Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hello! What are breasts for anyway?!

 Breastfeeding in the Everglades:
a natural thing in nature itself.

Breasts were created to nourish our children.  At some point in time they have become sexualized in our society.  New moms, let's get back to the heart of the matter.  Boobs are around to feed your baby.  What an amazing gift we have been given!  In celebration of  World Breastfeeding Week, I am blogging about boobies, and how breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the entire world, because breasts were made to sustain our babies' lives.  WOW!  Please join me in blogging and sharing your breastfeeding stories with the support of Mothering's Blog and Breastfeeding event this week.  Check out the link.

I used to be like them.  I used to gawk when a woman had her chest exposed in  public.  I used to think in my head, how can she not be ashamed to do that in public?  She should cover herself, she should go into a bathroom.  I was horribly uneducated until the moment I became a mom and breastfed my bundle of sweetness.  I had to wait sometime before meeting my Audrey.  The horrible hospital she was born at kept me from her for hours after my c-section.  I kept asking for her, and they told me to rest.  Finally, thanks to some crazy, passionate family members, I got to hold my boo-bear.  I instantly tore open my gown and nursed her.  It was perfect.  I didn't care at that moment who saw my boobs.  I didn't care about anything but giving her what she needed most.  It was a perfect moment.  My whole mind-set switched in that moment. 

I have always had larger breasts, therefore, always have gotten sexual attention for my boobs.  I knew I could accentuate that physical aspect about my body.  Sadly, that is all boobs were to me until that moment in time.  This is mindset is being reinforced to our young ladies constantly.  It is so sad.  I want to be a part of changing that.  Boobies are for babies!

I breastfed my children for 4 years (two years each, back to back).  I have had a lot of comical, uneducated, and even sad responses to the fact that I exclusively breastfed my two children.  Here our some of my many stories, enjoy, relate, and learn form other people's mistakes:

  • As I left the hospital with my first born, Audrey, I was still unsure about breastfeeding in public.  I mean, I had only been doing it for three days, and the hospital was no help at all in that department.  I am pretty sure they even snuck her a bottle when they took her to the nursery.  Audrey started screaming as I was being wheeled out to the car, and I knew she wanted to eat.  I pulled out my boob and she instantly latched, and than I fumbled to get the blanket to cover me.  Part of my shoulder was exposed and you could see my nursing bra.  The nurse stopped pushing me and made a fuss of covering me up.  I felt embarrassed about it. I couldn't believe she made me feel that way.  I mean, being a new mom is hard enough without the hospital employees making us feel guilty. Fast forward to 2 years later, I am leaving a different hospital with my newborn son, Luke.  This time, I didn't even get a blanket.  He cried as I was being wheeled out.  I lifted my shirt, not missing a beat and stuck my boob in his mouth.  I continued my conversation with my surrounding family members.  A nurse came running up and gave me a blanket to cover.  I rolled my eyes in to the video camera.  She said something like, "There are small children around."  I didn't say anything, but I was thinking in my head, "Hello, why don't small children know babies eat from their mom's breasts!?" Give me a break.
  • A friend tells me that she will never breastfeed in public.  The baby will have to wait until she is in private to nurse.  My husband tells her, "Well, then your baby is going to starve."  She is saying this to me because I am breastfeeding my baby in public.  Hmmm, a couple years later when she has a baby, low and behold, she breastfeeds in public.  Ha!  I was nice, I didn't bring that up again.
  • Multiple doctors of mine told me at various times that it was time for me to wean my baby.  It is not appropriate to nurse your baby for more than a few months, they told me.  I told them that the Academy of Pediatrics recommends to nurse until a year, at least.  The World Health Organization recommends two years.   The doctors shut their mouths after that.  See what a little education can do?  Even our medical professionals are not all informed about the topic. 
  • Most of the time people couldn't even tell I was nursing in public, but when they did they would always do a double-take.  Some would shake their heads, some would start whispering, some would actually come up to me and try to sneak a peek.  What the heck?  I am just feeding a child.  Get over it.  
  • My children have fond memories of breastfeeding and they often talk about "boo-boos" (that is the term they made up for them) in public.  Too many people are uncomfortable with my children talking about breastfeeding.  When they see someone feeding their baby a bottle, my kids even say, "Don't you give them milk from your boos-boos?"  My little breastfeeding advocates.  They nurse their dolls and stuffed animals when they play.  The other day, my children were playing together and my four year old daughter says to my two year old son, "Come here, I need to breastfeed you.  Come lay down in bed with me."  My two year old screams, "I don't want to go to sleep!"  I could always get him to conk out in seconds with some booby feeding, and he remembers that.  I love that bedtime is what was offensive to him, not breastfeeding.  Why is this not more of a normal thing?  Why do little girls get a bottle with their baby doll?   Why aren't they naturally pretending to nurse their baby dolls?  I will tell you, my kids mostly know what a bottle is because they have seen it on television.  Lord knows they wouldn't put their mouths near a bottle of even breast milk.  (Although, I do understand there are some times moms need to express breast milk to feed their baby.  I always felt bad for my poor husband when I had to leave him with a supply of pumped breast milk.)  So, strangers who are offended, the lesson to be learned is this: Stop freaking out when my children talk about boobs for breastfeeding.  Stop shaking your head when my son cuddles up to my bosom and squeezes them and hugs them.  It is not sexual.  He was nourished and comforted by those things for two years.  Of course he is attached to them.  If I don't mind, why should you?
  • Audrey used to go around rubbing every girls breasts she came into contact with.  It was like she was feeling them out to see if they were a good meal.  You know we scan the menu, our mouths water, than we get to eat.  Audrey was doing the same thing.  You should've seen the looks I would get for laughing at her instead of scolding her.  
  • One of my friends told me that her teenage daughter thought that women nurse their babies out of their belly-buttons, and she wanted to keep her innocent, so she didn't correct her.  What the heck?!  You're keeping her dumb and ignorant my friend, not innocent.  Breastfeeding is one of the most innocently sweet things in the entire world. 
  • I did take a stand at my job for breastfeeding rights.  I am a full-time teacher.  I would pump during my meetings (luckily it was all females, so I got less resistance).  We weren't allowed to have fridges in our classrooms, but I told them it was my right to refrigerate my breast milk and I kept one under my desk.  They wanted me to put my milk in the faculty lounge fridge.  Gross!!!  I nursed my baby when she came and visited me at work and even on field trips.  I was discreet about it, but I knew it was my right as a mother, and yes, I teach my students, that mammals have nipples to feed their babies.  That is an important mammal trait that gets washed right over.  You should see my parents eyes widen when my students tell them that bit of information. 
  • Like I said, I am a discreet breast feeder, but I didn't use a cover after the first few weeks unless the sun was in my baby's eyes.  Audrey would just rip the cover off anyway.  I didn't even try with Luke.  No one ever tried to kick me out of a store or told me to leave.   I am glad no one ever did because I don't know what I would have said.  I probably would have gone ballistic and gotten arrested because it makes me so angry to even think about. I heard so many news stories about this happening while I was breastfeeding.  Ignorant people firing women from their jobs for promoting breastfeeding, or telling moms to go in to the bathroom to nurse, or telling them to leave a place for simply feeding their child, or asking them to cover up their breasts, and even being called a terrorist.  The list goes on.  Same story, someone doesn't get what breastfeeding is and acts out in ridiculous ways about it.  I couldn't believe how horrible people were.  In the hidden camera television show What Would you Do?  they had a breastfeeding segment.  Most people were disgusted by the breastfeeding mom.  People are so mean.   Watch the clip here! 

    If you are one of those people that get wierded out by breastfeeding, I encourage you to educate yourself on breastfeeding, whether you yourself are breastfeeding or not.  We need to eradicate the stigma on breastfeeding in this nation.  Boobs does not need to be related to sex.  Like I said before, boobies are for babies!
Remember, I used to be that person too.  I used to judge these women for feeding their babies.  And now I can't even fathom feeling that way.  The more I learn, the more I see the benefits, the more I educate myself the more passionate I become.  Breastfeeding is so important.  Don't discourage the brave women who go against the "norm" and do what is right for their children.  I encourage all breastfeeding moms, I encourage all husbands or partners with breastfeeding women in their life, I encourage all family members of breastfeeding moms, heck, I encourage everyone to stand united in protecting our children from people who are ignorant and uneducated in this area.  Let's change this world together one story at a time.   Hope my stories helped you see that in some small way. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Read a Book, People!


I am always shocked to hear the lack of reading and research most new parents did before becoming a parent.  Between the internet, free material from the doctor, best selling books, not-so-best selling books, magazines, and even movies, why are people not reading up on something so terrifying, difficult, and exciting?  You read Yelp reviews because you want to go the the BEST place to eat, don't you want to be the BEST parent you can be?  There is so much information out there, go out and empower yourself.  I remember I read like five books about having a baby before I even got pregnant.  Once I found out I was pregnant, multiply that by 100.  I was very informed, and when it came down to it, I still fumbled around motherhood.  Also, let's not forget that there is a wealth of information out there for Dads as well.  Gone are the times of the father who waits out in the waiting room, pacing and smoking a cigar.  The father is and should be an equal partner in this situation.  He is 50 percent responsible for the situation, after all!  He needs to read up as well (which my hubby did!).  I am one lucky chick-a-dee!  Needless to say, I am giving you some must-read recommendations before you become a parent.  Now, you are actually reading this, which means, you are NOT that parent that feels they will just figure it out when the time comes, but maybe this will help someone who wants to read up and educate themselves before becoming a parent.  Remember many, many, many people have done this before we have, so let's learn from their mistakes and experience.  

For Mama:

What to Expect When You're Expecting By: Heidi Murkoff - Yeah, yeah, I know it seems like this is sooooooooo mainstream, but there is a reason it is a best seller.  I love the fake question and answer format.  Many of the questions are questions I have asked myself, but dare not ask my pregnant friends, so get it and read it while you are on the toilet constipated from pregnancy.  I won't tell anyone you are so traditional.  

Also read What to Expect the First Year, and What to Expect the Toddler Years, and get the What to Expect Pregnancy Journal and Organizer.  I have that journal from each of my pregnancies and it is a great memory, and it helps you know about what you need to ask for at the doctor's office.  You can read the other two while you're breastfeeding your kidlet, (since you know that breastfeeding is the ONLY way to go because you educated yourself on all its benefits). 

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn By: A bunch of smart people - This one is a must read if you like things described more scientific and textbooky.  I enjoyed reading it because it prepared me for the actual medical type situation I came across in pregnancy, childbirth, and taking care of a newborn. 

The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers By: Jack Newman and Teresa Pit - I must really like these question and answer books.  My mother in-law is a lactation specialist, so I didn't need a lot of extra support in this area, but when my first child ended up being a rare "barracuda sucker," I did turn to this book when I felt like giving up.  I am so glad I bit a towel when she latched, instead of giving up, because as I now know, breastfeeding is the ONLY way to go.  I wasn't aware of formula companies behaving like tobacco companies until I came home from the hospital with a new car seat, bottles, and formula samples, all funded by Big Formula.  

Love and Logic Parenting -  Read everything, listen to everything, download everything from this organization.  You won't regret it.  As a teacher and a parent I highly recommend this style of parenting.  The world would be a better place if all children were raised with this parental philosophy. 

Little Steps for New Parents - This is a week by week journal that gives you a mini lesson about what to do with your baby that week and you write about what you did that week.  Some of them were silly, but some of them were not.  For example, I didn't know you shouldn't cover your babies hands with those mitts all the time.  It inhibits the baby's development.  They need to learn that it hurts to scratch their face off.  Plus, it makes them smarter.  Thanks Little Steps! - I loved following along with my pregnancy week by week.  Each week I would excitingly get on my computer and read up on how big my baby was and what parts were forming.  It was all very exciting, it made me super happy, and it made me want to take care of myself and my baby even more. They still update me on my babies.  It sends you a little reminder e-mail.  There are tons of these types of sites.  Sign up for a couple of them, so you can cross reference information.  Remember everyone has a different pregnancy.

The Business of Being Born and More Business of Being Born - These are must-see documentaries.  I would have worked harder to give birth in a birthing center, if I watched this at the beginning of my pregnancy with Audrey.  Everything that happens in these movies does really happen at hospitals.  A lot of these things happened to me. - This used to be a magazine I subscribed to, but now is a comprehensive natural-parenting website.  I am not really a total natural-parenting individual.  I am a breastfeeding advocate, co-sleeping advocate, and kind of a hippy parent in regards to parenting my children, but I am by no means full on natural parenter.  I think we can learn from all types of philosophies and outlooks on life, so that we can make the best possible decision for our family and our children.  I always get compliments on my children's behavior and their intelligence level.  I think that is because my husband and I (remember you're in this together) really try to take the best parts of each philosophy to make our children awesome. 

Go to a Birthing Class - Why do people not do this anymore?  Didn't this used to be a pregnancy staple?  The hospital tour does not count as birthing class.  Don't wait until you are about to give birth!  Go at about 20 weeks, so you have time to write a birth plan and prepare.  The link is to the one I went to that was FREE and awesome, but there may be ones in your area that have similar programs. 

 For Dad:

Now, it is not hard to get my hubby to read.  He loves to read.  I know it will be harder for some of you, but it is worth being a nag and making him read these two books.  My hubbo already did the research for you.  He has read every daddy book out there.  Most of them were way lame, but these two are must reads.  You husband will laugh, cry, and read you excerpts because they are that good. 

Hit the Ground Crawling By: Greg Bishop - Don't let the cheesy picture on the cover fool you.  This book is amazing.  My husband would be reading it in a place he was supposed to be quiet and he would start laughing uncontrollably, than in the next sentence he would tear up.  It was the perfect mixture of humor, helpful information, and sentimental stuff too.  A must read for sure. 

What to Expect When Your Wife is Expanding  By: Thomas Hill - This one is more straight up hilarious, but still had some important tips.  Who says it has to be boring to learn new stuff? That's our family motto. 

This is not a comprehensive list by any means.  There is tons more out there.  This is just based on what I read and did.  If you have other must-reads, make sure you make a comment and put it out there.  My only plea is to spread the word and tell new parents to read, read, read.  It is so easy to educate yourself in this day and age.  Happy reading, writing, and watching everyone!

Today's Mom