still wants me at night, even if it’s me without the bobbies.  Honestly, I think being denied access to the mother could be traumatizing if her presence is truly what the child needs.

If that still didn’t work and if the crying crossed the line of what I can comfortably accept as just expressing anger into feeling abandoned or betrayed then I would nurse.  I would do so because I would have to consider that my child is responding this way simply because they are not ready to night wean.  In Dr. Gordon’s plan he warns that there may be a few nights that are really rough but by this point most parents would be doing this they would know the difference between angry cry and totally confused, scared cry.

 

Could you have coped with this method on your own, or do you think it worked so well because you had the help of your husband on the *worst* nights? (Single mother here, trying to work out how best to go about on my own)

Yes, I do think it would have worked on my own.  There were a few nights that I did it completely on my own because Squiggle Bug needed The Piano Man.  The hardest part for me on my own was staying awake enough to follow through with the plan and not just nurse so I could try to sleep.

 

Do you regret not night weaning sooner? Also, sometimes my 12mo will wake up and be up for 1.5-2 hours at time. Does night weaning help with this problem also?

Part of me wishes we had tried it sooner but only because I was feeling so incredibly burned out as a parent and getting sick of breastfeeding.  Those feeling have completely lifted with the night weaning, not that I always love breastfeeding but I am enjoying it more and can relax to be more in the moment.  However, I’m not convinced that earlier would have been right for Smunchie and would not have ended well.  So I don’t regret the decision to wait until I felt she was ready.  Yes, the night weaning has helped with the extended night waking/play time thing too.

 

Not sure if you could answer this one, but I was wondering what age would a baby/toddler wean himself the night nursing, if the parents are not actively trying to encourage him/her to stop nursing in the night.  I have a 11 months old that wakes up 6-7 times a night, to nurse, If i do not nurse her she is crying in a very panicky/distress way.  We co-sleep and we do get our rest for the time being, but would be nice to have a bit of a perspective.

Usually between 2-4 years old if it’s on their own.

 

I’m curious how you arrange the sleeping surfaces in your bedroom?

I don’t have any pictures of my bedroom or I’d show you.  It’s a tiny room with not a lot of room once the bed is in there.  Our queen-sized bed is against one wall with Smunchie’s pack-n-play directly across from it against the opposite wall about 2 feet from the end of our bed.  That’s usually where she starts out and stays until her morning waking any more but when she was waking she’d end up in bed with me.  Often, even still, The Piano Man ends up in Squiggle Bug’s room sleeping with her as she still wakes during the night.

 

What foods do you offer that you think help with more sleep/less waking?  Sometimes I wonder if dinner wasn’t substantial enough when my 11 mo old wakes in the middle of the night.  Why almond milk? i’m feeling the pressure to start cow’s milk but I, myself, don’t drink cow’s milk so I’m hesitant to offer it.

We go for high calorie, high fat and high protein foods in the evening. Rice and beans are a favorite with some avocado, Greek yogurt, meat (providing Smunchie will eat it, often she won’t), nut butters, cheese, quinoa (she LOVES this), eggs, veggies in a “cream” sauce (we use Greek yogurt for that usually), hummus (I make several varieties including traditional, black bean, white kidney bean, etc.) avocado with anything, and almond milk. As to why almond milk, we’re an omnivore family but Smunchie doesn’t like cow or any other mammal milk but mine but she loves almond milk. I like that it is a good source of protein and is yummy. Since we have no nut allergies in my family I don’t have to worry about giving my kids nuts after 12 months.

We offer a cup of water usually with her meals and she drinks almond milk because she doesn’t like any other milk. Smunchie still nurses often, several times a day. She’ll continue for a long time still, a couple of times a day I’ll offer her a cup of water and in the evening she gets a cup of almond milk as we read stories. But it doesn’t replace me, not by a long shot, she wants to nurse often!

 

What’s your bed time routine for Smunchie?  How do you get her to go down without breastfeeding her to sleep?

Because I have older kids or used to be on-call to attend births I always felt like I had to be sure my babies could go down without the breast.  Here’s what works for us.   Around 7.15-7.30 or even 7.15-8.30 (flexibility is crucial in our family, the reality of having older children with activities) we start getting ready.  A story or two (usually French selections daddy reads) with Smunchie and Squiggle Bug on the couch while Squiggle Bug drinks a cup of milk and Smunchie a cup of almond milk.  Then brushing teeth and getting into pajamas.  After giving good night kisses to the entire family we split up, The Piano Man taking Squiggle Bug and Smunchie is with me.  On night’s that he’s working I work it out on my own.  I nurse Smunchie for a bit while reading to her but I haven’t let her fall asleep consistently on the breast for a long time now so when she’s done she sits up and we read a few more books.  Then I say a little prayer with her, we snuggle, I start singing something and stand up, she hands me everything she wants in bed with her (usually a couple cooks, her lovey and her doll and sometimes random things like shoes), I lay those down and then she reaches for me.  We stand just outside her bed hugging while I continue to sing and then I lay her down.  I stay in the room singing for a bit until I can hear her settling and then I tell her good night and slip out.

 

I can’t stress enough that being flexible and figuring out what works for your family, not following a set schedule of what someone has predetermined your child should be doing at what age is crucial for the night weaning experience to be free from trauma.  Please don’t take what I’ve shared as what has to work for everyone.  Thank you for letting me share our journey with you.

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Our night weaning journey, more questions answered

This post is made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Concepts makers of ARC cosleepers.

After Dreaming about sleep for years, The Piano Man and I decided to try Dr. Gordon’s method for sleep changes and the family bed and blog about it.  You can read about night 1 night 2 night 3 night 4 night 5, night 6night 7 and the one month update.  I also answered one round of questions about our experience here.

Ah… she sleeps.
Between the Facebook page, comments on the night weaning journey blog posts and emails I received quite a few questions about our night weaning experience.  I need to make it clear, I am not an expert, not a doctor, and have no background that qualifies me as an authority on the subject.  All I have is my experience as a mom and what I’ve learned along the way.  I’m happy to share my opinion with you but please keep in mind it is just that, my opinion and based on my own personal experience.  There were several questions so I’ve broken them up into two parts (you can find the second part here) in addition to the first round of questions I answered a month ago.  I hope you find these helpful.

 

When is a good time to start thinking about night weaning and moving baby into their own sleep space? How do you go about it? How do you know if they’re ready?

I really think the answer to this is very unique to each family and each baby.  If by own sleep space you mean their own room I’m really not sure.  We’ve done it different every time but what I have noticed is that when the child is ready they will a) do it on their own and b) it won’t be a struggle.  We’ve had difficult transitions and easy transitions.  Now though it’s kind of easy, nobody in our family is in their own room, everybody shares.  When the transition happens they get to be with a big sister, which they usually think is pretty cool.  At 3 years old Squiggle Bug still comes and finds us though, she’s in our bed more than Smunchie is actually.  She just has a higher need to be close to someone at night.  Sometimes she seeks out a sister but usually she prefers her daddy.  We’ve felt that they are ready when they are sleeping well, enjoy the bedtime routine, like the idea of their own space, and seem to be exerting their independence a little more.

 

How do you night wean when your baby doesn’t take a bottle at all! Only uses norma cups or a straw!

Smunchie doesn’t use a bottle and she doesn’t really care for sippy cups either.  She does, however, love regular cups.  What I do is let her take a drink from the glass of water I have by my bed every night if she seems thirsty when she wakes.  We just sit on the bed together and I help her hold the cup steady while she guides it to her mouth to drink.  It works great for us.  If thirst is what woke her up she will settle quickly after that.

 

What are some cues that your baby maybe ready for night time weaning (currently 9 mos and night nursing 3-4 times)?

Studies have shown that babies under 12 months still need to wake often to eat both for nutrition and for safety in their sleep cycle.  So I don’t look for any signs of readiness before 12 months.  After the one year mark though any combination of these may be signs of readiness to night wean:

  • Seems tired and grumpy during the day.
  • Eats well (solids and breast milk) during the day.
  • Has moved through some of the major milestones such as walking.
  • Does NOT have intense separation anxiety.
  • Is not actively teething or sick.
  • Seems frustrated and restless at night at the breast
  • Wakes to nurse but falls quickly back to sleep without really eating.
  • Shows basic understanding to phrases like “all done.”
  • Shows interest and awareness in bed time routines and day time vs. night time.
  • May play putting toys to bed.
  • Responds to soothing other than breastfeeding (i.e. rocking, singing, back rubs, etc.)

I think night weaning is most successful if the child is truly ready for it, please don’t expect that just because your child is over a year they will be ready to night wean.  If it is a giant struggle or at any time the parents feel this is all wrong and not what they want to be doing then they should stop.  It is possible that a child won’t be ready one month but will be the next.  Remaining flexible is perhaps the most important key to night weaning.  Maybe all of parenting actually.

 

Help! I’m tandem feeding and can’t cope ending 2 children at night. My 21/2 year old is up for 1-4 hours 4 out of 5 nights! How do I night wean her gently?

I recommend Dr. Jay Gordon’s technique or The No Cry Sleep Solution.  I’ve used both and found them to both be helpful.  To help prepare for the transition, work on establishing a home rhythm or routine, particularly for going to bed.  It doesn’t have to be a strict schedule, just a regular pattern to your days.  I also highly recommend reading the book Nursie’s When The Sun Shines to read with her.  For gentle night weaning keep it mind that what makes it gentle is you continuing to be available, just not offering the breast.

 

How have you and The Piano Man adjusted to the night weaning? Was it harder or easier (emotionally speaking) than you thought? Would you use that method again?

The first few nights she slept completely through the night I would wake often, like my body was just programmed to wake up several times.  I adjusted pretty quickly though and one reason I think we were ready was that I didn’t get engorged through the process, was able to pump but not overflowing.  The Piano Man did fine though he’s still getting up at least once a night with Squiggle Bug (he’s her night time parent of choice, I suspect because I was often nursing Smunchie when she’d need someone) so we’d still like to get that worked out for his sake.  Emotionally I was very ready though so it wasn’t very hard at all.  I thought it would be and there was a twinge of sadness that this phase is over which makes her seem so much bigger to me now.  But that twinge is nothing compared to the frustration I felt at being so tired that I wasn’t the kind of mother I wanted to be during the day to all of my children.

Yes, I would use this method again.  Simple and easy to follow while still maintaining that night time parenting availability we are committed to.

 

I need to night wean my 18 month old! He is only nursing at night and it’s just to fall back asleep. Less than 5 minutes but can be up to 4x a night! I am due in Nov with #2 and don’t want to nurse the two together. Is that bad…?

Nope, it’s not bad.  If you are comfortable with it, if it’s working for you and your family then no need to change.  There is no rule that says you have to night wean or ruin your child.  If it’s not working for you then work to change it.  Maybe try night weaning sooner rather than later though, just so your son doesn’t blame the baby for the change.  Be prepared too, there could be a regression in other areas after his sibling arrives.  That’s not a bad thing, just part of processing the added element in his environment.  Another idea would be to wait until you’ve actually tried it with both, you may not mind it as much as you think.  It’s important to remember that you won’t be pregnant any more so the frustration and feelings you may be experiencing now could change.  Whatever you decide to do though try to remain flexible and enjoy the journey.  Do what is right for your family.

 

How did you transition Smunchie from your bed to her own? Did you feel like you were missing something? Or was it more of a relief that you got your bed back and sleep? I’m a SAHM with only one 16 month old. I’ve tried putting DD in her own bed which is right next to mine but I find I actually sleep less.

Five for five now, I sleep better when they aren’t in bed with me.  Every body is different and some love sleeping with their babies, others don’t mind and some of us can’t stand it.  I’m the last sort.  I do it because I believe it’s what she needs and there are moments when I love it.  They’re brief moments.  But that’s ok, I don’t mind.  There are plenty of other parenting responsibilities I don’t like either but I’m going to keep doing them for the safety and well being of my child.  I started the transition when she was still an infant by laying her down during naps.  It was no problem to just extend that to night sleeping as well.

 

My DD is 10 weeks old and has slept through the night since 1-2 weeks old. No matter what I did to wake her up at night to eat she would cry and “yell” at me and go right back to sleep refused to nurse for more than a min or two. She still sleeps through the night for a good solid 6 hrs but she sleeps in a cradle next to my bed. What is the best way to transition her to her crib?

Personally, I’d keep her in your room.  In your room in her crib or cradle doesn’t matter.  There are some major changes coming up that will completely change how she sleeps at night and not only will it be easier to meet her needs during those times if she’s still in her room, you’ll be able to do so sooner which will go a long way in helping her feel safe and secure.  Plus, hopefully actually get more sleep.  As to how, we always tried transitioning at nap time first.  Lay her down in her crib after following all the same routine you already do getting ready for naps.  Stay close by so you can comfort her easily if need be.  She may not even notice.

 

Have you noticed an increase in day nursing? We’re 3 weeks into night weaning and it seems like DD can’t get enough during the day.

Yep.  Specially in the morning.  Smunchie now wakes up around 7.30am (except for the last week, she’s started favoring the 6am hour) and cuddles in bed to nurse.  It’s usually a long session.  Then we get up, do our morning thing and within 20 minutes she wants me to sit and nurse her again.  Another long one.  Then breakfast with the family and almost without fail another boob session following the family meal.  After that she doesn’t nurse again for a while, usually around nap time.

 

I can’t stress enough that being flexible and figuring out what works for your family, not following a set schedule of what someone has predetermined your child should be doing at what age is crucial for the night weaning experience to be free from trauma.  Please don’t take what I’ve shared as what has to work for everyone.

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This Moment- Steps

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.


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This Moment- Face Painting, Big Sister, Little Sister

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.


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