Sometimes Mums struggle to breastfeed.
And sometimes, it’s photos like this that keep us striving to make it work, regardless of the sacrifice it takes.
Some Mums endure painful, sore, bleeding nipples, when every feed causes them such agony that their toes curl as their baby latches on.
Some Mums completely change their diets to be able to keep breastfeeding when their little ones have allergies; giving up dairy, wheat, soya, all so they can keep feeding.
Some Mums refuse medication for their own medical conditions, increasing their own suffering, because of concerns about a drug passing through the milk to their baby.
Some Mums express between feeds, morning, afternoon, evening and throughout the night, to either increase their milk supply, or provide enough milk for when they’re away from their baby at work, or if their baby is in special care, or if they can’t latch due to prematurity or disability.
And when it all feels SO hard and exhausting, when the sacrifice feels just too much, it’s photos of just HOW amazing breastfeeding is that might just keep that Mum from giving up, inspiring her to keep on keeping on for the sake of her baby’s health.
In this Facebook Post, a Mum describes how her daughter was ill and she pumped milk the morning after. The colour was vastly different to the usual white, more closely resembling colostrum, the antibody-rich first milk that Mums make to boost their newborn’s immune system and protect them in the first few days of life.
This article explains this process in more detail.
Our bodies are incredible! And deserve respect and a massive high-five for what they do, without us even having to be consciously aware of it 🙂
To all those Mums finding feeding a challenge but still trying to find a way to make it work, we salute you 🙂
And your babies salute you too
Parenting Baby B is a little like taking a 10lb + weight and fixing it permanently to your nipple!!! Your boobs are out more than Kim Kardashian’s butt! But your OWN ass is almost constantly welded to a chair, surrounded by everything you might need for the next 12 hours within grab range – snacks, water bottle, phone, breast pump, laptop, books etc.
Because you’re not going ANYWHERE!! Because whenever you try to unattach the 10lb + weight to do, oh I don’t know, trivial things like go to the loo or grab some more snacks, it gives off an instant loud klaxon noise, to alert the world that horrific child abuse is taking place 😉 And hearing that noise, and seeing that little face so unhappy, hurts my heart more than sitting in one position for hours on end hurts my body, even with my joints seizing up so that when I finally move, I’m like a cripple until I can stretch them out and gently ease them into moving again!
So it’s a good job that 10lb + weight occasionally opens its beautiful blue eyes, looks up at me from beneath long, beautiful eyelashes, and beams the most angelic smiles that would make even Emperor Palpatine turn away from the Dark Side 🙂 And is why, despite the challenges, I wake up every morning, feel my heart burst with pride and joy when I see that little 10 + weight, and attach it to me again, for another day of the same…
Recently, someone asked the following question:
“My husband is a being a complete nightmare. My baby is 8 months old and I’m breastfeeding. I really can’t think of anything I want to do less than have sex. He’s now acting like a toddler, stomping around the house and having a tantrum because we have only had sex three times since our baby was born. He told me he’s going to stay in a bad mood until I put out, lol! I just want to know if after 8 months my sex drive should be back or whether I’m still normal!! Men, eh?”
My response to this is:
Both of your feelings are perfectly valid 🙂 The problem comes from each of you viewing the other person’s feelings as unacceptable, which creates disconnects in your relationship. Men tend to view sex differently to women; to them, we show our love for them through our sexual interest in them, so that very valid feeling we have of feeling touched-out, in pain, exhausted etc, is interpreted by them as “My partner doesn’t love me any more”, the thought of which would create sadness and a sense of rejection in anyone, regardless of gender.
His behaviour, whilst seeming ‘childish’ to you, IS a cry for attention, but not perhaps in the way you might think. He needs to feel still loved by you, which for men, as I said, is more about sexual interest in them, and also respect and appreciation. The huge changes we go through during pregnancy and birth, and parenting afterwards, affects both partners, but in different ways, and both parents need to still feel they are getting some of their needs met.
Can you show sexual interest in him again, even without the actual act of full sex, if that is painful/uncomfortable for you? Even something like giving admiring compliments of his body again, or trying to make a point of kissing him more passionately when he gets in from work, could give him a sense of “She DOES still love me” and start healing that disconnection in your relationship that you both feel is starting to happen.
The key is to rebuild that connection between you, IF you want the relationship to last, by trying to understand what is going on for the other person at a deep level, rather than just surface behaviour. I’m sure you equally feel unheard by him and that is causing some of your exasperation, but if the long-term goal is to stay together, it’s important to start connecting again by attempting to start meeting some of his needs, in a small way that isn’t compromising your needs either.
I recommend The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts as a great resource for helping identify each others needs and working towards meeting them, something you could do together and rebuild your sense of yourselves as a team working together rather than both at different ends of a spectrum, pulling against each other…
“But not all men act in this manner and behave so childishly when they don’t get their needs met…?”
No, people don’t all act the same way in certain circumstances. But since you are asking about your OWN husband’s behaviour, and since I’ve studied relationship psychology, counselling, and communication skills, I was attempting to understand what underlying thoughts and feelings might be driving his outward behaviour from a point of rebuilding connection in their relationship, because calling someone names usually creates MORE tension, negative feeling and disconnection, rather than rebuilding connection.
If you had said you’d had enough and wanted to leave, my response would have been very different, but my sense is that you want to stay with him rather than feeling more conflict with him. If I’ve misinterpreted your intentions, then, just like everything else on the Internet, you can take what resonates with you and ignore anything that doesn’t 🙂
I have a view that it’s better to have access to a full tappas bar of perspectives to listen to and choose from, and even between a couple that have been together for a long time, each individual can have their own views/beliefs/values that drives their outward behaviour, often without them even realising it. Attempting to interpret this man’s behaviour in the context of his sense of rejection (something research shows occurs a lot after the birth of a child) wasn’t an attempt to justify his behaviour, but to explain it in a way that might help you view it from a more connecting perspective rather than getting into a more “him versus me”, he’s selfish etc etc mindset. There are other perspectives that offer that view; I just offer an alternative that may or may not be correct, so you can take what I’ve written and decide for yourself if that could be what’s going on with him from the context of what you know about him as a man already. If he’s always behaving in this manner, even before the pregnancy, it’s up to you to weigh up if this behaviour is something you are not prepared to tolerate. But if he’s a generally decent man who normally is kind and considerate, what I’ve said could allow you to view him as just having a ‘blip’ and even save your marriage….
The point here is about intimacy. Things have changed, of course, with the arrival of a little one, but if you both try to make sex/intimacy one of life’s priorities, not as a chore or to please him, but as something that could bring you closer together on all levels, you may find things shifting for the better between you again. It can be such a powerful ‘connector’ for couples and it’s so easy to put off, but it’s another way of ‘connecting’ with each other and I can imagine he just wants to feel close and intimate with you again after the arrival of a new baby has brought such a steep learning curve and drastic change of lifestyle into both your lives.
You have all that rush of the love hormone oxytocin that helps with bonding with your new baby, something which happens physiologically with every feed naturally. But he doesn’t have that at all as men obviously can’t breastfeed, so his only source of hugs and kisses (and that delicious feeling of being loved) is now only interested in someone else, even if that someone else is his child. For men, when a new baby comes along and his partner falls totally in love with them, it can feel like she’s having an affair on an emotional and physical level, even if logically he knows it’s his own child that is taking all her attention away. But emotions are rarely logical!
So I offer this perspective to any new parents struggling with this issue, and strongly suggest that you recognise the need to keep intimacy alive in your relationship, prioritising it in ways that strengthen your connection.
© Dr Sarah J Buckley MD 2009
This article may be copied and circulated for personal use and also for use by birth professionals, provided that all information is retained and credited. For permission to translate, publish or post online, please contact Sarah via her website www.sarahjbuckley.com
Excerpted from the book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: the wisdom and science of gentle choices in pregnancy, birth and parenting (One Moon Press, 2005)
For more information about the amazing placenta and placenta rituals, , see Sarah’s new book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor’s Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices (Celestial Arts, 2009) available worldwide.and at www.sarahjbuckley.com
Lotus birth is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord uncut, so that the baby remains attached to his/her placenta until the cord naturally separates at the umbilicus- exactly as a cut cord does- at 3 to 10 days after birth. This prolonged contact can be seen as a time of transition, allowing the baby to slowly and gently let go of his/her attachment to the mother’s body.
Although we have no written records of cultures which leave the cord uncut, many traditional peoples hold the placenta in high esteem. For example, Maori people from New Zealand bury the placenta ritually on the ancestral marae, and the Hmong, a hill tribe from South East Asia, believe that the placenta must be retrieved after death to ensure physical integrity in the next life: a Hmong baby’s placenta is buried inside the house of its birth.
Lotus Birth is a new ritual for us, having only been described in chimpanzees before 1974, when Clair Lotus Day- pregnant and living in California- began to question the routine cutting of the cord. Her searching led her to an obstetrician who was sympathetic to her wishes, and her son Trimurti was born in hospital and taken home with his cord uncut. Lotus Birth was named by, and seeded through Clair to Jeannine Parvati Baker in the US and Shivam Rachana in Australia, who have both been strong advocates for this gentle practice.
Since 1974, many babies have been born this way, including babies born at home and in hospital, on land and in water, and even by caesarean section. Lotus birth is a beautiful and logical extension of natural childbirth, and invites us to reclaim the so-called third stage of birth, and to honour the placenta, our baby’s first source of nourishment.
I am a New Zealand GP (family MD in America), and have 4 children born at home in my adopted country, Australia. I have experienced Lotus birth with my second and subsequent children, after being drawn to it during my second pregnancy through contact with Shivam Rachana at the Centre for Human Transformation in Yarra Glen, near Melbourne. Lotus birth made sense to me at the time, as I remembered my time training in GP obstetrics, and the strange and uncomfortable feeling of cutting through the gristly, fleshy cord that connects baby to placenta and mother. The feeling for me was like cutting through a boneless toe, and it felt good to avoid this cutting with my coming baby.
Through the CHT I spoke with women who had chosen this for their babies, and experienced a beautiful post-natal time. Some women also described their Lotus-Birth child’s self-possession and completeness. Others described it as a challenge, practically and emotionally. Nicholas, my partner, was concerned that it might interfere with the magic of those early days, but agreed to go along with my wishes.
Zoe, our second child, was born at home on the 10th of September 1993. Her placenta was, unusually, an oval shape, which was perfect for the red velvet placenta bag that I had sewn. Soon after the birth, we wrapped her placenta in a cloth nappy, then in the placenta bag, and bundled it up with her in a shawl that enveloped both of them. Every 24 hours, we attended to the placenta by patting it dry, coating it liberally with salt, and dropping a little lavender oil onto it. Emma, who was 2, was keen to be involved in the care of her sister’s placenta.
As the days passed, Zoe’s cord dried from the umbilical end, and became thin and brittle. It developed a convenient 90 degree kink where it threaded through her clothes, and so did not rub or irritate her. The placenta, too, dried and shrivelled due to our salt treatment, and developed a slightly meaty smell, which interested our cat!
Zoe’s cord separated on the 6th day, without any fuss; other babies have cried inconsolably or held their cord tightly before separation. We planted her placenta under a mandarin tree on her first birthday, which our dear friend and neighbour Annie later dug up and put in a pot when we moved interstate. She told us later that the mandarins from the tree were the sweetest she had ever tasted.
Our third child, Jacob Patrick, was born on the 25th September 1995, at home into water. Jacob and I stayed in the water for some time after the birth, so we floated his placenta in a plastic ice-cream carton (with the lid on, and a corner cut out for the cord) while I nursed him. This time, we put his placenta in a sieve to drain for the first day. I neither dressed nor carried Jacob at this time, but stayed in a still space with him, while Nicholas cared for Emma, 4, and Zoe, 2. His cord separated in just under 4 days, and I felt that he drank deeply of the stillness of that time.
His short “breaking forth” time was perfect because my parents arrived from New Zealand the following day to help with our household. He later chose a Jacaranda tree under which to bury his placenta at our new home in Queensland.
My fourth baby, Maia Rose, was born in Brisbane, where Lotus birth is still very new, on 26 July 2000. We had a beautiful ‘Do It Yourself’ birth at home, and my intuition told me that her breaking forth time would be short. I decided not to treat her placenta at all, but kept it in a sieve over a bowl in the daytime, and in the placenta bag at night. The cord separated in just under 3 days and, although it was a cool time of year, it did get become friable and rather smelly. (Salt treatment would have prevented this). Maia’s placenta is and I broke off a piece of her dried cord to give to her when she is older.
My older children have blessed me with stories of their lives before birth, and have been unanimously in favour of not cutting the cord- especially Emma, who remembered the unpleasant feeling of having her cord cut, which she describes as being “painful in my heart”. Zoe, at five years of age, described being attached to a ‘love-heart thing’ in my womb and told me “When I was born, the cord went off the love-heart thing and onto there (the placenta) and then I came out.” Perhaps she remembers her placenta in utero as the source of nourishment and love.
Lotus birth has been, for us, an exquisite ritual which has enhanced the magic of the early post natal days. I notice an integrity and self-possession with my lotus-born children, and I believe that lovingness, cohesion, attunement to nature, trust, and respect for the natural order have all been imprinted on our family by our honouring of the placenta, the Tree of Life, through Lotus Birth.