Thursday, June 18, 2009

Repeat After Me: "I Don't Do Guilt!"

Why are moms so prone to guilt? In the last week I've had a couple of long conversations with mothers who were feeling tremendous amounts of guilt. Interestingly enough, both of them had to do with breastfeeding (not surprising, actually, since I'm a lactation consultant.)

One mother needed to talk to me because she was struggling with her decision about when to wean. She's a terrific mom...really sort of a superwoman, like so many moms I see every day. She is mothering a precious baby, working at a demanding job, and taking care of home and hearth. She struggles with feeling guilty about the time she takes at work to pump, even though her job performance continues to be excellent. Her husband feels like pumping might be draining her and has suggested she wean. She doesn't really want to wean quite yet, but feels bad about not taking hubby's advice after she asked him for it. What a conundrum.
As an IBCLC, my job is to support and encourage breastfeeding mothers, but each mother has to make her own decision about how long she's going to nurse. So instead of trying to give her a bunch of options, though we did talk some about management, I focused on guilt. I asked her to make a point of telling herself each morning, "I don't do guilt!" I know she'll make the right decision for herself and her baby, but she doesn't need to feel guilty if that decision involves weaning before baby is a year old!

The second mother had lactation failure with her first baby. She has been pumping and trying very hard to develop a supply, but yesterday she brought her pump back. Depression has set in, and she feels terribly guilty for giving up. To make matters worse, she speaks very little English, and her doctor, who speaks no Spanish, insists she use a formula that doesn't seem to agree with her baby. She has begun taking antidepressants, but still feels overwhelmed by guilt. It doesn't help that her peers tell her the reason her baby is small is because she's not nursing.
I think it would be very wrong for me to add to her guilt at this point. Instead, my job is to encourage her because she has tried so hard. I told her that breastfeeding is NOT what makes her a good mother. I reminded her that she was the expert on her baby, not the doctor and encouraged her to talk with the doctor (via translator) again. I don't know how much good I did, but I told her the same thing I told Mom 1: Tell yourself daily, "I don't do guilt."

It's taken me 49 years to learn this myself. I've done guilt all my life. My dad and stepmom spent years trying to help me learn the "I don't do guilt" lesson. It finally sunk in (more or less). Life is just too short to waste it on guilt. Unless a mother is truly a monster (like the Alabama mom who set her house on fire with her child inside), there just isn't any need for her to feel guilty. We all learn as we go, and children are unbelievably forgiving (at least before they become teens).

So if you are letting others make you feel guilty about breastfeeding or not breastfeeding, about co-sleeping or not co-sleeping, about working outside the home or not going back to your job, STOP! Repeat after me: "I DON'T TO GUILT!"

Monday, June 15, 2009

Congress Considers BF Promotion Act

On June 11, 2009, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY) and Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) introduced the Breastfeeding Promotion Act in both houses of Congress. The purpose of this bill is to provide a unified national policy to keep mothers, their children, and their communities healthy. In the past, a similar bill has been presented to the House, but this is the first time the bill has been introduced in the Senate.

The United States Breastfeeding Committee has posted contact information so that interested parties can let their representatives and senators know they want to see this bill passed.

The Breastfeeding Promotion Act (H.R. 2819, S. 1244) includes five provisions:

1. Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breastfeeding women from being fired or discriminated against in the workplace.
2. Provides tax incentives for businesses that establish private lactation areas in the workplace, or provide breastfeeding equipment or consultation services to their employees.
3. Provides for a performance standard to ensure breast pumps are safe and effective.
4. Allows breastfeeding equipment and consultation services to be tax deductible for families (amends Internal Revenue Code definition of "medical care").
5. Protects the privacy of breastfeeding mothers by ensuring they have break time and a private place to pump (applies to employers with 50 or more employees, see text of legislation for details).

If you want to read the full text of the bill, you can do so here.

In light of President Obama's speech today calling for increased attention to prevention of disease, this is the perfect time for this bill to receive widespread attention. The well-documented health benefits of breastfeeding are a crucial component of a prevention-based medical model. Make sure your congressional delegates move to embrace this bill!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Time for Another Giveaway

It's time for another Conservative Granola Mommies blog giveaway! The magic number this time is 60! As of this writing we have 42 followers. When we hit 60 followers for our blog we are giving away....

Are you ready for this??

Do you really want to know what the giveaway is this time?

As you may recall, our last giveaway was Babylegs. That's not a bad giveaway. Everybody loves Babylegs. They make a great fashion statement and keep little knees from getting carpet burn when baby is learning to crawl. Plus they're just so darn cute!

But this giveaway is much more than a cute fashion statement! Because I want to do all I can to promote the wonderful moms on the Sling & Swaddle journey, we are giving away a Miracle Blanket!

As soon as we have 60 followers, we will draw the name of our winner and announce it here as well as on Twitter.
So get busy helping us round up some new followers! Let's see if we can give this blanket away in the next 2 weeks (before I head off to Alaska for a week!)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sling & Swaddle...It's Great for Mom and Baby!

The Sling & Swaddle Journey has begun! 30 moms have been chosen to Tweet about their use of the Miracle Blanket and the Hotsling. This is an amazing way for moms throughout the Twitterverse to learn about the benefits of baby-wearing and the amazing Miracle Blanket.

Why Swaddle?

Newborns are used to being in the womb where movement is somewhat restricted. Swaddling helps them settle and sleep better. When my children were little we used a baby blanket and wrapped it snugly around them to help them sleep. Of course, they managed to work their arms out and would often startle themselves awake. Several companies have produced swaddlers. Some have velcro, but none that I have evaluated comes anywhere near the Miracle Blanket.
A mother/baby nurse from Huntsville Hospital told me about it after her second baby was born. She said I just had to get them in my store. So I called the company to find out more. I thought they sounded a little expensive. Since baby blankets haven't been very good sellers for us, I decided to pass. The company representative called me back and made me an incredible offer if I would just try them. My first order of 12 blankets arrived and sold out within a few weeks. We've just made our third order, and have a hard time keeping up with the demand.
Unlike other swaddlers on the market, the Miracle Blanket has no velcro, snaps, zippers or anything else. It simply uses an ingenious design and baby's own weight to keep baby securely swaddled. Moms love it and so do babies. Any parent who is longing for a good night's sleep would do well to invest in a Miracle Blanket!

Why Sling?
As babywearing has grown in popularity during the last decade, so have the types of slings and carriers. At A Nurturing Moment we carry several pouch slings: the Hotsling, The Peanut Shell, and the Organic Dittany Baby sling. Pouch slings usually hold babies from birth to about 35 pounds. When you purchase a pouch sling, it is best to try it on with baby. Ideally you should look for a store with personnel trained to help you find the right fit and teach you how to wear your baby.
Another kind of popular infant carrier is the Mei Tai infant carrier. Many parents like the versatility of being able to wear baby on the front or back. The Moby wrap allows the same versatility. However, some parents prefer the convenience of a two shoulder sling that you don't have to tie like the Baby K'Tan.
Colicky babies often settle when they are worn or swaddled. One of the greatest advantages of wearing your baby is the easy nursing access. I always encourage mothers to practice nursing in their sling, preferably in front of a mirror, so that they'll be comfortable when they go out and baby gets hungry. I remember nursing babies in grocery stores, in airports, in restaurants, in church, at Little League games...everywhere I went, I had my sling and a my baby's favorite fast food!
If you aren't a Twitterer, this would be a great time to jump on board. Follow us and follow the terrific moms on the Sling & Swaddle Journey.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Parenting Teens Can Be a (wonderful) Challenge

I know most of my readers are still dealing with the issues of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the amazing preschool years. I remember thinking how great it would be when my kids got older.We would have such great communication, and so much fun together!

Reality Check!
I do have pretty good communication with my adult daughter and also with my 18 year old son. But it wasn't always that way... When Daughter #1 was about 14, the going got really tough. It stayed tough for several years! She was the epitome of the rebellious preacher's kid! I cried when she graduated from her Christian high school mostly because I was so relieved that she hadn't gotten kicked out!
Son #1 has always been pretty compliant, although he does have a temper. During his high school years we often had to remind him to exercise "Godly self-control." He was wonderful to everybody else, but at home that temper could flare! Now that he's heading to college, though, I realize how much I'll miss him. He helps me out in so many ways. I'm sure I won't really know just how much of a help he is until August when he moves to Cullman!

Reality Check 2
Now Daughter #2 has hit the age where Daughter #1 became increasingly difficult. To make matters worse, Daughter #2 has recently been diagnosed with bi-polar syndrome. It is somewhat better now that she's on medication, but she still has highs and lows, and her mood can shift with no provocation at all. I know all teenage girls are hormonal and get moody, but being bi-polar makes it doubly challenging. When she is at a low point, I know she's hurting, but she lashes out at me with such vehemence that it breaks my heart.
I am slowly learning how to manage this awkward dance that we perform each day. When I need to address clothing, behavior or other issues with her, I wait until she's "up." And I have to do small doses. When we have to enforce consequences for behavior, we try to explain it when she's "up." But of course, the punishment (as she perceives it) sends her right back down. So I feel like I'm living on a roller coaster.
The good news is that she has a wonderful Christian psychiatrist, and next week we'll begin seeing a Christian counselor who will hopefully help us navigate this minefield. She once told me that someday we'd write a book together from both of our perspectives about what it's like being a bi-polar teen and being the mother of a bi-polar teen. We'll see.
I am so thankful that we established a strong bond in her early years. Sometimes I wonder how we'd survive if we didn't have that! It's that attachment that brings us back together when she's "up."

Son #2
Another thing I'm thankful for is the space between our kids. Daughter #1 survived the teen years and is helpful both to me and to her sister. Son #2 is just 10, so we don't have any teen stuff yet! Last night was particularly challenging, and Son #2 came downstairs to where I was sitting on the sofa. He saw my tears and just put his arms around me. I wonder if there is a magic potion that will keep him this sweet for the next 8 years??