fbpx

Nighttime Teething Nightmare- Why Teething Makes Your Baby Cry More At Night and What May Help

by Jessica Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the generous support of Ready Rocker
Use Code: TLB-30 for 30% off your cart on readyrocker.com

 

Ever noticed that when your baby is teething their crankiness and discomfort seems to get worse at night? Or even how sometimes they seem TOTALLY fine during the day and then suddenly at night they can’t seem to settle and are fussy and cranky and you’re not even sure why only later to notice they have puffy red gums or even a brand new tooth?

It’s not your imagination, this really does happen and there’s a reasonable explanation too. Which means there’s also something you can do about it.

What’s the deal? Why are teething symptoms worse at night?


Teething babies are often at the age of exploration of the world around them. They are ready to move! Even if they aren’t very mobile, they’re rapidly taking in information, interacting socially, and physically developing new skills daily. A little bit of teething isn’t going to slow them down, they’ve got people to see, places to go, adventures to take, play to make! Even if they do have moments during the day, there’s a lot going on around them to distract them at least a little bit from what’s going on in their mouth and head.

Once regular night time and day time sleep patterns are worked out in the brain, right around 4 months, babies have the same general physiological cycles related to sleep in their bodies as adults do. During the day the build something that’s called sleep pressure in the brain which makes them ready to sleep at night (give or take… and that doesn’t mean they won’t fight sleep, just that their brain is ready for it biologically), their bodies naturally release melatonin as daylight fades and artificial light lowers, and their cortisol levels naturally drop to make it easier for them to sleep at night. Just like adults, as they get tired and ready for sleep, they can become more emotional and little challenges will suddenly seem bigger.

What does this have to do with worsening teething symptoms? Lower cortisol levels means that stressors like pain aren’t being managed as much by the brain and become more noticeable. Not only are there less distractions to take their attention off the discomfort, there is even less of the chemical cocktail the body produces that helps with coping with such discomfort.

Meaning more ouch.

That’s not all, either.

The body does most of the growing it needs to do during sleep. Sometimes our children literally do wake up bigger in the morning, their bodies having been busy during the night before. While asleep, the body can efficiently direct energy to growth and healing. Exactly why doctors have been telling us to sleep when sick, rest is essential for growth and repair. This includes teeth! It is very possible your baby’s teething symptoms get worse at night because their teeth really are moving more at night. A process that involves shifting bone and slowly cutting through gum tissue causing headaches, mouth pain, and general discomfort. No wonder there are tears!

With nothing to distract them, lower levels of chemicals that reduce pain, and more movement of the teeth at night all combine to create a perfect storm of middle of the night fussiness or downright screaming.

What can help?

While you can’t change the natural sleep patterns in the body, you can help make your baby more comfortable through teething. Nothing is a guarantee but every little bit of hope help and any of these steps may at least help reduce discomfort so there’s a bit more rest for everyone.

 

 

Respond quickly. Don’t wait for your baby’s fussing to escalate to full-fledged wailing in distress. Being responsive to their early communication that they need help will help them emotionally regulate and manage the stress of their discomfort as calmly as they possibly can.

Rule out other concerns. Just to be sure that your baby’s distress is about teething pain, check out your baby to rule out any other concerns. This will allow you to relax as much as possible that their discomfort is unfortunate but not alarming. With your anxiety lower, your baby will pick up on your calm and feel safe and secure that you are there with them even though they’re uncomfortable.

Nurse more! Breastfeeding releases chemicals in the baby’s brain that actually lower pain levels. Nurse is already co-regulating for emotional distress, the oxytocin released in calming and connecting but studies show that a baby being latched and sucking, receiving their milk from their parent, can reduce pain and even keep it from starting. Nursing more could be the ticked to getting through those nighttime teething pains.

Skin-to-skin. Easily accomplished with nursing but possible to do otherwise too, skin-to-skin as pain relief and soothing measures for pain is an incredibly effective non-pharmacological means to help your baby feel better.

Protect naps. Sleep begets sleep and lack of sleep can show up as hyperactivity at night. Protecting sleep during the day means that nap times are even more important. You may decide that more or longer nap times are worth the possible nighttime sleep shortening if teething is going on for a while and your little one just can’t seem to get enough sleep at night.

Earlier bedtime. If sleep has already been disrupted, having an earlier bedtime may help get more quality sleep in before the pain and discomfort kicks into high gear during the night. It isn’t uncommon for babies and toddlers to have difficulty sleeping after 11pm or midnight meaning you’ll easily see 1am, 2am, and 3am when they are teething if they’re really uncomfortable. Getting to bed earlier (you too!) may mean there’s more sleep happening that is better quality before the disruptions get started.

Rocking, swinging, swaying. There’s a reason most of us automatically start swaying or rocking when we hear a baby crying even if we’re not holding the baby ourselves: rocking soothes the brain! Studies show that rocking or swinging lowers stress levels, reduces pain and discomfort, and soothes emotional dysregulation. As simple as it may seem, rocking your baby at night really does help them feel better and you too!

Pain relief mediation. Liquid infant Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen may reduce your baby’s pain enough for them to get the sleep they need… and maybe you too! Be sure to use according to directions and try not to use more than 3 nights in a row and check with your child’s healthcare provider before administering.

Teething gel. There are safe, soothing teething gel options you can put directly on your baby’s gums to help reduce inflammation and pain. Be sure it doesn’t have benzocaine or other numbing agents in them as that can create a risk of choking and impair their swallowing.

Teething tablets. With a safe blend of herbs, teething tablets dissolve easily for baby and 

Have realistic expectations. Cutting teeth IS painful. It’s a lot of work and it is understandable that your baby complains about it. They want help making the pain goaway for good reason. Having realistic expectations about teething will help you stay calm even when you’re exhausted and feeling helpless and your baby will be able to draw from your calm for their own calm.

Remember this is temporary. Teething does stop at some point. Your baby isn’t going to be cutting new teeth forever. There may be long stretches of teething (my baby once cute 12 teeth one right after the other, teething for a few months straight) which makes it really difficult to remember that this is temporary but keeping that in mind can help get through those long nights.


_________________________

If this resource was helpful for you, consider helping The Leaky Boob by giving back. Help us keep our information, support, and resources free by becoming a patron and get access to exclusive content just for our supporters. Join here today.

______________________________

 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of wereallhumanhere.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 23 years.

What you need to know about breastfeeding and postpartum contractions

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Naturepedic

This post made possible by Naturepedic Organic Mattresses for the whole family
Use the code “TLB15” for 15% off your cart at naturepedic.com.

Lactation can save your life, help heal your body, and be good for your uterus.

This is all true.

We talk a lot about how great breastfeeding can be for baby, but did you know it can be great for your uterus too? What your uterus wishes you knew about lactation:

It can save your life.

Potentially in more ways than one. But what really makes your uterus happy is that putting your brand new baby to suckle at your breast stimulates the release of oxytocin in your brain which helps your uterus to clamp down. These postpartum contractions are often called afterbirth pains. That initial latch of your wee babe strengthens the natural contractions and if you haven’t already, helps you expel the placenta and make sure you don’t bleed to death. It can help prevent a postpartum hemorrhage. But don’t worry if your baby doesn’t want to feed right after birth (give them a break, it was an eventful occasion, being born), this continues to work for as long as it takes for your uterus to reduce to it’s normal non-gestating size.

The uterus returning to it’s not-currently-gestating size gives room to the organs that have been squished, making it easier to breathe, eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. It also means less pressure on the pelvic floor organs and tissue. This is an important stage of early healing. Often afterbirth contractions are more intense and painful with subsequent babies but it still does the job. Hate it all you want but it is way better than hemorrhaging and it’s the body’s perfect way to make sure you’re safe and around for a long time.

Every time you put your brand new baby to your breast, even if it doesn’t last long, and you endure a wave of contractions you may curse, swear, stomp your foot, breathe through clenched teeth hissing at your partner that next time they’re having the baby but those painful afterbirth contractions that your nursing babe brings on are important as they cut off the supply of blood to where the placenta had been allowing for healing and recovery to take place. Some don’t experience these contractions as much more than some mild cramping, others find them worse than labor itself. There’s a wide range of experiences, don’t be alarmed if you find that your own varies from that of others. 

Along with signaling to the uterus it’s time to shrink back down, breastfeeding can help you rest. For many that have just had a baby, life just doesn’t let them have the time they need to really heal and that open wound in their uterus doesn’t get the rest it needs which can lead to mom becoming anemic, fatigued, sore, and taking longer to heal. While there’s always a lot to do, breastfeeding can help busy moms take a load off in those early weeks with a hungry baby forcing them to sit and be still long enough to work on a good latch and fill up that little tummy. Taking time to have skin to skin fosters the breastfeeding relationship and can reduce their healing time, leading to sustainable recovery. And because it can help reduce postpartum bleeding and menstrual bleeding both in volume and length of time, some will experience a natural rise in iron levels which will be a real energy boost.

 

Fertility can be delayed with lactation. With my last baby, my 8th full term pregnancy, I got a break from my period until 21 months postpartum. Including pregnancy, that was more than 30 months off and no ovulation. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t miss it one single bit. This isn’t a guarantee but the majority of people experience a delay in the return of their fertility after giving birth if they exclusively breastfeed/chestfeed (meaning no supplementation). When baby is fed only with nursing, the body suppresses fertility to focus on continuing to grow this little person. This would mean no period sometimes until full weaning happens though any time solid foods, supplementation, or artificial nipples are introduced it’s possible their cycle will return. Sometimes that can be thrown off, usually if artificial nipples are used (yeah, even with bottles of their own pumped milk) but sometimes even if there is only ever exclusively nursing the cycle may return early in the postpartum period. But for those that experience suppressed fertility due to breastfeeding, it can be a nice break from their regular menstrual cycle. Because there are no guarantees though, unless you are hoping to get pregnant again shortly after having your baby, some kind of birth control measures would be wise.

Lactation can help with endometriosis and may help reduce cancer risks. Because it is common for the menstrual cycle to be delayed by lactation, those that have endometriosis may experience a stabilization of the progression of their condition which may lead to some relief. This won’t necessarily cure the condition but some do find it is no longer an issue. Causation or correlation, studies show that women that breastfeed have lower incidence of developing uterine, endometrial or ovarian cancer. 

Nursing is no magic bullet that will save you, you may lactate and still get cancer, you may nurse and still experience a retained placenta or postpartum hemorrhage, you may bodyfeed and struggle with endometriosis or have your fertility return right away. But hey, a chance that you could get a break and make your uterus happy? If you can, it could be a chance worth taking.

_________________________

If this resource was helpful for you, consider helping The Leaky Boob by giving back. Help us keep our information, support, and resources free by becoming a patron and get access to exclusive content just for our supporters. Join here today.

______________________________

 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of wereallhumanhere.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 23 years.

How to set up a lactation space you’ll love

by Jessica Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the generous support of Ready Rocker
Use Code: TLB-30 for 30% off your cart on readyrocker.com

 

There’s something comforting about knowing you have a space just for you, all set up with your favorite comforts. When you get there, you can really relax, you feel safe, everything you need is right there, and you can focus on what is really important to you. That is even more true for breastfeeding.

While lactation and baby or toddler feeding happens where it needs to, when it needs to, it can help to have a regular comfortable space or two set up for when you’re home with everything in easy reach so you can just focus on what’s really important. Being comfortable, able to focus, and able to relax can make a difference in getting a latch that works for you and baby without pain, encourage let-down, prevent stress on your body, allow for more complete postpartum healing, and support different positions.


To set up a lactation space you’ll love, keep in mind that one-size-doesn’t-fit-all. We’re all different and that’s great! What works for one may not be what works for another. So get specific about what you like and don’t worry if you’re the only one doing it that way. Your lactation space, like your lactation journey, should be as unique as you and your baby are. Don’t pressure yourself to have the instagram ready lactation journey or breastfeeding space, let your journey unfold, seeking help and using the tools you need in the process. It may not be perfect (whatever that means) but it will be real and that is beautiful.

Some considerations:

Since nursing can be expected to happen at least 8-16 times a day (such a wide range) and be up to 30 minutes a session (and honestly, sometimes longer while you and baby are first learning), meaning 8 or more hours a day spent JUST feeding your baby, it’s important to be as comfortable as possible for those feeds. With that in mind, here are some considerations to take into account when setting up your lactation space.

Picking a spot- get comfy!

  • Quiet and away or in the middle of things?
  • Comfortable seating options? 
  • Is there room for position options and changes such as football hold or laid back positions?
  • Room for others or just you and the nursling?
  • Do you need to be near an outlet, entertainment remote controls, etc.?
  • Lighting- are you able to control the lighting to make it brighter or dimmer?

Once you’ve decided the specific space or two- it may work best for there to be multiple areas set up as a lactation space depending on the time of day or other needs of the family, it can save a lot of stress and headache to have the items you may need or will make you more comfortable within easy reach. What that is depends on each individual’s unique needs but there are some most find handy.

A basket, rolling cart, small tub, caddy, or bag nearby to contain the smaller items makes it easy to have everything you may need in addition to the seating and larger elements of your lactation space. This way you can move your lactation space as needed with easily portable items contained and elements that have multi-function or are portable can streamline the process once you’re more comfortable breastfeeding in other areas. This is why I love a charging adapter with multiple port types and the Ready Rocker for a rocking chair option I can take anywhere.

May be helpful to have…

  • Footstool
  • Water/drink (trust me, you’re going to get thirsty)
  • Snacks (nothing like breastfeeding hunger!)
  • Ready Rocker 
  • Nursing pillow or other supports
  • Cozy options (blanket, sweater, etc.)
  • Nursing pads
  • Heat/cold packs
  • Helpful tools (i.e. nipple cream, lactation massager, burp cloths, hands-free-pumping-bra, etc.)
  • Fidget or safe toy
  • Breast pump or silicone suction expression cup
  • Phone charger
  • Speaker or earbuds
  • Entertainment (phone, book, tablet, etc.)

Now all that’s needed is the baby!

Oh, and while not a part of the actual space, set-up for each lactation session by being sure you empty your bladder first and washing your hands. You don’t want to regret that step, that’s a sure way to make even the most comfortable spot miserable!

How do you have your lactation and baby feeding space set up? Is there anything you’d add to our considerations?


_________________________

If this resource was helpful for you, consider helping The Leaky Boob by giving back. Help us keep our information, support, and resources free by becoming a patron and get access to exclusive content just for our supporters. Join here today.

______________________________

 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of wereallhumanhere.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 23 years.

Will I Livestream My Next Birth?

A letter from Jessica Martin-Weber, founder of The Leaky Boob, mom of 7 with baby no. 8 on the way, and two-time birth live-streamer. 
Find the short answer here.

 

I love this photo. It was just as we got home from a midwife appointment this past week and the first beautiful day we’d had in a while. My husband knit that top for me and I genuinely felt relaxed and pretty for the first time in months after nothing but good news during the appointment. I have struggled to stay connected to the joy of having a new baby as financial and COVID-19 stress has felt crushing. But I was happy here, full of joy and relief. Like I could celebrate a little. Coronavirus meant no maternity pics, no outings with my partner to get ready for the baby, no going to the store even to get a new outfit just for this little one (a ritual I’ve had with each of our babies). COVID-19 took those things and this was as good of a maternity photo sesh as I am going to get with this baby (and not bad, right? He took it on my iPhone and I love it.)

But right, what you’re really wanting to know: will I livestream BB8’s birth?

In 2012 I livestreamed the birth of my 6th baby onto The Leaky Boob website. Then, in 2017 we did it again with our 7th baby. We’ve had a lot of questions about if we’re going to do that again with this one.

My intent with livestreaming both of those births was to normalize birth and show how birth can be different from the mainstream media’s most common depictions.

You can read more about that decision by clicking here.

I have been on the fence about doing so again since getting the positive pregnancy test this time. After sharing 2 very different births with the world in real time and opening myself and my family up in that incredibly vulnerable way, I wasn’t sure I was up for doing so again. But then I’d think about how each of my births have been drastically different and I want to normalize birth in all the ways it occurs.

Indecision haunted me. I’d change my mind on an almost daily basis.

Then COVID-19.

I was too overwhelmed to even think about having a baby let alone livestreaming the birth. Putting any energy into thinking about it was the last thing on my list of priorities so I didn’t.

We announced the pregnancy at the end of March when I started showing.

Several people sent me messages thanking us for sharing our last two births, detailing how watching me birth gave them courage for their own births. How sharing my births with their own children helped them prepare their children for the birth of a sibling. Opened up about how there was healing for them in watching my births. And more. It was moving and inspiring. Still is.

I began to entertain the idea again.

The first birth we livestreamed in 2012 wasn’t a distraction for me but in 2017 concerns about camera position, technical difficulties, and other issues would pull me out of my brain space for labor and birth. Concerned about that happening again, we brainstormed options to be sure it wasn’t intrusive to the birth experience should we choose to livestream BB8’s birth. We talked with friends and our midwives, polled our monthly supporters on Patreon, and considered different ideas.

When people would ask I’ve either avoided answering or responded with a vague “we’re taking a wait and see approach.”

And here we are. Honestly, I thought I’d have given birth by now and the decision would be made for me in some way. But here I am still pregnant and somehow in a place to really think about it more over the last week. (No I’m not going to share how far along I am or my due date, I never do.)

Yes, the plan is that we will be livestreaming this birth.

But we’ve decided that the work and effort that goes into doing so, the risk we take putting ourselves out there like that, the incredible vulnerability and exposure of our family, home, my body, etc. has to give back to us too. Things have changed drastically and thanks to COVID-19 I won’t get any kind of paid maternity leave… not even a little. I fully expect to work the day after I give birth because, well, life.

We’ve shared 2 births freely, dealt with the trolls that come with that, provided free education for millions in doing so, and opened ourselves to all kinds of questioning and second guessing. It is invasive long after the birth but also beautiful and powerful long after too. I’ve never regretted livestreaming our births even when some aspects of doing so fatigued me.

Those births remain up and accessible for free for anyone that would care to view them.

You can watch the 2012 video by clicking here
And you can watch the 2017 video by clicking here

With all that in mind, this time we will be putting the birth behind a paywall. There will be two different ways to participate in viewing the birth: Patreon supporters (who also receive accesses to exclusive content and will be the first to see birth photos, etc.) and one-time-donation access.

If you are a member of The Leaky Boob/We’re All Human Here circle of support on Patreon, you will have access to the birth livestream (with two static cameras set up in the two main spaces we will use for labor and birth). An email will be sent out automatically to our supporters once I’m in labor with the private access link and directions as well as a post in the private access Patreon. Our two eldest daughters will be live blogging the labor and birth in a chat window on the private link as well and our 19yo will be doing short livestreams directly to The Leaky Boob Facebook with little glimpses of what’s going on and interviews with her sisters and the midwives throughout the labor.

The same access will be available (without the access to the exclusive content also available on our Patreon) for those who make a donation for a “ticket” here.

Want to contribute for someone else to be able to view but is unable to due to financial hardship? See here.

I understand some will be disappointed that we are making the birth livestream paid access only, please know I have weighed this heavily. The cost to be able to livestream (and have it not crash our website, etc.) and the time investment (last time I spent days and days after the birth cleaning up troll comments and that was 3 different people moderating them during the birth too) is enough to give us pause as it is. The reality that we are giving so much of ourselves for free at a time when there’s been a huge shift in our family’s income is one we can’t dismiss.

I hope you can understand. I love birth, I love educating and advocating for families, I love making resources accessible. These are deep passions of mine. Sadly, these deep passions don’t pay so well but they do require a lot from me and from my family. I need this to give back and in a way that is going to make a difference for my family as well.

At the moment, if you want to be sure you do not miss the birth livestream, you will need to be a member of The Leaky Boob/We’re All Human Here Patreon here (with additional exclusive content- birth photos will be released on Patreon first, etc.), or make a one time gift back to TLB (suggested minimum donation of $12) here. My desire is to support everyone who wants my support in their pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding journeys and beyond, I just need that to also support my family.

If you are not already a member of The Leaky Boob circle of support Patreon and you want to be sure you don’t miss out on the birth, join by clicking here.

I am looking forward to sharing another birth with you. If you have any questions for me, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.

With all of my heart and deepest gratitude,

Jessica Martin-Weber
Founder, The Leaky Boob and We’re All Human Here Co-Founder

 

Several have asked for a way to make a direct gift as a way to give back for the support of The Leaky Boob (without getting access to BB8’s live-streamed birth)  For those who would like to give a direct gift with no fees taken out:

Venmo is Jessica Martin-Weber
Paypal is ochantelle@yahoo.com

Please know that there is no obligation or expectation that anyone do so and I am committed to keeping The Leaky Boob free of charge in supporting families.

Looking for more support? Sign up for our emails here and join our private group here.

*My Body* On Demand

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Content Note

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


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

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

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

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

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

Feed on demand.

sexual assault survivor breastfeeding

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

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

Feed on demand.

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

Feed on demand.

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

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

Feed on demand.

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

Feed on demand.

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

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

Feed on demand.

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

Feed on demand.

Mommy and Arden bfing hand kiss

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

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

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

Love is responsive.

Responsive feeding. Feeding with love.

____________________________________

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

Nipple Pain in Breastfeeding

by Jessica Martin-Weber

______________________________

The Leaky Boob is committed to providing free information, support, and community. You can be a part of making that possible by joining our circle of support. Any and all support amount makes a difference.

_________________________

 

This post is generously made possible by Bamboobies

bamboobies banner - 2016

 

All kinds of advice and myths abound when it comes to breastfeeding and preparing nipples for the experience or what to do when there is pain. Dire warnings and emphasis on getting a “good latch” can make it seem as though it is tricky, inevitably painful, and consuming. (Do you need to worry about your baby’s latch? See here for more on what to look for in a good latch and what to do if it is causing problems.)

But there’s good news! While some do experience nipple pain, many do not and for those that have pain, there is usually an answer and steps that can help resolve the underlying cause. Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt but that doesn’t mean it won’t and it doesn’t mean that if it does it is your fault or that you did something wrong. Seeing a professional breastfeeding helper such as an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) may help identify the cause of the pain and find a resolution that will help you reach your breastfeeding goals.

Here are a few points on nipple pain in breastfeeding and tips for how to handle such pain. It is our hope that nobody goes through pain in feeding their babies but if you do, most of the time it doesn’t have to stay that way.

bamboobies nipple pain

Is it serious? Figure out if this is the type of pain that indicates an issue or is within the range of normal sensitivity with initial latch. If it lasts for 30 seconds or so and doesn’t bother you when you’re not breastfeeding or pumping then it is possible it isn’t serious and just an adjustment period while your nipples are a little sensitive. If it is toe-curling, swear-worthy pain that makes you hold your breath and try not to scream obscenities or toss your baby far, far away from you, then it is serious and you need to be seen by an expert professional breastfeeding helper. Any tissue damage, cracking, bleeding, scabbing, inflammation, bloody expressed milk, etc., will require proactive treatment and you need to see a health care provider. Keep in mind that if your pain tolerance is high, you may push through pain that is a warning sign that something is wrong, don’t wait too long to get help from a breastfeeding helper such as an IBCLC.

What is the cause? It could be a number of causes from baby’s physiology such as a high palate or tongue-tie (frenulum restriction) to your anatomy such as flat or inverted nipples, bifurcated nipples, or Raynaud’s syndrome (vasospasms), or from a pathology such as a bacterial infection or yeast overgrowth, to a damaging latch. Unfortunately sometimes the case is baby just needs to grow more and it will take time but there may be ways to improve things until that time comes and a breastfeeding helper should be able to help you with that.

What’s the treatment? Working with an experienced breastfeeding helper, once the cause is determined, the first step is to address the underlying cause. This may mean changing positioning and learning latch techniques (such as this “Flipple” technique for latching), a prescription to treat thrush or a bacterial infection, using a device to pull flat or inverted nipples out, a procedure to correct frenulum restriction, therapeutic suck training, and a number of other possibilities. We should start with the easiest to implement first, such as positioning and latch but an early diagnosis can mean resolving the underlying cause for the nipple pain quickly and getting back to reaching those breastfeeding goals.

How to heal? Pain, particularly pain that was ongoing for a while, usually means some tissue damage that’s going to need to heal and until it does, the pain will continue. Treating the underlying cause of the pain is essential for complete healing but there are ways to encourage healing even as the cause is addressed.

bamboobies nipple pain 2

Air drying is important for healing, as much as possible, allow your nipples to air dry before closing up your bra. Air is healing and having the area dry prevents bacteria and yeast from growing in a dark, damp environment. Additionally, rinsing them several times a day (not after each feeding but frequently) can also reduce possible irritation from baby’s saliva.

A good nipple cream, one that is plant based, breathable, and safe enough to leave on during breastfeeding can not only help with healing but can prevent chapping in the early days of breastfeeding as a preventative measure. Wiping off an ointment from sensitive and damaged tissue is painful and can cause further injury so picking one that is safe for baby to ingest in tiny amounts is ideal. Apply after every feeding after allowing the area to dry and pick nursing pads that won’t stick to damaged tissue and your nipple cream.

Your own breastmilk may help your nipples heal. Breastmilk is full of good things that can expedite healing, including stem cells! Be careful though, the sugars in breastmilk will feed a yeast overgrowth, making thrush worse.

Air and sunlight may help nipples healing from thrush as yeast thrives best in dark, damp areas. Make the environment hostile for yeast by exposing your nipples to sunlight and taking a probiotic and cutting out refined sugar.

Heat or cold packs can provide comforting relief, it’s personal, some will love these and others will find them uncomfortable for addressing nipple pain. For those with Raynaud’s Syndrome there is no cure or way to permanently resolve the problem but a heat pack like this one may help minimize the symptoms, apply immediately after feeding.

Cold shredded carrots in the bra (will stain!) promotes healing and is soothing. After breastfeeding or pumping, put shredded carrots stored in the refrigerator in your bra (if you don’t mind your nursing pad turning orange, they can help hold the carrots in place).

Protect the nipples with a nipple shield may be necessary. Nipple shields should be used with caution and hopefully with the guidance of an experienced breastfeeding helper such as an IBCLC because there is a risk of lowering milk supply with using a breast shield (not everyone experiences this, just a factor to be aware is a possibility), but they can be a good option for some to help with tissue healing for a short time.

Take a break if you need to. Sometimes damaged tissue just can’t heal until it has the chance to rest. Regularly empty your breast to protect your supply and have breastmilk for your baby, be sure that you’re using the proper flange size so as not to potentially cause more damage.

 

What are your tips for preventing and healing nipple pain and tissue damage?

Share with us in the comments, together we can support each other in reaching our baby feeding goals.

 

_________________________

If this resource was helpful for you, consider helping The Leaky Boob by giving back. Help us keep our information, support, and resources free by becoming a patron and get access to exclusive content just for our supporters. Join here today.

______________________________

 

JMW headshot

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

Paths of Remembrance That Honor Pregnancy and Infant Loss

By Jessica Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the support of My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear

my-babys-heartbeat-bear-banner

Content Note: infant and pregnancy loss discussed.


my-babys-heartbeat-bear-2-cobranded-102016

Loss is profound and deep, that’s part of what makes it loss. The loss of a child amplifies that profound depth of pain in ways that are nearly tangible as loving as deeply as the extraordinary ordinary love a parent has for their children makes them vulnerable to extraordinary pain. Love is always a risk. A beautiful, breathtaking, agonizing risk. One worth taking, as terrifying as it is.

There is no balm for the rawness left after losing a child, no set of steps to follow to make things right again. Grief may have some known stages but each individual journey is unique and the path isn’t always clear. How one experiences grief and processes loss may look drastically different from another’s. The manner in which we move through grief and process loss isn’t a reflection of how real or deep our grief or our love is, it is a reflection of how we personally process, our personalities, and our needs. There isn’t right or wrong, good or bad, or more or less “real” ways to journey through such pain. It is all real and it is all personal. After 4 pregnancy losses, I have experienced how different it can be from one to the next.

Individual paths of remembrance may vary greatly. For some, the ways they remember will be internal with little external manifestation. For others, the external honoring helps center the internal grief, an extension of the love, joy, grief, and pain of their loss. What matters most is the significance to those for whom the memorials provide connection and comfort and while some would never visit such a memorial, others will find healing in something they can touch and see.

Throughout history people have intrinsically understood the need for memorials, external physical representations of the significant losses in our society be it through war, natural disaster, or other tragedy. We build memorials, commission sculptures, fashion fountains, mount plaques, and more to preserve the memory of and respect significant loss in our societies. These memorials provide connections, anchoring points not only for our grief but also for our collective memories, drawing our communities together reminding us not only of those lost but also the importance of having such connections in spite of the risk of great pain. Such memorials honor love and life as well those we’ve risked loving in this life.

So it is with personal loss. Without even realizing it we construct memorials for ourselves even on a psychological level. There is a reason we can feel the anniversary of a loved one’s death approaching without even checking the calendar, our bodies remember. For some creating a tangible expression can be a powerful step in healing, a sort of remembrance path to travel, not to get over their loss but rather to connect with it and embrace the significance. In embracing our emotions and very real loss we can fully grieve, releasing ourselves.

my-babys-heartbeat-bear-3-cobranded-102016

7 Remembrance paths that honor pregnancy and infant loss

Naming. If your child’s name wasn’t already known to you, consider selecting a name to honor their life and connect you with them as a person. Having a name for the one you’re grieving connects us with the realness of our grief and with the personhood lost. Whether you choose to display and publicly share your child’s name or to keep it to yourself, your heart will hold the name close in comfort and the reality of your loss won’t go unnamed.

Sharing. Society’s discomfort with personal grief tends to silence those that speak of pregnancy and infant loss, it was years before I learned that I had a great aunt and great uncle twins that died in infancy because nobody ever spoke of them. When I asked my grandmother about it she told me nobody ever wanted to talk about them but she thought of them often, just kept her thoughts to herself. We sat together that afternoon and memorialized the relatives I never knew who held a special place in my grandma’s heart. Speaking of those we’ve lost is a powerful way to honor and remember them. Sharing our stories of loss connects us with others and comforts both those sharing and those receiving.

Images. With pregnancy and infant loss we may not have very may still images or video given the short time our children were with us but any images we do have or ones we create are not only a cathartic connecting point for us as their parents, these images can invite others to connect as well and celebrate the joy that was, honoring the pain that is. Sonograms, bump photos, pregnancy announcements, birth photos, whatever we do have may be  Be they kept in a private place or displayed in a special place in your home or a unique framing, the images of the children we have lost can give us a focal point in our grieving and remembering.

Audio. As with images, we may not have much by way of audio of the children gone too soon but the sounds of those we love are amongst the most difficult memories to hold onto. Any audio we do have, a recording of the first heartbeat doppler or ultrasound, the sounds of our own voices sharing our happy expecting news, first cries, newborn gurgles and coos, whatever it is we have, these sounds may be comforting evidence of the life of one we love. With today’s technology we can memorialize those precious sounds in special picture frames, card, or even a stuffed animal to hear whenever we need to.

Green and Growing. One of my dear friends lost a child she never got to hold other than in her womb. After a grueling delivery experience, she and her partner decided to plant a tree with a garden stone bearing their child’s name and the date as well as words that she had associated with the pregnancy up until the time of loss. That was 7 years ago. Today this beautiful tree has grown solid and tall, a climbing tree for the other children in the family and neighborhood. Under the tree planted in their child’s honor picnics, parties, life and love unfold regularly. “Riley’s Tree” has become a special connecting anchor not only for my friend but for their community, a beautiful tribute to Riley.

Rituals. Lighting a candle at certain times, touching a special stone, telling certain stories on certain dates, playing a specific song, and wearing certain articles give a sense of security much like the environmental ritual of seasons.

Personalized. During pregnancy I select an animal for my baby. Everything I purchase and make for them with that animal is theirs and what I intend to save as heirlooms. For the pregnancies I’ve lost they become talking points with my surviving children. The stuffed puppy, the little robin, they were bought with love for a baby that we never got to play with.

No matter how you honor the memory of a child you have loved gone from this world too soon, the greatest memorial that can ever be is to live fully, honoring those we have loved and lost by living well, daring to go on risking our hearts by connecting, loving, and remembering.

my-babys-heartbeat-bear-1-cobranded-102016

____________________

Jessica Martin-Weber

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

 

When There Is No Glow- Nymphai and Nurturing Our Own Healing

by Jessica Martin-Weber

______________________________

The Leaky Boob is committed to providing free information, support, and community. You can be a part of making that possible by joining our circle of support. Any and all support amount makes a difference.

_________________________

 

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

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

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

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

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

Unfortunately, that isn’t what happens.

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

Decidedly not glowing.

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

Because no glowing.

I hate being pregnant.

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

Pregnant mothers are supposed to glow and love pregnancy.

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

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

When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

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

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

When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

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

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

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

Even if you aren’t glowing.

Specially if you aren’t glowing.

Poopins front wrap Tekhni Nymphai

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

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

Here’s what has helped me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

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

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

 

_________________________

If this resource was helpful for you, consider helping The Leaky Boob by giving back. Help us keep our information, support, and resources free by becoming a patron and get access to exclusive content just for our supporters. Join here today.

______________________________

 

Jessica Martin-WeberDrawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of wereallhumanhere.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 23 years.

 

 

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ve Become a Creepy Mom

by Jessica Martin-Weber

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

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

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

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

I was a total creeper in church on Sunday.

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

church quote

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

I wanted to give her a little nibble.

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

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

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

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

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

She was breastfeeding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Why Do Mothers Crowd Source Healthcare Decisions On Social Media?

by Jessica Martin-Weber
women making decisions

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

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

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

You know what else we also see all the time?

Women who doubt themselves to the extreme.

And why wouldn’t they?

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

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

Hysterical. Emotional. Irrational. Illogical.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gender disparity in health care

I get waiting to call, not sure if you’re overreacting or being silly. Afraid to do something stupid that could end in your fear being used to humiliate you or even get you in trouble. I totally get it. There are several reasons I understand why one would crowdsource medical advice, not the least of which is that thanks to crowdsourcing, I’m alive (hello HER forums). Because of this very practice, I was better able to advocate for myself and push for better care. I know I would have died without the information my HG sisters shared because I was belittled and mocked by my OB, ER doctors, and nurses many, many times when I went in for care so I doubted myself every single time. Sharing with my community could help me find my courage to face that again if need be.

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

And fear being blamed.

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

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

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

judging women posting on FB

_______________________

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