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.

Looking to Increase Your Pumping Output? Try Parallel Pumping!

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Dr. Kathleen F. McCue, FNP-BC, IBCLC-RLC
This article made possible by the generous support of Littlebeam Nursing Pillows.

Not every lactating parent will find it necessary to pump to reach their breastfeeding goals. Many, however, do find it necessary. Whatever the reason for pumping breastmilk- whether it is to supplement your baby with your milk when you are away from them, to supplement at-the-breast feeds regularly, or in order to donate – efficiency and sufficient milk supply are certainly desired. While the primary way to increase breastmilk supply is to empty the breasts fully and frequently, and usually nothing is quite as good at that as your baby, sometimes other strategies are helpful particularly if you’re looking to increase your pumping output. It is important to note that output isn’t the same as supply and sometimes it is just about getting the milk that is in the breast, out of the breast! Typically, if everything is functioning normally, our sweet, soft, warm, cuddly babies are much better at emptying the breast than a cold, whirring machine pressed against your breast sucking mechanically. Letting down to a breast pump may take time and practice and there are several different aspects of milk let down with a pump that can help such as proper flange fit, lubricating flanges, and utilizing the suction and speed settings on the pump to customize cycles that encourage let down and expression. Without that cuddly, sweet, soft, and warm baby, trying to get letdown can be, well… a let down.

But what if you could have the cuddly warm baby help with both emptying the breast and having more of an output with the pump?

Rather than feeding baby directly from the breast, then pump, then bottle-feed (also called “triple feeding”), pumping one side while baby is latched on the other can cut down on a step if supplementing with mother’s milk is necessary. Pumping one side while baby is latched on the other is called “parallel pumping.” Parallel pumping may cut down on work, save time, and may lead to increased output. Parallel pumping is the breastfeeding version of working smarter, not harder. It is believed parallel pumping yields such results because having baby latched helps with initial letdown (ever leak from one breast when baby is latched and breastfeeding from the other breast?), trigger additional letdowns to the pump, and double stimulation increases the body’s response and increases milk production- much like having twins. My own personal experience with parallel pumping was such that even when my own babies no longer needed my milk, I was responding so well with parallel pumping that I continued in order to donate my milk to other babies. It made pumping seem like less of a time commitment in order to donate as I was able to do it when I was already sitting to feed my baby, and it took less time to pump while having an even higher output.

*Keep reading for tips on getting started with parallel pumping.

The technique of parallel pumping works so well and with such efficiency that many parents have tried it with excellent results. Dr. Kathleen F. McCue conducted a study that is being published in Clinical Lactation journal that looked at satisfaction with the technique of parallel pumping. 

Some comments from patients:

“I was able to sit there and nurse him and also pump so that my husband can do the next feeding, which was fabulous.”

“I felt a sense of accomplishment the first time I did it. [Like,] ‘Okay, look at this. It’s working really well.’ She got into the football hold. I was able to pump, and it did feel like it was maximizing time.”

“Once you get the mechanics down it felt good in a way to feel like you were being efficient, like an efficient use of time.”

“I feel like I’m getting the pumping done simultaneously. Because I’m only pumping one breast at a time I can have one clean flange waiting… for next round. It actually takes a little bit of pressure off of me and I feel like I’m getting more done.”

“It is just efficient, because if my daughter only wanted to nurse from one side then normally what I would do is that I would feed her and then get her down sleeping, and then pump the other side. So, if I could just pump while she was nursing, it’s more efficient that way. That was nice not to have to then, after I get her down, then sit down and have to pump for another 15 minutes.”

Now you have heard how well parallel pumping works, it’s time to get started!

  • Get comfortable feeding your baby with a variety of holds. Many find the football hold most comfortable for parallel pumping but try different holds and get comfortable with them to see what best works for you.
  • Pillows are your friend. Support your baby’s body with pillows. A versatile nursing pillow such as the Littlebeam Nursing Pillow will allow you to find the best position that works for you and your baby. Use as many pillows as necessary to support your baby at your breast.
  • Choose your pump. A double electric pump may be most efficient even though you’re only using one side to parallel pump. However, some find a single electric or manual pump to be sufficient. A passive silicone suction pump may be a comfortable, effective option as well.
  • Set up and be familiar with your pump before trying to parallel pump. A few pumping sessions with just the pump can go a long way in making the experience of parallel pumping a smooth one. Remember, it isn’t always best to crank the speed and suction all the way up, particularly if it makes you uncomfortable or causes you pain. Instead, use the highest comfortable vacuum setting with the highest speed to encourage letdown, slowing the speed when letdown is achieved. Adjust multiple times through the feed/pumping session for best results.
  • A hands-free-pumping bra is the way to go. Free up your hands to support your baby, use the pump controls, utilize hands on pumping/breast massage, or even just to be able to take a drink while you feed the baby and the pump.
  • Get comfortable. Find a spot that is comfortable with plenty of room for you, the baby, and your pump. 
  • Don’t wait for late hunger cues. Set up before baby is too hungry by catching those early hunger cues and get situated before baby is upset and “hangry.” Have flanges and milk storage container (bottle or bag) washed and ready to go between feedings/pumping sessions.
  • Position pump first. Have the pump placed on your breast before bringing your baby to your breast. It is much more challenging to get the pump in place with a squirmy baby on the other breast.
  • Distraction. Some babies find the pump to be a distraction and may hit or kick the pump, yank tubing, or simply stop feeding to look at it. Have something for baby to focus on such as a nursing necklace or safe toy.
  • Have baby prime the pump! Latch baby before starting to pump then turn on the pump (remember, not too strong- pain interferes with letdown!) and pay attention to your baby. Before you know it, your milk will be flowing!

Want more on parallel pumping? Watch the following video with Dr. Kathleen McCue.

Lucky’s Birth – Live!, with My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear

This special occasion made possible by the generous support of My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear.

 

Ever since we live streamed Sugarbaby’s birth 5 years ago, we have received message after message from people thanking us for showing how calm and beautiful birth can be. And ever since we announced this pregnancy, we have received message after message from people asking us if we are going to live stream Lucky’s birth too. Yes, it’s a private event for our family, but we also consider this a wonderful opportunity for us to do our part in re-normalizing birth as a biological event first, that is medicalized only if absolutely necessary. We consider it an educational opportunity for the masses!

We will start the live stream (below the Live Chat window) once labor officially kicks in. Labor could last just a few hours (or less!) and go for 24 hours or more. There’s no predicting just how long it’ll take. We have recruited some special help to keep things interesting. First we will have someone from our team interacting in the Live Chat window below, posting tidbits of information regarding the birth, and actively answering your questions.

Second, Lavinia is excited to act the part of interviewer for a number of short FB Live Streams were calling Featurettes. She’ll be discussing several topics with our birth team and family, from what the midwives need to do to get set up, to what our kids are doing to help celebrate their little sister’s birth (spoiler alert: there may be cake). These featurettes will be separate from the static live feed below.

Feel free to share this exciting event with your friends, family, and strangers online!

Below the Live Chat window and the Live feed, we are featuring a number of brands that believe in the importance of education relating to motherhood, family, and health – their featured products represent their commitment to supporting mothers and their families.

Enter your username

 

 

A huge thank you to our Title Sponsor: My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear.

To help celebrate Lucky’s arrival, My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear is offering 7 Rainbow Keepsake Kits, one for each of 7 Lucky winners!

The Rainbow Keepsake Kit is a beautiful way to celebrate or honor a life. Accessorize your Heartbeat Animal with a rainbow tutu, rainbow bowtie, or both. Comes with a 13-15″ stuffed animal of your choice and heart-shaped recorder. A $39.99 value. 

To enter this giveaway, please use the widget at the end of this post. 

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A big thank you to Earth Mama Organics and Andaluz Waterbirth Center for co-sponsoring Lucky’s big day!

Be sure to check on The Leaky Boob Facebook page for fun featurettes full of home birthing facts, thanks to My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear, Earth Mama Organics, and Andaluz.

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From the positive test to the big push, from the first latch to the thousandth diaper, Earth Mama effectively supports the miraculous wonders and common indignities of motherhood with effective, natural herbal care. They know the fierce love, gut-wrenching fear, and boundless joy, that are simultaneously present and part of the process, because they’ve been there. And they’re here to tell you:

You’ve got this
You’re not alone
And by the way: 
You’re amazing 

Hemorrhoids and all. 

Earth Mama wants you to know about the importance of Lying-in after birth. As defined on their website, “‘Lying-in’ is the period of time for a postpartum mama to heal and bond with her newborn. It’s a time to take care of the mama that made the miracle, and heal her body and soul while she gets to know every crease, dimple, and the sweet scent of her brand new baby.”

Read all about this important time on their blog.

Earth Mama has developed a range of products focused on healing and soothing postpartum mamas, including their Organic Monthly Comfort Tea and Postpartum Bath Herbs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We are thrilled to be on this baby journey with the amazing midwifery team at Andaluz Waterbirth Center here in Portland, Oregon. Their beautiful birth center, with its big birthing tubs and homey feel, would have easily swayed us into having our Lucky there if our hearts weren’t hard set on continuing our home birthing tradition! Anyone in the greater Portland area interested in having a midwife-assisted birth should definitely take the tour. Andaluz Waterbirth Center is just about as charming as its midwives, who embody the simplicity, beauty, and spirituality inherent in bringing new life into the world. There is an art between applying knowledge and letting nature take its course, and these competent midwives know just how to manage that balance.

Follow Andaluz Waterbirth Center on Facebook!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Getting Ready For Baby And How We “Do It All” (Lucky’s Birth Live Feed Test)

We’re often asked how we prepare our family for a new baby, how we set up our birth space, and how we “do it all” with kids, managing our business, homeschooling some of our children (3), household responsibilities, our marriage, etc.

Sometimes we write about it but we decided that since we need to test out the tech set up for the birth, maybe we should just show you. Unpolished, unrehearsed, this video is us sharing our real life.

Check out our chat feature too, say hi and help us test it. This feature will be utilized during the birth live feed for interaction and to answer questions. We’d appreciate your help in testing this feature, thanks!

Enter your username

 

Belly Painting- Celebrating and Commemorating Pregnancy With Your Children

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

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

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

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

Weight Gain in Your Breastfed Baby

by Shari Criso, RN, CNM, IBCLC

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo Feeding

Evenflo-Feeding-Brand-Ad_25AUG15-e1453970233307

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[vimeo https://vimeo.com/138333023 w=600&h=338]

 

One very common concern that comes up frequently for breastfeeding moms and dads is that their breastfed baby is not gaining weight fast enough, or as quick as other babies. This often happens when parents take the baby to the pediatrician and the pediatrician says that the baby’s just not gaining fast enough. They will use a growth chart, plot your baby’s weight on the growth chart, and then say your baby needs to be growing faster!

As you can imagine, this can be very concerning for a breastfeeding mom, because you’re thinking, ”do I need to supplement?”…”am I just not making enough?”

What I want to talk about here are normal growth patterns of breastfed babies.

Unfortunately, because we have so few exclusively breastfed babies in this country (and this really is the case, that there aren’t that many babies that are being breastfed for an entire year) their weights are being compared to formula fed infants that often grow and gain faster and weigh more, especially in the second half of the first year.

So what is a normal weight gain for a breastfed babies?

Typically breastfed babies will gain faster in the first 4 months of life. Typically somewhere around 4-8 oz or 5-7 oz a week on average, is the amount that a breastfed baby will gain.

evenflo February

When I say average, what I mean is that they won’t ALWAYS gain that amount every single week or consistently, so weighing them every week will actually be a problem. They will have growth spurts, and gain more weight some weeks and less weight other weeks. Typically this is somewhere between 5-7 oz per week, for the first 4 months, on average…and then around 4-6 months you’ll start to see this weight gain drop to about 4-6 oz per week, and then from 6-12 months, 2-4 oz per week is the average norm for breastfed babies. Remember, this is just basic standard or average, it does not mean ALL babies are going to follow the same patterns.

It’s important to watch your baby’s cues and take into account other things like your size – smaller parents, smaller baby; are they reaching all their milestones, are they hydrated, are they peeing, are they pooping, are they smiling, are they doing as expected developmentally – these are all important factors to consider in making sure your baby is healthy…not just are they gaining weight! Are they gaining length, is their head circumference growing as well?

Another very important thing to keep in mind is and to understand are the growth charts themselves.  This comes up with my clients all the time! Some pediatricians are using the incorrect growth charts to measure and plot your babies weight gain. What you should be asking is, “are you using the WHO growth charts for breastfed babies?” Many of these charts being used in these offices are charts that are based on formula fed infants. The older CDC charts actually measured breastfed babies against formula fed infants, and we know that this is not accurate. So you want to be sure that your office is using the WHO charts to make sure that they are plotting it correctly.

The other thing to do is to notice that just because a baby is at the third percentile, does not mean that your baby is not within normal parameters. Your baby does not have to be at the 50th percentile or the 90th percentile!

A baby that is at the 3rd or 5th percentile for weight is just as healthy as a baby who is at the 70, 80 or 90 growth percentile. These are the normal ranges, and what you really want to keep an eye on is that your baby is staying consistent in their growth. That is really what will tell you the difference. I’m going to post some links here so you’ll have those growth charts, and if for some reason your doctor is not using them, you’ll have access to them to bring them with you and have them use that chart to help plot your baby’s growth.

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Have you been concerned about your baby’s growth? Does your child’s doctor use the correct charts?

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Shari Criso 2016

 For over 23 years, Shari Criso has been a Registered Nurse, Certified Nurse Midwife, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, nationally recognized parenting educator, entrepreneur, and most importantly, loving wife and proud mother of two amazing breastfed daughters. See the entire library of Shari’s My Baby Experts Video Program here.

Hot Mama Cocoa

by Carrie Saum

image

There is something about breastfeeding and milk-making that just kills my sex drive, friends.  It goes the way of bell-bottom jeans and jello molds.  They’re fun once in a while, and have definitely been more popular in previous times, but their heydays have already passed.  Wearing those jeans feels like a game of dress up or something you pull out for a 70’s themed special occasion.  And jello molds haven’t been pulled out AT ALL since 1987.  Suffice it to say, Taylor Swift has probably never had lime jello with canned mandarin oranges and pecans while wearing her mom’s bell-bottom jeans.

Feeding our babies is miraculous.  Breastfeeding, formula feeding, pumping, or any other combination those is special and keeping a human alive is an amazing feat.  I remember holding my son for the first time, full of wonder, joy and terror.  How in the world could I be trusted to feed him and keep him safe? I did, though, and you are keeping your little ones alive and safe, too.  But that first year of their little lives takes it out of us as parents.  It’s part of the journey, and they make up for it with sweet cuddles, funny moments, and lending us their perspective of wonder and newness.

But that first year can be hell on your sex drive.

Adding in a little warmth, nourishment, and some helpful nutrition can boost your energy. And let’s be honest here: it could lead to increased sex drive and possibly a milk supply boost and who doesn’t want to get in on that action?!  Sign me up.  Twice.

So, here’s a little bit of cure for whatever ails you: hot chocolate.  Okay, hot chocolate with a little twist. Chocolate releases endorphins.  Endorphins make you feel like you are made of actual magic.  Maca is a natural hormone booster, and for some women, can boost milk supply. Cinnamon stabilizes your blood sugar and the cayenne pepper might just make you feel like you’re 22.

Here is an easy tutorial for you cocoa, because sometimes words are hard without music and pictures. Seriously.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk of your choice (I use coconut milk)
  • 1 Tbsp honey or sweetener of your choice
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a tiny dusting of cayenne pepper (a tiny bit goes a VERY LONG WAY)

Directions:

  1. Combine all of your ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat on medium low.
  2. Whisk continuously until hot and well blended. (5 ish minutes)
  3. Pour into your favorite mug, or thermos and sip.
  4. Put on your sexiest nursing tank.
  5. Make another baby. JUST KIDDING.  Unless you want to.  Then go for it!

You’re so hot right now,
Carrie

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*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.

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If you love this recipe, you might like this recipe for Super Tasty Lasagna or Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding on Our Stable Table.

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Carrie Saum, headshotCarrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.

 

Tips From The Leakies for Breastfeeding and Babywearing

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Breastfeeding in a Beco Baby Carrier Soliel video demonstrating how to position and adjust the carrier, baby, and breast for hands-free breastfeeding:

The Leakies on the Facebook page had some tips to share for breastfeeding and babywearing, no matter your breast size:

  • Don’t wait for baby to be super hungry and upset, it’s easier when everyone is calm.
  • If your carrier has a hood, put the hood up for privacy.
  • Use a lightweight baby blanket rolled up under your breast for support and positioning help.
  • For small breasts, be sure not to drop the waist band too low and don’t be afraid to tighten the straps for better support.
  • If you need baby higher, a rolled up baby blanket under their bum can help.
  • Practice at home before trying to do it in public.
  • Talk to your baby while you position them to help you both keep calm.
  • Stretchy necklines are your friend!
  • It’s important to get comfortable, don’t end up sore or awkward, practice positioning until it works for both of you.
  • Try to have babies head tilted a bit so nose is clear to breath safely.
  • Hip carry options can be easier for large breasts.
  • Baby’s mouth height should be just at/above nipple.
  • Hold your breast for the latch.

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What tips would you add?

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Breastfeeding, sexism, and public opinion polls

Oh look, another poll from a media outlet for their audience to weigh in about women breastfeeding in public or past a certain age!  Isn’t this fun?  Scary boobs, scary breastmilk, scary baby, vote now!  Breastfeeding, sexism and breastfeeding, is that even an issue?  Does everybody really get to weigh in on a woman feeding her baby?  Is it helping anyone?  Or is it just a form of sexist entertainment?

Taking a deeper look at how these types of polls are hurting mothers and why I’m over these polls and won’t be sharing them anymore:

What do you think, are polls like these helping or hurting?  Should we be voting on how women feed their children or do we have better things to do?

What does it look like to breastfeed a 2 year old?

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Child with birthday balloon

What does it look like to breastfeed a 2 year old?  Is it gross?  Creepy?  Or is it just a continuation of the sweet and simple nurturing experience the mother and child already have together?  I can’t keep her safe and protected from everything but while she still wants to be in my arms and finds comfort at my breast, I’ll continue to do what I can.

What does it look like?  This:

This past weekend we celebrated Sugarbaby’s 2nd birthday.  The day was fun, special, and she understood it was all about her.  And cake.  With 6 big girls in the family, it was a loud and energetic, ushering in her next year of life with enthusiasm.

And without much notice, I now am breastfeeding a 2 year old.  This doesn’t feel significant to Sugarbaby, nor to my family.  The only reason this is noteworthy is because breastfeeding beyond the first 12 months is hardly normal in our society, let alone breastfeeding beyond the first 24.  Many myths surround breastfeeding in general and they just increase after the deadline some have assigned (see Six myths about breastfeeding toddlers and preschoolers).  For many, breastfeeding this long is strange, extreme, extended, and questionable, at best.  Abusive, pedophilia, and psychologically damaging at worst.  A view point I don’t understand and research doesn’t support and when I asked a 12 year old that breastfed until she was 4 to share, she didn’t see what the issue could be either.

Breastfeeding beyond the first year makes many, many people uncomfortable.  Breastfeeding a child that walks and talks and plays, going well beyond the 2nd year makes most people uncomfortable.  It’s understandable too.  In our culture the majority of babies aren’t breastfed past 6 weeks and of those that are they usually are weaned off the breast by 12 months.  It’s rare in the majority of western culture to see a child over the age of 1 breastfeed, let alone 2.

But imagine you were in a different culture.  A culture where the average age of weaning was between 2-5 years old.  It would be common place to see a young child breastfeeding and nobody would think it’s odd.  In fact, if those people were to come here they would probably wonder why our children don’t continue breastfeeding at that age and perhaps find it unsettling and concerning.

What it boils down to in many ways is what we’re conditioned to.  The WHO and the AAP both recommend breastfeeding until it is mutually agreeable to the mother and child.  Which, for a good number of families would be well beyond that 24 month mark.  But we rarely get to see it.  For that to become an acceptable reality in the States it needs to be seen and not just as something to be laughed at in movies.  In other words, we need to start conditioning our culture to accept a new normal and we need to start doing it ourselves.  Which is totally possible.  Just look at standards of dress.  What was once considered inappropriate attire is now every day wear.  Adjusting our standards to accept a new normal is something that happens in culture on a daily basis.  Over time, we’ll get there and it may not ever be common place (though I sure do hope so) but it will seem less odd.  So while I don’t breastfeed to make any kind of point or in pursuit of any particular agenda, I do share the breastfeeding images and videos to help bring about that change.

breastfeeding 2 year old

This isn’t to say that women have to breastfeed beyond any point at all.  In fact, women don’t have to do anything and manipulating, shaming, or attempting to force someone to do something they really don’t want to do only serves to make the issue a controversial one and doesn’t help society to accept it as normal.  How could they when a portion of the population would resent it.  The messaging isn’t that it’s better to breastfeed longer or that those that don’t aren’t loving parents willing to sacrifice for their children.  The message is simply that there are reasons to and every family has to weigh those along with their personal reasons to make the right decision for their situation.

For our family it is simple.  Breastfeeding beyond societal accepted norms isn’t about anything but the simple, sweet, loving continuation of what we already have.  As I shared on Facebook, the decision to continue wasn’t about or for anyone else but us, and at 2 years old now she’s quite happy with our arrangement and blissfully unaware that others may look down on her continuing to find nourishment and comfort at my breast. A strong and confident little girl, I know that when Sugarbaby is ready to move on, she will have no problem doing so. For now though, I won’t be cutting her off even though some don’t understand. No arbitrary deadline can dictate how I care for my daughter and continue to meet her needs as she experiences them. Your breastfeeding goals, whatever they may be, are about you and your child, reach for them and don’t worry about what others think or say. Two weeks or two years (or more or less!), we support you.

For more on natural duration breastfeeding or breastfeeding beyond infancy, see what a toddler has to say here.