When people find out that I am a breastfeeding educator, they usually go on to tell me the latest thing their breastfeeding or the neighbor's breastfeeding baby is doing and to ask "is THAT normal?" We are all anxious to be "normal". I'm quite sure everybody is somewhat disappointed in my answer..... "well, it probably is normal for THAT child." I think that people want an instant "YES ...EVERY BABY LIKES TO NURSE WITH THEIR FINGER UP YOUR NOSE".... But human "norms" vary, and what might be "abnormal" for another baby, could be completely normal for yours.
Helping mothers to define "normal" for their children is challenging. So many of us want to look outside ourselves, to what OTHER people define as normal or acceptable. But really....if it is working for *you*, then it isn't broken, right??
If your baby likes to snack at the breast all day long then have a 10 course meal in the evening, who are WE to say that is wrong? Hay, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Sometimes I wonder if, in this "information age" we haven't, somewhere along the line, lost track of our inner compass. It is a mighty panicky feeling to not be able to sort out stuff and decide that you are on the right track based on mother's instinct. It does seem to fall completely FLAT when I ask some mothers, "Sooo, what is your gut telling you?" or " if she is gaining weight and pooping and peeing often, is it REALLY a problem that she baracuda's the milk down in 3 seconds flat and then wants to get back to the business of examining her toes?".....
This obsession with "normal" can completely hijack our relationship with our intuitions. We need graphs and charts to decide if our children are within acceptable ranges with ANYTHING; and sometimes, that tiny little voice buried in the back of our scrambled and exhausted brains is screaming........HE'S FINE.....
So, what I am saying is, let's get back in touch with our instincts about our own babes. As a mother, YOU know your baby best and when your eyes , heart and mind are telling you something is FINE or conversely, NOT FINE... listen. Embrace the differences between your baby and others. Babies have personalities and quirks just like the rest of us. When I look back on my own children, their individuality was there right from birth. My oldest son needed his world completely organized, really, he was obsessed with order as a baby, and HE STILL IS. Our middle son was born three weeks early, kind of skinny and STARVING... and he's been my "two cookie boy" ever since. He's 22 and he is still famous for needing a cookie in EACH HAND. And our youngest, has needed to be totally alone OFTEN and at first, when he was only a few days old, I was completely offended by this. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T WANT TO CUDDLE WITH MAMA AND GAZE INTO MY EYES AS YOU EAT?? and really, 20 years later, he still hoovers down his dinner and leaves his father and I sitting at the table wondering what tornado just went through our dining room.
I think it is fabulous when breastfeeding women get together and swap war stories about their mothering experiences. This can validate your instincts and even give you perspective as long as you don't fall into the trap of internalizing the "normals" of someone else...
Saturday, March 13, 2010
CBC News - Consumer Life - Breast milk cheese the topic du jour
Judging by the comments, this could take off! Anyone want to try it - he has a detailed recipe. It's worth checking out his blog anyways - wonderful food stories.
Well, there is no better time to start than the present. I thought the first post should be monumental, witty or at least profound, but then topics kept popping up the past few weeks and I let them go because they didn't seem to be outstanding in any one way. So I'm going to just get the 'show on the road' by sharing this article from Time: Mothers Who Opt for Breast Milk, Not Breast-Feeding. The increasing number of women who are choosing to pump and breast milk feed rather than breastfeed are increasing. As a Public Health Nurse I have noticed this to be true in the South Okanagan. The pump may be the 'middle ground' for some women who might otherwise forgo breastfeeding (or breast milk feeding) altogether. In an ideal world women would be supported to breastfeed their babies and would only need to pump here and there for particular circumstances. But for a variety of reasons this may not be every woman's reality and if the pump helps that mom and babe avoid formula then it is a far better option than not breastfeeding altogether. Sometimes it's 'Breastmilk is Best'. For my part, I will still be trying to support moms in the best way I can to feel comfortable and confident with breastfeeding but will always support a mom who is looking for other alternatives that suite her particular circumstances. What do do you think?