Just One Thing: More On Breastfeeding In Public

by Lauren Gajda August 28, 2015

With our breastfeeding spotlight series coming to a close, we wanted to reiterate what Anna’s most recent blog post says about breastfeeding in public.

Nobody thinks twice about eating in public, yet breastfeeding in public has become a nationwide discussion. Sure, feeding a child from your breast is not exactly the same thing as eating table food, but both are done for the same reason – nourishment!

Even if you are not pregnant or don’t have small children, breastfeeding is still something to prepare for. Think about how to react when you see someone nursing in a public area. If it makes you uncomfortable, keep in mind that the mom is not doing it to show the world her breasts. It’s not always easy to anticipate when your little one will be hungry, so if it happens in the middle of Target, well you just may see a mom nursing in Target.

We are not forcing you to breastfeed in public. Just know that it’s okay to do so. Just One Thing to Think About…

Breastfeeding With Anna: Nursing In Public

by Anna Williams August 28, 2015

Nip it in the Bud

You may have taken the prenatal course on breastfeeding offered by your local hospital or you may have read a number of books on how to breastfeed, what to expect when nursing, scoured internet forums, what-have-you. In my experience, there is a major obstacle to breastfeeding that very few of these resources address — Nursing in public and breastfeeding stigma.

The fact is, if you are nursing on-demand or, even if you have established scheduled feedings, you are going to be ‘caught’ in public with an infant who wants only one thing. If you have any experience with nursing, you will know that delay of a desired feed can result in the following:

  1. A Situation Extremely Distressing for the Infant
  2. A Situation Progressively More Uncomfortable for You
  3. The Literal Worst

A common baby shower gift is the infamous ‘nursing cover.’ These are usually slightly incomplete aprons with soft floral or Venetian designs and a helpful metal reinforced hood that allows you to look at your child – which does not look at all like you are trying to give yourself surgery. My friends and I have all found these to be not only immeasurably frustrating to use, but uncomfortable for the infant as well as counterproductive. Nothing says “Hey, look – I’m Nursing!” like an awkward blanket tied around your neck being waved around by a frustrated baby.

Yet many of us, myself included, will feel at least a little bashful at the idea of ‘whipping it out’ in the middle of Target, in the lobby of a doctor’s office, at a restaurant, at a playgroup, etc. You may be anxious that someone will make a fuss over you for doing it. You may feel like it is wrong to pull your breast out in a public space and impose the sight of your nipple on the unsuspecting strangers around you.

There are many reasons why mothers think this. They are almost all wrong. Repeat after me:

  • Breasts are not sexual organs.
  • Breastmilk is not human waste.
  • Breastfeeding is not indecent exposure.

It is your federally protected right to feed your child anywhere where you and your child are legally allowed to be.

Say it again: Breasts are not sexual organs

Nope. They are not. There are several other blog articles on this subject, and I don’t need to repeat them. Suffice it to say the period in history during which it has been considered inappropriate to nurse your child in public is very, very short. So short that, if you were able to speak to your great grandmother about it, she might think everyone had gone completely cheese and crackers.

Here are my tips for coping with nursing in public:

You do not have to if you do not want to. If nursing in public makes you truly uncomfortable, it is not your duty to normalize breastfeeding. It is your duty to care for your child in the manner that is best for you.

If you use a cover (Translation: If your child allows you to use a cover), do it for you, not for the strangers.

Do it with confidence and poise and no one will want to talk to you about it. And if they do. Just think back on our ‘Repeat After Me’ thoughts and use them to educate the concerned citizen who approached you. After all, you have every right to be there, doing what you are doing.

Babies grow. They turn into toddlers. They start asking for things. They start asking to nurse. The average age of weaning worldwide is four. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should expect to lean over the shopping cart and nurse your 3-year-old while you shop for organic cereal to send to school. But it might mean that your 20-month-old shouts ‘Milkies!’ or ‘Boo Boos!’ or if you are lucky, ‘NUSS!’ in the middle of the bread aisle. Whether or not you oblige is up to you. Personally, I am occasionally that woman walking through Target with her toddler strapped on and nursing. Don’t know who I’m talking about? That’s because most people don’t notice.

No matter where you are nursing, no matter how you are nursing, no matter the age of the child or children you are nursing – Never Apologize. You are not in the wrong.

Sorry is not in your vocabulary

I hope these things can help you if you struggle to nurse in public. But I recognize there are many other barriers to confident nursing. First of all, nursing in public is one thing, but sometimes we are more uncomfortable nursing in front of family. If your family is not supportive of your breastfeeding around them, it can be very difficult to participate in family gatherings. It may not always seem worth it to advocate for yourself at the expense of family friction. Personally, I don’t let my family kick me out of the living room. I nurse at Christmas, I nurse at Mother’s Day, I have nursed every time I have been around extended family for nearly two years. Some people seem put out, but I ignore them, and they don’t seem terribly traumatized. But I am lucky. My husband and mother are very supportive. My mother put her old nursing chair right there in the living room, and it is there every time I come to visit. I am very grateful for that.

This week happens to be Black Breastfeeding Week

This week is very important. As low as national breastfeeding rates are in general, they are even lower in the black community. Black women experience a whole extra set of breastfeeding barriers that the rest of us do not. So, I want to take this moment to direct you to the resources linked above. Even if you don’t understand it, if you support breastfeeding, you should support black breastfeeding.

The following articles are specifically focused on building confidence for nursing in public:

http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/legal/bfip/

http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nbmarapr94p36.html

http://www.everydayfamily.com/breastfeeding-in-public/

If you are struggling with public nursing confidence or need general nursing support, seek out your local chapter of La Leche League or visit a Lactation Consultant in your area.

North Florida runs a postpartum luncheon for mothers who delivered at North Florida Regional Medical Center, as do other community facilities. These are great places to meet other mothers and share your experiences. The meetings are a safe place for public nursing and a great place to build confidence.

I’ve enjoyed thinking about all of this and writing these articles this month — so much so, I’ve decided to continue beyond the month of August. I’m going to write another article on a topic really close to my heart. Who knows? I may just write more. More later – until then, take care!

Breastfeeding With Anna: The Struggle Is Real

by Anna Williams August 19, 2015

Many mothers-to-be who intend to breastfeed their new little person all want to know the same thing. What does it feel like – does it hurt?

Here are some of the things I heard when I asked that question:

  • “It will feel like a little tug.”
  • “It will probably be uncomfortable at first, but it shouldn’t hurt.”
  • “It feels like someone is trying to give you a hickey but they are very bad at it.”
  • “It feels like a cat licking your nipple with their sandpaper tongue.”
  • “It feels magical.”
  • “It will feel like someone is running your nipple through a cheese grater.”

The point being, there is clearly a wide array of experiences out there. This makes it difficult to decide if what you are going through is normal or something that needs professional attention. I’m going to share my experiences as one more data point to help you decide what you might need to do if you are having doubts.

The First Latch Our first latch felt like a very unpleasant pinching. I was immediately concerned, but in those first several hours, it didn’t seem like there was much help to be had. I was just trying to survive watching the clock go by in hourly increments. Diaper change, nursing, drift off, nurse, diaper change, some stranger poking the crap out of me, nursing, drift off, some stranger prodding my infant….

I was cracked and bleeding before the end of the first 24 hours. I had scabs over the top of my nipples. I was struggling. A lactation consultant came and gave me a breast shield. It was not totally helpful, but it took the edge off. I got sick of it quickly and threw it out. I applied lanolin religiously, but it wasn’t getting any better. When I finally put clothes on, it was THE WORST THING EVER. It was like “Oh, do your nipples hurt? Here, rub some fiberglass on them.”

Going Home Pretty much as soon as we got home she stopped latching. I was devastated and petulant. Bleeding from orifices I didn’t even know I had, unable to calm this wailing despondent nightmare of joy, I went from feeling confused to completely inadequate. We called the lactation consultants.

Basically, I didn’t know what I was doing. My baby didn’t know what she was doing. My husband didn’t know how to help. And guess what? Our bodies don’t just magically do the right thing. In fact, they pretty much do exactly the opposite. I was engorged, and my breast was too big and too tight for her to latch! unintelligible string of expletivesTHAT’S A THING!? YES. Our babies are born with mouths that are TOO SMALL. Frankly, it’s absurd and I’d like to have a word with management.

We worked past engorgement with light pumping and ice packs, but we continued to struggle. I was in so much pain. And she would pop off and on like she had to work so hard just to stay put. She nursed for hours at a time. I swear, no hyperbole. She nursed from 8pm to 5am without stopping. Several times.

People told me it was normal. They were wrong. This is why I am writing to you. It is very important to me that you listen to this part.

It is not about what is normal. It is about what you can endure. If you feel like it’s wrong, if you feel like you are struggling, if your toes curl when they latch and you are breaking world records for holding your breath, if you want to run and hide when your baby roots around — GET HELP. And if it isn’t improving, get more help. Keep going in, keep making appointments, keep calling, keep buying all the creams, never give in until you have the answers you need.

I do NOT mean keep nursing beyond your limits. If nursing aversion is affecting your relationship with your child, weaning to formula may be the answer for you. This does not make you a failure. This makes you a mother. We all sacrifice so much of ourselves for our children. Recognizing when you are past your limits and making adjustments to be a happy and present mother to your child is more important than nursing. Your breastfeeding story does not define your motherhood. And please, know that if you’ve had to make that choice, or if you feel the choice was made for you, you aren’t letting anybody down. We let you down.

Here’s a list of things we say that let mothers down:

  • “Your boobs are too big for him.”
  • “She just doesn’t like your milk.”
  • “You’re just not compatible.”
  • “You should give him formula before bed so he sleeps longer!”
  • “He’s still hungry! Haven’t you got enough milk?”

If you’ve ever heard these, you know how crushing it feels. Especially when said by medical professionals. My daughter’s first pediatrician actually said #2 to me when she was 4 days old. Here are some responses. I’ve chosen some britishisms because otherwise, they would be full of curse words.

  • “We’re fine, thanks.”
  • “Rubbish.”
  • “Absolute nonsense.”
  • “Completely counter to all scientific evidence you archaic buffoon.”
  • “He’s a baby or She’s a baby.”

The last one is my personal favorite. It is just possible that your baby’s quite mad about something else but doesn’t quite know how to put it to words.

Ready for the Bottom Line? As you might have guessed by now, our problem was tongue tie. If your struggle looks anything like mine, I highly urge you to see a Lactation Consultant that specializes in diagnosing ties. No one will cut your baby if there isn’t actually a tie. Even though it seems like everyone on the internet thinks every breastfeeding problem can be solved with coconut oil or a pair of surgical scissors, get checked out anyway. It’s worth knowing. But sometimes it’s just positioning, and just a little one-on-one advice will go a long way. So, if you’re struggling, pick up the phone and call the lactation consultants at the hospital where you gave birth or your midwife. Get seen.

More information from Lactation Consultants at The Women’s Center of North Florida Regional is available online or by calling (352) 333-5315.

Just One Thing: The Pump And Freeze Method

by Lauren Gajda August 14, 2015

Feeding your baby breastmilk is a commitment, and for those moms who solely breastfeed, you may want to consider pumping in between feeds.

We know that your mommy schedule probably doesn’t have many openings, but pumping extra milk – either after or between breastfeeding – will allow you to freeze it for future use. Plus, you can use a double breast pump to cut your pumping time in half.

Frozen breastmilk is great if you go back to work, if your milk supply decreases or if you need to go out of town without your baby. Keep in mind that babies still get all the nutrients they need from it.

You can’t go wrong with the pump and freeze method.
Just One Thing To Think About.

Lindsey’s Voice: Wishing The Women’s Center A Happy 25th Anniversary

by Lauren Gajda August 12, 2015

25 Voices for 25 Years

For 25 years, The Women’s Center of North Florida Regional has focused on delivering the kind of care the women of North Central Florida deserve, which is, of course, the very best care possible! During this anniversary year, we want to celebrate by sharing memories from physicians, providers and patients. Between now and the end of this year, we will hear from 25 voices of The Women’s Center.

This week’s voice is Lindsey Thomas

Lindsey is a patient at The Women’s Center of North Florida Regional and became a new mom in August 2014 when her daughter Sahara was born. For Lindsey, having her baby anywhere but North Florida Regional was never an option. All the moms she knew told her that The Women’s Center was the place to go because of the quality of physicians, nurses and support staff and the facility itself. And now she knows from firsthand experience that everything she was told was true.

“I really enjoyed my team of doctors, says Lindsey. “Throughout my pregnancy, I met four of the OBs in my practice, but then there was something that was even more helpful. North Florida Women’s Physicians held a ‘meet the team’ event, which gave me a quick glance at all of the physicians in the practice. It is where I originally met the physician who would later deliver my daughter. My primary OB is Dr. Erin Werner, but Dr. Richard Brazzel actually delivered Sahara.”

Lindsey remembers the day she went into labor quite well. She was admitted into the hospital around noon, and 11 hours later, she was finally pushing. Those hours in between gave her some time to get to know the staff.

“I can honestly say I will never forget my labor nurse, Regina,” says Lindsey. “To me, she was not just a nurse but also a mom, a friend, a server and when the doctor was not there, she was the “doctor” and encouraged me to push!”

The scariest time of Lindsey’s entire labor experience came when Sahara was born. Sahara wasn’t breathing, so the nurses quickly began working on her. They ended up calling for the NICU nurses, but after a long five minutes, Sahara was screaming and was a perfectly healthy newborn.

Sahara came into this world quiet and with some concern, but now she is an active almost one-year old who walks, talks and babbles, loves to feed herself, loves to pet her dog and is curious about anything new. Lindsey and her husband, Spencer, are so thankful to have her and the positive memories The Women’s Center provided.

Lindsey wants to wish The Women’s Center a very happy 25th Anniversary. She and Spencer are hoping to get pregnant again soon, and once they do, they will head back to North Florida Regional.

What If Your Breast Pump Cost Zero Dollars?

by Melissa Guerra August 5, 2015

Using a breast pump is a great way to continue to feed your baby breast milk even if you are a busy, on-the-go mom. While breast pumps are easy-to-use and convenient, sometimes the anticipated price tag can be discouraging. If that is the case, do we have news for you!

A Breast Pump that Won’t Hurt Your Wallet. What many new moms might not know is that there may be a more cost effective way to acquire a functioning breast pump without hurting your wallet. A new regulation under the Affordable Care Act went into effect in August of 2013. The Affordable Care Act is a multifaceted piece of legislation, but in short, it attempts to provide more Americans with affordable health insurance. The good news for busy moms is that a section of the ACA states that most insurance companies are now responsible for covering the rental of breast pumps and sometimes lactation consulting, as well. Some insurance companies allow you to rent a pump for free, and other companies will even cover the cost to purchase one. While some plans cover only manual pumps, depending on your plan you may have access to a double electric pump as well.

Next Steps. Before you go through the process of calling your insurance provider, the easiest way to get information on your free breast pump is by asking your doctor. You can talk to either your OB/GYN or your pediatrician, if you have already chosen one. There are different procedures for acquiring your breast pump depending on your insurance company, so if you are still stumped after speaking to your doctor, go ahead and call your provider and begin by asking what the next step is. Some companies may ask that you have a prescription, but many will just ask for a doctor’s name and phone number. Once you do this, your provider may either direct you to a medical supply company that can ship your desired pump straight to your house or they will give you a list of supply companies in your area for you to contact.

For Your Baby. Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your newborn and offers many health benefits for you and your child. Being able to get a breast pump for either a discounted amount or even no cost at all is a great option for all new mothers who cannot be home to breastfeed at all times. Being aware that you have this as an option to you, though, is the first step. Ask your doctor and insurance provider any questions that you may have, as they can help enlighten you about the process and clear up any confusion.

Breastfeeding With Anna: Back To The Beginning

by Anna Williams August 4, 2015

First, Introductions.

We asked Anna Williams, a Gainesville mother who successfully breastfeeds her daughter, August, to write a series of blogs about her experience. We asked her to cover anything she could think of that might help other moms be successful at something that everybody thinks is natural, automatic and easy. Not necessarily true, is it? So, moms and other interested parties out there, meet Anna. Get ready for her thoughts delivered in a way that is honest and funny and never, ever, ever the least bit boring. Okay Anna, the floor is yours.

Breastfeeding Later. Pregnancy First.

The first thing everybody asked (and I do mean everybody, from family to friends to random people at the grocery store), was, “Was it planned?”

Maybe people found it odd that a couple who had been together as long as we had were only just now beginning to get the show on the road. Maybe people like fishing around for awkward bardic tales about alcohol and forgetfulness. Maybe people are just weird. Anyway, I never figured out how to answer without balking first.

But the embarrassing truth is it wasn’t planned. Not as such. It was decided. Deciding and planning are, as we would come to discover, entirely different.

Planning looks like this: Setting aside savings for medical expenses. Researching local prenatal care practices and midwifery options. Starting a college fund. Writing a living will. Oh, and like, figuring out if you actually have enough room in your house for another human being.

Deciding looks like thisA couple playing video games on the couch. “I think we might be ready to have kids.” “Yeah. Totally– Ooohhh hohoho! Take that!”

And then never thinking about it again until you have a migraine for 4 days straight.

Blissfully ignorant of things like the average length of time a couple tries to conceive, the truth about miscarriage rates, and what the major fallacy of morning sickness really is (hint: morning isn’t even half of it). I spent my days daydreaming about parenting like it was all episodes of the Andy Griffith Show, and I was Andy Taylor. I’m sure Matt was also Andy in his fantasies, too, and nothing at all like Aunt Bea.

You see, many happily joined couples interested in procreation consider themselves ready to have children. And most of your friends with children are going to tell you how rewarding kids are.

But nobody actually talks about what babies are. Not really. I mean you hear it. Up all night, so much crying, so much poop…but nobody’s really listening. If adults ever figure out how to communicate with each other about babies, it will be the end of the human race.

Our wailing pupae of confusion and despair was born on an October Sunday in the late afternoon – a decent 8 lbs. and some change I’ve shamefully misremembered and some 21 inches or so after an unmedicated hospital birth. Another thing I had decided on but not really planned. Polling my peers later, I learned I was very lucky to have gotten away with the birth I wanted, a fact that both saddens and humbles me.

So, What To Expect?

Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about what breastfeeding has been like for me. I will talk about the fantasy of instinct, I will give my advice on how to sort through the noise when you open the floodgates of internet advice, I will talk about nursing in public and nursing stigma, and yes, I will talk about tongue ties.

I hope you find some comfort and encouragement in my experiences. See you soon.

The Basics About Breastfeeding