Breastfeeding: Controversial Bliss

I love breastfeeding.  The 15 minute refuges that I get to have with Audrey numerous times a day are profound.  Its a relationship that only she and I can have, and I’m so grateful for it. Looking down at my baby with milk dripping out of the corners of her mouth and smiling up at me melts my heart.  These moments aren’t just feeding; they are bonding moments with my little girl that help her grow into a conscientious and caring person.

And I’m so excited that breastfeeding is on the rise.  First off, it’s the single most important thing a mother can do to ensure a healthy start to her child’s life.  Breast milk helps a baby’s intestinal tract to develop and flourish with healthy bacteria, which is vital to the human body’s immune function.  It helps to “seal” the gut.  Formula actually harms the body in this process.  Formula companies like to point out that “breast is best”, as if breastfeeding is going above and beyond, but that formula is “good”.  I dislike this mentality.  Breast milk is normal and perfect for a baby’s body.  Formula is actually harmful.  Look at this ingredient list:

Corn syrup (sugar) is the first ingredient!  Ack!  Then soy protein isolate, which is a highly processed soy product that should always be avoided, as it interferes with hormonal balance.  Then oil, which is 100% processed fat, then more sugar.  Then more oils.  Then a bunch of chemicals that cannot be pronounced.  And so on.  This is quite far from being the perfect food that breast milk is.

I understand that some women have trouble with breastfeeding, and some of you may be thinking, “wow, she is being really harsh toward women who have used formula”.  I do not fault those individuals, as we live in a culture which doesn’t promote the breastfeeding lifestyle.  That is where our biggest opportunity lies.  Breastfeeding in public should be more acceptable than bottle feeding.  Sounds radical but it’s true.  Lactation consultants or doulas should be included with the birth process 100% of the time.  Most women who stop breastfeeding stop because it was painful or too difficult, or because they are told their babies aren’t gaining enough weight.  Let’s remember we live in an obese society; what is the right amount of weight?  Is the baby happy and alert?  To me that is more important than weight.  And, breastfed babies gain weight differently than textbook formula-fed babies.  What these women need is support, not formula!  Support with a good latch, support from other mothers in knowing that it does get easier,  support from their partners, support from our culture.  This is where the disconnect is.

In my grassroots effort to “Change the World”, I can start on this one with the simple act of breastfeeding proudly in public.  It may seem small, but the more people see it and become comfortable with it, the more mothers will embrace it and not feel embarrassed to bare their breasts for their baby in public.  Then the cultural shift can happen.

Some resources that I’ve found to be useful:

Womanly Art of Breastfeeding New 8th Edition

La Leche League

Audrey’s Birth Story

So here is what started it all: Audrey Noelle.  When I found out I was pregnant, I was absolutely thrilled.  My husband and I had been trying for almost a year to conceive, including 3 failed IUI’s.  After we stopped “trying” in September, I got pregnant at the end of November.  I know that nutrition, supplementation, and healthy mindset are the factors that helped us get pregnant.  I’ll write a post on that later.  🙂  For now, here is Baby Girl’s birth story.  Enjoy!

For months I knew our baby was going to come on Sunday, August 19th. As that date grew closer, I started to second-guess my instinct, and on August 19th I started my day as any other day. Jamie and I slept in, and I read “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” while enjoying a cup of coffee on the back deck. Knowing the baby was coming soon (within 2 weeks), I wasn’t going to miss one of the last pool days of the year, so after lunch I lay out by the pool and took a swim. While out by the pool, Jenni, our doula, called with some strange news. Dr. Froehlich had been “let go” from TriHealth and was no longer at the Montgomery office. Wow! What a shocker! At this point my plan was to call Monday morning to try and figure out how to reach him for my next appointment that Wednesday. But Baby Bender had other plans.

Around 3:30pm, Jamie and I watched our NetFlix DVD “The Happiest Baby on the Block”; we had no idea how good of timing that was! As the afternoon continued, I started to feel crampy. At 5:18pm I decided to start timing my surges, still not entirely convinced that “today was the day”. For the first hour, my surges were mild and varied from 4 to 10 minutes apart. I called Jenni and left her a voicemail to let her know there was a possibility I was in early labor. Jamie and I had planned on ordering pizza for dinner, but once we realized I might be in labor, we thought pizza might not be the best fuel, so we headed to Olive Garden. Since there was a 30-minute wait for a table, we ordered carryout. As we waited on our food, I continued timing my surges, and they were consistently 4-5 minutes apart. While sitting in the lobby waiting on our food, a couple sitting next to me asked how far along I was, and I responded, “Well actually, I think I’m in labor”. Needless to say, they were a bit taken aback!
When we got home and ate, my surges continued in their pattern and I was finally convinced I was in labor. I called Jenni again to let her know I was in early labor. She had tracked down Dr. Froehlich’s cell phone number, so we were able to reach him. I tried to lie down and nap, per Jenni’s recommendation, but it was impossible to fall asleep, so I just rested in the dark with my aromatherapy diffuser and classical music (Debussy) for relaxation. To keep my mind off of the surges I also browsed pinterest on my iphone. Around 8 or 8:30 pm the intensity of my surges started to ramp up, and I moved into the living room. Jamie was watching a pre-season football game as planned, and I remember asking about a player named Andrew Luck. I thought that was an unusual and opportune last name! Jamie had been watching to see if my demeanor changed in between surges, as we had been taught that in active labor the woman usually doesn’t carry conversation in between surges. He took my conversation as a sign that it was still pretty early on. I used the yoga mat and pillows to prop myself up comfortably on my hands and knees. Jenni had suggested trying this position for 45-60 minutes to see if it changed my surges at all. Jamie started to help during some surges with hip squeezes and counter pressure. Merlin, my 11-year-old German Shepherd lay on the floor right next to me and let me snuggle up to him in-between my surges; he was awesome!
Thinking we had a long labor ahead of us (since everyone says your first baby has a long labor), Jamie went to lie down for a nap while I tried to rest on my side on the couch. I continued with labor for a while and near 11pm I had Jamie call Jenni to come over. I had begun to see the bloody show releasing, and Jenni said it was my cervix changing. As my labor advanced, I tried numerous positions to get more comfortable. I ended up on my hands and knees or bent over the arm of the couch most of the time. I was definitely in the zone at this point, and was very vocal. Jenni arrived around 11:45pm and quickly asked Jamie how long I’d been like this. He said 30 minutes and she quickly asked me if I’d be comfortable doing this at the hospital. I responded that “I could do this anywhere”, and we quickly loaded up to head to the hospital. Without her, I think we might have had an unplanned home birth!
My contractions seemed to be one on top of the other at this point. Jenni told me that this would be the longest and bumpiest car ride of my life, and she was right! I thought I was going to rip the upholstery off of Jamie’s car! Jenni followed right behind us on the way to Bethesda North Hospital. During our drive, my water started to break. Near the Ward’s Corner exit, I started wanting to push. Jamie called Dr. Froehlich again to tell him that I wanted to push, so he knew to hurry! We turned into the emergency entrance and Jamie dropped me off at the door around 12:20am. Jenni walked in with me, and as soon as we got in the door, I had to drop on all 4’s again as a surge came over me. I remember the 2 families in the emergency room looking quite intrigued by the whole thing! Jamie came in then, and rattled off a bit of information to the receptionist, and I was rushed on a stretcher to triage for my cervix to be checked. I was so glad they let me stay on all 4’s on the stretcher! There was no other position I could imagine being in at that point. The doctor who checked my cervix seemed confused as to why I was in triage and not being taken immediately to the labor and delivery floor. He checked me, and I was fully dilated. I was then rushed down the hall and onto an elevator, which was not closing its doors in a timely fashion. I wanted to push, and the nurses said, “Don’t push!”; easier said than done! Dr. Froehlich then jumped into our elevator before we finally got the door to close. He was going to get on a different elevator, but when he heard a nurse say, “Don’t push” he figured it was us! When the elevator door opened at the correct floor, we were on the move again. I felt like I was in a movie, the nurses were running so fast! To top off the roughness of our trip, my stretcher had a faulty wheel that wobbled like crazy!
Once in the delivery room I was finally allowed to start pushing! I pushed once or twice on all 4’s, and Dr. F told me I would progress faster if I moved onto my back at and angle toward my right. I trusted him completely and quickly rolled over. After several pushes I could reach down and feel the top of her head. Dr. F said he could see lots of hair. All I wanted to know was what color it was! He said it looked red. ☺ I kept going with the flow of my body and pushing when I felt the urge. I wanted to arch my back and straighten my legs, but he told me to pull my chin in and pull my knees back towards me. At some point he had me pause to allow my perineum to stretch, hopefully avoiding a tear. Then at 12:43am, after 3 or 4 hard pushes, Audrey Noelle Bender was born! I pulled her up myself to my tummy and let her take her time adjusting to the world before pulling her to my chest. She was so beautiful! I can remember noticing how soft she was; I’ve never felt anything so soft before in my life! She quickly took to breastfeeding; she’s a natural! After the cord stopped pulsating, Jamie cut the cord. We were parents! Dr. Froehlich had just a few stitches to do for me. My endorphins and hormones were so crazy that I was trembling all over, which lasted for a few hours. I was up and walking within an hour. We achieved our all-natural, un-medicated birth. And we couldn’t be happier!

Hello world!

Hello!  This is my new adventure into blogging! My baby girl, Audrey Noelle, just turned 3 months old yesterday, and now that life has started to become a bit smoother, I thought I’d start a blog about natural parenting.  I’ve been passionate about natural living for a long time, and now that I’m a Mama, I’ve extended that passion into parenting.  Natural birth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, homemade baby food, nutrition, baby wearing, vaccine choice, natural toys and gardening are just some of the things I will be blogging about.  I love doing product reviews as well.  If you’d like me to review your product on my blog, please email me at naturalmama513@gmail.com