Sweet Pea Births

Chandler, Arizona

Sweet Pea Births

...celebrating every swee​t pea their birth


Nursing In Public

Posted on August 23, 2011 at 1:23 PM Comments comments (122)
Bradley Method® Affiliated Instructor Krystyna Bowman with son Bryan at 3-months old - getting ready to nurse during lunchtime at a restaurantMy personal evolution
Nursing in public (“NIP”) with confidence is something that takes time and practice.  It also helps to have a supportive partner with you.  Bruss was always so helpful and encouraging.  In our days as first-time parents, he would sit next to me and hold the cover while I figured out how to access the breast and latch our baby.  He would sit right there throughout the nursing, chatting with me as if there was nothing abnormal about what I was doing.

Then the day arrived when we were out, just our baby and me, and our baby was hungry.  When that day came for the first time, I just dug deep within my reserves and told myself I could do it – and we did.
The apologist breastfeeding mom in me has disappeared.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I did everything possible to hide when I was breastfeeding Ysabella in public in an effort not to offend anyone around us.
Nursing Brussito was a little different because we hardly went out after his RSV scare.  I got very comfortable nursing uncovered since we hardly ever left the house and had very few visitors.  When we did have people over, I had to feed him uncovered since he was not used to hiding behind a cover; and he would fidget instead of nurse.  That led to finding secluded corners in public places so that I could nurse him uncovered without offending people.  I mostly used the cover to shield him from other people than I did to hide my nursing “parts”.  The cover still went with us everywhere, mostly used for a blanket or a towel instead of a nursing cover.
Which led to a total transformation as I nursed Bryan.  We still used covers in his early months to keep people away from him before he was six months old.  As he got older and more interested in his surroundings, all the beautiful nursing covers my aunt had made me fell into disuse as I got more comfortable with nursing in public. 
I started getting brave and proudly breastfed our baby without a nursing cover when a bottle-feeding mom at our children’s swim school got my ire up.  I figured if I could nurse at the swim school uncovered, I could nurse in other settings uncovered.  As I like to say now, I can nurse in public and show less skin than a lingerie model, or most models for that matter, who bare their skin in advertisements and storefront displays.
A friend of mine related one of my favorite anecdotes about breastfeeding.  It was the first time I realized that seeing and learning about breastfeeding normalizes the experience for children.  She never nursed her children, so they were fascinated by the fact that I nursed ours.  They got to see me nurse Brussito when we had play dates.  Much to the mom’s embarrassment, they would peek under the nursing cover to see what was going on.  I would tell them that that I made milk for him, and they were seeing a baby drink the special food that I made just for him.  After a couple of months of seeing him nurse, they started nursing their baby dolls!  It really drove home the idea that if children (and people in general) see breastfeeding in action, then they begin to understand that it is normal and acceptable; and it is a behavior that children will repeat and hopefully carry over to their own children.
There is only one circumstance when I will still use a nursing cover: in church.  Even then I am resistant and want to push the boundary sometimes.  For goodness sakes, I think, the baby Jesus breastfed, and I know that Mary did not have a nursing cover.  I am guessing he got hungry when the shepherds and the wise men were visiting.  I don’t know enough about Jewish culture to know if she would have excused herself and gone to another part of the stable…but I do know that he probably got to eat when he was hungry – there was no formula available back then!!  Out of respect for the fact that people in church may expect “modesty” I do try to be mindful that this might not be a good time to freak them out.
I have also realized through the course of writing posts and finding relevant links for Breastfeeding Awareness Month that when I nurse our next child, it is well and good to unashamedly and proudly feed her in front of our other children no matter what the setting.  Beyond that, I need to tell them and show them how breastfeeding works. 

Both of our older children loved to watch as I nursed Bryan, and I am sure that their interest will be piqued again as we welcome our newest Sweet Pea this fall.  As the opportunities present themselves, this time around I will show our older children how we latch, what good feeding looks like, and show them the difference between colostrum and established milk.
Not only will Ysabella have the opportunity to learn and hopefully remember some of the mechanics involved if and when she has her own children, but maybe our sons will be of some help when their partners want to feed their children.  If our sons have children, I can only imagine the look on our daughter-in-laws faces when our sons instruct them on how to breastfeed!
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Are you a lactivist?

Posted on August 16, 2011 at 6:37 AM Comments comments (82)
Lactivist tee shirt available at cafepress.comWhat do you think - are you a lactivist?
Fromthe Wikipedia topic, “Lactivism”
“Lactivism (portmanteau of "lactation" and "activism") is a term used to describe the advocacy of breastfeeding. Supporters, referred to as "lactivists", seek to promote the health benefits of breastfeeding over formula-feeding and to ensure that nursing mothers are not discriminated against.
Another form of lactivism is simply acting as support for mothers that wish to breastfeed. Some mothers may not have the information necessary to succeed, and some have been provided incomplete or misleading information by healthcare professionals, friends, family members, and others that have no experience with breastfeeding. This support often also includes help for mothers who initially had a hospital lactation consultant that opted for formula at the first sign of difficulties with feeding.”
From the Urban Dictionary On-line
1. A lactivist is a lactation activist: someone who considers him/herself an advocate for breastfeeding, whether or not s/he's nursed. Lactivism comes in many forms: choosing to breastfeed, choosing to breastfeed for an extended period of time, choosing to breastfeed in public, choosing to smile at a breastfeeding woman, encouraging other women to breastfeed, educating the public on the benefits of breastfeeding, lobbying for pro-breastfeeding legislation, etc.
2. a woman who nurses her child in public as a protest against people uncomfortable with seeing breastfeeding.
How is this for an interesting point: as I was looking up the definition of “lactivist” on the Internet to see how my personal beliefs fit into the definition, I did not see Merriam-Webster pop up as a link.  I deliberately went to their site to look up the word, and got the message, “The word you've entered isn't in the dictionary.”  As the next step in raising awareness, our goal as breastfeeding families may be to see this word entered into an “official” dictionary.
Anyway – back to the topic at hand…do you think you are a lactivist?  The more we teach the Bradley Method® and see how these babies thrive on breastmilk, the more convinced I am that I am going to have to start wearing breastfeeding tee-shirts to raise public awareness on the overwhelming benefits of breastfeeding.
I have evolved from a nervous mom who, as Debbie Gillespie likes to say, covered up from the neck to the ankles in order not to offend anyone.  I would pump like crazy before a plane trip so that I could bottle-feed Ysabella in case breastfeeding was “inconvenient” during our ride.  I would politely agree with people that chose not to breastfeed (non-medical reasons) that their babies would be fine on formula in the long run.  I would even wear a nursing cover in our own home when people were visiting!
In looking at my transformation from an apologist to a lactivist, the setting that motivated me to take a stand for breastfeeding was our children’s swim school.  Before Bryan was old enough to swim, we would take the two older kiddos to their classes and I would sit with Bryan in the observation area.  There was another mom with an infant who always bottlefed her baby.  I know enough to recognize the thick white color of formula – not that the powder in the bottle wasn’t a giveaway.  On top of that, she didn’t always hold her baby when she gave him the bottle. 
It’s one thing to stop nursing for medical reasons, which as I learned from Dr. Newman, are few and far between when a mom has had a good birth, good help and good support.  Not knowing this mom’s story, I was appalled that maybe even with a good reason, this mom was not only compromising her baby’s gut, immune system, and intelligence, but that she did it so carelessly!!  If you are going to supplement or replace your milk, I feel that you could at least look your baby in the eye and give them your love if you are not able or willing to nurse them.
The way I approach it, being a lactivist is not about baring skin or daring people to challenge me.  It’s about the fact that our breasts are physiologically designed to feed our children.  We have allowed prudishness on one end of the spectrum, and sexualization on the other end, to dictate how and when we use our breasts to feed our children.
I, for one, am finished with nursing covers.  I want to reiterate that I can nurse in public and show less skin than a lingerie model, or most models for that matter, who bare their skin in advertisements and storefront displays.  I love my nursing tops with built in flaps that I use as I lose my pregnancy weight, and my Modest Middles nursing tanks that let me nurse wearing any stretchy or front opening blouse in my wardrobe to nurse.  I am comfortable in my own skin if I accidentally flash a nipple or flesh in public while my baby latches.  I am joining my fellow lactivists in making “breasts = feeding” the norm in our society.
Over the year of teaching Bradley Method® classes and sharing the benefits of nursing with other families, and expanding on my own knowledge of breastfeeding with La Lache League Meetings, additional reading and training, I also feel motivated to inform people that formula is not, and never will be an adequate substitute for breastmilk.  In my book, the formula companies are criminally responsible for compromising the health of generations of children by promulgating the notion that their science is equal to our incredible design.  Equally complicit in this great lie are the hospitals that do not support the choice to breastfeed, or that do not teach new mothers how to keep their milk supply up when their babies are born prematurely or they have had traumatic birth experiences.
In answer to my own question: Yes, I am a lactivist, and proud of it.

Related Links:
How Your Breasts Make and Deliver Milk from Dr. Sears.com

In case you are interested, here is the ordering info for the tee-shirt pictured above:
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Successful Breastfeeding

Posted on August 2, 2011 at 1:39 AM Comments comments (0)
“This month is Breastfeeding Awareness Month.  The breastfeeding campaign, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, hopes to empower women to commit to breastfeeding by highlighting new research showing that babies who are exclusively breastfed for six months are less likely to develop ear infections, diarrhea and respiratory illnesses, and may be less likely to develop childhood obesity.”
     - FitPregnancy.com
In conjunction with Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I will be featuring breastfeeding links on our Sweet Pea Births Facebook page.  Please check it for updates on breastfeeding articles, classes, research, resources, information and promotions.
Today I want to share with you the ways we have found success in our endeavor to breastfeed our children.  I use “we” and “our” because the breastfeeding relationship between a mother and child is the most successful when the Coach is supportive and invested in the decision to breastfeed (see research link below). 
Although breastfeeding is a physiological behavior, like natural childbirth, it is a learned behavior.  Many of us played with baby dolls and bottles growing up as children; very few of us got to see how the mechanics of breastfeeding works.  If we had siblings that were breastfed, it is likely that we were too young to remember the specifics of what we observed, and unlikely that our mothers told us “how” they latched on for productive and painless breastfeeding.
I was fortunate to be old enough to witness my mom breastfeeding my brothers since I am 13 and 15 years older than they are.  I remember how sweet they looked snuggled up to her breast, and how fulfilling it was for her to nourish them.  My decision to breastfeed our own children was a very easy one to make.  Bruss also knew his sister breastfed his niece and nephew, so it wasn’t a foreign concept to him, either.  Formula feeding was not an option that we seriously considered.
There are three factors that helped us succeed in our commitment to breastfeed our children:  
1.) The information we received on the benefits of breastfeeding.
2.) The commitment we made to feed our baby with the food that is designed just for them: human milk for human babies. 
3.) We learned how to breastfeed in public – this required a commitment at a different level – I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable!!
The first time we were exposed to the benefits of breastfeeding was in the Bradley Method® class we took with our first pregnancy.  The ones that appealed to us were: healthier mom, healthier baby, getting more sleep, the money saved, the portability and ease of travel with a baby, the opportunity for our child to have a higher IQ…the list is a long one.  See the links at the end of today’s post for a couple of lists of benefits.
In addition to learning about the benefits in class, part of the homework for any Bradley Method® student is to attend at least one La Leche League meeting to learn about peer support.  As instructors we encourage our students to try and attend at least two meetings before the birth of their baby so that they are familiar with the leaders that are available to them for support before or after baby arrives.
We did our homework and attended a meeting together – there are several meetings in the area that are “Dad-welcome” meetings.  You can call the Leader and check in if you have any questions about bringing your Coach to a meeting.
When our daughter, Ysabella, arrived we started breastfeeding within an hour after she was born.  What we had learned through our Bradley classes but didn’t insist on as first-time parents is that skin-to-skin contact is the most conducive to successful newborn breastfeeding.  We let the “baby nurse” whisk her away to do her newborn care while the doctor worked on me.  Once we were reunited, our doula helped us latch on for the first time and hence, we started to learn about the mechanics of breastfeeding.
Since then, we have insisted that we hold our children first – the nurse can come back later after we have done our bonding.  A newborn can find their way to the breast and latch on without any direction or encouragement.  It was so awesome to have our boys start nursing without hesitation within minutes of being born.
I had inverted nipples before I started nursing Ysabella, so our postpartum nurse suggested that we use nipple shields to encourage my nipples into the “correct” shape for breastfeeding.  They are not comfortable or attractive, and since then we have also learned that there is some controversy about their use.  Luckily, there was no lasting damage from using the shields during our hospital stay, and they did work to bring my nipples out in the right direction for Ysabella to nurse.
What we weren’t prepared for was the pain of engorgement, or the pain that was associated with latching on.  No one told us about the likelihood that the first 7-10 days of breastfeeding would be difficult, or how it might hurt along the path of learning to breastfeed properly.  It was so painful that I was brought to tears every time I nursed.  I made Bruss take all the formula samples out of the house to remove any temptation to take the easy way out.  Due to our experience, we are frank with our students about these possibilities, and along with that, we equip them with resources so that they can persevere through the initial challenges and develop the mutually beneficial breastfeeding relationship with their child.
Since our initial experience, we have learned that latching-on should not be painful.  Our chiropractor says, “Just because it is common doesn’t mean it is normal.”  As he likes to tell our students: breasts are a matched set – they are of similar size, shape and texture.  The milk coming out tastes the same – one side isn’t chocolate and the other vanilla!  If your baby seems to prefer one side to another, or if breastfeeding is painful on only one side, consider having your baby checked by a pediatric chiropractor for subluxations that may have occurred during childbirth. 

Even with an un-medicated, uncomplicated vaginal birth, the tight squeeze through the vaginal canal may have pinched a nerve or changed the alignment of the spine.  This may cause your baby discomfort when they are placed in the breastfeeding position, causing them to latch improperly or to squirm in the opposite direction, thus giving the impression that they “don’t like” to nurse on one side.
My easiest transition to full-time breastfeeding was with our third child, Bryan, who we had checked at 10 days old.  Dr. Ross checked him, did a minor adjustment, and voila, the pain in my left breast during latch-on never happened again!  To be clear, he does not adjust a child as he would an adult.  He uses a tool called “the activator” to do the adjusting.  Even with that tool, he puts his thumb between the tool and the baby so it is a very gentle process.  I will be sure to take pictures when he adjusts our newest arrival so that you can see what I am talking about. 
Going Public
The last factor of learning to breastfeed was getting comfortable nursing outside of our home.  We decided to nurse “on-demand” – when Ysabella was hungry, I responded to her cues by feeding her.  This being the case, it meant that if we were going to leave the house, I would probably have to feed her at some point before we made it back home.
Our Bradley Method® instructor suggested our first “tip” for public breastfeeding:  whenever I nursed in public and Bruss was with me, he would put his arm around me to show his support.  It was extremely comforting to have his physical touch as a demonstration and encouragement that it was okay to nurse and he was behind me 100%.
Nobody told us about the second aspect – how do you do it discreetly?  The first time I tried it was a disaster…how do you maneuver a blanket, a bra and a baby at the same time?  Luckily, I was with a friend who helped me hold a blanket up while I tried to open my nursing bra and get Ysabella into a good nursing position.  That same day, I observed another nursing mom wrap a corner of a blanket around her bra strap to hold it in place and then do all the rest of the maneuvering.  Since then, nursing covers have come onto the market – they are a handy little mother’s helper if you are going to cover up!
I say “if” because I have become less and less inhibited with each child.  Do not mistake that for indiscretion – I still show less skin when I nurse in public than a lingerie model baring her breasts for the entire world to see in a mall window display.  What I have become comfortable with is the notion that my breasts were made for feeding, and there is no shame in allowing my child to nurse freely, without being uncomfortably hot underneath a blanket or cover.  I also feel that as a “lactivist”, I can do my part to further the cause of breastfeeding and the recognition of it as “natural”.  Hiding behind a cover to do what nature intended will not further the acceptance of the anatomical function of breasts for feeding.
I hope this inside view into a brief summary of our breastfeeding experience will help you find the path to your breastfeeding success.  Watching our children thrive on my milk during infancy and beyond is one of the most rewarding aspects of my motherhood.  I wish that same success and fulfillment to mothers everywhere.
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

To Find a La Leche League Meeting
Phoenix Area
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Dr. Sears – Top to Bottom:
Compilation of Medical Studies:
Dads and Breastfeeding Support