Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Pirate family adventure

Avast, we be pirates here. We hear the decree of wordlessness and pillage the words of other ships on the sea. Ha!

Seattle Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki 2011 — Mikko pirate boy m4yo
Our cabin boy has turned young swashbuckler. Arr, and they be growin’ up so fast.

Espy our pirate in days long ago:

2007, 1 month old:
Seattle Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki 2011 — mnb Mikko newborn pirate baby Seattle Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki 2007 — Mikko newborn baby mnb

2008, 1 year old:
Seattle Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki 2008 — Mikko m1yo

2009, 2 years old:
Seattle Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki 2009 — Mikko m2yo smiling with Mama Seattle Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki 2009 — Mikko m2yo with dad

2010, 3 years old:
Seattle Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki 2010 — Mikko m3yo cabin boy Seattle Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki 2010 — Mikko m3yo

Returning to this nonce:

Seattle Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki 2011 — Alrik newborn pirate baby anb
We have a new baby pirate. That be a fierce buccaneer, that be.

Seattle Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki 2011 — Pirate Robeez anb on Alrik newborn baby
Mikko passed along his swashbuckling shoes from Pirate Nana.

Seattle Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki 2011 — pirate family, Mikko m4yo Alrik anb
Avast, there be a whole family of scalawags, the like as never before have sailed upon the seven seas. Beware the Fearsome Four! They’ll keelhaul ye as soon as look at ye.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Saying "yes — and" in parenting

preschool boy playing by driving trucks through flour


I've been thinking about how improvisational comedy relates to parenting (or, indeed, to any relationship).

The first rule of improv is to

Say "yes — and"!


The negative form of this rule is "Don't deny" or "Don't block."

In other words, you're standing on the improv stage, and your partner says, "Chris, there you are! All the other acrobats are waiting for the circus to start!" A bad improv response is to go, "What acrobats? This isn't a circus! And my name's not Chris!" Because now what's your partner going to do? You've just killed the whole scene.

I'm not a good improv actor1, but let's say a decent response would be, "Sorry, Ringmaster, I was helping the lion tamer rehearse — and there's been a slight accident…"

You're validating your partner's starting point, and the "and" part is that you're helping the scene to continue.

It's a way of being generous, of entering into the spirit of what your partner's creating, of making both of you look good and honoring the fun.

I was thinking about how I want to be a "yes — and" parent.

Mikko was entranced with the flubber at Schule. Sam stopped on the way home to buy school glue and food coloring. (Recipe coming soon…)

Mikko saw me knitting and wanted to make his grandma a scarf, too — yellow, because it's her favorite color. I didn't say, even though I was thinking, Four-year-olds can't knit. I set about brainstorming how we might be able to put something together as a team. (Whether Grandma will want to wear it or not is another story, but that's unimportant.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Calling for submissions for the September Carnival of Natural Parenting!

We continue to be delighted with the inspiration and wisdom our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants share, and we hope you'll join us for the next carnival in September! (Check out January, February, March, April, May, July, August, and the full list of 2010 posts if you missed them.)

Your co-hosts are Lauren at Hobo Mama and Dionna at Code Name: Mama.

Here are the submission details for September 2011:

smiling boy being held upside down by dad with curls flying — play Seattle Zootunes Mikko m2yo

Theme: Parenting Through Play: Oftentimes, some of our most difficult parenting challenges can be defused or handled gracefully if we choose to use play. Think of a situation in your own life where you have used (or could use) play instead of lectures, consequences, or other negative reactions.

Deadline: Tuesday, September 6. Fill out the webform (at the link or at the bottom) and email your submission to us by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time: CarNatPar {at} NaturalParentsNetwork.com

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Giveaway: MotherMoonPads Cloth Menstrual Pads $27 ARV {9.28; Worldwide} CLOSED

This is a joint giveaway with Hobo Mama and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only. Please find the section marked "Win it!" for the mandatory main entry and optional bonus entries.
Green Your Period. logo for Hobo Mama


GREEN YOUR PERIOD special event: We are featuring a series of reusable menstrual products for review and giveaway. Go green, no matter what time of the month!

MotherMoon giveaway — pads sampler prizeMotherMoonPads is offering our readers a giveaway of a cloth menstrual pad prize pack, a value of $26.75.

The pack includes two 10" Normal Pads and one 12.5" Ultimate Overnight/Postpartum Pad.

Postpartum mama cloth

I switched to cloth menstrual pads awhile ago. So when I was pregnant and considering what I was going to do for the postpartum period, I realized I didn't like the idea of going back to the bulky, crinkly, smelly disposables I remembered from my last time postpartum. Plus, cloth pads could be reused for overnights during future periods, or for any other birth.

But could cloth pads really stand up to the demands of postpartum bleeding? I was happy to test out a few brands and try it out!
I was really excited when Denelle of MotherMoonPads contacted me to do a review, because she usually doesn't do blog giveaways. I was really hoping to have some postpartum pads to test out, and her pads looked like a gorgeous, perfect fit!

MotherMoonPads sent me two 12.5" Ultimate Overnight/Postpartum Pads and one regular 12" Postpartum Pad for review. I realize the prize pack is different, because Denelle and I decided you might want more of a mix in your selection, so the winner will receive two Normal Pads and one of the Ultimate Overnight/Postpartum Pads. Since I was pregnant then and not going to have my cycles back anytime soon (crossing fingers), I knew postpartum pads were all I could safely pledge to review!

MotherMoon giveaway — postpartum pads for review
My pads came lovingly wrapped. I was so excited to lay them into my birthing kit so they'd be ready.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ideal family vacation

This post is part of my special HAVE KIDS, WILL TRAVEL series to give you advice and wisdom on traveling with kids.

A couple years ago, we were traveling with 20-month-old Mikko and I mused on what would be the best type of family trip. I was aiming for low stress and high enjoyment for grown-ups and children alike.

These were my ideas at the time for the perfect family vacation:
    dad and boy in door of teepee while tipi camping on Vashon Island Mikko m1yo
  • You pick a destination within a few hours of your home.
  • It should be somewhere with easy, walking access to nature, such as a beach or forest, but also some day-trip options, such as a nearby museum or shops.
  • You travel there the first day, by car or train or boat, thereby avoiding the stress of air travel.
  • Then you check into one hotel or campsite for the whole week. If your family likes camping, that could be a good, thrifty option. If you're like us and camping's apt to make you more stressed, then hotel it is. Unpack your bags, and make the place feel homey.
  • Each morning, you wake up and have a small breakfast, then take off for that day's single adventure. Maybe it's a tourist attraction or museum or outlet shopping.
  • After a few hours, you return to the place you're staying and your littlest ones have a settled, real-live nap time.
  • Anyone too old for a nap spends a quiet time reading, playing low-key games, watching the hotel's cable channels, etc.
  • After the nap is a small, leisurely lunch.
  • The afternoon is spent in the adjacent nature area, with everyone goofing off as is considered pleasant. The parents might be able to get their kids playing and then settle in with a book to relax.
  • The evening gives time for a leisurely dinner. Lunch and dinner can either be supermarket-bought picnic-style or enjoyed at a local restaurant.
  • Then everyone returns to the sleeping location and winds down for bed. If the kids fall asleep early, the parents have time to relax some more.
  • To add another element of help with the little ones and enjoyment for the adults, make the trip with another compatible family or two, preferably with a mix of ages. On the above-referenced road trip, we found that a 13-year-old cousin loved to take walks with Mikko while we enjoyed some undistracted conversations, and my mother and aunt also enjoyed taking charge of him for periods of time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Extreme burp cloth





This was all Mikko's idea of the best way to hold his brother
while avoiding the usual spit-up!

Thank you as always to Baby Diaper Service for the big bag of
clean prefolds just begging to be repurposed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Child-led solids: Sharing soft foods with infants

This is one in a series of guest posts by other bloggers. Read to the end for a longer biographical note on today's guest blogger, Momma Jorje. Momma Jorje offers helpful tips and experiences on following your baby's lead and choosing whole foods when starting solids.

Guest post by Momma Jorje

Sharing soft foods with older infants was not a new idea to me. I totally understood letting a baby taste something on your fingertip or having a bite of mashed potatoes. With my older daughter, I made a lot of baby food myself (with my mother's help). I was trying to be health conscious and give her a good start. Her first food was rice cereal made with breast milk. That would not be my first choice again, though she did love it! I gave it to her when she was exactly 6 months old, by the book. She did continue to nurse until she self-weaned at 3½ years old.

With my younger daughter, I stumbled upon the idea of "child-led weaning." I really don't like that term as it applies to solids. Weaning, to me, is more specifically about breastmilk. I think a more appropriate term would be "child-led introduction to solids," awkward as that is.

I feel like Natural Parenting is often the lazier easier way to do things. It made sense to me to share my own plate with my baby! After all, that is where I gauged her interest and therefore readiness for solids. I started her with steamed vegetables that were still solid enough that they could be handled and that I would eat (and did).

Sasha with Veggies8mo Sasha enjoying Broccoli! She still loves it!
I've since gotten rid of this labeling bib.

I read a lot before I felt comfortable as far as fear of choking.1 In fact, in the early days I did sometimes use a mesh feeding bag thing. I didn't care for it. Sasha hardly got any actual food through the bag. She wasn't truly getting to try out any textures. It was also a pain to clean and I didn't really trust the dishwasher to do a thorough job. The first time I shared solids with Sasha at my mom's place, she gagged. I was mortified. I pride myself in the choices I make, this one included. Having this new idea look scary in front of my mother made me question my decision. Sasha did, occasionally, gag hard enough to spit up a little bit. I never felt she was in danger. I stuck to it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Astronaut pregnancy poem at Touchstonez

pregnant mama on the beachI am happy to have a guest post today over at TouchstoneZ — a pregnancy poem called "Astronaut."

Rotating with no axis,
unfurled tether
keeping you in place.

Read the rest at TouchstoneZ.

I wrote this poem during the April Poem-a-Day Challenge when I was pregnant with Alrik. I'll be sharing more of those poems in the future. In the meantime, you can read parenting poetry from my first three years of parenting in Poetry of a Hobo Mama, $11.99 at Amazon and $9.99 on Kindle.

While you're over at TouchstoneZ, read more from the blog's author, Zoie, who writes about the mindful parenting her meaningful yoga practice has inspired. As the mama to three boys on earth and one daughter who soars, Zoie has been one of my tandem-breastfeeding mentors, and she's written powerfully about postpartum depression and healing from abuse. She hosts a monthly Letters to Littles link-up as well as a quarterly Mindful Mamas carnival if you'd like to connect with her there. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Eight weeks


newborn baby Alrik 2mo a2mo reaching magic hand


newborn baby Alrik 2mo a2mo smiling


newborn baby Alrik 2mo a2mo pursing lips


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: First attempt at family portrait of four

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Making a butterfly house


Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids

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 how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.




How to build a butterfly house in 11 easy steps


One day Mikko was charming the socks off a Home Depot worker, who gifted him with a child-size apron, workshop pin, and butterfly house kit. She asked me if he were five years old — he was, I believe, two at the time — but then said he could have the kit anyway.

So we put it away, but not till he was five. Earlier this year, I got all ambitious and decided: We were making a butterfly house, dang it!

This is a good summery project for you and your little ones. Just be sure to follow all the steps precisely.

building a butterfly house — mikko m3yo — instructions Pictures, Images and Photos

Step 1: Read the instructions.



building a butterfly house — mikko m3yo — sand Pictures, Images and Photos

Step 2: Sand the wood.



building a butterfly house — mikko m3yo — allen wrench Pictures, Images and Photos

Step 3: Insert an unrelated hex screwdriver into the nail hole and crank it.



building a butterfly house — mikko m3yo — big hammer Pictures, Images and Photos

Step 4: Use hammer to pound in nails.



building a butterfly house — mikko m3yo — screwdriver Pictures, Images and Photos

Step 5: Put philips-head screwdriver in nail hole and spin.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Surf: World Breastfeeding Week celebration

Welcome to the Sunday Surf! Here are some of the best links I've read this past week.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I'm wrapping up with the breastfeeding bloghop linky chock full of breastfeeding posts for you to read!
a
Before that, I'll share just a few links in particular. We've got information on the history and purpose of WBW on Natural Parents Network.

We also have good news. Dionna of Code Name: Mama, Kelly of Becoming Crunchy, and I were interviewed by Voice of America about breastfeeding support, NPN, and communicating about World Breastfeeding Week.

You can listen to the interview on the VOA site as well as read a basic transcript of the recording.

I've always said I had a face for radio.

A portion of my babbling, with the "uh"s removed:

Her friend, Lauren Wayne, had a very different experience. She says there was no such help in the hospital where she gave birth to her first child, four years ago.

“There was a nurse there who was very passionate, but misinformed about breast feeding," Wayne says. "She convinced us to feed him formula. We got a rough start there. Fortunately, I had a midwife who came to visit me at home once we were out of hospital. She was able to get us back into a very good breastfeeding relationship.”

For Wayne, there is nothing is better than breastfeeding.

“It’s the easiest way. I don’t have to sterilize bottles and worry about the right temperature. I’m also able to nurse at night and not really wake up, my baby just can sleep with me. It’s made me close to my 4-year old. It’s been a good way to connect.”

Reducing nighttime breastfeeding without night weaning

Thank you also to Dionna for a fabulous and timely guest post on gentle ways to reduce night nursing for older nurslings. If you need help cutting down access to the breast and ending twiddling behaviors, whether because of pregnancy discomfort or lack of sleep for one or both of you, check it out! (And happy birthday, Dionna!)

Hobo Mama Giveaway: Milkies Milk-Saver for Breastfeeding $28 ARV {9.7; US/Can} CLOSED

This is a joint giveaway with Hobo Mama and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only. Please find the section marked "Win it!" for the mandatory main entry and optional bonus entries.

Milkies Milk-Saver giveaway on Hobo Mama for breastfeeding mom to save breast milkMilkies is offering our readers a giveaway of The Milk-Saver breast milk collection device, a value of $27.95.

The unique design collects your leaking breast milk when you nurse, stopping embarrassing leaks and allowing you to store extra breastmilk effortlessly.

I was about to go on a weekend trip when I received my Milkies Milk-Saver in the mail. I was so excited that I pointlessly brought it along with me, opening it in the car, and then putting it into my bra as we waited in line for the ferry. I say pointless, because I had no way to store the milk while we were away — but it was just so much fun to see how much I could collect!

The Milk-Saver is a device that sits over your non-nursing breast as you breastfeed. There's a hole in the middle of the back that your nipple fits through. As you breastfeed on the other side, the Milk-Saver catches any leaks and letdown from the non-nursing breast.

It's so simple, so ingenious, and such a wonderful idea for saving every precious drop of liquid gold!
Milkies Milk-Saver giveaway on Hobo Mama — from the back with breast milk inside
Milk saved!


Benefits of the Milk-Saver:

  • Breastmilk is saved for later use.
    Instead of losing any leaks into an absorbent nursing pad, the Milk-Saver ensures not a drop goes to waste. For women (like me) who leak a lot, this can make leaking seem downright beneficial. For women who have trouble expressing milk, this can offer a reassurance that every possible milliliter of breast milk is being saved.
Milkies Milk-Saver giveaway on Hobo Mama — top
Looking from the top, down into the collection chamber

  • Pumping might be reduced or replaced.
    If you're a mama who needs only an occasional bottle, or who wishes to collect breastmilk to donate, using a Milk-Saver might cut down on your pumping or hand-expressing needs. If you leak, say, an ounce a day at feedings, you'd have seven ounces a week saved up for a date night.

    If you need a full supply of expressed milk, such as if you work outside the home, then of course this won't eliminate the need to pump. Still, since you work that hard for your stored milk, at least you know you're using every ounce!
  • Your shirt stays dry.
    If you use the Milk-Saver correctly (ahem, more on that later), those leaks (or geysers!) that can make wet spots bloom right at breast level are safely contained during a feeding. Your baby's taking care of one side, and the Milk-Saver will handle the other. This is a boon for mamas who have oversupply, because finally there seems to be some use to it!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tips for tandem breastfeeding a baby & toddler

Tandem breastfeeding newborn Alrik anb and preschooler Mikko m4yo


I am currently tandem nursing a two-month-old baby and a four-year-old preschooler, so I thought I'd compile a list of the best advice I can think of to navigate through any similar experience. A lot of these are tips to help you as the breastfeeding parent cope with the new situation — not just nitty-gritty on positioning but counsel on emotional balance.

Now, I'm not setting myself up as an expert in this tandeming gig, since it's been only a rather challenging two months so far. And I don't want to speak for parents of multiples who have newborns the same age, although I hope some of the tips will apply to that situation as well.

I mostly want to honor the needs of all the parties involved in a tandem nursing relationship: the young nursling, the older one (or ones), and the breastfeeding mother. Balancing them all can seem like a daunting task, particularly in a culture that doesn't value nursing past infancy, and where tandem modeling is sparse. It's easy to feel alone when you don't know anyone else in real life who's going through this. We're having to make our own village, and I mainly want to add my voice so someone else can say a "me, too" or "I've been there, and here's what I did." So here are some of my ideas for how to think through the tandem relationship. Add your own in the comments.

  • Consider the feeding order.

    If you want to try feeding both at once, you certainly can. Some people like it; some people (like me) do not so much. If you don't, you'll need to figure out who eats first. In most cases, I pick the newborn. Past the first few days of colostrum, there's no definitive need to, but it feels better to me.

    The reasons for this are pretty self-explanatory: The older nursling can eat solid foods and drink other liquids, so the need is less. If the newborn doesn't have free and frequent access to the breast, to drink to satiation, she might not thrive and your milk supply might drop. Not to mention that newborns are typically better at screaming out their hunger (though not always — Mikko gives Alrik a good run). I know Mikko can drain a breast (no nursing breast ever goes completely dry, but to the point of very little flow), because he tells me so. I therefore try to favor Alrik's needs for nutrition over Mikko's if there's ever a contest.

    There might be exceptions to this: If an older nursling wants just a quick suck before heading off to play, rather than a full meal, there's little harm in having him go first. Or if you have an oversupply problem, it might be more pleasurable for everyone involved for the older nursling to take the edge off the fast flow before the newborn takes a turn.

    Just keep a watchful eye on your newborn's growth and wet and poopy diapers. If everything's fine, then everything's fine. (Sorry to sound simplistic, but breastfeeding often is!) Milk is a supply and demand proposition, so it can and will keep up with more than one nursling in most cases.

    If, on the other hand, you're having any problems with low supply, then you'll definitely want to work with a lactation consultant to try to find ways to boost your milk production and take care of the younger nursling's requirements. Since everyone's case would be different, I'll leave that to the experts.

  • Keep the sibling rivalry to a minimum.

    By tandem nursing, you're already steps ahead in this journey. But I've tried to be careful not to fan any competitive fires.

    Use positive language to talk about tandem breastfeeding, reassuring your older nursling that there's plenty of milk to go around. This might help your attitude as well.

    When I want to set limits, I try to make it clear that it's my own choice, not Alrik's demands on me. I want any of Mikko's frustration directed at me (I can take it) and not at the newborn. Try to use neutral or positive language like, "You can nurse for a little bit, and then I need a break" or "The baby's having a turn right now, and then you can have one," rather than language that encourages a divide between the siblings: "The baby needs this milk more than you" or "Big girls like you don't need to nurse." If Mikko asks why I don't want to nurse them both at the same time, I try to emphasize that the "blame" is mine — that I simply prefer to have my hands free. Or if he wants to nurse longer at night as we go to sleep, even if my mind is also thinking that I want to preserve some ready milk for the baby as he's stirring, I'll tell Mikko I need to stop now because I'm tired.

    I love the bond between my boys so far. Every once in awhile, I think, Well, it's because they're milk brothers! And then I remember, No, no, that's just called brothers. Hee! But there is something bonding about mother's milk, and I'm glad Mikko's held on nursing till this sibling came along.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My experience tandem breastfeeding a newborn & preschooler

tandem nursing baby newborn alrik and m4yo mikko breastfeeding


I've been alternately eager and hesitant to write about my tandem nursing experiences so far. On the one hand, I want to share and vent. On the other, I'd hate to come across as the Discouraging Voice who tells everyone they'll be in agony when breastfeeding through pregnancy, will have terrible postpartum sex, and now will hate tandem nursing.

Because: Look, this is just one person's experience, at one time, a snapshot of a single period. For instance? Sex postpartum after this second birth has been going much, much better for me. Much. So don't let me keep you from trying out your own experiences and letting us know how it goes.

With that caveat: I hate tandem breastfeeding right now.

I used to read blog posts from others who were tandem nursing a baby and an older nursling (or more than one older nursling) and think it was odd that I detected a thread of dissatisfaction weaving through many of them. These mamas would talk about needing to set limits on their older nursling's sessions, correct latches, and night wean.

They (as well as those breastfeeding multiple newborns) would frequently say that they didn't much like literally nursing two at once — as in, one on one breast and one simultaneously on the other. For some reason, this surprised me most. Tandeming at the same time seemed so maternal, so very all-encompassing, as well as convenient (get it over with at once!).

And then I tried it. And I heartily dislike nursing both of my boys at once.

Because? It leaves you no hands free. It leaves you with nothing at all to do but sit and feel squished and stifled and like you're nursing an octopus. A heavy, squirmy octopus.

And it turns out it's very hard to get a newborn to latch properly when his much bigger brother is crowding him out at the plate. It's hard to find a place to put those long preschooler legs, and then curl the baby on top of them (and not the other way around!). I'm constantly having to break off Mikko's latch so I can wrest a hand free to guide Alrik's as the baby looks up in newborn confusion at the tangle of limbs and Mikko continues on in tenacious ignorance.

And despite my feelings toward tandeming-at-once, Mikko's are the precise opposite. He wants to do it that way exclusively. And he wants to nurse all.the.time.

Which is where those other elements come in: the limiting, the night weaning, the latch corrections. Oy.

As it turns out, I'm not experiencing a beatific glow in my new position as Fountain of Milk to All the Young. I am experiencing frustration, and a short temper, and a general feeling of being touched-out-already-oh-my-gosh-please-get-off-me!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Nursing in public

I'm a big believer that people don't need to be "discreet" to breastfeed in public — and that no one can agree on what discretion means, any old way! That said, I know for a lot of breastfeeders, nursing in public becomes easier for them if they can feel comfortable with the amount of skin they're exposing.

So I just want to present one option of covered-up nursing that doesn't require a special nursing cover:
breastfeeding newborn baby alrik anb while babywearing in mei tai in restaurant discreet nursing in public
I have Alrik (one month old here – not that you can really see him!) in a mei tai, bopped down low enough and to the side for his mouth to be in line with my nipple. My shirt is pulled down from the top. Then I pulled the mei tai back over him so that it covers the breast area. Your arm and the mei tai straps (in this case) mostly cover any side boob (hee).

breastfeeding newborn baby alrik anb while babywearing in mei tai in restaurant with top cover discreet nip
To be even more covered, you can place a burp cloth, prefold, scarf, cardigan, or the end of what you're babywearing with over the chest skin that's otherwise uncovered on top. Just keep any cloth away from baby's nose and mouth. I doubt anyone not looking for the fact would even guess he was feeding … until they heard the little slurps!

So that's an idea for you – you get to do something with both hands (like eat a warm meal, as I was doing!), while your baby peacefully and unobtrusively goes about his business (getting a warm meal, too!).

newborn baby Alrik 2mo a2mo breastfeeding onesie & crocheted wool soaker for cloth diapers by Anktangle
Happy lactivist baby says, You are free to feed your baby however you like! Indoors, outdoors, on ferries and at baseball games, covered up or whipping it out (wssshh…snap!), in a breastfeeding lounge or in the center of things, bottle or breast or jar and spoon or baby-led weaning. Happy lactivist baby just wants us all to be comfortable feeding our babies wherever we otherwise happen to be. Because this happy baby just loves his nummies!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reducing nighttime breastfeeding without night weaning

This is one in a series of guest posts by other bloggers. Read to the end for a longer biographical note on today's guest blogger, Dionna from Code Name: Mama. Dionna, who is nursing through her second pregnancy, offers the gentle steps she's taken to minimize access to the breast during the night while protecting the breastfeeding relationship with her son.

Kieran sleeping for Code Name: Mama guest post


Guest post by Dionna from Code Name: Mama

Many women understandably night wean during pregnancy to give themselves a break from daytime feeds, to get more rest, to prepare for the new baby, etc. But because Kieran only nurses at night, I knew that if I night weaned when I got pregnant, I'd likely end up weaning Kieran prematurely. On the other hand, I've been craving more space for myself at night - both because of my growing belly, and because of the nursing "heebie jeebies" many pregnant mothers experience.

I was nervous — how could I reduce Kieran's nighttime nursing habits (which are, admittedly, more for comfort than for nutrition, especially now that my milk is gone) without inadvertently weaning him? Here are some of the gentle ways I reduced Kieran's access to the breast at night. So far, so good — he still nurses to sleep, and he still occasionally (though not nearly as often) wants to nurse throughout the night — but he is not night weaned.

  1. I Ended the Falling-Asleep-Aid Twiddling Habit: Kieran has been a twiddler for years, and as a result, he's come to associate twiddling as part of his falling asleep routine. Helping Kieran learn better nursing habits was painful (there was crying involved, and it took about two weeks of concentrated effort), but the rewards have been infinitely worth it. Not only has it helped relieve my nipple pain and nursing aversion, but it's also resulted in Kieran not waking as much during the night (and consequently nursing back down). For gentle tips on how to help your older nursling relearn good nursing habits, see "Twiddle Me That."
  2. I Removed Easy Access: I used to keep both sides of my nursing tank top down all night. Now when he's nursed to sleep, I pull them up (without hooking them). When he stirs at night, he sometimes roots around, but when he doesn't immediately find a breast he gives up and rolls over. The drawback is that if he really does need to nurse, it will take him an extra minute to settle, but it's been worth it in order to help reassure me that he can truly settle himself more often than I would have suspected.
  3. I Give Him Verbal Reassurance: Before I do pull down my tank top so that he can nurse back down, I usually try to verbally calm him and get him back to sleep. Saying something like "roll over, baby, let's go back to sleep" often does the trick — along with my snuggling up behind him. Or if I'm in a particularly cranky mood, I've also said "no mama milk right now, roll over and go back to sleep." He might fuss for a few seconds, but he often settles himself down. If he doesn't settle down, I give up and nurse him.

If you need a break at night but are reluctant to night wean, there are gentle ways to reduce the number of times your nursling nurses. For more ideas on gently decreasing night feedings (and on ultimately night weaning, if you're so inclined), here are a few resources: