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Policy for COVID-19   Updated 5/29/2020 by Donna Bruschi, IBCLC

There is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted through breastfeeding and it remains the best way to protect your baby or child during this pandemic.

• Telehealth appointments are recommended as a completely safe, and confidential way, to get breastfeeding help.
• Home appointments are available for self-isolating, COVID-19 Negative families.

Click to book an appointment - 7 days a week. Call/text 845-750-4402 for a quick chat about your particular situation.

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.

 

Birth and breastfeeding are meant to go together.

new mother and newborn in hospital

"I spent most of my pregnancy studying labor and birthing. In one course, there was a page on latching your baby for breastfeeding. I didn't really pay attention because I was worried about handling contractions during labor. I didn't even think about breastfeeding."

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The 5 warning signs you NEED help.

mother and baby

"Everyone says its really rough in the beginning...I don't want to give my baby formula...I just have to tough it out for two weeks...the Pediatrician said I was starving my baby.....Everyone is telling me something different!"

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Aren't All Hospitals Baby Friendly?

You may have heard that Health Alliance (Kingston) Hospital is a Baby Friendly Hospital.

You may have questions about what that means. Aren't all maternity hospitals "baby friendly?" While the health care workers, staff and executives at your nearby hospital may love babies and be friendly, "Baby Friendly" means something deeper and different.

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was formed to increase awareness and educate parents about the importance of breastfeeding, especially in the first hour after birth; to protect parents from predatory marketing and mis-education from hospital staff; to give parents all the professional support they might need as they begin their breastfeeding relationship; and to link families to breastfeeding support systems when they return home.

BFHI is founded on the ideal that all babies have the right to begin their life breastfeeding.

If after educating parents, allowing babies to initiate breastfeeding, and helping families breastfeed through their early days, the family decides to wean, then that is absolutely acceptable.

The Initiative decided on 10 principles which became "The Ten Steps To Successful Breastfeeding." and is adapted into "The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding for Hospitals," as outlined by UNICEF/WHO.

The steps for the United States are:

1 - Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
2 - Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
3 - Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4 - Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
5 - Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
6 - Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.
7 - Practice rooming-in-- allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
8 - Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
9 - Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
10 - Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic

A hospital goes through a several year process of adopting the "Ten Steps" in coordination with BFHI.

When they have made all the organizational and structural changes needed to adopt these principles, they become a "Baby Friendly Hospital."

In New York State, these hospitals have earned the Baby Friendly designation:

Bellevue Hospital Center
462 1st Ave & 27th Street
New York, NY 10016
(06/16)

Brooklyn Birthing Center
2183 Ocean Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11229
(07/16)

Coney Island Hospital
2601 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(01/18)

Elmhurst Hospital Center
79-01 Broadway
Elmhurst, NY 11373
(02/19)

Flushing Hospital Medical Center
4500 Parsons Blvd.
Flushing, NY 11355
(07/18)

Harlem Hospital Center
506 Lenox Avenue
New York, NY 10037-1802
(2008) Re-Designated 2018-2023

HealthAlliance Hospital – Broadway Campus
396 Broadway
Kingston, NY 12401
(12/17)

Jacobi Medical Center
1400 Pelham Parkway South
Bronx, NY 10461
(06/16)

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
8900 Van Wyck Expressway
Jamaica, NY 11418
(05/17)

John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital
818 Ellicott Street
Buffalo, NY 14203
(12/19)

Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center
234 East 149th Street
Bronx, NY 10451
(02/15)

Long Island Jewish Forest Hills
102-01 66th Road
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(03/17)

Long Island Jewish Medical Center
270-05 76th Avenue
New Hyde Park, NY 11040
(07/19)

Metropolitan Hospital Center
1901 First Avenue
New York, NY 10029
(08/17)

Montefiore Jack D. Weiler Hospital – Einstein Campus
1825 Eastchester Road
Bronx, NY 10461
(06/17)

Montefiore Medical Center – Wakefield Hospital
600 East 233rd Street
Bronx, NY 10466
(06/17)

Mount Sinai South Nassau
One Healthy Way
Oceanside, NY 11572
(03/16)

New York Presbyterian/Queens
56-45 Main Street
Flushing, NY 11355
(1/20)

New York-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital
1980 Crompond Road
Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567
(01/13) Re-designated 2018-2023

Newark Wayne Community Hospital
1200 Driving Park Avenue
Newark, NY 14513-0111
(01/15)

NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx
3424 Kossuth Avenue
Bronx, NY 10467
(04/16)

NYU Langone Hospital
550 First Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(01/11)

NYU Winthrop Hospital
259 First Street
Mineola, NY 11501
(12/14) Re-Designation Pending

Phelps Hospital
701 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
(10/16)

Queens Hospital Center
82-68 164th Street
Jamaica, NY 11432
(05/14) Re-Designated 2019-2024

Richmond University Medical Center
355 Bard Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10310
(05/16)

Rochester General Hospital
1425 Portland Ave
Rochester, NY 14621-3001
(2000) Re-Designated 2015-2020

St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center
50 Rte 25-A
Smithtown, NY 11787
(08/17)

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center
301 Prospect Ave
Syracuse, NY 13203
(2009) Re-Designated 2019-2024

St. Peter’s Hospital
315 South Manning Blvd.
Albany, NY 12208
(10/16)

United Memorial Medical Center
127 North Street
Batavia, NY 14020
(01/19)

Unity Hospital
1555 Long Pond Road
Rochester, NY 14626
(12/19)

Woodhull Medical & Mental Health Center
760 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11206
(05/17)


https://www.babyfriendlyusa.org

What to Expect at a Baby Friendly Hospital
HealthAlliance Hospital’s Family Birth Place

Why "Fed is Best" is not best.

"I tried breastfeeding and it didn't go well. My doctor said that I didn't have enough milk and I knew I would be going back to work eventually. She took a bottle right away. I'm angry, sad and disappointed I couldn't breastfeed, but after all, 'fed is best'."

Read more ...

Breastfeeding in America

"I had never seen a mom breastfeed her baby in real life. I babysat and bottlefed when I was a teen. I have several nieces and nephews but my sisters didn't breastfeed. So there was my son and me, with no idea how it all worked. I wasn't just scared. I was terrified."

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A Five Step Cure For Breastfeeding Ignorance

glasses and newspaper

"I thought breastfeeding would be easy because it's how our species has survived for like, forever. How hard could it be if a baby's survival depended on it? It didn't take me long- maybe a day- to figure out how dangerous that thinking was."

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Not breastfeeding when you go back to work?

mother and newborn baby hands

"I've thought about breastfeeding. I have to go back to work 6 weeks after my baby is born. It just doesn't seem worth all the aggravation that I've heard about. I want to spend the few short weeks I have recuperating and enjoying my baby."

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Do I need a class for breastfeeding?

You may wonder if you need a class for breastfeeding?

A breastfeeding class prepares parents for the fundamentals of breastfeeding.

In an ideal world, you would have breastfed, watched your siblings breastfeed and all your sisters, aunties, co-workers and friends would have taught you a bit about normal breastfeeding throughout your life.

In a traditional culture, your mother, or mother-in-law, would move in after your birth for a month or two, bringing her knowledge about breastfeeding, traditional foods to support lactation and plenty of elbow grease to keep your little household running smoothly during your recovery.

In lieu of that, a two-hour course will cover the following. It can help give you a good start whether or not your mother is coming to live with you.

Preparation during pregnancy

You will learn how to receive a breastpump through insurance and what you need to do, so it's ready to go if you need it.

Pregnancy is also the time to talk to your employer about your plans to return to work and what kind of accomodations you will need if you're pumping. In New York State, the law protects your right to pump at work until your child is three years old.

Somebody probably told you how to toughen your nipples by rubbing them with a washcloth. Rather than doing this, learn to massage your breasts to wake them up. You also learn about expressing your colostrum prenatally so you have supplemental food should your baby need it in the hospital. 

And you will hear about how wonderful (and how awful) breastfeeding can be.

Beginning breastfeeding

The first five days are challenging and many parents are overwhelmed by their new responsibilities. You will learn how to negotiate the first hour of your baby's life and why it's important to keep your baby on you skin-to-skin, even though not every hospital allows it. The law protects your rights to have this, and you will learn how to advocate for it.

In addition, you may not have access to a Lactation Consultant in the hospital because either your schedule and hers don't line up. You will watch and receive a short list of excellent videos that can help you through this time. 

Common problems

In the first five days, there are four common problems: sore nipples, engorgement, baby not latching well and feeling like you don't have enough milk. All of these problems have simple solutions that are not commonly taught by hospital staff but are covered in breastfeeding class. For instance, simply leaning back into a reclining position can make sore nipples vanish and cause babies to open their mouth wide. 

Solving breastfeeding problems in a hospital often takes breastfeeding away from mothers and substitutes it with pumping and formula. Breastfeeding classes not only offers you simple solutions that keep you breastfeeding but also teach how to advocate for your baby's needs.

How to know when you need help

There are four barriers that keep women from getting the help they need.

  1. Stubbornness and the belief that they can power through it.
  2. Not knowing where to get help, or what kind is needed.
  3. People or places to get help don't exist.
  4. Not knowing the warning signs and red flags

Weaning

It may seem strange to talk about ending breastfeeding before it's even begun, but it's important.  Weaning always takes time -- weeks or months, not days. Sudden weaning can make you painfully miserable or even sick. You will learn strategies for every age when weaning might happen.

Support groups

A class gives you information on local and online support groups. The easiest way to prepare yourself for breastfeeding is to attend breastfeeding support groups while you are still pregnant. It's also important is to talk on the phone or meet with at least one International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC.)

If you are surrounded by women who breastfeed, they can cheer you on and model what's coming up in your future. When you don't have the perspective from shared experiences, its easy to magnify your problems in your head. And that leads to anxiety, stress, feeling discouraged and not meeting your breastfeeding goals.

How Partners and Grandparents fit into breastfeeding

While you might be the rebel of the family already, it's a lot easier if your significant-other and parents support your breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding involves some bare breasts in the beginning. You will probably feel self-conscious and the last thing you need is family members acting all self-righteous and shocked. Or making snarky comments about boobs. Or trying to be "helpful" by suggesting the baby needs a bottle.

A class prepares you to tell them and you can bring them to the breastfeeding class so you are all on the same page. 

Remember, this is your baby. You are the mom, and Gramma is not. She may have some feelings about this, but she had her baby and this is yours!

Selecting a breast pump and essentials if you are returning to work.

Call your insurance company to see what they offer in breast pumps and how to receive one. Insurance companies and pumps all work a little differently and it can take some time, so don't leave it to the last minute. If you need one in the hospital, a hospital grade pump will be provided for you.

The class gives you reviews about different pumps and how to select the right one for you.

Pacifiers, safe bottle feeding, & suckling

When a person of authority insists that you stop breastfeeding when you are learning how to breastfeed, and you aren't ready, you need a solution. There is a time and a place for pacifiers and bottle feeding and there is almost always a breastfeeding solution, if you want to do that.

Breast compressions can replace pumping and keep babies awake. A spoon can replace a bottle. Breastfeeding can replace a pacifier. 

These are all components of a good breastfeeding class. It gives you a good foundation for learning what to expect and how beginning breastfeeding can be a wonderful thing.

Why do women fail at breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding Infant

"I gave birth on Friday. There was no lactation help over the weekend. A pediatrician would only discharge us if we fed the baby 4 oz. of formula. I was anxious and I didn't know what to do, and ultimately, I failed at breastfeeding my baby."

Read more ...

When Baby Stops Nursing, it's a Strike!

"Hey, so all of the sudden my three month won't eat. He won't take my breast and if he does, it's a very short feed. He screams if I even put him in the position. I have milk and it's leaking out-- even shooting out now--because I'm so full. I tried a bottle with a slow nipple -- he took some and then started crying. 

He has NEVER been like this before. He loves breastfeeding and his weight is great - 20 pounds at 3 months. He is an awesome eater and I'm worried. Should I call the pediatrician? He's arching his back, do you think he has reflux? I'm worried because he hasn't had many wet diapers. He needs to eat and I feel like I am going to burst!"

Read more ...

Why “Self-Soothing” is a Bad Idea

Long ago in the time of the sabertooth tiger, we developed a survival tool -- the “fight or flight” responses.

And we still use them today. Briefly, when faced with danger, humans get a burst of adrenaline that switches off less important body functions like digestion or lactation, and prepares them to fight an attacker, or flee dangerous situations with superhuman amounts of strength and energy. But just in case this doesn't work, we also developed a back-up response.

We learned how to freeze.

The “freeze” response shuts down the whole body so as to appear dead. This is an attempt to become less visible, or to fool a predator into thinking that the victim is inedible because they are already dead. It may also serve to make the victim numb in the event they are eaten.

Also way back when, mothers carried her baby all the time.

Humans did not always live in relatively safe shelters like houses and apartments. Babies are helpless for quite a period of time and dependent on their parents for food, safety and protection. If you set your baby down and walked away, there was a good chance your baby would not be there when you got back. So families kept babies close and responded to their signals quickly so as not to attract the attention of predators looking for an easy meal.

Baby has a need--mom responds--need is met--baby survives.

So first, they coo or whimper, if there is no response, they cry. Mothers are made to respond to their baby’s cry. You probably can’t stand to hear your baby cry and that’s how it's supposed to be. Babies also have no sense of time. When a baby is separated from his mother, he can’t know she is coming back “in just a minute”. 

If the mother doesn’t respond, the baby gets scared.

Feeling scared activates an adrenaline rush and escalates baby's response. Now they cry louder and harder. They are incapable of fighting or running without his mom. Baby is certain she is gone, because if she was near, she would have responded to their cries. When a baby reaches a certain level of stress, he gives up. He goes into the freeze response. By dramatically lowering his heartrate, breathing and digestion, he appears dead to predators and has a greater chance of surviving. It also conserves energy.

The freeze response is mistakenly called “self soothing.” 

When parents ignore their baby, what baby hears is this: “I am going to ignore your needs.” and “Stop asking for help.” And many babies do just this.

Some babies don’t give up. This is the fight response.

You may know a baby that will not stop crying if left alone. He eventually teaches you to respond to his needs because they are just that: Needs. They might not be hungry, but the need for survival and protection is hardwired and requires you to stay close. Whatever the underlying need, he relies on you until he can think and act for himself and meet his own needs. When baby is old enough to understand that they are safe, only then, can he ‘self soothe’.

Humans are hardwired to connect with other humans

Maybe you can remember a time as an adult when you were in pain, scared or lonely. Maybe you were even frustrated, tired or hungry. Maybe just bored. If you were alone, how did you sort it out? Were you able to self soothe? Or did you handle it in some other way, maybe eat chocolate, watch TV, smoke a joint or have a glass of wine?

A healthy way to deal with pain is to receive empathy through connection with other humans. This is why support groups and therapy work. If you have a healthy relationship with your parents, it's because they offer empathy when you are frustrated.

You can't undo what is hardwired.

One of the traps new parents fall into is thinking they have to teach their baby to self-soothe.  Infants are too young to consciously self-soothe.  You probably know some babies who do “self-soothe” and you may wonder why your baby does or does not. If your baby does, it's because they are easy-going and trusting by nature. If your baby does not, holding them and responding promptly to their needs will build that trust and feeling of safety. It may take a few years before they are comfortable being alone, but you can trust that time will come when your child feels safe enough.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary

My kids and I celebrated our yearly Road Trip.

We decided to spend quite a bit of time swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. If you never swam in the ocean, or if you are afraid, here is something you may know.: If you try to face waves standing up, they can easily knock you down.

Here is something you may not know: If you duck under the breakers, you pop out on the backside of the wave, easily. This works even with really big waves, like those that come with a hurricane. I am not suggesting you swim during a hurricane…but ducking waves and surrendering to being pulled around by the ocean are two good principles to use in everyday life, as well as ocean breakers.

We stayed with family in Florida.

They offered to take us to see The Fort and The Great Cross in St. Augustine. I wasn’t sure about it, but they were into it, and we agreed to go, to be polite. The Great Cross turned out to be at The Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche. The very same shrine that La Leche League is named after! It is a shrine dedicated to motherhood and all mothers.

The Shrine is simple and beautiful.

The shrine itself is in a one room chapel with some benches, an altar and an brilliant statue of Mary nursing Jesus.  Mary is sitting in an illuminated alcove nursing Jesus, and above the alcove is a crucifix with Jesus. There are reliefs around the chapel depicting The Stations of The Cross.

As a mother, I was struck by life and death right next to each other. 

Clearly, Mary was not an ordinary mother, but she was human. I would imagine she felt overwhelmed and daunted by her responsibilities, as most mothers do. And yet, she found faith within her connection and communication with God that gave her hope and patience. She was able to see and understand the larger picture of why she was raising her child. Most mothers don’t have that larger picture, and they lose patience and hope.

At the same time, she was told all that would happen.

I don’t think she could have believed it. There are always things to surprise us in our lives. These surprises challenge us, and force us to reexamine our thinking. They force us to consider what is important. They give us a choice to be either overwhelmed or to respond with grace. In a lot of ways, our troubles are like ocean waves.

Whether you call it centering yourself, praying, or being composed in the face of tragedy, it is a lot like ducking the wave.

You come into acceptance that you can’t fight it, you bow your head and wait for it to pass, swimming in that source of love and faith. The more time I spend in the divine qualities of patience and compassion, the better I feel. I can trust that I don’t have the full picture or understanding of the turmoil I am facing. It is enough to duck below the breaking wave and feel the churning pass overhead. I don’t have to take it full on.

Also at The Mission, is a meditation walk of the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

I skipped the meditation walk for my kids’ sake. They were eager to see The Fort and I was satisfied with the time they had given to me for sitting in the chapel.

I think a lot about Mary as a mother.

I wasn’t raised Catholic, and because of the time period she lived, there isn’t that much written about her. I can only imagine, that, if being a mother of any child is hard work, being the mother of Jesus must have been especially overwhelming.

When I researched The Seven Sorrows, they were truly awful.

They were hurricane-sized problems that no mother should have to live through. When things are hard for me, (and I haven’t had any of these!) I do think about how much love, faith, compassion, patience and other divine qualities she must have been forced to learn. I say to myself: “If Mary could do it, then I can.”  Somehow, this gives me more strength to overcome my doubts about whether or not I am doing the right thing when I mother my children.

Mary learned to be a Saint through her mothering.

She may have started with more patience and faith than the rest of us, but surely her child helped her to grow spiritually into a more patient, loving and faithful person. And this is the lesson I hope to learn from my mothering experience.

If you are curious, these are The Seven Sorrows:
1. The Prophecy of Simeon over the Infant Jesus. (Gospel of Luke 2:34)
2. The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family. (Gospel of Matthew 2:13)
3. The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days. (Luke 2:43)
4. The Meeting of Jesus and Mary along the Way of the Cross. (Luke 23:26)
5. The Crucifixion, where Mary stands at the foot of the cross. (Gospel of John 19:25)
6. The Descent from the Cross, where Mary receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms. (Matthew 27:57)
7. The Burial of Jesus. (John 19:40)

Here is the link for The Shrine:
http://www.missionandshrine.org

 

The Bad Birth That Started it All

“We have to do a C-Section.”

The words shattered all my dreams and expectations of a natural childbirth.

I had tried so hard to relax and open up in the hospital and it had not worked. I was stuck at 6 or 7 cm and just not comfortable in the hospital. In hindsight, it was a typical progression for a hospital birth. At the time it was traumatic. And it set off a series of unfortunate events that culminated in the person I am today.

I came out of Labor and Delivery very sad.

When my baby and I were separated for 4 hours, I got very angry and rollercoasted between the two for the next year. Nursing got off to a bad start and took about two weeks to get comfortable. I spun into Postpartum Depression. I cried all the time. I lived in a half woken state. I thought about putting my baby in the oven. I hid the knives and then moved them again and again. I knew it was a bad idea to kill him, but the thoughts haunted me.

My family organized.

My mom got me breastfeeding help. She and my sister came over to help with the baby and take me out for lunch and shopping. My husband called La Leche League. He made me come back to work in our business, so I wouldn’t be unsupervised and tried to distract me. He called therapists and got me a physical. We started going to therapy as a family.

“Have you had thoughts of hurting your baby?”

“NO!” I lied. I thought they would separate me and my baby and probably hospitalize me. Whether or not this was true, it is what I believed. Separation would end our nursing relationship and THAT was the only thing going well. At that time, anti-depressants were untested on nursing mothers. I refused them, preferring to nurse. Over time, we now know that not only are they safe for breastfeeding, but exercising is shown equally as effective as drugs in studies of nursing mothers.

My baby was a fussy baby who didn’t sleep.

He was a 2.9 in the “Colic Rule of 3″ which was still enough to rattle anyone. And nursing was The Way To Soothe. I thought if I could just keep nursing and get some sleep, I would be OK.

Then, I did what turns out to be a key piece in overcoming depression.

I joined a playgroup. When my baby was six months old, I met 4 women at La Leche League and we (very shyly) agreed to meet weekly. This, more than anything, pulled me out of the hole. By one year, I still felt tired and angry, but only sad intermittantly.

It was at that time, I was invited to be a La Leche League Leader. I started the application process and the rest is another story.

Painful Breasts = Mastitis

"I had a c-section. Surprisingly, I felt pretty good during the first week, except for my nipples, which felt like hot coals. I thought that that was the worst thing that could happen until one morning, I woke up with incredible pain in my breasts as well."

Read more ...