The Fed is Best Onesie Drive – Now til May 13, 2017

I have previously blogged (click here and here) about the importance of a baby being fed….whether they are breastfed, bottle fed with pumped milk or formula, or a combination thereof–what matters is they are adequately fed. Period.

Partly because my focus has been on other things and also because it’s been over 11 years since I had my breastfeeding challenges, I haven’t blogged or even read any blog posts or articles on breastfeeding or the whole Breast is Best philosophy since, let’s see, two years ago (April 18, 2015 to be exact).  A couple of days ago, The Fed is Best Foundation reached out to me to see if I would be willing to blog about their fundraiser.  I told them I would be happy to, since the information they have to share is of extreme importance, and my mission is to help educate new mothers and their families to help reduce the risk of a postpartum mood disorder from occurring.

The Fed Is Best Foundation is a 501(c)(3) registered not-for-profit dedicated to the education and advocacy of safe infant feeding. The foundation believes no baby should ever go hungry and no mother should ever feel shamed for whatever feeding option best suits her situation, in order to prevent complications to babies that have become too common in today’s “Breast is Best” world. You can prevent such complications–and even tragic circumstances–with knowledge and support, which is what the foundation seeks to provide.

To help raise funds to support the foundation’s important work, it is hosting a Onesie Drive from now until May 13th, in which you can purchase a featured onesie at a special price!

Click here for more details about the drive on Facebook. Or click here for a direct link to the booster to order your onesie(s) today.  There will be a Photo Contest in June for all the adorable babies rocking Fed Is Best swag, so start thinking up poses for your precious baby!

If you hadn’t done so previously, please go over to the Fed is Best website to check out its links that provide:

1. The details of the personal experience of The Fed is Best co-founder Christie del Castillo-Hegyi, M.D. and her story as reflected in her letter to doctors and parents about the dangers of insufficient exclusive breastfeeding.
2. Helpful resources for parents, which I wish I had had access to when I was trying to breastfeed and suffered so many challenges that I’m sure contributed toward the postpartum depression I experienced.
3. An online petition to urge policymakers like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC and Surgeon General–in addition to hospitals and doctors– to support and educate mothers and their families on safe, clinically-effective infant feeding protocols, and to preventing infant starvation as a result of current well-intended but rigid breastfeeding protocols.  The petition page contains a video about newborn dehydration and how to avoid disastrous consequences.
4. The Fed is Best in the news (links to articles)

5. About The Fed is Best: mission, co-founders and advocates and advisors

Thank you in advance for your support of this worthy cause!

Let’s Be Real When It Comes to Women Supporting Women

I wasn’t going to post until after the AFSP Out of the Darkness walk, but I wanted to just quickly say a few words on a topic near and dear to my heart:  Mommy wars and breastfeeding zealots.

Let me start off by saying this:

  • Women supporting women ≠ women verbally attacking other women for choosing how they would like to raise their children, including how to feed them
  • Women supporting women = proactively doing something to promote the wellbeing of other women through S-U-P-P-O-R-T (e.g., help with baby, help around the house, providing social/emotional support in person, by phone or online, doula services, lactation support)

I find it highly ironic that women who purport to have women and their babies’ interests at heart  via radical views on breastfeeding and a fetus’ right to life, while also being the first to attack other women for common-sense notions that are moderate in nature and don’t align with theirs.  They will lunge at you (imagine a monster with glowing red eyes, sharp teeth and claws) whenever they–and I have to laugh about this–stumble across a blog like mine and think that I don’t have other women and babies’ interests at heart and call my blog a disservice to others and the mere fact that my blog is recognized by others in the mental health and women’s health communities as atrocious.

Unlike these fanatical individuals, I’m moderate.  I’m right down the middle.  I’m objective.  I’m logical. I’m empathic. I’m considerate. I look at the COMPLETE picture.  I have no extreme, one-sided, I-don’t-care-about-other-people’s-circumstances-I-only-care-about-my-own, narrow-minded, holier-than-thou, views.  Bottom line, I have no time for bullshit like this.

I GET that breastfeeding is good.  Did I ever say on my blog that it wasn’t?  If you find any indication on my blog that I’m anti-breastfeeding, then I welcome you to please show me.  I totally welcome you to try.

I will also be right down the middle when it comes to abortions.  There is never one right answer for the reasons people need to have abortions.  And I absolutely abhor it when I see people who have no clue about what others are going through making their holier-than-thou claims that anyone who has one–whether it be to save their own lives or consequences of rape/incest–is automatically committing a sin.  Again, who are you to judge this?  Who made you judge and jury?  Everyone has beliefs, but let your beliefs guide you in your OWN life, not OTHER PEOPLE’S lives.  Other people’s lives and how they choose to live them from the circumstances with which they are faced (remember that sometimes things get really ugly for people out of no fault of theirs) is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

There are WAY TOO MANY people who have nothing better to do than judge other people and try to take pot shots at them for the oddest of reasons.  WAY TOO MANY.  Like the extremely conservative, far right, narrow-minded,  religiously fanatical to the point of obsession ways of thinking trolls that pop out from under their figurative bridge anytime there is anything like breastfeeding or abortions in the headlines.

So when I run into women who claim to support other women that make claims like “Oh, I support all moms who breastfeed and everyone else be damned” (and I don’t care what their situation is, I just know that I’m right and they’re wrong), I WANT TO GAG. And I very much wish I could press a “Make that troll disappear” button to make them go away.

Women supporting other women does not mean you go and attack others simply for not thinking, behaving and having the same exact circumstances as you.  Because guess what?  Each person is a unique individual with genes and life experiences that make them who they are.  We do not live in a Stepford Wives world.  Wake the f$ck up.

#gotnotimefordatshit
#trollbegone
#crawlbackunderbridgeyoupoppedoutfrom
#notaStepfordWivesworld

Bottlefeeding is Beautiful Too

I wanted to share this post showing you beautiful photos of bottle feeding moms and their babies.  For all you moms who either choose to or do not have a choice but to bottle feed your babies, you CAN bond with your babies and you WILL bond with your babies.  How you choose to feed your babies is NOT and should NOT determine how the rest of your motherhood experience will be.  Focus on your own motherhood journey and doing what you feel you need to do to make it a memorable and satisfying one.  Tune out all the negative, meddling and judgmental people that you may run across now and then.  What they say does NOT matter in the grand scheme of things.  Everything else is irrelevant and should be treated like annoying static you hear on the radio.  Tune it out. Turn it off.

You are a human with a brain and the ability to think and make decisions.  What you decide is in your and your baby’s best interests in mind is your business.  And in some instances, you need to play the cards with which you are dealt (i.e., biologically you cannot produce milk, your postpartum circumstances are not good, like childbirth complications, postpartum depression, etc.), and you need to realize it is through no fault of yours….. but you need to make the most of the situation as best you can.

I’d previously blogged that meddlers should mind their own business and keep their mouths shut when it comes to asking when/if a woman is going to have another baby (because gee whiz one is just not enough). The meme I had created said “You know why it’s not a good idea to ask if a woman is planning to have a(nother) baby? You don’t know if she can or wants to.”

Similarly, with infant feeding choices, meddlers should mind their own business and keep their mouths shut when it comes to a woman’s circumstances regarding how they feed their babies.  Here’s a new e-card I’ve just whipped up that sums my sentiments up:

ISupportYou

#mindyourownbeeswax #ISupportYou #bottlefeedingisbeautifultoo

Common Bond of Parenthood

There is nothing subtle about the common bond of parenthood, as shown at the end of this video sponsored by Similac, a formula company.  I’m practically certain that an anti-formula group of breastfeeding (BF) zealots would never have sponsored such a video.  The last thing the BF zealots want to show is that there is even a hint of commonality between moms who BF and moms who formula feed.

What is the common bond?  Well, as you’ll see by watching this video, it’s that parents are–regardless of our parenting style or choices–parents.  Period.  The video even has a group of men (whether they are single parents or stay-at-home-dads is not clear), which is Similac’s intent to bring fathers into the picture, because after all, fathers are parents too.  Parents have a desire and obligation to do the best they can to care for their children with the means best suited for them.  Our children are our responsibility.  We brought them into the world.

At the end of the video, when a baby and parent need help, everyone–regardless of their parenting style or choices–drops their differences and runs to the aid of that baby and parent.  Now, that’s what it SHOULD be all about.  Forget about stupid and meaningless mommy wars.  Putting aside our differences and recognizing and respecting each others’ differences– instead of putting up walls to separate ourselves from those that are different from us– is what it should all be about.  Non first-time parents know what it’s like to be a parent for the first time and know how challenging taking care of a newborn baby and being a first-time parent really is.   Wouldn’t it be nice if experienced parents shared their experience with other new parents instead of thinking “Well, I learned the hard way, so can he/she.” Wouldn’t it also be nice if there were parent support groups in EVERY community, not just here or there and not known to/hard to find by the vast majority of those seeking support?  Parenting is about community, not about individual parents in isolation, left to their own devices because of how they choose to parent.

It takes a community to parent, period.  You can’t go it alone.  And you should not have to.

For added perspective from a writer and advocate for mothers whom I admire very much, please visit Suzie Barston’s Fearless Formula Feeder’s blog post about this video.  It’s titled “You’re Proving the Point.”

And another piece written by Amy Newman titled “Let’s Lower Stakes in Breastfeeding Debate.”

Learning from Tragedies: Listen to the New Mom and Respect Her Needs

*** This post may be triggering if you are suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) and are sensitive to negative news events ***

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

There was another tragic and preventable loss of a new mother’s life.
AND
Another family is now without their mother.

This mother’s name is Joe Bingley.  Joe’s husband is determined to try to prevent what happened to his wife from happening to other mothers.  He has formed the Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation to raise awareness of this debilitating, highly stigmatized, misunderstood, and potentially life-threatening condition experienced by approximately 1 out of 8 new mothers.  Realizing the family history for postpartum depression (PPD) that ran in Joe’s family, he is determined to prevent what happened to Joe from happening to his daughter.  Joe’s death occurred back in April 2010, and this Daily Mail (UK) article was posted a few days ago to raise awareness of PPD and of the foundation that has been set up in her name.  I am writing about what happened to Joe to raise awareness and point out the importance of LISTENING TO NEW MOMS.  I mean, REALLY listen to them.

The title of the Daily Mail news article isThe ‘breast is best’ obsession and a mother driven to take her own life: This new mum was taken into hospital TWICE because she couldn’t feed her baby, but her pleas for help went unheeded.”  Between its posting date on January 2, 2014 and now, it has been shared 37,144 times and garnered 667 comments (none of which I had any desire to read).  Thanks to the attention-getting headline, it caused a large number of people to “converse” about the issues at hand as soon as that article was posted and started circulating via social media.  Having a dialogue about topics like PPD and breastfeeding (BFing) difficulties is good—especially since we don’t have enough dialogues on these “shush” topics, in general, hence the stigma—as long as it is done WITHOUT attacking one other.

The article quickly made its way around cyberspace, including many in the PPD world, as well as on such Facebook pages as The Fearless Formula Feeder (because many in that community have also survived PPD).  Unfortunately, it also attracted the attention of lactivists (hereafter referred to as breastfeeding zealots or BFZs, for short).  The FFF page’s post also attracted the attention of the BFZs who left trollish, angry comments until the entire post (it was merely a link to the Daily Mail article) was taken down…..but not before I read most of them.

When I saw the article title, my gut instinct was to REALLY wish I could pay a visit to all the healthcare professionals that failed to heed all the signs that something was wrong and failed to prevent such tragic loss of life, and tell them how I really feel and how they failed this poor woman and her family.  In this day and age, it is simply inexcusable for any healthcare professional that comes in contact with new moms—from the obstetrician to the nurses, lactation consultants—to fail to recognize that a new mom is in a distressed state and needs immediate treatment.

The gut instinct of the BFZs, on the other hand, was to be incensed about the title, insisting that it was deliberately worded to make it sound like BFing was a direct cause of Joe’s PPD and subsequent death.  They got their panties all up in a wad over AN ARTICLE TITLE.  I would like to ask the BFZs to take a step back and realize that there will only be progress in maternal mental healthcare as long as mothers feel safe in sharing their PPD experiences and BFing experiences.  What do they hope to accomplish by bashing, hating, forcing people to think their way is the only right way, and looking for conflict where there is none?  Progress can only successfully be made if we work together in finding ways to provide the support new mothers need and helping them to feel less alone and guilty in their struggles as new moms, rather than adding to the anxiety and guilt new mothers feel when they fail to perform up to so-called societal standards.

There were at least half a dozen BFZs who kept on insisting that Joe’s death had NOTHING AT ALL to do with BFing and everything to do with the lack of mental support—all the while insisting that everyone was erroneously confusing the two issues.  They claimed that Joe would’ve gotten PPD regardless of how she fed her baby.  Um, did you become an expert at PPD and a fortune teller all at the same time?  How can you possibly know this?  For Joe, these two issues were ABSOLUTELY interrelated!

The following is what I took away from the article, and  I sincerely hope the healthcare system in the UK would seriously learn from such tragedies…tragedies that could have been prevented by simply listening to the mother and nurturing her rather than letting a failing NHS system in the UK allow guidelines for postpartum assessment fail to be followed repeatedly (as in Joe’s case) and in so doing, destroying lives and families:

  1. Joe’s BFing difficulties were one of the many risk factors she had for PPD.  a) A history of miscarriages, family history of PPD (her mother, grandmother and aunt had all suffered PPD), b) personal history of PPD after 2 miscarriages and not receiving treatment (her home visitor told her to stay occupied to keep her mind busy….wtf?!), c) high anxiety levels from being a first-time mother who had previously had miscarriages so she was worried about her baby thriving, and d) feelings of BFing failure (her daughter was losing weight and she wasn’t producing enough milk)…. these were some of the risk factors that caused her PPD to rear its ugly head. Her prior PPD experiences after her miscarriages increased her risk for PPD after the birth of her daughter in 2010, and yet her home visitor, GP and everyone else who came in contact with her during her bout with PPD failed to make that connection. A mom’s feeling of not being able to provide the most basic and most critical function of being a mother to a baby–especially when the distress is so evident that she was hospitalized twice for BFing difficulties alone– can most certainly be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. Plus, Joe was not told that it was okay to supplement breast milk with formula until her PPD was at a severe stage. If BFing challenges and pressure to BF did not exacerbate Joe’s PPD, it’s safe to say that these issues never would’ve been brought up in the article.  Even Joe’s husband clearly stated that the tremendous pressure to BF and her struggles with it were a contributing factor.  Joe’s husband is quoted as saying:

Joe was beside herself and returned to hospital on March 10. Her medical records say she was stressed and tearful. They suspected she was suffering from post-natal depression, but she was never referred for any kind of mental health help, only help with breastfeeding. The hospital seemed only to focus on the breastfeeding issue, not the mental health one. That’s the breastfeeding lobby for you…Joe ended up being connected to a breast pump for most of the day. By the time I got there in the evening, her chest was battered and bruised. She looked as if she’d been in a fight and was in a desperate state…I questioned why no one had suggested that she bottle-feed the baby. The midwife said that unless Joe or I specifically asked for advice on bottle-feeding, then they weren’t allowed to raise the subject.

  1. Joe had tried to seek help for her mental state.  However, despite her signs of distress and red flags for PPD, instead of being treated for PPD, she was re-hospitalized twice to provide her with BFing support!  The fact that they admitted her into the hospital for BFing reasons…and yet they did not give her any mental help?   Does that not tell you that HER wellbeing was not important?  Why on earth was there SO MUCH emphasis on BFing that her mental state was ignored and she was not treated despite her PPD symptoms?  How in the world could the health professionals who saw Joe ignore her cries for help?  Better yet, how in the world could they make a claim that her anxiety levels were considered normal for a first-time mother?  THAT is seriously messed up.    Public health services continue to fail our mothers by failing to prioritize maternal mental health services and policies.  Maternal mental health absolutely should demand the same kind of attention as BFing. Mothers need support REGARDLESS of how they feed their babies.  What I don’t get is this obsession with the baby with the mom falling by the wayside.

A woman who is depressed NEEDS HELP.  If she is suicidal, she needs to be taken SERIOUSLY.  Do not doubt for one second that she would carry it out.  According to the article, this poor woman had mentioned numerous ways she’d thought of killing herself.  At that point, she should have been immediately admitted to the local mother and baby psychiatric unit (that had 3 beds open at the time), but no one suggested such a thing!  Despite personally witnessing her deteriorating condition and hearing her say that she’d be better off dead, the home visitor continued to stand by the recommendation that she be cared for at home.  Frankly, I am shocked.  Here I thought the UK was leaps and bounds ahead of us with respect to postpartum support services, treatment protocols for perinatal mood disorders, the presence of psychiatric mother-baby room-in units, in-home health visitors to check up on the new mother, and even infanticide laws.  But it looks like somewhere along the way, time has stopped dead in its tracks across the pond.

Every single obstetrician, nurse and lactation consultant—whether it be in the US, UK or elsewhere—MUST BE required to receive training on perinatal mood disorder (PMD)—including but not limited to PPD, postpartum OCD and postpartum psychosis—symptoms and what to do if a PMD is suspected.  This includes training on when to recognize when an emergency situation (requiring hospitalization) and to react accordingly, taking into account: 1) every mother is unique, 2) every mother’s needs are unique, 3) every mother’s birth experience is unique, and 4) the risk factors for PPD are different for everyone who experiences PPD.  For some, it’s the birth experience itself.  For others, it’s the way they are treated by healthcare professionals (i.e., being disrespected, dismissed).  For others, it’s inadequate social and/or practical support.  For others, it’s sleep deprivation and the hormonal changes from childbirth.  The list of risk factors goes on and on.

How I’d like to address some of the comments I read:

  1. If moms claim that BFing cured them of their PPD, then we need to question whether it was PPD or the blues that they experienced.  Differences between them are still misunderstood by the public.  I know this because of recent conversations I’ve had with various people, including friends and co-workers.
  2. PPD can happen in both BFing and formula feeding moms.  Neither BFing nor bottle feeding should be seen as a sole remedy to PPD.  BFing can reduce the risk or severity of PPD for some mothers, but for a larger number of mothers, BFing can exacerbate the situation for moms already experiencing  sky-high anxiety levels, uncertainty due to lack of self confidence, inadequate support—not to mention difficulties with BFing.  If a mom has PPD, then she needs to seek treatment from a licensed mental health practitioner.  She also needs social support AND practical support.  That social support would include BFing support IF SHE CHOOSES TO BF.  If a lactation consultant provides BFing support to a mom with PPD, then she should be able to at least recognize that there is PPD to be reckoned with and provide her with referrals.  They should NEVER let the mom’s health fall by the wayside.  That’s just common sense to me.
  3. Every mom is not an abundant milk producer.  The mom is not a machine to pump milk from.  She needs to be well to produce milk well.  See my previous post on mothering the mother….a very important concept at which industrialized/capitalistic societies fail miserably.  Being well doesn’t just mean being physically well.  It also means being mentally/emotionally well.  Every woman is not confident—or even prepared—to BF.  There could be a physical issue preventing milk production and mom’s milk alone is insufficient, then formula or donor milk should be made available (they would come into play should she choose to stop BFing altogether).  If a new mom has a preference not to BF (that reason is important to her and we must acknowledge that), then so be it.  As long as the baby is eating and thriving, that’s all that really matters.  The priority should be to ensure the baby is fed.  Period.  If she wishes to BF, then adequate support should be provided (by a lactation consultant).   The mother should be supported regardless of how she feeds her baby.
  4. I wasn’t breastfed, just like many others from my generation.  Does that make me physically/mentally deficient because I didn’t have breastmilk?  I would like to think not, thank you very much.
  5. Just because one mom has a positive BFing experience doesn’t mean that all other moms must have positive BFing experiences.  For all those who think this way:  it truly helps to keep an open mind and trying to put yourself in another person’s shoes.  There’s a word for that:  EMPATHY.  Everyone is NOT the same.
  6. BFZs insist that the tragedy had nothing to do with BFing or the pressure put on women to BF.  But for many women (just read the comments in the FFF and Bottle Babies communities to see that this is the case), the pressure to BF and the ensuing difficulties to succeed with BFing has led many a mom down a PPD spiral.  There should NEVER be any pressure to BF.  But that pressure is there.  It’s all around the pregnant mom. It’s in daily conversations.  It’s in doctor visits.  It’s in advertisements.  It’s there once the baby arrives and never ceases to let up.  All this pressure sets up the first-time mom to experience high anxiety during pregnancy and if things don’t go well during the first postpartum days, the high anxiety in a mom with high risk of mental health issues can most definitely tip the scale toward PPD.  BFZs are concerned about one thing only:  that mothers use their boobs for the reason that they were designed: to feed their babies.  They don’t care one smidgeon about any extenuating circumstances that could preclude BFing.  They are so blinded by their passion that they are willing to make bold claims about BFing struggles/pressure to succeed and guilt for BFing failure as having nothing whatsoever to do with PPD.  They are so obsessed (mostly due to inexperience and some kind of narrow-minded superiority complex) with BFing at all costs that they can’t see the forest through the trees.  They can’t see the big picture.  Posts and comments written by women who don’t exactly think the way they do—like moms who have actually experienced BFing difficulties and/or PPD—cause  their panties to get all up in a bunch.  And that’s when they come a trollin’ in their narrow-minded, petty, and condescending mindset.

I want to see the end to this crazy system that we have going on here that sets women up for PPD. The impossibly high stakes raised by the BFZs whose mantra is:  the one and only and most important thing a mother can do for her baby is to BF her baby—everything else, including the mother’s health, be damned.  The BFZs will make claims that the sleep deprived, anxious mom who lacks support and confidence in BFing and is clearly having difficulties feeding her baby is just lazy and is merely making up every excuse in the book to feed her baby formula–that sub par, evil stuff.

Nah, the new mom doesn’t need sleep.  She can stay on—er, up—all night long because her boobs will automatically pump out endless amounts of milk on demand. She doesn’t need any nurturing or rest to regain strength.  After all, she’s a machine, right?  Not a living, breathing individual who just lost large amounts of blood during many hours of delivery—perhaps even had a complication or two (like I did with the placenta accreta and emergency partial hysterectomy)—and is in the process of hormonal upheavals.

Sound absurd?  You bet!

Bottom Line:
We all know the benefits of breastmilk and most, if not all, mothers would like to provide what’s best for their babies.  BFing is beneficial to the mental health of some moms, but NOT all moms.  EVERY MOM’S EXPERIENCE IS UNIQUE TO HER.  To ensure the health of the baby, you need to ensure the health of the mother.  Societal attitudes of the baby’s life meaning more than the mother’s (you’ll find evidence of this in daily posts on the ways certain states want to control women’s reproductive lives) NEED TO STOP.  EACH AND EVERY MOTHER’S voice must be heard, not ignored or shrugged off.

REALLY LISTEN TO THE NEW MOM
AND
RESPECT HER NEEDS

I Proudly Support the I Support You Movement

I couldn’t let World Breastfeeding Week go by without a blog post, especially since the I Support You movement is under way and quickly gaining momentum.  This is a movement I am so proud to be a part of, and I hope all mothers–currently breastfeeding versus bottlefeeding (or both), or who had previously breastfed or bottlefed (or both)–can once and for all cease and desist in the mommy wars when it comes to infant feeding choice!

I am SO glad thISL_I_Support_You_finalat I was oblivious to the extremist views at the time I was struggling to feed my baby 8-1/2 years ago.   Now, don’t get me wrong.  I was aware of all the marketing of breastfeeding paraphernalia galore that appeared EVERYWHERE I looked.   I took it all as a subliminal message that was trying to tell me that breastfeeding was the ONLY right way to feed my baby.  I had people that didn’t know me well ask me whether I was going to breastfeed my baby once she arrived.  And boy, did I want ever so badly to come out and say to these people “Um, can we all just mind our own business, thank you?”  I was of the mindset, because my brothers and I were all formula fed, that formula feeding was just as good as breastfeeding.  Granted, I know there are certain nutrients present in breast milk that can’t be 100% reproduceable in formula. And I get that breastfeeding helps with bonding.  But as I’ve said before, breastfeeding is NOT the only way to bond with the baby.  Just look at adoptive parents, for one.

But my circumstances postpartum were not good.  I did the best I could with the resources I had, the support I had, the health conditions I was suffering at the time, and the breast milk I was able to produce as a result.  I had ENOUGH problems as it was.  Fortunately, I didn’t dwell on or obsess with the fact that I failed to meet my three-month goal, which I attribute to the fact that I wasn’t into social media much at the time, and that’s probably what saved me from feeling even more of a failure.  I wasn’t on social media that could cyber bully a mom into thinking that she failed because there seems to be an overwhelming number of people who are ever so ready to attack others for their infant feeding choice.

Once I came out of my postpartum depression (PPD) journey, I was able to see the BIG PICTURE.  I was able to see that each mother has her own preferences and circumstances for choosing one way to feed over another.  Often times, things don’t work out as planned.  You start out with every intention of breastfeeding only to have some unexpected development like physically being unable to breastfeed (yes, some women just CAN’T, period, no matter how they try….and forcing a woman to keep trying until their own health and the baby’s health are jeopardized is a bad idea no matter how you look at it), or not being able to produce enough (like me and so combining pumping with formula is how the baby is ultimately fed), or developing a postpartum mood disorder so serious that medication (also like me, that may not necessarily be recommended for breastfeeding) is a must if the woman were to recover.

I marvel when I hear the success stories of women who breastfed with ease until their child’s first, second or even third birthday.  I would’ve been so thrilled if I were even able to at least reach my 3rd month target for breastfeeding.  But I didn’t.  Instead, I had to stop pumping entirely once I had to start taking medications.  Moms who have had the fortune of not only breastfeeding easily but breastfeeding the number of months they were aiming for may find it hard to empathize with those moms whose circumstances may not allow them to do the same.  They need to realize that just because things may have worked out for them doesn’t mean that everyone else is as fortunate.

Just as the saying goes “Do things in moderation,” being extremist in thinking is never a good thing. Being empathetic, especially when it comes to supporting others, is CRITICAL!  Can we all just learn to support each other, rather than tear each other down with our “My way is the right way, and you’re doing it the wrong way” attitudes?  Can we all just try to see the BIG PICTURE, rather than dwell on our approaches to parenting, infant care and feeding choices?

Please join me in this mantra:

I support a woman who breastfeeds
I support a woman who formula feeds
I support a woman who does a combination of the two

Please share widely:

Can we count on you to join this movement?

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back – Maternal Matters

*** This post may be triggering if you are suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) and are sensitive to negative news events ***

I felt like blogging tonight.  Partly to keep my mind preoccupied so I won’t be nerve wracked all night, worrying about a presentation I have to give at work tomorrow.  Some of you know that I absolutely HATE public speaking of any sort.  HATE.  😦

As my regular readers may have noticed, I don’t rant much any longer….I’ve mentioned before that my years of book writing and blogging have been EXTREMELY cathartic.  I mentioned in my last post that I will continue to share what I feel to be newsworthy developments in research and media that demonstrate a continued forward momentum in the mission to de-stigmatize postpartum mood disorders and provide mothers with the care that is so desperately needed and is yet so lacking, still.  I will also continue to share interesting tidbits I run across from my daily reading material that comes up in my Facebook news feed or elsewhere.

Tonight’s post shows how –despite valiant efforts in advocacy, public awareness and mother support on the part of many, some of whom I personally know–for every one step forward that’s made, there are forces out  there that are ever so ready to drag us two huge steps back.  I would like to highlight two examples of barriers to progress that were mentioned in news articles in the past couple of weeks.

FIRST ARTICLE
This week’s announcement of the closing of the Shuswap Family Resource Centre’s Mother’s Journey Prenatal and Postnatal Support Group in British Columbia, Canada, is an example of how, despite the known benefits of having a postpartum support group, establishing and maintaining such groups within communities that don’t observe social support customs and rituals when it comes to expectant and postpartum mothers has been an ongoing challenge, mostly due to lack of funding.  The postpartum support group offered mothers education (including self awareness and coping mechanisms) and support on 25-week open-ended cycles, meaning that mothers were able to freely join or leave at any point.  Despite the realization of the importance of such a postpartum support group by healthcare practitioners and the community, and the simple fact that there were so many PPD cases and not enough trained individuals to provide the needed care, this center is closing its doors for good.  Even while it was open, because there was no other support group like this anywhere in the area, PPD moms generally had to wait several weeks just to see someone.  If a couple of days felt like an eternity for me when I was in the depths of my PPD, having a mother wait several weeks is simply unacceptable.  Postpartum support groups should be opening, not closing, their doors to mothers!

We need more postpartum centers that focus on the needs of mothers and ensuring there is adequate support in the first one to three months after childbirth. Early intervention and women-centered health initiatives and programs and support services need to be the standard of care rather than the exception!

SECOND ARTICLE
The title of the article is “10 reasons why breastfeeding is out of fashion,” written by Beverly Turner in the The Telegraph.  I don’t get why women in media–or actually in this case a journalist who reminds me a lot of the other political developments that pop up in my Facebook news feed everyday that make me wonder how we could be in the 21st century and still be faced with so many anti-women initiatives (but I won’t go into there because I KNOW how right wing versus left wing thinking can terminate friendships at the snap of a finger, and this blog is not a political, feminist, or pro-choice versus pro-life blog) –want to be a barrier to progress for women?  What she wrote made me sit there and re-read certain parts of her article, all the while scratching my head and going “Huh?  I don’t get it.  This makes no sense whatsoever.  And she’s supposed to be a journalist?  This article is so poorly written!  How could she criticize other women when she doesn’t have a clue about their experiences?”

Now, as for her so-called ten points:

1.   “Lack of post-natal care to help women establish feeding pattern.”
Sure, we need an overall increase in the availability of postnatal and breastfeeding support for new moms in the first 3 months.

2.   “Lack of high-profile role models breastfeeding.  This is why I implore the Duchess of Cambridge to get out her royal orbs when she has her first next month.”
I actually think there are a good number of celebrities that have announced that they are breastfeeding, or breastfed, their babies.  Granted, there could be more, but we have more now talking about breastfeeding than ever before. Honestly, though, did she have to refer to the Duchess’ boobs as “royal orbs”….?!   Does she sound like a man, or is it just me?  From this point on, the article goes downhill very quickly…..never mind very quickly, try at warp speed.

3.    “Noisy loons creating ‘Brestapo’ caricatures to appease their own consciences.  These women are oddly vocal contingents, who bring their own neuroses to public forums shouting that women ‘shouldn’t be pressured…rather than helped (doh!). They are the same crowd who shout ‘women who have caesareans haven’t failed’! rather than, ‘what the hell is wrong with a system that is failing so many women’? It’s oddly misogynistic.”
WTF?  Hypocritical much? I don’t need to go into this in detail because the fabulous, er, Fearless Formula Feeder has already blogged about this in a brilliant letter addressed to this, er, so-called journalist.

Reasons 4-6 and 8-10 may make sense being included on this list but the points she makes for each are weakly written.  Not even worth mentioning, really.

4.    “Reluctance to give time to our babies.”
WTF WTF WTF?  This screams mommy war completely.  How does she know what each mother’s experience is like?   Get this woman a huge dose of empathy, STAT!  I wish people like her who’ve never known firsthand what it’s like to experience PPD or other postpartum mood disorder and/or serious breastfeeding challenges would just keep their flapping and condescending lips shut.

There is a correlation between success in breastfeeding and PPD occurrence, which is why I think it’s important that as many of us that have been there–suffering from PPD and/or experiencing breastfeeding difficulties, and having very little support for either–speak up and have our voices heard.  Because without our voices, we will forever be taking steps backward.  We want progress!  Mothers should support each other, not bash each other!

LET’S KEEP OUR FOCUS ON THE FOLLOWING:

  • End the mommy wars!
  • More breastfeeding support can increase breastfeeding success.
  • We need more postpartum support groups, not close their doors!
  • If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!
  • Continue steps forward, no backward steps allowed!

Here’s Another Example of How Extreme Thinking is Never a Good Thing

Wow, has it really been over a month since my last post?  Where has all the time gone?!?!  These past couple of weeks, I have been preoccupied with preparing for an event I will be speaking at this coming Thursday.  Most people with no issues with speaking in front of people tell me “Well, you know your subject matter well, so it should be a breeze for you, no?”  But for someone who is petrified of speaking in front of any-sized group, the thought of being in front of, oh, 50 or more people is making me quite anxious.  And I can’t even drink any wine to help take the edge off at this event.  Ughhhhh.

Well, onto more positive things.  The days are now longer, sunnier and warmer.  And that is a really EXCELLENT thing.  And I am going to write my first blog post in 40 days!  The longest break I’ve ever taken since I started my blog in February 2009.  Yikes.

The Fearless Formula Feeder’s latest FFF Friday post really moved me.  A lot.  It’s a detailed account of how a mom named Amy was determined (6 years ago) to try to breastfeed but met with one obstacle after another…the most important of which was the fact that there were quite a number of physiological barriers to breastfeeding that–if the baby were to thrive–gave her no other option but to feed her baby a hypoallergenic formula.

Reading this, one cannot help but feel angry toward the healthcare professionals who do nothing but make a mom’s first attempt at breastfeeding an awful one.  That includes lactation consultants, nurses, OB/GYNs and pediatricians.  If you are going to be of the view that breastfeeding is the ONLY right way to feed your baby, then the least you can do is be supportive.  There should be no room for extreme thinking when it comes to supporting a new mother.  I shouldn’t have to say that being one-sided (or extreme), condescending and mean are not behaviors that  people in these fields should exhibit.  Instead, they should be empathetic and centrist (this is a word that I have grown fond of since I’ve started to pay more attention to politics).  Centrist in that people in health care need to be objective and take into consideration the situation at hand–i.e., in this particular situation, suggest that the baby try (hypoallergenic) formula because the negatives of breastfeeding happen to be outweighing the positives.

What is wrong with a mom trying her darndest to get her baby to breastfeed, but can’t (at the end of Amy’s story, you’ll see what the baby was finally diagnosed with after one extremely trying hurdle after another that had me gritting my teeth) and then is referred by a pediatric GI to a hypoallergenic formula that finally has her baby happily feeding without any difficulties?  NOTHING.

What is wrong with a mom (like me) who initially tries to breastfeed but after a traumatic childbirth and postpartum week in the hospital, doesn’t succeed other than to pump and supplement with formula….and then succumbs to postpartum depression (PPD), has to go on a medley of medications to recover, and has to stop pumping altogether because she doesn’t want the baby exposed to any of the medications?  NOTHING.

What is wrong with a mom who tries to breastfeed but due to physiological issues (this is not an excuse but an actual condition) just doesn’t produce enough milk for her baby?  NOTHING.

What is wrong with a mom who must take medications for a postpartum mood disorder (not a make-believe illness or cop-out) and does not want to expose her baby to the medications?  NOTHING.

What is wrong with a mom who prefers to bottle feed from the get-go for whatever reason she may have?  NOTHING.

Amy’s experience clearly shows that extreme ways of thinking, like breastfeeding is the only way to feed a baby, are FAR from the right way of thinking.  Amy’s daughter and my daughter are but two examples of countless children who were bottle fed…. and yet our girls–now 6 and 8, respectively–are healthy and able to read beyond their years.  Not to mention that a good number of people in my generation (including myself) were all bottle fed.  Are you going to say that we are maladapted and physically and intellectually inferior to everyone who was breastfed?  C’mon, now.  Let’s remove them blinders, alright?

What matters is that the baby is fed.  Everyone has their own viewpoints and preferences.  As long as we are happy with our choices and our babies are happy and healthy, that’s all that should matter.  Trying to push our viewpoints and preferences onto others and insisting that one way is the ONLY right way to do something isn’t right.  Organizations like the American Pediatric Association and La Leche League can continue to make their recommendations, but people really need to stop it with self righteous attitudes and condescension, as well as guilt tripping, bullying, and judging others.  Let’s try to be a bit more supportive and helpful to new moms, especially first-time moms who can use the support.  Okay?

Repeat after me.  THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO FEED YOUR BABY.

I’m a Bottle Baby and I Am……a Mother of a Bottle Baby and Proud of It

As I have mentioned quite often on my blog, surviving my postpartum depression (PPD) experience has had a transformational effect on me.

My experience has:
1.  Educated me on the stigma and ignorance that exist with respect to mental health issues (and maternal mental health issues, which are of particular importance to me) in this country….and throughout the world, for that matter.
2.  Educated me on our society’s trend in the wrong direction with respect to ensuring that new mothers get the care and nurturing they need in the first weeks after childbirth.
3.  Opened my eyes to the toxic societal trends in the form of motherhood myths that cause unnecessary anxiety and unnecessary feelings of guilt and shame.
4.  Instilled a desire to help other new moms suffering from PPD (and any moms just seeking non-judgmental emotional support).

Speaking of  toxic societal trends, there are quite a number of them, the latest of which has the Breast is ALWAYS the Best fanatics behind it….brings to mind the far-right views on abortion (no exceptions, even for rape or incest), but I won’t go into that here.  This fanatical thinking that breast is ALWAYS the best–despite congenital/neonatal issues, childbirth complications (like mine), needing to take PPD meds to recover in order to BE a mother to your baby (like me), and the list goes on–needs to cease and desist!

Year of the Dragon – 2012

When it comes to the mental well-being of a new mom, I am ever so mindful of the stigmas, ignorance, attitudes, beliefs, myths, etc. that have a toxic impact on a new mom.  The dragon in me comes out (picture me with fire coming out of my mouth) and  I get VERY IRRITATED by the things I come across– whether it be from discussions I overhear (or have with people), articles/posts/comments I read on the Internet, or hear in the news–that have to do with any toxic ways of thinking.  Hence, much of what I post are my reactions to the good and the bad–there is unfortunately more of the latter out there. 😦

In the past few months, I joined these two wonderful Facebook groups for moms:  The Fearless Formula Feeder and Bottle Babies (Brisbane, Australia).    I wish I had such resources when I was having trouble breastfeeding over 7 years ago!    The ladies who make up these two groups are truly amazing, and I respect them so much for their dedication in helping new moms and providing them with non-judgmental emotional support.  Together, they recently released this video titled “I’m a Bottle Baby and I Am…..” that I would like to share with you:

“[How] you fill your [baby’s] tummy is not as important as how you fill their heart, mind and spirit.”
– Bottle Babies

Amen!

I’m such a new member of these two groups that I missed the opportunity to contribute to this video.  Well, anyway, here’s a picture of both me and my daughter as examples of two healthy, bottle-fed individuals with good heads on our shoulders.  🙂

Latch on NYC – An Initiative that Fails to Consider the Well-Being of New Moms

A couple weeks ago, the announcement in the New York Post that Mayor Bloomberg was kicking off his Latch on NYC program intended to promote breastfeeding created such a stir in the blogosphere…and with very good reason.  My instinct was to blog about it.  But everyone was blogging about it.  They are still blogging about it.  And after letting the initial waves settle, I’ve finally decided to jump in.

I’m sure everyone is aware by now what this program is all about.  It’s NOT just about restricting the distribution of formula freebies in the “swag” bags that hospitals give to new parents as they leave the hospital, in an effort to increase breastfeeding rates, which is consistent with the ongoing effort over the past decade or so for maternity wards to reduce the amount of formula marketing.  It’s about REQUIRING hospitals to keep formula locked up and only available to a mother asking for it after hospital staff documents EACH AND EVERY occasion and reminds her that breast is best.  You no longer need your mom or mother-in-law to remind you that breast is best.  You’ve got hospital staff preaching it to you EACH AND EVERY time you ask for a bottle.  Having to be preached to by hospital staff for a decision that only the new mother and her partner should be making–and dependent, certainly, on circumstances like the health of the newborn and the condition of the new mom—is completely out of line in my honest opinion.  Frankly, I am disappointed in Mayor Bloomberg.  When people around me criticize him, I’ve been standing up for him.  Not any more, I’m not.

Granted, it’s been 7 years since I had my daughter and from what I recall, my “swag” bag contained more breastfeeding paraphernalia than samples of Similac and Enfamil and bottles from the likes of Playtex, Avent, and Dr. Brown.  But even back then, I felt pressure to breastfeed, given the countless images of breastfeeding paraphernalia that I kept seeing in magazines and on the Internet, and from all the people who kept asking me “So, are you going to breastfeed?”  I had planned to try to breastfeed for at least the first three months of my daughter’s life.  Though, I must admit I headed into it with much trepidation, not knowing what to expect or how successful I would be. I knew it was part of my maternal duty to provide the best nutrition for my daughter, so when I had to stop pumping due to the medication I had to go on for my postpartum depression (PPD), I felt so sad, so guilty.  But I knew I had to get better for her sake so I could be there for her and take care of her.  That was my #1 concern.  After all, what good would I be to her if I was completely ill and debilitated to the point of not being able to take care of her?  I was completely useless once I was caught blindsided and struck down by my PPD.  Now, looking back, I can honestly say I am content knowing that I did the best I could, given the circumstances with which I was faced.  I am content knowing I was able to provide some manner of breast milk to my daughter for the first one and one-half months of her life.

While I do feel that breast is best for the health of the baby (builds up immune system) and even for the mom (reduces risk of cancer), I am completely opposed to this dictatorial method of getting moms to breastfeed by putting formula under lock and key and only under medical circumstances can a mom ask for it.   Hospital staff preaching and unlocking formula for medical reasons only will only cause new moms to feel like they are in a prison. Formula is another feeding option.  Preventing moms from getting access to formula in the hospital, unless there is a medical rationale behind it, is so NOT RIGHT.

While I am all for the notion that breast is best, I am not in agreement that it is ALWAYS the best.  A woman has the RIGHT to choose how to feed her baby.  Whether she uses her breasts to do so or not should be up to her.  After all, her breasts are part of her body.   She should NEVER feel coerced into choosing one feeding option over another.  Some moms prefer to formula feed right from the get-go.  Some moms–and even babies–physically cannot do it.  They just can’t….and all you naysayers among the breastfeeding Nazi’s/extremists, yes, there are moms and babies who physically CANNOT breastfeed.   And then there are the moms, like me, who give it all they’ve got and under their particular circumstances (for me, it was childbirth complications, a partial hysterectomy three days after childbirth, anemia, extreme fatigue, being starved for about 6 out of the 7 days I was in the hospital, not enough lactation assistance, and overall trepidation and uncertainty with breastfeeding in general) had to stop after several weeks due to the extremely small quantity of milk produced, pumping such small amounts that there was no choice but to supplement with formula.

As a PPD advocate, I have to say that I absolutely DO NOT SUPPORT this Latch on NYC initiative.  We really need to avoid adding to the anxiety levels of new moms who face first-time motherhood with uncertainty and inadequate support (in general, and I’m not even talking about inadequate breastfeeding support).   A new mom, especially one who has already suffered from childbirth complications and/or neonatal issues with her baby(ies), needs support, not made to feel forced into breastfeeding if for whatever reason that does not end up to be the way she ends up feeding her baby.  The Latch on NYC program will undoubtedly make new moms who can’t/decide not to breastfeed feel guiltier than necessary, and that’s not an ideal way to begin her postpartum experience, her first few days of motherhood.  No, not at all.

If the intent is to boost breastfeeding rates, then there should be a direct correlation with the availability of breastfeeding support and education.  New moms need to be adequately prepared with such details as the process of milk production and who can address questions and concerns as they come up (e.g., what colostrum is and what it looks like, how long before real milk comes in, how long each feeding can take, how many feedings may be needed per day, why mastitis occurs and how to alleviate it if it does, and how to cope with leaky breasts).  For Latch on NYC to work and not have a detrimental effect on new moms, there should be an increase in the number of lactation consultants on staff at each and every hospital in NYC.  Is NYC prepared to do such a thing?  Hardly likely, since the objective is ALWAYS about cutting costs.  Hey, even the breastfeeding organizations out there will be the first to admit that the goal is to reduce healthcare costs, and hence, the number of trips made to a pediatrician.

Surely, Mr. Bloomberg, you can’t expect to increase breastfeeding rates without also ensuring an increase in education and support for breastfeeding?  Difficulties getting the baby to latch properly and breastfeeding complications like mastitis—these are but some of the factors that can contribute to an increased risk for PPD, which is why an increase in education and support are crucial.  There needs to be an uptick in breastfeeding (and also postpartum) support services that are easily accessible—not to mention, affordable—to new moms throughout NYC.  All too many moms are not educated on what it takes to successfully breastfeed on demand, around the clock during the first weeks.  You don’t know that all too many moms are left struggling to breastfeed without any help.  If all mothers had access to adequate support, I’m sure more moms would stick to breastfeeding longer. Fewer moms would give up out of frustration, complications, and sheer exhaustion.

Mr. Bloomberg, do you want to see an increase in the number of new moms embarking on their first-time motherhood experiences stressed out from your well-intended but poorly planned initiative (from a consequential standpoint of what this could mean to maternal mental health)?  Your intent may be noble from the standpoint of providing the best start to life for newborns, but it does not necessarily take into consideration the mental well-being of new mothers, now, does it?  Do you know what it’s like to struggle with breastfeeding challenges, inadequate support, extreme fatigue, childbirth complications, and neonatal complications?  Do you not realize that the health of the family unit is dependent on the health of the new mom?

Mr. Bloomberg, if you want to improve the well-being of babies, you cannot forget about their mothers. Hand in hand with this Latch on NYC initiative of yours should be an initiative to educate new moms and their families about PPD, as well as developing postpartum support programs, which are desperately needed but pitifully lacking.  You really need to be educated on maternal mental health issues at hand to know the impact your Latch on NYC program will have on new moms.

I’d like to end this post with some reminders to new moms faced with the decision of whether to breastfeed or not, or faced with breastfeeding challenges (including having to take medication for PPD):

  • Don’t let anyone else influence you into believing you must breastfeed. You and your husband are the only ones who should have any say in the manner in which you feed your baby. It’s no one else’s business. You will be making the decision based on what you feel comfortable with and what you think is best for your baby. Feeding your baby formula doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom.
  • Don’t feel guilty or deficient about not being able to breastfeed.
  • Don’t feel guilty for having to stop breastfeeding if you need to take medication to recover from your PPD. The priority is for you to be well again so you can care for and establish a warm and loving relationship with your baby.

For more thoughts on Latch on NYC around the blogosphere, check out these blog posts:

This Mother’s Day – Let’s Focus on What Really Matters

THIS MOTHER’S DAY – LET’S FOCUS ON WHAT REALLY MATTERS

What’s all this recent fuss?
This fuss with yet another ploy
By media to add fuel to the fire
Of moms who breast-feed versus bottle-feed
Of moms who attachment parent, the seemingly new trend,
And of moms like me who are like, what is attachment parenting (or AP) anyway?

Why the lingo?
Why the mompetition?
Why not community?
Why not support for each other?
Why don’t we honor mothers the way other cultures do?

Well, let me tell you why.
Our society is one in which the primary goal is success,
And who’s best at this or that.
Who’s best at motherhood.
Who’s best at their career.
Who breast-feeds the longest.
Who returns to their pre-baby body the quickest.

Our culture is more bent on pitting mother against mother
Than finding ways for them to support each other.
Through the years, our culture has lost its way.
Just think….
Why is good childcare hard to find?
Why is info on PPD so hard to find?
Why are support services for new moms so hard to find?
What are medical professionals who know how to recognize
And treat PPD correctly so hard to find?

Who gives a rat’s tush….
If someone breast-feeds for a few days versus three years?
If someone bottle-feeds because they choose to do so?
If someone bottle feeds because they and/or their baby had to have a….
Life-saving procedure
Or was sick
And had difficulty breastfeeding
And had very little support?
If someone does “AP” or doesn’t even know what the heck that term means
Does it really matter?
And why someone have to even come up with it in the first place?

Haven’t parents been parenting for thousands of years?
Babies have turned out just fine,
And in some ways, even better than they are today!
Were there electronic gadgets and fancy terms for childcare decades ago?
My peers and I grew up without all that
And I would like to think we turned out just fine!

If we want our babies to grow up fine
We feed, hold, kiss, hug, and interact (read/sing/play) with them.
We do the best we can given our personal situation.
Doesn’t matter how expensive our toys are
Or how fancy the name of the trend du jour is,
Or whether we end up bottle-feeding for whatever the reason may be.
Bonding will happen.
Babies will thrive.

Don’t give in to our society’s myopic ploy.
A ploy with a focus on situations that encourage moms to compete with each other.
A society with mothers feeling alone,
Mothers feeling stressed out,
And mothers feeling like they’re not mom enough.
A society that provides very little in the way of
New mom support services,
Comprehensive maternal health (mental/medical) care services,
And awareness campaigns to bust the stigma surrounding perinatal mental health!
And you wonder why the number of moms with PPD are one in eight!
We are bringing it upon ourselves!

What can we do to change things, you ask?
Let’s end the mompetition.
Let’s have moms be supportive of each other.
Let’s create support services to help new mothers and their families.
Let’s have a society that honors its mothers
Not just on Mother’s Day but always!

For all the moms out there, remember self care.
Without it, you cannot care for your babies.
They need you.
As long as you’re doing what YOU feel is right for you and your baby…
And given YOUR situation…
Then filter out all the media tactics and mompetitive attitudes…
Take a deep breath and repeat after me:
“I AM MOM ENOUGH, AND I WON’T FORGET IT.”

For all those who have a mom (or two) you care about
And will be celebrating Mother’s Day with her today,
Please remember (especially if this is a new mom) that the greatest gift
You can give her is emotional and practical support.
Don’t provide advice unless she asks you for it.
Do provide a shoulder to cry on if she’s having a rough day.
Do provide help so she can get the rest she needs
And/or time to do something just for herself,
And last but not least,
Remind her that SHE IS MOM ENOUGH AND SHE SHOULD NOT FORGET IT.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

A wish from one mother to another!

xx

Breast-feeding Is A Mother’s Choice…Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise!

My first day really back on Twitter (I decided to finally try to get back in the swing of things), and I saw all these tweets about an article on Psychology Today about breastfeeding[WARNING:  I realize that there are moms out there suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) and/or having a difficult time breast-feeding that should not be reading articles that will only cause them further distress and feelings of guilt and inadequacy.  So, if you are currently suffering from a postpartum mood disorder, you should probably wait until you are feeling more strong before reading what I call crap that is being shoveled out in a feeble attempt to remind people that breast-feeding is best, no exceptions…which is what this article is trying to lead people to believe, which is dead WRONG.]

As I read the article by Dr. Darcia Narvaez, my mouth dropped farther and farther til it felt like it was going to hit the floor, it was that unbelievable.  It’s unbelievable that Psychology Today would allow such an unbalanced piece to be written, let alone be published for all the world to see.  The irony is that she’s posting this under the heading of “Moral Landscapes.”  I think it’s absolutely immoral what she’s doing in pulling such bullying tactics, trying to guilt mothers into breastfeeding irregardless of circumstances that they may find themselves in.  This Dr. Narvaez needs to walk the shoes of a mother who has suffered from childbirth complications and PPD.  It is obvious she has no experience or knowledge whatsoever of maternal mental health issues, PPD being a serious one, with one out of eight new mothers suffering from it.

Practically every single point she makes is filled with inaccuracies and lack of research to back them up due to a pure bias toward breast-feeding.  It’s almost like she deliberately set out to target mothers and try to bully them into following her preachings, but with no research/statistics to back any of her assertions up. Well, this preachy article should be pulled, in my honest opinion.  Thankfully, many comments opposing this article immediately started to appear on the site, and Karen Kleiman wrote a post on Psychology Today, which I applaud wholeheartedly.   Please check it out.  I wasn’t going to post a comment because what I would’ve wanted to say has been said in the numerous comments and this Dr. Narvaez wasn’t going to listen anyway.  Usually, I love to pull out my favorite lines to criticize here in my blog, but with this article, I would’ve had to quote the ENTIRE thing, it was THAT BAD.   I would like to take her first eight points and throw them out with tomorrow’s trash, especially the one where she tries to have you believe that “99% of moms can breastfeed successfully.”  Yeah, right.  Most women rarely succeed on the first try. Many don’t succeed until several days later. Some never succeed at all. Not succeeding at breast-feeding does not automatically make you a failure at being a mom.

But isn’t breast-feeding as easy as putting a baby’s mouth to your breast and having it suck? Aren’t we like other mammals that possess mammalian glands that produce milk for our offspring? We’ve all seen new piglets, puppies, and kittens lined up in a row doing their thing, all naturally knowing how to suckle after birth.  No, for HUMANS breast-feeding is no more instinctive than all other aspects of baby care that are learned from doing or learned by the in-person guidance of experienced individuals.  If breast-feeding were instinctive, why would there even be the need for lactation consultants? Why would one of the minimum qualifications of doulas be experience with breast-feeding? For every woman who feels that breast-feeding is natural, fulfilling, a source of contentment, and a great way to bond with the baby, there is a mother who feels that breast-feeding is difficult, painful and physically and mentally exhausting. Getting the baby to latch isn’t as easy as you’d think, and one would never know that a tiny little mouth can cause so much pain while sucking, especially if your nipples are already sore and cracking. And that’s in addition to the round-the-clock feeding schedule (e.g., one hour at a time, every two hours), sleep deprivation, and possibly even mastitis.

There’s this whole to-do about breast-feeding nowadays and how breast is best. Consequently, all too many moms choose to breast-feed with the best of intentions—knowing the benefits to the baby—but with very little concept of what it really entails, faced with a steep learning curve, and not expecting to have to learn or get help from anyone else for something as seemingly simple as putting the baby to breast to let the baby do its thing. As a result, all too many moms end up setting themselves up for a big letdown when they have difficulty breastfeeding and are unable to breastfeed for as many months as they were hoping to be able to do.

What new moms should keep in mind is that breast-feeding is a matter of personal preference. It is not for everyone. It is not a prerequisite to being a good mother. It’s a personal decision that must be made and should not be influenced by what other people say, think, or do. A mother who breast-feeds doesn’t mean she’s a better mother or loves her baby more than a mother who does not breast-feed. Breast-feeding is one method of feeding your baby. Your baby will grow up just fine with one of the formulas available today. There are plenty of people who were fed formula that are healthy and extremely successful in their careers.

A common misconception out there is that you must nurse your baby if you expect to bond properly. Let’s think about this for a moment. What about everyone who’s been bottle-fed? I doubt everyone who’s ever been bottle-fed failed to bond properly with his or her mother. You don’t have to breast-feed to bond. If you do breast-feed without any problems, that’s great. But you can also bond while formula feeding. Not everyone chooses to and/or is able to breast-feed. Dads and adoptive parents can’t breast-feed and are still able to bond successfully with their babies.

If you want to breast-feed, giving it your best shot is all you can ask of yourself.   Don’t let anyone else influence you into believing you must breast-feed. You and your significant other are the only ones who should have any say in the manner in which you feed your baby. It’s no one else’s business. You will be making the decision based on what you feel comfortable with and what you think is best for your baby. Feeding your baby formula doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom.

Don’t feel guilty or deficient about not being able to breast-feed, and don’t feel guilty for having to stop breast-feeding if you need to take medication to recover from your PPD. The priority is for you to be well again so you can care for and establish a warm and loving relationship with your baby.

If you haven’t already done so, go on over to these blog posts that have also been written in response to the Dr. Narvaez’s article:   My Postpartum Voice’s “My Breasts, My Sanity, My Choice” and Fearless Formula Feeder’s “Good versus ‘Evil’: How ignorance can bring out the best in the breastfeeding/formula debate.”