Archive for the 'Lactivism' Category

Tools for successful breastfeeding

NS August 5th, 2010

In honour of World Breastfeeding Week, I’d like to share which tools I think are the most important for successful breastfeeding. Between my two children I have breastfed for 38 months (and counting!) and know how difficult and tiresome it can be. I also know how wonderful, convenient and rewarding it is. But a gal needs a lot — I mean a LOT — of support to get started. And that is number one on my list.

1. Moral and practical support – from your partner, friends, family, health care providers and the community at large. When the going gets tough and sleep deprivation + pain + massive learning curve + screaming baby hits you upside the head at 3am for the fifth consecutive night and formula sounds like a mighty fine option, lean on your support system.

My husband’s unfailing support when I was learning to breastfeed my first child made all the difference. Instead of running out to buy formula when I screamed, “This isn’t working!” he held me while I cried, walked our daughter around in the sling so I could rest and regroup and then did everything possible to make the next feed better, more comfortable and less stressful.

2. Access to helpful resources — My biggest regret about my first pregnancy is that I didn’t read much on breastfeeding, or source any professional support networks beforehand. When I ran into problems a few days after my daughter’s birth, I scrambled desperately to find someone, anyone, able to help me. None of the people I was closest to could help me, having either not breastfed, not having had children yet or having done it so long ago that they couldn’t really remember what it was like or how to explain it.

An online friend sent me some Kellymom links and others suggested the NCT or La Leche League. I scoured countless articles, watched videos and looked at diagrams and pictures, trying to figure out what we were doing wrong. I visited my GP and Health Visitor, neither of whom seemed to have a clue. Finally, an NCT breastfeeding counsellor came to my house and gave some advice and practical assistance, which helped a lot. Mostly though, it gave me a massive confidence boost to read about and meet all these other women who were going through or had gone through the same things.

In the end, I believe that finding those sources of information and support helped me to carry on and have a happy and fulfilling breastfeeding relationship with both my children.

3. A bit of determination and grit — Finally, my infamous stubborn streak paid off! I was determined to make it work and even though it took nearly 3 months for it to be a pleasant experience, I persevered and learned a lot about myself and my capabilities in the process. I also learned not to leave such a monumental life-learning process to chance and that forming a support network ahead of time is so important.

4. Small comforts make a big difference — Even though they may seem trivial things, a big squeezy bottle of water (glasses just spill and you need two hands to get a screw top off), a nice snack, reading or viewing material to cure boredom and a cosy environment can make all the difference between relaxed, comfortable breastfeeding and tense, stressful breastfeeding. My number one tool for making breastfeeding easy and comfortable was my Boppy pillow.

The Boppy pillow is a U-shaped nursing cushion that sits on your lap and supports your arms and the baby’s body, ensuring optimum positioning and ergonomic support. There’s nothing worse than the dreaded Breastfeeding Backache, which often results when you are hunched over a baby that is too low, or with your arms feeling like dead-weights from being pinned underneath your 10-lb. bundle of joy for an hour at a time.

I don’t remember who recommended I get one but it was one of the best purchases I made during my pregnancy. The £200 gliding nursing chair? It ended up in the rubbish bin when we moved as the arms were too narrow and the back didn’t give enough upright support. Instead, I used the Boppy every time I sat down for a feed, anywhere in the house. After awhile, I was able to use it to breastfeed entirely hands-free, allowing the early readers of Noble Savage to carry on reading my scintillating posts. Another handy use was when Noble Girl was learning to sit up, it created a safe little ‘nest’ around her, a soft place to fall. And dribble. Luckily, it has a removable, washable cover to sort that out.

The fact that it’s been through two children and still has pride of place on our sofa today speaks to its longevity and usefulness. It’s a great cushion for a small child (or adult!) to curl up with. It also makes a fantastic pregnancy pillow (for placing under your bump when trying to get comfy) and back support when reading in bed. My Boppy pillow has even been on holiday with us, to Greece and America! Perfect for sleepy children slumped over on hard aeroplane armrests and for long delays on airport floors.

That’s why when the people at Boppy asked me to help spread the word about their product, I was more than happy to make an exception to my normal cynical, dubious attitude towards marketing and PR on my blog. When I’ve actually used a product and found it truly useful — no, loved it — I’m more than happy to give an endorsement.

To help promote the pillow, and breastfeeding in general, they’ve come up with this fun little game called Mom’s Revenge. It allows you to delegate tasks not relating to the hard work of breastfeeding and baby care to your virtual partner or mother-in-law while you relax and look serene.

Happy breastfeeding!


NS May 27th, 2010

As I sat breastfeeding Noble Boy while reading blogs on my iPhone (as you do), I briefly averted my eyes to gaze at his nearly-asleep face by the glow of the screen. And it hit me; it’s not a deep desire to nurse my child until he naturally weans himself that keeps me going —  it’s Steve Jobs. Without that hand-held miracle device, I may have gotten bored with the whole affair a few months ago. As it is, I’m happy to carry on for as long as he wants, so long as I can look at my iPhone over his head.

Photo credit


NS August 13th, 2009

As much as I welcome debate  and am passionate about the issues that mean a lot to me, and as often as I am willing to call people out on their shitty behaviour or words, sometimes it all gets to be too much. When I read such misogynist, hateful, spiteful crap, day in and day out, occassionally it gets to me.  For a moment, even for a day, I feel defeated. I think why the hell do I bother? Why do I do this to myself, get so worked up and invest so much time in arguing with people who are likely to never change their attitude? Why are they so filled with hate and ignorance and superiority? How do people get to be this way? What do they get out of it? Do they outnumber the good amongst us?

Usually, my response is anger and indignation but sometimes the vitriol directed at people just trying to go about their lives stops me in my tracks and just makes me feel hopeless instead. I mean, how do you respond to something as hateful and juvenile as this? And I already know the answer to that — you can’t. But by god it’s hard not to seethe with helplessness when a total stranger says such horrible things about something you cherish and fight relentlessly to protect and promote. Sometimes, it’s just too much.

So for once, my mouth is getting a rest (and my fingers, from typing) and instead my eyes and heavy heart will bear the brunt of my discontent. I wish I could always be stronger and better and just shrug every last comment off, but there’s always one that is the proverbial straw on this camel’s back and the only way to get out of the desert is to empty the wells and start again.

Tomorrow,  I’ll be back to fight. But tonight, I can’t take reading anymore ignorant drivel. So I’m going to turn the computer off now, walk up to my bed, snuggle my beautiful baby, and forget that such ugliness exists.

Wake me when all the assholes have gone, please.

Stick to the mall, sweetheart

NS July 27th, 2009

[Warning: This is a vent about some crap said about certain happenings and goings-on at BlogHer, and I wasn't even there. If that pisses you off, or if you're totally uninterested, look away. I'm just a rantin']

Unless you’ve been under a rock (i.e. aren’t on Twitter), you’ll know that this past weekend was the BlogHer conference in Chicago, an annual event where female bloggers (and a few dudes!) from across the globe come together to explore issues relating to that funny little thing we call the blogosphere. People agonised over what to wear, who to room with and which parties to go to. To be honest, I was sick of hearing about BlogHer from the excited participants before it began and I wasn’t even attending! That’s more to do with my curmudgeonliness than anything else, and perhaps a pinch of jealousy, but when one’s Twitter stream is filled up with news of it for days, it can get a bit old.

Anyway, from what I gathered through reading others’ accounts, it’s kind of like a combination sorority function/business luncheon, with everyone broken into “tribes” to network and party with like-minded folks. There are tears, laughs, arguments, drunken escapades, inspiring speeches…and an endless array of free crap from the companies sponsoring it. These freebies are called ‘swag’ and apparently many of those at BlogHer were acting like flesh-eating zombies who don’t mind throwing an elbow or baring teeth to get to their prey…the free shit.
Particularly greedy in their swag-lust were the mommy bloggers, according to attendee Motherhood Uncensored in her post entitled “Not all bloggers are like that.” Many of the commenters agreed with her: mommy blogging has become very ugly indeed, and those who aren’t money-hungry soul-suckers would be best to avoid that label until Respect and Decency are brought back to the mommy blogosphere. They all applauded the introduction of a concept called “Blogging with Integrity” that was heralded at the conference and encouraged one another to embrace it to counteract the crazy swag-snatching whores.

Now, I realise that it must’ve been annoying, even infuriating, to be run over by these bloggers’ lust for more stuff, and that it is frustrating to see blogging turned into one big circle jerk of self-promotion (because I hate it too, I really do), but I get annoyed when I read stuff like this because guess what? Just because we’re all bloggers and mothers doesn’t mean we all operate under the same “rules of engagement” as one commenter suggested, nor do we have the same desires and goals. It certainly doesn’t mean we have to tow the line in deference to some kind of pack mentality that says what each of us does, we all do; what each of us says, we all say. Bullshit! It’s thinking like that that strips away womens’ individuality and makes us all part of some pseudo “team” that we’re each supposed to morally conform to and represent. Just like ‘sluts’ in the 50s and 60s who gave all women everywhere a bad name with their loose ways (ahem) and the feminist career women of the 70s and 80s who were an affront to “regular women” (ha!), bundling us all together and taking individual actions as indicative of an entire gender’s motives is not really progressive, or inclusive of differences among us. We are already constantly pressured to be bastions of morality, warned that if we fall outside of what makes us look good as a whole, our integrity, reputations and self-respect as individuals are at stake; not least of all with other women. It’s very similar to arguments for “female purity” by virginity-preserving crusaders, funnily enough.

One commenter on this post emphasized this by saying: “Your actions reflect on all of us,” in reference to not only the consumer-crazed women but a blogger named Esther who tried to bring her nursing baby into an evening cocktail party thrown by Nikon and then, when she was turned away, vented her frustration on Twitter with a tongue-in-cheek #nikonhatesbabies tag. This was viewed nearly as contemptuously as the gift-grabbers. The entitlement! The gall! The humanity!

Considering the fact that the baby was nursing and Esther was presumably not a Chicagoan with childcare right around the corner, what choice did she have except to go with her baby or miss out? She was remiss in not checking beforehand and says so herself in the comments section, but she figured a babe-in-arms dependent on her for nutrition and unable to run around or destroy anything AT A WOMEN’S EVENT would be okay — it may be poor social etiquette, given our disdain for children in adult spaces (and I do think there are some lines to be drawn, though not nearly as many as currently exist) but is it really so horrifying? And if so, what does that say about how we segregate adults from chlidren and, subsequently, mothers from the general public, particularly those who are breastfeeding? They are particularly affected by these lines in the sand about where is and is not an acceptable place to bring a baby because for them it is not as simple as “Get a babysitter,” the expression always thrown around in these types of conversation.

Class privilege in assuming one can afford and locate an out-of-town babysitter aside, Esther’s only ‘crime’ was thinking she could mix parenting with having fun and networking. From what I’ve read, she was initially (and understandably) disappointed that she didn’t get to go but she wasn’t asking for special treatment, she just made an honest mistake in thinking that her baby would be welcome there. But even though Esther had already expressed misgivings for her mistake and said that she had talked to Nikon and all had been smoothed over, the disparaging comments still came rolling in.

“Some mommy bloggers are so self righteous.”

“[I] cringed every time I read a blog post this weekend where bloggers said about taking children seemingly with no sitter of some sort in tow. It’s a blogger convention, not Sesame Street.”

“It’s pretty shocking that anyone thinks that it is okay to take a baby to a cocktail party.”

“Why would you bring a baby to a loud party, anyway? With alcohol, and candles, and so many people, and loud music and voices, and people smoking? [What sordid things could a baby do with alcohol and candles, pray tell? Unless you're saying mothers can't be trusted to drink responsibily around their children? And it's illegal to smoke indoors in Chicago, so that wouldn't have been an issue at all]Give me a break.”

“A private party is not the mall.”

So breastfeeding women (and anyone who can’t afford or find a babysitter) should just stick to Sesame Street and the mall while the more glamorous ladies with nannies get drunk on daiquiris and congratulate themselves on “thinking ahead” (i.e. being middle class and not being restricted by a nursing infant’s needs or their incomes)? Okay, got it.

And if THAT is what constitutes good “mommy blogging” these days, I want no part of it either.