Breastfeeding

Nursing in Public – Getting Comfortable

NursingInPublicIt seems to be the topic we hear about most often, that brazen woman who was BREASTFEEDING HER BABY in the mall, at the beach, at the pool, on an airplane, or in a restaurant.  Sometimes people make a big fuss and this makes headlines.  And once a soon to be mom reads these awful stories she becomes afraid of what is to come.  She feels the need to apologize for her baby’s need to eat.  She becomes fearful of going out in public in case her baby *gasp* gets hungry.

This is not how we as a society should feel.  Babies should not be an inconvenience, they do need to eat, just like toddlers, children, and adults.

The reality is that the vast majority of babies are fed in public without someone trying to stop that from happening.  Most moms go on about their business feeding their tiny humans without a second thought or awkward glance.  However it sometimes takes practice to get to a point that moms are comfortable feeding their babies in public.

There are many types of commercially available nursing covers for those who want to be covered.  There’s the drape style covers that go around mom’s neck and cover the entire baby, which are probably what you think of when you hear nursing cover.  Truth is there are many more options.  Some moms find that layering things like nursing tanks under a regular shirt allows them to feel covered.  There are even neat things like the Moboleez Nursing Hats, which allow some privacy from others, but don’t get between you and baby.

The real truth is that you don’t need anything to breastfeed your baby, well, besides a breast, and a baby.  Feeding your baby in public isn’t something to fear or have concerns about.  If you are worried, self concious, or even fearful about feeding your baby in a public place there are things you can do.

Practice In Front of a Mirror.  Yes, that’s right.  Sit in front of a mirror and feed your baby.  You can see what others see while you are feeding your baby.  This should help give you some confidence, and you can make some adjustments if you feel like they are necessary.

Be Confidant. Being confident, knowing that you are simply providing your baby with the food and nourishment they need can help you feel comfortable.  Feeding your baby is an admirable thing.

Wear Comfortable Clothes. The clothing you wear can have an effect on how you feel and feed your baby.  Some mothers prefer wearing layers so that they can be flexible and feel covered while feeding their babies.  Often the first thing that draws someone’s eye to you is the color of flesh.  The largest area of flesh typically exposed when breastfeeding is the stomach.  Wearing a button down shirt over a nursing tank, so the stomach is covered can make it less obvious.

Use tools that help you feel comfortable.  The bottom line is that you need to feel comfortable, whatever that looks like.  For some women that is just feeding their baby where ever they are, and for others, they want to use a cover of some sort.  Whatever comfortable breastfeeding looks like for you is right for you.  Don’t feel the need to apologize for it.

Practice in Safe Places.  Go to new mom’s groups, either through your local hospital, local IBCLCs, La Leche League, or Breastfeeding USA chapters.  Being around other moms in a safe place to breastfeed without fear of judgement can be a great way to gain confidence in your new skills.  You can see other moms feeding their babies while you feed your baby and feel like this is normal.  Being surrounded by a tribe is a powerful thing.

 

Be gentle with yourself as you navigate what can sometimes be an uncomfortable first experience.  Have confidence that you are doing what is best for your baby, and don’t apologize for putting your baby first.  Go and breastfeed moms, you’re doing a great thing for your babies!

 

Do you have any tips that helped you feel more confidant nursing in public?

Breastfeeding is GOOD for the environment

EarthDayToday is Earth Day! A day when many focus on doing something green to help the environment.  Did you know that breastfeeding is good for the environment?  There are many reasons breastfeeding is good for the environment.  Let’s discuss a few –

Breastmilk is a renewable resource.  Breastmilk is always available and ready to go for your little one. Your body is constantly making more.  The process of making and distributing breastmilk substitutes is filled with fossil fuels, plastics, and waste.

Breastfeeding creates less waste for our landfills.  This contributes in multiple ways!  Not only does breastmilk not require containers for packaging and shipping, which often end up in landfills, but women who breastfeed typically have a delayed return to menses.  This means there are fewer feminine hygiene products being added to our landfills every month.

Breastmilk is healthy.  You can thank mom for all of those great antibodies that keep you healthy. When babies are breastfed they are typically sick less than their artificially fed counterparts.   This means they use fewer antibiotics, fewer medications, and spend less time at doctors offices and hospitals.  This is a huge savings of resources for our environment.

Breastfeeding requires less energy.  Energy for mom or energy for other resources?  Well, both.  When you breastfeed your baby there are few bottles to wash and meals to prepare in the early months.  Breastmilk substitutes require energy for farming, whether dairy or soy, resources are used in the cultivating of the product.  Energy is used to create the product, and to turn it into a powder, and then to get it to the store where you will purchase it.  All of that is saved when such products are not used.

Breastfeeding makes everyone happy.  The hormones released in breastfeeding, for mother and baby, are mood lifters.  Happy moms and babies spread happiness wherever they go.

 

 

What Do I Eat?

EatingWhileBreastfeedingI often hear moms talking about what they can and can’t eat while they are breastfeeding.  The truth is that most moms don’t need to change their diet to breastfeed their little ones.  Often we hear stories about how broccoli or beans are bad for the baby, that they will make them gassy. The truth is that breastmilk is not made in the digestive tract and even if certain foods make you gassy as a breastfeeding mother, those effects don’t pass through your breastmilk.

We often encourage moms to eat a healthy diet, with varied foods, and as close to their natural state as possible.  We know that eating a healthy diet is what is best for mom.  You being healthy is important as a parent, whether you are breastfeeding or not.  Your body will make sure your baby gets what they need.  If your diet is lacking in certain vitamins and minerals, your body will take it from your stores to get it to your baby.  Your baby won’t suffer, but you might.

The bottom line is that most people will tell you that any diet is fine.  And in reality, we know that the breastmilk made by starving women in small villages in 3rd world countries is still the best option for their babies.  We know that the woman who lives on fast food 3 meals a day still makes milk that is a better nutritional value for her baby than artificial substitutes.  We also know that women are healthier when they eat a better diet.

So do you have to eat a perfect diet to breastfeed? No. Will you be better in the long run if you are mindful of what you eat and make healthier choices?  Absolutely.  But don’t let your diet be a barrier to breastfeeding.

Do you have favorite go to foods while breastfeeding?  What are they?

The early days of breastfeeding

EarlyDaysWhen we talk about breastfeeding most moms talk about growth spurts, distracted babies, starting solids, and weaning.  We tend to gloss over those early days and even weeks.  I’m not sure if that is because it can be such a challenging time for so many moms, or because in the end, the early weeks are such a blur that many women can’t even remember what those early weeks looked like.

A newborn baby has a very tiny stomach, and breastmilk is easily digestible.  This means that babies eat often.  Really often.  The ‘babies eat every 2.5 – 3 hours’ line is really just that.  It is important for babies to eat often.  They are still learning how to eat, sleep, breathe, and exist outside of your womb. It is not uncommon for babies to eat every 1.5 – 2 hours in the early days.  It may feel like you spend the first couple of weeks nursing a baby non-stop.  This is typical and it doesn’t last.  Eventually your baby will stretch out those feedings, and they will start to sleep in longer chunks.

Sometimes tenderness can happen through the early days, but it shouldn’t last.  If it does persist, that is a good sign that it is time to seek help.

To make the early days easier, surrounding yourself with help can make those days easier.  Having meals prepared ahead of time, or even better yet, having friends who can bring you meals and help you with household chores can allow you to spend time focused on your baby, and resting in between feedings.

Your baby doesn’t yet know the world s/he is living in, they only know you.  You are their source of comfort, food, and security.  You are who they need to be with. Your job is amazing, and challenging, and that fact will never change though the challenges will.  So yes, the first few weeks will be over before you know it, and you will be on your way to a happy breastfeeding relationship.  But they aren’t without their own challenges, and it’s ok to be exhausted and frustrated.  Know that it does get easier, you will get through it, and there are people to support you and cheer you on.  Find them, surround yourself with them, and you will have a much easier road.

Have you been through the early days? What would you tell a new mom?