Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Mommy Wars?

So, the media loves to get us all riled up, right? They like to pit moms against one another, because they really don't support any of us when it comes down to it.

Last week attachment parenting and extended nursing mothers were attacked. Next week stay at home moms will be attacked. At another time formula feeding moms will be attacked. Then working moms, and the list goes on.  And the current group of moms getting attacked goes on the defense (myself included) to correct misinformation and ignorance with the hopes of possibly changing the perspective of just a few individuals.

Now, I have been pretty outspoken here on my blog that I am not a fan of Babywise and that I am a big fan of breastfeeding. This doesn't mean that if you are a Babywise mom that we can't be friends. It does mean that we will have to agree to disagree on many things and just may not want to talk about certain subjects, but we can still be friends. My very best friend and I are very different in our parenting styles, but at the end of the day we just want what is best for our kids and our family. Period. I might believe and science might prove that in many ways "breast is best", but a small percentage of women may find themselves in a situation where they can't breastfeed. Another group of women may choose not to nurse at all, and while I disagree with this decision, it is each mama's choice to decide what is best for her and her baby/family.

When I proudly post that my baby and I are still going strong after nursing for 24 months I am not slamming those of you mamas who never nursed or those who stopped at 2 or 8 months. I am not trying to start a Mommy War. I am simply posting information to correct the misinformation that is currently circulating about breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding, and attachment parenting. Time made a joke of attachment parenting, and the Today show and the View followed suit. These sort of attacks by the media infuriate me. Some mamas choose to put their babies in a crib from day one, never babywear, and never breastfeed and that is their choice. It is also the choice of mamas to co-sleep, babywear and nurse through toddlerhood.  Or whatever else.

We are all trying to do the best we can as mamas. Our parenting styles, life situations, and family dynamics may be different, but I am convinced that most mamas just want to do what is best with the cards they have been dealt.

So, can we make a deal here? Can we agree to disagree? And can we politely discuss parenting issues without thinking mamas on either side are trying to start a Mommy War?

And yes, we can still be friends if you Babywise or don't breastfeed. (not saying the two are related)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday my Sweet Nursling!

That is me nursing in public without a cover, without showing any breast! It is possible!

My sweet girl! You are two today! You bring so much joy to my life and I love you so much. I am so blessed to be your mommy. 

You have no clue about all the hogwash going around the internet and media right now, but a lot of ignorant people are attacking the way I parent you. Crazy, huh? Anyone that knows you will see what a bright, well adjusted, independent, sweet little girl you are. I love spending as much time with you as possible, but you are perfectly fine if I must leave for whatever reason. I remember when I was pregnant with you one of the things I was most excited about was nursing you. My goal was 2 years, and we have made it! Yay for you and me. Now this doesn't mean I am a better mommy that someone who chooses not to or isn't able to nurse, this is just what has worked for us and I believe it has made our bond strong. Our nursing relationship is the most beautiful thing. You are receiving comfort and nutrition from the very one who birthed you, ME! And it is usually the only time you will sit still long enough to cuddle. You aren't very cuddly! You are so busy! I love that you can communicate with me what you need, and where you want to nurse. I love tickling you and making you giggle and talking to you while you nurse. Nursing a toddler has to be one of the most rewarding things anyone could ever do. When you smile at me and say "thank you" at the end my heart just melts. You are nursing less and less and I am sure that my being pregnant has something to do with it. I know you will wean in your own time (or if my milk dries up from the pregnancy), and I will be sad for that chapter to end, but I will still have many other ways that we will be able to build our bond. I love you so much. Happy Birthday!

And for a re run post from last year called "Why wean, nursing past one" you can read below. And one more thing, let me just say that if I have friends and family who question the how and why of certain parenting choices my husband and I make I hope that you will come to me instead of believing all the misinformation circulating right now.

First, some background:
My mom nursed all of us (myself and 2 brothers) for around 2.5years each. She didn't have anyone telling her to do this, she just did because it felt natural to her to practice extended breastfeeding.  As I grew up and became an adult I thought this was "weird",  although I probably didn't think it was weird until I found out that most people weren't breastfed this long. Also, two of my aunts also breastfed their toddlers, as well as my cousin. My cousin just weaned her 2.5 year old twins. Now, that is awesome! When I got pregnant I planned on nursing, but "not as long as my mom" I would tell people. Well, now that has all changed. I hope to nurse each baby at least as long as my mom nursed us. Here are some things I learned that changed my mind:

1. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for 6 months, then for at least a year or as long as mutually desirable by mother and baby. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years, as does UNICEF.
2. Breast doesn't stop being best at 1 year. Human milk is still best for a growing toddler. Cow milk was meant for cows, and human milk is meant for humans.  (but yes, I do drink cow's milk) Breastfeeding has nutritional benefits past one year of age, such as 75% of vitamin A requirements, 94% of B12, 60% of vitamin C, and more
3. Breastfed children are sick less often.


  • Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation" (Nutrition During Lactation 1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).
  • Per the World Health Organization"a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five: Breastfeeding plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness." [emphasis added
4. Breastfed children have fewer allergies. 
5. Extended breastfeeding can help with behavior issues in a toddler because of the bond that breastfeeding provides
6. It does not psychologically harm the child:
        via kelly mom

  •         The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child... Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother... There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer." (AAP 2005)
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that breastfeeding continue throughout the first year of life and that "As recommended by the WHO, breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement. It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years. Family physicians should be knowledgeable regarding the ongoing benefits to the child of extended breastfeeding, including continued immune protection, better social adjustment, and having a sustainable food source in times of emergency. The longer women breastfeed, the greater the decrease in their risk of breast cancer." They also note that "If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned." (AAFP 2008)
7. Mothers benefit greatly from extended nursing by significantly reducing the risk of many types of cancers as well as osteoporosis 

If you and your almost 1 year old are still enjoying the breastfeeding relationship, why wean? If you want to continue nursing your toddler there is plenty of research to prove the benefits of it. For some reason it has become the cultural norm to wean at one even if it is not what the mother and child want to do. If people are pressuring you to wean your one year old just show them the research and then do what feels right to you. Don't worry about what your family or friends may say or think, just do what you feel and believe is best for you and your child. In biblical times children were breastfed much longer than today, and there is proof of that in the bible (Hannah and Samuel is one example). The Creator God is the one who designed the amazing properties of breastmilk, and those amazing properties are still there after your baby's one year birthday. If you decide to wean your child at any time make sure it is because that is what  you feel is best, not because someone is pressuring you or that you feel pressured by society in general. Extended breastfeeding will only become more "normal" and accepted as more mothers and babies continue their breastfeeding relationship past one year. 

I love the breastfeeding relationship I have with my baby girl and I am very thankful for a supportive husband. We look forward to continuing our breastfeeding until she decides she is through. And who knows, maybe I will get the privilege of tandem nursing too! I love nursing my baby girl. Our breastfeeding relationship has already changed so much from the time she was a newborn. Now she squirms all over and plays with my face while nursing and practices her nursing acrobatics. She also takes breaks to look up at me and "talk" to me. And nothing can beat that milky grin! 

What about you? How long did you nurse your child(ren)? How long do you plan to nurse? Do you plan on letting them wean themselves or when do you plan to wean them? And why? 

Some links for your researching pleasure:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rerun: What kind of Mother am I? The gospel and attachment parenting...

(originally posted at Memphis Misfit Mama)

What do I want to define me as a mother and a parent? I talk a lot about Attachment Parenting, and although that is the parenting style I fall most in line with, it is more important that I am a biblical parent and a gospel-centered parent. I can be as attached as possible with my children, but if I do not give them the gospel I have failed as a mother.

More than anything, I want my children to see and hear the gospel from me. I want them to hear me tell them and others the gospel, and I want them to see me live it out. I want them to know that Jesus loves me, that I love Jesus, and that Jesus loves them. I want their lives to be transformed by the gospel at a young age, and for them to live out a gospel-centered, Christ-centered life. If I breastfeed for five years, co-sleep for ten, baby wear 12 hours a day, and never let my baby cry, yet neglect the gospel I have failed. I love the tool of attachment parenting style, but it cannot change my child from the inside out. I do believe that an attached style is beneficial for the overall well-being and emotional development of my child, but the gospel is still the most important thing I can give my children.

I want my parenting to be based on principles from the bible, and I want my parenting to model the kind of parent God is to me. I want my parenting to model the character and servanthood of Christ.

Although you will not find a certain "parenting style" in the bible, as I thought about how we were parenting our baby girl as a newborn, I felt it modeled how God parents us when we are new Christians. God is a tender, gentle God that wants his newly adopted children to sense a secure attachment to Him as Father. When a new Christian cries out because they are hungry for more manna, more Word, He is going to meet that need. Whoever is discipling this new believer should do the same. The spiritual parent of this new believer would never say, "I'm sorry. It is not time for you to read more of the Bible or for me to teach the Bible to you again. You can only read it every four hours. And if you wake up in the middle of the night, don't pray because God only listens and responds during the day." How absurd would this be? We know that God lovingly responds to our cries day and night. He never turns a deaf ear and allows us to cry it out. We may cry, but we never cry alone. And God would never make us go without His word, the bread of life. If we want this bread every hour He will meet that need. I also thought a lot about the passage in Isaiah about God carrying us close to His heart. As a parent that had to babywear to keep my baby content, I couldn't help but think of how God carries us close to His heart when we are upset.

No, you won't find a verse in the bible that tells you that you should or shouldn't let your newborn cry it out, but you will find plenty of verses about God answering us when we cry out to Him day OR NIGHT. You won't find verses that say you should or should not rock your newborn to sleep or wear your baby in a carrier, but you will find a lot of verses about God comforting us and passages like the one in Isaiah about carrying us.

As the mother of a fussy newborn baby that utilized attachment parenting tools, I was exhausted most days. I went on many walks as I wore my baby and I spent a lot of time thinking about the way we were doing things and praying about them as I walked along. Over and over again, I kept being reminded of the kind of parent God is to me. He is a God that meets my needs and answers me when I cry out to Him. I felt convinced that this was how I should parent my baby.

Many may argue that an attached style is not biblical and that it spoils a baby and feeds their sin nature. I disagree, but I will share more on that when I do a series on "My Breakup with Babywise." I am convinced that a newborn's cries are a reflex to communicate needs. I am convinced that a newborn's needs and wants are the same thing and that they are crying to communicate and not manipulate. Although my baby cried A LOT I never felt manipulated in those newborn months. I felt that based on the whole counsel of Scripture an attached style of parenting was a biblical style and that it modeled the character of God to my little one. Many that I love and respect disagree, but this is what the Lord led me to for our family.

Still, more than an attached parenting style or any other parenting style, what my child needs most is the gospel. She needs Jesus. I feel practicing a more attached style models this to her, but more than anything I hope I model Jesus to her, and I pray she sees the gospel in my parenting.

So, as I start a series on Attachment Parenting, please know that I believe the gospel is much more important and crucial for my child. I belief AP is VERY beneficial, but that the gospel is CRUCIAL. The gospel is the ONE THING I must not neglect as a parent.