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“Facebook Punished Me For Trying To Help Breastfeeders” – Kerryn’s Story

Breastfeeders in Australia suffered a huge setback this week.  Kerryn Gill-Rich, one of our support group’s most active administrators and prolific commenters received a Facebook ban for sharing links to a Nipple Blanching (Vasospasm) article on the Kellymon website.  After repeatedly pleading for common sense from the Facebook team, her case has been closed.  It would appear Kerryn is now receiving a 1 week ban for each instance she has shared the link.  To see a gallery of the communication between Kerryn and Facebook, please click on this link.
It only takes a quick search on Facebook to find a flood of sexual and graphic content.  We will never understand why Facebook is so selective with the way they police comments and posts, or why they seem to be so bothered by breastfeeding.
With very little opportunity to take this further, Kerryn has written a letter to Facebook for us to publish.
“Dear Facebook,

I’m cross. You and I were onto something. You and I had a great thing going. You and I had helped 30,000 breastfeeding women to find success in nourishing their babies and reach their breastfeeding goals, however long that may have been. We have talked them through sleep deprivation, poonamis, and puke down their backs. We have shared our stories and cried with people that are standing on the edge of their threshold as a parent because things weren’t going to plan. Maybe their expectations weren’t realistic or maybe the well-meaning advice they had received wasn’t working or maybe they had too many nights in a row with no sleep, crying baby and burning nipples or many, many other reasons why those early days of parenting can see us crash and burn and feel like we are alone.

I’m a lactavist. I’m passionate about helping women that WANT to breastfeed. I don’t tie myself to trees or march in the street but I do make myself available to friends and family as well as perfect strangers that reach out for help….. UNTIL THIS WEEK.

Nipple blanching and vasospasm

I posted this article (above)in a response to a mum who was experiencing nipple pain when breastfeeding.  She had reached out in a BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT GROUP. She was about to give up due to the lack of help she was receiving. She didn’t know what was causing her pain and she didn’t know how to fix it. My advice was not unsolicited, it was factual and medically sound. It  directed her to relevant online as well as real world help. The offending article is written by an IBCLC qualified lactation consultant and has medical based information regarding vasospasms. It also contains 2 photos of a blanched nipple for reference.


I received a notification that this was not appropriate content for Facebook and was banned for a week as a result. This happened twice as I’ve shared the article more than once so I suspect there will be more bans in the pipeline. Yet, a quick search and I can find Karma Sutra positions with links to videos, topless beach babes with a poorly placed scribble across her nips, vibrators and many other pages with similar, sexual content. These are all still in place as of this morning. I can join these groups and buy these products and services. I can even link up with a group that do live sex both using Facebook live OR if they get in trouble for that, they advertise ‘plan B’ which is a whats app group… all with Facebook’s blessing. Yet I can’t link an article to help a mother feed her baby.


Breastfeeding is in no way whatsoever sexual. It is simply feeding a baby in the most natural way possible, yet breastfeeding information is not in line with community standards? What is it exactly that’s so offensive about breastfeeding? Given the amount of daily dinner plates that are posted on timelines, it can’t be the FEEDING part that is of concern! But using THAT theory, the amount of breasts in timelines probably beats the pants off the butter chicken or steak and potato plates posted….. so I’m stuck! Is it the baby? Nope, they feature pretty predominantly on timelines too!!

SO…..WHAT IS IT THAT YOU TAKE ISSUE WITH?

Yours in confusion and utter frustration
Kerryn Gill-Rich”

Many people from our breastfeeding community have expressed shock, confusion and disappointment at Kerryn’s situation.  Here are some direct quotes:

Tyler Enaj – I was also reported and photo deleted

Krystal Jane

The advice and support you give mothers is invaluable and I’m sure many other mothers can attest to that. To ban you for sharing breastfeeding specific information in a breastfeeding group is just absurd

Kristy Benson

This is so infuriating!!!
A man who is a body builder stole pictures of my children & posted them to his 40,000 followers and it DID NOT go against Facebooks community standards! What the heck is wrong with Facebook?!?!
  It’s really hard not to be a ranting feminist when it’s so clear the Facebook is ran by misogynists and the patriarchy is cool with women being naked as long as we are giving sexual satisfaction to men.  Over 200 people reported my issues (pictures of my children, my name and location) but that didn’t even matter.

Facebook claim to support breastfeeding, but actions speak louder than words.  Have you ever had a breastfeeding photo reported or taken down? 

 

 

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My Extended Family – Sometimes Support Looks Different

I’ve talked lots of times about how thankful I am for growing up in a family where breastfeeding is completely normal.  My husband’s family isn’t like that.  They aren’t “against” breastfeeding, like some families are, and they have never tried to convince me to stop, for any reason.  I think they are probably like a lot of families in Australia – they know breastfeeding to be the normal way to feed babies, and they have seen the campaigns telling everyone why it’s important, but they are still wrapping their heads around because they didn’t grow up around it.

They sometimes don’t know which way to look when I’m breastfeeding, especially as my kids have grown out of babyhood and into toddlers, but they don’t say anything – they know their feelings are their issue and don’t expect me to stop on their account.  They sometimes ask questions about how it all works.  Sometimes they make inappropriate jokes, which can be a bit squirmish for me, but I don’t take it as a sign of disrespect, it’s just their way of getting used to the idea.  Sometimes they tag me in every single breastfeeding thing they see on Facebook too.  Sometimes I’ll be tagged in the same thing twenty times after I’ve already seen it in every single group I’m in, but ultimately I appreciate the effort everyone goes to, to find common ground with me.

Soon after my son turned 3, breastfeeds became something that we don’t do out of our home, and soon after that they were something that only happened in bed, either before or after sleeping.  So while I have never lied to anyone, it would be understandable for any family members who don’t read my blog (most don’t), to assume Mr 5 finished breastfeeding a year or two ago.

A few weeks ago at a family barbecue, everyone was feeling pretty merry after a big dinner and a few drinks.  A family friend told a story of the horror and disgust he felt when he found out a bartender at a nightclub was still breastfeeding her 6 year old.  I looked for my kids, preparing to swoop them out of earshot if these comments turned into a boisterous conversation.  Mr 5 is extremely perceptive, and he would have felt great shame to hear someone talking about term breastfeeding that way.  I’m a pretty assertive person and don’t usually shy away from expressing my opinion, but I never considered engaging in a conversation or argument in this situation, purely for the protection of my kids.  My husband must feel the same because he didn’t say anything either.  I almost held my breath and shut my eyes, waiting to see the reaction from my inlaws.

A few of them suddenly found the grain of our wooden table very interesting.  Someone found a spiderweb in the corner of the ceiling to stare at.  I actually saw one or two rolled eyes.  After an awkward silence, one of my husband’s brothers very obviously changed the subject.

And that was that!

Some people might have felt the silence was a lack of support, but I feel the opposite.

What we say matters, but sometimes what we don’t say matters more.  I don’t know if my inlaws support the idea of term breastfeeding or not, but their unwillingness to get involved in a discussion shaming a mother and child for it while my kids and I were present means the world to me.  Sometimes support is loud and vocal, with lots of praise heaped on top.  And sometimes it’s a quiet nod in your direction, acceptance that you (you with the awesome kids, who are probably awesome because of the way you raise them) deserve space to do what you do when it’s working for you.

Sometimes the biggest hurdle to finding support from your extended family is understanding that although they don’t support you the way you expect or even the way you want, they probably still care about you in their own way.

I love and appreciate my extended family very much, and I’m blessed to feel like they love me too.

 

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Natural Term Weaning Update #3

Our weaning journey is coming along smoothly with Mr 5.  He has come from having 2 absolutely vitally necessary breastfeeds every morning and every night to one last night, one two nights before that, one that morning, and I’m not sure when the one was before that.

He never breastfeeds for more than 10 seconds, and he often jumps off after 3 or 4.  He now unlatches and kisses me goodnight before snuggling down in my arms, and then casting me off him so he can lie on the other side of the bed.

A fortnight ago Miss 2 and I were sick with the flu, and he spent a day at a friend’s house.  Mr 5 was picked up by my husband on his way home from work.  When Mr 5 was asked how his day was he exclaimed “It was so good to be away from Penny, always whinging about milk!”.  Not so long ago, it was he who was always “whinging” for milk.

Some nights he falls asleep while I read to him.  We read a childhood favourite of mine – Truckers, by Terry Pratchett.  Now we are reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  They are big books with no pictures, lots of chapters and is written in a language that’s difficult for a 5 year old to understand.  I don’t explain what’s happening, but he seems to understand anyway.  I also don’t explain to him that I feel “done” breastfeeding him, but he also seems to understand that too.

I really wish I could enjoy these last breastfeeds, but my body itches and stings and wishes he would stop putting his hands on me.  I feel a small trace of guilt that I am not weaning as lovingly as I thought I would, but the conscious part of my mind reassures me that this guilt is a trick.  Every breastfeed I have given him for the last 5 years was a reminder of my love for him.  Instead of seeing the end of our journey as an ending to the way I show my love, I am choosing instead to see it in a different way.  Instead, I will remember that every breastfeed I have given has prepared him for now –  when he no longer need to be breastfed to feel loved.  I choose to celebrate all of the ways he is now capable of not only feeling love, but also showing it back.  And maybe part of the way he is showing me he loves me is by letting me finish breastfeeding.

 

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Giving The Baby-Junkies Their Fix – Why they really want to give your baby a bottle

Everybody wants to bottle feed your baby.

Firstly lets be honest.
Nobody gives a crap about your lack of sleep.
Other people want to feed your baby because feeding a baby releases oxytocin. Feeding a baby while smelling that newborn baby smell is like crack and people want to get high on it. That’s the only reason anyone wants to feed your baby, they are baby-junkies. One smell and you will chase it for life.

It has absolutely nothing to do with helping you out, if it did they’d be feeding you, or cleaning your house, or keeping your older kids entertained.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the well being of the baby, if it did they’d be offering to drynurse with an SNS, or finger feed baby. But nope, everyone will throw up their hands and claim too hard if you give them specific instructions on how to optimally heat breastmilk or pace bottle feed. It is literally all about their high.

The notion of giving you extra sleep is laughable. Many a sly baby-junkie will try and convince you to sleep so they can feed the baby, this is a trick. You still have to get up and pump the missed feed while your baby is being used as an inhalant. So while someone else is stealing all of your rightful lovey feedy feelings, you are sitting up next to them with a pump that is in no way as effective as a baby, trying to get your skeptical boobies to give up the good stuff to a piece of cold noisy plastic. And your baby is looking at whoever thinking ‘What is this? Why are you serving my boob in this cold nasty container? My mum is right there with my boob. I can smell it, I’ll just have it out of my normal boob thanks”. Or maybe they wont be that polite about it. Maybe they will scream the house down. Like I would if my local coffee joint served me my coffee in an uggboot. ‘Yeah sorry hun look we’ve got cups, but Kath’s just on a break at the moment so we are using uggboots while she’s gone’. If it were a matter of no coffee or uggboot coffee, I’d weigh it up whether to wait it out till I got to drink it in a cup or take the plunge and drink from the uggboot. Your baby is thinking the same. Plus all the hard work bub has been doing to stimulate your supply all day, is now reset to zero. Upcoming growth spurt will have to be delayed another day now. And because a pump isn’t as effective as a baby youve probably removed less milk than a baby. Increasing your risk of blocked ducts (as pumps cant extract as much fatty milk) and decreasing your milk supply. And if you did give into the sales pitch of more sleep, and thought ‘screw pumping I am sleeping right through’ well the clever boobs have something instore for you.

***BOOBIE ALARMS***

These little beauties will make sure you are either woken up thinking “OMG something is wrong with my baby I haven’t fed for 3 hours, he’s been eaten by a sabre tooth tiger…” or  just flood you with milk so you have to get up and change your shirt. And Bra. Pants too. Oh and the sheet. And crap the pillow too. Thank goodness for the mattress protector. Oh wait…. Damn.

Barack Obama ‘Notorious Baby-junkie’

But I’m a baby-junkie enabler… what can I do?

For dad baby-junkies the answer is simple. Every time mum feeds the baby make her a cup of tea and come and snuggle in too. Get mum to lay down and feed bub on her side and you spoon bub and get your sniff on, drown in that baby love smell!

For everyone else its a little more difficult to get the baby-junkie fix. Sneaking off for a shower while visitors hold baby not only lets them get their fix, but gives you 15 minutes alone in a hot shower!
Hold the baby while mum eats. Unless baby is hungry too, in which case you should cut mums lunch up for her and be a second pair of hands for her. Offer to burp baby after so she can have some dessert. Offer to hold bub for naps in a carrier. Get your babywearing baby-junkie ultimate sniff sniff action. Plus who wants to sleep alone in a cot when you can be snuggled and have someone else do all the work regulating your body temperature and your breathing for you.

So keep in mind the baby-junkies can get their fix without being a giant inconvenience to your baby, but you need to keep a tight leash on them or they’ll start breaking into your house and stealing your baby smells, hocking your stereo to buy trendy Kim Kardashian shaped bottle teats, and just generally putting hurdles up in your breastfeeding journey.

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For My Nephew On His Birthday

I have a little man in my life, his name is Xavier and it’s his birthday tomorrow. He’s very special to our family for lots of reason, one of which is he was born 3 months after my first child, my son Billy. Billy and Xavier (pictured together, above) had a connection from birth, and even though they are two very different little boys, they are the very best of friends.

Recently Xavier was a bit sad because he felt like he wasn’t good at anything, unlike Billy. Billy who can run faster than any five year old I know, Billy who isn’t scared of climbing or jumping off things, Billy with his brown skin, Billy who can tie his own shoelaces, Billy who knows how to play chess.

I know what it’s like to feel your own downfalls are amplified by someone else’s strengths. Don’t get me wrong, I see absolutely nothing wrong with Xavier, but from his perspective, compared to Billy’s athletic skills and agility, I can see why Xavier might sometimes feel like a pale, clumsy giant.

But why is it then, that when Billy and Xavier play together, it’s always Xavier who calls the shots? Why is Billy always happy to be Robin so Xavier can be Batman? Why is Billy happy to be Bob Irwin so Xavier can be Steve? Why is Billy always Bumblebee so Xavier can be Optimus Prime? One time after the boys had watched The Jungle Book, Billy was Mowgli and Xavier was Baloo, but only because Xavier insisted that Billy had to play Mowgli because he had brown skin.

The truth is that Billy will be whoever Xavier decides.  Xavier is the one with the ideas and Billy is always happy to run with them.  This is who our kids are.  And as our beautiful boys grow up to value more than who is best at riding their bike and who can run the furthest without getting puffed, I know that my nephew will find his time and place to shine.

FOR MY NEPHEW

There is this special boy I know

He is my young relation

If I could tell you of just one thing

It would be his imagination

He has these grand designs in his head

Keeps them there a full gestation

Until they are ready to make themselves known

He begins to create his creation

His playmates and toys are all his pawns

Ready for manipulation

They know they are there to act out his vision

And follow without hesitation

They stand where he says and move as he wants

As he plans the configuration

And then he tells them what to do next

Unfolding the great situation

Occasionally it doesn’t work out

And we feel the wrath of frustration

But when everything turns out just right

His face shines in great jubilation

Surely this boy will go on to great things

So I watch with anticipation

But for now he’s a child playing games with his friends

And the object of my fascination

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3 Types Of People Who Talk About Breastfeeding

There are generally three types of people you will come across when talking about breastfeeding.  These people will be most obvious to you when you are pregnant, or when you’re in your early days of parenting.

There will be those who make you feel like breastfeeding is horrible, the absolute worst. They will make you feel it’s painful and incredibly difficult, bordering on impossible. They will make you feel like breastfeeding is only possible for a very small amount of special, lucky people, and this will probably leave you expecting to be one of the unlucky ones. They might tell you about their own breastfeeding horror stories, which will terrify you. They will invoke negative feelings in you, like fear, uncertainty, inadequacy and incompetence. They may leave you feeling unwilling to commit to breastfeeding, or if not, uncomfortable with vocalising your commitment.

Most people fall into the second category.  They are usually pro-breastfeeding, but somehow manage to make breastfeeding look a little unattractive.  Their eagerness to tell you EVERYTHING might make you feel overwhelmed at how complicated breastfeeding sounds.  You might worry about how you’re going to remember everything.  They might tell you about their own breastfeeding journey, and how they overcame their challenges.  You’ll be impressed with their stories, and they will probably terrify or impress you (or even both).  You might regard these people with admiration for their grit and determination, but they might make you question whether you’ve got what it takes to deal with such difficulty.  When you express concerns, these people usually reassure you that they will be there for you, but you don’t know how you feel about having to rely on another person to breastfeed.  You want to be able to do it yourself.

The last group of people are champions of breastfeeding. I call them “champions” not because they are simply really good at breastfeeding, but because they champion the act of breastfeeding.  These people will make breastfeeding sound amazing AND achievable simultaneously. They will make you feel positive, excited and confident.  They won’t overwhelm you with volumes of information, but they’ll tell you just enough to motivate you to learn what you can on your own.  A champion of breastfeeding isn’t focused on telling you about their breastfeeding journey, because when they talk to you, it’s not about them – they want to help you get on the right path for your own.  You know you can rely on a breastfeeding champion if you have problems, but since they’ve made sure you know about the many different places you can seek information and support, you’ll feel good that you haven’t placed all of your eggs into one basket.

The key difference between the three groups is that breastfeeding champions empower you, instead of making you feel inadequate.  They don’t tell you what to do – they give you the tools to work it out on your own.  Even a very successful breastfeeder with the best of intentions can railroad you away from breastfeeding success if the focus of their stories is on them instead of you.

If you’re feeling a bit crappy now, having realised that you aren’t a breastfeeding champion, please don’t.  Most people aren’t!  Your opinions and experiences are valid, and I just hope you have plenty of safe places where you can voice them, and that you get loving and supportive responses.

At the same time, I am mindful of the effect my words can have on an expecting or new parent.  Our words have the power to shape someone else’s experiences, so I save my stories about mastitis, tongue ties and elimination diets for a time when it’s really needed.

If your goal is to become a breastfeeding champion, to support and empower other women so they can experience a successful breastfeeding journey, hopefully I’ve given you just enough information to get where you want to be.

Do you agree that there are 3 main types of people who talk about breastfeeding?

 

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Why I Love Breastfeeding Covers + Where To Get One

I love breastfeeding covers!

Some people will be surprised to hear this, because I am a vocal supporter of breastfeeding uncovered.  But first and foremost, I am a supporter of breastfeeding.  Full stop.  End of story.  If you want to breastfeed with a cover, I support you.  If you want to breastfeed without a cover, I support you.  Championing the right to breastfeed without a cover doesn’t mean I can’t also support the right to breastfeed under a cover at the same time.

I support your right to breastfeed in whichever way works for you and your child.  I would not appreciate feeling forced to breastfeed with a cover when I don’t want to, and it’s a two-way street.  If breastfeeding uncovered makes you feel too uncomfortable then don’t do it.  You don’t have to.  Breastfeeding looks different for everyone, and for some, it involves a cover.

Let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees – what matters is that we can breastfeed comfortably and happily.  If a breastfeeding cover makes breastfeeding more achievable for you, then that rocks.

I know it can be hard to find recommendations of where to buy breastfeeding covers, so I have compiled a list of five business-mums selling them.  If you’re going to use a breastfeeding cover, you may as well use one that you love!

**This is a sponsored post**

Mama Clothing

If you worry about owning an item that will barely be used, consider buying one that’s multi-purpose!  Mama Clothing sell a breastfeeding cover that’s designed to also be used as a trolley cover and capsule cover – that’s three items in one!  While you’re on their website, you should check out their range of clothing too – I adore my Mama Clothing dresses!  Shop with Mama Clothing here.

Owner Laura told me “Mama Clothing is a brand born from necessity and the collective mindset of the inspiring women that make our village. Founded in February 2016, each Mama Clothing garment is designed with the modern mum and her needs at heart. Based in Melbourne, Mama Clothing has become a household name for breastfeeding mothers all around the country. Since its commencement in 2016, Mama Clothing has branched out into becoming so much more then a fashion brand with the creation of its iconic support forum the “Mama Collective” and strong ties to support groups such as Breastfeeders in Australia. With its constantly evolving support network Mama Clothing is not just a breastfeeding label, Mama Clothing is a lifestyle.”

Foxy Mummy

Foxy Mummy sell a versatile cardigan that’s doesn’t even look like a breastfeeding cover!  It could easily make it’s way into your everyday wardrobe!  Shop with Foxy Mummy here.  Business owner Tegan tells us about her product:

“Chic yet discrete breast-feeding cardigan. An innovative design that allows for a versatile, ready to wear fashionable breast-feeding cover. Our ‘Foxy Mummy’ Cardigan is made with 95% soft and comfortable Viscose for a luxurious finish, plus a touch of spandex for durability and easy wash care. Foxy Mummy cardigans are designed to be worn through pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond. Available in both a sleeved and sleeveless design, in fashionable Black and Nude sized Small to Extra Large”

Mini LUX

Mini LUX offer a handmade multi-purpose item that could quickly become something that simply goes everywhere with you, to be used every day.  Shop with Mini LUX here.  Robyn tells us about her product told me about her product.

“A Mini LUX baby cover is a 4 in 1 product that can be used as a breastfeeding cover, an infinity scarf, a capsule cover and a trolley cover. All covers are handmade by me on the Gold Coast, using soft breathable fabric.

After struggling to breastfeed comfortably in public with my first baby, I went searching for a breastfeeding cover and I couldn’t find one that suited my needs. I decided to make one myself and after getting asked to make some for my mummy friends, I decided to make it into a business. I love hearing stories from mums saying they are so much more comfortable breastfeeding in public using a Mini LUX baby cover! It is also great to know my product is a nappy bag essential for so many mums and a unique baby shower gift!”

Karra’s Kreations for Kidz

I loved hearing Karra’s story about how she came to be making her breastfeeding covers.  Her covers are a more classic design, made in beautiful prints.  Shop with Karra’s Kreations for Kidz here.

“I started sewing about two years ago. I taught myself by watching Youtube videos. My passion started when I needed soft minky blankets for my daughter – small enough for her to carry around, plus several spares.  I couldn’t find any so I made some myself. I posted some pictures of my creations on Facebook.  Word quickly spread through friends and Facebook. I am a single mum of two wonderful children running a little business to help with bills. I sew because I love to do it. Two years on I’m making all sorts of wonderful things – weighted blankets, pram liners, quilts, and I’ve now started making dresses. I hope to grow my business further so I can be working full time sewing when both my children are at school.”

Bubz Bundles

Samantha also makes a classic design of breastfeeding covers, together with variety of other items which she makes to sell at markets and online.  Shop with Bubz Bundles here.

“I always had a passion for sewing when I was in school. I asked for my first sewing machine when I was 16. I wasn’t great at first but I practiced a lot and I became good. My business came to me when I was on maternity leave with my son 4 years ago. As the years went on I started make new and different baby items. I made a nursing cover for a friend and she got asked by a few people where she got it and I then started adding it to my business. I’m now a single mum to two beautiful children, I also have a full time job working 38 hours a week and have my sewing business.  I sell at markets, or one-off pieces.  I can make things like nursing covers, burp cloths, bibs, nappy wallets and especially love making matching sets!”

Would you like to win a breastfeeding cover from Mama Clothing?  Please comment below with a “Yes please!” – a winner will be selected randomly on Friday 2 June at 8pm EST.

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Criticism From People Who Are Hurting

Today I had someone react badly to a post that was shared from our website (a Member Post about being Unsure About Breastfeeding).  I don’t get a lot of negative feedback about the posts I write, but that’s probably because I’m relatively small-time, and my posts are generally shared with people who have opted, in some way or another, to read posts about breastfeeding.

The post was shared on the Parent Talk Australia page on Facebook – a Facebook dedicated to sharing content from Australian writers aimed at parents) and it attracted a really negative comment.  “Please stop making out that breastfeeding is amazing because not everyone feels that way… I breastfed because I thought it was the best thing for my son but the feeling is yuk and I felt so wrong doing it“.  She said if she ever had another child she wouldn’t breastfeed, and then criticised Parent Talk Australia for regularly sharing positive stories, when there are many women like herself who don’t have positive experiences.

When I first read the comment, I felt really hurt because while it may not always come across that way, I try extremely hard to keep my posts positive and aimed towards celebrating breastfeeding without putting non-breastfeeders down.  To feel accused of something I strive not to do felt really insulting and hurtful.  Besides that, what the heck did she want us to do?  Never ever talk about breastfeeding positively because she had a crappy experience with it?

But as quickly as I felt upset and defensive, after rereading her comments a few more times, I softened.  It sounds like she had an extremely difficult time trying to breastfeed.  It sounds like she had dealt with some seriously negative feelings about breastfeeding, and despite no longer breastfeeding, was still greatly affected by them.  It sounds like whatever she went through was bad enough to make her act irrationally in response to gentle, happy stories about mums feeling good about themselves.

And then I felt bad that I couldn’t even really offer her support.  I don’t know what it’s like to try really hard to breastfeed and not succeed.  I can’t tell that mama she was wrong for feeling the way she did – I don’t know exactly what she went through, but it must have been pretty bad to invoke such an angry reaction.  When someone’s in the moment of being angry and hurt, there’s often nothing you can say to bring them out of it.  In deed, anything I said from that point on, no matter what my intention or how nicely I worded it, would likely be seen as something with an agenda beyond offering support.  There was nothing I could do except let her feel what she felt and hope she had people around to help her through it.

I hope she’s OK.

If you are having a hard time with your emotions after your breastfeeding journey, the National Breastfeeding Helpline’s breastfeeding counsellors are trained in offering a debrief.  You can contact them on 1800 MUM 2 MUM,

 

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5 Years – The Milestone I Don’t Talk About

My son turned 5 this week.  His fifth birthday also marks the day that I have been breastfeeding for five years straight.  Followers may recall I recently wrote about my daughter’s second birthday.  I see them doing the math – I breastfed him for 3 years or so, and have been breastfeeding her for the past 2, right?  Actually no.  My five year old son still breastfeeds.

I don’t talk about it as often as I’d like to.  It’s not for shame – I am very proud of my breastfeeding journey.  I love to call myself a lactivist and take any opportunity to discuss breastfeeding with anyone who wants to talk about it.  I WANT to talk about it. I feel like a total fraud for NOT talking about it more.  Normalising breastfeeding is hugely important to me and part of me feels like a gutless wonder for not being more open about my own circumstances.

But despite the best efforts of lactivists everywhere, “term” breastfeeding still a very negative stigma.  And while I don’t mind copping flack from the keyboard warriors about my choices, I don’t want to offer my son up to be slaughtered by people who, at best, simply don’t know any better.

More so, I don’t want him to be judged by people who actually know us.  It makes me really sad to feel like I can’t tell the people closest to us that he still breastfeeds twice a day (once at bedtime and again when he wakes).  I wish I could talk about it with pride.  They might look at me differently, and I could live with that.

But they might look at my son differently, and I can’t live with that.

It’s not fair.  My son is perfect (well, as perfect as any five year old boy can be).  My husband and I are often praised for raising such a great kid, but I know that if the people around us knew he still breastfed, things would change.  I have felt part of my job as a parent is to protect him until he is ready to step out, take risks and move towards greater independence.  What could be described as loving and attentive parenting would be twisted into a mother who is selfishly preventing her son from growing up.  What they currently know as his and my close bond would suddenly become creepy, perverted and unnatural in their eyes.

My son has already felt the sting of this judgement, after a family member (who assumed weaning had already taken place) joked about mummy’s milk being for the baby.  He has asked that we hide his breastfeeds and don’t talk about them with people outside of our immediate family.  My beautiful, innocent five year old wants me to hide information from adults because he is afraid they will make fun of him.

Even in online spaces dedicated to supporting breastfeeding, I have occasionally been met with shock and disgust.  Five years is too much even for some vocal breastfeeding advocates. I also feel safe enough talking about this on my blog, because even though it’s now out there for all to see, I’m small-time, and basically my blog is generally only read by people who are on the same page as me (although if this post is picked up and made viral, I’ll consider that divine intervention and a sign that I should be more open from now on).

Part of the reason why my son is amazing is because of the way he has been raised, and breastfeeding has been a big factor in it.  I wish I could point that out to everyone, but it’s never going to be received the way I’d hope.  So I’ll just have to be content with telling you.

Happy boobaversary to me.

 

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Croup Sucks

We had a really crappy night. My daughter is recovering from croup, so I’ve had a few bad nights in a row. Now my son has it, and he gets it substantially worse than his sister. I spent over an hour sitting on the lounge last night with Mr Almost-5 sitting on my lap trying to keep him calm.

Keeping calm is a big deal when he gets croup. He wakes and feels like he has something on his throat, so he tries to cough it up. Except when he coughs or sobs, his throat makes a honking noise. When he realises he’s making this weird noise, and that his voice sounds different, it frightens him. The sound of the honking is so distracting it can make him hyperventilate, and then he thinks he can’t breathe.  And then he panics that he’s never going to breathe or sound normal again.  The more frightened he gets, the more his throat feels funny, the more he coughs, and then the more he sobs and the more he honks. It’s easy for the cycle to feel overwhelming.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) his previous bouts of croup, combined with the fact that he’s generally a little on the anxious side, mean that I have a tried and trusted way to placate him.  We count.  I tell him he will feel better if he can think about something else and slow down a little, and ask him if he’d like to count with me.  Aside from the fact that it helps regulate his breathing, listening to my quiet voice is soothing to him.  And he actually enjoys counting too.

After some stops and starts, I hit 227 before I noticed he wasn’t counting anymore, and had dozed off back to sleep.  I planned to wait on the lounge just a little big longer to make sure he really was asleep, but then Miss 2 stumbled out to the lounge room, wondering why I wasn’t in bed next to her.  After struggling back to bed with the both of them, I moved the wrong way and put my neck out.  This is something that can happen to me whenever I get sleep deprived and breastfeed in bed more often than usual.  It’s a physical manifestation of my stress and usually comes at a time when I feel least able to deal with it.

So then I was in bed with one kid wanting to breastfeed, one kid wanting to breathe, both of them wanting to lie on my arms and a sore neck.  Neither fully awake, just awake enough to protest if I tried to get myself into a comfortable position.  And that’s how we spent the next few hours.  Once the sun was up, Mr Almost-5 was insisting it was time for his morning.  His insisting and my pleading that he wait until I’m done sleeping woke up Miss 2, so there went that idea.  After satisfying them both, I lie in bed for a while, under the doona, hoping they’d forget I was even there, so they would harass Daddy for breakfast for a change.  Not a chance.

As I sit here nursing my sore neck with a hot coffee, I’m not exactly loving life.  The only thought that gives me any comfort at all is that at least I’m breastfeeding them.  However sick they are or have been, I am confident that without the immunological properties of my breastmilk, they would be worse.  And on a day where I’m exhausted and sore, with no reprieve in sight just yet, I need to hold tight to that thought.

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