Category Archives: Breastfeeding Support

The Power of Finding Community

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about non-traditional breastfeeding support. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!

blog2Becoming a mother has given me a new perspective on the idea of community support. Had you talked with me during college, for example, I would have said that I knew all about support networks – friends, family, school peers, and church community. It wasn’t until I was a flailing new parent, desperately trying to figure it all out for the first time, that I fully comprehended the value of a shared meal or a listening ear.

Like pretty much everything in parenting that one expects to be intuitive, breastfeeding is neither “easy” nor “natural” for many moms. Ever the good student, I took a class about breastfeeding while pregnant with my first child, trying to arm myself with as much information as possible. And maybe it helped – but not nearly as much as learning from other moms and lactation consultants after my child was born. Their support was invaluable and helped me through some rough patches.

blog3After nursing three children and reflecting on the ups and downs, as well as on the power of community support during that time, the seed of an idea began to germinate. I envisioned mothers from all walks of life offering support to each other by sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly about breastfeeding through story-telling. Three years later, I published Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding, a collection of short humor stories by American and Canadian writers who, with brutal honesty, serve up the trials, tribulations, and laugh-out-loud turbulence of life as the one-stop milk shop.

During the past year, I have traveled to a variety of cities to promote Have Milk, Will Travel and I have come to think of it a bit like a politician’s “listening tour.” In each location, I read a few excerpts from the book, but most of the time is spent engaging with the audience, asking them to share their own stories. And anyone who has had any experience with breastfeeding, whether for 3 weeks or 3 years, has a story to tell.

cover FINAL imageListening to women’s breastfeeding stories is powerful stuff. Suddenly, new mothers realize that others have walked the same path and can offer compassion and perhaps even answers. It’s incredibly compelling to witness mothers teaching each other, even when (especially when!) they didn’t know they had anything to teach. And seeing young moms come to events and admit that they have no support in their life for their breastfeeding struggles, then leave with phone numbers and new friends for playdates and support? Well, it’s beyond words.

If you’d like to check out Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding, you can find it at Demeter Press (www.demeterpress.org) and Amazon.com. Or contact me directly [at rachel {at} ddtr {dot} net]: I’m offering $5 off and free shipping (US) in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, through August 7.

Whatever your experience with breastfeeding, I hope that you both seek community and offer community. You never know when your story of solidarity or your listening ear may be just what that new mom needs.

headshot rebuller smallRachel Epp Buller is a feminist-art historian-printmaker-mama of three who embraced the years of pregnancy and breastfeeding for close to a decade. She now integrates her personal and professional lives through art and scholarship about the maternal body. Her books include Reconciling Art and Mothering, Mothering Mennonite, and Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding.

Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

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My Breastfeeding Support

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about people who have supported your breastfeeding goals. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!

I have learned in my young adult life that if I want to achieve a goal I have to be dedicated, determined, patient, and most importantly to not be so hard on myself. I also learned that what works for me is creating small goals along the way to reach my ultimate goal. Also, having people support me helps keep me positive and makes me stay on track instead of giving up.

When I was pregnant with my second child I knew I wanted to exclusively breastfeed. I had some fears because I was not successful with my first child. I was young/naive and I did not have any support.  However, this time around I was determined.

My daughter graced us with her presence on the fifth of February of this year. My first goal was to have her latch on properly. We both were not successful. I had help from lactation consultants and boy were they great help. However, I couldn’t have them with me 24/7 so for the most part we weren’t latching on correctly. I had sore cracked nipples and felt like giving up already.

I then turned to my sister-in-law that breastfed her two children. Her first born was breastfed up until she was four. Let’s just say I was impressed and admire her a lot so I knew she would give me some helpful advice. Her advice was to give it two weeks. Yup, just like that …give it two weeks and everything will be be better and to also drink lots of water. I am so glad I listened because literally after two weeks I was no longer in pain and didn’t know what cracked, sore nipples were. Those were things of the past now. I ended up achieving my first goal during this time and thanks to her for telling me to hang in there.

My next goal was to try and be successful with breastfeeding every month. My main supporter was and is my husband. He has been by my side providing water, snacks, meals, massages, and best of all he gives me comforting words and all around positivity when I struggled with it in the early months.

Here we are five months in and I am still exclusively breastfeeding. I am proud of myself for never giving up and forever grateful for having such amazing support. I know I will succeed with reaching my ultimate breastfeeding goal which is to breastfeed for a year, but who knows, I just may extend it a bit longer. I love breastfeeding!

20140511_162544_resizedCoryrie Gentry is a stay at home mom to two wonderful kids and a supportive military spouse. I am an island girl at heart, born and raised on Guam.

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My Breastfed Story

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about your breastfeeding (when you were a baby!) story. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!

I was breastfed as a child, until I was twenty months old. That was a pretty long time back in 1973-74 when the primary mode of infant feeding in the United States was formula. When I was born, a nurse told my mom that I didn’t need formula or water, “If God wanted babies to drink water he would have provided a breast for it.” She says it’s the best advice she got at the hospital.

My mom breastfeeding me in 1973

My mom breastfeeding me in 1973

I also remember my mother breastfeeding all three of my siblings. I do not remember her using bottles with my sister. By the time my brothers were born, I remember seeing her use a hand pump to express milk. They also drank formula from a bottle so that my sister and I could feed them if we were babysitting and my mom hadn’t pumped that day (there is a 10-year & 12-year difference between us).

The rare bottle – my mom hand expressed milk on the rare occasions I was bottle-fed

The rare bottle – my mom hand expressed milk on the rare occasions I was bottle-fed

The one thing I have heard my mother express several times is her regret at weaning one of my siblings before they were both ready. She felt outside pressure from peers and our pediatrician to cease breastfeeding past a certain age, so she weaned even though her gut instinct was that it was too soon. She remembers that it was tearful and difficult, and had she known what she knows now, she definitely would have done differently.

My breastfeeding goal as a new mom was to nurse until my Sweet Pea’s first birthday. Little did I know that day would come and go and neither of us would be ready to wean. After 12 months passed with no end to breastfeeding in sight, my secondary goal was to honor our child and let her choose when she weaned. I wanted to avoid the regret I see my own mother experience when she sees toddlers nursing.

I know that seeing breastfeeding as a child lent me the idea that it was “the” way to feed infants. I had seen my mom nurse at home, and I will have to ask her to see what she did outside of the home. I don’t remember; but having a busy teenager and a baby meant that my brothers got hungry when we were out of the home. If she nursed them on the go, I don’t think she used a nursing cover. Such things didn’t exist in the 1970’s and the 1980’s when my siblings and I were born!

Having my mom as an example gave me the confidence that I could breastfeed our children. As our first due-date approached, there was no question in my mind that we were going to breastfeed. It was also a relief to have a supportive and encouraging person “on my side” when we first started breastfeeding. She was with us in the postpartum period after our first child was born, and that first breastfeeding relationship was a hard one – neither my Sweet Pea nor I knew what we were doing! Having her encouragement, and all the water and snacks she brought me every time we nursed; it was positive reinforcement that I was doing the right thing for our baby.

My mother’s message of regret over the forced weaning also gave me the confidence to allow our children to lead the way when it came to weaning. Other than an emergency weaning when one of our Sweet Peas was 18 months old (I was having contractions when I nursed in pregnancy and didn’t know what options I had at the time), three of our children have weaned when they were ready. Luckily, the one child that had to be weaned in the midst of a pregnancy did so easily. We did it gently by reducing one session at a time over the course of two weeks. It must have been a developmentally appropriate time to make the shift away from breastmilk and breastfeeding.

Since that “emergency” weaning, I learned more and was able to nurse through a pregnancy. Our children that were able to choose their weaning did so at 22 months, 4 years and 10 months, and we still have a nursling who is 2 years and 9 months old. I wonder if she is going to stop sooner than later since she is the only one nursing now.

A treasured image from my breastfeeding journey – c.2007 with Sweet Pea #2

A treasured image from my breastfeeding journey – c.2007 with Sweet Pea #2

For now, I am enjoying the journey. It is not always easy nursing a toddler, however in my mind the health benefits and MotherChild bonding far outweigh the discomfort of the “gymnurstics”. We may be writing the last few chapters of this trek through breastfeeding – time will tell. It certainly has been an adventure that has lasted a lot longer than the original 12 months I had in mind.

40thwithmyloveKrystyna Bowman, AAHCC and her husband Bruss are The Bradley Method® 2014 Affiliated Instructors. Besides being parents to four children, they are lactivists, homeschool advocates and speakers on the topics of childbirth and childbirth education. They strive to help as many families as possible achieve healthy and low-risk pregnancies through exercise, nutrition and education. They are passionate about teaching families the sacredness and the beauty of the natural process, while maintaining a realistic outlook that sometimes interventions are necessary and desirable for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome. Krystyna blogs about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding at Sweet Pea Births; and she writes about their family life at Sweet Pea Families. You can also find @SweetPeaBirths on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

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