The Joy of Giving 2016

joy-of-giving-brands-logos

 

Everyone loves a good giveaway. They’re fun, enticing, and full of hopeful anticipation. Here at TLB we take delight in working with brands that care so much about quality, families, support, and seeing babies well fed. These companies not only see our community as a valuable resource for them, but each brand we work with is carefully vetted, selected for their commitment to value supporting families. With them, TLB gets to regularly experience the joy of giving to families through our giveaways and community support.

Which is why this holiday season we are extending the reach of that giving. The Joy of Giving giveaway brings together 32 brands that truly know the meaning of the joy of giving. With three different bundles (totaling $4306), one lucky winner will have the chance to give as well by selecting two of their friends that could use a little holiday cheer, and they will each receive a bundle!

But that’s not all. Not only are we offering this giveaway and giving you a chance to give, every item being given away in the Joy of Giving giveaway is also being donated to a nonprofit organization that supports families. And we need your help!  There are so many amazing nonprofits out there that we struggled to select just 5 of them for this opportunity, and it’s up to you to make the final selection. We are including a short description for each of the 5 organizations with a link to their website in case you would like to learn more about them. Once you’re ready, cast your vote for your favorite in the poll just under the descriptions! Our hope is that they will inspire us all to find new ways to give this season. Even a warm smile can lift a person’s spirits.

 

Happy Holidays, and good luck!

 

Everyday Miracles is built on the belief that every woman has a right to evidence-based prenatal care; that every woman should be empowered, supported and celebrated during pregnancy, birth and postpartum—regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic status. The work they do is inspired by the commitment, resilience and strength we see in the moms we serve every single day. Their mission is to improve birth outcomes and reduce health disparities by providing evidence-based education, compassionate and culturally competent support and a non-judgemental, caring community. Find them on Facebook.

Mothers Helping Mothers is a refuge in which Teens in need of support and guidance can receive mentoring and educational encouragement that offers empowerment in such a way that it promotes positive self-esteem while enhancing teen parenting skills. Serving teen mothers in the Columbus, OH area in need of a loving and nurturing environment during their time of pregnancy and beyond in both emotional and physical ways. Find them on Facebook.

Pittsburgh Black Breastfeeding Circle (PBBC), aims to reduce racial disparities in breastfeeding by protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding as the cultural norm and optimal feeding method for mothers and babies of African Descent in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. Their mission also includes providing culturally relevant breastfeeding, parenting, and nutrition education and information in a supportive group environment. The PBBC facilitates community learning with maternal child health and lactation specialists and experts; in addition to the development of peer leadership. Find them on Facebook.

The Carrying On Project provides carriers and more to low income and struggling military families to help encourage and facilitate bonding for service members who spend extended amount of time away from their children because of deployments, trainings, and other duties of service, as well as help the caregiver at home by providing them a way to snuggle and comfort the children who are left behind with a focus on families who are brand new to the military or our veterans who are awaiting medical support or compensation, including those living in halfway houses and group housing. They also work with veteran families, some who are left unemployable due to injuries, TBIs or PTSD, and more. Serving nearly 8000 families since their inception, collaborating with other organizations, TCOP distributes items for charity baby showers and need-based to help families that apply and need extra services. In addition to baby carriers, TCOP has supplied families requiring extra assistance with diapers, clothing, blankets, breastfeeding supplies, teething items, bottles, pacifiers, and more. Find them on Facebook.

Wichita Treehouse women come to The Treehouse as referrals from other social service agencies in Wichita. These moms have given birth in difficult circumstances, and have material, emotional, and spiritual needs. The Treehouse provides moms with: Parenting education, One-time free distribution of basic infant necessities (for eligible mothers), Thrift store (newborn to 16 youth clothing, basic supplies for infants and toddlers, etc. credit earned by taking classes), Extra assistance (up to 2 times a year for diapers or formula). The Treehouse continues to be able to serve moms and babies because of  financial, material, volunteer resources, and prayer from the entire Wichita community. Find them on Facebook. 

Prize bundle #1:

joy-of-giving-bundle-1

Prize Bundle #1 Total Value: $583

You! Lingerie: Isis Blue Maternity and Nursing Set$50 value
Truly Irresistible! Fall in love with this smooth vivid blue color nursing bra featuring a seductive touch of lace, a true definition of ‘Luxurious!’ The gorgeously molded nursing bra is a great choice during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Lined with our signature Hot Pink 100% cotton for maximum comfort. Embellished with our signature Hot Pink satin bows. It comes with a matching brief microfiber with a touch of lace in vivid blue for a gorgeous YOU!

Smart BottomsConvertible Flannel Nursing Scarf, $39 value
Made with cozy flannel fabric, this scarf will quickly become your favorite cold-weather accessory! Snaps enable you to customize your coverage and compliment your outfit.

MommyCon: General Admission, $45 value
General admission to any 2017 MommyCon event.

Mollys SudsLiquid Laundry Detergent, $17 value
This free and clear, unscented formula is perfect for those with allergies and sensitive skin and it is baby laundry safe. You can count the number of ingredients on both hands – it does not contain the long list of harsh chemicals found in conventional brands. 50 loads, 50 FL OZ, Ultra-Concentrated. Works in all machines, including HE, and safe for septic systems. Work in all water temperatures, and hard/soft water.

Carriwell: Seamless GelWire Nursing Bra$50 value
The healthiest, supportive nursing bra ever made, the incredibly flexible Gelwire gives you the support you desire while still being soft and comfortable to wear. The Carriewell GelWire is the healthy option when you need support in your nursing bra and is approved by lactation consultants.

Nurture-Elle: Pleated Short Sleeve Top, $45 value
The graceful pleats are excellent at hiding the tummy and the slimming effects of the long sleeves will boost your confidence! Wearable during pregnancy as well. The subtle elastic band along the bottom of the shirt structures the top so as to add style, not volume.
Opening: SIDE SEAM ACCESS: To access the right breast, simply move the front fabric to the left and move to the right the inner layer. To access the left breast, simply move the front fabric to the right and move to the left the inner layer.
* All our breastfeeding fashions are created with a woman’s post-partum shape in mind. We have customized the bust lines to be 1 to 2 cup sizes larger.

Crane: Owl Humidifier$50 value
Crane ultrasonic cool mist humidifier provides up to 24 hours of whisper quiet mist to relieve stuffy noses, dry skin, dry cough and overall cold/flu symptoms. Does not require a filter.

Make My Belly Fit: Jacket Extender, $86 value
Babies bring change. Your jacket doesn’t have to! The BellyFit is an award-winning jacket extender for maternity and baby-wearing. It simply extends your own jacket.

BelabumbumDottie Nursing Pajama Set, $79 value
Belabumbum’s sweet and soft polka dot print pajama set includes a camisole with underbust pull-up nursing access and adjustable straps and a flattering pant with soft flat elastic waistband in 100% pima cotton jersey with lace trim.

MoveMamíNursing Sports Bra, $50 value
SHINE in the most comfortable and supportive nursing bra. MOVEMAMÍ is highly recommended by mothers and midwives around the world. Supportive, comfortable and stylish – the SHINE breastfeeding sports bra is designed to support a mother’s ever-changing body, both during and post-pregnancy. Each MOVEMAMÍ nursing bra comes with a pair of innovative BAMBOOB breast pads.

Preggo LeggingsBlack Out Moto Leggings, $50 value
Rock this biker inspired Black Out Moto Maternity Leggings and you’ll instantly look like a badass preggo babe. They are super comfy too with an adjustable waist and ribbed stretch cotton over the bump panels. Your ultimate go-to fashion maternity leggings that you can easily dress up or down with a tee or your favorite top.

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Prize bundle #2:

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Prize Bundle #2 Total Value: $626

Ameda: Purely Yours Ultra Pump$299 value
Our Purely Yours Ultra Double Electric Breast Pump is a closed-system, single-user pump intended to help mothers to safely and effectively express and store her milk when she is unable to nurse directly. The Ultra has updated features including larger, easy-to-use control dials and an easy-to-clean exterior finish.

Glamourmom: Nursing Bra Full Bust Long Top, $59 value
Full structured built-in nursing bra into a long tank top that supports up to a J cup.

Woolino: 4 Season Basic Baby Sleeping Bag, $70 value
Woolino’s award winning 4 Season Basic Merino Wool Baby Sleep Bag will keep baby at a perfect temperature all year round. It is made of the finest Australian merino wool that is silky soft, hypoallergenic, and it has an unmatched ability to regulate baby’s body temperature. That means there’s no need to worry about which weight sleep sack to use, or whether your baby will be too hot or cold while sleeping – they’ll always be just right!

KangaCare: Rumparooz Diaper, $24 value
One diaper. 4 sizes. Fits babies 6-35+ lbs
The award winning Rumparooz One Size Cloth Pocket Diaper has been a revolutionary change to the face of cloth diapering. Kanga Care brand cloth diapers were the first cloth diapers uniquely designed with the now patented leak protection technology of dual inner gussets. Designed with simplicity, Rumparooz are as easy to use as a disposable diaper, but without all the chemicals, waste and high cost. The Rumparooz One Size Cloth Pocket Diaper is 4 diapers sizes in ONE diaper. The Rumparooz will fit most babies at any size between birth (size newborn, 6 lbs) up through potty training (size large, 35+ lbs). Each diaper comes with a microfiber 6r soaker. This unique soaker has 6 different size and absorbency settings to customize for your babies needs.

The Dairy Fairy: Ayla Pumping Bra, $54 value
A beautiful, comfortable and functional bra for the multitasking mom. Lacy and supportive, definitely not your granny-bra.

Twin Z: The One Z Pillow$60 value
One Z Pillow is a nursing pillow fantastic integrated back support that allows moms to nurse for hours a day in complete comfort. The One Z Pillow uses also include Tummy Time, Bottle Feeding, Support and Play Time!

Phoenix BabyGoTo 2-in-1 Infant Car Seat and Travel High Chair$60 value
The GoTo2-in-1 is the first adaptive system that allows parents to safely, cleanly and comfortably provide baby a safe spot at home and on the go. Designed with wide legs for stability, a safety lock to hold infant car seats in place, and mesh pockets to conveniently store feeding essentials, the GoTo 2-in-1 is a perfect alternative to a restaurant high chair or placing an infant car seat on a raised surface. With the 2-in-1, parents can safely keep baby up and away from pets, dirt and floor drafts. The 2-in-1 is tall enough to feed baby at a table and conveniently folds compactly for storage and travel.
Once a child is out of an infant car seat, the 2-in-1 can be used as a high chair, including a full 5-point safety harness. It comes with a case and easily fits in a car trunk or an overhead storage rack for easy travel.

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Prize bundle #3:

joy-of-giving-bundle-3

Prize Bundle #3 Total Value: $733

Twin Z: Sleep Z Pillow$50 value
Toddler/Kid Body Pillow for children ages 3 and up that helps your child fall asleep by surrounding them with comfort. Results in less middle of the night waking!

Nurture-Elle: Pleated Short Sleeve Top$45 value
The graceful pleats are excellent at hiding the tummy and the slimming effects of the long sleeves will boost your confidence! Wearable during pregnancy as well. The subtle elastic band along the bottom of the shirt structures the top so as to add style, not volume.
Opening: SIDE SEAM ACCESS: To access the right breast, simply move the front fabric to the left and move to the right the inner layer. To access the left breast, simply move the front fabric to the right and move to the left the inner layer.

ThinkBaby: BPA Free Feeding Set, $40 value
Free of Bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, nitrosamines, lead, PVC, PET,  Melamine and biologically harmful chemicals.The Complete BPA Free set contains: bento box, soup bowl, baby bowl, and a kids cup.
Made from highly sustainable materials.

MommyCon: Smash the Patriarchy T-shirt, $20 value
On Wednesdays We Smash the Patriarchy and invite you to join us by wearing this 100% cotton, heathery gray shirt in ia classic, unisex crewneck.

KangaCareLil Learnerz Training Pants$28 value
Lil Learnerz are here to help your toddler hit the next milestone – potty training! When your little one is ready to leave the diapers behind but still needs help and protection, Lil Learnerz will become that essential aid. Lil Learnerz look like big kid underwear and come in multiple fun prints and vibrant color combinations. Lil Learnerz are made with IMWET TECHNOLOGY™! This feature lets your toddler feel wet when they have had an accident. This helps them learn more about their body and aids in the potty learning process. Lil Learnerz are breathable and soft with a hypoallergenic layer that rests against your child’s skin. Lil Learnerz are also waterproof and can hold a heavy accident with no trouble. The inside is made up of an absorbent, dual layer, microfiber core. Lil Learnerz are easy to pull up and down by your little learner! Just like real underwear! Lil Learnerz are available in five sizes ranging from Extra Small to Extra Large. The Extra Small and Small sizes also feature side snapping release panels for easy-off in case of accidents with early learners.

Chimparoo: Soft Structured Baby Carrier, value $206
The Chimparoo TREK is the contemporary of the woven wrap, designed for those who desire an ergonomic and supportive soft structured carrier. Sporty and chic, down to earth and sophisticated, this carrier is for men and women with refined tastes, the nature lovers and the trend-seekers. It can hold up to 45 lbs and is easy to handle.

Ameda: Purely Yours Ultra Pump$299 value
Our Purely Yours Ultra Double Electric Breast Pump is a closed-system, single-user pump intended to help mothers to safely and effectively express and store her milk when she is unable to nurse directly. The Ultra has updated features including larger, easy-to-use control dials and an easy-to-clean exterior finish.

Snugabell: PumpEase Hands-Free Pumping Bra, $38 value
PumpEase holds your breast pump flanges securely in place so you can read, text, eat, email, care for your child, or just relax while you pump your breastmilk – hands-free! You don’t need to fuss with awkward straps or adjustments; PumpEase is easy to use and looks great for moms who aren’t willing to forgo fashion for function.

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joy-of-giving-everything-included

Every bundle includes (Total Value: $784):

Snuggle Me: Organic Cosleeper$140 value
USA Made Organic Cosleeping Infant Lounger for Babies. It is slightly raised and unpadded, which means when baby is laid on top of the cushion, the sides will gently pull in to give baby the sensation of being held.

Anna NaturalsBoobie Basket$33 value
The Boobie Basket includes all your nursing necessities – Nursing Mama herbal tea, All Smiles Aromatherapy Mist, and Nursing Mama Nipple Cream.

The Baby Booster: Baby Booster, $36 value
A lifestyle solution that helps support a breastfeeding mom’s daily diet.

Wear PACT: Camisole/Leggings/Hoodie, $100 value
All PACT apparel are super soft, sweatshop free, ethically produced, and part of a movement transforming the way apparel is made. Sure they’re (comfy, amazing) clothes, but they’re more than clothes. They’re an impetus for the best kind of change.

Lake Champlain ChocolatesPeppermint Hot Chocolate$12 value
Make it a merry and minty Christmas! This is holiday hot chocolate the way it should be — a refreshing blend of rich cocoa and cool peppermint, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. Just the thing to warm everyone up!

MomzelleNursing Top$69 value
The cutest and most comfortable nursing hoodie on the market! Stay warm while nursing your little one. This lightweight hoodie offers easy and discreet nursing access and comes in four great colour combinations.

My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear: Gray Love Bear$40 value
The Gray Love Bear recordable stuffed animal kit includes a fluffy, gray-colored teddy bear, an attached 3×5″ yellow frame that holds your ultrasound photo, and a recorder to capture the sound of your baby’s heartbeat during an ultrasound. The gray Bear is 13” long, perfect snuggle size. My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear kits make excellent baby shower gifts or pregnancy keepsakes. Also available at many 3D/4D ultrasound studios. Patent pending.

SpectraS2 Breast Pump$250 value
Spectra S2 Single/Double Closed System Hospital Strength Electric Breast Pump. Includes back flow protection, hospital strength suction, single or double electric, nightlight, timer, adjustable settings, quiet, lightweight at 3.3lbs, dual voltage, stylish, and comfortable. This pumps suckling action helps moms initiate, increase, and maintain a milk supply.

Belibea: Nourish Cami$60 value
Made for the flexibility of a modern mom, our seamless stretch-knit Nourish Cami provides the convenience of wearing ONE garment whether nursing, pumping or reveling in the sweet moments in between.

Itzy Ritzy: Infinity Breastfeeding Scarf$25 value
Everyday scarf that is convenient to wear and use when nursing. Allows maintained eye contact and airflow for your baby. Cotton and polyester jersey knit blend with finished edges!

Luna Pads: Performa Lunapads$19 value
Performa is a brand new approach to washable menstrual pads. Featuring high-tech fabrics that absorb three times as much fluid than a regular disposable pad or tampon, Performa is the eco-friendly option for a more comfortable period.

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from December 11, 2016 through December 21, 2016.  A big thanks to all of the sponsors who generously demonstrated their compassion for people by participating in this giveaway.  Their support of TLB, and all breastfeeding women, and beyond, is invaluable; don’t hesitate to visit them on social media and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

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The Joy of Giving 2015

Logo Group final

 

Everyone loves a good giveaway. They’re fun, enticing, and full of hopeful anticipation. Here at TLB we take delight in working with brands that care so much about quality, families, support, and seeing babies well fed. These companies not only see our community as a valuable resource for them, but each brand we work with is carefully vetted, selected for their commitment to value supporting families. With them, TLB gets to regularly experience the joy of giving to families through our giveaways and community support.

 

Which is why this holiday season we are extending the reach of that giving. The Joy of Giving giveaway brings together 22 brands that truly know the meaning of the joy of giving. With three different bundles, one lucky winner will have the chance to give as well by selecting two of their friends that could use a little holiday cheer, and they will each receive a bundle!

 

But that’s not all. Not only are we offering this giveaway and giving you a chance to give, every item being given away in the Joy of Giving giveaway is also being donated to a nonprofit organization that supports families (that’s over $2388 worth of products!).  And we need your help!  There are so many amazing nonprofits out there that we struggled to select just 5 of them for this opportunity, and it’s up to you to make the final selection.  We are including a short description for each of the 5 organizations with a link to their website in case you would like to learn more about them.  Once you’re ready, cast your vote for your favorite in the poll just under the descriptions!  Our hope is that they will inspire us all to find new ways to give this season.  Even a warm smile can lift a person’s spirits.

 

Happy Holidays, and good luck!

 

Birth Circle Doulas – The Birth Circle is a community-based doula program providing pregnancy support and doula services to underserved women. Doulas visit women at their homes, meet with them at their medical appointments, and provide continous support during labor and delivery. Services are offered free-of-charge to eligible women, including teens, first-time-mothers receiving their prenatal care at selected health care sites, and UPMC for You members. Working with our community to build an integrated circle of care that addresses the needs of the childbearing family.

Elizabeth House – a residential shelter program in the community of Pasadena, CA committed to the health and welfare of adult pregnant women and their children. Elizabeth House is the only 501© (3) non-profit organization in the San Gabriel Valley that specifically addresses the needs of pregnant women who also have small children and who lack adequate shelter and prenatal care. The House can accommodate six women and four children at any one time.  Clients stay 4-6 months after their babies are born. In a year’s time, an average of 15-18 family units are served. The goal of our program is not only to support these women during their time of crisis, but also to challenge them in a way that prevents issues such as financial instability child abuse/neglect, domestic violence, and drug dependency in order to provide a healthy, positive environment for their children. The long-term success of the program lies in the follow-up care and support that is provided to alumni after they transition to independent living.

Grace Initiatives – exists to empower pregnant young women to prepare for their future with their baby. Grace Initiatives offers confidential counseling, life-skills education, job-skills classes and housing options for pregnant young women, 20 and under.  Our home, Grace’s Place is located in Ocean County, New Jersey and is the hub of activity for pregnant young women from all over the region.

Teen Parent Connection – offers long-term assistance to adolescent parents of DuPage County to reach self-sufficiency by providing teen parents with support, information, and resources to help them navigate their lives as parents and as teenagers. Through the power of support teen parent connection helps young moms and dads confront challenges and create opportunities. Including doula services, classes, a parents pantry, support groups, home visits, and more.

Wichita Treehouse women come to The Treehouse as referrals from other social service agencies in Wichita. These moms have given birth in difficult circumstances, and have material, emotional, and spiritual needs. The Treehouse provides moms with: Parenting education, One-time free distribution of basic infant necessities (for eligible mothers), Thrift store (newborn to 16 youth clothing, basic supplies for infants and toddlers, etc. credit earned by taking classes), Extra assistance (up to 2 times a year for diapers or formula). The Treehouse continues to be able to serve moms and babies because of  financial, material, volunteer resources, and prayer from the entire Wichita community.

Which non-profit should win the matching bundle of prizes this year?

  • Teen Parent Connection (36%, 206 Votes)
  • Birth Circle Doulas (21%, 119 Votes)
  • Elizabeth House (20%, 114 Votes)
  • The Treehouse (12%, 70 Votes)
  • Grace Initiatives (12%, 68 Votes)

Total Voters: 577

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Prize bundle #1:

Bundle #1 group finalPrize Bundle #1 Total Value : $937

5 Phases: 4oz hybrid glass baby bottle$19 value
5 Phases is the first bottle feeding system to introduce an interchangeable glass insert. Our unique design kept the Eco-mom in mind providing the healthful benefits of glass + the protection of BPA free plastic all while reducing the carbon footprint on the environment! Our “grow with me” feeding system truly makes our bottles the most eco-friendly bottle feeding system out there!

Ameda: Purely Yours CarryAll, ComfortGel HydroGels Pads, Cool’N Carry, Breast Pumping Accessory Kit, $247 value
Purely Yours CarryAll:
double electric breast pump with a CarryAll tote. 
ComfortGel HydroGel Pads:
For breastfeeding mothers with nipple discomfort.
Cool’N Carry: 
​For discreet cooling and transport of breast milk, use one Cool‘N Carry Tote for daycare and another at work, or have two to alternate when transporting breast milk for a hospitalized baby.
Breast Pumping Accessory Kit: 
Key essentials for breast pumping mothers, including 20 Store’N Pour bags, 2 flange adapters, 10 NoShow Premium disposable nursing pads, 4 breast milk storage bottles, breast milk storage guidelines, and breastfeeding reference guide.

Arm’s Reach: Mini Arc CoSleeper,  $180 value
The
 Curved Mini Co-Sleeper® bassinet is a unique creation that allows you and your baby boy or girl to sleep comfortably next to each other from the moment your baby arrives. This bassinet enables you to reach over and draw your baby close for comforting and bonding. The innovative design also makes breastfeeding easy. The Curved Mini Co-Sleeper® bassinet is the ideal sleep solution for any concerned parent.

Beco: Gemini in Nimbus, $140 value

The Beco Gemini comfortably carries babies from 7 to 35 pounds. Geminis may be worn on the front (facing in or out), back or hip and now include a pocket on the waistband. All soft structured Beco Baby Carriers use tri-lock safety buckles and are designed to be worn with the straps comfortably crossed across your back.

Juno Blu: Esalen Breast Pump Bag in Multi Snake, $185 value
The Esalen tote is a sleek urban alternative to the classic breast pump bag. This perfectly proportioned shoulder tote is constructed from resilient vegan leatherette and finished with color matched elevated stitching. The trend-aware design makes this tote a hidden treasure for both the new and seasoned mother. The Esalen Tote’s sleek design is ideal for going to work, the park or on a play-date.

Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear Ltd: PumpEase Prize Pack: PumpEase matching Wet Bag, Colouring Book, door hanger magnet and a Nursing Mother Goddess necklace, $141 value
PumpEase are the world’s ONLY fashionable hands-free pumping bras. Made from an 88% polyester/12% spandex high-performance technical fabric, PumpEase will hold your pump in place as securely for your 1000th pumping session as it did for your 1st. Our wonderful fabric is super soft and comfortable, easy to care for, breathable, durable, has exceptional stretch and memory (i.e. won’t bag out) and has quick-dry and wicking qualities. Read, write, text, talk on the phone, use your computer or tend to your baby, ALL while pumping!
Reusable PumpEase® Wet Bag! Sized to transport all brands of pump accessories ‘incognito’, this eco-friendly clutch features a handy snap-loop handle and looks so cute decked out in matching PumpEase prints that no one will ever guess what’s inside.
Coloring Book – Help older siblings welcome the newest member of the family and discover the beauty of breastfeeding with this thoughtful and high-quality keepsake colouring book.
Door hanger – The PumpEase Do Not Disturb door hanger speaks volumes on your behalf in a fun and sassy way, letting your co-workers and family members know that you are busy “Mommy-tasking!”
Magnet – A must-have for moms with more on their mind than keeping track of their milk, a PumpEase Breastmilk Storage Guidelines fridge magnet will keep the information that you need where you need it – on the fridge!
Nursing Mother Goddess Necklace celebrates and honours breastfeeding.

Undercover Mama: Basic Essentials Nursing Shirt, $25 value
The Undercover Mama is a strapless camisole that attaches to any bra allowing you to keep your back, sides, and front covered while you nurse in comfort and style. Our shirts are perfect for Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Beyond. Make any shirt a nursing shirt with Undercover Mama.

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Prize bundle #2:

Bundle #2 group revised
Prize Bundle #2 Total Value: $904

Beco: Ring Sling in Grey, $55 value

The Beco Ring Sling is the classic way to carry your baby from newborn through toddler. One size fits all. No buckles or snaps necessary. 100% Cotton. Included with Ring Sling Baby Carrier: gathered shoulder, large aluminum rings, colored rail guide for easy adjustments, tapered tail, detailed instructions and safety tips.

BeliBea: NOURISH: One bra for BOTH breastfeeding and hands-free pumping convenience, $50 value
Seamless stretch fit to accommodate the ongoing changing fullness of your breasts. The inside panel fits to and holds a breast shield in place for hands-free convenience while pumping, or both panels can be lowered to easily breastfeed. V-neck scoop and center ruching to maintain a feminine shape – no sports bra “uni-boob” here! Includes removable pad between the cup panels for extra comfort, support and shape. Compatible with most pumps!

Diono: RadianRXT car seat, $360 value
The Radian®RXT Car Seats are designed with your child’s security and safety as top priorities. Premium materials and thoughtful safety features like a steel alloy frame, aluminum reinforced side walls, energy absorbing EPS foam, and a five-point harness put your mind at ease as your little one stays safe and sound. The reinforced adjustable head support provides additional side impact protection.

Evenflo: Feeding Essentials Bundle, $260 value
Evenflo is dedicated to understanding the real challenges parents and children face and work to solve them in everything we do. We are honored to be a part of the journey in parenting, a journey we’ve happily shared for over 90 years! We know that parents promise their babies that every need will be met, to do everything in their power to provide a healthy life and every opportunity to succeed – without compromise or trade. This promise is not based on wealth or status or community; this promise is universal. Evenflo commits to ensuring better care for every baby by offering safe, effective products with premium features at an affordable price.

Molly’s Suds: Laundry Powder 120 Loads, $22 value
Comprised of only five earth-derived ingredients and formulated especially for sensitive skin, Molly’s Suds Laundry Powder is safe and ideal for your clothes AND your family. Plus, it is rated “A” by Environmental Working Group (EWG.org)! The super-concentrated powder is long-lasting and affordable, with just one tablespoon required per load. Just as effective as conventional brands and more effective than natural brands, without the use of harsh chemicals, toxins, fillers, carcinogens, preservatives or GMO ingredients. Works great in all water temperatures and hard water, and is septic- and High Efficiency (HE) washer-safe.

My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear: Adorable charcoal gray Mei Tai made exclusively for Purusha’s Picks Inc. by Babyhawk, $75 value
This Asian style baby carrier is great from infancy into toddlerhood. Reversible to solid Charcoal, wearable front or back (baby does not face out), fits up to women’s size 20/22 & men’s XXL.

Rumina: Pump&Nurse Set, $82 value
Rumina’s Pump&Nurse Set will include one Pump&Nurse Tank, winner’s choice of style, size and color and one Pump&Nurse Bra, winner’s choice of style, size and color.

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Prize bundle #3:

Bundle #3 group final

Prize Bundle #3: $547

Baby Tula: Daydreamer Spring Equinox – Tula Ergonomic Baby Carrier, $149 value
The ultimate baby carriers in style and ergonomic comfort, Baby Tula’s most popular product allows moms and dads to keep baby close while keeping their hands free during infant days through toddler years. Aside from their beauty, Tula Carriers are easy to use and help support the bond between caregiver and child.

BamboobiesBlack Chic Nursing Shawl and Multi-Pack Washable Nursing Pads$28 value
Shawl: So stylish and discreet, no one will know it’s a nursing cover. Unlike brightly-colored apron-style nursing covers- Bamboobies® Chic Nursing Shawl is a versatile wardrobe essential for maternity, nursing, and beyond! * Softer, more eco-friendly rayon from bamboo fabric * Lighter weight and breathable for better comfort * Perfect stretchiness to fit baby underneath & mom’s changing body * The perfect drape for a chic look Made of soft and lightweight knit made of rayon from bamboo and a touch of spandex. One-size fits most and comes in 2 stylish colors: Black and Blackberry.
Nursing Pads: Bamboobies® are made of ultra-soft and soothing bamboo rayon velour, an absorbent inner layer of hemp and cotton with an outer milk-proof™ liner to help prevent embarrassing leaks! These nursing pads are super absorbent and eco-friendly. Bamboobies® washable nursing pads come in two varieties. The ultra-thin, heart-shaped regular nursing pads are made for light leaking and are designed to be less visible through clothing. The round shaped overnight nursing pads are not only ultra-soft, but larger, thicker and super absorbent for heavy leaking and newborn nursing. This pack of both overnight and regular pads makes a great gift or registry item – the perfect thing to buy if you’re pregnant and not sure what you’ll need!

Cezara: Belly Support Panty, $49 value
Cezara offers wonderful belly lift, back support and lower abdominal stability during pregnancy and after delivery. Mom starts to wear Cezara as soon as she desires comfort, wears Cezara until she delivers, and then, with medical approval, resumes wearing Cezara as soon as the day after she delivers. If she had a Cesarean, the internal padding compresses and protects her scar, aiding in healing, and relieving her concerns that her baby will rest on and irritate her scar while nursing and babywearing.

Flora, Inc.: Floradix Iron & Herbs 17 oz., $46 value
Floradix Iron & Herbs has been clinically proven to effectively normalize low iron levels without causing stomach upset and constipation. The signs and symptoms of iron deficiency include: Fatigue and weakness, pale skin, dark circles under the eyes, brittle hair and nails, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, decreased ability to exercise, poor concentration, rapid pulse, susceptibility to infections, dizziness or faintness, and cold extremities

Glamourmom: Nursing Bra Nightgown, $69 value
Made of a luxurious ultra-soft cotton, the Glamourmom Nursing Bra Nightgown features a full structured built-in nursing bra and is perfect for nighttime feedings and even lounging during the day.

KoalaKin: Hands Free Nursing Pouch, $90 value

The KoalaKin, Hands Free Nursing Pouch is a breastfeeding carrier designed for moms who need a little extra support during this special time in their lives. This supportive, hands-free carrier alleviates the strain associated with breastfeeding, allowing moms to confidently give their babies the absolute best!

Melinda G: Dreamy Sleep Bra, $29 value
The Dreamy sleep bra: dreamy comfort as your dream of your little one! Dreamy provides soft, comfortable light support with no hardware to pinch, and pull-aside seamless cups for easy nursing access. The fabric is a cotton rich jacquard – beautiful and breathable! Midnight Purple – choose your size from our 6 sizes.

Milkmakers: 2 Bakery Boxes of Milkmakers Cookies, $28 value
Milkmakers are delicious lactation cookies that can help boost milk supply and replenish key nutrients for breastfeeding moms.

SilveretteSilverette Nursing Cups$59 value
Silverette are made for Breastfeeding moms with sore, cracked, painful nipples. Silverette Nursing Cups soothe, heal, and protect (worn in between feedings), as silver is naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. No creams or salves needed. Silverette can be used as a precautionary method if worn since the first breastfeeding session.

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from December 11, 2015 through December 21, 2015.  A big thanks to all of the sponsors who generously demonstrated their compassion for people by participating in this giveaway.  Their support of TLB, and all breastfeeding women, and beyond, is invaluable; don’t hesitate to visit them on social media and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

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Epic MiLK! The Leaky Times Newsletter Vol.8

by Kileah McIlvain

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Dear Leakies,

This may come as a shock, but I’m not passionate about breastfeeding.

Which is why I hope you all can join me at Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference on August 1st in Los Angelas, CA. This conference is all about bringing together everyone involved in infant feeding conversations to learn how to listen, share information, and offer true support. Support that isn’t possible when we’re judging and shaming individuals.

Nearly every day we hear from moms they concern about how they are feeding their baby. Guilt weaves through their words. With heartbreak they share their story, aching at what they perceive to be failure and hoping we can offer some magic fix. We tell them all the same thing.

Feed the baby. That’s the first rule of infant feeding care, FEED THE BABY. Because no matter what methodology, the baby must be fed. Not feeding the baby IS failure.

If there were a first rule of infant feeding support, it should be “DON’T BE A JERK.” Followed closely by “SUPPORT THE PERSON OVER THE METHODOLOGY.” Being a jerk and supporting a methodology over people IS failure.

Feeding the baby isn’t failure.

Sometimes, the people that should be the most supportive, end up offering unsupportive support.

READ MORE HERE!

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The Joy of Giving Holiday Giveaway

 

Joy of Giving Logos

Everyone loves a good giveaway. They’re fun, enticing, and full of hopeful anticipation. Here at TLB we take delight in working with brands that care so much about quality, families, support, and seeing babies well fed. These companies not only see our community as a valuable resource for them, but each brand we work with is carefully vetted, selected for their commitment to value supporting families. With them, TLB gets to regularly experience the joy of giving to families through our giveaways and community support.

 

Which is why this holiday season we are extending the reach of that giving. The Joy of Giving giveaway brings together 20 brands that truly know the meaning of the joy of giving. With three different bundles,  one lucky winner will have the chance to give as well by selecting two of their friends that could use a little holiday cheer, and they will each receive a bundle!

 

But that’s not all. Not only are we offering this giveaway and giving you a chance to give, every item being given away in the Joy of Giving giveaway is also being donated to a nonprofit organization that supports families (that’s over $1900 worth of products!).  And we need your help!  There are so many amazing nonprofits out there that we struggled to select just 5 of them for this opportunity, and it’s up to you to make the final selection.  We are including a short description for each of the 5 organizations with a link to their website in case you would like to learn more about them.  Once you’re ready, cast your vote for your favorite in the poll just under the descriptions!  Our hope is that they will inspire us all to find new ways to give this season.  Even a warm smile can lift a person’s spirits.

 

Happy Holidays, and good luck!

 

Birth Circle Doulas -The Birth Circle is a community-based doula program providing pregnancy support and doula services to underserved women. Doulas visit women at their homes, meet with them at their medical appointments, and provide continous support during labor and delivery. Services are offered free-of-charge to eligible women, including teens, first-time-mothers receiving their prenatal care at selected health care sites, and UPMC for You members. Working with our community to build an integrated circle of care that addresses the needs of the childbearing family.

Elizabeth House– a residential shelter program in the community of Pasadena, CA committed to the health and welfare of adult pregnant women and their children. Elizabeth House is the only 501©(3) non-profit organization in the San Gabriel Valley that specifically addresses the needs of pregnant women who also have small children and who lack adequate shelter and prenatal care. The House can accommodate six women and four children at any one time.  Clients stay 4-6 months after their babies are born. In a year’s time, an average of 15-18 family units are served. The goal of our program is not only to support these women during their time of crisis, but also to challenge them in a way that prevents issues such as financial instability child abuse/neglect, domestic violence, and drug dependency in order to provide a healthy, positive environment for their children. The long-term success of the program lies in the follow-up care and support that is provided to alumni after they transition to independent living.

Grace Initiatives – exists to empower pregnant young women to prepare for their future with their baby. Grace Initiatives offers confidential counseling, life-skills education, job-skills classes and housing options for pregnant young women, 20 and under.  Our home, Grace’s Place is located in Ocean County, New Jersey and is the hub of activity for pregnant young women from all over the region.

Teen Parent Connection – offers long-term assistance to adolescent parents of DuPage County to reach self-sufficiency by providing teen parents with support, information, and resources to help them navigate their lives as parents and as teenagers. Through the power of support teen parent connection helps young moms and dads confront challenges and create opportunities. Including doula services, classes, a parents pantry, support groups, home visits, and more.

Uzazi Village – Swahili for birth, Uzazi Village is a community-based perinatal care model created by community men and women for community women and infants (and their families) who are at higher risk for poor perinatal outcomes in Kansas City, MO. Operating with a model of care that is affordable, accessible, sustainable, high in quality, is culturally appropriate, and respectful of traditional/ancestral knowing, that promotes a high level of wellbeing and improves overall potential for the individual and the community to live in harmony in order to pursue its full purpose for being. Uzazi is exists to decrease infant mortality and racially-based urban perinatal health inequities occurring in Communities of Color.

 

Which non-profit should win the matching bundle of prizes?

  • Uzazi Village (28%, 265 Votes)
  • Elizabeth House (24%, 226 Votes)
  • Teen Parent Connection (19%, 173 Votes)
  • Birth Circle Doulas (18%, 168 Votes)
  • Grace Initiatives (11%, 103 Votes)

Total Voters: 935

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Prize bundle #1:Joy of Giving prize bundle #1

Prize Bundle #1 Total Value : $693

Arm’s ReachToffee Stripe Mini Arc Co-Sleeper, $175 value

Baby Bee Hummingbirds: a gorgeous custom Bead from “Beads of Time Collection,” created with your precious and perfectly preserved breastmilk, placenta, or Baby’s first curl, and perfectly fit on a Pandora or simple chain. $36 value

Cezara: a belly support panty, any size, $49 value

ErgoBaby: a wrap and swaddler,  $105 value

Juno Blu: a gift certificate to use towards a stylish breast pump bag, $85 value

Pebble: a handmade fair trade Nutcracker and Ballerina soft toys, $64 value

Snugabell: a Toni Collection (3/4 sleeve top in Flamepencil skirt in Jett), $122 value

The Vintage Honey Shop: a teething ring necklace, $27 value

Wean Green: a Baby Feeding Starter Set, $30 value

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Prize bundle #2:

Joy of Giving prize bundle #2

Prize Bundle #2 Total Value: $622

Amamante! Nursingwear: a nursing gown, $44 value

Bamboobies: a New Mama Essentials Kit (bratankdisposable padsnipple balm), $125 value

Juno Blu: a gift certificate to use towards a stylish breast pump bag, $85 value

LilleBaby: a Complete All-Season baby carrier in new Black/Camel, $135 value

Nine Naturals: a Natural Belly Oil, $36 value

Nurse Purse: a $50 gift certificate towards any Nurse Purse breast pump bag (includes free 2 day shipping), $50 value

Sloomb: a bundle of 2 Happy Little Clouds cloth diapers, $58 value

The Dairy Fairy: a Rose handsfree pumping bra, $34 value

Undercover Mama: a Basic Essential nursing shirt, $25 value

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Prize bundle #3:

Joy of Giving prize bundle #3

 

Prize Bundle #3: $600

16 Minute Club: a one month subscription to the 16 minute club, $35 value

Beco: a Soleil baby carrier in Twilight, $140 value

Juno Blu: a gift certificate to use towards a stylish breast pump bag, $85 value

Melinda G: a tee-shirt soft-cup nursing bra, style #2115, nude, any size, $44 value

My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear: a Babyhawk Mei Tai with logo in charcoal gray and an Angel Bear kit, $110 value

Naked Nursing Tank: a luxury bamboo tank, $40 value

Nursing Bra ExpressMolded Seamless Washable Nursing Pads by Baby Nip, $14 value

Snugabell: a Toni Collection (Pencil skirt in Smoketunic in Wink), $132 value

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from December 12, 2014 through December 20, 2014.  A big thanks to all of the sponsors who generously demonstrated their compassion for people by participating in this giveaway.  Their support of TLB, and all breastfeeding women, and beyond, is invaluable; don’t hesitate to visit them on social media and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

This giveaway is restricted to U.S. entries only.
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Why take and share breastfeeding photos?

by Jessica Martin-Weber
why women share breastfeeding photos

Photo credit: Cleo Photography

What is the deal with all those breastfeeding photos moms are doing?  Breastfeeding selfies, professional photo sessions, family snapshots, they’re showing up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, even birth announcements and Christmas cards, and hanging on walls.  This hasn’t always been a thing, has it?  (Check out these and these historic photos that show it isn’t quite as new as you may think.)  When TLB was kicked off Facebook in 2011, allegedly for posting breastfeeding photos, I was asked frequently why post breastfeeding photos in the first place.  What is the point, they wondered, why do women feel the need to share such an intimate moment with the world?  I have been patiently explaining this phenomenon for years, sharing blog posts like this one from Annie at PhD in Parenting, this one from sons & daughters photography,  and personal stories as to why and content to leave it at that.

Still, comments on websites, social media threads, and some times in person continue to come in comparing these photos to sharing an image of someone taking a dump, calling the women posting them “attention whores”, and sometimes even accusing them of sexual abuse.  The reasons why these people may be uncomfortable seeing breastfeeding totally aside (and here are 9 potential reasons), it’s obvious they don’t understand why this would be important.

Over the years I’ve seen the power of breastfeeding photos being shared.  Much like images of other aspects of every day life, seeing breastfeeding photos reminds us of the importance of the mundane in our daily lives.  There are more reasons than I can list, but there are real reasons none the less.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in offering support.  Many women haven’t seen breastfeeding or have only seen it briefly.  Seeing breastfeeding and hearing the breastfeeding stories of other women supports women where they are in their journey and gives them the space to ask questions and know they aren’t alone.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in offering information and options.  For some women, breastfeeding is as natural as breathing, everything just works.  Others encounter difficulties.  Seeing how another woman navigates the obstacles she experiences in breastfeeding, such as when Jenna shared an image of feeding her daughter with a supplemental nursing system, mothers who had never heard of such a thing suddenly had a new option.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in offering community.  Because breastfeeding has been replaced in some cases with alternative feeding methods, some breastfeeding mothers find themselves feeling isolated.  Thanks to the global community now accessible via the internet, mothers can connect with others that can relate to their journey.  While many are willing to walk alone, it is comforting to know you don’t have to.  Sharing the visual builds a community built on more than words.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in offering encouragement.   When Serena Tremblay shared her photo of breastfeeding in the ICU with the help of a nurse, she never imagined how it would touch and reach so many with encouragement and inspiration.  But that’s exactly what her photo did.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in offering recognition.  It’s not for attention, the sharing is more about connection and celebration.  But when a woman shares her breastfeeding journey through images, she is recognizing (and helping others recognize for themselves) this very important aspect of her life.  She does it day in and day out, it consumes much of her time, and sometimes it can feel quite invisible.  Or worse, shameful.  Recognizing the time and commitment breastfeeding requires can be a reminder of why it’s all worth it.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in offering normalization.  More times than I can count people have written in to say that before they joined The Leaky Boob community they thought breastfeeding was gross and creepy.  They didn’t want to see it because they thought it was like watching sex.  But then they saw it and learned that it wasn’t that at all, in fact, it was oddly normal.  Then there are the mothers that discovered they weren’t freaks for continuing to breastfeed past the first 12 months when they discovered there are many others like them.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in rehumanizing.  I know, I know, that’s not really a word.  But the objectification of women has reached such high levels that unless a woman is airbrushed, painted, surgically altered, pushed up/in, and posed, she isn’t seen as being a woman.  A woman’s worth is almost entirely wrapped up in her looks.  Women are barely seen as human or at least, aren’t allowed to be human.  Images of woman that aren’t airbrushed, painted, surgically altered, pushed up/in, and posed remind all of us what living, breathing, human woman really look like.  Breastfeeding women remind us that a woman’s body is for her to use as she pleases and her worth not dictated by how sexually attractive she is.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in celebrating.  Parenting is hard work and much of it goes unnoticed and under appreciated.  Celebrating the milestones and goals reached, be they breastfeeding, potty learning, educational, or any other important aspect of parenting, is energizing.  Celebrating them with others even more so.

Leilani and her daughter Ava featured in the photo at the top of this post, understands this, which is why Leilani sent this beautiful photo in with her story:

I made the decision to try breastfeeding while I was still pregnant. I read Ina May’s guide to breastfeeding (religiously), and it gave me the confidence I needed during that very first time Ava latched on. Knowing that I was capable of producing the best nutrition for my child is what inspired me to nurse. There were a handful of bumps in the road during this past year of breastfeeding, but I’m proud to say, we surpassed them. My daughter had jaundice (pretty bad) her first week of life. Due to an incompatible blood type between her and I, the doctors encouraged me to supplement, in order for her jaundice to go away faster. I refused, and as scary as it was, the jaundice went away, and she didn’t need one drop of supplement to assist. I also thought I needed a pump and bottles to nurse more effectively. Turns out that the pump caused my supply to dwindle, and I forced to deal with a baby that wasn’t getting the correct amount of milk she needed. Rather than giving up or supplementing, I was patient and nursed her as often as she’d allow. My supply finally was back to normal. Between those hurdles and moving cross-country TWICE in two months (military family), I am proud to say that Ava at (almost) thirteen months is still nursing and the bond we share is something even more special than I imagined.

 

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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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Breastfeeding moms in the Facebook community

Facebook and I have had a tenuous relationship over the last couple of years.  Sometimes it felt like a downright war but for the past year or so it’s been fairly peaceful.  After the big blowup that received international attention things simmered down and I’d continue posting breastfeeding photos, they’d delete one every month or so, I’d get slapped with a warning or a photo loading suspension, after pressing them FB would say it was deleted in error, I’d post the photo they deleted again, they’d leave me alone for a while, etc.  Then the game stopped entirely and I must confess, I didn’t miss it.

But then this morning this:

 

*sigh*

Ok, someone visited either The Leaky Boob Facebook page or Jessica The Leaky Boob Facebook page and were shocked to discover breastfeeding photos there.  Either out of wanting to protect me from my own indecent exposure, spare my baby some potential future embarrassment, or because they just found the “nudity” offensive, they reported my photo.

I clicked continue which led to this page:


I continued to the community standards which look like this:

 

I scrolled down to find the section that would address what exactly I did that violated their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and found this:

Huh, that’s strange.  According to this statement it actually looks like the person that reported my photo AND Facebook violated the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, not me.  Which makes me wonder, did the person (or people) that reported this image also get a warning?  Since they clearly violated the community standards and essentially harrassed me when I was completely within my rights as outlined in Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and I clearly did not, did they receive a virtual reprimand for their actions?

Since I suspect I already know I’ll receive the generic apology FB offers anyone that calls them out on their inconsistency and will be told that my image was removed “in error” I’ll go ahead and put it back up.  Since they didn’t mean to remove it and all.

Also, it’s worth noting that according to this statement there is nothing about what exactly is showing, nothing about nipples, areola, or anything else.  Just that FB respects people’s right to share content of personal importance and includes family photos of a child breastfeeding.  So it’s not about the nipple or areola, it does require that the child be actively engaged at the breast, a policy I find ridiculous but even according to their own policy, the photo they removed was within compliance.

A few points

Why  share breastfeeding photos on FB?  Some may feel it’s too private to share, I don’t.  In fact, I believe it’s crucial to share breastfeeding photos.  Gone are the days where breastfeeding is seen in the day in and day out living of our lives in a community, replaced instead with virtual communities found on Facebook, forums, and other social media platforms.  Social media and virtual communities need to be as multidimensional as the physical community or we lose ourselves as a society, relating to each other as a slick collection of data without the human and biological component that makes us alive.  We need to see breastfeeding in real life and in the virtual world that many of us relate in as our community.  This photo may seem obscene to some but to others it was inspiring and encouraging, leading some to even learn something about breastfeeding.

Facebook can do what it wants, you don’t have to use it.  True, FB can and true, I don’t have to use it.  But I know they want me to and I know that their advertisers want me to.  I am a part of their market and as such I am going to let them know what I think of their service including when it’s just not working for me.  Obviously they care, in the past 2 years they’ve changed their public stance on breastfeeding to include the statement above.  Which now means they need to keep their own standards.  If I were them, I’d want to know when my company was violating it’s very own terms.  Being quite and just taking whatever a company does because they can do what they want means the company doesn’t have the opportunity to improve.  Additionally, that would never fly in discriminating against someone because of their skin color, their sexual orientation, or just about anything else.

Children could see it, FB is just protecting the younger users.  My personal feelings about children being on Facebook aside, my personal belief about children actually needing to see images of breastfeeding and women in the physical world breastfeeding aside; the reality is Facebook has clearly stated that these images are acceptable within the community standards.  Which means if a parent doesn’t want their child to see such images, the parent should not permit their child to be on Facebook and when they do allow their child to be there, they have agreed to these very community standards that permit these images.

Facebook is protecting you, they don’t want someone to use your image for inappropriate reasons.  Hi, I am an adult.  I am capable of making the decision to share my image for myself and as the mother of my child, I bear that responsibility as well.  It is insulting to have someone feel they need to protect me from the decision I make.  I do not need a savior protecting me from what they deem are stupid and irresponsible decisions.  Not to mention those pesky community standards that say I have the right to share such photos.

It’s not Facebook, they automatically delete images that other people flag, it’s the people reporting that are the problem.  Again, true, at least partially true.  People reporting these images are part of the problem.  Hopefully some day they won’t see anything in an image like this that they deem requires reporting but until then, FB has the responsibility to enforce their own terms and standards.  Do they really want us to believe they are helplessly at the mercy of their users flagging habits?  It has also recently come to light that FB does in fact employ a team to review flagged material and has standards those reviewing the content are to follow.  So it’s not an automatic response to any flagging or certain number of reports, it is deliberately removed and by someone that is supposed to be following FB’s own community standards.  (Wonder how the whole reporting thing works?  This guide explains it with a handy little graphic to break it down.)

Why does it matter?  I’m one user out of millions traveling Facebooks roads of community, networking and connecting with old friends and making new ones.  Along the way I’m sharing my life with those people and they share their lives with me.  Which is cool and I love Facebook for that.  It matters how they facilitate the community because that’s the responsibility Facebook took upon itself and it isn’t to be treated lightly.  It matters because FB is selling my attention to advertisers that pay high prices to get their brand in front of me and in front of you; Facebook is not as free as some would like to believe.  You DO pay a price to be there and YOU are the commodity FB sells to advertisers.  It matters because these are people we are talking about, not some random images.  When my photo is removed I am confident enough that it doesn’t rattle me.  Additionally, I have a platform to voice my concerns and put some pressure on FB regarding their responsibility to their users.  But what about the mom that shares an image celebrating her breastfeeding, her family, her children, and Facebook removes it and she does get rattled?  It could cause her to call into question if what she is doing is somehow wrong.  That if images of breastfeeding are inappropriate and not fit for her community to see, is it inappropriate for her child to breastfeed?  If she’s struggling and looking for her community for support but these images aren’t permitted, how is she going to work out that there can be a wide variety of normal in breastfeeding baby’s latches or any other variety of breastfeeding related questions?  How is she going to know that she’s not alone with how her little one behaves at the breast?  How else are moms going to get over the emphasis on the sexual nature of female breasts to just feed her baby when her very community shames and harasses her for sharing these images?  The message that is being sent is that you can have community, you can be marketed to within that community, but your personal experience with breastfeeding is shameful and not welcome in the community.  Which ultimately means the breastfeeding mother is not welcome in the community.

The ones that need to receive an unwelcoming response are those reporting these images.  People need to stop reporting these images but that’s not going to cease until Facebook is willing to actually enforce consequences for false reporting of images that actually do adhere to FB’s community standards and these consequences need to be at least as severe and shaming as those whose images are deleted have experienced.  That’s how change is going to take place and that responsibility lies with Facebook.

 

Facebook, figure it out.  Take a stand.  Grow up and put your actions where your money and your mouth is.

Facebook, unwaveringly welcome breastfeeding moms into the community.

 

You can find more information about the issues with Facebook and breastfeeding including how they police content and respond to reports, attempts at communicating with Facebook regarding this issue, and any new developments here.

 

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Up close and personal: Leakies Q & A on TLB, personal, and “other”

This is the last of what could have been called “more than you ever really wanted to know about me.”  I responded to your questions about pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding here and family, children, and work here.  In this post I answer some of your questions about The Leaky Boob, more personal questions, and the proverbial “other.”

Photography by Kelli Elizabeth Photography in Houston, TX

TLB, personal, and “Other”

Q: How do you eliminate negativity in your life?

When I figure that out I’ll let you know. 😉

Ok, that was a major copout answer.  I don’t eliminate it.  I’m an artist by nature, it’s a huge part of who I am and how I see the world.  I am prone to times of depression, part of the ebb and flow of life and a crucial part of the creative process.  For a long time I denied and suppressed that part of me but after one particularly difficult time with postpartum depression I’ve learned to embrace it.  By accepting negativity, including my own, for what it is when it arises I’m more equipped to leave it and not let it effect me.  Too much.  I have found that acknowledging it has made me see that there isn’t as much as I once thought.  Additionally I have learned to recognize it, identify the source, call it what it is, and if need be put boundaries in place.

Q: What inspired you to begin TLB?

You can read about that here.

Q: Tell us more about your faith – where do you go to church and can you tell us anything about your plans for Paris?

I am a protestant Christian with a huge passion for social justice and mercy ministry.  We attend a local Vineyard church and consider ourselves Christ-followers, not affiliated with a denomination.  Our plans for Paris have been delayed a few months due to the pregnancy (we’re already supposed to be there) but we are in non-profit arts, family, and social justice work.  Tentatively the plan is for us to be in Paris come late this summer.

Q:  What particular challenges did you face as a busy mom and writer? And what tips/tricks/advice helped you overcome those challenges?

Sleep.  Sleep is always my biggest challenge.  I’m a night owl but several of my kids are early risers.  When I’m not pregnant I overcome that with coffee.  When I’m pregnant, I fall asleep on the couch.  Often.  😉

What works for me is to be honest with myself and with The Piano Man about what I need and I expect the same from him.  I grew up seeing us kids as the center of my mom’s world and while that was really nice, it also made me feel responsible in the long run for her having a center of her world.  By the time I was a preteen I desperately wanted her to do something, ANYTHING, that was for herself and pursuing her own interests.  As a young adult I vowed not to have kids because I watched my mom flounder.  Not to mention the shock when the rest of the world wouldn’t let me be the center of their attention until I proved I deserved it.  There was quite the adjustment for me there.  So I’ve always made it a priority to have my kids see me into other activities that don’t involve them and I encourage them to pursue interests that don’t involve me all the while coming back to our center in our home.  It’s like a base, not a focal point, and where I’m grounded.  It’s where we regroup and energize, not what defines us.

Meal plans, not every day but for several of our busiest days a week help but still afford us the flexibility we enjoy in our cooking.  Enlisting the kids to help with housework and accepting that it may not always be done to my standards teaches them responsibility and life skills and helping around the house.  We require a quiet time for all of us to get some space from each other and actively work on our own projects be it writing, knitting, coloring, napping, etc.  Insisting that the girls play outside and me joining them there on a blanket with my work to keep an eye on them as they have free play.   They are regularly actively engaged in healthy play and having a rough schedule or rhythm that doesn’t control our lives but does provide a framework to stretch our canvas in order to live it really helps.  But most importantly, lightening up.  Relaxing.  Deciding what’s really important and learning to accept a certain amount of chaos.

Typical day?  Different every time!  But I promise we do eat, sleep, play, work, and love like crazy.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing you have experienced as a mother?

I’m really not sure I could narrow it down to one thing but I can say that seeing my daughters grow in independence, confidence, and with character I’m pleased to see developing, I feel the most encouraged in my parenting.  But there’s also just those moments of little arms flung around my neck, squeezing tight that feel incredibly rewarding, even more so because that’s not at all how they are thinking of it, they’re just expressing their genuine feelings.

Q: What’s your go-to-dinner? How do you take your coffee?

Go-to dinner: beans and rice with a salad.

Coffee: when I’m not pregnant I either like it with cream and sugar or a strong espresso, black.  Always fair trade.

Q: Do you have siblings? What is your relationship with your parents? Where did you grow up? How do you balance your work and your family? How are you so freaking awesome?!

I do have siblings, an older brother and a younger sister.  That’s right, I’m the middle child.  Bum-bum-BUUUUUUUM!  I live too far from my family and don’t do as good of a job as I’d like keeping in touch and staying connected.  My relationship with my parents is constantly changing.  It’s a good reminder that we’re all still growing.  There is a lot of love and though we don’t always see eye-to-eye, there is a lot of effort put into understanding and accepting our differences.  I grew up in Florida (Yankee South), born and reared there.  As to how I balance work and family, it’s a constant adjusting.  Just when I think I have it all worked out, something shifts and we have to reevaluate and re-tweak.  The key for us is to be flexible and maintain communication so we can adjust where and when necessary.  As for the awesome thing, my family could fill you in that I’m not so awesome.  😉

Q: Besides the amazing benefits of bfing for mom and baby, what compelled you to be such a huge advocate for bfing? Was there one specific person/event that made you realize this to be a passion of yours? What are some other things that define you as a person beside family and lactivism?

Believe it or not, it wasn’t about breastfeeding to me really when I started it.  It was about women, children, and families.  It still is.  Breastfeeding is just a piece of it, a piece I can talk about and facilitate a community where others can engage in a safe dialogue about breastfeeding… and more.  As for what are other things that define me, you can find more of those in some of the other answers to the questions here.  I’m passionate about so much!

Q: How did you got into knitting!!

Bed rest with #2!  Took me like 7 years to knit one scarf.  Then Earth Baby started knitting in school and I helped her with a project and realized I loved it and it just took off.

Q: What are you other passions besides all things breastfeeding, mothering, and blogging….?

The arts in general.  I’m very involved in the arts, went to school for music performance and also have a love for visual arts, theater, and the written word.  Helping people connect with the arts, use the arts, express themselves through the arts is a passion of mine.  Building up and encouraging artists is another.  Challenging artists to use their voice to help tell the stories of others, particularly the oppressed, is a big part of my life.  

Social justice, specifically related to human trafficking is my heart of hearts though.  It’s what fires me up like no other and is what breaks my heart over and over again.  

I’m also passionate about birth, building up women and girls, and sexual abuse issues.

On the lighter side, I love to read, knit, dance, ride bikes, sew, paint, and more.

Q: What inspired you to become such a passionate breastfeeding advocate? What were your thoughts and opinions on breastfeeding before you had children? And while i have your attention thank you for what you started. I would not be sitting here nursing my lo if i hadn’t joined your page shortly before becoming pregnant 🙂

Congrats on your breastfeeding!  So grateful TLB could be a part of that journey with you.

I figured I’d always breastfeed.  I remember being weirded out by a friend’s mom breastfeeding when I was a teen but when I voiced that thought to my mom I promptly got put in my place about how breastfeeding is normal and I better never forget it as I was breastfed until I was 2.5.  Though uncomfortable a bit with the idea when my turn came, I did feel it was the normal way to feed a baby so I got over it.

Q: When was the last time you peed in private in your own home? Cause, idk about you but I usually have a parade follow me into the bathroom followed by a play-by-play commentary…lol

Recently, actually.  They entertain each other so well lately that going with mommy to the potty the 25 times a day she goes has gotten boring.  The real challenge for me is to not have to yell something while I’m on the toilet: “wait, what are we climbing?  I don’t think so, don’t climb the doll stroller to get on top of the shelves!  I can get the toy, just let me finish peeing!”

Q: Are you Canadian?

Nope, never even been there.  I do plan to rectify that some day.  As my friend Cindy would say, I only wish I was that cool!

Q: Are you able to keep up with everything else, like cleaning, paying bills, friends, etc.? Or are you like me with a dirty house, stacks of paperwork, and little time for friends?

Like you!  I make time for friends though, it’s crucial to my personal health.

Q: Are you making money doing this, I noticed you advertise. Which is fine, just wondering! And if you become rich from this, can you promise not to change? : )

I do get money from the sponsors but not anything I’m going to be getting rich with any time soon!  But I won’t change, the DNA of TLB is pretty set, I like what it is and want to keep it going.  I have a pretty big vision for TLB, one step at a time but at the heart, it’s going to stay what it is.

Q: I don’t have a question, but many of the above questions have been running through my mind since reading your posts! I’m excited to hear your answers. There’s much to admire about you … especially that you’re raising such an obviously loving family but are also able to keep your art alive. I guess I do have a question: how do you find the time for your art pieces?

It’s slowed down some during the pregnancy though I picked up my brushes the other day to work on a family piece I’ve been conceptualizing.  I find time by letting other things go.  Involving my children helps too, they love to get set up with paints, brushes, paper or canvas, etc.  They do their work while I do mine.  It’s more clean up later but clean up I enjoy because the time spent creating together feeds my soul.

Q: I know you were a coffee drinker while bf are you while pregnant?

More like a coffee puker while pregnant.  😉

Q: You inspire many women, what inspires you?

All of the Leakies!  And my children.  And beautiful art.  And seeing things that I feel need to change.

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Our Night Weaning Journey,Your 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 6, and night 7.

The last two nights Smunchie has slept 11 hours straight.  Yesterday I felt like a new woman.  As we’ve been sharing this journey I’ve been asked several questions so I thought I’d take some time to answer them all at once.  The questions range from the very practical (i.e. what’s your bed time routine) to more about our parenting approach or why we decided to do XYZ.  I am not a doctor or any sort of expert on any of this, all I am doing is sharing our choices as parents and why.  It is up to you to make as informed of a choice as you can for what will work best for your family.  I have included links that I think may be helpful to your research as they were to ours.

Why not put Smunchie in her own room?  Wouldn’t that help, specially if she wakes when you go into the room you share?

With our 3 older girls we did put them in their own room at some point in their first year, usually around 4 months.  However it didn’t really help us get sleep since we had to go to them and they often ended up in our room anyway.  Additionally we are a family of 7 living in a small 3 bedroom house (with one bathroom) and there’s not a room.  Everyone shares sleeping space in our family so it’s really not even an option.

More importantly and why we wouldn’t put her in her own room even if we could is because we don’t want to.  Over the years we’ve changed and learned a lot as parents and we have a better understanding of child development which has led to us making different decisions than we ever expected.  Including decisions related to co-sleeping/bed sharing.  I’ll be honest (always am), I don’t like bed sharing and don’t particularly care for co-sleeping even.  Just another thing in my parenting list I’m not crazy about.  I also don’t like changing diapers and sometimes I hate making meals.  But through research and personal experience The Piano Man and I feel that what our children need is to be with us and us with them, even through the night.  Over the years co-sleeping has started growing on me and I’m starting to enjoy and appreciate the practice more.  The research we’ve done strongly supports co-sleeping and bed sharing.  If you’d like to learn more about the sleep needs of infants and small children, I strongly suggest this very thorough review of co-sleeping by James J. McKenna and Thomas McDade of the University of Notre Dame.  This review may help some to understand better why we choose to co-sleep with our babies.

Wouldn’t it be easier to let her cry it out?

Easier for whom?  Ok, I wasn’t actually asked this question, or at least not so directly, just implied.  I’ve been asked even more direct than that in real life, however so I feel it’s one I should address.  The Piano Man and I feel that cry it out (CIO) or sleep training is not something that would be right for our family.  We tried it, once, 11 years ago, when Earth Baby was about 18 months.  It was traumatic and I believe greatly harmed our relationship, which I share a little bit about in the post I Dream of Sleep.  I know some people swear by it and I have friends that have used this practice and their children seem to have experienced no harm that I can see.  Still, it’s not right for us.  There are concerns about levels of cortisol in a child’s brain when left to cry it out and some associations with attachment disorder related to cry it out methods.  The risk and our own personal experience as well as our philosophy of gentle parenting eliminate CIO entirely as an option for helping us get more sleep.  These concerns have been covered in mainstream news outlets as well as reputable medical journals.  Even without that all it takes is one flashback memory to know I will never do that with my children again.

I don’t understand how you can do this, how can you deny your child her milk and how can she possibly understand?  Why would you ever do that?

It’s so neat to see that people care enough for my family and me to ask even the really hard questions.  I got a few emails and comments on Facebook asking me this and maybe even 1 or 2 on the blog posts, people genuinely concerned that night weaning would be confusing and harmful for Smunchie.  The concern and care is so appreciated and I am touched.  One woman said “…I just feel sad, when I read. I cannot ever imagine denying my babe milk day or night, nor can i think of a reason to try or want to try…I really cannot.”  I shared with her this list of reasons: Because I’ve been so exhausted when I’ve gotten behind the wheel of the car that later I wondered if I shouldn’t have driven. Because I’ve had conversations with my older kids and realized I couldn’t even pay attention long enough to remember what they said. Because my 12 year old some times needs someone to talk to late at night away from her sisters. Because I can’t keep my children prisoners in my house simply because I am lacking the energy to keep up with them and their activities. Because I struggle to get any sleep with a child at the breast and lack of sleep leads to me being irritable and not the kind of parent or partner or really even just the kind of person I want to be. Because with my history of sexual abuse sometimes I start feeling trapped and don’t want to resent my child. Because I have experienced doing things carelessly or dangerously simply because I was too tired to be doing them at all. Because I am educated enough to know that physically she can go 8 hours without additional calories and therefor can experience comfort in other ways. Because I know my child well enough and am and have been tuned in to her needs long enough to be confident enough in my parenting to know she’s ready for this and we have found a way that works for all of us- including her. Because I’m human and know that if things don’t change I will be facing depression stemming from deep fatigue and that is not good for my family. Because I want to remember her toddler time, not just get through it.

I believe Smunchie can understand it because I’m with her and that even more than the breast, I am what she needs. We have each other and she understood before I even did that my breast is not the only way she receives comfort from me. Because she’s not going through this change alone, we are going through it together.  The way we are bringing about this change is mindful of her needs, attentive to her cues, gentle in approach and flexible to modifications.  Together we learn to give and find balance.  And no, I don’t think my 18 month old who can understand sharing a toy with her sister or a bite of her apple with me is too young to understand accepting comfort measures other than what she prefers.

Extended sleep deprivation is dangerous.  There comes a point when one must calculate the risks and I am certain that it was becoming increasingly dangerous for us to continue to try and operate at such a level of fatigue.  I feared for the safety of my children.

How old is Smunchie?  Why now?  Why not younger/older?

Smunchie is 18 months old, born December 28, 2009.

This is going to sound so unscientific: because now felt right.  Unscientific but important.  More and more we were seeing Smunchie seek other forms of comfort besides the breast and respond well to them.  She was also having fits at night that the breast wouldn’t sooth.  We observed that after certain foods offered at dinner she would sleep better with less wakings.  It seemed that she was not in the middle of any major milestone and would have a bit before something new would develop.  And I could tell my fatigue was becoming crippling at best, dangerous at worst with depression seeping into my daily life as a result of my exhaustion even when I forced myself to bed early.  Knowing that physically she could go longer stretches without requiring additional calories as well as being aware that often her suckling at night was not giving her calories, just comfort, I felt confident she could transition to  going without the breast at night.

While I have longed for a good night’s sleep for a very long time, doing so before now would not have been the right time for Smunchie and our family.  I believe she wasn’t ready until now.  In fact, I have found that research supports that before at least 1 year babies are not ready to go the night without waking and there are actually advantages to them waking frequently at night including a lower risk of SIDS.  As much as I would have loved to sleep more before now I do not believe that Smunchie was physically, developmentally and emotionally ready to do so.  If we had waited I’m afraid I would have begun to resent her and we didn’t want to continue the pattern we had begun to establish in our fatigue of not being the kind of parents, partners or people we want to be.

Why use Dr. Gordon’s method and not something else?

Since CIO wasn’t an option for our family there really wasn’t a lot left.  We like the No-Cry Sleep Solution but I was too tired to implement it well or even read the book again.  We did use the No-Cry method with Squiggle Bug and liked it at the time.  I think we would have liked it now too but we were looking for something more simple.  Back with The Storyteller we tried The Baby Whisperer and at the time we kind of liked it.  It was hard though and a little too close to CIO for us so we modified it greatly.  When I read Dr. Gordon’s Sleep, Changing Patterns In The Family Bed I felt that it not only fit our parenting desires but was also something we could manage and The Piano Man agreed.  Simple and compassionate.  I don’t care how great a method is, if it’s too complicated to implement when you’re exhausted then it’s probably not going to work.  I love that Dr. Gordon’s suggestions are not according to some arbitrary age that a child should be sleeping through the night and instead he encourages parents to do what works for their family.  He just shares the tools that can work when and if the family wants to use them.

How have you functioned on so little sleep for so long?  Why do you stay up late?

The sleep patterns of our little ones tend to change every few months so it’s not been the entire time that we’ve been waking every 2 hours or so, just since 12 months and she’s now 18 months so it’s been a 6 month stretch this time.  Before that it was more like 3-4 hours, there was a period with more like 5-6 and other times that it was every 2.  I’ve always been able to function pretty well on less sleep.  My natural rhythm is, unfortunately, out of synch with most of the world so I’ve adapted to a middle ground.  I become very alert around 9pm so going to bed early is very difficult, instead I just tend to do with less sleep.  And I like coffee, a lot.  I also take vitamins and try to stay very well hydrated and avoid processed foods.  Between my performance background in music and theater and my midwifery training (moms tend to labor at night) I’ve gotten pretty good at making just a few hours of sleep work for me.  The 8-midnight is my time to get work done, work for TLB, work for my other job and release my creative side.  This is important to my mental and emotional health, when I have neglected this I become depressed and bitter.  I have to have balance of all the various sides of myself which is why I find it important to Nurture the Nurturer.

However, if I go very long periods without decent sleep I can certainly feel it’s effect.  Less than 5 hours for more than a few days and I feel nauseated, grumpy, struggle with memory and I notice the very mild heart condition I have starts making me feel uncomfortable.  When that happens I try to find some way to get more sleep such as The Piano Man taking the girls out or putting a movie on and me sleeping on the couch.  About twice a week I go to bed “early”, between 9.30 and 11pm.

What’s your bedtime routine with Smunchie?  Does she nurse to sleep?

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 then give kisses and say night-night while I continue to sing and lay her down.  I stay in the room but out of sight singing or mm-hmming for a bit until I can hear her settling and then I slip out.  She doesn’t usually cry or fuss at all but if she does I go to her, pat or rub her back and stay close by.  Every great once in a while she will nurse to sleep if we’ve been out too late or if she just can’t seep to settle but it is, by now, the exception.

How did you get Smunchie to take a lovey object?

I planned for it before she was even born.  While I was still pregnant I slept with the little blanket we picked to be her special object so it would smell like me.  From birth it’s just been “around.” Once it was safe for it to join her in her bed we would lay her down with it.  It just stuck.

I was asked a few other questions including some regarding how I fixed her lazy toddler latch and using the phrase “bobbies all done” and her accepting that.  There is a future article planned on breastfeeding a toddler some where I share more about these and other tips related to breastfeeding an older baby or toddler.

We’re not experts, just figuring it out as we go along like most parents.  Along the way we’ve adapted and changed as we have adjusted to the different personalities and needs of our different children and shifting family dynamic.  Identifying what is important to us we make it work with flexibility.  What works for us may not work for you and what’s important to us may not be important to you.  Hopefully with parents sharing their stories and experiences along the way combined with taking responsibility to research and surround ourselves with knowledgable doctors and experts as well as those willing to help and support us in our goals/desires you and I can make the best decisions we can at the time with the information and resources available.  Thanks for letting us share our journey with you.

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Do you have other questions for us about the night weaning process?  Or something else?  Post your questions in the comments below and I’ll try to get to those as well.  No question but have some thoughts on what you read here?  You comments are most welcomed, I look forward to reading your opinions and experiences as well.

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The Problem Continues

Hi XiLan,

I again apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced. The Page was disabled initially disabled in error and appears to have been affected by some sort of glitch.

We are currently looking into the matter that you reported, and will respond as soon as possible. Please be assured that Facebook takes users’ concerns around content very seriously. We apologize for any inconvenience this delay might present.

Your Page has again been reactivated and you should be able to use it shortly.

Thanks for your understanding,

Lysander
User Operations
Facebook

(XiLan is the username of Jessi, the person that originally helped me set up The Leaky Boob on Facebook.)

The thing is I don’t understand.  It sounds like he just said: “I’m sorry, we here at Facebook don’t know what we’re doing.  It must be some sort of computer thing, it’s completely out of our hands.”

Mark Zuckerberg, get someone who knows what they are doing STAT!  As TIMES man of the year, surely you understand the importance of hiring people who are not only experienced and trained but also give a damn when they screw up.

The thing is, this “glitch” he speaks of continues to disable the accounts of women, other pages and groups that have shared breastfeeding photos.  Additionally users and pages deactivated receive little to no response to their inquires as to why.  I got some sort of an apology and an excuse but most do not.  It’s starting to feel like we’re living with an abusive partner.  Many of us that share breastfeeding photos are on edge now, there has been a rash of deletions and more coming out and saying they would share breastfeeding photos but they are afraid of getting pulled.

So why do we stay?  I’ve addressed before why The Leak Boob is needed on Facebook and why we choose to carry on our little community there.  But still, wouldn’t we feel safer if we moved on to some place where accounts don’t just suddenly disappear?

Of course we would.  However, I’m refusing to accept being told to hide to feed my babies, virtually or otherwise.  The easy access on Facebook makes it such a simple step for women and those that support breastfeeding to participate in The Leaky [email protected]@b community, providing a wealth of information and resources in a place where they are already active and connected.  Beyond that though having an active presence on Facebook does something else:  normalize breastfeeding.  Shunning breastfeeding moms to “discreet” (read: obscure) corners of the internet does nothing to encourage accepting breastfeeding as a normal and beneficial piece of family life.  We have to stop communicating one thing (i.e. “breast is best”) and doing another (i.e “but I don’t want to see it“).

Facebook told the ABC 13 reporter that they are not against breastfeeding and that breastfeeding photos are permitted on the site.  In an email response to her inquiry regarding the deletion of The Leaky Boob they invited her to search the site stating she would see many breastfeeding materials pop up.  She did and yes, there were other groups and materials related to breastfeeding including photos.  They restated their terms of service regarding nudity, obscenity, hateful content, etc. and maintained that they are pro-breastfeeding.

Yet just as recently as yesterday another page was deleted for breastfeeding photos and another just a few days before that.  Several participants on The Leaky [email protected]@b have had photos removed and a warning issued that they posted a photo that violated the TOS.  There are at least 7 others that I know of that have had their accounts deactivated, 1 after posting just 1 breastfeeding photo within just the last week.  Historic Photos and Prints of Breastfeeding had a good chunk of their photos and art prints removed this week as well.  Personally I had 5 photos deleted and warnings issued last week and am surprised my account has not been deactivated.  This just a sampling and it continues to grow.   Groups and pages like Removed: The List, Stop Deleting Mother’s Support Groups F. B., Breastfeeding and Birth Pics that were deleted by bots, and more  dedicated to keeping tract of who was removed and petitioning to bring back users are being created almost as quickly as breastfeeding photos are being removed.

When these individuals and groups request information as to why they receive the same form email I did.  Upon appeal they receive yet another form email.  If they hear anything at all.  Facebook may claim to the media that they support breastfeeding and women but their actions and lack of communication with the users they’ve deactivated indicate something entirely different.  If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck…

Hello Lysander,

Thank you for your personal response regarding the deactivation and request for reinstatement for The Leaky [email protected]@b page.  I genuinely appreciate your apology and having the page reinstated again.

As excited as we are to have The Leaky [email protected]@b back, the situation has not changed.  Any page, individual, or photo is at risk of being deleted when related to breast health.  Because of message size constraints, I will send the list of pages and profiles still deleted to you under separate cover.

Facebook has a responsibility to its customers to clearly communicate that they are pro-women by creating a new way to moderate materials flagged as obscene and providing protection for pages that register as breast health or breastfeeding related.

By reinstating The Leaky [email protected]@b page, twice, Facebook indicates that you are aware there is a significant problem with your current system and it appears this has been an ongoing problem since 2007.

I respect that you need a system to maintain a site free of inappropriate groups and pornographic images and I appreciate the efforts to keep Facebook safe.  However, when images, pages and user accounts are deleted it is nearly impossible for these to reinstated without the involvement of the media.  The lack of response for requests to appeal disabled accounts or at least to receive an explanation for the action communicates you do not support breastfeeding or breast health which means you do not support women.

Lysander, I know you are not personally responsible for this flaw with Facebook, however, you are the only person that has attempted to contact me personally.  I would appreciate your attention to the list of names and pages I’ve included that are currently deactivated for posting breastfeeding photos.

I would love to report in my next round of media interviews that Facebook has a solution to this problem, can you tell me how you plan to make this situation permanently better?  Also, when can the deleted pages/profiles expect to be reinstated?

Thank you for your time and quick response on this matter.

Sincerely,

Jessica Martin-Weber

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