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Gisele, breastfeeding images, and real moms

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Ah, the bru-ha-ha.  A celebrity shared a picture of herself breastfeeding her child.  She’s a hero!  She’s so natural!  She’s supporting women!  She’s a REAL mom!  She’s a show-off!  She’s a bitch!  She’s pampered!  She doesn’t look like us REAL moms!  She makes breastfeeding look unattainable!  She’s making women that don’t breastfeed feel bad!  She’s pressuring women to breastfeed!  She’s a sanctimommy!  BRU.freakingHA.HAAAAAAAAAA.

Everybody has an opinion on it from commenters on Facebook and twitter to talk show hosts and bloggers.  They all must say something about it.  Apparently, me too.

Would this picture have been such a big deal if Gisele was holding a sandwich in one hand and feeding herself claiming multitasking as her team worked on her?  Or if she had an iPad set up and was FaceTiming with her child as a nanny gave them a bottle?  Or if Gisele was spooning baby food into her toddler’s mouth?  I highly doubt it.  Because while the uproar appears to be about a great many things such as whether or not it’s multitasking, or that normal moms don’t have a beauty team, the flashpoint is clearly that breastfeeding is involved.

Oddly enough, the focus has not really been on that she was pictured feeding her 12 month old daughter, the age of her little girl has hardly come up at all.  And the team working on Gisele didn’t seem to notice or care at all.  Maybe we are making progress?

I’m not one to get starstruck nor do I care what celebrities are doing.  It’s not a big deal to me personally the fashion, decorating, or lifestyle choices someone famous makes, I’m going to do what I do because it feels right for me and fits my values and tastes.  Decisions like breastfeeding and how they birth hardly seem like a big deal, they’re humans doing what humans do.  I don’t want to herald every star that puts her baby to her breast to feed them, that just seems a little… extreme.

But I am committed to normalizing breastfeeding so I do see the value in celebrities sharing that they are breastfeeding because I recognize that people look up to them.  Just as stars can normalize a fashion trend, inspire people to get their colon checked, or connect with nonprofit charity work, so can others be inspired to view breastfeeding as normal or at least ok because someone with notoriety has done it.  And who am I to say how someone should be inspired?  They see Kim Kardashian, Gisele Bündchen, Pink, Angelina Jolie, Miranda Kerr or some other celebrity breastfeeding and think “hey, maybe it’s not so bad and I could do that” that’s a good thing so why not?

Just as I understand how a celebrity sharing images of breastfeeding their children or talking about breastfeeding publicly helps normalize it, so do, I believe, the efforts of us incredibly normal, average, non-celebrities.  When we share our pictures and talk about the realities of breastfeeding, we’re helping create a culture that will eventually stop considering it newsworthy when a celebrity does the very normal, average, human behavior of feeding their baby.  A woman using her body as it is biologically intended to feed her baby won’t cause gasps of shock any more, perhaps it will be as normal as the marketing we accept every day that uses the female form to sell stuff.  Eventually, all the trolls and naysayers won’t have any buttons to push on the matter.

Gisele has said some things in the past that have made me cringe and I have a funny feeling she’ll say something cringe worthy again.  But this moment of sharing a picture of herself feeding her baby while she was working isn’t one of them.  The majority of mothers don’t have a team available to them to do their hair, make-up, and nails.  The majority of mothers also don’t have to look impossibly impeccable as part of their career even after flying 15 hours and getting only 3 hours of sleep, they don’t have the pressure of adhering to an artificial standard of beauty for their livelihood.  The majority of us moms are short on sleep and long on too much to do but we all have our own version of what that looks like.  My multitasking doesn’t look exactly like yours and nothing like Ms. Bündchen’s.  My multitasking also doesn’t look like that of a women in extreme poverty in a third world country or a mother struggling to feed her kids in the slums of New York.  Doesn’t make any of it less real.  Dismissing someone’s version because we can’t relate or maybe we’re even jealous or because we judge them isn’t helping anyone.  Such immature responses could actually be damaging.  Declaring “REAL moms…” or “REAL women…” don’t experience life as or look like someone else objectifies that person.

People, particularly women and especially moms need to stop that right now.

What’s “real” has many different expressions.

Gisele breastfeeding with beauty squad

This is a real mom multitasking breastfeeding and work.

This is also a real mom multitasking breastfeeding and work.

This is also a real mom multitasking breastfeeding and work.

This too is a real mom multitasking breastfeeding and work (image from Snugabell).

 

Another real mom multitasking breastfeeding and work.

Another real mom multitasking breastfeeding and work.

These are also real women breastfeeding, not multitasking but still real.

These are also real moms breastfeeding, not multitasking but still real.

Mama and baby with bottle

This is a real mom feeding her baby too. (photo credit: David Castillo Dominici)

Is this the world we want for our children?  A society that trivializes the reality of someone else simply because they can’t relate?  A society that dismisses the good of an act because they are personally offended that it doesn’t look a certain way?  A society that attempts to marginalize someone that can have influence simply because they are jealous?  A society that can only support those whose reality is just like their own?

I hope not.

What all these women need is pretty simple: support.  Even if you’re different than me, even if your reality looks different from mine, even if your choices are ones I can’t understand, even if we can’t relate: I SUPPORT YOU.  Natural birthing or highly medicalized birthing, breastfeeding or formula feeding, safely cosleeping or safely separate sleeping, working outside the home or stay at home parent, no processed foods or all processed foods, and everything in between as long as you’re not intentionally abusing or neglecting your child and have the access you need to make fully informed decisions according to your personal circumstances and available resources: I SUPPORT YOU.  Because anything else only serves to divide, keeps marginalizing women, and drag us all down.

I’m going to go out on a limb and state the obvious here: celebrities are normal, real people.  Normal, real people that can help change things.

Gisele Bündchen has a life I can’t even imagine, bet she can’t imagine mine either.  I multitasked writing this post while cuddling a sick 5yo and breastfeeding an active 19 month old.  In my pajamas.  The same way I answered emails, talked with my site host, interacted on Facebook, texted with my children, and worked.  Sometimes I multitask breastfeeding my toddler while speaking to a couple hundred people about sex.  A typical day for me, normal and real, different from Gisele’s day which for her was no less normal and real.   Though I can’t relate to her life, I appreciate her and all the other women in the world celebrity or not, that are sharing the very real aspect of caring for their children through breastfeeding.  As they continue to do so, maybe when my own daughters are breastfeeding their children, there will be more important and interesting matters discussed by society and the media than how a woman is feeding her baby.

Six myths about breastfeeding toddlers and preschoolers

Breastfeeding beyond the first year has been something of a hot topic over on The Leaky Boob page this week.  It started when I shared this image from Health Canada.

Healthy Canada extending breastfeeding image, breastfeeding is not just for newborns

The conversation quickly went from “YAY!” and “awww!” to “gross,” and “that’s sexual abuse of a child.”  You can check it out yourself here but it may not be too good for your blood pressure and that’s with having deleted the worst of the comments.  The next day I shared another related post presenting the perspective of a rather well-balanced 12 year old that remembers weaning at 4 years old.  That thread on Facebook got pretty ugly too.

As I read through the comments I was a bit puzzled as to what the outcry was about.  Putting the pieces together I began to see that it came down to what is really just some misunderstandings.  Myths about breastfeeding beyond the first year and the women that are willing to do so fueled these passionate (AKA really, really angry) responses to these posts.  Then the mothers that are fine breastfeeding beyond the first year were hurt, feeling judged based on myths that they did not find to be true of themselves.  Some got defensive.  And then more misunderstandings happened.  It was a vicious cycle.

To help clear up the misunderstanding, let’s take a look at some of the (surprisingly) common myths held about natural duration breastfeeding.

Myth #1: Moms that breastfeed beyond the first year and definitely into the 3rd year or beyond are trying to keep their children as babies and can’t let go and let them grow up.  If you don’t stop when they are young, they’ll never stop.

I’ve never met a parent that didn’t experience their child growing up and leaving various stages as bittersweet.  We go into parenting knowing that’s the deal, and let’s be honest here, we’re all looking forward to being done with diapers when the time comes even though we’ll be sad when they don’t quite fit to cuddle on our laps any more.  The moms I’ve talked to and from my personal experience, breastfeeding beyond 12 months isn’t about holding on to our child’s infancy, but there is a lot about embracing where they are in the moment.  If they still want to breastfeed, fine, no arbitrary date on a calendar they can’t read dictates their needs or our response.  As of yet there is no record of an adult needing their mother with them because they never weaned, really don’t think we need to worry about that.

Besides, breastfeeding a toddler or preschooler really is nothing like breastfeeding an infant.  Gymnurstics, squirmy excitement, multitasking, etc., one can’t be breastfeeding a toddler and think “aw, it’s just like cuddling them that first day!”  Even when they are falling asleep at the breast and miraculously still (and mom likely is falling asleep finally too) there’s nothing to confuse between those newborn tiny baby days where they fit into the crook of your arm at 7 pounds and the big ol’ toddler days with 30 pounds of limbs covering your lap.  I am never more aware of just how fast my daughter is growing up than in those moments and breastfeeding isn’t helping me hold on, it’s helping her hold on as she gradually transitions from baby to toddler to preschooler to school aged child.

Myth #2: Breastfeeding beyond the first year is for the mom’s benefit, not for the child.

This could only be said by someone that hasn’t breastfed beyond the first 12 months.  I can’t quite grasp this, I can’t get my child to give me a kiss, put on her shoes, or eat her food if she doesn’t want to, how in the world am I going to force her to breastfeed?  And why would I?  I mean, seriously, there are teeth in that mouth, for me to be willing to allow that mouth on my breast there has to be some very rearust established and I’m not going to risk getting bit just “for my benefit.”  And breastfeeding a toddler or preschooler isn’t all rainbow farting unicorns either, it can be very challenging and while I’m no martyr I’m also honest and realistic enough to admit that not only are there some special sweet moments breastfeeding beyond the first 12 months but there are also some crazy hard moments that I can’t stand.  Breastfeeding beyond the first 12 months isn’t for the mom’s benefit, it is for the mom and child’s benefit together.

Myth #3: Natural duration breastfeeding means a child won’t learn how to eat solids or use a cup.  Breastfeeding should stop when the child gets teeth.

Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?  Where did that idea come from?  Seriously, I can’t even begin to understand how someone made that rather large leap.  Some babies are born with teeth, some cut them as early as a 2-4 months.  Having teeth does not negate the nutritional and developmental requirements a child has.  Not all babies warm up to solids right away but generally toddlers grasp the concept of eating solids and drinking from a cup quite well.  One word for you: cheerios.  All my girls that breastfed beyond the first year were well into solids and drinking out of a cup by the time their first birthday rolled around.  Cake smashing was an event they enjoyed.  Avocado was a favorite first food as well as banana, sweet potatoes, and chicken, and more, all by the first year.  I have had my toddler finish at the breast and immediately sign “eat” or “drink.”  She’s not confused, she just wants to have her boob, her cup, her cake, and to eat it too.

So let me set the record straight: breastfeeding for long beyond the first 12 months will not inhibit a child’s developmental ability to eat and drink other foods.

Myth #4: Mothers that breastfeed beyond a year are trying to force all other mothers to breastfeed beyond a year even if other mothers are uncomfortable doing so.  Also, they judge any mother that doesn’t breastfeed beyond a year.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got my hands full trying to get my own kids to do things, I have absolutely no desire to try and get anyone else to do anything else.  Sharing information and promoting conversation is great, I’m all for it, but I don’t have the energy to force anyone to do anything.  Breastfeed, don’t breastfeed.  You don’t need my approval and I’m not looking to give it.  You can breastfeed for 3 minutes, 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, or 3 years, I will support you.  You may not breastfeed at all and whatever your reason, I can still support you as a person and fellow mother.  My choices are not a reaction nor a judgment on yours.  The information I share is not intended to guilt or to shame, simply share.  Conversation is great but if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine, there are lots of other people that do.

So now that we got that cleared up, let’s be friends.  You take care of your kids, I’ll take care of mine.  If we can learn from each other and encourage each other along the way, that would be awesome.  If not… I bet there’s a place where you can find that and it will work for you and some place else for me.

Myth #5: Breasts are for sex so breastfeeding past 12 months is sexual abuse.  Breasts are genitals and having a child suck on them is pedophilia.

Just… no.  This myth is one giant ball of NO.  Stop and think about it for just a minute.  There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING that would constitute as sexual abuse at 18 months that was acceptable to do to a child at 6 weeks.  People, please.  No.  Breastfeeding doesn’t suddenly turn into a sex act simply because of a birthday (or two or three).  Breasts have a powerful sexual attraction to them, biologically men are drawn to find female breasts attractive in looking for a mate.  Which makes sense because if they mate, well, breasts will be needed to feed the end result of that mating.  Babies need boobies.  Men are attracted to a mate that can feed babies.  It’s all kind of linked.  That doesn’t mean a child suckling at the breast is performing some kind of sexual act.  GIANT BALL OF NO.  Children are not sexually mature and hopefully a 3 year old hasn’t been exposed to the lies from society telling them that a woman’s body is first and foremost for the pleasure of others and selling things and all they know is that their mother is safe and warm and her milk is for them.  Children do not understand the concept of sex, that would be projecting adult ideas onto them.  In other words: if you see breastfeeding as a sexual act you have your own issues to deal with and you should leave the child out of it.

Myth #6: Breastfeeding after 12 months will cause a child mental health issues.

Thankfully, while there is a rise in mental health issues amongst today’s teens, breastfeeding does not appear to be related.  At. All.  Is “extended breastfeeding messing up our kids?”  The answer is a resounding no.

I’m willing to bet that if these naysayers against natural duration breastfeeding actually met most mothers who practiced natural duration breastfeeding out with her child, unless her child was actually breastfeeding when the encountered them, they would think she was a normal, healthy mother lovingly caring for her children.

And they would be right.

Because she is a normal, healthy mother lovingly caring for her children.

Maybe breastfeeding beyond a year isn’t for you, maybe you’re uncomfortable seeing it.  Maybe it’s no big deal to you and you have enjoyed that connection with your own child.  Let’s let the myths go, they cloud the issue and distract from open dialogue, breaking down what could otherwise be a supportive, encouraging exchange of ideas in conversation.

____________________

What other myths have you heard related to breastfeeding past the first 12 months?  What has been your experience breastfeeding beyond a year?

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Instagram and the global village of breastfeeding

It is said that it takes a village to bring up a child.  Do you have a village?

Once upon a time community was found while foraging, working, washing, around the well, in the birthing room, through places of worship, then in salons, on front porches, over quilts, around suffrage signs.  Most never moved too far from the place where they were born.  Children grew up aware of the work their parents did, helping at times, involved.  With the exception of Victorian era stodginess, much about the reality of life was shared openly, families just lived and extended family and friends involved.

Today the global village has expanded where we find community.  No longer are the borders of our village confined to our geographical context, we find our place through social media with our past, present, and future, via our interests, concerns, and passions.  We learn about life in our context and far beyond, broadening our perspective and opening our minds to other ways of living.  By sharing the exiting, the mundane, the average, and the significant parts of life, people are finding their village again.  In a time when it is easy to be isolated and alone, the internet is drawing people together.

All this and more is what I love about social media.  I found my village.

#beautifulBfing

On June 8th, as I headed out for a date with my husband, Jeremy Beyond Moi, I quickly checked The Leaky Boob Instagram account but was already logged into my personal account which I checked first.  I noticed a comment on one of my photos asking what happened to The Leaky Boob account on Instagram.  Unsure what she meant a knowing feeling came over me and I entered the login information for the account and received this screen.

TLBigDisabled

Hoping it was a mistake but suspecting it wasn’t I tried again.  Then checked my email and saw no email from Instagram so I tried again.  After 4 tries I gave up.  The account was indeed disabled.  This part of my village was gone.

I’ve checked every few days since.  Gone.

I wasn’t sure I had the energy for this.  It’s not the first time The Leaky Boob has had issues on a social media platform and the fight was starting to feel wearisome.  With our eldest daughter preparing to leave for the summer, 5 other kids at home, and work, I was feeling swamped as it was without this issue.  But this is part of my community and not just mine but thousands of others as well.

We want our village back.

On May 23rd I received a warning from Instagram that The Leaky Boob account had been flagged but with no details as to why.  It was the third warning I received within a week.  All that was included was that I supposedly violated the terms of service, terms that are conveniently vague at best, intentionally nebulous for subjective interpretation at worst.  I emailed requesting they let me know what images I posted violated what terms of service and received no reply.

Instagram warning email

Shortly after this, inspired by Instagram’s own weekend hashtag projects and user Instagram_kids, I started a new hashtag on Instagram, #beautifulbfing to encourage more sharing of breastfeeding photos and informed users.  Posting about it I asked users to use the hashtag and I would select from those images ones to feature, or regram, just as thousands of other users and brands, including Instagram’s own account, do.  With each post, I credited the user that posted it and only used images from the #beautifulbfing hashtag.  The #regram is the only way to share other posts and functions much like the Twitter retweet, the only current option Instagram has to compete.  Every image I shared was of a breastfeeding mother and was within Instagram’s terms of service regarding nudity.  While I had forgotten the terms of service to not post images that weren’t yours, I didn’t feel this was a problem as I had permission to use those photos and had modeled this sharing of these images after Instagram’s own usage.

Instagram weekend hashtag

Instagram Kids

There were no further warnings between the May 23rd email and the account being disabled on June 8th as well as no response to my inquires about the warnings I had received.  I received no warnings after I began sharing the images from the #beautifulbfing hashtag either.  Nothing, just the account disabled.  On June 9th there was another form email that someone had flagged my account and if the terms of service were violated the account could be disabled but no details as to why or how to contact Instagram to dispute.  My account was already gone.

Many don’t understand why images of breastfeeding are shared online, I go into that in my post about my struggle with Facebook over the same issue and you can read that here.  And to go ahead and address the inevitable boorish “peeing and taking a dump are natural but nobody wants to see pictures of that” read this and remember, we’re not talking waste, we’re talking nutrition for a baby, something mothers spend a significant amount of time doing and it’s a part of her life… her life that she shares with her community.  Don’t understand?  Simply put though, moms need to see breastfeeding, it’s important.  Others need to see breastfeeding to put a stop to the dehumanization of women through the over emphasis on the sexual nature of the female body.  Sharing these images is important because we need to culturally encourage moms to breastfeed and go beyond just lip service and accept them fully in society without penalizing them by requiring them to hide feeding their children.  Society needs to walk the talk.  What I said about why share breastfeeding images on Facebook applies to Facebook owned Instagram as well:

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.

Women used to see breastfeeding all around them in their community, it is only fairly recently with the advent of artificial breastmilk substitutes or formula that breastfeeding was considered something to be hidden.  Not sure about that?  Check out the number of historical paintings of religious and nonreligious nature depicting breastfeeding as well as the historical photographs from even the Victorian era that include breastfeeding mothers.  We’ve lost that presence of breastfeeding in our community and today new moms see it in their online village.  Breastfeeding may be natural but it needs to be learned and it’s learned by seeing others feed their baby.

I don’t know exactly why The Leaky Boob IG account was disabled, I have received no response to my inquires from Instagram.  My best guess is that the many breastfeeding images, my own, were flagged by other users.  It is possible that Instagram decided to disable the account because of the #regram sharing, singling out The Leaky Boob to enforce this rule while blatantly ignoring it themselves and with other brands.  I don’t know.  But I do know that Instagram has shut down a resource that connected thousands of women and served as one of the avenues of the global village supporting breastfeeding.  In doing so Instagram has essentially said that breastfeeding women are not welcome and sends a conflicting message that may cause breastfeeding moms to question:

 

…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.

 

Maybe you’re uncomfortable seeing images of breastfeeding, that’s ok.  In time, with enough moms openly feeding their babies and sharing the experience with their village, you’ll get more comfortable with it.  For now though, just look away, scroll right past it, and remember that a woman feeding her baby is still a person and her child’s right to eat may just supersede your right to be comfortable.  And the law agrees with that.

Help us bring back The Leaky Boob on Instagram.  Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, has permitted breastfeeding images to be shared according to their terms of service, we need to pressure Instagram to do the same and to stop discriminating against breastfeeding mothers and the feeding children.

Instagram bring back TLB

What can you do?

Join the Facebook page: Instagram, stop discriminating against breastfeeding mothers and babies

Sign this petition.

Tweet and post on Instagram and Facebook using the hashtags #beautifulbfing #bringbackTLB #stopbfingdiscrimination #normalizebreastfeeding and tag @Instagram to let them know.

Share this post with your village.

Sharing breastfeeding images isn’t for everyone, individual comfort level may prohibit you from sharing.  But if you are comfortable sharing your breastfeeding photos, please do and we’d love to see.

Follow jmartinweber on Instagram for more updates on the situation with The Leaky Boob IG account.

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edited: In less than an hour of publishing this post and in only 20 minutes of sharing it on Facebook, I received the following email:

IG apologizes for mistake

 

While I’m grateful they acted fast to reinstate my account once I took this issue public, I’m not satisfied.  Nobody should be afraid their account will be suspended if they share breastfeeding photos.  Rather, Instagram needs to clearly outline in their terms of service that breastfeeding photos are permitted and have a system in place to be sure images and accounts are viewed after a flagging so as compliant accounts and images are not deleted.  Please continue to speak up for all breastfeeding women and let Instagram know their policy needs to change NOW.

Mom Power

this post made possible in part by the generous support of Fairhaven Health.


Mom Power Confidence meme

I am a strong mom.

I am a powerful mom.

I help support moms.  Strong moms.  Which is a bit redundant.  Because moms are strong.

I help support powerful moms.

Also redundant.  All moms are powerful.

And we don’t need a company to tell us so.

Nor do we need others to tell us so.

But it can help to hear it from others, it can be encouraging and it can even reveal the inner power we already have but maybe lacked the confidence to recognize and engage.  It doesn’t give us power though because we already have it, just like we’re already strong.  We’re moms

We have Mom Power.

 

The power to hope.

The power to dream.

The power to speak up for the oppressed.

The power to love with nothing in return.

The power to face fear and continue on.

The power to know when to use our strength.

The power to know when to use our gentleness.

The power to see beyond themselves.

The power to cry.

The power to celebrate.

The power to be fun.

The power to deserve trust.

 

I know this power well but I haven’t always been aware of it in myself.  Insecurities and certain messages had me doubting my own power, denying it, and hiding it.  Sometimes that insecurity led to me judging and belittling others.  Shame.  Such an ugly thing, shame.  It’s a perverted power, one that controls instead of frees.  Because of my own shame I have had times of allowing my filters interpret information as attacking.  With shame, I’ve put down others if I felt they didn’t try hard enough at something I thought was important.  *cough* breastfeeding *cough*  But real Mom Power doesn’t need gimmicks like shame or pretend mommy wars to own it’s strength.  Real Mom Power doesn’t resort to unsupportive support.  It has nothing to sell.  Mom Power can see through ‘all that and get straight to the heart of things.  I see it every single day in the community of The Leaky Boob Facebook page and twitter.

 

The power to let go of shame.

The power to forgive.

The power to listen.

The power to be understanding.

The power to learn from mistakes.

The power to care for others.

The power to share experiences.

The power to offer support.

The power to disagree with respect.

The power to stand for our convictions.

The power to resist fighting when it won’t help gain ground.

The power to make peace.

The power to own our feelings.

The power to see through marketing.

 

Perhaps the most important parenting tool we can have is confidence.  Confidence isn’t arrogantly proceeding as though one is always right.  Confidence is believing in yourself and your ability to handle what comes your way.  Insecurity can lead to rejecting learning opportunities, fear can diminish our willingness to grow, but confidence inspires constant adjusting according to new concepts and ideas.  With confidence it is easier to acknowledge mistakes, reduce stress, and not internalize information and the choices of others that we may disagree with.  A confident parent isn’t perfect and doesn’t have it all figured out but they are well equipped to do so.

 

The power to learn.

The power to grow.

The power to adjust.

The power to have compassion.

The power to teach compassion

The power to be humble

The power to make difficult decisions.

The power to evaluate our circumstances.

The power to analyze information.

The power to take responsibility.

 

Most of us don’t need to be “empowered” we just need to not be afraid of the power we already have.  As my friend Amber McCann, IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) from the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburg put it “Power is being able, in whatever moment you are facing, to do whatever it is you’d like to do. That you feel as though you can jump over the obstacles. It is also in recognizing what the right choice is for you even when one of those barriers is in your way.”

And according to my 12 year old Storyteller: “When I think of Mom Power I think of a phoenix, pretty and strong and enduring.  Moms don’t give up.  That’s Mom Power.”

Moms, I believe in you, I hope you can believe in yourself and in each other.  Whatever your journey and wherever you are, whatever circumstances you’ve had to navigate, you are strong and have Mom Power.  Mom Power is an indisputable force if we can have the confidence to tap into it.  It’s not a product, it’s not a company, not an organization, not a campaign, not a marketing strategy… it’s moms.  A dear, dear friend of mine, Kathy, a local IBCLC and labor and delivery RN, once told me that the reason she’s involved in birth and breastfeeding is because that’s where the foundation of confident parenting is laid.  She wants to be on the front end of making the world a better place.  Which is what I’m all about.  If I want to change the world and make it a better place then start with helping make better people.  And there is nothing, no product, no organization, no campaign, no marketing strategy that can do that like pure, good ol’ Mom Power.

IBCLCs, Negative Experiences, and Self-Advocacy

 

 

This post made possible in part by the generous support of Boba, makers of the Boba Baby Carrier.

Jessica and Sugarbaby Bfing

When my daughter was entering the 2nd grade at our local public school, we were all enthusiastic about the coming year.  She loved school, loved learning, loved everything about it.  But just a few short weeks into the school year things we drastically different.  She cried all the time, she hated going to school, she started struggling with school work, and every day she complained that her tummy hurt and she was too sick to go to school.  We were confused.  What had happened to our little girl?

It quickly became apparent that while there were multiple issues going on that I won’t go into here except to say there were some technical difficulties and an adjustment period that needed to happen.  Still, there was one particular issue that emerged as being critical: she didn’t like her teacher.  Believing we need to encourage her to work with people, even ones she didn’t like, The Piano Man and I tried to help her navigate this relationship.  This proved to be more challenging than we expected because, as it turned out, we didn’t like her either.  She simply wasn’t the kind of person we thought would be teaching second grade.  Or teaching at all.  Grough, grumpy, rarely smiled, she came across as cold and distant.  Suddenly, challenges our daughter had previously felt empowered to tackle loomed as impossible mountains.  Intimidated by the one she thought was there to guide and support her in facing these challenges, she withdrew and began to give up.

We tried to work with the school and the teacher but in a short amount of time we felt we needed to explore other options and ended up transferring schools.  It was that, or risk killing our daughter’s love for learning and that simply wasn’t something we were willing to sacrifice.

When we visited the new school Earth Baby was nervous about meeting the 2nd grade teacher.  Gripping my hand she whispered “I don’t like 2nd grade teachers, they are mean.”  I was surprised she had already jumped to a conclusion about a group of people based on her experience with just one of that group.  Given that she was 7 at the time, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised at such an immature response but I felt that we had worked hard to help our children understand how individuals can be so different.  Encouraging her to remember that Miss B. would be a person first, a 2nd grade teacher second, we met with the teacher.  Gentle, kind, friendly, and very warm, Miss B. proved to be the opposite of the previous 2nd grade teacher and Earth Baby ended up flourishing in her class.  Inspired with hope and confidence, Earth Baby made a lifelong friend in her teacher (and is seeing her this summer) and not only met but surpassed her goals for the year with an enflamed love of learning.  Interestingly enough, now she will talk about how wonderful 2nd grade teachers are and being a teacher is in her top 5 career options.

Why am I sharing this story on a breastfeeding site?  Moms often come to TLB looking for breastfeeding support. The support they are looking for is usually just about what is normal in breastfeeding journeys, the mom-to-mom support of experience and camaraderie.  Sometimes it’s for issues that are outside of normal and require more expertise support and help.  It isn’t uncommon for a Leaky and/or one of the admin to recommend seeing an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) for experienced and trained support.  These experts are usually the most equipped to help moms with true lactation problems having gone through intense training and having to comply to regular board standards in their continuing education and certification.  Just as often, someone then shares their negative experience with an IBCLC.  Frustrated and hurt, these women sometimes share that an IBCLC almost ruined their breastfeeding relationship with misinformation, intimidating and overwhelming directions, and sometimes down right bullying.

Find the right IBCLC

From these comments it sometimes sounds as though they fear all IBCLCs will be just like the negative experience they had.  Hurt and discouraged by the one or two individuals they encountered in the profession, they are unsure they can trust anyone with the title and position.  Like my daughter felt unsure about 2nd grade teachers, these moms are skeptical of the entire IBCLC profession, not because they don’t know that they are all different people but because they may believe that what they didn’t like is actually expected to be a part of the profession.  As if the consultants are trained to support that way.  Just as with any profession, there are individuals within the lactation consultant profession that are rude, unsupportive, not helpful, judgmental, dismissive, and misinformed. Thankfully, most I’ve met go into supporting breastfeeding moms because they genuinely care and want to help moms reach their breastfeeding goals.  The IBCLCs I’ve interacted with understand the vulnerable nature of that time in a mother’s life and the importance of providing the right kind of support.  Most IBCLCs aren’t in the profession to push an agenda or tell moms what to do, they genuinely seek to provide legitimate support unique to each mothers’ needs.  Sure, I’ve met a few that seemed burned out and dogmatic just like my daughter’s first second grade teacher, but just like most 2nd grade teachers actually enjoy children and teaching, so most IBCLCs aim to provide sincere information and assistance.  I encourage moms that need lactation support to move on from someone that isn’t supportive to find someone that’s a better fit.   It’s that, or risk not reaching your breastfeeding goals and that simply isn’t something we should be willing to sacrifice without a fight.

I am aware that for many, a second choice, let alone a third or fourth, isn’t readily available.  Financial restrictions, local availability, and even cultural support from family and friends can make it difficult to find someone.  Sometimes, shoot, maybe often, the support you need will find you in unexpected places such as the internet or a new friend.  Moms may have to try other paths for lactation support such as virtual appointments via the web or attending a local breastfeeding support group or even reading articles online.  Whatever it takes, pushing on to find the support you need may be work but you and your baby are worth it.

You don’t have to be stuck with a professional providing inadequate support.  In the end, you are the biggest advocate for you and your child and if advocating for you both means moving on to find the assistance you need, you won’t regret doing so.  As Leaky and IBCLC Jackie Rauch shared:

I will sometimes tell my clients the story of me seeking her out just to let them know that even the people with the knowledge need to seek out help from people with the knowledge. If you are not getting the help you need, keep looking!

You never know, you may find the one that helps you turn it all around and inspires you with hope and confidence.

Need a lactation consultant?  This site can help you find one.

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What about you?  What has your experience with an IBCLC or other lactation professional been like?  Did you have to find someone else for better support at some point?  Did an IBCLC or other lactation professional help you in your breastfeeding journey?  Check out the conversation we’re having on this very topic over on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page

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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.

 

Tips and Tricks from the pros- Moms and IBCLCs on biting and breastfeeding

My journey with biting and breastfeeding has been full of ups and downs.  I shared some of my story in this post about how I handled Earth Baby biting me by going against my instincts and flicking her on the cheek which led to a nursing strike and then weaning.  After that experience I began looking for more gentle ways to respond to my baby biting while at the breast and found some methods to be very effective for our family.

Biting comes up so often in conversations about nursing I decided to see what others would suggest to stop the behavior and save the boobs.  Sending out my question to the great world of Twitter, I got some great replies from some wonderful IBCLCs.

Practical tips for dealing with biting from tweeting IBCLCs

@NortoriousStar, Star Rodriquez, IBCLC (Facebook)

“I usually tell clients that their baby had to break suction to bite, so if they have a biter, to pull them off as soon as that happens. You have to pay attention and be fast, but removing the breast when they think about biting? That works well as negative reinforcement.  The fact that you’re removing the breast is negative reinforcement. Not all babies bite because they are done…and if they seem to want to nurse afterward, I usually waited a 2-3mins (and up to 5 if they actually bit.) It was a more gentle negative.”

@FeedYourBaby, Denise Altmen, IBCLC (website)

“Rub the baby’s gumline with a cold/damp textured washcloth using gentle pressure right before (breastfeeding).”

@NurtureNormally, Melissa, IBCLC (website)

“Take a break when it happens. Prevent w/pre-feeding cold.  Pre-feed cold: cooling/numbing baby’s gums with a damp, frozen cloth. Some moms make BM “popsicles” for this purpose.  Or make BM ice cubes and put them in a mesh feeder. Numbs gums so baby is more comfortable before a feed.  Also, some moms are able to begin to recognize when a feeding is ending (when most babes tend to bite) and end feed b4 bite.  Feeding slows significantly. Also, some babes tend to “quiver” their jaws before a bite and moms can use that as a signal.”

@Stylin_Momma, Katy Linda, IBCLC (website)

“I’d focus on comfort of the baby. Frozen wet wash clothes, ice cube in a mesh feeder, etc.  If you can get them comfortable before they nurse, they’re less likely to bite. Also, check latch, babies can change position to their comfort level when teething, and sometimes a quick adjustment can make a world of difference.”

@BreastfeedingNY, Deidre McLary, IBCLC (website)

“Swift, firm, consistent response: unlatch, say “NO, biting hurts”, put baby down, walk away.  Don’t reward behavior by keeping baby nursing. Take short break, separate. Baby learns biting = END of bfing session.

@DianaIBCLC, Dianna Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC (website)

“Press baby in, he’ll have to open mouth to breathe. Toddler? Firmly say ‘no bite!’ and put him on floor facing away.”

After sharing how flicking Earth Baby on the cheek to stop her biting led to early weaning at 10 months, I asked the Leakies on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page for their experience and any tips they had to gently stop biting.  Here’s a sample of their comments and you can find the original thread by following this link.

Leakies share how they handle biting

After sharing how flicking Earth Baby on the cheek to stop her biting led to early weaning at 10 months, I asked the Leakies on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page for their experience and any tips they had to gently stop biting.  Here’s a sample of their comments and you can find the entire original thread by following this link.

Kayla: We stop immediately.

Rose: Take him off (usually after forcing his teeth apart as he clamps rather than just bites) and sit him down next to me. I then tell him no I’m a stern voice and say ‘that hurts mummy, we don’t hurt people we love people.

Claire: my son never bit (thankfully) !! *phew*

Alishia: When mine bit me I would take her off and tell her in a calm but firm voice “no.”

Jennifer: My older daughter only bit me a few times, and never on purpose. I pulled back instinctively from the pain, but didn’t make a big deal out of it. She also bit my shoulder (hard!) when she was teething, so I know it was just her way of dealing with the discomfort of her teething.

Tonia: I say ouch, no bite and take the boob away, for 5-10 minutes and put the baby down. It only takes 2-3 times, I’ve done it with all 3 of my kids.

Jennifer: I just have to say, “OW!” and my little gal has a freak attack. People told me to flick her on the cheek and I was uhm, no. Poor little punkin’ doesn’t like just OW so I can’t imagine what flicking would do to her!

Tracy: My kids didn’t bite until they were older, over a year. so we ended the nursing session immediately when biting occurred.

Hayley: I’ve heard to pull their head into your boob and that is meant to work, never tried it as ds didn’t bite.

Kate: I found that my children mostly only bit me near the end of the feed when they were no longer hungry. So if they bit, that was the end of the feed for then. Worked great, hardly ever bitten.

Elle: I tell her no say ow & take it away for a few minutes. She only bites when she is sleeping now, and I’m learning when to take it out & when to leave it be.

Ashley: I tried the flick method and my demon seed laughed and bit me again. That’s what I deserve I guess.

Amy: I pop him off the boob, say “we don’t bite the boobie!” And give a break for a little while then try again… Still working on it.

Brandilynn: I slip my pinky between his gums so he can’t bite down any harder and tell him no biting mama, he can’t nurse if he’s going to bite me right now and take him off.

The Hook Up: my little one bit quite a few times. I always gasped (not on purpose, but it did startle him!) and firmly said NO and showed a mean face. He got it after a time or two, and there was no physical “punishment.”

Laura: I’ve always just yelped and yanked off for a minute. I’ve had to pry my little guy off a few times because he’s got a mean streak and will bite when he’s in a bad mood.

Kit: With my DD, what had it come and go fairly quickly was to detach her, sit her facing me, and tell her “no, we don’t bite. That hurts mommy and mommy doesn’t like it.” When she would pout, I’d give her a hug, tell her that she can’t do that because it hurts, and put let her relatch. I had to be consistent and it took a few weeks, but it worked, and it stopped completely. We nursed for another 4 months or so after our last biting incident.

Jessica: My method is to scream, “Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Kovi, please stop!” lol. I can’t say it’s terrible effective, but it’s the only thing I can manage to say/do at all.

Vicki: I used to put my finger in DD’s mouth to unlatch her, then progressed to pushing her head into my breast and now at 19 months saying no very very firmly and pinching her nose. She usually laughs at me though but only bites when teething now.

Leanne: I just yelped which startled baby enough to stop then relatch and carry on. If it happened again I would remove baby and put boob away for a minute. It did work eventually! Biting really hurts!

Karen: Well, first I yelped “Aaaahhh” and it startled him enough to break suction. Then I looked him in the eye and said, “Ouch, biting hurts!” Babies are usually empathetic enough to understand the sad and hurt look on Mom’s face.

Misty: When he bites I tell him no and sit him on the floor. He cries for a few seconds then I pick him up and let him nurse again. Normally, this stops the biting.

Tristen: I have put my son down, I also flicked his cheek and felt how wrong it was. I have had to step back and realize he only bit when dealing with teething pain so I addressed the teething pain and the biting all but stopped.

Jeanette: Sometimes I gently pinch my Daisy’s chin. She just laughs at me. If I ‘close up shop’ she gets mad and cries. I always, always give in and put her back on the boob. If she does it at night while we’re laying down, I know it just isn’t time for her to go to sleep yet. I haven’t really gotten her to stop biting (not that its that often) and I don’t think I will. I am just happy that we are still nursing strong at 16 months!

Nichole: When mine bit I gently pulled them off, placed my fingers to their lips and said no bite in a firm tone.

Jenna: I told both my daughters ‘ouch, that hurts’ and made a sad face. After a few times of that, they stopped. I think it was just a phase anyhow.

Erica: We used Kellymom’s smush the face into the boob technique.

Elisa: Sometimes just ignoring it works. My son thought it was funny when I would say ouch, or yelp. So I just didn’t say anything, unlatched him and put him down. He stopped within days.

Lauren: Biting led us to a 2 day wean at 1 yr and 2 days. She ripped open my nipple for the second time and it became too painful to nurse. I tried holding her nose to get her to unclench as well as yelling no. (she’d been biting for over two weeks and drawing blood) Nothing worked. My aunt, who nursed three babies, gave me the advice to yell no and set them down far away from you, ending the nursing session. I think this would have worked but we never got the chance to try it because I received the advice the day we weaned for good.

Ginny: Whenever my boys nipped me when nursing I would gently slide a finger between their mouth and my breast to break the latch and say a stern ‘No!’. I’d then lay them next to me for 30 seconds before re latching them. I found this worked well and continued to breastfeed both sets of twins to over 12 months.

Victoria: I was told by my breast feeding support group to take the baby off the breast, put them down & in a firm voice tell him not to bite because it hurts. This wasn’t very effective at first until I started putting him down & walking away out of the room. When he realized that he wasnt getting milk or mummy he soon stopped.

Amanda: I would blow quickly on his face to get him to stop and then put him down. If he came back we would try it again. It only took a couple of tries before he stopped.

Amanda: I always said ouch and would take them off and say ouch that hurts mommy, then put them back on.

Maureen: It makes me terrified to put my nursling back on after he bites, but I realized that he only bites when he’s done and just wants to play- so paying attention to when your nursling bites is a good idea. I also yell every time because I can’t help it! It hurts! I wish I didn’t!

Jessica: I just push my breast further into her mouth, most of the time she bites because her latch is lazy and she’s not paying attention. That makes her open wider and latch better, which in turn stops the biting.

Ginny: I yelp and say no biting.. and put it away for ten minutes or so.

Chelsea: When I realized my daughter was starting on that phase, I waited, finger ready, and popped her off as soon as she began to bite down. I didn’t even set her down, just said, “That hurts Mama” very calmly, and waited a few minutes before resuming nursing. She would get so upset at her dinner being interrupted, but it only took a couple of times for her to realize that biting accomplished exactly the opposite of what she wanted it to. I figured out incredibly quickly that the worst thing I could do was react a lot-she thought it was funny. But I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting her feelings, so popping her off was the most I could bring myself to do.

Natalie: I wish I could say I reacted all nice and calm. In reality I was reading while she was nursing, so the bite was completely unexpected. I screamed and bopped her on the forehead, she popped off the boob and cried a bit, I apologized to her and said “We don’t bite Mommy.” She resumed nursing and never bit me again.

Nicole: I firmly tell her no, put her down somewhere safe and give her something she can chew on. Sometimes I give her a cold teething ring before nursing if I know she is teething to help prevent bites. We seem to have this issue for about a week right before/after a new tooth.

Amanda: I went with my instincts (which I have learned are never wrong when it comes to mothering) and let out a gentle “ouch”, made a very sad face, and said, “that hurts mommy”. I also paid attention to when it was happening.. often it was when I was watching TV or looking at my phone while nursing, Emmaline wanted eyes on her, my hand ruffling her hair or massaging her ear.

Amy: I was told to press my baby’s face into my boob; forcing him to break the latch since he couldn’t breathe.   I’ve had yet to do it.

Ariel: just unlatch him/her every time they do it for 5-10 seconds.

Stacy: The first time my son bit me I immediately took him off the breast for a few minutes. I only had to do this a few times before he figured out that biting = no boobie.

Margaret: I yelp, “OUCH” and pull him off. Usually it results in tears. Its never resulted in a nursing strike even though I yelp pretty loud (I’m not one of those people that can hold it in when I’m hurt by surprise). He’s still nursing even though i’m 11w pregnant and dried up!!!!!

Richain: My first only bit a couple of times but learn quickly that mommy wasn’t kidding around. He would bite, I would say OUCH! That hurt mommy! I would separate him and remove him from my lap to the floor (safe place) for a minute then pick him back up and nurse again. He was a quick learner… biting means nursing time is cut short. My second nursling has not bitten yet… but teething has started

CaryAnn: Honestly? I couldn’t handle it and began weaning. I tried “no biting!” a few times first.

Lori: With my oldest, he bit me at 7mos and we stopped nursing and started pumping til 1 yr. With Judah, I just put up with the biting. I have tried “no bite”, stopping the feeding, pinching, flicking, and he still bites. He started biting at 3mos and just turned a year. It’s not intentional/malicious, so I guess you just get used to it.

Krista: I just pull them closer in to me..so they are forced to release their bite (my little one would bite and not let go!). Then I say firmly, “No biting.” You just want to get their attention and interrupt their eating. They’ll look at you like, “what’s going on? Why’d you stop?” Do that enough times and they should get the hint.

Marilyn: Say OW LOL I push her face into my boob a bit, makes her let go because she thinks she can’t breath. then I look at her and say We don’t bite, that hurts mama. She onlyseems to bite when she is semi interested so I usually stop the feed right then and there too. resume later.

Lucile: With my first child I’d say: “no biting, biting hurts” for the first bite. For the second bite in a row I’d repeat it and add “if you keep biting I’ll take it away.” The third bite I’d put her down and say “OK, you’re done.” Sometimes she cried, but I drew the line at being a chew toy! With my second, I’m more aware that she bites when she’s having teething pain or is bored with nursing and feeling devilish. I can usually anticipate a bite and detach; if not I do the same as above. I usually give her something she CAN bite and say “if you want to bite, chew on this.” In my experience, biting comes and goes, so you may have to repeat this lesson several times.

Erin: I bring the baby in very close (covering the nose so she’ll let go) and then end the feeding right then. I also found that *most* of the time I could prevent the biting by paying attention. A baby who is actively nursing can’t bite, and my kids all have bitten me when they were done nursing and just hanging around. So I became very vigilant and watched for an end to the active suckling. One of my kids actually got a “naughty look” on her face right before she was going to bite. And I found that if I was multitasking while nursing, my kids were more likely to bite because I wasn’t giving them my undivided attention.   So I just watched them closely, and ended the feeding with a frown if they bit. They learned pretty fast that if they wanted to nurse, then no biting.

Aimee: Mine only bit if there wasn’t really any interest in nursing right then (shallow, lazy latch), so I just closed up shop and tried again later. Easy for everyone involved. 🙂

Marta: Jonathan has been very gentle over the past 13 months, but there have been bitings here and there. I immediately remove him when that happens. Although sometimes I know his biting/painful latch is related to teething, and then I usually just go with it, because I know he didn’t intend to do it, he is just in pain himself.

Fonta: I was taught by my midwife to push the boob into their face which smothers them for an instant and they always let go and it only takes a few times…very effective and still loving.

Sarah: I’ve definitely got a little nibbler on my hands. She’s almost 10 months and has had teeth since 4 months. I just pry her mouth open and unlatch her and set her down on the floor. She gets the point quickly! And typically only bites when she’s teething or not really interested in nursing. The worst is when she’s falling asleep. Oouuuch!!

Carissa: My little one only bites after she has finished feeding so I just make sure I detach her when she has stopped actively suckling. I’ve tried saying no firmly and detaching her as soon as she bites, but because she’s already full she doesn’t care. The thing I’ve noticed is the more I react the more she enjoys doing it… She giggles and bites harder if a yelp!

Colleen: Take her off and set her on the floor. A baby cannot nurse and bite at the same time. Clearly she was just playing or wanting my attention. 😉

Cheryl: With my LO, I just put up with the biting. From what I’ve seen, biting can be a sign of frustration (at least, past the exploratory stage – mine is 17 months and still does it!) so when she bites, I take the boobies away and try to remove whatever is frustrating her before she nurses again. It usually works – even a sippy of milk to quench her thirst helps sometimes, if she is frustrated by not getting enough milk.  When she does bite, I either slip my finger in her mouth to release the bite or pull her towards my breast, basically smothering her with it LOL but she has to open her mouth to breathe, so she lets go. She is doing it less and less now, the more I do that.

Shauna: When my 14 month old bites I put my pinky inside his mouth and gently pull his lip in a fishhook type motion which distracts him and he let’s go and I try to communicate “gentle, no biting please” sometimes it works 🙂

Anna: In a light hearted voice I said ” oh?! You’re finished???” and take him off and our my bra back on. He looked confused then I’d bring him back to the breast… If he did it again, I’d repeat. I never caused him any distress but he got the hint – if he but I thought it meant he was finished!

Melissa: Nothing. Absolutely nothing has worked for my son. So every feeding, without fail, he bites. And now that I’m pregnant too, the pain is unbearable, but I don’t have the heart to wean my baby.

April: I have to be VERY attentive and just stop it before it happens.

Rebecca: I jumped because I wasn’t expecting it… Was chatting at the time to a friend. But since I just tickle her feet (10month old) as she is very ticklish… And makes her laugh. I Don’t make a big deal of it and couldn’t upset her because I know she doesn’t understand that it actually hurts me.

Molly: With our girls I yelped (not exactly a plan, it hurts!) and blew in their face. That was unpleasant for them while nursing but not painful. If they bit more than once in a session they were done. All three figured it out fairly quickly, even at 3, 4 and 5 months when they got their first teeth.

Nicole: The first time my little one clamped down on my boob I yelled ow pretty loud because it shocked me. She let go really quick and looked up at me to see why I yelled.  She’s done it a few times after that so I just tell her no biting and put her down. She’ll cry for a bit then we’ll resume. Pulling her into my breast doesn’t work. She actually pushes her face into my breast before she bites sometimes (advance warning for me).

Michelle: It doesn’t work immediately but I always push on their teeth/gums and tell them no bite every time.

Kasey: The first time I told her No Bite! In a firm voice and she cried so hard. I felt terrible. She has done it a few times since but not like that first time so I am hoping I got the point across.

Tamara: Watch for circumstances that tend to lead to biting like being really tired, being at the end of a feed (baby being satisfied), teething pain or frustration. Watch for the baby to pull to the tip of your nipple. My experience is that they usually pull to the tip before biting.) When you notice any of those things, unlatch the baby. Really watch baby every time for common factors that proceed the biting.  If you can’t get ahead of the biting and she clamps down, first don’t pull away. Pull baby close. This prevents extra pain, and a lot of babies will unlatch at this point. If she doesn’t unlatch at this point, unlatch her yourself. Find something that you say every time it happens. I said, “No bite. When you bite, you don’t eat.” (If they bite while latched, they’re not eating anyway.) Then wait a few minutes before offering the breast again. If that means rehooking the nursing bra, pulling your shirt over the breast so that baby can’t relatch, do that. If baby is interested in resuming the feed after a minute or two, offer the breast and repeat what you said earlier. (I would say, “Remember: No biting. When you bite, you don’t eat.”) If baby relatches and bites again, follow the process again except completely end the nursing session. My experience is that if it’s not a problem of baby being in pain, they bite when they are finished eating anyway.  You will go through the process several times before the baby gets it. (Tristan continued to do it for a while but gradually got to where it rarely ever happened at all–like once a month when teething was a problem or when he hadn’t napped enough–until he just hasn’t done it at all for a long time.) It’s a learning process, so remember to have patience and love in your demeanor no matter how much it hurts.

Kari: Mine only bites with teething, thank God he still has no teeth. But I pinch his nose and he pulls off, and doesn’t continue to do it.

Rachel: I learned to stand on guard with my finger near his mouth… I could tell when he was about to clamp down and would insert my finger, remove him, and walk away.

Melissa: I flicked my first nursling too, worked great, but my second was sensitive so I would cry from pain and refuse to nurse for a minute or two and then relatch while holding his hand and teaching “soft touches”. Worked great, so that’s what I’m doing with number 3 too.

Lorna: Using baby signing to signal pain helps get the message across too.

Tracie: I tapped my babies on the nose and said no. This worked with all 9 of mine.

Stephanie: I would unlatch my son, sit him down, adjust my shirt, tell him my breasts were in time out, get a cup of water for myself, and come back. It only took 3-4 times for him to get it, but I left the room so he could see the result of biting.

Kinberely: I thought that with my son it was a cue to end nursing but when I’d unlatch he’d route around to feed again, think he is hungry just teething too.

Heather: Easy, I tickle them!! 😀 they get distracted, giggle and let go!

Katherine: The first time my soon bit me I didn’t even think before I flicked him. He cried but never bit me again. I felt horrible though. With my daughter she has bit me a few times, the first time was right after her sister was born and I was so sore that all I could do was cry which freaked her out. My husband had to take her and was more upset it than I was, I was sad that I scared her but it hurt SO much. She has nipped me a few more times but each time I tell her no, tell her to be gentle with mommy’s breasts, and have stopped nursing her for a minute so she understands that if she’s not gentle I’ll take the breast away. She hasn’t bit me in a few weeks so I think she got the point. She’s moved on to putting her fingers in mouth or holding hands with her sister while they nurse. Way cuter than biting.

Ma Ma: The first time I pressed her into the breast to make her release and said no and showed the sign for no. She was teething her first two teeth at the time. A couple days later she bit down pretty hard! I said no and signed it then sat her down on the floor (I was in the chair) she cried and didn’t nurse for two days (except for at night when she was half asleep). That nursing strike scared me so bad and I thought she was gonna stop nursing at 8 months…I remember sitting in bed with her that second night saying it was ok and mama wanted her to nurse. She would move in and then shake her head and cry 🙁 I was crying too. I finally think she just understood and it was ok but just not to bite because when I finally got her to latch (while she was crying) she tested the nipple with her Lil gums and then when she went to with her teeth I said “no teeth…hurts mama” we got passed that and now she’s 13 months old and we’re nursing strong.

Aliza: Wow Jessica, a very similar thing happened to my 10 month old, she bit, and I screamed very loud… and she never nursed again, I had to pump for another 7 months. She finally tried nursing again recently at 22 months! But at that point there was no more milk.

Dorothy: It’s depended on his level of understanding. Generally, a quick re-latch did the trick. Though if he was cutting a tooth it often took several tries. Once I could tell the difference between accidental biting and purposeful biting, I would simply end the nursing session with a “NO BITING!” (Stern not loud). Generally, I’d unlatch, cover-up, if he cried I’d make him wait 5 minutes and let him back. Sometimes he was done but decided my nipple was a better toy. I could tell because he’d unlatch and go play.

Kivy: I’m exactly where you are. “pressing the baby into the breast” seems to work and be more gentle, but honestly, it freaks me out when she gasps for air. She seems less bothered than by the flicking, but it’s more disturbing for me.

Amber: Flicking worked wonders for me. Didn’t slow any of my 3 down for nursing, but it curbed the biting. I’m so very sorry that it didn’t work for you. I’ve heard the putting them down, away from you, works too. I could imagine that might traumatize the right child too though. I imagine it’s all about your child and what work for them.

Adventurous Shoestrings: After trying bad advice, I called my local LLL chapter and received a great tip. I told my then 7 month old “no biting” before our nursing sessions. If he bit after hat, I would break the latch and say “biting hurts mommy.” I would end the session and reoffer if he wanted to nurse. I also tried offering a teething ring before nursing or right after a biting incident. It worked for us.

Paula: I didn’t have too much trouble with dead on biting, but there was lots of messing around. I just kept removing the boob each time it happen and talked sternly. If you bite me I can’t nurse you. Eventually, I had to wean the first at almost three because he sort of forgot how to nurse when the milk dried up during my pregnancy with the second. The second I nursed til almost 4, and just had to gradually shorten the time, because, frankly, I was done. But the removing the boob thing really checked the naughty stuff. I mean when they start chomping and look up at you and smirk, you know, they know that they are pushing it. But it is so cute.

 

What you chose

Remember, it may take a combination of approaches to stop your nursling from biting and it can be done gently, without flicking or scaring your child.  Be consistent and as patient as you can with the process.  You don’t need to be a martyr, it’s ok to want the breastfeeding relationship to be mutually positive and beneficial for both you and your babe.  Setting boundaries, even with a young one, that respect your physical person are important and won’t damage your relationship with your child, in fact, it can be very healthy for both of you and be a critical part for a long lasting, pleasant breastfeeding experience.

 

Caution

Sometimes I see it recommended to numb the baby’s gums with a numbing agent designed for teething just before bringing them to the breast.  My concern with this would be the potential problem that can come from a child swallowing the numbing agent, losing feeling in their tongue and throat.  The potential risk for choking and poor latch don’t seem worth the attempt when there are other safe and effective options available.  If you choose to use a numbing agent on your child’s gums to help with teething pain, waiting until after a feeding is probably the safest time to do so.


 

All images used with permission and generously shared by the Leakies on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page.

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What time would you share with someone that has just started dealing with biting at the breast?  

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Exploring the “body fluids” debate about breastfeeding in public

As a culture we give so much lip service to breastfeeding being “best,” “natural,” etcetera but the reality is that is still not the cultural norm.  Sure, women are judged for not breastfeeding all the time but our culture isn’t actually supporting breastfeeding beyond using it as fodder for flaming mommy wars.  This reality is never more tangible than when a breastfeeding mother gets asked to move, leave, or otherwise change how she’s breastfeeding her child in a public setting.  When the media takes up the story before you know it further proof that understanding and support of breastfeeding is lacking culturally exhibits itself boldly with comparisons of bodily functions or sex acts done in public to breastfeeding in public.  Their point being that breastfeeding in public is just as unacceptable in our culture (according to that individual anyway) as any of those other acts.

Right, because feeding your baby and pooping/peeing or any sex act are so alike.

While it may seem obvious to most that there isn’t really any social, cultural, or medical similarities between breastfeeding and defecating in public, urinating in public, masturbation or oral sex in public, or even sex in public, some individuals insist on drawing the comparison.  A lot, actually.  Why?  I’m not sure but my best guess is shock value, as though they can prove their argument against breastfeeding in public merely by shocking people into silence.

I conducted a highly unscientific poll as to what people actually thought was more disgusting and shared the results here.  It’s very biased, seeing as the participants polled were all from either The Leaky Boob Facebook page, Jessica The Leaky Boob Facebook page, or my own personal Facebook page.  Still, the results are demonstrated in 2 fun little graphs.

But my site is called “The Leaky Boob,” I’m not exactly the type to be shocked or silenced.  Just ask Facebook.  Recently media attention on a variety of breastfeeding related stories (Target nurse-in, Kasey Kahne, etc.) seemed to have brought a rise of individuals that actually believe this is a valid argument.   I decided I needed to see if they had a point.

I talked with a pediatrician friend of mine and learned that the only special handling instructions they were given about breastmilk when she was doing rotations in the NICU was to ensure the milk was not contaminated before it was fed to the fragile neonates in their care.  It was considered a food and was treated as such, not as waste nor a biohazard.  An RN friend echoed these same experiences.  Hmmmmm, doesn’t sound like they thought of breastmilk as potentially dangerous body fluid or waste that needed to be carefully disposed of for health safety reasons.  Pretty major distinction there.

To help anyone still confused, anyone who may be thinking breastfeeding in public is like defecating in public, urinating in public, masturbation/oral sex in public, or sex in public, I’ve put together a couple of tables to break it down.

Breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding in public is legal and protected in the majority of the world.  In the states there are laws in 45 states that expressly allow women breastfeeding in public or private areas.  Twenty-eight states have specific clauses that exempt breastfeeding mothers from public indecency exposure laws.

Breastfeeding in public does not pose a public health threat.  While breastmilk can carry HIV and hepatitis if the mother is infected, breastfeeding in public does not carry an increased risk of spread of the disease and the CDC even cites that a bottle of infected milk given on accident to the wrong baby is unlikely to lead to transmission of the disease in a healthy infant.

Breastfeeding a human infant is encouraged by recognized health organizations globally.

Breastfeeding in public is based on a mother responding to the need of her child for nourishment or comfort.  A small infant or child’s hunger can not be postponed.

Breastfeeding is not a sex act, it is an act of nourishment and comfort for a child.  A small portion of women may experience some level of sexual arousal by breastfeeding but that is secondary to the primary purpose of meeting her child’s nutritional and comfort needs and women are able to distinguish the difference.

Breastfeeding has been essential to the survival of the species for centuries and today is still the biologically normal way to feed a human infant.  Further, public breastfeeding provides a model for future mother/baby dyads to be familiar with normal means of infant feeding, we learn by seeing.

 

Defecating in public:

In all 1st world countries public defecation is illegal.

Human feces is recognized as a very serious health hazard that can contaminate water and food sources.

With the exception of those with special needs, public elimination of feces is considered deviant.

*Yes- if the individual is unable to control their bowels due to physical or mental disabilities.

*No- if it is from a fully functioning healthy adult.  The need can be postponed until a suitable toilet receptacle can be located.

Public defecation is a public health hazard and threatens the entire species including the young.

 

Urinating in public:

In all 1st world countries public urination without an acceptable receptacle is illegal.

Though sterile and not toxic in a healthy person, urine is known to carry pathogens and possible disease and can contaminate water and food sources as it is a human waste product.

In some cultures it is considered acceptable to urinate in public, while others have find it socially unacceptable.  However, all public health organizations warn of the dangers related to urinating in public.

*Yes- if the individual is unable to control their bladder due to physical or mental disabilities.

* No- if it is from a fully functioning healthy adult.  The need can be postponed until a suitable toilet receptacle can be located.

Public urination without proper sewage disposal is a potential public health hazard and as it is a human waste product threatens the entire species including the young.

 

Public masturbation/oral sex:

In all 1st world countries public masturbation and oral sex is illegal.

Semen and vaginal fluid can carry known pathogens though the spread would likely be contained, casual and unprotected sex is recognized in furthering the spread of disease.

Masturbation and oral sex are not acceptable public acts in most cultures and public display of them is consider sexual deviancy and is punishable by law.

*If it is from a fully functioning healthy adult, the need for sexual gratification can be postponed until a suitably private area is located.

Public masturbation and oral sex do not protect or care for the young of the species.

 

Public sex:

In all 1st world countries public sex is illegal.

Semen and vaginal fluid can carry known pathogens though the spread would likely be contained, casual and unprotected sex is recognized in furthering the spread of disease.

Sex is not considered an acceptable public act in most cultures and public display of sex is consider sexual deviancy and is punishable by law.

The need for sexual gratification can be postponed until a suitably private area is located.

While sex is necessary for the procreation of the species, public sex acts are not essential for caring or protecting the young of the species.

 

Our cultural preferences are often born out of deeply held beliefs whether they be religious, anecdotal, circumstantial, a belief about health and bodies, scientific, and more.  A few examples come to mind: the belief that the world was flat, the story of the woman that cut the ends off the roast simply because her mother always did so it would fit in her pan, and the practice of blood letting to name a few.  As our understanding grows we change our practices.  There was a time when washing hands wasn’t standard practice in health care and today we know that basic hand washing reduces illness and the spread of disease.  Culturally we accept hand washing because science has shown that the practice can save lives.  I can’t help but hope that some day the science behind breastfeeding will open our culture to accepting, even welcoming it in public.  Since there are these comparisons made I decided to look at breastmilk, human urine, human feces, vaginal fluid, and semen from more of a health perspective.  I did as much research as I could before my pregnant pukey self had to stop reading simply to spare my stomach any more churning.  As much as possible I included links where I found information.  I wanted to look at a historical and anthropological perspective as well but you know, I had to draw the line somewhere and get to the other things I have to do.

 

 My conclusion is that these comparisons are little more than culturally accepted beliefs rooted in gross misunderstandings of biology and ignorance of normal, healthy human infant feeding.  That and a desire to control women by telling them what they can and can not do with their bodies and shaming them into believing there is something inappropriate with using their body to feed their child.  These issues have nothing to do with whether or not a woman is covered to breastfeed, a personal choice nobody has the right to insist for another person.  It’s time we as a culture trust women with their bodies and their children and leave our ignorant prejudices out of it.

Bamboobies Holidays breastfeeding survival giveaway!

As part of our LIVE Facebook chat this week with TLB sponsor Bamboobies, Kerry Gilmartin has generously offered a giveaway just for The Leaky Boob readers.  I got to meet Kerry this past September (and her adorable little boy!), she’s such a lovely person with a passion for helping moms, I am so pleased to share this wonderful company with my readers.  Read on for Kerry’s holiday breastfeeding survival tips and to learn about the products she developed and materials she uses.

 

TLB:  How did you develop your products and why do you use the materials you use?

Kerry:  I’m a hippie at heart – and a very leaky boob! When I was breastfeeding my 2nd, it really bothered me that the only pads that wouldn’t leak through my shirt and so I started stuffing some bamboo velour fabric washable baby wipes into my shirt because they were so soft and absorbent. I wouldn’t have had the instinct to start a company making breast pads if it weren’t for the funny name I thought of one day – or the knowledge of great eco-fibers and waterproof materials being used by cloth diaper manufacturers.

I developed the unique nursing shawl when I was embarrassed by the attention the bright apron-style covers drew and not confident enough to just nurse in public without any cover.  I wanted something that was stylish and could be worn all the time and wound up using a woolen shawl I owned to nurse in quite a bit. When I wanted something more lightweight I developed our unique design with a couture designer friend and found the neat soy/organic cotton fabric was really well suited to it for breathability, wrinkle resistance and keeping it’s shape.

We make all of our products here in Colorado by women making a fair wage and we’re really happy about that too!

 

TLB:  What holiday breastfeeding tip do you have to share with the Leakies?  I think our nursing shawl is such an attractive and subtle thing that whether you’re traveling on the plane or sitting at a cocktail party, no one will know what you’re doing until you pull the baby out! It’s nice to have privacy for yourself and your baby and boobies – especially at such a hectic time of year.

Kerry:  Taking time out to get naps for you and baby when you’re traveling makes all the difference too – a little nurse and nap can be a cure for even the most annoying of crazy uncles/nosy aunts etc.

 

Kerry is giving away one set of therapy pillows – value $24.99.  Bamboob-ease therapy pillows ease pains of engorgement, clogged ducts and weaning – and even big kid bruises!  They’re super-soft bamboo fabric filled with flax seeds that can be warmed in the microwave or cooled in the freezer to provide comfort and therapy for all sorts of breast issues.

Kerry is also giving away one Bamboobies Cute Little Nursing Cover – value $44 – a novel new nursing cover that looks more like a stylish shawl than a traditional apron-style cover-up.  It comes in only solid colors so it’s more discrete – you called it ‘mom-wear with flair’ !  Useful during pregnancy as well as the next couple of years as a stylish shawl, it’s a flattering addition to a new mother’s wardrobe.  Made of organic cotton and soy fiber, it’s a cool eco-garment and lusciously soft too.

Bamboobies are made in regular (ultra-thin and leak-proof) and overnight (ultra-thick).  Nursing mothers love them bc they’re the softest and they don’t show through or leak through like other washable pads.  Made of organic cotton, bamboo and hemp, they’re eco, ultra-soft and they’re money-savers in the long run over disposables.  We’ll give away a multi-pack with 3 pair of regulars and one pair of overnights – value $30.

Total value is is just over $100!

 

All you have to do to be entered to win one of these fabulous prizes is to comment on this post and share what you’d like to win in this giveaway as well as your holiday breastfeeding survival tip.  For a second entry please visit Bamboobies site and come back with the link of what you’d treat yourself to this holiday season.  Please be sure to visit Bamboobies Facebook pageand thank them for sponsoring this chat and giveaway!  And so you don’t have to wait, take advantage of this code FaLaLa25 for 25% off at Bamboobies, the code is good through the end of this week so get yourself something for your stocking this holiday season.

 

This giveaway is open to USA and Canadian entries and closes December 15th, 2011.  Good luck!

 

The winners have been randomly selected, congratulations to…

Laney:

“My 2nd entry: I’d treat myself to the http://www.shop.buybamboobies.com/Nursing-Cover-3-Pair-Regular-Bamboobies-Gift-Box-GIFT.htm Thanks!”

Sherry:

“I would love to win the nursing cover. its so adorable and not as obvious as other covers. My survival tip is to just relax and do what you know is best, forget the rest! “

Amanda:

“I would love to win the nursing pads, as baby is due in January! With my first two babies we survived the holidays breastfeeding by trying not to stress. Stress just makes everything worse for Mom and baby, plus it is a lot harder to enjoy this wonderful time of year.”

Belated Blogiversary Post

March 25, 2011 marked 1 year of The Leaky Boob.  One year!  So much has happened in the past year, a lot of exciting developments and most importantly, supporting a lot of breastfeeding moms.  I feel honored and blessed to help support women and families.

When I started The Leaky Boob it was really just kind of on a whim.  I had read some disparaging comments on a news article about breastfeeding in public and for days it bothered me.  Eventually I sat down and wrote this post as a satirical response.  I posted it on my now terribly neglected personal blog and got an interesting and enthusiastic response.  An idea began to simmer of a blog that would be primarily about breastfeeding but open to other topics related to parenting, a place to support and find support.  Thinking of a pub as a spot where friends meet and swap stories, dispense advice, hand down local bits of wisdom and where travelers find safe haven and refreshment along the way I began to envision a community as an online pub for breastfeeding moms and the people that support them.  Where the good, the bad and the ugly would be shared equally.  Where the reality that we’re all in need of support meant condemnation and arrogance were left at the door.  Where someone could “cry into their beer” and someone was always around to listen.  Where humor was an important part of relaxing. Where disagreements could be had but friendships remain intact.  Where what we had in common brought us together more than what we didn’t could drive us apart.   And where the sounds of laughter, the aroma of honesty and the comfort of good friends made everyone welcome and called out to those passing by.  A place where everybody knows your name…

It wasn’t long before I was humming the Cheers theme song and coming up with ridiculous booby puns as I went about my day.  I’m pretty sure my family thought I was crazy.

Eventually, after celebrating The Storyteller’s birthday on that March 25th I decided to do it, to make it happen.  The name had been bouncing around my head for weeks at that point, a story in and of itself that I have to credit my children for, and it was just a matter of creating the blog and making the first post.

I didn’t think it would go anywhere.  While I had been blogging for years on my own various blogs, I knew nothing about promoting or marketing and I wasn’t sure how much I even had to say on the topic of breastfeeding.  Originally I thought I’d have 2 or 3 blog partners and hoped we’d get to the point where we’d be doing reviews and maybe a few giveaways and sharing cute stories.  I never thought it would do much more than that if it even got there.  Plus, I wondered how much I could possibly have to say on the subject of breastfeeding.  I was pretty certain I’d run out of ideas for material in 6 months and would be reduced to sharing those terrible booby puns I was coming up with.

But friends shared it and one helped me create the Facebook page right around my birthday, two weeks after creating the blog.  I can’t remember how fast it happened but I was shocked to see 300 people had fanned our page.  Shocked and excited.  Then 500.  Then 900.  Then 1,000.  It hit me, people needed this.  Really, really needed it.

So I decided then to see what I could do with it.  How The Leaky Boob could help more and more women.  I didn’t know what I was doing and had no idea how to go about what I thought I wanted to do but I knew one thing for sure: building up women and developing community is something I’m passionate about.  I could do that.  Whatever The Leaky Boob could be or would be as long as it did those 2 things I would be happy.

And so here we are.  A little over a year later now and over 19,000 “Leakies” on Facebook and a global community supporting women and families.  I started The Leaky Boob but it’s the community that made it.  Every time I think I’m in over my head and am overwhelmed with all that I can’t get done, someone shares on The Leaky Facebook page how this community saved their breastfeeding journey or helped them develop confidence in their parenting and I am encouraged to keep figuring it out.

Today things continue to grow and change and breastfeeding moms and the people that support them continue to find support and encouragement through The Leaky Boob.  I’m proud to say we’ve been through a lot already this 1st year but in demonstrating the power of community and the strength of women, we’re better for it.  I’m better for it.  My deepest gratitude to so many that have helped along the way; Sheri Wallace from Organic PR, her husband Chuck with Core Data Recovery, Silencia and Kathryn from Motherlove Herbal Company and the Nurturing Life Foundation, countless twitter and Facebook friends, encouragement from Bettina Forbes, so many amazing blogging friends, Dandelion, and all of the incredible sponsors that support The Leaky Boob.  Most especially to the volunteer admins that go above and beyond helping to run the forums and the Facebook page, my husband Jeremy who endures me talking about TLB constantly, my children for giving me great material to write about and above all the 19,000+ breastfeeding women and the people that support them that make TLB what it is.

I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

P.S.  You know what I think would be a great way to celebrate TLB’s 1st birthday?  Follow us on the Google friend connect and/or Networked Blogs, thanks!  Then, share with a friend so they can find support as well.  Thanks!