The Effect of Breastfeeding on Parenting

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 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 how breastfeeding has changed the way you parent. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!

ImageI started on a blank slate…and I mean blank for generations! Neither my mother nor my grandmother breastfed for longer than a few weeks. I had never seen a woman breast feed and had only heard a tid-bit hear and there from the few women I knew that were breastfeeding. Being the little researcher and biologist I was, I read ravenously about the topic while incubating our first child. I focused on all of the problems that could occur, how to fix them, and of course all of the benefits that could stem from such a relationship. The biggest reason I was so dedicated to the idea was simply that it was natural and the way our bodies had evolved to feed our children. Why give them anything else? So despite my family history, having never seen the act and having a million little voices in our culture saying, “you may not produce enough milk”, I tackled this beast head on!

Image 9I suppose I introduce this topic in this way because historically, people tend to parent as their parents did before them. Even if their intentions are to defy the norm, they lean heavily on the known rather than the unknown. Breastfeeding was a leap of faith for my husband and I, in that regard. We had no idea how it would affect the way we reared our son or how all of our other decisions would ultimately be dictated by our observations from this relationship.

Image 7America is a wash of cribs, fitted sheets, American Pediatric recommendations and culturally sure that independence stems from creating isolation as early as possible. A healthy, early breastfeeding relationship is, in part, established by nighttime feedings. A sleep deprived mom and dad that support breastfeeding quickly find that most nurslings sleep best within arms reach of mommy. As a brand new mother, raised in the southeast, I had predominantly seen babies placed in cribs and usually in a separate room from the parents with a monitor of some sort. Being a biologist, that method always seemed strange to me. No other species did this and from what I had read, a good portion of humans throughout history did not either. But I had a crib sitting around just in case. The first thing breastfeeding dictated in our parenting was co-sleeping with our child. That crib literally collected dust and cat hair. We all slept better and our child established the difference between night and day, in part, because of the hormone signals I sent him through breastfeeding. Honestly, we all slept better for many more reasons than that. I have read a lot of research on the breastfeeding/co-sleeping dynamics of the mother-child dyad and their results only re-enforced my own experience. My husband and I learned early on, from these nighttime interactions, that biologically we had instincts pre-laid with our child that we could trust. I can soundly say breastfeeding established our trust in our instincts and lead to a more responsive relationship with our child, from the very beginning.

Image 4Once our boy was born, it dawned upon me how much I was holding this little baby. Speaking of trusting instincts, it just seemed obvious to me that a newborn needed to be very close to their caretaker as much as possible. Constant breastfeeding made sure I stayed close, but in-between, he actually slept best when on my body. Nursing a newborn all day leaves a lot of time for reading, when I wasn’t passed out with him! I learned a lot about how extra-utero our human infants are when they first come into the world. I also learned a lot about how other cultures accommodated this high need for touch. Many did it through “wearing” their baby in some way. I had been given a Moby wrap prior to his birth, and although I was very interested in using it, I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to manipulate 5 feet of fabric effectively without throwing a hissy fit. Don’t worry, I figured it out! A little patience and some you tube videos gave me all the practice I needed to start using that wrap and my husband and I have not looked back since!

Image 5I do attribute each of these techniques, parental lifestyle choices, call it what you will, to breastfeeding. Before I continue, let me remind you that my husband and I both were raised in households where cribs were a norm and breastfeeding in my family was non-existent. So I can say that the co-sleeping, baby-wearing business likely evolved, in our case, from the unique introduction of breastfeeding and not some other component. But I digress…

Nursing became a parenting tool in and of itself. We used it to sooth our child to sleep and to calm him when he was distraught physically or emotionally. As effective as it was, it relied heavily on me. Nursing to sleep and nursing to keep him asleep was especially tiring at times when he was a little baby. At night there was (and still is) mamma and only mamma. Breastfeeding lead to baby soothing and comfort leaning heavily, almost entirely, upon my shoulders until he was close to a year old. So I suppose if there were a taxing side to the breastfeeding relationship upon parenting, this seemed it. In the grand scheme of things, this was a brief moment in time. Now that he is older, we would never do it differently. Our little one found unique ways to fall asleep and calm down with others, soon enough, all by him self. We never had to teach him or let him cry. Of course I still nurse him to sleep and love it!

Image 1The final major influence breastfeeding had upon our parenting was our switch to cloth diapers. Cloth diapering was, again, a new and un-experienced concept for my husband and I. Disposable diapers were all we saw. As the trash bags filled up and more and more lotion had to be slathered on to our precious baby’s rear end, we began to seriously contemplate other options. Breastfeeding was so clean, natural and economical. Surely there had to a similar option for babies going potty!! I spent months researching cloth diapers. It was like an experiment in my lab!! So I chose a system and pulled the trigger. It was, again, a fantastic decision for our family and a unique one that in part stemmed from our breastfeeding relationship with our child.

Our boy is now 18 months old, still breastfeeding, co-sleeping, well on his way to potty trained and the joy of our lives. The microenvironment of this family has strongly been developed by and evolved from breastfeeding. We could not imagine life with out it. At the same time, it has most definitely been hard work and dedication to maintain such a relationship and to follow all of the methods we have chosen because of it.

Image (1)Ada lives in North Carolina and is a doctoral student in the Biology Department at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. If she isn’t in a lab, she is hanging out with her boys and her fuzzy ones. To appreciate the study of life is to appreciate all living things and the diverse ways in which they grow and thrive!

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One of The Many Benefits I Love About Full-Term Breastfeeding

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 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 the long-term benefits of breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!

There was once a time where I had no intentions of breastfeeding past 1 year. While I was pregnant with my second child I started to read about long-term breastfeeding and was amazed at how many benefits there were for both the mother and baby. It is really hard for me to pick just one because I love so many of them, but for time’s sake I will just share one.

Health is one word that is constantly on my mind. The health of my children is a big deal to me as I assume it is to most parents. I am currently working on a degree in health promotion with a minor in nutrition so it doesn’t help that I am surrounded by everything health related. My son who is currently breastfeeding at 22 months started out as a really great eater but started getting quite picky in the last few months. It is so comforting to me that he can get a good amount of his daily energy and nutrient requirements through breast milk. I don’t have to worry about supplementing with vitamins or wonder if he is getting the nutrition his growing body needs.

One of the reasons I decided to continue to breastfeed past a year has to do with the antibodies that are present in breast milk. The amount of antibodies actually increases so that toddlers who are nursing less frequently are still getting a good amount of antibodies when they do nurse. My son is a September baby and I had originally thought I would just nurse through the winter and spring after he turned one in hopes that I could keep him healthier and shorten the duration when he did get an illness. After the winter and spring had come and gone I started thinking about the illnesses I had seen in my children over the previous months. My daughter was in kindergarten at the time and was bringing home all kinds of fun sicknesses, many of which we caught as well. My son, without fail, was better 2-3 days sooner than the rest of us with each sickness that ravaged our house. In fact he got sick far less than any of our household. It was always so comforting to me that during an illness he would continue to nurse frequently even when he didn’t want to eat and therefore staying hydrated and getting the nutrition his sick body needed.

One illness in particular stands out in my mind. It was December and we attended a boutique at a friend’s home. Little did we know, her son had hand foot and mouth disease but wasn’t showing any symptoms at the time. My son had been playing with this little boy for a bit and so when I found out he was sick I began watching my son and nursing him frequently. Sure enough a few days later he came down with a fever for three days straight. He was miserable but didn’t show any other symptoms. On the second day he got a small rash on his arm but I figured it was just from the fever. The rash gradually spread to include a few spots on his feet and a few more on his other arm near his hand. After the rash began to spread I knew he had hand, foot and mouth like my friend’s son. The surprising part was how mild my son’s symptoms were compared to my friend’s son. Her son had blisters all over his hands, feet and in his mouth. They looked so very painful and he was absolutely miserable. My little guy was definitely not feeling well but had such a mild case and never had any blisters of pain where his rash was. I am convinced that because he was still being breastfed he was able to get better quicker and only developed a mild case. Having sick kids as a mom is so hard, especially since we are often the ones caring for them the majority of the time while our spouse works. It definitely takes a toll on me physically and mentally when I am taking care of sick children and being able to help prevent as well as reduce the duration of an illness is a huge benefit in my book. I am so grateful that I can still nourish my son while helping out his developing immune system.

Danielle is a stay at home mom of two great kids, a wife, and a student. She has a passion for normalizing breastfeeding and helping mothers and babies on their breastfeeding journey. She plans to become an IBCLC after finishing her degree. In her free time she enjoys being outdoors, reading, and curling up with a purring cat.

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Mother’s Rooms Around Utah

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 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 breastfeeding in public. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!

There may be no breastfeeding topic more controversial than nursing in public. Just about every week there is another news report of a mother, and her baby, being harassed across the country. One of the worst parts of these incidences comes from comments made about nursing in public. The comments will range from support, to those that are intended to be helpful, but really are not, and those that are downright hurtful and harmful. I suggest listening to the positive comments. Ignore the comments comparing it to sex or to using a bathroom if on social media, if that happens in person I suggest trying to educate the person or avoiding them. For when you get the comments that are meant to be helpful “I support breastfeeding, but only if a child is covered,” or “Breastfeeding should be done in a private room, since it is a private act,” or those that suggest “Pump before you go somewhere,” here are some refutations on why those comments do not work for everyone.

nip comic coversWhen asked, “Why can’t you just use a cover?” My first reaction is “Why can’t you just cover your head while eating?” Which is typically met with blank gasping faces and a response of “well that is different…” I know women that the cover made it easier for them to nurse. My little one he would pull off any form of cover. He didn’t even like when I would wear two shirts and one was lifted up, thus covering was never an option for us. When you see a mother using a cover, and it is working for her give her a thumbs up, or say “good job.” When you encounter a mother fighting her cover, I have found an encouraging word sometimes gives her the courage to ditch the cover. I have gone as far as asking if my little one and I could join them. When they see another women breastfeeding comfortably uncovered their responses tends to be along the lines of “Wow I have never seen a mom do that before.”

A clean, welcoming, mother’s room can make getting a particularly tired, or upset, or distracted, child latched and contented. A messy, dirty, toddler diaper smelling room, or worse a bathroom, can feel worse than the rude comments made by the ignorant people. I have experienced many different mother’s rooms, and can share stories of peace and horror. When a mother and child are always forced to leave a room, can cause feelings of isolation, add to postpartum depression, and ultimately cause nursing relationships to end prematurely. I am always checking out mother’s rooms, and it has become a joke that I am “obsessed with them,” reaching the point my family points them out to me so I can document them.

Mothers room - benchMothers room - leather couchThis clean and modern mother’s room is found at The Living Planet Aquarium complete with a nice couch and long counter. Exclusively pumping moms will find many power outlets for their convenience. In addition to the official mother’s room, an official breastfeeding space has emerged. Near the shark and large sea creature tank, is a large darkened room with stair benches. A trip to the Aquarium is not complete without a quick milk break, typically joined with other moms taking advantage of this space.

curiosity-museumAt The Museum of Natural Curiosity, there is a clever Mother’s room with light curtain right in the thick of play. A thin curtain offers you a space with fewer distractions while still keeping an eye on your other children. I personally nursed my two year old on that comfortable yellow bench in front of the mother’s room, between him running off, playing, and coming back for a quick snack.

One of my favorite places to nurse at The Museum of Ancient Life is upstairs by the magnetic puzzle wall. I have given moms props for nursing there by the water/sand exhibit at that museum.

I have had several different positive lactation experiences while at the varied Larry H Miller businesses.

Mothers room - usuWelcome to the mother’s room at the USU Tooele Campus. I was impressed that they had a mother’s room in place that I would not expect to see many babies. I am sure it is used mostly to follow the Affordable Care Act’s Requirement of a non-bathroom, private area, for mothers to pump. If it looks like a closet, that is because it is one just off to the side of a bathroom. I have breastfed my toddler in the main hall of the campus while chatting with administration with no one batting an eye.

Mothers room - hoglo zooMothers room - hoglo zoo -3Mothers room - hoglo zoo -2The next set of pictures comes from the Hogle Zoo. These really get the booby prize for the most things wrong with a mother’s room. Having a bottle as the image for breastfeeding a baby sends the message that feeding from the breast is wrong. The room is inside a bathroom, of which both were covered in trash, toilet paper, and worse. The rocking chair was worn out and falling apart. I did count five outlets, which is nice for pumping moms. When I tweeted my concerns to the Zoo about cleanliness, it was addressed; however, they were not welcoming to suggestions to put on the sign other than a bottle. I was told, “it is better than the alternative.” To which I replied, “You mean the international breastfeeding symbol?” They never replied. It is sad that these are the messages they are sending to breasting moms, since where better to see mammals feeding their young than a Zoo? I do want to note that I have nursed in numerous locations throughout the Zoo and have never been harassed. One of the cutest little ones I saw getting her lunch was by the splash pad as her mom gave food to her siblings while they played

When done right it can be nice to leave the room. Sometimes leaving the room to nurse is a great excuse to get out of a conversation. Other times, being forced to leave the area is not a welcome idea- can you imagine how bored an older sibling would be in some of these rooms. There are times when it is wanted, a nice mother’s room can be a great experience, other times being welcomed to breastfeeding out in the world is better.

pump2“Is it really that hard to pump before you go somewhere?” the simple answer is yes. Every bottle that is given the mother needs to make sure she is having milk extracted from her breast at the same time, or is at risk of reducing her supply. This is a huge booby trap. I pumped milk every day for the first year of my son’s life. I could not leave home without my pump. I can tell you from experience that lugging a pump everywhere you go can be tiring. Finding a place to pump can be extremely annoying. Pumps are complicated, and have a lot of parts- tubes, flanges, bottles, and membranes- not to mention you have to bring batteries or find an outlet. The first date my husband and I went on postpartum I pumped before I left, arranged at the place we were going to pump while there, and pumped on the car ride home. Remember how I said the Larry H Miller businesses have been really great about lactation? Well this was at their MegaPlex Theater in Sandy. I had messaged their Facebook page asking if they had a mother’s room that I could pump in before I was planning to see a midnight release of a movie, and their PR manager replied that they did not, and let me use her office. It gets to be very cumbersome to pump and can end up as another booby trap if it gets to be too hard for a mother to have the desire to continue their breastfeeding journey.

So yes a mother could use those “helpful suggestions,” and if that is what helps them have breastfeeding success please continue to cover, leave the room, or pump. But if you are like me and find your child hungry while out and about pull up a chair feed your baby. The benefits will outweigh the odd comments, cross-eye looks, and any internet troll you may come across.

Bundocks nursingcomiccon nursing 2013Elizabeth Gray is a Certified Lactation Consultant, and a birth doula. She runs Tooele Birth and Breastfeeding where she empowers moms to have breastfeeding success. A student at USU she is working for a degree in developmental psychology so that she can further help Mother’s, infants, and children. You can read more of her blog post at or follow her on Facebook or Twitter @BethGrayCLC

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Social Media as the New Way to a Support Moms

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 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 how you have helped another mom reach her breastfeeding goals. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!

IMG_6550 copyWe live in a very interesting time. A time where a whole new means of communication has exploded in a way unlike anything in the past. The time of social media.

A great majority of people have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, some other social site, or more likely a combination of multiple sites. Sharing stories, sharing ourselves, exploring. This is beyond the age of the internet. We actually connect in meaningful ways with other human beings online.

One of those ways to connect is breastfeeding support.

As a breastfeeding blogger, and really just as a patron of the internet, I often come across interesting articles. What do I do with those articles? Share them with others. I have had multiple friends and acquaintances tell me that they first heard of the benefits of breastfeeding through these articles I’ve shared. Maybe they didn’t breastfeed their first child or they were pregnant any on the fence about whether to try, but being given this information changed their views and they saw how important breastfeeding really is.

Another thing you learn from these sites is when someone you know, or often someone you used to know, is expecting a baby. Even if I haven’t seen this soon-to-be-mom in a decade, I always try to offer my support online. Giving them information, showing the resources, and just being someone there to help them in rough times. Often these new moms don’t have the physical support system and I’ve found that I really can make a difference even just as a presence online.

Lastly, these sites have communities within them. I’ve found support and offered it to others through these communities. The biggest source of this for me has been Facebook groups. My groups I’m a part of are often local groups that I can also see in person, but the group is there for asking questions between meetings, furthering friendships through chatting online, and so on. Even when a group is not local though, they can offer an immense amount of support. I’ve found through this pregnancy that my MDC due date club turned Facebook group can offer an incredible amount of sullied to me. I can feel so connected with these women that I feel like I know them, even though I’ve never seen then in real life. Through groups like this we can answer questions, give advice, offer support, and even really connect with other people in a real way. It’s amazing that this is available to us.

So I believe we can make a difference in the lives of fellow breastfeeding moms through social media. We have this whole new avenue to explore and I’m quite enjoying sorting through and finding out how to best take advantage of this new means of communication.

IMG_3201Claire is mama to Peanut (5), Twig (2.5 ), and Banana (due next month) as well as wife, student, biologist, teacher, and more. She blogs at The Adventures of Lactating Girl supporting moms in their breastfeeding goals as well as other crunchy parenting endeavors. In her free time, she loves to read, bake, and knit.

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