Monday, June 27, 2011

July Carnival of Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding the Special Needs Baby

The theme for our next Carnival of Breastfeeding will be "Breastfeeding the Special Needs Baby." Was your baby born with any issues that made breastfeeding difficult?  How did you prepare for breastfeeding your special needs baby and what was your experience like? Did you face any special challenges, and if so, how did you overcome them? We would like to hear about your experiences as moms of special needs babies. Please send your submissions via Google spreadsheet by July 11th. The Carnival will be on July18th. As usual, we'll be looking for posts that are:

- Well-written and grammatically correct
- Thoughtful and directly on point for the carnival subject
- Submitted by blogs that pertain to subjects of interest to our readers (breastfeeding, parenting, etc.)

If your post is selected for inclusion, you will be asked on the day of the carnival to edit your post to link back to each of the other participants in the carnival. Examples of past carnivals can be found here.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

June Carnival of Breastfeeding: Second Time's The Charm

A good friend just gave birth to her second baby last week, an adorable little girl. About 24 hours after the birth I got a text message saying that the baby had latched on beautifully after birth but not really since. She ended her message with, "I'd forgotten how tricky this can be in the beginning!"

Well, I haven't forgotten, and it makes me nervous. Like a lot of women, I struggled in the early weeks with some typical problems like bad latch, sore nipples and a baby who gained slowly because of it. Nothing that couldn't be overcome, but it was touch and go there for a minute, with my pediatrician ordering me in for what seemed like constant weight checks and finally telling me, "If he doesn't start gaining more we're going to have to talk about giving him formula. But I give you a lot of credit because most people would've given up by now."

Besides the worry of whether or not my milk will take an extra day or two to come in again, or if it will take a few weeks to get our latch right, I wonder how I can possibly dedicate myself fully to a new baby when I still have a toddler to take care of? Miles is very excited about having a baby sister, but he's also been pretty adamant that she is not to be breastfed (he reassures me he will feed her milk in a bottle, and the proof that he watches entirely too much TV is in his insistence of making her baby food with a Baby Bullet). Miles has been my whole world for nearly four years, and while I know I will love the new baby with all my heart, how can I possibly care for her with the same amount of attachment that I did Miles? Miles is super active and talkative and is used to getting my full and undivided attention. When you've got two fussy kids, who gets mom first? How do you balance being as responsive as possible to your baby while still not making your little boy feel cast aside? And since this is going to be my last baby, I want to savor every moment with her and hold her non-stop. I know jealousy is inevitable but I want Miles to feel included and know that he is still my baby too.

I would love to hear your experiences of what it's been like breastfeeding and caring for a second baby. Am I worrying for nothing or did you find the early weeks and months to be as challenging as I am imagining them to be?

Check out these posts from the rest of this month's Carnival participants:

Ambular Logic: Breastfeeding the Second Time Around
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Seven Reasons Why Breastfeeding Is Usually Easier the Second Time Around
Takisha @ Reporter to Mother: Lessons Learned
Dr. Sarah @ Good Enough Mum: The Second Time Around
Barbara @ Three Girl Pile Up: Totally Different & Completely the Same
SBelle @ Treasured Bell: Tandem Nursing
Anne @ Dou-la-la: Once More With Feeling
Christine @ Christine's Contemplations: Nursing Styles Between Siblings
Zoie @ Touchstone Z: Once More With Feeling

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Michelle Obama & The "Choice" to Breastfeed

Michelle Obama is back in the news today after again bringing up supporting breastfeeding as part of her Let's Move! anti-obesity campaign. The first lady gave a speech at a Washington, D.C.-area child care center where she discussed five ways that childcare facilities can help reduce youth obesity and improve healthy eating habits. Of breastfeeding specifically she stated:

"And finally, supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed. Whether we do it in our workplaces or in our child care facilities, breastfeeding, as we have learned, is one of the ways to reduce the level of obesity in a child. The longer a mother can breastfeed, the better off a child will be on a whole range of health issues. And I know here at CentroNia that you all are working to make sure that mothers can bring their milk to their child on a daily basis. Those are the kind of things that workplaces -- that we all need to understand is an important part of a family's well being and a child's health."

You recall the controversy back in February, when Michelle Bachmann attacked the inititiave as Mrs. Obama trying to create a "nanny state" where women were forced to breastfeed. Of course this is ridiculous because no one can force you to breastfeed, but it only makes sense to educate and support women to be successful at breastfeeding. We have abandoned "breast is best," but of all of the options currently available, it is absolutely the best way to feed your baby.  Of course the reason why people don't like the "breast is best" slogan is because really, breastfeeding is the normal way to feed infants. It is the way babies are meant to be fed. Breastfeeding is a part of the pregnancy-birth continuum. You get pregnant, you give birth to the baby, the placenta is delivered, and your body makes milk.

So why all of this talk about choice? And why can't we just talk about breastfeeding, without singling the women out who do it as those who've made a decision to breastfeed? Isn't the real choice when (barring medical complications that make breastfeeding impossible) women bind their breasts and give the baby a bottle?

When the current Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, released her Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding in January of this year with a live launch that was broadcast online, she also made sure to use the word "choice" over and over again. When the Obamas included a workplace pumping law into health care reform and when the IRS granted tax exempt status for breast pumps, it was so controversial that Mrs. Obama's communications chief released the statement, "Breastfeeding is a very personal choice for every woman. We are trying to make it easier for those who choose to do it."

But is breastfeeding a personal choice? Isn't it just what mammals do after they've given birth? And for every woman reading this who is thinking, "I wasn't able to breastfeed because of ______" I totally understand that there will always be women who can't physically breastfeed. There will always be women with insufficient glandular tissue, or who have PCOS or had previous breast surgery, or need to take medications that aren't compatible with breastfeeding. But I don't believe that these women have chosen not to breastfeed, the decision was made for them because of forces outside of their control. I'm talking about a woman with fully functioning breasts who for whatever reason bottle feeds.

 If we keep talking about breastfeeding as a choice, does it make it more difficult for us to achieve the real societal support for nursing mothers? People are quick to say women don't deserve paid maternity leave, because after all they chose to get pregnant, no one forced them to. So why should there be accommodations for breastfeeding mothers who've "chosen" what many see as the more difficult path?

Is it just me or does it seem really strange to imply that breastfeeding is a choice?

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