To Wean or Not To Wean?

My daughter is almost 10 months old, and about a month ago she decided to stop breastfeeding. I figured it was due to teething, which might have been the case at first, but now I think she just prefers the bottle over me. This has caused me to exclusively breast pump, which SUCKS! It’s so much easier to just breastfeed my baby and not have to worry about pumping, warming up milk, or cleaning pump parts and bottles.

My husband and I strive to do things as naturally as we can with our daughter.

With that being said, I’m trying desperately to get her back to breastfeeding.

So, I started doing research, and one major thing I learned is that babies don’t usually wean off the breast before they hit a year old. If they do, it’s usually because they are teething and their gums are sore, or they’re starting to prefer a bottle instead. With my daughter, it’s probably a mixture of both, but there are ways to get her back to breastfeeding.

Another thing I learned is that babies don’t really need more and 1oz – 1.25oz per hour, no matter how old they are or how big they’ve grown because their stomach (the actual organ, not the “belly”) is only but so big. So, if she’s eating about every 3 hours, then she shouldn’t really be drinking more than 4oz at a time.

This whole time I’ve been worried that I haven’t been expressing enough milk when I pump. In actuality, I’m really getting the amount she needs, which is also the amount she would be getting if she breastfed.

What a major relief!

As she has gotten older, we’ve been filling her bottles with 5-7oz of breastmilk because we thought she needed more. I also got a bigger size nipples that allow faster milk flow because it seemed like she was getting frustrated with the slower flow nipples. But as a friend told me, “your milk flow doesn’t change, so neither should the bottle nipple.”

Essentially, we’ve been overfeeding her. She typically doesn’t take that much all in one sitting, which is good, but sometimes she does. And we let her feed herself since she can hold a bottle on her own, so she definitely hasn’t been pace fed via bottle since she was much smaller.

Things I’m now doing differently to try to get her back to the breast:

-I’ve switched the bottle nipples from the size 2 that she’s been currently using, which makes the milk come out faster and she gulps it down too fast; back to either a preemie nipple or size 1 nipple, which both have a slower flow and more closely mimic my natural milk flow.

-When I’m with her, I’ll keep offering myself to try to get her back on track.

-I’ve asked her other caretakers to still hold her while she feeds and hold the bottle horizontally in order to pace her.

I think that since she got used to the faster flow and increased amount, she didn’t want to wait for my let down and slower flow, which is why she refuses me. Hopefully with these changes, she’ll be more willing to breastfeed again.

All of this has revealed to me the huge knowledge gap that moms have when it comes to breastfeeding their babies. Even as a NICU nurse, I didn’t know all the breastfeeding do’s and don’ts. We need more education BEFORE the baby comes, not just a quick course the day baby is born after hours or days of labor.

We are then sent to fend for ourselves thereafter.

It’s not right!

And it does a disservice to both mother and baby.

I know many moms who’ve gotten frustrated with breastfeeding or burnt out so they stop way before their baby is a year old.

To each her own, but I think if moms were fully educated and fully supported, babies would be getting breastfed much longer and wouldn’t go on strike at 9 months old.

Who’s with me?!

A Salute to Stay at Home Moms

I spent the last week being a full time stay at home mom (SAHM) because I had a week of vacation time away from work.

It was a staycation because I didn’t actually take a trip anywhere.

It was a much-needed break from external responsibilities.

Sure, I was a full time SAHM for the first 9 weeks of my baby’s life when I was on maternity leave, but that was pretty much just 9 weeks of high-level exhaustion.

Then, she was a newborn: fresh out the womb, needing me to watch her 24/7, clinging to me for nourishment and comfort, keeping me in a cycle of feed, change, console to sleep, every 3 hours. I didn’t have much time to eat. I could barely think. I was basically a highly-functioning zombie mom.

Now, she is practically a premature toddler; getting into everything, showing her personality more-including a bit of sass (yes, already!), following me everywhere, yet also declaring her independence. It’s so much fun watching her learn and grow…yet it’s also tiring.

I used to think that I wanted to be a full time SAHM, but this week has shown me that it’s much harder than I thought.

My job, though it can be extremely busy and grueling at times, is a healthy break from momming. I can go to work, take off my Mom hat and put on my nurse hat. Then, when I leave work, I switch back.

Sometimes the only break I get is my car ride in between locations. I realized this week that SAHM don’t even get that. (Until their kids are school-age; then, I imagine, it becomes a lot more fun.)

Don’t get me wrong, I love love LOVE my daughter and everything about her. I absolutely adore her! She makes my life so much brighter. I wouldn’t change a thing at all. I just want to shed light on the real things that moms experience for those who may not have an accurate picture, and to show other moms that they’re not alone.

In many cases, it is the Mom that does the primary child-raising.

Of course, in two-parent homes, the Dad/other partner also raises the child(ren).

However, Moms are always on the frontline, watching, bathing, cooking for, feeding, changing, transporting, laundering for, healing, protecting, etc. around the clock.

Our job never stops. Not even during the night when we’re supposed to be sound asleep, but the child has a need for something (even if it’s just attention).

So SAHM, I salute you.

You are doing a PHENOMENAL job!

The evenings you stop for fast food on the way home from soccer practice instead of making a home-cooked meal because you are just beat.

The days when you take 5 minutes to yourself in the bathroom with the door closed because that’s the only “me time” you get.

The days when you let your kids eat goldfish for breakfast because you haven’t gone grocery shopping yet, or because thats simply what they want and you don’t feel like fighting it, whether it’s nutritious or not.

The times when you mistakenly (or not) go a few days without showering because you’re just so busy there’s no time- or when there finally is time, you’d rather get some well-deserved sleep instead.

In case you don’t hear it enough:

You are AMAZING!

You are LOVED!

You CAN do this!

Keep doing what you’re doing, because you are doing it wonderfully, and your kids appreciate you.

Love,

Meg

P.S. important note: the same goes for stay at home Dads; the roles are different for each family!

Somewhere between newborn and toddler

It’s been about 2 months since my last blogpost.
Such is #momlife

My little one is so busy these days! She’s 8 months old, crawling and following me everywhere: to the toilet, to the kitchen, to the laundry room, to the shower…we share each other’s space all day every day. She’s like my little shadow.

I find it fascinating what objects keep her occupied. Her most recent favorite object is an empty water bottle. She loves the sound it makes when she squeezes it. She also loves anything with a button, zipper, cord, string…yeah, pretty much whatever she can get her hands on.
Its so fun observing her exploration. She’s learning so many new things every day!

I make sure to keep an eye on her while also giving her her space to learn and grow. As a mom, it’s important to have that balance. I don’t want to be a helicopter parent, hovering over her every move, but I also don’t want to be a negligent parent letting her do off-the-wall things.

These days she has to keep me (or other caretaker at the moment) in her view, or she gets upset. So, that keeps me busy, alert, and on my toes.

The good thing about me being her constant entertainment and always moving around? Continual weight loss. I have more energy and am getting closer to my pre-pregnancy weight each month. I honestly don’t understand how women snap back within a month or so!
But, I’m enjoying my body’s changes and embracing its new look: the stretch marks, the flabby areas, etc. I’ll spare you specific details.

I tell myself that once I’m done breastfeeding, I’ll start a workout regimen again. For now, sporadic neighborhood walks and constant movement at work will do. My body has been through a lot the past year and a half, it deserves a break. Plus, I’m still burning tons of calories every day from breastfeeding so it’s a win-win situation.

I will try to keep momentum going with this blog.
If you have any suggestions or things you want me to write about, feel free to tell me!

Love,
Meg

Black Breastfeeding Week 2018

It’s black breastfeeding week, y’all!

And while it’s evident that I’m not actually breastfeeding at this moment pictured, I do every day because I believe it’s important for the growth and development of my baby and for our bonding. I prefer to give her what my body naturally creates for her. As I said before, there are endless benefits: baby-tailored nutrients, endless free food supply, bottle-free feeding, easy access for feeding on-the-go, mother-baby bonding, natural postpartum weight loss, just to name a few!

And no, this is not a shot at those who choose formula over breastmilk/breastfeeding. Do you, boo boos! Not everyone can lactate. And some moms that can just choose not to for various reasons. They are doing what they feel is best for them/their baby and that is fine, too.

This is just to encourage those melanated mommas who do choose to breastfeed their little ones.

This week is for us!

Somedays it’s easy. Somedays it’s hard. Somedays you just don’t want to. Somedays you never want the moment to end. It’s all a part of this beautiful rollercoaster that is motherhood. And it’s always worth it. So keep going for as long as you and your baby/toddler want to!

The World Health Organization and UNICEF encourage breastfeeding combined with solid foods until your little one is 2 or 3

“Breastmilk is an important source of energy and protein, and helps to protect against disease during the child’s second year of life.”

So don’t let anyone make you feel bad for doing so if you so choose!

It may seem weird to many, but it’s time to normalize breastfeeding for as long as Mom and baby/child feel necessary.

If we can so easily normalize humans drinking cow’s milk, then we should certainly be able to normalize humans drinking human milk.

ITS WHAT ITS FOR!!!!

Love,

Meg

It Takes a Village

Can we talk about the importance of a village for a sec?

It really does take a village to raise a child! Especially during the first year of life when they’re helpless and extremely dependent.

Infants need 24 hour supervision, and that’s a lot for parents to handle by themselves, especially once they return to work and have additional responsibilities.

I am very thankful for my village! They’ve helped my husband and I countless times these past 5 months and they continue to support us selflessly with no hidden agenda, no quid pro quo.

Whether it’s watching her for a few hours in the morning (or a whole day) after I’ve come off a nightshift, or babysitting while we go out, or coming over just to spend time with her and show her love, we truly appreciate our village.

I can only imagine what single parents go through who truly don’t have any outside help. Or parents who move to a foreign place and have to sometimes rely on strangers for help.

We have been very fortunate to have family members and close family friends to help us babysit when we need it.

If you know a friend or family member who recently had a baby, I encourage you to reach out to those new parents and offer help (only if you mean it.)

If you don’t feel comfortable watching a newborn/infant, then simply making them a meal in the first few months would help tremendously because they’ll be too tired to cook for themselves.

Or come fold some laundry.

Only half-kidding about that one.

How do we go through so many clothes in one week?!

But I digress…

Moms and Dads, don’t ever feel bad about asking for help or leaning on your village for help. You don’t have to do this parenting thing alone! It’s better to rely on the kindness of others than to struggle alone and have your baby suffer the consequences. It does not make you weak in any way, shape, or form.

Love,

Meg

Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Pregnant Women

I can’t believe how fast my little one is growing! Around this time last year, I found out I was pregnant with her. So, that made me reflect on my pregnancy.

Don’t get me wrong, pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life. But there are also things that aren’t so glorious about it.

The people that surround a pregnant woman during those nine months can really impact her experience.

Here are a few things you probably should or shouldn’t say or do to a pregnant woman (in no particular order):

10. Don’t – ask how she’s feeling.

I know you’re trying to be polite. You might even genuinely care. But trust me, you don’t wanna hear the truth.

It would go a little something like this:

I feel awful!

I don’t recognize my body anymore.

So many odors make me wanna vomit.

I’m actually nauseous right now and currently trying not to throw up on you.

I’m exhausted. My body is constantly doing the same amount of work as a marathon runner. I just want to stay in bed until it’s time to push this baby out.

I can’t see my feet.

There are strange smells coming from places I shouldn’t mention…

Shall I go on?

Do – ask if there’s anything you can do to make her more comfortable. And if there is, do it to the best of your ability!

9. Don’t – randomly come up to her and rub her belly.

I personally didn’t mind this.

However, some women HATE it.

Do – ask first or don’t do it at all.

8. Don’t – spontaneously tell her horror stories about your own or someone else’s pregnancy/labor experience.

She’s currently pregnant and soon about to birth a baby. She does NOT want to hear about how you were in so much pain that you wanted to die.

Unless she asked you…

Then, by all means, tell her every nitty gritty detail, because she really does want to know.

Do – encourage her! Let her know that she’s doing a great job with her pregnancy and that she can get through the labor and birth of her beautiful baby.

7. Don’t – tell her “It’s okay, it’ll be over soon and you’ll have a precious baby at the end, so it’ll all be worth it.”

Just don’t. “Soon” isn’t right now so it’s not helpful. Depending on her stage of pregnancy, she’s most likely super ready for it to all be over and is on the verge of tears at any given moment.

Do – tell her you’ll be there for moral support, emotional support, and physical support every step of the way.

6. Don’t – ask when she’s gonna have another one.

She might want another, she might not.

She probably doesn’t even know yet.

She definitely doesn’t wanna talk about it while currently pregnant. You’ll find out if/when she’s ready for you to know.

Do – mind your business. 🙂

5. Don’t – Treat her like she can’t do anything.

She’s pregnant, not an invalid.

Do – give her freedom to do things by herself that she would normally do before she became pregnant (within reason, if safe).

4. Don’t – Get annoyed when she asks for help with something, no matter how small. She can’t do everything she used to do, and many simple tasks are downright exhausting now.

(Yes, this contradicts the previous point. We’re complicated beings because of the being(s) we’re creating. Deal with it.)

Do – help her out without complaint.

3. Don’t – Ask how many babies she’s having and if she’s sure.

I’ve seen multiple friends of mine post statuses saying that a random person asked them how many babies they’re having, and when answered the person further asked “Are you sure?!”

Whether joking or not, I’m sure I don’t have to explain what’s wrong with that.

Some women carry better than others. One woman at 15 weeks might look how another does at 30 weeks, it doesn’t mean she’s having multiple babies. Don’t be rude.

Do – not ever say something like that to a pregnant woman.

2. Don’t – Say she doesn’t look that bad for a pregnant woman.

*heavy sigh*

Do – compliment how good we look pregnant; because we’re all a smidge extra self conscious.

1. Don’t – Constantly ask if she’s in labor yet. Please. Please. PLEASE. Just don’t. She’ll probably calmly respond but inside she’ll be screaming unpleasant things at you. It’s beyond annoying. No woman who is close to her delivery date wants to constantly be harassed about her labor progression. She could be 3cm dilated for days or weeks. Don’t keep asking “Is the baby here yet?” “Is it time?!” Or anything of that nature.

Do – wait patiently for the announcement of the baby’s birth. I promise you, if Mom can wait, so can you.

Overall, just be kind to pregnant women. They need and deserve it. 🙂

Love,

Meg

P.S. This isn’t meant to be a personal attack on anyone who might have inadvertently done any number of these things to me or to any other pregnant woman. It’s just helpful information for those who might not understand how much of a rollercoaster pregnancy is and offers a few ways to support the pregnant momma through it all.

Breastmilk vs. Formula. What should I feed my baby?

Warning: there will be lots of talk about breasts in this post, so if you’re reading this and you’re uncomfortable with the words boob, breast, nipple, areola…you get the point, then I suggest you skip this one. 🙂

Okay,

So…

You’ve completed pregnancy.

You’ve conquered labor and delivery.

And now it’s time to feed your baby…

Do you feed breastmilk? Formula?

Only you can answer that question.

I’ve personally chosen to exclusively feed my baby breastmilk for her first year of life, and possibly a bit beyond that.

The choice to me was simple because of all the benefits of breastmilk.

To name a few:

-it is literal medicine for your baby- containing antibodies and other components to help your baby fight infection, causing fewer doctor/hospital visits

-it’s free

-only you can make the perfect breastmilk tailored for your baby

-it’s FREE

-you have it ready in a split second anywhere you go, at any time

-you don’t need any bottles

-did I mention it’s free?

Yes, my choice might have been easy, but breastfeeding itself wasn’t such an easy ride for me in the beginning.

My daughter had a short latch starting out. She literally chomped on my nipples during her entire feed. And honestly, even as a nurse I didn’t know that something was seriously wrong until a doula told me so. I knew that it could feel uncomfortable each time until the let down happened, so I just figured that this was that pain.

For those unfamiliar, “let down” is the process of your milk ducts releasing your breastmilk for your baby. (It goes deeper but I’ll leave it there for the sake of this post.)

Anyway, I was in excruciating pain every time I nursed; to the point where I dreaded having to breastfeed her each time because I knew I’d want to cry. Every time I saw her open her mouth, I would wince in anticipation of the pain.

I didn’t wanna seem like a wimp, so I held my tongue and said nothing to the hospital staff. And they figured since I was a NICU nurse, I was fine, I knew what I was doing.

I tried to hold my baby in different positions, but that didn’t help.

A few days after I’d been home from the hospital, a doula witnessed my painful experience and told me to try a nipple shield -a flexible silicone shield that covers the nipple and makes latching easier- and that helped some; but at that point my baby was nursing every 1-2 hours and there was so much nerve damage done to my nipples that I didn’t even want them to be touched.

So after about a week, I stopped putting her to my breasts. Instead, I pumped and fed her my milk from a bottle.

I felt defeated because I had always wanted to breastfeed. But, at the same time, I had to remind myself that I was lucky to still be able to feed my daughter my own milk, because not every mom is able to produce any milk for her baby at all.

When you pump, you should do it as frequently as your baby is eating, or even more frequently if you have a low supply, in order to produce more milk. I was fortunate to have a great supply, but I still had to pump every 3 hours to keep up with her needs. This meant pumping every 3 hours around the clock.

Yes, even at night.

So for the first 3+ months of her life, I was getting no more than 3 hours of sleep at a time.

I LOVE sleep.

Sleep is my best friend.

We go way back.

I used to sleep 12 hours easily after working a nightshift, so this sleep deprivation was a HUGE shock to my body. I was exhausted ALL THE TIME.

(I’m still exhausted, but it has gotten a little better.)

After about 3.5 months of bottle feeding, I decided to give breastfeeding another try.

To my surprise, my daughter did much better! I didn’t even need a nipple shield anymore.

I now breastfeed around the clock when I’m at home, and she gets bottles of my breastmilk when I’m at work or when she’s at a babysitter. The kicker is, sometimes I still have to pump in addition to her nursing because she doesn’t empty my breasts all the way yet. (She will as she gets older and drinks more milk at a time.)

Luckily for me, she’s starting to sleep through the night now. So, I follow her lead and sleep when she sleeps, allowing me to get a good 6 or so hours at a time. Yay!

I say all that to say, breastfeeding/breastmilk feeding is a lot of work.

A LOT!

Which is why some women choose to just formula feed their baby instead.

While breastmilk has a ton of amazing benefits for a baby, formula feeding is an option and it is perfectly okay!

A mom has been through a great deal of physical and emotional stress from pregnancy to delivery, so if she wants to take it easy and use formula, she has every right to.

Should you choose formula over breastmilk, don’t let anyone force you to do otherwise! However, I do suggest that you listen to all of the pros and cons from a healthcare professional before making an informed decision. Don’t just go off of what your momma, neighbor, sister, auntie, etc told you.

Whatever you decide to do, you made the right choice for you. It is your body, your baby, your choice.

Always remember: “a fed baby is a happy baby!”

Love,

Meg