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Breastfed Babies are Better, Nursing a 3 Year Old is Gross, And Other Bullshit

Breastfed Babies are Better, Nursing a 3 Year Old is Gross, And Other Bullshit

When my oldest was a year old, a friend told me that my baby and I couldn’t be as bonded as her and her baby because we bottlefed and she breastfed. I wasn’t necessarily offended, as I was confused. I had a very deep bond with my baby and was madly in love her, so how could she claim that? To this day my daughter and I have a special connection.

What pretentious, judgmental bullshit that was. It is absolutely ridiculous when mothers judge each other over breastfeeding and bottlefeeding (it goes both ways). I am not talking about educating or sharing information, but flat out arguing, being snobby, gossiping, and being hateful. If a baby is fed and everyone is happy, keep your mouth shut and fingers off the keyboard.

My goodness ladies, there are bigger problems! Like hungry babies fucking dying. If you are so upset that you need to tear another mother down, get on a damn plane and fly somewhere and nurse those babies. Or feed people in your community because there are starving children right in your neighborhood!

You don’t think women who feed their babies formula know breast is best? No shit. But you know what? You aren’t living their life. You aren’t dealing with their past abuse issues, or postpartum depression and anxiety, or cracked bleeding nipples, or whatever else led to their choice.

A woman wants to cover or not when she nurses, that’s her choice. She wants to nurse her two or three year old, not your problem.

NEWS FLASH: You don’t have to always share your opinions. <— Read it again. Wish I realized that in my 20’s.

So, let me tell you about these two pictures.

january harshe fed is best

Both are same mom, same baby, same day. Both are of a mom who loves her baby with every fiber of her being. Both are of a baby who is loved, fed, sheltered, and adored. Both are of a mom and baby bonding. Both have a baby’s tummy getting full. Both are of a mom doing what she feels best at the given time. There are more similarities than differences.

Mamas, you do you and let others be them without your opinions. Breastfeed without fear, bottle-feed without fear, pump without fear, just feed those babies! We are all in the trenches of motherhood together and we are all going through our own struggles and journeys. Remember when we take a stand to take back postpartum, we also embrace variations of normal. So be a nice fucking human and raise kind people, because that’s what our babies need.

Breast is Normal, Fed is Best

Breast is Normal, Fed is Best

breastfeeding, world breastfeeding week, bottle feedingI’m not censoring myself. When my oldest was a year old, a friend told me that my baby and I couldn’t be as bonded as her and her baby because we bottle fed and she breastfed. I wasn’t offended, I was confused. I had a very deep bond with my baby and was madly in love her, so how could she claim that? To this day we have a deep connection.

What pretentious, judgmental bullshit that was. It is absolutely ridiculous when mothers judge each other over breastfeeding and bottle feeding (it goes both ways). I am not talking about educating or sharing information, but flat out arguing, being snobby, gossiping, and being hateful. If a baby is fed and everyone is happy, keep your mouth shut and fingers off the keyboard.

My goodness, ladies, there are bigger problems. Like hungry babies fucking dying. If you are so upset that you need to tear another mother down, get on a damn plane and fly somewhere and nurse those babies. Or feed people in your community because there are starving children right in your neighborhood!

You don’t think women who feed their babies formula know breast is best? No shit. But you know what? You aren’t living their life. You aren’t dealing with their past abuse issues, or postpartum depression, or cracked bleeding nipples, or whatever else led to their choice. A woman wants to cover or not when she nurses, that’s her choice. She wants to nurse her 2 or 3 year old, not your problem.

NEWS FLASH: You don’t have to always share your opinions. Read it again. Wish I realized that in my twenties.

So, let me tell you about these two pictures… Both are same mom, same baby, same day. Both are of a mom who loves her baby with every fiber of her being. Both are of a baby who is loved, fed, sheltered, and adored. Both are of a mom and baby bonding. Both have a baby’s tummy getting full. Both are of a mom doing what she feels best at the given time. More similarities than differences.

Be a nice human and raise kind children. That’s what our babies need!

When Breast ISN’T Best – One Mom’s Challenge with Breastfeeding

When Breast ISN’T Best – One Mom’s Challenge with Breastfeeding

When people started finding out my husband and I were expecting, one of the first questions people asked was if I planned to breastfeed. Of course I did! It’s what is best for baby! It’s natural! It’s free! It helps with bonding! Little did I know that none of those things were true…at least for my family. I never got around to taking a breastfeeding class, but I did watch a ton of YouTube videos by “natural mom vloggers.”  They all made it look so easy. I couldn’t wait to breastfeed my baby!

On May 30th, 2014 at 39 weeks and 1 day, my water suddenly broke at 11:30 am. I immediately started having contractions every four minutes. I was dilated to 3 cm by the time I got to triage at the hospital. By 2:00 pm I was having intense contractions every three minutes that made me moan and cry.  By the time I was admitted into my labor and delivery room, I was screaming out in pain and trying to make it through contractions that never really ended. They would peak, then ease up for about 10 seconds and then peak again.  My nurse kept saying how she couldn’t believe how close together and how intense my contractions were without giving me a break in between. I finally got an epidural which was the best decision I have ever made! By 7:00 pm I was completely dilated and ready to push. I had to wait 45 minutes for my OB to arrive to start pushing, but once I started, baby girl started to fly out! She was born at 8:02 pm and was completely perfect!

After all of the commotion had settled, I was asked if I wanted to breastfeed. Baby girl “latched on” immediately (now I know she actually did not have a correct latch). The labor and delivery nurse looked at baby nursing one time and said, “Looks good,” then left the room. I thought we were doing it correctly. My postpartum nurse and 3 lactation consultants in the hospital kept talking about how baby was “breastfeeding like a champ”. This made me feel great! I was so encouraged that breastfeeding was coming so easily!

We spent two long nights in the hospital, and we were discharged after a long night of painful non-stop cluster feeding. When I got home from the hospital, I took off my nursing tank only to pull of 2 huge scabs from my nipples that had stuck onto my shirt. I cried and cried not only from the pain, but from being so afraid to nurse my baby because of what it was going to feel like. My husband had to massage my shoulders and have me clench his arm when she latched because I would bawl every single time. I would wake up with my nipples stuck to my sheets and had to wet them to get them off in order to not rip the new scabs off. I tried every nipple cream I could find with no results.

In addition to bleeding nipples, I became extremely engorged and had clogged ducts the size of golf balls. I wanted to pump just enough to relieve the engorgement but the lactation consultants I had in the hospital gave me strict orders not to pump before four weeks or I would become engorged! Looking back I don’t know why I just didn’t do it anyway, but I was a first time mom and I wanted to do everything “right.” I saw my OB and he told me my breasts were “normal breastfeeding breasts,” even though when I saw him my breasts looked like huge lumpy bowling balls that were so tight they were shiny and had red streaks all over them. I told him I thought I was getting mastitis, but since I didn’t have a fever yet he said I was fine, and that breastfeeding “was supposed to be painful for a while.”

I dealt with this for three weeks. My baby literally needed to nurse ALL the time. My breasts never felt empty. Now I know she was hardly getting any milk. I was talking to one of my best friends who finally told me what I was going through was not normal. I scheduled an appointment with a lactation consultant outside of the hospital and saw her the next day. I was so excited to get this sorted out because I wanted breastfeeding to work!  She told me my breasts were very full and my nipples were extremely damaged. She told me she couldn’t believe I had not quit breastfeeding with how damaged my nipples were.
I liked her at first. Then she hooked me up to my pump. I pumped about half an ounce from each side even though my breasts were so full. She then watched my baby latch and told me I should be smashing her face into my boob more and told me that should help. She told me my baby had a lip tie and a posterior tongue tie but they were not so severe that they should be causing me so much pain, and baby should still be able to latch and empty my breasts.

Then she told me to have a good day! I was shocked that she was rushing me out so fast. I asked her what my plan should be, and if I should just pump and bottle feed until my nipples healed. She replied, “They are YOUR nipples. Do what you want.” I was so upset and cried the whole way home because I felt more lost and confused than I was before. I wanted so badly to breastfeed my baby but it felt like I had no hope.

I decided to pump until I healed because I couldn’t take the pain any more. When I got home and pumped 5 ounces (total), my breasts finally felt so much better! I gave my baby a bottle for the first time that night and that was the first time I think I bonded with my baby. I wasn’t in pain and she was full for the first time in her life! I was happy but still wanted to go back to breastfeeding. I researched and decided to get her tongue and lip tie fixed. We got then fixed at 5 weeks old and I thought we could go right back to breastfeeding! My nipples felt better for the most part. Unfortunately, since we didn’t get them fixed until she was 5 weeks old, she was unable to re-learn to breastfeed the right way. I then had to accept the fact I would be an exclusive pumper.

I became obsessed with pumping and my supply. My supply was very low. Since baby girl could not latch correctly, she never completely emptied my breasts and my body had regulated to this low supply. The same lactation consultant told me that I needed to pump every two hours to boost my supply. I wasn’t sleeping (now I know sleep is one of the best ways to ensure a good supply!). I was setting my alarm for every other hour to pump, even overnight. I would pump for 45 minutes  and only get out 1 ounce or less total. My nipples were so bad again from constant pumping. I was not making enough milk to feed my baby. I tried every supplement out there to boost milk supply and spent hundreds of dollars on them. I had to start giving my baby formula. She was hungry and I had no milk.

I was devastated and felt like the worst mom in the world. I felt very judged because of the whole natural parenting movement. I kept getting flashbacks of a YouTube video I watched when I was pregnant that showed a picture of formula and said “If you want to feed your baby breast milk instead of THIS STUFF, you may like my channel!” I was so stressed out because I wanted the best for my baby, and “breast is best!”  No one understood the guilt I was feeling, or the pressure I was putting on myself to give my baby the best. My husband had the best of intentions but would say things like, “Why is this SUCH a big deal to you? You are feeding her and that’s all that matters.” Comments like this just made me feel crazy and like my feelings were not justified.

Finally, one of my friends said something that made everything click for me. She said, “Maybe the breast actually isn’t best for you and your family.” I thought about this for a second. She was right! I did not have one fond memory of breastfeeding. I was in so much pain I was actually beginning to resent my baby. My husband was so stressed from seeing me in constant pain My baby never got full from it which made her constantly want to nurse. I know she could feel my body tense up when I nursed her and that made her tense. All breastfeeding was doing for my family was causing us pain!

This was the very moment I decided to give myself a break. I had worked so hard. I did everything I knew how to do to have a good breastfeeding relationship with my baby. It just wasn’t working for us. I decided I would pump and give her as much breast milk as I could, but also give her all the formula her little tummy wanted! I began pumping every four hours instead of every two. I finally relaxed and accepted our situation, and guess what? The moment I accepted it, I started making more milk.

Now, I know that stress is one of the biggest things that negatively affects milk supply. I began producing enough to only need to give her one bottle per day of formula. Now my baby is 7 months old, happy, healthy, and perfect. I am about to start weaning her from breast milk. My husband and I are going on a beach vacation in a couple of months and I don’t want to worry about pumping and bringing my pumping supplies and storing milk while we are there! I am now dealing with some guilt about weaning her, but I am proud of myself. I am proud of myself for doing what was best for our family. My baby was not happy while we were breastfeeding. None of us were.

Looking back, I wish I would have seen multiple lactation consultants, and followed my gut with pumping earlier to relieve my engorgement.  I wish I could go back and give my baby girl formula earlier, because I missed out on a lot of early bonding time with her. Now one of my favorite things to do is feed my baby a bottle, and watch her sweet little milk drunk (or formula drunk) face fall peacefully to sleep with a full belly.

I want other moms to know that feeding your baby formula is awesome! So is breastfeeding! So is exclusive pumping! It is awesome because you are feeding your baby and keeping a tiny little human alive and that is amazing.

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Come and Listen to a Story about a Mama {Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding}

Come and Listen to a Story about a Mama {Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding}

(To the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies theme song)

Come and listen to a story ‘bout a mama lost her head
A doting child-bearer keeping all her babies fed,
Then one day an adoptive mommy too
So many wee ones what will she do?
Breast milk that is, liquid gold, Nature’s nectar.

Well the next thing you know one babe is bottle fed
Some folks said “Woman use the breast instead!”
Said “Bottle feedin’ is silly as can be”
But mama chose wisely this I guarantee.
Bottles, feeding that is.  Healthy baby,thriving.

holly4

I have two babies.  I chose to breastfeed one and formula/bottle feed the other.  I could argue that the choice was made for me.  But this much I know is true, my babies are loved equally and with the same fierce mama intensity.

When I was 17 weeks pregnant with my son Ezra I received a phone call on a Monday morning that our 2 year old daughter’s biological parents had delivered a baby girl the day before.  I was asked if we would be willing to pick her up from the hospital when she was discharged and become her forever family.  So with my 8 year old on the floor playing legos, my 2 year old tugging on my leg, my 10 month old on my hip and my baby in my belly I called my husband at work to pose the big question.

I had prepared my heart to hear, “Woman you are nuts!” But instead my amazing husband said “Another daughter?  A sister for Naomi?  Yes!  Call and tell them yes!”

holly3

Two days later I found myself driving to the hospital to meet our daughter.  I gazed into her eyes and fed her a bottle of formula.  I counted her fingers and toes and giggled about how much she looked like her big sister.  This was truly a gift because I was not Naomi’s mommy until Naomi was 6 months old.  Holding Phoebe and bonding with her at 3 days old was amazing.  I was very deliberate about being the ONE to feed her the first few months ,even the feedings that occurred every 2 hours during the night.  This was sometimes a challenge with my growing belly and shrinking bladder.

She slept in our room in a bassinet beside my bed and I wore her in a wrap right on top of my baby bump.  When I was around 34 weeks pregnant my sweet husband began taking over caring for Phoebe during the night.  They shared a room and he got up to feed her whenever she peeped for a bottle.

To this day he is still the one that gets up with her if she needs some love in the middle of the night.  He is a very attentive father.  He is purposeful about his parenting and cares so deeply for our children.  He is my greatest support in life.  He also fully supports breastfeeding and my choices in the way I birth and the way I mother.  When Ezra was born he caught him, handed him to me and asked “When is he going to latch on?”  My lima bean latched on within 5 minutes of entering the world and has stayed latched on for the past 16 months.

holly5

I have breastfed Ezra in one arm while at the same time formula fed Phoebe in the other.  Once Ezra was born I could have attempted to begin breastfeeding Phoebe or I could have pumped milk and given it to her in a bottle.  These options seemed ideal but we did not finalize Phoebe’s adoption until she was 19 months old so they were not actual options but rather just romantic ideas in my head.

The truth is I do not know if I had the choice if I would have done it any differently.

When Ezra was born I had an 8 year old, 2 year old, 15 month old and a 4.5 month old.  I had 4 children in diapers!  My 8 year old became proficient at mixing bottles for me.  Our family was in survival mode in our little incubator of love for the first year of the “twins” lives.  I have no regrets in formula feeding my daughter and breastfeeding my son.  Those were the choices that were right for our family given our circumstances.

holly2

Phoebe is now 20 months old and just weaned herself from the bottle last week.  Ezra is 16 months and still nursing upon request.  My son Zane is 9 he was breastfed and self-weaned when he was 2.5 years old.  Naomi is 3 and was formula fed.  Quinn is 2. He nursed until he was only 11 months old because my milk dried up when I was 5 months pregnant with Ezra.

My children are biological and adopted, breastfed and formula fed.  My children are loved and adored, cherished and celebrated.

I implore you dear mothers to show grace and courtesy to one another in regards to feeding choices.  There are a myriad of reasons a family may bottle/ formula feed their child.  This is not a thing to be judged.  Let’s continue to cultivate a community where we encourage one another in our motherhood journeys.  A community where our hearts feel safe and we love one another.

~Holly

holly1

This is a guest post by Holly, you can read her recent birth story here.

All pictures copyrighted by the BWF Blog or photographer.
Photography credit: Blooming Nest Photography

Division: What Are We Fighting For?

Division: What Are We Fighting For?

I recently asked on our BWF page if people thought there was division in the birth community (moms and professionals) or unity. Everyone answered division on some level. One woman, an OB, asked, “What are we fighting for?”

Good question.

This is not referring to women who are fighting to have a voice or for their rights. This is about women fighting with each other. Birthing women, doulas, midwives. What is everyone fighting about? I’ve seen the following…

Which child birth class is best.

What kind of midwife is best.

That the only way to birth is all natural and all women can.

All women need to be in the hospital as it’s the only safe place.

All women should breastfeed and did not try hard enough if they don’t.

All women should formula feed.

Are these really things to fight about? You know, if women could stop nitpicking, they could come together despite these minor differences and really focus (together) on real issues such as…

Women having no voice or say in their births.

Women having recourse if they have been mistreated or the victim of negligent care (by any kind of care provider).

Helping each other find safe, competent care providers.

The important issues will not change while everyone is fighting over Bradley vs. Hypnobirthing or breast over bottle or drug free versus an epidural. Yes, those things are important. Educating on these topics is vital. Fighting over them is not.

Let’s focus on educating, informing, then supporting those choices. Then we can be united and work towards solutions on serious issues surrounding childbirth in our societies.

~January

*Maternity Photography by Ian Christman

The Diversity of ‘Birth Without Fear’ Pregnant and Birthing Women

The Diversity of ‘Birth Without Fear’ Pregnant and Birthing Women

I have received comments on this post and this one stating that I am intentionally not showing diversity in women and families.

First, let me say that I would never do that. I love diversity!

Second, I think it’s judgmental to assume that the pictures/women are not diverse! Just because someone is has light skin, doesn’t mean they are caucasian. Also, don’t assume they are straight, or married, etc.

Third, well…I can only post the pictures that BWF Moms send me. If I don’t have it, I don’t have it.

So, here are some pictures to show the diversity of BWF Women. A little bit of everything.

Sent in by Mae Burke Photography.

Angela nursing her 10 month old Monkey.

Sent in by Synethia.

“This is my family. Brown daddy, white mama, 8 kids, (including 2 daughters boyfriends) one baby in my belly and Santa! We’re LOVE crazy!!!” ~Mamabear Nonamom

“This is just after the birth of my 3rd child. Her very first meal, and an intense bonding moment between mom and newborn, I was crying which is why you cant see my face.” ~Samantha

Establishing a breastfeeding in the hospital.

Babywearing

Linda: “Working mumma breastfeeding in the office.”

Shanna with her husband and son, Rowan.

Nadine: “I am Hispanic and Dutch (racial background) American my Hubbs is German (racial background) American together we made a super baby!! I am sending another pic of us, he is wearing a superman cloth diaper made by Bunzuke Cloth cloth diapers!”

“I (Elizabeth) am in purple, sitting on my husband, Sean’s, lap with our youngest daughter, Adriana (then 2), on his lap next to me. Our son, Sean Kevin II (then 9) is the oldest, in dots is Faelynne (then 3), Caetlin (then 8) is behind her. Standing in the back is Christina, Adriana’s bio-mom. This is our blended family. All under one roof, never boring always eventful.”

Nicky with her girlfriend, Christy, holding their baby boy (Devin) for the first time after Nicky’s cesarean section. It was moments after his birth on 02/04/11. He was 9.6lbs and 21 inches.

“My 7 month and I. This afternoon nursing session is what gets me through my work day.” ~Whitney

My friend Amal and her family.

“Myself and my biracial (caucasian and African American) daughter.” ~Allison Y.

Siobhan, her husband Ian, and her daughter Saoirse.

Shir,  Pedro and baby Noah ( by Alejandro Llauro Photography”)

“Noah holding his own bottle of yes, formula. I was breastfeeding til 5 months, got hospitalized on and off for 2 weeks and they told me to stop because of the harsh medications. I could have started again, but he was sleeping better, feeling better, acting better, grew hair faster, and he was happier. I realized it was because my breastmilk was not giving him what he needed (it was pretty much water because of my gallbladder attacks), so I stopped.

Selina: ” I have changed my parenting style over the last 3 years, I’ve formula fed, had an epidural, breast fed, and gone completely drug free, I’ve felt weak, I’ve felt empowered, and I am really just learning everyday!”

Elisabeth

“Me tandem nursing for the first time just a few minutes after the birth of my daughter.” ~Aimee F.

Amy P.: “From Christmas day. Our miss 2 and miss 3 on Nana’s recliner chair.”

“Diversity in the world is a basic characteristic of human society, and also the key condition for a lively and dynamic world as we see today.” ~Jinato Hu
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