Nursing in Public
"I'm sorry, but I have to feed my baby."
"I'm sorry, but my baby is hungry."
"I'm sorry, I forgot my cover."
"I'm sorry, she's almost done."
The quotes go on as to what various women will say when confronted by a stranger, family member, or friend about nursing their baby. There were some social experiment videos recently about a woman and her partner going around nursing in public and seeing people's reactions.
I actually quite dislike these videos, but not for the obvious reason of people's reaction to her nursing. I dislike the videos because of her own reaction to her nursing.
The first thing she does, is apologize. "I'm sorry...." Then when someone says they don't have problem with her nursing, she says "Thank you".
Nursing moms, you have no reason to be sorry, apologetic, or grateful about nursing in public. The initial reaction of apology indicates that you've done something wrong. There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby with the most natural, normal, healthy method that exists.
Nurse how you are comfortable, be that covered or uncovered. I am a huge fan of the two shirt method. I always wear a tank top (plain, non-nursing specific $5 tank top, I'll stretch out and throw away), under a normal shirt. I think this is more discrete than a cover. Most people have no idea I'm nursing, unless they see me get set up for it.
Nurse when your baby wants to nurse. In most states the law protects you. You have the right to nurse however you need, wherever you have the right to be.
I've heard the stories of women being harassed while nursing. Personally, I've been disappointed. I was so looking forward to getting to argue the rights of a nursing mother! I have my rhetoric down. But, the only stranger that has approached me actually complimented me and thanked me for nursing my baby in public.
My family are the ones who have given me the most problems. When expressing that I have no shame about feeding my baby, I was told while maybe I should. How to approach family members is set for a different blog post all together!
Sorry, but I'm not sorry I'm nursing. I am sorry that a stranger is so self involved they think their comfort would be of any importance to you over your baby's. I am sorry that their eyes don't seem to work enough to simply look away. I am sorry that everyone is telling women to breastfeed, and simultaneously telling them to feel shame. I am sorry that the mom who wanted, but wasn't able to breastfeed is now lashing out at other moms who can. I am sorry that men feel breasts belong to them. I am sorry that a sexualized breast can not have more than one function.
There's a lot to feel sorry about in regards to breastfeeding, but nursing your baby in public is not one of them.
Covered or uncovered, shirt pulled up or shirt pulled down, newborn or toddler, Nurse how you are comfortable and don't apologize.
Unsafe practices portrayed in advertising
We took a trip recently, and on the shuttle from the Enterprise rental place to the airport there was this picture. I sat there staring at it, looked at other people staring at the ads, and it occurred to me; this is why parents don't know any better.
Let's review what's wrong:
1. A child should never wear bulky items while secured in a car seat. Even if it appears the straps are tight, the force of an accident will easily compress the item.
Visuals - Crash Test Dummy and Strap Tightness Comparison
2. Straps should be tight to the chest. The tighter, the more the baby stays in a proper position and is secured correctly in the seat. Obviously straps shouldn't be so tight the baby can't breathe.
3. American car seats have a chest clip. This clip should be aligned with the armpits after the seat straps are pulled tight.
4. Although I couldn't say for certain, this child appears small enough, and therefore light enough to still be rear-facing. Many parents switch their children to forward facing far too early in terms of spinal development. The current recommendation is for a child to be rear-facing until "age 2 OR until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat." Many car seats now have height and weight maximums that allow a child to remain rear-facing until they are 6 or 7, which is when most children would meet the weight maximum.
Read more about why your child should be rear facing.
So many times a child gets injured and the parent says "I didn't know any better". Not everyone is a researcher or strives to learn all the newest and safest recommendations. Many people base their actions on what they see, and what they see others do.
Media and advertisement is a huge influence in our culture. They should think about what they are showing and if it adheres to the guidelines, recommendations, and safest practices. People are looking and watching, show the right standards.
The history, pros, and cons of the pacifier
Pacify: v. "quell the anger, agitation, or excitement of"
Pacifiers seem to be one of the number one baby items given to and accepted by new parents. Almost every baby you encounter has one in their mouth a vast majority of the time.
There is a time and a place for a pacifier, and there is a time when pacifiers can be detrimental and should be avoided.
The History of the Pacifier
The first soothing items used by parents for centuries were water or honey dipped knotted rags, "gum sticks" made of stone, coral, or bone, and wooden beads.
It wasn't until 1901 that a "new and original design for a baby comforter" was introduced by Christian W. Meinecke. This pacifier resembles most modern pacifiers, made of a rubber nipple attached to a shield.
These initial pacifiers were definitely not up to today's standards and were commonly processed with sulfur, tinted white with a lead-containing compound, and the disk shields were made of ivory, aluminum, and sometimes bone.
By the 1940's latex and silicone nipples with a plastic shield were the norm, produced primarily by Binky Baby Products of New York.
Babies experience a primal inherent need to suck. This need stems from the evolutionarily tuned desire to find the breast, nurse, and receive nutrition. This is a wonderful reflex that helps to bring in the mothers milk and sustain her supply.
Some babies do appear have a more persistent suck reflex than others, insisting on sucking for a soothing, comforting, non-nutritional purpose.
The Pros of the Pacifier
Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding a pacifier can be useful.
Breastfeeding - your baby has a seemingly insatiable need to suck. This can be exhausting to a nursing mother who's baby cries when not sucking on the breast. A pacifier can act as a replacement and allow the mother a break.
Bottle feeding - Bottle fed babies are at greater risk of being overfed, and therefore overweight if they are continually given a bottle of milk when their soothing suck reflex is confused with a hunger suck reflex. Pace feeding can help this issue, but if not, a pacifier at the end of a feed will continue to allow the soothing sucking reflex without overfeeding the baby.
The Cons of the Pacifier
There are times when a pacifier can be detrimental.
Breastfeeding - nipple confusion can be a reality and a challenge for some parents. Not every baby will have an issue going between breast and artificial nipple. Since we can not know which baby will or will not have a problem, it is best to err on the side of caution and wait until the baby is a least 4 weeks old, or better, until the mother's milk supply is well established at 6-8 weeks.
Artificial Nipple - Extended use of a pacier can deform the palate and cause oral and dental issues later in life. Additionally, pacifiers may contribute to an increase in ear infections.
You should never feel judged for using a pacifier. If it's what's working for you and your family, then you should certainly feel great using one! If issues arise, they can be dealt with and solutions can be proposed to move forward. You are not ruining your child forever by using one.
Nor should you feel pressured into using a pacifier so the baby "isn't pacifying at the breast." If you love snuggling with your baby all day, every day, and have no issue with the amount of time your baby is on you, then go for it! A baby does not NEED a pacifier. You are not ruining your child forever by not using one.
Tips and tricks for flying with child under two
My daughter has flown 5 times in her first year of life, and I have to tell you; It's been really easy. 3 out of the 5 times, I have even been by myself.
Through these travels, I have discovered some helpful tips and tricks for flying with a baby.
Most importantly, it is only a slight amount of time in your life. You are a strong person and an incredible parent. You can handle this. Wrap your baby up in a carrier, snuggle and kiss, hum a song, rock back and forth, and just stay in your own little world with your child.
Unsolicited ad for Southwest: We now never fly anything besides Southwest (when available). You get two checked bags for free. There isn't a fee to use your airline credits if you have to reschedule your flight. Families with a child under 6 can board together between the A group and the B group. They've taken to presenting their safety announcements with humor, which starts the flight off on a good note. I feel all of these components make them very baby and family friendly.