Dealing with Weaning Guilt

As a child grows from infant to toddler, then from toddler to pre-school age, most mothers experience periods of remorse, depression and guilt. Their guilt might be from feeling like they pushed the child too fast or did not provide the child with enough nurturing time. These feelings are natural and, with some very simple techniques, the guilty feeling from your child moving onto another stage of their lives, whether it is from weaning or entering their first school, can be abated very easily.

Of all the different stages, however, weaning guilt is often the most prevalent. This is particularly true when a child is weaned because Mom is re-entering the workforce. All mothers, however, are haunted by nagging questions of whether they weaned too early and whether they made the right decision for the child.

The easiest way to avoid weaning guilt is to give the child the time they need to begin choosing solid foods without first opting for breast milk. This will not only ensure they develop at their own pace, but will give them the extra nourishment breast milk provides. By allowing the child to dictate their own terms in regards to weaning, the mother is absolved of almost all guilt as it is the child making the decision.

In many situations, however, that simply is not possible and in those instances, different approaches for dealing with weaning guilt are in order. Usually, these situations are dictated by outside reality, such as a mother has to return to work to support the family and in these cases, some very basic techniques can help ease any guilt or depression that a mother might feel.

The first step is to analytically examine the decision, separating reality from emotion. Is the child still getting the nourishment they need? Are they still being given the time to bond with Mom on a daily basis and have the opportunity to hug, cling and be held? If the answer is “yes,” and chances are it is, the process of guilt becomes easily recognizable as unnecessary and thus easier to ignore.

Another approach is to talk with other mothers. All moms have periods in their child’s development where they feel they let the child down. Commiserating with other moms will show you are not alone and far from an abnormal or poor mother.  Additionally, you will probably be able to pick up new approaches to deal with guilt or depression associated with your decision.

Finally, realize that as long as your child is being cared for adequately, they are not suffering from lack of breastfeeding. Children are remarkably adaptable beings and quickly assimilate into almost any situation they are thrust. Even if your child was weaned early, they will grow up healthy and well developed, provided they have good role models and instructors in their parents.

If, however, your guilt is over-riding all other feelings or rational thought, or if it is leading to depression, seeking a doctor’s help is not a bad idea. This is particularly true if you have had a period or periods of post-partum depression. At that point, the guilt you feel could be an indicator of something mentally much more serious, although almost always treatable.

Breastfeeding in Public: How to Do It with Confidence

As a new mother, you may be experiencing moments of doubt and insecurity. Rest assured, this is normal and experienced by most new mothers. One of the issues that may be causing you worry and discomfort is the issue of breastfeeding in public.

Most women are extremely uncomfortable when faced with the prospect of exposing a very private area of their body in public on a regular basis. From the time we are young, women are told that is taboo to expose our breasts in public. However, now that we are faced with the responsibility of feeding a baby, it is suddenly acceptable to bare a breast in public.

This is often a difficult and uncomfortable subject to broach with family and friends. However, they may be able to provide you with tips that worked for them when they were breastfeeding.

Some tried and true practices that will help you feel more comfortable with breastfeeding in public include:

  • Proudly telling people in your immediate area that you will be breastfeeding. This will allow them to leave if they feel uncomfortable.
  • Wearing separates that will allow you to remain mostly covered while breastfeeding.
  • Draping a blanket over your shoulder. This may make you feel more comfortable as it does provide you with some privacy.
  • Moving to a more private area of the location where you may fee more comfortable. If you are in a mall, you may want to move to a bench on the side so that you will not feel as if you are on display.
  • Feeding your baby when you notice the first signs of hunger. A screaming, fussy, or upset baby will garner much unwanted attention. This attention may remain while you are breastfeeding.
  • Practicing breastfeeding at home, either in front of a mirror or in front of a family member. You can perfect your technique in private until you feel comfortable with breastfeeding in public.
  • Staring back at anyone who is staring at you. They will either realize they are being rude or they will be made to feel uncomfortable. Either way, they will stop staring at you.
  • Asking to use a dressing room when you are at a store. These rooms are more sanitary than the public restroom. In fact, some department stores have rooms that are available to nursing mothers.

Once you become more comfortable with breastfeeding, your concerns with breastfeeding in public will dissipate. You will soon find yourself comfortable nursing your baby whenever the need arises.

Breastfeeding 101 – Everything You Need To Know Those First Few Weeks

During the first few weeks of your new life as mom and baby, both of you will be going through major adjustment periods. Your baby is discovering, or at least seeing, thousands of things for the very first time and is reacting to new smells, sensations and stimuli. For your part, you will be adjusting to your baby’s schedule, learning the early characteristics of your baby’s personality and adjusting your habits to fit the needs of your newborn.

Breastfeeding is part of this process and it is very critical for your baby’s health and well-being. Studies have shown that not only will your baby get the nourishment he/she needs, but you and baby will begin to form a strong bond that only a mother can understand. This process is the result of a combination of the intimacy of breastfeeding, being able to supply nourishment to a life and the closeness that this activity demands.

To the greatest extent possible, you should do everything you can to feed your baby when baby is hungry. This will not only allow your baby to begin to get on a routine, it also will help you make breastfeeding a regular part of your routine as a mother. This is important because it will allow you to manage your time and plan your day around this very important function.

Another key factor is to make sure that the place where you breastfeed is comfortable for you and baby. Pick a place that will allow you to relax and enjoy this most intimate of moments. The area you choose should be quiet, comfortable and as free from distractions as possible.

Make sure that there is a place to sit and hold your baby, as well as a stool to rest your feet and legs. You will no doubt be tired in the first couple of weeks after giving birth and having a comfortable area will allow you to relax as well. Being relaxed and not nervous or distracted during this time is imperative.

You should also make sure that you have plenty of pillows in the feeding area as well as a blanket to keep you and baby warm. Remember that this time is special for you both, so do what you can to make it pleasant and comfortable. A good idea is to have something to eat or drink when you are feeding your little one. This will keep you hydrated.

Next, to give you time with the baby, you might wish to give your older children a game or some activity to complete during nursing time. TIf your older children want to be a part of the process and you don’t want them to feel left out, you could read them a short story or play a guess game during the nursing process.

Finally, make an effort to relax. Have soothing music playing in the background and take deep breaths to help you “get in the mood.” Leave the phone off the hook and ask that any grown-ups in the house leave you alone for a few moments.
By following this simple advice, your time breastfeeding can be mutually beneficial for you and your baby.

Breast Feeding and Implants

Having children may be something that is not in your immediate future, but when you eventually have them, you will have to decide whether to breast or bottle feed. This is usually a concern you don’t consider until after you are with child, however you need to think about it today if you have plans of getting breast implants any time soon. You should be informed of the risks of breast feeding after you have breast implant surgery.

Breast Implants and Feeding Risks

While many women experience no issues with breast feeding after having had breast implant surgery, there is a significant number of the population that will not be able to breast feed any longer due to damage of the milk ducts and nerves. After any type of breast enhancement surgery, there is always that risk of heightened sensitivity in the nipples. This can make breastfeeding extremely painful.

Mastitis is the result of the breast tissue becoming sensitive and swelling to the point that a hard lump can appear within the surface of the breast. Fever and chills can accompany this condition if the area becomes infected.

Depending on where the doctor made the incision for the breast surgery, if the milk supply were to become damaged, the appropriate amount of milk will not be able to seep out any longer. This results in those women having to either bottle feed half the time or completely switch to bottle feeding because the breasts are unable to produce milk any longer. As a result, your baby could be missing out on all the benefits that are inherent with breast feeding.

You have to ask yourself today, “Are bigger boobs worth that to you and your baby?”

The Benefits of Breast Feeding Your Baby

If you decide that bigger breasts are more important right now than breast feeding your baby, you should be informed as to all those benefits that you will be depriving the baby of when it comes time to giving them milk.

Your breast milk is free of all preservatives, causing no harm to the baby. The same can not be said for store bought formula.

When you breast feed your baby, you help to fight off deadly diseases and reduce the chance of them getting infections. Breast fed babies tend to be much more happier and healthier than those who drink formula consistently.

In babies from one month to one year, breast feeding reduces the risk of death by over 20%.

The milk from your breasts has essential vitamins and nutrients that are an important part of the development of your baby in those first six months.

A baby that is breast-fed will develop into a healthier adult. Babies fed from a bottle have a higher risk of developing Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. The breast milk has healing qualities that provide a layer of protection in the intestinal tract of your baby. That will help benefit them later in life, protecting them from a variety of different diseases.

Children who were breast-fed routinely have higher IQ testing scores. These children also have a much deeper connection to the mother.

One of the reasons this can be a challenging decision for most women is because there are benefits to getting breast implants. Women with breast implants have lower stress levels, less likely to have post-pardon depression, and less likely to get cancer.

How Can You Enjoy Bigger Breasts and No Risks

There are ways to increase the tone and firmness of your breasts without having to risk surgery. If you are interested in taking a safer route for you and the baby, consider using Naturaful or Brestrogen. These breast enhancement creams will not harm you now, and more importantly will not cause any issues with your baby in the future. At smluc.org you can find more information  about these products.

Breastfeeding and Nutrition

Breastfeeding and NutritionNew moms are often curious about the type of diet that they should have when they are breastfeeding, as well as how much more food they should be eating. Although it is important to maintain a well balanced diet for your own health, there is no evidence that milk supply (or quality) is greatly affected by the food that a breastfeeding mother eats.

Your breast-milk is always going to be top-notch for your baby; but a poor diet may zap energy at a time in your life when energy is already something that is hard to come by.

Below are a few tips for maintaining a healthy diet while breastfeeding:

  • Eat when you are hungry and drink when you are thirsty – This isn’t as easy as it sounds with a new baby.
  • Keep water by your nursing spot – If you tend to always sit down to nurse in the same spot during the day, keep a water bottle(and snacks) within arms reach. Nothing brings on thirst quite like nursing a new baby.
  • Stick to snacks you can eat with one hand – Stock up on one-handed snacks such as apples, carrot sticks, cheese cubes, and fruit/nut bars. See if your partner can make you an easy-to-grab sandwich before they leave for work in the morning.
  • Make a double batch! – When making dinner, always make a double batch so that you have lunch for the next day.
  • Eat small meals – Try eating several small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones.
  • Keep snacks by the bed – Keep easy to eat snacks, such as granola bars, within arms reach of your bed. Hunger strikes at all hours during those early months. Don’t forget your water bottle!
  • Ignore the rules – If you want to have an omelet for lunch, go for it! Same thing goes with having leftover meatloaf for breakfast.

If anyone else has other suggestions, please share!

Nighttime Mothering

nighttime motheringWhen I first became a new mom, I couldn’t believe the exhaustion that came along with having a little person depend on you for their every need. One parenting tool that allowed me to get more rest, and be slightly more functional than a walking zombie, was cuddling right next to my son during the nighttime hours.

Although well meaning relatives and friends may tell you that your child needs to sleep in their own crib, this just isn’t true. Babies are meant to sleep next to their mothers. Let me repeat that, babies are meant to sleep next to their mothers.
Throughout history, and throughout most of the world, babies sleep on their backs or side cuddled right up next to mom. Co-sleeping makes nighttime breastfeeding easier, and helps to keep up a new moms milk supply. When sleeping with your baby, you will find that your sleep cycles often sync with your child’s. This allows everyone to get more rest.

Usually when I talk to a new mother about sharing sleep with their baby, a few questions always seem to come up:

But what if I roll on the baby? Very unlikely. Just as you don’t fall out of bed during the night or kick your partner as you sleep, it is not likely that you would roll on top of your baby. Most mothers are very in-tune with their child and are aware of exactly where they are, even when asleep. Fathers do not always have this same sensitivity and awareness, so place baby between mom and the wall(or a bed-rail).

How will my baby learn to be independent? Doesn’t this question seem a little silly if you think about it? Babies are dependent by nature. So the question is probably better stated, “how will my baby develop into an independent child?”. Rest assured that this will happen. Children who form a strong attachment to their parents(and learn that their needs will be met), develop into independent, secure, and confident children.

What about intimacy? Where there is a will, there’s a way. Couples who share sleep with their baby often just take the romance into other rooms of the house. When baby is really little, you can simply move to the other side of the bed after baby is fast asleep.

If sleeping with your baby still makes you slightly nervous, try an arms reach co-sleeper. You might feel more comfortable placing baby directly in bed as they get a little bit older.

Weaning or Nursing Strike?

When talking to moms about their nursing experience, I often hear something along the lines of: “I breastfed my baby until they were 10 months old, when one day they just stopped nursing”. Hearing this story multiple times has led me to do some research on natural weaning age, and nursing strikes, and here is what I have found:

  • Between 9 and 14 months, children are often incredibly focused on developing new skills and can become easily distracted. They may seem less interested in nursing and this is often mistaken by parents as weaning. This should be considered a nursing strike. If you are wanting to continue nursing… simply offer the breast whenever you can, your child will come back around.
  • Natural weaning is a gradual process, any sudden halt in nursing should be considered a nursing strike. Although if you are wanting to wean your child, these “strikes” can be a convenient time to begin (after 12 months of age).
  • In cultures where children are nursed for as long as they desire, most will continue breastfeeding until at least 3 or 4 years of age.
  • A child’s immune system is not completely mature until about 6 years of age…breastfeeding will provide benefits for as long as it is continued.
  • Natural weaning rarely occurs before the age of 2.5 years.

Nursing Strike

nursing strikeI recently posted about how to tell the difference between weaning and a nursing strike; now I would like to talk about what to do if your baby is refusing to breastfeed. If your baby abruptly stops breastfeeding, chances are that you have a nursing strike on your hands(true weaning is usually very gradual). Nursing strikes happen for a variety of reasons and can be extremely frustrating and disheartening. One important thing to remember is that it is not your fault and with time you can get your baby back to breastfeeding. Use some of the following tips to help coax your baby back to the breast:

  • Nurse while sleepy – Try offering to breastfeed your baby when he is calm and sleepy. Reflexes often take over when a baby is sleepy; try nursing your baby when they have just woken up or even while they are still asleep!
  • Nurse in different positions – some babies may nurse in some positions and not others. Try nursing while standing up, in a sling, while dancing, or while laying down. I made it through a nursing strike when my son was 4 months old by only nursing laying down when he was asleep.
  • Skin-to-skin contact – spend as much time skin-to-skin with your baby as possible. Lay in bed without your top and with your baby wearing nothing but a diaper; take baths with your baby.
  • Wear baby in a sling – wear your baby in a sling during the day; this has many benefits and it allows you to quickly recognize when your baby might be ready to nurse.
  • Sleep with your baby- keep your baby close to you at night, preferably skin-to-skin.

Remember to keep your baby fed and to not pressure him to nurse. If your baby is not nursing at all you will need to supplement with expressed breast milk; consider using a cup or an eye dropper as bottles can cause nipple confusion (which could be the original cause of the nursing strike). Contact a La Leche League Leader or a Lactation Consultant if you suspect that there is a physical reason behind the nursing strike.