Tag Archives: Breastfeeding

What’s in your whole heart?

15 Jan

Well Hello 2013… so far it’s been good! I have so many posts in draft talking about stuff that happened in 2012 that I needed to get closure on and I’ll get to that. I didn’t want to start my first post for the new year on a downer. The start of 2013 has been so amazing in a small kind-of-quiet way the there is no such thing as co-incidence, for me. There have been a post or two explaining how I feel followed by Angels and  Coincidences but what I’ve come to find, is that there are people placed in your life that speak those deep and quiet things of your heart back to you. Like when you feel something so deeply and things change, you sometimes put aside what your heart desired and locked up that little place in your heart without anyone knowing. While the subject may come up in company, we put on brave faces and pretend like what we felt didn’t matter anymore, even to ourselves. And then one day, things just click, like someone somewhere was holding a key and with a few insignificant words, that locked up little place was opened. There are no words at times to explain but there is a beautiful peace that makes you okay with that part of you.

Let me explain. I know my husband is gong to kill me for this post. Having another child is a big decision for any couple who hasn’t been caught out, so to speak. It’s a daunting task of note because it involves finances, emotions of all kinds and a lot of consideration in general. Back in the day, big families were the order of the day and people were frowned upon for choosing to have less kids. As time went on, couples had fewer kids in pursuit of a better life and today it has greater economic ramifications than emotional ones. Parents with unplanned 2nd pregnancies have had no choice but to deal with the situation before them; but to actively decide to have another one can weigh heavily on one’s heart. Before having kids, I think we were both happy with the idea of having two (for me) or three (for him). At some point in our marriage, I felt  that it was time to have a child. Funny story that! Whenever someone asked us when we would have kids, our magic year was 2010 – for no reason other than it seemed way out there, like it was a long time to come. So along came 2009 with a deep yearning in my soul to have a child, I prayed about it, sought advice and just cried some nights because we were nowhere near ready financially to have a child. Lester finally gave in and seven months later we were pregnant. Now let me just say that it was a hard decision for him, not because he didn’t ever want to have children but because as a Provider, the weight of not being able to care for your family for a man rests heavily on their hearts and manhood and rightly so; it’s why I chose to be with him, knowing that one day he would do what he could to be a good Provider. Sadly, I think that I’ve made it hard for him. He’s put up with carrying a wife with two financially unsuccessful practices and now studying full-time – we’ve had to put A LOT of goals, dreams and endeavors on hold because we live from hand to mouth. For a long time after Samuel was born he blatantly refused to entertain the idea of having another child ever, like ever! As painful as it was for me to hear that, I knew that his heart still carried the heaviness of being responsible for a family and so I quietly closed off a part of me. Now you’ll hear me talk about how things are cheaper having one child and I’ve made plans in my heart for family holidays and varsity fees and the like all for one child. The argument in my mind went something like this -1. the age gap will be too big because I’m studying for another three years, must find work and then work long enough to claim maternity benefits, it would be another five years and Samuel would be like seven already. 2. Samuel would be independent and then I’d have to start all over again with the sleepless nights. 3. Kids are expensive so I need to get a job! 4. I would have got rid of all his bottles,cot, baby stuff and the to start all over from scratch would be expensive.

Secondly, there’s the boobs!!! I have never been silent on how much I’d love to get them chopped off, I swear I’d lose 5 kgs INSTANTLY. I’ve even gone as far as to find a plastic surgeon to consult with to relieve my agony. Photos are my worst, I’m never closer to the camera because they are magnified, yes worse than in real life. Sleeping on my stomach is still a pain. They really aren’t that attractive at all and I’ve just about found a range that comfortably holds these boulders.

Now for the point of all my blubbering – the two stories have a connection. Someone that I’ve only met on Twitter had a “heart-to-heart” with me and she didn’t even know it. She posted a pic of her two boys walking in the sand, hand-in-hand; what she later explained was that there was a 6 year gap between them. Number one was planned and in her mind that was it but now that little number two has come along, unexpectedly, their entire family is so much better off for it. A few days later, Lester shared a conversation he had with a cousin of his. He said they were talking about kids and he was on his usual rant about Samuel being the only one and then she began to share part of the ethos of the church she attends, which is to build faith and pray for the growth of families and to trust God for the finances to take care of the families. We place so much else before God in prayer, why not add this to the list too right? What’s been amazing is that we don’t know when and how BUT we are open to the possibility of having another child. The age gap might be bigger than we want it but it’s not a deal-breaker or the end of the world.

Connected to this is that if I do have number two, I most certainly want to breastfeed and that won’t happen if I have surgery. It might not be a big deal to most since we have the invention of formula but it’s close to my heart. A very dear friend of mine (who also has Udders) made me feel like it was okay to be me (with my girls) more so because breast-feeding was/is so important to her too.

There were no fireworks in the sky, no earth-shattering quakes but a still, quietness that said that those things on your heart are important as insignificant as they may seem to even you. Don’t ignore the infinite possibilities and all that God so wants to bless you with TO BLESS OTHERS. Open up those little places in your heart, they are a part of you and your dreams, they deserve the chance to find their way into your reality – you just might be way better off for it.

Here’s to a whole-hearted 2013 and all the whispers, meetings, angelic visitations and glorious acts of God’s goodness to come.

 

It’s Good For All Involved

4 Aug

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is traveling through Africa now, reporting on malnutrition.  Here’s an excerpt:

What if nutritionists came up with a miracle cure for childhood malnutrition? A protein-rich substance that doesn’t require refrigeration? One that is free and is available even in remote towns like this one in Niger where babies routinely die of hunger-related causes? Impossible, you say? Actually, this miracle cure already exists. It’s breast milkWhen we think of global poverty, we sometimes assume that the challenges are so vast that any solutions must be extraordinarily complex and expensive. Well, some are. But almost nothing would do as much to fight starvation around the world as the ultimate low-tech solution: exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months of life. That’s the strong recommendation of the World Health OrganizationThe paradox is that while this seems so cheap and obvious — virtually instinctive — it’s also rare. Here in Niger, only 9 percent of babies get nothing but breast milk for the first six months of life, according to a 2007 national nutrition survey. At least that’s up from just 1 percent in 1998. (In the United States, about 13 percent of babies are exclusively breast-fed for six months, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Then again, most of the rest get formula, which is pretty safe in America.)… The challenges with breast-feeding in poor countries are not the kinds that Western women face, and many women in the developing world continue nursing their babies for two years. The biggest problem is giving water or animal milk to babies, especially on hot days. Another is that mothers often doubt the value of colostrum, the first milk after childbirth (which is thick and yellowish and doesn’t look much like milk), and delay nursing for a day or two…

This week, August 1-7, is World Breastfeeding Week! What does that mean? It’s a week to promote awareness of global breastfeeding concerns, created by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action(WABA) and celebrated by breastfeeding advocates in more than 170 countries across the world with this years theme being, communication.

Breastfeeding supports each of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)and has a large impact on the future well-being of our society. Here’s a quick snapshot:

  • MDG 1 (hunger and poverty): The first step towards reducing undernutrition of children is optimal exclusive breastfeeding, enabling them to grow well from the first days of life; and continued breastfeeding when complementary foods are introduced, to improve the quality of the mixed diet. This also contributes to reducing household costs particularly in poverty-stricken economies.
  • MDG 3 (gender equality): Children receive an equal star t through breastfeeding regardless of family income. Breastfeeding also empowers women by enabling them to be in control of their reproductive lives and be self sufficient in nourishing their infants (without spending money on breast milk substitutes).
  • MDG 4 (reduce child mortality): If all infants were placed immediately skin-to-skin, breastfed exclusively for six months and then up to two years or longer with age appropriate complementary feeding, under five mortality would be reduced 13-20% worldwide.
  • MDG 5 (maternal health): Mothers’ risk of postpartum hemorrhage is reduced by early initiation of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding also protects against anemia and maternal iron depletion due to lactational amenorrhea, and reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and diabetes. (taken fromhttp://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/pdf/wbw2011-af.pdf)

So while in our simple lives we may think of breast-feeding as a chore that will make our breasts hang lower than the south pole, the truth of the matter is that it can be the cheapest life-saving resource that we have at our disposal, GLOBALLY. If it was your baby, or someone special close to you whose baby needed help, I’m betting you would go out of your way to help, and you can – just spread the word – simply put, breast-feeding is good for all involved.

Oh my word!!!!!!!! What I thought would be a few lines turned out to be one big love fest in a very strange sort of way – a way that should be natural. It makes me smile when I realise that God in His infinite wisdom has given women the natural ability to feed, nourish and care for our children. This post is not about the how to’s but about the stereotyping and strange stigma that comes with it. Please don’t feel bad at all if it’s not for you, as mothers, we have the right to raise our kids the way we see fit so relax, there are many other things we do or don’t do that impact our children’s lives, but hey, we all turned out okay in the end.

I had fun searching the net for information on the subject, you would not believe that amount of photos on the web showing mothers breastfeeding their babies AND toddlers, anywhere and everywhere, even in the middle of a bike ride – how’s that for a pit stop??? Or at events called “The Big Latch On”. I can see why some people would think that those images should be private and it’s probably because breastfeeding in itself has become taboo, while modern society almost dictates that it’s NOT the done thing or too much work – if you take the time to de-sensualise breasts, it then becomes one of the most beautiful sights to behold, a nursing mother and child.

Samuel is now 9 months old and still breastfeeding and I think, rather I know for a fact that I enjoy it more than he does there, I said it! From the moment I knew that I was pregnant, it was never a question whether or not I would breast feed and that feeling became even more intrenched when he refused to latch for the first few days of his life. Yes it was tiring in the beginning when I had to feed every two hours on the dot, especially because he was a summer baby and a thirsty one at that, but now we have our quiet time. At the heart of the matter, I am a person who loves touch, so to look into my baby’s eyes and have his hand stroke mine (or play with my love handles) while I look into his eyes and play with his hair; it’s the purest form of love and touch that I have ever experienced. Visit Breastfeeding Is Beautiful to see what I mean.

The message that I want to pass on to you my readers is that whether you have kids or not or whether they were breastfed or not is irrelevant!!! We can all pass on the message that its good for all involved – besides I am yet to hear a father complain about feeling left out at a 2am feeding session…. I love this feel-good tribute to breastfeeding… enjoy.

The views and opinions of this blog are just that – mine. If by any chance you have taken some offense, I apologise for the offence, not my views.

Bottoms Up!!!

9 Jun

From the moment I had decided to fall pregnant, I knew what kind of birth I wanted to have and how things would be run in terms of Samuel’s care thereafter. My birth plan involved a doula and midwife present at an active birth unit and breastfeeding from the moment Samuel was born! I count myself fortunate enough to have the birth I wanted but the breastfeeding thing totally fell apart!!!

From attending ante-natal classes, I had learned about the infamous “golden hour“. Here’s what a birth doula writes – healthy infants should be placed immediately on the mother’s abdomen or chest when they are born and remain in direct skin-to-skin contact until the first feeding is established. Allowing the new mom and baby to enjoy the first breastfeeding together and experience the intimacy of skin-to-skin contact before anything else is done eases baby’s transition from the womb into the world. It stabilizes baby’s heart rhythm, body temperature and breathing. Spending that first hour enveloped in each other’s presence lets you both know that everything is right with the world. It awakens the mother inside you, bonds the baby to his primary caregiver and sets the stage for the coming hours, days and years. A Dad can also get involved by placing his hands on baby, talking quietly, letting baby gaze at his face and spending time holding baby after the first feeding is done. It is during the first hour of life, a healthy baby shows a high level of alertness and an ability to interact with its parents; an infant recognizes his/her parents’ voices and smells and it is the ideal time for the baby to be introduced to the parents through snuggling and breast-feeding. Picture Perfect. After Samuel was born, he was wiped down gently and placed on my chest. All the necessary tests were done from there but the three of us were given a chance to look into each others eyes and bond. While I was pregnant, I used to sing “You are my sunshine” to him all the time so as soon as he started to cry I thought that was a fitting lullaby to calm him.

While I sang to him, my midwife cleaned me and then came the moment I had anticipated almost as much as giving birth. Ta daa!!!! You must understand that I had even attended a special breastfeeding workshop, that’s how determined I was to do this thing!!! So we tried, and we tried, and we tried and Samuel screamed but we just kept trying… and for six days solid he refused to latch on! This was horrifying for me because he was not following my well executed plan and none of my friends (they all had cesars) had problems breast-feeding. There I was thinking, I had done it the way nature intended and now it’s bitten me in the behind!!! While at Genesis, the midwives on duty helped me hand express every time he needed to feed but we had to call in the big guns or lactation consultants as they are known to help get the show on the road. One whole blessed week of pumping every three hours (yes that includes four in the morning as well), letting someone else feed and bond with my baby and then there was the never-ending chore of sterilizing bottles and my pump!!! If I was a normal human being, I would have given up at this stage. My lactation consultant, Brenda Pierce and my doula, Hailey Fudu finally got Samuel and I on our path of breast-feeding success.

So on to the reason for this post. Other than that first week of his life, Samuel only had to get used to a bottle when I started working again and it was once a day. From what Brenda had told me about breast and bottle feeding, to have success, Samuel had to associate breast with me and bottle with anyone else. With that burned into my mind, I had determined never to give him a bottle myself, in hindsight, a little over the top if you ask me. So yesterday, I had a chance to go home for lunch and Samuel hadn’t been fed yet. I pumped (yes I still do it so that he has bottles of breast milk when I’m not around) before I left work and he was not interested in letting his nanny feed him while I was around.  For the first time in a long time, I was stumped. I know it sounds weird because I should have just picked the bottle up and fed him right? Well when I did that, I certainly didn’t expect him to let me feed him and yet there we were doing it like it was any other normal feeding session.

It was in that moment that I felt a little sad because breast-feeding him had become our thing that no one else could be a part of. It was after midnight feeds that I would catch glimpses of him smiling in his sleep; it was then that my oxytcin-induced love fest began while I watched him sleep; he was my only company while his father snored the night away; he was the reason I could leave unwanted company and it somehow boosted my self-confidence as a mother but let me not leave out the absolute convenience of it all as well.

The World Health Organisation recommends breast-feeding until the age of two. I’m not sure that I would go that far but I do know that when our little love fest comes to an end, it would be bitter-sweet. Don’t get me wrong here, there will be some happiness at the prospect of getting my boobs back but not really sure in what condition they will be in!!! Yikes!The silver lining is that while Mr may have more bottles in time to come, so will I…. and I’ll say, bring on the chardonnay baby yeah!!!

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