Monday, May 30, 2011

"You want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same." (Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo)

I've recently become involved with the fantastic new online presence for Baby Friendly Newfoundland and Labrador via their Facebook and Twitter pages. Being able to connect with breastfeeding moms from my home province, and practically in real-time, has been a refreshing outlet for my passion. I'm excited to see the online communities grow and to participate in a very important and long overdue conversation.

Even more important to me is the impact that this conversation has had on my own nursing identity. In fact, I'm willing to admit that I've experienced some of the same personal growth that I also realized when I lived in Toronto alone for a full summer. As a small town girl in a great big city, I learned a lot about myself as I blended into the crowds. It's hard to ignore emerging facets of yourself when you're faced with major challenges (and for someone who didn't grow up with subway systems, let me tell you, standing upright on a fast-moving, crowded subway car is no easy feat!).

In the past week, I have come face-to-face with an aspect of my identity as a breastfeeding mom that I can no longer ignore. A few days ago, @ReadilyAParent (Dara Squires), progressive Blogger, writer, and parenting columnist, directly asked me for my opinons on the top places to breastfeed in my town. I chose to remain silent since I could not truthfully and sincerely answer her question. This was not because I hadn't had a good public breastfeeding experience here, or because I hadn't yet had the chance to breastfeed in public since moving back last year. I couldn't answer because I have never nursed in public. So I hid what I saw as my shameful lactivist secret.

Just yesterday, I openly admitted it for the first time when a very different question was posed on the Baby Friendly NL Facebook page. The "biggest breastfeeding challenge" for which it asked, one that I interpreted as a potential barrier, was interpreted by a fellow group member as an insurmountable hurdle: nursing in public. She had never done it. And since she is a very dear friend of mine, I decided to admit the same. Hitting the "Enter" key to post my comment was a difficult decision, but one I'm glad I made.

Why do I feel shame about having never nursed in public? I immediately think of myself as a hypocrite. That word is thrown around so often. In the heat of the moment, I think: How am I any different from the meat eater who would never kill an animal? Or the self-professed devout Christian who never goes to Church? Or the homophobe who swears to "love thy neighbour"? I am the lactivist who has never practiced what I view as one of main tenets of lactivism: nursing one's child anywhere, anytime.

I feel like I have a split personality when it comes to nursing in public. I have breastfed my child outside of my own home. I have nursed him in a parking lot in my car, in a change-room-doubling-as-a-nursing-room at a Wal-Mart, and in the private residences of family and friends. I have simply never mustered the courage to breastfeed my child while out and about. However, I will fight for any woman's right to nurse their child in public, and I will also fight for any child's right to breastfeed when they are hungry, no matter where they might be. I also advocate for the refusal to use a nursing cover, and I support women who would prefer to use one. I agree completely with PhD in Parenting, who writes "I don’t think it is the place of anyone other than the breastfeeding mother to decide whether or how much to cover."

Thus, while I now define my personal lactivism as supporting the decisions of breastfeeding moms everywhere, I did find it difficult to confess my nursing-in-public virginity. And for good reason. There's been a bit of a stir in the online breastfeeding community this past week with two controversial posts from Just West of Crunchy, one which warns what breastfeeding advocates should stop saying, and one which details what they should say. The truth is, breastfeeding advocates can sometimes be each other's worst enemies. To make such an admission as mine in a pro-breastfeeding community is not an easy task, especially for fear that one may be taken to task by those holier-than-thous that seem to lie in wait to pounce at the scent of a potential breastfeeding failure.

I am very thankful that the same virtual space where I came face-to-face with my perceived shame was the same place where I found acceptance and resolution. The voice behind Baby Friendly NL's Facebook page did not chastise us, berate us, or even openly challenge us. She simply said, "Ladies, there's no need to feel ashamed of not breastfeeding in public! You do what YOU are comfortable with." As a breastfeeding advocate who's actively working to become an integral part of both the virtual and local breastfeeding communities, nothing makes my split lactivist personality happier than knowing that there is a place where I can go and own up to my own breastfeeding challenges and pitfalls. In moments like these, what we truly need is support, not information. There is a difference. 

To see the difference in action, feel free to drop by Baby Friendly NL's Facebook page or Twitter page! We'll be glad you came.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Unlocking the Secrets to your Nursling's Future Profession

Ah, the joys of breastfeeding a toddler.

I remember when my son was almost a year old, and I was reading a few posts over at The Leaky B@@b from moms who were comparing the crazy positions their toddlers would get in as they nursed throughout the day and night. For a brief fleeting moment, I felt the acute panic that all first-time moms feel whenever they think, just for a moment, that something isn't ok with their child. My son was still breastfeeding comfortably and without fuss in the cradle hold. He would latch, nurse, and pop off when finished. That was it.

And then it began.

I'm fairly certain my son felt an overnight desire to be a dentist. Either that, or an ophthalmologist. Who may also dabble in Otolaryngology on day. Whatever he ultimately chooses, let it be known that my mouth, teeth, eyes, ears and/or nose were the start of his career.

Then he suddenly moved on to Dermatology. Each of my accessible moles and freckles got a thorough once-over each time he nursed. 

Seemingly overnight, he opened his mind and began to explore alternative medicine. Reiki seemed to interest him, as he began to gently lay his palms on my chest or stroke my cheek while he gazed lovingly into my eyes.

That didn't last long. Things went downhill, fast. As a mother, I'm a little concerned. I would love for my son to be a successful doctor. I would love just as much to learn of alternative therapies from him. But now I'm scared for his future.

I think he's going to run away and join the circus as an acrobat. There's just no other explanation for these twists and turns and balancing acts!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

“Open confession is good for the soul” (Scottish Proverb)

I have a confession to make - breastfeeding was easy for me.

Now by easy, I don't mean that it came without some hard work and dedication, and both of those continue to this day. Throw in a little stubborness when cluster-feeding and growth spurts reared their ugly heads, and you've got the jist of my breastfeeding journey thus far.

I've suffered three very painful plugged ducts that each took 24-48 hours to clear. I'll never forget the toe-curling pulling sensation when I worked on perfecting my son's latch in the first two weeks. I remember the sheer agony of engorgement when my milk first matured and on occassions when my son refused the breast. I can still feel the burning tears of frustration when I had no idea if he was getting anything those first few days (of course, now I know all those wet and poopy diapers meant he was!).

All that said, I did not suffer a lot of the issues that many breastfeeding moms, new or otherwise, experience. I had no cracked nipples and no bleeding. I've never had mastitis (knock on wood ...). Thanks to the help of the Lactation Consultant for the region where I gave birth, we were quick to fix my son's latch and get the ball rolling. I've never had supply issues, and the only real bump in the road to date is a recent excess of lipase which renders my expressed breast milk unpalatable for my son after a day or two in the fridge (or immediately upon being frozen). Thankfully, I am still a stay-at-home-mom, so I've never had to store milk for use when I can't be with him.

I realize that I've been very lucky. I don't mean to negate my role (or even my son's role) in our success with the word "luck." There was a lot of learning involved and I tried very hard to be a good student. The fact remains, however, that when I try and give advice to new moms, or when I try and ecourage those who are having problems to hang in there, I feel a little bit of guilt. I fear that if those women knew, for just a second, what I didn't go through, they might be quick to brush my advice or encouragement aside since, in some instances, I haven't been "there."

I'm very passionate about breastfeeding. I know that isn't news. I recently had a friend apologize to me because after I brought up an election topic, she announced she was about to launch into a speech. You see, she's very passionate about Canadian politics. I knew exactly where she was coming from, because I am the same way when I speak to someone about breastfeeding. In fact, I recently tried giving breastfeeding advice (through a Facebook private message, no less) to a mom-to-be who was scheduled for a caesarean section in a few days. My goal was to let her know that breastfeeding after a c-section was possible, and to inform her of some of the "booby traps" that like to pop up in those first few days and weeks. When I was done furiously typing and I hit send, all I could think was, "What if I've overwhelmed her and scared her from even trying at all?"

It comes down to this: information is power. Yes, we have to be careful of the words we use when we choose to share information. And what's more, I think we need to be willing to be open and honest about our own situation when we decide to impart our wisdom. Do I need to start each conversation with "I've never had cracked nipples, but ..."? I don't think that's necessary. Do I need to wear a shirt that says "I found breastfeeding easy!" No. In fact, doing so might cause more harm than good. Who wants breastfeeding advice from the girl who never had to fight for it?

But I did have to fight. I had to fight the booby traps. The formula ads, the formula samples, the backwards health professionals, the baby bottle gifts. So although I (admittedly and openly) may not have experienced as much blood, sweat, and tears as some, I truly hope (and believe) my gentle words can help another mom. And I promise to learn from those moms, as well!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review & Giveaway: Mama Cloth from Moms Crafts 4 U

{CLOSED! WINNER: Sunflower Joy!}

Mama Cloth???

Two words: mama cloth.

The first time I saw that phrase in a shop’s Facebook celebration giveaway album, I had no idea what item was up for grabs. I entered for the chance to win a variety of WaHM products, including blankets, reusable wipes, and jewellery. But “mama cloth?” I skipped over that one, lest I be the winner of something for which I had no use.

Then I noted a post on another group’s Facebook page asking how fellow mama cloth users went about storing and cleaning their mama cloth. One replied that she washed hers with her child’s cloth diapers. Wait now. I have a child. I know what parts their cloth diapers touch. What in the world is mama cloth if it’s being laundered with baby poop catchers?

There was my light bulb moment! But you probably already know that mama cloth refers to reusable menstrual pads made of various materials.

Waste Not ...

During her lifetime, a woman will throw away approximately 300lbs of disposable menstrual products. Moreover, while there are various estimations of how much an average woman will spend on disposable menstrual products, but most sources agree that this amount is anywhere from $300-600 every 5 years. Since most women begin menstruating between the ages of 10 and 14, and will continue to menstruate until the age of 45-55, a single woman could spend nearly $1900 on disposable products, if not much more!

The answer to this horrible financial and environmental nightmare: mama cloth.

Moms Crafts 4 U

I was recently given the chance to try out some mama cloth made by an Atlantic Canadian WaHM. Moms Crafts 4 U is owned and operated by Veronica Perrin. She claims that “once you try [her mama cloth], you will never go back to those store-bought, disposable pads.” Well, Moms Crafts 4 U, I think you might be on to something!

Veronica sent me three pads to try: an 8” Light Coverage pantyliner (cotton-topped), an 8” Normal Coverage pad (also cotton-topped), and a 10” Normal Coverage pad (cotton knit-topped). Veronica uses the following fabrics in her mama cloth: 100% Cotton, 100% Cotton Flannel, ZORB (a super absorbent layer that holds 10x its wright in less than half a second), PUL (an anti-leak fabric that does not allow liquid to go through), and Fleece (the fleece is not only used as an anti-leak layer, but it also helps them to stay in place well, so they don't slip around). One thing is for sure: this is some gorgeous menstrual wear! Who says mama cloth can’t be pretty?


This is what I loved about my mama cloth by Moms Crafts 4 U:

•    Ease of use: They were super easy to put in place thanks to the poly resin snaps. The 10” Normal Absorbency pad even came with two snaps so that I could choose the appropriate width. And Veronica “labels” each of her pads (1-Pantyliner, 2-Regular, 3-Heavy) so that you always know at quick glance which absorbency you’ve grabbed. These pads are idiot-proof!

•    Comfort: These pads feel amazing against your delicate skin. They are soft, and do not chafe like disposable pads. What’s more, they absorb without being overly drying. They are breathable. They do not crinkle or bunch, and you can’t even feel them! And no sticky backing necessary -- the soft fleece holds them in place nicely. I went for a walk and my pantyliner didn't budge!

•    Portability: They fold up very easily to fit in your purse, no matter how small a clutch you might be carrying.

•    Absorbency: Let’s just say they wick moisture away, protect your underwear, and you only have to change them as often as you would change a disposable pad of similar absorbency.

•    Zero “ick factor”: To remove the soiled pad, you simply unsnap it, and then put it in a waterproof bag. If you’re stuck, you can use a plastic baggie like I did, but you can also use a wet bag (which Veronic also makes). You don’t have to wash them right away, but when you’re ready, you can throw them in with your towels or you can launder them with your child’s cloth diapers. Check out Veronica’s detailed washing instructions.

•    PEACE OF MIND: No harsh chemicals. No excess, non-biodegradable garbage each month.

I do not have any true cons or downsides to list. Of course, there are start-up costs to switching to cloth menstrual products. You’ll need about 10-20 pads to go completely disposable-free. But you're in luck -- Veronica carries a few variety packs and starter kits to help you offset your cost. For about $120, you could have 25 pads and a wet bag! And the best part is: the average life of each cloth pad is 6-7 years. Do the math! That's only $17-20 a year!


You don’t have to take my word for it! Moms Crafts 4 U is generously donating a set of 3 Pantyliners to one lucky reader!

(Actual pads may not be as pictured)

To enter:

Mandatory Entry*:
  • Publicly follow Librarian Mom via Google Friend Connect
  • Like Moms Crafts 4 U on Facebook
  • Comment here that you did both (this is one entry)!

Extra Entries (one comment per entry):
  • Check out Moms Crafts 4 U's Etsy Shop and tell us your favourite print or product!
  •  Like Librarian Mom on Facebook

Giveaway open worldwide! Contest ends on April 30, 2011 at 11:59pm NST. I will use to choose the winner. Winner will be announced via email as well as on this post. The winner will have 48 hours to respond. At that time, if there is no response, a new winner will be drawn.

Good luck!

* If your profile is set to private, or if you choose to submit as Anonymous/without an account, make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you!

Disclaimer: Moms Crafts 4 U provided these pads for me to review. I was not compensated in any way for this review. These opinions, and any oversights or mistakes herein, are my own.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When does "Motherhood" begin?

The following is my entry into the Nummies Mother's Day Contest:

I wish I could say that motherhood began for me the moment we made a conscious decision to start planning to try and get pregnant. I wish I could write that motherhood began that first day that I stopped taking my birth control pills, or when I went to the store to buy prenatal vitamins, or when I decided that not even a social sip of wine would pass my lips from that point forward. I truly wish that motherhood began for me during the month that I took the time to prepare my mind and body for embarking on this exciting adventure to conceive.
I wish I could brag that motherhood began for me when I was crushed to see the blood that meant we hadn’t conceived during the first month. Or when I knew I was pregnant the second month but tested too early and got a negative result. Or especially when I tested a week later, at 5:50pm on Tuesday, June 30, 2009, and told my husband “We’re going to have a baby!” If you asked me at that moment, I would have vehemently argued that I had entered the realm of motherhood.
When I was diagnosed with placenta previa (which persisted during my entire pregnancy and sent me to the hospital 4 times with bleeding), I thought for sure that I was within the realm of motherhood. Every single time I saw my precious babe on the ultrasound machine or heard his heartbeat, I there was no question in my mind that I was experiencing the pride of motherhood. During each daydream when I felt him kicking and squirming inside me and I envisioned my first moments with him, I was convinced I was a part of that special club.
But then the day came. My beautiful, healthy, 8lb 5oz son was delivered at 09:58 on Monday, March 1st, 2010 after a very traumatic scheduled c-section, during which time I lost a lot of blood. I didn’t get to witness his birth. I was in recovery for 3.5 hours. And when I was finally brought up to the floor, I felt about as connected to this child as I did to the IV in my hand – out of necessity, but not out of love.
Once upon a time, I truly believed that the incredible bond between a mother and child began at the moment of conception, and perhaps even before that. I quickly learned that is not the case for many of us. For various reasons, we don’t always bond with our new child in the idyllic way that we imagined we would, or that we imagined we already had. For me, motherhood began on the morning of third day of his life. I clearly remember holding my little guy in my arms. He was wearing nothing but his diaper, and the tears streamed down my face and trickled onto his bare chest as I kissed his fingers, his toes, and his nose. He was perfect, he was healthy, he was here, and he was mine. At THAT moment, “motherhood” began for me. Scientifically, I was a mother-to-be when we conceived, and I was a mother when my son was delivered, but the incredible journey of motherhood, and all the beauty and bittersweet pain that goes with it, began for me at the moment my son and I finally bonded.
I hope that my story helps another mom. We need to hear these stories. We need to know that pregnancy, birth, and those precious first moments don’t always go as planned, and that we don’t always feel that immediate connection with our children. There is no shame in that. Give yourselves time: time to bond and, after the fact, time to heal.
Nummies, thank you for the chance to share my story. Peace.

 (Here is the link to my entry:

Monday, April 11, 2011

You know what they say about making assumptions, Parents Connect?

When I found out I was pregnant, I signed up for the Parents Connect Weekly Pregnancy Newsletter. I liked reading about how my baby was developing and what was new for him that week. These emails (used to) continue to this day. They sent me news and tips regarding my son's extrauterine development. I usually enjoyed these emails. I found them quirky.

This all changed this past week when I receieved the "Your 13-Month-Old" newsletter. The subject? "Baby Bottle to Cup."

Here is the main portion:

"the baby bottle: It's your kids' best friend. His ultimate comfort object. His ticket to a blissed-out milk coma anytime, anywhere. Yep, it's his beloved bottle and the thought of tearing it away from your kid is tearing you apart. We feel you, but try not to stress. He'll survive–and even thrive–once your toddler says bye-bye to the bottle."

Look at that: an extended breastfeeding booby-trap. How novel of you, Parents Connect.

Here's my response:

The baby bottle is not my kid's best friend. It is not his ultimate comfort object: I am. It is not his ticket to a blissed-out milk coma, anytime, anywhere: I am. The thought of tearing my breast away from my kid doesn't just tear me apart; it scares me (he has teeth! I can't imagine tearing my breast out of his mouth)! My kid may survive without my breast, but I really doubt he would thrive. He is happy and healthy, all without the aid of the formula or cow's milk that you assume he is drinking out of the bottle to which you assume he is attached. Even if you play the "there could be breast milk in that bottle" card, I will call your bluff.

Am I being overly sensitive? I don't think so. Messages like those sent by Parents Connect, whether the meaning is implicit or explicit, serve to further alienate breastfeeding moms. They make breastfeeding seem like an "alternative" lifestyle and, in turn, make bottle-feeding (and, implicitly, formula-feeding) an increasingly mainstream choice.

Here's a suggestion, Parents Connect. Why don't you rethink your mission and re-analyze the way you choose to disseminate your information to consider whether or not these particular assumptions, and any others you might be making, are disrespectful or harmful to your intended audience. And while you're at it, you might want to consider the old adage: "When you assume ..." I'll let you fill in the blank that applies to you. One thing's for sure, though: you won't make an a** out of me.

A former subscriber (and recent unsubscriber)

Friday, April 8, 2011

{this moment} - Taking a Spell

A Friday ritual, inspired by The Leaky B@@b via Soule Mama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 


If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

*** *** ***
"Sometimes the most urgent thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest." (Ashleigh Brilliant)