Category Archives: normalizing breastfeeding

25 Things I Want Breastfeeding Moms to Know

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1. We’ve all had days when we wanted to give up.

2. There are breastfeeding helpers out there who won’t judge you. Keep looking till you find one who makes you feel safe and supported.

3. Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing.

4. Breastfeeding looks different for each mom and baby.

5. It’s normal for newborns to never want to be put down. Ever. And it’s normal for them to nurse all the time, sometimes more than once an hour. Really.

6. Almost all moms will make enough milk if they nurse often enough, but for a small number of moms, this isn’t the case. Low milk supply is a real thing, and if you have it, you deserve good, kind, thoughtful help.

7. Tongue tie really can impact breastfeeding. Tongues that are tied down can’t milk the breast properly (leading to low weight gain) and can cause a lot of pain.

8. Tongue tie isn’t always the problem, or isn’t always the only problem. Breastfeeding difficulties are usually multi-faceted, which is why all moms deserve the skilled help of a good IBCLC.

9. I wish all good lactation consultants were covered under insurance. But we are not there yet. Please spend the money to get good help. Most lactation consultants don’t cost more than a good stroller or a baby swing. Most lactation consultants will spend two or more hours with you and provide follow-up.

10. Most breastfeeding problems can be solved by going back to basics. If your nipples hurt, you probably just need to change position, shape and hold your breasts, or unlatch and start again. If you aren’t making enough milk, you probably just need to nurse more frequently. Start with the basics before assuming anything more complicated is going on. Trust biology, your body, and your baby.

11. Lactation cookies and herbs can really help, but they are only helpful if combined with other treatments for remedying supply issues.

12. Breastfeeding isn’t meant to be done alone. Find your tribe. Go to a breastfeeding support meeting. Find moms online who have babies your age. It can make a huge difference.

13. Some babies sleep long stretches and fall asleep easily. Some do not. It (usually) has nothing to do with how you are feeding your baby. It’s usually just genetics and temperament.

14. There is no magic age when babies should stop nursing in the middle of the night. Some babies need the nutrition well past the first few months, and many like the nighttime connection for years.

15. You should breastfeed for as long or as short as you want. It is entirely up to you (and your baby).

16. It is NEVER anyone’s place to judge a mom who chooses not to breastfeed. There are so many reasons why a mother might make this choice, and none reflects poorly on her mothering or her level of care for her child.

17. How much you pump doesn’t always reflect how much milk your baby takes at your breast. Most babies take more than the pump extracts; some take less.

18. Working and pumping mothers deserve all the respect and love in the world.

19. Exclusive pumping moms do too.

20. Babies who never latch are rare, but this does happen, and it is one of the hardest things I have witnessed as a breastfeeding helper. These moms deserve the right to mourn the loss of at-breast feeding, but they need to know this doesn’t make them any less a breastfeeding mom.

21. All mothers have a right to feel whatever they feel about how breastfeeding went for them. All feelings are normal. All feelings are real.

22. Whether or not you breastfed or were breastfed matters in many ways, and in many ways it doesn’t matter at all.

23. Breastfeeding, above all, is love. It’s one of many ways to exchange love with your baby, your toddler, or your child.

24. Children need to grow up seeing breastfeeding. It makes breastfeeding normal. It teaches them breastfeeding positioning, behavior, and more. This is one of the key ways we can increase the breastfeeding rates in our country.

25. Breastfeeding is normal. Breastfeeding is intense. Breastfeeding is simple. Breastfeeding is beautiful.

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It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and I will be sharing breastfeeding photos all week on my Facebook Page. Please come over and take a look. I’ll post as many pictures as I get. Email pictures to me at wendywisner78@gmail.com.

Is It Normal Not to Like Breastfeeding?

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Many mothers start off thinking of breastfeeding simply as a feeding method. In those first few weeks, they want to be sure they are doing it right—and, of course, that their baby is getting enough to eat. Sometimes the technicalities of nursing can wear a mother down, especially if she is having difficulties. Sore nipples, for instance, are among the top reasons that women give up breastfeeding (sore nipples that make nursing unbearable are not normal, and there are usually simple solutions out there to remedy them). Other mothers are trying to remedy low milk supplies. Another, lesser-known discomfort is a phenomenon known as D-MER, where mothers feel strong feelings of depression and agitation when their milk lets down (these feelings are linked to hormones, and disappear soon after letdown).

Even without challenges like these, new nursing moms are often bogged down with concerns about feeding schedules (is he really ready to eat again?), leaking breasts, sleep deprivation, self-doubt, body image issues—and just the huge, often startling transition into motherhood. My own first son had trouble latching on. For the first few weeks it took lots of tries, repositioning, and coaxing to get him to latch on and suck. Once he latched on things were fine (though I was still an exhausted, leaky mess), but nursing often felt tedious, technical, and stressful. By the time the latching got more seamless, the fussy evenings began, and my son would often cry at the breast until we could calm him down enough to nurse.

I had this image in my head of tranquil breastfeeding, mom and baby nestled together with beads of light surrounding them. I had some nice moments, but I didn’t seem to be there yet.

This is very common, especially for first-time mothers. Breastfeeding or not—having a newborn for the first time is difficult. Very difficult. And it doesn’t help that there is pressure from within and without to “enjoy every moment.” It doesn’t help that people think breastfeeding is supposed to be easy and perfect right away. It doesn’t help that there is a seemingly easier solution out there (bottles and formula), while there is very little accessible, compassionate, affordable breastfeeding help out there.

I have led a monthly breastfeeding support group for six years now, and I can’t tell you how relieved breastfeeding mothers are when they gather in a room together and realize that all those conflicted feelings are completely normal. It is such a relief to them to know they are not alone. They relax a little then. And that is often when they start to truly enjoy breastfeeding.

Almost every time, it does happen: breastfeeding becomes enjoyable, second nature, comfortable—often lovely. When it happens varies for each woman, depending on her circumstances, support, and baby. Usually it happens after a few weeks, when any initial soreness disappears, and mothers actually get to see their babies growing from the milk their body produces. (Even moms with true low milk supply often are able to reach a point of acceptance with whatever supplementation is necessary, and are able to find peace with the amount of breastmilk they are able to offer.)

I remember when I began to relax into nursing. I was sitting in the armchair in my living room. My son was born in winter, and now spring was just beginning to blossom—little buds waving on the branches of the tree outside our window. I had just nursed my son, and he popped off the breast, milk dribbling out of the side of his mouth, his eyes fluttering closed, and a giant grin splashed across his face. I had heard the phrase “milk drunk” before, and now I saw it. It was bliss, pure and utter happiness. And it was contagious. I felt so content there. I was so glad that I had persevered and gotten to where I was with breastfeeding.

If you are at the beginning, know that chances are, you will eventually fall in love with breastfeeding (a small minority of women never enjoy breastfeeding, but most do). If things are so hard that you’re not sure how you’ll make it to the next feeding—just take it day by day, feeding by feeding, and you will get to the other side. Go to a breastfeeding support meeting. Meet other moms who are feeling as you are, and talk to other moms who made it through to the sweet spot of breastfeeding.

Even when you get there, know that it is normal to have rough days as your baby gets older. Teething, growth spurts, and other fussy phases can all drive a nursing mother mad! We have all been there. You have the right to complain. You have the right to vent. It’s all part of the cycle of life you are in with your baby, and with breastfeeding.

But all the difficult moments will be interspersed with the most delicious milky smiles, and the coziest snuggles. You’ll get there, in your own way, in your own time.

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Photo courtesy of Flickr

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A version of this post first appeared in Natural Child Magazine

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If you are looking for breastfeeding help, you can contact a La Leche League Leader or a Lactation Consultant.  If you are interested in setting up a breastfeeding consultation with me, visit my website , or contact me at wendywisner78@gmail.com.  I do in-person consultations for mothers in Queens or Nassau County, NY, and I also offer phone/Skype/FaceTime consultations for mothers outside of my area. 

Why I post pictures of my children breastfeeding

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I love to take pictures of my children. I share them with family and friends on Facebook and Instagram. Sometimes I share them on my blog, if they fit a post. In some of them, my children are running and playing. In others, they are sleeping (I love watching them sleep, after they’ve finally fallen asleep!). In some of the pictures, my younger son is nursing.

Some have expressed surprise that I post the breastfeeding pictures publicly. There are a few reasons why I do it, often without a moment’s thought.

Breastfeeding—like so many aspects of parenting—is wondrous and fleeting. It’s something I want to savor, remember, and share. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of nursing a child, looking down at him looking up at you, you’ll know what I mean. It’s pure peacefulness, a milk-drunk smile, a love-struck gaze between the two of you.

I am not concerned about my children growing up and feeling unhappy about pictures of themselves breastfeeding being out in the world. My children have grown up thinking breastfeeding is normal. It’s not something to gawk at or look away from. It’s just something we do, like playing Legos on the carpet, reading books, kissing boo-boos. Would a child who saw a picture of himself drinking from a bottle feel uncomfortable? I was raised to feel comfortable with images of babies breastfeeding—including the many photos that my mother took of my sister and me—and I believe I am instilling that same comfort in my own children.

But it’s bigger than own my life: I share the breastfeeding pictures to make it normal to others, to contribute to a needed change in how we view breastfeeding in this country.

So thrilled to have this piece in The Washington Post. Click here to read the full article.

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