Sheryl Jesin


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Handling criticism about breastfeeding

One of the reasons I went to my first La Leche League meeting when my son was 9 months old was because I wanted to meet other mothers who were still breastfeeding their babies.   Many mothers I knew started introducing formula and weaning their babies at 6 months and I knew that both Dylan and I weren’t ready to stop at a year.  It was great to go to the meeting and meet other like minded moms who recognized that the benefits of breastfeeding don’t stop when a baby has his or her first birthday!

It can be hard to breastfeed past a year in our society because it is unfortunately not common.   I know that I received some negative comments from family regarding breastfeeding past a year, and at the time I was unsure how to respond.

I have recently become a mentor for the Natural Parents Network and was asked to help a mom who was receiving negative comments about breastfeeding past a year.  Check out her question and my response, along with the responses of 2 other mentors here.

I suggested the following to her:

There are a number of different ways to handle the criticism. Different methods may work best for you depending on the situation or your mood. Some women find it helpful to diffuse negative remarks with humour. For example, if while nursing your son, someone asks you how long you plan on doing it for, you can say: “I will be done in about 10 minutes,” or “He probably won’t be nursing by the time he goes to college.” Other mothers find it helpful to educate their audience. For example, when questioned about breastfeeding your toddler, you can say that the World Health Organization suggests breastfeeding at least until the age of two. Or you can mention that breastfeeding past a year has numerous health benefits to both mom and child. Some moms, when questioned about breastfeeding, find it most effective to provide a short answer and change the topic. This can be done by saying: “It is a personal choice that I don’t want to discuss. So, all the snow we’ve been getting this year is crazy, isn’t it?”

How have you handled criticism about breastfeeding beyond infancy?


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Tandem Nursing – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This post is part of the Carnival of Breastfeeding on the topic of “Extended Breastfeeding” hosted by Blacktating and The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. See below for links to the other participants’ posts.

Benjamin was born approximately 3.5 months ago, and I’ve been tandem nursing ever since.   What is tandem nursing you ask?  Tandem nursing is the term used for breastfeeding siblings concurrently.  Tandem nursing has been practiced by moms around the world for centuries.  It happens when a nursing toddlers does not wean when his or her mother is pregnant.  The toddler nurses throughout the pregnancy and continues nursing when the new baby is born.   This is what happened in our case.  Never did I imagine that when I started nursing Dylan over 3 years ago that I would be tandeming…but here I am!   I’ve tried to be as honest as possible about my experience, and hope that I can help other moms who are tandeming or considering it!

The Good

There have been a number of benefits to tandem nursing.

First, with both Benjamin and Dylan nursing, my milk came in really quickly after Benjamin was born.  Within 48 hours after birth, my milk was in.  This was wonderful! So many moms have a rough time nursing before their milk comes in, as the baby can be very fussy, won’t sleep and often wants to nurse around the clock.   This of course is normal – the baby needs to nurse extremely frequently to stimulate the milk to come in, but can be tough on moms who are exhausted from birth.  By having my milk come in quickly, I avoided those issues – Benjamin wasn’t fussy, gained weight quickly and slept well, right from the get-go!

Tandem nursing also helped with engorgement!  My milk supply was plentiful when it came in.   Whenever I was feeling a bit engorged, I would ask Dylan to nurse and the problem was solved.  This was particularly helpful at night when Benjamin started sleeping longer stretches.   Sometimes I would wake up uncomfortably full and in pain and I’d latch Dylan on in his sleep (even though he had nightweaned during my pregnancy)!  Much easier than trying to hand express or hook up a pump in the middle of the night.

Tandem nursing also helped Dylan adjust to all the changes in our lives.  It was comforting and reassuring for him to know that he could still have “mommy milk” after Benjamin was born.  Nursing Dylan during the early postpartum days was an easy way for me to give him attention – I could do it lying in bed, and it often led to a nap for him, which was a great way for him to get a bit more rest when our routines and schedules had been turned upside down!

The Bad

I’m not going to lie.  Not everything about tandem nursing is sunshine and roses.  Firstly, it’s difficult to deal with all the doubters.  My family basically thinks I’m crazy to still be nursing a three year old.  I don’t blame them – while nursing past the age of one is common around the world, it is not common where we live.

I’ve also been battling with oversupply, and I believe that it has been made worse by tandem nursing.  When Benjamin was around 6 wks old, I finally clued into my oversupply problems.  He would often choke on my milk during a feed.   It would dribble down his face and spray everywhere if he popped off during a feed.  He was extremely gassy and spit up like crazy.   He’d often be cranky and cry after a feeding, and he would rarely comfort nurse.  So while it was wonderful in many ways to have an abundant supply thanks to the extra stimulation my body was getting from a nursing toddler, my oversupply was negatively affecting Benjamin.  After recognizing that I had oversupply, we changed our nursing patterns and now my supply is mostly under control.

The Ugly

In the last few weeks I’ve felt DONE with nursing Dylan.  This saddens me because up until recently I’ve really loved our nursing relationship.  I am passionate about extended nursing and strongly believe in all of its benefits!  I believe(d) in child-led weaning and wanted to wean only when Dylan was ready.

A wonderful resource for tandeming moms is Hilary Flower’s book Adventures in Tandem Nursing.  I read it while pregnant, and recently started flipping through it again while trying to figure out how to deal with my new desire to wean Dylan.

On page 174, she lists red flags that may indicate that a nursing relationship needs some changes.   They are as follows:

  • You feel yourself withdrawing from your nursing child
  • You hear an irritated tone in your voice when you say “yes”
  • You feel you have no choice when it comes to nursing
  • You are prone to snapping at your child while breastfeeding
  • You are getting exasperated enough to consider weaning on the spot

I read this list and felt like it was written just for me!  Dylan and I have always been so close, and lately I feel myself withdrawing from him.   He just seems so BIG when he nurses, and nursing him is grating on my nerves.  It is funny really, because I could nurse Benjamin all day and not be annoyed, but when Dylan nurses for even a couple of minutes I’m beyond irritated and start pushing him off and often snap at him, as listed above!

I call this the “ugly” because I feel like I can’t really complain about tandem nursing, because I created this problem since I chose to nurse Dylan this long.  It is also very conflicting for me because I so strongly believe in extended nursing and in weaning when a child is ready.  However, I have to honor my own feelings towards nursing and I’m allowed to want to wean Dylan.

Hilary Flowers says “sometimes a ‘loving, gentle weaning’ describes the space the mother is holding, and leaves room for the child to go through a range of feelings and reactions”. I take this to mean that while Dylan may be upset as I wean him and put limits on his nursing and say no, it is still possible for this to be loving and gentle, because that is my intention.

Wish me luck…I will keep you posted on what happens!

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Update – April 17, 2011

Since I wrote this post on April 11th, we have cut down on Dylan’s nursing sessions.   He was nursing when he woke up in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, and always before bed.   We’ve cut out all nursing sessions except the one before bed.  It has not been traumatic at all – there was a bit of complaining on the first few days but he seems used to it now.  I’ve decided to keep the before bed one because it really is such an easy way to get him to sleep easily and peacefully.   I’m quite happy with this arrangement.  I’ve realized that I don’t need to fully wean Dylan right now…setting limits has really made a big difference in my mood!

Please be sure to check out all of the other submissions in this month’s Carnival

Mamapoeki from Authentic Parenting: Extended Breastfeeding?
Mama Alvina of Ahava & Amara Life Foundation: Breastfeeding Journey Continues
Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC: Old enough to ask for it
Karianna @ Caffeinated Catholic Mama: A Song for Mama’s Milk Judy @ Mommy News Blog: My Favorite Moments Tamara Reese @ Kveller: Extended Breastfeeding

Jenny @ Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: The Highs and Lows of Nursing a Toddler

Christina @ MFOM: Natural-Term Breastfeeding

Rebekah @ Momma’s Angel: My Sleep Breakthrough

Suzi @ Attachedattheboob: Why I love nursing a toddler

Claire @ The Adventures of Lactating Girl: My Hopes for Tandem Nursing

Elisa @ blissfulE: counter cultural: extended breastfeeding

Momma Jorje: Extended Breastfeeding, So Far!

Stephanie Precourt from Adventures in Babywearing: “Continued Breastfeeding”: straight from the mouths of babes


The Accidental Natural Mama: Nurse on, Mama Sarah @ Reproductive Rites: Gratitude for extended breastfeeding Nikki @ On Becoming Mommy: The Little Things

Dr. Sarah @ Good Enough Mum: Breastfeeding for longer than a year: myths, facts and what the research really shows

Amy @ WIC City: (Extended) Breastfeeding as Mothering

The Artsy Mama: Why Nurse a Toddler?

Christina @ The Milk Mama: The best thing about breastfeeding

TopHot @ the bee in your bonnet: From the Mouths of Babes

Beth @ Bethstedman.com: Extended Breastfeeding: To Wean Or Not To Wean

Callista @ Callista’s Ramblings:  Pressure To Stop Breastfeeding

Amanda @ Postilius: Nursing My Toddler Keeps My Baby Close

Sheryl @ Little Snowflakes: Tandem Nursing- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Zoie @ Touchstone Z: Breastfeeding Flavors

Lauren @ Hobo Mama: Same old, same old: Extended breastfeeding

Tanya @ Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Six misconceptions about extended breastfeeding

Jona (Breastfeedingtwins.org): Breastfeeding older twins

Motherlove Herbal Company: Five reasons to love nursing a toddler


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Top 10 Ways to Get Breastfeeding Off To a Good Start

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I am often asked by moms-to-be what they can do to prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy and what they can do during the early days and weeks to ensure that they are able to breastfeed.   While breastfeeding is certainly natural, it is not always easy.   Here are my top 10 tips to help breastfeeding get off to a good start:

  1. Attend a La Leche League (LLL) meeting (or two, or three or four!) during pregnancy – Going to a meeting can be a great way to meet other breastfeeding moms who live near you.   You will hear what it’s really like in the early weeks, and you will learn from the experiences of other moms.  Your group leaders can also be a great resource to you once your baby is born – either via email or phone.
  2. Buy a good baby care or breastfeeding book – Two great books are Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book or LLL’s Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I found both books full of really useful information about breastfeeding specifically and about taking care of a baby in general.  What I like best about both books is that they empower moms to trust their own mothering instincts and listen to their babies.
  3. Have minimal medical interventions during labour and delivery – Interventions such as c-sections, forceps or vacuum delivery, episiotimies, epidurals and IV lines can all lead to a more difficult recovery during the postnatal period for a mom.   In addition, a natural birth reduces the likelihood that the baby will have to be separated from the mom after birth.  This is very important, as immediate skin to skin contact for an hour after birth has been shown to increase the likelihood of successful breastfeeding.
  4. Hire a birth and/or post-partum doula – Having a doula at birth can enhance bonding between a mother and her baby. This can lead to more positive interactions between mom and baby and can assist in establishing a strong milk supply.   A post natal doula can assist with things that need to get done around the house so that a mom can rest and focus on feeding her baby.   Some doulas also have breastfeeding experience and can help if problems arise.
  5. Know where to go for help –  After birth, have phone numbers handy for your LLL leaders or an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).
  6. Keep your baby skin to skin for the first hour and delay the new born exam – Babies are quietly alert during the first hour after birth.  Babies who are kept skin to skin for the first hour are likely to latch on, and likely to latch on well.  They also are more likely to have stable and normal heart rates, blood pressure and temperatures.  Studies have shown that babies who are kept skin to skin for the first hour are more likely to breastfeed exclusively longer.
  7. Keep visitors to a minimum during the first couple of weeks – Everyone wants to see a newborn, especially well-meaning family members.   However,  moms need their rest so that they can recover from birth and meet the demands of a new baby.  It’s best to keep visitors to a minimum so mom can focus on two things:  getting sleep and feeding the baby.   If visitors do come over, let them bring over a meal or two, or help around the house.
  8. Keep your baby close during the early weeks and feed often – Feeding your baby on demand is crucial during the first few weeks to establish a strong milk supply.  By keeping your baby close at all times, you can respond to early cues of hunger, rather than waiting for full out crying.  You can’t feed your baby too often, and the more you breastfeed, the more milk you will make for your baby.    C0-sleeping can be a great way to ensure your baby feeds often at night without disturbing your own sleep too much.
  9. Surround yourself with other moms that breastfeed – It’s great to have friends who are currently breastfeeding their babies, or who have breastfed in the past.   They can be a wonderful source of information and encouragement. Sometimes just hearing how someone else is dealing with an obstacle or problem can provide you with enough inspiration to overcome your own difficulties, should they arise.
  10. Don’t give up! The first few months are hard.  I think of the first three months as breastfeeding boot camp where you put in the hard work, and then after that you reap the benefits.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


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Benjamin’s birth story

This post is part of Lamaze’s Giving Birth With Confidence Blog Carnival.  Lamaze promotes 6 healthy birth practices:

  • Let labor begin on its own
  • Walk, move around, and change positions during labor
  • Bring a loved one, or doula for continuous labor support
  • Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary
  • Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your bodies urges to push
  • Keep mother and baby together post birth

My second son Benjamin was born about 3 weeks ago.  He arrived approximately 5 days after my due date.  For about two weeks before he was born, I was feeling Braxton Hicks contractions on and off.   Everyday I’d wake up and wonder if this was it!  I went to a midwife appointment at around noon on the day he was born.   Before the appointment, I went for a long walk and experienced a number of contractions that felt more “real” than any others – instead of just feeling tight, they also caused some painful cramping in my lower abdomen.    At my appointment, my midwife asked me if I wanted her to do a stretch and sweep.   I said yes.   I was ready to meet my baby!

When she did the stretch and sweep, she told me that I was already 3 cm dilated and that she could stretch me to almost 5.   She said that I may start to feel contractions after I left the appointment and that if they lasted for a couple hours and were increasing in intensity that I should call her.

As we walked to our car after the appointment, I started to feel contractions.   We decided to go for lunch and as I sat eating my pizza I felt more contractions.   When we got home, at around 2pm, we started timing them.   They were about 3 minutes apart at the point and they definitely didn’t feel like Braxton Hicks contractions anymore.   After about an hour, I was reaching the point where it was hard for me to talk during the contractions and at that point I called my midwife and she suggested that we head down to the hospital.  I also called my doula so that she could meet us there too.

My mom was at our house already because she had joined us for lunch, so we said goodbye to her and Dylan and Jake and I drove to the hospital at around 3:30 pm.   It was hard to believe it was happening!

My contractions slowed down when I reached the hospital and the intensity lessened also.   I second guessed myself and wondered if we had gone to the hospital too early.   Jake and I walked the halls for a while, which helped the contractions pick up again.   At around 5:30 pm, Jake and I, my midwife and my doula all went downstairs to the hospital lobby to get a bite to eat.   At that point my contractions really picked up.  When we got back up to the room, my contractions felt quite intense.   It felt best for me to be standing during them.  My doula suggested raising the hospital bed so that I would have something to lean against during the contractions.   That turned out to be my favorite position to manage the contractions!  When a contraction would come, I would stand up, bend over, bury my face in a pillow on top of the bed, and hold Jake’s hands.  When the contraction would stop, I would sit on a chair directly behind me and rest.   It worked great!

This went on for a while.   Around 7pm, my midwife checked me and I was already 8 cm.   She then called the second midwife and started setting up for the birth.  I could hardly believe things were happening so quickly and going so well!  When my second midwife arrived, probably around 7:30 or so, my midwives suggested breaking my water.   They felt that if they did so, right after I would probably be ready to push.  So I lay down on the bed for for my midwife to break my water and I felt a contraction.  It felt HORRIBLE to experience a contraction lying down.  I could barely handle it!   Made me realize how important it is to be upright and mobile during labour.   The actually breaking of my water was painless.   My midwife asked me if I was feeling an urge to push.  I wasn’t.  She suggested that I go to the bathroom and sit on the toilet as that could help open up my pelvis and bring the baby down.   So Jake and I and our doula spent some time in the bathroom.  In between contractions I sat on the toilet and during contractions I leaned against Jake who was sitting on the edge of the bathtub.  I’m not quite sure how long we were in the bathroom – maybe half an hour or so?  My midwife came to check in on us a few times and asked me if I felt the urge to push.  I still didn’t feel a strong urge to push but I was definitely feeling some pressure in my bottom.   She suggested checking me again to see how far I was dilated and to check if the baby has moved down.

So we left the bathroom and I lay down again on the bed.   At that point I was 10 cm and she said the baby was far down and that I could start pushing.  I couldn’t believe it!  The head of the bed was raised so that I was in a semi upright position.   It was about 8:30 at this point.    A contraction came and I pushed!  My midwives told me that they could see the head.  I still could hardly believe it!  My contractions at this point were probably 2-3 minutes apart, which allowed me to rest between them.   It was great to be able to rest between contractions and gather my strength for the pushing.  At about 8:45 my midwife told me that this baby would be born between 9pm.   I was getting really excited at this point to meet my baby.  A few more pushes and the head came out.   Then another push and the shoulders.   Then a little push and my baby was out.  He was born just before 9pm.

Earlier, I had told Jake and my midwives and my doula that I didn’t want them to announce the gender of the baby – I wanted to take a look myself.   My baby was placed on my chest right after he was born.   I was so happy and excited that this moment had come that I forgot at first to check if the baby was a boy or a girl!  A minute or so later I remember and saw that he was a boy!  I was so thrilled that my son Dylan would have a brother and I was so ecstatic to have a healthy baby.

Benjamin stayed on my chest for the first hour of his life.  He latched on like a pro within minutes and I fed him on and off for that first hour.  It was so incredible that he just knew what to do.   My midwives knew that it was really important to me to have that first hour of skin to skin and waited to do the newborn exams.

It was my plan to go home from the hospital within 3-4 hours after Benjamin was born.   Thankfully, everything went really smoothly and both Benjamin and I were doing really well and my midwife discharged us at around 11:30 pm.   We were home just before midnight.  It was so incredible to be back home in my own bed with my husband and my new baby boy!

I couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience.  I feel so lucky that everything went smoothly and that I was able to do it drug free!  It was an incredible experience and I am so thankful for the support of my midwives, my doula and of course of my wonderful husband Jake.

 


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Lessons my children have taught me

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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When my first son Dylan was born almost three years ago, my life changed profoundly.   While my husband Jake and I were so excited to have a baby and felt ready, nothing could truly prepare us for becoming parents.

As soon as he was born, there were so many things we needed to know – how to change diapers, how to give a baby a bath, how to feed a baby, how to get a baby to sleep.   And of course how to take care of ourselves while taking care of a baby too!

I like to think that Dylan taught us how to be parents.   His personality and his needs made us into the parents that we are today.   We came to practice attachment parenting because it was the best way of meeting Dylan’s needs while also meeting our own.  For example, co-sleeping allowed us to get lots of sleep at night while at the same time meeting Dylan’s need of feeding often at night.   Wearing Dylan in a carrier allowed me to get things done around the house while meeting Dylan’s need of not wanting to nap alone.

Dylan’s strong need during the early months to breastfeed often and to have me close to him at all times really made me question the “mainstream” way of taking care of kids, where babies and children’s needs are often seen as a nuisance that must be managed.  I couldn’t believe that my sweet baby boy was manipulating me with his demands.  Instead, Dylan showed me that a baby’s needs are real – they aren’t just wants – they are necessities!  Dylan taught me that a baby’s cry shouldn’t be ignored just because they have a clean diaper and have been fed.   His cry often meant he needed another snuggle or just wanted to hear my voice or needed to be nursed one more time, perhaps for comfort.   I wouldn’t ignore my husband or mother if they were calling out for me – and I certainly wouldn’t ignore my helpless baby!  The quote from Dr. Seuss’s book Horton Hears a Who rang true to me after I became Dylan’s mom: ” A person’s a person no matter how small!”  And in my book any person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

I have the privilege of being a mom again now to a second wonderful son.  It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I feel so zen this time around.  I have Dylan to thank for my calmness and my sense of awe and appreciation.   He taught me that the newborn days are fleeting and that every precious moment has to be savored.  He taught me that I won’t in fact spoil my baby by holding him all the time.  So this time around I’m enjoying my sweet newborn son.  I hold him or sleep right beside him pretty much 24 hours a day.  I’m feeding him on and off all day and all night long and I’m not resenting it!    I know now that you can’t feed a breastfed baby too often and that breastfeeding is a wonderfully convenient mothering tool.

So I thank Dylan, my first born son, for having the persistent, strong personality from day one that taught me to parent him as an attachment parent.   And I thank my sweet innocent second born son, Benjamin, for letting me parent him as an attachment parent right from the first minute of his life – it is so wonderful to be able to enjoy it right from the beginning this time around!!

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)


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November’s Carnival of Natural Parenting – What is natural parenting?

I am participating in November’s Carnival of Natural Parenting:  What is Natural Parenting, but I am doing it a bit differently this time.   My post won’t be published today. Instead, it will be featured on the Natural Parents Network‘s site on November 23rd.    I am honored to have a post on NPN’s great site and I invite you all to check out all the great work they’ve been doing.

In the meantime…be sure to read the great posts from this month’s carnival!

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone’s posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!

This list will be updated November 9 with all the carnival links. We’ve arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on “What Is Natural Parenting?”

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):

  1. PREPARE FOR PREGNANCY, BIRTH, AND PARENTING:
  2. FEED WITH LOVE AND RESPECT:
  3. RESPOND WITH SENSITIVITY:
    • Attachment Parenting Chose Us” For a child who is born “sensitive,” attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting “choice.” Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)
    • Parenting in the PresentAcacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • Parenting With HeartKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
  4. USE NURTURING TOUCH:
  5. ENSURE SAFE SLEEP:
    • Sometimes I Wish We CosleptSheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)
  6. PROVIDE CONSISTENT AND LOVING CARE:
  7. PRACTICE GENTLE/POSITIVE DISCIPLINE:
    • Unconditional Parenting” The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)
  8. STRIVE FOR BALANCE IN PERSONAL AND FAMILY LIFE:

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

Holistic Health Practices

  • Supporting Natural Immunity” If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children’s immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting” Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter’s needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter’s learning “challenges.” (@myzerowaste)
  • Let Them LookBetsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • Why I Love Unschooling” Unschooling isn’t just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • Is He Already Behind?“Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning naturally every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • How to Help Your Child through Natural LearningDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child’s natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

Political and Social Activism


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Parenting a child to sleep

I’ve written a number of posts about the joys I’ve experienced nursing my son Dylan to sleep.  But getting him to sleep is not just about nursing, it is about parenting.  I’ve deeply valued the time I’ve spent parenting my son to sleep and plan to do the same with baby #2 who is due in December.

I find it quite disconcerning that anywhere I turn in the “mainstream” parenting world, I encounter people talking about “sleep training”, “controlled crying”, or “crying it out (CIO)”.  It sometimes seems as if many parents think they have no choice but to put their children in a crib, leave the room, and hope they fall asleep crying.  There are so many “sleep experts” writing books or websites touting the magical solution to getting your baby to sleep through the night through a variety of different methods that usually involve a baby falling asleep on their own in a crib – no wonder so many parents think they need to sleep train!

Dr. Sears warns about the dangers of sleep training for breastfeeding mothers:

Beware of using someone else’s training method to get your baby to sleep or get your baby on a predictable schedule. Most of these methods are variations of the tired old theme of letting baby cry it out. Before trying anyone else’s method, run it through your intuitive wisdom. Does this advice sound sensible? Does it fit your baby’s temperament? Does it feel right to you?With most of these baby-training regimens you run the risk of becoming desensitized to the cues of your infant, especially when it comes to letting baby cry it out. Instead of helping you to figure out what baby’s signals mean, these training methods tell you to ignore them. Neither you nor your baby learn anything good from this.

For us, it never felt right to leave Dylan alone to fall asleep.   It felt right and it felt natural to be there right beside him as he drifted off to dreamland.  Some of my most precious memories of Dylan as a baby and toddler involve watching his eyes slowly close and observing the peaceful, angelic look that comes over his face once he is asleep.  Sometimes we’d have crazy, hectic, tiring days, where I’d lose my patience or just feel fed up.   Seeing Dylan’s sweet sleeping face at night always bring back tenderness to my heart and is often just what I need after a long day. 

I believe that parenting Dylan to sleep each and every night has helped him become the independent, fiesty and loving child toddler that he is.  I wouldn’t give up all those hours that I have spent lying beside him for anything.   I’m so glad that Jake and I decided to listen to our hearts rather than listen to “sleep experts”. 

 

 


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Why I am boycotting Nestle

I was inspired by Annie at Phd in Parenting to write a post on why I boycott Nestle products and how practically this affects our lives.   Annie has written a number of well-researched posts on Nestle and I invite you all to visit her blog and read them for yourselves.  A good starting point is her latest post entitled Why I Protest Nestlé’s Unethical Business Practices

Annie provides an overview of Nestle’s unethical business practices, and writes that:

Nestlé is accused by experts of unethical business practices such as:

As someone who is passionate about breastfeeding, I feel quite strongly about Nestle’s promotion of infant formula that violates the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.  I was recently at a mom and baby trade show in Toronto, and was quite saddened to walk into the exhibition hall and be greeted by an enormous, overpowering Nestle booth.  The displays and signage literally were from floor to ceiling and could be seen from very far away.  Moms were lining up to receive free samples of formula and infant cereal, and it was breaking my heart.

I was volunteering at the show at the La Leche League booth, which was generously sponsored by a wonderful breastfeeding boutique here in Toronto, called Evymama.   Unfortunately our booth was in the back, but we still managed to reach out to a lot of moms and hopefully insipred a few to come to our meetings and learn more about breastfeeding.   It was hard for us to compete with the big, flashy Nestle booth with its giveaways, but we did our best!  While at the show I was sure to visit and make purchases from booths of breastfeeding friendly companies, including Evymama and Momzelle.  It feels great to give my business to companies owned by breastfeeding moms who support other breastfeeding moms!

It is quite amazing how pervasive Nestle products are and how many brands are owned by Nestle.  This link provides a list of brands owned by Nestle.   For us, it is not that difficult to avoid them, as a lot of the brands produce processed, packaged foods that we try to avoid.   We try to avoid processed foods wherever possible for health reasons, but the Nestle boycott provides me with even more motivation. 

There have been a few brands that I find more difficult to avoid, especially when we are out.  I used to quite enjoy a nice bottle of San Pellegrino or Perrier, and the corner store near us sells Nestle popsicles and ice cream products that Dylan enjoys once in a while for a treat.  I used to be a fan of Haagen Daaz, but now I do my best to the brand.   Ben and Jerry’s is a great substitute!  When Dylan was getting started on solids, I did purchase and give him some Gerber puffs, before I was aware of the ban.  I can say with certainty that baby #2 will not be eating ANY puffs.  

I am just one person but I believe that my actions can make a difference.  I hope that through this post more people become aware of Nestle’s unethical business practices, and join me in my boycott of Nestle.


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Starting Solids at 6 Months

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let’s Talk About Food

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their struggles and successes with healthy eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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When Dylan was about 4 or 5 months old, I began researching how to introduce solids to babies.  I was quite convinced that it was best to wait until he was 6 months old.    The American Pediatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Canadian Pediatric Society all recommend that a baby should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of his or her life for optimal growth and development.

I was a bit overwhelmed with how to start and what foods to introduce first.  I took Dylan for a checkup when he was 5 months and asked his pediatrician what he recommends as a baby’s first food.  He said rice cereal, but when I said why he said well traditionally that is what’s done.  That wasn’t a good enough reason for me!

I found some great resources on the La Leche League International website, including a page on First Foods For Babies.  I liked their suggestion of saving money and giving baby the freshest foods by making your own.  It just made sense to me!   I decided that Dylan’s first food would be a bit of mashed banana.   I actually waited until Dylan was six months old on the dot and gave him a few tastes of the banana.  He took to it right away and gobbled down a couple of teaspoons.   I tried a variety of mashed fruits next as per La Leche League’s suggestions – some ripe pear, apple gently cooked in the microwave, and avocado.  I then tried some mashed veggies – sweet potato, carrots and peas – all gently cooked in the microwave.  I waited three days in between each new food to make sure Dylan wasn’t allergic.

First taste of banana at 6 months. Yummmmy!

I feel quite lucky that introducing solids was really easy with Dylan.  He loved every new food that he tried.  I think he made a face once with peas but everything else he enjoyed right from the first bite.  I believe one of the reasons that he was willing to try new foods  was that we waited until Dylan showed of signs of readiness.  The Kellymom website suggests that signs that indicate baby is developmentally ready for solids include:

  • Baby can sit up well without support.
  • Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue.
  • Baby is ready and willing to chew.
  • Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger. Using the fingers and scraping the food into the palm of the hand (palmar grasp) does not substitute for pincer grasp development.
  • Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth.

I made all of Dylan’s food.  It was easy – somethings didn’t need to be cooked, like banana or avocado or really ripe fruit.  For things that required cooking, like apples or peas, I’d make a big batch at night and then  puree and freeze individual servings in these great little containers called Baby Cubes.  I tried to buy organic fruits and veggies whenever I could.

I did give Dylan some baby cereal because I felt I “had to”.  Seems silly now, but everyone I knew was giving their babies cereal.  Dylan tried brown rice, barley, and oatmeal cereal.  I bought organic brands of each, but the consistency of them both dry and moist and the taste really turned me off.   For my next baby I will skip the processed baby cereal and just introduce grains in their normal form.   I was also turned off by the jars of baby food.  They also seemed very processed to me – cooked until most flavour is gone and pureed until all texture is lost.  I can understand why some moms use them for convenience, but I truly enjoyed making Dylan’s food.

How did you introduce solids to your baby?  When did you do it?  What were some of your baby’s first foods?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated July 13 with all the carnival links.)


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Nursing Covers – a help or a hinderance?


Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.

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Before Dylan was born, I made lots of lists of things that I would need for a new baby.  I had heard about the Hooter Hider nursing cover from a friend and thought it was ingenious!  I had to have one!  It was on the top of my baby must-haves.   It did come in handy as I wasn’t a confident nurser during the first few weeks.  I felt like I had to take off most of my clothes just to get Dylan latched.  I couldn’t figure out how to nurse “discretely” so the nursing cover helped a lot.  The rigid wire across the top allowed me to see in but kept me completely covered.  I made sure it was always in the diaper bag when we went out.   I used it when we were at restaurants or the mall, or when I was in front of male family members or friends.    Dylan nursed A LOT in the early months and unless I wanted to stay home all the time (which I didn’t) I had no choice but to nurse in public!

As Dylan got older, I became less reliant on the cover.  I discovered that I could wear a nursing tank with a t-shirt on top and when I nursed Dylan’s head covered anything that needed covering.  Also, as Dylan got older, he disliked being under that cover!  He’d play with it and kick at it and grab it and basically the cover became a nuisance.  As time passed, I became more confident about nursing and our nursing relationship.  I joined La Leche League and was exposed to lots of other moms nursing their young babies, older babies and toddlers in public.  I began to nurse Dylan anywhere and everywhere without the cover – in the park, walking down the street in my Ergo, waiting at the pediatrician’s office, on the beach, at the pool, on the plane…in fact now I can’t think of a place where I didn’t nurse Dylan!

As I gained nursing experience, my views on my nursing cover changed.  No one would ever bottle feed covering their baby!  No one would ever feel the need to hug or kiss their baby behind a cover.   Nursing is basically feeding and nurturing together in one – and neither of those actions needs to be done behind a cover.  So why should nursing be done behind a cover?

With baby #2 on the way, I have given my nursing cover a lot of thought.  I now see myself as a breastfeeding advocate, and I want to help normalize breastfeeding in society. I believe that one way of doing so is to feed my baby anytime anywhere without a cover.

Now that I have more confidence and more knowledge I want to nurse my next baby in public without my trusty Hooter Hider right from the start.  Will it be a bit awkward to feed my new baby in front of my father in law without a cover?  Will it feel weird to sit on a bench in the mall and nurse without a cover?  I’m sure it will, but if I can give one mom an extra bit confidence so that she feeds her baby in public instead of in a bathroom, and if I can show one more person that breastfeeding is normal, then it will be worth it!

I should add that I have nothing against nursing covers or moms that use them.  In fact, they give some moms the confidence they need to nurse in public – and I completely respect and understand that!  I should also add that I still nurse my 2.5 year old son Dylan but not in public anymore.  I feel somewhat hypocritical about that, especially as a La Leche League leader!  While I feel ready to nurse a baby in public without a cover, I don’t feel ready to nurse my older toddler in public.   I’m not completely sure about my reasons behind that…I must give them more thought and explore them in a future post!


Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It