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Build your Breastfeeding Support Network

Whether you are a fourth-time breastfeeding pro, or you are a first time breastfeeder in your non-breastfeeding family, it is especially important to surround yourself with people who believe in you breastfeeding your baby. Encouragement and support are vital in the early months, when you are learning, and you doubt everything! You need people who can remind you to keep going, and see the bigger picture, when it seems easier to quit.

1. Make a list of your friends and family who breastfed.

While you are pregnant, ask them what their early weeks were like, and what was helpful, and what was not. You will get a better sense of who you feel comfortable talking to, when it’s your turn to breastfeed.

2. Look up support groups in your area.

Visit a local breastfeeding support group, or a ‘mommy and me’ support group. They come in all flavors. You don’t have to have a baby to attend--just come as you are--pregnant. Most moms will tell you they wish they had taken the time to actually meet real live moms and babies before they gave birth. Support groups are a good way to meet other moms, and make new friends with babies the same age as yours.

La Leche League, Breastfeeding USA, Baby Café and WIC all have active support groups all over the USA. Most hospitals and baby stores have groups, and you will find others on Meetup.

Online groups can be a lifesaver, especially if you are housebound with weather, a premature baby, or illness. An advantage of online groups is specialization. No matter what challenge you find yourself facing, there is a group focusing on supporting people with that challenge. Search on Instagram and Facebook, or Google specific words of what you want.

3. Find an IBCLC who will come to your house.

Make a list of lactation specialists who help moms in your area. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) have the most expertise, training and experience. Schedule a 10 or 15 minute prenatal conversation to see if you feel comfortable asking them for help, should you need to.

The Breastfeeding Café is my online support community filled with expectant and breast-feeding and moms. It’s a friendly place where you can grab a cup of coffee, login and chat. Come join us!

4. Build a list of trusted resources.

You can google a breastfeeding question and come up with some surprising (and embarrassing) results. Search first with these trusted resources.

1. KellyMom.com Kelly Bonata is an IBCLC who writes evidence-based and articles clearly explaining every aspect of breastfeeding. https://kellymom.com

2. La Leche League - For over 60 years, this organization and its Leaders have supported, encouraged and empowered women to breastfeed. Small groups meet all over the world and trained group Leaders provide phone support and inperson support at group meetings. https://llli.org

3. Breastfeeding USA is a nationwide network of breastfeeding counselors who provide evidence-based breastfeeding information and support and promote breastfeeding as the biological and cultural norm. https://breastfeedingusa.org

4. WIC (Women, Infant and Children Nutrition) WIC equips WIC moms with the information, resources and support they need to successfully breastfeed through the use of incentives, support groups, IBCLCs and WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselors. https://wicbreastfeeding.fns.usda.gov

5. BabyCafe USA -- Baby Cafés are free groups for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers offering support from trained staff, and opportunities to share experiences and make friends. http://www.babycafeusa.org

6. USLCA is the professional association for American lactation consultants. Check certification and and look for an IBCLC lactation consultant near you. https://uslca.org/resources/find-an-ibclc

Call or text (845)-750-4402 with your questions. And don’t worry, you are not “bothering me!” Answering breastfeeding questions is what I do, and how I work with all mothers. Happy breastfeeding!     -- Donna Bruschi, IBCLC

Regret in the Broken Heart of a "Breastfeeding Failure"

Amanda didn’t plan for any of the traumatic stuff that happened to her.

There was no way to prepare for it. She planned on a natural birth without drugs. She planned to have her baby placed on her chest, and together they would begin breastfeeding, in the “golden hour.”

Instead, she felt rushed and pressured during labor. She couldn’t get comfortable with a fetal monitor around her belly. It kept slipping, as she writhed on the bed, and giving false alarms. And, after 12 hours, the alarm was real, and baby Jade was born via c-section. Amanda and Jade were reunited a few hours later, and they started breastfeeding.  

It was magical! 

Jade knew what to do, and they did it together. They nursed and dozed, blissfully connected. Amanda had no pain. Jade was drinking first colostrum, then milk and making lots of diapers.

After two days home, Amanda's incision turned bright red and started leaking.

She went to her doctor who put her back to the hospital, for a week. She pumped as best she could, drifting in and out of drugs, and fever. Her husband, Rick, held the flanges and comforted her. Her mother fed the milk to Jade at home.

Back at home again, Amanda tried to start breastfeeding again, and Jade refused to nurse. Amanda cried, both in pain from her incision, and the heartache of not breastfeeding. She held Jade skin-to-skin and tried to pump. She was not yet making enough milk. 

Her first two months postpartum were painful and messy.

A visiting nurse came to her home to check on her, and to change her dressings, every other day. She encouraged Amanda to try to breastfeed, and taught her better pumping techniques. But, over the next few weeks, Jade was receiving more, and more, formula. 

Amanda was spending nearly 3 hours a day plugged into the pump. Her mom was bottle feeding Jade. She was discouraged and angry. She cried because she missed her baby and one day decided to stop pumping. She got even angrier when her milk just “stopped” the next day. There was no swelling, no pain. She felt like her body had failed at everything it was supposed to be able to do naturally. It couldn’t birth, and it didn’t make milk. 

She had slammed into an immovable object—an uncommon situation that is nearly insurmountable once it starts: a new mother with a life threatening illness or complication from birth.

How could she have prevented this? Was there a way of reducing her risk?

These are always two paths, and there are no guarantees, because breastfeeding is unpredictable. 

1. You can choose the path of education and advocating, and you are more likely to have a good outcome because you are empowered to make good choices.

2. You can choose the path of ignorance and hoping, and probably will have a good outcome, but your health care providers will make all the decisions for you.

In Amanda's case, trouble started when her labor was restricted, and she was not able to move around, and the false alarms scared her. These increased her risk of a c-section, which is how she gave birth.

If you are healthy and have no medical complications, using a midwife is the best option in having a natural birth, free of interventions. This generally leads into a good start to breastfeeding. Many childbirth interventions can delay or complicate breastfeeding. 

If that is not an option, reducing risk with a childbirth class, a breastfeeding class, a birth doula and a breastfeeding plan always is. Using a pro-breastfeeding doctor, who trusts your birth process, is vital to mother and baby heath. 

It’s all about reducing risk and making peace with what happens. 

In Amanda's case, her body’s reaction to the c-section started a chain reaction, that ended her breastfeeding. Some women hit one setback, others hit many in rapid fire succession. In the beginning, even one setback can feel overwhelming, and cause you to quit.

Setbacks grind away at your resolve. It’s easy to forget why you wanted to breastfeed, especially if you are isolated, or never breastfed before. Amanda stuck with it, until she couldn’t anymore.

When anyone doesn’t get what they want, they feel frustrated, sad, or even angry. Some people will quit as soon as the feelings become unbearable, others will keep searching for a way. 

There is not one right way to move through problems. There is only your way. 

It’s Ok to be angry and sad, but it’s not ok to hurt yourself, and beat yourself up.

Once you get through the crisis and get your strength back, it’s easy to look back and regret your decisions. You may feel depressed, angry at yourself, or even suicidal. It’s easy to think you are a bad mom for failing at breastfeeding. The data supports breastfeeding as the optimal way to feed your baby, but it’s not the only way for your baby to thrive!

You still have options. You may still be able to breastfeed again, at least a little bit, if you get help from a lactation consultant, or someone knowledgable. 

A short term plan, taking it a day at a time, where you keep coming back and checking in with your original goal is always helpful. Baby-feeding combinations tailored for each family’s circumstances are often created by trial and error.

If you can’t, or don’t want to breastfeed, then make a plan for grieving. 

Grieving is a marathon, not a sprint. Do a little every day by setting a timer, grieving and then putting it on hold until the next session. Therapy with the right therapist can help. 

A lactation consultant who understands that you are done, can help you as well. Nobody breastfeeds forever and often women have strong feelings when the wean. It’s well within the scope of a lactation consultant to counsel you, when you end breastfeeding.

Social support can be tricky at this time.

The right kind of social support can be very helpful when you stop breastfeeding. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find the acceptance and the grace you need, when you are feeling so crappy about your choices.  

You need empathy and compassion. You need a broadening of your knowledge of breastfeeding, and a bigger picture of feeding your baby. You don’t need affirmation when you still feel conflicted about whether you are doing the right thing!

In our lives, we have flowers and thorns. 

Only some have perfect births. Only some have perfect breastfeeding experiences. Ultimately, we have to accept what we have been given, or co-created, and make the best of it. 

It’s the role of mothers to face these difficult choices for everything in our child’s lives. It’s not because you are a bad mother, it’s because you are a very good, and a very caring, mother that these choice are so painful.

Home Death - Dying In The Old Fashioned Way.

I am frustrated because my dad is totally conscious of what we are all saying and doing. 

He tries, but can no longer join in, and this makes him incredibly sad. He tries to talk and inevitably someone laughs at him, or at themselves, for losing patience with him. His words are substituted, inarticulate, whispered, told in analogies. He loses his train of thought.

A conversation with him is a series of jokes, missing a punch line; shaggy dog stories without a central character, or action. We know all the stories, so we laugh at the appropriate times, and remind him of the names and places. It is agonizing and frustrating. And still, I soak them in, because I know there won't be any more.

He walks, until the day he lays down, and starts to let go of life. 

He has Parkinson's Disease and he is always cold. He starts to hate going outside, and it is just too hard to put all those clothes on him. I flash back to my three small children lined up by the door, finally in snowsuits, boots, hats, scarves, mittens, while the prickling heat and sweat are running down my face and back.

Twice or more a day, we are undressing him, then dressing him. We call his diapers, depends. There are bed pads, wet sheets, and wet pants. There are wet shirts from constant drooling. He hates when the aide pins a towel over his shirt, so I cut the backs off some of his old shirts and make bibs. I jest that I am going to upcycle a line of adult bibs made from real clothes, and call it "Clean Clothes." We all try to do everything we can to dignify his experience.

The amount of laundry is insane, so is his appetite.

He still loves to eat, but his swallowing is only 50% effective, which we know, because he goes for swallowing ultrasounds where they measure these things. He is supposed to be eating purees and drinking thickened drinks. He refuses to eat slurpy slop.

So we cook his favorites, we dice his food, remind him to chew, and watch helplessly when he gags.I remember my babies cheerfully jamming handfuls of food into their mouths, before coughing it back onto the table.

I get to know him on a physical level. 

I realize we haven't always been at arm's length. I remember cuddling with him as a little girl, and being replaced by a guitar, or a book. I remember his plaintive query, "Can we do something as a family?" And either dismissing it outright, because I have my own life to live or humoring him with a family dinner, or a weekend at the family camp. I understand my own longing for my kids, and their behavior that hurts. I remind myself they have their own lives to live, and their own lessons to learn.

But now, I comb his hair, wipe his face and nose. I massage his hands, shoulders and back. I touch his arm when we talk. 

Though my dad is only able to peek out at the world, his mind is going a mile a minute. He tries to decipher the code of the Persian rug--the hidden messages it is offering up. A Hospice volunteer reads science articles to him, and they talk about galaxies and evolution. He still studies his disease. He resents his illness and blames doctors for not curing him.

I remind him that at least he is still home and we love him. We care for him willingly and with love. And he is not going for chemotherapy, or living in chronic pain, or in a nursing home.

Hospice arrives.

Someone told me to call hospice early, because he has a terminal illness. We do need more help caring for him, and I am curious. He meets the threshold of need, and Medicare pays for it.

Medicare and Medicaid will pay for 6 months of hospice care, but they will not pay for 6 months of similar care for babies! I keep wondering, "What if every new mom had a visiting nurse once a week, and someone checking in three times a week for bathing, and a social worker every 2 weeks? What if they sent volunteers to babysit so new moms had a respite? For crying out loud, what if new families had a Music Therapist?

Everyone at Hospice is caring and sweet. They walk us through dying step-by-step. I remember my midwife doing this. In fact, we now have a Hospice Doula who is helping us navigate the hard parts.

My dad hallucinates, and each time I have to decide if I should tell him what reality is.

I wonder, "What is reality, anyway?" He insists there are three of my mom, and the one sitting next to him is an imposter. He gets angry and my mom cries. Over time, we figure out that there is his Blushing Bride, Mean Mom and Gentle Mom. He only likes Gentle Mom and Blushing Bride. 

I don't blame him. I mean, nobody else wants Mean Mom around, either.

My mom loses track of time and reality. 

Dealing with my dad 24-7 has exhausted her. She is angry, frustrated, blamed and blaming, incapable of caring for him, because she is old and tired too. She snaps at me and I cry. I am doing the best I can. The aides are doing the best they can. My dad is doing the best he can. She is doing the best she can, and it all mostly just sucks. 

I bring up memories of happier times, and pull out boxes of old photos for a diversion. This helps. We tell each other stories of when she was little, when I was little, and when my kids were little. We laugh and cry. We hug and I notice how small she is getting.

Home death looks a lot like home birth.

Two weeks before he passes, my dad has his final meal of pea soup and baguette. He eats eagerly and enjoys it very much. The aide and I put his pajamas on and he goes to bed. He never gets back up. The next day he sleeps all day. He eats tiny bites of applesauce. The aide gives him spoonfuls of water and puts vaseline on his dry lips.

The following day she makes him puree that he won't eat. I call my kids and siblings, and our family begins our wait. We know he will die. We have everything ready, his trust, his will, his succession. We have his request to not resuscitate him. 

Two of my babies were born at home. The last two weeks before birth were much like this. Watching for signs of progress, and on edge, guessing if this was the real start, or only another baby step, of the process. And in-between, the day-to-day routine of eating, cleaning and resting--normal family life at home.

We are ready, but he is not. He continues hallucinating, rambling on and on, in delirium. Our pastor comes one night and we pray. He asks God to show my dad His love and that night my dad settles down. His face has changed. He is at peace and he looks like he is letting go of this world. He recognizes me as I sit with him, but quickly drifts off again. I play banjo and dulcimer for him. I can't tell any more if he likes it or not but I am doing it un-self-consciously, just like he taught me.

May the circle be unbroken

My dad loved to play guitar and sing, and he inspired countless sing-a-longs as far back as I can remember. He was a mediocre guitar player and a terrible singer. But there are a lot of terrible singers this world and it didn't stop him.

The Sunday before he passes, we all gather around his bed. My brother plays guitar. We sing, using his song sheets and he tries to join in. It's hard to say if he wants us to sing, or to stop, but that train has left the station. We sing This Land is Your Land, Michael Row the Boat Ashore, Amazing Grace, Traveling Man, Erie Canal, and so many more. 

I remember laying in bed, listening to my dad play,  I remember dreading him singing and playing his guitar, I remember the time he came to one of my parties dressed as Elvis. I remember my kids hanging on him as he played. I remember when he tried to play a couple of years ago, couldn't, and sadly put away his guitar. 

I look around the room at my brother, who started learning to play the guitar when my dad stopped, my sister doing the hand signs for Kum-Bah-Yah, my mom holding my dad's hand. I feel Michael's hands on my shoulders. I see my dad, shrunken and pale, tears in his eyes.

This is my family and I love them so much.

Each day I go to my parent's house. And each night I say, "I'm going home and will be back tomorrow. If you need to go, then go, and if you are still here, I will see you." 

It's a sunny Saturday morning and I am on my way to see him. 

He waits until my mom leaves the room, and dies in his bed, with an aide by his side, before I get there.

I call my brother and sister. A hospice nurse comes an hour later and pronounces him dead. She will make all the other phone calls to his doctors, to the funeral home, and to the state. She destroys the rest of the morphine, talks with us for a while, and leaves. My mom and I are relieved, more than any other feeling. She strokes his hair and I feel the deep love she has always had for him.

My sister and her husband arrive, and we bath and dress him. It's weird and a little uncomfortable, but also feels completely normal. I acknowledge I am having a life experience with roots as old as mankind.  We work side by side. His body is stiff and we puzzle how to get his clothes on him. We figure it out and in the end, he looks like he is resting, before leaving on a Hawaiian vacation. Our mom wants to keep the shirt we have chosen, but we hold firm. It's his favorite shirt, he's entitled to take it to the grave.

In memento mori.

I use my sister's camera, her staging, and my skills and in the end, we have a good portrait. My mom kisses him tenderly and says goodbye. We take a picture of that, too. I give his cold hand a squeeze and thank him for being such a good dad. I'm crying.

The funeral director comes with a black bag and a gurney. 

We talk about the house. He had looked at buying it before my parents bought it. He comments that the former owner died yesterday. Then, I gently lead my mom out of the room. This sun is streaming through the living room window and sitting on the couch, we will not see my dad wrapped in a black bag being bundled into the black Chevy suburban parked in front of the house.

We don't know that the following week, our family will go into self-isolation from COVID-19. His memorial is March 7, a warm sunny day, and it is a fine, large celebration of his life with family and friends, from all parts of his life. We sing Amazing Grace, Country Roads, This Land is Your Land, and of course, Kum-Bah-Yah, with my sister doing the hand signs. 

Three astonishing facts about breastfeeding!

 

1.  Your body already knows what to do.

Your breasts will learn how big your baby is and how much milk they need. Your breasts can make specific antibodies for specific illnesses based on what your baby’s saliva communicates to your breasts. Your breasts keep fresh, perfectly-designed-for-your-baby-milk ready to consume in a sanitary way, at any hour of the day or night. 

If you are ever caught in one of life’s minor or major upsets, or even a disaster, your breasts are ready to feed your baby.  You can be sitting on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck, or flooded out of your home in a Red Cross shelter, and your baby will still have all the comfort, closeness, nutrition, and immune protection they need.

Making milk for your baby requires only about 300 calories a day. About as much as can be found in a glazed donut, a baked potato or a bowl of soup. In dollars and cents that’s like spending a dollar a day for milk tailored to your baby’s needs instead of $25 or more a week on artificial formula designed for generic babies. It gives you the option to bank the money, work less, or even treat yourself to something nice. 

2.  Your baby already knows how to breastfeed.

There is a sequence of instinctive, repetitive reflexes that every baby goes through. Once you learn about the reflexes, your baby’s seemingly random movements suddenly make sense. You can support them learning breastfeeding without getting in their way. You can build a solid foundation of healthy parenting on things you learn in your breastfeeding relationship.

You and your baby both have innate reflexes for breastfeeding. You can learn to work together and breastfeeding will become nourishing, comfortable, satisfying and truly enjoyable.

3.  Your health care provider may not be the best person to give you advice.

All major medical organizations have policy statements stating that babies should be exclusively breastfed until they are 6 months old, unless there is a good reason not to.

In spite of this, you will find health care providers (HCPs), who believe that many mothers can’t make enough milk, and that formula in a bottle is just as good as breastfeeding. 

In addition most physicians, including pediatricians, receive very little education in breastfeeding and no supervised practical training when they go to med school. Pharmaceutical companies know this and provide infant feeding education through samples of formula, gifts, golf vacations and expensive lunches. Similac has even put their formula sales pitch onto an iPad that they give to doctors, so they have a script to follow.

Another challenge you will face is that many people, including pediatricians, lactation consultants and maternity nurses, believe they know about breastfeeding and will give you outdated or wrong information. They may share information that creates problems for both of you. 

If you have an HCP who understands and supports you in breastfeeding, that is wonderful! If your HCP is able to answer all your questions about breastfeeding, then you have found a real treasure. Appreciate them! 

But if you can’t find that perfect practitioner, then this website is designed to help you and your baby, when you need it most.

So-called Breastfeeding Fail

Moms can’t believe how quickly the first 2 months go by, but that only happens after the first two months are over.

Make a long term commitment to breastfeeding by focusing on one day at a time. Try not to quit on your worst day, because it can take a two or three months to get comfortable breastfeeding. While it's true that some moms hit their stride early on, it still takes awhile for their milk supply to even out and for them to feel really confident that they are breastfeeding well.

There’s a wide, wide range of normal.

Breastfeeding takes many forms. Some women breastfeed exclusively, but in the USA, many more do not. Some women express and breastmilk feed. Some women make enough milk for three babies and their baby won't latch comfortably. Some women use donor milk or formula in a supplementer. Some alternate bottles of formula with breastfeeding. 

When you are in the thick of it, days last forever --you may dread feeding your baby.

You can hate breastfeeding and your baby may even refuse to breastfeed.

When you are facing one challenge after another and its affecting your physical, mental or emotional health, its healthy to re-evaluate how committed you are to breastfeeding or breastmilk feeding.

Before making the decision whether to continue or to stop, you need to look at how much support you have and what resources are available to you for continuing. If you don't have the support from your family to continue, or you don't have information and guidance from professionals, it's going to be very, very hard to breastfeed successfully when you reach a certain point. 

If it isn’t working, it's healthy to accept that it isn't working.

In your life, you will have to find ways that work for you and your family not only with with birth and breastfeeding, but with sleeping, foods, vaccines, discipline, friends, school, and more. There’s more to life than breastfeeding, even though in the beginning, it feels like there is ONLY breastfeeding.

There are many, many reasons why breastfeeding doesn’t work out and you may never know exactly why.

When breastfeeding goes off the rails, almost nobody will sit down with you and explain why. There are only a few professionals who will give you a full report of why its not working. It's not like infertility where you get a lab report with numbers and diagnoses. You get a 6-pack of formula and a shrug, "It doesn't work for everyone..."

But even if you do know why, it’s still not what you wanted.

It’s sad and even devastating, when you have to stop breastfeeding before you are ready to. And, it takes a while to grieve your loss even if you feel relieved that you stopped. It’s normal to have mixed feelings about ending breastfeeding. You may feel angry, defensive or resentful and relieved and happy, all at the same time. It's normal to cry and be weepy and then feel better when your baby gives you a goofy grin.

Feeling your feelings doesn’t mean you are a bad mom, it means you are a healthy mom.

Give yourself time to be angry; to rage at yourself, your doctor, the hospital, the world, or even God. Anger is expression of an injustice that has been done and its a force for positive change. You may fill a journal full of venomous thoughts. And, you may also find your life’s purpose through your anger and need for change.

Accept it, grieve your loss, and make time to also enjoy your life and enjoy your baby.

Once you make the decision, you will have energy to discover other things that make you and your baby feel good and connect with each other. In the end, what matters most is that you love and accept yourself and your baby.

Everyone deserves to feel successful. When moms don't meet their breastfeeding goals, many women shift gears, expanding into an area of their life where they do feel successful.

The breast is half full, not half empty.

I hope you create your own positive way of thinking about your experience because any amount of breastmilk and breastfeeding helps you and your baby. Know that however long you nursed and however much milk your baby received, you gave them a wonderful start in life with life-long benefits.

When people who didn't see the cascading chain of events leading to weaning, judge you, it can be helpful to use statements like “I made an informed choice.” and “I didn't plan this but its working for our family.” Statements like, “I didn't get the right information and support.” can lead to productive conversations.

Whatever you do, just don’t think, or say, you failed. Maybe you didn’t breastfeed as much as you wanted to, but you tried and in trying, you got to know yourself and your tremendous courage, strength and love.

Everyone has insurmountable challenges in life and this is yours right now.

You are going to know babies with disabilities, kids with life-threatening allergies, teens who die in car crashes, parents who lose their jobs or divorce, and so much more.

This is your challenge right now. It's not an easy one but you will find the strength to get though it because you love your baby. One day, you will be on the other side of this and you will see, that in the end, there really is more to life than breastfeeding.

Your Baby Is Using You As A Pacifier

 

A pacifier by any other name is a 'dummy' -- a fake.

Pacifiers don't have any milk. They are something to suck - an object to suck. A firm object that in the same category as hard candies, lollipops, popsicles, pens, spoons, and straws to name a few others. Generic, easily lost, easily replaced.

That's not you, not any one of them.

The biggest difference between you and a pacifier is milk. You may feel drained as your baby is lazily flutter sucking, not just pacifying but also getting everchanging droplets of milk. Milk specially designed for your baby's age and gender, full of antibodies, hormones, nutrients, probiotics and things that we don't even know exist. That, in itself, should encourage you to let your little one suckle.

Suckling is so important -- suckling relieves pain and anxiety!

In an adult, the need to suck is clinically, and jokingly, called an oral fixation. It's so pervasive that there are thousands of jokes and beliefs about it. It's a habit that is hard to break because it is not a habit. It is a need. Humans are born needing to suck. It's how we survive as infants. We eat and we soothe ourselves by suckling. If we suck our thumb or a pacifier or breastfeed until we wean ourselves, the need is integrated and we grow out of it. If we don't integrate this reflex, it lingers as an 'oral fixation.'

There are a hundred good reasons to let your baby suckle at your breast.

Hunger and thirst are obvious. But what about being too cold or hot? Overwhelmed by noise and lights? Bored because you are busy? Lonely, distressed, disturbed, tired and upset? Maybe you are stressed and your baby picks up on it? Your baby might be startled or scared or worried? Worried? Why would a baby be worried? Because he has asked to breastfeed and you haven't let him yet. That's an excellent reason to worry!

Even when you don't know why your baby is needing to nurse, breastfeeding your baby or child will solve a multitude of woes.

Intertwined with feeding is our need for attention. It is through communicating with other humans, especially our mother that we learn everything we need to know in the early years. Breastfeeding engages all five of the baby's senses at once. There is a constant interaction between mama and baby gazing at each other, talking and listening, touching and stroking. Every single interaction fires neurons in the brain and makes connections. This is one of the reasons breastfed babies have higher IQs.

What it really means.

In its primal way, your baby is saying, "Mama, I need you. I need you, the life giver, the one who nurtures me best. I need you to comfort me. I need you to help me through this time, until I feel good again. I need you to nurse me while I feel uncomfortable. Someday I will be able to tell you I'm sad, hungry, lonely, angry, hot, cold, lazy or that I just don't know what's wrong, but I can't do that yet.

"I need your milk. It's made just for me. I need your eyes looking into mine, to know that I am safe. I need to know that you are near. I need to hear your reassuring voice soothing me back into happiness. I need to taste your milk that leads me drip by drip into comfort and contentment. I need to feel your skin, your touch, your grounding presence bringing me back when I fly off into the unknown.

"Most of all, I just need to know that you are with me, human being to human being."

Why is pacifying at your breast so hard to do?

The challenge I see in my work with moms is that parents feel overwhelmed at the duration and intensity of all the caring that newborns require. It's easy to breastfeed for up to a point, but sometimes, babies ask endlessly. If you don't nurse them, they cry and a crying baby can cause you to feel all kinds of horrible feelings.

When you are upset, it is very hard for your baby to calm down. When you feel overwhelmed, you will try anything to stop your baby from crying. As a result, you rush through one thing after another trying to solve an unknown problem and upset the baby even more by overwhelming them with even more sensations and processes.

Learning to be still and present with an upset baby is partly instinctual but mostly it's a learned skill. The first step is to understand that humans usually only need to be listened to and comforted when they are upset. They don't always need a problem solved in order to return to happiness.

Back to pacifying. If suckling at your breast works, then use it.

What better way to teach your child to calm by connecting with other humans than by offering comfort and company of breastfeeding during the challenging time of life called infancy? Offering (or forcing) a baby to use a pacifier teaches them to look for comfort from objects, not humans. When you hold your baby and let them suckle, they learn empathy and compassion. They learn how to help others in times of suffering. Nature has something for you in return. You get a blast of oxytocin, the love hormone, and you calm down and return to your calmer, more generous self.

For what is the purpose of our ability to ask for help, if we can not connect with another in our darkest, most painful hours?

My love to you and your family....

Donna

Something Has To Give.

Simply being the mother of a breastfeeding infant is overwhelming.

Your day to day list of things to do is already long. Feed the baby 10 times, change 10 diapers, eat 3 meals + 3 snacks, pay bills, buy groceries, cook them, clean te floors, wash the clothes, put them away, get the car fixed, and more! It's a monster! Then when you go back to working and subtract 8 or 10 hours from each day, you either surrender or go crazy. Something has to give.

The first thing to go should be zealous perfectionism.

Perfectionism is not a bad thing. The pursuit of the highest, finest verison of anything has led to many of the wonders around us. It's fine to strive for an A in college. It's wonderful to lead your team to be the best in your company. Bringing your home from Foreclosure Fixer-Upper to Architectural Digest is a worthy accomplishment.

Don’t compare your “insides” to someone else’s “outsides”.

When you look at Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, you may think everyone lives in super-clean houses with perfectly cooked and presented dinners and wonder why your family is having pizza on paper plates for the third time this week.

It takes a lot of time, energy and domestic help for a family to live in a showcase style. When you work full-time and have a baby, your free time or energy are fully engaged. Now that you are working, maybe you can hire domestic help. If deep in your soul, you need to live a showcase lifestyle, it’s possible.

What probably bothers you the most is the chaos.

The opposite of perfection is chaos and babies are the epitome of chaos: wet, messy, everchanging, rapidly expanding and unpredictable. And in that chaos, what makes you love them most is their potential! That smile! Those two, tiny budding teeth! The discovery of their hands! The rolling! The pushing up, reaching, stretching, pulling, crawling, talking and walking potential! 

Your baby's going to be a Rockstar, or an Olympian, or Something!

And that is why you have to let go of perfectionism and learn to relish chaos. Because perfection has no potential. It's dead, and without tremendous energy, your perfect thing starts to decay...into chaos, back into something that is pure potential.

Don't make choices you will later regret.

What babies need most is your love and your undivided attention. Your baby will grow. And in the future, you will find you have time and energy to reclaim the parts of yourself you are missing and mourning right now.

Nobody ever looks back and says, I wish I had spent less time cuddling and nursing my baby.

In fact, its usually the opposite. Most moms say they wish they had spent more time responding to their baby's need for one-on-one attention. In hindsight, you realize how short a time babies are babies. It's really just a few months of intensity before you get organized and prioritize how you want to mother.

I encourage you to sit with the intense feelings about your current life.

Turn off your TV. Put down your phone. They take too much time. Get rid of things that use up your time. Put your earnings into savings instead of shopping for more clutter. Streamline your chores by organizing them better. Think about this.

Rush right home after work, put some pizza on a paper plate and breastfeed your baby. Look at their potential and ignore the crumbs on your floor. They will still be there on Saturday when you have an extra hour to clean.