The Peaceful Birth of James

I was so excited to be invited to Emilie’s birth!  Emilie attended the birth of my 4th child as a student midwife and since then has completed her education and is in practice herself!  I can’t wait to film births she attends as well!

So alert!

So alert!

I got the call in the wee hours of June 27th.  Emilie was sure it was labor (we’d had a false alarm a week previous, but that’s OK!).  When I arrived, Emilie was chatting and smiling between contractions.  All of a sudden, she didn’t speak between contractions anymore and she started moving to different positions.  I could tell by the sounds she was making that things were progressing really quickly.  Her husband never left her side.

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She labored in the family room for awhile and then moved to their spacious master bedroom where she had set up a birthing station (being a midwife, she was prepared!) with a birth stool (low chair) and waterproofing around it.

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Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 2.11.51 PM (2)

Labor moved quickly and soon she was feeling the urge to push.  During labor, she explained that she really wanted to not push and just allow the baby to slip gently down, but I could tell that as the urge became stronger, she couldn’t help but submit and give little grunty pushes.

gently pushing

As her baby crowned, she reached to touch his fuzzy little head.  I don’t know how to describe what happens to a mom when she feels that head, but it’s like her entire body fills with strength and she is more focused and confident.  My midwife friend Jenny West says that women who feel their babies crown and birth with their hand on the head are less likely to tear.  I can see why!

Emilie’s other children watched in excitement as their teensy baby brother emerged.  And  Daddy was pretty darn excited as well!  I love how he caresses her, kisses her softly and whispers “Thank You.”

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They chose to cut the cord by burning it.  I’d never seen this done!  It was very interesting to watch.

2013_06_2707_38_138956 copy cord burning with candles

I enjoyed spending time with the family as they adored their newest member.

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 2.14.21 PM (2) Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 2.14.51 PM (2) 2013_06_2707_43_068968 copy family adores new baby

And just a note:  Emilie was one of the main sponsors of the Empowering Fearless Birth event!  She gave away a complete prenatal package to a lucky winner!  And I’ll be doing a film with her for that birth.  We’ll post that story together next spring!

Thank you, Emilie for allowing me to film your birth!

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Tommy’s Birth

baby tommy

I was so excited to meet Ceianna at the first Empowering Fearless Birth event! I hadn’t seen her since we took classes together in college. She was expecting her 7th baby, and I was giddy with excitement when she invited me to her birth!

On a beautiful spring morning, I got the call from Keith and excitedly drove through the night to their house. I love driving through the quiet of the night. I have time to think and prepare myself to enter the birth space.

This next shot has to be one of my all time favorites. The audience of brother and sisters sat quietly while their mom worked through her labor. I couldn’t help but think of a veil between this life and the previous. Those on the other side saying “goodbye” for a time to this sweet little boy as he left for to earth and those on this side excitedly anticipating his arrival.

the anticipation

Between contractions, she would look up and kiss and love on her older kids. Her kids also tenderly touched their mama’s back and gently tickled her arms. It never ceases to amaze me how older siblings, no matter how young they are, always seem to recognize the significance and sacredness of the event.
kisses to mama

Keith was an incredible support. He never left her side and seemed to be so in-tune with her needs that they barely noticed us (me and the two midwives).
supportive daddy doula

At last!
birth

When Tommy was ready, his big brother excitedly accepted the honor of cutting the cord!

so happy to have a baby brother

This is also one of the sweetest shots I’ve ever gotten.  How lucky is this little guy to have a loving big brother to look out for him as he grows.  I was so impressed with him (I’m sorry, I can’t remember his name).  During the entire labor, he was either helping his dad support his mom or holding his younger siblings and helping them stay quiet in the birth room (and opening who knows how many cheese sticks for them as well).  All of these siblings are so lucky to have him as their big brother.

loveSweet kisses from big sister…

loving big sister

Richelle’s assistant Kayte is the most gentle baby-examiner ever.  She can get through pretty much the entire exam without the baby crying or even startling.  And I love how she involves the older siblings in the exam.  Here again, big brother has his calming hand on Tommy’s chest while Kayte does the exam.

gentle baby examSuch a sweetheart!  I very very rarely get to hold the babies at births, but even at this one had I wanted to, I would have been behind 12 little hands all begging to hold him.

Baby Tommy

I couldn’t help but stop and get this shot through the trees as I left that morning. :)  Ah, Life Is Good!
beautiful spring day

 

Ceianna and Keith,
Thank you again for allowing me into your home and for allowing me to show your beautiful film at the birth film premiere.  There wasn’t a dry eye!  I can speak for the audience in thanking you for sharing with everyone.
Also, thank you, Keith, for coming to the event and sitting on the daddy panel.  You’re a wonderful example of how a dad can support during birth.

And now the film:

 

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Connor’s Birth

Will was an incredible support for Cara throughout her labor.

Will was an incredible support for Cara throughout her labor.

I had no idea that when Cara invited me to film her birth that it would forever change my life.  I have to admit all my births touch me deeply.  I can’t help but be moved when I am invited into the sacred space of birth.  But in this case, a client turned into a best friend!

So here’s the story:

On April 13th, I got the call that Cara’s water had broken at about 2am.  I jumped out of bed and dashed off to the store as fast as I could to complete the catering spread I was bringing (yes!  I cater births!), and arrived at Cara’s home.  Cara labored into the night until she decided that labor wasn’t progressing as fast as we thought it was and she went to bed.  I stayed up chatting with Natalie (an amazing doula) into the wee morning hours till we both fell asleep.  When we woke up, everyone went home and returned later that evening.  This time, though, I brought my pillow and blanket and planned to spend the night (again).  We labored with Cara until she decided she was ready to sleep again.  By then Cara’s main doula Katie had arrived and the 3 of us talked deep into the night.  Nothing compares to late night deep conversations.   On the morning of April 15th, the birth team again headed home, and Cara decided to go get an ultrasound to check on the baby.  Everything was fine with the little bubs, so Cara returned home to labor.  I got the call in the late afternoon to come quick!  I rushed back to her and arrived just in time to capture the birth.

baby conoor

Here’s what struck me about Connor’s birth… Cara had listened to her intuition and instincts completely.  She was patient with her labor and her body.  She had gotten the ultrasound which revealed that his cord was wrapped several times around his neck, so when he crowned, her incredibly skilled midwife took care of it immediately.  And when the placenta didn’t detach properly, this incredible mama braced herself while her midwife scraped inside of her uterus.  I can only imagine the pain, yet Cara was the strongest and most courageous woman I have ever seen during that ordeal!  And her husband Will never left her side- for the entire 3 day labor.  Watch in the film how he supports and comforts her during the entire process.  And you’ve gotta love the part where he’s holding a wiggly 18 month old in one arm and holding up the scale with his newborn with the other.  Talk about super dad.  And I love the shot where he’s dressing his new little bug.

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So back to the part about Cara becoming one of my best friends… :)  A few weeks after the birth, Cara invited Natalie, Katie and I out to dinner to thank her birth team.  Cool, huh?  At the dinner as we re-told Cara’s birth story to her from our perspective and listened to her re-tell her journey, we all realized what an incredible opportunity we’d had to have this experience together.  I am forever grateful to Cara for inviting me to her birth and into her soul.  She is an incredibly intelligent, generous, sensitive, forgiving, understanding and downright beautiful woman.  As I’ve gotten to know her more deeply in the months since her birth, I can feel her positive influence on my life.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to get all sentimental on a blog that I know will be read publicly, but I do want to tell Cara publicly how much I appreciate her friendship and am so honored to be close to her.  I love you, Cara!

Cara's Blessingway Necklace

Cara’s Blessingway Necklace

There is so much more I could tell, but I’d really like to link Cara’s birth story for the details (later).

This film premiered at the Empowering Fearless Birth Event last weekend, and I’m so excited to now present it here:

 

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The Empowering Fearless Birth Event

50 Classes, 60 Vendors, Film Premieres and more!  The BEST pregnancy and birth event!

50 Classes, 60 Vendors, Film Premieres and more! The BEST pregnancy and birth event!

What an incredible experience planning this event has been.  It has pushed me harder than I had ever thought possible.  I’ve done tearful soul searching and ridden the waves of euphoria- sometimes in the same day!

It is so important to me that women have the opportunity to learn about the ideal birth for them.  I believe that by preventing and healing birth trauma, we are taking a HUGE step towards finding peace in the human race.  Big dreams, I know, but it doesn’t make sense to me that a baby born violently and sometimes into violence itself stands half a chance at a finding peace in life.  Why perpetuate pain?   If a baby can hear and remember sound heard from within the womb, it stands to reason they can also “learn” if this life it is coming into is safe or scary.

Anyway, I meant to keep this post light and fun!  Please come to the event.  The classes and vendors are incredible and I’m proud of what me and my team have accomplished.  And of course there are my new birth films.  :)  We hope the event will forever change the way some women think about birth.

Get tickets here.

And see our GoFundMe page!  If we can get funded, we can film the entire event and put it online for the world to see!

Thank you!

And now for a few of my favorite memes for the event…

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Healing from Sexual Abuse through Birth and Breastfeeding- Guest Post

sexualabuse

Today I am honored to post an anonymous guest piece by a brave mother who has decided to share her experience with her journey in healing from sexual abuse.

Healing Sexual Abuse through Birth and Breastfeeding
-By Guest

I have been wanting to write this post for some time now. Fear has been holding me back. Fear of what others might think of me. Fear of opening up. Fear of being exposed. But of the many lessons I have learned in the past three years, one of the most important ones is that these are not my skeletons. I do not have to feel ashamed for other peoples mistakes. I think of other women who may be struggling, hurting, feeling alone, and if I could help even one feel like they weren’t so alone it would be worth it.

Each of my three births changed me in a way I never had expected.

A little over four years ago I was pregnant with my first baby, sitting in an OB’s office filling out paper work. One of the questions made my heart start to race. “Have you ever been a victim of sexual abuse?” My pen lingered over the yes circle. I looked over at the nurse sitting at the computer. “What would she think of me if I told the truth?” I thought to myself. “What does it matter?”

It took me off guard. My whole life I had been ashamed of the fact that I had been sexually abused. I was ashamed of my body. I was ashamed of myself. I was broken. I remember opening up to a friend and having her shutter in disgust, telling me she didn’t want to hear anymore. And now I was expected just like that to hang my dirty laundry in front of a whole office staff? I wondered if they would still take me as a client.  I quickly circled no and finished the rest of the questions.

After 24 hours of labor my nurse checked me and told me that I was complete. I was ready to meet my little boy. A few moments later my doctor walked in the room. I was leaning over the edge of the hospital bed and immediately flipped around. The hospital gown wasn’t doing a good job at covering my back side and I was suddenly very aware of it. I had heard other women say that when you are in labor you just don’t care who sees what. But I cared. I cared when I was pushing and there were 20 people in the room I didn’t know. I felt so exposed, I felt vulnerable, I felt afraid. I pushed with everything I had to get that moment over as quickly as possible. They placed my beautiful little boy on my chest and everyone disappeared from my consciousness. I was in complete euphoria. I counted his toes, I counted his fingers, I stared at his little lips searching for my breast. I quickly unbuttoned my gown and he started to nurse. For the first time in my life I was not ashamed of my body. Look what I did! Look what I was doing! This tiny little human looked up at me with the most pure love that exists.

I started to feel a bit of anxiety, thinking about how I was to be this small humans only source of nourishment, and how once again my body wasn’t mine.

I had thought to myself many times how one forgets about abuse. How a person moves on and doesn’t let it effect them anymore. Looking down at this little man, and feeling how much love I had for him the answer was clear, I found someone else to live for. I found a new purpose for your body. A purpose so pure, so perfect, a divine purpose.

16 months later I was filling out paperwork again. And there was that question. That question that gave me so much anxiety. This time I was going to deliver with midwives. I had a false sense of security with them. I felt like since they were women, and the birthing environment would be more intimate, I wouldn’t have to worry about the triggers I experienced with my first birth.

After 15 hours of labor I was almost complete. The only people in the room were my husband and the student midwife. I was feeling very calm, and relaxed.  The student was checking me to feel how far along I was and for the first time in my labor I felt pain. The senior midwife walked in the room and the student informed her I had a cervical lip she was holding down for me. I felt violated. She was doing something to my body that was hurting me, and she did not have my permission. Why was I not informed about what was going on with my body. Soon the lip was gone and I pushed baby #2 out into the water, reaching down to pull him up to my chest. Pure love washed over me once again. The weeks that followed I recounted my birth over and over again in my mind. I was confused why I didn’t feel as good about my body. That little breach in informed consent was enough to make me feel like my body wasn’t my own.

12 months after that I was feeling out paper work again. I knew the question was coming this time. As a matter of fact, I had thought about it the second I found out I was pregnant again. I read the question while my husband was busy wrestling our other two boys. I took a deep breathe and circled yes. A weight was lifted off my shoulder. A weight that wasn’t mine. I thought my midwife would have all sorts of questions for me. But she didn’t have many. Just a few that I heard at every prenatal, and during my labor.

“MAY I touch your stomach?”

“MAY I feel for baby?”

“MAY I check you?”

Why did those words mean so much to me? It sent a very clear message, my body belonged to ME, and no one else had a right to touch it without my permission,

My third birth rocked my world. My third son was born 41 hours after my water broke. It was long, it was intense, and there were times I felt like my body was failing me. But I had many hands to lift me up. To encourage and inspire me. To remind me to trust my body, and my baby.

Once again I was getting ready to push. I was surrounded by people I trusted completely. I was not ashamed. I was not afraid. I did not feel vulnerable. I did not feel exposed.

I felt safe. I felt loved. I felt EMPOWERED.

Moments later I held my third baby boy in my arms. I didn’t know it was possible to love so much. To have my heart grow so much with each baby. As my heart grew I found more motivation to focus on the future instead of the past. My third birth healed me in a way I never thought was possible.

I was in control of my body. My body was amazing. My body was strong. My past is my past. It is not apart of me. My babies are a part of me. They are my future. A future where I am no longer ashamed of my body, because I know what it is capable of.

 

 

 

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Prolapse

I’ve got another guest post for today.  I’m sorry I haven’t been able to write any new content recently.  I have about 25 drafts, but the planning of the Empowering Fearless Birth event is consuming my life (in a good way, of course).  I can’t wait!  Please come!

Today’s post is about prolapse.  It’s written by Jen at DrugWatch.com.  Prolapse is a pretty sensitive subject.  A woman wanting to admit she is having this problem may feel some shame and embarrassment.  I admit that even though I’m a pretty open book when it comes to discussing issues, event this one makes me feel squeamish.  It shouldn’t be this way.  There should not be shame in seeking help for this problem- especially when the problem stems from having given your body to create children!  I’ve have a post in the works about treating trauma to the perineum, so this goes right along with it.

My purpose in posting this information is to help break the wall of shame about injury to the woman’s body from childbirth and to hopefully inspire someone who is dealing with this issue to find the help she needs in finding a resolution.

 

Treating Prolapse after Childbirth
By: Jen Juneau

Childbirth takes a heavy toll on a woman’s body and can leave behind stretch marks, fatigue, extra weight and even pelvic organ prolapse.

Prolapse occurs when the pelvic floor can no longer support the bladder, uterus and rectum, allowing one or more of them to drop down into the vagina. Prolapse typically occurs long after pregnancy and childbirth, but it can also affect new moms.

There are a variety of treatment options for women with prolapse. In fact, one – breastfeeding – kills two birds with one stone: You’re providing nutrients for your newborn while burning calories which, in turn, helps you lose weight. And the less weight, the less pressure on the pelvic floor. Win/win!

Below are a few solutions that can help:

Vaginal Pessaries
A vaginal pessary is a device that can be used during and after pregnancy to help hold the pelvic organs in place. Since they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, your doctor will fit you for the pessary, which will be made out of plastic, rubber or silicone. You can remove the device, clean it regularly, and reinsert it on your own, or have your doctor do this during office visits if you’d like.

Pelvic Floor Exercises
Kegel exercises are an extremely popular, effective and time-efficient way to strengthen your pelvic floor after childbirth. There are just a few simple steps to performing a Kegel correctly and safely:

Find your pelvic floor muscles. The easiest way to do this is to stop midstream during urination. Feel the muscles you’re tightening? Those are the ones!

Go for a practice round. Make sure your bladder is empty, and lie flat on your back. Flex those pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, then release. Rest for five more seconds, then repeat a few more times. It’s important to make sure you’re not flexing other muscles (e.g., abdomen or thighs), and to breathe normally.

Work your way up. When you’ve mastered the technique, aim to hold the contractions for 10 seconds and rest for 10. A good goal to have is 10 repetitions, three times a day. You can also do these while seated or standing – or breastfeeding!

There are many exercises other than Kegels that you can perform to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Click each exercise below to watch a video corresponding to it:

Spinal rotation

Various safe strength exercises

Key steps for training strong pelvic floor muscles

Core exercises

Supplements
How easy is it to take a supplement? One and done, and you’re ready for all the mom tasks the day will bring! Herbal supplements are very popular among women who are looking to strengthen their pelvic muscles. Some examples are:

-Couch grass, which is said to help fortify the bladder sphincter
-Gotu kola, known to help increase blood flow in the ligaments
-Raspberry leaf, which can help rebuild connective tissue

Make sure you talk to your doctor about which option(s) could work for you before introducing a supplement into your diet (especially if you’re breastfeeding).

Surgery

If natural treatments don’t correct your prolapse, you may be a good candidate for surgery, but be sure to ask your doctor about your surgical options. It’s advisable to stay away from any surgery involving transvaginal mesh – in which a piece of mesh is implanted through the vagina to support the pelvic organs. This implantation method can lead to serious complications such as vaginal wall erosion and organ perforation.

Ask your doctor about the following options:

Surgery with traditional sutures

Sacrocolpopexy, which uses mesh implanted through the abdomen. Mesh has been used successfully to treat hernias in the past, and may work in your situation.

Colporrhaphy (repair of the vaginal walls)

 

Written by:
Jen Juneau is a content writer for Drugwatch.com. She is dedicated to educating others on why it’s important to be aware of drugs and medical devices that could endanger their health.

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$1000 Dream Birth Giveaway

$1000 to spend on ANYTHING at the Empowering Fearless Birth Event!

$1000 to spend on ANYTHING at the Empowering Fearless Birth Event!

We are excited to announce our $1000 Dream Birth Giveaway! This $1000 can be used like cash with ANY vendor at The Empowering Fearless Birth Event on September 21st!  Spend it on a midwife, birth classes, a doula, a photographer, essential oils, baby wraps, cloth diapers, a chiropractor… The list goes on and on!

Here’s how to win:

Step 1:  Purchase an all day ticket to the event (since you need to be present to win).

Step 2:  Send us your application to empower{at}thetouchoflife.com with the following:
A. Picture of yourself and when you are due.
B. Short story/paragraph about yourself.
C. What you would do with this $1000 to make your birth incredible.
D. Anything else you’d like us to know (your financial status, family circumstances).  This is confidential and will only be read by The Touch of Life.

Step 3:  We will post your story and picture on our blog (not the information contained in “D”).  Share your story and have those who love you comment on your blog entry.  We’ll give you the link to share.  The more people who affirm your coolness in the comments section below your entry, the more it helps!

Step 4:  Entries will be judged on 3 criteria- 40% on essay, 30% on how many comments are received and 30% on judges’ discretion (financial or hardship).  We’ll announce the winner at 10am on September 21st at the event so you can spend all day planning your dream birth!

Fine Print:  The $1000 must be spent with vendors participating at event.  You’ll receive a voucher to spend at any vendor on any product or service you’d like.   We must have at least 10 entries for prize to be awarded.

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Honoring the Journey


Welcome to the World Breastfeeding 2013 Blog Carnival cohosted by NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center!

This post was written for inclusion in the WBW 2013 Blog Carnival. Our participants will be writing and sharing their stories about community support and normalizing breastfeeding all week long. Find more participating sites in the list at the bottom of this post or at the main carnival page.

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Rachel feeding Sparrow within minutes of her birth.

Rachel feeding Sparrow within minutes of her birth.

I’m so excited to present the last article for the breastfeeding carnival.

Written by Rachel Brown:

Honoring The Journey

Last month I shared this wonderful poem with a friend who was honored at a blessingway.  (http://pomegranate-ensouled.blogspot.com/2011/03/being-woman.html) It has become the anthem and credo of my conceptualization of sisterhood, and the support and respect I hope to give the women in my life.

Last spring at a conference on maternal health disparities, I attended a breakout session directed by Claudia Booker (CPM, JD), the keynote speaker of the conference. She spoke about cultural competency and posited that there are no “diverse” populations of women, just “women.” She said, “You think they’re so different from you? They have somebody that loves them, I have somebody that loves me. They feel the exact same way about the war, about breast cancer. They worry, what happens when I die? Will my child turn out all right?”She urged us to ask questions when we don’t understand, and stated, “I just tell people, I’m old, I’m ignorant, but my heart is pure, and my hands are open.” She told us, “Every mother wants to be a good mother. Every mother wants what’s best for her child. Anything else, is when we let other stuff get in the way.”

Someone raised her hand and shared her story of her sister, who was estranged from the family due to personal choices that conflicted with the family values. This woman stated that she missed her sister and wanted to make amends, but wasn’t sure how to approach her. Claudia responded, “Let me tell you something. First, you’ve gotta go get your sister!” she exclaimed. “Once you fix that, the rest won’t matter as much. Go find your sister.” 

Her words were simple, but deeply resonated with me. When I think my Claudia’s comments in the context of the breastfeeding journey, it is heartbreaking to think of the divisiveness and criticism women encounter while navigating one of the most vulnerable and intimate relationships of their lives. Everyone seems to feel judged; everyone seems to feel “other.” It occurred to me that despite how we present ourselves, no matter how confident and passionate; the insecurities are there beneath the surface. Sometimes, as we grapple for identity and struggle to reassure ourselves that we’re okay, we sacrifice our sisters to the gods of our causes. However fair and bright they may be; it’s not worth the cost of a relationship, or of becoming someone who brings enmity rather than empathy when we come in the room. All women deserve access to the best information, resources, and social support as they make decisions, but they also deserve for someone to listen to their story and honor their path.

When you see a woman out on the street or across the room who is feeding her baby, remember that they didn’t just appear out of the void. That mama and baby have already been through a lot together. They are already on a hero’s journey. Whatever that mother has been through—and she has been through something—a difficult pregnancy, disappointment in herself, loss and grief, postpartum anxiety or depression, birth trauma, in-law trauma, relationship trauma, whatever it be—she has survived it and she is caring for her child. That is something to applaud.

That’s my sister, I accept her as my sister and know there’s a place for me to learn from her as well as to share what I know. Sometimes in our enthusiasm to preach the enlightenment we’ve found, we find ourselves less eager to listen. Honoring her path is accepting that she is doing it right. She is feeding her child. She loves her child, she is holding her child. She feels that sweet ache when baby is finally sleeping, no matter how much they drove her crazy during the day, she knows this time is precious. She knows it won’t last.

You really want to save the world from bad habits and misinformation and deception and lies and misogyny and cruelty? Don’t paint your banner with the colors of absolutes, with conditions and expectations. Wave the banner of “Come as you are, there is a place for you.” Make yourself a safe place. Make your home and heart a space where exploration is encouraged and nurturing your baby, however that looks for you, is celebrated and honored.

There is so much I want to change about the world. I want to break chains, tear down structures that deceive and oppress. I want to facilitate healing. But first, I want to go find my sister.

In that spirit, here is my slightly altered version of Helen Ramoutski’s lovely poem:

I Honor You

In circle gathered
In circle breast
In circle nourishing
In circle One

She whose milk came in quickly and whose baby latched gracefully,
Fortunate Woman, I honor you

She who gritted her teeth through pinches of pain
Rocked back and forth to calm babe and herself
Determined Woman, I honor you

She who pumped milk from a broken heart for her tiny NICU baby,
Precious milk given by others through a dropper
She who drove away grieving after the visit,
Courageous Woman, I honor you

She who still used a nipple shield after months
She who felt desperate rejoicing in the brief moments of connection
Faithful Woman, I honor you

She who shudders with silent horror before let-down
and holds steady until the hollow feeling fades
D-MER Woman, I honor you

She who gives of her abundance
To a nest of hungry baby birds
Milk-Sharing Woman, I honor you

She who nurtures one at breast and one in belly,
whose arms fold around tiny limbs and long
Tandem-Nursing Woman, I honor you

She who cradles child long longed-for, fresh and warm from another’s arms
They feed one another with hope and healing
Adoptive, Foster, Intended Mother, I honor you
She to whom nature was both kind and cruel
Who sacrificed flesh for more time to stay,
Survivor Woman, I honor you

She who feels that aching swell during meetings and in classrooms
Who endures the latch of a pump each day
Resilient Woman, I honor you
She who learned her limits and listened to her body’s cries
Who made a change to save what was needed most
Wise Woman, I honor you

She who greets the indignant strangers boldly
in all her beauty uncovered
Free Woman, I honor you

She who withstands pain and sustains life,
doubts and hopes,
weeps and laughs,
fills and empties,
pumps and freezes,
rocks and sings,
gives and keeps giving,

And feeds her child with the best of herself,
Sister, I Honor You.

***

World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center Visit NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center for more breastfeeding resources and WBW Carnival details!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Below are a list of links for today’s participants; you can find a complete list of links (updated throughout the week) at our main carnival page:

(This list will be updated by afternoon August 5 with all the carnival links.)

  • An Unexpected Formula-Fed Attachment — Kyle (of JEDI Momster and) writing at Natural Parents Network, exclusively breastfed three healthy babies. So when she was pregnant with her fourth, she assumed she would have no breastfeeding troubles she could not overcome. Turns out, her fourth baby had his own ideas. Kyle shares her heartfelt thoughts on how she came to terms with the conclusion of her breastfeeding journey.
  • It Take a Village: Cross Nursing — Shannah at Breastfeeding Utah shares how cross-nursing helped her baby in their time of need, and how that experience inspired her to create a community of cross-nursing and milk-sharing women.
  • Random little influences and Large scale support communities lead to knowing better and doing better — amy at random mom shares how her ideas and successes involved with breastfeeding evolved with each of her children, how her first milk sharing experience completely floored her, and how small personal experiences combined with huge communities of online support were responsible for leading and educating her from point A to point D, and hopefully beyond.
  • Mikko’s weaning story — After five years of breastfeeding, Lauren at Hobo Mama shares how the nursing relationship with her firstborn came to a gentle end.
  • My Milk is Your Milk — Lola at What the Beep am I Doing? discusses her use of donor milk and hhow she paid the gift back to other families.
  • World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival – Celebrating Each Mother’s Journey — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy lists her experiences and journey as a breastfeeding mother.
  • Working Mom Nursing Twins — Sadia at How Do You Do It? breastfed her twin daughters for 7 months. They made it through premature birth and NICU stays, her return to full-time work, her husband’s deployment to Iraq, and Baby J’s nursing strike.
  • So, You Wanna Milkshare? — Milk banks, informed community sharing and friends, oh my! So many ways to share the milky love; That Mama Gretchen is sharing her experience with each.
  • Milk Siblings: One Mama’s Milk Sharing Story (and Resources)Amber, guest posting at Code Name: Mama, shares how her views on milk sharing were influenced by her daughter receiving donor milk from a bank during a NICU stay, and how that inspired her to give her stash to a friend.
  • Humans Feeding Humans — Krystyna at Sweet Pea Births shares ideas on how we can celebrate all the different ways modern mommies feed their babies. While we are comfortable with the breastmilk-formula paradigm, she proposes that we expand our horizons and embrace all the different ways mamas feed their infants.
  • When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go As Planned — MandyE of Twin Trials and Triumphs shares the challenges she faced in feeding her premature twins. She’s still learning to cope with things not having gone exactly as she’d always hoped.
  • Taking Back My Life By Giving Away My Milk — When Amanda Rose Adams‘s first child was born, he was tube fed, airlifted, ventilated, and nearly died twice. In the chaos of her son’s survival, pumping breast milk was physically and mentally soothing for Amanda. Before long her freezer was literally overflowing with milk – then she started giving it away.
  • The Tortoise and the Hare — Nona’s Nipples at The Touch of Life discusses why we care about breast milk and formula with everything inbetween.
  • Finding My Tribe of Women Through Milk Sharing — Mj, guest posting at San Diego Breastfeeding Center shares her journey breastfeeding with low milk supply and supplementing with donor milk using an at the breast supplemental nursing system. She shares the impact milk sharing has had on her life, her family, and how it saved her breastfeeding relationship. Her article can also be found at her blog:
  • Human Milk for Human Babies — Sam at Nelson’s Nest shares her perspective on milk-sharing after an unexpected premature delivery left her pumping in the hopes of breastfeeding her son one day. Sam’s milk was an amazing gift to the other preemie who received it, but the connection was a blessing in the donor mom’s life too!
  • Sister, I Honor You — A mother feeding her baby is a triumph and should be honored, not criticized. Before you judge or propagate your own cause, go find your sister. A post by Racher: Mama, CSW, at The Touch of Life.
  • Every Breastfeeding Journey Is Different, Every One Is Special — No two stories are alike, evidenced by That Mama Gretchen’s collaboration of a few dear mama’s reflections on their breastfeeding highs, lows and in betweens.
  • Quitting Breastfeeding — Jen W at How Do You Do It? share a letter she wrote to her boys, three years ago exactly, the day she quit breastfeeding after 9 months.
  • A Pumping Mom’s Journey — Shannah at Breastfeeding Utah shares about her journey pumping for her son, who was born at 29 weeks.

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Normalizing Breastfeeding- Guest Post

I’m happy to present another guest post on Breastfeeding!  This one comes from Shannah in Utah.

 

Normalizing Breastfeeding
By Shannah

I was 22 years old and already had a baby before I remember seeing a mother breastfeeding uncovered for the first time.   The odd thing was I had known a lot of breastfeeding mothers.  I have 27 cousins, all much younger than me, and nearly all have been breastfed.  But in the 18 years my aunts have been breastfeeding I have never once seen them nurse without a cover.   Breastfeeding was, on one level, normal.  It was just what you did with a baby.   Yet it wasn’t really normal.  It was this secret practice; something you don’t want to see and something polite people didn’t talk about.

I was the first person to breastfeed without a cover in my extended family in years.  It certainly caused some drama, but I stood my ground and my mother and grandmother supported me.  To me though, what was more interesting and unexpected were the questions I got from my younger cousins.  One cousin had 6 younger siblings at the time, all who were breastfed, but she had never really seen what was happening, and never felt comfortable asking questions.  The cover had been a code to all of us, sending out a subtle message that something was taboo about breastfeeding.  When I breastfed my baby without a cover I became a safe place to talk about this very normal practice, and for the first time the future mothers in my family had a place where they could finally begin to understand breastfeeding.

Remember when I said I was the first person to breastfeed without a cover in my family in years?  The person who had breastfed uncovered years ago was my own mother.  She breastfed me and all my siblings, and didn’t use a cover.  She even nursed my younger sister until she was over 3 years old, I was about 9 when she was weaned.  During the last years of their breastfeeding relationship my sister was nursing only at night, before bed, and I just didn’t have many opportunities to see when I was older.

So with my mom as such a strong example, how did I grow up not seeing and understanding breastfeeding more?  Why did breastfeeding without a cover feel like such a daring, revolutionary act in the beginning?  And more importantly how could I help my own children see and understand breastfeeding? I don’t want my own kids to have to re-pave the roads I have paved, just because I weaned my youngest when they were all still too young to form lasting memories.  What could I do, other than keep having babies just so they can see me nursing forever?

One day the answer came to me.   My daughter was only a few months old and I already had tons of breastfeeding pictures.  I planned on nursing her for at least two years, and as long after that as we were both comfortable (just like WHO recommends).  That is a lot of breastfeeding pictures.  I started looking for collage style picture frames, one that would have at least 24 spots for pictures.  I continued to take pictures of my daughter breastfeeding as she kept growing on my milk.  Now she is 2 years and 4 months and I do have a lot of pictures.  And our picture frame is full of our years of breastfeeding.  As she gets older I might switch some out so there are lots of toddler pictures in with her baby pictures.

Our breastfeeding collage frame is displayed in our dining area.  I have had question from people wondering if I would take it down when guests come or when I have teenagers and their friends come over.  The answer is of course not!  I am proud of my breastfeeding relationship, I want it displayed un-apologetically.  Even though I won’t be actively nursing a child, my children will grow up with images of breastfeeding women being normal, healthy, unsexual parts of their lives.  I believe this will help my children learn to respect women and their bodies and give them a healthy view of their own bodies.  This is one thing I can do to help normalize breastfeeding for my own children, long after my breastfeeding years are over.   If you want to help me normalize breastfeeding for my children you can breastfeed your own children, uncovered, in public.  While I still have a breastfeeding child I will do my part and feed her without a cover in public, and hope that it can help your children who might see.

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How to Nurse a Teenager

Welcome to the World Breastfeeding 2013 Blog Carnival cohosted by NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center!

This post was written for inclusion in the WBW 2013 Blog Carnival. Our participants will be writing and sharing their stories about community support and normalizing breastfeeding all week long. Find more participating sites in the list at the bottom of this post or at the main carnival page.

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13-08-03 nursing2

My favorite part of nursing is looking into these big, blue, beautiful eyes!

 

I’m just kidding.  But the title got you, right?

So I’d like to discuss nursing a toddler.  I make fun of moms who nurse toddlers.  I think they are funny, and I mock them relentlessly.  I feel I have the liberty of doing so because I also nurse a toddler.  And a toddler who seems like a teenager at times- at least in her attitude and linguistic abilities.

So how do you know when you’ve been breastfeeding too long?  I’ve compiled this handy dandy list.

1- You get strange looks when nursing in public (this is only the beginning).

2- You can discuss her latch style… WITH her.  And she responds to your request to get a better latch.

3- She comes off, points to the side she was on and says “dats all gone mama. More nuna one” and launches for the other side

4- She comes off to tell you about something she’s been thinking about.  In great detail.

5- She thinks blowing snot bubbles while nursing is hilarious.

6- She can nurse standing up while mama is sitting at the sewing machine (or at the desk, or anywhere else).

7- She wants to nurse upside down in bed.

8- You have to take breaks so she can go potty because she has potty trained.

9- Her choice of lunch menu items is “Cwackers and mommy milkies, pease”

10- She says “tank you, mama” when she’s done and jumps off your lap to go play.

11- She unlatches to break out in song.

I hope it’s clear that my tone thus far has been in jest.  But now to get serious for a minute.  I don’t have any tips or “tricks” to use when breastfeeding a toddler because I don’t believe a toddler should be “tricked” into nursing.  I’ve seen some moms who stress about when their older baby weans and try to prolong it. And before nursing a toddler (my other 3 children self weaned at 11, 12, and 10 months respectively), I thought moms who nursed toddlers did so because they had attachment disorders of some kind.  Very judgmental, I know.  I’m probably not alone in judging so harshly.  I know that I am probably being judged now.  But what I’ve learned is that it is of the utmost importance that  babies’ cues are heard.  I encourage moms to nurse as long as their baby wants to and as long as it’s feasible for mom to continue to do so.  The World Health Organization actually recommends breastfeeding till age 2, so me nursing my 2 year old shouldn’t seem so strange.

I do, however, give one bit of caution.  Breastfeeding should NEVER be used as a tool for manipulation.  If your child uses nursing to control you, then it’s an unhealthy situation.   Then the issue of attachment or trauma should be addressed.  But if the nursing is healthy and both mom and toddler are happy with the arrangement, I’d say carry on!  And if you’re one to witness a toddler breastfeeding his/her mama in public, give the mom a smile and perhaps tickle her sweet nursling’s toes as you pass by.

*Thank you, Wendy, for taking these beautiful nursing pictures for me.  I have wanted to capture those eyes on film!

nursing a toddler

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World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center Visit NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center for more breastfeeding resources and WBW Carnival details!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Below are a list of links for today’s participants; you can find a complete list of links (updated throughout the week) at our main carnival page:

(This list will be updated by afternoon August 3 with all the carnival links.)

  • Breastfeeding and NIP: A Primer — Rachel Rainbolt of Sage Parenting, featured today at NursingFreedom.org, uses her informative and candid voice to share with you everything you need to know to breastfeed successfully in public, from the practical how-to’s to handling the social stigma.
  • Lactivist Ryan Gosling — Breastfeeding mamas, the time is long overdue for a Lactivist Ryan Gosling. Fortunately, Dionna of Code Name: Mama has created some for your viewing pleasure.
  • In Defense of Formula — Amy of Mom2Mom KMC, guest blogging for Breastfeeding in Combat Boots, asserts that formula is a medical tool rather than a food. She examines how this perspective supports breastfeeding as normal and eliminates the negative tensions between breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers.
  • World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival – Breastfeeding Tips & Tricks — Throughout her breastfeeding journey (since March 2009), Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy has shared countless tips and tricks on the topic of breastfeeding.
  • Nursing in the Wild — Meredith at Thank You Ma’am posts about how seeing other moms nurse can make all of us more comfortable with nursing in public.
  • Normalizing Breastfeeding — Sara Stepford of The Stepford Sisters confronts the social stigma vs. the reality of breastfeeding and opens up about the steps she takes to make herself and others more comfortable with the process.
  • Breastfeeding Alrik at two years old — This is where Lauren at Hobo Mama and her second-born are at in their nursing relationship, two years in.
  • Perfectly Normal — Stephanie from Urban Hippie writes about the way she and her family have done their part to try and normalize breastfeeding in a society that doesn’t get to see breastfeeding as often as they should.
  • Diagnosis: Excess Lipase — Learn about excess lipase and how to test if your expressed milk has it. That Mama Gretchen shares her own experience.
  • Redefining Normal — Diana at Munchkin’s Mommy reflects on how we can normalize breastfeeding in our society.
  • Nursing Openly and Honestly — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work feels that the most socially responsible thing she can do as a mother is to nurse and nurture her children openly, honestly, and with pride.
  • Wet-nursing, Cross-nursing and Milk-sharing: Outdated? — Jamie Grumet of I Am Not the Babysitter shares a response to the Wendy Williams quote about milk sharing being akin to slavery, by giving a brief history of the wet nurse.
  • Tackling Mastitis with an Older Nursling — Much of the advice available for supporting recovery from mastitis seems to be aimed at mamas with younger nurslings. Juliet of Twisting Vines, posting at Natural Parents Network shares tips for dealing with mastitis while breastfeeding a toddler.
  • Milk in the eye — Gena from Nutrition Basics discusses how breastmilk cured her 3 year old’s case of pink eye.
  • Boobie Biter — Rachel Rainbolt at Sage Parenting offers guidance on how to survive and thrive a boobie biter with your breastfeeding relationship intact.
  • My take on breastfeeding advice — Diana at Munchkin’s Mommy shares her insights on nursing for both new moms and new dads.
  • My Top Five Breastfeeding Tips for Delivery Day: Think “A-B-C-D-E”Mothernova shares how her continued success at breastfeeding with her second child rests on a foundation of five key things she did to prepare for baby’s arrival, along with things she did when she and baby first met. Easily enough, these tips can be categorized as “A-B-C-D-E”: Access to lactation consultant, Baby-friendly hospital, Communicate your plan to breastfeed exclusively, Demand, and Expect to room in.
  • Breastfeeding Buddies: Twin Brothers Nurse while Living in the NICU — Twintrospectives at How Do You Do It? shares her 5 tips for learning to breastfeed multiples while in the NICU.
  • Breastfeeding on a Dairy-Free Diet: Our Journey and Our Tips — Finding herself nursing a baby with food allergies, Jenny at Spinning Jenny embarked upon a dairy-free journey with her son for eight months. Here she relates her reasons for making the decision to give up dairy in her diet, why it was worth it, and tips for moms on the same path.
  • Normalizing Breastfeeding in my Home — Shannah at The Touch of Life shares how she plans to help keep breastfeeding normal for her own children, even when her breastfeeding years are over.
  • A Year With My Nursling — The more you see and hear, the more normal it becomes, so That Mama Gretchen is sharing her heart on the last year of breastfeeding – the ups and downs, but mostly the joy of her priceless relationship with her son.
  • From Covered to Confident — Krystyna at Sweet Pea Births shares her personal NIP evolution: she started by covering up from neck to ankle while nursing in public. Eight years later, she has gained confidence and the ability to nurse without stressing about flashing a little skin. She shares her views on normalizing breastfeeding – what influenced her and how she hopes to help others.
  • Normalizing Breastfeeding for Older Kids — Sadia at How Do You Do It? hopes that openly discussing breastfeeding with her (now weaned) daughters will help her children feel comfortable with breastfeeding and their bodies in general as they grow.
  • Nursing in Public — Listen up, mammas. Those other people around . . . they don’t matter. It’s not about them. It’s about you and that beautiful baby. Nurse on, says The Swaddled Sprout!
  • How to Nurse a Teenager — Sarah at The Touch of Life declares: the purpose is to help normalize breastfeeding a toddler.

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